Everyone knows you should prepare for 1L during the summer before law school. That’s why I put together the definitive 0L prep guide that will show you how to prepare for 1L by mastering three areas of 0L prep: (1) law school exam prep; (2) substantive law prep; and (3) what to expect prep. You’ll have a huge leg up on your 1L competition after you follow my step-by-step 0L prep guide.
** Updated for 2019 **
Why 0L Prep
Some law students don’t think it’s necessary to prepare for 1L. That’s a huge mistake, especially if you want to finish law school at the top of your class.
I ignored the naysayers who told me to just “go with the flow” and never looked back. As you know from reading about Law School Transfer Guide, I finished 1L at the very top of my class, transferred to a T14 law school, graduated with Latin Honors, and landed a gig in Biglaw. Could I have crushed my 1L exams without 0L prep? Maybe. Did I want to risk it? Absolutely not.
In sum, 0L prep will give you a tremendous advantage over your classmates and help lay a solid foxcundation for law school success.
How to Prepare for 1L
Your 0L prep should be divided into three parts:
- Law School Exam Prep
- Substantive Law Prep
- What To Expect Prep
Each part of this 0L prep strategy is described for you in more detail below.
Law School Exam Prep
Let’s be clear: law school exams are in no way like undergraduate exams. Success on undergraduate exams does not equal success on law school exams. Simply put, if you want to succeed in law school you’ll need to develop the skills needed to succeed on law school exams. And that’s exactly what Getting to Maybe and How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams will teach you!
Getting to Maybe and How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams provide different but complimentary advice regarding law school exam strategy and tactics, so definitely get each of these law school prep books. You should also skim through them again in late-November as you prepare for finals.
Getting to Maybe provides an excellent introduction to and analysis of the types of exam questions you will encounter during your 1L year (e.g., issue spotting exams and policy exams).
Getting to Maybe is brilliant because it doesn’t advocate a formulaic method for law school exam taking. Rather, it’s chock-full of helpful tips and tricks that you can tailor to each of your law school exams.
Many successful 1Ls say the best part about Getting to Maybe is the way it introduces them to the concept that there is typically no “right” answer to a law school exam. But there is a “best” answer. And Getting to Maybe shows you how to write the “best” answer.
The second book I recommend, How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams, is well-written, highly informative, and provides a slightly different perspective on law school test-taking than Getting to Maybe.
How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams advocates the “CIRIP” (Conclusion, Issue, Rule, Interweaving, Policy) method for test-taking. CIRIP and other methods like it are incredibly useful methods for structuring your law school exam essays. In fact, I used the CIRIP method to earn the highest grade in the class on my Civ Pro final.
If you want to find out more about why How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams is so awesome for 0L prep, then check out my full review here.
Substantive Law Prep
Make no mistake, your 0L prep should focus mostly on developing law school test-taking skills. However, you’ll find it extremely helpful to get your arms around the substantive law you’ll encounter during 1L.
You should do this by skimming the supplements featured below prior to 1L. Not only will these supplements help you prepare for 1L, they’ll also form the backbone of your 1L exam prep. But remember, the goal of 0L prep is to familiarize yourself with the substantive law, not master it.
Civil Procedure (Examples and Explanations) — Eighth Edition, by Joseph Glannon
Concepts and Case Analysis in the Law of Contracts — Seventh Edition, by Marvin Chirelstein
Property (Examples and Explanations) — Fifth Edition, by Barlow Burke and Joseph Snoe
Understanding Criminal Law — Seventh Edition, by Joshua Dressler
The Law of Torts (Examples and Explanations) — Fifth Edition, by Joseph Glannon
Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies — Fifth Edition, by Erwin Chemerinsky
What To Expect Prep
1L of a Ride: A Well-Traveled Professor’s Roadmap to Success in the First Year of Law School gives you a “behind the scenes” look at what to expect during your first year in law school.
1L of a Ride should be required reading for all aspiring law students because it’s loaded with helpful anecdotes, empirical research, and true stories from law students about what you need to know to succeed in law school before you ever step foot on campus.
If you read only one book about law school, 1L of a Ride should be it.