Surviving Law School 101

By Jonathan Jekel: Associate Editor

In the first year of law school, many students verge on insanity. For the first time in your educational career, some of you will get C’s or worse. Read the list below. It might just save your life.

1. Submit to the IRAC

You will spend the next three years learning the IRAC. Every essay and exam will depend on your ability to make your point as clear and concise as possible. The thing is, attorneys are busy people, and judges see the same motions hundreds of times. IRAC will make your life ten times better, and the sooner you embrace it, the better. The less time your readers spend trying to understand you, the more time they have to consider your argument. Assume that your reader knows nothing about your case. Although creatively deviating from IRAC will eventually help you in practice, 1L writing teachers do not appreciate it.

2. Sleep on Your Reading

In a 2010 study* at Harvard University, 99 students spent one hour learning how to solve a three-dimensional puzzle. Half of the students took a 90-minute nap, while the others relaxed. The only students whose performance improved afterwards were those who had taken a nap. Read your material with time to sleep on it. Dream about civil procedure. You may find your memories easier to navigate during exams.

3. Network

For many people, networkingis a challenge. Take advantage of the events put on by clubs and career services. Find a subject that excites you, and meet professors that have mastered that discourse. There’s nothing like a good conversation over coffee, and it never hurts to pick up the lingo.

4. Outline

LexisNexis has outlines for all of your first year classes. Take a look at them throughout the semester to understand how they organized the concepts. Do not use a commercial outline for your exams. Typing and organizing your thoughts will help you access them during exams. Law school exams take most students a full three hours. A tight, well-organized outline will help your essays read that way on paper.

5. Get Your Money’s Worth

Part of your tuition pays for student services, career services, and academic advising. These people are experts in optimizing your law school experience. Send every resume and cover letter to career services. Bring any concerns to student services. Join or create organizations that suit your interests. If you are really cool, you can even write for Motions.

6. Use Academic Resources

Do not wait until finals week to use the resources on TWEN and CALI, which provide ample benefit for students looking for outlines and exam preparation material. If you struggle through CALI lessons, you will find those concepts easy to explain in class. I am sure you aresmart. Over your whole life, you may received good grades without even studying. That just won’t cut it here.

7. Make Compromises for the Sake of Your Budget

Ride a bicycle, rather than a car. Cook at home, rather than eating out. Block access to Gilt, Hautelook, and Ruelala. Unless Mom and Dad have deep pockets, you will run out of money at some point. Don’t let finances kill your exams. I have been there before – one omakase too many. Remember, everything you borrow, you have to pay back, with interest.

8. Enjoy San Diego

San Diego is an amazing city. Get fish tacos at South Beach Bar & Grill. Join a softball team. Learn to paddleboard in La Jolla. Hobbies will help keep you sane, and they will make you someone that people actually want to talk to. Some of you came to law school to be millionaires. Some yearn for intellectual fulfillment. Regardless of your motivation, find a way to turn USD off so you don’t feel overwhelmed.



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