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Making Your Winter Break Count

3L, Texas Tech School of Law

It's that time of year again; the Christmas commercials are running non-stop, holiday shoppers are checking off their lists, and law students are frantically studying. But come the second and third weeks of December, something magical happens. Much like traffic in a December mall parking lot, everything stops. The tests end, the hours in the library disappear, and law students receive (roughly) a month break from their studies. So what to do when it all stops? Although the initial urge is to crawl up with a blanket and catch up on the 17 seasons of your favorite show that you missed during your crazy semester...this is the critical time for: job hunting, networking, career advancement, and all those wonderful things you did not get to during the semester. So how to tackle all of these important things and still get your parents that new blender they have been hinting at since summer break? Much like everything in law school, a step by step approach is best:

1) Rest: I bet after that introduction you weren't expecting this to be the first point, were you? Believe it or not, rest is important. With the nature of summer clerkships, Christmas is quite likely the only true break you will have during the entire year so make sure you recover and look after yourself. Take a few days off, get those doctor/dentist/medical appointments done that you put off during the school, and make sure you take care of yourself. You can't afford to take time off being sick during the semester so make sure your health and rest are #1!

2) Reach Out: Although things may be busy leading up to the holidays, this is often a period when many practitioners' schedules start opening up. Remember that lawyer you met from court last summer? Ask her/him to meet for coffee to learn about what they do, how they came to be in the position they are in now, and if they know anyone who may be interested in hiring an awesome law student like you for a summer internship or a post-graduate job.

3) Network: December means Christmas party season! These are not only great places to get that great illuminated Christmas sweater out (I'm joking of course), but it's a fantastic way to meet people. Career service professionals consistently state that the #1 way to obtain a post-graduate job is to meet lawyers. What better way to do this than to be in a giant room full of lawyers having a great time? Check in with your local bar association and associated sections. 

4) Learn: We've all been there...that really interesting class that you wanted to sign up for next semester is full and you are number #32451 on the wait list. What to do!? Check out your local bar association for any CLE events that are being held over the break. These events are often free or severely discounted for law students and you may even be able to receive CLE credit for the future. If you can walk into an interview for a bankruptcy position and talk about what you have learned about the latest bankruptcy practices from a recent CLE you attended, it will show not only great knowledge of the subject, but huge initiative and passion about learning that area of law.

5) Disconnect: One of the most difficult things for law students is disconnecting. Take some time and put that iPhone down, turn off the computer, put the journal editing away, and enjoy some time with your family. Family is most important and all of these wonderful people are your support system to help you through this journey called law school. Remember how busy your first few years as an associate can be and take the time to show these people how much you appreciate their love and support. 

Happy Holidays!

Comments

This is all great advice! I think one important thing to remember is the opportunity to work during your winter break. Get another short internship or work on some legal project. My 1L winter break I had the opportunity to work for the litigation team on the Obamacare v. Sebelius Supreme Court case. I only was asked to work for two or three weeks. But, it was such a neat opportunity to work on a project that I wouldn't be able to find in law school. And now I can say I helped with a Supreme Court case. We all should definitely rest. And do that. Rest. But it's exciting to work on a special project. The short-term project (for the short break) will ensure you won't get bored with the topic as well. It's a way to learn more, complete substantive work, put an extra item on the resume, and meet more practicing lawyers. And you don't need to work 40 hrs/week even. Put in a few hours a week and you can still achieve the aforementioned goals. We chose law school and the legal career for a reason. We shouldn't dislike it after a semester. Find your passion and interest in the law and focus on that over break.

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