As a new law student, you will get tons of tips about how to be successful in law school. Ultimately, only you will know what works best for you, but you just might find that someone else’s take on things will help move you in a positive direction. We spoke to a former part-time law student about how he managed to get through school. Here’s his advice on what made him successful in part-time law school!
From Hieu Le, Part Time JD Law Graduate:
Here’s an acronym I made up myself and relied on throughout my law school career. When things got tough, I remembered to BREATHE!
You’ve made it to law school. The journey to get here may have been a long one with many pit stops—kids, work, family obligations—along the way. Be proud and remember that you did it your way. Along with your new title of “law student” will come the temptation to “fit in” to your new community. You will be tempted to change everything from the way you take notes in class to the way you study for exams. DON’T! Sure, law school is a different beast from undergrad and other graduate programs in that the reading is abundant and dense, but YOU’RE not different. You’re the same person! Be yourself! Whatever you did to get to this point obviously worked for you, so… keep it up!
Rest and Relax
You’re going to be reading A LOT. It’s not uncommon to have 3-4 hours of reading to do each day. Take quick breaks in between to give your eyes and your brain a rest. Your brain is one big muscle. Like with the rest of our muscles, it needs a period to rest. Any avid exerciser will tell you that it is during rest periods that your muscles stretch and grow. If you want to retain everything you’ve just read and be sharp for class, just in case you get cold-called—be sure to give your brain a rest!
Your new schedule and responsibilities will be time-consuming and hectic. Keep up your workout regimen the best you can. Continue to run, do yoga, lift weights, whatever you were doing before law school to be physically fit. If you’re not a fan of traditional exercise find some physical activity to exert energy and get the endorphins flowing. Law school is stressful, and you will need some sort of physical exercise to remain healthy, both physically and mentally.
Arrange a Meeting with your Professor
What better way to get the inside skinny on how your professor’s mind works.This will all bode well for you during your final! Although they will not share exact details of the exam, they will offer you extra assistance on concepts that you simply do not understand. Your professors want you to understand the material and are more than willing to help those who want to help themselves!
Schedule everything! The biggest mistake I’ve seen and have made myself is underestimating how much time it takes to get everything done. In order to have time for it all, you must become a scheduler. For instance, I found it most efficient to schedule blocks of studying time on the weekends. In those blocks of time, I would not just write “study”. Instead, I scheduled precisely what class I was studying for and what component of the class I would be working on for the day. So, if I needed to outline for Crim Law, then my schedule would read something like, “Saturday (1-5) Outline for Crim Law - Chapters 10-14.” This method proved to be golden - try it out!
Help your fellow classmates because the day may come when you need help, too. Sometimes kids are sick or other obligations arise when you have an assignment due. When a classmate misses class, offer your notes. It doesn’t take anything away from you to be kind. Sure, there’s some grade competition, but there’s also a thing called character. Lean on others and allow others to lean on you. It’s a tough journey, but one that’s easier to take when you have friends.
You will hear it said a multitude of times and it will be true each time—law school is a marathon, not a sprint. Endurance is key. You’ve made a commitment for the next few years of your life, so pace yourself. As with any marathon, some parts of the race are harder than others. Law school is the same way. When fatigue sets in, and trust me, it will, dig your heels in and keep going. Rely on your desire, determination and grit to finish, but you can and will finish.
Don’t give up and remember to BREATHE!