I'm a fan, but that dude on apprentice kind of ruined it for lawyers
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Messages - conrad42
When you walk in the class, here is the goal: for each case assigned, have a rough idea of (1) the legal issue(s) presented; (2) the relevant facts; (3) the holding; and (4) the reasoning behind that holding. With these in mind, the class discussion will be much more relevant, and you'll be able to take better notes. The point of pre-reading is to be ready to take meaningful notes on which your later outlines can substantially rely. While supplements can help when you're stuck, you want to focus substantially on the class because the professor will be looking for you to parrot back what he taught and not necessarily what the restatements or other supplements say. Re the socratic method, you should also strive to answer each of the professor's questions either silently to yourself or in your notes so it forces you to think through these issues, but be careful about what your classmates say.
For the first few weeks to months of law school, it will be a hard slog to pick out those four items from a reading a case. By the end of 3L, you should be able to skim most cases (unless they're horribly written) and pick those out easily. This is why I strongly second the earlier comment about getting Delaney's Learning Legal Reasoning: Brieifing, Analysis and Theory. (You should also get his book on exam writing, and review both before law school so you have an idea what will be expected from you at the end of the semester). Follow Delaney's briefing method religiously for at least the first month, and then as you get busier and better at reading cases, you can stop briefing or create more cursory briefs. You don't need to memorize the cases, just be ready enough so you know what the professor is talking about when he starts covering a case.
Note also that a lot cases will be followed by case notes. Don't spend too much time on them, but they can be worthwhile, depending. Many are just asking questions to think about, and those should be glossed over. Others, however, will cover majority and minority rules, and often those are worth making note of.
Definitely take it in Nov. I found that my PR class did nothing to prepare for the exam, so don't worry too much about that last couple weeks of class that you'll be missing. But, you should spend some time working on practice tests. I think Kaplan's online MPRE class is free (at least it was this past summer). Besides, preparing for and taking the MPRE might help you on your PR exam.
Thanks for all of the great advice. I have one question- how are we, as beginning students in the law, actually supposed to be able to figure out why the law was included? To me, all I see in this case is that airplanes aren't considered motor vehicles. Is that really the big picture I am supposed to get out of this case?
First, it is typical that for the first few weeks you will read cases and completely miss the point. A big part of the first few weeks is understanding how to look at a case and find what is important for class. Just keep briefing and paying attention to class, and you'll eventually get it.
In the case you are briefing, it is irrelevant whether or not the airplane is actually a motor vehicle. Rather, this case illustrates a point about statutory interpretation and the judge's role. Specifically, an airplane probably fits the literal definition of the statute, or at least people can make reasonable arguments that an airplane fits the literal definition. But, did Congress intend airplanes to be covered? Does it matter what Congress intended? Does the policy behind this statute cover airplanes? If the judge is to be a faithful agent of Congress, where should he draw the line? If an airplane is not a motor vehicle, what about a motorized wheelchair? A hovercraft? etc. These are all issues you'll likely talk about for 30 minutes to an hour based upon this particular case, but in the end, it doesn't matter at all what this particular statute said or how this court came out. What matters is introducing you to these issues of judicial interpretation.
to add to the great advice above:
Focus on the why in you brief. Why does one party think an airplane is a motor vehicle? Why does the other party think it is not? Why does the judge decide the way he does? Class discussions of cases focus on the reasoning used by the different parties. The more you can understand that reasoning ahead of time, the better off you will be.
I didn't need a supplement during the year (other than google) but Law in a Flash really helped for exam prep. The concepts in the class aren't that hard, but you have to memorize a lot of rules, so flash cards were very helpful.
Being an RA during the school year will never hurt you, unless your grades end up suffering. If you ever apply for clerkships, having been an RA will help. A LOR from a professor you got an A from usually is fairly generic. But by RAing, the prof. will get to know you and you'll have a much better LOR as a result.
That said, the commenter above is right about professors' connections. You might want to identify professors in your school who are well connected and try to develop relationships with them over your 1L and 2L years.
Studying in the fall as a 1L is a little different from the rest of law school, in part because that is when you are learning how to digest a case. Prior to each class, I read and briefed each case. The brief entailed identifying the issues and identifying and following the court's reasoning. Briefing is important because it helps you to learn how to read a case. As my legal reading comprehension improved, I stopped briefing, but I still took short notes on each case (key facts, issues, and holding briefly summarized in one or two punchy sentences).
So, prior to each class you need to read the assignment. This is time consuming as it is not like reading a novel. Generally, this took me between 1 to 2 hours per hour of class (double that if you're doing full briefs), depending upon the complexity of the material. The goal is to go to class with a working familiarity of the issues the professor will discuss so you can follow and understand the class discussion. In class, I took notes. If there were issues in class i didn't understand, I would then spend time after class clarifying. This might entail rereading the case, looking at study aids, etc. Starting about a month into the semester, I would add to this routine developing an outline. While looking at another person's outline can help you with material you don't understand, I found that writing my own outline for each class was crucial. In addition to the readings mentioned above, this takes an hour or so per hour of class. So, it would generally take me 4 to 6 hours to fully outline a week's worth of classes in a 4-credit class. Finally, in the last week or so of classes, I would start looking at old exams and actually writing sample exam answers.
I was able to get through my first two years of law school by studying/going to class a fairly solid 10-12 hours a day on M-Th, about 8 hours on Friday, and about 6 hours on either Saturday or Sunday, but I always took at least one day off a week, unless I was within a couple weeks of exams. I never did an all nighter, but I have worked until midnight a couple of times.
« on: December 18, 2008, 09:53:54 PM »
This is in support of the above comment, which is correct.
Remember that the word negligence has two meanings. First, there is the tort of negligence, which involves the following elements: duty, breach, but for cause, proximate cause, and harm.
Second, there is the act of being negligent, which is just the duty and breach elements. Negligence per se establishes the act of being negligence, but not the tort of negligence. So, if I breach a duty, I am negligent, but if my negligence didn't cause a harm, I am not liable for negligence.
As the above commenter noted, contributory negligence as a defense attacks the causation elements, where as negligence per se is only in relation to the duty and breach elements.
LSAT is an approximate indicator of law school success. If you can be a splitter, i.e. LSAT > 170, then you have a chance of doing really well in law school. Why do I say this? When a school takes a splitter, it is taking you because your LSAT is well above their average LSAT. As a rough approximate, LSAT tracks with intelligence, and having an above average intelligence will make is easier for your to beat your peers on exams. Getting good grades is all about doing better than your classmates.
On the other hand, law school takes a lot of work. I mean a lot of work. Harder than you have every even thought about working in school before. If you have a 3.0 GPA, you're probably lazy, and this will hurt you in law school. If you truly have gotten over your laziness, or lack of motivation, or whatever, then you will fare really well in law school. But if you haven't, you'll be miserable and will be stuck in the median, if you're lucky.