« on: June 29, 2007, 07:00:11 PM »
I just graduated and was at or near the top of my class every semester. For what it's worth, here's what I did & didn't do:
1. I went, prepared, to every single class. I used a simplified Law School Confidential book-briefing method. In class, I took typed notes in the form of a short brief of every case: Facts, Issue, Rule, Holding, Analysis, Policy considerations. Once you get the hang of it, you're learning the rules and practicing IRAC at the same time. Get this info from the professor if he gives it, from the book if he doesn't. At the end of the semester, you should be able to make a comprehensive outline from your notes alone--no casebook or supplements.
2. I removed my wireless card and got rid of my computer solitaire game. Seriously--class is too boring to resist those distractions. Without them, you'll have no choice but to occupy yourself with #1 above.
3. I formed a study group with two very dedicated people who weren't good friends of mine. At the very end of every semester (even 2L and 3L), we had a marathon 1- or 2-day session in which we went over everything in the class in excruciating detail.
4. I started outlining 3-4 weeks before exams started. I started with a massive, comprehensive outline incorporating all of the information from my notes. Then I'd make a second, shorter outline. Then I'd make a third outline in the form of a flow chart for analyzing exam questions. If it was a closed book exam, I'd come up with mnemonic devices to memorize the topics in my flow chart.
5. On exams,
a. I always followed IRAC. Also, I made it very easy for my professors to grade, using headings and liberal paragraph breaks. And don't forget the A.
b. I was wishy-washy! This is super-important. My friends with low grades were my friends who were too confident. On a contracts exam, they'd read the facts, decide that A and B didn't form a valid contract, explain why in beautiful IRAC form, and then stop. Well, they were probably correct about the contract validity issue. Unfortunately, the professor's rubric had allotted 50 points for analyzing the issues that would arise IF the court found that A and B DID have a contract. Try not to cut off any large branches of discussion.
c. I never once finished an exam early. Write more--you will get more points. If you are finished and other people are not, you are missing something. Go back and be more wishy-washy--what if you were wrong about one of your conclusions? What additional issues would that raise?
6. I didn't use study aids (except the occasional Examples & Explanations). I found them a waste of time. They give you the rules, yes, but you understand the rules better (and remember them more) if you extract them from the cases and classes yourself.
7. I didn't take tons of practice exams. I half-assed a few. I'm not saying it would have been a waste of time to do them, but my experience suggests it's not essential.
I totally loved law school. Good luck, everyone!