« on: June 21, 2009, 11:38:11 AM »
Studying in the fall as a 1L is a little different from the rest of law school, in part because that is when you are learning how to digest a case. Prior to each class, I read and briefed each case. The brief entailed identifying the issues and identifying and following the court's reasoning. Briefing is important because it helps you to learn how to read a case. As my legal reading comprehension improved, I stopped briefing, but I still took short notes on each case (key facts, issues, and holding briefly summarized in one or two punchy sentences).
So, prior to each class you need to read the assignment. This is time consuming as it is not like reading a novel. Generally, this took me between 1 to 2 hours per hour of class (double that if you're doing full briefs), depending upon the complexity of the material. The goal is to go to class with a working familiarity of the issues the professor will discuss so you can follow and understand the class discussion. In class, I took notes. If there were issues in class i didn't understand, I would then spend time after class clarifying. This might entail rereading the case, looking at study aids, etc. Starting about a month into the semester, I would add to this routine developing an outline. While looking at another person's outline can help you with material you don't understand, I found that writing my own outline for each class was crucial. In addition to the readings mentioned above, this takes an hour or so per hour of class. So, it would generally take me 4 to 6 hours to fully outline a week's worth of classes in a 4-credit class. Finally, in the last week or so of classes, I would start looking at old exams and actually writing sample exam answers.
I was able to get through my first two years of law school by studying/going to class a fairly solid 10-12 hours a day on M-Th, about 8 hours on Friday, and about 6 hours on either Saturday or Sunday, but I always took at least one day off a week, unless I was within a couple weeks of exams. I never did an all nighter, but I have worked until midnight a couple of times.