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The 5 Biggest Myths About Law School Success

October 9, 2017

If you're getting ready for law school check this out: we put together a free e-book called the “Ultimate Pre-Law Checklist.” Just click the link below to download it. It's some of our best tips and strategies for getting ahead before you start law school, and it will put you miles ahead of your classmates, just click here.   

With law school starting back up, I thought it would be a good time to talk about the five biggest myths about law school success, and how you can do better by working less.

 

But first, let's define what is law school success.

 For the most part, law school success is getting good grades to enable you to get the job that you want when you graduate from law school. Law school is a means to an end, and generally, as a professional school, is a means to the job that you want to work as a career generally for the rest of your life. And for most people, that means working as a lawyer in the circumstances that they want. But it would be a pyrrhic victory to go through law school only to lose more than you gain.

 

For example, if you had a heart attack from all the stress that you were under, or lost your health because of all the bad habits that you gained in law school. So I want to talk about some of the most pernicious myths about law school success.

 

And the first one that most people think of when they think of law school is that people work all the time.

 Now, certainly, law school is going to take a lot of work, but no one can work all the time. No one can do all-nighter, after all-nighter, after all-nighter. There has to be time for hobbies.

 

One person once asked me if they would have time for their hobbies in law school. And my response was that not only is it possible to keep your hobbies in law school, but I think it's essential. Law school is like a gas that expands to fill the space around it. Law school will take up all of the time that you allow it take up. And of course a lot of that is necessary, don't get me wrong. But everyone has to have a life outside of law school. Everybody has to have hobbies and things they do on the side.

 So what I recommend is paying yourself first. If your health is important to you, work out in the morning, and let law school fill the available time after that. If learning to play the piano is important to you, carve out an hour of the day to learn piano before you do all of your law school work. And on top of that, when you focus on the high value work, you'll have a reasonable amount of time left over for other things. Those people that focus on the busy work, the case briefing, for example, they might not have all that much extra time, because they're doing things that aren't going to help them in the final exam. But if you focus on the high value work, like synthesizing the law into your outline, doing practice exams, learning the strategies for testing taking, you'll have a lot of time left over. Focus on what's most important and don't work all the time.

 

That brings me to the second myth about law school success, which is that the smartest people will always get the best grades.

What's funny is that it's clear when law school starts that some people are extraordinarily smart, and some people are smarter than others. But the funny thing is that those smartest people are rarely the people that get the top grades.

 

Just because you're smart in an abstract sense, in an IQ sense, it doesn't mean that you're going to focus on the most important things. And so many people focus on studying the law alone, without focusing on how to take law school exams, which is an equally important part. In fact, we did an entire video on the two keys to success. One is learning law itself, and the other is mastering the test. And if you do one at the exclusion of the other, you're probably not gonna do as well. So just because you are smart in the sense that you can memorize things faster or have a high IQ does not guarantee success in law school.

 

The third myth is along the same lines, and it's that everything in law school is about hard work. The hardest workers will be the most successful.

 Just as with the myth about the smartest people in law school, just because you work hard, it doesn't mean that you're doing work that's important. There's so much bad advice about law school, advice that will cause people to do far more busy work than is necessary. There are law school who in their orientation packets, tell people that they should case brief every case in law school, and that is just a huge waste of time. But because the law school is the one that's saying this information, it would be reasonable for someone to think that they should do this work, and that if they're doing a huge amount of work and killing themselves doing case brief night, after night, after night that they're getting ahead when really they're just running in circles. So just because you're doing hard work doesn't mean you're doing the work that's going to result in a successful law school career.

 

Oh, and by the way, feedback is the one thing that has been scientifically proven to increase your grades in law school. We did a whole video on that. Check it out in the link below. Hard work alone does not equal success.

The finally myth about law school success is that grades are enough. Now certainly, grades are important, and they are probably the most important thing that you should focus on in law school, but don't fool yourself to think that grades alone are enough to get the job that you want. The legal field is still a field that relies on networks. It relies on who you know. So, regardless of what job you want when you graduate, don't overlook the human element. Make friends with your professors. Go into office hours, make friends with other attorneys in the field, other administrators in your law school, because these are the people that are going to be able to, for example, write letters of recommendations. These are the people that might introduce you to other lawyers who you might want to work for. They might have connections to big firms.

They might have connections to judges who you might want to clerk for. The human element cannot be overstates, and many law schools have the on-campus interview process, and that's great, but not everybody gets a job through OCI. You shouldn't put all of your eggs in one basket, and you should still try and network even during your one-L year. It is much better to go to a professor whose office hours you went to many times, and to whom you've demonstrated a real understanding of the law and passion for the legal field to ask that professor for a letter of recommendation after the semester is over.

 

Remember, you're gonna have to apply for one-L summer jobs probably at the end of your first semester, even before grades come out. And the only thing, at most, you'll have are your one-L grades. So you wanna be able to talk to professors for letters of recommendation. You wanna be able to talk to other lawyers to perhaps have an internship, or clerkship, or summer associateship. Don't overlook the fact that you still have to network, and that grades are seldom enough to get your dream legal job. So, don't assume that your grades are going to be enough. Maybe you're not gonna get the high grades that you think you should be entitled to. You may have to fall back on that human element. And regardless, it's always better to backstop grades with a personal network that you developed well in law school to make sure that you can attain the perfect legal job when you graduate.

If you're getting ready for law school check this out: we put together a free e-book called the “Ultimate Pre-Law Checklist.” Just click the link below to download it. It's some of our best tips and strategies for getting ahead before you start law school, and it will put you miles ahead of your classmates, just click here.   

 

Watch the Full Video here:

 

 

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