As promised, here is BQ's tired-as-hell-at-an-airport guide to law school success*:
Don't look at a case thinking you'll figure out the law. There's absolutely no way this will help. Either you'll be reading a case far in advance of when you need to read it, and thus likely getting the wrong lesson (or "ratio") out of it, or you'll never be reading that case anyway. This is only exasperated by the fact that, criminal law excepted, the cases you'll likely to be starting with are ancient cases in common law topics, which means they're both outdated and esoterically written. And if you think you're tricky and figured out that you can read criminal law cases now, you're not — most profs will have you read extremely edited down and compact versions of cases, so reading the whole case will be a waste of time.
Do work on your typing speed. Most, if not all, law schools in Canada will allow you to type your exams. Law school exams are notorious for being time-crunch exams, where it's practically impossible to address every issue. A 5 wpm increase in your typing speed translates to (theoretically) 900 extra words during a three-hour exam. That's ~3 more issues you can address in depth on your exam than the slower typing version of yourself.
Do work on your reading comprehension and speed. During a typical week, I have about 250 pages of dense case law to read in 1L. Some of my peers have 300 or 400 pages. If you're a slow reader, you're going to struggle to keep up. And note that "slow reader" here doesn't mean legitimately slow; it means "typical high-achieving undergraduate" slow. For reference, I read about 500 words per minute, which is fast compared to my peers (though some of our resident lawyers here read ~1000 words per minute, which blows my mind). I would say that if you're reading less than 250 wpm you're going to struggle. I would say that What's the best way to improve your reading skills? Easy — read! Go down to your local used bookstore and purchase everything you think sounds interesting. Then, purchase something that doesn't sound interesting, like anything written by Aristotle, who was always wrong about everything. Then, lock yourself in your room for the summer (or, you know, go to a beach) and read everything you bought.
Do create your own summaries. Summaries, as explained above, are really just a collection of your class notes that are reformatted and reduced. The following is what worked for me; what works for you may be different. I took detailed reading notes and light class notes throughout the semester. Come finals, I compacted this down into a short summary, largely skipping the "long summary" part of the process. The resulting document usually resembled a list of ratios and their associated cases sorted by topic or stage of analysis (So homicide is grouped together in my crim summary, while nuisance is grouped in my torts summary). If this short summary was over 20 pages, I cut it down more to make it fit under my self-imposed limit. By then, I mainly had the content memorized. I further solidified that knowledge by...
Do(ing) practice tests. There's nothing like the real thing, so it's essential to drill yourself with practice questions early and often (think mid/late october, depending on if your school has midterms). Osgoode has no-downside (and also no-upside) midterms, so I treated these as my practice exam that I got feedback on. If your school doesn't have those, do what NYCLawyer said to do.
Don't stress out when everyone else does. Law school is this weird little breeding ground for stress. Ignore that. People will stress over everything — which clubs they get to be 1L reps for, midterms that are literally worth absolutely nothing, moots that are for bragging rights, hypothetical jobs that are so far away from realization that stressing over them is absurd. Literally everything. Ignore that garbage. Go to pub nights. Go out for beers with your friends. Find other ways to manage your stress with substance abuse (just kidding). Just try to keep a semblance of school-life balance. It's hard to justify going to the gym when your friends are saying they were up until 3 am reading contracts, but you should do it. So long as you feel comfortable with your preparedness, that's all that matters.
Do talk to and befriend upper years. There are three reasons for this, and all are selfish:
They can help guide you through the adjustment period — they've been where you are, and they understand what you're going through. If you feel overwhelmed or stressed or inadequate or confused, they can help.
They can be an incredible resource — want to apply to that clinic that sounds so cool? Your upper year friend either did it or can put you in touch with a friend that did. Want to try that mooting thing? Your upper year friend will help coach you. Want to apply for 1L jobs? Your upper year friend has interview tips.
They're stressed, but it's a different stress — when all your friends are freaking out about your first assignment it's nice to have an upper year friend to hit up a brewery with. And when they're stressed about OCIs, it's nice for them to have you around to drag them to pub night (just not during actual OCIs).
Do go to O-week. It's really fun, and I met some of my best friends in law school there. It's also a great way to meet those aforementioned upper year friends. You don't have to go to everything, but check out the events that sound interesting. At Osgoode, you can't miss the Dean's gala, the Old Osgoode tour, or the pub crawl. They're all great fun.
Go live your life. Don't look now, but you're getting closer and closer to the point where your summers aren't yours and the pressures of the real-world start to add up. Go do something fun! I drove across the country with my girlfriend and everything I own to get to law school. I visited every brewery in Vancouver in a quest to teach my best friend to like beer (and now she sends me pictures of what she's drinking). I drove 10 hours both ways through the night to spend a free weekend in Calgary at Stampede. I talked my way into a country music festival. Do something fun and reckless and exhilarating!
*Disclaimer: this was written at 5:30 am while sitting in an uncomfortable chair at Pearson. Also, I've only been in law school for 1/2 a year, and I haven't gotten any real grades back, though I did quite well on my midterms.