Learning "The Hard Way" In Law School

Credit: Nick Youngson / CC-BY-SA 3.0, available at http://nyphotographic.com/

Credit: Nick Youngson / CC-BY-SA 3.0, available at http://nyphotographic.com/

Law school can certainly be full of trials and tribulations.  While prospective students can read about life in law school before attending, there are some truths that are inevitably discovered through experience.  One hard truth that I discovered is that hard work doesn’t necessarily pay off.

Law students are a competitive bunch, and it can be somewhat surprising when your classmates are as smart and competitive as you.  Everyone understands the importance of 1L grades in order to obtain a job after graduation.  Therefore, all of your classmates are focused and are working to obtain the highest grades possible.  Current 1Ls may have been able to succeed in college through brute force, but it becomes much more difficult to outwork your peers when they are putting in as many hours as you.  Because law school classes are graded on a curve, the difference between a great and mediocre grade in any class may be slight.

So the bottom line is that to separate yourself, you’ll need to study smarter, not harder.  One great way is to join a study group. You’ll be able to leverage the brain power of several of your classmates while making your own contributions to the group.  This is especially helpful as you begin preparing for exams.  Your study group can go over potential exam questions, and you can leverage the resources of the group to prepare outlines for your courses.  It’s much more difficult to go it alone.

Also, I didn’t initially recognize the usefulness of treatises.  While they are somewhat expensive, they can be extremely useful, especially during your 1L year.  I found Glannon’s Guide to Civil Procedure to be especially helpful.  I’d recommend spending the money to purchase treatises in courses where you feel lost or confused.  Usually, they can clarify any pending questions that you may have.