Law School Discussion

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Messages - Cereal_Killer

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11
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Small Debt vs Big Debt (Cali)
« on: June 27, 2011, 09:16:40 AM »
I wouldn't worry too much about the school's bar passage rate. These rates have more to do with individual test takers than with particular institutions as a whole. There's a positive correlation between LSAT/UGPA numbers and bar passage rates. The ugly truth is a good number of folks at lower-tiered schools have no business being there in the first place. They just simply lack the cognitive firepower needed in a legal practitioner. Some may struggle through law school and ultimately graduate with a degree. But they stand very little chance of passing the bar. If these students found covering a semester's worth of subject matter in a single test difficult, just wait until they're faced with one test covering the combined material from all three years of law school plus additional material that wasn't covered in school. However, as long as you have the intellectual prowess needed to pass the bar, it matters very little which ABA-accredited school you attend (that is, from a bar passage perspective; a school's reputation on job prospects is a whole other ball of wax).

One caveat, however, is if the school's bar passage rate drops below a certain percentage for a given period of time, the ABA could revoke its accreditation. This would certainly affect you.

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Where should I go next fall? / Re: Small Debt vs Big Debt (Cali)
« on: June 26, 2011, 11:43:55 AM »
What's the curve? Given that you're required to maintain a 2.6 GPA to keep your scholarship, I bet they have a C curve. Which means that roughly 50% of your class will end up with GPAs at or near 2.5. This is conveniently (for the school, not you) just short of the 2.6 you'll need to keep your scholarship.

Merit scholarships are the law school equivalent of "bait and switch." Many students lose their scholarships because of forced curves that are weighted heavily against them. Does this mean you'll lose yours? Of course not. But you should factor into your decision the probability that you may very well lose it. If so, would you still be happy attending that school at the sticker price?

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General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Recommended E&Es?
« on: June 25, 2011, 04:38:40 PM »
Commercial outlines, hornbooks, and the like are fine, but law school exams are about so much more than simply knowing the law. Law school exams test more than your ability to apply the law to particular fact patterns. On exams you'll often have to make hard choices between two or more competing legal rules. Your justification for why you chose one rule over the other(s) will form the heart of your argument.  We all know lawyers argue, right? Good. Because that's precisely the lawyerly skill you'll be asked to demonstrate on your law school exams. Those who do it best will receive the highest grades. It's just that simple.

Consequently, your time may be better spent understanding how to formulate forceful and persuasive arguments rather than worrying about the black letter law at this point. If you find once classes are well underway you're struggling with one particular legal concept or perhaps an entire area of law, you can purchase a study aid then.

I recommend the following books (for starters):

1. Getting to Maybe (a great guide to writing exam answers)
2. Logic for Lawyers (teaches the fundamentals of logic and sound argument formation)
3. The Legal Analyst (demonstrates how viewing arguments--legal or otherwise--from different angles allows an agile practitioner to reshape and reform the argument in his favor).

Law school exams require you to know the law. That's expected of every student. And quite frankly, it's the one area where every student is equal amongst his peers in every meaningful way. Everyone in law school is bright and ambitious. But what separates the "A" exam from the "B-" exam, more often than not, is the quality of the student's analysis. A superb exam answer will analyze the issues from every possible angle, throw in a sprinkling of policy considerations (for example, "administrability" or "fairness across groups"), and finally, after having deliberated extensively, offers the best legal solution to the question asked. 

Although not an exhaustive list by any means, the above books teach three crucial skills: (1) how to use syllogistic arguments to your advantage, (2) understanding and shaping policy arguments, and (3) how to write a phenomenal exam answer. The skills you'll learn from these three books alone will put you light years ahead of your classmates.

I hope this helps.

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