The most common advice for those who are starting law school next fall is to rest, relax, and take some time to figure out who you really are. That’s all well and good, until you get used to 10 hours of sleep a night and time to play xbox. So here’s a novel 0L summer idea: work as hard as you can without endangering your health/sanity.Most students looking ahead to law school in the fall are in too deep to take perhaps the best pre-law school advice: get out now. Given dismal legal job prospects and the crippling debt that awaits, my advice is not to travel, get in some last good times with college friends, or even read Law School Confidential. Instead, I say take that freshly-minted college degree and start punching the clock. Find a job, or two, or three.
Here are the benefits to working really hard your 0L summer:
- You will get used to hard work. Don’t worry if it’s not law related. The point is just to get your brain and body used to long hours of activities that might not be your top choice for how you’d spend your time. If you can do that without going insane, you’ve come a long way already in winning the law school mind game.
- You will make money. Something you probably won’t have much of a chance to do once school starts. Every little bit to boost the impending loan-life makes a difference. How can you justify doing nice things for yourself when school starts if you didn’t even try to earn that money?
- You will make new friends and have fun. Or at least you should. Because law school will be all new people, under tons of stress, who don’t even have the weekend to look forward to (unless the look forward to studying for hours and hours straight). Use the less-intense atmosphere of a long-hours retail or clerical job to make friends and make good memories. A well-earned night on the town with your coworkers might well yield better memories than weeks of beach-bumming (and probably less skin cancer). If you can’t make relatively superficial new friends in a short time, law school will be extra tough.
- You will get used to hard work. I know I said it before. But just think about it: a 40 hour week is a breeze when you’re used to it. 50 hours a week still leaves time for cooking, exercise, and plenty of sleep. 60 hours a week is manageable if you keep variety and let yourself rest when you can. This is what law school will feel like. Why not be ready?
Law school is not easy, especially not if you’re trying to excel. Do yourself a favor and use your 0L summer to mature as a worker: kick the Facebook-checking habit, learn to focus on simple or mundane tasks (without human interaction) for hours at a time, engage your brain when you can, and, most of all, just get comfortable with committing the time it will take to be a good student. Gain that discipline now, and you might just find yourself with the willpower and energy to make sure you have a decent life in and after law school.