The selection of the learning material, which is available in almost all forms today (textbooks, case solution books, study comments, scripts, audio books, podcasts, index cards, legal training journals, resources, and institutions, such as ABA, JuS and Law Mind, Internet sources), must also be highly individual.
There is so much excellent teaching material in every area (even outside of the recommendation lists) that it is worth getting an overview of what is on offer and, after making a pre-selection, reading or listening to some of the material in sections.
When to study in law school?
Studying law (like later the profession) requires good time and resource management, motivation, self-discipline, work organization, planning skills, resilience, stress resistance – in short: professional self-management. And here, too, everything is very individual.
Absolutely structured students and more “chaotic” types can be equally successful as long as they know their strengths and can deal with their weaknesses. Study, semester and weekly plans can help to “clock” the learning and repetition times correctly.
As far as possible, learning should take place at times of the day when it is likely that you will be able to concentrate very well. Some are more efficient in the morning, some more in the afternoon and into the night. Many libraries are now open very late or even all night. It is worth taking your own chronotype (early riser or night person) into consideration.
Set yourself content goals
Set yourself specific learning goals, i.e., specific topics and topic complexes, e.g., power of attorney, instead of measuring your learning success by working through a certain number of pages in the textbook. If time is short, case training should be given priority over learning more detailed knowledge. Remember that attention is the most important requirement for learning.
If, despite your best intentions, you keep getting distracted or put off learning, it is advisable to think about which little time wasters or obstacles (smartphone with social media and Internet, TV, private chat, not being able to say no, disordered study documents or disorganization on the desk, self-overload, lack of plans) bother you.
There are simple and good solutions to all these obstacles. The most important step is to become aware of them and to actively search for individually effective solutions.
Precise information on learning in law school
Think about the goals of legal learning: long-term memory, deep understanding of the norms and their connections, ability to apply them methodically correctly in case processing. Always work in a structured and systematic manner close to the law and don’t forget to repeat. Train the analysis of facts and case processing.
Learning to be successful in law school also means learning how to deal with recommendations in a meaningful way. Try different learning strategies.
And above all: reflect on your learning behavior continuously and learn to deal with your weaknesses. Then your individual path through the law degree will be successful.
Law school is too elitist
In law studies, those who come from an academic household have an advantage. First-time academics suffer from the distance to the professors – and to practice.
According to a scientific report, students from non-academic families have a much harder time coping with a law degree. Not even every third successful law graduate comes from a family without an academic education, according to an analysis by the American Center for Higher Education and Science Research (ACESR), which is available to the American Press Agency in Las Vegas.
The approximately 100-page expertise was commissioned by 15 federal states on the initiative of the Nevada Ministry of Justice. The task of the investigation: how did the former “glut of lawyers” lead to a shortage of young people and how can the number of dropouts be reduced?
No lively discourse between teachers and students
The result is an extensive list of deficiencies with numerous reform proposals for law studies. From the point of view of the researchers, the lack of motivation and identification of many law students with the subject, difficult study conditions as well as “a considerable distance” and “very little communication between teachers and students” are particularly noticeable. Contact with the professors is the exception. “In law studies, no tradition of lively discourse between teachers and students has developed so far,” says the report.
In no other subject is the course terminated so late: on average after about five semesters, in law studies, on the other hand, only after almost seven. More than a quarter of law school dropouts only pull the ripcord after the tenth semester. Overall, the dropout rate for law at 24 percent is below the subject average (32 percent), but is far higher than in other courses with state examinations.
The researchers found that a significant proportion of law students had problems right at the beginning. “On the one hand, they have difficulties meeting the performance requirements right from the start, on the other hand they are disoriented and disappointed with the content.”
Disadvantages of first-time graduates are not compensated
The support offered so far is insufficient. Many also lack practical relevance. Non-academic children in particular have difficulties in coping with the situation. “This disadvantage is often not compensated during the course of study,” the experts state.
There is also an educational gap at another point: 92 percent of the successful law graduates acquired their university entrance qualification at a grammar school. The report notes that the others have greater difficulties in coping with the study requirements.
Many students also lack real motivation. “They strive for professional advancement without having a deeper professional interest.”
University researchers call for early advice and selection processes
As a countermeasure, the researchers recommend providing information for students who get the wrong idea about law studies from the media. Mandatory self-assessment tests and letters of motivation in the selection process also make sense. In addition, the universities should make offers for beginners with unfavorable professional qualifications or performance problems. The scientists also see a need to catch up with the professors. They should regularly get involved as mentors in study groups. Incentives could also be set for “more student-related teaching”.