Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Succeed As a First Year Law Student

If you are already in law school, I'm sure you've heard that your first year of law school is the most important year of your legal education. Indeed, your 1L grades may very well determine your career path. For instance, I started law school believing that I would probably end up working for the government. After doing well as 1L, however, my career path completely changed and I now work for an international law firm.

In this article, I am going to outline a few simple steps you can take to succeed as a 1L:

o While reading cases, focus on the big picture. Try to understand why you are reading this case and how it fits into the big picture. You don't need to worry about every small fact of the case. Just know the main point/principle that comes out of the case and that is what you're going to need for your final exam.

o Attend every class and take thorough notes. Your professor is the one who is going to prepare the final exam and it is very unlikely that he/she is going to cover some subject in the final that he/she did not cover in class.

o Avoid study groups. Seriously, study groups are a waste of time. Law students, especially 1Ls, love to argue about stupid stuff and many times, study group members end up wasting valuable hours arguing about some stupid principle that may or may not be covered in the exam. Instead, have a couple of reliable friends and when you are having trouble understanding some case on your own, ask your friends or the professor for help.

o Prepare attack outlines. Seriously, do you think you would have the time to memorize that 200-page outline of yours? Try preparing short outlines (25-50 pages) and memorize these outlines like crazy!

o Avoid competing. Seriously, it is not healthy for you. Try to compete with only yourself and keep a positive attitude. Last thing you want is to freak out during an exam because you are so eager to kick everyone's ass.

This list is not exhaustive and I'm sure what worked for me may not work for everyone. But still, if this helps you out even a little bit, I would consider the 20 minutes it took for me to write this article as time well spent.