Here's a few more tips that I've been introduced to lately.
- Go to WestlawNext
- Under the Browse Area, All Content Section, click Secondary Sources (7th link)
- Look to the far right for an area titled Tools & Resources
- Click on the first link, Black's Law Dictionary
- Save this page as a favorite to your browser and boom —> free dictionary always available to you
Reading hard cases
My general rule is that if you go to do your reading assignment and see that a case was written prior to 1915, that case is going to suck to read. The case is usually written in legalese, sometimes in Old English, won't clearly state the issue and rule, and will be overall confusing.
I know a lot of people say oh yeah read every case at least three times, but honestly who has time for that?? I'm all about working smarter, not harder. So if I see a case that I know is going to be a pain, I'll look it up before I read it.
This is actually advice I got from a guy who made Dean's List his first year at law school. The two main places I go to are Quimbee (subscription required) and CaseBriefs (free) because these are the simplest cases. I'll read their brief and know what is going on before I even start reading. It saves a lot of time from reading an entire case and not knowing what the hell is going on (Pierson v. Post I'm talking about you).
**update** get 10% off your first month of Quimbee with the code BRAZEN now through 9/30/2016 code has expired
You can also look up cases through WestLaw or Lexis, but these are much more thorough so they're not as easy to skim through. My goal is for this to only add on less than 5 minutes to my readings.
If you still takes notes on Microsoft Word, I highly suggest you switch over to Evernote. It's an app that works with phones, tablets, and computers and syncs between them all. All you need is the free version and you can make a notebook for every class and then notes within those.
I currently have 30 notebooks because I save my notes in case I need them later. This was super useful when my sorority Little took the exact same class I did with the same professor I had a year after me in undergrad. She was complaining about how she was failing this professor's class and I realized that I still had all of my notes and study guides that I shared with her through an email. (perfect for study groups)
It's also handy because it syncs instantly. I actually had my iPad die on me mid-class one day so I synced it with 2% battery left, and picked up right where I had left off on my phone. Having it on more than one device means that I can be working on my study guide on my laptop and have my iPad also opened up right beside it and see my daily notes so I can copy them over. Then it's really great to whip out your phone real quick before a test and skim over the study guide you had finished typing up the night before.
Lastly, I like how you can look up something through either the entire app, a specific notebook, or a specific note. It's really handy once your classes start overlapping subjects. For example, I was typing up my property notes and came across a latin term that I had remembered looking up, but not what class it was for. One quick search later and I found it in my contracts notes, so I just copied and pasted it over in my property notes. Also, it's a much simpler design than Word so it's really easy to use.
If you're looking for lots of law school advice in one place, then head on over to the Law School Blogging Pinterest board to find blog posts about law school tips from many different law school bloggers.