Law school is not for the faint of heart. There are hundreds of tasks to complete throughout a semester, from reading and briefing cases to writing memos; all the while you’re trying to keep yourself afloat.
As far as I know, no one in my class (including the few paralegals) feel this experience is easy. In fact, everyone struggles at some point. Everyone.
As I’m battling my way through this semester, and learning to deal with my own academic inadequacies, I felt this post was necessary. Many of my classmates have asked my opinion regarding the organization skills. As a former teacher, I can say – with confidence – that organization is critical to success.
As a law student, organization plays an immense role in my daily routine. You should know, especially when considering attending law school, that you have to set a schedule and daily goals because learning to deal with law school [and all the expectations that come with the job] is akin to holding your breath under water while someone continually adds weights to your ankles. Trust me.
In order to avoid that drowning sensation, here are 5 tips that will serve you well through your 1L experience and beyond.
- Use a Calendar!
- My calendar preference is Google, but your options are certainly not limited. As a backup to my digital calendar, I also have a softcover Moleskin Calendar, which I love because it breaks my day up by hours. I carry it with me and cross off my daily tasks, but also have the Google Calendar to send me reminders about due dates and important assignments that need attention.
- Schedule Time OFF.
- I have one evening off every week. You need to schedule time off where you do absolutely nothing related to law school. You will thank me for this tip. Make time for your significant other, your sibling, your bestie, your mom, or even yourself. I reserve my evening off at the end of my week because trying to have a day off in the middle of lectures is simply not realistic.
- I also make time for my family by setting up a weekly brunch. Law school keeps me busy! Which means I don’t have nearly as much time to spend time with my mom. I can easily send her a repeating calendar invite and message her when I might not be able to make it. It’s important to let your support system know that you care – don’t forget this!
- Plan your meals.
- We’re in law school. Tuition and related expenses can be costly, so you’ll need to get smart when it comes to managing your finances.
- I found that buying coffee every morning, and eating out for lunch, is not ideal. Since I have such a passion for whipping up tasty treats, I’ve made it a point to pack my lunch most days. This means I get to relieve stress by coming home and making something delicious, while also relieving strain on my budget. Sure I have to make the meal, but it is worth the effort!
- Outline Weekly.
- Set aside time in your schedule either at the end of class or on Friday to hammer out your outlines. Feel free to use a canned outline as your backbone, and then add your own notes and information. Start this sooner, rather than later, or you’ll feel even more of a crunch while prepping for exams.
- Make sure to use COLORS! Studies show that size differences and font changes within notes help you remember the information better. Use every tool in your toolbox to learn and retain the material, friend!
- See Your Professors Twice a Month.
- At Least! You need to make sure that your professors know who you are. Nothing feels worse than raising your hand, and not getting noticed or called on. I know that may seem dumb, but as a former teacher, I can tell you that some professors have a problem “seeing” you if they don’t know you. Make sure you sit and meet with them, not just to clear up your misunderstandings about content, but so they know you have a grasp of the material and will not likely lead their lecture off course.
You’ve got all the tools you need to be an amazing student, but you’ll be standing in your own way if you don’t put in the effort. Work Hard – Be Awesome.