By T S • November 22, 2014•Law School, Curriculum and Classroom Dynamics
I did not have someone tell me about law school in advance, so I thought this would be valuable for prospective and current law students to review and take stock of their study and success skills.
- READ THE MATERIAL*. Reading the assigned material for the courses. Keep on top of things in a way that you’re not constantly in danger of falling behind, because if you do fall behind, you could never find the time to catch back up. Do the reading at times during the day when you’re most likely to be the most alert. Choose a solitary location, unless you do better with white noise. Some people like to have people around, but only choose this method if you can stay focused.
- BRIEF YOUR CASES. Make brief notes as you read so that you will pick up on the key points. Avoid the temptation to start off notating everything and become less and less detailed. Simply take notes on the most important points and try to boil the issues down in simple sentences. For all of the assigned cases, note the significant legal facts, note the case’s holding, as well as court decision rationale.
- REVIEW MATERIAL BEFORE EVERY CLASS. Review notes, review case briefs, and any other specific material the instructor asked you to keep in mind—and do this directly before class. Take notice of the first questions that the instructor asks to the members of the class and use that as a guide to studying and being prepared for the class. This may not represent a significant portion of your grade, but it represents the fact of whether your instructor respects or likes you. By doing this, cases can be fresh at the top of your mind, substantially increasing your chances to follow the lecture and class discussion well.
- ATTEND CLASS. Most professors and instructors cover portions of material during class which is not in the reading, hence failing to attend will place you in a tough spot out of the gate for final exams. Some instructors base grading off attendance as well, so keep this in mind.
- FIND A WAY TO STAY ATTENTIVE IN CLASS. Some students shop the Internet, some play games and some use the time to catch up with Facebook or email. If you truly feel the use of your time is better suited for those things, then go ahead and do them if you think you can get away with it, but realize that some professors get pissed about this kind of thing. One thought would be to focus your attention on the material even if you are paying partial attention. This means that some law students master the ability to actually review material for the next class during the current class. That way, if the professor sees what you are looking at, they will not be likely to be mad because they will see that it relates to their course.
- PARTICIPATE. Students who actively get involved with the professors, other students, and course material are more likely to get the good grades.
- TAKE NOTES IN CLASS. Take good notes in the lecture but keep them brief. Review these prior to starting the reading assignment. Make connections between the notes in class and the materials and try to find relationships so that you can see where the instructor is going with the material.
- PREPARE A CLASS OUTLINE EACH CLASS. You might be tempted to use outlines from prior students or others, but the act of creating the outline can be where much of the learning takes place as you make an analysis to prepare the outline. This helps in determining rules of law which are applicable in the course subject matter. By creating the outline as you go, you will be prepared when reading period comes. Some law students choose to outline their course once/week, other students choose to do it once/month. Others choose to outline each time a topic comes to completion. Pick a schedule that works for you.
- CONSIDER A STUDY GROUP. They don’t work for everyone, but talking through class material can increase understanding as well as retention. This is a good way to learn about issues with the course or remind yourselves and each other of important issues. It can be helpful to find students with similar academic mentalities and goals.
By applying principles and tips that are described above, some mistakes and pain can be avoided in law school. Some of these skills can be taken and applied to the practice of law following law school as well. Being a good dallas personal injury attorney means hard work, dedication, and before you can be an attorney, you need to be a successful law school graduate.