What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
Anonymous Questioner

New
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu Jun 29, 2017 10:57 pm

What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby Anonymous Questioner » Mon May 14, 2018 7:34 pm

Subject says it all. Feel free to expound or add supplementary advice, if you feel so inclined; I welcome anything you have to offer. Thanks, friends!

redbulls2595

New
Posts: 39
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:48 pm

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby redbulls2595 » Mon May 14, 2018 7:54 pm

Law school is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t overwork yourself too much, but find that perfect schedule or method of studying and stick with it. Outline early + do practice exams (this is a must bc your exam grades not only depend on how well you know your info and rules of law but how you apply the law to the fact patterns while conforming yourself to what your professor wants).

+ enjoy yourself. Take some time off from studying to clear your mind and go to social events at school, but don’t overdo it haha

Npret

Gold
Posts: 1505
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:42 am

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby Npret » Wed May 16, 2018 7:25 am

Study for the exam and what your professor wants, not knowledge of the course. Take practice exams and check model answers.
Organize your exam well so it’s easy to read.
The only thing that matters in 1L is getting the grade on the final, focus on that.

rwhyAn

Bronze
Posts: 325
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:09 pm

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby rwhyAn » Wed May 16, 2018 9:10 am

As someone who did fairly well, I did (almost) all the readings and tried to brief most of the cases. It's not a must, but it made it a lot easier for me when it came time for outlining. That way, I didn't have to re-read the cases later on and waste time. Lastly, an outline is only good if you know where to find the information in it. Make sure that you make some sort of table of contents for your outlines so that you can find the material quickly come exam time. I don't think I was necessarily smarter than my classmates, but I think I was better prepared.

Law2020!

New
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:06 pm

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby Law2020! » Wed May 16, 2018 4:37 pm

Do not pay any attention to what everyone else is doing. Focus on developing a schedule that works for you early on and outline early (beginning of October-any earlier will not be helpful because you won’t have a broad picture of the course).

Halltheway

New
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Oct 23, 2015 4:13 am

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby Halltheway » Thu May 17, 2018 6:14 am

Basically what everyone has already said. My personal top 4:
1. Don't get distracted by what other people are doing.
Don't try to gauge your knowledge/grade by other people. The people that raise their hands everyday are not the smartest. They are hyping themselves up to psych everyone else out. Stay focused on what you know and what you are capable of.

2. Start prepping from day 1.
Slow and steady wins the race and its a long fucking marathon. Just because the rest of your section is trying to make/find/buy 3-4 outlines during Thanksgiving break doesn't mean you should be doing the same. Compile your notes every week and slowly start to put everything together. Find an outline from an upperclassman so you can see how to format yours/what kind of information you need in it. By the time Thanksgiving comes around, you should be refining your outlines, not just starting them. Doing a little bit each week helps SO MUCH by the time you're at Week 9 or 10.

3. Figure out what studying method works best for you.
Just because everyone is forming study groups doesn't mean you need to automatically do the same. However, make sure you try all options. Study alone, study with your friends, study with a group. See what works best for you and stick to that.

4. Go to office hours/figure out what your professors want.
This is so critical I can't even begin to explain. Knowing the entire book cover to cover is not going to guarantee you an A. Knowing all the material and figuring out what your teacher wants to see on the exam is how you get an A. Go to your professor's office hours. GO TO YOUR PROFESSOR'S OFFICE HOURS. Ask them any and every question you have. Bring in samples of your hypos for them to go over. Ask them how they would want questions answered and what specific elements they are looking for. You are not being graded on knowing the most material; you are being graded on how you apply that material to a specific professor's type of format.

VeryCleverUsername

New
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:46 pm

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby VeryCleverUsername » Tue Jul 31, 2018 8:42 pm

My advice would be to focus on your study strategy during finals. I managed to achieve very good grades and I don't believe it was because I was smarter than anyone else in my class; but instead because I had every day during finals planned out to create the most effective study schedule I could. To that end I have some general pointers I hope you find useful:

1. Have your outline (or flashcards, or what else you might use) completed before reading period/finals. It saves a lot of time that you could use for practice and studying concepts you feel weak on. Work on them a little bit here and there over the weekends as the semester nears its end. Some of my classmates spent their finals time finishing outlines while I was reading key chapters of a supplement or doing practice exams. I think that gave me an advantage.

2. Use a supplement. I'm a huge fan of the Examples and Explanations (E&E) series in particular. For example, on one day during reading period I might have studied contract formation---meaning that I read the E&E chapters relating to contract formation before digging into some practice, followed by memorization for that topic. Then, the next day I'd rinse and repeat for other sub-topics. Many people use supplements in different ways; some people would read them during the semester as we covered the casebook material. Find what works for you.

3. Plan for long study days. Law school really taught me how to study hard. One of the professors on my campus distributed a recommended study schedule that was approximately 10 hours a day during finals. When I was new 1L, I thought she was crazy. But the following semester I tried out her schedule and realized she was right on point, and my grades drastically improved. Aim for 9 uninterrupted hours or so each day during finals. You might not always reach that many hours, but trying gives you more practice than you otherwise would have obtained!

4. Study alone. I suspect many people won't agree with me on this one, and that's okay. In my opinion, whenever I joined up with a study group I was just eating up precious time. Your supplements and professors know more than your fellow students, so you really don't need your fellow students around to totally destroy your exams. However, if you need a study group to keep your sanity then by all means go for it.

5. Pay attention to your professor. This is so important for finals. The professor is going to orient the final based on what he or she was talking about during the semester. Take notes of key things that seemed important to your professor, and make sure it's a part of your outline or flashcards. I can't tell you how many times I saw fellow students shopping online on their computers while I wrote down something important in my notebook; something I would have put in big bold letters in my outline. I also recommend taking notes by hand for that reason.

And those are my general pointers. I hope you find it interesting if not helpful or insightful. Oh, and keep an open mind. If something isn't working, don't be afraid to change it up. Don't get intimidated by others. Many people just talk big. Focus on yourself and what you need to do, and let other people do their own thing. :)

User avatar
totesTheGoat

Moderator
Posts: 849
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2014 1:32 pm

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby totesTheGoat » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:37 am

Start networking now
Be the familiar face in office hours
Treat school like a full time job (work hard and consistently for 8-9 hours per day, then close the books and let your brain relax)
Read and take notes with an eye toward efficiency

EDIT: I'll add that study groups didn't work for me. Between scheduling issues (we were night students) and very different study styles, I didn't get much out of the group.

fourdaywarranty

New
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:25 am

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby fourdaywarranty » Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:07 pm

I'll echo "pay attention to your professor" mentioned above, and amend it to "pay attention to your professor and class discussions." I can't count how many times something somewhat tangential to the material came up in class (apparently unanticipated by but obviously interesting to the professor) provoked an interesting discussion, and ended as part of a question on the exam. It's easy to dismiss these tangents as irrelevant--not what you're "supposed to" take away-- and forget about them/stop taking notes. But being able to recreate/parrot the discussion on the exam will often score you a few easy points.

This piece of advice obviously isn't the whole ball game; you need to know the "supposed to know" stuff first and foremost. And not all professors care about these tangents or reward your caring about them on the exam. But plenty do, and you'll pick up points just by staying awake and taking a few notes.

User avatar
unsweetened

Silver
Posts: 705
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2015 4:12 pm

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby unsweetened » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:06 pm

My advice would be to get going on practice exams early.

Getting an early start on practice exams gives you an opportunity to get comfortable with the types of questions that will be asked and shape your outline into a tool rather than a condensed version of your reading notes and class discussion notes. If you have access to sample exam questions, you can do them on your own, re-work your outline, and then re-do the exam questions as part of a study group (if that thing works for you). Having to defend or explain your answer to others can be helpful in memorizing material. If you have questions, you can ask your professor before she ends her Q&A period or office hours. If you wait until reading week to start doing practice exam questions, you lose your best source of information.
If you can't find professor specific exam questions because your professor is teaching a subject for the first time in while or she doesn't give out old exams, you can find plenty of questions in supplements or from other professors who make their exams available. I had this situation with Crim Pro and did several practice questions from a supplement that were actually harder than the actual exam questions.

Why is this my #1 piece of advice? Law school success for 1L basically means getting good grades. Grades are earned on exams, so if you are better prepared than your colleagues, chances are that you will tend to do well on exams. If I could have changed one thing about what I did during 1L, it would have been getting an early start on practice exams. I would have had more familiarity with my outlines going into exams, I would have had more material memorized, and my organization would have been better. As a 1L, I relied too much on other people's outlines. By the time I was a 3L, I would make my own outlines (and start the process earlier). I was a B student for the first half of law school and managed to turn myself into an A student by 3L.

There's other stuff that will help with success later on, like establishing communication with professors and networking, but 1L is pretty structured compared to the rest of law school. There are more limitations on what you can do to game the system.

nixy

Silver
Posts: 541
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby nixy » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:44 pm

Re: practice exams and studying alone - I agree on both of these, except that for me, doing practice exams in a group was the best way to keep me honest. Nothing ingrained a concept in my mind like missing the issue and having someone in my group catch it. For me, it was a super helpful way to practice issue spotting. But study groups otherwise, throughout the semester, were not very helpful.

(Your exam group has to be smart and focused and efficient - I studied with one friend and then a couple of classmates she knew but I didn’t know well; it was good bc it was less about being social. Also I’d say 4 is a good size, maybe 5 max, but more will get unwieldy. My group joined a group of like 6 once and that was a nightmare. Also that group was super anxious/highstrung and we actually poached someone who was tired of their vibe because it got so unproductive. So if your exam group isn’t helping, ditch them.)

User avatar
CountingBlue

New
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2015 11:53 pm

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby CountingBlue » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:22 am

Below are my top three.

1. Actively focus on learning the material during class time. That means do not just blindly type what the professor says. Try to keep a running summary in your mind the professor's key points and your his overall vision of each topic. The professor tests on his vision of the material, not the vision laid out in textbooks and supplements.

2. Be disciplined about exam studying. During Exam weeks and one week prior, I used an Excel Spreadsheet that projected how long it would take to run through the material at my current studying pace. I kept it up to date as I went. The approach kept me honest about reasonable break sizes and motivated focused studying. When tracking study progress you can see very quickly the big impact seemly minor detours to check your phone, read the news, etc. can have. Just to be clear, I would take breaks. The issue is ensuring the length and nature of the break is intentional.

3. As much as possible, enjoy what you are learning.

agnes_bean

New
Posts: 39
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 3:32 pm

Re: What is your #1 piece of advice for success in 1L?

Postby agnes_bean » Sun Aug 19, 2018 5:21 pm

Re: practice exams and studying alone - I agree on both of these, except that for me, doing practice exams in a group was the best way to keep me honest. Nothing ingrained a concept in my mind like missing the issue and having someone in my group catch it. For me, it was a super helpful way to practice issue spotting. But study groups otherwise, throughout the semester, were not very helpful.


+100 to all of this. I found study groups indispensable for going over exams, not so much for anything else.



Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests