If you’ve gained admission to law school, you’re starting to realize the hardest part isn’t just getting in — it’s excelling once classes start in next fall.
We’ve asked seven Law Preview alums to reflect back apply 20/20 hindsight to some of your burning questions, like: “Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to students who are about to begin their 1L year?”, “What are the biggest mistakes that you saw classmates make during the 1L fall semester?” and “What were your favorite study aids during 1L and what made them so helpful?”… and, our personal favorite, “What is the one thing you wished you did NOT stress out about during the law school application process?”
Check out the article below to read their objective suggestions for navigating law school and, in some cases, learn what they wished they had done differently.
Albany Law School
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to students who are about to begin their 1L year?
I wish that I had been more serious about dedicating time to do periodic review in the beginning of the semester. I read and briefed every case, attended every class, and took good notes, but my life around finals would have been a lot easier if I had started memorizing earlier in the semester. I also wish that I had looked at more outlines before starting mine. I realized close to Thanksgiving that the outlines I had initially made needed A LOT more information to make them useful for studying. I also underestimated the amount of time it would take to improve my outlines. Although I had been outlining periodically throughout the semester, my not-so-good outlines took hardly any time, but my improved outlines took significantly more time to complete.
I made it a personal goal not to discuss my grades throughout the semester with anyone outside of my small study group, but I actually wish sometimes that I hadn’t discussed them at all, period. People get weird about it.
I also wish that I had realized earlier how much my study habits would need to be adjusted. I was a psychology major in undergraduate, and did not have many tests (mostly just papers). Thankfully, I was lucky enough to have graded midterms in two law classes, so I had an opportunity to get feedback and improve for the final. I was very disappointed with one of my first midterm grades, and it was 100% because I underestimated the level of studying that was necessary to perform how I wanted to perform.
What were your favorite study aids during 1L and what made them so helpful?
I liked the Examples and Explanations books, especially for Torts and Civil Procedure. They did a good job of further explaining topics that I had difficulty with. The questions were also useful for testing my understanding. I also liked the Law in a Flash flashcards — the hypos were helpful and usually funny.
What are the biggest mistakes that you saw classmates make during the 1L fall semester?
4 or 5 weeks into school, a surprising number of my classmates had stopped reading and briefing their cases. Class preparation, in my opinion, is a big part of exam preparation, and many people slacked on that aspect.
What was your favorite 1L subject, and why?
My favorite subject was Civil Procedure but I actually liked all of my classes and it’s hard to pick a favorite. I liked Civil Procedure because the organization/structure of the class and of the rules made so much sense to me.
Did you purchase new/used casebooks, or rent them? What advantages/disadvantages did you experience — and do you plan to do it differently in coming semesters/years?
I purchased new textbooks, because I didn’t want ones that anyone had written in. For the spring semester, I was able to get to the bookstore early and purchase used books that hadn’t been written in, which saved me A LOT of money.
How did you handle the competition/stress of 1L? What tactics did you use to avoid the stress that many 1L students experience?
Don’t discuss your grades with anyone! I try to fly under the radar as much as possible. I also like to keep my headphones in while in the library during particularly stressful times.
Describe the outlining approach did you employed and when/how you began the outlining process.
I started a couple of weeks into the semester and honestly did a terrible job because I didn’t really know how to make a good outline. By the end of the semester, my approach had improved. I organized generally based off of the index of the book and used cases to provide examples of situations where a particular rule might come up.
What time management strategies did you employ to make sure you devoted the appropriate amount of time to each class during the Reading Period?
I looked at the number of hours I had to study, and the credit hours for each class. I made sure that I devoted more time to studying for the 4 credit classes (a strategy that worked, those were my two highest grades). I sat down and wrote out a schedule based on those hours and the credit hours to ensure that I spent between 30-40 hours per class on my 3 and 4 credit classes, and 20-25 hours on my 2 credit class.