Question Corner: I Didn’t Prep for Undergrad, Why Should I for Law School?

In the Question Corner segment, Don Macaulay, President of Law Preview, answers reader’s questions about law school success and our courses. Have a question you need answered? Email Don directly to be featured in the next Question Corner.

By now, if you’re like most entering law students the reality of beginning the 1L year is starting to set in. In less than 4 months, you’ll begin the most challenging year of your academic life.  

I received a flurry of questions from students since our last Question Corner segment, and I thought I would share one that might be timely for many people.

I Didn’t Prep for Undergrad, Why Should I for Law School?

Question: “I attended a top undergraduate university where I excelled, and I will be attending UVA Law in the fall. I never took a ‘college preview’ course, so why is a law school preview even necessary?”

Great question. Like you, I never took a course to prepare for college, nor would I recommend one for my oldest daughter who’ll be a freshman at Oberlin next fall. A preview of college would be a worthless endeavor; however, the difference is that law school is not college.  

In college, you’re professor likely spent the entire first class (or two) providing an overview of the course and then proceeded to spend the rest of the semester lecturing you about how his or her view matched the original overview.

In law school, you get none of that. Your professor will expect that you arrive on the first day having read one or two cases in your casebook. Without any introduction or overview, your professor will take the cases you’ve read and help you distill them down to a fine point of law; you’ll spend the rest of the semester reading/discussing other cases that build upon the law that you’ve already learned. So, if everyone does their job, you’ll arrive at the end of the semester with a cohesive framework for what the body of Contracts or Property Law looks like and how the various rules fit together.

If you haven’t realized it already, the problem with this approach is that it requires students to read individual cases, trusting that they’ll later see how (and where) the various rules fit together within the context of the entire body of law.

Law Preview helps students see the big picture in each of their classes by employing some of the best law faculty in the country. Our professors are subject matter experts who regularly teach and write about the topics they present for us. These professors provide students with a comprehensive overview of each of the “core” 1L courses (e.g., Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property and Torts). They start out by explaining the reasons why we have such courses and then illustrating the major rules and doctrine you’ll encounter throughout the semester.  

Just like following a map (or GPS) makes you a more efficient driver, a comprehensive overview of the subjects you study will ensure you never feel lost during the semester. It’s a preview that will set you up to conquer 1L year and beyond.