The U.S. LL.M | 4 Tips To Get The Most Out of U.S. Law School Class

By Juliana Del Pesco
BARBRI International Legal Manager, Americas

The decision to immerse yourself in a foreign culture and its laws is a bold move. It will also be very rewarding once you are well-prepared. In each U.S. law school class, you will come to understand the language of law in the United States. Strange words such as casebooks, outlines and the Socratic method will soon make good sense to you.

Make the most of what will be an extraordinary international learning experience. Start with our U.S. law school classroom tips.

Here are four ways to get the LL.M. education you desire and be ready to take on a U.S. state bar exam.

#1 – USE YOUR CASEBOOK AS YOUR “ROAD MAP”

Central to your LL.M. education over the next year will be learning to read and brief cases. Most of your reading assignments will come from a casebook, which is a compilation of edited judicial opinions, other supporting text such as statutes and law review articles, and questions or problems. Once you complete a reading assignment before class, you will brief the case during class.

It’s a process that takes practice. Your casebook can be your guide for knowing how to approach an assigned case. Take a look as the chapter headings and table of contents in the casebook when you are given a reading assignment. They are your key to finding the topic to which the assigned case may relate and getting up to speed on it.

#2 – LEARN TO READ AS A U.S. LAWYER

We all know how to read. But not everyone knows the nuances of critically reading an assigned case. Speed reading may have been the goal in other aspects of your education. It won’t do here. You will soon discover that it is all about grasping what’s on the written page. Careful and critical reading of EVERY word put in front of you. This will be your most effective way to learn U.S. law, and begin thinking like a U.S. lawyer.

Dictionary with featured term "attorney," which begins with success in U.S. law school class

#3 – KEEP A GOOD LAW DICTIONARY CLOSE BY

Law is a technical language with technical meanings, and U.S. law is no different. The sooner you can absorb these meanings, the better. So when you’re reading cases, always keep a good law dictionary at hand. If you don’t understand a word you see, stop and look up its meaning. It could make the difference in your ability to properly interpret the case.

In the beginning, if you are still learning the language, you may also need to have an English dictionary to reference.

#4 – BE PREPARED TO BRIEF CASES

The ability to brief, or discuss, a case will be extremely important as you move closer to thinking like a U.S. lawyer. A brief is intended to help you recall the case in sufficient detail to discuss during class and to integrate into your class notes. It’s your best way to analyze the facts and reasoning for a reported case in an organized and manageable fashion.

It will serve you well in your legal career to master the art of reading and briefing cases early on. Law school professors largely base their classroom discussions on the “case method” of analysis and discussion rather than straight lecture. You will be expected to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned cases. That means learning how to read and brief those cases as efficiently as possible.

Law school is your time to develop and polish the skills you will need to pass the bar exam and become an amazing international lawyer. Own your U.S. law school class!

For additional guidance to help make the most of your studies, download the free BARBRI LL.M. Guide.

ABOUT BARBRI

BARBRI has helped more than 1.3 million lawyers around the world pass a U.S. bar exam. The company also provides online J.D., post-J.D., and international programs for U.S. law schools and specialized ongoing training and certifications in areas such as financial crime prevention and eDiscovery.

To help LL.M. students determine which BARBRI course may be best to pass a U.S. state bar exam, check out our blog: BARBRI EXTENDED BAR PREP AND 8-WEEK BARBRI BAR REVIEW: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Blog by Everett Chambers,
Vice President of Institutional Programs

INCORRECT ANSWERS ARE INVALUABLE OPPORTUNITIES.

In sports, those athletes who can recognize where and how they are falling short in execution, and then focus relentlessly to build upon the necessary skills, most often rise to an elite level of performance. Like the old saying says, “practice makes perfect.” Yet what happens when you practice the same way without adapting your approach to learn from your mistakes? Well, in the case of a U.S. bar exam, you could fall short of passing.

It’s human nature to study for an exam with the goal of correctly answering as many practice questions as possible. A high percentage correct affirms your grasp of the material. Step back from that mindset for a moment and reverse it – look to embrace the practice questions you got incorrect instead. These moments are not judgments on you. Rather, they are opportunities to dig deep into learning what you don’t know.

Unless you have a photographic memory, you aren’t likely to quickly recall all of the rules and elements tested on a U.S. state bar exam. And you probably haven’t previously studied all of the subjects tested on the bar exam. Working practice questions and learning from the explanatory answers, regardless of whether you got the questions right or wrong, will help build a solid foundation of knowledge.

If you are not confident in one area, don’t hesitate to begin answering practice questions from that area. Sometimes you can learn as much or more from the explanatory answers as you would from a lecture. Therefore, start answering practice questions as soon as possible, and be persistent in taking the time to focus on any problem areas. Study this way, repeat this approach and you’ll increase your scores on the bar exam.

About BARBRI International

If you are interested in expanding your career options globally, you may be eligible to sit for a U.S. Bar Exam and become a U.S. attorney. In today’s increasingly globalized world, demand continues to grow for those who understand the workings and complexities of the law of more than one jurisdiction.

BARBRI International will prepare you to pass the U.S. Bar Exam and provide flexible and supported learning, tailored to non-U.S. educated law graduates. BARBRI is a leader in legal education and the #1 bar exam preparation program for 50 years.

For additional information on Open Days, program locations and pricing, please visit barbri-international.com.