Tag Archives: Tips and Strategies

“Why I Went to Law School”

With the start of a new semester just days away, now is a good time to remind yourself of the reason(s) you decided to attend law school.  There are definitely no shortages of challenges in law school, and whether you’ve just made it through your first semester, beginning your very first semester, or heading into your final one, reminding yourself of why you began this journey in the first place can help you stay on track.  Below are a few examples of why some of our students chose to attend law school.  Take some time to remind yourself of your own reasons and you just might find the motivation you need to have your best semester yet!

Stacey D:  “I went to law school to give a voice to those that otherwise wouldn’t have one.  I was active in the Guardian Ad Litem program at FCSL to make sure children were represented in court.  Also, I wanted to be financially independent, and law school will help me achieve that goal.  Lastly, after seeing firsthand the problems with foster care, I wanted to go to law school to help change the laws in that area so that foster children have greater protection under the laws.”

Laura B:  “I decided to go to law school because I grew up listening to, and witnessing, the passion with which my father described his job as a prosecutor and then then later as a business owner of his own law firm.  I was taught, rightfully so, that with a law degree, I would be privy to multitudes of opportunities that otherwise may not be possible or achieved without this degree.  With a law degree, I can practice law, work with my father and brother at the family firm, or be a business owner, among other things. Also, I felt permitted to respect myself for deciding to pursue a path of higher education.
Furthermore, I leaned towards law because I love language, reading between the lines, finding resolutions, and solving problems in creative ways.”

Michelle L: “The main reason I went to law school is because it offers versatility to different job opportunities. The curriculum teaches marketable skills that include perfecting the art of oral and written communication that is marketable for potential employers.  I am interested in different areas of the law that include health care, legislation, and the corporate environment.  The skills I will acquire while in law school will forever assist me in my professional career path.”

MC Test Tips

ASP Workshop #3: Multiple Choice Strategies

With midterms fast-approaching, you’ve probably started to think about the format of those tests and how best to prepare.  The majority of your midterm exams will have a multiple choice component.  Don’t be caught unawares though; multiple choice questions on a law school exam can be drastically different from the types of questions you are used to from undergrad.  Therefore, we hope you’ll join us for one of our workshops next week.

The Academic Success Department will host the third in its series of ASP workshops geared toward first-semester students titled Multiple Choice Strategies.  On Tuesday, September 25th, we will be in room 455 from noon to 1:00 p.m.  Feel free to bring your lunch, or a snack, to enjoy during the presentation.  On Friday, September 28th, there will be an encore presentation from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. in room 250.

We look forward to seeing you at one of the workshops next week!

How to Create a Study Group

Since you began law school, you have probably heard dozens of people recommend studying with a group.  Well, those people are right; listen to them!  However, that may be easier said than done.  How should a student create a study group?  Many students have no idea how to begin.  Keep reading for some advice about creating a study group. 

First, have any groups already been created for you?  Often during orientation or on the first day of class, administrators or professors place students into groups.  If this happened to you, you’re practically done; your study group already formed.  Talk with the group, determine who is interested, and then make a plan. 

You may think this is a very haphazard way to create something as important as a study group, but it isn’t that risky.  Most students in law school had to be smart, hard workers to make it that far.  The odds against getting an ignorant slacker are in your favor.  Also, if you do have someone who doesn’t want to put for the effort, he or she will usually decline the initial invitation or drop out after a couple meetings. 

If you weren’t lucky enough to have a study group handed to you, don’t worry; creating your own won’t be that difficult.  First, you may not want to start by populating your group with your friends.  You like your friends.  You get along with your friends.  You don’t mind spending time with your friends.  All of that is true, but all of that could be a problem.  One of the main complaints students have about study groups is that they never get any work done.  Before many groups can discuss what constitutes a valid contract, the conversation has devolved into a discussion of who punched whom on the latest episode of Real Housewives of Whatever County.

Your study group is like a business partnership.  You are there to accomplish a specific task, and the better you focus on that task, the more helpful the time with the group will be.  Sure, you can have a good time with your study group, and if none of you has trouble focusing, studying with your friends can be great, but if you can think of any reason why a friend group wouldn’t work, don’t hesitate to look elsewhere.

So whether you need a whole team of total strangers for your group or you and your buddy are looking for a couple folks to round it out, the next step is to watch and listen while you are in class.  Which students always seem to be prepared?  Depending on your personality, you may want to avoid the “gunners,” but finding students who are clearly as serious as you are about learning the law is important.  If you can tell that a student hasn’t prepared for class, you can probably feel safe betting he or she won’t prepare for your study group.  If a student never knows an answer, never has his book, and often doesn’t even come to class, you probably want to choose someone else.  However, that doesn’t mean you only need the absolute smartest people in your group.

Some students think they should only have the very brightest people in a study group, but a more varied group will likely be more beneficial.  When students are studying, they likely have two settings: either they understand or they are confused.  If a student is confused, he or she will need a group member to help clarify the confusion.  If a student understands, he or she could be the one to clarify for others.  Often, the best way to prove you really know something is to try to explain it to someone who doesn’t understand.  By varying the ability level of the members of your study group, you increase the likelihood that you will get to play both roles at different times, which will help ensure that you understand the material by the end of the semester.

Once you have your group, or while you are finalizing membership, you should agree to a set of rules.  What will your goals be?  What must each member prepare for each meeting?  What will the format of your sessions be?  If a group member cannot abide by the rules, he or she should probably leave the group.  If a student isn’t contributing, the rest of the group will quickly become frustrated with that student reaping any benefits.  (Watch for a future post explaining how to “break-up” with a study group.)

Study groups can be a very important and beneficial part of the law-school learning process.  Many students have had bad, or at least mediocre, experiences with study groups in the past.  However, if you follow the simple steps above, you will be able to form an efficient study group, and you will quickly see how helpful it can be.  If you have any questions about how to form a study group, what to do once you have one, or anything else, please don’t hesitate to come by the Academic Success Department.  We’re ready to help!

ASP Workshop #2: Outlining and Course Summaries

Are you worried about your course outlines?  Have you tried to work on them, but you just don’t know where to start?  Are you unsure if your outline is as effective as it could be?  If you answered “Yes!” to any of those questions, then you need to attend one of our outlining workshops next week.

The Academic Success Department will host the second in its series of ASP workshops geared toward first-semester students titled Outlining and Course Summaries.  On Tuesday, September 11th, we will be at The Flats at Kernan from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the clubhouse.  Please feel free to attend even if you are not a resident of The Flats.  The address is 4850 First Coast Tech Parkway, Jacksonville, FL 32224.  On Friday, September 14th, there will be an encore presentation from 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. in room 250.

We look forward to seeing you at one of the workshops next week!

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Services Available

Some of you may remember a famous quote from the movie, Jerry Maguire:

Help me, help you!

This has a very familiar ring to it as much of what we do in Academic Success is help students acquire skills so that they can be successful on their own.  Essentially, we are here to help you learn to help yourself.  Our department is here as a resource for all students, but it’s not uncommon for students to be unaware of everything that we can do to help.  Therefore, here is a quick overview of the services we offer to our students.

About Us and the Program

All of the Academic Success Counselors are licensed attorneys in good standing with various state bars.  They have had training in student instruction, bar exam preparation, and general academic success techniques.  Counselors are available by appointment or for walk-in meetings based on availability.  The mission of our department is to assist students in maximizing academic potential during the unique rigors of law school.  We have all been there before and we understand what you are going through.  Don’t be afraid to use us as a resource!

Individual Appointments

Counselors are available for individual meetings to offer advice and assistance in many topics including the following:

  • Adjusting to the stresses and challenges of law school
  • Discussing life issues that may affect academic performance
  • Essay writing
  • Exam preparation and strategies
  • Improving study methods
  • Scheduling classes
  • Bar application completion

Resources for First-Year Students

Law School Foundations consists of skills-development seminars that provide first-year students with an intense introduction to law school and the tools necessary to become active and successful learners.  Through in-class exercises, individual meetings, and live workshops, students develop and sharpen their study and test-taking stragegies while mastering the skills necessary to succeed in law school, on the bar exam, and in practice.

Resources for Upper Level Students

There is an online series of academic success workshops on essay-writing that assist upper level students as they continue to develop and improve their writing skills.  These workshops can be found under “Vodcasts” on the Academic Success SharePoint Site.

Advanced Florida Bar Studies is a 3-credit essay-writing course taught in students’ final semester.  This skills-development course is designed to prepare students for the state-specific sections of the Florida bar exam.

Multistate Bar Exam Strategies is a 1-credit course taught during students’ final year.  This skills-development course is designed to prepare students for the multiple choice, multistate section of any state’s bar exam.

Bar Preparation Services

There are bar intensive courses available to you in your final year of law school: Advanced Florida Bar Studies and Multistate Bar Exam Strategies.  In addition, you will be assigned a bar coach upon graduation.  Your coach will assist you with preparation for your state bar exam, including essay review.

Hopefully this post has given you an overview of the variety of services offered by our department.  If you have any questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, please stop by our offices in Suite 580.