Most people think that law school, above all, teaches critical thinking skills, and that these skills are the most important things that law students learn. And it’s true: the purpose of law school is to make students “think like lawyers” so that they can solve their clients’ problems. This is all well and good.
However, I’d argue that there is another important skill that you pick up while in law school. That is attention to detail.
In law school, you quickly learn that you need to sweat the details. If you brush over your reading or try to finish it as quickly as possible, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. Professors will be grilling you about the details in individual cases. They’ll be able to tell if you haven’t paid close attention to your reading.
Attention to detail will be critical on exams. Before exams, you and your classmates will be well-versed in the case law. In fact, most of you will likely have a similar outline that you use on the exam. The key thing that’ll separate you from your classmates is your attention to the facts provided and how case law applies to those facts. You’ll need to pay attention to all of the details in the prompt, regardless of how small or irrelevant you think they are. But by doing this, you’ll increase the likelihood of doing well on your exams.
Attention to detail becomes even more important when you enter professional practice. Clients pay you to notice the details—whether you’re a transactional attorney or litigator. They don’t want to deal with the legal nuances within a pending deal or lawsuit. That’s your job.
One word in a contract may make the difference between a successful transaction and a potential lawsuit. One document that you find in a document review may make a huge difference in the advice that you deliver to a client under investigation.
You’ll need to have an eagle eye in professional practice. Lucky for you, you begin building this habit throughout law school.