Well, I did it. Sigh of relief. I thrived during my first year of law school. How did I thrive? It was not easy, but the process was pretty simple. Here are a few lessons learned from my 1L year. Ultimately, success results from two features, engaging study and wholesome recreation.
One of the keys to law school success is to study hard and to study early. How early should you begin to study? The same day you learn something new. There are three main suggestions on the best way to study for law school; complete all the reading, outline early, and review often. Ultimately, the purpose of frequent study is to build confidence in yourself and in your knowledge. The more confident you feel going into finals, the better you will perform.
The biggest way to prepare for class was to complete all the readings and brief them all. This is the most time consuming part of law school but its also the part you do not want to cut corners. Many law school students use other resources to help them understand the cases (Quimbee, Law Schoolers, etc.). Although these sources can be very helpful in learning and understanding content, they should not be a replacement for personal research. The more you read, the more you will develop into a successful student and attorney. Hard work without cutting corners will always pay off.
Although you can begin to outline at any time, I have found that taking 15 minutes after each class is the most efficient way to outline. First, the material is fresh. This is important because when you come back later to review, you would have included important details that may have been neglected if input later. Second, outlining early reduces the stress that comes with spending hours later to “make sure the outline is done.” Having utilized both methods, trust me, earlier is better.
Begin your review early and review often. What do you review? Your briefs from reading, notes from lectures, your outline, and learning supplements. How do you review? Utilize as many study methods as possible. I enjoy reading my notes out loud (those turn into Law Schoolers podcast episodes), listening to my notes, and completing practice problems (both multiple choice and essay questions). Sometimes professors also provide practice resources to review.
To survive law school, you have to spend time outside of study. The consequences for failing to do so seem fairly obvious. Thus, it is important to find activities that will take your mind off of school. A good mixture of productive relaxation (not just chilling), exercise, and social events are exactly what you need to feel fresh for the stress of law school.
I would also note the importance of surrounding yourself with other students who are 1) smarter than you, 2) engaged in legal learning, and 3) easy to be friends with. You need friends in law school.
I feel a little uncomfortable sharing my grades, but feel that it is important for everyone to see how this simple process can obtain good results. However, I won’t share my GPA or class rank (maybe I’ll come back after law school and add it later).
I hope everyone continues to follow and learn throughout the remainder of my law school experience.
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