Top Tips You Should Know About Law School Before You Sign Up

by Laura Pennington 8th March 2019

The three-year commitment, filled with difficult classes and exams, is something you probably already know about the process of going to law school. But are you sure you know everything you need to be successful when preparing yourself for this exciting and sometimes challenging journey?

Law school applications have been down in the past few years, meaning that more scholarship opportunities are available and thatcompetition has slightly decreased. This can pave the path for more people topursue a law school application. But you don’t want to wind up as a 1L in overyour head- smart lawyers plan years in advance and work the “five year plan”they have to get to and beyond graduation.

Here are the top tips you should keep in mind when attending law school. No matter how you prepared in undergrad, lawschool is a whole new experience.

A Top-Tier School Provides More Options

Attending a highly-ranked law school will open a lot more doors for you. This is why you need to create a list of all the schools you’re interested in first and make a decision about what’s best foryou after that point. In order to have a strong chance of getting into schoolsin this top tier, you’ll need to present a strong application package.

Selecting the right law school can help you in terms of the job options you can tap into once you’re done.

Your LSAT Score Matters- Practice Plenty

A law student and law books

While a well-rounded application is important for any intended law school student, don’t let this one aspect of your submission be neglected. Spend plenty of time preparing for the LSAT and taking practice tests before you’re ready for the big day.

Be Prepared for the Socratic Method

Although law school has been profiled in television and movies in recent years, it can still be a shock to find yourself being questioned constantly and worrying about being in the hotseat. Most law schools educate in this manner, designed to build your quick critical thinking skills and ability to speak coherently under pressure.

Case Outlines and Briefs Can Be Practiced Ahead of Time

If possible, get experience with a law firm so you can see what these projects look like. A recent survey of law school graduates revealed that their common advice was to learn outlines and briefs in advance of attending a J.D. program.

Many law school students get tripped up because they assume that they can’t easily learn outlines and cases. The truthis that most new law students don’t know how to do this and it’s a skillsetthat comes with time and practice.

While you’re unlikely to end up in law school knowing everything that you need to succeed, you can fast-track your awareness of what briefs look like so that your learning curve is greatly reduced once you’re officially in the classroom.

Create First Year Focus to Serve You in All Four Years

Successful law school grads often have a long-term view, knowing that they can set themselves up for more opportunities from the beginning when trying to come out on top in the first year of law school. Depending on the competitive nature of your law school, this could require a significant amount of work. Set a goal of trying to get into the top 5% of your class. This can set you up for interviews and job options after graduation even though it’s only your first year.

This success in the first year can be viewed as evidence of drive and motivation, and it’s much easier to start on the right foot rather than to try to fix a poor first-year performance.

Even beyond your first year, these grades matter and will likely follow you for many years to come. Trying to change jobs to work at a new firm or pursue a new position with a firm, there’s a good chance you might have to provide your law school transcripts.

Writing Skills Are Key

In order to be a successful lawyer, you must present yourself effectively in writing. From emails to briefs to appeals, written communication is one of the most important ways to present case laws and make compelling arguments.

Get Hands-on Experience

Whenever you have the opportunity to watch other people practicing and to get practical experience, take it.

Even though it’s challenging to take on additional work while you’re working on your degree, it’s important to be active in clinics or moot court because you’ll learn even more and get a chance to put your learning into practice. Some of these opportunities even come with the chance to receive awards that can be added to your resume to help you land future internships, clerkships, and jobs.

While there are challenges ahead for you with these experiences, challenges will be a common part of your legal career, too. Getting used to these now and gaining confidence in your ability to navigate obstacles will serve you well in your law career.

Become an Expert Note Taker

You need to know how you best take notes to recall and review information. This can be a different strategy for each person, so remember in college which methods worked well for you. You don’t want to be one semester into law school or later before discovering that yourold note-taking method just doesn’t work. 

Get Feedback on Your Writing from Professors

Most students don’t even take the chance to get feedback on their writing from professors. It’s scary enough to be grilled in class when participating in the Socratic method, so you might be hesitantabout asking for additional commentary on your work. But a professor who hasbeen working in this field for many years can offer you responses that help youmake your work more compelling. As an attorney, your job is to serve theclient, so release the attachment to doing things “your way.”

When a professor gives you some ideas on how to write strongly for a legal environment, this not only helps you make a strong case but also empowers your client with the best possible chance of success in their case.

When you use law school to your advantage by being prepared ahead of time, you’ll feel more confident as you go.

Laura Pennington - author at Eduvenio

By Laura Pennington

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