5 Strategies to Balance Academics with Extracurriculars in 2L Year

For many, the second year of law school becomes a complex balancing act between academics and extracurricular activities. Some students seem to glide through to the top 10%, mastering case law while participating in a number of extracurriculars. Others require more time to grasp the nuances of law, take care of personal responsibilities, or simply take a well-deserved break. Whether you're a glider or struggling, the following five strategies will help you find and maintain that delicate balance between academics and extracurricular activities in your 2nd year of law school.

Law students participating in a mock trial exercise

    1. Understand the Benefits

    There are a number of reasons law students participate in extracurricular activities. Whatever your reason, you should understand the practical benefits so that you can weigh them against your other priorities.

      1. Networking - Connect with peers, faculty, and legal professionals. These relationships may lead to future career opportunities.
      2. Skill Development - Hone skills like public speaking, leadership, and legal research, which prepare you for your career.
      3. Resume Building - Put practical, job-relevant experience on your resume.
      4. Personal Growth - Get insights into your strengths, interests, and career aspirations.
      5. Make a Difference - Engage in work that you're passionate about and help others.

    2. Prioritize

    Balancing academics with extracurricular activities is all about setting priorities. This isn't a race to do the most. It's a journey to do what's best for you. Remember that the primary goal in law school is your academic success. However, regardless of your grades, you should consider extracurriculars as they will benefit you in the long run. Whether you are excelling or struggling, you should be selective. Choose activities that pique your interest and align with your career aspirations. Remember, it's the quality of these engagements, not the quantity, that benefits you in the long run.

    3. Manage Your Time Effectively

    Time management always starts with creating a schedule. Earmark time blocks for classes, study sessions, extracurricular activities, and, just as importantly, personal downtime. Getting your calendar organized is half the battle, but the other half is following it. That's why you need to prioritize tasks. Which are important? Which are urgent? Which are both? Do those first, then schedule the rest.

    4. Choose the Right Extracurriculars

    Choosing an extracurricular that you’ll stick with and benefit from requires finding the perfect blend of passion and practicality. Here are some things to consider:

      1. Align with Career Goals - If you're eyeing a career in litigation, check out mock trial or moot court. Interested in public policy? Student government might be more appropriate.
      2. Quality Over Quantity - Depth of involvement speaks louder than a long list of superficial commitments.
      3. Seek Diverse Experiences - Get a fresh perspective. Look for volunteer work, internships, or clubs focusing on areas of law that differ from your coursework.
      4. Consider Time Commitment - Be realistic about the time each activity requires. Make sure you can make a true commitment without overwhelming your academic responsibilities.
      5. Networking and Mentoring Opportunities - Look for opportunities to meet with professionals and potential mentors. These connections will come in handy later.

    5. Maintaining Personal Well-Being

    There’s no point in pushing yourself so hard that your overall well-being suffers. Depression and harmful dependencies stemming from stress negate any benefits of extracurricular activities. Give yourself time to stay active, eat right, get enough sleep, and nurture your closest relationships. Try mindfulness and stress management techniques to stay centered. And most importantly, if you find yourself overwhelmed, reach out for support.

    A law student going for a run on a sunny day


Seeing your peers jump into a number of extracurricular activities may put some pressure on you to follow. But before you make the commitment, ask yourself how much you can handle. If you’re doing well academically and you decide that you can take on more, that’s great. However, you only go through law school once, so be selective and pragmatic.

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