By Stephanie Baldwin, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
First, let me say that everyone is different. You really have to find the 1L study schedule that works best for you. Ultimately, it has to be a schedule that you will follow. Over the summer, I attended a BARBRI Law Preview course and one of the most useful things they shared with us was a recommended 1L study schedule. Here are some of the highlights and an explanation of what has worked well for me and what hasn’t.
Scheduling reading assignments
Law Preview recommended that we always stay two days ahead on reading. On Monday, you are reading for Wednesday, Tuesday for Thursday and so on. While this was great in theory, I have Fridays off (yes, I know thank you UofA) and my Mon/Wed schedule is 8:20 a.m to 3:30 p.m., with Legal Writing, Civ Pro and Contracts. It’s an overwhelming amount of reading and we have a quiz every Monday in Legal Writing. Because my Mondays are so loaded, I only have Torts on Tues/Thurs afternoons.
I decided that I would stay two days ahead on Civ Pro, Contracts and Torts but only one day ahead on Legal Writing. This adapted schedule has worked much better for me, and I have a much more manageable reading load.
I am sure you have heard that you should not wait for the reading period to start before writing your outline (if not… now you know). It is best to start an outline after you’ve finished a topic and add to it throughout the semester. In Law Preview, they shared with us the importance of using the outline as a tool to help review and memorize the key points of each topic. Sure, most of our exams are open book but they are also timed, and you do not want to waste precious minutes looking through your book when you could have the rule memorized.
This is where scheduling review time is vital. You should add blocks of time dedicated to reviewing in your 1L study schedule, just like you have for reading. I currently use the weekends and some of my free time on Thursdays for this purpose.
Scheduling “me time”
Just because you are a law student, doesn’t mean you’re only a law student. You need to try to maintain your hobbies, friendships, and relationships. It is so easy to be focused only on school.
This is where “me time” is key and, yes, it needs to be scheduled. Doing this is giving yourself permission to take a break. I am a huge fan of playing trivia to discover how much useless knowledge you do or don’t have. During the first two weeks of school, I missed playing it every single day even though I was not in class. I added it to my schedule and didn’t miss a single game. All of my friends play and it was great to be connected to them, even for that brief time.
I am sure you have something that you enjoy doing. Do not neglect it. Add it to your 1L study schedule to make sure it is as much of a priority as your Torts reading. You’ll thank me (and yourself) later.