Summer, thankfully, is in full swing. For those have recently received their acceptance letter from the University of Idaho College of Law, congratulations! To those students who have completed their first or second year of law school, well done! The time, effort, and dedication it takes to be a law student is substantial. While the advent of summer promises a break from undergraduate and law exams, it is also an excellent time to plan ahead. In this blog post, I offer some tips on what to think about this summer for incoming students as well as current law students. Incoming Students: Get Ready For 1L Year As 1L year approaches, use this summer to do a couple of things. First, check out a copy of the book 1L of a Ride, by Andrew McClurg. It's written by a law professor, and offers great insights on how to prepare for your 1L year. Entering law school with a clear idea of what it entails will help your transition significantly. Second, take the time to ask yourself, and write down, your answer to the following question: "Why am I going to law school?" Knowing the purpose for the time and effort you will have to devote to law school is crucial. When you encounter problems and challenges in the year to come, having a clear reason for addressing those issues can greatly assist you in overcoming them. Third, make it a priority to spend time with family and loved ones this summer. Law school is a big time commitment, and taking the time to see your family and friends now will be appreciated by all involved. Also take the time to explain to your family and friends that you will have to rearrange your working hours during law school. Make a point to emphasize that you will still carve out time for them during the school year, and make a commitment to doing so once 1L year arrives. 2L Students: Hone Your Legal Skills and Address Weaknesses Whew! You've knocked out one year of law school, and that's an achievement. In many ways, the hardest part of your law school career is now over. You've been tested, called upon, and challenged to grow as both a person and a scholar. But don't let up on the gas completely this summer. While it may seem tempting to take a break from all things legal over the next few months, you would be wise to seek out opportunities to gain practical legal skills and improve your ability to write persuasive and concise legal memos. The more practical experience you obtain, and as your writing skills improve, the more attractive you will look to a potential employer down the road. Employers love an applicant that they don’t have to spend a considerable amount of time training, and if you can tell an employer that you already know to file briefs, take a deposition, and write an inter-office memo on a legal issue, that will be to your advantage. A great way to go about accomplishing those goals is to contact law firms in your area and offer to do pro bono work whenever you can. You'll establish job contacts for down the line, improve your legal abilities, and perhaps most importantly, keep the skills you learned during 1L year fresh in your mind. This summer is also a good chance to reflect on your 1L year, and the things that worked well, and the things that didn't. Take the time to write out some goals you have for improving as a law student and legal professional during your 2L year. Having a document of these goals to refer to during your 2L year will help keep you on track, and contribute to your expanding professional development. 3L Students: It Grins, It Winks, It Beckons The end. Those two words never look, or sound so good, as right before your 3L year. Two years of grueling four-hour exams, the Socratic method, and oral arguments have shaped you into a competent and flexible legal professional. You feel prepared and ready to start contributing to the world, if only you didn't have one more year to complete of law school. Yet, that third year really does matter. Why? Because becoming a good attorney is a skill you can always practice, even when you make partner at a big law firm. Use your 3L year to expand your knowledge of the law, obtain practical skills you haven't learned yet, and hone your writing abilities until they are Scalia-esque, minus the withering commentary on the analytical short-comings of your peers. What areas of the law would I suggest learning about? A good rule of thumb is to look up what courses will be tested on the bar exam in the state you want to practice in. Using your 3L year to ensure that you have a thorough understanding of bar material is a great way to prepare for the examination itself. If you want to obtain practical legal skills, take courses such as Trial Skills and Lawyering Process. Trial Skills prepares you for appearing in court, and is a good way to become comfortable with all stages of a trial. Lawyering Process teaches you how to file complaints and draft motions, another key skill the legal profession requires. Both courses also offer chances to improve your legal writing abilities, which is always a plus. Finally, savor the experience of law school and the time you spend with those who are a part of it. For the last two years, you've laughed, cried, and worked with a dynamic and diverse group of people – your classmates, professors, and administrative staff at the college of law. Use your 3L year to strengthen friendships and make new ones. Reach out to professors and support staff and ask them for advice: they have been where you are today. Feel the pride of knowing you have put in years of effort and dedication towards the goal of obtaining a J.D. In the end, when you walk across the stage next May, know that you gave your 3L year your best, and smile. It will finally be over.