Personas of a Law School Study Group

Law School and Study GroupsIt’s that time again. Finals time. There are a variety of signs finals are approaching, including study groups.

Study groups are not for everyone and they aren’t for every class. But at least once in law school, almost everyone finds themselves attending some form of a voluntary group study session. While some study groups seem open to new people showing up and others seem to require sponsorship by a current member and proof of your projected contribution, most study groups are made up of more or less the same personalities. Note: these personalities are not mutually exclusive.

The Teacher

This person learns by explaining or “teaching” material. They’ll usually direct the group through the study session, suggesting, “Let’s start with this practice problem.”  They’ll lead the way through a discussion of all relevant and potentially relevant details, and when everyone thinks every facet has been covered, Teacher will throw out a, “make sure you don’t forget to factor in X,” in the interest of being comprehensive. Teachers have been known to take calls at all hours the night before a final to answer questions, and are unfailingly reliable and thorough.

The Gunner

This person is related to people who comment on articles or videos on the internet only saying “First!” Study Group Gunner wants to answer every question posed by Teacher first. This typically isn’t a problem because most of the rest of the group is content to take in Teacher’s wisdom without comment. Study Group Gunner is not always a Classroom Gunner, but the two may occasionally overlap.

The Know it All

Know It All knows the answer to every single question. Why are they even in a study group? It’s clear they have all of the information. Know it All will sometimes say things like, “we could skip that” or “we know” when often “we” is just Know it All, and the rest of the group is in the dark about the concept and its explanation. Know it All seems to believe that everything he/she already knows, the rest of the group already knows (or should).

The Host

The group has to meet somewhere. Whether it’s somewhere in the law school, a coffee shop, or in a residence, each group includes a host. Study Group Host takes two forms: their residence is most appropriate for hosting and Host accepts the job, or Host is the person who brought everyone together and is the group leader no matter the location. Both forms of Host have basic hosting skills down, but the former usually makes a snack, arranges the furniture so it’s more conducive to group discussion, and points out where all available outlets are.

The Snack Bringer

This person never shows up to a meeting empty handed. The type of snack may vary, but this group member always walks through the door with a container in hand. Snack Bringer can be counted on to (1) bring something everyone likes (2) have made it well (3) and have made enough for everyone to enjoy without regard for rationing. Snack Bringers aren’t sure they bring anything intellectually to the group, but they are sure they bake well, so they stick to their strengths.

The Quiet Ones

These people don’t say much, if anything. But they do always show up. Their contributions typically come in these forms: nodding while Teacher speaks, the occasional question, confirming or denying specific information, passing on a valuable outline, and knowing all of the details of the exam: length, time, date, place, format, etc.

The Worrier

This group member is worried about everything. The final is open book & open note? They’re worried a tab might fall off a page—how will they know what page the notes of the advisory committee on FRCP 12(b)(6) are on without a tab? What if the tab gets smudged and they actually have to open the book to read why they put a tab there? What if that topic Worrier overheard the professor mentioning to one student in passing on day 3 of class as everyone left the room shows up on the exam? A Worrier is easy to spot because he/she spends a lot of time wringing his/her hands, frowning, and starts most sentences with “I just . . . ” and “It worries me that . . . ” and “ummm, what about . . . ”

Osmosis Learners

Found most commonly in study groups organized by the school for 1Ls and in review sessions put on by professors, these people seem to believe that if they just show up, they will retain the information being discussed around them. They virtually never contribute, and rarely appear to be paying attention. Osmosis Learners also typically carry their books with them everywhere, as if they will absorb the books’ contents through such prolonged contact.

Good luck getting through this round of finals—with or without a study group.

Post image from Flickr.com: http://www.flickr.com/photos/utslibrary/4762658760

Not all blonde lawyers or law students want to be the next Elle Woods. Though she has since graduated from law school, you can still find Not an Elle on Twitter @NotanElle or on her own site at thenotanelleblog.com

5 Comments

  1. Craig

    May 1, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    The “Osmosis Learners” … haha … that one was original and funny

  2. Ellen

    May 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I was in a study group, and all the men wanted to date me, not study. I decided NOT to stay in a study group b/c I wanted to learn, not have sex with men law student’s. FOOEY on them.

  3. tcqc

    May 4, 2012 at 2:46 am

    What the fuck man. It’s PERSONAE not ‘personas’

  4. Sam

    May 4, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Ellen, first, why is there is an apostrophe in “student’s”? Care to explain yourself? Second, I can certainly assure you that these “men law student’s” that you mention probably had little to zero choice in the selection of women they wanted to bang. It just so happened that either (a) you are slightly above mediocre looking and as it so happens, in law school, that makes you a rare breed or (b) (the more likely prospect) they heard the rumors above how you get drunk and are a very easy f*ck, so they decided to find out how easy. Don’t flatter yourself, Ellen.

  5. Nonyo Beeswax

    May 4, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I go with the simple strategy of studying like an insane, diseased, obsessive compulsive maniac for five months, then I proceed with a classically timed freakout about a week prior to finals, then I try and find a study group to see what I could have missed in my own studies, only to find out they can smell my fear from down the hall and bolt the door.

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