Ways & How

how to study in law school

how to study in law school

If you are aspiring to become a lawyer one day, one of the few important things you need to know as early as now is how to study in law school in a very effective way. There are a number of students who end up quitting   law school simply because they are no longer able to cope with the challenges in studying the foundations of legal education such as Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Contracts, Civil and Criminal Procedure, and the Law on Evidence. Today, there are around 200 law institutions in America. Whatever school you will like to join in the coming school year, the following studying tips can help know how you can be effective while studying and eventually ace the regular exams.

  1. Visit the school and verify the list of books and materials required for the semester. This is the first step because you need to have a general overview about how things are being done in law school. Get a syllabus or prospectus for the semester and see the inclusive subjects.

    If possible, ask for the list of Supreme Court cases mostly discussed in every subject.

    hat is advantageous because you can research ahead and summarize the needed cases.  Also, get a copy of old exams so you can read them and learn how legal questions are being framed.

  2. Invest in your books. You can choose whether to settle on the books in the law library, borrow from older students, or buy your own. All three options have pros and cons. Let us discuss each option and decide which one is workable on your part. Remember, the law books serve as your primary tool to succeed in law school.

    Every law school has a library. Befriend the resident librarian so that you may be allowed to bring home one or two books without the need to Xerox the pages anymore. The disadvantage of this option is that you have to return the books as required, and since the books are the property of the school library, you are not allowed to write anything on them nor highlight important points.

    You can borrow books from older students. This is another wise option especially if you have no budget for books. Law books are expensive materials. This option has almost the same disadvantages in borrowing books from the library.

    Investing in your books is the best option. You can write side comments and little notes on your own books as you progress in your reading. You can use them as long as you want. You can highlight important points in every topic. You can use the same books by the time you practice your profession. The only negative thing about this option is that you need money to buy your books.

  3. Ask older students in the law schools. If you know older students, you can ask them how the classroom instructions on different subjects are being conducted. They can possibly tell you that while there are professors who are bookish; there are also some who are more on decided cases and the application of legal provisions.

    Oftentimes, grades are generally based on your ability to determine the legal issue of a given case, how you analyze the set of facts presented, and what will be your possible legal recourse.

  4. Study your lessons in advance. Knowing ahead the lesson for the next day will greatly improve your confidence in class. Studying means reading in-between the lines so that you can retain important aspects in your mind like the parties of a case, the facts, the legal issues involved, the legal procedure used, and the holding or decision of the court.

    Notice that when you are given a question by your professor, the coverage can be as wide as the forest, although what he would like to hear from you are the trees in that forest. Such trees practically refer to the legal points involved in the problem. If you have studied ahead, responding to every question will be as easy as eating peanuts.

  5. Keep your notes and outlines. If you are provided by your professor with a course outline, that’s better. If not, you have to make your own. The easiest way to make an outline is to refer to the book’s table of contents. Copy the topic on every chapter including the sub-topics. For example, if the chapter topic is about evidence, the sub-topics you need to cover are the types of evidence, list of admissible and inadmissible evidence, how evidence is offered in court, and many others. Your outline will serve as a guide in your advanced studies.

    For your notes, you can use flash cards. Let us say, on top of a flash card for criminal law, you write the title of the case and when it was decided by the Supreme Court. Below, write a few statements for the facts of the case, the issues involving both substantive and procedural, the court’s holding, and rules of law applied. Since a regular flash card is typically small, don’t write everything. Your notes should contain mere guides enough for you to remember and articulate the case.

  6. Involve yourself into group study. There are students who prefer to study alone.  Even if you prefer to study that way, you still need to join your classmates during group discussions to build your confidence in responding to classroom discussions with your professor. When you are in a group, you will be surprised to learn new legal concepts and principles which you did not encounter in your line of reading.

    If your professor loves to use the Socratic Method (presentation of two opposing views to arouse critical thinking and bring out ideas) of teaching, then you need to improve your confidence in speaking out loud.

  7. Develop good study habits. You need good time management. Allocate time to review your lessons right after class, either alone, with your classmates, or with your professor. Allocate enough time for your daily reading. In studying law, it is more on reading, but continuous reading for hours in not effective.

    Ideally, the brain can do consistent and comprehensive reading for at most six hours a day. If you think this is too much, you may be wrong. In the evening, do two hours of reading and then go to sleep. You can’t go beyond that because your brain has been drained from the class. Wake up early at dawn and read for another four hours. This is okay because your mind is already rested and refreshed.

    Because studying law is very draining, go to the mall during weekends. Watch your favorite movie. Treat yourself. Have a whole body massage.

  8. Record the discussion of your professor. Seek permission first from your professor. If allowed, you can record your daily discussion using a digital audio recorder. This study tip has two identified advantages. First, there are times that you are too tired to read, and so you can just listen to your recordings. While at home doing other chores, you can replay it again aloud.

    Second, there may be time that you need to travel somewhere else. Instead of bringing your books, just bring your gadget and listen to the discussion using your earphones or headset.

There are a few good reasons why people want to know how to study in law school. Basically, there are various professional opportunities in the legal profession such as a paralegal career and judicial clerkship. Becoming a lawyer can bring financial stability ranging from $75,000 if you are a general counsel to $150,000 if you opt to practice privately. Even as they say that “heaven and earth may fall; the last man left standing is a lawyer,” don’t forget practicing law is a noble profession.


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