“History Room Guy” Gives Tips, Tricks For Law School Success

Man with dog

The guy who’s there before you are, and after you leave, but almost always in the
History Room. Never been there? Check it out to find the secret, revolving stacks.

By: Skyler Speed, 2L
Staff Writer

The editors assigned “Law School Success Tips” as my article topic.  Personally, the best advice I have is to ask for help from people who clearly know what they are doing. Naturally, in seeking an explanation on how to succeed in Law School, I asked the same student who helped me succeed during my 1L year: Joe DuChane.  You may know him as “Guy Who Occupies the History Room for 16 Hours Every Day.” (Just FYI, that isn’t his carrel.) Spending an absurd amount of time in a glass box at the library led to an impassioned response.  So I decided no other quotes or advice were necessary, and I gave him a soapbox.  Here’s what the 2L had to say:

“Anyone in Law School has already spent at least 16 years of her life in school, and should already have a good grasp on how she learns individually. Anyone reading this article should already have heard a million different tips on studying and outlining at this point, and has hopefully found a method that works for her.

Everybody does it differently.

The best advice I can give at this point is to put all of this studying and outlining into perspective on how it plays into success in Law School, at least from a grade standpoint. The one thing universal for all 1Ls is that they will all be graded the same way, regardless of their study habits.

The common explanation given at the beginning of law school is that law school is ‘a marathon, not a sprint’. Those who say that are wrong. They say this because it is long and arduous, and they are right about that.  But a marathon is a competition. If the race started on day one of school, then everyone would be around the 14-mile marker now. When a marathon reaches that point, someone will be in the lead, and someone will be in last, with the rest spread out in the middle. That is not true. Legal writing aside, no one in the 1L class has received a grade yet. Everyone is completely even.

To put this in perspective, I spent about 80 hours a week in the law school my first year (don’t do that). After 14 weeks, plus Thanksgiving break and reading days, I had spent over 1,000 hours in the school. Granted, I was not working every second, but I worked a lot, and 1,000 hours later, I still did not have a single grade. The race had not started. The gun goes off the minute you start an exam, and ends the minute you finish it. And then you prepare for the next race. Whether you spend 1,000, 500, or 100 hours spent studying; your performance comes down to 14-16 hours over four exams.

Law School is a series of sprints. But a champion sprinter does not just walk up to the line and run. They spend all of those hours preparing, and a student must too. Without them, you will not be successful. Read to prepare for class. Go to class to learn the law. Outline and study to put that law into perspective and to memorize it. Do practice tests to take the law and perspective to recognize issues and apply the law to facts. The more you do, the better you will be prepared for the exam. But it does not matter how you outline, or study, or read, or do any of it. You will not be graded on it. All that matters is that you do what will best prepare you individually when the race starts. And also, go to the Student Success exam panels in November. They’re dope.”

And that’s all, folks.

Categories: Columns