Law School Study Skills – An Essential Guide
Learning good law school study skills will ensure that you get the best possible results from your law school experience; it will also enable you to have more free time to pursue other activities, simply because you are more efficient in your studies. Law school study skills come naturally to very few people. For the vast majority of students, it takes time and experience to become fully competent and to have the most efficient process in place for maximising your law school study skills.
Here are a few practical tips to help you streamline the process of acquiring strong law school study skills that will get the maximum rewards as quickly as possible.
What Are the Crucial Law School Study Skills?
Studying law is not an easy task. Anyone who is going to finish their academic studies successfully will need to ensure that their law school study skills are up to scratch in all the necessary areas. One of the most important things to recognise is that studying law does not need merely one type of skill; multiple different law school study skills are required, all of which need to interact, seamlessly.
One of the most important law school study skills is that of research and assimilation of large amounts of information. As a law student, there are certain key resources that you will be required to read and decipher, regularly, such as case notes and legal journals. The ability to research legal theories effectively is the most crucial of all law school study skills.
Although research is clearly one of the most important law school study skills that you will be called upon to demonstrate throughout your legal course, good research is of little or no use if the findings cannot be accurately conveyed in the form of a report or essay. Part of this process is the decision about which factors are relevant and which are not. Learning to answer the question concisely is a very useful law school study skill that will also prove invaluable in later, professional life.
Advocacy, as a law school study skill, will also become increasingly important as you progress through your coursework. In most cases, students will not be required to perform large amounts of advocacy until they are nearing the end of their studies; however, it is never too early to practise! Learning to project points clearly and concisely when presenting legal points will assist in all manner of tasks, both as a student and later as a legal professional.
Improving your Law School Study Skills
Honing your law school study skills can mean the difference between a top grade essay and barely passing. As with any skill, the best way to improve is to practise, evaluate and try again.
Being organised is one of the best ways of improving your law school study skills; take the time to prepare any assignment so that you are not rushing at the last moment. As research is one of the most important skills you will learn throughout your legal career, make sure that you dedicated sufficient time to this part of any assignment. At least a quarter of your total assignment time needs to be allocated to research and preparation. Discipline yourself to giving the necessary time for this vital law school study skill.
Work in groups. Although studying law does not always lend itself particularly well to group study, there are times when working together can really enhance your law school study skills. Try comparing your research trails or even practising advocacy on each other. Sharing and having to explain your trail of thought will often help in determining where you could be more efficient.
Simplify absolutely everything that you can. Law is a complex and vast subject. Trying to learn it all at once will leave you with a headache and very little else! Break everything down into basics first, ideally in short sentences or bullet points. Areas can be expanded upon as confidence grows but concentrate initially on getting the basic concepts lodged. Law school study skills are about building from basic concepts to refined understanding; rushing this process will not be helpful. Learning to slow down and make sure you understand every concept before moving on will be valuable as the courses becomes more advanced.
More Tips for Good Law School Study Skills
Find a resource that works for you. Authors will vary in their style and approach to subjects. Take the time to look for the best resources to help you build up your law school study skills. Once you find a resource or author that makes sense to you, it is time to develop your own notes. Law school study skills are all about building on the knowledge that you already have, in a step by step way. One of the easiest ways of doing this is working with spider diagrams. For every legal concept, write the basic provisions in the central part of the spider, with supplementary information such as important cases on each ‘leg'. This is a wonderful and visual law school study skill which will not only assist in the cementing of the concept, but will also be useful when it comes to revision time.
Always make sure that you have an accurate and thorough research trail. This will include the resources that you have used and will help you to develop more efficient law school study skills. With every assignment you will be able to look backwards and identify which sources you found most useful and can therefore refer to them immediately. This also saves you time in the future.
Practice makes perfect and this is never truer than when developing law school study skills. The ability to research and get your point across clearly will only come in time, so take every opportunity to practise these basic law schools study skills, from the outset. In almost every case, simple is best. Resist the temptation to over use jargon, particularly if you are not entirely sure about its meaning! Practise with friends or produce practice assignments for your tutor.
Remember, developing your law school study skills will not only assist you in gaining the degree mark that you deserve, but will also enable you to work efficiently once you leave law school. Take the time to learn these skills now and you will be rewarded for years to come.