« on: March 01, 2005, 11:21:38 PM »
I'm assuming you are asking for tips on studying. I can give you a general overview. If you want specific information, email me.
In general, do all of the reading. I have heard some people say they do all of the reading and I have heard others say they don't and instead, start relying on commercial outlines or books that have briefs in them to prepare for class. Personally, I feel that is a mistake. I'm not here to tell anyone else what to do, but in my opinion, if you don't do the reading, you are seriously limiting your understanding of the law and doing a disservice to future clients. Commercial outlines and briefs will give you the main points of the cases, but they miss important concepts of the reasoning of the court, they sometimes have inaccurate information and they cannot teach you logical reasoning. Doing the actual casework yourself will benefit you in more ways than you realize. Don't cheat yourself.
As for commercial outlines, I have nothing against them. I use them myself to get an overview of the subject I am currently studying (I use it to supplement my understanding after I have read a case) and I use them when I am constructing my outlines. I would suggest doing your own outlines by using the table of contents in your case book and your syllabus to construct a basic outline and then fill in your outline with your case work and information you get from the commercial outlines. When I have time, I try to keep the outlines done throughout the semester (only doing the outline when a major topic has been completed) but I am not always successful at keeping them done all the time. Ideally, try to have your outlines done two weeks before exams. When you get a chance, study your outlines throughout the semester. When prepping for an exam, know your outline inside and out. Basically, you should know it well enough to recite it from memory (example: be able to explain all of it to a person who has never had that class).
See the forest for the trees. When you are down "in the trees" you are at the level of reading cases, understanding the analysis of that area of the law, etc. When you "see the forest" you are able to see how the smaller parts (the trees) make up the forest as a whole. The best example I can give is what I am doing now in Tax. The chapter I am in the middle of concerns whether or not a discharge of indebtedness is included in computing gross income. That is a specific topic that I am learning and the cases/readings I am doing concern learning about that specific topic. Therefore, I am "in the trees." Later on, when I am trying to see a broad overview of tax in general "seeing the forest," I will be trying to fit that specific topic into a larger category of figuring individual income tax as a whole. The specific topic "the trees" is just one thing that makes up the whole "the forest." This will benefit you greatly at the end of the semester, especially when you are learning your outline. You need to be able to understand the smaller parts individually, but you also need to be able to see how everything fits together as a whole.
Take law school seriously. Have fun and make sure you have another life outside of law school, but be an adult about it when you are there. Hand your work in on time, be diligent about your work, maintain a professional attitude, respect your professors and fellow students, and don't be one of the whiners in the class. I can't tell you how many people I saw at my old school that were complete whiners and acted like they were in high school. They were personally offended when a professor came down hard on them (or the class in general) and acted like everyone owed them something. Treat law school like a job and maintain a level of professionalism that you would expect if you were in the presence of an attorney.
Don't be afraid to ask for help.
If you get a chance and if you don't already know it, ask a legal research/writing professor for a recommendation on a good book for learning logical reasoning specifically geared to law school. This, I promise you, will be invaluable. I was lucky enough that my professor had a few sessions on it and believe me, it was like a lightbulb went off. This will not only help you in research and writing, but it will help you in your classes in general and it will help out on the tests.
Find a study schedule that works for you. My ideal study schedule (when other things don't come up and I can stick to it) involves being at least a week ahead on my reading. In general, I try to find a week early in the semester to get ahead (get all the reading/briefs done for that week and in the same week do the same for the next week). That way, I am only reviewing right before class for that specific week and already reading for the next week. If you can stay a week ahead during the semester, you can have about 2 free weeks at the end of the semester just for studying.
As far as reading/briefing in general, many people drop it after the first semester, but I still advocate the 3 read method for preparing for classes. The first read is the first general read through the material along with highlighting (I use color coded highlighting-yes, I am one of those geeks). The second read is a few days later or on the weekend when I actually brief the cases. The third read is the day of class where I review my briefs just before class. This method has worked well for me.
Not sure what else to tell you, I've taken up enough room already, but I'm sure there is more so if you have any other questions, don't be afraid to ask.