Consistency is key in most things in order to see success.
Sometimes, we can become consistent about unproductive things such as worrying, cramming, or comparing ourselves to others. In law school, there can be pressure to always get things right. Remember that perfection is an impossible standard, especially for a law student in the process of learning.
Shifting from perfection, comparison and self-sabotage to small, but consistent steps, you can make tremendous improvement and see results.
Consistently Brief Cases
I recall incoming students asking 2Ls if they needed to keep briefing cases beyond 1L year. Their answer surprised me because they said yes, but to be smarter about it.
Brief with a focus
The 2Ls pointed out how different professors have different focuses. For example, one may be more interested in the public policy aspect of a contracts case, while your Con Law professor is focusing intensively on the details of the facts of the case. Observe what your professor highlights for cases and prepare with the professor’s approach in mind. This will also come in handy for outlining and preparing for the final.
Should you use other supplements such as Lexis briefs and Quimbee briefs? I have used these in the past and did not find them helpful where professors focused on other areas of the case that were completely missed or glossed over. I would recommend using supplements to help you understand a case but not allowing these to substitute for your own briefs.
If you need help with a briefing approach, look no further!
The best advice I learned from a top performing law student was to outline immediately after class. She recommended this method as the information was still fresh on your mind from class, you can recall which material to highlight which the professor emphasized, and you can easily transfer notes over. If you write like me, this advice comes handy because days later I cannot figure out what my shorthand notes were attempting to communicate.
Should you use passed down outlines instead? Outlines are unique to you and how you will prepare for the exam. Make your own outlines and if you need to cross-reference another resource such as an old outline, be sure to vet this information. In 1L year, I noticed a major incorrect discrepancy in a Torts outline being passed around. Always get the information from the source – your textbook, professor, and your own research.
Consistently Keep a Sleep Routine
Sleep should be the most relaxing part of your day. Be sure to wind down and not fall asleep on or next to your laptop or textbooks. The work will always be there the next day. Have a boundary between schoolwork and your time to rest and recharge. The day is full of opportunities to manage time better. If you are finding yourself unable to separate sleep and work, reflect on your routine and where you can make improvements.
Sacrificing sleep seems like an easy place to borrow time from. Remember there are health benefits that will aid you in being a stronger student with proper sleep. Some of these health benefits include improved memory, mood, and overall health.
At some point, you will need to take some practice questions before your midterm and/or final exam. Most professors will provide a sample exam, but others will not. There are endless supplements you can begin to consider helping you test your understanding of the concepts. It is one skill to note-take and outline effectively. It is a completely different ball game to experience how these concepts are tested on an exam.
Schedule time to practice: Plan ahead and take practice questions, essays, and draft your own follow up questions in areas you need help with.
Seek help: Schedule office hours to meet with your professor to ask questions. I once brought my practice essay to discuss, and my professor actually marked it and gave me feedback on an issue I missed. This kind of feedback is invaluable and helps you focus on what kind of issues the professor wants you to raise and discuss.
A comprehensive understanding of the law through your own persistent practice and help from your professor and/or study group will help you to excel on the exam.
Consistently Do What You Love
Oftentimes we push our life aside for law school. Give yourself permission to have guilt-free you-time! Catch up on your favorite show, have updates with your friends, go to your favorite place to walk, hike, bike—whatever it is, take the time to enjoy. It will give you the perspective you may really need to stay true to yourself, passions, and interests outside of the classroom.
Some of the best attorneys I have met balance their love of the law with hobbies such as golf, reading, skiing, and traveling.
With these tips, you can consistently succeed every semester!
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