Q: Mr. Collier, I have questions regarding general time management advice during law school. My goal is to continue on to law school at the University of Florida once I am financially prepared for the rigorous academic schedule that this program will entail. I read your bio that was provided to me at my orientation into the company, and I see that you completed your undergraduate degree as well as a law degree and a business degree at UF.
Even in Law School I was amazed how many confused socializing with studying i.e. get together in “study groups” where half the time got frittered away and even more squandered in travel time to and fro. When I studied, I STUDIED. Quiet, focused, purposeful. I did have a select few friends I would call for insight if I got stuck on a concept but that was all by phone, rarely face-to-face. I was always a maniac for efficiency; I was always a “Man on a Mission”, I wanted every moment to count, I wanted to make a difference, to contribute, I wanted to live an extraordinary life.
1st year, I outlined my law courses regularly, 2 weeks of outline for 2 courses one week, the next week, 2 weeks of the other courses, repeat, repeat until end of the semester. Also, I NEVER missed a class and NEVER got behind on my reading.
I put 60 hours a week in my 1st year, 40 hours the 2nd year, and 30 hours the 3rd. Then again, my goal was only a B average (I knew I didn’t intend to practice and scored in top 3% in LSAT). The hours listed don’t include prep for exams the last week or so prior, easily jumped to 80 or 100 (?) hours. Hard to believe now but that is my memory. While there is definitely a limit to how many hours you can study before you fry your brain, I would generally do 2 to 4 hours at a stretch then go for a run/take a break then go back at it refreshed. Also, reading cases is different from outlining, switching back and forth gave some relief.
One to two weeks (10 days?) before Finals I would go into what I called “Zombie” mode: Live/Breathed nothing but law. Reviewing for exams is less exhausting mentally than de nova studying of a concept so easier to put in longer hours. Also, fear of failure is a terrific motivator if you’ve got a good self-concept you wish to live up to.
I used to walk around my house, delivering hopefully cogent lectures to the air, summarizing various legal principles; I figured if I could do that without notes, I could handle anything the professor threw at us on the final. Anything covered during the semester was always fair game and the exams tended to be comprehensive but you could always guess at a professor’s favorite topics/subjects and figure they’d be hit hard. Usually worked, not always.
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier