It is not easy. As a law student, you have to face numerous challenges. Coping with difficult course work, analyzing the complexities of the law, and cultivating contacts to help you with your career in the future are all part of the law school experience. This means that earning a law degree can be emotionally, mentally and physically challenging. Thus, it’s very important to start preparing yourself for it as soon as possible. Below are some of the ways to prepare for law school that should make your law education less stressful and more successful.
Hone Your Writing Skills
Excellent writing skills are vital to every college student. A large percentage of the law school grading process rests on your ability to compose a well-written essay. You should gather and analyze information, identify problems, organize your data, create a well-reasoned argument and wrap it up with a thought-provoking conclusion. Also, your response should be delivered in a concise and clear prose under tremendous time constraints. Like any skill, crafting a well-written essay takes practice. You can improve your writing skills by taking pre-law writing courses and practice examinations or reading a lot of resources on the craft of writing.
Improve Your Reading Comprehension and Speed
Law schools train students to think like a lawyer through the appellate case method. This method of instruction was developed by Professor Christopher Langdell of Harvard Law School in the late 19th century. Embraced by almost all law schools across the U.S., the appellate case method encourages college students to assess appellate court decisions, analyze the judge’s findings and reasoning, and figure out general legal principles from specific cases.
During the course of first year in law school, a student will be required to read and analyze hundreds of cases. Students are usually assigned about 30 pages per credit hour. This amounts to about 450 pages per week. To deal with this large volume of reading, you should learn how to read quickly while comprehending difficult ideas. Experts say that the human brain is a complex information processor that has the ability to process and comprehend complex information at greater speeds through practice. Thus, before you start your first year in law school, it’s a good idea to complete exercises or take courses that will help improve your reading comprehension, speed, problem solving abilities, and memory.
Create Good Study Habits
If you were the last-minute crammer who always stayed up all night in college to study for examinations, you better change that habit. That strategy will not surely work in your first year in law school. It’s virtually impossible to memorize or learn the large chunk of information covered during the course of the year in a few days. Keep in mind that time management is essential to succeed in law school. The large volume of reading will require you to keep up with the course assignments and materials. You should pace yourself and learn, study and outline the procedural and substantive law on a regular basis.
As a first year law student, you need to study for at least three hours for every hour of your class. But every course will vary. Come up a study schedule at the beginning of each term and stick to it. You may also join study groups to brainstorm ideas and get input from your peers.
Buy Commercial Study Aids
Analyzing cases and outlining black letter law can be confusing, tedious and time-consuming. Luckily, there are a variety of commercial study aids today that help you understand complex concepts, supplement classroom notes and help in preparing for law school examinations. Study aids can be very useful if you use them properly, but they should not replace your own efforts in making course outlines. Some of the popular study aids today include Emauels Law Outlines, Nutshells and Gilbert Law Summaries.