The second and third years of law school are somewhat easier than the first year because, for the most part, you have learned the basic skills needed for success in law school. However, both years bring new responsibilities with journal or moot court participation, the job search, part-time work, and student organizations. Time management and organization are key to attain your best grades. Here are some tips to help you obtain your goals:
- Evaluate your study habits from last year. Look at each aspect of law school: reading and briefing, note-taking in class, outlining, reviewing for exams, memorizing the law, taking fact-pattern-essay exams, taking multiple-choice exams, and completing papers or projects. What were your strengths in studying and why? What were your weaknesses in studying and why?
- Decide which study habits to continue and which study habits to change. If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to e-mail me and make an appointment.
- If you have specific skill weaknesses, read a book about that skill to improve your understanding. Here are a few examples: Reading Like a Lawyer by Ruth Ann McKinney; The Eight Secrets of Top Exam Performance in Law School by Charles H. Whitebread; Open Book: Succeeding on Exams From the First Day of Law School by Barry Friedman and John C. P. Goldberg. You can borrow these and other books from me or check with the Library, which maintains many of these titles.
- By now, you have all heard me sound like a mom, and why stop now? Start regimens now that are healthy and sensible. Get on a routine sleep schedule of 7-8 hours per night. Exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes to an hour. Eat healthy meals. Do not let these routines disappear during the semester.
- If at all possible, relax for at least one week prior to the beginning of classes. You want to begin the semester with fully recharged batteries. If you are busy interviewing, relax as much as you can in between the interviews.
- Time yourself in each course for the entire first week to see how long it takes you to prepare for class (read, brief, complete problem sets). Then pick the longest block of time for each course and use that to set up your class preparation schedule. Each week, attempt to shorten that amount of time by forcing yourself to complete your reading more efficiently.
- Put in your calendar time for other tasks each week: outlining, review of outlines, practice questions, research, writing, study groups, and more.
- Read your course syllabi very carefully. Many professors include information that can help you get the best grades in the course: learning objectives, study aid recommendations, websites and other resources, study tips, and more.
- During the first month of school, review all exams from last semester. By getting feedback from your professors on what you did well and what needs improvement, you can make the appropriate changes as you do practice questions for your next set of exams.
- If you were disappointed in your performance in a paper class last semester, ask the professor for tips on how you could improve your research and writing. Then use the feedback to improve on your papers this year.
Finally, if you are 2L, enjoy the fact that you are not a 1L and you never again will be. Remember what it felt like this time last year? This week, the 1Ls come to school. They have no idea what jurisdiction means, they have never heard of CREAC, and they don’t even understand that there are two court systems – federal and state. Can you imagine?
If you are a 3L, please enjoy every moment of this year. Cherish your (likely) last year as a student. Absorb all of the information you can from your professors. Learn from your peers. Have a great time not having any responsibilities other than school work.