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Author Topic: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?  (Read 39204 times)

Strong

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #110 on: July 09, 2007, 10:15:42 PM »
I agree with Raven about needing to learn how to read cases so you can competently practice after law school (at least if you're going into litigation).  I'd read the cases.

I never got into hornbooks much, in part because it was more reading than I was willing to do (since I was reading the cases).  That said, Chemerinsky's Constitutional Law hornbook was invaluable.  It's a classic, and you'll probably be able to use it for other Con Law classes too.

Don't do anything seriously law-related this summer.  It will be a waste of time.  Read Law School Confidential or something if you want to.  If you're really curious, you could go to a university bookstore and skim through some law study aids, but don't buy anything.

I second Chemerinsky, It's just a really great hornbook.

jacy85

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #111 on: July 09, 2007, 10:52:16 PM »
Cases used in casebooks are usually great basic examples of how to apply a rule of law to a set of facts (as long as the judge is competent, that is).  It's a good starting point, at least.

For me, after 2 years of law school, I have taken only ONE exam where an A meant memorizing case names, and most students in the class agreed that while the professor was very nice, he was not a very good teacher nor did he really understand how to write a good exam.  Earning an A typically requires good legal analysis, not proof of a good memory for case names.  Knowing the ins and outs of the law you learned in class is obviously important, but that is a baseline.  Being able to "fork" your answers is what gets you an A - which is essentially arguing for BOTH sides of an issue, then saying which side is likely to win.  That's half the battle - you should always address what would happen if you were wrong, and the other side won.  This is where you cover your bases and clean up points.  People who only argue one answer, one side get Cs.  People who argue both sides, choose a conclusion and run with that w/o considering that their conclusion might not be "right" get Bs.  The people who cover all angles and show that they understand how to argue the law every which way from Sunday get the As.

It all depends on what's on your final exam. Too many people lose sight of the end game - which is the exam. Your goal is to get an A on the final. If your prof's finals require a detailed analysis of the assigned cases, then obviously you should spend your time reading those cases. But if - as was the case in most of my 1L classes - your prof only tests on issue-spotting and applying/analyzing blackletter law, then you're better off learning the legal concepts and spending a lot of time on hypos and practice exams. It varies from person to person and there's no one "correct" way of doing anything in law school, but this approach worked very well for me.

Good luck trying to do legal research on your own in a few years if you don't read the cases in law school. Reading cases trains your mind to analyze the facts and determine what's relevant. You'll find a lot of what you do as a starting attorney is taking an issue the partner gives you to research and finding cases on point. Facts are very important for that. And the skill takes practice. You have plenty to time to read the cases! Why not do the reading assigned by the professor and recognize they might actually know a little something about how to teach law?



jackiechiles

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #112 on: July 10, 2007, 01:01:09 AM »
First off, I'd like to thank all the 2Ls and others who have written here to help us future law students out. I clearly see the need to understand the Black Letter Law, and I am hell bent on making sure I know that inside and out for each course. What is the best book to get to help with learning the BLL, would it  be Gilbert? Or something else?
BC Law '10

4DClaw

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #113 on: July 10, 2007, 06:19:21 AM »
It all depends on the class. As I stated before, I don't think commercial outlines are substantive or detailed enough to really teach you the black letter law. They help for quick reference, but they're not enough. I agree with everyone about Chemerinsky for ConLaw- my prof was pretty bad, so that book taught me everything I needed to know. For contracts, there's a pretty slim paperback with a sailboat on the cover (sorry, I forgot the name). That was great. For all of your other classes, I highly recommed a hornbook written by your casebook author (many of them write hornbooks). Also, the Lexis "Understanding" series is quite good for some subjects, particularly Property.

First off, I'd like to thank all the 2Ls and others who have written here to help us future law students out. I clearly see the need to understand the Black Letter Law, and I am hell bent on making sure I know that inside and out for each course. What is the best book to get to help with learning the BLL, would it  be Gilbert? Or something else?
Georgetown

jacy85

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #114 on: July 10, 2007, 07:10:44 AM »
4DClaw is right - depends on the class.  The CivPro E&E very helpful (the other E&Es not so much in terms of help with substantive stuff; working through the examples can be very helpful though).  Chemerinsky if Conlaw is great.  The Lexis Understanding series has been helpful whenever I used it.  It's fantastic for criminal law (written by Dressler), although you need to be very aware with crim law what your prof is focusing on - your prof may teach state law, or your prof could focus on either general common law or the model code.  Dressler's Understanding Criminal Law was good for the model code, if I remember correctly (someone please correct me if I"m wrong).

vaplaugh

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #115 on: July 10, 2007, 05:12:13 PM »
It all depends on the class. As I stated before, I don't think commercial outlines are substantive or detailed enough to really teach you the black letter law. They help for quick reference, but they're not enough. I agree with everyone about Chemerinsky for ConLaw- my prof was pretty bad, so that book taught me everything I needed to know. For contracts, there's a pretty slim paperback with a sailboat on the cover (sorry, I forgot the name). That was great. For all of your other classes, I highly recommed a hornbook written by your casebook author (many of them write hornbooks). Also, the Lexis "Understanding" series is quite good for some subjects, particularly Property.

Marvin Chirelstein, Concepts and Case Analysis in the Law of Contracts

dp22

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #116 on: July 10, 2007, 06:44:33 PM »
I'm going to be a 1L and I'm thankful for all the advice I've read so far!  Keep it coming.

I know everyone has their own formula but I'm generally a proponent for meeting with profs.  What questions can they answer without giving me an unfair advantage?  What is my approach?  Can I ask about how their lectures relate to BL law?  Any recommendations from past experience?

Thanks in advance for any tips!

JG

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #117 on: July 11, 2007, 12:52:07 AM »
My advice is to ask them whatever you want to know.  If it's something that will give you an unfair advantage, they won't tell you. 

Exam-related questions that have brought concrete answers for me:

-How will the exam be structured?  (They'll almost certainly tell you this anyway as it gets closer.)
-Do you want us to mention or recognize cases by name?   
-Do you want us to draw conclusions about the issues we discuss? (I've had some who didn't)
-How do you want us to deal with splits in authority (assume majority rule vs. discuss majority and minority rule)
-Do you want us to discuss policy issues?  Will there be a separate policy question?
-What do you think is the best way to study for your exam?
-Is there anything you see when grading exams that irritates you?  (One prof responded that he HATED it when people brought up things we hadn't discussed in class that they clearly had gotten from commercial outlines)



Jen2bJD

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #118 on: July 23, 2007, 09:48:00 AM »
tag...great thread!

dsnutter

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Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #119 on: July 23, 2007, 12:17:14 PM »
i shall tag...