Success in law school is not based on your college GPA, nor your LSAT score, it is based on working hard and smart. Law school students from good colleges with high GPA’s and LSAT scores fail out of law school because they don’t study enough or don’t study effectively. To achieve your academic and employment goals you need to do well in law school.
Here are 10 strategies that will help you succeed in law school
- Final Exams!
Academic success in law school means success on final exams. Your grades are determined almost exclusively by the scores you receive on your final exams. Most exams are a three hour essay test given at the end of the semester.
The amount of material you must master for each final exam is shocking. You can’t cram for a week, you must prepare for your final exams beginning on day one. The only way to be prepared for finals is to be prepared for class.
- Outline, Outline, Outline
The most important thing you can do for law school success is to outline! Start outlining your courses from the first day of law school and constantly add to your outlines at the end of each week.
Students often wait until letter in the semester to start outlining, then spend the rest of the semester playing catching up. You do not want to spend your time catching up, by outlining all along, you can better learn and memorize the substantive information without feeling lost!
It’s not enough to have an outline, you have to know it. Review your outlines throughout the semester so you can get a feel for how the new information relates to the rules of law covered at the beginning of the semester.
- Do The Reading.
Read all of the assigned cases for all of your courses. Do not fall behind or you may never catch up. If you don’t do the reading before class, you will have no idea what is going on in class.
3a. Brief The Cases.
For each assigned case, write down the legally significant; facts, rule of law, the holding and the rationale for the court’s decision. Review your case briefs right before class, so you can follow the class discussion and avoid the embarrassment of being unprepared when called upon.
- Go To Class.
It’s important to go to every class know matter how sick you are! Most professors cover material not discussed in the reading, so if you skip class, you’ll miss the professors incites, which is what is tested the final exam.
Some students use class time to shop on the Internet, play computer games or catch up on their e-mail. You are paying a lot of tuition to “surfing the net” instead of paying attention.
Take notes you are going to need them to complete your outline. Taking notes can help you focus in class as well and will make you and actively engaged in the learning process.
- Practice Tests
You should do lots of them. This will help you determine how to approach essays for each course, everyone is using IRAC so you want to stand out in a good way.
Then start answering essays mid-semester, just complete the issues that have been covered in class, then at the end of the semester you can complete the question.
5a. Professors Feedback
If your professor distributes a practice question and says that they will review your answer and give you feedback DO IT! ON TIME!
This is your opportunity to get your professor’s input about your issue spotting, essay organization and writing style with time to make any adjustments before your essays are graded.
- Study Groups
Study groups can be a valuable learning tool, talking through material with classmates can increase your understanding and retention. When forming a study group find students who are well-prepared for class with high academic goals. There are a few Don’ts with study groups; don’t let your study group meetings become social hour, don’t use study groups as a way of sharing the workload you are responsible for all of the information. Lastly, if you are not benefiting from the study group, stop attending.
- Attend Review Sessions
Some professors or Academic Suport will hold review sessions during the semester and prior to exams. This is a great way to review the material and get answers you are confused about an issue. You may also get tips on how to write your exam answers during review sessions.
- Make Friends
Getting to know your professors and classmates will make law school more enjoyable. And after law school you will get a job after law school because you have a stellar GPA or you have a connection. By making friends and forming connections with classmates and professors, you never know who will end up the key getting an employment opportunity.
- Study Schedule
A law school study schedule is key to success, because if you don’t have a study schedule and stick to it, you won’t accomplish your academic goals. You can know all the “theory” about how to do well in law school but without implementing the plan, it is useless.
Set aside block of time2-4 hours that you are going to study, let everyone know this is study time and you can’t be interrupted.
- Minimize Your Stress
Yah Right! Law school is stressful, if it’s not for you, then you are doing it wrong! In theory there are things you can do to reduce stress. Humor is a great stress reliever, legal humor, making fun of professors or student you don’t like can help. Make time for exercise if you can. Eat well and don’t skip meals because you “are so busy”, eat fruit, vegetables on a regular basis, diet Coke and Ding-Dongs are not food. SLEEP… at least seven hours per night, if not then use that time to study. If you think your stress level is to high, talk about it with your friends at your next study group (see tip 6 Don’ts) a family member, a close friend or one of the law school Deans.