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Law School is Not the Time to Change Your Study Habits

Law School is Not the Time to Change Your Study Habits
Article by Alex Davis, one of our Blueprint instructors, who also attended UCLA law school.
If you’re going to a 8th-tier law school, this post probably isn’t for you. Feel free to resume watching skateboarding accidents on YouTube. However, if you’re attending a top-100 school (or your LSAT score is good enough to get into one) then pat yourself on the back . . . and keep reading.

When you get to law school, you’re told about a seemingly mystifying process called “outlining.” Your initial thought is, of course, “Oh, outlining, great, sure . . . what the f*%k is outlining!?!?” because law school is completely different from regular school, right? So naturally you need to study differently too, right? Nope.

You know what outlining is? It’s condensing a lot of notes into slightly fewer notes. Gee, that sound familiar, doesn’t it? You know why it sounds familiar? You’ve been doing it your entire academic life! Think back to high school and, just for the sake of example, studying for the AP US History exam. That test sure was daunting wasn’t it? Now recall how you studied for that exam. I’m betting it went something like this: 1) Take lots of notes. 2) Condense said notes. 3) Study condensed notes until you remember what the Military Industrial Complex is.

What did your notes contain back then? Historical events. You had to know what happened, who did it, when it happened and why it was important. What do the notes of a law student contain (aside from musings about the quality of a professor’s hairpiece)? What happened in a case, what legal principle the court used to decide the case, the outcome, and what your professor thought about it (your opinion doesn’t matter, you haven’t published numerous articles on quasi-meaningful legal minutia yet). These sets of notes don’t seem all that different from each other, do they? That’s because they’re not. All you have to do is what you’ve done all along: condense your notes into something intelligible and useful for exam day, and then study them.

If you’ve read this far, you either fit the criteria mentioned in the first paragraph, or you glossed over it when you were distracted by the pop-up ad from the porn site you “accidentally” opened. If you’re in the former group (remember kids, “former” means the first of two), law school is not the time to reinvent the studying wheel. You’re presumably of well above-average intelligence and you managed to get through the admissions process successfully (or you soon will). You ought to trust yourself and the methods you’ve used in the past. Those methods clearly worked to some degree. A tweak or two may be in order, but that’s about where you should stop. You may have to study more in law school, but that doesn’t mean you should study differently.