There’s really no cut and dry answer for this. You should consider where you want to practice? Do you already have connections to that area? How would moving to that area would affect your finances (This is a big one! I wish I would have thought twice before moving to DC. My rent is ridiculous, meaning a very very large portion of my budget goes to housing alone)? Are you interested in public interest/government or private firm work (Realize that if you are interested in PI, you’re starting salary will be very modest, and maybe you shouldn’t take out a 6 figure loan to go to a T14, instead of getting a full ride at a lower ranked university). Also Realize that a lot of employers hire from local schools in their region, so national ranking becomes less important if you are trying to stay in that area. Do the employers you might be interested in normally hire from that school? How big is the OCI? MOST IMPORTANTLY What is the curve like? The curve probably won’t seem particularly important to you at this time, but you’ll care eventually!
As for preparation:
1. Get those undergrad loans deferred if you have any. Law Schools generally don’t automatically do this for you.
2. Take at least 2 weeks off before school (a month if you can swing it) to relax, get organized, and get physically and emotionally prepared
3. If you must make yourself read law school related crap, you should get: “getting to maybe”, “Law School Confidential”, “Ivy Briefs” (fun read, acct. of a columbia law grad’s experience)
4. Explain to the people around you that you won’t have time for them much anymore. Sometimes people don’t understand how much of a time commitment law school is, and they start getting offended when you don’t call as often or if you miss events.
5. Start researching employers ASAP! You’ll want to get a 1L summer job, and the pressure will be on to start actively looking for 1 on December 1st. It’s never to early to start thinking about where you’d like to work for the summer. Find out who hires 1L’s? Who pays (if you need to work for $)? Who has good relationships with your school? Now the Career office will not be allowed to talk to you until Nov. 1st, but you can find these things out on your own. If you have a clear vision of your target employers before the job hunting season kicks off, it won’t seem so overwhelming come Dec. 1st, when you’re also trying to get ready for exams.
6. Network! If you know any upper classman at your school, reach out to them over the summer, and let them know you’re coming. Upper classman at my school are awesome. They’ll give you the “low down” on the professors. They’ll give you their old outlines and Supplements. If you are placed in the same section they were, they’ll likely let you use their books for free, so you don’t have to spend $1000.00 at the bookstore. Upper classmen are also great to talk to about finding work. Sometimes they might have a connection at a place that you’re interested in working, because they summered their the year before.
7. Don’t add all of you’re future classmates to you’re facebook before the school year starts (a personal mistake I made, and deeply regret). You’ll have enough time to get to know those nerds all year.
8. Create a Budget. I mean go all out and do the excel spreadsheet and everything. Since you won’t be able to work 1st year, you will really need to pay close attention to the $ going in and out. And do this before the school year starts
9. Learn to meal plan. Eating out 2 or 3 meals a day is expensive, and it’s not like you’ll have time to cook every day.
I know this post is all over the place, but I hope you find it somewhat helpful.