As law students, it can be a struggle to find free time outside of attending class, reading, and studying. This was a struggle for me not too long ago when I was a 1L. Especially for 1Ls, it is easy to have tunnel-vision and focus only on your schoolwork. To be clear, I believe doing well in your classes is what’s most important for 1Ls. Your first-year grades can open a lot of doors and have far-reaching effects throughout your law school career and post-school. However, by solely focusing on grades, you are missing out on other ways you can benefit yourself while in law school.
FSU Law has 25+ student organizations and several co-curricular organizations, including Law Review, Moot Court, and Trial Team. These organizations are entirely optional, but I highly recommend becoming involved in at least a few. It can be difficult to meet other law students when just attending class. Student organizations provide the opportunity to not only meet other students but meet students who share similar beliefs and interests. In addition, every student organization has an Executive Board. Serving on an Executive Board shows employers that you have leadership skills and experience. Holding a leadership position also allows you to be involved in the decision-making process for a student organization. You can help improve, shape, and promote your organization.
Currently, I serve as the President of Christian Legal Society, one of FSU Law’s student organizations. Many of the friendships I’ve made in law school have been because of my involvement with CLS. Being able to interact with other Christian law students is important to me, because it allows me to take a break from the rigors of law school and be in community with others who share my beliefs. Since we have such a diverse law school community, you should have no trouble finding an organization that aligns with your beliefs/interests. Last, student organizations provide networking opportunities. Many practicing lawyers and judges are former members of our student organizations and love to stay involved through networking events, speaking engagements, and workshops.
Co-curriculars are student-run organizations where students can gain practical skills, such as oral and written advocacy, and editing, research, and writing skills. Being a member of a co-curricular is a way you can make yourself a more competitive job candidate. More so, some employers require applicants to be a member of a journal or oral advocacy team such as Law Review or Moot Court. While co-curriculars are resume builders, they are more than that. A law school class can only teach you so much. Co-curriculars allow students to develop skills that they will use as future lawyers that can’t be gained in the classroom.
When I started law school, I made it a goal to try out for at least one journal and one advocacy team. Sticking with this goal, I tried out for Moot Court and Law Review. While I didn’t make it on to Moot Court, I’m glad that I decided to try out. As an introvert, trying out for Moot Court was a challenge for me. Part of law school is breaking out of your comfort zone and trying things you aren’t comfortable with. Even if you don’t make it on, the tryout process is a valuable learning experience. As a 1L, you will have to present an oral argument as part of your LWR class so no additional work is required to try out for Moot Court.
After completing my 1L year, the last thing I wanted to do was participate in the FSU Law journal write-on competition. I talked myself into doing the write-on and as a result was accepted on to Law Review. Personally, this was one of my proudest achievements as a law student. Being a member of Law Review has allowed me to hone my editing, research, and writing skills. Part of being a member of Law Review is writing a Student Note, an academic research paper that must be of publishable quality. As a law student, this Note provides an excellent writing sample for employers, especially if you are considering a judicial clerkship. Additionally, co-curriculars like Law Review provide opportunities to hold leadership positions.
Nothing I’ve mentioned in this post is required for students, but you are doing yourself a disservice by not being involved in these organizations. Be able to say that you have no regrets rather than saying “I wish I would’ve done this or that.” You’ll be better off because of it, even if you stumble along the way.
Nick Cleary, 3L