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Don’t Defeat Yourself – Strategies for Excelling as a Law Student

Law school is difficult even for the most academically-inclined student. Most areas of study do not prepare law students for either the type of learning or the type of teaching they will be faced with in law school. Competition in law schools is high. Here are four strategies for excelling in law school by not letting yourself get overwhelmed.

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

The Socratic teaching method used in most law school classrooms often causes students to be afraid, and law professors can use this fear to motivate students to work hard and eventually be cautious lawyers. But while a certain level of fear can be a motivator, a constant fear of failure takes you away from learning. Making a mistake in the classroom is not the end of the world—in fact, making mistakes is often the only way to learn.

Stay Away From the Mind Games

Many students see law school as a competition, but it is important that you compete only with yourself. Worrying about how other students do will not help you in the long run or in the short run. Focus on learning the law and stay away from the mind games—they only get in the way.

Put Things in Your Own Words

Understanding legal concepts is often obscured by the sort of legal language that only lawyers understand. While it is important to “learn the lingo,” as it were, it’s also important to be able to put things into your own words, to create your own level of understanding for concepts within the law.

Once you can do this, concepts will become easier to define and understand, and you will be able to further maximize your expertise with new legal subjects.

Find the Proper Balance Between Study and Life

As many lawyers find out later on, the legal profession has a very skewed work-life balance. This can become true in law school as well, with long hours dedicated to study. Truly successful students, though, find a way to get away every now and again, because getting away from your studies, even if only for a half an hour each day for exercise, can help minimize the stress than can kill your ability to learn.

Think of the law of diminishing returns: spending 80 hours a week, with the stresses that sort of time commitment can cause, studying the law may have less of a positive return than studying for 40 hours a week and remaining focused and less stressed (because, let’s face it, no law student will be stress free).

There is no perfect formula for succeeding in law school—each student is different; but embracing the learning process and trying to remain as stress-free as possible will put students on the right path.

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