Balancing School and Outside Activities is Important to Success Following Your 1L Year

You hear all the time that your 1L year is the hardest, and it gets easier after that. It definitely seemed like that to me because I was focused on academics my first year. Now, as a 2L, I also have the freedom to choose my classes as well as what I want to do outside class to supplement my legal education.

There are many different approaches, but it seems that the focus in the 2L year shifts to building one’s resume. One of the many great aspects of the Florida State University College of Law experience is that you have many diverse opportunities to explore as a student. With so many opportunities—clinics, externships, internships, student organizations, and co-curricular activities—how do you determine where to focus your efforts?

For the people who know with 100% certainty what they want to do with their law degrees, the choices are a bit easier. But for those of us who are not even 10% sure, the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming. Either way, it is easy to overcommit and then find yourself booked for every second of every day.

You will not be alone in the crazy endeavor to try and do everything but here are some simple tips for managing the seemingly unmanageable as your look forward to your 2L year.

Surround yourself with dependable people and make sure that you too can be counted on when needed. You cannot do everything yourself, so you have to be able to lean on those around you. This is especially important if you are going to be in student group leadership positions or team activities. Make sure whoever you work with are people you can trust to get their tasks done and make sure that you allot an adequate amount of time to get your tasks done.

Your calendar is your best friend (after caffeine of course). Scheduling and sticking by your calendar is important. Whether it is electronic or hard-copy, make sure it gives you somewhere to write down EVERYTHING in one place so that nothing will fall through the cracks.

Concentrate on things that you love. Getting involved in an activity, joining a group, or taking a job just to build one’s resume does not really benefit anyone. There are too many opportunities to be involved in something you will find rewarding. So, do not jump into something that will make you unhappy or dissatisfied.

School comes first. Personally, I love my job more than I love going to class, but one has to graduate and pass the bar to become a real lawyer. So, keep up with your reading assignments and homework and always go to class. Even those classes that begin at 8:00 a.m.

Take care of yourself. It does not do you or anyone around you any good if you are sick all the time or you are too tired to function. So eat well, get your rest, and set aside some time to spend with your friends. You need your health and your sanity to be a productive, so use that handy dandy super calendar I already mentioned above.

Don’t panic. Starting at the end of the fall semester of your 1L year, you will be able to start looking at your options. During the following spring many will be laid out in front of you by the various co-curricular organizations, the placement office, the externship office, and student groups. Just keep telling yourself not to panic because you do not have to do everything.

No matter what you choose to do, you will handle it like a champ if you keep these things in mind. You know what will be best for you, so take advantage of those opportunities that interest you and you will have a great experience!+

Student Ambassadors for College of Law  Katie Harrington, 2L

Persistence and Hard Work Can Land You a Federal Clerkship and Much More!

This past summer I had the opportunity to serve as a summer clerk for a Federal Magistrate Judge in Jacksonville, Florida. Since the beginning of law school, the possibility of clerking for a judge was something I had always been interested in doing, but was concerned I might not have the necessary grades, class rank, or connections. So I began working to prepare myself for this position during the summer of 2014 while clerking for the United States Attorney’s Office.

While at the U.S. Attorney’s Office we were encouraged to attend various types of proceedings to get a feel for the environment of federal courts. In doing so, I came across a judge for whom I was determined to work the following summer. From her reputation in the office and her demeanor on the bench, I knew learning from her would be invaluable. I remained a consistent presence in her courtroom throughout the summer, asked to meet with her before I returned to school, and left her with my resume. She later told me my persistence as well as being assertive was what landed me the position.

To say I learned a lot clerking for a federal judge would be an understatement. On my first day I was given a checklist of preliminary assignments I was to complete before I would be delegated any “actual” work. This checklist contained multiple reading assignments including four books about grammar and concise writing, the Federal Rules of Evidence, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and hour-long interviews with each of the U.S. Supreme Court Justices about what makes a good writer. I did not think I would have time to finish all of this before I had to return to the College of Law for the fall semester.

About two weeks and a lot of homework later, I received my first assignment. After working on it for almost a month, the Judge was kind enough to pour over it line by line asking me to explain why I chose certain words or phrasing. This took four hours. Her input has shaped the way I write even text messages since. It was intimidating to say the least, but I now feel more confident than I ever have with my writing style.

The thing that surprised me most was the Judge’s interest in my future. I was applying for jobs throughout the summer and she took time to put me through interview boot camps and helped me find the perfect power suit. She also helped me perfect the art of “thank you” notes and taught me the necessity of Crane paper. Her help and guidance throughout the application and interview process aided me in landing my job after graduation this fall.

I am so lucky to have spent the summer learning and refining not only my work but my professional identity. It has reaffirmed for me that in the real world there is more to a law student than their resume and grades, and there is more to be gained in a summer position than how to file a motion.

College of Law, Student Ambassadors. Nicole Corring, 3L