Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Want to do well in law school? Take care of yourself. Sleep enough. Eat well. Exercise. Do fun things.

One of my students has some great advice founded on real-world experience: "Find out how much sleep you need and make sure you get it, every single night. Staying up to study longer while sacrificing sleep will, in my humble opinion, come back to bite you."

The only thing I'd add is that you also have to stay physically well, so you should also eat well, get exercise, and do enough of the things that make you happy to stay happy.

Doing well at something as demanding as law school requires you to be at your physical and mental best. I've run four marathons and plan to run more. You don't train for a marathon by running as far and as fast as you can as much as you can. You have to pace your training, and you have to pace your racing. If you don't,  you'll blow up. One year I was running too much and I ended up with a bad stress fracture and couldn't run the marathon. One year a good friend went out too fast and at the halfway mark of the marathon collapsed and required hospitalization. My very best race ever was one in which I ran the second half of the race one second faster than the first half. Pace is everything. Burn out now, and you'll pay later. Cram everything into your  head and show up in class or the exam exhausted and you'll make a fool of yourself.

So see those movies. Go to those parties. Don't drink yourself into unconsciousness. Get outside.And study, and study a lot, but don't sacrifice yourself to studying.


  1. Fatymah M. Joseph9/16/09, 11:14 AM

    Thanks for the advice Professor. I would emphasize the "eating well" area as much as possible as it has a direct affect on our mental and physical health. As you may know, it is currently the month of Ramadan for all Muslims. For those who do not know what this is, Ramadan is the month of fasting; food and water(amongst other restrictions)are not permitted during the time between sunrise and sunset. Consentration and staying focused become hourly challenges. However, during the time when I can eat, I try my best to eat something that will benefit me mentally and physically. Just as your student mentioned finding the right amount of sleep each student needs, I would relate the same concept to food. Knowing which foods help you stay focused is important. Just like the rest of our body, the brain needs the proper sustenance to work at its optimum level.
    In all, if we look after our body, our mind works better too.

  2. Sorry for the typo. It's: Concentration*

  3. Thanks Professor,

    Study hard. Work hard. Play hard.

    The work ethic that has gotten me thus far...

    (B.T.W. I'm feeling a Section 2 Contracts happy hour review session in the near future...)

  4. I would add: quit smoking now. True, law school is stressful, but one day you'll look back on it wistfully as a carefree time in your life (seriously). So this is probably the easiest time you have left in your life to quit.