Welcome to all of your new 1L law students and our returning students! If you’re a 2L or 3L student, you may find it difficult to get back into the swing of things after a long summer break. If you’re a 1L student, you may be feeling overwhelmed, intimidated, or confused (or sometimes all three!) by law school requirements and expectations. If you’re needing a little extra motivation or guidance during these few first weeks of the semester, start by keeping it simple. The beginning of the semester is all about forming good study habits and building a solid foundation for the rest of the term. This is particularly true if you’re a 1L student because it will take some time to adapt to the methods used in law school classrooms. Don’t feel pressured to take on too much too soon at the beginning of the semester, and instead keeps these steps in mind to help you stay on track:
During Week 1 and 2 – Focus on reading! During the first couple of weeks, make sure you’re completing all your readings on time so that you are prepared for class. Stay engaged with the class discussion and take thorough notes. This is also a good time to look at the syllabus for each class and make note of any midterms or projects. If you have other time consuming assignments that will be due later in the semester, be sure to put them in your planner and create a long term plan for completing them on time.
During Week 3 and 4 – Start outlining! Week 3 or 4 is the ideal time to start creating course outlines. You should be feeling more comfortable with reading cases, you should have a better idea of what your professor’s expectations are for in-class discussions, and you should have covered enough material to be able to start condensing and synthesizing it into an outline. It’s crucial that you start your outlines early and update them consistently throughout the semester, so plan on incorporating this steps in week 3 or 4. Your study schedule should now consist of reading, attending class, and outlining for each class on a regular basis.
During Week 5 – It’s practice time! Now that you’ve got an outline started and you’ve covered more concepts, it’s time to incorporate some self-testing and practice into your routine. You don’t need to overwhelm yourself with practice problems – start with shorter, more direct problems and work your way up to comprehensive, final exam like questions as the semester progresses. Start reviewing your outlines periodically and completing multiple choice questions sets or essay-style problems for each class. Practice is the best way to test your knowledge and improve your analytical skills, so don’t ignore this key step!
These steps should help you start the semester off on the right foot without overwhelming you. Stay tuned throughout the term for more helpful advice on achieving academic success in law school. Good luck this semester!