Congratulations on getting accepted into law school! If you are considering a Law Preview Course I assume you have already decided on a school to attend. There’s a good chance that you will get blasted with emails and/or mailings about commercial prep courses. The price of these courses has skyrocketed somewhat in recent years, the Barbri Course I took had a sticker price of $1500! That being said, if you search the forums you will get a lot of different opinions on Law Preview Courses and whether or not they are worth the price.
The world of law school preparation is a lot different than it used to be. 1L Classes are pretty much structured the same no matter what law school you go to, making universal prep courses more applicable to any student. Nowadays there are plenty of 1L prep books, and courses available from a variety of different companies.
Before deciding on whether or not to take a course you need to have a handle on your expectations.
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Prep Courses Don’t Guarantee Higher Grades And/or Top Percentile
It’s impossible for any prep course to thoroughly dive into any one of your classes in a six day timespan. There is absolutely no guarantee that you will perform better because of a prep course. Some students don’t do the readings, don’t show up on time and don’t make the best of the opportunity that’s presented. These are the students who won’t see any tangible benefit from the course.
Prep Courses Are Not Cheap But Nothing About Law School Is Cheap
Five years ago the cost of a six day Barbri Prep Course was $1,100, since then it has increased to $1,500. That is a lot of money for six days of pretty much non-stop class. There are a multitude of scholarships available through law schools, and these can change the cost-benefit analysis. Of course if a Law Preview Course helps you avoid pitfalls your 1L Year and you come out in the top 20 percentile, than $1,500 doesn’t sound that bad.
A Good Prep Course Offers Good Insight
Prep courses give you a really nice introduction into your 1L classes. Courses typically give you an introduction to briefing cases, writing outlines, and offer advice on class preparation. These are all useful and help take some of the stress off your shoulders during the first few weeks of 1L. The prep course will typically divide the week between the different 1L courses that all law students take. You are essentially learning some of the legal concepts that you will learn in 1L, but in an environment without grading or the Socratic Method.
My Experience with Barbri’s Law Preview Course
During the summer prior to my first year in law school I was anxious about preparing for school. 1L Year is the most important year by far for law students and I wanted to be as prepared as possible for that first semester. After speaking with several A.D.A’s at the District Attorney’s Office I worked at, I came home thinking that there was nothing I should do. Every attorney told me the same thing, “Don’t do anything, every professor is going to teach differently and you risk getting burned out”.
Later on in the summer I was inundated with a variety of pre-law course advertisements. I wasn’t interested in spending another $1,500 to take a six-day course so I tossed the idea under the rug. I later received a scholarship for a Barbri Law Preview Course that my law school offered.
I wasn’t interested in taking a preview course at $1,500, but I couldn’t say no if it was absolutely free. There were quite a few things I really enjoyed about the course, and I do believe that it really helped with my 1L year.
Barbri’s Law Preview prides itself on offering a curriculum that is both broad and deep. While a week-long course can’t capture the entirety of 1L, Barbri ensures that the most pertinent subjects are covered. From Civil Procedure to Constitutional Law, students receive a crash course that gives them a head start on their peers.
I enjoyed the course previews each day, even if they frequently felt like information overload. Barbri Law Preview obviously doesn’t try to pack an entire contracts or torts class into six days, but the information they do pack in is a lot. Personally I’m not a big fan of Contracts, actually its my least favorite of the core subjects covered in 1L, and I got a preview for this disdain with Barbri. It helps to reinforce the information if you go back through each class’s PowerPoints before your first day of law school as well.
One of the hallmarks of Barbri is that it has an excellent roster of experienced instructors. I was really impressed with the expertise that Barbri Law Preview showcased during my course. The professors insights into the nuances of subjects helped provide me with a distinct advantage when I entered 1L year.
Study Aids and Materials
I gained access to a suite of study aids and materials when I enrolled in Barbri Law Preview. This included not only the course handouts but also online resources that turned out to be pretty useful during my first semester in law school.
I didn’t think of it then, but now I think back and that preview course was one of the best opportunities I have had to network with law students from different schools. Once your in law school the vast majority of law students you meet are going to be at your school. Your just not going to have the chance to meet a lot of people from other schools. Law Preview was great in a networking regard, because I now know law students in a dozen different schools. A few of them I visit from time to time.
Students briefed a minimum of five cases a night and brought them in for the next day of class. The professor would critique the outlines and offer advice on improving them. The course also covered outlines, when to start working on them, and how to make them as helpful as possible.
Weighing the Cost: Is Barbri’s Law Preview Worth It?
When considering enrolling in Barbri’s Law Preview, one cannot ignore the hefty price tag. At $1395, Barbri Law Preview is a significant investment and initially it was too high cost of a course for my tastes.
Many prospective law students might balk at the idea of shelling out this amount for a preparatory course, I know I did. However, it’s important to keep in mind that law school is an intensively competitive environment and a tool that gives you an edge your first semester of law school can be incredibly valuable.
Furthermore, there’s good news for those concerned about the cost. Barbri offers a Law Preview course scholarship that covers the entire course fee for eligible students. This scholarship can be a game-changer, making the course’s insights and training accessible without the financial strain. I strongly suggest that you apply for these Law Preview scholarships as you could very easily get the entire course for free.
Beyond the Classroom: The Extracurricular Value of a Law Preview Course
As you delve into the world of law, you’ll find that the theoretical knowledge gained from textbooks and classes is just one part of a larger puzzle. Here’s where a Law Preview Course could offer additional value that isn’t immediately evident, but can be of immense help in your law school journey.
Exposure to Diverse Teaching Styles
Law school professors often have diverse teaching methods, and what works for one may not work for another. Some of my professors cold-called, others did not. Some professors would spend most of the class lecturing whereas others would rely on student input to questions.
Law Preview Courses help you prepare for these teaching styles because they are taught by a range of professors. This variety can prepare students for the fluidity of law school, making it easier to adjust to various professors during their 1L year.
Time Management Skills
Law school is notorious for its demanding schedule, and students often find themselves overwhelmed by readings, assignments, and extracurricular activities. A Law Preview Course, with its packed itinerary, can serve as a crash course in time management, enabling students to prioritize tasks and utilize their time efficiently.
For many, the start of law school can be intimidating. Being in a new environment, surrounded by accomplished peers, can make anyone feel out of their depth. A Preview Course can provide an early boost of confidence. By familiarizing yourself with key concepts and getting a sense of the law school workload, you can walk into your 1L year with greater assurance.
Feedback in law school, especially during the first semester, can be minimal. With large class sizes and limited office hours, students often don’t know where they stand until final exams. A good Law Preview Course provides an earlier feedback loop. With case briefing exercises and mock exams, students can identify their strengths and areas for improvement well in advance.
Forming Study Groups
While networking is an obvious advantage, forming study groups is a subtler benefit. Interacting with peers in a Preview Course setting allows students to identify like-minded individuals with whom they can form study groups in law school. These groups can be instrumental in breaking down complex topics, sharing resources, and providing mutual support.
There are a number of law preview courses and materials out there today. Barbri, Powerscore & Kaplan all offer Law Preview Courses. Not all of them are equal, and if you are adamant about taking a preview course you should do the research first. Some people will tell you that Law Preview is nothing but snake oil, and the courses aren’t worth the money. You can certainly learn the skills and information on your own, but prep courses do serve a helpful purpose. You may feel like you don’t need a prep course and that’s perfectly fine. No one ever said that you have to take a Barbri Prep Course to get in the top of your law school class.
Personally, I wouldn’t pay $1,500 for a preview course, however if you can get a full scholarship like I did you would be crazy not to take the course. There is absolutely no downside with taking one of these course for free, and a number of law schools offer scholarships for the Barbri course.