Getting into 2nd Year Law
source // giphy
Law School is like cooking for the first time. You have no idea what you’re doing, and it’s a bit of a mess. Added to that is the pressure to make it into 2nd year law. But like cooking, you get better at it with time. With time, I’ve learned that these six things will help get you over the line and into 2nd year.
1. Make 1 page summaries every week
My torts lecturer once said a good lawyer can explain their case in 1 sentence. I say a good law student can explain their lectures on 1 page. A 1 page summary forces you to do 3 things:
a) reread your notes over the week;
b) think about the important details; and
c) rewrite your notes in a simplified form.
You want to do this early on because it aids memory recall - useful for a content heavy law paper.
2. Use Colour. Lots and lots of colour
When you make a 1 page summary, use colour – it’s easier to find key words and distinguish between different topics. It’s also easier on the eye and a colourful way of immersing your bedroom with law notes.
Similarly, for all of your notes, course materials and your ‘cheat sheet’, having the same colour code system makes it easier to find things in an open book exam. I like to highlight all the cases a judge mentions in orange, the ratio of a case in blue and noteworthy obiter statements in green.
3. Keep a balance
Burning out from studying too much and cramming as a result of studying too little are two things to avoid. In both instances, you can only study for so long before you start hitting diminishing returns and your brain begins to sizzle.
3 years of law school has taught me that a 10-minute break every hour is a good rule of thumb to stick to.
4. Test yourself: can I explain this to a friend.
If you can explain why positivism is at odds with naturalism to a friend, then you can do it in an exam. This works for two reasons: you must know the content in order to explain it and you have to explain it so that it makes sense. Two important skills in any law exam.
5. Befriend a ruthless proof-reader
You will need this for the next 4 years of law school. What you want is someone who will overturn your essay if it’s awful, rather than calling it a ‘scholarly and erudite review’. Here’s a suggestion: print your assignment out, and read it aloud. The best way of avoiding being ½ mark off an A is to follow what I have just mentioned.
6. Befriend a senior law student.
This is important. A friend who understands the struggle, and who is also able to give you assessment advice is something money can’t buy. Taking the initiative when the opportunity arises and being genuine would be my two cents when it comes to befriending a senior law student.
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