Law School Cold-calling. The Socratic Method. Here’s 3 ways to bring it on.

Law School Cold-calling

Guest Blog by Courtney Boykin
3L at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

From talking about difficult Supreme Court cases to trying to stay alert for law school cold-calling, being prepared for class can be a daunting task. Everyone has their own preparation process. After having a conversation with a fellow classmate, I figured I’d share my preparation style.

How I read the case

I was a journalism major in undergraduate school. So, I’m prone to focusing on the high-level facts. When I read cases for the first time, I just need to know the facts, the rule, the holding. Generic online case briefs are helpful in this sense, but I wouldn’t rely too much on them.

While it can be easier said than done, I try to stay out of “the weeds” of the case. The fact of the matter is that the case represents a specific topic. So, I try to ascertain what the case signifies as it relates to THAT specific topic. Example, if we’re covering the Administrative Procedure Act and the case mentions a tort doctrine, I don’t spend 30 minutes trying to understand the tort doctrine.

Law School Cold-calling

When I read the case

I also find that when I read the case matters, as well. For some classes, I can read the day before and be fine with a quick review right before class. For other classes, I have to read right before class or I won’t retain the information. Nonetheless, to be on the safe side I’ve always tried to schedule classes where I had about 30/40 minutes between classes for this specific purpose.

Case briefing

The final thing about preparing for class is briefing. I’ve probably written a full-fledged case brief 3 times in my law school journey. It just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I might highlight the rule in the casebook or make notes in the margins. Very rarely do I formally CREAC or IRAC a case. I just think that’s too much work, but I also know people who do it for every case. So, if it works for you, by all means, have at it! All in all, you’ll be ready for law school cold-calling.

Is a Dual Degree Right for you?


GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
2L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Considering a dual degree? Recently I found myself exploring study abroad programs that with one extra semester of law school, provide you with an LLM degree. Similarly, a number of my 1L friends applied to and were accepted into the JD/MBA program. To see if a dual degree program is right for you, take the quiz below! 

  1. What best describes your geographical career preference?
    1. Major American cities
    2. Asia
    3. European Union
    4. Smaller American markets
    5. Other International
  2. What best describes your career interest?
    1. Large law firm
    2. Boutique Firm
    3. In house counsel /or/ government
    4. Medium – Small law firm
    5. Public Interest
  3. What best describes your ideal practice area?
    1. Corporate
    2. Intellectual Property
    3. Finance
    4. General Litigation
    5. Human Rights /or/ international
  4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
    1. Partner in a big law firm
    2. Head in house legal counsel
    3. CEO
    4. Professor
    5. Advocating within the public interest sphere

Scoring yourself:

  • Mostly A’s and/or C’s: A dual JD/MBA degree may benefit you in the long run. Working in the corporate world, or as in-house counsel generally requires specialized knowledge of the business world, which an MBA can provide you. Plus the business specific networking offered through MBA programs will go far in terms of securing you a clientele later on in your career.
  • Mostly B’s: Consider pursuing a specialized LLM degree in your particular field, but be sure to weigh your options. A targeted LLM can help you stand out within a boutique firm, or in the intellectual property world. This is especially useful if your undergraduate concentration doesn’t match your desired practice area.
  • Mostly D’s and/or E’s: It’s questionable whether a full dual degree program is right for you. Smaller markets, and more general practice area firms may not require or seek out the additional expertise that a dual degree offers you. Instead, consider whether a targeted certificate program fits your interests.

Navigate Expectations and 1L Friendships

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin,
1L at University of Arizona

How do you navigate your expectations and 1L friendships? Good question. Law school is an interesting balance of camaraderie and competition. As 1Ls we automatically have an innate bond with each other.  We are all plunged into the unknown, with mountains of reading, and briefing cases. Also, we’re holding our breath to see if it is our name being cold called next.

It can be easy to overlook that we are all experiencing these things together. As we manage our own performance expectations, goals, and future outcomes, we are competing at some level for grades, class ranking and ultimately jobs. This is the conundrum of law school.

Today, I would like to share with you three philosophy’s I have embraced that might help you navigate your expectations and 1L friendships.

“A rising tide will lift all boats.”

I am an extremely helpful person, sometimes it feels, to my own detriment. Before school, I sought advice from one of my respected friends to gain perspective about this. He wisely reminded me that “A rising tide will lift all boats.” This really resonated with me and framed the way I’ve chosen to approach law school. When I see help is needed, I am going to provide it (while still adhering to the honor code). I have already benefited from this as my willingness to help others in areas I excel has been repaid in-kind, as classmates help me in areas I have been struggling with. We can help each other, without undermining our own goals and success.

“Make Friends, Not Enemies”

Before school started, we had an opportunity to attend a writing clinic, and while all of the information shared was helpful, this statement shared by one of our professors was by far the most meaningful lesson of the day. She reminded us that while many aspects of law school can be seen as a competition at the end of the day, our classmates are our colleagues, and we will be working with them for the rest of our lives.

These relationships matter. They matter now, as our classmates can quickly become our friends, support system, and confidants. Realize that these relationships will be essential later in our careers, as we consider moving firms, sectors, and seek promotions. The opinions of others hold weight, and you want to don’t be “that person” who no one wants to work with because of the way you acted in school.

1L Friendships

“Aim for mastery and performance will follow.”

There is a ton of information about the advantages of establishing mastery goals instead of performance goals. Additionally, research demonstrates that mastery goals improve positive feelings towards helping peers. (

I created this saying as a personal mantra to help me commit to the previously mentioned philosophies. My advice is not to let the competition aspect (performance goals) of law school undermine the opportunities we have to learn from, and be inspired by each other as we (hopefully) master the law. Our admissions departments worked hard to admit not only the best candidates but also the best GROUP of people that can succeed together. I can only speak for my school, but my classmates are amazing and we all mesh very well. By viewing them as assets to help me achieve mastery of the law has made all of the difference in my approach to school and allowed me to form friendships that will last a lifetime.

Let me know what tips you have for balancing your goals and friendships on Twitter or Instagram at @The1LLife


By Mike Sims, BARBRI President

You’ve figured it out already.

Most, if not all, of your first-year grades will depend on your final exams performance. And most, if not all, of your final exams will consist of essay questions … but law school essay questions are different than what you’ve previously experienced.

It’s not about how much law you’ve memorized. Instead, your job is to solve the problem presented in your essay question. You are being tested on your ability to apply the facts to the rules of law you have learned and explain how you arrived at a reasonable solution and solve the problem.

So what should you start doing NOW to learn the material and position yourself well for final exams?

1. Read the assignments. Always try to get the reading done even if it feels like you don’t understand everything (or anything!).

2. Always go to class – even on the rare occasions that you are unprepared. The most important thing is that you learn what the professor thinks the case said – not what you think the case said.

3. Write down every fact pattern that your professor gives you in class as you go. These are all previews for what will likely be on the final exam.

4. Consistently review

  • Try a daily review – quickly take 5-10 minutes at the end of each day to jot notes about what the professor said was important in class that day while it’s still fresh.
  • A periodic review at the end of every major topic in each course is a must.
    • The end of every roman numeral in the syllabus is an excellent way to gauge the end of a topic
    • Review your notes and distill all of the information down to a couple of pages. This overall process is often called outlining, but outlining for the sake of outlining is not the goal. Neither is just re-writing all of your notes. The goal is to learn the material.

5. Do some practice questions

  • Don’t worry too much about the specific number of practice questions you do, but make sure you do some.
    • Most professors have old exam questions on file. With at least one, sit down and write out a full answer – give yourself the same amount of time you’ll have on exam day for that question, get together with friends, read each others’ answers.
    • BARBRI’s 1L Mastery package also includes practice essay and multiple-choice questions to give you additional confidence. If you haven’t already enrolled in 1L Mastery, do so here.

If you have questions as you review, take advantage of your professor’s office hours. Be consistent with these practices and they’ll pay off big time as you approach final exam time.

Get to know your professors. A smart move in many ways.

This may sound a bit crazy but it’s a good idea: Get to know your law school professor outside of class. You may be thinking, “Really? I just got raked across the coals for half of today’s discussion, over a footnote in Hadley v. Baxendale, and you want me to go ‘get to know’ this person?” Hmmmm … well … yes! After all, your professors have office hours (outside of class, of course) for the purpose of helping their students. That means you.


  • These are the people that write and grade your final exam. They can help you narrow down what they are looking for on your answers. You just have to ask. They will provide guidance. But you have to make the effort. You can’t be so hesitant and nervous, when you can simply ask and benefit greatly come exam time.
  • They are experts on the law. There is absolutely no substitute, no matter how great you think that supplement is, for talking to your professor about what you don’t understand. In fact, many law school professors are well recognized legal thought leader and some have authored the textbooks actually being used in courses across the country. Find your professors. Pick their brains.
  • Someday you will need a letter of recommendation. Your professor has to know you on a personal level to write that letter. This is so important. Do not underestimate taking the time to speak with your professors on a regular basis. By getting to know them, they get to know you better, too.


Law school finals are unlike any undergrad test. Generally, they are cumulative. Law school final exams will cover everything you have done in a class from day one. Also, if you are lucky and got a midterm, they will represent your entire grade for a class. Let me repeat: everything you have done in a class is distilled into a 3-4 hour exam. Take the time to talk to your professor and find out what they think an “A” answer looks like. Ask if they have any past exams that you can complete and review. The more past exams you can practice taking, the more familiar you will be with your professor’s testing style and the easier it will be to succeed on the exam.


Your professor is teaching you Contracts, for example, because that is their area of expertise. While supplemental materials are helpful to understand the black letter law, there is no better source for information and explanation than from your professor. Only your professor can help steer you toward what they feel is the operative fact or most important rule of law from the case. And don’t forget, the professor is the one that evaluates your final exam. You want their interpretation of the cases to be front and center.


In the near future, you will need legal references for prospective employers. Professors make great references. However, they are people, too, and want to know more about you. More than the student in the back row who avoids eye contact. Take the time to get to know at least one professor on a more personal level. If you are really interested in a Prosecutor’s or Public Defender’s office, for example, your Criminal Law professor is ideal. This way, not only do you have a great reference, you have a reference in the specific field that interests you. Also, many times, professors will have great contacts in their field of practice.


While it may seem intimidating at first, you have nothing but positives to be gained by getting to know your professors. Take advantage of office hours. Ask questions you may not ask in class. Make that personal connection.It will be time well spent.

Ready to join a study group? The benefits vs. the drawbacks.

It’s no secret, really. Every student learns differently, prepares differently and definitely studies differently. You know you best. By now, you are getting a good feel for this experience called law school. Or you may already have a strong sense of what works for you and what doesn’t. Perhaps you have yet to try something that could help (or harm) your ability to achieve success. Which leads us to this important question: How do you know if you should join a study group or not?

There are several benefits (and drawbacks — scroll down to see those, too):


A study group can provide support and calm some fears. Law school can be terrifying and stressful, and spending time with your peers enduring the same journey makes you feel less alone. Confidence through camaraderie.


If you are totally lost on a concept, think you’ve got something down but are dead wrong (and don’t know it yet), or just talking yourself around in circles, a study group is a great resource. Bounce ideas off colleagues. Group think your way to deeper clarity and understanding. Many times, law students feel they have a firm grasp of a concept and spend valuable time studying incorrect information. During class, they make this unfortunately discovery. Communication in a study group provides a nice checks and balances – to alert you of anything that’s incorrect, if you’re not expanding enough on a concept or even expanding way too much.


Having a set time for your study group to meet works to fight that natural tendency of … procrastination. Who wants to study Future Interests at 9 a.m. on Saturday? No one! Bu if you have your study group partners waiting for you on that Saturday morning, you become naturally accountable. You’re more likely to show up and put the time in needed to be successful in law school.

And the potential drawbacks:


Group projects. Many students dislike group group projects because they feel much of the work lands on them. Lack of focus and productivity. Many times, group study can turn into a social event. That’s why it is so important to find and choose members/colleagues who are disciplined and dedicated to the bigger goals of collaboration, effort and ultimately staying productive and on track.


It’s possible you might spend an inordinate amount of time helping your group mates, sacrificing and not concentrating on your own progress and work. You may understand Torts as well as your professor and end up teaching it to your group … but make sure there are limits on how far to go with such assistance. You deserve the time you need to focus on your studies, too. It’s totally fair and reasonable to set this expectation early.


At certain times, you may need a quiet(er) place to study effectively. Study groups — as in plural — are going to be filled with questions, cross-talking, sidebars and comments blurted out on the spot. If you need “complete” quiet, the study group environment will be too distracting and disruptive.

All in all, study groups are meant to help. After considering the points above, should you join one? Give it some thought and be honest with yourself. That way, you’ll really know if these will benefit you. If not, try to make a few close friends in your section so that you can grab notes if you miss class or are stuck on a concept here and there. Although law school can be quite competitive, you’ll find that many students are more than happy to help one another out.

2L year, the ideal time to check bar exam requirements.

Believe it or not, the second year of law school is when you should begin researching bar exam requirements. If you’re a 2L student reading this blog, yes, that means pretty much now. It’s not too early to get moving on this process. Depending on the state/jurisdiction in which you plan to take the bar, you may encounter specific instructions, special fees and other details that will require plenty of advanced planning and work on your part. The goal is to avoid pitfalls later, when you really don’t want any surprises.

Download the free BARBRI Bar Exam Digest, which has all the information you need to know for every state and jurisdiction, including the UBE.


The bar admission requirements are just that — requirements — and certain ones come with a fee. Pay close attention. Make sure you are fully aware of those requirements and their deadlines. You may have something to do during 2L year. Ohio is a good example. Your Application to Register as a Candidate for Admission to the Practice of Law (fondly known as Character and Fitness) is due by November 15th of your second year of law school. That second year requirement applies regardless if you are on a three-, four- or five-year plan. It’s a 30-page application that wants to know everywhere you have lived since the age of 18. Seriously. Another example: In Florida, there’s an even earlier deadline. It allows (and encourages) you to sign up your first year of law school. In fact, the earlier you sign up for the Florida bar exam, the lower your overall fee.


Even if you’re going to a state where you don’t have to file your bar exam application until the third year of law school, this is not something you can do in one night. Or even over the course of a week. You will likely have to do some significant digging into your personal, financial and work histories. Remember that traffic ticket you got in the middle of nowhere driving home from college your second year? You are going to have to hunt down the docket for it to include with your application. That’s only part of it. You may have to get forms notarized and references to provide letters of recommendation. Here’s a helpful Bar Admission Checklist that will give you a general overview of what to expect.


Some states have a limited timeline established for you to file your bar exam application. In New York, for example, the application filing period is only one month. No extensions. Late applications are not accepted. The last thing you want is to wait another six months to take the bar because you missed a deadline. As a 2L student now, you can see these coming with more than enough time to gather and do everything you need on schedule.


By checking bar exam requirements (going into fall semester of 2L year or sooner), you get to see what’s tested on that exam and then plan your course schedule accordingly. If you’re bar exam state tests Commercial Law and Secured Transactions, consider taking those classes in law school. Give yourself every advantage, early and often.

As with so many things related to law school, taking time to stay informed has its rewards.

A social life in law school? You gotta prioritize and plan.

Trying to go to law and simultaneously live a normal life is like trying to ride a bike with no hands … underwater … while juggling. Sure, that may seem a little over-dramatic, but it rings true with so many first-year students. You may be having a hard time managing your time. You may want to have some fun on the weekends with family and friends and that usually leads to some struggle to complete homework before class. How do you stay on top of homework in an attempt to still have a social life? Is it possible? Here’s some insight on the matter:

tumblrHomework > Social Life. During the first semester of law school, a lot of students treat it like college. Everything else came before homework. In law school, it’s the exact opposite. Homework is too important. You must prioritize it. Your 1L grades, when you get to those final exams, carry too much weight. Flipping your priorities can be quite the adjustment but you need to do it. At every opportunity, really. Focus on homework as soon as you get home from school, during breaks in your schedule (see more on this in the next bullet) and even on the weekends. Get the work done, then see what time’s left for the fun. Doing this will lower your stress out and you’ll able to have a life. Kind of.

Do homework during the breaks in your schedule. If you have breaks in your schedule during the day, stay at school and do homework. This is the best way to stay on top of your reading for the next class. You may even be able to get ahead. Sure, lunch or coffee with classmates will tempt you — big time. But staying put in the library to do reading will have a major impact on effectively managing the workload and stress.

Plan, plan, plan. Would you really like to go to the gym this week? You can do it. You just have to plan for it. Do you need to take a trip to the grocery store? Yes, you guessed it. Plan for it. Want to go out for dinner or a movie? Plan, plan, plan. You can’t really do any of these things on the fly. Once you are able to get a handle on your homework situation for the week, plan out the rest of your schedule. If you have a plan to finish your homework by a certain time so that you can go to the gym later, you will be more likely to accomplish both. When you don’t have a plan, especially to keep you accountable on school assignments, you may find yourself watching TV or online shopping instead of doing homework. Then there’s less or no time for the gym, groceries or dinner with friends. Create a plan daily and stick to it.

Make the time to have fun. If you’re planning your day, you’re in more control of what you do and when. So you can make time for some fun. It’s not against any law school rules. For example, you may like to keep it simple with trivia game/pizza night with friends every Monday. Just remember it all goes back to focusing on homework first, getting it done and having some sense of a normal life still. Homework is important. A social life is important, too. It’s possible when you prioritize and plan.

Make school easier, less expensive — without the trial-and-error.

When entering law school, many students don’t know what to expect. They haven’t been able to attain relevant advice and aren’t sure of the ways, if any, law school varies from undergraduate. Most students plan to dive in — and hope to succeed — using trial-and-error. That’s not really the wisest approach. Here are several more proven ways to help make law school life much easier.


First year law school grades are by far the most crucial. A high GPA is a requisite for big firm jobs and many law reviews and journals. If you fail to do well your first year or even just your first semester, it is incredibly difficult to bring up your GPA.

There’s always the opportunity to catch on faster and get ahead for what’s coming next, what to do and how to do it. At any point during 1L year, you can still take BARBRI Law Preview to better position yourself for success. In just a week, it teaches proven academic strategies and how to take law school exams. It also gives an overview of 1L classes and offers personal service and support throughout law school. Essentially, to use a metaphor, students who use Law Preview are typically the first out of the gate, while other students are still learning to run.


Many students will wait until the last minute to enroll in or think about a bar review course. But keep in mind all that you’ll be getting: BARBRI offers a laundry list of study aids and resources. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of first-year students who spent an extraordinary amount of money on supplements. You don’t need to do that. Simply enroll in BARBRI and sign up for the 1L Mastery Package (free for a limited time) to start using highly-effective study tools — ready-to-use outlines for all first-year classes, on-demand video lectures for all 1L subjects, plus essay and multiple-choice practice questions. Download the BARBRI Mobile App, too, for added convenience and flexibility in how and where you want to study.


In school, there are always a few professors with whom you might not mesh well. In those situations, you’ll often feel that you don’t fully comprehend the material after lecture and must teach yourself the information. BARBRI professors delivering online video lectures (with 1L Mastery) offer a third alternative. Chances are that if a professor at your school does not fit your learning style for a particular subject, a BARBRI professor will.


BARBRI doesn’t just offer material for your 1L year. We also have all the same resources for many of your 2L and 3L classes, such as Evidence, Constitutional Law, and Criminal Procedure. Additionally, BARBRI has a free MPRE Review course to help students pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) that’s required by almost every state and jurisdiction.

Getting a head start on law school by using Law Preview and then using BARBRI’s materials can help you lower your stress and financial expense, get you on the right track immediately and help you stay ahead of the curve throughout your law school career.

Advice: Slow. Down.

Guest Blog by Courtney Boykin
3L at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

Want some advice? Slow down. This summer I had the AMAZING privilege of interning at a local school board in their general counsel’s office. It was such a great, enlightening, and enriching experience. Everything about the placement was wonderful!

On my last day, I met with the chief counsel. After we talked about my Summer experience, she asked me about my upcoming year. I told her about my 6 different courses, my extracurricular activities, my dual degree program, and my jobs.

After going down my list of “to-dos,” she told me about her law school regrets. Surprisingly, it wasn’t about studying, classes she didn’t take, or the people she didn’t meet. Her biggest regret was that she didn’t take a day off and go to the movies, the gym, or something of that nature. She regretted that she didn’t take a day off.

After reminiscing, she sat back in her chair and gave me a piece of advice I’ve heard my whole life.

“Don’t be afraid to slow down.”

My family and friends tell me this all the time and this semester, with my packed schedule, I realized the necessity of slowing down. We’re approaching a long-awaited finish-line, but we’re also about to embark on a new journey.

So, here’s to slowing down. Here’s to taking a day, or watching a movie or going to the gym. Work hard, but also remember you’re human and even you…yes you…need a break.