Tips for Success in Law School

Tips for Success in Law School

1 . Do the reading

Do all of the reading assigned for your courses. Do not fall behind; you may never catch up. Do your reading at times of the day when you are most alert. Also, do your reading in a location where you will not be distracted or tempted to do something else. Otherwise, you will find that it takes you far longer than necessary to prepare for class.

2 . Brief the cases

Take notes while reading. For each assigned case, write down the legally significant facts, the holding of the case, and the rationale for the courts decision. This is what is referred to as briefing cases. Your case briefs should be just that brief.

3 . Review before each class

Review your reading notes case briefs right before class. That way, the cases will be fresh in your mind, and you will substantially increase your ability to follow the class discussion not to mention avoid the embarrassment associated with being unprepared when called upon by the professor.

4 . Go to class

Most professors cover some material in class that is not discussed in the reading, so failure to attend class will put you at a big disadvantage when you take the final exam. Also, you will receive an FW if you miss more than 20% of the sessions of a course. This is factored into your grade point average as an F and is never removed from your academic record, even if you retake the course.

5 . Pay attention in class

Some misguided students use class time to shop on the Internet, play computer games or catch up on their e mail. You are paying a substantial amount of money for tuition. Do you really want to spend your tuition money surfing the net or playing computer solitaire instead of paying attention to the class discussion.

6 . Participate in class

Students learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process.

7 . Take class notes

Do not, however, get so caught up in trying to take down everything your professor says that you are not actively engaged in the class discussion. Review your class notes before starting your next reading assignment and analyze how the new cases you read affect those cases you already have reviewed in class.

8 . Prepare an outline for each of your classes

Outlines prepared by more senior students or commercial outlines are not acceptable substitutes for making your own outlines. The analysis necessary to prepare a course outline helps you determine the rules of law applicable to the subject matter of the course, as well as determine how the rules relate to one another. If you do not go through this process, you are less likely to master the subject matter. Also, not all professors teach a subject the same way. In fact, many professors do not even teach a course the same way from one year to the next. The only way to get an outline tailored to your course is to make it yourself. Do NOT wait until the reading period to prepare your outlines; youll never get them done in time. Some students like to outline once per week, others once per month. Still others prefer to outline whenever a topic is completed. Pick whatever schedule works best for you and stick to it.

9 . Consider forming a study group

Study groups can be a valuable learning tool. Talking through material with classmates can increase your understanding and retention of course material. You also can obtain helpful study tips from your peers. If you decide to form a study group, seek out other students who are well prepared for class and have similar academic goals. Do not let your study group meetings become social or gossip sessions. Also, do not use study groups as a way of sharing the workload. Lastly, if you find that you are not benefiting from your study group, resign from the group.

10 . Review review review

Just because you dont have an exam until the end of the semester does not mean that you should wait until the reading period to begin your review. This is not undergraduate school. You cannot cram right before finals and get good grades. Therefore, make time for frequent review over the course of the semester.