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Law Students and ADD

I am guessing that a lot of the people reading this blog are a lot like I was after finishing my undergrad degree. I’ll bet that the real problem with a lot of you was the real problem with me before I went to law school.  It is not that you don’t know how to study. If you have the basic brainpower and can read, you can study. The problem for me was that I could study—read things carefully and thoroughly—but for no more than about five minutes. I am guessing that for many of you, your real problem is not that you can’t study. Your real problem is that you can’t sit still.

Oh sure, I could do what 90% of college kids do when they go somewhere to study: open a book in the library or in a noisy coffeehouse and look around at other people most of the time. I could have terribly interesting discussions about various important matters with lots of people in those coffee houses.

There wasn’t “Facebook®” or really even many laptops around when I was in law school, but there were plenty of things to occupy me when I studied. I became an expert at finding them.

So, I could sit for about five minutes and then get up and do all kinds of things until I sat down again for the next five minute spurt.

Here was the real problem: I could not sit for more than about five minutes. I could do anything but sit down and study for long periods of time. Sitting and studying? Five minutes. And for many of you, I will bet you can’t either.

So what happens when the typical One L goes to the library for the typical law student’s four hour long-haul aft er dinner? He gets into the library, wanders all over to find his study buddies, sets up his spot and cracks the book. Then he sits down for five minutes and starts to read the first case. Five minutes goes by and half way into the first case—blah blah blah, offer and acceptance, consideration is no more than a scintilla, blah, blah, blah—he gets up.

For the next 55 minutes he wanders about doing a whole bunch of “studying” with his buddies, i.e. screwing around in every non-obvious way imaginable. He wanders down to the vending machine. He texts his girlfriend, IMs somebody else and then checks the Daily Kos® or the Drudge Report®. He complains to someone else about his dreadful legal writing instructor, or laughs about how someone was such an ass in class today.

Before he sits down, he checks his email and Facebook again. Then, back to the table, and the cycle starts again. And again. And again. At the end of the night he goes to his car in the dark thinking: “boy that was a long day,” “boy, I am really working hard,” or “this is just like what that guy in The Paper Chase attempted suicide for.” Tomorrow he will say to someone: “I closed the library again.”

And the next day in class he can’t figure out why he couldn’t get more done in his long hours of study.

In fact, in the typical day our One L has spent about 20 or 30 minutes in real study. He didn’t get his four or five cases even read before class the next day, because that would have taken him an hour. And at the end of the week everybody is at the bar saying “Boy law school is a ^&%#!” to one another.  And we all stand around—all of us who did the exact same thing—nodding our heads in agreement.

Raise your hands: How many of you are guilty of this “studying” approach, or something approximating it?  In my next few posts I am going to blog about how to fix this problem, forever.


  1. DMH
    Posted October 4, 2011 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Uh, yeah. That would be exactly how I came across this blog. *sigh* Any suggestions for how to beat this?

  2. Berthrane
    Posted February 27, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    That’s me on so many levels. I want to go to law school, but like you said sitting and studying is very hard. I have heart, though, please help.

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