What have people's experiences in terms of these?
Mardi Gras last year. So was the VBA-sponsored trip to Kentucky Derby after finals. And the roadtrip to the Smoky Mountains was a nice getaway... pretty much anything to lower your stress and take advantage of living wherever you are has been worth missing the occasional class or two. Going to shows midweek is also very therapeutic... just bought up an entire balcony section at the Ryman for when we come back in January to see MuzikMafia. I'm told they usually pull up some random friends that are in town.
For school-related non-academic activities... Hanging out with the LLMs is pretty fun and I strongly recommend doing that wherever you go... in addition to getting paid by the school, I've learned a little about their legal systems in India & Nicaragua and have offers to go stay with them after they graduate and return home. Should make for some cool opportunities after taking the Bar in a few years, like riding trains around Kerala and Goa and meeting a bunch of law professors doing legal aid over there. Really want to visit the LLM in Managua since he's at UCA and I'd originally applied for a grant there after college but never got the green light.
I think student orgs are good when you actually plan to do things and follow through... our Enviro Law Society has been slacking off this semester. I don't know if we've done much besides sending emails out about employers for 1Ls to talk about if they're interested. On the other hand, Law Students for Social Justice has taken off and pulled in probably 8 or 9 speakers, in addition to working on recruiting with the school and seeking out partnerships with local organizations. The 1Ls have gotten particularly involved in that, which should help them out in contacting employers for summer jobs. I probably attend two or three speakers a week through different organizations like ACS/Federalist, Entertainment & Sports, etc. ... it's a good place to multitask during lunch (listen to a speaker about their career path, eat free pizza, and prep for class). And anything that actually gets you involved with the legal community is good experience, whether or not you're getting externship credit for it. I'm going to a public meeting tomorrow about a development project... I've already met a few people at Tennessee's Dept of Enviro Conservation and a private practice attorney in town while researching the legal battle being fought. Also, brewing your own coffee.
Not worthwhile: spending any amount of time in the library during finals. The group panic/getting sick thing isn't worth the marginal benefit of having a quiet place to study. Apparently I had to relearn this again this year after avoiding that place as a 1L. From hereon out, it's either home or the coffee shop (when I'm out of coffee).