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1L Year - How to Succeed

The purpose of this guide is to demystify the law school experience, show some of the many resources you can use to improve your law school experience, and impart some advice on how to approach law school.

Work/Life Balance

Law school can be a stressful and confusing time for many students, particularly during the first year. The law isn’t taught the way undergraduate programs are taught, and while many law students did well in college without having to work very hard, in law school, you’ll be competing with other very intelligent and academically successful students. You’ll likely find you have to make adjustments to your learning style, and you’ll have to put in more effort than you did in college.

That doesn’t mean you should be working all the time, however. Many successful law students treat law school like a job, arriving at the law school at 8:00 am, regardless of when their first class is, and not leaving until 5:00 pm. If you study efficiently and diligently, this is a perfectly adequate way for many students to study and be successful. You will discover the best schedule and strategy for your learning style, but remember that being a good student doesn’t mean studying all the time.

The major reasons why law students spend too much time studying is that they use inefficient study methods, and feel pressure to keep studying even after they’ve mastered the materials. The former problem can be solved by using some of the study resources above, and the latter can be at least improved by recognizing how law school distorts your thinking. First, you’ll be very tempted to compare what you’re doing with what your peers are doing. You may also feel bad if you feel like you’re not working as hard as they are, or if you feel like it’s taking you longer to learn the materials than it’s taking your peers. This is very common in graduate programs in general and especially common in law school and it can lead to something called impostor syndrome. This false impression that you’re not living up to the challenge of law school can be exacerbated by the fact that your peers, who feel the exact same way, feel pressure to either exaggerate how diligently they’re working, or else disguise how difficult they’re finding law school. So don’t compare your study habits with your peers. Do what is effective for you, and take time to do other things without feeling guilty about it.
 

Taking Care of Your Mental and Physical Health

There are plenty of good reasons to stay healthy, but you’re going to feel pressure to make compromises during law school. Beyond your general health, here are two good reasons to prioritize eating well, exercising, and making time to do things you enjoy during law school.

First, stress hurts your memory. By doing things that lower your stress, like exercising, spending time with friends, pursuing relaxing hobbies, you’ll actually improve your ability to learn. Second, exercising improves your memory, especially cardiovascular exercise. 

Take some time to look at the Maintaining Your Wellbeing section of the law school's website. Our Student Affairs Team is committed to supporting you during your time at Colorado Law. Please reach out to them if you ever have questions or concerns.

So not only is it important to your health, it’s important to your academic performance. Here are some resources for more advice on staying sane in law school:

Law Lifeline
The ABA Mental Health Initiative
Law School Academic Support Blog

Things to Do Outside of Law School

Fortunately, Boulder has a lot of opportunities for staying active. The Student Affairs team has surveyed students and compiled a list of outside organizations they are involved in here. Please e-mail them if you have any other suggestions or requests.

Here are some other resources:
The CU events calendar
Join a club
Hike or trail run
Mountain bike
Road bike
Practice yoga
Cross country ski and snowshoe
Rock climb
Visit museums

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