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Today we're gonna talk about the 6 biggest time wasters in law school and how to avoid them for better grades.
Time waster #1: Case briefs
This is the one that most students lose the most amount of time on, and these things are huge wastes of time. These are the multi colored bastards that will suck up all of your time in your first semester in law school.
You're summarizing all of the cases that your law professors provides to you. All because you might've seen it on TV or on Legally Blonde.
We have another blog post devoted to why case briefs are a bad idea. But the bottom line is that you just can't use the information that you're summarizing out of your law school cases on your final exam. Don't waste your time on case briefs, there are better ways of reading your cases. You can do it faster, you can do it more efficiently, in fact, we have an entire e-book devoted specifically to how to read your cases.
(We give it away for free. You can get the link at the bottom of the blog post).
Time waster #2: Preparing for in class cold calling
Law school is known for the Socratic method.
In other words, cold calling on students to describe their cases or to explain different nuances of different legal situations. For many people, this is terrifying. But, as terrifying as it is, it's also completely useless. There is almost a 0% chance that you're going to use what another student has said in class on your final. You should prepare for class in the sense that you want to try and get a handle on the law that's going to be discussed. But it's just not worth the diminishing returns of preparing for the off chance that you might get cold called in class.
Time waster #3: Trying to impress your professor
Unlike college, participation rarely counts for anything in law school. So don't go into class trying to impress your professor.
Don't go into office hours thinking that by discussing the cases with your professor you're going to impress them and be able to talk up your grade. It's just not gonna happen. If you do go into office hours, do it for yourself. Try to understand something that you weren't able to understand before. But don't go into office hours thinking that you're going to impress the professor and therefore get a better grade.
Be wary of showing off in class. It's hard to listen when you're talking. Steven Covey said, "Most people do not listen "with the intent to understand; "they listen with the intent to reply." And I see that in law school all the time. If your mouth is open, your ears are closed. So don't try to impress your professor.
Time waster #4: Trying to impress your friends
A general rule in law school, don't be a douche. And don't be a gunner.
Gunners tend to do poorly in class. And that's because when you're talking, you're not listening. So it's better to listen in class. Don't try to impress your friends, don't try to impress them in a study group, just listen, you'll be better off for it.
Time waster #5: Trying to memorize the detail of cases…
…Other than just the rule or the facts.
We can spend an infinite amount of time trying to memorize every single nuance of the case. But for the most part, your professor is going to explain the most important parts of that case. There's no point in trying to memorize every single detail outside of what your professor provides. So listen when your professor is talking about the cases. And certainly pay attention to the facts of the case, and the bright line rule if the case happens to provide that. But other than that, similar to case briefing, it's not worth your time in trying to memorize every single portion of the cases you discuss or the history of the law or other legal aspects that you'll find in commercial outlines.
Time waster #6: Looking for the right answer
In law school, you have to be okay with ambiguity. Everything is one big gray area.
In fact, in real life, the cases that go to trial are the ones that could go either way. If a case is an easy one, then it will settle beforehand. And in law school you're going to be faced with ambiguous situation after ambiguous situation. You have to come to grips with the idea that there may not be a right answer. You may have to go with the least bad answer. Or you may have to deal with differing shades of gray. Either way, you can't waste your time by trying to find the right answer. Metaphysics has no place in law school. Be comfortable with uncertainty and it will be your friend - you'll actually be able to use it to great effect in law school exams.
So, if you can avoid those six time wasters, you're going to be off to a great, with an edge on everybody else.
If you're getting ready for law school check this out: we put together a free checklist called the “Ultimate Guide to Crushing Finals.” Just click the link below to download it. It's some of our best tips and strategies for getting ahead in law school, and it will put you miles ahead of your classmates, just click here.
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