Preparing for Your First Case: What You Can Do as a 1L
After you take a breath from studying for your first set of exams, you may wonder what you can do to set yourself apart or get ahead of the game. If you have an interest in trials and litigation, but are not quite sure what you can do now, here are some tips on how to prepare for your first case.
Watch a Trial or Motion Call at your Local Courthouse. Research your county, state, and federal courts and search for their daily schedules, which will tell you when the motion calls are or if there may be a trial. If not, you can always call a judge’s chambers and find out more information or find resources to sit in a trial or motion call.
Informational Interviews. Use your law school’s career services or professors to grab coffee with a litigation/trial practitioner, whether that is someone in private practice, a judicial clerk, or government attorney, etc. Take them out for coffee and learn what it takes to get into the field and what their day-to-day practice is like.
Research Opportunities for Skills Development. Conduct web and in-person research. For example, check out the ABA Judicial Intern Opportunity Program sponsored by the ABA Section of Litigation or see if your law school participates in the ABA Judicial Clerkship Program. Sign up or see how to get involved in your law school’s mock trial or litigation skills course. Talk to upperclassmen, administrators, career services, and professors about the best local and school based litigation and trial skills opportunities. Explore your state and local bar and ABA opportunities by a google search. Then, apply and/or sign up.
Hopefully, this gets you started on the way to preparing for your first case as a 1L. Studying is only part of the path to a great legal career. Look around you. There are things you can do now to develop skills and opportunities to getting to where you want to go.
Christina Liu is a senior associate attorney focusing on commercial and employment litigation at Cole Sadkin LLC, in Chicago, IL.