2L is Not Easier than 1L

Someone told me the other day that he was told 2L was much easier than 1L. I’m not sure I would agree with that. I could imagine a scenario where you somehow picked all easy courses for the entire year, but I seriously doubt that happens often. In some respects, it is easier because you are more experienced in the system – note taking, briefing, reading, and studying – and you choose your courses. If any particular course or professor is not your cup of tea, you simply drop it and find another course. By that logic, if there are difficult classes, you did get to choose them, so your choices shape your experience. Even so, I still think 2L is harder than 1L.

First, there is much more reading. I only vaguely remember 1L, but I remember some students being scandalized at 50-60 pages of reading a night. Well in 2L, three of my four classes usually assigned 30-40 pages of reading a night, which sometimes meant 60 pages per week per class. Yes, you read smarter and more efficiently, but you still read quite a bit more. The cold calls are not as frightening but you do need to know more and retain more. Do not be surprised if cases from 1L haunt you in 2L as well. Second, if you’re not on a journal, a student organization board, or moot court, you may be doing an externship. This means in addition to your course workload, your extracurricular activities may have their own deadlines and priorities. I was on a journal so that meant tech checks and source coordination and my note sprinkled throughout the year. Third, you have the upper level writing requirement. If you choose to work on it during 2L (and if you’re on a journal, there is a strong chance you’ll use your note to meet the certification requirement), you will spend a lot of time with your paper. I did not spend as much time with my note as I did with my thesis, but it was still a lot of research, writing, and citing.

Finally, law school is a marathon. Are you tired of me saying that? Well, it is true. By the end of your second year, you’re tired, run down, and exhausted. I was burnt toast 1L but I think I am pretty close to just burnt crumbs. I was on journal, on student organization board, and in four classes each semester. It doesn’t sound like a lot on paper, but then you live it, and it is a lot. Law school classes are lot to handle alone and now add assignments and deadlines from your extracurricular activities. I don’t say this to frighten you away or even rattle your nerves, but I tell you because I realized as a first year law student you really think let’s take on the world! Even if you are the best at time management and studying, quality of life is very important in this marathon. Be sure to take a minute to think about what it will be like actually living what looks good on paper. Remember taking care of yourself is more than physical; your mental and emotional health is important in this marathon too.

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