Law School Discussion


Which of the following has the biggest impact on 1L grades?

28 (29.2%)
Hard Work
35 (36.5%)
4 (4.2%)
Typing Speed
10 (10.4%)
19 (19.8%)

Total Members Voted: 96

What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?

Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2009, 08:31:33 PM »
Mentally sharp with the facts, yeah, but my 4 years were spent being taught: focus on one thing, take only one side, and try and figure out the most minute, most interesting detail and blow it up. Forget and ignore everything else. It's useful if you're going into, say, Literature academia, but not so much for anything else.

Law is the opposite: I was reading the exam answers the professor posted, and it has all sorts of almost unrelated facts and cases ... he just wanted you to consider them. We were taught that this is the worst possible thing to do with English work, so alas, I did not do it. and got a B-.

Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2009, 09:04:27 PM »
Also, you need to ask for your money back on your English degree if you were taught to argue only one side. 

Agreed.  I feel like English prepared me extremely well to make my thought process transparent and "argue both sides" on the exam.

I also agree with the comment about intelligence.  No, not everyone is at the same level.  There are chasms of differences in which people get it, and which people run with it to Law Review.


Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2009, 10:01:42 PM »
Putting in the "Right Effort" is by and large the most important factor in determining good grades, not intelligence, work ethic, or any of the other factors necessarily.

I know that people will say, "well, you have to be intelligent to know what is the "right effort" to begin with."  That may be true to some extent, but personality is a big factor in discovering the right effort.  Some people think that they are so intelligent that they can bulldoze their way through the material.  The problem is that there is far too much material assigned in law school to do this.  And even if they can get a pretty good understanding with the "bulldozing method," they are putting themselves at a severe disadvantage with their peers who are using better methods to study.

For example, one can be naturally gifted at running, but if he chooses to run on the side of the road with loose sand, rocks, litter, etc. instead of running on the clear pavement just to show how good of a runner he is, he will surely lose to the ones who are running on the pavement, even if he is slightly better than the other runners (and in law school I would posit that there is not too much difference in the students' intelligence).  Then when he loses the race the psychological blow of it will most likely put him at a disadvantage for the next race (i.e., the next semester). 

Some may ask, "Ok then, what is the 'right effort?'" 

IMHO, there are several things that go into this.

Try to be as emotionally balanced as possible. The ability to filter out the noise and one-upsmanship concomitant to law school and just focus on what is important in class is crucial.  Most of the stuff you read in cases is crap. It's important to read it so that you can pass the "Socratic Method Test."  Yes.  This is another test in law school.  It is just a very unimportant one considering that it will not effect your grades, only the way you look to your peers.

I know the "Socratic Method Test" is important to 1Ls.  It's really terrible to look bad in front of your peers.  That's why you still need to read through the material assigned.  Just try to do it quickly.  You don't need to make huge briefs of every case.   And no matter how much time you spend, you will still not know all of what the professor is asking you.  Most professors, unlike a lot of students think, do not massage all the things they mention in class out of every sentence of those cases. They instead use the cases as a guide to get across the material they think is important, which they have learned from years and years of study of this material.  The professors will give you almost everything you need in class to succeed on the exam; so it is really important to try to write down everything they say, and not to worry if you didn't know many of the things they are asking. If you can handle speaking in front of your peers, and are not the type who always wants to chime in to show how "smart you are," then you'll be able to focus on learning what the professor is trying to teach, and the material will sink in far better.

It is also vitally important that you continually review the material actually given in class.  Don't worry about time.  You'll have plenty of time to do this since if you're not WASTING so much time briefing every worthless sentence in the cases (i.e., you are not "running on the sand"), due to fear of the useless "Socratic Method Test."  Also make sure to make outlines so that you can see how the material fits together.  You have to know the outline down pat, because that is how to maximize your points on the tests when the professors throw the kitchen sink of facts at you. 

What law students should be spending MOST of their time and effort in is practicing how to apply the facts, even if they don't know a lot of the substantive law at that point.  Most students, however, do not do this nearly enough.  When you see a fact, it should evoke one or more rules (from the outline that you have memorized cold); these rules are often inconsistent with each other (professor's love to do this), and showing that you know that they are inconsistent is one of the best ways to take yourself to the A pile.  You can do this with almost every fact in most law professors' exams.  If you practice application enough, with the law you do know as you learn it, at the end of the semester you'll be able to APPLY all the law you learned throughout the semester.

In summary, learning to run on pavement instead of on the sand is the best thing one can do to make sure they are successful in law school, not intelligence or pure work ethic or whatnot.


Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2009, 10:29:03 PM »
I think you are actually right.  There are most likely numerous factors that lead to success, and those CAN be labeled as types of intelligence.  In fact, as I mentioned in my post (even if I didn't call it this), I strongly believe that "Emotional Intelligence" is also crucial to academic success in law school.


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Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2009, 10:43:27 PM »

Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2009, 11:07:28 PM »
There's also a book called "Clueless in Academe" that explains why some people just don't "get" it.

Oh, I know who you are now.  Not too fond of the Wizard of Oz, anymore?


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Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
« Reply #16 on: January 09, 2009, 05:44:19 AM »
I still believe that luck has a lot to do with it.  It may be cynical to believe that sometimes being the smartest and the hardest working isn't enough. (I'm definitely neither the smartest, nor the hardest working)  Studying the right topics is a crucial step to success in law school.  The ability to pay attention to the topics that the professor emphasizes throughout the year is a type of intelligence, but in my very limited experience, the test isn't necessarily proportional to the class time. 
Also, some classes are different.  There were a few teachers at my school who used multiple choice questions for the majority of their final.  If you are terrible at expressing yourself in essay format, but you have a brilliant memory and good intelligence, you'd be at a huge loss if you weren't in the multiple choice class. 
If you are a property superstar, and you know nearly everything about the subject, it can all be washed away about a question on a topic you somehow overlooked,  like gifts involving a safe deposit box.

I really do believe that you can't succeed in law school without a good level of hard work and smarts, but luck can make or break you, especially if you're shooting for an A. 

Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
« Reply #17 on: January 09, 2009, 06:49:10 AM »
Ugh . . . why wouldn't you able to apply gift doctrine (intent, delivery, acceptance) to a safe deposit box?  That hypothetical seems to be playing into the hands of Newman v. Bost and causa mortis easily.  "You can have everything in my house" didn't mean that the servant could have the life insurance in his drawer.  Because of the Statute of Frauds, gifts causa mortis have to be re-delivered.  So a gift in a safe deposit box would, on first impression, not count.  It was not re-delivered.  As for the other two elements, we can assume there was acceptance, which isn't generally a disputed element, and we will discuss intent.

But you could argue that, because it's a safe deposit box, then manual delivery is redundant.  The Newman court also upheld, in a dicta, that the servant could have the furniture in her room because it was delivered previously and was too weighty to be moved back into the room.  It seems like, if the safe deposit box is at a bank or somewhere similarly unreachable, it would be redundant to have it re-delivered, and the courts generally dislike that type of waste.

Moreover, the plaintiff could rely on Gruen v. Gruen, in which intent trumps delivery.  Why should the donor re-deliver the valuables in the safe deposit box?  From a policy standpoint, this might be a stronger argument.  There is no issue of fraud in a safe deposit box -- the gift will probably not be tampered with -- and the intent of the donor was strong enough.  The donor might have intended to create a remainder interest with the safe deposit box, while keeping his or her life estate.

A final analysis compares gifts to deeds, and weakens the intent argument.  In Gramstad v. Gramstad, the court ruled that a deed must be delivered with present intent, or else remain with an escrow agent.  This is real property, so it's less relevant to gifts, but a deed cannot remain in a safe deposit box because, for one, the state encourages grantors to make a will.  Unless the donor has good reason to avoid will-making, and compliance with the Statute of Frauds, this could kill the argument.

Ultimately, I think the deed analogue is weak, and the court will likely rule in the plaintiff's favor and treat the safe deposit box as a gift.

Yada yada yada . . . but it shows that you are probably not getting it if you think that there is some issue which you couldn't discuss.  I can wake up in the middle of the night, cold, and discuss any issue you would want.  Just let me look up the BLL in my outline and watch me try to analyze it.

Your problem is that you're still in the undergrad mindset.  You assume that there are issues that you haven't "studied" and, therefore, you cannot regurgitate some bull about them.  THAT'S NOT HOW LAW SCHOOL WORKS.

Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2009, 06:52:41 AM »
I am just a 1L that did way better than he deserved on the first exam he got back, but here are my two cents.

It's very difficult to pick out one thing that I feel was the most tested by our exams.  I felt they tested a balance of many of the things listed in this thread.  I think there is some very good advice on this thread.  As I was preparing for finals and going over practice exams, the process started to click a lot more.  I started to understand more of what we were supposed to be doing, and even before we took our exams, I resolved to change my approach to law school in several ways in the spring.  

The law school application process will generally select for classes that are relatively close in law school aptitude.  There will of course be outliers.  For the most part, though, competition seems increased due to the fact that most people have fairly similar abilities.  

Luck may have something to do with one's grade in a particular class, but one's grades for several courses will be much, much less affected by luck.  Over the long haul, you make your own luck by being prepared.  Yes, sometimes things will go your way and sometimes they do not, but welcome to life.  You need to be prepared for the worst going into an exam or anything in life.  Understand that you will get on the test and see something you hadn't planned for or that the professor will have just had an argument with his wife before grading your paper.  What you do control is your preparation.  If you have prepared thoroughly, "luck" will just be a trifle.

I also think people stress out over exams way too much.  Yes, they are important, but you should have known that from day one in law school.  The time to start "worrying" is the day of the first class.  Start preparing early, put in the best work you can, and let the chips fall where they may.  I went into all of this understanding that there was a chance I would suck at it.  If you aren't willing to risk that, I wouldn't go to law school.  If you can accept the worst outcome as a possibility, you will approach many things in life with much more vigor and will not be controlled by fear.


Also...jack24 - are you the Jack Bauer that posts on Above the Law?  Whether you are or you are not, those posts are great.  

Re: What has the biggest impact on 1L grades?
« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2009, 06:58:02 AM »
Walls, I think that was a hypothetical (and not in the sense you interpreted it to be) example rather than something he is saying he missed on the exam.  

siiiiiiigh  ::).

So?  He suggested he had trouble with it, and I like writing out exams.  I issue spot for fun on a regular basis.  My friends and I throw out hypos at each other and analyze them; that's how we study for exams.  I rarely "read" the casebook or "brief" that nonsense.