The LLM program is hectic. The days and classes go by, and it can all feel rather overwhelming. Keeping track of all the major events around your law school, coupled with the regular hours of class can make you feel tired at the end of the day. But take a step back, and reflect on a few key principles.
1. Grab A Calendar
This might sound like a really simple solution, but actually putting in the effort to put in events, classes, and office hours into a Google Calendar will help you not just remember what commitments you have, but also track your activity. It helps these days when people send emails with in-built links to the Calendar itself. Click on those and add them to your calendar, which should have your classes already in-built into them. Working within your personal preference for a time-zone (depending on whether you are an early riser or a night owl), can help you focus in what is really your peak performance time.
It is good to use the prioritization technique, outlined very well in this article where instead of using a schedule, you make a list of tasks by priority and just do them one after the other. As the article mentions, it might be more helpful to remember a list than a schedule! Take advantage of the fact (as Doretta points out) that there are no emergencies in law school, and plan your weeks in accordance with your syllabus. As Ariel has advised, mark your exams and then work backwards!
2. Network With Your Classmates, And Other Lawyers
The challenge for LLM’s is that we have only two semesters to meet people. Also, a lot of firms and other places don’t have straightforward methods to employ foreign lawyers, thus it becomes all the more necessary to be aggressive about networking. Sometimes talking to your LLM friends can be helpful as they may be at a different stage of their career than you, and thus it is helpful to benefit from their experience. They can link you to opportunities outside the US, or in your home country.
3. There Will Always Be Someone Better Than You
There will always be someone smarter, more efficient, more talented, especially in a high-stakes law school environment. If you were used to being the best kid in class, or someone with high levels of achievement, it can be overwhelming to see JD’s and other LLM’s steal your thunder. Get used to it, and cultivate an attitude of positivity of using this dynamic to motivate yourself to do better.
4. Take Good Notes In Class
The way you take notes in class can actually have a huge impact on the way you feel about the class. It’s important to be selective, and there is research out there to show that handwriting notes is more effective than typing them. It’s a balance between the speed that typing gives, and the retention benefits that writing notes down would bring. Just try to be consistent with your approach. Outlining within a few days of having read the case will make you more accountable, and avoid self-sabotage.
5. Use The Law Schools’ Resources
Office hours are there for a reason. If you are stuck with a concept, talk to a professor about it. Some classes will have teaching assistants, who are a great resource, especially if you are struggling with having to learn legal concepts in English. I remember going to a teaching assistant who taught me how to navigate the Bluebook, and American legal citations, all of which can be confusing in the first instance. Your law school may or may not have a designated career counselor for the LLM program, but if they do, be in touch with them to make sure your resume meets the American standard one-page requirement. Speaking to them can also help you connect with alumni who can guide you in your job search.
6. Have Fun And Keep Some Time To Relax
This environment can feel like everyone is studying all the time, because of its self-directed nature. But keep some guilt-free time out to catch up on a TV show, go to the gym, or some activity that will help you maintain a sense of balance. Usually, taking some time away from the law library (yes, that’s possible) will help you hit the books again with a fresh perspective. Joining a student organization and helping to organize their events can be a way to get involved – many often even look for LLM Representatives! Exploring a new restaurant or a new city even will help you build relationships with your law school friends that will last a lifetime.
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