There’s a lot that’s new during the first year of law school. You’re adjusting to a new city, new friends, a new school, a new field, and a new way of studying. Many students feel that they’re the only ones having trouble balancing all of these changes while trying to ace their courses. But this isn’t true. The first year of law school is tough for everybody, even for the gunniest gunner in your section. The best way to defeat the gunner’s Jedi mind tricks is to ignore him and focus on what you need to do to learn the material. [Read more…] about No. The Gunner to Your Left Doesn’t Know What He’s Doing Either. Ignore Him.
When I started law school at Columbia, all new students were required to take a two-week orientation course in August before the start of the first semester. The administration seemed to give wide latitude to the professor to determine what sort of introduction to law school to provide. I think it’s fair to say that, in addition to teaching us about how to succeed in class, my professor wanted to help us learn something about how to succeed in the profession. I remember one class where the professor told us that it was very important for us to dress professionally as lawyers because it increased our ability to influence others and maintained the image of the profession. He said that every time we put on our lawyer hats, we should also put on our suits. Now, I have to admit that as a twenty-four-year-old law student, I brushed this piece of advice aside. But try, as I did, to continue wearing my loud, rainbow-colored t-shirts and think nothing of it, I soon (i.e. a couple years later) realized that there was some truth to my professor’s advice. Lawyers are paid to speak with authority. Adults don’t listen to kids: I had to learn how to dress like an adult. [Read more…] about Dressing Like a Lawyer on a Student’s Budget
Winter breaks are crucial opportunities to get caught up on what you haven’t had time to do during the semester. But I don’t mean that you should keep going at full speed while you’re on break. The most important things to do during Winter Break are to let your mind recharge for the next semester and spend time with friends and family that you haven’t been paying enough attention to. If you find yourself needing a way to fill the rest of your time, I’d suggest the following: [Read more…] about 5 Ways to Make Your Winter Break Productive
Unless you’re in one of the “frill” courses (essentially a term coined by Justice Scalia for seminars), one final exam is likely to determine the grade in your law school course. Many law students go through the first semester of law school wondering what the exam is going to look like and trusting that doing the reading and listening to the professor will get them a good score. In 99.9% of cases, this is not going to be a successful strategy. In order to adequately prepare for the exam, you should start outlining by the end of the first full month of classes. But before you even begin to outline, you need to understand what you’re outlining for, so you know what to emphasize. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. [Read more…] about What Exactly is a Law School Exam?
I didn’t learn how to practice for an exam until pretty late in the first semester of my 1L year. I hadn’t really made a point of learning before then, and nobody had told me how until now. At the end of a lecture in November, one of my favorite professors announced that we had an exam coming up (news to me, I’m sure), and he wanted to tell us how to prepare. My professor told us to get comfortable with our outlines, then take one of the old exams he had given us and write out an answer to it using our outlines (our exam was open book). After making our answers as perfect as we could, he said to carefully read through the model answer that he had also provided and really try to understand everything that it did differently. Then, he said we should go back to our answers and rewrite the parts that didn’t look like the model answer without looking at the model (but it was OK if we had to cheat a little and glance at the model). [Read more…] about How to Practice for Exams in Law School
One of the most important skills to master during the first year of law school is outlining. There are two reasons for this. First, there’s just too much material that you have to know in depth at the end of the semester to learn it any other way. Second, outlining is the best way to organize the law so that you have a readily accessible list of rules to reference on the exam. [Read more…] about How to Outline with Help from Supplements