« on: June 06, 2005, 11:43:03 PM »
My first year:My main observation, "Law School is hard." You may have been in the top of your classes and you may have always received A's but now that describes everyone surrounding you and everyone can't be number 1. Don't stress, you got into law school, that's hard; you got into Wake, that's harder. We'll all be lawyers when we finish school or at least we'll be writing the case headnotes for Westlaw or Lexis (you'll get that after school starts); either way we'll still have a job. Some other observations: 1) Don't turn on the internet on your laptop in class, it's too distracting, 2) Do give any "secret" study aids you happen to have to the rest of the class, things work better this way and you never know if someone else will have something you'll want to borrow or copy, 3) There always seems to be free food, from a full barbecue or boxed lunch to pizza and subs to cookies and candy and sometimes even beer but oddly almost never water; bottom line, you won't be able to use the excuse, "I'm sorry, I didn't read that case, I have no money and was forced to eat my text book.", 4) Seriously, everyone really does care about you, from the faculty and administration to the students, it's a great atmosphere, 5) 2L'S and 3L's are a great source of information. Don't be afraid to approach us and ask for advice, it wasn't too long ago we were in your situation and someone showed us the ropes or at least told us which study aid to buy for Civil Procedure and Torts.
Workload:Obviously you will be overwhelmed at first. You will be reading and preparing material that is unlike anything you have ever read before even if you took a law class in undergrad. Don't worry, aside from the first week or weeks of school you won't be spending hours and hours preparing for class. Eventually you will get the hang of class preparation, you will realize that the amount of work you put into a class is not proportional to the return you get out of the class, you will realize that you don't care or some combination of all three. You won't be staying up until 1 or 2am to finish your class work unless you start at 10pm. Keep in mind that the class preparation and studying that you will be doing is so that you can follow along in class and answer questions if you're called on by the prof. Your only grade comes from your final exam even though some profs claim that they add participation points, rumors persist that those points may or may not exist. The only class that you will have graded assignments in is Legal Writing. The workload depends on the prof you get. I had a great experience and learned a lot but I had a lot of drafts and outlines due throughout the semesters. The good news is that no matter who you get for Legal Writing, the class ends about a month before the semester ends so that's less work to worry about. Also Wake used to require 6 rather than 5 classes a semester for first years. They changed this policy two years ago after a study about the moral of the student body. So you will have less of a workload first year than the students who just graduated.
Toughness of classes:This one really depends on which profs you get. Some profs are known for being really difficult to understand or for talking too fast or too slow. Other profs are known for being great lecturers (a rarity in the Socratic world). It is the rare lecturer that often has what are considered the easier classes. The profs at Wake use the Socratic method. Don't worry, if you've read OneL or The Paper Chase our prof's aren't that bad. Only one of my profs had us stand up to recite. As time moves on most of the classes turn into 50 minute discussions with the profs asking questions and the students volunteering answers.
Amount of free time:Many students treat law school like a job. They arrive to school before classes start to study, attend class, study and eat between classes and study after class until they are done or until about 6 or 7 and then they go home. Following this plan, if possible, you would have a lot of free nights and weekends. Theoretically, since, except for LRW, you won't have any assignments to turn in, you could simply not study or read anything and have lots and lots of free time; I really don't recommend this. I usually took the afternoons off and started preparing for class around 5pm. I recommend taking one day off a week, I always took Saturday off to go to the mall, watch mindless TV, or read a non-law related book.
What do 1Ls do when they aren't studying or in class:The same thing you non 1Ls do when you aren't at work or otherwise engaged. But seriously, there are a lot of school functions, speakers and even parties where there is almost always free food and sometimes free beer. Don't want to hang around school?...in truth many students go out to bars a lot. The SBA (student government) has a weekly get together called "Bar Review" where the president picks a bar and wrestles a drink special out of the manager. It's a nice way to meet people at the beginning of school. If drinking or hangout out in bars is not your thing there are lots of volunteer opportunities like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, tutoring or reading to elementary students, The Children's Museum, or Guardian Ad Litem, to name just a few. The undergrad has an annual volunteer fair in the fall if you are looking to give back to the community and put something on your resume. Law students also occasionally leave town to visit friends or relatives. I highly recommend leaving town at least once a semester. It's good to get away from the legal scene.
Places you should not live:If you are asking about area, I am really only familiar with the area around school, about a 5 mile radius and that seems safe. Of course I have traveled beyond this but am not familiar with the other areas enough to advise you to live or not live there. If you are asking about apartments, I have heard that Northcliffe is a little sketchy and I was specifically advised not to live there. On the cheaper side are The Trails and The Corners, they have all you need without the frills and a lot of students live there. On the more expensive side are The Pines, Crowne Oaks, Crowne Polo, and Crowne Park, they have the nine foot ceilings and the crown moldings if your looking for that sort of thing; again, a lot of students live there. There is also Deacon Ridge which are condos not apartments but they are the closest place to campus and a lot of people buy those condos and rent them to students. Some students (or their parents) even bought condos there. Of course there are other apartments but these are the ones where the majority of students live. For example, as I was moving in last August I met the guy moving into the apartment next to me who, as it turned out, was also a new law student. There were a total of at least 9 1Ls living in my apartment complex and a few other upperclassmen.
Well sorry this email is so long, hope that answered your questions. Post back if there's anything else you want to know or if I hit on something on which you want me to elaborate. - Jen