NorCalLaw wrote:Hey incoming 1Ls and potential 1Ls, Hastings 2L here. If you have any questions about the school or just want to get in contact with someone who presently attends, go ahead and PM me. I'm not promoting the school by any means, but I am happy to help people out.
As a preliminary bit of info, the school is going to be pretty starved for qualified applicants this year, so expect the waitlist to cycle through and negotiate with the understanding that the school needs you more than you need it!
Hey there! Thanks for offering to give advice! I'm an incoming 1L. Any suggestions on preparation? As well as dealing with commuting in daily?
Any organizational tips and life management tips would be helpful as well. Also any suggestions on concentrations or which class to choose for the elective in spring term?
Don't bother reading ahead in the material, just be prepared for each day's material when it comes. That means doing all the reading and preferably doing short briefs of the major cases. At first you will have no idea what's going on, but don't sweat it, they have a bunch of obnoxious support programs now to make sure you learn how to do this stuff.
Commuting is great if you take BART either very early near an end of the line stop or on off-hours, because you can get a seat and just read during the commute. Can't count how many times I've either finished or caught up on readings for my next class while on BART. Slap your hand away when you reach for the smart phone. If you're doing it by car, well, I don't have much to say other than that it is going to suck and that parking/gas prices will add even more than the cost of daily BART tickets. Still, commuting will generally save you a lot of cash over living in the city!
If you have any undergrad interests or experience (business, health, w/e), then I would explore related fields of law. Otherwise, don't sweat that stuff yet and focus on getting good grades. Doing all the reading and skipping no more than 1 class per course will cover 80% of your studying, doing a short outline will cover another 15%, and the last 5% is basically cramming with flash cards, group sessions, practice/past tests (these are absolutely necessary if the professor offers them, and most do). Not to be a downer, but your grades at Hastings will absolutely determine your life unless you're doing IP law or something super-niche, and even then, they'll still be hugely important. Top 5% of the class will mostly transfer, 5-15% mostly biglaw, 15-25% all sorts of things including gov't, 25-50% mixed, bottom 50% best not mentioned. Honestly, if you find yourself in the bottom half after 1L year, and don't have special skills, connections, scholarships, or cash reserves, I would seriously consider cutting yourself loose.
If there is one class to strive in, it's LWR. An A in LWR can go a long way in convincing employers that you have useful skills, whereas a B- can wreck you. Don't get lazy on the stupid LWR assignments, communicate and meet frequently with the professor and TAs (this will help you out, they'll grade you up if they like you since LWR isn't anonymously graded like most classes are). Don't be that annoying guy that emails three times in a night, though.
Plan to set yourself up with a judicial externship at some point in your Hastings career. With so many courts in walking distance, Hastings students are able to get externships with the district court, state supreme court, and even ninth circuit court! These are hugely valuable, but again, getting one will require top half at minimum, top 25% for most people. Apply very early, that means if you want to do an externship your 1L summer (great opportunity!) you should be sending out applications as soon as you get your first semester grades.
I don't know which electives they're offering right now, but tax is popular for the transactional hopefuls (and tax hopefuls, of course). The general admin. law one was good for a strong base of knowledge. Pick whichever interests you, but realize that the gunner types will flock to whichever options sound the most corporate (see: tax), so you might just boost your GPA by choosing something else.