Setting Yourself Up for Success in Law SchoolClick to Open
Professor Thompson will hold open door sessions on Thursday evenings 5:30 to 6:30pm starting on June 22, 2023 and running through July 27, 2023 (with exception on July 6th). These sessions are open to any incoming 1L and there is no need to make an appointment. Simply click on this zoom link: https://rwu-law-edu.zoom.us/j/4636360694
If you cannot attend any of these sessions, but would like to speak with Professor Thompson, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 401 254 4568 or contact the Program Coordinator, Morgan Beltre at email@example.com.
Tips & Planner SuggestionsClick to Open
Here are some time management tips:
Spend some time answering the following questions for yourself to be on the path to law school time management success.
1.) Examine your study habits and time management.
Do you have a study space that works for you? Relatively quiet, lacking distractions, comfortable, familiar.
Do you tend to get distracted during your studying? Do you check your phone, look up when people walk by, check Facebook, etc. . .
First, examine if the study space you have is working for you. If it isn’t, find one that does work. If people are constantly walking by and talking to you, you need to find a new space or put a “tent” sign up telling people that you enjoy talking to them AFTER you get your work done.
Second, examine if you are getting distracted during studies. Distractions can be external (other people or things) or internal (your own thoughts wandering). Try to eliminate external (versus internal – your thoughts) distractions first.
External Distractions - Cell phones and social media on the computer are notorious distractors. For your cell phone, if possible, put it somewhere away from you where you can’t see it or feel it while you study. Studies have shown that people who have their cell phones on them (even if they are turned off) are much more likely to be distracted than people who do not have their cell phones. Second, do not have Facebook or other social media open on your laptop. And turn off the notifications on your laptop and your phone if it is near you. You can put your phone on airplane mode for this.
Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not perfect in implementing your schedule. First, it’s natural to want to socialize and get to know your classmates. If, however, you find yourself falling into a habit of procrastinating or consistently distracted by others where you’re studying, you’ll need to do something about it. You could find a different study space, like reserving a study room on a regular basis or visiting the university library. Or you could put up a polite, but firm ‘tent’ sign on your desk when you’re studying so people know that “I’m studying now. I’ll be able to talk later when I take a well-deserved break.”
2.) How much time do you have?
In the world of time management, knowledge truly is power. The first step in getting control over your time is to determine exactly how much of it you have.
Find a calendaring tool or planner that works for you. I have links to some examples below:
I use Planner pad because it gives me space to plan my weeks. I have students who use Panda Planner and Day Designer. Pick the planner that works for you.
You can also download templates from Word and customize a weekly or monthly schedule for yourself. Once you have decided on a calendaring tool, input all of your classes and any other “non-negotiable” things, such as doctor’s appointments, part-time jobs, or child-care related activities, that happen at a fixed time each week.
Next, block off time for class preparation. As you implement this step, I highly suggest utilizing what I call the “two-day buffer.” To do this, you will block off 3-4 hour chunks of study time per class meeting on your calendar. (I will explain later how you might “chunk” this time.) The trick is to schedule your prep time at least 2 days before the class actually meets. In my experience, this greatly reduces stress for students as they are no longer staying up until 2:00 a.m. trying to finish the reading for their 9:00 a.m. class.
Finally, out of the remaining time, block off two distinct times for (1) extra-curricular activities and (2) personal tasks. Personal tasks include doing chores, running errands, and other “life” stuff. All of the remaining time is your free time (that involves neither schoolwork nor grocery shopping and laundry). I also suggest allocating about a half hour of time on Friday afternoons to plan for the upcoming week. It is so much easier to enjoy your free time during the weekend if you are not worrying that you are forgetting to do something.
What do you need to do with your time?
Now that you have a complete picture of exactly how much time you have available, you need to figure out the most productive way to spend it. First, set your goals. Spend a few minutes thinking about what “success” will look like to you at the end of this year or semester. It is much easier to reach a goal if you are intentional about achieving it.
Next, create prioritized to-do lists to help you reach those goals. Again, Word templates has some nice to do lists. For law students, I suggest having three separate to-do lists: (1) Academic, (2) Extra Curricular (internships, student organizations, etc), and (3) Personal. The first step in creating a prioritized to-do list is to sit down and do what I call a “brain dump.” This entails getting out a blank sheet of paper or opening a blank document on your computer and getting everything that has been on your mind out of your head. In this step, don’t worry about what list it belongs on or how important the task is, if it comes to your head, then write it down.
Next, categorize all the tasks into one of the three lists mentioned above. Once you have all of the tasks categorized, you must prioritize them. Do this by determining which tasks are most important or most time-sensitive in helping you reach your goals, and write them in order in a list. By creating these prioritized to-do lists, you will know exactly what you need to do when you reach each of the particular time blocks you scheduled.
How can you be more productive with the time that you have?
The only way this new plan will work is if you actually implement it and stick to it. Here are three tips for increasing productivity and maximizing time:
1 - Again, Minimize distractions
Internal distractions – sometimes our minds wander as we study. To help with that, take frequent breaks. Using the “pomodoro” technique is a useful tool to help you maintain your focus through an afternoon or evening of studying. The technique is to focus intently on studying something for 25 minutes. Set a timer for 25 minutes (Of course you may need your phone for this; there are some apps to help you keep this time: Be Focused automatically times your study times in 25 minute increments. After each 25-minute study session, you take a 5 minute break. After four of these, you take 15 or 20 minute break. And by break, we mean break. You don’t think of your work. You take a walk, rest, relax. Let your brain rest. Study in this fashion until you get done what you need to get done.
2 - The 5- minute rule
The hardest part of any task is getting started. I recently said that if I spent half as much time doing things as I spend worrying about doing them, I would be the most productive person in the world. When I start to get overwhelmed with the number of things I have to do, I occasionally do none of them. This is not an effective time management tactic at all! To prevent this from happening, I have implemented the “5 minute rule.” When I am starting to get filled up with dread about doing a certain task or activity, I commit to doing it for 5 minutes. I even set a timer for five minutes because it makes me feel better. If after 5 minutes, I still truly do not want to do it, I stop. (I’ll find another time when I’m up to it soon or I’ll seek help to find out where to start.) However, 90% of the time after 5 minutes, I realize the task is not so bad, and I am happy to be working through it now instead of procrastinating until later.
3 - Set up an accountability system
The easiest person in the world to disappoint is yourself. So, if you are the only person who knows about your goals, you are far less likely to reach them. I highly recommend sharing your goals and plans to reach them with an accountability partner. Ideally, the person you choose will be someone whose opinions and advice you respect as well as someone who will give you open and honest feedback. You don’t want someone who will completely tear you down if you come up short, but you also don’t want someone who will accept all of your excuses and dismiss your lack of effort.
There is no getting around the fact that law school is stressful, and there will always be more tasks than time complete them. However, implementing these strategies will help you stay on track, get more done, and still be able to enjoy your life every so often. Here’s to your most productive semester yet!
Academic Excellence Bridges SiteClick to Open
Please click HERE to access the Academic Excellence Bridges site.
JDEdge by AccessLexSMClick to Open
We are excited to announce that RWU Law has partnered with AccessLex Institute®, the largest nonprofit organization focusing on access, affordability, and the value of legal education, to bring you JDEdge by AccessLexSM, a fully online asynchronous program, designed specifically for law students, like you!
How to Access JDEdge: Visit AskEDNA.AccessLex.org to register. Your name, RWU Law email address, school and class year are all you need to log in to the program, personalize your experience, and track your progress. No other personal information is required, and all information remains confidential.
Please complete Modules One and Two in preparation for Orientation on August 9, 2023.
Module One: Introduction to Law School — Engage in lessons on time management during law school, where to go for help within your law school community, an overview of the judicial system, and some important legal terminology.
Module Two: Preparing for Class — Learn how to prepare for and get the most out of the class experience, as well how to make sure the learning sticks. Lessons include case reading and briefing, the Socratic method, notetaking, rule synthesis, and creating study materials.
Module Three: Preparing for Exams — Engage in lessons on writing for law school exams, effective study and memorization techniques, and the importance of taking practice exams. You will also prepare for – and take – a practice exam and participate in a live exam review session.
The Academic Excellence Program will incorporate all five modules (and more!) into its Enrichment Sessions and Workshops this fall.
Module Four: Preparing for Law Practice — lessons on licensure, character and fitness, stress management, professional expectations, landing your first legal job, and funding the bar exam experience.
Module Five: Moving Forward — This final module focuses on many of the skills required for well-being in law school: mindset, professional planning, and reflection – just to name a few.
We’re excited for you to join us in the fall, and we take seriously our responsibility to prepare you to be the best law student you can be.
If you have any questions, please contact Professor Kathryn Thompson, Director of the Academic Excellence Program at Roger Williams University School of Law at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401 254-4568 or Morgan Beltre via email at email@example.com.
First Gen ResourcesClick to Open
RWU Law understands that First Gen students face a number of different challenges impacting their success in law school. This program exists to let these students be seen and heard. First Gen students often are trained from their time in college to “go it alone” when it comes to seeking out support. Our goal is for First Gen students to see that they are a part of the grand mosaic that makes up our community and connect them to the valuable resources and people at RWU Law. We’ve developed various programs and resources to support our First Gen students.
Growth Mindset ResourcesClick to Open
Advising & Registration InformationClick to Open
Registration & Advising Information Session-*Coming Soon
Preparing for 1L SpringClick to Open
Baby Bar Diagnostic InformationClick to Open
Resources for the Bar Exam Application ProcessClick to Open
- The Free Bar Exam Digest: Free Bar Exam Digest | BARBRI
- State Checklists: Bar Exam Checklist | Prepare for the Bar Exam | BARBRI
- BARBRI Info Session with RWU Law Recording
- Applying for the Bar Exam Webinar with Themis Bar Review
- Applying for the Bar Exam Webinar with Themis Bar Review (February 2023)
- 2023 Virtual Q&A Session with RI & MA Board of Examiners
- Applying for the Bar October 2023 Info Session with Professor John Ralston & Dean Colleen Brown