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Messages - Duncanjp

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81
General Board / Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« on: October 05, 2011, 03:36:07 PM »
IMO Jack is right.  You can get everything you need by spending quality time with a canned brief, study guide, and perhaps scanning the case - will save 30% to 50% time reading and "learning."  Spend the time you saved taking practice tests and applying the concepts.  Do you really need to read an 8 page case to effectively learn and understand the concept of "open and obvious" in premises liability?  The "black letter" series were excellent briefs for getting to the heart of things.

We've had this discussion before, but I always enjoy advocating for the other side. Sick in the head, perhaps. The platitudinous obvious, of course, is to do what works for you. With 1L under my belt, I can't deny that I don't feel the need to read every word of every case anymore. This is especially true on those eight-page cases where you take away a single rule of law that can be succinctly expressed in about eight words. In hindsight, some of that reading is probably a waste of time, particularly if your time needs to be budgeted. A canned brief can cut to the chase - and I made good use of canned briefs as a 1L, especially in contracts. (I don't want to intimate that I would never use a canned brief.) However, I was a much greener student last year than I am this year. Today, my case reading consists almost exclusively of speed reading through the facts and fluff to find that one-sentence rule of law or the two-pronged test that I'm going to need to apply to fact patterns on exams. But are most 1Ls equipped to assume such an abbreviated approach right from the start without having read any significant number of cases? Maybe, maybe not. It's a value judgment, granted. It's also a gamble. Learning to glean relevant information quickly from elaborate fact patterns takes practice. Canned briefs don't teach you how to brief. And being able to brief a fact pattern thoroughly is fundamental to writing a good paper. I have no regrets at all that I read all of the cases last year. Almost half of my 1L class didn't make it to 2L, and while the reasons are diverse, I don't know any 2Ls next to me who shortchanged the reading last year. After reading so many cases, you eventually arrive at a point where you can zip through them at speed and find the point that you need to take from it without having to read every single word comprehensively. Some people get there faster than others. But I would only caution 1Ls, especially early in the game, not to assume that they're smarter than the law school process. If reading the cases were not important to a well-rounded understanding of how to apply the law, then worthwhile law schools would not assign them to be read in the first place.

Parting thought. When called upon to brief cases in class, those who didn't survive 1L, together with those who placed in the bottom of the class, invariably just started reading the case aloud. And they'd read every freakin' bloody word until the professor mercifully stopped them. I used to marvel at this. God, I'd sit there squirming in silent agony at these high school reading-out-loud voices "briefing" the given case, and all I could think was, "Future attorney? Good luck." The students who placed at the top of the class never did that, including the book-briefers, like myself. I didn't have time to write out a formal brief for every case, although I tried to write at least one of my own for each class. Yet even by just book-briefing, a quick glance  at the facts and the issue you've scrawled in the margin and you'd say, "Oh yeah, I remember this one. The guy did this and that. The issue was whether... The rule was... Overturned." 1, 2, 3. It's easy to tell when somebody has read the case at least once, and the whole class respects that person a lot more than the plain readers. However, the litmus test is, who did better on the exams? This becomes self-evident. Ultimately, the students who discipline themselves to do most or all of the reading will also discipline themselves to do the necessary practice tests and further, they'll get more mileage from every practice test they write than will those who skirt the reading.

82
General Board / Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« on: October 01, 2011, 02:28:43 PM »
Good legal writing is usually learned through practice, not study.  Some people are naturals, but most people have to write briefs and pleadings over and over to improve. 
It's extremely easy as a 1L to get side-tracked by pursuits and strategies that will not actually help you prepare for the final exam. 

Try to listen and read and all that good stuff.  Read a commercial outline or hornbook if you are stumped... but in your extra time: get an old outline for the class and go over it many many times along with taking notes on the outline during class, get any practice tests you can get your hands on and write out your answers.  The best way to succeed on a law school exam is to prepare specifically for a law school exam, rather than trying to be a universal legal scholar.

Absolutely correct. There is no question that the best way to succeed on exams is to practice writing exams, especially old exams from the same professor. I aced my finals in May, and I did it by spending 14 hours a day for the three or four days just prior to each exam doing nothing but writing practice exam after practice exam.

83
General Board / Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« on: October 01, 2011, 02:18:29 PM »
1ls are not tested on legal writing skills.

You think I'm nuts? LOL.

They are tested on well they understand the material when given a different set of fact patterns.  Making sure all the elements are met or not met.  IRAC with detail. 

This is accurate.

If you think you have to write like you are some judge in 1800 England

Who said anything of the sort? I said, "It's not just an enhanced vocabulary: it's analysis." Professors may give you a pass on a certain measure of misspellings when you're writing against the clock, but writing in IRAC format is writing like a judge. The "legal voice" of which I spoke is in the mind. It's a sensitivity, a capacity for proper analysis of a fact pattern that begins to develop as you become increasingly familiar with case law. You start to hear the attorney in your head. As Justanothersucker suggested, A/B papers are not written by Jersey Shore writers. It has little to do with using 25-cent words, although if your vocabulary doesn't enlarge noticeably after even a mere month of law school, then you aren't doing the reading.

your nuts guy.

You're my nuts guy?



84
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Relationships and first year law.
« on: September 24, 2011, 07:21:44 PM »
Prior to her starting law school we built a really good relationship where SHE was often the one who talked of the future of us, marriage, house, etc. and even at times an insecurity that that may not happen.

However, now that she has started law school she is almost a different person in regards to us. I can hardly talk to her about "us" anymore without her getting frustrated and throwing out accusations about my "demanding" nature.

I wish somebody had told me years ago what I'm about to candidly tell you. I recognize your story. I'm sorry to say it, but if she loved you and wanted a future with you, the rigors of law school would not be a catalyst for frustrating her when you talk  of your future together. The reason your talk of "us" frustrates her is that she doesn't want to think about a dead idea. I had a relationship with a chick like that many moons ago, although the calling that the heartless iceberg found wasn't law school. But it might as well have been. I think you're going to have to face the same fact that I had to face: it's over, dude. Over. She's replaced her future with you for a shiny new future full of fabulous possibilities, with lots of new friends and exciting relationship prospects. She and her comrades are all vigorously laboring in the same championship cause, and they're heartily clapping each other on the back for having the guts to do it in the first place, while you're just hanging around as a reminder of all the time she used to waste smoking fatties and watching South Park. You're the past (whatever it really was). You're just waiting for closure. And yes, it's coming. All she sees now is the new vista ahead, full of lawyers and judges, $500 an hour, and multi-million-dollar settlements. She's going to be the next Gloria by God Allred, except that people are going to love and respect her. You, however, are the albatross that she needs to shake off. You are the dead weight that impedes her progress. And f'the love o' decency, don't kid yourself, man: once they change their minds about you, they don't come back. It sucks, but agonizing over a girl isn't going to change her mind. Even if she stayed with you, it would be based on guilt, mixed with feelings that she could have done better. Trust me here: she'd hate you for it forever.

Nothing a coupla beers and some worthwhile goals for yourself can't cure, though. Get busy. There are a lot of women out there who would love a stand up guy who envisions a future for himself and is diligently working toward it. Make that person you. Meanwhile, you might get a little temporary satisfaction if you started asserting yourself around the house. Leave the seat up. Or, don't bother to lift it at all (optional). Experiment to see which one gets you the most mileage. A small victory, yes, but you'll laugh about it 20 years later.

I don't mean to make light of a heartache. Hang in there, dude.

85
General Board / Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« on: September 24, 2011, 03:05:02 PM »
If not, and you are studying extra hard to counteract a massive panic attack, you might become a 2L someday.

I'm a 2L, but looking back at last year, that statement is fairly accurate for how a 1L should be feeling after one month of law school. Some 1Ls seem to spend as much time looking for shortcuts to learning the material as simply reading and learning the material. This is perilous. Yes, it's a hell of a lot of work. But I'm generally of the view that there are very few meaningful shortcuts. Some say that you don't really have to read the cases to pass the exams. And perhaps a few people out there do fit that profile. But I would caution any 1L against embracing that idea because in reality, it's not going to work for the vast majority of 1Ls. I've got a load of reading to do myself for next week, so I can't spend a lot of time here, but here are a couple of benefits to reading and briefing all of the cases: 

1) to witness how a plethora of diverse facts are analyzed by legal minds and how they apply the law to such facts; and
2) to develop a "legal voice" in your head.

You can memorize the definitions and elements of inchoate crimes, 3PB contracts, private nuisance and all that fun stuff that we learn in 1L. But rote memorization doesn't teach you how to write a great essay in which you analyze the facts and apply the elements the way an attorney would. I discovered as a 1L that reading a thousand cases begins to infuse a certain intangible quality to one's written analysis on exams. It's a certain "legal voice," for want of a better term, that gets cultivated over months and months of reading endless cases about drunks scratching out an offer to sell the farm on a napkin or the knucklehead who shipped himself aboard the train in a box with the intent to rob it. As you flood your brain with all these cases, you start to hear a subtle new voice in the back of your mind, which is a composite of all those erudite judges' voices mixed with your own. This is the voice that you use when you write your exams. It's not just an enhanced vocabulary: it's analysis. Developing this legal, analytical voice/outlook is critical to writing an excellent paper. And it comes in large part from reading, reading, reading one case after another. And just as critically, from writing practice exams over and over.

After only one or two months of law school, if you are feeling comfortable, unhurried, or "got this sucker in the bag," so to speak, and you're brushing off even some of the reading, then you may want to carefully consider whether or not you really want to reach 2L. It's easy to fool yourself. 1Ls in September should feel sightly overwhelmed, together with a sense of urgency to complete all of the work. I don't know if you need to panic, but I can say from experience that that's not far removed from how most of the 2Ls that I know felt in September-October last year. It's certainly how I felt.

86
General Board / Re: Not enough lawyers.
« on: August 27, 2011, 01:48:20 PM »
Falcon is exactly right for the vast majority of those facing foreclosure. They haven't been defrauded by their lenders: they stopped making their payments. And there isn't a lot that an attorney can do for those people other than procrastinate the inevitable. But in cases of true fraud, what a person really needs is title insurance, not an attorney. I see it constantly in my business, unfortunately. One of the many scams I'm seeing involves unconscionable people in default who record a fraudulent deed of trust against their property, naming bogus parties like The Financial Recovery Group, as trustee, and Real Property Investors, an unincorporated association, as beneficiary. This makes the chain of title look like the owners in default managed to refinance the defaulted deed of trust. Shortly thereafter, they file a fraudulent rescission of the notice of default and a reconveyance of the genuine deed of trust. Two months later, the bogus beneficiary conducts a short sale and some undereducated title examiner working for a title company doesn't have the wits to recognize the pattern or to question why the beneficiary is conducting a bloody short sale two months after funding the blickety-blank-blank loan. (I'm trying to keep my temper in check here because this subject infuriates me.) So the examiner sees the recon in the chain and blows off the defaulted loan without questioning it, and then the crooks sell the property to the unsuspecting buyer and race off to Jericho with the sale proceeds. The buyer moves in and a short time later the original beneficiary on the true deed of trust forecloses and evicts the buyer. But the victimized buyer doesn't hire an attorney. He tenders a claim with his title insurance company, and the title company ends up sending the buyer a check for the full price of the property. This kind of fraud, I'm sad to say, is rampant. And while you can blame the title companies when they fail to spot the fraud in time to stop it, the fact is, lay people have great difficulty recognizing fraud when it's happening because so many of them just don't have the education and the critical thinking skills that come with it to decipher when a con game is in progress.

In sum, victims of fraud often don't need attorneys. They just need title insurance from a financially sound title company. Those who would invest money in real property without buying title insurance assume a heck of a large risk.

87
The thrust of this thread is all wrong. One should never concern himself with how much money one can make doing something. That's a recipe for hating life. One should focus on doing something that he loves to do. Whether it's the practice of law or shredding on a Gibson Les Paul, doing what you love will always be its own fortune.

88
Non-Traditional Students / Re: Well, I got into law school...
« on: August 13, 2011, 08:54:41 PM »
Duncanjp, follow me to the Batmobile. You are needed in: Are CBA schools a joke?  Hurry!!!

I still like the 1960s Batmobile the best, but the Dark Knight's was pretty cool, too. Except, c'mon: bullets would've popped those balloon tires easily. I ask you.

CalGal27,
This has been a pretty thorough and completely enjoyable, perhaps even meaningful, discussion for a thread. Thank you. Have you changed your decision one way or the other about where and whether to proceed with law school?

89
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Are CBA schools a joke?
« on: August 13, 2011, 08:26:44 PM »
Hiya, Falcon. Lay underwriters underwrite less complex transactions than underwriting attorneys, with greater restrictions on the scope of the insurance they underwrite, the geographical territory in which they're allowed to work, and the amount of liability they're authorized to assume. Lay people process claims, but our attorneys actually decide them. A J.D., and more importantly, admission to the bar, will vault me out of the realm of laymen.

Thanks for the explanation.  It makes good sense for you to pursue this, then.  Best of luck.

Thanks. Nowhere to go but up. Honestly, I wish everybody on this forum the best of luck, in all sincerity. Whatever you hope to do after becoming an attorney, the path is long and arduous to get there. People have their particular hurdles. But ultimately, everyone has to pass the same exam. We can debate the wisdom of one's choice of schools, but the fact is that a license to practice law is a bloody hell of a mountain to climb, and there are no guarantees that you'll ever make it to the top once you start. I have to salute all of those who have made it all the way.
 
I'm tempted here to say, "The cream rises," but there's the first rule of humility: the only difference between God and a lawyer is that God doesn't think he's a lawyer.

Hey! I've been trying to remember a word that I have only ever heard William. F. Buckley use. He began a column with it once, years ago. I believe it starts with a D. It means to call attention to something by saying you're not going to call attention to it a political device. I know it's out there. But I haven't heard it for 25 years. Anybody know what in the pumpkins that word is, offhand? I'd be grateful.

Anyway, best of luck, wherever the river takes you, Falcon. And to all to who are trying this.

90
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Are CBA schools a joke?
« on: August 13, 2011, 02:49:45 AM »
I'm an insurance underwriter.

Duncan, I mean this in all sincerity, but that's a very good career field, isn't it?  How will having a JD help you?  Sincerely curious.

Hiya, Falcon. Lay underwriters underwrite less complex transactions than underwriting attorneys, with greater restrictions on the scope of the insurance they underwrite, the geographical territory in which they're allowed to work, and the amount of liability they're authorized to assume. Lay people process claims, but our attorneys actually decide them. A J.D., and more importantly, admission to the bar, will vault me out of the realm of laymen.

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