How To Study Before Law School Starts
If you’re reading this blog post, you probably have at least some interest in law school. Whatever your interest level, and no matter where you are in your educational journey, this post can help you get a head start on law school before law school even starts! Some people know they want to be attorneys the second they begin school while others discover the legal profession later in life. And while there is no one way to prepare for your law school journey, it is worthwhile to prepare and complete some tasks before law school starts!
How To Study Before Law School Starts
Sign Up For Our Free Law School Prep Course!
How can you study before law school? First, we recommend our very popular (and free!) free law school prep course! This course has helped thousands of students since its inception last year, has received a rating of 4.76 out of 5 stars, and was recently mentioned by U.S. News & World Report as a helpful law school resource!
Our law school prep course offers crucial information about how to read case law and understand other important legal concepts. Additionally, the course provides information on how to brief cases, answer questions when you are called on, take notes during class, and outline.
There are also other things you can do in your everyday life to prepare for law school. We take a closer look at ways to prepare based on where you are in your academic journey below.
How can you study for law school while in high school? Well, at this stage in a student’s educational journey, it is important to focus on the building blocks of critical skills needed to get into law school, do well in law school, and succeed as a lawyer. These skills include:
- Clear spoken and written communication
- Reading comprehension,
- Problem-solving, and
- Research skills.
Fortunately, most high school coursework teaches these critical skills, directly or indirectly.
Additionally, there are other soft skills that you can learn in high school that can be helpful in a legal career. As you might imagine, these include:
- Critical thinking and thinking outside the box,
- Time management amongst all your responsibilities,
- Organization, and
- Community and public service activities.
Many high school extracurricular activities teach students to balance their time between studies and other activities. This is true for activities that seemingly have nothing to do with the legal profession. You’ll learn a lot about time management by participating on the basketball team, joining the yearbook staff, or taking on a part-time job.
Additionally, some extracurriculars focus on the critical skills that are helpful to any law student, such as the speech or debate team. Some schools even offer these as educational courses for credit! The main benefit of these extracurriculars or courses is to help students become comfortable with public speaking. Additionally, depending on the type of speech or debate conducted, thinking on one’s feet while speaking eloquently is key! Additionally, studies have shown that high school debate practice can improve reading ability, grades, self-esteem, and interest in school. (See Snider, Alfred C. “Debate: Key to better academic achievement”).
Freshman/Sophomore in College
You’ve made it to college! Now what? JD Advising prepared a blog about Undergrad Action Plan: Freshman And Sophomore Year. There, we discuss the importance of acclimating to college life and school—it’s a big transition! Additionally, try your very best academically—grades do matter for law school admissions. Importantly, during your freshman year, you should be sure to explore which types of classes interest you so you can select a major during your sophomore year. There are some courses including communications, history, government, data and statistics class, to name a few, that can all be helpful in preparing for law school.
During your sophomore year, one of the most fruitful and valuable steps you can take is to enroll in courses that are heavy in writing. Regardless of what kind of lawyer you ultimately aim to become, being able to write effectively is a must! Another way to study before law school starts is to take advantage of your college’s prelaw programming, if available.
Junior/Senior in College
If attending law school remains your goal at this point in your educational journey, you should begin evaluating the concrete qualities that you want in a law school. There are currently 199 American Bar Association accredited law schools in the United States, which leaves prospective law students with many options.
To start planning for law school, we recommend the following during your junior year:
- Take a practice LSAT to obtain a baseline score. Depending on how you score and the average scores of the schools to which you are considering applying, you may want to invest in an LSAT prep course—and we’ve got you covered with our LSAT Tutoring!
- Make a list of schools to which you want to apply. You might think that junior year is too early, but you’re making a big decision! The American Bar Association offers several helpful points of data on law school rankings, bar passage statistics, and employment statistics.
- Prepare a personal statement! While you won’t actually apply your junior year, you can take the time this head start provides to prepare a stellar personal statement! Make sure to vet your final product against our Personal Statement Dos and Don’ts.
- We also recommend that if you know that you plan to apply to law school, you ask for letters of recommendation from professors with whom you have a good relationship as soon as you can. Professors might move or go on sabbatical, and it can be difficult to try to reach them later.
- Finally, you will want to start preparing so you can get that high score on the LSAT!
Your junior year should, ideally, allow you to dip your toe into the law school pond in a more tangible way by taking steps toward gathering and completing pieces that will inevitably be part of your law school applications. These recommendations should continue during your senior year, with two very important exceptions. First, in your senior year, you should also take an official LSAT if you have not yet done so, and as your senior academic year comes to an end, you should apply to the law schools in which you are interested! This can be an overwhelming time, which is why we recommend doing what you can “ahead of time” during your junior year so that you don’t have to juggle taking the LSAT and applying to law schools during your senior year of college.
Accepted Into Law School–The Months Before You Graduate College
You’ve done all the things—you took the LSAT, applied to the law schools, and graduated from college! There’s just one more thing…now it’s time to celebrate getting into law school! This can require that you choose between schools, apply for financial aid and student loans, and take stock of your prelaw school life. This is also the time to determine more logistical issues such as where to move, renting an apartment, etc.
Before you graduate college, you will have other important priorities vying for your attention. However, we recommend that you don’t let those things deter you from continuing to study for law school before law school—continue to manage your schedule well, continue to take care of your body with movement and healthy food—these are soft skills that can define some part of your success in law school, during bar prep, and in your legal practice!
Those Who Take Gap Year(s) Before Law School
If you took or plan to take a gap year or gap years between college and law school, it can be scary on many levels to think about returning to school. For example, you may think that you’ve “forgotten” how to study or prepare for exams. Well, luckily for you, studying in law school and law school exams are so far removed from the college experience that you, and every other budding law student, will generally start from the same playing field.
However, you can get an early start on the subjects you will see in your first year of law school! To accomplish this, you can read the Examples and Explanations books discussing the first-year law school classes, which are: civil procedure, contracts, torts, real property, criminal law, constitutional law, and legal research and writing. The Examples and Explanations books provide clear explanations, hypothetical questions similar to what you will experience during law school lectures and on the final exams, and coverage of the major case law related to the topic.
Also, definitely enroll in our free JD Advising free law school prep course.
Accepted Into Law School–The Summer Before Law School Begins
Law school begins in three months — what do you do? Of course, this question will depend on whether you implemented the strategies we suggested in points three and four above. However, a broad-strokes useful approach to how to make the best use of the summer before law school to maximize your potential includes (i) reading books we recommend on building habits and the law school process; (ii) building helpful habits to boost your performance; and (iii) have fun!
- Enroll in the JD Advising free law school prep course mentioned above!
- Many great books offer advice on personal self-development and law school success. JD Advising has a blog post on how to prepare for law school the summer before that recommends specific books. However, you know your strength and areas for improvement best! You should tailor any reading you engage in the summer before to your own personal experience!
- We have all heard or anecdotally experienced those good hormones released when you move your body. And we’ve all heard about the positive impacts of exercise on mental health. But these points are cliches for a reason—because they’re true! You want to have an outlet to release your stress and make you feel good! Importantly, Harvard Medical School tells us that exercise can boost your memory and thinking skills!
- Also—make sure to have fun the summer before law school begins! Law school is a significant time commitment, so spending time with friends and family the summer before law school begins. This time is also prime for organizing your living situation, finalizing your move (if you need to move), and getting familiar with the school environment that will be your home for the next three years!
Finally, JD Advising has resources to help you make the most of your law school experience! We recommend our fantastic outlines on legal topics. JD Advising also provides a free resource that will guide you on succeeding in law school! If you need additional help, JD Advising also offers law school tutoring, law school study aids, and legal writing tutoring!
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