So you made the decision to spend the next three years in hell. What you are about to enter is unlike any schooling you have ever been through. If you come into law school with that knowledge, I think you will be ok.
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When I entered law school I did not know what to expect. There was no one I could ask for help. Basically, I was entering law school blind. I never want anyone to feel how I felt the first few months of law school. Having no one to ask how do I get through this made me feel extremely alone and unsure of myself.
In this post, I am going to share all my law school study tips, advice, and resources to help you survive and pass law school.
LAW SCHOOL STUDY TIPS, ADVICE, & RESOURCES
UNDERSTANDING LAW SCHOOL
First, it is important for you to understand that you will not get through law school by half assing it. Anyone who tells you differently is lying. Second, you need to understand that law school is all about reading and writing and absolutely nothing like “How to Get Away With Murder.” There will be triumphs and defeats, but if you really want to do this you will get through it. Lastly, you are no longer the smartest in the room. Most law school students were straight A students in high school and undergrad. However, this does not mean you cannot pass law school with my law school study tips and advice.
LAW SCHOOL ESSENTIALS:
Secondly, start law school off right with the following law school essentials. You will only need to purchase them once, besides highlighters, but you will use them throughout law school and beyond.
- Black’s Law Dictionary, Fifth Pocket Edition – This is a legal dictionary. There is a high chance you will not know some of the legal terms you come across. I highly suggest this dictionary, as a practicing attorney I keep one in my office till this day. If it is not on your textbook list just purchase it.
- Laptop – It may seem obvious but your laptop is about to become an extra arm. I suggest you take the time and invest in a new one if your laptop is old and running on its last fumes. You do not want to be that person who laptops crash the day of the exam. Trust me someone laptop will crash by the time you are finished with law school. Just do not let it be you. I used the opportunity to invest in an Apple MacBook Air 13.3-Inch Laptop.
- Highlighters, Value Pack – Just grab you a value pack of these because you will go through them. Personally, I would grab a multi-color pack because you can color code your case briefs. I still remember my color codes till this day: issue statement (yellow) Rules:(purple), analysis (orange), court’s reasoning (green).
- Daily Planner – Staying organized throughout law school is key. You will become overwhelmed very quickly. Between keeping up with the daily assignments, meetings, and events, you do not want to get lost.
- Backpack – There no point in trying to be cute and carry your books in your hand. These books are too heavy for that. Just get you a cute backpack and be done with it. Some folks even invested in the rolling backpacks so they did not have to carry it on their back.
PERFECTING LEGAL WRITING
Thirdly, 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 to 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.
COURSE STUDY MATERIALS
Fourthly, 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 with 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.
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LAW SCHOOL EXAM
Fifthly, my next law school study tips deal with law school exams. 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 through out the semester will also give you the confidence you will need to pass your exam.
For exam preparation I followed the 4-3-2-1 system which looked a little like this:
What the 4-3-2-1: Basically you 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. You should be doing old exams the when you hit 2 days to prepare for the exam. Start the count from the day your exam is to take place, this will also let you know when it is time to start studying for exams. Now, this does not mean you do not look at your other course materials. The idea of this system is to help you focus on one topic for a period of time.
MENTAL & PHYSICAL WELLNESS
Lastly, 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.
Now, why the hell should you take law school tips from me. Good question. I completed law school with a 3.3 G.P.A. I was .2 points shy from graduating with honors. However, if I had the advice I am giving you I would have never bomb my first semester of law school. After my first semester, I made between a 3.0-3.8 the rest of my time in law school and even finished my last semester with a 4.0. That is why I feel very confident in giving you my law school study tips and advice.
One last thing, I wish you all the success in the world during your law school adventure. I know if you implement these law school study tips and advice you will conquer law school. Remember law school is just the first step in becoming a lawyer. The last step is passing the dang ole bar exam. Check my post on how to ace a bar exam.