All the work, none of the inspired motivation

The first day of school was always a big deal. I looked forward to new teachers, new subjects and new friends. The first day of law school held all of that excitement for me. That newness, added to the motivation of this new life endeavor, kept me motivated all semester long. I was gung-ho law school. Proud that I had been accepted, inspired to work hard.

Fast forward to the first week of second semester. The shiny newness of law school has dulled. My assignment notebook is full as if I picked up right where I left off in December. Additionally, the job search looms and grades are on the horizon. I am overwhelmed and under inspired.

My classmates echo this sentiment. The holiday break was hardly enough time to refresh. Morale is low. So, what can we students do, and how can our school help us get over this second semester slump? My classmates and I have a few suggestions:

1. Take a deep breath, then get to work. Nothing is more motivating than crossing assignments of the to-do list, or finding results after a good afternoon of research.

2. Plan an attack strategy for the semester. Know deadlines, and prepare well in advance.

3. Then, ignore the forest and focus on the trees. Worry about next week’s assignments after this week’s assignments.

4. Take advantage of all the services that were available last semester, but aren’t so visible. Refresher courses for research and studying are always available. (Hint to administrators: keep the emails and postings coming!)

5. Actively seek help when you need it. Whether from a librarian, career counselor or professor, the answers and support we need is there.

6. Get a life. It was way too easy to get submerged in law school last semester. Remember all the fun you had doing that thing you really like? Take time to do it. A little fun might be enough to keep you going until Spring Break.

7. Get out there and get some experience. Volunteer work for the public defender or fetching coffee for a district attorney is a great way to get an insider view into the career path you’ve chosen while breaking up the drudgery of case briefs. (Go back to No. 5 to learn how.)

8. Keep it all in perspective. It is only law school, and this is just one semester.

And, if none of those suggestions help to motivate or inspire you during second semester as a 1L, try this: Only four months until summer vacation!

By Merideth Kimble, a first-year student at the University of San Diego School of Law and columnist for The National Jurist.