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How to survive law school

after lectures
After going through lectures and briefing, your mind needs a break. Although its tempting to go straight to the books, spending a little time vegging out is important to your mental health and energy. For an hour after your lectures are


Law school is stressful, and thats by design: the rigors of earning your law degree are similar to the rigors youll endure as a budding legal professional, where only the strong survive. And although law school can be difficult, that doesnt mean you have to become insane on the way to graduation. There are several ways to cope, prevent stress, and stop the insanity before it starts. Weve outlined 25 tips that can help you stay sane and happy, and even live like a normal person now and then.

1. Keep your achievable


Its great to set big dreams and work toward making them a reality, but be careful not to overdo it. Think about how youre going to get there, and set achievable goals that you know you can reach along the way. Checking off goals that are realistic for you to achieve can really build your selfconfidence, and give you momentum to keep going for the big stuff.


Give your mind a break

over, just take some time to do something else, like playing with your pets or watching TV. Anything that can temporarily get your mind off of law school and let you be yourself for a while.

Before you begin law school, tame all of the issues that might pop up as a distraction to your studies. Visit the dentist, organize your house, and take care of any nagging issues that can

3. Practice management


Its tempting to just jump in and do all you can without thinking about how its actually going to get done, but by budgeting your time, you can accomplish more and have less anxiety about it all. Manage your time by reviewing your weekly goals and tasks, then organize your time into daily task lists. You may not meet your goals perfectly every week, but by managing your time, you will likely get closer to perfect and have less worry about how its all going to get done.

4. Eat balanced diet

Junk food is convenient and easy to mindlessly shove down your throat while youre trying to focus on studying, but its terrible for your energy and health. Take the time to eat food thats actually good for you, because junk food will catch up with you eventually. Healthy food including fruits and vegetables can be made accessible, and they will help keep your mind going when you need it the most.

5. Spring your life


mess with your time management. Do whatever you can to automate your life, including paying bills, so that you can focus on whats absolutely necessary. If you didnt get a chance to do this before school started, be sure to take care of it during breaks.

done so you can move on and do things that dont revolve around law school.

6. Figure out financial situation


Law school is scary on its own without the worry of financial ruin, but if you dont have a clear picture of how youre going to handle the six-figure student loans that come along with your law degree, you just might lose your mind while youre working to get your degree in the first place. Have a plan for the investment and how youre going to take care of your living expenses while youre in school. Its also wise to work hard to find scholarships so that you dont have to bear the full weight of law school on your own.

7. Use Buzzer


If you just cant get anything done, avoid distractions, or focus, using The Buzzer method for law school can be incredibly helpful. With this method, youll set a timer for 45 minutes, work straight through without any interruptions, not even bathroom breaks, and then take a break and repeat. You may not get anything done, but chances are that at some point in the 45 minutes, youll get bored and want to start doing some sort of productive work. If this method works for you, it can help save your sanity and make you get things

8. Hug a puppy
Get some perspective and release endorphins by taking a minute to hug a puppy when youre at your most stressed. At George Mason University School of Law, 15 homeless puppies were enlisted in the fight against exam stress, and made students feel like they could get to be human again. The Yale Law Library has added a therapy dog, Monty, as well, and the Washington Post reports that he helps to break the pressure on campus.

on occasion. Its essential that you indulge yourself from time to time so that you dont burn out.

9. Think about the exam on the first day of class

The Girls Guide to Law School shares a secret: whats tested in law school isnt necessarily whats taught in law school. It sounds weird, but its true. So that means youll need to consider what you really need to know from the very beginning, and save your energy by simply working on that. Shoot for a flexible understanding of the law, or, as The Girls Guide to Law Schooldays, figure out whats set in stone, and whats malleable.

10. Have an outlet

When law school is consuming your life, its easy to forget that youre a real person with interests other than legal briefings. But you actually are a real person with needs, and an outlet is a great way to meet them. Do something fun for yourself, like going to the gym on a regular basis, or taking the time to go to the movies


Recognize and minimize procrastination

make minor modifications, but its certainly possible to go with what you know and avoid the

If youre feeling stuck and lonely during long nights of studying, it might feel like a good idea to log on to Facebook and spend a few hours connecting with your friends and family that you never seem to have time for anymore. But the more time you spend putting off studying, the less time you have to actually participate in real life. Buckle down when its time to do the work, and enjoy the fruits of your labor when its appropriate.

12. Avoid coping through chemistry

Drugs, alcohol, and overloading on caffeine can make a small stress problem even bigger. Dont be a drunken lawyer and give the Bar a reason to refuse your application. Learn to cope through healthy outlets, and use, but dont abuse, alcohol as an occasional way to relieve stress.

13. Dont be afraid on the study skills you already know



Plenty of people will tell you that law must be studied in a way thats radically different from anything else, and you have to do things completely different from the methods youre used to. But Ilya Somin of The Volokh Conspiracy does not agree, remarking that if it works for you, you can certainly study the same way you got through your work as an undergrad or graduate student. You may need to

stressful process of learning a brand new way to learn.

washing techniques.

14. Break large projects down into small tasks

Make humongous efforts feel like less work by taking them one small step at a time. Identify tasks within large projects, breaking things into subtopics and assigning smaller time blocks so that you can focus on manageable pieces. This will help you keep things organized, and give you motivation to keep going as you accomplish small goals along the way.

15. Dont perfectionist


Law school naturally attracts highly driven students who are bent on doing everything perfectly, but life is much easier if you accept that some things dont have to be perfect. Many schools have a B- curve, and some professors simply dont ever give As. Recognize that a good grade isnt always an A plus, and that you dont have to be in the top 10% of your class to become a good lawyer.

16. Dont get sick

Law school can make for close quarters and a perfect environment for picking up germs that can knock you down and make studying even harder. Stay well and on the top of your game by putting up a good defense: maintain a regular sleep schedule, a healthy diet, and practice good hygiene and hand-

17. Focus on what you really need to know

As Listless Lawyer notes, 95% of what you want to achieve in law school will be based on your grades, which come from your exams. And while youll spend lots of class time looking over the minutia of cases, chances are, that same minutia isnt going to show up in the relatively short exam. Focus on the holding that summarizes the rule that the case stands for, and anything else you may retain is gravy on top.

rather than how much you can absorb or retain.

18. Avoid taking on too much

MSU Law recommends that you simply focus on the stress of law school without adding to it unnecessarily. Getting in over your head and overextending yourself with too many society and association groups can seriously bog down an already busy workload. Consider which opportunities offer the most value to you, and focus on doing well with them. And of course, know yourself and what you can reasonably handle.

19. Put everything where it belongs

Emily Rushing, law librarian, recommends that law students keep their lives neatly filed. Keep emails, notes, projects, and anything else you might collect in the right place. By putting information where it belongs, you can easily retrieve it when necessary. As she points out, being smart is often more of a question of whether you can find information,

20. Take short breaks when youre feeling the pressure

Its natural to feel a little overwhelmed in law school, and its also understandable for students to want to push through and work as hard as possible. Its important to be human, and take short breaks before your stress and anxiety turns into full-blown panic and a situation in which you just cant get anything done. Take short breaks, do mindful breathing, and allow information to sink in while you rest.

most relaxed, as most students have already secured jobs, and with their eyes on the prize, are just hoping to get things done without screwing up enough to lose their jobs. All of this is to say that law school is a downhill battle, one that

21. Treat law school like a job

If you let law school become your life, you truly will go insane. Set limits much like you would with a job. Plan to work on law school studies during certain hours, and then actually put in the time, but when its over, you really do have to put the books down and stop studying. If possible, study away from home, and when you get home, leaves your books in the bag.

22. Remember that its only temporary

If youre a first-year law student, its easy to feel the strain and feel that the reality youre in will continue for years two and three as well. But UCLA law students Sylvie Levine and David Burke point out that things get more relaxed as you go. The second year becomes a little more relaxed than the first, particularly with fewer classes to attend. The third year is the

may be tough in the beginning, but gets easier as you go.

23. Maintain relationships in law school

As law school wears on, its easy to crawl into your own hole and buckle down with work, but maintaining relationships with your classmates and professors is important. Use the people you know in school for both positive reinforcement and references. You should also continue to build your network, as youll certainly find opportunities to call on them during your job search and career as a lawyer.

24. Know deadlines


Always know when your assignments are due. This is a simple task that will save you time and allow you to better juggle your schedule. Whether they are papers, projects, or assignments as a summer associate, always find out the date and time an assignment is due, and dont be afraid to ask for clarification if you need it.

25. Have friends outside of law school

Although law school relationships are important, you should also make a point to maintain your friendships outside of law school as well. While youre freaking out about exams, your law school friends cant really help you: theyre dealing with the same issues. But people in the

real world can bring you out of your dark hole when your law school friends fail to do so.