How to Thrive Your First Year in Law School

how to thrive your first year of law school

If you’ve read any of my past posts, you’ll know how I think about the first year of law school. It’s hard. But hey, somebody a whole lot smarter than me said if something’s not hard, it’s not worth doing.

There are three categories of law students. Okay, I made these three categories up arbitrarily for the sake of writing this article — there are arguably more than three. Just bear with me for a little bit.

Group #1: The Gunners. These are the law students that are über-competitive, are always looking to get an advantage, and snag the highest grades in the class. You’ll know one when you see one.

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Group #2: The Lazies. These are the law students who don’t take school seriously, don’t care about their grades, and don’t care what happens to them after law school. I may or may not have been one; it depends on whom you ask.

Group #3: Everyone else. This is a huge group of students. For the most part, they keep their heads down and plug through law school, concentrating on graduating and getting a job right out of school.

Whichever group you find yourself in, these three tips will apply to you in varying degrees.

Tip #1 – Get into a Study Group

The whole point of a study group is for students to hear different perspectives on the law … okay, so that’s probably what you’ll hear. That’s something that naturally happens when a bunch of nerds get together to discuss abstract legal issues. What you really want to get out of a study group is a bunch of people who are smarter than you are.

That way, you can contribute sometimes and get lots of amazing insight and other great stuff the rest of the time. You’ll want to have a study group for one simple purpose: practice the principles you learned in class. Being a member of a high-quality study group will let you run through a bunch of examples and really nail down difficult legal concepts.

Tip #2 – Practice a bunch of hypotheticals

Grading in law school is different from at any other place. It’s all based on a bell curve, and most of the grades in law school ride on one final exam that’s administered at the end of each semester. 67.8% of the students will get ‘B’s while the rest, mostly, will get ‘A’s and ‘C’s.

The only way to nail the exams is to practice answering test-like questions. The only way to answer test-like questions is to do hypotheticals. You’ll want to spend the majority of your time doing these. Trust me on this.

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Tip #3 – Ask your professors for help

Your professors don’t get paid only to stand at the front of the classroom and talk at you. They’re also there to help you out when you have questions. Be sure to use their office hours and to email them. They are by far your best resource, since they create the syllabus and write your exams.

If you follow these three tips, you’ll be able not just to survive, but to really thrive in law school. Good luck!

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