Surviving Law School 101: What You Need to Know to Succeed

Tiger eyeLaw school is not a walk in the park. It’s a jungle out there, and you’ve got to be savvy to survive.

There’s a lot to know, and if you’re not feeling a little nervous when you show up for Orientation, you’re probably not human. Apprehension is to be expected.

But don’t despair. You can do this, and I can help.

I’ve put together some of my very best tips below, so get to it! (Also check out my other site: the Law School Toolbox. You can learn more about it here: Why I Started the Law School Toolbox.)

Life in the Jungle

5 Non-Obvious Things to Do When You Start Law School
Sure, buy your books early and so on. But here are five less obvious things to do when you start law school…most of which I learned the hard way!

“I Hate My Classmates” and Other First-Week Problems
It’s a rare law student who doesn’t have some sort of breakdown the first week. Here are some tips of surviving the common ones.

Start Thinking About the Exam on the First Day of Class
What’s tested in law school bears little resemblance to what’s taught in law school. If you want to ace your exams, starting thinking about them on day one! Read on to find out what will be tested (and how to prepare).

Why You Should (Probably) Read the Cases
I know, it’s tempting to skip boring, tedious reading assignments and just look at a commercial outline. That’s generally a bad idea (but there are times when it makes sense).

How Much Time Should You Spend Preparing For Class as a 1L?
It’s a common 1L question: How much time should you devote to class prep? Not too much, not too little. Like Goldilocks, it’s all about finding just the right balance!

Two Reasons You Need a Law School “Outline” (Loosely Conceived)
Lots of people tell you to make outlines in law school, but few people explain why. There are actually two, essentially unrelated, reasons you need a law school outline.

Good Confusion and Bad Confusion
As one of my favorite law school professors was fond of saying, “There’s good confusion, and there’s bad confusion, and it’s important to know the difference.” One’s useful, one’s problematic, but both are quite normal!

Should You Join a Study Group?
A perennial question: should you join a law school study group? For some people, they’re great. For others, not so much. Get the pros and cons and learn about alternative approaches, if you’re not sure a full-fledged study group is right for you.

Nervous About Exams? Get Advice From a Rock Star Tutor
If you’re starting to get nervous about law school exams, it’s your lucky day! Here’s some fantastic advice about getting ready for law school exams from Lee Burgess, founder of Amicus Tutoring, and co-founder of the Law School Toolbox.

The Problem with Perfectionism
Oh, the irony! You got to law school by being as perfect as possible, but now being a perfectionist might be your downfall.

Find Your People
If you’re going to make it to graduation with your sanity reasonably intact, you need allies. Learn how to recognize “your people,” so you can steer clear of those who aren’t.

“Keep Your Eyes On Your Own Paper” — A Law Student’s Guide To Staying True To YOU
Great guest post from Desiree Moore of Greenhorn Legal about staying true to yourself when everything and everyone around is pushing you in other directions.

7 Reasons You Should Do Pro Bono Work (Even If It’s Sometimes Really Annoying)
In my humble opinion, pro bono work is one of the best ways you can spend your time in law school. Find out why!

4 Tips for Staying Healthy in Law School
We all know law school is time consuming, particularly during exams. But you know what’s extra time consuming? Having to spend the whole day sick in bed! 1L Katy McCoy shares some tips she’s learned about staying healthy and sane in law school.

Dealing with Law School Grades

No one likes getting grades in law school, but they don’t have to make-or-break you.

The First Truth of Law School: You Don’t Control Your Grades
For better or worse, you don’t really control your law school grades. (Whether they control you is another issue!)

The Second Truth of Law School: You Are Not Your Grades
Because most classes are graded on a curve, it’s easy to feel like your law school grades have something to say about you, as a person. They don’t. You are NOT your grades.

Think Everything’s Great Because Your Law School Grades are Good? Wrong.
If you did well, you might think everything is going to be great from here on out. Hopefully that’s true, but I have to share a cautionary tale.

Help! My Law School Grades are Really Bad.
You got your grades. They suck. You’re upset. What now?

Disappointing 1L Grades? Four Common Reasons, and How to Fix Them!
If your 1L grades aren’t all you’d hoped, chances are good you’re making one (or more) of these mistakes. Find out what most under-performing students do wrong, and how to improve matters.

Want Better Law School Grades? Try an Iterative Approach to Learning
Finally, some constructive advice. Start improving your grades by getting to the heart of the matter, one step at a time.

7 Things to Do Over Spring Break for Better Law School Grades
Yes, “relax” is on the list! Don’t worry.

The Bar Exam

Like it or not, if you want to be a lawyer you’ll probably have to suffer through the bar exam! There’s a lot more content on my “other” site, the Bar Exam Toolbox, but check these out, too.

I Failed the Bar Exam! Now What?!?
It happens! Bar tutor extraordinaire Lee Burgess (co-founder of the Bar Exam Toolbox) shares some advice for dealing with this worst-case scenario.

How I Prepared for the Bar Exam
People kept asking how I prepared for the bar exam(s) without taking BARBRI, so I wrote it all down.

Stressed About the Bar Exam? 5 Last-Minute Tips from a Expert Tutor
Lee returns with some great last-minute tips.

A Review of the Smarter Review Bar Review Course
A guest review from my law school roommate, who managed to pass the NY bar on the first try, with (frankly) a minimal amount of studying!

Flipping Out About the Bar Exam? An MBE Expert is Here to Help
Sean Silverman, an MBE expert and tutor, shares his wisdom about how to handle the hardest test you’ll ever take.

Time Management

Time management is the single most critical component of law school survival. You’re going to be busy, there’s no getting around it. But you don’t have to be stressed out, miserable, and overworked.

Your fate is in your hands, and you need a proven strategy for success.

My Three Best Tips for Time Management Awesomeness
Bookmark this page, seriously. Here are the three best strategies I’ve come up with for time management, ever. Get more done, in less time, with less stress. What’s not to like?

Need to Get More Done in Law School?
  1. Try The Circles
  2. Try The Units
  3. Try The Buzzer

Why Multitasking is a Terrible Idea
Maybe you’re thinking all this focus on time management is overkill. No worries! You’ll just multitask and get lots of things done at once. Yeah, that doesn’t work. Read this.

Survive Law School: Stop Procrastinating
Finally, and this one’s a doozie. Stop procrastinating. Believe it or not, it is possible, once you understand the root of the problem.

How to Set (Useful) Goals
Law students tend to be very goal oriented, but how can you ensure your goals will actually be useful? Here are some tips!

Want more survival tips sent directly to you? Sign up for our weekly mailing list now!