Ken "Popehat" White (previously), a former Federal prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney, has some excellent advice for all you newbie law-students who are just starting your law school career.
I do a fair bit of lecturing at law schools, and work closely and professionally with a variety of different types of lawyers, especially campaigning ones (but also a fair share of corporate counsels), and this all feels like excellent advice. Below, my three favorite tips from White: "Take all the clinics, practicums, and internships that you can"; "Write every day, speak every week"; and "Learn to believe in things."
1. Take all the clinics, practicums, and internships that you can. Nothing beats seeing how law is actually practiced. It helps you get a practical grip on what you might like to do, and helps you see how what you're learning applies to an actual legal career. Plus it's a crucial way to meet people and open doors.
4. Write every day — an assignment, a blog post, a substantive email. Speak every week — a debate, a podcast, an oral argument. Writing and speaking comfortably and effectively will always be useful no matter how you practice.
11. Learn to believe in things. If you're ever going to be an advocate, or an adviser, you need to be able to believe in things. When you get up and defend someone charged with a crime, you need to believe in something, or the judge and jury sees you're just going through the motions and nails your client. You don't have to believe your client is good or innocent, but you have to believe passionately in something – that the system or the charges are unjust, that the punishment is disproportionate, or that the system is right to give every accused person an advocate and by God you are that advocate and you believe in your duty. It's the same with a civil client. You don't have to believe they're right, but you have to get up there and believe that we resolve disputes through zealous advocates, and believe in being that advocate. You have to believe in your advice as an in-house counsel, or public interest lawyer, or transactional lawyer. Cultivate believing in what you do.
Some Friendly Advice To New Law Students [Ken White/Popehat]