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10 Tips for Preparing for Law School

There is a lot of advice floating around for students preparing to start law school in the fall or spring semester. Some people tell you to read preparation books, while others will tell you not to do anything but relax and enjoy your summer. In this post, a former Coastal Law student, and current Admissions Counselor,  gives incoming students great tips for preparing for law school.   As you read this list, keep in mind that a healthy balance of preparation and relaxation is your best approach.

  1. Check your email! You will receive plenty of emails from now until classes start. Be sure to read these emails for new updates and information. The Admissions Office and other departments or programs have important and helpful information to share. Don’t miss out by not reading your emails.
  2. Complete the financial aid process early. The sooner you submit your FAFSA, the sooner you will receive your financial aid package detailing tuition, potential scholarships, and loans.
  3. Start budgeting. Know your budget early so you can take out the lowest amount of loans necessary. Remember, you have to pay back what you borrow plus interest.
  4. Look for housing. Use a rental search company like Jacksonville Rental Finders to help ease the burden of a large scale housing search. They will work with you for free to find housing that meets your needs and budget.
  5. Save money for your move. Moving is expensive. Start saving early to prepare for all the expenses, such as first and last month’s rent, security deposits, moving trucks, or purchasing furniture.
  6. Move in as early as possible. Once you decide on a school and find your housing, move in as early as possible. Time your route to school and home during rush hour. Explore the area and all that it has to offer. When you need a study break, you’ll know what to do!
  7. Buy your course books after you receive your class schedule. Your book list will depend on your given professors. Once you receive your schedule, go to the bookstore’s website and find the books required for each class. Bonus tip: If you choose to buy through the Coastal bookstore, you can defer payment until you receive your loan stipend.
  8. Enjoy free time. Do not stress yourself out before you even have your first class. You will be busy for the next three years, so enjoy as much of your free time now as you can. Visit with family and friends and let them know your free time may be limited later.
  9. Be excited! Law school is a huge accomplishment and should be celebrated. Be proud that you have made it this far! Look forward to your legal education and take advantage of available opportunities.
  10. Read at least one of these suggested law school books.  Before burning yourself out, keep in mind that you do not need to read all of these before your first year starts. You don’t want to burn yourself out before you even begin law school.
  • Bridging the Gap Between College & Law School: Strategies for Success, Ruta Stropus & Charlotte Taylor (2001)
  • Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams, Richard Fischl & Jeremy Paul (1999)
  • Expert Learning for Law Students, Michael Hunter Schwartz (2005)
  • The Eight Secrets of Top Exam Performance in Law School, Charles H. Whitebread (2008)
  • Mastering the Law School Exam, Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus (2007)
  • What Every Law Student Really Needs to Know, An Introduction to the Study of Law, Tracey E. George & Suzanna Sherry (2009)
  • Legal Writing by Design, Teresa Rambo (2001)

For more detailed tips, check out our webinar on Preparing for Law School.

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What Motivates You to Go To Law School?

What Motivates Students to Go To Law School?

I was asked to write a blog about the “Value of attendance and Scholarship” as it relates to going to law school. I have to admit, at first, I was thrown by this request. Was I to keep it as simple as telling you to go class? Did you want another hack blog post on how to get a better law school scholarship and how to play the game? That would be too simple and probably even a little insulting to someone looking to go law school. Let’s “up” the game and start asking the real question. What motivates you?

External or Extrinsic Motivators To Go to Law School

When discussing motivation and law school, I get pulled into thinking about my favorite T.V. agent Ari Gold from the show Entourage. Ari is just a “lowly” Harvard grad with a J.D. /M.B.A from Michigan. One of his most memorable and honest quotes is, “Nobody’s happy in this town (L.A.) except for the losers. Look at me, I’m miserable, that’s why I’m rich.” This leads me to our first type of motivator, “external” or “extrinsic.” Extrinsic motivators include things like money, prestige, power, admiration. All of these “rewards” are external to the process of going to law school. To some, this is all they need. If you are this person, that’s okay. External rewards can induce interest and participation in something in which you had no initial concern. This seems a little backwards for a prospective student looking to spend the next three years of their lives doing nothing else but studying, going to class and dedicating any all free moments to learning the practice of law. If you are this person, this is something you might want to take a few minutes to think about.

Intrinsic Motivators  in Attending Law School

To be successful in law school, you will need to start with intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation involves engaging in a behavior because it is personally rewarding rather than the desire for some external reward. Our most successful students fall into this category. They are driven by an internal desire to practice law. They find the value in the Florida Coastal School of Law degree. Our motivation is intrinsic too. We promise to support and encourage the personal goals of each and every student. We’re not driven to move up a ranking by the same magazine that named Albuquerque the #1 city in America to live in. (Editor’s note: We are sure Albuquerque is a very nice city and we meant no disrespect to the people that live there. It’s not the city for me just like the top 14 law schools are not for everybody.) We’re driven by each student that walks into our classrooms, courtrooms, library and offices.

Finally, you’re probably asking, “Where is the scholarship portion of this blog?” Here it is. I recommend you do NOT go to a school that asks you, “What is it going to take (in terms of scholarship) to get you to deposit at my school. This is the #1 sign to turn and run as fast as you can.


Good luck with your law school search. If you want to talk to me about attending Coastal Law, shoot me an email (acardenas@fcsl.edu) or call the office and ask for Tony.

P.S. – As for happiness? Only you can figure that out. There are a lot of miserable lawyers out there. Guess what motivated them to attend law school.


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