Law School

  1. I'm a 1L studying for finals right now (torts, property, contracts) and I'm starting to get really nervous. Any advice?

    I'm on a full scholarship at a top 20 school (and thankfully my scholarship is not contingent on grades) but I'm really worried about exams and feel like I keep putting too much pressure on myself to do well because I have this scholarship! I also love structure and it's hard for me that I'm not 100% sure what exactly i should be doing to prepare...

    I keep feeling guilty any time i'm not studying (like today, with Thanksgiving dinner & such) because I keep imagining all of my classmates locked up in the library right now in study-mode..

    Any other law students or lawyers have any comments to share about law school? :confused1:
  2. Awww. I don't envy you. Law school exams are not fun. That being said, I went back a few years ago for my LL.M. so I guess I didn't think it was too bad.

    My suggestions are depending on whether your exams are multiple choice, short answer or essay. For essay, make sure you get the big picture so basically: why do we have laws governing torts, contracts, civ pro, whatever. If you can get that, then you are two thirds of the way there when you are answering the question. That is, if you get the why, then the rest is just filler, albeit important filler. But knowing the forest (ie, the "big picture", the "why"), you should be able to find the trees - that is, the appropriate cases, statutes, regs, etc. When you do the filler, underline, repeat if need be because the prof. will have a checklist and it is all about issue spotting. I taught a law school course last year and when I put my essay exam together, I went through and made sure there were plenty of issues to be spotted. And remember, you will not get them all but no one will.

    For short answer, focus more on specifics. Again, you want to know the why, but details are more important here, I think. Same with multiple choice.

    What I like to do was read multiple canned outlines (along with my own) so that I would get a fresh read everytime.

    Next, don't stress and compare your studying efforts to others. You have no idea what they are doing. Finally, do not discuss the exam afterwards. You will just psych yourself out.

    Best of luck. I am sure some others will chime in as well with their studying/ test taking technique.
  3. I totally agree with our brilliant chigirl! No joke, the girl knows what she is talking about! My best friend throughout lawschool were commercial outlines. They really help you focus in on the specific elements that you need to know and how to apply them to various facts. I had to keep rewriting the elements over and over until I memorized them. That is just what worked for me.

    For essay exams, it really does come down to spotting the right issues, reciting the elements of the applicable rule of law, and then arguing/explaining how it either applies or does not apply to the facts in your hypothetical. Once you start looking at it from a more pragmatic approach, and less emotional, you will kick ass on your exams!

    Try not to stress and whatever you do, do not compare your study habits with fellow students. I found many were totally full of sh*t- and all that matters is that you do what is comfortable for YOU! And as soon as that exam is over, GET OUT OF THERE! Do not discuss it with any fellow students or you will drive yourself nuts. Just study, take a breather (which is just as important as studying), and attack the test. And then once it is over, treat yourself to a handbag!

    Good luck!!! I am sure you will do great!
  4. I must say I agree with all of this, I followed pretty much the same strategy in law school many moons ago. I did it all though, including studying in a group but that certainly was not the primary study. I was really fortunate to have one person in my section who I could study consistently with and there was no fear of sabotage, etc. Just relax though. I remember also OD'ing on caffeine and no sleep which made me paranoid. So pace yourself and be healthy. Try to exercise even if for 15 minutes a day to clear your head. Good luck.
  5. This might be common sense advice, but...

    ... have you tried asking your professor? I don't know what it's like at your school, but at my university (I'm not a law student), professors are more than happy to explain concepts to you outside of class as they're relevant to the course, and ultimately, the exam. Spending an hour or two with them outside of class is a great way to gauge the level of depth they're expecting you to go into, and it's a great way to save time -- it's easier to have a professor spend fifteen minutes explaining a concept to me than spend three hours sifting through the material and trying to form an explanation myself.

    Finally, my professors are really nice about helping me see the big picture. I find that in my courses, I have a whole lot of little things to memorize and understand, and without some sort of a hierarchy to connect them, it can be really overwhelming to take it all in. If I ask my professors specifically for this sort of information, they're usually really good about giving it to me.

    Finally -- and again, I don't know if this applies to law school, but I hope it's helpful -- I've had a lot of good fortune by doing problems, problems, problems. The more examples you're exposed to, the more likely it is that you'll have done something similar to a problem that's thrown at you on an exam. Furthermore, active learning -- where you're constantly thinking, writing, and using the information as you receive it -- has been shown to be more efficient than passive learning, where you're just taking down notes and hoping that the theory sticks.

    Good luck!
  6. Hi, I graduated from law school May 2005 and I must say, it is a marathon, not a race. It is painful at times, boring, hard and tedious, but in the end, it feels amazing.

    My advice to you is this:
    1) go over your notes, 3 times. Review, review, review.

    2) get a study partner and talk about the subject AFTER you read your notes. Go over topic by topic because this will help open your eyes to someone else's point of view.

    3) make flash cards or buy them. Review is the KEY to law school exams. So if you need to take a break from reading, get some flash cards out or you can get the CDs and listen to them in the car, laying on your bed, or if you go for a jog

    4) go over PAST EXAMS!!!!! I can not stress enough how crucial this is. Professors are very busy and the law has not changed (just amended) so if you get a bunch of past exams and go over them, know them inside and out, after you have done the first 3 steps, you WILL be fine. If you don't know an answer, look it up or e-mail the professor. But make sure you go over the past exams. Professors do NOT give out past exams for no other reason but to HELP you prepare for a test. Don't be foolish, USE them.

    5) make sure you get some sleep.

    6) make a study schedule. For example, if you have 3 finals in 1 week, make up a weeks studying guidline and FOLLOW it. Start studying at 9am and study contracts or RE or Civ Pro (hard topics in the morning), take an hour break for lunch, then study a DIFFERENT topic (torts, crim law, etc...). But making a schedule and sticking to it is key, and remember an hour wasted is points lost!! Time is EXTREMELY crucial in law school, and in life, so make sure you stick to a plan. And I found studying 2 topics a day, to be helpful because it allows your mind to take a break from one subject.

    Don't worry though, you are not alone. Everyone else feels the way you do.

    If have any more questions, or need any more advice, or any outlines, please feel free to write me. I know what it's like and I have been through it.

    Breath, relax. You can do it. ;)
  7. More great advice!
  8. That's all great advice, don't stress, study hard and you'll be fine. And get a good night's sleep the night before! The one main thing that I thought of right away that was also mentionned is reviewing the past exams. Definitely do that!!!!!! That is the key!!!
  9. Thank you so much for your comments so far!

    1) my torts and K exams are of the "traditional" issue-spotter variety. My property exam is a weird hybrid creation of my professor, but luckily he posted many old exams with model answers so I'm going to approach that class differently.

    2) When I say "I don't really know what exactly I'm supposed to be doing" I mean - there's so little structure in law school! All of my professors have told us to ignore study guides etc, but most 2Ls and lawyers swear by them (and had the same professors I have!) I'm not 100% sure what my outline should look like, what I should be spending my time on, whether I should have a study group, a study buddu, study alone and whether I'm ahead, behind or on par. I like structure!!

    3) It's so hard to make sure I get enough sleep.. I'm more of a "night person" so I work better when it's late (right now it's 12:41) but I also am prone to the accidental-nap... aggghh. (oh, and I don't drink coffee - caffiene gives me a stomachache)

    I'm going to try to finish up my outlines ASAP and then do as many practice exams as possible.... but this whole process is so scary! :sad:
  10. As the spouse of a lawyer, I understand how hard you've worked and just how hard you've pushed yourself. I can ask ym husband, but every school and every students organizational style is different.

    We dated while he was in law school, and your right it's about balance and priorities, you didn't say it in those words, but in terms of working your butt off and taking a breather. Good luck, I recall that when it comes down to finals its a real crunch but as long as you are prepared you'll do fine.
  11. First--take a HUGE breath and relax... Don't get caught up in the 1L drama and stress.

    Review your notes, make your outlines and even see if there are old outlines that you can adapt into your own.

    Feel free to supplement your stuff with the commercial stuff. The commercial outlines have little tips on how to memorize certain things and/or great examples.

    Go over the old tests and see if you're able to issue spot correctly. Also try outlining your answers so that you're organized and clear. I think that's probably one of the big mistakes that 1L's make. Theres a tendency to want to "blurt' it all out. But organization and good analysis are more important.

    Also--have some balance. Don't live in the library 24/7. Get regular rest, eat well and get some exercise or stress relief in!
  12. I think everyone here has given you GREAT tips!

    I took my first Law exam a few weeks ago (Constitutional Law!) and it was nothing like I expected, but it went well. The best tip I could give you, appart from studying and reading as much as you can in order to understand and memorize things is to BELIEVE in your abilities and to trust yourself ! While you are taking your exams, stay focused and positive! You CAN do it! You are intelligent and you are gonna make it! Keep that in mind while doing your exam and you will do so much better than if you stress out and panic! Take a deep breath and fight your way through the exam! You can do it girl! :yahoo: