Even though you might still be in the process of preparing to apply to law school, it’s never too early to think about what skills will help you be successful once you’re there. Here are six tips for law school.
1) Learn how to form alliances now.
Law students quickly learn the power of working with others.
- Study groups are invaluable. Form friendships early on and keep regular study group hours.
- Share and share alike. When you miss class, you’ll be able to get notes from a colleague. When he misses a day, you can give him a copy of your brief.
- Work with your strengths. If your strong point is torts, you can help your fellow classmates. And when you struggle with litigation, they’ll help you.
2) Always attend class.
No one takes roll in a law class (not usually, anyway), but it’s crucial to attend:
- Tests are often based on lecture.
- You’ll gain insight by hearing various cases briefed.
- You can ask the professor questions immediately if you don’t understand.
- Others will ask questions that will be helpful to your learning.
- Your professor is more likely to provide you extra help if you show that you’re invested.
3) Keep up.
Everyone will tell you how difficult law school is—and they’re not lying.
- Do the reading every day. If you get behind, you’ll find yourself with 2,500 pages to read over the weekend.
- Make your outlines as you go. Going back and trying to remember important points later is much more difficult.
- Memorize crucial facts and cases when they first come up. There’s simply too much information to “cram” the night before an exam.
4) Lose the ego.
You may be accustomed to being the smartest person in the classroom. Get over it.
- Everyone else has a high GPA and a great LSAT score; otherwise they wouldn’t be there.
- A’s are rare. Some law professors don’t ever give them. Ever.
- Your intelligence alone will not get you through law school. Hard work, hours of study and lots of coffee will.
5) Keep outside commitments to a minimum.
Law school is hard enough without drama in your outside life.
- Most law schools insist that 1L students not have outside jobs. That’s not to punish their new students; it’s because 1Ls need to focus on their studies.
- If you do work during school, try to keep hours as low as possible, and work a stress-free job.
- Make sure that your spouse, significant other or family members are supportive. You won’t have tons of time to spend with them; make sure they’re onboard with that idea.
- Keep financial demands small. Now isn’t the time to buy a new house or a fancy car.
- Take care of yourself. Get as much sleep as you can, eat right and get some exercise in between writing briefs.
6) Think "Big Picture"
Try to focus your learning on the big picture instead of the little bits, and you’ll do well.
- Most classes have just a few exams that make up most of your grade. They’re usually comprehensive.
- Associate cases and facts to the overall subject or field. Bring it back to the Constitution or the statutes that apply.
- Think about the ways in which the material you’re learning will impact real clients.