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Author Topic: How do I set myself apart?  (Read 5848 times)

KoalaTamer

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How do I set myself apart?
« on: August 29, 2009, 02:58:50 PM »
I just started law school last week, and I'm already freaking out about how I'm going to set myself apart from my classmates well enough to get one of the 30-40% of A-range grades that professors are required to give in each class. It seems like if most everyone is reading the assigned material, briefing all the cases, attending class, outlining, and going to professors' office hours if they have questions, all of the exam answers will be of approximately equal quality. Would anyone here mind sharing what they did throughout the semester and near exam time to earn A's in their classes?

Also, how in the world do I know that I'm studying enough? I keep reading about people spending tons of time every day of the week "studying." Are you all doing something besides reading the assigned material, briefing cases, and looking back over your class notes (and, later, outlining)?

Thank you for your insights!

--A 1L who is determined to get straight A's

RobWreck

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Re: How do I set myself apart?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2009, 04:25:38 PM »
Want to distinguish yourself? Keep at it for the whole semester. Everyone is hot out of the gate when the race starts, but it's the ones that can keep the pace for the longest that come out on top. You'll see people fade off as the time goes on...
Good luck.

PS: What school gives 30-40% A- grades? That's really extreme grade inflation and demonstrates why class rank is the only really important measure.
St. John's University School of Law '11
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UnbiasedObserver

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Re: How do I set myself apart?
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2009, 05:49:54 PM »
Want to distinguish yourself? Keep at it for the whole semester. Everyone is hot out of the gate when the race starts, but it's the ones that can keep the pace for the longest that come out on top. You'll see people fade off as the time goes on...
Good luck.


Agreed.  Law school is a marathon, not a sprint. 

EarlCat

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Re: How do I set myself apart?
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2009, 06:25:32 PM »
Start your outlining early.  Lots of your classmates will be scrambling during the reading period, which is when you should be studying your outline, not making it.

Also, don't just focus on knowing the blackletter.  Focus on how to challenge the blackletter.  Blackletter appears to say so-and-so loses.  How does so-and-so argue against that?

KoalaTamer

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Re: How do I set myself apart?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2009, 06:52:22 PM »
Thanks for the replies, Rob, Observer, and EC!

I had been planning to start outlining in each class once an entire unit has been covered (so probably after another 1.5 weeks or so). Is that what you would recommend?

EarlCat

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Re: How do I set myself apart?
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2009, 07:23:20 PM »
That's probably good, although you can map out the skeleton of the outline from you syllabus, so you know what things will end up going where.

UnbiasedObserver

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Re: How do I set myself apart?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2009, 10:40:54 PM »
That's probably good, although you can map out the skeleton of the outline from you syllabus, so you know what things will end up going where.


Word. 

RobWreck

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Re: How do I set myself apart?
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2009, 11:56:26 PM »
While I agree with EarlCat about using the syllabus to give you guidance in forming your outline, I'll buck the grain here and admit that I do all my outlining at the end of the semester... starting about 2 weeks before classes end. I use that time to assemble all the material and form a comprehensive picture of the material covered. The process of building the outline reinforces it all for me in a way that I don't think I'd get if I assembled it going along. It's the act of assembling the outline that really ties all the material together for me.
But that's only what works for me, and many of law students (ranked both higher and lower) preach the 'outline-as-you-go' gospel...
Good luck.
St. John's University School of Law '11
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one4theteam

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Re: How do I set myself apart?
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2009, 12:37:52 AM »
I'd also add to do as many practice exams from the professor as possible AND go over them against a model answer, even better with your prof.

At my school, Professors started giving first years practice exams around very early November.  At first they are overwhelming.  At first you will think you have no idea where to begin.  At first you will miss a lot of the key points and minor details.

BUT, what I have found is that getting through these initial hurdles is the biggest challenge.  Once you are familiar with the kind of information dump you will get, you will have an idea of how your outline fits in with everything. 

Keep an eye out for some of the different styles your professors will have.  They will all want IRAC, but some will want a very methodical approach.  Others will want a brush pass on the I, R and C and a definite emphasis on the A.  You will be able to get a sense of what to give each professor on the final exam.

Last thing, you will see trends in what your professors generally test on.  Its almost too good to be true.  However, you will have to go through a few exams first to identify certain themes. 

KoalaTamer

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Re: How do I set myself apart?
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2009, 10:05:44 AM »
My main problem right now is knowing how to know that I've studied enough. I hate not having quizzes or anything to gauge how sufficiently I'm preparing myself for finals right now. So, say I finish my readings and case briefs for the week. Is there something else I should be doing besides reviewing before each class?