Student Top Ten Tips and Advice

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Law Students’ Top Ten Pieces of Advice for 1Ls*

(1) Keep up with the reading/don’t fall behind.
(2) Go to class.
(3) Network/make friends.
(4) Maintain balance/have a life outside of law school.
(5)  Get involved with things that interest you/student organizations.
(6) Don’t become obsessed with grades/become competitive.
(7) Relax/try not to stress.
(8) Maintain a healthy lifestyle (exercise and diet).
(9) Go to your professors’ office hours and ask questions.
(10) Don’t Facebook/surf the internet during class.

*This Top Ten List has been compiled from a questionnaire given to more than 500 students after their first year of law school.

Law Student Survey: Top Ten Essential Traits for Doing Well in Law School**

(1) Hard work/Commitment/Discipline
(2) Focus
(3) Having/Maintaining a positive mental outlook
(4) Time management
(5) Critical thinking
(6) Ability to maintain balance
(7) Perseverance
(8) Patience
(9) Learn how law school works
(10) Having thick skin

Top Ten Pieces of Advice for Doing Well in Your Legal Writing Class*

(1) Start assignments early – they will take longer than you think.
(2) Plug into the format your professor gives you (IRAC/CRAC, etc) and don’t try to be creative.
(3) Go to your writing professor’s office hours and ask questions.
(4) Be prepared to write in a style completely different than what you are used to.
(5) Be detail-oriented.
(6) Be concise.
(7) Double and triple check your citation and proofreading.
(8) Take it seriously (even if it is worth fewer credits) because it’s probably the most important class you will take.
(9) Learn how to research well as quickly as you can/attend research training classes.
(10) Put in your best effort on ungraded assignments too.

Law Student Advice**

What is the best piece of advice you could give someone for doing well on final exams?

Every exam is different.  You are learning the teacher’s teaching style just as much as you are learning the material.  The best way to prepare for this is to be able to apply the material well in any situation, which means answering as many practice questions as you can.

Methodical studying, flashcards, and creating your own outlines.

Focus on what your professor presented in class because this is the best clue about what will be on the final.

Take the time to make your own study guides.

Eat a good meal before and try not to stress or get too excited before.  One exam I was so excited to take it that I couldn’t eat, but I crashed midway through because I had no fuel in my tank.

If possible, take every single one of the professor’s past final exams, and do it under similar time constraints.

Don’t rely on someone else’s outlines.  A large part of the learning process is putting together your own materials, figuring out where everything fits and how it works together.  While you might be able to memorize someone else’s information, you will not be able to apply it effectively if you haven’t put in the work to synthesize the material yourself.

Go with your gut about what works best for you, and don’t adopt any specific approach to studying just because people around you are doing it.

Get to the point and get to know what your professor expects.

Be very careful who you study with and avoid large study groups (they are inefficient).

If you can, review professors’ old exams – they use the same questions over and over again.

Practice with lots of hypos.

Study in a way that works for you.  Don’t give up the strategies that have been working up until law school just because others are doing something different.

Review old exams from the same professor.

Get former students’ outlines to supplement your own outlines

What is the biggest myth/misconception about law school?

That it teaches you the law. Law school’s intent is not to teach you the law. We can look that up. Instead, law school teaches you how to teach yourself – one of the most valuable tools we will ever have.

Law school is not just an extension of undergrad—it is actually the first step of your professional career. Thus, it is helpful to act accordingly.

Law school is not full of squares. People are people. Some will suck. Some will be badass.  Stress and a heavy workload do not make everyone lame.

That you are locked into becoming a lawyer once you decide to go to law school.  Law school provides a massive base of knowledge that can be applied to many different endeavors.

That it prepares you to be a lawyer.

That all lawyers make loads of money!

That all professors are rigid, hard-nosed people who never smile or laugh.

That you have to have good grades to get a good job.

Everyone seems to think that it teaches you how to be a lawyer, but unless you focus your curriculum on practical courses, it really doesn’t prepare you to be a lawyer at all.  It teaches you how to think about problems analytically, which is something that I don’t think a lot of people realize.

That it’s a miserable experience.

That there’s a great, high paying job waiting for you after graduation.

**The law student survey/advice sections are from a compilation of graduating law students’ surveys, only a small sample of which has been replicated here.