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Tips For A Successful First Year of Law School

The first year of law school can be a stressful and difficult time for many.
Michelle Fabio, a licensed attorney and the author of The Art of the Law School Personal Statement, recently gave some advice in a ThoughtCo. article on how 1L’s can survive their first year of law school.
“As someone who has been there, I know how quickly the feelings of dread and confusion can arise, and because of this, it’s easy to fall behind–even as early as the first few weeks,” Fabio writes. “But you just can’t let that happen. The farther you fall behind, the more stressed you will be when it comes time for exams, so what follows are five tips for how to survive 1L.”
Prepping Early
To be ready for the first year of law school, Fabio recommends that students begin prepping for their legal studies the summer before they start.
“Academically, law school will be like nothing you have experienced before,” Fabio writes. “For this reason, many students consider taking prep courses to get a head start. Prep-course or not, it’s also important to set some goals for your first semester. There will be a lot going on and a list of goals will help you stay focused.”
Experts say prep courses can help students get a glimpse of what they’ll be learning in the first year.
“Commercial prep courses typically offer video or audio lectures in contracts, torts, civil procedure, criminal law, property and constitutional law,” Michelle Kim Hall, a contributor at US News and consultant at Stratus Admissions Counseling, writes. “Many prep courses will also offer advice on what to expect your first year, study tips and guidance on outlining.”
Staying on Top of Reading Assignments
It’s easy to fall behind on your reading assignments in law schools. But, Fabio says, the best way to succeed in your first year is to keep up with your readings.
“Keeping up with reading assignments means that you’re working hard, wrestling with new materials as they come up, more able to pinpoint areas you don’t understand, already preparing for final exams, and perhaps most importantly, not nearly as nervous about possibly being called on in class particularly if your professor uses the Socratic Method,” Fabio writes.
Additionally, staying on top of your readings will make you more successful in class.
“Just by reading your assignments you can lower your anxiety levels during class,” Fabio writes. “Closely tied with reading all the assigned material, turning in your work when it’s due is another key to surviving 1L and can be the difference between a B+ and an A.”
Tying Lessons Together
A good practice after each class, Fabio says, is to connect the dots to what you’re learning.
“How does this new concept interact with the ones you were learning about last week? Do they work together or against each other? Create outlines to organize information so you can start to see the big picture,” Fabio writes.
To be successful at connecting the dots, it’s important to be as engaged during class as possible.
“Everyone’s mind will wander during law school classes, but try your hardest to stay focused, especially when the class is discussing something you didn’t understand well from the readings,” Fabio writes. “Paying attention in class and proper note-taking will ultimately save you time.”
Sources: ThoughtCo, US News