Four Key Law School Success Tips
As law school kicks into full gear, hopefully you are starting to fall into a routine. It can take a while to adjust to this new experience, however, so don’t be discouraged if you are having a difficult time finding your way. In this post, we discuss four law school success tips. If you work this advice into your approach, you’ll be on the path to a great semester of law school (and beyond!).
Four Key Law School Success Tips
1. Your professor writes your exam so pay close attention in class.
The amount of work assigned in law school can certainly seem overwhelming. But, in law school, nearly all of your course grade will be based on how you do on the final exam. If you don’t do well on it, there are very few ways to make up points. This makes learning the material taught, when it is taught, a high priority. Your professors write and grade the exams, meaning they decide what is important. Anything they teach during class is fair game for the final.
Further, in law school much of the material builds upon what you’ve just learned. If you fall behind in the comprehension in terms of what the professor is saying, you will have a very difficult time catching back up. Reading week is the time to put the finishing touches on your outlines and to memorize them, not to try to understand the material for the first time.
So stay on top of your assignments as best you can!
2. Don’t brief every case.
The inclusion of cases in your readings may seem foreign to you at first. You’ll probably see many of your classmates creating individual case briefs for every case so that they can memorize them for the final. Here’s another one of our favorite law school success tips: you don’t need to do this! Briefing every case takes way too much time when your goal is to stay on top of your assignments. Further, you don’t need to know tiny details about cases for the final.
What we recommend you do is create your own book briefing technique. This involves marking up the cases directly in your book so that you can quickly identify the relevant parts. Many people choose to utilize a highlighter color coding system so that they are prepared to find the rule or the holding with ease if the professor asks for it. Book briefing allows you to get the relevant information out of each case while saving time!
3. Start outlining early.
Outlines are your most valuable final exam preparation tool. However, like your reading assignments, you don’t want to save all of your outlining for the end of the semester! The highest quality outlines are the ones that come together throughout the course of the semester. Thus, the third of our law school success tips is to carve out some time each week to update your outlines with the most recent material. This allows you to process the material as it is taught, better preparing you to understand the forthcoming topics. By the end of the semester, your outlines should be nearly complete and you can spend the time before finals reviewing and memorizing them.
4. Take care of yourself.
Law school is exhausting. There is a lot of work, a lot of pressure, and a lot of stress. That is why our final law school success tip is to make sure that you are taking care of yourself. It would be all too easy to let the pressure and stress overwhelm you to the point that you break down. Don’t let law school control your life like that! Maintain social connections with your friends. Still plan the occasional outing to dinner or for a fun activity. Make sure that you are eating well and getting plenty of sleep. You want to keep your body physically healthy and your brain mentally healthy in order to handle the challenges ahead of you. Try to keep a positive attitude and don’t let the rest of your life pass you by!
LAURA SIGLER, WHO GRADUATED MAGNA CUM LAUDE FROM WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL, IS A JD ADVISING LEGAL RESEARCHER AND ESSAY GRADER.
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