By Professor Herbert N. Ramy
Director, Academic Support Program, Suffolk University Law School
Law school is full of things that are beyond your control. The courses you must take as a 1L, the cases you have to read, and the exact questions you will be asked on your exams are only a few of things over which students have no say. The one thing you can control, however, is how hard you work. The good news is that this factor – more hours spent studying – correlates more strongly with success in law school than anything else. Most law students work much harder than they did in college, but many are not working as hard as law school requires. For example, day students are in class for approximately 15 hours per week, and might study for an additional 25 hours per week as preparation for those classes for a total of 40 hours dedicated to their legal studies.
The volume of material that we expect you to master in law school means that 40 hours, at least for a day student, is not enough. In order to adequately prepare for class, go to class, review what was discussed in class, and practice for exams, day students should be devoting approximately 55-60 hours per week (including time spent in class) to their legal studies. This translates into between 2.5 and 3 hours of studying for every hour of class. For an evening student who spends approximately 10 hours per week in class, this would mean spending an additional 25 hours per week studying. These additional hours per week are the difference between being familiar with the rules and mastering them.
Of course, spending this much time studying is no guarantee of success. I never promise students that they will receive As if they study hard. I do, however, guarantee that working hard is the only way of maximizing one’s potential.
Professor Herbert H. Ramy is the Director of Suffolk University Law School’s Academic Support Program. He posts a weekly blog of tips for First-Year and prospective law students.