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So you’re going to law school, huh? Congratulations! That is a major accomplishment, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving. Unfortunately, the real work has only just begun. Law school and all of its information is like an exploding fire hydrant, and it’s up to you to try and control everything. When I first started law school in the Fall of 2017, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information that I was expected to retain, but I was able to develop a plan. And because this plan worked well for me, I wanted to pass the information along to all of you!
Get to Know Your Professors
This is key—especially in your first semester. Believe it or not, your professors are there to help you. They want to see you win and to be successful. Professors are a great resource for many reasons. Apart from helping you better understand the material in a one on one setting, they have been to law school before and understand what you’re dealing with. So their advice and experiences are relatable and applicable to you. These relationships also go beyond your first year. Professors serve as great references for potential jobs, law school clinics, and even for the Bar exam.
Networking is an extremely important aspect of law school. Making good grades is important, but networking takes you beyond both law school and good grades. Networking can take many different forms such as: a coffee date, a mixer/happy hour, or a community service event. It’s important to note that networking should not be one sided. You can’t reach out to someone once and expect to have a job lined up for you immediately— it just doesn’t work like that. Relationships formed through networking should be organic and authentic, not forced. To cultivate these relationships, you need to: attend networking events, follow up with the people who share similar interests, extend an invitation for one on one meetings, and make it a point to reach out at least 1-2 times a semester.
Read AND Brief the Cases Before Class
This is especially critical during your first year. Legal language is hard to comprehend, so it’s important to read and brief the cases to grasp the basic concepts. Briefing a case consists of isolating the rule, the procedural posture, the facts of the case, the issue, and the court’s ruling. Apart from being able to grasp the basics, reading and briefing the cases beforehand allows you to follow along and participate in class. Participating in class is great because it can highlight any concepts that you don’t quite understand. I personally think reading is beneficial throughout law school, but especially in the first year. With time, briefs may take a more shorthand form, but the foundation is still there.
Know When to Step Away
Law school can be overwhelming. There’s nothing groundbreaking about that, but it doesn’t have to consume you. Knowing when to step away is key, because it’s impossible to pour from an empty cup. You’re not a robot, so it’s important to keep doing the things that you enjoy. I’m not promising that you’ll be able to keep your pre law school life, but there’s no need to completely eliminate everything that brings you peace. If you like going to brunch, do that. If your Sundays are reserved for football, keep that tradition. Just plan your schedule accordingly to ensure that you’re still able to prepare for your classes and to stay ahead.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
Law school is certainly manageable, but with most things law school related, proper planning is key. As it gets later in the semester, it becomes crunch time and it’s important to figure out your weaker areas. Figuring this out early will allow you to take the appropriate steps to try and learn the material by either going to office hours, finding extra practice questions, or finding a study group. By starting early, you will be in a great position when it’s time for exams!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should give you an idea of what it takes to be successful. Different things work for different people, so be sure to find exactly what works for you—one size does not fit all! And remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Good luck with this part of your journey, you’re going to do great!To see more of Champagne Kenny's blogs check her out at https://www.champagnekenny.com/