I get a lot of questions during tours about how I spend my time and what my average day looks like. I thought I would start with a screenshot of my calendar, then explain a little bit about what all these colors mean!
As you can probably tell, I like to color code (my outlines look very similar!). I use green for all classes, light blue for office hours (with tutors and professors), red for meetings/appointments, purple for work, dark blue for scheduled study time, and the grey is an “everything else” category. The green and purple (class and work) are staples every week and don’t change.
One of the biggest perks of being a 1L at Loyola is the tutoring program. Former Dean of Students Nina Appel (and also my torts professor last semester!) instituted it – each core 1L class is provided with two students who took the same class the year before and did very well in it. They typically even had the same professor you have now. The tutors will sit in each class with you so they are aware of where you are in the syllabus and what material is being covered, then they will hold their own office hours where they review the material with you. The tutors also review our outlines for us to make sure that we’re taking notes in an effective way and that we are grasping and understanding what we should be. Lastly, the tutors also assist the professor in developing an ungraded midterm for us. This ungraded midterm is a huge advantage because it gives us early exposure to what our final exams will look like – and final exams are a bit scary! The midterm will have final exam-esque questions on it and the professor will typically simulate the testing environment when you take it. Then, the professor AND the tutors will review the midterm with you. This is typically when I really kick my studying into gear because I gain a much better understanding of what the professor is looking for and how I can improve my note-taking to ensure I am fully prepared to take the final exam. In short, the tutors are a really valuable resource and are hugely helpful in getting us 1L’s acclimated to the demands of law school!
That being said, I try to take advantage of my tutors’ office hours and attend a few each week. I’m not always free to attend them all, but I like to keep them scheduled in my calendar as a nice reminder. Additionally, professors also hold their own office hours. I keep those in my schedule as well so I’m always aware of the best times to stop by. Loyola has an open door policy, meaning you are welcome to stop by at any time, and typically for any matter. The faculty members at Loyola take an interest in their students in and outside of the classroom – the faculty community here is incredibly supportive, and I’ve never experienced one like it before. I’ve spoken with professors and deans regarding my work-life balance, job prospects, travels, AND academic material. In short, they’re here to help you make the best out of your time as a law student, but also to make sure you’re happy doing it.
I find it really helpful to meet up with a classmate or two throughout the semester to compare our notes and start constructing our outlines (the dark blue category). For the most part, I am a solo-studier, but I do find it really beneficial to check-in with a fellow student. This past Thursday I got together with my friend and classmate, Lauren, and we started to organize our notes from our constitutional law class. I had things that she didn’t, and she caught things from class that I missed, so it was really productive and helpful to work together!
My purple “work” time is almost always my time at admissions, although I do occasionally babysit. Luckily I am usually able to squeeze in some study time while doing both, so that’s a huge perk! As a 1L I’ve been able to easily manage about 10-15 hours of work per week on top of my school schedule. Like I said, I do have a job that allows me to put school first and study while I’m here, so take that “10-15 hours” with a grain of salt.
The red “meetings” time is usually for meetings, discussions, or network events that Loyola plans for us. This past week I went to two meetings for moot court and for the law review journal, so that I could get a feel for what their tryouts would be like for the following year. It will be tough deciding between them – they both seem like great opportunities! I also met with Dean Kaufman, my advisor and civil procedure professor from the fall, to discuss my plans for a job this summer.
I like to treat my time at law school like a workday – I get to school around 8 or 9 in the morning, and try to leave by 7 or 8 at night (I admit, I occasionally fall into the procrastination trap and have to pull a few late nights!). A lot of the blank space on my schedule is spent working in the library, either alone or with my study group. I find the 5th floor of the library to be a very productive space for me so that’s where I usually am, but I have plenty of friends who prefer to work at home or at a café.
Loyola doesn’t have classes on Fridays, which is a great way to catch up and/or get ahead in studying. As a 1L, you’re encouraged to take at least one day during the weekend to do nothing law related (and I highly suggest you take advantage of this!). I typically spend Friday and Saturday at the library, then leave Sunday for errands, cooking, and, realistically, lying on my couch.
So that’s a peek of an average week for me! I still have time to exercise, go out for dinner with friends, relax, and enjoy a life outside of school. I feel like I’m busy, but rarely overwhelmingly so. Hope this helped give you a better idea of what life as second semester 1L is like!
Kelly Kearney is a 1L at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She is blogging about the journey of her first year of law school. To search all posts written by her click here or search the Kelly K category on the right hand side. Questions for Kelly? Email email@example.com with the subject “Ask Kelly” and she will make sure to answer them.