How to study law to get As on law school exams

QUESTION FOR YOU:  Do you know how to study law to get top grades (which is the very definition of law school success)?  Do you know how to properly prepare for law school exams?

You're here because you have been searching these here interwebs.  You have been working hard, researching the secrets to law school success.

And what do you find?

A veritable crossfire of conflicting information on what to do in law school.

"Brief cases!"  "Do all the reading!"  "Don't do the reading!" "Outline outline outline!" "Just take practice exams and don't outline!" "Shut up!!!!"

And what's worse, a lot of this advice tells you WHAT to do ("brief cases, outline, and take practice exams" "Do IRAC"), without telling you HOW to do it ("Seriously, WTF is IRAC????").

Hi there, I'm Larry.  (More about me here.)

I tutor -- coach, really -- law students at top schools (like Harvard, Columbia and Texas) to top grades.

And I want to show you, step by step by step, how to do well on your law school exams.  

This is not another guide full of what you should do without explaining how you should do it.

You're smart (you wouldn’t be in law school).

You’re not afraid to work hard.

But you’re a little confused on how to study law the right way:

  • Maybe it's the summer and you feel pressure to prepare for law school and get ahead (maybe your parents are, um, pushing you a little?).
  • Maybe you just started law school, and you don’t know where to begin.
  • Maybe you got caught up in the swirl of rumors and other students bragging about how hard they study.
  • Maybe you already got your grades back from your first semester and were a little disappointed.

It is hard to sort through all of conflicting, sometimes unsolicited advice you get from upperclassman and your own nervous classmates on how to study law. Crazy rumors fly around about magic outlines and different methods that got people As on their law school exams.

Even, frankly, your professors’ advice on how to study law is suspect and totally not helpful. In any case, all of your classmates have heard it, so no one gets an advantage.

What if there were a straightforward guide on how to study law the right way, with specific, step-by-step tactics?

That is, a guide on exactly how to prepare for and write excellent law school exams:

One that not only tells you strategies, but makes you use actually use them.

That is what we do at 7Sage Law School Prep. 

If you sign up, RIGHT AWAY you get the following:

First you get specific, student-tested law school exam strategies.  

  • In video and text to learn the best way for you.  
  • And with a community of other students working hard to learn with you.

Then you get real, timed law school practice exams.

  • They start easy and build up to become harder.
  • By the time you are done, you are prepared to really tackle a real exam.  

Then (we're not done) you get model answers and an interactive scorecard.

  • Ask anyone -- model answers are super rare in law school.  
  • They are gold.  This alone is worth the price of admission.
  • The scorecard lets you assess your strengths and weaknesses and improve.

Then (on top of that!) you get video and audio explanations for the answers.

  • A professor will never sit you through an exam answer.
  • But I will.  Line by line explanations.

Specific, step-by-step tactics on how to study law to DOMINATE on your law school exams.

I would have really have loved to have something on how to study law, something like 7Sage Law School Prep, when I started as a law student.

I was a good law student.  But I was uneven first year (really good grades and really bad grades).

I felt confused after 1L year.  

I felt like I was missing something and riding waves of good and bad luck.

I needed a more specific system or method on how to study law.

My second year I was a teaching assistant in crim law and an official NYU-sanction tutor to first year law students.

That is, I was a teaching assistant who graded practice exams.

It was in trying to teach other students and getting to see the variety of good and bad answers that I really got to understand a system or method.

It’s a cliché but it’s true: you don’t really understand something until you have to teach it to someone.

I never really knew exactly what made up a good exam and how to study law until I had to explain it to other law students and until I actually graded exams myself.

So I graduated from law school.  (This is years ago now.)  I clerked twice, I worked for the President of Ireland, I litigated.  I worked hard but I did interesting things.

Yet something stuck with me.  After years of practice I had an itch to help people really study law the right way.

Several years ago, on the side, I started to tutor law students, and got the itch to put the method I was teaching them to paper.

If I was starting from scratch, what would I tell a new law student about how to study law and ace exams? What would they do first? Then what? And what after that?

Some of my students had such basic questions on exams and how to study law, I learned how much they didn’t know and how much bad advice they were getting from well-meaning people--older law students who didn't get As and law professors who had long forgotten how hard it is to face.

And the only materials they had access to were hard copy books and CDs. The authors of all the "how to study law" and “law school success” books out there had yet to hear of a thing called the Internet.

You don’t need to be a “legal genius” to succeed in law school.  

Law professors want you to believe that some people are legal geniuses, just like they were in law school, and the rest aren’t.

Based on my own experience with my students, I don’t believe in legal geniuses any more than I believe in the tooth fairy. I believe it is possible to teach someone how to study law the right way.

If you’ve been with me for awhile, on my site law-school-hacker.com as my tutoring students, you know that I believe that the idea of the “legal genius” is just a convenient excuse for law professors not to do their job to teach students how to study law—and not just the law, mind you, but how to write an outstanding law school essay exam.

True, some catch on faster than others, and maybe some small group will never get it.

But for most reasonably smart, diligent and open-minded students, the skills of how to study law and how to write an great law school exam essay can be learned.

Self-styled “bad” law students can become decent law students with the right guidance. And even already great law students can become even better than they already are.

It's not only about being smart or working hard. Both of these things help, of course, but neither involves knowing how to study the right way.

It’s about understanding the game (and make no mistake, law school is a game) and, how to play it.

By working hard at the right things, you will maximize your chances of being an ace law student.

No legal geniuses need apply.

The main problem you face is too many choices. There are way too many things you could do to prepare for your exams and only have 168 hours a week. And since you’re still new to this (even if you have one semester under your belt), you don’t know what how to study law effectively so that you are maximizing your preparations for your final exams.

You don’t need to work 24/7 to do well in law school.

The best performing law students, in fact, sleep well and take care of themselves. They know how to study law. They are never overwhelmed and never pull all-nighters because they know exactly, step by step, what they need to do.

What I’ve got for you:
A digital guide on how to study law to get top grades:

7Sage Law School Prep

So let me introduce 7Sage Law School Prep.

This is the modestly-named, brand-new online course that I’m offering -- with the cool Harvard law grads who gave you 7Sage LSAT -- on how to study law.

We just launched last fall and are still building up the course.

Which means, as an early bird, you get an insanely good price.

And because you are getting in on the ground floor, you’re actually going to be a crucial part in how the content is developed.

Here's how the course will work:

  • Start with a PDF guidebook, in e-book format, that you can download and learn how to study law immediately.
  • Then turn to an easy to digest multimedia unit on overall law school success strategies, specifically focusing on how to prepare for law school exams (and just as importantly, what NOT to do).
  • Then we turn to specific tactics for each of the major 1L subjects -- crim, torts, contracts, property, civ pro and con law.  We identify very nitpicky tips and traps specific to each of these subjects (there are tips for crim that don't work for contracts, for instance). 
  • Then, for each subject, we will do hypos then practice exams.  The exams are online, timed and graded. 
  • When the topic calls for it, I'll call up some of my lawyer or professor friends and get awesome guest interviews for you, pinpointing exactly what you want to know. You'll get a transcript of that as well.
  • As the semester progresses, I will do Q&A calls (and record them if you miss them) so we can attack issues and difficulties you may have in preparing for law exams. It's your chance to have me clarify anything that might not be totally clear to you.

The lessons walk you through my best recommendations on smart, tactical preparation and exam-taking strategy, step by step by step. The course progresses so that at each point, you’ve got something valuable you can use right away, but you’re also building something bigger.

Here's the best part

Your participation will help me shape this course.

I know what's worked for me, for my law school classmates, my best lawyer friends, and for my tutoring students.

But what if that's not exactly what you need?

Well, you can fix that.

I want to hear from YOU.  I want to know what YOU need.

If YOU need a lot more on how to create great outlines without going insane, I’ll add more material on that.

If YOU need to dive into topic-specific exam taking advice (how is a contracts exam different form a con law exam?), we’ll do that.

And if there’s something I don’t cover that many of you want to hear about (say, acing your legal research and writing course? How to get on to law review?), we’ll develop a killer strategy for it.

Just for you.

Essentially, at this early phase, the course becomes a kind of group coaching program.

Your specific needs get met, your deep concerns and worries get tackled. And you get the best price that will ever be offered in the history of anything.

What’s in this course?

After talking with many different students, getting feedback and suggestions, and giving it months of thought, here’s how I've organized things, at least for now (I may go back and change this later).

Setting your goals.

First things first: Why are you in law school?

You don’t want to start with something so mushy? Sorry. It’s not mush at all. It is incredibly important.

Before you can master how to study law, you must have a concrete answer to this question. And that answer must resonate with who you are as a person. The best law students I’ve observed over the years were extremely motivated by something specific and they really, sincerely wanted it.

It just isn’t enough to have some vague idea that you want to do well in law school. Law school is too demanding and annoying for you to do well because of some vague goal or one that isn’t your own. Maybe your parents wanted you to be in law school or because you “like arguing.”

You need a concrete goal, something to aim towards that makes sense of your hard work in law school.

Without a specific goal, you will drift. If you drift, you won't get As.

Now, to be clear, this goal does not have to be what you want to do with the rest of your life. I know plenty of people who changed their minds after law school.

(One guy I know graduated in the top 5 -- not top 5%, but top 5, like Mitch McDeere in The Firm. After three years as a lawyer he stopped and became a computer game programmer.)

You can change your mind later. But if you’re invested in law school, you need to have a clear goal to reach for in 5 years to make it all worth it.

While I said I would avoid general and crappy advice, this is not just pie in the sky crap. This is important. You can only master the step-by-step tactics better if you know exactly why you absolutely need to learn this material.

Introduction to the Issue Spotting Essay Exam

OK, so now you know why you’re in law school. Next step to learning how to study law? Get acquainted with the law school issue spotting exam.

This is starting at the end, but the goal is to do well in law school.

In this case, it’s an understanding that law school is about final exams, the standard issue-spotting essay exam. It always amazes me how many students expend so much energy on things that ultimately contribute nothing to doing well on the final exam.

Understand, law school is final exams. That is what you are aiming towards the whole semester, from day one.

Other students and even the professor will constantly try to distract you from this one objective. You will face all sorts of pressures to expend energy on a million things other than preparing for your final exams.

This is one of the meatiest modules in the course, because there is a lot lots to cover. Once you’ve completed module 1, you’ll have a theoretical overview on what it takes to do well in law school.

We’re still not at tactics yet. We’re still just at “what,” not "how." But you need to understand "what" to correctly apply "how."

After this module, the most important thing you will learn is what not to waste your time on.

The rest of the modules are dedicated to teaching you the critical, specific, step-by-step “how” to do well in law school. Whatever your professors throw at you, you’ll be ready with a general strategy compelling message that pulls them toward you.

  • What is a law school issue spotting essay exam, and why is it unlike anything I have faced before law school? (Skip this part if you have already taking at least one set of exams.)
  • What kinds of answers are law professors looking for on these exams, and what kinds of answers are guaranteed to get you middle of the pack grades?
  • What obstacles do most students face in trying to do well in law school? I am not taking about conceptual roadblocks, but also psychological obstacles, both self-imposed and those put there by your peers and even your professors!
  • What tools do you need to prepare to do well on your law school exams?
  • What things should you avoid doing in preparing for your law school exams?

You’ve probably encountered these ideas before, but you might not have done anything with them. That’s why the blueprint doesn't just give you information. It provides Next Action worksheets that translate the ideas into action. And if you’re still stuck, just pop into the forums and we can get you moving again.

Exam-writing mechanics I (Foundational tactics)

This is the module that gets deep into the how-to. You’ll build the first pieces of your specific exam-taking strategies which you can take and apply immediately.

I start with exam-writing mechanics because, for some of you, you are already near the end of your semester and need to know how to do this now. I work backwards.

The work you’ll do in this module has one purpose: to get you to start building your exam-taking muscles. Because when you have this skill developed (and it can only be developed through repeated, deliberate, conscious practice) you will find your final exams to be clear.

Some of the things we’ll talk about in this module are:

  • Why is it so hard to answer an issue spotting exam well. (Answer: how well did you ride a bike the first time you got on one?)
  • How to plan and structure a great exam answer.
  • How to think like a lawyer . . . by talking to your client!
  • How to take a transactional approach to exams by focusing on parties and specific events.
  • How to master IRAC by applying my “voice-switching” approach.
  • How to use the “two level ping-pong match” approach to never got lost on your exam.
  • Ping pong match one: He said, she said.
  • Ping pong match two: Fact, law, fact, law…

What is cool about this module is that by following and practicing the advice I provide here, you can immediately start to write clearer, stronger, better issue-spotting exams.

If you are towards the end of the semester, this Module 3 will give you immediate tactics to apply to your law school exams.

Advanced exam-writing mechanics and tactics

Once you’ve mastered basic exam writing tactics, it’s time to understand how to other more advanced tactics come into play. Notice that this is where most “law school success” start. They talk about high-level ideas (“getting to maybe” and “forks in the road”) without telling you first how to answer a basic law school question.

If you start blindly applying advanced tactics without understanding the basic framework for answering a law school final exam question, your time spent studying these advanced tactics are wasted.

But if you apply these advanced tactics after mastering the basic tactics, you will do well on your exams. These are the tactics that will make the difference between getting Bs and getting As.

Module 4 builds on Module 3 and gives you some simple, smart tactics to impress your professor, including:

  • How to tailor your approach to specific kinds of professors (“ivory tower” professors want slightly different answers than “in the trenches, I had to kill another lawyer with a shovel” law professors).
  • How to study your professor (do limited research for their academic writings).
  • Specific scripts to use in particular, tricky situations.
  • Specific phrases to avoid at all costs on exams.

Outlining

OK, so now we take a step away from specific exam tactics and talk about another extremely important skill to master—writing your outline.

Module 5 builds on the exam-writing Modules 3 and 4 by teaching you:

  • What to put in your outline.
  • More importantly, what to keep out of your outline.
  • How to structure your outline – how to use “color sample” approach to arranging cases.
  • How long should my outline be?
  • How to draft a separate “grand ideas” or “hypotheticals” outline.

 Pre-preparation

Once you know how to write an exam and outline, you will understand exactly what preparation before law school will be most effect. In this section, I review:

  • Pre-preparation techniques.
  • Good materials to buy.
  • Materials not to buy.

Subject-specific modules - practice exams and subject-matter tips 

This module has some nifty tweaks and extras that make for very nice “add-ons.” We’ll cover very concrete tips for answering exams in the following subjects you will cover your first year:

  • Criminal Law 
  • Torts
  • Contracts 
  • Civ Pro (still under construction)
  • Property (still under construction)
  • Constitutional Law (still under construction)

How much?

As I mentioned, you early adopters will get this for an insanely good price.

The charter members get:

  • Full access to download the material, so you can read and listen on your Kindle, iPhone, or whatever’s handy for you
  • Full access to Q&A calls, guest calls, and the forums
  • Full access to anything else that’s cool that I throw in here

Down the line, after this summer, the price will go up.

And as the course material grows and the body of material becomes more valuable, the price will continue to go up along with it.


What if I don’t love it?

Once I open up the course, you can test drive it for 45 days. If you don’t like what you see, for any reason, I will refund your money without any questions or hard feelings.

I think you will find that my step-by-step tips on how to study law are unique and helpful, that the worksheets will help you apply these techniques, and that your fellow students will be a huge source of support (and you will be able to grab my ear and have me answer your questions for no additional charge – I will give you individual advice that previously I only gave my tutoring students).

You will find that this entire experience is worth not just the modest price (other so-called law prep courses can cost over $1,000), but also your time and attention.

Again, if you don’t agree, you can let me know within the first 45 days of your membership. I’ll be very happy to give you a refund, and we will part as friends.

By the way, if you stick around, other courses will be added to help you with more than just your 1L year.  

It's my goal to make sure there's always valuable new material for you to enjoy during your law school journey (and after).