« on: January 03, 2006, 12:37:59 AM »
I had a hard time believing this before I started law school, but there really doesn't seem to be any great way to prepare. Yes, I remember thinking that sounded a bit silly, but it's true.
As I see it, there would be two ways to prepare, if you were to do so. You could prepare substantively or procedurally.
Substantive preparation would be trying to learn the law before you're a student. I think this is highly unlikely to be successful. I suspect that there's something about the process of law school -- learning to think like a lawyer (like a law student) that makes you able to gradually understand concepts in torts, contracts, property, civil procedure in the way that a law student should. But if you read a hornbook before law school, I think it would be confusing and frustrating. I think I would really wonder what to do with all of that information. And it's hard to realize the nature of the law before law school. It's hard to grasp the ambiguity of the law -- and that the law as an entity that isn't concrete. And without that understanding, the commercial supplements don't make much sense I think. Besides that, you really don't know what your professor is going to cover and how. Some good advice for law school is that you should remember that you're not taking, for instance, just "torts" -- rather you're taking "torts with professor _____." It makes a difference.
Procedural preparation is trying to figure out how to succeed on exams and succeed in your preparation for class. But this is hard. I think, for example, that most law school prep services are a total waste of money. Because if your law school is anything like mine (and I think most schools), most people have to adapt their studying techniques greatly -- with time and to their own learning styles. There is no "off the rack" law school advice that fits everybody (at least none that will be useful past the first two weeks) -- not even the "how to brief" advice that's typical of those law school prep programs (most students don't brief past the first month -- it takes far too much valuable time).
Okay -- so I think that "preparing" for law school is pretty much a waste of time (contrary to what I thought last year). But if you really pressed me, I would say there are a couple things you could read to help you understand a little bit of what you're going to be encountering your first semester -- in a way that you could comprehend before you actually start (that's not meant as an insult or anything -- it's only reflective of me really). Yea -- so I would read "A Civil Action." I would flip through a book called "Getting to Maybe" (this will end up being pretty helpful later in the semester I'm guessing). And I would find a book called Heracles’ Bow by James Boyd White -- I think it's out of print. But it was recommended to me by an old professor of mine, and I thought it gave me a real insight into what law is really about.