Before we get into the details of passing law school. I wanted to say first congratulations on getting in. That in itself is a huge accomplishment. A lot of folks apply for law school, but not all of them make the cut to get in. I also want to say as painful as law school is, overall it may have been one the best experiences of my life. Those three years I learned so much about myself and met some amazing life long friends.
In this post, I wanted to share with you my top law school study tips and advice that help me prepare for law school. I graduated law school with a 3.3 g.p.a which would have been a lot higher if I had the advice I am about to give you my first semester of law school. If it is the summer before you start law school I highly recommend that you check out this post on how to prepare for law school the summer before it starts.
RELATED POST: How to Become a Lawyer
HOW TO PREPARE FOR LAW SCHOOL
(1) LEGAL WRITING TIPS
Most likely you will take some type of legal writing class your first year of law school. Please take this course seriously. This course will teach you all the writing skills you need to know for the practice of law. The majority of legal jobs require you to be proficient in legal writing. Legal writing is about 85% of what it takes to be a lawyer. You will learn how to write briefs, client letters, settlement letters and so much more. Also, this class will give you the framework for writing for law school exams. The following materials helped me with my legal writing.
- Legal Reasoning Research & Writing for International Graduate Students
- Your Client’s Story: Persuasive Legal Writing
- Writing and Analysis in the Law, 6th Edition
The last two book was actually on my course list, but I added them because they were so helpful and probably the only course books I did not feel as though I wasted my money.
Check out this post on SEVEN WAYS YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR LEGAL WRITING SKILLS.
(2) WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER
One thing you will learn fairly quickly in law school is that the workload is insane. That means you need to work smarter and not harder. It will be almost impossible to complete all the reading. If your professors are anything like mine, they wanted you to read between 150-300 pages between every class. Read until you understand the material. If that only takes you 20 pages than just read those 20 and move on. Also, ask more question in class about the topics you do not understand. The professors are there to help you but the material together.
(3) LAW SCHOOL STUDY SCHEDULE
A solid study schedule will get you far in law school. With all the courses and reading material, you are expected to do. Having a solid study schedule will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and will make sure you are giving each of your classes the equal amount of study time. By signing up to my mailing list you can receive a free copy of the study schedule I used during law school that you can modify to fit your needs.
Don’t like my study schedule. That’s ok, check out Nikki’s study schedule from Brazen and Brunette.
(4) MAKE YOUR OWN OUTLINES
In the law school world there is a term called POOP, basically, its others people’s outlines that are not yours. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with POOP. I used POOP outlines to get an idea on which topics the professor focused on the most. This helped me know what topics I needed to pay the most attention too. Other than that you need to create your own outlines. You will remember more when you create your own outline. In addition, when you make your own outlines you understand the material you put in it. Sometimes, people make shorthand notes, so there is a good possibility you may misunderstand what the person who authored the outline is trying to say.
(5) EXTRA STUDY MATERIALS
The course load in law school is like no other. There is no getting around understanding the course materials no matter how easy the professor is. You will spend all hours of the night trying to understand stupid archaic language. But that does not mean there are no tools and materials that can help you understand these materials.
My first advice for understanding course material is if the course has student treaties purchase it. These books typically do a better job of breaking down the cases and material because they put it in easy to understand format. One thing you notice right away is that Law School textbooks are just full with a ton of case law. There is hardly any separate text to help you understand what to take away from the case. I only purchased student treatises for classes I did not understand such as Constitutional Law and Federal Jurisdiction which I ended up making an A in both classes.
- Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies (Aspen Student Treatise)
- Federal Jurisdiction (Aspen Student Treatise)
For my other courses, I used Crunchtimes and Law in the Flash. For my first semester of law school, we took mainly common law courses. This was helpful because I knew I was going back to Texas when I finished law school which is a common law state. Again, I purchase the items for the classes I was struggling a little more in.
- Law in a Flash: Contracts
- Law in a Flash Cards: Civil Procedure Part I
- Law in a Flash: Torts
- CrunchTime: Property
- CrunchTime: Criminal Law
Law in a Flash and Crunchtime are made for pretty much any course you can think of. Clicking on the link, you can see what other items are frequently purchased with each one.
(6) FIND A STUDY GROUP
While so folks can get away with not having a study group I personally advise against that. Having a study group is great for bouncing ideas. When you have a small group of individuals from different backgrounds they can offer unique perspectives on topics which in turn can make your arguments stronger. The key to finding a good study group is to drop any freeloaders the moment you realize they are there to just take information, but not give. Also, make sure your study group has individuals who will challenge you and question you.
(7) LAW SCHOOL EXAMS & STUDY SCHEDULE
With one exam determining your grade for the semester, exam preparation is just as important as course preparation. How you spend your time studying for your courses will directly affect your exam preparation. Studying throughout the semester will also give you the confidence you will need to pass your exam.
STUDY PLAN (4321): Study one topic for 4 days straight for 4 hours, then you move on to another subject for 4 days straight for 4 hours and continue. When you have completed all the subjects for 4 days you then move to 3 days for 4 hours straight and continue till you are at 1 day for 4 hours straight.
OLD EXAMS: When you get down to day 2 of the 4321 you should be doing old exams. At my law school, we were giving 4-hour exams hence the four hours you should be studying. This helps you get in the testing mindset by doing old exams under testing time restrictions.
(8) TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PROFESSORS OFFICE HOURS
All professors have office hours and surprisingly very few students use them. I was guilty of that during my first semester of law school and the G.P.A I received showed it. The next semester I made sure that I went to all my professor’s office the first month of classes. I also made sure to always come prepared with questions. Professors want you to use their hours and remember those students that do.
(9) PARTICIPATE IN CLASS
Just like professors notice the students who visit their office, they notice the students who participate in class. This can help you when you get an exam score you not happy with and you go back and visit the professor to find out why. A professor “regraded” my exam and “found” additional five points to bump my grade to the next letter.
(10) MAINTAIN MENTAL AND PHYSICAL WELLNESS
My final law school study tip is to maintain mental and physical wellness. Relieve stress by going to the gym, running, or playing a sport, whatever helps. Drink plenty of water. Take days off to have fun, watch a movie, and have a drink. The best way to do is to have a routine. Creating a routine will allow you know exactly where you can squeeze time in for yourself.