Strange study habits I’ve seen in law school


Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

As anyone will tell you, there is no “one size fits all” method for successful studying in law school. Sure, you can make notecards, draft up outlines, and read your textbook cover to cover; but that plan might not work out for every topic. Our school certainly had our fair share of strange studiers, but ultimately, they were all successful, earned their law degree, and passed the bar, so who am I to judge?

The Girl with the Highlighting Problem

I used to sit next to a woman who highlighted every single line on the page, using the colors so that at the end the page was decked out top-to-bottom in a rainbow pattern. When she was done with a chapter, you could close the book and see the entire rainbow going down the edges, almost like a gilded book. One day, I let my curiosity get the best of me and I asked her why she did this. Her response was perplexing to say the least: “I only highlight what’s important—and everything’s important.” I was taken aback; this woman was in the top 5% of our class, maybe she was on to something. I followed up by asking her if all the highlighting hurt the resale value of the book. She laughed and asked why someone would want to resell their textbooks, they’d only get a few hundred dollars and that just isn’t worth it.

The Game Show Studiers

I say this with love: two of my law school friends are the most competitive--how much are you going to earn at your job because I want to make sure I make more--guys I have ever met. They compare everything: jobs, grades, apartments, network connections, and even the size of their fiancées’ engagement rings! That being said, they are still very close friends and would never do anything to sabotage the other, they just like the feeling of winning. Every semester during finals, they would book a study room in the library and spend hours quizzing each other on case law, holdings, and general doctrine. If you were lucky enough, they would invite you into the study room so you could quiz them, and they would compete to see who was quick enough to answer first. Honestly, I did study with them a few times, but mostly I would let their dialogue waft over me and into my subconscious. It worked.

The Outline Obsessed

Creating outlines for classes is the most common form of studying, but there’s a fine line between “just enough” and “way too much.” Most people take notes in class and then later incorporate those notes into a semester outline, but not Marie. Marie drafted a class outline, a notes outline, a weekly outline and then combined all of those for her study outline for the finals. I get it: repetition aids retention, but this girl carried around binders so big it was embarrassing. She was one of those people who complained about how much work she had to do, even though most of it was self-created. I envy the fact that she found a method that worked for her and stuck with it for three years, but all that busy work did not make her a pleasant person to be around, even if her finals outlines were the best in the class. 

No matter how weird, wonky, or unconventional your favorite study methods may be, as long as they help you retain the information, who cares? That being said, it may help to change up your methods every once in a while to find something that works better—come bar prep time you’ll want every method and resource possible to help you study.