Law School Discussion



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« on: August 18, 2004, 06:47:53 PM »
Tomorrow night is my first law school class.  I'm about as nervous as I've ever been except maybe when I got married or joined the army.  That doesn't make law school sound very good.

The first class is torts and then crimes.

I've read the chapters and I've briefed one case for each.

For torts we are using a hornbook, not a casebook, and using actual case opinions.

For crimes, we are using the explanations and examples, and the actual cases.

This is a night school so things are little different.

I should be rereading the books, but the butterflies will not stop.

My wife, my mom, my friends and even strangers (yes, I have accosted strangers to tell them I'm going to law school and why) say I'll do fine.  Well, what do they know?

If you're looking for something intelligent in this post, you'll be disappointed.  OK, I've procrastinated enough.  Time to pick up some books.

Re: First day of class
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2004, 07:38:16 PM »
It is very normal to feel nervous and if you put the work into it (and from reading your posts here, I'm convinced that you did), you will be fine. You are not expected to walk in with a complete understanding of the material, that is what the professors are for. As long as you put a good faith effort into learning the material, that is all they expect of you.

If, by chance, you do get called on, first take a breath and let it out. Tell yourself to calm down and then begin. You may get questions that you have answers to. You may get questions that you don't have answers to, but that is ok. Just make your best effort to answer the question in the best way that you can. If you don't know the answer, say so, but ask for clarificaiton on what is being asked and if you still don't understand, don't be afraid to say so. If, for example, you understood the facts of the case and the holding, but didn't understand the exact path the court took in getting there, show what you did understand and explain what it is that you are having a problem with. If you are having a hard time of it, chances are, someone else is also.

In all honesty, all the professors are looking for is to see if you read the case, made an attempt at understanding it, and that you tried to use common sense to understand what the purpose of the case was. Keep in mind what subject you are currently studying, what section in that subject you are in and why that particular case might better explain an element of that subject or a point of view a court would take. Right now, the professors know that the students are coming in as lay persons. Their purpose is to transition you into seeing the law as a lawyer would. It won't happen overnight and they understand that.

All of the cases you will read have one thing in common. When a court decides a case, they have a law (common law or statutory law) to apply to a particular set of facts. The law sets out a rule: If this happens, then this is the conseqence. For example, the law says that if someone intentionally makes a contact with another person in a rude, insolent or angry manner, then a battery has occurred. In a fact scenario you might get, a ball is thrown and it hits me. The question is if a battery occurred. The secret to analyzing any kind of legal problem is realizing when the law (the statute or case law) does not match EXACTLY to the facts of the case. For this example, the law says the contact has to be in a rude, insolent or angry manner. In our set of facts, I was struck by the ball. The point at which the legal analysis comes in (and this is what they say when they talk about learning to think like a lawyer) is where you, as the law student, have to decide what needs to be proven to show that a battery has occurred. Was it an accident? Was the act done intentionally? How do we show that the act fits to the elements of the law? What are other examples that we can give from case law to show that the act of striking me with a ball was done intentionally? What are the defenses? This is what thinking like a lawyer is all about: how to use the facts of a case and how to analogize to other situations in order to show that our facts match up to the law.

Good luck! You are going to do great. Keep us posted about your first day.   :)

Re: First day of class
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2004, 07:50:11 PM »
You are not too old. I don't want to start an argument over here because this section of the board is so much calmer, but most of the older students in our class are the best students in terms of grades and maturity. I am a non-traditional student (I am about 10 years older than most of the students in class and I can definitely feel the divide) so I understand your apprehension. It will be a little strange at first, because it feels like everyone is so much younger, but put that in the back of your mind and remember why you are here. You have so much real world experience to bring with you that it adds a perspective that is invaluable. Walk in with the attitude that you belong there just as much as anyone else and you have just as much to contribute as anyone else. The rest will fall into place. 

Re: First day of class
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2004, 07:50:25 PM »
Hey!  Congratulations.  You will be fine.  One class at a time is all one can ask.  Most importantly, have fun.  We have to have a little fun in all we do.  I am completing my bachelor's in paralegal studies right now.  I will be done at the end of the year.  I have written so many briefs and memorandums this semester that my brain hurts.  I am working on a final paper for advanced legal research tonight. My class load for next semester is pretty hefty.  I am up for the challenge.

I love the law and I am sure you will too.  You are getting to do something so special.  Not everyone gets to or goes to law school, but you will tomorrow.

The hard work you put into law school will pay off in the end.  I promise.

Good luck tomorrow and have fun!

Re: First day of class
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2004, 07:53:31 PM »
Listen to Lawgirl.  She has a great head on her shoulders.  She is right - the experience you have and what are you able to bring into the classroom is pure wisdom.  Everyone is in there to learn and you have earned your seat.  Be a Nike shoe and Just Do It!

Re: First day of class
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2004, 08:14:28 PM »
Definitely make friends with her. It will make it seem a little more normal for awhile. Then just smile, and ask a question or whatever to start meeting new people. In my school, there are definitely the groupings of people who all have to stick together in their little group and most of those people are all the same age. But there are a lot of people open to meeting everyone regardless of age. You will find them. They are usually the quiet ones that are just as nervous as you are.

I feel for you. I've been through it twice. The first time was when I started law school and the second time was when I transferred schools. I was older than most of the students both times. I promise though, it does get better.

Well, I'm off to bed. I was dragging all day today for some reason. Good luck to you. I will be thinking good thoughts for you. Let us know how it went. 

Re: First day of class
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2004, 08:33:02 PM »
FYI - when I went to bootcamp last year I was 32 years old.  Needless to say, my nickname was Grandma with the other recruits and the drill instructors.  I became an automatic leader and everyone in division and unit looked up to me.  This may happen to you - being a leader in the group in more ways than one.  This will promote confidence from within.  I can't wait to be in your shoes this time next year.  I will be attending night school and going part time.  Keep us informed of everything, so when I start next year, I can pass the info onto future law students as well.

Take a deep breath and thank the man upstairs for giving you this wonderful opportunity.

Post and let us know how it goes.  I will be thinking of you tomorrow.

See ya.   ;)

Re: First day of class
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2004, 08:05:52 AM »
I am looking at Faulkner University in Montgomery, AL.  I live five minutes away.  I will be 33 years old in a few weeks and to me, having $120,000 in debt is not wise being a single parent.  Maybe if I was 18, I would incur that much and not think twice.  I figure while I attend night school and keep my job during the day, I will have paid off my associate's degree and bachelor's degree and small part of my law school.  My credit cards are almost paid off and my car will be paid off before school next fall.  I won't have that much in student loans when I graduate.  Now, if I get scholarship money, then I could graduate owing nothing.  That would be sweet. 

Good luck tonight!

Re: First day of class
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2004, 07:50:08 AM »

How was it???


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Re: First day of class
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2004, 08:45:44 AM »
Yeah, I'm dying to know.