Navigating the First Year of Law School: 1L Timeline

Navigating the First Year of Law School: 1L Timeline

by Mary Kate Sheridan | September 11, 2019

The first month of 1L year is like a whirlwind—from trying to survive the Socratic Method to learning how to outline effectively to figuring out a study method that will land you on top of the curve. And while you are just trying to stay afloat, you may be hearing buzz about post 1L summer jobs, OCI, journals, clinics, and employer receptions. What are all of these things, and when should you be thinking about them?

We’ve created a timeline to provide a general overview of 1L year and the various programs and opportunities students may consider. Of course, experiences will differ according to each student’s specific career goals. Also, NALP’s restrictions on advising and recruiting 1Ls are things of the past, so law schools and firms will not be limited in when they connect with 1Ls this year—which is a big change from prior years. Your own school may have specific guidelines when it comes to 1L recruiting, however, so you should check with your career services office to understand any limits.

As you read through the timeline, keep in mind that above all else, your studies should be your top priority, as most legal employers highly value grades, and some even have grade cutoffs.

Best of luck for a successful first year of law school!

1L Fall Semester

  • Begin classes. Take time to develop a study routine and connect with classmates. Decide whether joining a study group is a good fit for you.
  • Once you are truly settled in, schedule an appointment with Career Services to get to know your career advisor and the resources the department offers. Discuss your goals and potential summer options post 1L. Don’t be shy—they want to get to know you! Check with your school’s Career Services office to understand its recommendation for when 1Ls should meet with their counselors.
  • Attend Career Services programs and employer receptions of interest. Be open to opportunities, but prioritize 1L studies.
  • During study breaks, prepare a draft resume and cover letter and consult with Career Services so you are ready to apply for post 1L positions over winter break.
  • Starting in mid-November, focus solely on preparing for finals. Find a reliable study spot, and get to work!
  • When finals are over, begin searching for a post 1L summer position. Check the Career Services website for research tools and employer listings. Apply. Prepare for your school’s spring OCI if available.

1L Spring Semester

  • Begin the second half of 1L year. Assess study routine, and pinpoint any weaknesses from the first semester. Modify. Remember, grades should continue to be your No. 1 priority.
  • If you are considering transferring law schools, some schools offer early admission, and you can submit an application during your spring semester with fall semester grades. (You also can wait until the completion of spring semester when all schools who accept transfers will take applications.)
  • If you are interested in a 2L summer associate position, attend Career Services programming on OCI (likely held mid-semester in March or April). (Don’t forget to grab your own copy of the Vault Guide to Summer Associate Interviewing and Top-Ranked Programs from your Career Services office!) Attend firm events offered through your school and networking opportunities.
  • Mid-semester, you will choose classes for 2L fall semester. Decide whether to pursue a clinic. Complete the necessary material for clinic application. (Clinics can be competitive, so be sure to prepare in advance so your materials stand out.)
  • Starting in early to mid-April (depending on finals dates), focus solely on studying for finals.

 Summer Following 1L Year

  • After finals are complete, complete any law review and journal applications.
  • Begin post 1L summer position.
  • If you plan to transfer law schools, tackle transfer applications immediately.
  • If you are participating in summer associate recruiting, begin researching law firms in depth.
  • At most schools, bidding for summer associate recruiting will open in June or July. Know the dates and deadlines, and bid during the correct time.
  • In the weeks preceding OCI/EIW/EIP, research firms, practice interview questions, participate in mock interview programs, prepare questions for each firm, and print resume and writing sample.
  • In the days before your interviews, make sure your suit is ready, and pack your briefcase or bag with all the materials you need for the interview.
  • Participate in OCI/EIP/EIW in July/August.
  • Attend callback interviews. If you receive an offer, decide whether to accept!
  • If you are interested in participating in moot court or any other activity at your school that requires an application, prepare over the summer and know the deadlines so that you best position yourself to gain a spot.

Note: Most schools host another interviewing program during the spring semester, which often includes small/mid-size law firms and other legal employers, such as government entities. If your target employers are not participating in the OCI program hosted in July or August, check with your school on whether those employers participate in the school’s spring OCI.


By Robin Shefts
Robin Shefts Assistant Director (Hartford Campus) Robin Shefts