How To Be The Best Law Student: 10 Do’s and Don’ts
No matter where you are in your law school career, it is possible to become the best law student by making the most of your time and the resources available to you. Take a moment to think about why you wanted to go to law school in the first place. For some, it means the beginning of cultivating a life of activism and for others, it means preparing for solo practice. Whatever your legal aspirations are, we invite you to read our 10 Do’s & Don’ts on how to be the best law student!
How To Be The Best Law Student: 10 Do’s and Don’ts
1. Complete the Assigned Readings
Perhaps this is a bit of a no-brainer, but it is difficult to be the best law student when you have not completed the readings. While it may be possible to make do by only reading case briefs, your best bet at becoming the best law student involves completing the assigned readings. When you complete the assigned readings, you will have notes and/or case briefs as well as questions prepared so that you make the best use of classroom time. In addition, you will be prepared for cold calls and class engagement, therefore adding to your participation grade.
Bottom line: DO the assigned reading; DON’T rely solely on commercial case briefs.
2. Make A Realistic Schedule
Consistency is key to becoming the best law school student. As many say, law school really is a marathon and not a sprint. It is important to schedule time for your readings, study groups, meeting with professors, and studying for exams. Figure out a system that works for you to keep track of and prioritize your assignments. Try and make study time slots at the same time and place each week, this way it becomes a habit you barely have to think about.
Bottom line: DO make a quasi-flexible schedule; DON’T deviate from your scheduled priority tasks.
3. Use Supplements
Another thing that can be helpful to have in law school is good supplemental materials. Supplements can come in online or book format. They can be used either before or after consulting the primary reading assignments and can be used to lay the foundation, clarify, or emphasize the complex legal concepts you will be exposed to.
Bottom line: DO consult professors, librarians, and upperclassmen regarding supplements; DON’T rely solely on supplements.
4. Talk To Upperclassmen
As with many things, experience comes with time. Law school is no different. Get to know your peers, especially upperclassmen at your school! Upper-classmen may have advice and even outlines to assist you in reaching your #bestlawstudent goals.
Bottom line: DO talk with upperclassmen; DON’T underestimate the value of getting to know your peers.
5. Talk With Your Professors
While you may be feeling nervous about consulting your professors, we encourage communicating with your professor during classroom and office hours. Your professor can help you timely deal with any frustrations with the material, and they may even work through a past final exam or recent hypothetical with you or a small group!
Bottom line: DO meet with professors to discuss the material and/or past exams; DON’T be afraid to talk with your professors.
6. Quiz Yourself
An essential part of learning legal concepts includes engaging with the material in new and nuanced circumstances. While you should definitely look at your professor’s past exams for the class and familiarize yourself with their exam style, you should also expose yourself to the legal concepts in different settings beyond the class text. Take practice quizzes from different professors and other sources such as established supplements to help you gain familiarity with the material. You will be well on your way to becoming the best law student!
Bottom line: DO test your knowledge with different materials (e.g., textbook, past exams, supplements); DON’T limit hypotheticals to the class textbook.
7. Meet The Librarian
The librarians at your law school are established professionals who have advanced knowledge about conducting research. They will also know about supplements, and they can often provide assistance when accessing the suite of digital tools afforded to you.
Bottom Line: DO consult your law school’s librarian; DON’T skip an introductory meeting with your law school librarian.
8. Master Foundational Legal Skills Through Classes and Extracurriculars
Law school presents many opportunities for students to advance their legal research and writing, negotiation techniques, and oral advocacy. Take the time to navigate your legal writing course and requirements by working with your professor (and a librarian!). Consider applying for law review. In addition, take part in activities that allow you to enhance your oral advocacy skills such as classroom simulations, Moot Court, Mock Trial, and Dispute Resolution.
Bottom line: DO participate in activities that enhance your legal research and writing skills, negotiation techniques, and oral advocacy; DON’T limit your opportunities to engage even if you are not on Moot Court or Law Review.
9. Meet With A Career Advisor
It can be incredibly helpful to introduce yourself to a career advisor and follow up with them regularly. They will be able to advise you on an array of things, such as classes, events, and even job opportunities. Additionally, they can help you fine-tune your resume and cover letter as you begin applying to jobs both during law school and often post-graduation!
Bottom line: DO meet with your career advisor early; DON’T wait until you are looking for a post-graduation job to start speaking with the career advisor.
10. Take Classes You Care About
Consider your goals when deciding what classes to take. If you are focused on meeting graduation requirements or taking subjects that are tested on the bar exam, it may mean you have to learn information you might not find particularly exciting. In addition to meeting law school requirements, do try and include some courses that you find interesting or on subject matters that you’re passionate about.
Bottom line: DO take at least some courses that interest you; DON’T give up on a class because it is not interesting.
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