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Author Topic: The horrors of law school...?  (Read 2770 times)

eqmassa

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The horrors of law school...?
« on: October 05, 2007, 09:09:51 PM »
I'm a 1L, so take this with a grain of salt.  Maybe I just got great professors or something.  But a few things in my experience have completely contradicted what I've read here:

1. Briefing cases doesn't seem to be a big deal, and the case method doesn't seem horrible/dominating.  I've never been assigned more than 3 cases for a given class.  I'd say that on average, I read 1.5 cases per class.  People complain incessantly about briefing, and half the advice on here is some version of "briefing's a waste of time."  In my experience, briefing's just a way to jot down a few notes so you remember the context in which a rule was generated.  Its function is more heuristic than anything else.  Briefing's not taking me any longer than simply drilling the rule would... in a way, the story of the case often makes the rule easier to remember.

As a side note, I know that some people take briefing too far.  E.g. highlighting cases with 6 different colors like LSC advises seems i_n_s_a_n_e to me.  Why would you do that?  Facts section is a couple sentences at most, procedural history/judgment probably 1, and the rule?  Half the time telling yourself that the rule is in only one sentence that you can just highlight is flat out wrong.  I mean, I've seen kids going through the case and highlighting the word "plaintiff" blue every time it appears and "defendant" (or the corresponding name) green.  How the hell is that supposed to help anyone?

2. Are supplements really necessary?  E & E has helpful problems, but why do so many people rely primarily on hornbooks and commercial outlines?   The casebooks I'm using are about 50% cases and 50% explanatory material and history.  I focus on the explanatory material and context, then only read the case to the extent mentioned above.  Every time I've looked at a hornbook or something later, it's basically reiterated what the casebook said.  Why should I read a hornbook's description of the Rule Against Perpetuities when there's one in the book already?  Granted, the one in the book may be inferior, etc., but that depends on the specific casebook, not casebooks in general.  If your casebook sucks, then grab a hornbook, by all means...

3. My professors do NOT "hide the ball."  They focus on telling us what we need to know and how we have to apply it.  In fact, my Property class is geared almost entirely towards working through problems and policy questions from old exams.  My civ pro teacher hammers away at "take home points" that we must know and gives us an old exam question at the end of each unit.  Contracts is more focused on historical development/context and, like Property, basic principles and terminology.  All of my professors have been more than willing to say what they want on an exam (some want a concise, direct answer, others want you to use a problem as an opportunity to write down every possible interpretation you can come up with).

Again, maybe I'm misinterpreting what's going on, or maybe I've gotten lucky, but things don't seem as bad as this board made me feel.  I don't understand people who read thousands of pages in preparation for law school (Getting to Maybe, PLS, etc.) and are now spending all their time reading commercial materials... in certain cases, yeah, but as an overall strategy it seems like a bit much.

james

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Re: The horrors of law school...?
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2007, 05:29:32 AM »
You probably go to my school.-jk.  Though I admit that by not "hiding the ball" class is almost boring. In this type of situation I think the organization/ writing style of exams is much more important- I don't know if that is good or bad for me- hopefully I'll land this consulting gig and not even be around for this semester's exams.

Peaches

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Re: The horrors of law school...?
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2007, 10:46:46 AM »
Mostly agree.

Getting to Maybe is useful because it tells you what the endgame is and how to win it.  I feel like that's guided my focus, especially at first when everyone else was trying to memorize the facts of the cases to spout them out in class.  I have one professor who "hides the ball", but he's brilliant and it's fun.  It's the only class that I'm not online in the entire time.  Briefing is pointless, I just take "reading notes" that I'm going to cut down.  It's more usually more helpful to add in explanatory information from the "notes" after the cases than just copying sentences directly from cases.  I would agree that supplements are NOT necessary.  Some outside material is very well written and really enlightening, and I'm reading two that I like.  (But again, not necessary.)


lilmezzo1

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Re: The horrors of law school...?
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2007, 10:09:10 AM »
You're school sounds drastically different than mine. We read 10-20 cases per class, and most of us have to go "highlighter crazy" in order to remember anything about that first case we prepared, especially in a class where we're behind.

Most of my profs "hide the ball", and therefore supplements are almost necessary.

I was under the impression that my experience is more accurate, though I could be wrong.

Mr. Roe

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Re: The horrors of law school...?
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2007, 10:43:01 AM »
You're school sounds drastically different than mine. We read 10-20 cases per class, and most of us have to go "highlighter crazy" in order to remember anything about that first case we prepared, especially in a class where we're behind.

Most of my profs "hide the ball", and therefore supplements are almost necessary.

I was under the impression that my experience is more accurate, though I could be wrong.

This has to be a ridiculous exaggeration. 10-20 cases per class = 320-640 cases per semester, assuming two classes each week. There aren't casebooks that have that many cases.  So quit making it sound like your life is so hard, loser.

lilmezzo1

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Re: The horrors of law school...?
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2007, 03:16:41 PM »
Then don't assume 2 classes per week. Makes a little more sense.

CStoJD2010

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Re: The horrors of law school...?
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2007, 06:47:02 PM »
15 cases per class would be ~3-4 minutes on each case, which is patently ridiculous.  If you go through that many cases to learn the black letter law and expose the policy issues, your prof has no clue how to pick cases and probably shouldn't be teaching.

All of my classes we do 2 or 3 cases per class period max, and sometimes 1.  Sometimes more than one class period dealing with the issues presented by a single case.  10-20 per class is off the charts stupid.

lilmezzo1

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Re: The horrors of law school...?
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2007, 09:33:59 PM »
Apparently my classes are longer. 3 hours.

lawgirl442

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Re: The horrors of law school...?
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2007, 03:33:47 AM »
What you're not getting, lilmezzo, is that unless you have like 4 casebooks for each class, what you said is really not possible.

And if we're not to assume 2 classes per week, what are we to assume?  One?  If you only have ONE class per week, then stop whining.  You should have time to do those cases.
UVA '10

craven

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Re: The horrors of law school...?
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2007, 10:33:33 AM »
True, it's not as bad as many make it out to be, but you may still be singing a slightly different tune once you've been through exams.  Once you've done a round of exams, it seems to color most people's impression of the semester.