The Law School Survival Guide
The first year of law school can be a tough experience. Here, PMH’s best and brightest give you advice to get through it:
Samantha Kennedy, 2L – “Laminate your flashcards and bring them to tailgates! In all seriousness, my biggest advice would be to never take yourself too seriously, stay humble and stay human. You’re never too good for hard work. However, take time off to be with family and friends—it is time well spent.
A smart law student is a kind law student. Life will happen in law school, so be kind to everyone you meet here and you will have an excellent support system behind you when you need it—and you will. I had a dear friend get sick last semester and if it wasn’t for the support of my classmates I’m not sure I could’ve stayed sane.”
Carmen Guidry, 3L – “Make a schedule and stick to it so as not to get overwhelmed. Designate a different subject for every day to study. While it’s early in the semester, read your notes and focus on getting to understand your classes. The big picture will come in the last few weeks of the semester, so make sure you start going over your notes early in the semester, because you don’t want to get to November and realize you don’t understand basic principles you learned in August.”
Wesley Davis, 3L – “Law school may seem impossible at times, but I assure you it is quite the opposite. Finding success in law school is an achievable goal. Law school is challenging and, quite frankly, stressful. It is not insurmountable. Your success is entirely dependent on how you prioritize your class preparation and time commitment to law school.
Early to mid-semester, my advice is to stay on top of your readings and class preparation. Don’t skip out on reading your assigned cases each day or fail to take notes as you read. Highlighting words in your text book, without anything else, doesn’t get you much other than colored ink on expensive paper.
Take notes as you read, brief complicated cases as you read, and have your brief on hand during class discussion. Pay attention in class. It will make the outlining, reviewing, and studying process much easier later in the semester when you are preparing for your first law school exams. Class preparation and reading every day will also save you a significant amount of stress later in the semester when the intensity of final exams rear their ugly head.”
MJ Hernandez, 3L – “I’d say it’s important to schedule in time for relaxation; however each particular student chooses to relax. Whether you spend time with your significant other, watch Netflix, read, workout, whatever it is. You need to physically schedule the time in or else it won’t happen, or, will happen too much which could also be a bad thing if you’re not getting the material well enough. Also, it’s always important to keep in the back of your mind that you (as a 1L) made it into this law school for a reason. That means that you have the potential to succeed here. You can handle the work load, and many other people, just like you, have come into law school and made it out the other side as successful attorneys.”
Carlos Coro, 3L – “To succeed as a 1L, the first thing you should do is check the outline database on the SBA website! I moved to Louisiana from out of state, and had to learn to make friends. That was hard. You should be social and outgoing – no need to be negative.
I felt like what I really missed out on was the access we have to Westlaw and Lexis. We have access to online supplements like the Civil Law Treatise series (link to this on the SBA website). You should actually use these resources for class – it’s much easier to outline from and so useful.
You should learn to be disciplined. To remain disciplined, just take the first step. Make your bed in the morning and then you might as well put the dishes away. Do the hard work…even when you don’t want to. If you want to be knowledgeable, de disciplined.
Most importantly, do what works for you! Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing and compare yourself to them. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know something – everybody learns differently. And check the SBA website – everybody can benefit from that!”
Briana Reid, 2L – “The best law school advice is be wary of advice. People have good intentions, but not every method works for everyone. So don’t be alarmed if something works for someone else and not for you. You will figure yourself out. Because at the end of the day, you know yourself best.”