Critical Law School time - first month of the second semester

Final exams receive so much focus in law school, and rightly so given the "make or break" importance of those grades. But for many law students the first month of the second semester is as critical to long term success. There are three reasons why this time period is so important: 1) first semester grades are out, allowing students to rate their effort and performance, 2) students successful in the first semester tend to slack off and poor performing students tend to give up - allowing for a unique opportunity to improve class standing, and 3) other students (especially the best) may be open to study groups.

So the game plan for this intense month should include a new game plan for the rest of a student's law school experience and an effort to coordinate a study group with the best, most compatible students. Having reviewed test performance and the manner in which preparation made the Fall finals a breeze or a nightmare, a student has more foresight than ever to assist in creating a game plan. Look at not only the raw numbers in the test scores, but also at the critiques in blue books and the amount of psychological bruising that occurred in each final. Look at testing and studying successes. Were outlines thorough and effective? Were amounts of studying time enough to be successful? What testing techniques can be improved by use of a tutor or campus assistance center? What activities need greater incentives in place to ensure completion? For instance, many students leave outlines until too late and are finishing them during study periods instead of committing the material to memory. Use that frustration to make outlines earlier, easier to read, and more organized.

Study groups are an amazing tool for success in law school. No doubt that the process of running legal concepts from class notes to outline to brain to speech in a group of peers forces those concepts deeper into one's understanding. Even more important, study groups create a group editing process, allowing participants to make sure each student gets the ideas being discussed. Consider using a professional tutor to moderate these groups. This allows the natural competition of law school to be overridden by a neutral person. The best students know that study groups accelerate their learning and allow for one to one connections that can make for success in the business of law after graduation day.


Thomas T.

Experienced Law Professor|UT BA & JD

200+ hours
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