Top 10 Tips for Succeeding in Law School (Part 1)

Desk-old-fashionedI love hearing from my former students and clients. I enjoy connecting with them again, seeing how they’re doing, and hearing what law school life, or the lawyering life, is like. More often than not, they convey tips and stories to me to pass on to new law students.

Many thanks to Val, James, Travis, Ray, Ali, and all the students who’ve shared their advice with me.

Here’s part 1 of the top 10 law school success tips that I’ve collected over the years.

Tip #1: Do not underestimate your time.
However long you think it will take to do that assignment or study for that test, triple it. Especially during your first year, it will likely take longer than you think to study, prepare for class, and do your homework. Treat your first year in law school like a full-time job. Put in your 40 hours a week (classes, reading, homework) in order to stay on top of your studies.

Tip #2: Show up, but do not take on.
During your first year, do not volunteer for anything unless it only involves showing up. Do not become a club officer, take on a job, organize a fundraiser, or anything like that. Do not take on. Participate. Engage. Meet people. But do not take on more work.

Tip #3: Find people you can trust.
You shouldn’t go through law school alone. Take time to get to know your classmates in your first year section, in your cohort, and at your law school in general. You can’t pick who will be in your classes but you can choose who you want to spend time with outside of class. Make friends with people that are supportive and positive. Find at least two or three people that you can trust for good notes when you’re sick and can’t go to class, and for going out or just commiserating with when you need a break. They will help you when you need it and you will help them in return.

Tip #4: Buy study guides.
Consider buying an E&E, Gilbert’s and Acing for each of your 1L courses. They are not a replacement for taking notes in class or writing your own outlines, but they can be essential to your academic success. As one student says, it’s totally worth the money.

  • Examples & Explanations (E&E) fleshes out cases. Examples with answers. Good, solid explanations.
  • Gilbert’s study guides are all outlines. Clear explanation of rules. Find the guide that corresponds with your class’s textbook. Great for Property.
  • Acing is also all outlines. Their checklists are especially helpful for studying for exams. Great for Civil Procedure and Contracts.

More law school tips coming next week!