– Hindsight is of course 20/20.
But now having practiced law for over 10 years,
there is so much that I would have done differently
in law school if I had known then what I know now.
So here’s a list of things I would’ve done differently
if I had to do law school all over again.
Please, learn from my mistakes.
(plucky instrumental music)
Okay, so what would I do differently
if I had to do law school all over again?
Well, the first thing that I would do
is I would spend way less time preparing for class.
In law school, class participation
usually counts for almost nothing.
At best it counts for maybe five or 10% of your grade.
There’s almost no class participation.
Preparing for class is a time-suck.
It doesn’t help you on the final exam.
Your job is not to understand everything
by the time you get to class.
If your professor’s doing their job,
they will help you understand it when you get to class.
I know the idea of getting cold-called
in class is so scary, and nobody wants to look dumb
in front of their classmates,
but it will not matter how hard you prepare for class,
even if you do get called on.
The professor creates their questions in a way
that no one could possibly answer all of them.
If you do the reading, and preferably you use
our flipped-case method, the link for that is down below,
then you’ll be prepared enough for class.
But you should prepare for class in an efficient way.
Don’t obsess about getting everything perfect beforehand.
Understand that by the time you start studying for finals,
you will have forgotten everything
that you did to prepare for class.
I would have put in the absolute minimum
to prepare for class and would’ve used class time
to refine my thinking and work on my outline.
I would’ve taken the time I used
to spend preparing for class,
and I would’ve started preparing for finals sooner
because it’s the finals where you get your grade,
not preparing for class.
So, in retrospect, I would’ve spent so much less time
obsessing over every nuance and minutiae in the case
and preparing for class on the odd chance
that I got called on by the professor,
and I just would have prepared for finals instead.
Also, even if your class does have participation points,
you don’t have to rely on the only interaction
of your professor being when you’re cold-called.
You should ask questions of your professor
when you have legitimate questions.
And on top of that, you should go to office hours
and talk to your professor in a less formal environment.
These are all ways that you can
raise your participation grade
while also bettering your understanding
of the case material itself.
The next that I would’ve done differently
is I would’ve started taking practice tests way earlier.
We talk about this a lot at Legal Eagle.
Practice tests are one of the most important things
that you can do to get better grades in law school.
Writing a law school exam is
unlike any other kind of writing.
That’s why English majors have
such a hard time with law school.
They, more than anyone else,
have to undo the habits that they learned in college.
A lotta the things that they learn in terms of good writing
are actually bad for writing quickly
and clearly on a law school exam.
In fact, that’s why at Legal Eagle we created a master class
specifically teaching people how to think like a lawyer
and write like a lawyer on a final exam.
I would have started taking practice tests
at least halfway through the semester if not sooner.
I know that sounds crazy, but it is never too early
to start taking practice tests,
and it is guaranteed to get you better grades.
The next thing I would’ve done in law school
is I would’ve taken a course
on how to write law school final exams earlier.
Because law school final exams are so unusual
and because your law school won’t teach you the skill,
it is so important to learn what
a law school final exam looks like
and how you’re supposed to write them.
Odds are if you took the LSAT,
you probably took some courses
on how to answer the questions,
whether it is a logic game or reading comprehension.
There’s so much to learn that’s specific to the LSAT
that you probably had no frame of reference for in college.
The LSAT is not like the SAT,
and it’s certainly not like your college classes.
And it’s the same way when you get to law school itself.
Law school final exams are unlike any other test
in any other field at any other
graduate or professional school.
They are issue-spotting exams
where you have to actually use the law itself.
Just showing the professor that you
know the law is not enough; you have to apply it.
There is a method and a science
to breaking down issue-spotting essays
and writing an A exam every single time,
and it has very little to do
with how much law you actually know.
The person that knows less law
but more about how to write the essay
is gonna get a better grade
than the person that knows more of the law
and memorized more of the facts in class discussion
but doesn’t actually know how to spot the issues
and how to write them down on the final exam.
Like the LSAT, answering law school
issue spotters is a skill,
and you can get better at any skill.
You can also learn how to do that particular skill.
There’s strategies that you can use to get better over time.
And the better you get at final exams,
the better your grades will be at the end of the year.
The next tip, the next thing I would have done
differently in law school is I would’ve lived
much, much closer to campus.
When I went to law school,
I actually didn’t live that far away,
but the law school was on one end of the campus,
and I lived on the other end of campus.
So it took me probably about 45 minutes
to walk each way to and from class
because it was a very large campus.
So even though I was within walking distance
of the law school, it still took 45 minutes each way,
or an hour and 1/2 each day out of my day,
to walk to and from class, and that’s only
if I went to the law school once a day.
If I went twice, then that’s three hours that I lost.
It’s even worse for the people
that have to commute to school.
During that commuting time, you can’t study.
It’s just dead time, and worse,
it’s probably stressing you out.
Driving is no fun when you’re on a deadline.
One of the worst things that you can do
is live so far away from campus that you have to drive.
Commuting is just the worst.
It’s time that you can’t study.
It’s probably pretty stressful
because driving on a deadline
just tends to be very stressful.
And it’s probably exhausting too.
So if you’re commuting to class,
that is hours a day where you can’t study.
And it’s just making you more tired,
so it’s going to prevent you
from studying later on in the day.
Often, if you live very close to campus,
there’s no doubt that the rent costs
are going to be more, but at the same time,
you can probably forego the cost of owning a car,
having to insure it, having to pay gas.
So even though the rent might be more,
it might actually save you money in the long run.
And frankly, if you’re going to law school full-time,
you’re probably already on the hook
for spending at least $100,000.
So spending slightly more to avoid
commuting is completely worth it,
especially if you can turn the time
that you would otherwise commute to class
into studying time where you can get better grades,
that will result in a better,
higher-paying job down the line.
That’s what law school’s all about anyway.
So, if I had to it all over again,
I would’ve lived as close to the law school as possible
so that I could just get up, walk across the street,
and then go to law school without even thinking about it.
I would’ve saved so much time,
I would’ve been far less tired,
and I would’ve been able to study more and better.
The next thing that I would’ve done differently,
I would have trusted the professor much less.
In law school, it’s so easy to get in this mindset
where your professor is just infallible,
and they are giving you the law as it exists
straight from a platonic ideal.
But the thing is, your first-year law subjects,
they seem really hard when you’re in it,
but they’re really not.
When you start practicing, you realize
just how oversimplified everything is.
And different law professors have completely different ways
of communicating those subjects to students,
and there is no universal conception of the law,
so it’s not like your professor can give you the law
as given by Moses and the tablets or whatever.
I would’ve worried much less
about when the professor said conflicting things,
when the professor said confusing things.
A lot of what you learn in law shool is just confusing.
It’s complicated when you’re in it for the first time,
and you have no frame of reference.
I wouldn’t really have worried
when the professor said things
that seemed to contradict each other
or said some conception of the law
that seemed confusing at the time.
Law professors often make things worse.
Sometimes they do things to intentionally obfuscate
so that they can generate conversation in the class.
Remember that the Socratic method exists
not for the benefit of students,
but for the benefit of the professor
to make it interesting for them when they’re lecturing.
The Socratic method is not a good way to teach the law.
It’s just simply the historical way
that we’ve used it for 150 years.
So, I wouldn’t have worried as much
when the classroom discussion is confusing.
I wouldn’t have worried when the professor
seemed to make it even more complicated.
Now I know that almost everything that is discussed
in a one-L class is just settled law,
especially when you get into a particular state.
Sometimes a state can vary with a different state
in terms of law, but for the most part,
all of the questions that you deal with
in a first-year class are completely settled.
It’s only at the very extreme margins
where there’s much controversy,
but that’s not what first-year classes test.
If the professor created more confusion in class,
I simply would’ve ignored the professor,
knowing that I could figure things out later on
when I went back to my commercial supplements
and worked on my outline
or if I looked up the cases on Westlaw.
Knowing what I know now about the law,
it would’ve made life so much easier,
because I would’ve realized that the professor
is not the best source of the law,
and I could always go back and get the black letter law
from my outlines and supplements.
And speaking of which, if you want additional tips
on how to reveal all the mysteries of law school
and how to crush your next law school exam,
click the link below for our guide on law school.
And please subscribe to our channel.
We come out with new tips on how to
crush law school all the time.
And I’ll see you next time here at Legal Eagle.
Please, learn from my mistakes.
There’s no reason that you should go through
the same kind of crap that I had to go through.
Started taking (gabbles).
Start taking practice tests, and it is …
And it has very little to do with actual …
Very close to campus, all right.