Midterms are over, and many of you realized over the past week just how much information there is to study and remember. And you know it's only going to build up as the semester continues. You may be wondering whether you actually have the time to complete everything and not die from exhaustion. The answer is absolutely YES. You have enough time to do all of your work, and to do it well. You need to look at how much time you need to spend, and how much time you're actually spending on law school. You may be surprised at how quickly the time on Facebook or Netflix adds up when you're avoiding schoolwork. But you do have enough time to do all your work and not die.
This doesn't mean there aren't sacrifices you'll have to make, of course. There is no way you can have a full-time social life, full-time school, and full-time studying. There simply are not enough hours in the day. The key to the law school game is balancing and time management. I understand as well as anyone who has gone through law school how important it is to take breaks from time to time. To give your brain a moment to recharge before you tackle the next assignment. And I, like many of you, did not realize just how difficult and strenuous law school would be before I got here. Sacrifices definitely had to be made, but I can safely tell you that it's worth it and it's doable. Here are a few of my tips from my own experience.
Law school is a three-year commitment plus bar prep. You chose to come here. Whether you succeed or fail is ultimately up to you. If you choose to party all weekend or relax at the beach rather than doing your homework and keeping up with your outlines, that is on you. That is your decision. But don't turn around and blame everyone else when you don't do as well on your finals because you spent all of your time relaxing or taking "mental health days" rather than just doing the work.
Develop your study habits now. Don't put them off and say "I'll do better next year" or "I'll crack down when bar prep comes." Because you won't. The habits you develop now will stick with you through your entire law school career. A good work ethic takes time, determination, and repetition to develop and maintain. It's not a walk in the park. It's not a switch you can flip on and off. Certainly, you'll have some days that are tougher than others. But ultimately, your approach to the trials and workload is on you. And if you're struggling with how to develop good study habits, ask for help. There are numerous good resources available to you in law school to help you organize your time and build your study habits. Swallow any pride you have (and I know most law students are fairly "I can do it on my own" type people), and acknowledge your own weaknesses. Then find people who can help you overcome those weaknesses so that you really can do it all on your own.
Find out what study methods work for you, and stick with them. If you're in a study group, that's great so long as it's helping you. My experience with study groups is that any more than two or three people tends to lead to long conversations that don't really involve what we're trying to study. And if your group isn't helping you, then it's ok to stop studying with them. They shouldn't take it as an affront that you choose to study on your own or with someone else. They should understand that you're doing what is best for you.
Take time to breathe. Stress is a good thing . . . in moderation. Stress is good so long as it is acting as positive motivation. When it becomes debilitating and keeps you from actually studying because you're too caught up with how you're going to fail, take a break. Even if it's just twenty minutes. Let your brain breathe while you focus on something other than law school. You'll come back to your work refreshed and ready to start again. The trick is to not take too many breaks. Law school is the time to push yourself to the limit. To find out what you're really made of. You can't succeed in law school or pass the bar if you're not willing to put in 500% . . . whether you're the bottom of the class or the top. Don't let yourself develop the habit of taking a break whenever things get slightly difficult because if you can't overcome small difficulties, how will you manage to deal with the bigger ones when they come along?
Don't rest on your laurels. If you're doing well in class, that's great. Try harder. Because the people at the bottom don't want to be there, and they will begin putting in extra effort to improve their grades and their position. If you grow lax in your studies because you think you're doing great, be warned that you may drop further than you expect. "Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts." ~ Winston Churchill.
Take this time post-midterms (or just mid-semester for those of you without midterms) to seriously analyze where you're at and where you want to be. If the two are not the same, figure out how to gt there and then DO IT.