It is my personal opinion that going through law school is impossible without our baby lawyer companions by our side. I find nothing more daunting than the prospect of tackling a convoluted administrative law problem question or determining what on earth jurisdictional error is without talking it through with a friend.
That's why study groups are the up there on my list of law school loves, along with chai, blankets and kebabs. Not only do study groups give you a great way of realising that you're not alone in the battle of our law degrees, they also keep you motivated, less stressed and most importantly, inject a little fun into our long, sleep deprived days.
I've come to realise there are a couple of things that can make or break study groups, which I will now call "The 5 Commandments of Study Groups".
1. Start Early
Plan a study group, and get started as soon as possible.
Once you have your law homies recruited you need to make sure that you’re all on the same page. Setting out a list of expectations, deadlines and meeting dates at the outset will help everyone to manage their time, show up to study group sessions and avoid unnecessary conflict during the stressful times of semester.
Things to include:
How often you would like to meet? Weekly, fortnightly, the week before each assessment.
Where? If one of your members lives in woop woop, it's good to figure out a communally convenient place to meet.
Expectations for each session: Study groups are most effective if everyone has come prepared, so make sure you all commit to this.
3. Don't make it too big
If you are a social butterfly, I envy you, but be careful when it comes to study groups. Sometimes too many people can lead to ineffective study sessions. Keep your study group to a manageable size so you can get different perspectives but also move through a problem question/topic in one session.
4. Plan each study session
The worst thing in a study session is not finding a quiet, place to study and not knowing exactly what you want to achieve in each meeting. It's a great idea to put someone in charge of booking a study room/ providing their living room for each study session so disruptions are kept to a minimum and you are not walking around uni for 45 minutes trying to find a spot.
More importantly, decide what you want to achieve in a study session before the session. It can be as simple as "Let’s do problem questions two and three" or " Let’s go through topic X." If everyone has a chance to prepare, your study group session will be more effective.
5. Don't make a study session too long and take breaks!
We law students are ambitious - to the point where we hope to achieve the impossible in one day when exams loom over our heads. This is not the healthiest thing to do in a study group.
I find that anything longer than a two-hour session starts to decrease the quality of the study. If you need a long session, plan lunch/dinner breaks in the middle so you can socialise and clear your heads and then start to tackle another problem. I find that watching two episodes of Friends as a group is an effective way to wind down, dream of New York and keep your breaks to 44 minutes.
Most importantly, study groups are like having a tutorial, except you can eat, wear your PJs, and shout profanities at double negatives without your tutor judging you. Make sure that you have fun as well: keep it light-hearted yet effective and as semester goes along you will not only be motivated for your subjects, but build great friendships with the people who understand exactly what you're going through!
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