« on: July 28, 2004, 08:47:42 AM »
My two cents:
My purpose isn't to dissuade anyone from buying anything that can help them do well in law school (other than Gilberts, etc. style outlines - fairly worthless), but rather to try and dispell a few misconceptions I've heard bounding around school and the discussion boards about doing well during your first year.
First, there isn't a "law school game." This is not some bizarre system designed to trick you into making mistakes or weeding you out. Law schools have too much to lose by damaging their retention numbers in so doing. There are a few simple steps to follow (in my opinion) to get the most out of your first year experience:
1) read your cases the night before class to UNDERSTAND the material, not to remember the names of all the parties and on which street the events took place. You'll have the occassional professor that will rejoice in grilling you over what the bizarre procedural posture of the case is or what some arcane term means in the context, but such facts are just about completely irrelevant
2) LISTEN in class. Don't write down every fact, every thing everyone in the class says, etc. Most people aren't able to convince themselves to do this, but you would be well served if you could: don't take a single not during class that can't be typed into your laptop in a few words. People that end up taking 200 pages of notes during the semester neither really understand what they've heard nor have a useful, short tool with which to study.
3) Start preparing your outlines (SHORT outlines - no monster 100 pages dandies) at least a month or two before the final. Yes, this means that you'll be starting your outlines about half way through the semester. This is good. Trust me. When the end of the semester rolls around and you've already finished, everyone will be envious.
4) Find a study group that actually studies. I'm not a study group kind of guy - I'm generally considered to be a little too controlling. But, once I found three people (and four is the ABSOLUTE maximum for a study group, three might be preferred) that really wanted to study and not eat meals and chat, we really hit stride.
5) On finals, remember to do the following IN ORDER:
a) read the entire question - think about what the prof is really wanting
b) outline the entire answer - don't write a WORD until you've outlined
c) explain the law as exists without referring to the facts
d) explain the way that the law applies to these facts
e) explain your conclusion(s)
6) Most importantly, remember that your purpose here is to LEARN the law (or more accurately, a general framework from which to learn the law - that part takes a summer internship or two to really understand). You are NOT here to do well on exams. If you have the right attitude, then the exams will be a piece of cake. Don't ask yourself what person X is doing or how they are preparing, nor wonder what everyone's grades are going to be.
If anyone has more specific questions, I'll be happy to share my experiences,