Because there seems to be a great interest in law school among members of this Forum, I thought I would start a thread on a guide to surviving law school, more specifically, first year. Â These are things beyond the obvious (work hard, do all your reading, etc.) that you won't find in any book that I wish I had known my first year. Â (They are primarily based on my mistakes.) Â I'm sure GQ Lawyer, GatorStyle, and other lawyers and law students that frequent this forum will have many things to add, but here, in my opinion, are the five most important things to remember during your first year: 1. Start outlining your courses right away. Â This is exactly what it sounds like -- summarizing the course material in an easy-to-read outline format. Â Commercial outlines that you will find in the campus bookstore are helpful, but homemade outlines are best because they track the course itself. Â By outlining from the beginning of class, you will not only save yourself a lot of cramming at the end of the semester, you will also be able to review and remember material you learned weeks ago as you add to the outline. Â This will allow you to see the "big picture" for the final exam, which will usually constitute your entire grade for the course. 2. What you know is less important than how you say it. Â You can know a topic backward and forward, but that knowledge won't help you a bit unless you can apply that knowledge on the final exam in a way that the professor likes. Â Sad, but true. Â Your law school will probably have model student exams on file in the library. Â These are very helpful, particularly if they were from exams given by the same professor. Â Keep the format of these model answers in mind when you take the exam. 3. Don't fall for the fool's gold of the open book exam. Â Open book is a safety net if you have a total brain lock on the exam. Â It is not meant for you to flip through your materials after you read the exam questions. Â Study for an open book exam exactly like you would study for a closed bood exam. Â Flag relevant sections of your textbook so that you do not have to memorize statutes verbatim. 4. Get to know your professors. Â This does not mean raising your hand every ten minutes to ask/answer a question. Â The most certain thing in life after death and taxes is that there will be at least 1 or 2 individuals in every law school class that will take every opportunity to show their classmates how intelligent they are. Â These people are known as "gunners" and are not very well liked. Â Fortunately, most of them shut up after first semester grades come back. Â But I digress. Â This may mean asking a question after class about something that was said in class or going to a professor's office hours occasionally to talk about an interesting legal topic. Â The important point is that the professor knows you from Adam. Â You never know when you'll need a good word from someone for a job application. 5. Finally, develop a life outside of law school. Â This does not mean treating first year like 5th year of college, because it's not that. Â It does mean doing things to get your mind away from the law. Â This could mean anything from getting involved in the local community to playing in a weekly pickup basketball game to going out every Saturday night (after doing all your reading, of course). Â Remember, law school will not consume you unless you allow it to. I hope that was helpful.
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5/24/02 at 11:42am