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1L Survival Guide: Skills to Master

Basic Law Library Survival Information

Skills to Master - Sustained Effort

Sustained Effort

Research indicates that students born after 1994 have an attention span of 8 seconds. Train yourself for a longer sustained focus by using a Pomodoro Timer. This method helps you by breaking your day into 25-minute focus sessions followed by five-minute breaks. Use your study time effectively by limiting or eliminating distractions especially from your smartphone. Smartphones have "do not disturb" settings for this reason. 

Skills to Master - Critical Reading Skills

Critical Reading Skills

Jane Bloom Grise writes that many new law students “have not been exposed to the critical reading skills that are necessary for law school success” and that “the first-year curriculum often does not provide sufficient instruction in critical reading.” What is critical reading?  It is "learning to evaluate, draw inferences, and arrive at conclusions based on evidence."  

Article "Critical Reading Instruction: The Road to Successful Legal Writing Skills," 18 W. Mich. Cooley J. Prac. & Clinical L. 259 (2017),  available to UH Law Students on Heinonline.

Skills to Master - Time Management

Time Management

There are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. Time management is more about energy management - yours. Here are some tips from an article (only one page) in 31 Probate & Property 7 (2017). (Links to Heinonline - UH Law Students.)

  1. Do Not Multitask - you really can't anyway
  2. Do the worst task first
  3. Designate specific times for checking email & social media (Time management includes time on devices or device time management. Everyone chained to a device needs to learn how to function without constant access.)
  4. Make Lists
  5. Take Conscious Breaks
  6. Schedule your week in advance
  7. Clear your desk at the end of the day

 

Skills to Master - Critical Research Skills

Critical Research Skills

According to one article on teaching legal research, "a logical, methodological approach with attention to detail is necessary when tackling a complicated research project." (Links to Heinonline - UH Law Students) 

  1. Get the Facts - verify the information
  2. Interpret the facts - critical research involves analyzing the source of the facts.
    Check for bias, is this trending at the moment, if so, it may not have had enough time to ripen. 
    Is the source an expert? How do you know?
  3. With this information, what gaps do you have in your knowledge? Research those.

Skills to Master - Email

Email

You're not used to receiving or reading email. You frequently say, "Everyone knows that the worst way to contact me is via email." Everyone knows except your professor, your boss, and your customer. 

Email is the way law and business and education works and communicates. Schedule time to read and respond to it throughout the day. And beware of text message type responses with emojis - don't succumb. 

Reading without responding is the same as not reading email at all. Without a response, your professor, your boss, or your customer don't have any way of knowing what effect the email has had. Respond appropriately and as soon as possible after reading it.