jlarkin

1Hell: An Evening Student’s Guide to Surviving Law School: Why You Should Have a Study Group

Law school is full of some of the most brilliant minds that you will ever come across and, unfortunately, due to the dreaded curve, you and your classmates will always be competing against each other for the top grades.  Evening division programs typically have fewer students than day division programs, which means that there are less A's to go around for the class.  In the first few weeks of school, you may think that this will mean your competition is more fierce, however, one of the perks of the evening program is that unlike the majority of the day division, evening law students typically have spent time in the workforce and they already have a level of professionalism going into the program.  Because the majority of your section is working full time and, like you, is trying to manage the stress of school while balancing work and home life, there is definitely a feeling of camaraderie and a “we’re all in this together” attitude.

Throughout your first semester of law school, you may at times, feel pretty intimidated by your classmates.   Sometimes it will feel as if you read something completely different than the rest of the class. You may feel discouraged by this, but this could also be the first step to forming lasting friendships with your classmates. 

After surviving the first few weeks of school, and once you’re finally into the swing of things, finding a study group can be a step in the process of evening division success.  Likely, you will have made a few acquaintances in your class. Whether they are people you bonded with at orientation, or people that happen to sit next to you in class, getting together with a group of your peers, either after class or on weekends to discuss that week’s reading assignments can be very beneficial for a number of reasons:

1. Study groups force you to put in the work.  You can’t discuss a case if you haven’t actually read the case.  When you’re working full time, and you’re attending class four nights a week, it’s very easy to not feel like reading and doing homework on the weekends.  Once you get behind, it is very hard to get caught up.  Being in a study group will keep you accountable for your readings.

2. Study groups enable you to be more prepared for class.  During your first semester of law school, there is nothing worse than being cold called by the professor.  You’re still in the stage where you are worried that you don’t know what is going on and you’re afraid that you will look ill prepared in front of your peers.  Meeting with your study group allows you to discuss what you derived from the reading and also allows you to gain additional insight and perspective into the rules and applications from listening to members of your group.  Study groups are similar to a dress rehearsal for class; ideas can be debated and questions can be posed and answered prior to the live performance in class.

3. Study groups are fun.  No, seriously, they are.  Law school, especially the evening division, cannot be all work and no play because you will drive yourself mad.  The people in your study group will help you avoid burnout.  They will become your friends and they will be an empathetic support group. Your study group knows exactly what you are going through because they are going through it too.  Your group will help keep you calm when you’re stressing out about finals, they will save you by volunteering in class when you might be bombing, and they will be there to make stupid jokes that only law students will appreciate.  

As an evening student, you only have so much time and you may not want to add things like weekly meetings with a study group to your already packed schedule.  However, in the long run, whether you’re discussing cases, making jokes, or just sitting in the library together silently reading, it really helps to have a group of friends around you, pushing you to succeed.  This group of friends will encourage and support you throughout your law school career.  When the much-anticipated time for graduation finally comes, it will feel so good to stand next to your friends and know that you’ve succeeded with each other, because of each other.  

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