Law students sometimes find that learning Constitutional Law presents special challenges: there don't seem to be clear answers to some questions that are raised; there may not be many tidy black-letter elements to write down and memorize; and the class discussion sometimes seems inconclusive.
Students who have done well with this subject recommend you try some of the following techniques:
- Always go to class, even if it is confusing for you. Be an active participant. You don't necessarily need to talk a lot, but you do need to be engaged mentally in the discussion. (Maybe it's time to turn off your laptop.)
- Prepare notes ahead of time so you are free to focus on the discussion. Write your briefs on the left hand side of the page, then jot down questions the professor raises or pertinent comments made by the professor (or by classmates) in the right-hand space.
- Review your notes as soon as possible. Underline key phrases, buzzwords, anything the professor calls attention to. Look for themes, policies, trends. There certainly are rules, standards, and bright-line tests in Constitutional Law, but perhaps fewer than in some of your other classes.
- Pay attention to individual justices (not so important in many other classes). Pay attention to dissenting and concurring opinions . Note the date of the opinion, and be aware of the historical context . (e.g.. Who was president?)
- Go to office hours to engage the professor in discussion. Find out what the professor is interested in. (Check out the professor's law review articles.) If you are feeling lost, ask the professor if there is a recommended outside source that could provide some structure.
- Even if you haven't worked with a study partner before, you may find one helpful in this class: seeing how to argue every side of each issue is important.
Please email Kiyana Kiel, call (619) 260-6876 or stop by Warren Hall, Room 206.