During the week, I attended every class (only missing two classes all year for callback interviews for 1L summer positions). You will usually have a break in between your 1L classes (my breaks ranged from 45 minutes to 90 minutes), and always try to do something law-related (supplements, Cali lessons) during those breaks (save for your lunch break). Treat it like a job where you put in your time during the day. You would be surprised how many people play grab ass and waste time during the day and then are up all night reading and doing other stuff. Also, once my last class was over, I would head to the gym for a workout, go home and eat dinner, and then spend the night working with supplements for about 1-2 hours, outline, or work on Legal Writing assignments (when they were due). Overall, I thought it was a solid schedule.
Were my grades "lucky”? To some extent, yes. In torts, I focused heavily on intentional torts and got lucky when one 90 minute essay was dedicated exclusively to intentional torts. In property, I guessed right that one policy essay would be about 3 certain theories of property (but I guessed right because I looked at all the professor’s old exams and noticed that certain types of essay questions kept popping up every other year). Realize there is inherently some luck involved in law school exams (and grading in general). “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity,” so make the most of your opportunity to show your professor how much you know on your law school exams.
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The first year of law school is a grind. It will wear you down physically and mentally. But staying in shape and working out can actually pay dividends during finals week. When other classmates you have might be fading, you might be able to keep up your work level and maintain a high level of focus. Personally. I tried to work out 4 times per week leading up to finals, and then when finals week rolled around, I would try to fit in workouts after my finals to relieve the stress. It is an approach that I think worked well for me. It doesn't matter if it is lifting weights, running, or just walking around campus, but do something physical. I've found that even if I am tired, working out will actually give me more energy than I would have had if I had not worked out.
I found that the most helpful supplements were Cali and E&E's because you could get instant feedback on your grasp of the material. Keep in mind that law school exam success requires you to go through a 2 step process:
I read the cases, worked with supplements, implemented LEEWS, attended every class, worked with study groups to go over exams, and lived and breathed law school. Was it the most healthy approach? Not necessarily. Have people done better by doing less work? Without a doubt. But at the end of the day, I wanted to be able to say that I gave it my best, and if my best wasn't good enough, then so be it. At least I had given it my all.
(2) Supplements are the only way to get feedback and gauge your progress. As I've said many times before, in law school you will receive ZERO feedback on your progress before exams. Personally, I would rather find out in November that I don't know what I am doing rather than get my exam grade back and THEN find out that I was clueless. Supplements are a great way to test your knowledge of the black letter law and your ability to analyze different fact patterns. I was a terrible issue-spotter when I started law school, but it was skill I learned through practicing with hypotheticals in supplements.
Cali Lessons (get password from your law school librarian). IMHO, best supplement other than LEEWS that I used during the year ()
(1) Your professors are probably a lot smarter than you and didn't need supplements while they were in law school, so of course they are going to tell you that. Most of your professors were probably top of their class at T14 schools and probably all-around natural-born geniuses of the law. I'm sure they mean well, but I think a blanket "don't use supplements" statement is bad advice. I only recall one professor during 1L who recommended a specific supplement. While not all of the rest of my professors explicitly said I shouldn't use supplements, at least half said supplements were not worthwhile.
(3) 2L OCI is Based Entirely on 1L Grades: Assuming that 2L OCI/OGI/EIP (or whatever acronym your school uses) will continue to exist, all the bidding and interviewing will be done based on 1L grades. Unless you are at a T14 (and sometimes at T14’s as well), most firms have GPA and/or class rank cutoffs that you need to hit. Even if you have a lottery interview system (i.e. bids are assigned by lottery system), I would imagine that if your grades are low and you get an interview at a good firm, it will probably be a waste of 20 minutes for both you and the interviewer. But, if you think about it, it is entirely possible to get a job after you graduate based SOLELY on your 1L grades. Let's say you finish in the top 10%, get a summer associate position, and the knock the firm's socks off and get an offer after the summer. You will have done that entirely based on your 1L grades and can now spend your 3L year beer drinking and playing softball. (Of course, this is assuming that firms will even be hiring SA's to begin work sometime before 2050 with all the employment deferrals the legal world has seen recently.) Either way, the GPA cutoffs at my school seemed to go up to the top 10% mark for the major legal markets, and in this economy, you will want to keep that GPA as high as you can. Even if you are someone that wants to do non-firm work (PI, etc.), there sure will be a lot of deferred Big Law people who will be competing with your for those jobs.
(2) Law Review: The one credential that all employers seem to love is Law Review. At most schools, law review is a combination of 1L grades and a journal writing competition. At my school, the top 10% automatically were invited to law review, and there were another dozen spots for write-ons (but 1L grades were weighed heavily when deciding who would be invited based on the combination of their writing score and grades). At other schools, it is completely a combination of grades and the write on score, but from anecdotal evidence I have seen on this board and others, 1L grades usually are weighed more (typically 2/3) and the write on competition is weighted less (usually 1/3 or so). However, the point is that only your 1L grades are considered for law review status. There are some schools that allow you to submit a journal note to the law review as a 2L, and if it is published, you are invited to law review (I think Chicago does this, but I am not certain), but that seems to be the exception. By all accounts, the actual work that you have to do with law review seems awful at first, but the credential will open numerous doors for you. And, yep, it is mostly based on 1L grades.
One more tangentially related thing about law school exams. It is important to self-assess and think about whether you can really write (organization, grammar, thesis sentences, etc.). Your entire grade is based on how well you WRITE, not how well you can handle the socratic method in class. Literally, the only work product the professor will see from you all year is your 4-hour written/typed exam. Unless you are able to compose exam answers quickly, concisely, and in a well organized manner, your exam will be difficult for the professor to grade and you will be more likely to end up at the median. As you are doing exam prep, think about this: "What is the best way I can present this exam and make my professor's job easy?" I used to teach, and let me tell you – it is awful to grade a stack of 80 papers. You will be more likely to get a higher grade if your writing is clear and easy to read and doesn't force the professor to work hard. Just something to think about as you focus on exam taking strategies.