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A Student’s Guide to Law School

What Counts, What Helps, and What Matters

Law school can be a joyous, soul-transforming challenge that leads to a rewarding career. It can also be an exhausting, self-limiting trap. It all depends on making smart decisions. When every advantage counts, A Student’s Guide to Law School is like having a personal mentor available at every turn.

As a recent graduate and an appellate lawyer, Andrew Ayers knows how high the stakes are—he’s been there, and not only did he survive the experience, he graduated first in his class. In A Student’s Guide to Law School he shares invaluable insight on what it takes to make a successful law school journey. Originating in notes Ayers jotted down while commuting to his first clerkship with then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor, and refined throughout his first years as a lawyer, A Student’s Guide to Law School offers a unique balance of insider’s knowledge and professional advice.

Organized in four parts, the first part looks at tests and grades, explaining what’s expected and exploring the seven choices students must make on exam day. The second part discusses the skills needed to be a successful law student, giving the reader easy-to-use tools to analyze legal materials and construct clear arguments.

The third part contains advice on how to use studying, class work, and note-taking to find your best path. Finally, Ayers closes with a look beyond the classroom, showing students how the choices they make in law school will affect their career—and even determine the kind of lawyer they become.

The first law school guide written by a recent top-ranked graduate, A Student’s Guide to Law School is relentlessly practical and thoroughly relevant to the law school experience of today’s students. With the tools and advice Ayers shares here, students can make the most of their investment in law school, and turn their valuable learning experiences into a meaningful career.

Read the Introduction.

216 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2013

Chicago Guides to Academic Life

Law and Legal Studies: General Legal Studies

Reference and Bibliography


"At the beginning of law school, everything feels like the hardest part. You don’t see things clearly yet. You don’t know what’s important and what isn’t; what to focus on and what to skim. Andrew B. Ayers wrote A Student’s Guide to Law School to help law students see those choices clearly."

Daily Journal

A Student’s Guide to Law School eloquently captures the journey of the novice to the professional by focusing on how to immerse oneself in the culture of law. Ayers aptly delves into approaches to class work and studying for examinations without losing sight of the larger goal of becoming a practice-ready and ethical professional—a connoisseur of the law.” 

Catherine L. Carpenter, Southwestern Law School

"Andrew Ayers has provided a straightforward and witty guide to getting the most out of legal education for the right reasons: to develop legal competence, cultivate professional judgment, and become a lawyer of credit. An admirable book." 

William M. Sullivan, coauthor of Educating Lawyers

Table of Contents


Part I: The Way You’re Judged
1. What Exams Want
2. Seven Choices You’ll Make on Exam Day
3. What You’ll Need by Exam Day

Part II: The Skills You’ll Need
4. Distilling the Law
5. Issue Spotting
6. Argument

Part III: The Work You’ll Do
7. Reading
8. Speaking in Class
9. Listening in Class
10. Notes and Outlines
11. Ten Ways to Use a Study Group
12. Beyond Traditional Classes

Part IV: The Lawyer You’ll Become
13. Judgment Calls
14. What Lawyers Do
15. The Hats Lawyers Wear
16. The Person under the Hat

Conclusion: The Questions You’ll Ask

Suggestions for Further Reading
About the Author
Sources for Epigraphs

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