Every smart law student knows that you need to prepare for 1L during the summer before law school. That’s why I put together the definitive guide to 0L prep. This proven program will walk you through how to prepare for 1L in 3 easy steps. First, you will learn what to expect in law school. Second, you will learn the best way to take law school exams. Finally, you will learn the most efficient way to study the law. So read on to get a huge leg up on your 1L competition.
What Is 0L Prep
You may be asking yourself, “What is 0L prep?” Here’s the short answer: 0L prep is what incoming law students do to prepare for law school during the summer before classes begin.
Why You Need 0L Prep
Some students think it’s not necessary to prepare for 1L. They’re wrong. Here’s why you need to make 0L prep a priority.
1L grades are far and away the most important grades in law school. I’d even go so far as to say they are the only grades that matter. Why? Because hiring for the best associate, clerkship, and other positions often occurs before your 2L and 3L grades are even released.
Take BigLaw for example. BigLaw firms interview and hire all of their new associates based on their 1L performance alone. In fact, you’ll have a job offer in hand before you even start 3L.
So, what did I do? I ignored the naysayers who told me 0L prep was a waste of time. And the results tell the story.
I finished 1L at the very top of my class, received multiple book awards, graduated with Latin Honors, and landed a gig in BigLaw.
Could I have done all of this without 0L prep? Maybe. Did I want to risk it? Absolutely not. Especially when you consider how outrageously expensive law school is these days.
Simply put, 0L prep will give you a tremendous advantage over your classmates and help lay a solid foundation for law school success.
How To Prepare For 1L In 3 Easy Steps
Effective 0L prep boils down to just 3 easy steps.
- Learn what to expect in law school.
- Learn the best way to take law school exams.
- Learn the most efficient way to study the law.
Each part of this proven 0L prep strategy is described in more detail next.
1. Learn What To Expect In Law School
The first year of law school is a little like stepping into the great unknown. What will classes be like? Will I make friends? How terrifying is the Socratic method? Are the exams really that hard? Should I join a journal? How the heck am I going to pay for all of this?
The best way to prepare for the unknown is to take action. Find out what you’re up against and develop a plan of attack.
That’s why I recommend 1L of a Ride as an essential part of your 0L prep.
From breaking down the top five habits of successful law students, to effective outlining techniques, exam preparation, and effective class participation, 1L of a Ride is filled to the brim with helpful anecdotes, empirical research, and true stories from law students about what you need to know to succeed in law school.
Here’s what one law student had to say about 1L of a Ride:
A must read before starting law school. As I enter 3L year, I still find myself going back to this book for advice and guidance. Tab the book as you read and even type notes from it. I promise it will help you navigate your first year and even after that.
To sum up, read 1L of a Ride before your first day of class so you can learn the truth about what to expect in law school.
Related: 10 Essential Law School Supplies
2. Learn The Best Way To Take Law School Exams
Here’s the hard truth about law school exams: they’re nothing like undergraduate exams.
First, they’re harder. Much, much harder. Second, the exam format, not to mention the pressure (i.e., your entire grade is riding on one exam!), present unique challenges not found in undergrad.
In other words, law school exams play by a completely different set of rules.
But there’s good news. You can learn the rules of the game, and make them work to your benefit.
You can unlock the playbook for law school success before you even step foot on campus. And once you do, you’ll be way ahead of your peers.
So, how do you learn the best way to take law school exams? The answer is by reading Getting to Maybe.
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 idea that there is typically no “right” answer to a law school exam. But there is a “best” answer.
That’s where Getting to Maybe truly shines. It will show you how to write the “best” answer quickly, easily, and repeatedly.
Related: Best 1L Outlines (Ace Your 1L Exams)
3. Learn The Most Efficient Way To Study The Law
Your 0L prep should focus first and foremost on learning what to expect in law school and learning the test-taking skills needed to ace your 1L exams.
However, it’s also important to spend some time learning the most efficient way to study the law.
The absolute best way to do this is by using law school supplements.
But for 0L prep, you don’t need to read your supplements in incredible detail or take notes. There will be plenty of time to do that throughout the semester.
Rather, do a quick read through the 1L supplements featured below. No outlines. No notes. Just get a high-level familiarity with the material.
Remember, not only will these supplements help you prepare for 1L, but they’ll also form the backbone of your 1L studies and exam prep. So, you’ll be way ahead of the game if you read through them quickly over the summer.
Civil Procedure Supplement
If you buy only one civil procedure supplement, then this is the one. Examples & Explanations (Civil Procedure), written by Professor Glannon, is the best civil procedure supplement. In fact, I don’t know if I could have aced my civ pro exam without it.
Here are three reasons why the Examples & Explanations (Civil Procedure) supplement should be your go-to civil procedure study aid.
First, it takes difficult 1L civ pro concepts and breaks them down into easy to digest, bite-size pieces. This is crucial for acing your civil procedure exam, trust me.
Second, the hypotheticals at the end of each chapter will help sharpen your legal reasoning skills and solidify key legal concepts. This is essential for learning to master civil procedure issue-spotter exams.
Third, it’s so well written and effective that you can practically forego reading your casebook. For all of these reasons and more, Examples & Explanations (Civil Procedure) is, hands down, the best civil procedure supplement.
Constitutional Law Supplement
Constitutional Law (Principles and Policies), affectionately known as “Chemerinksy,” is the gold standard of con law supplements. In other words, it’s the constitutional law supplement that all others are judged by.
Written by constitutional law scholar Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law (Principles and Policies) is likely the only book you’ll need to read if you want to ace your 1L con law exam. In fact, I crushed my con law exam without reading a single word from the assigned casebook.
Professor Chemerinsky’s supplement is more akin to a treatise than a supplement, but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to digest. Rather, it seamlessly and efficiently cuts to the chase, giving you all the ammo you’ll need to make even the most intellectual con law professor blush.
In short, if you want the best constitutional law supplement, make it Chemerinsky.
Perhaps it’s because I finished first in my 1L contracts section by using it. Or perhaps it’s because if you ask any 2L who aced their contracts exam what supplement they used, you’ll get the same response – Chirelstein.
Written by the late Columbia Law Professor Marvin Chirelstein, Concepts and Case Analysis in the Law of Contracts is the preeminent resource you’ll need to crush your 1L contracts exam.
Concepts and Case Analysis in the Law of Contracts is a curiously quick read (I read it over a weekend) that provides exactly what you need to know to succeed in contracts. In other words, you’ll “get” contracts after reading this supplement.
Criminal Law Supplement
This supplement is a masterpiece. In fact, it’s the law school supplement that all others are judged by. If you ask any 2L who aced their criminal law exam what supplement they used, do you know what you’ll hear? “Dressler.”
Written by criminal law guru Professor Dressler, Understanding Criminal Law is the essential resource you’ll need to ace your 1L criminal law exam.
Here are three reasons why it’s the best criminal law supplement around.
First, it breaks down extremely difficult criminal law concepts (like all of the various types of “theft”) into easy to digest, bite-size pieces. This is crucial for acing any issue-spotter or multiple choice criminal law exam, trust me.
Second, it outlines the similarities and differences between the model penal code and common law approaches to law and policy, which almost all criminal law professors expect you to know like the back of your hand.
Finally, it’s so clear, concise, and effective that you can practically forego reading your casebook.
CrunchTime (Property) is a fantastic supplement for navigating your 1L property class. Written by attorney and Harvard Law graduate Steven Emanuel, CrunchTime (Property) will be your constant companion during property exam prep.
Here’s what you’ll love about the CrunchTime (Property) supplement.
The capsule summary will help you quickly absorb key concepts. Think of it as the property outline you wish you would have made throughout the semester.
In addition, the exam tips are on-point and definitely worth the price of admission. Want to know the answers your property professor is looking for on the final exam? This is the place to find them.
Finally, the short answer and essays questions are great for helping you prepare for your property final. It’s nearly impossible to ace your property exam without practicing hypos. So be sure to answer all of the practice questions the CrunchTime (Property) supplement has to offer.
The Forms and Functions of Tort Law takes a deep dive into the tricky torts concepts that most law professors gloss over, even though they expect you to know them for the final exam.
The Forms and Functions of Tort Law is especially helpful if you struggle to understand the policy arguments that drive modern tort law.
Also, if your professor uses the Franklin Torts Casebook for your 1L torts class, then you’ll definitely want to get this torts supplement. It’s practically the “teacher’s edition” of the Franklin Torts Casebook.
Related: 7 Best Backpacks For Law School
Final Thoughts On 0L Prep
Deciding to go to law school is one of the biggest decisions of your life. Because it’s so important, you owe it to yourself to take the steps necessary to do your absolute best.
So make 0L prep a priority. Follow this step-by-step guide. Do the work. And soon enough you’ll see the rewards you desire.
All the best,
P.S. My best-selling 1L outlines are now available for instant download as a printable PDF e-book or on Paperback for only $14.99. This means you’ll get all 5 of my 1L outlines (civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts) in one convenient package. That’s more than 75 pages of the best outlines you can get your hands on. In fact, they’re the very same outlines I used to ace my 1L exams. Be sure to download your copy today because my 1L outlines are available for a limited time only.