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Law School: Unsolicited Advice

If you are currently in law school or have graduated law school - skip this post. I read all the posts from the anxious pre 1L in law_students  about what to do to prepare for law school. I was going to do this post at the end of 1L, but I'm going to do it now.

There is nothing you can do to prepare for law school. 

However, you will disbelieve me and think that reading books will help prepare you. It won't. You have to survive first semester.

1) Read the Facebook group, "I've Thought About Dropping Out of Law School Ten Times a Day". I guarantee you will have days, weeks and months where this thought occurs to you when you sit in the law library with your case books in front of you. Join Facebook because you will be friending everybody in your section. Facebook and MSN are the keys to socialize with your classmates.

2) Outline your notes as you go. At the U of A, it's called CANning (Condensed Annotated Notes) and the Law Students Association provide CANS from the top students from last year. Buy every single CAN of your professors because most teachers don't deviate from them. During Fall Term break and Reading Week/Spring Break - get caught up in outlining your notes. The December and the April version of you will thank your hard work. I CANned half of my notes during the Fall Term break and it cut my work in half in December. However, I should have CANned as I went along.

3) Buy the recommended books and read them in the beginning. If you decide they aren't worth it, you can always return them. However, some of books have been my saviours.

4) Don't worry about bad grades, it's how you do relative to other classmates. You will feel crappy about your grades. It's okay, I promise.

5) Do not fall behind your readings ever. This is not undergrad where you can caught up in hundreds of pages. 

6) You will have annoying classmates in your section. Don't be one of them. That means don't put your hand up excessively to interject your own opinion. Your classmates are paying to hear the professor's not your's - unless the professor asks a non-rhetorical question. Don't ask questions that take ten minutes to ask. Don't annoy your classmates by trying to suss out their progess on their memo, factum and their grades.

University of Alberta specific

1) Buy the Hogg book for Constitutional Law. Magnet is unreadable with Supreme Court judgments and their excess verbiage will make you feel illiterate. Don't waste your time reading the Magnet book. If you don't believe me, buy Volume 1 for first semester and I will guarantee you won't buy Volume 2.  Buy the McCamus book for Contracts - very readable.

2) I really like McInnes for contracts with his sarcastic wit on the real world. Klar is quite funny in Torts. Litman can be funny, and don't be scared of him calling on you. He lets up in second semester. Gall is a teacher that will tell random stories. If you have him for Foundations - read the book and regurgitate what he says on the test. Don't rely too much on the practice exam. It's a big fat red herring. Sturm tries too hard to be cool and he takes too long to mark things. Check out ratings for rateyourprofessors.com

3) Join Student Legal Services because everyone else is doing it for their resumes. If you want trials and more court experience - join the Crim division. If you want to answer random questions so that you have SLStories - join Civil. Go to the key events such Law Show because everyone goes to it and talks about it. Volunteer and/or perform in Law Show. I noticed the people that particpated in Law Show this year have experienced a tighter bond in my section. I have Facebook Envy because they went to Koutouki's (Greek restaurant) together. Go to the Pre-Orientation Party because it's a nice bonding experience and everyone wants to make a good impression. Go to more things in the beginning of the year because it's the only time you will have time to socialize with your classmates.

The summer before law school:

1) Don't read about law, because you have your whole life to read about law. If you must read, read Managing the Law with Mitchell McInnes. It was my undergrad textbook for Business Law classes and it gives the basics of law.

2) If you have the means, travel.

3) Overall, just enjoy being yourself.  Sleep in, watch TV and read for pleasure. 


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 25th, 2007 11:46 pm (UTC)
I think this could be good for all kinds of universities, not just law school. I hope that I can just be a complete bum the summer before I start college.
Jan. 26th, 2007 03:46 am (UTC)
Yeah, I agree - but my undergrad strategy was read one week ahead, make notes from the book, memorize the powerpoint slides, go to the textbook website because teachers use questions from the same test bank, get your hands on old exams and attend every single class.
Jul. 31st, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC)
So you're saying, outline notes from classes ASAP? to save yourself time?
Jul. 31st, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, summarize your notes as you go instead of trying to do all of it in one fell swoop. However, my advice may not work for you. Everyone deals with law school differently.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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