If you are looking to succeed in law school your first year, good for you! You probably already know how important the first year of law school is if you are reading this–it is what determines what jobs you get, if you are eligible for law review, if you are eligible for scholarships, and if you are able to do all the other awesome things that come with doing well your first year of law school (e.g., competitive clerkships). Here are a few first year of law school tips for those about to embark on their first year.
Five Essential First Year of Law School Tips—by the #1 Law Student
1. Remember what matters—your final exams!
Keep this perspective from Day 1 of law school. It does NOT matter how beautiful your case briefs are. Or how stellar you perform on call. What does matter is your final exams. In most law school classes your final exam will determine 100% of your grade. So you must focus on the exam from the beginning!
2. Outline right away and outline every week.
Your outline is your bible. While so many students spend excessive amounts of time reading every word of every case, you want to spend most of your time (a) outlining and (b) memorizing your outlines. You should be organizing the law and learning it from the beginning of the semester.
I graduated as the #1 law student and it is not because I am “smart” (and I did not study the longest hours). One of the key reasons was that I outlined and memorized my outlines from the beginning. By the time study period for final exams rolled around, I had a major advantage. Please see this in-depth post on how to make a law school outline if you don’t know where to start. And here are some tips to actively reviewing your law school outlines, if you want techniques for memorizing!
3. Answer exam questions early on.
If you learn the law really well, you are halfway there. The next step is learning how to apply it. Some students read a bunch of techniques about taking law school exams, which is not a bad idea. But a better idea is to dive in and start practicing! You will not get really good at tennis if you just read about it all day. You need to eventually play the game. Here is an in-depth guide to answering law school exam questions if you want an overview of the law school exam game is different than undergrad. After you feel comfortable with the method, start practicing.
4. What your professor says matters the most.
Your professor will be writing your exam. And your professor will be grading your exam. So what your professor thinks matters.
Learn the rules the way your professor says them. Spend time on what your professor spends time on. Don’t waste time reading cases your professor doesn’t emphasize or doing outside reading on treatises.
Also, importantly, study your professor’s past exams. These are key! They tell you what your professor thinks is important and how they like to structure exams.
5. If you are not following the crowd, that is a good thing.
Many of your peers will spend hours each day reading cases. Or comparing how they did on call. Or joining study groups (which are not bad but also most of them are not good).
So don’t stress yourself out if no one else has started their outlines or looked at a practice exam at Week 8. To stand out, you have to prepare differently!
We hope you enjoyed these first year of law school tips! If you have any questions feel free to contact us or comment below!
If you are interested in an in-depth course that goes over how to succeed in law school, please consider signing up for our law school preparatory course or utilizing our law school tutoring services if you need help while you are in law school.
We have helped many students succeed in law school (and succeed in and transfer to, prestigious law schools, such as the University of Michigan Law School, Cornell Law School, Duke Law School, among others.
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