I think this point needs emphasis. Ignoring one side of the issue at the preference of another is probably the most fatal mistake new law students make in their pursuit of a "right" answer. Lay people typically judge one side correct before they even begin analyzing the issue, and their prejudice misleads them. It's important to overcome that.
BTW, Thane, your replies are absolutely exceptional. I haven't read anything like them before.
Thank you, Soren. As it happens I've had the, ah, luxury of thinking about this for some years now, in both the practice and teaching of law. The writing and editing projects--which started as a hobby of sorts--have caused me to think about, and re-think, how students go about the study of law. So, it's not so much me as it is this unusual circumstance, as most attorneys forget about their law school travails practically the day of the last law exam. I started working literally the week after my last law exam, and the bar review course that same week. So, if nothing else, as a pro bono matter of sorts I'd like to help the next generation, and perhaps correct some of the more egregious excesses of the law school and law practice worlds.
When I was in law school I was destitute. I scrounged in the several Half-Price Books in Austin for whatever I could find. So, I understand. But I also cheated myself. In many ways, I was penny-wise and pound-foolish. If you can pick up even one good tip from any source, it's worth its time. If money is tight, as it usually is as a student, then ask your library to buy a copy for you. Chances are they might.
At the risk of getting into (more) trouble, I'd like to suggest resources depending upon where one is in the process. I've had a role in many of these, so you'll know whom to blame.
Here goes . . .
If you're still in college (or even before), I'd recommend Planet Law School
and, in immodesty, my own book (Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold)
. It's fine and expected to read the other pre-law books, but be wary about advice that sounds formulaic. Law school is simply not the same as college and before. Thus, an approach based on what worked before will, at best, not be the optimal approach. (As I argue in the above book, the "formula" for successful college study wasn't actually even good, but it worked for you for a reason having nothing to do with its usefulness--or lack thereof. You were smart, and so the tools . . . any tools . . . were useful. That doesn't mean they were good.)
If you've not yet taken the LSAT, I suggest devoting a LOT of time to that. It will be the most important exam you take. Yes, more important than the bar exam, and, in some ways, all law exams put together. Plan on spending AT LEAST six full weeks. Twelve is a better target. Plan on spending a mimumum of eight hours per day for six days of each of those weeks. It's that important. Plan on using multiple sources, starting with several commercial and the LSAC's test booklets, and going on down the line. Two hundred dollars' worth here will be the best effort yet. (And don't write in the books, for goodness' sake.)
If you're an older law student, or have spent even a year or so in a job (Peace Corps, military, etc.) after college, take a look at Later-in-Life Lawyers
. Non-traditional students face numerous differing obstacles, so it's good to hear from those who have gone before.
If you're too easily stressed, scan The Slacker's Guide to Law School
. While I wouldn't suggest his approach in total, his is a good antidote to the insanity that takes over many in law school. His anecdotes are quite funny, and his personal story is an important one to hear, especially given how his story ends.
If you're a 1L now and are smack in the middle of that insanity, I would get Planet Law School
and Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold
. . . BUT read ONLY those parts that focus directly in study and exams. Now is the time to focus. The author of the former has a list of pages to study, while for my book, the middle sections will be most helpful. In one sense there's not much time. In another sense, wasting another five hours on case briefs is time much better spent figuring out how to spend time wisely. A mid-course correction is among the most important functions in navigation. And it's a skill every good lawyer learns to perfect. Never cry over time wasted. Dust yourself off and move on. With equal force, insist of yourself that you re-focus and re-dedicate at any moment to that which is better. This is much of what law practice is.
If you can, attend LEEWS or a similar exam seminar. If you cannot, buy the LEEWS material, and take it seriously. Again, I do not make a penny on LEEWS.
If you're struggling with finding a job, get The Insider's Guide to Getting a Big Firm Job
. Its information is helpful for all job-seekers. (In a way, even moreso for those not in the OCI pageant.)
If you're seriously considering changing law schools and are following the above advice (and thus more likely to get top grades), read The Art of the Law School Transfer
Before you start your clerkship, read Jagged Rocks of Wisdom: Professional Advice for the New Attorney
and also Jagged Rocks of Wisdom--The Memo
. Especially read the Memo book. But you MUST read both, really. (These are the first two in a series of four books.) They're like having a senior partner right next to you for your first year.
And when life is too dull (or you need help sleeping), try my original, The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide
I hope these help.