A 1L's Guide to the Second Semester

Taylor Elicegui ‘19
Features Editor

Welcome back everyone! After anywhere from four to six weeks sitting at home, stuffing your face with your mom’s holiday cookies, dodging questions from relatives about your grades and love life (or lack thereof), or traipsing around some random part of the world for one to two credits or just for leisure, it’s good to be back in Charlottesville.

1Ls, you’re probably thrilled to be back, because everyone has been telling you that you already made it through the worst part! Law school is all fun and games from here on out! Well, I have some bad news for you. They’re all lying to you. Your PAs, older friends, and professors have all been lying when they told you first semester is the worst. With that said, I’ve prepared a guide to second semester so you have a better idea of what to expect.

1.     The First Few Weeks of School. This is the good part your PAs were probably talking about when they said second semester is better. For the first two to three weeks, all you have to do is read—and you finally know how to do that! Your readings won’t take nearly as long as they used to, and you’ll find yourself with some extra time on your hands. Take advantage of that extra time by hitting the gym to work on your New Year’s Resolution, living it up at Feb Club, or just enjoying being in your own apartment, where no one tells you to make your bed if you don’t want to.

2.     Feb Club. To spread some cheer in the bleak month of February, SBA and different organizations plan a party for every day in February. As a 1L, do not try and iron man Feb Club and make it to every party. I repeat, do not try and make it to every party. Leave that to the employed 3Ls, who don’t have much better to do and can’t be bothered to read anymore. Pick a few parties, get the section gang together to pregame, and head out to blow off some steam a few times.

3.     Classes. Good news: You picked two of your classes this semester, so there’s a good chance you’re excited about them. Bad news: If you don’t like them, you did this to yourself. You’ll notice there are some different-looking people in those classes. Not necessarily weird per se, but definitely different. There’s something a little off about them. Why do they play so much Tetris during class? Who knew anyone needed to do that much online shopping? Those, my friends, would be the 2Ls and 3Ls. You may also see some strange, never before seen humans, who appear to be more focused than the slacker upperclassmen. Those are people *not* from your section. Pick a seat and introduce yourself to the people around you. Best case scenario, you make some new friends while learning about something you’re genuinely interested in. Worst case scenario, at least you still have half of your classes with your section buddies.

4.     Barrister’s Ball. It’s time to dust off your old prom gown (or tux) and say a little prayer you can still fit into it. If you took my advice and made a journey to the gym with your extra time, you should be in good shape (pun fully intended). Barrister’s is a good opportunity to strut your stuff and remind your enemies just how fabulous you are. There’s an open bar. Enough said.

5.     Journal Tryouts. The worst weekend of 1L. Luckily, though, it’s only a weekend. You have the choice of doing the weekend before Spring Break or the first weekend of Spring Break. There’s pros and cons to each—that first weekend, you get it done sooner, there are more people around (which is less depressing, but also means more competition to find a good work space), some of your older friends may take pity on you and swing by with treats. The downside is, you’ll probably have some reading to do for the week ahead and there’s a whole week of school in front of you after you’ve turned into a journal tryout zombie. Weekend of Spring Break—obviously, you lose three days of break, which sucks. You also have to hear people talk about how terrible it was all week. But there’s no reading to be done, less competition to get your favorite library seat, and plenty of time to de-stress while watching eighteen episodes of New Girl after. Whatever you pick, make sure you have groceries and good snacks on hand, plan to order some type of delicious take-out, and have a killer playlist. Yes, it sucks, but it’s only a weekend and we all make it through.

6.     Extracurriculars. I have some more bad news for you. All those club meetings you go to? They may start…expecting things from you. And all those free lunches you go to, with Chick-Fil-A and interesting speakers? Well, the Chick-Fil-A doesn’t drive itself and those speakers don’t invite themselves, either. Club elections will be coming up, and the 2Ls who have been actually doing things are sick of it. They can’t wait to hand the reins off to the next group of suckers—I mean, student leaders—so they can fill the board positions. In all seriousness, this is a great opportunity to get more involved, add some things to the resume, and plan the types of events you want to see.

7.     Libel!!! This is the only part of the list that’s entirely positive. Libel is the best. At the very least, make sure you come ready to laugh your a** off in March. We’re law students—if we can’t laugh about the reading we aren’t doing, then we may have to actually be doing it?? Your peers will have put a ton of time and effort into the show, and I can guarantee it will be fantastic. Here’s the other important thing: You want to make sure you audition and join the cast. Humor is required, but talent is optional. Being in the show is a pretty minimal time commitment (each skit rehearses once a week) and a fantastic way to make some new friends outside of your usual crew. Libel also feeds you dinner the week of the show. So dust the cobwebs off the left side of your brain and make sure you come out for auditions.

8.     Finals. The great news about spring finals is the weather is great. Charlottesville is beautiful in April and there’s so many wonderful outdoor activities to do. The bad news about spring finals is you don’t get to do any of that, because you’ll be studying. And studying. And studying. Note that “studying” is a combination of “student” and “dying.” Try and at least pick a library spot by the window. You can look out at the sunshine and birds while you attempt to figure out the Rule Against Perpetuities (don’t worry, no one actually gets it). You now get to decide when you’re taking half your finals, which gives you some more flexibility. Make a plan and stick to it. Upperclassmen, only two test windows will be blocked out for us this time! All the better to get those finals over with and get into summer mode. Or bar studying mode. Or work mode. Ugh.

There you have it, folks. The official guide to second semester. Yes, things will be busy. But we’re all back together again and Feb Club is just around the corner!!