Cosmoline...thanks for the input...you make some good points...
So how different was 2L compared to 1L as far as ease, stress levels, time consumption, etc.?
The big dividing line for me was not between 2L and 1L, but between first and second semester as a 1L. Before that nobody knows where they stand in the class. After that, no matter how hard you try to ignore it, your class standing impacts everything about your law school experience and job prospects.
As far as classes go, by the time most people get to the second year they have figured out the system a little better. I remember I didn't have so much trouble with reading assignments because I had figured out what to focus in on and what to ignore. For example, my first few weeks as a 1L it would take me hours to brief cases. By the time I was a 2L I could do it much more quickly.
It's possible to take a lighter class load, as well. I knocked out Con. Law and Secured Land Transactions the summer after my first year and it was a very good decision. I was able to take fewer classes as a 2L, which was a big benefit.