If then end of law school is near, you are most likely finished or nearing completion of your law school exams. Looking past cocktail parties, family obligations, and graduation ceremonies, in less than a month, many of you will receive a huge box in the mail from Barbri or Kaplan or Themis with lots of books for your summer bar studies. This can be intimidating and over the years, I've fielded my fair share of nervous requests for advice on how to proceed.
When I was a 3L in law school, I studied nothing but tax. I arranged my courseload during my second year so that I could pursue an LL.M. in tax during my third year. My 3L second semester was brutal - filled with time-consuming classes such as inbound and outbound taxation, consolidation returns, and international tax treaties. After I graduated in May, I was stuck in a funk. My whole life was focused on tax. I could not recalibrate to study torts, contracts, constitutional law, criminal law, property, and especially evidence. If you are anything like I was, your 3L endeavors might make it difficult to revisit concepts from your first year of law school.
My biggest piece of advice for those new to studying for a bar exam is to treat it like a job. After graduation and the family leaves to return home, you need to begin studying for your exam. Aim for 8 hour days, especially if you are preparing for the California or Florida bar exams. Of course, there will be those who will say that you can get by studying 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week. While this is certainly true in a limited number of cases, if this turns out to not be true for your individual circumstances, you will be back in a large room typing away in February with everybody else who failed in July. The point is: don't let overconfidence or laziness prevent you from achieving your goal.
There are some with personal situations that make 8 hours of study per day prohibitive. These people may have small children or jobs or another situation which takes a significant chunk of their time. If this is you, then you need to study when you can apportion time. If the baby is asleep, study. If you're at work on a break, bust out your Conviser and read it. Never regret downtime that you didn't use wisely to study for the bar exam.
If you had a robust social life in law school, then you probably want to curtail it during the summer. If you want a good example of what could happen, watch A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar. There is a UCLA law grad in this documentary who foregoes her studying to socialize. Furthermore, she is arrogant in regards to her knowledge of law on the California bar exam. Needless to say, she re-takes (and passed) the California bar exam.
Lastly, if you've paid thousands of dollars for a commercial bar review course, then get the most out of it. This means, listening to the lectures, doing the exercises, and write the essays to be graded. Having feedback from professionals during your summer will give you a way to gauge your progress.
I wish everyone a productive summer. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions at email@example.com.