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7 tips for surviving law school (from current law students)

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This month, several thousand students will enter law school in hopes of becoming a lawyer one day. Some students will make it to the end and achieve that dream. Others won’t even make it through the first year.

No need to sugarcoat it. Law school is hard. It’s demanding, competitive and stressful. For three years, you will immerse yourself in text books and law classes and legal internships, hoping and praying that, when it’s over, you will have absorbed enough to graduate and pass the bar exam.

It’s a long road, but it’s also a journey well-traveled. In an effort to put incoming students on the path to success, we asked several third-year law school students interning at the Texas law firm of Varghese Summersett for advice. Here’s their seven tips for surviving law school.

 

Sanity

1. Maintain your sanity.

“Schedule do-nothing time. See family and friends. Hang out with non-law school people. Turn off electronics. Cook. Sleep. Breathe. Exercise. Find a hobby. If you have a significant other, have them help keep you accountable and find a relaxing hobby to do together.”

—Bat-Sheva Tabakman, Texas A&M University School of Law

 

Long Lectures

2. Stay focused in LONG lectures.

“To stay attentive, treat lectures as an informal quiz/test. Use the lectures to gauge how well you know the material and what points you missed or didn’t quite understand from the reading. I take notes on my computer if it is allowed.  If you have trouble staying off social media when you’re using your computer, turn off wifi on your computer. ”

—Alyse N. Cicio, SMU Dedman School of Law

 

Procrastination

3. Don’t procrastinate.

“The best way to avoid procrastination is to write down a deadline for yourself earlier than what the teacher provided. It can be hard sometimes when you think you have time, or you just don’t feel like doing something. Taking the time to do it in advance will save you so much time later.  The euphoria of not worrying about reading or case briefing for class because you already did it is unparalleled. It feels great.”

— Enrica Martey, Texas A&M University School of Law

 

Upper Hand

4. Finals are hard; give yourself the upper hand.

“I now know the hardest part of law school was managing time efficiently. Law school is more than attending classes. It involves many activities out of class including reading, case briefing, outlining your class notes, completing writing assignments, joining societies, building your resume, developing cover letters, applying for internships, as well as studying.”

—Alyse N. Cicio, SMU Dedman School of Law

EvilKermit

5. Get way, WAY ahead.

“One tip I would give to any law student is to start reading for class the week before it starts. This is helpful because you’re already ahead of the game, and you can continue your non-procrastination streak in preparing for class throughout the semester. If you take away nothing, please take away this: try to stay a class or two ahead. It tremendously reduces the stress that comes with being in law school.”

— Enrica Martey, Texas A&M University School of Law

 

Book

6. Step away from the textbooks.

“I always felt more productive when I was able to spend time away from my books and come back with a clear mind after doing something I enjoy.”

— Alex Oestreich, Baylor Law School

 

happy sleepy

7. Get some sleep.

“Sleep is incredibly important, especially for students coming straight out of undergrad. The effort and time needed for earning a JD is entirely different from the effort and time needed for a bachelor’s degree.  Overall, it’s a lot more difficult to simply “get by,” so getting over undergrad habits is vital.”

—Jake Wiggins, Texas A&M University Law School

Every law student experiences similar hardships, and it is important remember you are not alone. Don’t allow all the stress to cloud the memory of your excitement when you got that acceptance letter. Surviving law school will be the most rewarding challenge.

 

survivor

Margaret Foley Margaret Foley graduated from Texas Christian University this summer with a communications degree. She is currently interning at the law firm of Varghese Summersett, but has already landed a full-time marketing position at an insurance company, which begins in August.