Law school is well-known for the grueling schedule it imposes on its students. From the hundreds of pages per week in reading to the endless pressure of preparing outlines, the first year of law school can feel like being hit with a ton of bricks.
However, creating and maintaining a 1L study schedule can help students stay on top of the massive amount of work. A schedule to manage your time is not only crucial to success as a law student, but also to continued success as a lawyer.
Keeping Up With Reading
Staying on top of each class's syllabus is key to law school success. Almost every instructor breaks down their semester with a detailed syllabus that directs students to which cases to read and brief for each day of class. And while it's possible to succeed without briefing a single case, the majority of successful law students carve out specific times each day to keep up with their assigned reading.
Setting aside two hours for each hour a class meets should provide most students with more than enough time to read and brief the assigned cases.
For example, if your criminal law class meets three times a week for an hour each class, then set aside six hours throughout the week to focus just those readings. Don't worry - you don't need to read criminal law cases for six hours straight. Scatter your reading in one- or two-hour blocks throughout the week.
It also helps to think about when you are at your most productive. Are you a morning person? A night owl? Create a schedule based on when you are at your most alert and able to absorb the material you're studying.
Outline As You Go
With the abundance of reading that 1Ls face, the extra task of outlining for each class can sound daunting. In fact, piecing together class outlines are usually the last thing 1Ls want to do after finally putting that casebook down. However, outlines are by far the most essential element of a 1L study schedule.
Dedicating one hour a week per class to outlining can save you stress in the long run.
Many people wait to start their outlines until the last few weeks of the semester. However, taking time each week to consolidate and streamline your notes can help you remember important information without having to cram - and identify any sticking points where you need clarification.
Don't Forget Practice Essays
Practice exams help you learn and internalize the law. By reading fact patterns on practice exams, you become accustomed to issue spotting, highlighting important facts, and noticing trends in the professor's tests.
You can even learn a lot by simply "failing" a practice essay and learning from your mistakes.
Scheduling practice essays for an hour a week for each class will help you understand the law to a greater degree than solely reading your case book. At the very least, it will teach how to properly take a law school exam.
Make Time for Yourself, Too
Law school definitely takes a toll on your mind and body. Remembering to allow time to eat and sleep into your schedule is necessary to keep your brain and body nourished so that you can continue to push through this undeniably difficult journey. Exercise can help get your system fired up before your grueling day starts and is also a known stress reliever. Spending time with family, friends, and pets relieves stress and gives your brain a break from the legalese.
Staying on Track
Success in law school requires dedication, endurance, and perseverance. By creating a 1L study schedule and sticking to it, you can set yourself up for continued success during your first year and beyond. The image below is a good example of how a 1L might divide their study time (and includes breaks!) You can also take advantage of technology to help you stay on top of your coursework. Learn more about what to expect from law school and the bar exam through FindLaw for law students.