Sample 1L Study Schedule


Law school is well known for the grueling schedule it imposes on its students. From the hundreds of pages per week in reading, to the endless pressure of preparing outlines for finals, the first year of law school can feel like being hit with a ton of bricks. Students who have been through it all know that in order to survive the first year of law school, it's imperative that students prepare and follow a 1L study schedule.

It is inevitable that first year law students will feel inundated with homework. However, creating and maintaining a 1L study schedule will help students stay on top of the massive amount of cases to read and the legal concepts intertwined within. A time management schedule is not only crucial to success as a law student, but also to continued success as a lawyer.

Reading and Briefing Schedule

Since the average dropout rate for first-year law students tends to hover around 20 to 40 percent, staying on top of each class' syllabus is key to law school success. Almost every teacher breaks down his or her semester with a detailed syllabus that directs students to which cases to read and brief for each day of class. While it's possible to succeed without briefing a single case, the majority of successful law students carve out specific times each day to keep up with their assigned reading as closely as possible.

The Socratic Method used by most law schools is usually motivation enough for students to keep up with their assigned reading. After all, there's nothing worse than being caught like a deer in headlights while your professor grills you about a case that you failed to read. Setting aside two hours for each hour a class meets should provide most students with more than enough time to read and brief the assigned cases.

For example, if your criminal law class meets three times a week for an hour each class, then set aside six hours throughout the week to focus just on crim law cases. The six hours does not need to be put together in one large block, but can be scattered in one- or two-hour blocks throughout the week. Making sure you are properly prepared with an understanding of the cases and with useful case briefs can make your first year much less stressful.

Outlining

With the abundance of reading that 1Ls face, the extra task of outlining for each class can sound daunting. In fact, piecing together class outlines are usually the last thing 1Ls want to do after finally putting that casebook down. However, outlines are by far the most essential element of a 1L study schedule. Creating and reworking outlines should be a task that all law students (and bar takers) take extremely seriously. It's crucial that you include at least an hour a week per class to improve your outlines. Your success in law school could depend on it.

A good skeleton of an outline can be derived straight from your teacher's syllabus or even the table of contents in the beginning of the course's case book. Another good source is to obtain outlines from students who previously took the class (and passed) with the same professor. However, it would be unwise to strictly use another student's outline without adding your own input to it. By creating your own outline, your brain will retain more info than if you had just read the outline of another.

Practice Essays

Another area that students commonly neglect when planning out a 1L study schedule is finding time to take practice essays. The excuses for why not to take practice exams come in bunches for law students.

"I don't have enough time." "I don't know the law well enough to take the test effectively." "I just don't want to." Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.

From now until you pass the bar, practice exams will actually help you learn and internalize the law. Also, by reading fact patterns on practice exams, you become accustomed to issue spotting, highlighting important facts, and noticing trends in the teacher's (or the bar committee's) tests. In reality, students can absorb a lot by simply failing a practice essay and learning from their mistakes by reading through a sample answer.

Learning how to write an efficient, succinct essay answer can be done way before you ever sit down for your first law school exam. Scheduling practice essays for an hour a week for each class will help you understand the law to a greater degree than solely reading your case book. At the very least, it will teach how to properly take a law school exam.

Eat, Exercise, and Sleep

Law school definitely takes a toll on your body, mind, and soul. Remembering to allot time to eat and sleep into your schedule is necessary to keep your brain and body nourished, so that you can continue to push through this undeniably difficult journey. Exercise can help get your system fired up before your grueling day starts and is also a known stress reliever.

Keeping stress to a minimum during your first year of law school can be done simply by creating an effective 1L study schedule. Below is a sample 1L study schedule that can help you succeed in your first year:

Day

Criminal Law

Contracts

Torts

Civil Procedure

Monday

Class: 9am-10am

Class: 10am-11am

Reading: 1pm-3pm

Reading: 3pm-5pm

Tuesday

Reading: 8am-10am

Reading: 10am-12pm

Class: 1pm-3pm

Class: 3pm-5pm

Wednesday

Class: 9am-10am

Class: 10am-11am

Reading: 1pm-3pm

Reading: 3pm-5pm

Thursday

Reading: 8am-10am

Reading: 10am-12pm

Class: 1pm-3pm

Class: 3pm-5pm

Friday

Class: 9am-10am

Class: 10am-11am

Class: 1pm-3pm

Class: 3pm-5pm

Saturday

Reading: 8am-10am

Practice Exam: 10am-11am;

Outline: 11am-12pm

Reading: 1pm-3pm

Practice Exam: 3pm-4pm;

Outline: 4pm-5pm

Sunday

Practice Exam: 8am-9am;

Outline: 9am-10pm

Reading: 10am-12pm

Practice Exam: 1pm-2pm;

Outline: 2pm-3pm

Reading: 3pm-5pm

Staying on Track

Passing law school and the bar requires dedication, endurance, and perseverance. By creating a 1L study schedule that conforms to your specific course load and sticking to it, you can set yourself up for continued success during your first year and beyond. Learn more about what to expect from law school and the bar exam through FindLaw for law students.