Oh studying, probably the most difficult, but most important, aspect of law school. This is especially true for 1Ls. You just start law school, are thrown into classes and are now expected to understand the law based on reading cases? Most first year law students are stressed, over-worked, and a bit frustrated. This is because they are just being introduced how to think about the law and conceptualize legal theory. This is great and all, but many students struggle with how and when to study. 1Ls have to juggle classes, figuring out what the heck law is, and all their other engagements as well. One way to tackle the great debate on when to study is to create a study schedule.
As I stated earlier, studying is very important for law students. This is established, uncontested, and a given for incoming students. However, there is more of a debate on when to study, when is it most effective, and what the importance of a study schedule is. Well, when and effectiveness is subjective, your honor. I mean, you should decide that on your own with what works best for your schedule. This leads into the the important question, if you don’t know what your schedule is, how do you know when to study? Making a study schedule, especially as a 1L, allows you to be organized. Being organized is what makes a successful law student. Thus, making a study schedule will allow you to get your thoughts together and plan out your week.
Now that you understand the importance, let’s talk how to do this. The structure that I lay out below is a skeleton and based on my experience. You can modify this as you need to, but this is a great framework to begin with. I suggest taking a blank Sunday-Saturday 24 hour weekly schedule and fill it in as you go. (Note: you can do this on paper, online, or via an app on your phone!)
Start with your Classes
Obviously this is the most important thing in law school and won’t change. By starting with you classes, you can begin to understand what flexibility you have in your schedule.
Some law students work during school and others don’t (both are okay!). If you do work, make sure you include your normal schedule or your work hours, if you know them!
Add your Commute Time
Whether you’re a commuter or live close to campus, it takes time to actually get to class. Once you have a good idea of how low it takes you to get to and from school (and other activities as you add them), add the time to your schedule.
Make time for Meals!
Unfortunately, you’re not a robot and you have to eat. Account for the amount of time to make and eat your meals on your schedule.
Sunrise, Sunset: What Time are you Sleeping
In addition to eating, you have to sleep. (And yes, you need to!) Decide what time (roughly) you want to go to bed and wake up each day and include how long it takes you to get ready at night and in the morning. Don’t forget to include shower time!
Add Clubs, Organizations, and Meetings
Next, you might have some clubs or organizations that you are a part of. This could be at the law school or in your community. Make sure you account for the meetings, any events, and commute time.
Other Commitments and Hobbies
No one expects you to only live at the law school. You still can have hobbies and do fun things! Account for time to do the things you love or that you do on a regular basis. This can be anything from going to the gym to working on a table you’re building.
Time for your Loved ones
This sounds silly or awful to put on your schedule, but it’s important. Sometimes it is tough to keep up on your relationships while in law school. It happens and that’s okay. To help combat this, include in your schedule some hours that are dedicated to seeing the people you care about. This could be a weekly family meal or a night out with your best friends.
Look at your Schedule and Fill in the Blanks for Studying!
After you have gone through all the steps and have everything on your schedule, look at where you have time. What is the best time for you do the reading for class? When do you want to work on your outline? Fill in the gaps with time to study so that you know what you need to work on and when.
Being organized and creating a study schedule does not have to be hard or intimidating. Everything that you can do to be successful will benefit you. Creating and following a study schedule will be very beneficial to you, especially come finals time. You will be used to the schedule that YOU created for well, yourself! Rather than stressing about a necessary evil (studying) it will seem like second nature to you. Take this framework and make your own, personalized schedule! Remember you are always allowed to modify and change it as you improve in your skills!
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