Congratulations. You survived the first week of law school. If you are a new law student, you have probably discovered that time is a precious commodity in law school. And, while some law students are always looking for shortcuts, shortcuts are not the answer. Instead, you want to use time more efficiently and effectively. Here are some suggestions:
- Learn the material as you read it rather than highlight it to learn later. Ask questions while you read. Make margin notes as you read. Brief the case or make additional notes to emphasize the main points and big picture of the topic after you finish reading. If you only do cursory "survival" reading, you will have to re-read for learning later which means double work.
- Review what you have read before class. By reviewing, you reinforce your learning. You will be able to follow in class better. You will recognize what is important for note taking rather than taking down everything the professor says. You will be able to respond to questions more easily. Your confidence level about the material will increase.
- Be more efficient and effective in taking class notes. Listen carefully in class. Take down the main points rather than frantically writing or typing verbatim notes. Use consistent symbols and abbreviations in your notes.
- Review your class notes within 24 hours. Fill in gaps. Organize the notes if needed. Note any questions that you have. If you wait to review your notes until you are outlining, you will have less recall of the material.
- Regularly review material. We forget 80% of what we learn in two weeks if we do not review. Regular review of your notes will mean less cramming at the end of the semester. You save time ultimately by not re-learning. You gain deeper understanding. You have less stress at exam time.
- Look for the big picture at the end of each sub-topic and topic. Do not wait until pre-exam studying to pull the course together. Synthesize the cases that you have read on a sub-topic: how are they different and similar. Determine the main points that you need to cull from cases for the sub-topic or topic. Analyze how the sub-topics or topics are inter-related. If visuals help you learn, incorporate a flowchart or table or other graphic into your notes to show the steps of analysis.
- Ask the professors questions as soon as you can. Do not store up questions like a squirrel storing nuts for winter. The sooner you get your questions answered, the greater your comprehension of current material. New topics often build on understanding of prior topics. Unanswered questions merely lead to more confusion and less learning.
Congratulations to Michael Atkinson who is the winner of a UofL Law School marble paperweight. Please stop by Dean Ballard's office by 4:00 p.m. today (FRIDAY) to claim your prize.
If you are planning to add a class or change to an audit, you must do it today before 10 p.m.
Several U of L websites will be offline between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. for maintence.
One of the most important skills in law school is the ability to read a judicial opinion efficiently and accurately. To improve your active reading skills, consider implementing the following techniques:
- Use cues in your casebook to provide information about a case - the table of contents, headings, prefatory explanatory material, the date of the opinion, the court that issued the opinion, "notes and problems" after the case, and related cases.
- Develop a working hypothesis while reading a case. Speculate about what the author means, make predictions, and correct them as you read an opinion.
- If you are struggling to discern the point of a case, use a hornbook for a one-sentence description of the case to focus your reading.
- Use a one-sentence tag line for each case you read and write it at the top of your brief. Given the large number of cases you will read in one semester, the name of a case will not mean much after a week or two.
- Do not read cases as if they stand alone. Each case should be read for the contribution it makes to your developing understanding of the concept under discussion. Compare the rule in each brief with the rule in the case preceding it under the same section.