Six Things You Need to Be Ready for Law School
- Student Tips
Whether you have just returned from a whirlwind bar trip or you have spent the summer working to get a jump start on your career, the fun (or work) has to end sometime. Why? Because the countdown is on to the start of law school! If you are looking to hit the ground running, the following six things can help you be ready.
1. Technological tools
Think you can get away in law school with your old desktop or by using the school’s computer lab? Think again. Law students rely heavily on laptops because they support optimal mobility. You will appreciate the ability to take notes in class, as well as the flexibility to work anywhere at any time when exams are underway. Additionally, if you prefer to read electronically, an e-reader or tablet is an excellent resource.
A cell phone, meanwhile, is your link to the outside world once the rigors of law school kick in. You will want to text family members and friends to let them know how you are doing. Not to mention make use of the abundance of apps aimed at helping people live better.
2. A good bag
Law school is famous for the amount of reading it involves. While doing as much of your reading as possible can spare you lugging books all over campus, the reality is that you will occasionally be lugging texts around so a sturdy and comfortable bag can make all the difference.
The bag alone, however, is not enough. If your bag does not come with internal dividers, you will want to invest in some to prevent it from becoming a black hole of your belongings and to keep your stuff organized.
Recommended reading: How to study in law school.
3. Law school living supplies
There are living supplies and then there are law school living supplies. From decent lighting to a travel mug for your morning coffee, having these items to hand means you will not be scrambling around when classes start. Other must-haves for law students include a good water bottle, energy drinks, caffeinated mints, and a highlighter.
4. A law school student vocabulary primer
“The language of law school is an alphabet soup of acronyms and slang,” says the FAMU Law Library. If you are not steeped in the terminology, you can find yourself adrift. Learning these terms ahead of time can help you get off to a strong start.
Not familiar with terms like 'brief,' 'hot seat,' 'pro bono,' 'closed memo,' 'CALI,' and 'Blackacre'? Get googling! Or, get a jumpstart courtesy of Law Crossing’s roundup of 134 Legal Terms Every Lawyer, Paralegal, and Law Student Should Know.
5. Magazine subscriptions
No, we’re not talking about InStyle and People, but rather about law magazines.
“Besides class notes, textbooks, lecture presentation slides and previous students’ works, magazines for LLB students are highly recommended,” explains Edutrics. “This is due to the fact that the law is a high-paced field. Rules are modified very often. The law is amended often as well. Any good student should be familiar with the changes. This is where law magazines are beneficial. The good part is these law magazines can be obtained easily and sometimes, freely on the internet.”
Can’t afford to subscribe for the material that is not free? Familiarize yourself with your school library periodicals section.
6. Reading speed and comprehension
While reading speed is not a tangible thing you can bring with you to law school, spending the last few weeks before law school starts working on these critical skills can be an invaluable task, particularly when you factor in the hundreds of cases you will be assigned -- amounting to as many as 450 pages of reading a week!
Careers website The Balance Careers recommends, “Experts say that the brain is a complex information processor capable of processing and comprehending complex information at greater speeds through practice. Before you begin your first year of law school, you may want to complete exercises or take courses that will help improve your reading speed, comprehension, memory, and problem-solving abilities.
No one will tell you that law school is easy. Not only that, but there is often a significant amount of culture shock involved in making the switch from undergraduate life, to graduate studies, or to the workforce. Having these six things at the ready can help to ensure that you are ready for whatever the first few days of law school throw at you.
Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.