How to become a top law student (and why it matters)

Wondering how to become a top law student?

Your 1L grades make a huge impact on your legal career. In fact, they will be the most important grades you receive throughout all three years of law school. 2L employment relies heavily on your 1L grades, and those 2L opportunities often lead to full-time jobs in the future. Plus, if you want to land on law review or earn any other academic honors, your first-year grades will be front and center.  

There’s no escaping it, good 1L grades are imperative. So how do you become a top law student? Check out some tips below.  

Create an effective routine 

One of the keys to becoming a top law student is being organized. Gone are the days where you could wing it from day-to-day and still pass a class.  

Creating an effective routine keeps you on track for success and helps you steer clear of procrastination. You should aim for a weekly routine that makes room for class attendance, reading time, study time and gym time (with time for meals, of course). Make sure to add some periodic breaks in between so you don’t burn out. Time management is an essential skill to master before starting law school.  

Go to class & do the reading 

This one should be obvious, but we’ll say it anyway. Don’t miss a single day of class in your first semester (unless in case of emergency, illness, etc.).

Every. Day. Counts.  

Remember, your 1L grades are determined by your final exam. That means that missing class or not doing the reading assignments can put you behind your classmates for the rest of the semester. For that reason, it may even be a good idea to get ahead in the reading assignments.  

Law school is all about competition, staying ahead of your peers is a great way to make your way to the top of the class.  

Learn how to outline & take notes properly  

Creating rock solid outlines will help you tremendously come final exams. Do not rely solely on senior student’s outlines or commercial outlines. Doing them yourself helps you retain the information and master the subject matter. You should be creating an outline for each class and outlining regularly.  

Make sure to actively take notes throughout your reading. This is referred to as briefing cases. Your notes should be brief and easy to understand for reviewing in the future.  

Review your outlines & notes often 

As a law student, you’ll be learning a lot of new information on a daily basis. So much that it’s easy to forget what you learned the week before, especially if it’s on a subject you’re not crazy about. That’s why reviewing is so important. Reviewing your outlines and notes will help you feel less overwhelmed come final exams.  

On that same note, make sure to practice your essay writing skills and review practice questions throughout the semester to ensure you’re ready for finals.  

Take advantage of free resources 

Whether you’re looking for study aids or help with future employment, most schools offer free resources to help you stay on track. Check with your school’s student services office to see what resources your school has to offer. 

Here’s an example of what to look out for: 

  • Career services: resume building, skill development, mentorship, job searching 
  • Events: seminars, networking, mock exams, office hours 
  • Studying resources: print and digital supplemental study aids, study aid subscriptions  

Don’t be afraid to ask questions 

If you don’t understand something, ask. It’s that simple.

Yes, professors can be intimidating but intimidation is not worth having a question unanswered. Your success relies on your ability to fully understand the course material. Gaps in your knowledge can snowball quickly, so ask as many questions as needed. You can even ask other students for help if possible. Law school is not the time to be shy.  

This is also where office hours come into play. Take advantage of your professor’s office hours as often as possible to make sure you fully understand the material.   

Sign up for Law Preview this summer 

At Law Preview, our goal is to give incoming law students the tools they need to get to the top of the class. Don’t just take our word for it, check out our student testimonials or success statistics.

Here’s what you’ll learn by taking Law Preview: 

  • Core 1L material (Torts, Contracts, Criminal Law, etc.) 
  • Proven exam taking strategies 
  • Outlining and note-taking best practices 
  • Academic success skills and more 

Click here to learn more about Law Preview 1L prep courses.  

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