Succeeding in Law School: My Guide

1. Don’t listen to the hype about study groups. When you begin law school your teachers will insist you join a study group. A study group can be good if you use them just to exchange notes to double check you have all the information, but any more interaction can be negative. Everyone has their own understandings and often times you can end up arguing over certain topics or getting more confused by over discussing topics you were initially sure about. Further, not everyone is there to learn. Most study groups frequently end up just venting sessions where the students discuss their frustrations, fears. This is necessary as well but not during precious study time. I personally did much better the semester I did not study with a study group then when I did.

2. Stop stressing about reading the cases. This is perhaps the most controversial piece of advice. Read the case but focus on the rule of law that comes out of the case. When you find the rule in the case write it down, or highlight it. The exam will not be about any case you learned about just applying the rule you learned from the case to the fact pattern on the exam.

3. Become Visual. For each case you read draw a picture that will help you remember the case for when you go back to study the rules of that case. Yes, a real doodle. For example, if you read about an apartment that was shut down due to unsanitary conditions, draw a picture of a building with fleas around it and a big X upon the building. When you go back at the end of the semester this will be invaluable in refreshing your memory.

5. Compete against yourself. Stop thinking about the curve. Law school is highly competitive and one downside to it is that people will try to “psych” each other out. Since you’re graded on a curve it only helps if you can intimidate others so they will not perform as well. Tune the “self-hype” out and focus on learning. You’re in law school to learn how to be a lawyer. Your cool demeanor will intimidate the competetion anways.

6. Have a “me” day. Just like your body needs breaks between difficult weight training sessions, your mind needs a break too. Pick one day a week to unwind. Watch office space on repeat, go to the beach, say hello to your spouse, something anything not study related.

7. Work consistently on your outline. The outline is a vital part of understanding the material in your class. The outline consists of all the important points from your reading, class notes, and independent reading about the class. Work on your outline after each chunk of learning material is taught.

8. Take your exam on laptop! If this option is available, TAKE ADVANTAGE. I cannot explain the difference of being able to delete, cut and paste, etc. that you just can’t do on paper/pen. If you think you’re not a good typer, take a class, practice, but make sure you do take it on laptop!

9. Oral arguments are not as bad as they seem. Oral arguments can seem very intimidating but its only a very small percentage of a class that is for very few credits. Keep perspective and worry about what’s important. Remember you’re competing against fellow law students, not actual lawyers.

10. Don’t let RWA (Reading, Writing, Argumentative Speaking class) take over your life. RWA is the only class in law school where you turn things in through the year, so a lot of times people end up forgoing work for other more important classes to do this. Neglecting RWA would be a BIG mistake, but letting it get to the point that you are letting other things slide for it is a grave mistake.

11.Don’t be hard on yourself. You are in law school because a group of selective people chose to admit you. There will be many times that you will wonder why you are even there. Rest assured that most everyone else in your class feels the same way and that its perfectly normal.

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