The truth is: WRONG ATTITUDE! There are a lot of shortcuts to legal academics, but if that is your goal, the overwhelming probability is that you will flunk out of law school, be an incompetent attorney and/or be mired in legal malpractice claims. You will never do everything perfectly in law school. You may be able to do some things reasonably well. You CAN do most things adequately – and improve on those things. Here are some steps to follow:
Step 1. If you haven’t already done so, rent and watch the movie, The Paper Chase. It will help you with your first day of class. Be prepared – ALWAYS. http://www.amazon.com/The-Paper-Chase/dp/B000SW1680
Step 2. Yes, buy the stinking books! You will have to read, read, read.
Step 3. Yes, brief the stinking cases. It is good practice.
Step 4. Yes, take stinking notes in class.
Step 5. Yes, organize your notes immediately after class and then use them to create a course outline.
Step 6. Yes, create a stinking outline for the entire course – and for each course.
Step 7. Manage your time. Get a professional calendar – the one that breaks down the day in 15 minute intervals – and schedule your study time. AND STICK TO IT.
Step 8. Learn to read effectively and quickly. Read and study to learn. It is all a matter of purpose. If you read in order to finish your assignment – WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! Know what you are about to study and then study/read in order to understand the topic. You should then be able to explain what you have read to someone else.
Step 9. Kiss your personal life goodbye. Well, not really – not totally. But you must understand that there are some things on which you will really have to scale back. Some things will have to be curtailed. Make a list of what you do in life and then prioritize. Let me suggest faith and family first on the list. Of course, the entire 100-member extended family will have to be scaled down. A hobby that includes exercise is good, but again, see if you can scale it back. Good friends are good! See if you can scale back. Somewhere in all of this, time must be scheduled for law school. Don’t kid yourself. Be honest with yourself. Be wise.
Step 10. Get into a good, solid study group.
I’ll try expanding on these steps later.
© 2009 Douglas S. Holden. All Rights Reserved.