News & Events
Posted Aug. 9, 2016

How to Succeed in Law School: Faculty, Alums Offer Tips for Incoming Students




As the University of Virginia School of Law prepares to welcome the Class of 2019 later this month, faculty offer their best tips on how to succeed in law school.

Contact: Kimberly Reich

Charles  BarzunCharles Barzun '05, Armistead M. Dobie Professor of Law

I would read every case twice: first slowly and with a pen. Then again much later, preferably just before class, to get the facts, rule and rationale fresh in your head again.

Molly BradyMolly Brady, Associate Professor of Law


Darryl BrownDarryl Brown '90, O. M. Vicars Professor of Law

Do the assigned reading, go to class, ask questions in and after class. Do some but not all of your studying with others. Use the library’s hornbooks as supplements to reduce the expense of buying supplementary subject-matter books. Stick with the note-taking and study methods that have worked well for you in the past. Don’t be intimidated by your smart classmates; you’re one of them. Play softball or cheerlead for your section team. Keep calm and carry on.

Grace Applefeld ClevelandGrace Applefeld Cleveland '09, Director of Admissions


Chris ColbyChris Colby '04, Director of Admissions  

Cordel FaulkCordel Faulk '01, Assistant Dean and Chief Admissions Officer

Kristin GloverKristin Glover '05, Research Librarian

Patrice HaydenPatrice Hayden '02, Senior Director of Law Firm Recruiting


Andrew HayashiAndrew Hayashi, Associate Professor of Law

I think incoming students should pursue hard ideas and intellectual challenges and then take advantage of faculty office hours to discuss them.




Jennifer HulveyJennifer Hulvey, Director of Financial Aid

Old saying:  “If you live like a lawyer while you’re in law school, you will live like a student when you’re a lawyer.” Translation:  Sound fiscal policies while you are in law school, like living within your means and not borrowing more than is absolutely necessary, will serve you well now and in the future. 


Ruth MasonRuth Mason, Professor of Law

Study hard. Take tax.




John Norton MooreJohn Norton Moore, Walter L. Brown Professor of Law; Director, Center for National Security Law and Director, Center for Oceans Law and Policy

I often suggest to incoming students that they find out what casebook will be used in one major first-year course they will be taking (this may vary by section professor) and begin to read ahead to get a sense of the cases and the subject matter. Civil procedure is a particularly good choice as it provides some overview useful in many classes.


George RutherglenGeorge Rutherglen, John Barbee Minor Distinguished Professor of Law and Barron F. Black Research Professor of Law

When you have a choice between writing more in your notes and thinking more in class, try to think more and write less. Success in law school and in the legal profession does not go to the person with the most comprehensive of notes but the person with the best understanding of the law.


Frederick  SchauerFrederick Schauer, David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law

Don’t be reluctant to speak up in class or display interest in the material for fear that your classmates will think you are a geek (or nerd, or gunner or whatever). You wouldn’t be here unless you were a geek, and everyone knows that. Your classmates wouldn’t be here unless they were geeks, and everyone knows that. And the professor in the front of the room wouldn’t be here unless she or he was a geek, and everyone knows that too. So we are all geeks, and there is no point in pretending otherwise. Just get over trying to deny it, and take full advantage of the learning that comes from enthusiasm and intellectual engagement.

Molly  Bishop ShadelMolly Bishop Shadel, Professor of Law, General Faculty

Read "Finding Your Voice in Law School." Then come see me if you have questions!




Gregg  StraussGregg Strauss, Associate Professor of Law

Sit down and, as cheesy as this sounds, write out a recommendation for yourself at the end of your three years. It makes you consider what you want people to be able to say about you after you've finished law school. Because then you've got an idea of how to go about doing it.


J. H. (Rip) VerkerkeJ. H. (Rip) Verkerke, T. Munford Boyd Professor of Law and Director, Program for Employment and Labor Law Studies


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