In various threads around TLS, and most noticeably in the "2L No Motivation" thread, I see people talking about 2L year as if it is completely irrelevant. Why is this? I understand that 1L year is extremely important - OCI is all about first year grades, and if you crush 1L and crush OCI you're set for the rest of school. Is the flip side of this that if you bomb 1L year you're screwed in OCI and screwed for the rest of law school?
I can understand why the very top and the very bottoms of a class will stop caring about grades after first year, but what about those in near the median? Can't they advance into the upper 30% or 25% by killing it 2L year? Or is this unheard of?
And when you say you don't care about 2L year, are you just saying that to make it sound like you don't try as hard as you really do, or do you actually not put in anywhere near the same amount of effort as you did the year before?
1. Your legal work between 1L & 2L (if any) depend on your 1L grades. That externship/job
will make you more competitive for the real paid work between 2L & 3L. So if you do poorly in your first year you won't get that coveted legal experience you NEED in the 2L summer. You'll be a year behind everyone if you fall behind as a 1L.
2. Law Review
for most schools is decided either half-way between or at the end of the 1L year. If you don't kill as a 1L then you stand a slim chance of making Law Review or the Journal of your Choice. Many Big-Law jobs and other competitve attorney positions really value or sometimes demand LR. If you slack of a bit as a 2L you can still be on LR and not worry about being dropped; once your on, you're on for good unless you totally screw up. So the pressure is really on your GPA as a 1L to make LR then not so much as a 2L.
3. Starting off poorly in Law School means you're going to pick up bad habits, poor study rituals, poor study-buddies etc
. If you start strong you put yourself in the best position to get the externships, research positions & jobs that people really want during their 3 years.
4. 1L is considered to be more tedious and strenuous
. Although your 2L and 3L years will be busy and hectic as well, your basic classes (Contract, Torts, Criminal etc.) will be more cut and dry. So thats why you need to be so much more concentrated because its a lot more book-work and its easier to get lost (even though everyone will be lost to begin with) and fall behind. As a veteran law student later on in your 2nd & 3rd years you'll be able to handle yourself better and you would already have the tools to suceed. You often will work at a job instead of sitting in lectures, extern, research or do other things that you don't get graded for as much. So your GPA from your 1L will be more difficult to improve & deviate from later on.
Not trying to be a dick, but why are you giving advice on what it's like being a 1L, 2L, or 3L when you are still a 0L? I wouldn't have noticed except that you described each year pretty strangely and your descriptions were either misleading or just incorrect at times. To correct a few:
-Most 1L summer jobs are not based on your 1L grades. Many biglaw 1L SA's will require 1st semester grades before making decisions (same with some judges), but it is possible to get many summer jobs w/o grades. (You can even get 1L SA's if you come from a high ranked school, you interview over christmas break, and they like you--as long as your grades are bad enough for them to change their mind.) Even if you get medicore grades, you are not sunk (at least at UT). You will just have to hustle more.
-What you do your 1L summer is as valuable as you can make it during the ~5-10 minutes you talk about it during your OCI interview. As long as you did legal work, there really isn't huge disparities in advantages of any given 1L job--the one exception being a 1L SA where you get invited back as a 2L. There might be some bump for having a 1L SA, but the biggest advantage is the safety net of already having something before OCI begins.
-Your 1L grades CAN make or break you during OCI at the beginning of 2L. This is why 1L grades matter. If you want biglaw, the model is built to do most all its hiring during 2L OCI. You miss this boat, you are probably out of luck.
-Value of law review depends on how strong your the placement of your school is. If you're at, say, CCN, then LR is not necessary for most, if not all firms (maybe Susman wouldn't like you if you weren't on LR?). If your school's placement is not so hot, then LR can be helpful, but it's your 1L grades that are still the number one factor for 2L OCI. And secondary journals are secondary journals. Some might have a better reputation at your particular school, but employers will probably not pay much attention to the difference between one or another.
-Not sure what schools do a write-on for LR after first semester. I know other journals do that. Not saying it doesn't happen, but I don't know what schools do this.
-Your third point is just silly.
-2L year is generally much busier than 1L year.
-2L grades matter for 1) people who didn't get biglaw at OCI and 2) people gunning for clerkships. People who gun for clerkships can definitely improve their GPA as a 2L. People who didn't get biglaw
should probably be doing what you describe.