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Communicating With Other Law Students: Study Groups

published July 30, 2013

By Author - LawCrossing
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( 2 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
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"My first year in law school, I studied for Constitutional Law and Criminal Law with four other people. We used to meet at Starbucks on 67th Street and Columbus Avenue in New York City. Most groups studied in the library, but not us; we liked to be in public when we studied. One of our favorite ways to review was to use Gilberts flash cards. The flash cards asked questions by setting up ridiculous scenarios using literary and other popular characters. Invariably, wherever we sat down, tables seemed to empty around us. Coffee-drinking New Yorkers are smart enough to know that they should avoid law school students armed with Gilberts flash cards." -GABRIELLE KLEINMAN, COLUMBIA. LAW SCHOOL

Within the first week or two of the first semester of law school, you are bound to hear students forming "study groups." Some students put a lot of thought into choosing a group to work with, hoping to gain an advantage in understanding class materials. The size of these groups varies, from two to as many as 10 participants (more than 10 people is probably inefficient). Some study groups meet daily, others weekly or monthly. The length of the meetings also varies, from 30 minutes to two hours or more. A study group may merely discuss class readings or may decide to create group notes or a group outline of the course.

Being in a study group is usually a good idea. Discussing course topics with other students on a regular basis is bound to increase your understanding of class materials. In forming a study group, however, know exactly what it is that you want to accomplish and choose other students who have the same goals. Most importantly, team up with people who you think you will enjoy working with and who will enjoy working with you. Do not give in to the temptation to choose the person in the class who strikes you as the most brilliant, unless you truly think that you will enjoy spending time with that person. Your assessment of that person's brilliance may be inaccurate and, if you really do not appreciate the person's company, you are likely to be too annoyed and distracted to glean much benefit from studying with that individual.

Here are three suggestions for working in a study group:

    This goal can be achieved by agreeing to parameters up front. If you agree to spend an hour together for each class each week, you are likely to accomplish more during an hour than you would if you had not decided the duration of your meeting in advance.

    Each study group member should review his or her notes and other class materials before the meeting. Determining in advance what issues seem most important or most confusing will provide focus for study group meetings.

    Whether you decide to meet monthly, weekly, or more than once a week, stick to your schedule. Think of law school as your job and your study group meetings as important appointments. Missing several meetings may mean more work come finals.

In college, you might have avoided talking with professors because your peers would have called you a "brown-noser." Unfortunately, some of the same peer pressure exists in law school. And that's not the only stumbling block to dealing with law school professors. Another reason many students do not communicate with their professors is the intimidation associated with the Socratic Method. But you really should not allow these feelings to stand in the way of getting to know your professors, especially if you feel that such contact is important to your learning some of the more difficult points of law. Most law professors will be more than willing to talk with you. In many ways, you share more in common with your law professors than you might have with your college professors. They all completed law school at some time, and now they are helping you to become part of their profession.

There are a variety of ways to ask questions of your professors. Professors generally respond to questions during class. Many professors will also entertain questions for a short period after a class ends. In addition, most law schools require professors to hold office hours during which students can stop by on an individual basis. Finally, many law schools are working diligently to acquaint their students with the conveniences of modern technology that may be useful to them in their legal practice. Therefore, professors often accept and respond to questions over e-mail and may create bulletin boards on the Internet upon which all students can post questions that the professor and other students can read and answer.

Learn the 10 Factors That Matter to Big Firms More Than Where You Went to Law School

published July 30, 2013

By Author - LawCrossing
( 2 votes, average: 4 out of 5)
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