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Author Topic: Advice from a guy who just finished his first year  (Read 3637 times)

finalthrill

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Advice from a guy who just finished his first year
« on: May 18, 2009, 02:55:01 PM »
I just finished my first year of law school and I have some advice that I wish someone would have shared with me before I started.

Law school is about hard work. It really doesn't matter how high you scored on the LSAT. Be prepared to bust your ass. Most of you probably already knew this but I think it needs to be said because a lot of people are used to getting by on intelligence alone and that really doesn't happen in law school.

However, there are a lot of short cuts that you can take advantage of if you still want to have a life outside of school. In most of your classes, if you study the way the profs tell you to study, you'll be stuck reading all day long.

You should probably read all of your assigned cases in the first couple of weeks just to see if you like studying that way. If you find that you are pressed for time and you just want to concentrate on what you have to learn for the test, then buy the case briefs. They will save you hours of time every day. In addition, you'll be concentrating on the material that you have to know for the exam. So you basically study more efficiently. In addition to the case briefs, you should get yourself a good comercial outline that will use simple language to explain the concepts that you need to know for the exam. I use crunchtime but most of the others are also pretty good. 

If you do follow my advice, you can do great in law school and still have a life outside of it. 

 

allaboutlydia

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Re: Advice from a guy who just finished his first year
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2009, 01:47:48 AM »
Thanks.  Your post was very helpful.   :)

gzl

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Re: Advice from a guy who just finished his first year
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2009, 02:34:34 AM »
I just finished my first year of law school and I have some advice that I wish someone would have shared with me before I started.

Law school is about hard work. It really doesn't matter how high you scored on the LSAT. Be prepared to bust your ass. Most of you probably already knew this but I think it needs to be said because a lot of people are used to getting by on intelligence alone and that really doesn't happen in law school.

However, there are a lot of short cuts that you can take advantage of if you still want to have a life outside of school. In most of your classes, if you study the way the profs tell you to study, you'll be stuck reading all day long.

You should probably read all of your assigned cases in the first couple of weeks just to see if you like studying that way. If you find that you are pressed for time and you just want to concentrate on what you have to learn for the test, then buy the case briefs. They will save you hours of time every day. In addition, you'll be concentrating on the material that you have to know for the exam. So you basically study more efficiently. In addition to the case briefs, you should get yourself a good comercial outline that will use simple language to explain the concepts that you need to know for the exam. I use crunchtime but most of the others are also pretty good. 

If you do follow my advice, you can do great in law school and still have a life outside of it. 

 


I just have to sound my own note of caution here.  Be careful of the commercial outlines, some profs pride themselves on exams that weed out those who use such.  There are still some easy short cuts though.  Westlaw is your friend.  Even when you can't use "brief it," you can usually find the relevant parts of a case's decision with the right search terms.  Used properly, Westlaw can cut material-slogging time by 1/3-2/3.

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Re: Advice from a guy who just finished his first year
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2009, 08:24:55 AM »
Forgive my ignorance, and I say this with absolutely no intentions of being a flame, but what advantage would something like Westlaw have over Wikipedia?  I am not familiar at all with Westlaw, but I know that you can read pretty much everything about every major case on Wikipedia.  Granted, I realize there is a large caveat (that being that information can be modified by users and is subject to errors), but still... it seems pretty reliable.

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EdinTally

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Re: Advice from a guy who just finished his first year
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2009, 11:09:02 AM »
Forgive my ignorance, and I say this with absolutely no intentions of being a flame, but what advantage would something like Westlaw have over Wikipedia?  I am not familiar at all with Westlaw, but I know that you can read pretty much everything about every major case on Wikipedia.  Granted, I realize there is a large caveat (that being that information can be modified by users and is subject to errors), but still... it seems pretty reliable.


First, I find Wiki to be a very valuable, albeit general, source for information.  To my mind, that is the difference between Wiki and Westlaw.  It's been awhile since I had access to Westlaw but if I recall, it has the entire case and the ability to cross reference and search keywords.  Wiki just provides general information without specifics.

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Edit:  Another difference, not all cases are on Wiki.  I'm trying to find Ravel v. Ravel, 326 So.2d 223 (Fla. App 2 Dist 1976) with no luck.  :(

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Tetris

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Re: Advice from a guy who just finished his first year
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2009, 08:28:49 PM »
Wikipedia can be helpful sometimes to get a sense of the case.  However, the Wikipedia entries are not written in precise "lawyer language".  Its not enough to have a sense about a case; you need to know what the precise range of holdings are and how it was supported in the reasoning.  Also, only the major cases are in Wikipedia.  Some of the lesser known cases used to highlight a particular issue (especially in areas like Contracts) are often not in Wikipedia.

My personal favorite tactic is to figure out quickly what the case is (by reading Wikipedia, the notes at the end of the case in the textbook, or a commercial supplement) and then read the actual case quickly, skimming for the "meat" of the decision and taking careful mental/written notes of that.  I would say in a typical 5 page case that you read, there is only a few paragraphs of necessary context that you need to read (often the facts and procedural posturing at the beginning can be skipped because important facts are referenced again to support the holding).  And really, when I am boiling down my outline for finals, there are only about 2 relevant sentences in any given case.
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jillibean

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Re: Advice from a guy who just finished his first year
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2009, 09:03:04 PM »
Some advice on using canned outlines and briefs- read them in conjunction with your assignments. I basically stopped reading after 1L yr, but during 1L I would read the briefs (High courts), read the case (which is much faster to read since I already read it in high courts), and then looked @ that part in my Emmanuels. It really does shorten the process and I found (and everyone is different) that I retained the information much easier.

I also was never a briefer like most people. I book-briefed by just making notes in my book but if it is helpful I suggest making a chart, a really simple one for each class that has a brief of everything. 2 sentence synopsis, nickname the case- gay hairdresser fighting case, give the issue,Rule, and holding and be done.

Best advice anyone can give you- LEARN TO WRITE! I am a great writer but I found that I wasn't a great legal writer (IRAC) . There are books out there to help you- getting to maybe, leews, etc. and all your teachers will be different. I had teachers who demanded IRAC and others who hated it. Don't be afraid when it comes down to exams to not write in complete sentences and if you run out of time put your outline in.

Good luck
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Diet Yomajesty

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Re: Advice from a guy who just finished his first year
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2009, 11:13:21 PM »
Tell me more about this gay hairdresser case. It sounds nifty!
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gzl

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Re: Advice from a guy who just finished his first year
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2009, 03:28:02 AM »
Forgive my ignorance, and I say this with absolutely no intentions of being a flame, but what advantage would something like Westlaw have over Wikipedia?  I am not familiar at all with Westlaw, but I know that you can read pretty much everything about every major case on Wikipedia.  Granted, I realize there is a large caveat (that being that information can be modified by users and is subject to errors), but still... it seems pretty reliable.



Westlaw will help over wiki in a couple of different ways

Generally speaking, when you're given a case in class, it's because of a very specific issue or two that the case addresses.  Sometimes, they will be sneaky and give you a case where one of the supposedly "minor" issues is what they want you to look at, the kind of thing Wiki won't always address.  Or give a 'history' case that's not major enough to find its way onto wiki, but shows how the law has evolved on a specific issue.

One of the most time-consuming parts of briefing is slogging through all the stuff that's irrelevant *to the class* that you're briefing it for, especially in some nightmare 20 page decision.  Westlaw provides a handy short cut.  You can find the case, and get it as a 'headnote' outline.  The headnotes describe what that part of the opinion is dealing with.  You find the ones that deal with whatever specific issue you're looking for ("novation" in business orgs or something like that) and it will take you directly to that part of the opinion. 

jillibean

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Re: Advice from a guy who just finished his first year
« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2009, 06:22:58 PM »
Tell me more about this gay hairdresser case. It sounds nifty!

lol, I just made it up although I am sure there is such a case out there
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