Looking back on law school, law school graduates often realize they made things more difficult than they needed to be to perform well.
To avoid this, here are some suggestions for making law school easier:
Worry less about class. Make sure you still attend class. However, try to stress out less about it. If a law student has completed the reading, or skimmed through a brief of the reading and is generally prepared, that is enough. Not one law student will get every question right when they are called on, and it is normal for a law student to become nervous and think they will say stupid things when they are placed on the spot. The odds are that many of the other law students are not listening anyway, and they could be just as busy preparing to be called on while that student is speaking. Law students should focus on two separate things, and these things matter the most in law school: learning something useful, and getting high grades in each course.
Study efficiently. Law students have a lot to do in law school, and it is critical that they use their precious time wisely. Law students will be more efficient, and a lot happier, if they do not use all of their time studying. They should take time for the things they enjoy: watching movies, going to a museum, hanging out with friends, and exercising.
Think about the exam from day one. Law students can leave more time to spend on things they like, if they focus more on the exam, and less on class. It is ironic! The key is to focus on organizing the material from day one, rather than waiting until the end of the semester to outline or cram, which may have come easy to them in undergrad. Class notes can automatically become law school outlines that highlight three things: black-letter law, sub-rules for ambiguity, and some basic facts from their cases that trigger issues. Black-letter law is required on a law school exam; however, including ambiguity is the key to a great exam answer. Pulling this information out every day will help a law student prepare earlier and leave time for other enjoyable things.
Spend time with nice people. Some law students may not be that nice; however, you can probably find at least a few cool people. These are the people you want to spend time with, and trying to be friends with jerks will just confuse you and make you miserable. If someone is not kind to you, avoid them. Choose your friends wisely, unless everyone in your own law school is amazing and lovely to be around.
Give really serious thought to whether you want to join the Law Review. Law Review can be a boring and extremely time consuming obligation. Many law students with fantastic grades still got excellent clerkships and jobs, solely because they had fantastic grades. Being on the Law Review helps set yourself apart; however, if your grades are strong enough that you are nearly guaranteed a spot, you may not really need to do it. And again, this will free up more of your time, and you can do the things you enjoy, which becomes a double positive for you.
Do not become a fear-based person. Oddly enough, a strange thing happens when people start law school. Instead of being competent, intelligent, hard-working people, they morph into frightened, anxious, worried people who fear the following: getting called on in class, saying something stupid, getting a bad grade, or not getting a job. It’s normal to be afraid, but it is not okay to let the fear take over and prevent you from doing what you came to law school to do. Remember what brought you to law school in the first place and revert back in your mind to that.
Ask for help. Connected to the fear idea is one of the worst things you can do as a law student: refusing to ask for help. No one wants to look stupid, or admit they do not know something, so no one asks for help. The result? No one learns anything! Why would you be expected to know something you’d never been exposed to? No one is born knowing how to read a case or prepare for a law school exam. The fastest way to learn? Ask for help!
Take care of yourself. Eating right and getting enough sleep really help. If there is only one thing you take away from this list, let it be this: go to bed earlier than you think you need to, and you will be refreshed in the morning.
Pay attention to what makes you want to wake up in the morning. Intellectual interest in an area of law is usually not going to get you out of bed in the morning. Pay attention, instead, to what makes you want to get up and start working. If you can figure out a way to make that thing your career, odds are you will be pretty content, and law school will be a lot easier.
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