What to Expect from Law School Orientation

Here are six things you may experience during your 1L orientation

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Congratulations! You are starting law school. As with most college or university experiences, this means starting your first year with some sort of orientation. I remember getting ready for my law school orientation. I had just quit my job, taken a week or so of vacation, and then packed up my books to go back to being a student again. Once I got to orientation, I didn’t really know what to expect.

Here are some common things you might experience as part of your law school orientation.

You Will Meet Lots of Anxious People.

I remember being surprised at how anxious everyone was at the start of law school. So much mythology, from books and movies, surrounds law school—I think most people are prepared to be miserable and scared all the time (law school doesn’t actually have to feel like this, but many students going in think so). One thing to be careful of: Don’t let other people’s anxiety turn into your anxiety. This is just graduate school! Sure, you are going to have to work hard (and the work may be challenging), but it is just school. You are paying good money for this experience. Enjoy it as much as you can.

Many Folks May Already Think They Know the Secret to Law School Success.

Some folks get to law school with a very specific plan for success. They might have taken a pre-law school course or just talked to family, friends, or mentors.

They may know the perfect way to brief, take class notes, or even say they have an internship lined up. Who knows! People say the craziest things in law school. The reality is everyone is different and you need to figure out what is going to make you successful. What works for one person, doesn’t work for everyone.

Everyone wishes he or she had the magic answer for success in law school— unfortunately, I don’t think that actually exists (other than hard work, studying smart, and doing a lot of practice).

Your May Have Your First Real Class.

Some law schools will actually hold your first class during law school orientation. My year our legal writing class met for the first time during orientation. Sometimes you have to prepare for this class; sometimes it is just an introductory class. If you do have a class though, don’t forget to do the reading and prepare for it before you get there. Unlike many undergrad experiences, your first classes in law school typically include a substantive lecture and not just an introduction to the course.

You May Get a Locker Like in High School.

This one came as a surprise to me: I actually got a locker in law school. I hadn’t had a locker since I was 17! But let me tell you, after you purchase all those heavy books, you might welcome a place to stash your stuff. So go ahead and get a locker if you have the opportunity to do so.

You May Spend More Money on Books Than You Ever Anticipated.

Buying books is a key task for every law student. Today, there are more book-buying options than ever before (you can buy them online and you can even download electronic copies of some books).

But go ahead and shop around. Law books are terribly expensive, so try to get the best deals you can. (And don’t spend much time worrying about supplements. You can wait to get those once you need them. In fact, the library may have supplements you can use for free and save yourself a bit of time and money.)

You May Feel Overwhelmed.

I will be honest, I felt pretty overwhelmed by law school orientation. I think that is completely normal. I had left a nice office job to return to school and the entire experience just didn’t feel quite right. But once school started and I was able to dive into classes, law school got a lot more enjoyable for me. So if you don’t love your orientation experience, don’t worry about it! You can still enjoy law school.