Before They Even Start: Hope and Incoming 1Ls01 Jan 2010
Newly-accepted law school 1Ls often express interest in how they should spend the summer before starting their fall courses in order to be best prepared for success in their first semester. This desire to have a "leg up" on law school success leads those of us teaching first-year courses to think more deeply about what constitutes a "good preparation" for the unique experiences that new law students will face, and what skills are really necessary to increase their possibilities of success, especially in the first semester.
Over the past few years, I have compiled a list of activities which I have periodically recommended piecemeal to students at all levels who ask me for advice on how to improve their writing skills during the first year of law studies or prior to that first year. The current version of the complete list contains twenty-two suggestions. For the purpose of this presentation, however, I have elected to discuss, with a few exceptions, only those suggestions focusing on preparation for legal reasoning or - especially - writing, explaining not only how each activity might assist in preparing for the first year of law school, but also how students following a specific suggestion might also increase law professors' hope for a good semester and a strong new generation of attorneys.