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Author Topic: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?  (Read 39073 times)

tacojohn

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #60 on: June 28, 2007, 07:38:17 AM »
While PLS may have some nuggets of useful info, for the most part, the book is inflammatory and the author has some serious issues.  Law school, at least in my experience, is nothing like Atticus Falcon says it is.

I am also of the opinion that spending your entire summer before law school prepping with supplements and things is, for the most part, a waste of time.  It's one thing to flip through some E&Es or outlines to get an idea of the general course of a class.  It's another to work through the supplements, going over material that your professor may not even cover.  With the exception of LEEWS, your summer is likely well spent sitting by the pool.

I've never read PLS II, so I'm assuming when you say it's nothing like he says it is, you mean he says it's really stressful and competitive and you need to work 24/7 to stay afloat, much less thrive.

The problem with those books (Law School Confidential as well) is that they typically are written for the worst case scenario.  At a T3 where you need good grades to get a decent job and the attrition rate is high, and you want to transfer/keep your scholarship against a 2.0 curve, I think it makes a lot more sense.

It's fine to read those books, just don't take them as gospel because they have set-in-stone study methods that might not work for everyone, and they say you need to work extremely hard, harder than a lot of people will need to.  If you're flexible with them, I think they don't do that much damage.

Louder Than Bombs

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #61 on: June 28, 2007, 09:54:00 AM »
1. No matter what anyone says (including your prof), it's all about the black-letter law. DO NOT worry about whatever bull you talk about in class. Your torts exam will make no mention of Calabresi's "The Cost of Accidents," and you will not get any points for applying law and economics principles to the case at bar. What you need to do on the exam is (a) Correctly state the issue(s), (b) Correctly state the law (the elements for a battery are 1,2,3,etc.) and (c) 'Apply' the law to the facts, which simply means picking out a fact or two from the question, and saying "here, [element x] is met because [fact y]," and finally (d) state your conclusion


That is what is meant by "IRAC." The 'A' part is supposedly the most important. IMO both the 'R' (Rule) and the 'A' (Analysis) are equally important. If you don't know the rule, you won't get the issue. You must state the rule
completely and accurately. Then, you just have to pick out a fact or two and say because of the stupid fact, the element/rule is met. That's it.

They key is to write as if both you and your ausience were morons. State obvious issues and rules. Even if it's clear that, say, defendant comitted a battery, state the issue (the issue is whether D committed a battery), the rule (the elements for battery are...), the analysis (element 1 is met because D...; element 2 is met because D...), and then your conclusion (because D met all the stupid elements, he has committed a battery).

Again, state the obvious. This is counter-intuitive, b/c normal humans only think of things as "issues" when there is a colorable argument that the claim could be in dispute. For example, say I punch you in the face for no reason. That's a battery. To a normal human, there's no issue about whether or not I have committed a battery; it's completely freaking obvious to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the law that I have. There's no way I could say I haven't.

But law school is not for normal humans. It is for morons. So, even though both you and your prof and everyone else already knows the answer, you must write as if the person you are speaking to has no knowledge whatsoever of the law (and is incredibly daft to boot). In the above example, you would lose points for not discussing why I have committed a battery, stupid as that may sound.

2. In light of #1, use study aids. Your prof will NOT teach you the black-letter law. Instead, he will prefer to BS about policy, government, fairness, his politics, his female dog wife, whatever. He doesn't care. He's clueless. That was how he was taught, and he's not an educator, anyway. He's a scholar. Scholars don't care about law, they all are policy wonks who want work in think-tanks (only problem is they're not prestigious enough for the prof's giant egos).

3. Learn how to write a law school exam (even though I have already told you). DO PRACTICE EXAMS. Maybe get LEEWS, whatever. But def look at old exams, and whenever possible, best student answers. This is extremely important.

4. Given 1 and 2, don't worry that much about class and the bs that spews out of your profs mouth. If he says the rule is 'X' then you say the rule is 'X' even if the study aid says the rule is 'Y.' Chances are he won't ever tell you the rule, given what I said in 2. But in the rare case that he does, make sure that you know exactly what he said the rule was. Write an email after class in you're not sure.

But, for the most part, he won't tell you the rules (that's the 'beauty' of the Socratic method - you're supposed to figure them out for yourself!). So get and use study aids from day 1.

jd06

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #62 on: June 28, 2007, 11:07:55 AM »
1. No matter what anyone says (including your prof), it's all about the black-letter law. DO NOT worry about whatever bull you talk about in class. Your torts exam will make no mention of Calabresi's "The Cost of Accidents," and you will not get any points for applying law and economics principles to the case at bar. What you need to do on the exam is (a) Correctly state the issue(s), (b) Correctly state the law (the elements for a battery are 1,2,3,etc.) and (c) 'Apply' the law to the facts, which simply means picking out a fact or two from the question, and saying "here, [element x] is met because [fact y]," and finally (d) state your conclusion


That is what is meant by "IRAC." The 'A' part is supposedly the most important. IMO both the 'R' (Rule) and the 'A' (Analysis) are equally important. If you don't know the rule, you won't get the issue. You must state the rule
completely and accurately. Then, you just have to pick out a fact or two and say because of the stupid fact, the element/rule is met. That's it.

They key is to write as if both you and your ausience were morons. State obvious issues and rules. Even if it's clear that, say, defendant comitted a battery, state the issue (the issue is whether D committed a battery), the rule (the elements for battery are...), the analysis (element 1 is met because D...; element 2 is met because D...), and then your conclusion (because D met all the stupid elements, he has committed a battery).

Again, state the obvious. This is counter-intuitive, b/c normal humans only think of things as "issues" when there is a colorable argument that the claim could be in dispute. For example, say I punch you in the face for no reason. That's a battery. To a normal human, there's no issue about whether or not I have committed a battery; it's completely freaking obvious to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the law that I have. There's no way I could say I haven't.

But law school is not for normal humans. It is for morons. So, even though both you and your prof and everyone else already knows the answer, you must write as if the person you are speaking to has no knowledge whatsoever of the law (and is incredibly daft to boot). In the above example, you would lose points for not discussing why I have committed a battery, stupid as that may sound.

2. In light of #1, use study aids. Your prof will NOT teach you the black-letter law. Instead, he will prefer to BS about policy, government, fairness, his politics, his female dog wife, whatever. He doesn't care. He's clueless. That was how he was taught, and he's not an educator, anyway. He's a scholar. Scholars don't care about law, they all are policy wonks who want work in think-tanks (only problem is they're not prestigious enough for the prof's giant egos).

3. Learn how to write a law school exam (even though I have already told you). DO PRACTICE EXAMS. Maybe get LEEWS, whatever. But def look at old exams, and whenever possible, best student answers. This is extremely important.

4. Given 1 and 2, don't worry that much about class and the bs that spews out of your profs mouth. If he says the rule is 'X' then you say the rule is 'X' even if the study aid says the rule is 'Y.' Chances are he won't ever tell you the rule, given what I said in 2. But in the rare case that he does, make sure that you know exactly what he said the rule was. Write an email after class in you're not sure.

But, for the most part, he won't tell you the rules (that's the 'beauty' of the Socratic method - you're supposed to figure them out for yourself!). So get and use study aids from day 1.

This poster just told you almost everything you need to know for law school.  Classic, and very true.  I would add that, silly as this sounds, there is practical value in learning to "state the obvious."  When you're an attorney you'll still feel stupid doing it but you'll have to do it all the same - it's called laying a foundation for the evidence.  For example, "Mr. Detective, do you recognize the scene in this photograph?"  When everyone in the gallery knows, duh, he took the picture....








Louder Than Bombs

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #63 on: June 28, 2007, 11:37:30 AM »

TITCR... If you get his professors.

No. That's the fundamental fallacy that confuses law students and kills their grades. What I have prescribed is the recipe for success in all American law schools, b/c they all use the same crappy pedagogical method (socratic lectures followed by a giant issue-spotter exam which accounts for 100% of your grade). A torts exam at harvard looks the same as a torts exam at podunk u; it will be a giant fact-pattern, and you will need to apply black-letter rules to the facts. Maybe, and this is just a maybe, the harvard exam will have a teeny-tiny policy question that's worth 15% of the grade or so (they're usually only 30 minute Qs on a 3-hour final; so 1/6). So, if one of these Qs shows up (and chances are it won't), that means that 95% of what you learned in class accounts for only 15% of your grade. Again, chances are you won't even get a policy Q on the exam, and if you do, knowing the black-letter law cold will prepare you for that stupid question anyway.

People like to say "you're not learning torts...you're learning professor X's torts." That's extremely misleading. All this means is that (1) your prof will not cover every conceivable topic in the law of torts, and (2) if and when your prof thinks the rule is different from what the study aid says (not often, but sometimes) then use his rule. What it certainly does NOT mean is that what your professor bs's about in class is wht you will see on the final. Bottom line - the law of torts is the law of torts is the law of torts. there's a goddamned restatement which spells it out, and that's why it can be tested on a multi-state bar exam. that's the *&^% you need to know cold, regardless of how much class time you spend on 'loss spreading' or 'efficiency vs. fairness.'

drbuff123

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #64 on: June 28, 2007, 11:50:19 AM »

TITCR... If you get his professors.

No. That's the fundamental fallacy that confuses law students and kills their grades. What I have prescribed is the recipe for success in all American law schools, b/c they all use the same crappy pedagogical method (socratic lectures followed by a giant issue-spotter exam which accounts for 100% of your grade). A torts exam at harvard looks the same as a torts exam at podunk u; it will be a giant fact-pattern, and you will need to apply black-letter rules to the facts. Maybe, and this is just a maybe, the harvard exam will have a teeny-tiny policy question that's worth 15% of the grade or so (they're usually only 30 minute Qs on a 3-hour final; so 1/6). So, if one of these Qs shows up (and chances are it won't), that means that 95% of what you learned in class accounts for only 15% of your grade. Again, chances are you won't even get a policy Q on the exam, and if you do, knowing the black-letter law cold will prepare you for that stupid question anyway.

People like to say "you're not learning torts...you're learning professor X's torts." That's extremely misleading. All this means is that (1) your prof will not cover every conceivable topic in the law of torts, and (2) if and when your prof thinks the rule is different from what the study aid says (not often, but sometimes) then use his rule. What it certainly does NOT mean is that what your professor bs's about in class is wht you will see on the final. Bottom line - the law of torts is the law of torts is the law of torts. there's a godd**mned restatement which spells it out, and that's why it can be tested on a multi-state bar exam. that's the *&^% you need to know cold, regardless of how much class time you spend on 'loss spreading' or 'efficiency vs. fairness.'

I agree 100%, I don't think I am smarter than all my classmates, but I did better than them on all my exams because I wrote them in the format you described in your earlier post.

The Decider

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #65 on: June 28, 2007, 03:16:20 PM »
Great info... Thanks

Alamo79

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #66 on: June 28, 2007, 04:49:38 PM »
Based on my exam-taking experience, I have to caveat the 1-size-fits-all approach to exam-taking.  I've had several exams with major multiple-choice sections, some that wanted exactly what LTB described, and others where I got As by rehashing a lot of the BS we talked about in class.  I won't deny that black-letter law is the most important part of getting good grades in law school (and, from what I can tell in my limited experience thus far, practicing law as well), it's not the whole story. 

For the most part, I agree with the point about stating the obvious, but listen to your professor: if she says (as two of mine have) that she doesn't want to read about it if it's obvious, only focus on the contestable issues (you might still cover the obvious stuff in a sentence or two--"of course xyz isn't an issue because of abc.")  But hopefully, most of you are smart enough to that realize when reading generalizations like "all exams are the same," specific instructions your professor may give to the contrary would override this.

Guinness and Chocolate

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #67 on: June 29, 2007, 05:08:17 AM »
tag

JG

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #68 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!


comatose

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #69 on: June 29, 2007, 07:32:40 PM »
Question..I've been reading through all the different study strategies in this thread and was wondering..how did you guys maintain your rigid exam practice and outlining schedules when your memos were due? doesn't llrw take a lot of time? any advice on that class? books that explain brief writing,etc? thanks!