“Law School is like a walk in the park– Jurassic Park.”
This line has been used and overused by many a law student. But is there some truth to it? Yep!
I entered Law school straight from 4 years of undergraduate studies in UP. I took up B.S. Food Technology. That in itself did not prove helpful. But I’m a lawyer now, so I guess I can give some tips to the uninitiated. So, if you’re deciding to enter Law school or if you’re already in one and find yourself constantly at a loss, I hope these tips help you.
- Know How to Read
Excuse me, Atty? I’ve graduated from college. Of course I know how to read.
Well, excuse you. 🙂 There’s a big difference between reading novels and online articles and reading laws and jurisprudence (cases). I was a voracious reader before I entered LS but I found myself struggling when I had to read 30 cases before each class.
Don’t make it difficult for yourself.
It’s easier to understand the law by reading jurisprudence or case law. Jurisprudence are cases decided by the Supreme Court. You get to know how they applied a particular provision or if they create a new concept or precedence (basis for future cases).
Here’s how to read your jurisprudence, according to one of our professors: first, read the dispositive portion (the decision itself); then go back to the facts and the issue.
An additional tip from me: Read the case in connection with the subject it was assigned in.
A criminal case, for example, contains constitutional issues, as well. If it’s for Criminal Law, focus on the facts and the elements of the crime. In that manner, you can rid yourself of the distraction of the constitutional issues. While they’re relevant, what you’re discussing in Criminal Law usually are the elements of specific felonies.
2. Allot time for reading
Yes, Law school itself only takes 4 hours of your weekdays (or 2 days of your week, for other programs). However, it’s a far cry from your college 4-hour classes, where you just sat down and gaped at your instructors while they lectured. Consider your everyday in LS as an exam day, with your daily ~recitations~. Our topnotchers allotted a minimum of 8-hours daily for their readings. I, myself, set aside only 3 hours each day. Whatever works for you, as long as you can absorb the material better.
The most important thing is you gave it some time. Hindi nadadala sa talino ang Law school. I found that the intelligent ones did not necessarily excel, but the industrious, conscientious ones–those that used to be average but always put in the work.
3. Don’t be afraid of your professors
Your professors are there to instruct you. They wring you like a wet cloth until you’re
dried up and wrinkly and have no hope.… Strike that… until you reach your full potential. Hehe.
Our first year professors were especially brutal. Yes, we actually feared them. Some students were so afraid of them that they quit during the second week of classes, or said “Pass” during recitations. Let that fear lead you to act. Read, study, prepare. It’s true that first impressions last. How your first year teachers perceive you will reach other professors and upperclassmen.
Your professors spend time before the class preparing and studying. They also read the cases they’ve assigned to you. If they can study, so can you. Respect their time and efforts.
Give them your best.
4. Never “Pass”
A cum laude of our law school once said that this was the one rule she followed during her entire stint there.
The mortal sin of recitations is “passing” on reciting a provision or case law. Not only does it give your professor the impression that you’re lazy, it also is disrespectful. “Passing” does not actually equate to a free pass. It gives you a grade of zero. And in a world where every point counts, that, my dears, is most definitely unwise.
5. Use your resources
“Atty, I’m really not prepared. I read the first 10 cases, and the prof is calling the 11th!”
That happens to the best of us. So, following the Never “Pass” rule, DO NOT PASS. Use your notes, your classmates’ digest, your textbook, your codal, your iPad, your iPhone, and your seatmate’s whispers. The best weapons you have during these difficult times are your confidence and the power of bluffing. If you’re lucky, your prof might even help you out just to smoothen the flow of the discussion.
6. Lastly, make friends
You all come from different backgrounds. Some of you may know what’s going on. Some watch on cluelessly. The only way to survive the crazies that is law school is to make sure you don’t go through it alone. Get to know your batchmates, befriend your upperclassmen in the library, open up your world. The most helpful tips and materials I got, I got from friends.
Coping from the heartbreaks of failing exams, crappy recitations, and other cringe-worthy experiences is easier when done with friends: from stress eating, to drinking, and shouting your lungs out at a karaoke, and praying together.
Indeed, the crazy world that is law school awaits you. You can make the coming years count by making them the best years of your life. Enjoy! Ciao bella! AYA<3