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3 Pressure-Relieving Tips for Incoming Law Students

For incoming law students, the first few weeks can really be critical. Not only are you meeting all your new classmates, professors, and getting thrown into the deep end of legal study, you're taking on a modest home worth of debt to do it.

While you won't be able to escape the pressure and stress of it all, you can certainly do a few things to help lessen both. Below are a few tips to help keep you ahead of the curve.

1. Just Don't Fall Behind

Law school is a marathon, not a sprint (you're going to hear that a lot over the next three years). There is a lot of reading. And though you may be able to get away with not doing any of it without anyone but yourself knowing about it, you're doing yourself a big disservice that you'll pay for later. Once you fall behind, catching up can really be a nightmare as the reading can quickly pile up to an insurmountable height. It will really pay off if you prioritize your reading, and you'll feel a lot less pressure in class if you know you've done the reading.

Simply put, the more prepared you are for class, the more you will get out of the Socratic method, even if you're not in the hot-seat. Unfortunately, casebooks are rather dense, slow reading, especially at first, where you might have to read things a couple times before you understand what's actually happening.

2. Buy Commercial Briefs

Don't wait until you fall behind to buy commercial briefs. You absolutely should buy at least one brief book for one of your subjects immediately so that you can get a good idea about how these books, and case briefs, work. If you get sick, or fall behind for any reason, commercial briefs can help you get up to speed.

But beware of using commercial briefs in the classroom, as oftentimes, a casebook will be using a case to teach something completely different from the holding, or only an excerpt of a case will be relevant, or the brief will be missing a critical piece of info your professor wants to teach. To avoid getting led astray, always review your textbook alongside commercial briefs to, at very least, see what the chapter or section is supposed to be teaching you, and to check for notes from the textbook authors.

3. Misery Loves Company

Get yourself a study group, but don't rely on the group to do your work. That means don't just copy one group member's outline. A study group that meets regularly can help you keep focused, and give you an additional layer of accountability.

You should compare notes, outlines, briefs, and your thoughts. Talk about the cases, the relevant laws, professors, hypotheticals, current legal events, law student life, and anything else that's even loosely related.

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