Just thought I would stop in after what I consider a "whirlwind" school year. My first year of law school was really great. I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation, the classroom environment and am happy to say I already have jobs lined up for the summer and the coming fall.
I hope I can offer a couple of grains of advice. I saw AZ started a thread with really good info and thought "the more, the merrier". That being said, everyone learns differently and handles things in a different manner, so, everything I have to say applies to what helped me (and hopefully it will help you!). Just in case you are wondering, I don't have my final grades yet, but, I finished my first semester with a high B (my school's curve is a 78--ugh!).Summer:
Relax! And if you like going to the gym, GO! Law school is a nine month marathon. Working out is a great way to build up your stamina. You may have some late nights and long days, so, build up a little stamina now.Reading:
If you like to read novels, say Grisham, King or anything not law related, now might be a good time to pick up a copy of a series called "Law Stories". They have Tort stories, Civil Procedure stories, etc. The only reason I suggest this, is because when you read a novel, you fly through the language. I used to read 100 pages a day b4 law school. Reading cases is mostly tedious and BORING! It will take an hour to read 15 pages! If you can get used to it now, it will save you when you have to read 250 pages/week for 5 different subjects.Studying:
Find a quiet place to study (mind you, this is not always the library!) It is not like undergrad--you cannot study and watch TV Supplements:
If you are eager and want to get them now, Examples and Explanations are excellent books to reiterate concepts you've discussed in class and also features some questions with full answer explanations. If you are not so eager, wait until class begins and ask your professor. Some professors will be totally against supplements, others will tell you their favorites. Most of my professors liked the E&E--mostly because the explanations of the answers are similar to the way you should write exams.Socratic method:
The bane of any law student's existence! When you hear your name called, your heart pumps and your brain empties. The best way to combat this is to always be prepared and always assume your name is next. Don't think that just because you got called on the day before, the professor will 'neatly' mark your name off and not call on you for weeks--trust me, they are not quick with the pen! There was one week where I got called on in every class...by Wednesday, when my property professor called my name, the entire class laughed. Be prepared. Speaking of being prepared...Briefing & Outlining:
You hear of people talking about briefing and outlines, but, you really don't know what they are. When you brief a case, you are basically summarizing it: name of the case, important facts, court's decision and the reasoning behind that decision. The reasoning is the most important part...try to understand why the court ruled as it did in that case--easier said than done, but, you can do it. Outlines...I didn't know what an outline was. Then, one day, a professor said "start outlining now...if you don't know how to outline, use the table of contents in your book"...that is what I did for the entire year and it served me well. Others will have different methods, find one that works for you.Overall:
1. Don't be a pompous jerk--no unsolicited opinions in class, no quoting your parent who just happens to be an attorney, no arguing with the professors. Quite frankly, the only opinions that truly matter are the ones written by the judges in your casebooks (and your professor)
2. Don't set up a study group with your friends, unless you are absolutely sure they have the same work ethic as you. I am ambitious and I studied with someone who I really liked...but she just "wanted to pass"--not a good combination--she didn't contribute much and daydreamed about her impending wedding. Oh...and she dropped out.
3. As far as the socratic method stuff...don't worry if you say something not exactly on point-- none of that stuff you say counts or is remembered--grading is anonymous--BUT still be prepared! Some professors take points off for lack of preparation. (please don't ask how they do that and yet still maintain anonymous grading
4. If someone misses a class and asks for notes...help them...you never know when you will be in the exact same situation. Alternatively, if that same someone never comes to class and wants to depend on your notes...ask for a check to cover half your tuition
5. Remember to remind yourself every day how smart you are. It is sooooo easy to forget when everyone around you is just as smart... then you get called on and are tongue-tied. You didn't get into law school by being a slacker and every brain cell you have now, you will still have by exam time (of course you will--no time to drink!). Hundreds of thousands of people apply to law school each year and very few are chosen...you are one of them
. Ummm...if this ever gets to your head, see #1.
Wish I could give you more. I can't lie and say it was easy...there were days when I just wanted to throw my books off the nearest bridge. But, it is manageable if you stay focused and remember what you are there for.
Good luck, enjoy the summer and best wishes throughout your law school career.