The Summer Before Your 1L Year

May 29, 2020 | by Howard Brill

Last week, I virtually met with our new first-year students, the Class of 2023. We had a great discussion about the rule of law, the Arkansas court system, and law school expectations. Because several students asked about preparing for law school, here are my tips for the summer.

First, try not think about classes or exams, assignments or writing projects—there will be plenty of time for that in the fall.

Here are some alternative suggestions.

Watch a movie: On the Basis of Sex (the early career of Justice Ginsberg), Dark Waters (actual case of corporate water pollution), Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson representing death row inmates).

Read about Arkansas lawyers: Governor and Senator David Pryor (“A Pryor Commitment”), Governor and Senator Dale Bumpers (“The Best Lawyer in a One Lawyer Town”), Professor and President Bill Clinton (“My Life”), Professor and Senator Hillary Clinton (“Hard Choices: A Memoir”), Dean and Professor Robert A. Leflar (“A Life in the Law”)

Read a John Grisham novel.

Read an account of a famous trial: the Scopes Trial, O.J. Simpson, Brown v. Board of Education.

Read a novel of Charles Dickens involving the courts: Bleak House or Pickwick Papers.

Look for opinions coming down from the United States Supreme Court in June. Find the opinion (not just the newspaper summary) and read it.

Or you can do none of these. I only ask that you come to law school full of curiosity and enthusiasm, expecting both challenges and fun. I'm looking forward to seeing you again in August.

Professor Howard Brill has been at the School of Law since 1975. He is the first Vincent Foster Professor of Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility and teaches professional responsibility, remedies, civil procedure, and domestic relations. He teaches special topics courses on Baseball and the Law, as well as Arkansas Constitutional Law.