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PreLaw 101: What does "L" Mean Anyway?

By Neetal Parekh | Last updated on
Considering the record number of LSATs taken last September, this Fall will be a busy one for law schools across the country. And as eager law students sharpen their pencils, enjoy their summers of freedom, and prepare for the legal deluge we thought we could at least clear up one easy question.

What does "L" mean, anyway?

Interestingly, and lacking deep levels of explanation or history, you will soon learn that "L" is equivalent to "year law student". And it is preceded by a number that makes it all make sense.

1L = 1(st) year law student

2L = 2(nd) year law student

3L = 3(rd) year law student

XXL = does not apply here

Can the convention be used elsewhere?

Possibly, but we wouldn't recommend it. To illustrate:

"2U and 4U students.." While this could be a shorthand for 2nd year and 4th year undergraduates, it doesn't quite flow as easily as the "L" naming system. Worse, it could be mistaken for Valentine's Day txt msg gone awry.

"3Ms' studies continue at a steady pace." Again the convention could decidedly suggest 3rd year medical students. But considering it is also a reference to a tradermarked corporate conglomerate, the med student shorthand may not, er, stick.

"4Gs won't be on campuses until Fall." This could be an easy way to describe the garden variety graduate student in their 4th year. But it would be competing with the 4th generation fruit-happy tech products. The orchard may not big enough for both.

"1O students are taking 39 different electives this term." This innocent application of the L-system to optometry graduate students is also not a best fit. It goes back to whether there were 4 tea cups, forty remember the game.

In Summation.

Now that you are on your way to being an "L" yourself, use the system. Embrace its simplicity. Let it make you feel part of a special community of individuals who use legalese for fun. Get ready to study hard, and when you graduate, please be sure to write a post on why a tort is called a tort.

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