Noe Merfeld

1L Year


I can honestly say that I’ve never appreciated a winter break more in my 12+ years of schooling, as I have this one. As challenging as the semester was, nothing felt better than completing my last final of the semester and having four whole weeks to do whatever I wanted with! I spent break thoroughly enjoying all of the things that I spent the semester wishing I had more time for: sleeping, reading for leisure, sleeping, spending endless time with friends & family, sleeping, watching way too much TV, cleaning, and of course… more sleeping. The best plan I made over break was to have virtually no plans. I traveled all of 3 hours to go home for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but other than that I wanted to be in my own space. That’s not to say that I did nothing, but it was nice to enjoy my own space without the stress of school for a little bit. And let me tell you, I definitely underestimated the value of a low-key holiday season! Now that break is over, I’m feeling recharged and ready to hit the ground running this semester!


The holiday season has arrived, and I could not be more excited! The holidays signal the start of finals, which of course means the end of finals is just around the corner! I think it’s safe to say that the honeymoon phase of law school is officially over. Don’t get me wrong—I’m still enjoying it—but the excitement of a new environment has definitely died down and the struggle has settled in. Adjusting to a 15-week semester after having experienced short 10-week quarters in undergrad, has been rough. My brain is feeling as though finals should have happened five weeks ago. On the bright side, I do feel like I have way more time to prepare for finals and realize that they are actually happening.

As I reflect on the past 15 weeks, reviewing the notes I have taken and the pages I have turned, I am stunned with how much information I have learned. I remember being very unsure on the first day of school, of how I would make sense of all of this complicated language, let alone be able to spit it back out and apply it on an exam. The past 15 weeks have made me realize that I am capable of much more than I expected. This is in part due to kicking my undergrad habit of procrastination, and taking advantage of my time and the resources available. As much as I am dreading finals, I keep trying to remind myself that I have been present all semester, paying attention in class and keeping up with the readings; now it’s just time to apply all that I have learned on exam day. And then… four-weeks of winter break!


And just like that, we passed the half way point of the semester and are now somehow 5 weeks away from finals! The one thing keeping me sane is the advice that I got from my criminal law professor over the summer. He told us not to lose sight of who we are during this law school journey. Coming into law school I heard so many horror stories about the dreadful amount of reading, intensity of exams and slightly competitive environment in law school, and that I would basically be a hermit for my entire 1L year. This is partially true. However, I was pleased to learn from said professor that the hermit part is an unhealthy way to approach law school. Yes it’s a busy time, and no I will not get to hang out with friends 24/7, but he encouraged us to nourish the parts of our lives that allowed us to get here in the first place. It is because of this advice that I have committed myself to a routine and treated law school like a full-time job. Doing this allows me to find time in my schedule to nourish the parts of me that keep me sane; like going to the gym and meeting up with friends over the weekend.

That’s not to say that adjusting to the semester system hasn’t been a struggle (my undergrad was on the quarter system). While I appreciate the time that we can spend on each topic, the monotony of each week can be exhausting. It feels like study, eat, sleep, repeat, with the end feeling so far away. I love routine, but having every second of every day scheduled to a T only to repeat it again the next week, gets to be a bit boring. Let’s just say, I enjoy the weeks where a class is cancelled or rescheduled, or when there’s an interesting talk on campus—honestly anything to make my week look slightly different than the last. Wish me luck on finding something… anything unique to add to my calendar next week!


I think it’s safe to say that the first seven weeks of fall semester have gone by faster than any other seven-week period in my life thus far. I started law school this summer as an ARC student, taking criminal law and being introduced to legal writing. I remember thinking that seven-week semester flew by, but the first seven weeks of this semester has flow by even quicker.

This summer was a great jump start to law school; learning how to read and brief a case, studying for a law school exam, and preparing for classes where I could be called on at any moment. As daunting as this new academic environment is, I’ve never gotten the sense that I don’t have support. Whether it’s overcoming the fear of being called on in class or being unsure of how to approach the exams, the professors, Academic Resource Center, 2L’s and 3L’s have been instrumental in answering questions and easing nerves. Having these resources available 24/7 makes the challenges that law school presents much more exciting and a lot less stressful.

I have spent the first couple of months focusing on time management, asking questions, and keeping up with the study strategies that I learned over the summer. I love planning, so naturally I thought planning my week was going to be easy. Much to my surprise, planning in this context served as a bit of a challenge because it required that I stick to the schedule, not just create it. I have learned that waking up at the same time every day and getting to campus at the same time, regardless of whether I have class at that time keeps me accountable. I have also gotten into the habit of going to bed around the same time every day (because I value my sleep) and scheduling time for meals every day (because I value food even more). While these didn’t seem like important things to put in a schedule, it helps me to set a framework for the amount of time I have throughout the day to do class prep, study for exams, review, etc. Creating a schedule and sticking to it has helped me to prioritize healthy habits, like getting enough sleep and nutrition. These healthy habits allow me to be fully present throughout the day, so that I get the most out of my class time and study time.

To keep my energy up, I also prioritize personal time and exercise in my schedule. I go to the gym for 30 minutes 2-3 days a week, and I reserve Friday evening - Saturday night for whatever it is that I want to do socially (or non-socially, aka Netflix). Spending time with friends (law school friends & non-law school friends) is extremely important to me, so I make sure to spend some of my “personal time” with them.

I remember being shocked to learn that it’s possible to have a social life and get enough sleep while in law school, and still stay on top of your classes. I repeat… it is possible to have a social life and get enough sleep while in law school! Keeping this in mind is even more of a motivator to stick to my daily routine!