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Study Habits in Law School

3L, University of Dayton School of Law

When I first went into law school, I had very little experience studying. I didn’t study in high school and luckily, I only had to study for a few classes in undergrad. Studying for a substantive law class was completely out of my element and I struggled a lot my first semester to figure out what my study style was. I tried using one method for all of my classes. I handwrote notes, re-read them, and eventually outlined the material. Eventually, I started using notecards and typing notes but ended up getting distracted. My first year of law school, I did alright. I still know the basic concepts we were supposed to learn and have been able to apply those concepts to new classes.

This semester, I have a whole new study strategy. In most classes, I handwrite my notes both before and after class. I take notes on my reading and have color coded my notes. I set up a timeline for all my big projects and exams so I know when they are coming up and what needs to be done. Finally, I’ve started leaving myself reminders in my planner and phone to participate in class and take good notes. There is so much more information to absorb if you are actually engaged in class so making sure I remember to participate has been helpful for me.

It’s difficult to figure out how to study when you first start law school. It’s completely different than any undergrad class and the material can be very difficult to grasp. The way I study is not how my friends study but it still works. I’ve seen results in changing my study habits and methods. I’m more focused and have an easier time grasping concepts or asking for help when I don’t understand something. There is no one right way to study but once you find what works, it will make law school so much easier. 


Keep things in prospective. Remember why you came to law school in the first place. It wasn't necessarily to get straight A's. For most of us, a law school exam in like nothing that we have ever taken before. The materials are challenging, the structure is different, and studying habits are different. Additionally, exams are often graded in strange and mysterious ways. Speaking with the professor is a great way to gain understanding and insight into the materials, and helpful in building valuable connections, even after the exam. What is more important, the grade or the knowledge? While grades are the currency that law students trade in, they are not the end all be all of a legal education. Best of luck.


I'm in my 2L year and am still figuring out the best way to study for me; it takes time and I'm always learning new tricks. I think the best advice is just to be patient and not feel pressured by how other people study. Figure out your own way and go with it.


I have to agree. There is absolutely not a single right way to study. The big question when I started law school was whether people would be solo-studiers or group-studiers. In undergraduate I usually liked to study by myself and learned by repetition. However, in my first semester I really studied with a group of people, and we all did decent. Since my 1L year, I have steadily become a more solo type of studier and just do review problems with my group. I have seen my grades become better since I started my solo-studying. I honestly believe it is class dependent, some classes I like being in a group, and some I like to study for by myself.


I think one of the main reasons law school is so difficult is because of the study habits. Not only must most change their study habits but most also have very different ways of studying in Law School. I study unlike any of my friends but we all do well. It is important that students change their habits from undergrad but also don't feel like they have to study a certain way.


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