Attaining a law degree will open up many career opportunities, and now more than ever before it’s vital to give yourself a head-start when you are job-hunting.
Law school is generally a three-year program and provides a solid grounding in law and practical strategies for performing a lawyer’s responsibilities and other roles too.
In this article, Rachel Mosser, explains what you can expect during your first year of law school, going over many of the classes you will take and the activities in which you will participate.
Many students believe that the first year of law school is the most difficult. The course material is complex, and it is presented more quickly than many students are prepared. The educational standards are much higher than students have experienced in high school or during their undergraduate education.
Most law schools will not give you choices when it comes to the courses you will take in your first year. This all-important year will provide you with an in-depth review of the many branches of law, enabling students to explore the areas they have the most interest in.
You will take foundational classes on the following topics, as explained by Rachel Mosser:
With this course, the focus is on the United States litigation process. This includes information on motions and pleadings, pretrial hearings, alternative methods of resolving disputes, and appellate courts’ procedures.
This programme provides an in-depth view of the United States Constitution, emphasizing U.S. Supreme Court decisions. This course will give you a thorough grounding on constitutional analysis, including topics like the judiciary role related to the political branches of government. The separation of powers is also covered along with the limits of federal law regarding the states. You will also cover individual constitutional rights.
This curriculum will provide an overview of contracts, from their formation to breaches of contract. This course will also explain the damages related to breaches of contract.
Criminal Law and Procedure:
In this course, you will examine rules and policies regarding criminal law. You will explore the sanctions against individuals who have been accused of committing crimes. You will also learn about the rights of a person who is accused or charged with criminal activity.
This extensive course will provide a grounding in methods for researching the law and writing memoranda covering a wide variety of legal problems.
You will learn about the relationship between people and their property, including personal objects, natural resources, buildings, and land.
Torts involve legal resolutions for losses against harm to a person, property, relationships, and economic interests. This course covers the types of tort claims that can be raised, including personal injury, and covers the defenses that attorneys can use to protect their clients.
Approaches to the Course Material
During your first year of law school, you will be taught using the case method approach. This means that your course materials will include opinions of the judiciary from across the country. These materials will not have any explanations or summaries.
Law students will brief each case to understand them. Class periods will be spent in analysis of the cases, discussing how they relate to others.
The Socratic Method
One approach that you should be aware of before starting law school is that many of your professors will use the Socratic method. This is a teaching tactic where the professor will ask many questions intended to expose your thought process flaws. Gradually, you will be guided toward a definite conclusion.
First-year law students tend to regard the Socratic method with trepidation, but after they have become used to the pointed questioning, they accept that it prepares them well for the courtroom’s rigors.
Most first-year classes will only have one exam, held at the end of the semester. You will prepare for your exams by creating outlines of the material you have covered. The class in which you will have the most graded work is legal writing, where you will be given many assignments to be reviewed by your professor.
Outside the Classroom
Law students tend to form strong bonds outside the classroom since law school is a uniquely stressful experience and students need friends to fall back on when things are difficult. Students may be able to make friends quickly under these conditions, but you should be aware that there is a great deal more competition in law school than you have experienced before. Students may be pitted against each other in competitions for class rankings and professors’ attention.
One of the extracurricular activities that make the most difference in your career after law school is the law review or legal journal. Spots on the law review are generally reserved for the top 10 percent of the class. Everyone wants to be on the law review because many high-profile employers will not consider your application if you were not on the law review.
Student organizations are another way in which law students can get experience outside the classroom. These organizations include the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Constitution Society, and the Student Bar Association.
Succeeding in Law School
As a law student, you will be experiencing the highest level of stress you have encountered in your educational career. Law students have to be tough and determined to make it through their first year. Fortunately, there are mentors like Rachel Mosser, who can help students face up to the challenge.
After your first year of law school, the work will come more easily. The rigors of law school will ensure that you are ready for the high-pressure profession.