These are the characteristics that law students who succeed in their studies have.
What characteristics predict success for law students?
This article examines the characteristics that are necessary for law school success. Although no single factor can guarantee success in law school, professors of law, admission staff and practicing lawyers agree that these 7 qualities are essential.
1. Writing and reading proficiency
Reading comprehension is one of the most important skills for law school. You will be required to comprehend a lot of information while in law school. Scott Turrow is an award-winning writer and lawyer. He compared his first year of law school reading cases to “something like stirring concrete using my eyelashes.”
Law students must learn to read complex legal texts and to write like lawyers. Bernard Bell, Rutgers Law School professor, explained that “learning how read and write legal terminology goes hand in hand” because both require students to understand what it means to think like lawyers.
Although you won’t be expected to know how legal opinions are read when you begin law school, it is a good idea that you seek out experiences that require analytical writing and rigorous reading before you embark on your law school journey.
2. Time management skills
It is essential that you have good time management skills in order to be successful in law school.
The majority of law school courses are graded using a comprehensive exam at each end. Many first-year law students mistakenly believe they can study for the exam until the course is almost over. This approach has the problem that you have too much information to prepare for the exam, in addition to other exams at the end.
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Law students need to learn how to manage their workload throughout the semester. This means that you must study for all your exams during the semester, while still completing your writing and reading assignments.
Many law students mistakenly believe they don’t have to read the assigned material prior to class, as long as they are paying attention during class. This approach doesn’t prepare students for the Socratic method. Moreover, most law professors assume that you have read the assigned text and will spend class time reading beyond it. You’ll lose your way if you don’t know the text.
Research has shown that young people are losing their ability focus. This is bad news for all Americans, but it’s especially problematic for law students. You will need to concentrate on complex, dry material for extended periods of time during law school. Your chances of success will depend on your ability to do this.
Here are some tips to help you focus better
- Exercise regularly
- Reducing interference: Turn off your phone and shut down your computer.
- Keep hydrated
- Notes by hand
5. Skill in briefing cases
You will learn how to “brief” your case in your legal writing class. Briefing refers to the process of organizing and identifying the components of a legal opinion. This includes the procedural position, facts, issues and holding.
There are many benefits to briefing cases:
- Briefing can help you prepare for class (and reduce anxiety around the Socratic method).
- Briefing allows you to see how a particular case fits in the “big picture”.
- Briefing is a skill that helps you to understand and dissect complex facts patterns, which you will need for your exams or law career.
- Briefing can give you an advantage in creating outline for your exams
Briefing can have the negative effect of increasing the time required to read a case. Many law students quit briefing cases when the reading becomes too overwhelming. Students who are able to present their cases successfully throughout the school year will be in a better place to succeed.
6. Willingness to make outlines
You will be familiar with outline design during law school. An outline is a way to organize all of the information in a course. An outline can range in length from 20 to 200 pages.
It takes a lot of time to create outlines, as you might expect. Many law students, especially those who wait until the last semester to study for the exam, opt to buy premade outlines from any commercial publisher.
The problem with buying an outline is that learning happens during the outline-making process. You’re less likely than you are to master the subject matter if you don’t go through it.
7. Be open to receiving help
Many law students find it difficult to admit they don’t know something. Law students who are unsure about a legal topic might not ask a professor or classmate for additional help. They can save themselves embarrassment by focusing on the end result and not worrying about embarrassing others.
This approach has the drawback that legal principles often build on each other. This means that if you don’t understand one point, it is unlikely you will understand the next. You’ll feel completely lost by the end of this course.
Law students who are successful don’t hesitate to visit professors during office hours, or to approach a classmate for assistance.