The “work to death year” or so it has been called by many. 2L year is a wild ride and varies tremendously depending on what your schedule and employment situation is. I have some friends that worked a 30 hour internship, a 20 hour part time job and took fourteen credit hours all at the same time! That was definitely on the crazier end of situations, but overall the general gist of 2L year is that it’s a lot more chaotic than 1L.
Here are some things that I learned through observing other students experiences and from my own, that I think will be helpful for you.
2L Is What You Make Of It!
There are so many people that overwork themselves to death their 2L year of law school. Between school, extracurriculars, internships, and journal, you can drive yourself insane! One of my best friends showed me her calendar one time and I nearly had a heart attack. It was completely filled from 7 AM – 10 PM seven days a week.
Before you start to think that she simply had a micro-managing personality I will tell you that she was VP of the law school SBA, member of a journal, working an internship and taking 15 credit hours. Why did she do that to herself? I have no clue, but you certainly would not catch me doing that.
I can honesty say that my 2L year experience was on the opposite end of the spectrum. I did not do the “absolute minimum” but I felt like my workload was actually a little less than 1L year, especially my 2L Spring semester.
My 2L year I took a lot of foundational “bar courses” such as Corporations, Federal Income Tax, Criminal Procedure and Constitutional Law II. But I did not intern during the school year and I did not participate in any extracurriculars. The only thing I did besides classes was write my Note and do weekly production assignments for Law Review. The reason I did not do anything extra is that I was in a blessed position, I had a 2L summer associate job already.
Would I recommend to 2Ls with summer jobs to not intern during the school year or participate in extracurriculars? Absolutely not, I did it and my firm still offered me a job afterwards, but I didn’t participate in these additional things because I did not want to be busy. I didn’t participate because I didn’t want to donate another full year of my life to law school if I didn’t have to.
I had additional interests in entrepreneurship that I was unable to pursue 1L year because of the enormous time commitment. I had significantly more free time 2L year and I was able to pursue these interests.
2L Year Is Easier In Some Ways
Remember the anxiety you felt during 1L year preparing for your final exams? All of that studying and hard work, but you wont have a clue how you did until several months after you take the exams.
Do you remember how long it took you to sift through your readings during 1L year? It was a major pain in the ass right?
2Ls still feel a little anxiety around exam time and it still takes them time to finish their readings, but the foot is taken off the gas a little bit. Regarding exams, I noticed that most students approach 2L exams with a lighter touch. We wait longer in the semester to begin preparing, and we have far fewer red bull infused late nights studying for exams.
On the readings angle, it should become significantly easier for you to sift through your readings. You are basically learning a new language your 1L year and readings typically take forever. Readings still take a while, but I feel that I mastered the art of skimming for important information my 2L year. Most of the information in case opinions is unnecessary filler with like 20% or so being important to your understanding of the subject. Finding that 20% quickly is an important skill that you should have developed throughout 1L year.
Don’t Make 2L Year Suck
I don’t know how else to put it but don’t make your 2L year suck. I was a schmuck my first semester of 2L year, I took nothing but foundational classes without regards for the professor or my schedule. I ended up having Corporations four days a week at 8 am, Administrative Law, Antitrust, and Federal Income Tax. Corporations and Administrative Law felt like watching paint dry. Antitrust and Administrative Law were both three credit classes, but the ridiculous amount of readings made me feel like they should have been worth five credits each.
Even though I was getting these very important foundational classes completed I was absolutely miserable my Fall semester. I strongly recommend that you do not try to stack up all of your foundational classes in a semester or two. It will likely make you miserable and question your decision for going to law school. As if we needed another reason to question that decision.
Don’t Let the Job Hunt Control Your Life
If you already have a job/internship for 2L summer than congratulations you have one of the biggest 2L stressors out of the way. For those that do not have a 2L summer internship yet, don’t fret. Most government and small firms do not start interviewing for interns until Spring semester. Hiring is heaviest around mid-February until well into April.
Your 2L summer internship is significantly more important than your 1L internship. Lots of students end up receiving job offers from the place they interned their 2L year or at the very least it’s great for networking.
But don’t let your 2L summer internship search control your life Spring semester. Yes 2L summer jobs are extremely important, but spending all of your free time on cover letters and application will make you miserable and it will burn you out.
My advice is to set a goal for a certain amount of applications you will complete every day/week and stick to it. Don’t go to crazy by setting an unachievable number. When I was job hunting I usually aimed for around 4-5 a day, which translated into 28-35 applications a week. 4-5 applications a day done correctly with cover letters usually takes me around 90 minutes. 90 minutes a day for internship applications is doable.
2L Year Flies By
Even with my comparatively light schedule I feel like 2L year flew by even quicker than 1L did. There are times when you are juggling several things at once for weeks at a time, and this tends to put the passage of time into overdrive.
My advice is to take advantage of the rare moments your 2L year when you are not busy. Go see a movie, go hiking or fishing, do whatever you feel recharges you. When times get crazy, stress levels are increasing, and you feel like you are going to implode, don’t worry because it will be over soon enough.