Should I Join A Study Group In Law School?
It doesn’t take long after law school orientation for students to huddle together in groups, often based on friends you meet in your 1L section. It’s a comforting feeling for many students to have a group of people they can feel familiar with when all other aspects of new life as a law student seem so unfamiliar. You talk about what classes to take, you share a laugh over the newest viral video, and you… study together? It’s one thing to have a group of law school friends, it’s another thing to form a study group with those friends. Study groups can be a great tool for succeeding in law school, but if not done well, they can be a major detriment. This blog outlines the pros and cons of joining a study group in law school.
Should I Join A Study Group In Law School?
Study Group Pros
Study groups can be a key tool for success in law school and here are some reasons why:
Maintain Accountability: Having a regularly scheduled study group keeps you on top of your readings and outlining based on the schedule of the group.
Gain Clarity: You can talk through tough concepts you may not understand. By having discussions about these legal concepts, you are not only learning, but solidifying the knowledge in your memory.
Articulate what you know: When you teach, you learn how to best articulate complex concepts and you are committing those lessons to memory in the process.
Find out what you don’t know: Your peers can help fill in the gaps in your notes/outlines.
Gain Perspective: Your peers can provide you with a diverse perspective on debatable issues.
Build Lasting Relationships: You are building friendships that will last beyond law school and that will likely be of help in your professional legal career in years to come.
Study Group Cons
On the other hand, study groups may turn out to be a waste of time and, even worse, may distract you from effective studying. The cons of study groups include:
Comparison and Discouragement: A study group might set members up for comparison, and comparison almost always leads to discouragement. When you compare your reading pace, your outline structure, your study method, etc. to that of others, you can feel unwarranted insecurity about your progress with the materials. You know yourself best and what works for some will not necessarily work best for you. Study groups may lead you to get stuck doing certain study methods or working on a specific timeline that isn’t right for you.
Accommodating the Weakest Link: Unless everyone in your group is always motivated, always prepared, and always insightful, you will spend a lot of your time helping someone else “catch up.” Study groups inevitably calibrate to the pace and needs of the weakest link. If that’s not you, you will likely grow frustrated at the time spent on unbeneficial topics.
Socializing or Studying?: Because a study group combines socializing with studying, it often leads to a time that is a disappointment on both fronts. The pull to relate and build friendships leads to interrupted and distracted studying. You should certainly make time for socializing in law school, but you will likely prefer an activity other than reading your case books and snacking on food from the vending machine.
Is a Study Group Right for Me?
After considering the pros and cons listed above, you have to decide if a study group is worth it for you and your learning style. Forming a study group can be a great way to master the law school material if done right. You can set some expectations with the group so that some of the downsides are less likely to occur. If you are going to join a group, set some expectations for yourself as well. Know that you do not have to conform to the study patterns of your friends, and let yourself reevaluate occasionally if the study group is still the right match for you. Just because you’re not in the study group, doesn’t mean you can’t join the group for trivia night!
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