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Incoming 1Ls / 10 Must Dos To Succeed in Law School
« on: May 02, 2007, 02:40:54 PM »

10. Regularly re-charge your batteries.  (Don’t worry if you re-charge too hard, there is time to take cat-naps during class.)

9. Break up with significant other.  (Anyone dating someone with a six-figure debt must be crazy.)

8. Ignore your classmates.  (They will be clueless and stressed out.)

7. Make friends with the third-year students. (They are the only ones who really know what is going on, and in the near future they will be interviewing you for an internship or job.)

6. Wait two weeks to buy your text books.  (They will be a lot cheaper.)

5. One week into law school email the following message to your classmates:  “Are you dropping out?  Will buy your text books for 50% of retail.”

4. Make sure not to injure your back carrying heavy textbooks.  (Get a doctor’s note informing the school you need to reserve the closest parking spot available.)

3. In class, never respond that you don’t know to a professor’s question.  (Instead, begin asking the professor questions such as “How is that relevant?” or “Can you re-state the question?”  Ask enough questions and the professor will never come back to you again.)

2. Don’t date a classmate.  (See Rule #9.  Exception: classmate is getting a free ride.)

1. Attend every social event the law school and the local bar association put on.  (This kills two birds with one stone because you will be able to network yourself into future employment while getting free food.)

Michael Santana,
Legal Writing Prep

Incoming 1Ls / Grades
« on: March 29, 2007, 10:25:47 AM »
A common complaint among first-year law students is that the grades they receive do not accurately reflect their understanding of their courses. Many of these students are correct. This inconsistency between the understanding of a subject and the grade received for that subject is usually because a student does not possess strong writing skills.

Law school grades are only partially based on how hard you study. 90% or more of all first-year law students study hard for their first semester's final exams, but 10% or less of these students receive A grades.

Most law school first-year classes are graded on a final exam only. This means students cannot truly gauge how well they understand what they are attempting to learn during the semester.

Furthermore, these finals exams are essay exams and exam grades are often based on an answer's content and writing. Unlike undergrad, on law school exams students cannot write everything they know about a topic and expect to receive a good grade because the right answer is there somewhere. That is the fastest way to receive a B or lower grade. The best graded exams are written clearly and concisely, precisely answer the question asked, and in the writing structure the professor wants to see.

Also, don't assume you write well because you received high grades on essay exams and papers as an undergraduate. Not only do law school professors grade harder than undergraduate professors, the level of writing of your law school classmates will be much better than the level of writing of your undergraduate classmates.

What was once near top of the class work in an undergraduate setting, is middle of the class work in law school. In law school you are competing against and being compared to the best students. Remember, the best and brightest from thousands of colleges and universities nationwide are funneled into approximately two hundred law schools.

The websites below provide additional thoughts on law school grades.

Good luck in law school!

Michael Santana
Legal Writing Prep

Incoming 1Ls / Not the End of the World
« on: March 22, 2007, 02:30:12 AM »
Have your dreams of being a successful, big-money-making attorney been crushed because your top-tier law school choices rejected you? 


One day a pre-law advisor told me about the time she was speaking before a class of students about how not being accepted to a person’s number one choice was not the end of the world.  One student in the back (the smart asses are always in the back) yelled out, “Yes it is.”  To this she firmly responded, “No, it isn’t.  The end of the world is when the doctor tells you if your baby survives until the morning then we will operate.”

While the pre-law advisor’s statement may not have been appropriate, she was correct.  During this time of acceptance and rejection, keep things in perspective.

I am sure some of you are thinking about what happened to former White House counsel Harriet Miers.  To that I once again respond, SO WHAT!

Don’t get me wrong, go to the best school you can possibly go to, but if you can’t get into your first choice it is not going to have any long term detrimental effect on your career.  There are many highly successful attorneys who did not go to top tier law schools.  For instance, Johnnie Cochran attended Loyola Law School, Gerry Spence attended the University of Wyoming Law School, and current Vermont Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Skoglund did not even attend law school. 

These three attorneys have been involved in historic, famous, and important cases; Spence was the lead trial attorney in the Karen Silkwood case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, Cochran was the lead attorney in O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, and Justice Skoglund was involved in the first decision that established civil unions in this country.

By any measure these three attorneys are and were successful.  Furthermore, these three attorneys are not the exception; they are just the tip of the iceberg of motivated people who did not graduate from top tier law schools and became successful attorneys.

Michael Santana

Incoming 1Ls / Speed Reading Courses
« on: February 22, 2007, 07:14:49 AM »
Periodically on the law school discussion boards, entering first-year law students mention that one of the ways they are preparing for law school is by taking a speed reading course. A word to the wise: this is not an effective or efficient way to spend your time and money preparing for law school.

In all the time I have been associated with law schools I have never heard a student or professor mention that a certain speed reading course is a good law school preparatory course. In fact, the only and first place I have come across speed reading courses as a way to prepare for law school is on law school discussion boards from individuals who have yet to enter law school.

Effective legal reading is not only about speed, it is also about understanding what you are reading. You can read as quickly as you want, but if you do not understand the legal terminology then there is a great likelihood that you will interpret the cases incorrectly or miss a subtle, but important point.

Reading is a skill, and like any other skill it can be improved with the right practice. As an article at points out; "Typically, the average first year law student reads only three pages an hour in their first month of law school. By the end of the first semester, most students read ten pages an hour and keep at that pace until the end of their second year."

The article mentioned above and another good article about law school reading can be found at:

Even if you consider yourself just an average student, you should not worry about your reading skills prior to arriving at law school. As you become familiar with how to read cases your speed will improve. Within the first four to six weeks of law school you will probably read at least 100 cases, if not more, and it is very likely you will become competent quickly at anything done so much.

Michael Santana

Incoming 1Ls / LSAT Second Time Seeking Suggestions
« on: February 16, 2007, 12:48:39 PM »
I am interested in finding out from those people who took the LSAT more than once and significantly improved the second time.

Below are some questions to considering in answering my request.

What was the difference in the scores?

What did you differently the second time and why do you think you did better?


Michael Santana

Incoming 1Ls / LSAT Self Study Seeking Suggestions
« on: February 16, 2007, 12:46:03 PM »
I am interested in finding out from those people who took the LSAT without using a prep course.

Below are some questions to considering in answering my request.

How did you do on the LSAT?

What kind of study schedule did you set up for yourself?  How many weeks?

Where did you get your resources?

How could it have been better?

If you had to do it again, how would you do it differently?


Michael Santana

Incoming 1Ls / LSAT Prep Course-Was it Worth It?
« on: February 15, 2007, 10:50:31 AM »
I am a former law school legal writing professor who helps students prepare for law school.  On my website I also like to give students well-rounded information on the whole law school experience including the LSAT.  For that reason I am interested in finding out how people felt about the LSAT prep course they took. 

Did you think the LSAT prep course you took was very helpful?  Was it worth the money?

How could it have been better?

If you had to do it again, how would you do it differently?


Michael Santana

« on: February 15, 2007, 07:41:55 AM »
I know that you have already heard a lot about law school grades, but I want to discuss them from a little bit different point of view. That view is that all law school grades are not of equal importance. This is something you may not have been told yet so let me explain.

Law school consists of basically three years or 6 semesters. A fact you will encounter in law school is that some law students after their second summer, and before entering their third and final year of law school, will have secured a full time job that awaits them upon their graduation. This means that these students' third-year grades are not considered by their future employers.

So these students can get all Cs in their third-year courses and as long as they graduate they will still have a job. This should make it immediately apparent to you that fifth and sixth semester (third-year) law school grades for some students may not be as important as the other four semesters' grades.

Concerning the other four semesters' grades, they are also not of equal importance to each other. Of the grades from the first four semesters of law school, the first semester's grades can be the most important.

First semester grades can be so important because they are the only grades that first summer employers have to assess how a student is doing in law school. The reason first semester grades are often the only grades first summer employers use to make internship decisions is because the interviews and final decisions for internships are made in the spring before the second semester's finals begin.

First-summer internships are important because students are more likely to get prestigious internships after their second-year in law school if they are selected for prestigious internships for their first summer. Furthermore, the more prestigious your internships are, the greater likelihood you will land a prestigious job prior to your third year of law school or upon graduating.

Good luck in law school!

Michael Santana

Incoming 1Ls / Learning Styles
« on: February 08, 2007, 04:06:46 PM »
One thing that makes law school difficult is the amount of information you are expected to learn, understand, and provide your professors in a clear, concise, and precise manner on the exams and assignments that are graded.

Doing well in law school is not simply about intelligence—the overwhelming majority of law students are intelligent; it is about being an effective and efficient law student, and to be an effective and efficient law student you must understand how you learn best.

There are basically four learning styles. These learning styles are:

1. The Visual/Verbal Learning Style.
2. The Visual/Nonverbal Learning Style.
3. The Tactile/Kinesthetic Learning Style.
4. The Auditory/Verbal Learning Style.

A full explanation of these learning styles is provided in the article Introduction to the DVC Learning Style Survey for College (

Along with this article there is a 32-question survey ( you can take that informs you what your learning style is and provides suggestions for what you should do to learn most effectively and efficiently. Although this article was developed for college students, some law school academic success professors use it also. I was told about this survey by Dennis Tonsing, Dean of Students, Roger Williams University School of Law.

One additional and important thing you can do to prepare to excel in law school is become familiar with the academic success professor at your school. These professors provide individualized help that is specifically tailored to the student they are working with. I have seen academic success professors have a big impact on the academic achievement of law students they have worked with.

Good luck in law school!

Michael Santana

Incoming 1Ls / Informative Websites
« on: February 01, 2007, 10:01:52 AM »
This article contains links to informative pre-law and law websites for an entering law school student. If you have suggestions for any other informative websites please feel free to contact me.
Good luck in law school!

Michael Santana,
(Even before you start law school, it is important to review the bar admission and application standards of the state in which you are interested in practicing. Some states such as Florida will charge you a different fee depending on when you apply to take the bar exam, while other states like Vermont have a clerkship requirement.)



Law School Admission Council:
American Bar Association:




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