A Look At Harvard Law’s Class of 2021

3 Keys For a Successful First Year

The first semester of law school has kicked off for many law students this month.
Kerriann Stout, a contributor at Above The Law, recently published a list of essential skills all first year law students should know.
Critical Reading
Reading is a huge component of the law school education. Stout advises students to brush up on critical reading skills to get a head start.
“In undergrad, you may have been able to get away with skimming the readings in homework assignments, but that isn’t going to cut in law school,” Stout writes. “One of the first things you need to do to be successful in law school is figure out a reading system that allows you to gather all of the important information without taking an unduly long time to execute.”
Case Briefing
Much of what you’ll be reading in law school are cases. And in order to read and understand them effectively, it’s important to have a proper note taking system, or case briefing, Stout says.
“While every student may format a brief differently, you must include the following information: a summary of the relevant facts, the procedural history of the case, a statement of the legal issue, the holding, the judgement, and the court’s reasoning,” Stout writes.
According to Northwestern’s “Introduction To Case Briefing,” students should read a case more than once in order to properly brief it.
“Try to read every case twice. The first time, just get the big picture. The second time, dig into the details, thinking about and challenging the judge’s analysis. Then, after you have read the case a second time, you should brief it.”
Time Management
Time management isn’t just essential to succeeding in your classes, but it can also give you more breathing time to simply relax and take a breath when you need it most. Having proper time management, Stout says, is critical to balancing your responsibilities.
“There is no denying that there is a lot going on in law school,” Stout writes. “You are trying to learn and master all these new skills, make friends, learn about internships, join student organizations, and a million other things. You have to have some kind of time management system in place to make sure that nothing important falls through the cracks.”
Sources: Above The Law, Northwestern Law