How I Use 1L Mastery to Survive the Day-to-Day

Mara Masters, 1L at Emory Law

Hi! My name is Mara and now that Stephanie has graduated to the 2L life, I am taking over here at the 1L Life.

If you’re reading this, that probably means you are either my mom (Hi mom!) or that you have made it through the first few weeks of Law School! Congratulations! Ignore the nagging feeling that you understand less about the law than when you started and remind yourself of everything you’ve accomplished. Now remind yourself again. Law school is hard, but you can crush it.

If you still feel weighed down by how little you understand about the law, don’t worry. I get it. That’s one of the reasons I love the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package. Another reason is that just like every other student at Emory Law, immediately after I was sworn into the profession, I also swore undying loyalty to Professor Freer. I have no problems with this, because I am the weirdo who actually loves Civ Pro.

1L Mastery Package is for the start of the semester just as much as for the end.

Jokes aside though, here are some ways I use it in my day-to-day work:

  • To illuminate the overarching concepts that I can’t piece together from the case readings.

I am a global thinker to a fault.

You know the adage, “don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees?” My problem is more like I am standing in a forest and can’t tell that what is in front of me is a tree because I don’t realize that I am in a forest.

For better or worse, we learn the law through inductive processes. That’s extra difficult when you are learning dense material that often seems to defy logic. I often find myself standing right in front of Promissory Estoppel and can’t tell that I am in Contracts. When this happens, I open up my 1L Outlines Book, and instantaneously have the immediate context for every concept. This helps me understand complex topics immensely more than re-reading cases does.

1L Notes
(Photo of study notes: My actual, hand-written notes on Consideration. Not pictured: the vat of coffee just outside the frame)

It also helps me refresh previous concepts. Can’t remember how personal jurisdiction works? No worries. I can go watch that lecture from Professor Freer on the BARBRI website and then take a follow-up quiz to make sure I understand it. (Side note: at Emory, we refer to Professor Freer’s lectures as “The Freer Tapes” as though they are top-secret FBI documents).

  • To define terms succinctly.

Do you remember when you were in elementary school and had to practice using context clues to define unfamiliar words? I often feel like that when reading casebooks. Legal jargon is dense, ya’ll. Sometimes using context clues doesn’t work and looking up terms online is more confusing than just going about my life in ignorance.

Dog reading
(Photo of Charley- I swear I did not bribe him with treats to wear those glasses in front of a BARBRI outline book. I found him like this. Swear.)

And sometimes I go online to look something up and come back to my textbook 40 minutes later with a new pair of boots from L.L.Bean and zero terms defined. That is neither here nor there. The point is that the 1L Outlines Book does a pretty excellent job at defining complex words simply enough that my elementary-school brain can handle it.

  • I’m thinking toward the endgame.

Good 1L Outlines are beefy.

I have held some in my hands that weigh literal pounds. They are intimidating – “A problem for future-Mara,” as I sometimes say. But by exposing myself regularly to very well constructed outlines, I am “photographing two birds with one exposure” (thank you Professor George Shepherd) – I am learning the material I need to learn and teaching myself the language of the outline at the same time!

  • Charley Likes It.

If you’re still not sure about whether 1L Mastery might be helpful to you, give it a try. It’s free for a limited time. Have any questions about how I use it or why I love Civ Pro? Reach out! You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @the1Llife!

1L Mastery Package Continues To Carry Over | 3L Student Success Story

by Aaron Feld
University of Illinois College of Law | Class of 2020

Aaron Feld, 3L at University of Illinois Law (Class of 2020) | Using what worked with the 1L Mastery Package, I've implemented an effective study strategy. I’m now in my 3L year of law school and I’m totally ready. I just completed a summer of working in a Chicago-based law firm and plan to go full-time with the firm once I graduate from the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign. My focus will be in the area of Corporate Law with an emphasis in Sports and Sports Facilities. It’s a career path I’m greatly looking forward to. I largely have BARBRI to thank for preparing me.

Right from the start, BARBRI was captivating

I was introduced to BARBRI Bar Review in 2017, when I attended a video demonstration by the BARBRI student representative at the University of Illinois. It was a captivating presentation, and I went on to study using the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package.

It’s an in-depth suite of 1L success resources that includes detailed course outlines and on-demand video lectures paired with ample multiple-choice and essay practice questions.

Online lectures, outlines and practice exams did the trick

I mainly used the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package materials for three classes: Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, and Torts. The materials provided a good foundation of each course, especially to bring me clarity in Constitutional Law. I listened to the online lectures prior to studying and creating outlines to learn key principles. The 1L Mastery lecturers were fantastic. And if I didn’t understand a specific topic, I would find a related lecture and listen to it again and again until I grasped it. I could speed up the videos to save time and hone in on just what I needed. This served particularly useful in learning the rules of Civil Procedure.

When it came time to study Torts, BARBRI’s practice exams did the trick. The practice questions were well laid out and exams covered both issue-spotting and multiple-choice analysis. Even the low-hanging fruit, those topics that can often be overlooked during studies, was accounted for.

What I learned my first year in law school, was that there was no set strategy for how things should be done as a 1L. You must first establish what you don’t know, and then figure out how to best learn. BARBRI allows you to be creative in your studies and the scope. You can speed up the video lectures, just read the course book from cover to cover, or work through tons of practice exam questions. All of the 1L success resources are there for you to use in a way that’s right for you.

Using BARBRI study aids as a 1L continues to carry over

Although the results from my July 2019 sitting of the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) are not yet posted, I am confident that the free BARBRI MPRE Review prepared me for success on the exam. Everything was online and very convenient. The chapter summaries were compact and the practice exams were helpful in applying the information on the actual exam. Best of all, I was able to implement my own study strategy based on what had worked during my time with the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package materials.

#The1Llife: 1L Exam Reflection

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
1L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Today I’ll be talking about the most dreaded 1L topic …. exams!

Being early January I can officially say I’ve survived my first semester exams, so there’s that. Now while I anxiously await grade disbursement in late January I have the time to reflect on the overall experience… so here it is.

The first word that comes to mind when I reflect on exam month is “EXHAUSTING.” Although I had roughly five plus days between each exam, spending an entire month studying takes a lot out of you. First, your schedule is completely thrown. Instead of waking up and going to class like your body is used to, suddenly you’re spending days on end in the same PJ’s, hardly eating, and staying up late because you’ve convinced yourself those extra two hours of studying will be your saving grace. The second word that comes to mind is “BRUTAL!” After studying for essentially 17 hours a day for a week the time finally comes when you have to actually write your exam. You think you’re prepared and feel slightly confident by that time, right? Hopefully, but nearly everyone I know left the exam feeling roughly ten shades worse than when they’d entered regardless of how confident they felt upon entering.

Even if you typed until your fingers cramped, and felt like you understood the questions, there’s still the understanding that you’re graded on a curve, so no matter how well you did it all comes down to how well the person next to you did… which is heartbreaking. Furthermore, there’s the pressure of how to study “correctly” and the shame that comes along with that. For me, I’ve always favored solo studying, however, many preferred group studying which left me feeling like maybe I was missing out. Then there was the question of flash cards vs. note review, along with the number of practice exams to take.

Now, what did I find actually helped me during this whole process? First off, I personally believe that no matter how much you study, or whether your exam is open book or closed book, you will still leave feeling slightly worse than when you entered. Law school exams are designed (in my mind) to cut you short. Teachers want you to prioritize the larger claims over the smaller ones, but that doesn’t change the fact that when the exams end you’ll be left wondering if the claims you picked were the right ones, or regretting the fact that you couldn’t type that much faster so you could write that one extra claim down. My only advice regarding that is to take practice exams. My first torts practice exam I essentially word vomited on a page, it was unorganized and I missed a lot of claims because I was too busy defining little things. After three more practices, I got used to the time limit, understood better how to read the questions, and just overall had better control over my nerves so in the end, my essay came out coherent, organized, and well distributed between the claims.

The most helpful tool however actually came in the form of the 1L BARBRI Mastery Program videos. To be honest I only used these for Civil Procedure after quickly realizing I knew nothing about the subject, cried, and determined I would just have to teach myself in the five available days. In hindsight I wish I had watched the videos for all my courses, because truly I cannot say it enough – THE BARBRI VIDEOS ARE LIFE-SAVING! If it weren’t for those Civ Pro videos myself, and probably most of the 1L class at Penn would have walked into the exam saying “what is Erie” … “subject matter what?”

To summarize, my main advice is:

(1) take some time to rest or you will burn yourself,

(2) study the way you feel comfortable studying and do not waste time feeling guilty about it,

(3) watch/buy the BARBRI videos because they are really life-changing (and no I am not forced or pay to say that)!

#The1Llife: The Year In Review

GUEST BLOG by Jackson Long,
1L at SMU Dedman School of Law

Wow… what a whirlwind of a year.

August to May, nine months of new experiences at every turn and the hardest I’ve worked in my entire life. It just hasn’t truly sunk in yet. So before we look forward to what’s next, let’s look back and reflect (and learn) from what was a year to remember for each of us.

Starting Off on the Right Foot

First day jitters are definitely a thing. Who is in your class? How does the law school learning style fit with my own? Is the professor going to Socratically crush me on day one? Completing the BARBRI Law Preview course before the start of school helped answer all of those questions. I met a group of friends to gravitate to on day one and even some who attend other law schools in the state (we still keep in touch). The biggest result: knowing what to expect each day in class and knowing what professors expect on exam day. While others jumped straight into the fire, I felt prepared from the first day. And there are few things more important during your 1L year than being “ahead of the curve.”

Setting Your Foundation

One of those things, however, is finding the right fit for yourself. 1L year will test relationships (good and bad), habits (also both good and bad), and many other things previously set in your life. It’s critical to get into a grove that you are comfortable in even with the chaos of law school swirling around you. I was fortunate to find a great group of friends to balance staying active and social with the rigors of studying. The relationships created in law school and through your experiences lead to many opportunities both professionally and socially.

Embracing the Grind

After laying the groundwork in your new place, then the real show begins. We don’t need to go over how demanding 1L year was. We both know it. The biggest thing is learning to roll with the punches, keep your balance, and move forward. I had two major computer issues hit me this year. My roommate ruptured his Achilles. I’m sure some students have had much MUCH worse. I’m thankful for only having the troubles I had. Because law school has no mercy – you can only push forward with all you have, and give it all you got for one year.

Finishing Strong

And here we are, finished. Many of you have probably already started your summer work. Look back on the last three weeks with pride after putting every last ounce of effort into your 1L grades. I often make fun of how I didn’t know a lick of Civil Procedure until the last week of April. Personal side note: thank you Professor Richard Freer of Emory Law, your BARBRI 1L Mastery videos single-handedly saved my Civ Pro backside. But that’s part of finishing strong. If there’s a will, then there’s a way. And when you have to fight through the last few weeks, you finish strong because you have to.

I’ve certainly enjoyed the opportunity to write along on our 1L journey together. We’ve had lots of ups and lots of downs (almost getting hit by a car). But through and through, I hope your 1L experience is one that you can look back upon with great pride and joy – even if you’re absolutely thrilled that it’s finally over like I am.  Now you can pass the torch. Congratulations and cheers to you, the new 2L!