As a first year law student, most law schools will have a mandatory curve for all of your mandatory lawyer education courses (Lawyer Education), with the exception of legal research and writing where your grade will be based on your written work. Depending on the school's policy if you receive a certain number of Ds or Fs you will not be permitted to continue with your lawyer education. School policies differ in this realm; some will force you to take a year off, and others will not allow you back as a first year law student.
Additionally, many law schools have a blind grading program, which means you will be assigned a number and your professor will not know who they are grading. Your first year grades are probably the most important in law school and set you on the path for a possible summer associate position during the summer of your second year which may lead you to a job at a larger firm (and higher salary).
In terms of time in classroom, expect an average of 13-16 hours of classroom time per week for the entire 13 (approximate) week semester. Also, in terms of your lawyer education generally Contracts and Constitutional law will require a full year, unlike the other courses listed above which will generally only require one semester.
Sections. Most law schools group each incoming first-year law student into sections of 20-40 students. All of your first year lawyer education classes will be taken together with that section of students throughout the entire year. The law school does this to facilitate networking, as well as to make scheduling as easy as possible on the schools administrators, and for the professors to get to know you. After your first year this will change with electives as you get to choose same based on your individual preferences.
Networking. Depending on the character of the school and the character of the students at that school there'll be many opportunities for a first year law student to network among your law school class. Do not pass up these opportunities as the relationships you establish as a first year law student will be extremely beneficial to you in the future and are crucial to advancing your lawyer education. Your classmates are the people who will refer you job opportunities and clients. Once you start practicing, a personal recommendation from a former classmate at the firm will put you ahead of other applicants in terms of obtaining a legal position at that firm. However, always remember that in networking be sure to keep your reputation as high as possible; you are adults now, and alcohol will be a usual part of any networking event.
Have fun and be friendly but always remain in control, as no one will recommend the class drunk for a future legal position. Remember, people are often judged by the company they keep, and if someone recommends you they are essentially putting their own credibility on the line for you. Someone you meet as a first year law student will never recommend you for anything if there is a chance that you will tarnish his/her reputation by acting inappropriately.
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