Law School Discussion

Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?

Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #170 on: June 06, 2008, 08:13:44 AM »
Alright, so I wasn't going to say anything, but since you have mentioned it like 100 times I'm going to refute your 'public school vs. private school undergrad' statements. You basically claim that since you went to a top liberal arts school and worked hard there, you will academically smoke classmates who went to a large public school and slacked. Besides the elitist undertones, I disagree completely. First off, LSAT scores tend to be similar (well, for the most part) among students at a given law school. Since the LSAT is standardized, it doesn't discriminate based on where you went to college. Second, and what I disagree about more, is the idea that a hard working liberal arts/ivy undergrad kid will dominate the 'slacker public school kid'. Did it ever occur to you that maybe exactly the opposite is true? Let's say the public school kid never put in any effort in college and got drunk 5 times a week, including finals, but with raw intelligence got decent grades. Well, now he is at the same law school as the liberal arts kid. And unless daddy is gonna hook him up with a biglaw gig post-graduation, he likely will not slack to the extent he did in college. So now that the naturally intelligent slacker is not a slacker, how will he do? Who knows. But I assure you he is no more likely to get beat out by the Lib arts kid than the lib arts kid is by him. Furthermore, why do you assume public schools are so much easier than private ones? I'd say it depends more on your major than your school.

Amen, Froot. I've seen people do both.

Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #171 on: June 06, 2008, 09:33:14 AM »
It's foolish not to consider different backgrounds. The upper-crust sensibilities of one set of professors or students will cringe at the help-the-common-man presumptions of another set. The blather-on-creatively mistakes stemming from one type of undergraduate background will help or hurt a law student differently than the mistakes stemming from memorize-and-regurgitate programs. You ignore these propensities at your own peril. I won't make that mistake. I'll go into this program with my eyes as open as possible to the fact that the profs have all of them had experiences I didn't have, and they'll assume background information I might not know. I likely could have things over on them, too, if I were in the position of marking their essays; but I'm not, so I have to learn to mediate the gap and they -- in their arrogance -- can simply assume that their position is superior ("elite") and that others all wish to be where they are.

I think you are probably overthinking things (I mean this in the nicest possible way). 

This thread is full of great advice, but the truth is if you are smart, motivated, and organized you'll do just fine in law school.  Keep things simple: understand the material, find out what the professor expects, have a study plan/schedule (that you modify when necessary), and practice your exam taking approach prior to exams.

I thought of a couple other things since my previous post:

-Take as comprehensive of notes as you can during class, then spend 10-15 minutes organizing/clarifying them after class.

-People always ask what they can do before school to prepare.  One thing I wish I had done was spend some time preparing resumes and cover letters, as well as finding out the government positions' deadlines for my 1L summer.  Depending on your school and grades you'll probably have some OCI opportunities, but you'll still want to apply for as many positions you find attractive as possible.  Your career services center will probably have some model resumes & cover letters.  Use these as a tool to develop some of your own now (obviously you'll make modifications once you get your grades).  This will save you some time during Christmas break/beginning of 2nd semester when you send them out.

Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #172 on: June 06, 2008, 09:46:54 AM »
I like this thread.

I think the most important thing for everyone to remember is that law students rarely know what works for them until they are in the middle of the semester.
You may get great advice about outlines, study schedules, study groups, and flash cards etc.  But you might find after a few months of law school that you need a different type of outline, a flexible study schedule, no study group and at, and that flash cards don't help you personally.

Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #173 on: June 06, 2008, 10:00:53 AM »
Wait, you don't know what "works for you"? Wow, what did you do in undergrad?

What did I do in undergrad?  I paid attention in class when I wasn't texting or doing homework for another class and crammed the last two weeks of the semester.  I never had to do any reading outside of class and I managed to finish the majority of my required papers on my laptop during easy classes.

I finished my degree with a 3.74

So do you think that strategy would have worked for me in law school?  Maybe I should have tried it for 1L, but I worked really hard instead.

Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #174 on: June 07, 2008, 12:18:59 AM »
I'm trawling around the LSD boards looking for similar threads, or just remembering past posts in other places, and I see a real "class structure" in the advice.

People who attend schools ranked roughly 50 to 100 say things about making sure you're coming off as a "bright" person. They don't put it that way but they tend to assert what I would consider basic test-taking skills -- double-checking yourself, thinking ahead before writing, making sure you see all the issues, and so on. They generally say (as has recently happened on this thread) "it's not rocket science, you can figure it out."

People who attend even lower-ranked schools tend to assert one of two things: either (A.) there's no bleeping way to figure it out (and they're angry at the randomness) or (B.) make sure you learn LEEWS or IRAC or some other overt essay-writing structure.

I'm happy to also see a few pieces of advice from people attending top-50 schools, and I suspect that there may even be a class distinction among those as well, in which people at T14 have something different to say from people at schools between 15 and 50. How did our Vandy boy do in the Vandy-class-rankings?

The thing is, what you say, and what school you're at, aren't necessarily indicative of good advice for doing well at that school. The advice is more likely, good advice for that particular student at that particular school. Say you have a natural bent for writing essay exams, but you have spent your life in a memorize-and-regurgitate average institution of higher learning (where you did well). So you're not familiar with abstract analysis or with coping with ambiguities of source or intent. Therefore you'll talk a lot here at LSD about how the test-taker needs to double-check that he's noticed all the issues; and a lot about how policy (also known in some systems as "analysis of rationale" behind the enactment of the law in question) can influence your thinking; but you probably won't say too much about how you need to know all the rules, every single one of them: you might assume any student would know he needs this information; or you might already know how to "hedge" your memorization, something I personally have no talent at (I try to memorize it all, always, and that could be beneficial or detrimental). To the contrary, a different student who has attended a flaky place (like I have) where you were encouraged to "be your own man" and think "freely," likely will remind people that they have to catch all the possible issues, not go off half-cocked with a disorganized essay, that sort of thing.

So, I'm sticking with the kitchen-sink approach, and with the professor-specific approach. I'm going to take every single piece of advice I can find and try to mix it all together to see if something comes out. Then, I'm going to troll around Tulane for upperclassmen who have taken my profs, and I'm going to pump them for what the prof's preferences seem to be. In specific I'm going to take a prof's available practice exams and demand he or she consider the answers. I intend to be pushy about it if the prof resists.

My best experience so far has been reading "Getting to Maybe." It's by two Harvard JDs who were teaching (when they wrote it) at the University of Miami. This means T14 meets T100. I find their commentary pretty wise; and yet the Marquette and St. John's kids (in the Miami rankings range) who're on this thread make comments quite distinct from the "Maybe" discussion. The thing is, it goes a long way to disabusing the "cut and dried" test writer of his misapprehensions. I suspect this is because the authors come into their interaction with their OWN students, from a different set of assumptions. Students who tend to attend Miami may have a rather larger percent of people familiar with the memorize-and-regurgitate universe, than students who tend to attend Harvard. The advice in "Maybe," maybe, is geared best toward people who have to bridge that divide -- they went to one and now in law school need to please professors who went to the other.

What about people from other backgrounds? Both students AND PROFESSORS will come to law exams with a variety of assumptions. I've unfortunately put all schools in North America onto a singular pole, of regurgitation-versus-creativity. This of course is a preposterously simplistic analysis of the possibilities.

Man, you're going to have to loosen up a little bit before law school.

This Vandy boy did pretty well.

Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #175 on: June 07, 2008, 08:48:18 AM »
I'm loose. I just like thinking. What, is there something WRONG with that?

I recall my young days in junior high of asking how to get a date. "You THINK too much" said the ugly girls who wanted me to ask them out. "You need a nicer shirt" said the helpful girls. "Kiss me again" said the hotties. Not many hotties on this thread so far ...

You do think too much.  That will kill you in law school, no offense.  The people who forget the forest because they are too busy seeing the trees tend to get eaten alive.  Just my experience.  As I stated, on page 1 of this ever growing post, do what you want!  Do what works for you and pay attention to no one else.  If working 3 hours a day gets you As and Bs, and you are happy -- GREAT!  Do just that.  Ignore all your classmates who proclaim they study 10 to 12 hours a day.  They are usually the ones who do not get it.   Best of luck to you!

Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #176 on: June 08, 2008, 08:33:43 AM »

Understood, and thanks for the constructive criticism. (Really. No sarcasm there.)

Any thoughts on how to stop ... erm ... thinking too much? Or, at least, on how to recognize the distinction between (A.) over-thinking, to the detriment of your success (generally success = grades); versus (B.) thinking a lot, to the benefit of your success?

I think you'll have less time for idle theorizing after law school starts. Enjoy your summer!

Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #177 on: June 17, 2008, 01:54:53 PM »
you're it

Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #178 on: June 19, 2008, 09:03:13 PM »
I wonder how the original poster wound up.

Re: Advice for a 0L hell bent on being near the top of his class?
« Reply #179 on: July 27, 2008, 06:56:09 AM »