How 3L Year Differs from 1L and 2L


SenioritisA supposed affliction of students in their final year of school, characterized by a decline in motivation.”
-Oxford’s English Dictionary

And just like that, I’m over halfway done with my second to last semester of law school.  I honestly can’t believe that I’m almost done with law school, it feels like just yesterday I was a baby 1L trying to get used to the changes from college to law school.  Not only are there changes adjusting to law school, but each year of law school seems to be slightly different than the one before.  I thought I would share what I found to be the biggest changes from 1L and even 2L years to 3L year.

Freedom of Class Choice

During the first year of law school, every law student across the country takes the same (roughly) classes:  Legal Writing/Research, Civ Pro, Torts, Criminal Law, Contracts, Property, and/or one semester of Con Law.  At my school, the administration allows 1Ls to pick one out of a few elective options for 1L spring semester, but besides that tiny slice of freedom, everything is set by the school.  In addition to the traditional 1L classes, most schools require law students to take a course in Professional Responsibility, a second semester of Con Law (First Amendment), Evidence, and upper class writing requirements.  I took the first three last year and a few other courses that are prep for the bar, such as Business Organizations and Federal Taxation.  I also took some classes that are required for the IP concentration at my school so this year was the first year I could really pick any courses I wanted.  I definitely think it’s a good idea to take some courses that are on the bar, but I would also suggest picking some classes that seem fun and interesting (but also practical) during your 3L year.

Less Class Time

I feel like I never have class anymore.  I’m taking 14 credits this semester, but three of my five classes are only once a week so that really eliminates a lot of time that I would have been spending at the law school.  In addition, my research paper/seminar course doesn’t consistently meet for our whole scheduled course time since a majority of the work for that class involves writing outlines, drafts, and separate portions of my research paper.  I noticed last semester than when I had less class time, I would spend more of my time doing things that didn’t relate to school.  So when I had an opportunity to continue working at the company I interned with last semester, I jumped at the opportunity because I enjoyed working there, and working means I don’t have as much free time.

More Practical Work/Classes

As I just mentioned, I’m continuing to work where I did this past summer so I get to have a combined experience of classwork and real work at the same time.  A lot of law schools have an experiential learning requirement, which a lot of people do during their last year and a half.  I think this is a great way to give law students a taste of what it’s really like to be a real lawyer before actually taking the bar because a lot of what you learn in classes doesn’t translate exactly how you discuss it in class.  Speaking of class, I definitely think taking practical writing courses are extremely beneficial as well.  These types of classes can revolve around contract drafting, interviewing clients, trial advocacy or pretrial practice, etc.  I find that more of these types of classes are taught by adjunct professors who do this every day and know how to explain the transition from classroom to actual practice.

Stress in Different Ways

Regardless of what year of law school you’re in, they’re all stressful (I mean it wouldn’t be law school without stress, now would it).  The first two years of law school most of the stress comes from trying to find the time to complete readings and study for classes with a bit of stress from finding the right internship or summer associate position.  However, in 3L year, I think the general stress from prepping for class and outlining goes away because most 3Ls have mastered these tasks in the past two years.  The stress now stems from the decision of what job should I apply for, what job should I take, where should I sit for the bar, is my character and fitness application correct and up to date, and then prepping for the bar examination.  There’s so much going on that it’s a little crazy but it’ll all be worth it in the end.


I could honestly say that I never had senioritis in my life until it came to this year.  I don’t know what it is, but even though I am enjoying most of my classes, I just don’t feel as motivated as I did the past two years.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still reading for class and doing my required assignments but I’m not doing them with the same gusto and urgency that I previously have.  Maybe because subconsciously I keep thinking that in the grand scheme of things, my assignments really don’t matter.  But then I remind myself that they actually do matter to my GPA and my graduation status.

I guess that old saying “1L, they scare you to death; 2L, they work you to death; and 3L, they bore you to death” is definitely true.  This year is a strange mix of emotions and mental anguish surrounding this year, but the light at the end of this weird law school tunnel is coming soon.  If you’re a 3L like me, what are your thoughts about our final year of law school?  And if you’re a 1L or 2L, what are you looking forward to about 3L year (trust me, you’ll get there!)?

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