Law School

I selected California School of Law as my path for earning the degree of Juris Doctorate.  I’m going to here collect notes to document my journey toward becoming a lawyer – with tips and advice that I collect along the way for the benefit of other lawschool students. I hope you will add your tips and insights in comments to this blog — I’ll incorporate the most useful of them as best I can.

J.D. diploma from California School of Law

Here are some misc tips for anyone hoping to succeed in an online lawschool:

1. Manage your time!!!  Don’t think that you can get by with waiting until the night of class to do your study and your coursework — you’ll fall behind very quickly. Devote at a minimum, two hours each and every day. This includes weekends. And holidays. On many days you’ll do better to put in at least three hours. If you find yourself making excuses as to why this isn’t possible for you — you’re in the wrong endeavor. That’s what it takes, and you’re wasting your time and money, your self-respect and your dreams.. if you let the excuses enter into your consciousness.

2. If you have ADD or ADHD (as I do – major!) I suggest you see a specialist and get medicated. I’m normally loath to advocate drugs, but in this case I was definitely suffering until I began taking 15mg doses of Aderol. Daily, in the morning. It made a world of difference.

3. I highly recommend the audio CD courses as a supplement. For example, I purchased both the “Sum and Substance” and the “Law School Legends” Torts courses from Aspenlaw, and they’re enjoyable to listen to and definitely a big help in hearing this from different perspectives. If you’re as desperately short of time as I am, then being able to do a portion of your studies while driving, is an efficiency boost you shouldn’t miss out on. I’m collecting quite a stack of them now.

4. Make LAW your #1 hobby for the next few years. Live it, breathe it, make it your favorite topic of conversation. There is a world of “terms of art”, a different way of thinking, that you need to immerse yourself into. I’ve been picking up various books on different aspects of law and lawyership at the bookstores, and it’s interesting reading. Only by really tuning in to this subject do you start to become at home with the language and way of thinking.

5. Don’t let it become just “work” – it’s fun and it’s fascinating. And there is a tremendous sense of importance, and accomplishment, that accompanies every step along the way — if you keep the right attitude. Don’t lose sight of the greatness of your goal, just because the work becomes challenging – and it will!

6. Read into the textbooks at every possible opportunity, even apart from your allocated “study time”. On the train, the bus, waiting in line.. take it to the restroom. Many topics merit repeated going over, and I suggest marking items for memorization with a pencil in your books.

7. I created a memorization tool, along the lines of SuperMemo, which I call WumPut. It presents you with flashcards, and remembers which items you have trouble with and repeats those more frequently. Otherwise it’s too easy to get lost in the jumble of factoids you need to store away in your noggin. If you’d like to try it out, drop me a note. Otherwise, I’d suggest you try out SuperMemo. Personally I have trouble with it’s horrible user interface. Perhaps you’ll fare better.

8. Don’t tolerate your own shyness or timidity when speaking up in class. If public speaking is your weakness — work on that and make it your strength. Seek out self-help resources for public speaking. Practice in front of your friends, and focus on clarity and confidence. If you want to be a litigator, you have to use your voice and speak up.

9. Do NOT miss a class!!! I missed two already this semester, and am still having a hard time trying to figure out what assignment I missed! I had perfect attendance, then made the mistake of taking the family on a vacation for one week. I had my laptop with me, and the Sprint EV-DO modem for going online to attend class. And completely forgot!!!  “Don’t let this happen to you!”

10. Learning to do your online research is a major skill, and you need to make it your strength. Whether you get access to LexisNexis or WestLaw, I recommend you spend a little time EVERY DAY in getting comfortable with it, going through their online tutorials, doing your own legal research, playing around with every facility on their website, and accessing their own help system to address your questions. Don’t let any difficulty in this arena stand in your way: you NEED this expertise to achieve your goal, so make it your forte! Also get familiar with other online resources besides those two, including the free websites.


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