This post is part of the "Advice for Law School Series," containing advice and opinions from current and former students at BYU Law. The ideas represented herein are not the official views or positions of BYU Law School.
Click on a name below to read their advice for 2L year.
Advice from Brooke Ellis, 3L
What should a 2L expect in the coming year?You're still going to work really hard, but it's all in classes and activities that you choose. So choose things that you want to learn and spend your time.
What was the most challenging part about 2L year? How can 2L's work through these kind of challenges?I did all three co-curriculars (Trial Ad, Moot Court, and a Journal) and burned out. I then had to scale back my involvement and learn to say no to extra activities.
What fears did you have when you started 2L year?I worried that I wouldn't do well in classes with 3Ls. I did fine in my classes. Don't select classes based on who else will be in them. Take the classes you're interested in. If you care about a subject, you'll do well in it. Don't stress about whether the entire top 10 of both your year and the 3L year is in the class.
Advice from Jonathan Bludorn, 3L
What three pieces of advice would you give a 2L?1. The beginning of 2L year is a time to job-search. It is the most important hiring window, so participate as much as possible in opportunities that arise from school connections, but do not limit yourself to those. I got my summer job at a great firm by finding everyone with connections to BYU in the geographical locations where I wanted to go and sending them emails. Email as many lawyers with BYU connections as you can find--everywhere! Cast your net broadly and increase your chances of a serendipitous match. Targeting BYU-associated attorneys gives you a much better chance of being considered and getting an interview than simply mass-mailing the recruiters (but if you have the time, then by all means do that as well). 2. Get to know your professors. They want you to learn the material, and the more you talk to them, the better. My best grades have come from classes where I had good relationships with the professors. Although the exams are blind-graded, you may get a slight boost for participation, and more importantly, you get into the professor's frame of mind and can get answers to your individual questions. If you understand how they teach and what they are looking for, you will learn better from them. This will lead to understanding the material better and doing well in the class. Everyone knows this but so few will do it. Visit your professor often! 3. Don't neglect your gospel studies. We spend so much time reading and studying and discussing important issues in law school that we can easily forget to read, study, and discuss the most important issues. Use this time in law school to study Church history. I have seen a few peers lose their testimonies during this time because their testimonies were neglected. While at BYU, we are surrounded by so many great opportunities to read great books about the Gospel and Church history. We are surrounded by great examples in our professors and our peers. The next final, the next competition, the next reading--they all seem so important. None of them are as important as using this valuable 3-year period to build a foundation on Jesus Christ. The world will attack Joseph Smith and Church history. It will attack our morals and lifestyle. It will make you doubt. The jobs and lessons that come out of law school will mean nothing if we trade our salvation to get it. We must have strong testimonies. Studying at BYU has a serious advantage over all other law schools because it affords increased opportunities to develop our testimonies.
What should a 2L expect in the coming year?It is a lot like your first year. Work hard. Do readings. Attend class. Classes may be less Socratic in method, and you have some more choice in what you take, but there are no surprises.
Based on what you've learned, what would you advise 2L's to do differently than you did during 2L year?I was so busy that I didn't socialize with my fellow students like I did the first year. I wish I had. People will build friendships; participate in doing so yourself. This is good advice for your well-being and for your career. Once you graduate, a major part of building a law career will come down to having a network of friends in the legal community who know about job openings and who will refer clients.
Advice from Madilyn Cole, 3L
What three pieces of advice would you give a 2L?1. Now that your first year is behind you, you have learned what works for you and what doesn't. Pay attention to how you learn and don't let others influence you to stray from what works for you and your learning style. 2. Take advantage of the clinical alliances and practical courses that are offered. They will benefit you greatly when you are working or externing after your second year. 3. Get involved in clubs and co-curriculars. Even though they take up more time, you will gain and benefit from them greatly and differently than you do from your substantive courses and classes. They will also help you to get outside your comfort zone, which will allow you to grow as a person and as a law student.
What should a 2L expect in the coming year?The second year of law school is different from the first. Now you've started to figure out how the whole law school thing works, so you're not as stressed about that, but you're much busier than your first year because you're more involved. It's not just classes that you have to stay on top of now. Making a specific plan and schedule and staying organized will help you to stay ahead and allow you to complete everything you have to do. Your 2L year will be difficult in a different way than your first year. You're still going to be busy, and you're still going to feel stressed about finals, but nothing is as bad as your first year. Just always remember, the worst is behind you! The second year of law school is better than the first in so many ways. You now have friends at school and a routine. You know what to expect as far as final exams and classes go. In your second year, take advantage of building those friendships and relationships you've made in school and outside of school. It's easier to have more fun in your second year than it is in your first.
Advice from Natalie Lambert, 3L
What three pieces of advice would you give a 2L?1. Keep (or start) doing class readings. Skim if your run out of time, or prioritize important parts, but don't totally give up, even if other people say it is a class where you don't need to read. 2. Get your substantial writing taken care of through your note if you're on Law Review. It's pass/fail and you get to pick what you write about. 3. Don't let law school take over your life.
What should a 2L expect in the coming year?Expect professors with different styles than your 1L classes, and expect classes with different formats, final styles, and sizes. My 2L experiences ranged from a big class with an all-multiple-choice and true/false final to a class with five students that had sporadic quizzes in addition to the final.
Based on what you've learned, what would you advise 2L's to do differently than you did during 2L year?Make sure that you do look ahead to make sure that classes you can't take now are being offered later. Think about when you're going to take certain classes. If it's even possible that you want to specialize in tax, you probably want to take intro tax sooner rather than later. Think not just about whether this semester's schedule is going to work out (i.e. will it overwhelm you, are you taking a good mix of classes), but also whether that's going to contribute to your being able to graduate having taken everything you want. As a 3L, I now have a few classes I have to choose between.
Advice from Tanner Bean, 3L
What three pieces of advice would you give a 2L?1. You don't need to do every activity or co-curricular that the law school offers. Pick two or three and go full steam at them. 2. Take classes that you think relate to your professional interests. Often, externship providers and employers like to know that you've taken classes in their area of law. For example, students interested in prosecution might want to take a trial advoacy class and criminal procedure. Doing so can make you more marketable, and it can also help you to confirm your interests. 3. Find corners to cut (in a good way, of course). Consider taking less time for lunch during the day, waking up a half hour earlier, or prioritizing what reading is going to be more important for a particular day or class.
What should a 2L expect in the coming year?2L year is what you make it. If you're trying to impress the world by taking on everything you can to make you seem superhuman, you're not going to feel like a superhuman most days. If you're taking it easier than 1 year, you might find more time for hobbies, family, and being away from the law school. If you're ready to start working during the school year (as many do), you'll find yourself eager to get into practice, and probably weary from commuting.
What was the most challenging part about 2L year? How can 2L's work through these kind of challenges?I took on too many responsibilities. There are so many opportunities at the law school; it was too hard for me to refuse. While I was intensely involved in many different groups, teams, and academic endeavors, I began dreading each day. I was exhausted by the end of the semester, nearly comatose. However, even though it was extremely tiresome, I do think that taking those opportunities has put me in a better position. I've already secured post-graduate employment, likely because I was able to present such a solid resume.
Be careful to limit the amount of responsibilities you take on to avoid being totally overwhelmed and exhausted all the time.
What misconceptions did you have as you started 2L year?I was often told that 2L year was going to be easier than 1L year. That didn't hold true for me. 2L year was certainly more difficult because of the extra obligations that filled my plate. Truly, 2Ls are the meat of the staff of most of the school's organizations, teams, journals, and clubs, and it often feels like the burden is held in the 2L year. That's because 2L year is when these opportunities to get involved abound. But be wary. Help out where you can, choose what opportunities will suit you, and you'll be tired--maybe exhausted--but better for it.
See more from our "Advice for Law School" series: