October 6, 2008
First Year v. Second Year
I remember all last year being told, "Your first year is the hardest," "Second year is so much easier." These statements both scared and consoled me. I was scared because the year ahead of me was going to be very difficult, in fact, the most difficult. I was consoled because the other two years were not going to be as difficult.
These statements do carry some truth, but I would like to take a moment to really explain the difference between the first year of law school and the second year of law school. My first year of law school was all about learning the system, learning how to prepare for class, learning how to study for exams. My second year, thus far, has been about applying what I learned my first year. It is no longer just about briefing cases and then sitting through class petrified of being called on. It has become about putting my newly acquired skills to use. There is a definite sense of confidence among second-year law students. The legal language no longer falls on deaf ears. We are now accustomed to hearing it, recognizing it, and understanding it. Class is more fun this year. Yes, I did just say fun. It is amazing what confidence can do for you. I have become more willing to go out on limb and speak up in class, even if the end result is that my answer was not quite what the professor was looking for. Last year it would have taken me some time to get over not having exactly the right answer, this year, it takes less time.
With all that said, I do not think I would qualify the second year of law school as less difficult than the first year. It is no doubt different, but it is still challenging. Second year brings with it more commitments, such as law review, various law student societies and summer internship hunting. This year has pushed me to balance my time to the utmost of my abilities. For instance, summer internship hunting might as well be an additional course. The amount of time and devotion it takes to find a summer position is shocking. A word of advice to all students, start this process during the summer before your second year, it will make a world of a difference!
The summer internship hunting experience is stressful and by no means close to being complete. It is an exciting experience, but also very humbling. I have spent countless hours searching for potential firms, contacting recruiting departments at those firms, e-mailing off resumes, transcripts, and writing samples. Sometimes I hear back, but other times, nothing. It is easy to get down and out about this experience, but it is also an opportunity to turn it around and use the rejection as motivation. Motivation to search a little longer, polish your resume a little more and figure out how best to market your skills and accomplishments. These are all valuable lessons that I can take with me in years to come. Hopefully next month I will be able to start off by telling you that I have secured a job! Only time will tell (and little more blood, sweat, and tears).