What I Wish I Knew Before Law School
If you are heading to law school, don’t miss out on this list of tips! Here, we compiled a list of things that law students report they wish they knew before they went to law school. These are very common statements from law students. Being aware of these things ahead of time can help you to maximize your law school experience. And, better yet, you will minimize your chances of having any regrets when you graduate from law school!
What I Wish I Knew Before Law School
1. First-year grades matter the most
A lot of students do not realize — until it is too late — that their first-year grades matter the most.
Why do your first-year grades matter the most? It seems odd that these grades matter the most when you don’t even know what you’re doing your first year!
Your first-year (or 1L grades) matter the most for two reasons:
- Your first year of law school is graded on a strict curve (and most law schools allow professors to grade more leniently for second- and third-year classes). So your first-year grades mean more than second- and third-year grades. An “A” your first year is more impressive than an “A” your second or third year of law school!
- Many opportunities are available the summer of your 1L year or your second year, so employers only have first-year grades available.
As a bonus, if you do well your first year, you are more likely to pass the bar exam the first time. The bar exam tests material taught your first year of law school. So there is a correlation between doing well your first year and passing the bar exam.
2. Most of your grades are based on just one final exam
Let’s repeat that…most classes are based on just ONE final exam.
That means, one three- or four-hour exam determines your entire grade for your law school class. (Please always consult your syllabi to make sure your classes are graded accordingly! But, this is how a typical law school class is graded!)
So success in law school = success on your final exam!
So you have to focus on that final exam from the beginning! Don’t put it off. It literally determines your GPA, which will determine which careers are available to you.
(We tell you a great strategy in our FREE law school prep course, here!)
3. Outline early!
This is a mistake that many 1Ls make — they wait until the middle of the semester or the end of the semester to outline. Outlining early has so many advantages:
- you are less likely to feel lost in law school
- you can start learning your outlines once you have them!
- you are more likely to do well on your final exam
- you will feel more confident
- you can use study period to actually study (rather than struggle to write outlines!)
Please review our in-depth guide to outlining here if you are looking for tips to make your own law school outlines!
4. Practice past exams!
The difference between an “A” student and a “B” student is often boiled down to this: an “A” student completes practice exams. SEVERAL practice exams. A “B” student will put off taking practice exams until the end of the semester, and often only takes one or two practice exams.
By the time an “A” student gets to the final exam, it does not seem like that daunting of a task. Because they have already completed numerous exams.
So, practice, practice, practice!
Read our tips on practice exams here.
Two bonus tips:
- make sure to complete practice exams from your professor, if available
- make sure to obtain model or sample answers so you can compare your answers to the model/sample answers
5. Remember your classmates will be your friends and your network!
Get to know others. Have fun. Join a club or extracurricular activity. Consider joining a study group.
Students who spend all of their time studying often regret this later. Not only do they miss out on career opportunities but they forego the chance to meet people, and make lifelong friends and connections!