Tips to help first-year law students in their first year of university

February 28th, 2022

Legal practitioner and founder of Legal Eagles SA, Wela Mlokoti, compiled a list of tips for first-year law students.

De Rebus news reporter, Kgomotso Ramotsho spoke to legal practitioner and founder of Legal Eagles SA, Wela Mlokoti. As an admitted attorney with an LLB from the University of Cape Town and an LLM from Duke University, Ms Mlokoti has given some tips to first-year law students, to assist them to become the best legal practitioners they can be, making sure that they pass their studies.

Ms Mlokiti compiled the following tips for first-year law students:

  • Speak to a second-year student: The best insights you can get on classes are from the students who just completed their first year of studies. Seek out a second-year student and ask about lectures, the course load, and which courses to look out for, what the lecturers are like, and any additional ‘hacks’ that are commonly used by students to make student life easier. The more information you have, the better you can prepare.
  • Do the reading: You will derive the most benefit from your lectures if you attend them and do so by being prepared. Doing the prescribed reading allows you to participate in class and identify gaps in your understanding of the material early.
  • Create a study plan: Falling behind in law school is easy because it entails an enormous amount of reading. Plan your days in advance and ensure that you set aside time to study. The easiest way to do this is to treat law school like a full-time job. Get to campus at 9 am every morning and when you do not have lectures, ensure that you are in the library studying.
  • Make course outlines: Once you have received your syllabus, use it as a basis for your summaries for the entire course in each subject. Over the course of the semester, fill it in with your lecture notes and where necessary, additional information from your textbooks.
  • Buy second-hand textbooks: Law textbooks can be very expensive, but these costs can often be reduced if you buy second-hand textbooks. Ask your faculty office where you can buy second-hand textbooks and if the editions are different, you can access any missing content by borrowing the book from the library and making notes of the relevant section/s.
  • Consider forming a study group: Forming a study group can help you keep up with the course load and stay aware of any announcements or changes in the faculty. Reach out to your classmates and consider forming a group where you can share notes and discuss course content.
  • Spend time in the library: Commit to working in the library during the day when you do not have classes as this will help you establish a study routine and develop discipline. Set yourself up for success from day one.
  • Go to consultation hours: Do not wait for tests and examinations to attend your professor’s office. By then, time will be limited as many other students will also likely be attending the office hours more frequently. Keep up with your work and regularly ask your professor questions on the course material.
  • Get help if you need it: Do not make the mistake of failing a test and quietly studying harder. As soon as there is a problem, go to your lecturer to discuss the gaps in your understanding and how best you can navigate the course going further.
  • Manage your stress: Law school is notoriously stressful. Prioritise your mental health.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.

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