Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tips for succeeding as a first year law student

From the U.S. News Law Admissions Lowdown blog:

4 Steps to a Successful First Semester of Law School

1. Come prepared: In college, coming in prepared on the first day meant having a pen and notebook in hand, and maybe a book or two. In law school, you should instead enter with a solid understanding of your classes, having completed the required reading for the first day of class.

[Find out other differences between college and law school.]

While gaining an overview of all of your 1L classes in the summer before law school is not an official prerequisite, it will give you an enormous advantage from day one. If you have time this month, buy and thoroughly read course-specific study guides, trying to make sense of the challenging new concepts.

You may also want to obtain a pre-1L tutor who can help you more fully understand these sometimes esoteric concepts. I am spending much of the next three weeks getting my students ready by reviewing the toughest concepts, such as res ipsa loquitur, the Rule Against Perpetuities and Supplemental Jurisdiction.

2. Focus on finals: Final exams may seem far away, especially during the first few weeks of the semester, but for the most part, your 1L grades are determined solely by your performance on your finals. Thus, make sure to spend each day working towards success on the final exam.

Writing law school exams is completely different from writing essay exams in your undergraduate classes. In undergrad, you could earn an A, in many cases, by just regurgitating information. In law school, you need to apply the information you have learned to intentionally ambiguous situations. This is an entirely new and critical skill that you must hone before your first real 1L exams this winter.

[Read more about what to expect as a 1L.]

3. Make friends: Many students become overwhelmed in the beginning of law school because of the rigorous coursework, high stakes, and seemingly endless reading. But, to maintain your sanity, you must still make an effort to go out and meet both your classmates and others in the broader academic community.

Sometimes, you will need a break from the "law school bubble," where the workload and competitiveness can overtake you, so branch out every once in a while and make other connections through volunteer projects, university-wide student organizations, intramural sports, and dance classes, for example.

4. Remove distractions: As important as it is to take a brief and occasional break from law school, you do not want anything to distract you from your studies regularly.

Try to recognize early on the specific distractions that could derail you, so that you can address them before they impair your studies. For example, consider moving your television from your bedroom to the living room, if possible. If you are in a long-distance relationship, reduce the potential for stress by clearly communicating to your partner the energy you will need to put into law school, and how this may limit your time for phone conversations and visits during your 1L year.

Continue reading here to see other tips for succeeding in law school per US News law blog visitors.

Big hat tip to Above the Law.

(jbl).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2012/08/tips-for-succeeding-as-a-1l.html

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Comments

Good article. I'd like to emphasise the final point in particular. Managing and removing as many distractions as possible is so critical. If you can that well, the amount of focus and time you'll gain will help substantially with letting everything else fall into the right places.

Posted by: Jim Loxley | Aug 19, 2012 12:49:09 AM

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