Monday, January 22, 2007

Preparing for Law School

There seems to be some disagreement in the blogosphere about whether you should or should not try to prepare for law school. One common argument against preparing is that this is your last summer off before law school and you should take advantage of the time to relax and not do anything academic, otherwise you might get burned out too early in the first semester. But this doesn't apply to me because I am not coming to law school straight out of school or work. In fact if I start now, I still can have the summer off. Another argument is that you may spend a lot of time trying to learn a subject only to find that your professor emphasizes completely different things than the book or class you used to prep. However, I don't plan to study any one topic in depth, I just want to gain a little familiarity, so that when I get to class I won't spend weeks just trying to figure out the terminology.

So far I have purchased a number of books from the summer reading list I found on my third choice school's admitted students' website (see what I have so far here). In addition, I have been looking for additional reading suggestions online (this post has links to various schools' reading lists). I have begun reading A History of American Law by Lawrence Friedman. So far I am finding it pretty interesting and have even been able to relate it to my family history. I think it will provide me with a good background in how our law has changed since colonial times, which will hopefully help me to understand the significance of more recent changes.

I have also been looking into how I can introduce myself to the subjects that will be taught in my first year classes. This site has a plan for preparing for law school that involves reading the Nutshells and skimming the Gilberts for all my first year classes. I think that is a little too hard core for me. I also do not have any plans to spend $1000 on a week-long prep course (like this one or this one). However, I am considering spending $50 to access the lessons at or $80 to access Aristotle. (If anyone has used either of these and can tell me if they are worth the money I would appreciate it.)

In the meantime I am looking for free resources for learning about the law and law school online. Here are a few I have found so far:

As I find more I will post them, and as I progress in my preparation I will keep you updated.


Chris said...

Try the Little Fish in Law School blog at

She can give you some insight and let you in how things work.

Chris said...

I added you to my blogroll.

Anonymous said...

Hey, 3L here, you might try


It contains quite a few outlines for many courses and may serve as a good resource for you now but even more once you start law school. In my opinion, outlines are the key to surviving law school. Of course it is better if you write your own but other peoples' are a good reference point to start from.

In regard to the sites you have listed, nothing I looked at, read, studied, etc. prior to entering law school prepared me for the experience. You will laugh, cry, lose some common sense, etc. No one ever talks about this, mind you. They tell you it will be a "difficult transaition" and put stress on your relationships, etc. but no matter how hard you try to prepare - you won't be able to. With that said, it is a wonderful experience and I can't imagine doing or being anywhere else.

I hope this helps and Good Luck!

saramel said...

Thanks Anonymous 3L, that looks like a good resource.

Anonymous said...

I'd say the Examples and Explanations series are written in the most down-to-earth way, and give a nice snapshot of each subject. They're also really good to study with during the semester, because they have real problems with answers. I found that the E&E's forced me to actively learn instead of just passively skim.

The best book around, I think, for preparing is a book called "Acing Your First Year of Law School." Not to brag, but I just finished my first semester, and I did very well. I relied on a lot of the ideas in the book, and I think it helped.

DON'T read "Slaying the Law School Dragon." My school recommended that one, and I promise you that it is utterly worthless. And read "One L" for fun, but don't freak out--my school, at least, is nothing like that, and from what I hear, few schools are these days.

Good luck!

saramel said...

Thanks for your comment anonymous. I have heard a lot of good things about the Examples and Explanations series, and I was planning on using thoe during school and to help prepare for exams, but I thought they might be too detailed to read before law school. I purchased a couple nutshell books, so I think I am going to start with those.

Zuska said...

i was definitely a NON-preparer, and I don't think it hurt me. However, I also worked in law firms since I was 16 or a little older, and that may have had something to do with it.

Do what makes you comfortable. I was MORE than comfortable not preparing. If you're more comfortable preparing, then that's what you should do (just not too much!!).

saramel said...

Zuska, thanks for visiting my blog, and thanks for your comment! Since I am currently a full-time stay-at-home mom, the reading and such that I am doing to prepare for law school is actually a welcome change from baby talk and reassures me that my brain has not atrophied. Maybe if I were working or going to school now I would feel differently about preparing.