Getting through the first two years of law school makes everything else prior to law school seem simple. I wish I can go back in time and apply this type of dedication and effort to college or even high school. Law school taught me what real studying is all about. There is no such thing as cramming for a test in law school. You are essentially "cramming" for 3-4 years straight and if you haven't been "cramming" for that amount of time, you're out of the game. Give up. How the heck did I get by before all of this madness??
Luckily, the law school that I go to wants you to succeed and all of my fellow classmates genuinely want to help one another. I have heard law school horror stories about students sabotaging other students. I could not imagine dealing with student drama on top of our brutal case load.
When I entered into law school, my upperclassmen gave me some friendly advice that I actually listened to and I believe has gotten me this far. Some of the advice was as follows:
1. Read. Read. Read. Never fall behind on your reading.
2. Brief. Brief. Brief. Brief every case you are assigned to brief. The Dean of my school once told our class that the reason we brief is to prepare us for the BAR. During the bar there is not enough time to continuously read fact patterns. We must be experts at identifying the issue and applying law to a particular fact pattern.
3. Do not buy canned briefs for the purpose of replacing the work you should be doing. If you are not briefing and are solely using canned briefs, I believe you will fail miserably. I would, however, use canned briefs for a quick dissertation of the facts. That is always helpful.
4. Practice Exams. Ok. So I am still struggling with this one. But I know that the key to understanding, succeeding and passing law school is to take a lot of practice exams. There is an art to taking a law school exam. Nothing prepares you for taking this type of exam in law school. You have to do this work on your own. Trust me. I get it. You are barely keeping up with your reading and briefing; there is no way you could possibly add practice tests to the agenda. Well, when you figure out how/ when to do this... please let me know. I feel like this is the difference between letter grades for me.
In the meantime, for all FIRST YEAR STUDENTS, here are all of the past California State Bar First Year Law Student Examinations. Take all of them before your first year exams. This will get you through criminal law, torts and contracts.
Fun Fact: Crunch Time is a great study aide for Contracts.
5. Flemmings: I like Flemmings. The only time I will use Flemmings is when I literally cannot read anymore and I want someone else to teach me what I must learn without having to exert too much energy. I listen to Flemmings in my car, on the plane and in my IPOD. Love Flemmings.
Note: My legal research and writing professor advised me to take a Flemmings Course for writing before I sit for the bar. She took it before and during law school and maintained straight A's throughout and passed the bar her first time. I haven't been able to take a course yet, but I am planning on doing so.
6. Blacks Law Dictionary: Ok. Ok. This might sound like common sense, but I just recently started to really appreciate Blacks. My BF in law school lives and dies by Blacks and now I know why. I understand you are pretty much required to get this minute one of entering law school, however, my advice..... use it minute one. It has all of the answers. Everything your professors are asking you, looking for, wanting you to know... Blacks says it! Stop searching Westlaw; Stop looking through your canned briefs, stop making more work for yourself... look up the definition in Blacks. You will thank me for this. THIS is my bible.
As my quest for becoming legal continues, I will share things that have helped me along the way.