In college, coming in prepared on the first day meant having a pen and notebook in hand, and maybe a book or two. In law school, you should instead enter with a solid understanding of your classes, having completed the required reading for the first day of class.
While gaining an overview of all of your 1L classes in the summer before law school is not an official prerequisite, it will give you an enormous advantage from day one. If you have time this month, buy and thoroughly read course-specific study guides, trying to make sense of the challenging new concepts.
You may also want to obtain a pre-1L tutor who can help you more fully understand these sometimes esoteric concepts. I am spending much of the next three weeks getting my students ready by reviewing the toughest concepts, such as res ipsa loquitur, the Rule Against Perpetuities and Supplemental Jurisdiction.
- Focus on finals: Final exams may seem far away, especially during the first few weeks of the semester, but for the most part, your grades are determined solely by your performance on your finals. Thus, make sure to spend each day working toward success on the final exam.
Writing law school exams is completely different from writing essay exams in your undergraduate classes. In undergrad, you could earn an A, in many cases, by just regurgitating information. In law school, you need to apply the information you have learned to intentionally ambiguous situations.
- Make friends: Many students become overwhelmed in the beginning of law school because of the rigorous coursework, high stakes, and seemingly endless reading. But, to maintain your sanity, you must still make an effort to go out and meet both your classmates and others in the broader academic community.
Sometimes, you will need a break from the “law school bubble,” where the workload and competitiveness can overtake you, so branch out every once in a while and make other connections through volunteer projects, university-wide student organizations, intramural sports, and dance classes, for example.
- Remove distractions: As important as it is to take a brief and occasional break from law school, you do not want anything to distract you from your studies regularly.
Try to recognize early on the specific distractions that could derail you, so that you can address them before they impair your studies. For example, consider moving your television from your bedroom to the living room, if possible.