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Law Students: 3 Reasons to Stop Worrying About Being Cold Called

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By George Khoury, Esq. on September 24, 2018 4:05 PM

For most 1Ls, and even 2Ls and 3Ls, getting cold called is perhaps the most dreaded part of attending class. It's not that uncommon for students to skip a class if they didn't do the reading due to the fear of getting cold called. But that's just a bad idea.

That fear isn't something any law student should let get in the way of attending class. To help law students get over their fear of the Socratic method, below you can find three reasons why you shouldn't be worrying about getting cold called.

1. You Did the Reading, Right?

Seriously, if you do the reading before class, you won't have as much to worry about during class, and you'll be less anxious when the random cold calling starts. This is especially true if you've briefed every case. If you didn't do the reading, the least you can do is read some canned briefs, or look up case briefs or headnotes on Westlaw (but note that looking up cases online can often give you much more information than necessary -- as often your casebook will highlight or only focus on the relevant issues).

Getting cold called when you've done the reading will help you really learn the material as the questions will force you to do some critical thinking, see issues you may have missed, and process the application of the facts and law. Not to mention the fact that the Socratic method teaches you to think on your feet while having to speak publicly at the same time.

2. Being Wrong Is Good

If you give the right answer, your prof won't have as much to say. Simply put, if you give the wrong answer, you'll be doing yourself and your classmates a solid as the professor will likely step in to provide the right answer (after making you squirm a bit). But know that if you give a spectacularly wrong answer, you may be teased a bit. Just don't take it personally, laugh alongside your peers, and do your best to learn what your prof is trying to teach you.

Notably though, even if you give the right answer, there's about a 90% chance your prof will call you out for missing something, and keep drilling down until you see it. Basically, since there's really no right answer, so there's no point in worrying about being wrong.

3. It's an Opportunity to Network

After getting cold called, even if you got teased a bit, your prof is going to remember your name and who you are for the next couple days, at least, so it's a prime time to go to office hours. You can discuss your performance, or any other questions you might have from the reading or lecture. If you hit it off with the prof, you may end up finding yourself a new faculty mentor (who might be able to help you out down the road).

Also, if there are peers in that class that you'd like to meet or get to know better, after getting cold called, you have the perfect ice-breaker (especially if it was really bad). Generally, your peers will sympathize with whomever gets cold called, even if you didn't squirm at all.

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