How to Best Prepare for Law School
Summer is here. If you are starting law school in the fall, you might be wondering “How can I best prepare for law school?” Properly preparing for law school can help you make the most of your first year. There are a few simple things you can do to help you prepare for your first year of law school in those crucial summer months. Putting in a little time now will pay big dividends in the coming semesters! Read on to learn what you can do to prepare for law school effectively and set yourself up for success.
Focus on skills, not substance
You don’t need to teach yourself the law before you go to law school. That’s what you’ll be learning in your classes all year! But you can teach yourself (or refresh!) the vital skills necessary to succeed as a law student.
The first of these skills is critical reading. And more importantly – critical reading for sustained periods of time. When was the last time you read something longer than an internet article on your phone? Most of us have lost the stamina to read dense texts after years of scrolling our phones looking for short, interesting stories to pass the time. To help you prepare for law school, pick a few non-fiction texts that are outside your comfort zone (because let’s face it, most case books will be outside your comfort zone!). Set aside time daily or at least weekly to read, uninterrupted, for a significant chunk of time. How long depends on your current stamina. Getting used to reading difficult texts for sustained periods of time will be a huge benefit as you prepare to start law school.
You can also learn what it means to “think like a lawyer” and get familiar with the concept of “legal analysis.” There are many books that can help explain this to you, and even give you some practice prior to starting school. This concept is vital to learning the law in the way it will be tested on your exams, so understanding it at least in theory prior to law school is a great head start. You’ll get plenty of practice with it once you begin your classes!
Finally, you can become familiar with the basic structure of our legal system. Most of us haven’t taken a civics class since high school (if at all!) and may not remember things like the difference between civil and criminal courts, or understand how a case works it way through the court system from trial to appeals. You can find basic civics refreshers online (here’s a really good and funny option!). A general understanding of this information will help you once you start reading cases and discussing them in your classes.
Get your finances in order
It may not seem like a way you’d prepare for law school but figuring out how you’ll afford things like rent and groceries is an important step in helping you prepare for law school. You likely won’t have time for a job in your first year of law school, so you’ll need to prepare accordingly. Determining your living situation and how you’ll afford it prior to starting law school will help eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress during the academic year! If you do need to work, figuring out your schedule ahead of time is also important. Your classes and class preparation take a lot of time. So, if you’ll also be working, being diligent about creating a schedule and sticking to it is non-negotiable!
Take care of your health!
Taking care of your health – both mentally and physically – is important when you are preparing to start law school. Use the summer before law school as a time to create healthy habits. Start a simple exercise routine that you’ll be able to continue once you begin classes. Try adding meditation to your daily schedule. Learn some easy, healthy recipes that you can cook in batches to make your weeknights easier once you have classes and homework to do. Caring for your mental and physical health will serve you well when the stresses of law school really begin, so take advantage of your free time now to get started.
Above all else, enjoy your summer. You are about to begin a stressful (but rewarding!) educational experience. While getting ready for law school is a good use of this time, it’s also important to relax and appreciate the time off. After law school, you’ll be taking the bar exam, and then you’ll likely be working, so this may be your last summer of relative freedom! Enjoy it!