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Author Topic: Summer before first year  (Read 3626 times)

m1ss_uNdeRst00d

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Summer before first year
« on: April 14, 2009, 11:21:26 PM »
I was recently accepted to a JD/MSW program. I have this summer totally free. No school, no work, nothing. I want to "prepare" as much as one can for law school. So I'm looking for suggestions... TIA

Ok, maybe I'll add to this a bit... My school has posted a summer reading list, but they did so grudgingly just because so many accepted students asked for one. So it lists obvious books like One L and The Sweet Hereafter. But beyond reading the basics, is there anything you did to really prepare yourself?
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I am the Lorax

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Re: Summer before first year
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2009, 11:37:22 PM »
Just enjoy yourself this summer.  Travel, read non-law books, see friends, see movies.  You will have so little free time your 1L year you'll miss the fun you had during your last summer. 

Don't do anything to "prep" yourself.  If your school is like mine, you won't know which classes you have first semester until you arrive, so you could be reading for courses that don't start until Jan.  Each prof. teaches differently so different study aids will work for diff. profs and it's worth waiting until school starts for the 2Ls to tell you what helped them with your profs. 

I also believe it doesn't do you many favors to start early.  I spent my summer traveling through South America and planning my wedding.  Didn't keep me from doing really well my first semester.

m1ss_uNdeRst00d

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Re: Summer before first year
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2009, 06:58:08 AM »
I've heard that a lot, just to relax and enjoy the summer. But I know me and I know I'll be looking for things to do to prep and just thought I'd get some suggestions ;)

The first week is an intensive intro to law and legal institutions, I'll take a year long research and writing course, and contracts, torts, property, criminal law, constitutional law and civil procedure. I'll get my schedule in late May or early June.

My undergrad is in social work and I didn't even consider law school until my senior year (just a few months ago). I know it's what I want to do, but I have no background whatsoever and am terrified of showing up with no knowledge about it at all - although I know that's what they expect and most students feel the same way. I'm just finally off cloud 9 after getting my acceptance letter and am stressing wondering what I go myself into...
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I am the Lorax

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Re: Summer before first year
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2009, 07:15:05 AM »
Yeah, everyone takes the same course, but not everyone takes the same courses first semester.  I guess my point is that you could spend your whole summer reading property but not have a single class until Jan.  Plus these courses have so much content your prof. could wind up not covering certain things.  For example, we never did intentional torts or the rule against perpetuities, and just about every law student would have told me that we would have covered those.  Legal writing/research is pointless to try to prepare for b/c you won't have Lexis or Westlaw access until classes start.  And even if you did, would you know or understand a legal citation if you saw one?  I had no idea what those were until about two weeks into 1L.
 
You will be humbled during the first few weeks of law school, that's for sure.  But that's also a good thing.  Every law student has an ego that's too big, and everyone's could use a check.

Seriously, just enjoy yourself this summer.  It'll be a very long time until you have a block of just pure free time again.  I'm at a T20 and nobody that I'm aware of did any sort of prep before 1L and, frankly, I doubt that anyone would have admitted doing so :)

uh huh.

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Re: Summer before first year
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2009, 10:07:45 AM »
I completely agree that you need to CHILL and enjoy your summer.  I will go a step further and suggest that you should not bother with legal reading because you may do more damage than good.  First, as was stated before, every professor will teach different things, will put his/her own spin on how the law developed, and put emphasis on different areas of the law - if you fill your head with stuff you read in some book on that subject, you will spend part of your semester "unlearning" that information when you really should be concentrating on what YOUR professor will test you on.

Second, YOU'RE GOING TO BURN OUT before you even get to law school - you will find out just how dry some of this stuff is, and your excitement will wear off (and you desperately need that to push through the frustration of your first semester!) You have to trust that you will learn everything you need to know in your courses and course reading.

NOW, I do have three books that I suggest you read, none of which are substantive law. First, read Law School Confidential - it is a handbook that will prepare you for what to expect during all three years of law school and what you can do to get an edge both scholastically and in the competitive job market. Second, read The Federalist Papers - get a sense of the history behind our Constitution and government and the ideological struggle our young country went through in negotiating our government.  Third, read Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville - he was a French man who travelled extensively throughout America in the early 1800s, and this book was a product of his observations and thoughts on how democracy works (remember, at that time America was an experiment that world was watching closely!)

That should be plenty of reading for you to tackle for the summer. And I wouldn't do any more than that unless it is brainless fun reading (which you won't be able to do until you graduate!)

bl825

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Re: Summer before first year
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2009, 10:47:24 AM »
I've always thought that the potential for burnout varied a lot among different people.  But that's just my take.
Oh yea...you're delicious and lean, but unsustainable and not to be consumed daily.

uh huh.

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Re: Summer before first year
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2009, 10:57:41 AM »
I've always thought that the potential for burnout varied a lot among different people.  But that's just my take.

That is quite true, but the risk of burnout on substantive legal reading, in my experience, is higher when one has no structure or guidance to help put the law into context.  Even as a practicing lawyer, I find that reading cases, statutes, or articles is much easier when I have a goal in mind versus reading casually.

bl825

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Re: Summer before first year
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2009, 11:50:16 AM »
I've always thought that the potential for burnout varied a lot among different people.  But that's just my take.

That is quite true, but the risk of burnout on substantive legal reading, in my experience, is higher when one has no structure or guidance to help put the law into context.  Even as a practicing lawyer, I find that reading cases, statutes, or articles is much easier when I have a goal in mind versus reading casually.

Well I agree that for most people, there is a pretty high risk of burnout from looking through legal material on your own.  I was just pointing out that there could be exceptions, is all.  ;)
Oh yea...you're delicious and lean, but unsustainable and not to be consumed daily.

m1ss_uNdeRst00d

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Re: Summer before first year
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2009, 04:30:59 PM »
I completely agree that you need to CHILL and enjoy your summer.  I will go a step further and suggest that you should not bother with legal reading because you may do more damage than good.  First, as was stated before, every professor will teach different things, will put his/her own spin on how the law developed, and put emphasis on different areas of the law - if you fill your head with stuff you read in some book on that subject, you will spend part of your semester "unlearning" that information when you really should be concentrating on what YOUR professor will test you on.

Second, YOU'RE GOING TO BURN OUT before you even get to law school - you will find out just how dry some of this stuff is, and your excitement will wear off (and you desperately need that to push through the frustration of your first semester!) You have to trust that you will learn everything you need to know in your courses and course reading.

NOW, I do have three books that I suggest you read, none of which are substantive law. First, read Law School Confidential - it is a handbook that will prepare you for what to expect during all three years of law school and what you can do to get an edge both scholastically and in the competitive job market. Second, read The Federalist Papers - get a sense of the history behind our Constitution and government and the ideological struggle our young country went through in negotiating our government.  Third, read Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville - he was a French man who travelled extensively throughout America in the early 1800s, and this book was a product of his observations and thoughts on how democracy works (remember, at that time America was an experiment that world was watching closely!)

That should be plenty of reading for you to tackle for the summer. And I wouldn't do any more than that unless it is brainless fun reading (which you won't be able to do until you graduate!)


Well, I guess I've finally heard it enough times that I need to enjoy this summer ;) That's what I'll try to do. Thanks for the book suggestions. I'll be reading them!
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Luxhx77

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Re: Summer before first year
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2009, 06:18:50 PM »
I was in the same situation last year.  I had a whole summer with nothing to do and wanted to know what I could do to prepare.  I read a legal history of the US which I did find beneficial.  I learned a bit about the important supreme court judges and read up on their background.  I don't know if it helped grade-wise or anything, but it did make certain court decisions more interesting when i read them. I had better context.

If I had it to do over again, I would have tried to get a part-time job working in a law office... even if it was strictly volunteering.