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Author Topic: Low LSAT, doing well in law school?  (Read 5008 times)

juneau17

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Re: Low LSAT, doing well in law school?
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2005, 08:14:01 AM »
I agree that preparing correctly is just as important as the amount of time devoted.  However, I think many people (at least at my school) feel the need to falsely bolster how much time they put in.  Some of my friends tell me they were at the library "all day" studying but the few times I am there, I seem them surfing the net or listening to their ipods. 

lawschoolfeind

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Re: Low LSAT, doing well in law school?
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2005, 01:33:21 PM »
Outworking is possible for some people.  But then I know some classmates who put in ridiculous hours and it never pays off.  I would like to refine the terminology.  Outworking in the sense that it has worked for juneau is not just about the amount, quantitatively, of work put in.  I posit that he succeded not because he put in more hours but because he was doing the right things, as it appears duma is doing.  Very few people in the first semester were doing practice exams and actually stratigizing about how to orgainize and write an exam.  Two days before the exam they were still putting together outlines (I was a little guilty here myself).  So most students walk into an exam with severe time limitations and have to tackle the organization as well as the analysis.  With some research ahead of time you can have a lot of this work already done.  Especially on the finals because you now have a lot of information about your prof's style. 

Example- On my torts final I knew from practice exams and my midterm that it would be an issue spotter (as are most 1st year exmas).  From these tests and my profs comments in class I knew that I should be ready to deal with every tort mentioned in the 2nd semester and that the prof was concerned we hadn't really understood negligence.  (Negligence and 7 intentionals being the topic of the 1st semester).  So unlike many of my classmates I did not spend much time reviewing the intentionals.  Instead I focused on memorization of concise rules for what I felt would be tested.  I also created a little diagram that keyed my memory of all of the torts.  I did a few practice exams to iron out how best to argue both sides of each issue. (Very important- I never go with A or with B, I deliniate what each would argue to forward their version of the case).

Day of the test I started by jotting down my little diagram so I would not forget a single tort.  I read the exam not to spot the issues, but rather to see which ones the prof seemed to want me to focus on.  Defmation and Products Liability seemed to be important.  I hit every tort even if it was only marginally in issue.  The important ones got longer more complete analysis.  The marginal ones got a tiny IRAC in one paragragh.  One conclusion actaually said, "This is not really in issue, just here to show you I know the rule."  This changes your exam focus from "what issues do I spot" to "what fact can I use to demonstrate that I learned the rules of misrepresentation."  That is an easier question.  As I read the hypo I just jot the tort by the fact and then I start at the top and work my way through.  Now my exam is organized, topic by topic, each safe in its own paragraph(s) so as not to intimidate the poor prof with a solid page of scribble.

Because of my planning I was able to complete the exam, which people were really pressed to do.  The strategy varied by subject and prof, but I always had a plan going into each test, so I wasted no time sitting there thinking "what do I do."  (I am reminded of a girl I saw in my Evidence final who sat with a stunned look on her face and both hands literally lifted to heaven in supplication.  I saw her this way, then looked back up some ten minutes later to see her forzen in the same positon). 

I finished in the top 5%.  I have friends who I know knew the law better than I did who just didn't get the good grades.  So I really think the key to success is learning how to write a law school exam.  Persoanlly, I've always been willing to be more relaxed about class prep in order to put the time in on exam prep.   

So at any rate, don't take "outwork" to mean that you have to chain yourself to a desk in the library.  Put in a reasonable amount of time, but focus that time on how you will write each exam.  Oddly, your profs will not often volunteer to teach you this.   

Hello, I have a quick question...aren't you worried that this method of testtaking will come back and haunt you come time to take the bar?  I read in one of these law school prep books that there are people who memorize everything and become master testtakers but that they don't really know the law and that they struggle to pass the bar?  I'm just wondering what you think about this?  You said that there were people who know the law better than you, aren't you worried that when it comes down to actually being tested on your knowledge of the material and not just what the professor wants that you'll have difficulty? I guess what I'm getting at is if this is the best thing in the long run?

Please don't take this the wrong way, I'm just going to be starting school this year and just want to prepare myself as much as possible

Thanks

rapunzel

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Re: Low LSAT, doing well in law school?
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2005, 09:01:09 PM »
Lawyers in the real world do not memorize large portions of the law.  Over time they become intimately familiar with the areas in which they practice, I'm sure, but it is not about knowing the law- it is about knowing how to use the law.  For that you need solid research skills and the ability to analogize and distinguish caselaw in an organized manner.  So when I write an exam or a bar essay I'll assume that those higher level lawyering skills are what the examiner is looking for.  Solid memorization of concise rules for the most important points in each subject will give me the tools I need to make legal arguments.  This will be a better, more focused exam then one which lists every applicable rule but is thin on analysis which is code for legal argument.

My friend who knew Contracts law, well he could spew out a list of arcane subpoints completely out of context.  But when we were doing a practice exam together, he simply had no idea how to organize an essay.  Plus, if your Contracts professor really wants to see an solid arguement pertaining to offer, acceptance and consideration plus a graps of the deaded 2-207 and you give him a historical treatise or frantically copy down all the rules from the Uniform Electronics Transaction Act- you will not do well.

So I'm not suggesting memorization of everything.  I'm suggesting memorization of concise but complete rules of the issues you expect to be tested on.  No more no less.  Then I'm absolutely suggesting that what you need to know is how to use those rules to make legal arguments for both sides of any issue.  Which I think you learn in legal writing class.  You'll see I have posts all over this forum where I sing the praises of learning how to write like a lawyer.

I'm going to make this post exceedly long and give an example.  (Disclimer- entirely from memory here for explanation purposes only, I'm too lazy to go look up the precise law).

In Criminal procedure the law developed to allow a police officer to "terry stop" an induvidual on grounds of reasonable suspcion of criminality.  The cop can now talk to the induvidual and may in fact make a legal seizure of any contraband which is in "plain view".  (Cop is hoping induvidual will do something stupid in order to justify a probable cause determination that allows cop to make an arrest.)  A cop may also, for his safety, pat down an induvidual to make sure he is not carrying any weapons which may put the cop in danger.  Traffic stops are an extension of this, including the right to make you get our of your car.

So then some court (again you all should have read whatever cases these are in crim, I'm not looking them up) faces an issue where during a pat-down for the purposes of safety, a cop feels what he knows from his proffesional experience must be drugs of some sort- INSIDE the suspect's pocket.  The court must decide if the suspect's 4th amend. rights were violated when the cop took the drugs and used them to support his probable cause determination to arrest the guy.

The lawyer on the defendent's side will use the elements of plain view to argue that the drugs must be excluded because they where not in fact in plain view and without being able to see them the cop was not justified in knowing that the object he felt was contraband.  Without the drug in plain view the probable cause determination fails and there was no proper basis for arrest.

The gov't looks at all the case law and argues that first the pat down as part of the terry stop was permissible and that the cop's tactile sense gave him the same information he would have recieved if he could have seen the drugs lying out in in plain view.  Therefore, the probable cause determination was justified- the arrest is valid under the 4th.

Now, the judge, faced with a "gap" in the law looks at the caselaw on each side as presented through the arguments of the lawyers and he expands the doctrine of plain view to include "plain feel".  Arrest was valid.

To successfully deal with an exam on these topics I need to know the elements of plain view, reasonable suspcion, a proper terry stop, a probable cause determination and the protections generally afforded by the 4th amend.  But more importantly I need to know how to marshal these elements into an argument for both sides.  That's why we read caselaw- not to just learn the elements but to see how through distinguishing some caselaw and analogizing to other caselaw lawyers craft legal arguments.  (Our casebooks should probably include some briefs to make this more apparent).

Lastly, what the prof wants is probably the part of the law the prof thinks is most important for you to know.  Good profs read the old bar exams and make sure they cover popular bar exam topics in class.

So you can't argue without memorizing some pertainant law but memorizing all the law gives you little time to learn how to argue.

Whew, sorry so voluminous in response.

law101

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Re: Low LSAT, doing well in law school?
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2005, 10:11:36 PM »
I made a 150 on the LSAT and a 3.7 UGPA and I am attending a 4th tier school.  I finished 2nd in the class.  HTH.

JD_MSA

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Re: Low LSAT, doing well in law school?
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2005, 11:28:02 AM »
I made a 150 on the LSAT and a 3.7 UGPA and I am attending a 4th tier school.  I finished 2nd in the class.  HTH.


[sarcasm] Slacker.  Why weren't you first? [/sarcasm]  :D

Burning Sands

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Re: Low LSAT, doing well in law school?
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2005, 02:09:53 PM »
Hello, I have a quick question...aren't you worried that this method of testtaking will come back and haunt you come time to take the bar?  I read in one of these law school prep books that there are people who memorize everything and become master testtakers but that they don't really know the law and that they struggle to pass the bar?  I'm just wondering what you think about this?  You said that there were people who know the law better than you, aren't you worried that when it comes down to actually being tested on your knowledge of the material and not just what the professor wants that you'll have difficulty? I guess what I'm getting at is if this is the best thing in the long run?

Please don't take this the wrong way, I'm just going to be starting school this year and just want to prepare myself as much as possible

Thanks

This is a very good question.  I had a post on this very topic a while back:

http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/students/index.php/topic,1219.msg7832.html#msg7832

Generally speaking, there is a distinction between the two types of students.  Case in point, at my school, help or review sessions are held by upperclassmen who made an A in a particular 1st yr class.  My classmates and I attended one by this 3L who had made an A+ in Crim Law, (or rather I should say made an A+ on the Crim Law exam) but couldn't tell us the difference between "knowingly" and "purposely" when it came to Mens Rea.

Of course, there are those students who suck at both test taking and understanding and there are always those who do well on exams and actually know the law and go on to become Kingsfields.  So don't construe from my post that you are either A or B.  Those are just two general types that I have observed thus far.


Somebody made a good point about spending time in the library yet playing solitair and surfing the net.  As Duma was saying, its clearly not about spending a lot of time.  Any idiot could sit in a library for 15 hours.  Success in Law School comes from spendin a lot of time CORRECTLY.

So to go back to the original question, the LSAT is not a good indicator of this.  It has somewhere in the neighborhood of a .3 correlation to success in law school, statistically speaking, which just goes to show you that its not all its cracked up to be.  It gets you in the door, basicaly.  What you do once you get in the door is up to you.

ASSUMING that you continue the same drive that got you a 160, 165, 170+ on the LSAT into Law School, then you have the POTENTIAL to do well because drive is essential.  However, taking a Kaplan course and filling in bubbles has nothing to do with whether you will get up everymorning, brief your cases, read your E&E, understand the concepts, find the right outlines, speak up in class etc.
Burning Sands

rapunzel

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Re: Low LSAT, doing well in law school?
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2005, 07:46:25 PM »
Very few of the people who made law review in my class seemed to be the type A's you described.  One or two of course, which drives everybody nuts, but overall most of the people at the top of our class are very well-rounded and knowledgable hardworkers.  The thing that bothers me the most about grades though are the people that do just seem to have it all down conceptually and have diligently done their work and just didn't rise to the top.  I have a few friends who I truly respect whose grades just make no sense to me.  One guy I studies with was ultimatley responsible for helping me grasp some very key concepts and our grades where so divergent.  That's why I've developed my little soapbox about exam writing I guess.  I really feel like this skill is not taught uniformly in my school (as in our writing profs vary widely in quality) and that students get lost because they don't get the big picture.  Which of course I would define as learning to advocate both in writing and orally.

Of course statistically, not everyone can be at the top of the class, but honestly I'd say the whole thing is almost impossible to predict.

Burning Sands

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Re: Low LSAT, doing well in law school?
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2005, 11:37:41 PM »
The thing that bothers me the most about grades though are the people that do just seem to have it all down conceptually and have diligently done their work and just didn't rise to the top.  I have a few friends who I truly respect whose grades just make no sense to me. 

Rapuzel - very true!!!  I wonder the same thing sometimes.   I'm one of the lucky ones who realized, for whatever reason at some point during the semester, that the amount of hours I was putting in to understand the substantive law had absolutely NOTHING to do with my ability to take a law exam.  I started doing practice exams about 1 month before finals while everybody was scrambling to finish their outlines.  Hind sight is 20/20.  I see that I wasted so much time reading every little detail about every little thing last semester.  Ironically, Contracts, the class that I briefed the most cases in and hit the hardest from day 1, has so far been my lowest grade while the class I barely read for, Torts, has been my highest grade.  Go figure.
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hcnate

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Re: Low LSAT, doing well in law school?
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2005, 12:42:06 AM »
I concur with all the previous posts.  At this time, I'm one of those "crappy LSAT guys, high ugpa" guys.

Since coming to law school, my performance for four hours on a fateful October morning has meant absolutely nothing to my overall performance in law school.

For me, I tend to think that you need to work in the manner that has consistantly helped in maintaing an original high gpa.  I am a big advocate of work early/work often.  I front load all of my weeks with work (as long as my course work is known at the time) and tend to wind down towards the end of the week.  Additionally, this gives me time to work on things that are not school related (career) or any unexpected class related emergencies.

Heading into finals, I usually attempt to have my outlines done for the most part well in advance of finals so that I can work on memorization/application of the materials well in advance of the test.  Plus, it gives you time to update.

Anyway, I strongly believe its feasible.  I survived and placed myself in the top 20%, well higher than my lsat would have "predicted" what my rank would be.

Wake3L

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Re: Low LSAT, doing well in law school?
« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2005, 02:05:42 PM »
One of my classmates got a 153 on the LSAT, does very little work in law school, and she's in the top 1/3.  My LSAT score was a 160, I do about the same amount of work as my friend, and I'm in the middle of the class.  So, LSAT isn't everything.