How to Get to Know Your Professors in Law School

get to know professorToday, we welcome Shirlene Armstrong, guest writer and first-year law student, to share some suggestions for developing a relationship with your professors.

You get your class schedule that contains a list of people who will be responsible for teaching you the law. However, you know nothing about them, and they know nothing about you. So how can you turn this stranger into a valuable resource? If you build a relationship with your professor, you can gain more than just an end-of-the-semester grade bump, you can earn a letter of recommendation and mentor.

Google

One of the easiest ways to get to know your professors is to google them. This will provide you with a variety of public information about your professor. This simple search will let you know whether your professor is an author, if they have ever been on TV, and their work experience. This search will probably also lead you to their faculty profile at the law school.

Googling your professor provides the first step to knowing their history and background so that you will be able to better connect with them. If your professor was formerly (or currently) in practice, you can also use Lexis or Westlaw to search cases he or she has worked on.

Upperclassmen

In case you do not know already, upperclassmen are excellent resources. Not only have they been in your shoes before, some of them have had your professors. This means that they have useful information on your professor’s likes and dislikes, which will be very helpful when it comes to exams!

Essentially, upperclassmen have already taken the exam you will be taking at the end of the semester. Maybe your professor likes you to touch on every aspect of the course, or perhaps they only want to answer the question asked (believe me, different professors like different things, and it is important know what they actually want on exams).

Office Hours

Professors love when students visit them. Many students are nervous about going to see professors during office hours. However, professors actually want students to come ask them questions. Going to see professors during office hours helps you in two major ways: 1) you can talk to the professor to get to know them as a person, and 2) you can ask follow-up questions about concepts you did not fully grasp in class.

Essentially, this is a win-win for you: you gain a relationship and a better understanding of the class. Before you go to office hours, you should prepare yourself with actual questions and discussion points. Also, if you go often enough, you may even get on first-name basis with them (at least privately!)

Email

Did you know that professors have an email for a reason?? Emailing your professor is another great way to get to know your professor. In this modern technology era, quick communication can happen in an instant via email (especially seeing everyone has a cellphone nowadays). This is a great benefit to law students, especially when you aren’t understanding the class or are confused on a concept.

However, you want to make sure your email is professional and respectful. Please note that the professor will probably give you a short answer and also invite you to come to their office hours.

Class Participation

So, this is more a way for professors to get to know you, but participating in class also benefits you. Class participation is crucial for success in law school. Not only if you greatly contribute to class discussion will your professor get to know you, but you also may get a grade bump at the end of the semester. Also, by participating more you are able to think critically about the course which will help you on the exam!

Getting to Know Professors is Easy!

Law students forget that professors are (actually) human. They were once struggling law students just like you! They had to study hard, pass the bar, and make names for themselves. Law professors know law student struggles more than anyone else. That being said, they are the best people to talk to about advice and guidance in the law profession.

While you may not want to talk to every single professor about their experience in law school and their careers, if you have a good connection with a few professors then you have found yourself a professional mentor for life. So, don’t be afraid to talk to your professors and get to know them!


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About Shirlene Armstrong

Shirlene Armstrong is a first-generation student in her last year at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan. At Wayne, Shirlene has been involved with numerous organizations and clubs, including mock trial, LexisNexis, the Women's Law Caucus, and the Journal of Law and Society. Shirlene enjoys mentoring others and sharing what she has learned on her legal journey and continues to work hard in accomplishing her dreams.

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