OP, if there is one thing I've learned about law students in the few weeks I've been here, it is that they love to show off, boast, and revel in self-pity. Many of them get some sort of perverse sense of gratification and accomplishment by
pretending to work for hours and then talking about it. Some of my 2L friends warned me about this before school started ("Don't let people psyche you out when they talk about how much work they're doing," they told me), and now I'm seeing this all first-hand.
The only class I really read carefully for is Torts, and that is just because my prof is a really intense, old-school Socratic teacher. Neither of my other two profs are particularly intense, so I just skim cases, read briefs, etc. to get the general sense of what is going on in the case. I feel like I understand the classes so far and my notes are pretty solid.
A 2L told me a good way to gauge my understanding throughout the semester... When your prof asks a question on a key concept, are you able to in answer it clearly and concisely in your head, or are you confused? In other words, do you "get it?" If you don't "get it," ramp up your workload. If you do "get it," then you should be alright. But don't feel the need to work more just because other students are, because IMO, the students who I've labled in my head as workaholics or gunners are often the one's whose class responses are