Also referred to as L1, the first year of law school can be stressful, and if you’ve gone through the law school application process recently and are about to start with your classes, you might already be feeling the heat. L1 can be challenging as it includes a lot of reading, understanding how the grading works, burdening course loads, and highly demanding academics.
Our Attorneys Can Help Current Law Students
Fortunately, our attorneys have compiled some tips for young aspiring lawyers to help them with law school preparation and manage their law studies much more efficiently.
Improve Your Reading Speed
Nearly all law schools in the United States follow the appellate case method, where students must review appellate court decisions, analyze the reasoning made by the judge, and deduce the general legal principles from the cases.
Law school encourages young students to start thinking like an attorney from an early age to shape them for the practical legal world.
During the first year of your law school, your teachers will require you to go through hundreds of legal cases and summarize them. A typical week as a first-year student would include reading around 450 pages. This can be an enormous task for the average student, and you must be able to read quickly and understand complex material as you go about your law school reading.
The Law School Experience Requires a Lot of Reading!
It’s not just about reading hundreds of pages each week in law school; you must also be able to pick out important information and connect different pieces of information together. This is also referred to as comprehension, which is an important part of understanding and analyzing legal cases.
But don’t worry yourself about how you’re going to rummage through hundreds of pages weekly and collect relevant information. Reading and comprehension is not a superpower possessed by just a few special individuals.
Experts have concluded that the brain is a complex organ and has sufficient processing power to read large pieces of text and comprehend the information at great speeds.
That said, if you feel that your reading and comprehension skills are lagging, you must brush up on those skills by practicing before you start law school. Practicing various exercises or taking on courses to help improve your reading and comprehension speed is a great way to polish those skills. Besides reading and comprehension, memory and problem-solving skills are also essential as they will help you piece diverse pieces of information together and analyze complex pieces of text.
Polish Your Writing Skills
The grading process in law schools focuses on how well a student can craft their essays. The writing style and coherence throughout law school play an important role in the grade you receive.
Potential students must be able to draft their arguments in well-written essays after gathering and analyzing information, identifying the issues in a case, and organizing the data available. The essay must also summarize the entire details of the case with an explanation in conclusion.
Just like how reading requires practice to improve the skill, the same goes for writing. Incoming law students should practice their writing, complete practice exams, or sign up for pre-law writing courses to brush up on their skills.
A Law Student Must Develop Great Note-taking Habits
We’ve all had our fair share of last-minute studying throughout high school, but if you’re coming to law school with that mindset, it will not work. Unless you have a photographic memory like Michael Ross from the popular TV series “Suits,” it’s impossible to cram in copious amounts of information in just a few short days.
As you read throughout the week, you must simultaneously take notes and write down important points to help you remember. Taking notes during your readings is a great way to review the study material before a law school exam.
Law school is intense, and if you plan to attend law school, you must excel at time management. Not only are you required to read throughout the week, but you must also complete all your assignments or coursework at the same time. A law student must really be good at time management to juggle between the two, ensuring that their readings and coursework are on track.
Time management is essential to success in law school. The tremendous volume of reading will require you to keep up with course materials and assignments. You must pace yourself and learn to outline and study substantive and procedural law consistently.
Consider Law School as a Full-Time Job
Whether you’re studying criminal law or any other field, law school life can feel like a full-time job. Many experts will advise you to put in two hours of study for every hour of class you take for each subject when in law school. Many law schools break down the curriculum according to the number of hours, allowing students to manage their time accordingly.
Law School Requires a Lot of Study Time
Classes in many law schools will take around 15 hours each week, and students must self-study for 30 hours, bringing the total number of hours each week to 45. That’s a 9 to 5 work routine right there!
Some law schools and their professors will advise you to put in three hours of self-study time for every hour of class you take. However, in the end, it all depends on how many study hours you really require. If your reading skills are lagging, you may find that you’re putting in more hours than some of the other law students in your class.
Plan your schedule accordingly, constantly conduct legal research, and join study groups to help you with your learning. It might surprise you to know that most law school students ensure that they are part of study groups as it helps them understand topics better and prepare for the examinations.
Refer to Study Aids
Going through long texts of legal cases, determining the laws, and analyzing the information can be time-consuming. It can even get complex as you read along. To manage your time efficiently in law school, you can take help from commercial study materials such as the popular Gilbert Law summaries, Emanuel Law Outlines, and more to help you master the complex concepts and prepare for the exams.
However, referring to study aid materials only for law school prep is not advised as you should put in the effort to prepare course outlines, take notes during the lectures, and create a study schedule.
Invest in Resources
Some uninformed students attend law school classes and only go over the material provided in their classes. Unfortunately, that is a bad strategy. If you’re looking to understand your lectures and pass your law school exams, you must invest in some important resources such as Black’s Law Dictionary, which defines legal terminologies and allows students to brush up on legal vocabulary before attending classes.
It’s Okay to Be an Introvert
Actors playing the roles of attorneys in movies and modern TV series come across as confident extroverts, suggesting that this is the character profile that makes good lawyers. Confident, bold, and a talker. However, after spending a considerable amount of time in courtrooms, we found that introverts make really good lawyers.
Yes, sometimes talking a lot is a sign of a confident and learned man, but in the legal profession, being the loudest can often have the opposite effect. Introverts are better able to assess the situation by carefully listening and analyzing. It is important to take a step back when working on a legal case and assess different points of view rather than just sticking to one. Understanding the different dimensions of the case when in law school can provide insight into small details that may be important to the case, helping you further strengthen your arguments.
Faculty of Law Librarians Are Your Friends
Whether you’re pursuing your law degree during the summer semester or the fall semester of law school, having the right research skills is imperative to your legal education. In your legal career, you will come across some aspects or fields of law that you may not be familiar with, and therefore, you need to have well-honed research skills.
During the orientation week when starting law school, make sure you attend a session with the faculty of law librarians. They are individuals who will guide you on where you can find the information you are looking for, how to utilize the available resources at the library best, and just some handy tips to get you going.
Learn to Manage Stress
You may not like the next thing we are about to say, but stress for a law student is a normal part of life. Stress can shake even the best of us, but knowing how to manage stress is a critical skill that law students learn as they continue with their studies.
In the practical world, courtroom environments can make even the best of attorneys nervous, but being able to manage stress effectively can take the added pressure off their shoulders.
It’s Important to Establish Healthy Habits
When you’re studying at a law school and putting in 45+ hours weekly into your studies, you’ll soon realize that you have very little downtime. The secret of most law students’ success is self-care. They focus on themselves during the downtime by doing things they love or enjoy, which helps them relax and take the edge off. Some prefer doing exercise, yoga, or taking a jog in the park. Everyone is different, so take some time to identify what helps you relax and work towards it whenever you get some time.
Visting Ehline Law’s Website to Learn More
Many tips can help you breeze through law school, but to be a great lawyer, you must stay up to date on the latest legal news and law changes. Visit our website regularly to stay updated on relevant legal news, cases, and California law changes.