Attending law school is a pivotal step on the journey to becoming a legal professional. But the reality is it’s not all sunshine and roses. In addition to being an exhilarating environment, it is also a competitive one. This doesn’t mean that you have to go it alone, however. Joining a study group can help you survive and thrive as a law student. Not convinced? Read on for a roundup of five reasons why you should join a study group during law school.
1. You’ll stop procrastinating.
Procrastination is a common complaint shared by students, and law students aren’t exempt. In fact, the procrastination problem may turn into an even bigger one at law school because of the sheer amount of work involved: the more you procrastinate, the bigger the backlog that accumulates, and the harder it is to catch up.
Being part of a study group which meets regularly and expects all of its members to contribute can help you stay on track and on task. After all, it is one thing to let yourself down, but something else completely to let down your classmates and friends.
2. You will avoid spending time on wrong answers.
Have you ever misunderstood a concept or idea which was made worse by the fact that it went uncorrected for so long? A study group prevents you from ending up in this situation.
The BARBRI Group explains, “Many times, law students feel they have a firm grasp of a concept and spend valuable time studying incorrect information. During class, they make this unfortunate discovery. Communication in a study group provides nice checks and balances – to alert you of anything that’s incorrect, if you’re not expanding enough on a concept or even expanding way too much.”
3. You will benefit from many different viewpoints.
While you are limited to your own take of a concept when you are solo, a study group opens you up to different opinions, so all opinions are challenged and therefore developed.
The law can be interpreted differently. Being aware of these differences, open to varied viewpoints, and willing to have meaningful conversations about them, can not only help you prepare for life as a lawyer, but will also make you a more tolerant person.
Your creativity skills will also get a work-out when your group has to come together to solve a problem.
4. You will fill in each other’s gaps.
A lot of information is conveyed during law school lectures, readings, and case studies. It’s simply not possible to absorb every detail when you are on own your own. In this sense, study groups can be uniquely symbiotic. While law students can only get so far on their own, they have potential to go much further when they work together.
While study groups offer law students many advantages, it is important to remember a few things about them. First of all, not all groups are created equal, and choosing the right one matters. Seek out people who are motivated, alert and focused in class. They are likely to bring this same positive energy to study group.
Conversely, students who are inattentive and distracted during class may not behave any better in a small group, which can compromise efficiency and productivity. If you do end up in a group that’s not working for you, it’s okay to walk away.
On a related note, keeping your study group to a manageable size is also critical if you are looking to maximize coordination and communication. Many law students report an ideal group size of three to four members.
Lastly, remember that a study group isn’t a miracle solution, nor is it a substitute for studying on your own. Law School Toolbox advises, “Your exams are not a group effort! Come exam time, it is all about you and your ability to do legal analysis. It has nothing to do with your study group. Even if your study group has developed the best possible outline (I mean, so good someone really should publish it for other law students), it doesn’t help you get great grades unless you know everything in the outline and are able to apply it correctly to a fact pattern.”
So if you are looking to get the most out of your group -- and to support others in doing the same -- make sure you go into every meeting fully prepared and ready to do your part.