Welcome to Part 2 of our Legal Profession FAQ series! Earlier this week, we interviewed startup lawyer Mary Redzic about her law school experience and, today, we're chatting with attorney and MerusCase client Della Shaker about her tips for law school success. Whether you're interested in going to law school, currently enrolled, or just enjoy reminiscing on your good 'ol law school days, sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy our exclusive interview:
Q. What’s the best way to prepare for exams during law school?
Everyone has a different way of studying and learning. The way I prepared for my law school exams were very similar to how I prepared for all my exams in high school and undergrad, so sometimes it can be best to use what worked for you in the past. For me, I took notes during class, compared my notes with a classmate’s notes, and then created a short concise 2-3 page outline for the entire semester for that class. Approximately 3 weeks before my final, I would memorize my outline and take practice exams.
Q. How much time should you spend studying?
A. Throughout the semester, not much. It's really important to take great notes during class and then, about 4 weeks before finals, that's when I started studying every day for 8-10 hours a day.
Q. How important are extracurricular activities during law school?
A. To build friendships and find great study partners, I joined clubs. Other than that, it didn’t really do much for me, so I'd say it's not very important based off my experience.
Q. Are internships a critical part of the law school experience? Should you try for summer or school year internships?
A. YES! Very critical. You learn the law in law school, but you learn how to practice the law during internships or externships. During my last semester, I only had 3 classes, so I did an internship during the school year. If you don't have time during the school year, I’d recommend doing one during the summer so you don’t fall behind on your classes.
Q. Is it important to be active and speak up in your classes?
A. Well, I never really participated in class, unless I was called on and I did pretty well in law school. I think it all comes down to your personality and learning style. If you learn better by participating then participation is a great idea.
Q. How do you manage and control stress with such an overwhelming schedule?
A. Make law school friends so you have someone who is going through the “hell” you are and understands your frustrations. It's also important to exercise and make time for your family and friends; however, it's important to remember to put the “fun” aside during the month leading up to finals.
Q. Is law school as competitive as the media makes it seem? How can I focus on building genuine relationships while also succeeding in my classes?
A. Somewhat. Certain students are very competitive, which makes law school competitive. In some classes, there are only a certain number of 'A's that a professor will give out and certain students will absolutely compete for that 'A'. You will find and maintain great friendships during law school, just don’t let the friendships take control of your studying habits. Focus during class and make sure to study. In fact, studying with law school friends can help you succeed in your class and build genuine relationships at the same time.
Q. At what point should I start focusing on the job search?
A. Your last year of law school is perfect, but second year is also workable, depending on your schedule. You need to practice, so make sure to do an internship or externship during law school. I would always look out for connections during my internship, which could lead to future job opportunities if you play your cards right.
Q. When should I start studying for the Bar exam and what’s the best way to get started?
A. Take a prep class, such as Barbri. You will absolutely need their practice exams and books. You should memorize their outlines and plan to study for at least 2 months for a minimum of 10 hours a day. Take a lot of practice exams, memorize all that you can, exercise, sleep well, and you shouldn't have a problem passing.
Q. Do you have any tips for finding a professional mentor during law school?
A. During law school you will find professors that you love. Pick one or two of your favorite professors and build a genuine connection with them. If you foster a relationship with them, they should be happy to mentor you throughout law school and potentially after graduation.
Thanks for tuning in to Part 2 of our legal industry FAQ! Next Tuesday, we'll be chatting with Jeffrey Stern of Mallery & Stern (another great MerusCase ustomer) about what it's like to manage your own law firm and what he wishes he would have known when he was in law school.
Editor's Note: Please remember, this is one individual's experience with law school and you should consult several qualified sources if you're seeking comprehensive law school advice.