Here are a few lessons I learned this year as a 3L in law school:
- For closed book exams, using law school practice exams was very, very valuable because it improved my ability to think through the issues and identified areas I needed to study more.
- When learning the law, commercial law school outlines were better than free law school outlines online because they were more reliable and accurate.
- For take-home exams, using free law school outlines that I downloaded from the internet were better than commercial law school outlines because I could do a text search using Google Desktop Search or similar software to find key concepts, sections of code, or related issues to ensure I was not missing something.
- Sufficient sleep and a break right before a final exam is better than cramming because if my mind is tired, I will be more confused and slower on the exam.
- For the highest paying legal jobs, grades are the most important factor, especially first-year grades. So a focus on grades is important. But students should not despair if they do not have top grades, because they still have many very good job options.
Here are a few more reflective observations regarding lessons I learned as a law student this year:
- Each year at law school is difficult, but in different ways from previous years. The first year, law school is hard because everything is new. The second year, law school is hard because we have classes, job interviews, and school competitions. The third year is difficult because we are becoming bored with school and excited about graduating, working on job hunting or preparing for the profession, trying to rekindle relationships that were suppressed the first two years of law school, ensuring we have met all the graduation requirements, and preparing for the bar exam.
- Law school creates a unique camaraderie in friendships. The bonds of many friendships are closer simply because we have experienced the same pain (such as finals) and survived together.
- 1L jokes are no longer funny. 1Ls find it funny when they use legal terms for unrelated life events. 3Ls think those jokes are immature, because we used them way back when we were 1Ls.
- Best part of law school: relationships and learning. The best part of law school was the friends I made there, the feeling that I did the best I could, and the realization that I learned a lot. I learned more than law. I learned about society, survival under pressure, decision-making, research, writing, public speaking, and business.
- The worst part of law school: stress and diminished non-school relationships The worst part of law school was first, having less time for important relationships in my life, and second, the pressure and stress being prepared for class and finals. I also feel bad I didn’t have the
- Some professors are surprisingly good, others are surprisingly bad. I am amazed at the great difference between the quality of professors. Some are entertaining, positive, humble, kind, and intellectually challenging all at the same time. Others are the opposite. I wish there was a way for the school to know who the bad professors are and remove them even when they are tenured.
- Nerds are cool. It may be hyperbole to say nerds are cool in law school, but the point is that those students who study hard are successful, while those who don’t take law school seriously have grades that reflect that, followed by difficulty applying for many good jobs.
- I know less about the area of law that I want to practice now than when I started law school. Now that I know more about the areas of law, and learned about the numerous areas within them, the increase in options makes deciding which area I want to practice in even more difficult.
- Success in law school requires learning about more than law. Law school is like a new job: it requires a lot of learning beyond the subject-matter to be successful. I wish there was more free advice for law students on the internet that was organized so they can quickly find what they need. After I graduate, I would like a way to turn this blog over to all students to help each other and compile their advice. Maybe a wiki or discussion board would be the answer.