Law School Daily Study Schedule
If you are an incoming law student (or even a current law student), you may be wondering exactly how many hours per day you should set aside for studying. The short answer is that there is no magic number! Study habits are largely subjective, and many factors go into creating a personalized law school daily study schedule. These factors might include whether you work better in the morning or at night, how many breaks you prefer to take per day, your preference for having more time off during the week or on weekends, and so much more. For that reason, there is no “right” answer to exactly how many hours a law student should study each day. There are, however, ways to help you find out what the right number is for you! In this post, we discuss top considerations to help you form your ideal law school daily study schedule.
Law School Daily Study Schedule
Law Students’ Average Daily Study Hours
If you ask any law student how many hours per day they study throughout the semester, the answer will likely vary greatly from student to student. This is especially true at the beginning of the semester as opposed to finals time when studying tends to become more intensive for all students. The answer also varies if you ask different law student advisors. All in all, however, law students typically spend around 30 – 40 hours per week studying.
That may sound like a lot, but a good rule of thumb is that you should be studying at least two hours for every one hour of class time per week. For example, 4 classes that meet for 3 hours each per week is 12 hours of class time per week. If you double that number, you should be studying at least 24 hours per week for those 4 classes. Between studying and attending classes, it is easy to hit 40 hours per week!
How each student breaks down their law school daily study schedule is where the number varies. Some students prefer to study 7 days a week for smaller amounts of time each day. Other students prefer to stick to 6 days a week. Some even study for only five days per week! So, if you are aiming to study at least 24 hours per week that means:
- If you study 7 days per week, you will study at least 3.5 hours per day.
- If you study 6 days per week, you will study at least 4 hours per day.
- If you study 5 days per week, and take the weekends off, you will study at least 5 hours per day during the week.
There’s no “best” option—simply do what works best for you!
Quality Over Quantity
No matter the exact number of hours per day you spend studying, be sure to use your time wisely. At a certain point, the duration of your studying becomes much less important than the quality of your studying. So, adding an extra hour of studying won’t make nearly as big of a difference as improving your study time!
For example, if study 16 hours on weekends, but all you do during that time is brief cases, you won’t necessarily end up with a high grade in the class at the end of the semester. There is much more to studying than just briefing cases! However, if you spend 10 hours on the weekends outlining, learning the law, and practicing hypotheticals or exam problems, you are setting yourself up to earn a high grade! In this example, the 10 hours spent actively studying and learning is a much more effective and efficient use of time than the 16 hours spent just passively briefing cases.
Quality over quantity is one of the best ways to study better!
Crafting Your Law School Daily Study Schedule
Now that we’ve given you a general idea of how much you need to study, consider exactly what studying entails so that you can make your ideal schedule. Your law school daily study schedule can essentially be broken down into two broad categories: (1) actual studying and (2) related law school obligations. When you combine these two types of components, your law school study schedule becomes a full-time job—around 40 hours per week.
Preparing for class (i.e., reading cases)
Preparing for class is an essential part of your daily law school study schedule, particularly if your professor tends to cold call. (If so, check out four vital tips for surviving cold calling in law school here!) Just be sure that you don’t spend all of your time on cases. You want to read cases efficiently, not necessarily thoroughly, which you can do by:
- Reviewing cases as close to class as possible. If you read too far ahead, you will forget a lot of what you reviewed, and you still spend double the time on the assignment. If you have to read and then re-read the cases before class, this takes up valuable study time!
- Reviewing case briefs prior to reviewing the case themselves. One way to speed up case reading is to read case briefs ahead of time so that you know what the case is about before you begin reading. It can help you read cases twice as fast, keeping your time spent reading cases efficient and effective!
- Book briefing cases. You can save time by noting the rule, analysis, and holding of the case in the margins of the casebook as you are reading. (Check out this post on briefing cases including the benefits of book briefing!)
Developing your outlines
The best time to start developing your outlines is during week one of law school. Many students wait until late in the semester, but by then you will have covered so much material! Many students find that waiting too long makes outlining overwhelming.
If you set aside around 30 – 60 minutes in your law school daily study schedule for outlining, you will stay on track with your studying. As an added bonus, it is a great way to review and study your class notes and absorb the material. By outlining regularly, you will minimize your chances of feeling lost in law school and you will feel more in control of your schedule.
Read our in-depth guide on how to write a law school outline here!
Reviewing your outlines
Making an outline alone will not prepare you for your law school exams, you need to leave adequate time in your law school daily study schedule for reviewing your outlines as well!
One method that works for many students is to go through your outline section by section each day. By breaking the outline into smaller sections, reviewing becomes less overwhelming and memorization becomes more manageable. As the semester progresses, your outline might be too long to review the entire outline daily, so breaking it into sections will definitely help.
Regularly reviewing your outlines is the best way to make sure you are retaining information. By the time finals approach, you will already know the material! Check out this post with seven tips on how to learn your law school outlines here.
Taking practice exams (or other active studying techniques)
Developing/reviewing your outlines ensures you know the law, but taking a practice exam can help you apply the law. Law school final exams are different than exams you may have taken in college. Law school exams are longer and contain intensive fact patterns where you need to apply the law. Thus, taking practice exams is what sets apart “A” students from the rest!
So, make time in your law school daily study schedule for active study techniques. At the beginning of the semester, you will spend less time practicing exams than at the end of the semester and during your study period. The important thing, though, is that you develop a habit of doing this all along. If you are not sure where or how to begin, check out these posts on what law school finals are like, how to answer law school exam questions, and how to take law school practice exams!
The best thing to do to prepare for final exams is to do practice exams that your professor wrote. This will give you the best idea of what you might encounter on exam day. If your professor releases a model answer or grading rubric for his or her practice exams, pay close attention to each issue the professor spotted and how the answers are formatted. Even if your professor does not release a model answer, reviewing other professors’ model answers can be helpful, so check if any are available!
Other Law School Obligations
Going to class
You will likely have 15+ hours of class per week—anywhere between an hour to three or four hours per day. Although it may seem obvious, attending class every day (absent an illness or other very important reason), is key for your success in law school. Some law students choose to skip classes, and it negatively affects their studying.
Class time is important because your professor writers your final exam and will likely test on the topics they discuss during class, and your outlines will largely be crafted from your class notes. So, make sure that going to class is part of your daily law school study schedule. You can read more about why it is so important to go to class in law school (and pay attention!) here.
Working on legal writing assignments
You will feel much more in control of your schedule, and you likely will get a much better grade in your legal writing class, if you dedicate time in your law school daily study schedule to completing your legal writing assignments.
You are likely an excellent writer already. However, even for the best writer, it can take a while to get the hang of how to format and write a stellar legal writing assignment. (Check out these helpful posts with five legal writing tips for students starting law school and our top five 1L legal writing tips!)
By giving yourself plenty of time to complete your assignment, you will feel less overwhelmed. This is because you are completing the assignment a little bit at a time. When all the other students are pulling all-nighters, you can focus on studying for your other classes and simply put the finishing touches on your legal writing assignment!
One final point—flexibility is important. Even once your law school daily study schedule is set, you still might have unexpected obstacles that impact your schedule. Some days you might be too tired and need a break. Other days might have a family commitment, or you might get sick.
Remember that quality is more important than quantity. If you are feeling tired or distracted thinking about how you are missing a family event or too sick to focus on your work, it’s not worth trying to push through an unproductive study session. You can always study a little more later to make up for the time missed. Likewise, you can always rearrange your law school daily study schedule. Be flexible and take breaks when you need to!
Check out these posts on the benefits of taking study breaks and how to schedule breaks in law school, and you can read more about how to craft the perfect law school study schedule!