10 Tips to Survive Law School
Law school is hard. And failure is a very real danger.
These are 10 tips which I know will help you survive Law school.
Disclaimer: I am not the greatest student. (My overall GWA over my 5 years in UP Law is only 2.5)
However, I can proudly say that I did graduate while running my own business, going to faraway places with my girlfriend, putting 3000 hours in DOTA, and generally still enjoying life in general without having to spend my days in coffee shops studying.
1. Look for Sample Exams
Some law professors are notoriously too busy to update their exams every year so questions normally repeat. Ask higher year students who have taken the professor for copies of their old booklets. At the very least even if the question does not repeat, you can get an idea of which topics the professor favors.
2. Read Past Bar Exam Questions
Many professors also include bar exam questions from previous years. Skimming through Suggested Answers for Bar Exam Questions for the past 5 years will often help you during midterms or finals.
3. If the Professor Has a Book for the Subject, Buy It
Law school is expensive and many can survive without buying annotations for class but if your professor wrote a book for the subject you are taking, buy it! Often many questions the professor asks both during recitation and finals can be found in the book.
4. Bring Your Syllabus
This is the outline aka survival guide to the course. Knowing the topics and their order is a godsend. Most but not all professors will stick to the syllabus in good faith. Plus points if you write notes here.
5. Always Bring A Codal and Reviewer
When in doubt, you can never go wrong if you can cite the text of the law itself so never forget the text itself. Even better if the professor has taught this subject before, find a reviewer of the subject you are taking.
6. Be Kind To Your Classmates
If your professor is the big bad boss during recitation, you will need allies to slay him or her. By being kind to your classmates, they will be more likely to whisper the answer to you (radio) or show you the answer (TV). Remember law school is not a competition, you can all make it.
7. Double Check You Got the Correct Citation
There are a lot of cases that have the same case title. Just imagine how many Republic vs. CA cases there are. Make sure you got the right case because I’ve seen it more than once that a classmate was reciting the wrong case. Also it may happen that you have the right case but you are reciting the first decision instead of the Motion for Reconsideration which is the one assigned in the syllabus.
8. Don’t look at your Notes
My 1st-year law professor would tell us that you shouldn’t be reading the law while reciting as law school “isn’t a reading class.” Remember every time you look at your notes you lose points. If you must look down, just glance.
9. Research the Professor
Law school is more about surviving the professor. Knowing whether the professor calls completely random or does rounds for recitation will do wonders for your anxiety levels. Same if your professor is details heavy or if knowing the case doctrine and basic facts is enough.
10. Stay Strong
Remember law school is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s OK if you have bad recitations or are unable to go to class sometimes because it happens to everyone. You can be sad for that moment but get back on the horse. Don’t give up.
These are my own 10 tips.
Hopefully one day you can share yours!