I had coffee yesterday with HTR, an antitrust litigation associate who works at the same firm as DXL, to find out more about law school and employment from a lady lawyer’s perspective. HTR was much friendlier and less type A that I expected, almost to an unlawyerly level (in a good way). Here are the questions I asked along with her answers.
1. Do you recommend taking Law Preview?
I think it helps you psychologically more than anything else. The most important part of succeeding in law school is figuring out the best way to learn the material for yourself once classes start. I’m sure Law Preview is helpful, but I think that they cover basically the same ideas during orientation.
2. I’m anxious about the plus/minus letter grade system because it seems a little arbitrary. What can I do to maximize my grades?
Learn early on how to absorb the material. You’ll have to figure out for yourself. That said, group work is important. You won’t be able to write all the briefs and outlines yourself. Even if you’re doing most of the work alone, it’s good to have people to rely on if you get sick or something. You’ll find that people are, for the most part, friendly, open, and collaborative. There will be cutthroats, but they tend to isolate themselves.
On the professors’ end, each professor has his/her own rubric for grading. Pay attention to what each professor requires; there’s isn’t a fixed formula for getting good grades. You have to figure out as you go along.
3. What did you do in law school outside of the academic realm?
I was editor-in-chief of a journal. That required 40 hours/week on top of my classes.
It’s also important to take advantage of your network while in school. I did. Make sure you engage with other students and professors and that they know who you are. Keep in touch with them. You never know when they might be able to help, and it won’t be phony if you’re genuinely interested in what they have to offer.
4. How did you find a balance between school and life?
You have to prioritize. There’s school, friends, and sleep. You can’t have all three during law school.
5. What did you do the summer after your first year of law school?
I managed to get a summer associate position after my first year at a firm in Seattle, where I was going to school. The firm wasn’t recruiting; I had to research and email them on my own.
That said, the vast majority of people do not get summer associate positions after their first year. Most firms aren’t interested in students until after their second year. Generally, students spend the summer after first year doing a variety of things related to law, but there’s a good chance that it will be unpaid. The important thing is just to do something law-related.