William and Mary Law School

How to Succeed in Law School

By Martha Rush (Updated by Rica Hudson)
September 2008
(Note)

Law students are expected to possess the skills necessary for success in the study of law. However, too often in the rush to get through school, students pay little attention to developing a methodology for studying, reading and writing the law - or, for simply coping with the stresses of academic life.

The following selective bibliography lists sources which may help steer students toward success in law school. Those looking for additional titles may browse call number areas KF 250 and KF 280-289, either through the online catalog or in the stacks on the second floor. Call numbers or location codes provided are those for titles owned by the Wolf Law Library. The College Bookstore also has titles on these subjects available for sale.

Jump to...
  + Law School Generally
  + Legal Writing
  + Exam Writing
  + Reading and Studying
  + Online Resources

Law School Generally


Robert H. Miller, Law School Confidential: The Complete Law School Survival Guide: By Students, for Students, New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin/Thomas Dunne Books, 2004.
Written for law students by recent graduates. Provides "a comprehensive, blow-by-blow, chronological account of what to expect" from law school. Covers everything from surviving the first semester to obtaining a great summer job. Through the experiences of former law students, you can benefit from both successes and failures.
Reserve KF283 .M55 2004

Gary A. Munneke, How to Succeed in Law School, 3rd ed., Hauppage, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, 2008.
Designed to give you a “head start” on law school, including tips on daily life as a law student, the subjects you’ll need to study and master, note-taking, study methods, research, exam-taking and dealing with stress.
Reserve KF283 .M86 2008

Michael Hunter Schwartz, Expert Learning for Law Students, Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2005.
Using the results of educational studies, this book examines how individuals with different personality types and learning styles can best plan, monitor and implement their work in the law. Includes suggestions for case reading and briefing, taking notes, managing time, stress and workload, and developing the legal analysis skills needed to succeed on law school exams.
Reserve KF283 .S39 2005

Rachel Gader-Shafran, The International Students’ Survival Guide to Law School in the United States: Everything You Need to Know to Succeed, New York, London, Shanghai: iUniverse, Inc., 2003.
Provides practical and comprehensible information for international students coming to U.S. law schools, including tips on organization, class participation, case briefing, legal writing, outlining and study methods.
Reserve KF283 .G33 2003

Ruth Ann McKinney, Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert, Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2005.
Includes tips on all aspects of legal reading, including briefing cases, reading for the main idea, and evaluating the material as you read. Great strategies for saving time while reading “like a professional.”
Reserve KF283 .M398 2005

Linda Hirshman, A Woman’s Guide to Law School, New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1999.
Presents information on selecting and succeeding in law schools from a woman’s perspective. Covers topics such as how to become a better student, successfully completing the first year, making “law review” and job interviews. Includes a chart of schools in which women are successful, based on criteria such as the percentage of female faculty, the percentage of female students and how many women are on law reviews.
Reserve KF283 .H57 1999

Stephen Gillers, ed., Looking at Law School: A Student Guide from the Society of American Law Teachers, 4th ed., New York, NY: Meridian, 1997.
This book seeks to cover law school opportunities, courses, curriculum, examinations and ethics, as well as emotional issues students must confront during their law school tenure. Reasons for attending law school, what to expect from the first year, career preparations and ethical considerations, as well as issues facing minority, female and LGBT students are covered.
Reserve KF283 .L66 1997 (Copy two shelved in stacks)

Kenney F. Hegland, Introduction to the Study and Practice of Law in a Nutshell, 4th ed., St. Paul, MN: Thompson/West, 2008.
This book's scope extends beyond law school. The student's concentration should be on those chapters related to law schools, which contain advice on studying, briefing, legal writing and “fear and loathing in the first year class.”
Reserve KF273 .H4 2008

James E. Moliterno and Fredric I. Lederer, An Introduction to Law, Law Study, and the Lawyer's Role, 2nd ed., Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2004.
This book introduces students to the varied roles lawyers play in our society and the interrelationships between these roles. Skills law students must develop during their law school career are explained, with the expectation that skills learned in law school will aid in their practice. The goal, as expressed by the authors, is "to provide you with some early insight into what law is,” not only through the reading of appellate opinions, but by understanding the legal process.
Reserve KF272 .M65 2004

George J. Roth, Slaying the Law School Dragon: How to Survive–and Thrive– in First-Year Law School, 2d ed., New York, NY: Wiley, 1991.
Covers efficient note taking, optimizing study time, class and exam preparation, and coping with the class demands of law professors. Includes several chapters on practice tips after law school. Contains a glossary of legal terms and selected law review writings.
KF283 .R68 1991

Scott Turow, One L: An Inside Account of Life in the First Year at Harvard Law School, New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, [1988], c.1977.
This is a biographical account of the author's first year at Harvard Law. It provides an interesting picture of the first year and its stresses. This is not the usual self-help title and may be considered more in the nature of leisure reading than the other titles listed.
KF373 .T88 A33 1988

Greg Gottesman, Law School Survival: A Crash Course for Students by Students, New York, NY: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998.
The “inside scoop” on making it through law school by students who have been there, featuring real-life anecdotes and straight talk on the issues of greatest concern to law students.
Reserve KF283 .G68 1998

Ruta K. Stropus and Charlotte D. Taylor, Bridging the Gap Between College and Law School: Strategies for Success, Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2001.
Takes a different approach to introducing law school, by “explaining the ‘why,’ ‘how,’ and ‘what’ of the law.” Written by two law professors, this book provides context information as well as practice problems - a helpful combination for learning how to succeed in your legal studies.
Reserve KF283 .S77 2001 (Copy two shelved in stacks)

Lissa Griffin and Bennett L. Gershman, The Law School Experience: Law, Legal Reasoning, and Lawyering, White Plains, NY: Pace University, School of Law, 2000.
KF 287.L232000

R. Stephanie Good, Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney, Naperville, IL: Sphinx Publishing, 2004.
This book covers the whole law school process - from choosing and getting into the right school for you and “learning the ropes” as a 1L, to involvement opportunities, success as a 2L and 3L and the post-graduation career search.
Reserve KF283 .G66 2004 (Copy two shelved in stacks)

The JD Jungle, Law School Survival Guide, Jungle Media Group: Perseus Publishing, 2003.
From the founders of "JD Jungle" magazine comes a hip must-read for present and future law school students, or anyone who wants to learn the "laws of the jungle." Through lively, factual and anecdotal narratives, law school faculty, third-year law students and practicing attorneys discuss the advantages of a law degree and step-by-step milestones in law school education. Also includes first-hand accounts of preparing for and taking the bar exam.
Reserve KF283 .L39 2003 (Copy two shelved in stacks)

Jeremy B. Horowitz, Law School Insider, Amherst, NY: Lion Group, LLC, 2002.
The comprehensive 21st Century guide to success in admissions, classes, law review, bar exams and job searches. A great book for prospective students and their loved ones.
Reserve KF283 .H67 2002 (Copy two shelved in OCS)

Teresa Kissane Brostoff and Ann Sinsheimer, Legal English: An Introduction to the Legal Language and Culture of the United States, 2nd ed., Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana Publications, 2003.
Covers the full spectrum needed for law school success - from skills needed in the classroom and case briefing techniques, to writing persuasive memos and dealing with clients. Includes practice exercises, games and quizzes.
Reserve KF272 .B76 2003


Legal Writing


Gertrude Block, Effective Legal Writing: For Law Students and Lawyers, 5th ed., New York, NY: Foundation Press, 1999.
The emphasis of the book is on the avoidance of legalese. There are chapters on grammar and meaning, legal style, including do's and don'ts, organization, case analysis and expository techniques. There is also information on how to prepare for and take final examinations.
Reserve KF250 .B56 1999 (Copy three shelved in stacks)

Richard C. Wydick, Plain English for Lawyers, 5th ed., Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2005.
This concise book is intended to help lawyers and law students learn to express themselves in a clear, simple style. It contains straightforward suggestions for improving writing style with practice exercises.
Reserve KF250 .W93 2005

Veda R. Charrow , Myra K. Erhardt, and Robert Charrow, Clear and Effective Legal Writing, 3rd ed., Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Law & Business, 2007.
Discusses legal writing thoroughly - from planning and organizing to writing memoranda and briefs. It contains numerous exercises.
Reserve KF250 .C45 2007

Calleros, Charles R., Legal Method and Writing, New York, NY: Aspen Law & Business, 2006.
Explains many aspects of legal writing, from law school exam questions and briefs to legal memos and pleadings. It also gives examples of each type of writing.
Reserve KF250 .C345 2006

Linda H. Edwards, Legal Writing and Analysis, New York, NY: Aspen Publishers, 2007.
Provides help with case briefing, legal memos, writing your own legal briefs and many other areas. Each section includes samples and tips to improve your writing style.
Reserve KF250 .E378 2007


Exam Writing


John C. Dernbach, A Practical Guide to Writing Law School Essay Exams, Littleton, CO: F.B. Rothman, 2007.
A law school professor offers an “insider’s perspective” on the exam process, with helpful tips for “making the grade.” Includes tips on knowing your reader, organizing your answer and setting forth a clear analysis. Gives sample exam questions and answers.
Reserve KF283 .D47 2007

Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy R. Paul, Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams, Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1999.
Legal analysis “made easy.” Excellent practical guide, explaining techniques to enhance your classroom understanding and ability to “think like a lawyer.” Also includes tips on taking law exams - preparation, writing answers, mistakes to avoid and FAQs. The last chapter provides sample questions and answers on the four substantive courses most often taught in the first year.
Reserve KF283 .F47 1999

Kimm Alayne Walton, Lazar Emanuel and Eric S. Lambert, Strategies & Tactics for the First Year Law Student: Maximize Your Grades, Larchmont, NY: Emanuel, 2004.
Step-by-step guide to help 1Ls survive their first year of law school. Covers memory systems, professor “personality profiles,” study traps, handling pressure, taking notes and the “nine steps to writing exceptional exam answers.”
Reserve KF283 .W35 2004 on order

Ann M. Burkhart and Robert A. Stein, Law School Success in a Nutshell, 2nd ed., St. Paul, MN: Thomson/West, 2008.
Contains information on class preparation, study aids, law school activities, what law school professors generally look for in class and on exams and how to answer exam questions. Includes numerous sample examination questions from different subjects with “model”answers.
Reserve KF 283 .B871 2008


Reading and Studying


Carolyn J. Nygren, Starting off Right in Law School, Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1997.
Through a hypothetical case, this book uses one area of law to illustrate legal principles and the skills necessary to understand them. Covers the casebook method of study, creating outlines and exam preparation.
Reserve KF273 .N97 1997(Copy two shelved in stacks)

Steven J. Frank, Learning the Law: Success in Law School and Beyond, rev., Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing Group, 1997.
Takes you “inside the law school experience” to explain practical logic, legal principles, and the concept of “ thinking like a lawyer.” Strategies for studying, responding in class, writing exam answers and finding a great job at the end of your three years in law school. Includes post-law school information, but initially you’ll want to focus on the law school sections.
Reserve KF283 .F73 1997 (Copy two shelved in stacks)


Online Resources


LexisNexis
A click on the "Study Aids" link will lead law students to course outlines, practice questions, the Understanding Series and more.

Westlaw
Follow the "At Law School" tab to “Law School Life,” and you’ll find a “first year survival guide,”advice on class preparation, studying and taking exams, and resources to help in your legal research.

The Process to Law School Success - © 2003 Rogelio Lasso
A law professor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City offers online tips on study skills, class participation, outlining, writing good exams and dealing with law school stress. Includes helpful links to sites Lasso uses in his own law classes.