Alright, so you survived your first semester of law school. WOW! That was a tough semester and the week or two of finals were the WORST! Now, you have about a month before beginning the second half of the year. What do you do before then?
The default is to, of course, relax. Finals at Loyola generally end the week or two before the winter holidays, allowing some time to celebrate the first semester with your friends before heading off to be with family. You should absolutely take advantage of a few days to 1) sleep and 2) party. Don’t feel guilty for sleeping 15 hours or more straight after your last final. When you wake up, go out with friends and celebrate, and then promptly return home to grab another 15 hours of sleep. YOU DESERVE IT.
Now, you’ve deposited a significant amount of time in the sleep bank and you’ve congratulated yourself enough. Time to celebrate the winter holidays with your family! Many 1Ls now return home for a few days or weeks to sit around with parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. You will be asked a lot of questions about law school that you will 1) neither want to answer or 2) be able to answer in any meaningful way that will allow the non-law school person to understand what you just went through. But everyone will be proud of you, so enjoy it.
Next, spend another week or so traveling to see friends from high school and college. This part is always a blast. These are the people who watched you develop into the current law student you are and these are the people who can most easily ground you back in the real world. Use your time with the old pals to forget about law school and just have fun—without discussing anything about the law. (Note: this will be extremely difficult since once you begin studying the law, you will see it everywhere. It will ruin every normal conversation you have and every TV show you watch. That’s the reality of being a law student, so better accept it now and enjoy analyzing Law and Order to your friends’ utmost annoyance).
As a 1L (especially if you are full-time), you aren’t allowed to work more than 20 hours a week. In fact, it is highly discouraged that you do anything but focus on that first year curriculum. This can feel strange, especially as you begin your job search for that first summer. If you aren’t building up your resume for an entire school year, how are you supposed to get a job?
Well, many 1Ls will get a part-time job or volunteer over the winter break. You can work as a bartender or barista, or get a part-time clerk position at a law firm. If you don’t have enough time to commit to a job, try volunteering. Chicago has a ton of legal volunteer opportunities open for 1Ls, such as working at one of the various legal help-desks specializing in guardianship, divorce, or criminal expungements. This is usually a minimal commitment and can give you something to add to your resume.
Finally, 1Ls spend their winter breaks looking for summer positions. Career Services will outline the precise timeline you should follow, but generally, most 1Ls have begun submitting applications within the first week or two into the new year. The last thing you want to worry about when starting the second semester is writing cover letters and seeking out job opportunities. If you’re really on top of things, you will begin interviewing in those last few weeks of January and into February. Ideally, you’ll have an offer by spring break at the latest. Many, however, find one much sooner into the semester.
Finally, remember that law school isn’t like college. You are in a job training program and after 1L, you will be spending most of your free time working and building up your resume. So take this first winter break to relax and not stress out.