« on: April 30, 2008, 11:45:02 PM »
I'm one more question on one take-home exam away from being a 3L (thank God), so I don't really qualify, but what the hell...
I completely agree that outlining is vastly overrated. If you take good notes in class (not stenography, but listening to what the professor says and writing down the important stuff)(the more Socratic the professor, the harder this is) then that should be all you need to study for the final. Read it, know it, put tabs on it by topic so you can find it in a hurry. I wish I could get back all the hours I spent outlining as a 1L, what a complete waste of time.
Even so, in required classes, it's good to have an outline. But not yours - get a good one from a 2L or 3L. One of the best reasons to get involved in organizations (and pick one, maybe two, and get involved - you won't have time for more than that) is so that you can meet upperclassmen who had your professors last year or the year before. They are gold mines of information and good outlines. Go through it, tab it just like you did with your class notes, and know how to find the stuff in it.
Hornbooks are your best friend. My wife - who got her JD years ago - recommended them to me and I blew her off, thinking that I'd never have time to read them in addition to all the reading I was doing for class. I wised up this year - get a good hornbook for your class (ask the professor which one he recommends, that's usually a good suggestion) and stick it on the shelf. If you get confused about something during the semester, pull it out and look it up and you probably won't be confused any more. When you are preparing for the exam, read the sections that address the topics you covered in class and use them to supplement the notes that you took in class. The hornbook will tell you what the correct tests are for each issue - that should already be in your notes, but more than once I discovered that I'd written it down wrong when I was getting it in class, or I'd mixed something up. Buy them used online, but don't get editions that are too old (believe it or not, the law does evolve over the years even in the hoary old core subjects).
Don't be a butthead. There's really nothing to be gained by acting like a jerk, so be nice. It will pay dividends down the road.
Share your notes.
Find a passion for something, whether it is journal, moot court, mock trial, a club, whatever. Volunteer. Be a leader in it. It will be a pain in the ass more often than not, but it will help keep you sane.
Get the hell out of the law school as often as possible.
Get to know the deans, professors, and staff. Say hello. Make conversation. The time will come when you will want to ask them for favors, and it will help if you know them and they know you. You don't have as much control over your grades as you'd like to think you do, but you have lots of control over your reputation. In the long run, your reputation will get you a lot farther than your law school grades will. Start working on it now. You'll be glad you did, and it really doesn't take any effort.
Try to see the humor in things. Remember that almost everything that happens in law school has an element of the absurd to it. If you can keep smiling at that, it'll help you get through it with your sanity intact.
Eat good food. But not too much of it.
If you have to go up or down one floor, take the stairs.
Go outside and look at the stars every now and then.
Try to keep your house/apartment/room relatively neat. You'll feel more organized if the things that surround you look organized.
When you get a chance, take useful classes. Try to avoid classes with closed-book exams.
There's more, but I'm going to finish this exam if it kills me. Best of luck next year to all.