Getting the Most Out of Class
Law school lectures are more than just a recapitulation of the assigned readings. Your professor uses the lecture to provide a deeper understanding of the legal concepts covered in the readings, and of how those concepts fit into the subject matter of the course as a whole. Below are some reminders and tips to help you get the most out of each class:
- Be Prepared. Before each class, you must complete the assigned readings and brief the cases to be discussed. You should also take some time to review your notes from the last lecture to help you fit the readings into the larger framework of the course. Check the course TWEN page before each class to make sure you have any handouts posted by the professor for the lecture. By arriving prepared, you will be able to engage fully with the content of the lecture, to ask insightful questions, and to assess areas where you may need additional clarification.
- Listen to and engage in the lecture. As the lecture begins, try to get a sense of the structure of the class. Some professors will start with a recapitulation of the last lecture and will provide some guidance on what will be covered in this lecture. Other professors may provide this guidance as the lecture progresses. This structure should give you a sense of direction for the lecture and may help you structure your notes. If the professor poses a question, do not sit back and hope for others to respond. This is your time to confirm your understanding and to challenge yourself. Push yourself to respond to the question. If someone else is called upon, continue to be engaged in the discussion. Ask a follow-up question, or jot down a question to ask the professor later.
- Minimize distractions. By the time lecture begins, you should be seated and be ready to discuss the readings. Arrive a few minutes early to set yourself up in a location where you will not be easily distracted by others. You may want to sit closer to the front of the class to minimize distraction from other students, as well as to be closer to the professor and any presentation materials he or she may use. Needless to say, do not use class time to check your emails or to chat with friends online.
- Make use of office hours. Immediately after class, review your notes and add any details you did not have time to expand upon during class, examples used to illustrate a point, and to correct any mistakes you may have made in briefing a case. After this review, take note of any issues from your readings that were not resolved during lecture, or questions that arose during class, and set up a time to meet with your professor to discuss them. Go to office hours with specific questions.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Academic Support Program for additional guidance on making the most out of class. Be sure to also refer to our “Case Briefing” page to help you prepare for class and to our “Note-taking Tips” page to help you take effective notes during class.