By Carson King & Amy Ortiz
Updated: February 6th, 2023
1. Build a study system
There’s no such thing as “accidental victory” in law school. Law school is a three-year marathon and will require much of you; thus it is important to prepare. As James Clear said, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” So, the first step to crushing law school is to carefully build a system with precise, robust, and durable habits that will help you combat the challenges of law school, such as stress, exhaustion, and a lack of time.
Start by getting organized, establishing priorities, and planning when you will attend class, do your readings, study, etc. Then, review your plans daily and consider creating a daily highlight—something that must happen each day, no matter what. With this system in place, you’ll be better equipped to handle everything on your plate, and even have space to schedule in time for rest and relaxation, which in turn will prevent you from feeling burned out.
Focus is such an integral part of learning—especially in law school. The sharper you can think and analyze, the quicker and more efficiently you’ll be able to dissect the material; thus, it is important you refine your focus to be as sharp as a knife. This may prove to be a challenging task; however, it is possible.
To achieve such focus you must first identify and eliminate all distractions. Distractions can range from Instagram and TikTok, to constantly wondering what your next meal will be. In any case, identify the distraction and replace it with something productive, such as taking a moment to breathe or planning out your meals for the week.
Then, level up your focus by sanctifying your study space. Whether it’s a hidden chair in the library, a dorm-room desk, or your parents’ basement—make it yours and keep it free of any distractions that could pollute it. Make sure this space is also a place where you feel comfortable and motivated to work. If possible, try decorating it with a comfortable chair, soft lighting, and maybe even a mini fridge of Mountain Dew. Creating this space will make it easier for you to stay focused and allow you to maximize the time you spend studying. Remember that it’s also okay to have multiple study spaces—be flexible! But be sure to carry that same no-phone (unless used to study), no-distraction mindset wherever you choose to study.
The following are some additional ideas to help increase your focus:
3. Put in the work
It’s one thing to say you’re going to do all the readings, participate in class, and write outlines for each of your classes, but another to actually do them. The truth is it’s hard work and it’s going to require time and effort—but again, it is possible. Commit to yourself and your future by doing the work needed. Prepare for class by doing the readings, briefing the cases, and reviewing your notes before each class period. Then, attend, pay attention, and participate in class. Discuss what you’re learning with your classmates and professors, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Writing outlines for each of your classes is also important. According to Chapman University, “the analysis necessary to prepare a course outline [will help] you determine the rules of law applicable to the subject matter of the course, as well as determine how the rules relate to one another. If you do not go through this process, you are less likely to master the subject matter.” With so much material to cover, this task can be daunting; however, don’t worry about your outlines being perfect. Just get started and start early! Creating outlines for the content you learn each week is a great way to break down this task and learn the material throughout the semester. All in all, don’t slack, do the work, and invest in your future.
4. Build a powerful network
The world of lawyers is a world of networking, and law school is the perfect place to begin making, keeping, and refining these connections! Get to know your professors and make sure they get to know the kind of student you are—and ultimately, the kind of lawyer you’ll be—as this will open many doors for you throughout law school and in the future. Fostering good relationships with your classmates is also important. You may do this by joining a study group or creating your own. Either way, make sure to contribute to your study group by actively participating as you discuss the material and questions you may have. Creating such connections with your classmates and professors will help you secure future jobs, clients, and opportunities, all the while, increasing your chance of success during law school.
5. Invest in audio learning
It’s easy to get swept away by a flood of essays, textbooks, and papers. So, give your eyes a break, and mix up your learning style. Listening to podcasts or audio courses while taking a shower, hiking, or doing the dishes adds up! If you’re looking for a solid platform to begin audio learning, check out Crushendo! Crushendo offers some of the best audio outlines for law school and bar review prep. These are filled with reliable information and are accompanied by written outlines to help you study. Plus, Crushendo gives you lifetime access to any purchased courses (including all updates), which will come in handy as you prepare for the bar exam down the line.
So, diversify your study and try something new—you’ll learn better, and it’ll keep things interesting! If you like going the extra mile, invest in sound-canceling headphones such as these:
- Sony WH- 100XM5. Best rated—superb sound, effective noise cancellation, comfy design, and excellent companion app.
- Bose 700. It has ten levels of active noise cancellation (ANC), which you can adjust in-app. Crystal-clear sound with a sleek design.
- Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless. These headphones have the best battery life of 60 hours. It also boosts effective noise canceling. They’re perfect for long-study marathons when you need to keep your head in the books.
6. Use mnemonic devices
Remember those funny little phrases they used to teach us in school?
Yeah, those are mnemonic devices, and they’re mighty! Use their power to help you memorize the world of terms and concepts found in each of your classes. You don’t need to be an author to create your own—simply connecting the dots with colorful, vocal lines such as these will work. However, if you’re still unsure of making your own mnemonics, don’t worry! Crushendo has hundreds of powerful mnemonics woven into both their written and audio outlines—making Crushendo an even more powerful tool to help you crush law school!
You don’t work law, you practice law. Thus, the key to mastering all of the skills necessary to succeed in law—reading, writing, typing, analyzing, public speaking, etc.—require much practice. According to Western Michigan University Law School, students should “practice taking exams, writing persuasive arguments, [and] even debating relevant topics.” Practice in each of these areas—among others—will increase your confidence and ability to absorb all you are learning.
So, implement these practices early in your studies! Don’t wait until the last minute to start trying to hone in to your writing or analyzing skills. Instead, work on these skills day by day, week by week; and seek the help and guidance of your classmates and professors to improve in each of these areas. Ask professors for any past published exams that they offer and use them. Give yourself ample opportunities to apply what you are learning, which in turn will give you a solid foundation as you begin your legal career.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Law school is like eating an elephant every day for three years. The vast amount of law material to be learned, mingled with homework, exam preparation, time management, and test-taking skills can leave you feeling far past confused and overwhelmed. However, the wonderful news is that you don’t have to have to tackle this beast alone. There are plenty of tools at your disposal!
Let’s start with your professors. Their prime responsibility is to help you learn the material, so use their knowledge and expertise to help you work through tough concepts, assignment questions, or anything else you are struggling with. They are there to help you! You can seek their help by visiting their office hours, asking questions during or after class, or by reaching out via email.
Another great resource is discussing your questions on challenging ideas or concepts with your fellow law students! Chances are they are facing similar problems and working through them together is a great way to enhance your problem-solving skills. Plus, if you’re struggling to find a balance in your schedule, they might be able to offer you support or ideas that have worked for them.
The bottom line is this: Don’t be afraid to reach out. Research your options, ask for help when you need it, and stand ready to offer the same hand of help to those struggling around you. If you feel you’ve done all you can and it’s still not working out, remember the answers and solutions will often come in small chunks over time, so just take the next step.
10. Take care of yourself
Okay, at this point your mind may be racing at a thousand thoughts per minute just thinking of all you need to do to succeed in law school. However, out of all the tips, this one right here may be one of the most important of all: SLOW DOWN. Law school is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires balance and just as important as doing your best is making sure you feel your best.
So, what do you do?
Take care of yourself. Take time to nourish and strengthen your body with wholesome foods and exercise. Drink plenty of water and do all you can to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. Additionally, you’ll want maintain a life outside of law school. This can be tough to balance but just as you plan out your work, make sure you schedule time to connect with friends, family, and the things you love!
As Western Michigan University Law School put it, “Law school is just one piece of a full life, and if you let the rest of your life suffer, law school will feel like a punishment rather than the exciting journey towards the career you envisioned.”
So, take on this marathon one step at a time. Be kind and take care of yourself as you learn, grow, and acquire the skills you need to succeed!