SWLAW Blog | Dean's Fellow Digest

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August 26, 2020

Dean's Fellow Digest Issue #12 - What To Do During The First Month of Law School

Issue: 2020-08

Dean's Fellows consistently strive to support students in realizing their full academic potential, leading ultimately to success on the bar exam and in the workplace. To support all Southwestern students in this goal, the Dean's Fellows created this Digest as a way to check-in at critical times throughout the semester with helpful tips, strategies, and encouragement. 


  • What To Do During The First Month of Law School

What To Do During The First Month of Law School
By: Brynn Bodair*

Image - Student Studying in front of Westmoreland

The first month of law school can be as equally exciting as it is overwhelming. From seemingly endless readings, to numerous events and resources being offered, the path to choose within this uncharted territory may seem hidden. Still, these four tips may assist you in laying the foundation for your personal route to success.

1) Find a Calendaring System that Works for You

Time management is essential to your success in law school. In this first month, you should find an enjoyable task management system for tracking your deadlines, reading assignments, professors’ office hours, and events you may have interest in, as well as blocking out time to review your class notes, work with Themis Quiz Builder for multiple-choice questions, outline, and relax your mind (Yes, it can help to schedule relaxation time!).

Visualizing your daily priorities assists in maintaining motivation. During this first month, evaluate how you best manage daily goals. In turn, you will be able to set aside time for necessary mental rest.

Here are some free online task managers:

  1. https://app.asana.com
  2. https://todoist.com
  3. https://www.notion.so

Image - Phone Calendar


2) Do Not Shy Away From Work

Unlike your experience with undergraduate studies, law school kicks into high gear right away. Set aside time early to complete your readings and work with your course material in a hands-on manner. Are you unsure of how to approach your readings? Are you worried that you are incorrectly briefing cases? Schedule an appointment with your Dean’s Fellow to discuss case briefing strategies and critical reading methods, as well as visit the Dean’s Fellow Digest page for more tips on academic performance skills: click here.  

Feeling confused by substantive material after class? You certainly are not alone! Try to synthesize your class notes, and perhaps visit your TA’s office hours for review. Then, work with class material to craft questions and hypotheticals to discuss in office hours. Lastly, try to implement a virtual study room. One perk of the new online learning format is that “study rooms” are never full. With this in mind, join together with a few colleagues in your section to dedicate time to reviewing class materials as a group. Also, you are welcome to join study halls planned by various student organizations. Here are some dates to keep in mind:

  • August 28 (5:00 – 9:00 P.M.): BLSA study hall session;
  • September 4 (12:15 – 2:00 P.M.): Dean’s Fellows/SBA joint study hall session;
  • September 19 (time TBA): Dean’s Fellows/Latino Law Students Association (LLSA) joint study hall session.

Image - Calendar(Check your “Today @ SW” emails for further study hall dates, as well as the Zoom login information for all study hall sessions.)

Items to Add to Your Calendar:

  1. Your Dean’s Fellow’s Appointment Hours
  2. Your T.A. Office Hours
  3. Your Professors’ Office Hours
  4. Virtual Study Room Time



3) Read Your Emails Everyday

While it is important to meet new people and explore the various organizations within Southwestern, be attune to your energy and time. As we learn online this semester, you may feel obligated to join every zoom meeting offered within this first month (and there will be many!). However, be kind to yourself and unapologetic in taking a moment away from the screen. You can find the “Today @ SW” email with a list of scheduled events and meetings for the week; peruse the listings and calendar those events and meetings you are interested in and those which fit into your growing schedule.

To Do:

  1. Check Email for “Today @ SW
  2. Add Events and Meetings to Calendar


 4) Remember Your “Why”

As your newfound obligations spring to the forefront of your mind this month, it is important to remind yourself “why” you’ve come to law school. This will include scheduling a visit with the Career Services Office (CSO) to discuss potential career paths that will support the reason you’ve come to law school.

Taking the time to form a relationship with your CSO Advisor is invaluable, and this will also give you an opportunity to get a head start on materials for externship applications, as well as familiarize yourself with Simplicity. Further, networking is a necessary component in reaching your legal career goals. For this reason, it is wise to revisit your resume and LinkedIn account, update your information, and share both with your CSO Advisor for feedback. It is never too early to network with those actively working in the legal profession, and adding those you meet at Southwestern Events to your LinkedIn page can help you grow your network.

Image - SWLAW Career Services Office

Items to Add to Your Calendar:

  1. Meet with your CSO Advisor
  2. Revamp your LinkedIn account and resume

Although the first month—and semester—of law school may look different, these pragmatic steps will be as helpful in a virtual environment as they are in a traditional learning space. Learning how to manage your focus, energy, and time will catapult your academic performance and law school journey.


 *About the Author:


Image - Brynn BodairBrynn is a Traditional Day 2L student who graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2019 with a dual degree in Dance and Political Science, minoring in Screenwriting. Currently, Brynn works as a law clerk at LeFan Law and, on a project basis, at Lowe and Associates. Upon graduation, Brynn intends to practice within the field of entertainment law.

In addition to having the honor of being a Dean’s Fellow, Brynn is a member of Law Review. Brynn is excited to assist your transition into law school, so please do not hesitate to reach out to her! 


Southwestern Law School Dean's Fellows | Scheduling and Booking Website

Dean’s Fellows are upper-division students with strong academic skills who go through a rigorous application and training process. They are an integral part of the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department. They are carefully selected based on their academic excellence and ability to teach other students best-practice study methods that will help them become acclimated to the study of law. Dean’s Fellows meet with students as academic mentors.

Please click HERE to make an appointment with a Dean's Fellow.