« on: November 02, 2009, 11:28:11 AM »
1. Is briefing on your own/reading every case from casebooks necessary?
I read the cases and confirmed that I did understand the key facts. Learning to read cases is, largely, a function of learning what to skip and how to wade through someone else's prose and logic. I didn't brief any cases, though I highlighted a cogent phrase or two in each case to help me remember why the case was important.
2. I am very behind in almost every class I am taking because I read really slow. However, when I look at the outline and supplement materials, I still do understand why things are the way they are. What troubles me is that I sometimes have no idea whats happening while I'm in class because I didn't do my reading. Is attending every class really necessary to learn the law?
Being behind in reading is extremely common. As others have said, stay on top of the reading if you need the participation points. Otherwise, it's not a big deal to be lost because you skimmed or didn't read a case. For example, some cases have convoluted procedural history; that history is often irrelevant to the law or your professor's pet theories, but students end up spending 25 minutes discussing it because they don't yet know what's relevant and what's not. No big deal to be lost in that situation. Or sometimes, two or three cases have identical holdings to the main case, and the prof talks about the other cases just to drive home the point. As long as you know what the point is, it doesn't matter that you didn't read minor supporting cases.
On the other hand, if you're lost when the prof and students are applying rules to cases or comparing one set of standards to another set of standards, that's a bigger deal. What I mean is that the act of applying the rules or interpreting the standards or finding the elements shouldn't throw you for a loop. You may later be able to go back, read through outline/supplemental and understand what was said, but you'll be missing the exercise of analyzing, in real time. That "on the fly" analysis is a kind of mini-test, to see if you do in fact understand the material and to see if you'd be able to adequately analyze the material in an exam setting.
3. Also, I looked at some of the old exams and model answers. It seems like as long as I study on my own(but not necessarily always keep up with demanding reading load) and understand the law, I believe I will be able to produce a reasonable good answer on the exams that look similar to the model ones I've seen. I think supplements are very helpful, if not essential to my studying. To be honest, I think casebooks are unnecessarily confusing and worded in a difficult way/ contain extra information that really isn't the law etc.
Yep, I relied on supplementals heavily. And yep, casebooks are a jumbled mess -- they're collections of rulings, so the structure is necessarily more random. One case often stands for several different propositions, and sometimes there's a case that only half-illuminates an idea or perspective. You sound like you're focused on learning the law, which is important. Spend equal time learning how and when to apply the law and you'll be fine.
And, BTW, you can probably pass all your courses doing less than you're doing right now, depending of course on how vicious your school's curve is. But with some tweaks to what you're doing right now, you can do much bettter than "manage to pass."