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So You're Going to Law School? Here's What to Do Beforehand

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on June 15, 2016 12:04 PM

So you're going to law school come the end of August. Congrats! We're sure you're excited about the fascinating world of service of process, negligence per se, and adequate consideration. But you're also probably a bit apprehensive. "Is there something I should do before hand to prepare?" you wonder.

Yes, future law student, there is.

1. Familiarize Yourself With the Law

Some law students grew up in families of lawyers, where concepts like proximate cause or undue influence were regular dinner table conversation. Some law students were pre-law majors, which seems like a waste of an undergraduate education to us. And some others got most of their legal knowledge from watching "The Good Wife."

If you're in the latter category, use the summer before law school to catch up to your peers a bit. You don't have to start reading case law online, but you should be reading about the law. (Hey! Look at you! You're doing it already! Way to go!)

Of course, FindLaw's blogs are great, and we've got a nice series on classic 1L cases, from torts to contracts to crim to con law to civil procedure, that is both entertaining and edifying. But don't limit yourself to us. Blogs like Above the Law are good for legal gossip, Lawyerist can give you insight into how lawyers actually practice, and SCOTUSblog is a great way to stay on top of the nation's highest court. Online forums like TopLawSchools can also help you commiserate with fellow law students.

2. Start Thinking Like a Lawyer Law Student

You'll hear "think like a lawyer" a lot when you start law school. It's mostly bull; "thinking like a lawyer" really just means knowing the law and how to apply it. It's not, say, a major philosophical outlook along the lines of Buddhism or something.

And anyway, you're not going to be a lawyer for a while. Instead, you need to start thinking like a law student. A good way to start is with "Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams." Don't worry; this isn't a study guide, per se. Instead, it explores the way that good law students approach legal problems, balancing nuance and uncertainty with strong legal analysis.

3. Fix Yourself

Take it from the LawProfBlawg (he's a law prof, after all), "If you're going into law school with something that will hamstring you, it is time to work on fixing that issue."

Law school requires a lot of unique skills. You have to read, a lot, and much of it is kind of boring. You have to stay on top of your studies well enough that you don't drown come exams. You have to be prepared for cold calls, to perform without notice in front of dozens of your judging colleagues. You have to be competitive, or at least able to put up with other people's competitiveness.

If you're weak in any of these areas, now is the time to strengthen yourself. Take a class on public speaking, if that's your weakness. Train yourself on time and task management, if you're generally a procrastinator. Pick up some wonky books if you're not too familiar with reading complex, technical writing.

But make these changes now, because once you've started law school, it might be too late.

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