Five Tips for Law School Success

Five Tips for Law School Success

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Tip number one: You’re going to have to do your homework. You have to keep up with the reading, and that can be challenging
in law school. Reading assignments can be long. You’re going to need a system, where every day you sit down, you slog through it, you get the reading done. As you are reading you will want to read for particular things. So you’ll start to notice what
those things are, but the basic ones: You need to know who the parties are, who did what to whom; You need to know what kind of court you’re in; What’s the question
that the judge is being asked to answer? You need to know what the holding of the
case was, what did the judge actually decide? You need to know what the
important facts were, And you need to maybe think a little bit about how that
holding might change if the facts were to change. You need to notice if there’s
any really important text, like any new rule that’s been set down. And you need to maybe circle that text so that you can find it quickly. You might want to
think about where the reading fits into the bigger syllabus, into the whole
plan for the semester. You need to create a visual aid that you’ll be able to use in class if you’re called on. So a case brief would be the typical way to do this. It’s a one-page summary of the case, where you’re jotting down those important things that you were reading for. That way if you get called on, you
feel nervous, you’ll know that you’ll be able to look down at your visual aid and
answer the questions. When you are in class keep listening,
even if you’re not the person being called on. Pay attention, listen to what
the professor’s asking, try to imagine what you might say if you had been the
student on call, and notice if there’s anything that you didn’t capture in your
case brief, and after class go back home and add it . Tip number 5, which i think is
the most important of all: Think about why you are here. Think about why you are
a law student, and notice the stories that you are telling yourself. So if
you’re telling yourself a story like, I don’t belong here, I can’t do this, I’m
going to mess up, everyone’s going laugh at me — those stories are not useful. You do belong here. You got in, you belong here. And you’re here because there’s something you want to do with this degree, whatever that
great thing is. So when you are going to class, that’s
what you’re working on. And if you answer your questions in class and it went
great, then the story you can tell yourself is,
“Look at that, I’m on my way.” If you answer a question in class and it didn’t go as well — don’t worry, people aren’t going to remember, but you can make some good
meaning out of it. You can decide I am going to pick myself up, I’m going to dust
myself off, and I’m going to try again next time. Because I’m here to learn, that’s
what I’m doing here. And part of the process of learning is speaking in class.

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