Getting into law school takes an incredible amount of work, from studying for the LSAT and achieving an impressive score to creating a compelling personal statement that explains your motivations. However, once you get into law school, the difficult work is far from over. Law school itself requires a great deal of diligence and hard work.
If you are about to start law school, you should think about your strategy for success during your three years of study. Even if you are already in law school, it is important to take a step back and consider your habits to determine what does and does not work for you. Some tips to keep in mind that can help you stay competitive throughout law school include:
1. Avoid comparing yourself to classmates.
You may feel like you are not doing enough if you see your classmates spending eight hours each day in the library. When it comes to studying, however, everyone needs something different.
Most likely, you will need to make some tweaks to your study habits from your undergraduate years, as law school is significantly more challenging and fast-paced. If you are worried about your grades, experiment with various methods and see what works best.
The important thing is to know that everyone has different study habits. Remind yourself that just because you see others staying longer hours, does not mean they are necessarily learning more. It is easy to get caught up in the competitive atmosphere of law school. Make sure you are paying attention to yourself, rather than what the people around you do to prepare for exams.
2. Keep yourself healthy mentally and physically.
Because law school can be so competitive, you may find yourself neglecting yourself physically and mentally. This can quickly lead to burnout and can actually negatively affect your grades. Students who carve out time in their schedules to relax mentally and take care of themselves physically tend to perform better.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that reduce stress. Ultimately, you need to be your own champion in law school. Take charge of your schedule and reach out to people who can offer support when you need it. Creating a strong support network is essential for success. Keep a careful eye on your own limits and avoid pushing yourself so hard that you need to take time off from the program.
3. Create your own outlines of the material.
Your primary goal in law school is, obviously, learning about the law. You need to take charge of your own learning and identify any gaps you may have. One of the best ways to do this is to create outlines for each class that you take. These outlines will help you connect the different concepts and can point to any weaknesses in your understanding. These can then guide the rest of your time studying for that class.
If you depend on outlines from study guides, you are not really testing your own understanding in a meaningful way. Even worse is relying on outlines created by other students, as they may think differently than you do. Comparing your outline to one created by someone else is a great way to ensure you both have a solid grasp of the material, but be sure to do your own work first.
4. Make a schedule and stick to it.
Often, the best law school students treat their years studying like a job. To that end, create a schedule for yourself as you would in the workplace. Schedule time to read, go to class, create outlines, study, and review the material. Once you establish a routine and stick with it, you will likely feel much more on top of your responsibilities.
The upside of creating a schedule is that you can make sure you budget enough time to be social and also recharge mentally. If you feel like you need more time to recover, you can rearrange your schedule to make sure you are still putting in the hours while giving yourself the break you need. Buy a planner and keep your schedule in it so you never lose track of what you should be doing.
5. Get to know your classmates and instructors.
While studying hard and getting good grades should be your primary aim in law school, you also need to dedicate some time to networking. Your classmates will soon be your professional peers. Developing relationships with them can help you advance your career, especially if you plan to practice in the city where you are studying. Even if you are not, building these connections now can help you meet the right people later in your career.
For the same reason, you should also get to know the school’s faculty. These individuals can serve as important mentors and give you great direction on how to achieve your goals following graduation. Also, faculty members can broaden your horizons about other career opportunities based on your interests that you had not previously considered.