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lovelyjj

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How do you think like a lawyer?
« on: February 04, 2010, 02:49:12 AM »
 After a semester of being a law student, I'm still very confused about law school classes and what they demand from me. Is reading case after case going to help me think in such way? I understand that on an exam, you need to issue spot and IRAC each issue, but then again, the things we had on our exams were so much different from what we covered in class...How do professor separate students who get A's from others who don't do as well? I wish someone could just teach me what I should do...

ncccippy

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Re: How do you think like a lawyer?
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2010, 07:07:31 AM »
Law school sucks that way. By the time you figure it out it's time to graduate. Just keep working and you will do fine. As for law school grading, it's super arbitrary in my experience.

john4040

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Re: How do you think like a lawyer?
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2010, 02:12:49 PM »
I'm not sure whether this will help but I'll give it a shot...

Is reading case after case going to help me think in such way?  It will help some, but it probably isn't the most efficient way to learn.  Judicial opinions don't always point out and argue for or against every single argument that the parties have made.  Usually courts will restrain themselves from solving issues that are not determinative of the case or claims (judicial restraint).  In order to get a good idea what "thinking like a lawyer" involves, I suggest you read trial court briefs produced by top attorneys.  What I think you will find is that these attorneys lay out the facts, the law, and the issues and then b1tch about EVERY SINGLE MINUSCULE ISSUE that, when considering the facts of their case, might plausibly lead a court to rule in their favor.  Attorneys lay out many arguments in hopes that a court will hook into a single argument and use it in their favor.

So, what I propose you do for an exam is b1tch about every single issue (obviously minding your time).  Unlike an attorney, however, your teacher expects you to argue for BOTH SIDES during an exam. As you focus on more and more issues, this will gain you points above and beyond your classmates.  After you point out the issues, make sure that you completely flesh out the arguments that both sides could make (even if they are stupid arguments) and, if the call of the questions asks for it, make a judgment call and give your reasons why a particular argument was better.  Being able to do what I just mentioned is how professors separate the bad from the great.

IRAC essentially teaches you organizational skills - it is the logical progression of an argument.  Once you've read enough cases, seen enough briefs, and written enough practice exams, IRAC will become second nature.

Thane Messinger

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Re: How do you think like a lawyer?
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2010, 05:02:18 PM »
After a semester of being a law student, I'm still very confused about law school classes and what they demand from me. Is reading case after case going to help me think in such way? I understand that on an exam, you need to issue spot and IRAC each issue, but then again, the things we had on our exams were so much different from what we covered in class...How do professor separate students who get A's from others who don't do as well? I wish someone could just teach me what I should do...


LovelyJJ -

You are not alone.  Nearly everyone feels this way, and unfortunately the results are disappointing (or devastating) for most law students.  This is why grades *appear* to be random.  (They are not.  Or, at least, they're not random in the way most would think they are.  They *are* random if the measurement is the amount of time one spends "studying."  That is a dead end, and one that many students persistently take.)

To answer the question, no, reading case after case will not help.  Neither will briefing case after case, which is a massive waste of time.  The key is in being able to put the fact at issue (or, sometimes, a set of facts at issue) into a framework.  That framework is "the law."  That might sound odd, or just insulting, but it's actually THE key to this, and it's how a good lawyer thinks.  (And it's why exam grades appear to be random.)

The Catch-22 of law school is that law school is not designed to teach us the law.  Rather, law school is designed to provide a way to test whether we know the law.  This in turn requires that we internalize--not memorize--what that law is.  This is in much the same way that a chemist internalizes--not memorizes--the periodic chart.  Why?  Because simply memorizing x prongs of a defense won't be good enough on an exam.  The facts must be interwoven so that the right rules (which, ah ha, have been internalized) are placed into context, highlighted in just the right way.  In short, an "A" exam is something a lawyer would write.

Circular definition?  To a degree.  Yet the truth is that most exams deserve not a B or a C, but an F.  In the practitioner's (and professor's) mind, this is more binary than it is a forced curve:  There is legal reasoning.  And there is everything else.  And firms do not care to (re)train anyone who has not proved they have mastered this skill.  This is why firms are so hypersensitive, especially now, about grades.  

There's still time.  Forget briefing (at least in the 1-2 page format most are bullied into thinking is the way to brief).  NO lawyer briefs that way; neither should you.  Forget color-coding.  Forget notes.  (Absolutely STOP writing notes.)  That is all a grand waste of time.

Instead, craft and fine-tune a master outline of 30-50 pages per subject.  Then reduce that to 1-2 pages, per subject.  And spend the rest of the semester taking practice exams.  Dozens and even a hundred of them.  It doesn't matter whose exams.  (Although it's good to take your profs', of course.  But save them for the end.)  It helps but is not essential to practice them in teams.  (With the right team, it *really* helps.  Why?  Because a team can force better analysis.)  A dozen practice exams, per subject, will make a 1-2 letter-grade difference.

Take these seriously.  No cheating.  Time yourself.  And time yourself short.  (2 3/4, then 2 1/2 hours, for a 3-hour exam.) Then spend an equal amount of time dissecting what you did right . . . and, more importantly, what you missed.

Why exams?  Because that's what the law is.  The ability to dispassionately sift through bits of facts and law and produce a cojent LEGAL analysis.  That is "thinking like a lawyer."  

[John is correct in the need to lay out ALL the various facts and rules on an exam--unlike in practice--to show that you know why something must be discounted . . . but it's thus even more important to understand how to build the proper framework, with the most important aspects highlighted and the less-important and irrelevant ones properly discounted.]

See?  You've gotten the middle of a certain book for free.  = :  )

Hang in there.  It *will* make sense.  The challenge is for it to make sense prior to the exam.

Thane.


lovelyjj

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Re: How do you think like a lawyer?
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2010, 02:00:00 PM »
Thank you Thane for sharing your insight. Reading your comment clears much doubt, but it still leaves me with questions. For instance,
1) if law school isn't there to teach you the law, then how do you learn the law? By reading supplements? case briefs? Why do law schools then require students to read casebooks if this isn't going to help them to learn the law?

2) What is the law? I understand knowing the statutes and 'important cases' are essential, but how do you draw the big picture? After all, isn't it just knowing the rules in detail and applying it when a particular situation arises?

3)According to what you say, lawyers are people who have mastered these skills of seeing the big picture. Does that mean a lawyer would always end up getting the highest grade if she re-took the first year law school class? even without listening to the lecture(because she KNOWS THE LAW?) Isn't grading subjective to a certain degree? Don't professors issue spot when they grade exams? Doesn't that mean lawyers who do not know what the professor thinks important wouldn't do so well even if she knows the law?

Thane Messinger

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Re: How do you think like a lawyer?
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2010, 02:52:42 PM »
Thank you Thane for sharing your insight. Reading your comment clears much doubt, but it still leaves me with questions. For instance,

You are most welcome.  I hope the following helps . . .


1) if law school isn't there to teach you the law, then how do you learn the law? By reading supplements? case briefs? Why do law schools then require students to read casebooks if this isn't going to help them to learn the law?


Excellent.  This is exactly the right question to be asking.  

If you ask them, law professors will be the first to say that they're not there to "teach" the law.  What they are there to do is to hone students' skills in reasoning through the law.

To learn the law, first, don't flutter about.  When we talk about "the law," we're really talking about a whole bunch of rules.  But that's a mistake right there.  Each class is not there to cover "the law."  Each class is devoted to a NARROW area of ONE subject.  Usually, it's one or two rules or a handful of rules (including exceptions and exceptions-to-exceptions).  Sometimes, such as in Criminal Law where you might spend a week or more on mens rea, it will be just one rule.  That's it.

Thus, before you walk into each and every class, know what that rule (or those rules) are.  If you don't know why you're walking into that class, stop and think about that.  What rule is the professor talking about?  This should never be an unknown.  In a sense, this makes your job MUCH easier.  If you know the rule, you can then discuss the case with knowledge about why that case is important.  And the discussions will make sense.  More precisely, the discussions will make sense from the professor's side.  What you're in class to do is to spar, mentally, with the professor.  Joust with, around, and against your prof.  Prove every statement until it makes sense.  (If you were to go back to a freshman class and listen to a professor, it would be like elementary school, yes?  That's what you're shooting for here.  If you know the rule, it WILL make sense.  It will be like law elementary school. = :  )

How to learn the rule?  This is where your supplements come in handy.  Yes, you'll rely on commercial outlines (mostly) to focus.  You'll pay close attention to the syllabus (to the extent that the prof follows it) and anything else that provides the answer to the above question.  NOT briefs.  Those are not to learn the law, but to play with it.  They're a form of a hypothetical--that happens to be true--but their primary value in law school is expository, not normative.  

You'll also need to have drafted and gone over a few times that section of your outline.  BEFORE class.  This is absolutely essential.  You must prepare before class.  Not a week.  Not a month.  One day.  The discipline part of this is in a sense very hard:  you must stay on track, by one day ahead.

THAT is "participation."


2) What is the law? I understand knowing the statutes and 'important cases' are essential, but how do you draw the big picture? After all, isn't it just knowing the rules in detail and applying it when a particular situation arises?



One reason this is frustrating is that the law is everything.  It is the grand philosophical debates.  (How do we acquire an interest in property; should we relieve someone of criminal liablility for insanity; why should a party be held to a contract; etc.)

It is about social norms and transformations.  (Did we REALLY think it was okay to . . . ?)

It is also about the minutiae.  (What does Statute X say about that?)

And of course it's about the grand morass (which in law school is the bulk of how law is "studied"):  What are the collective opinions of the following ten thousand judges?

This is why outlines are so important:  you can have both.  The structure and main sections are the forest, and the lower-level structure can include any number and manner of details and philosophical nuance.  This is also why it's so important to build your own outline (twice): only then will the forest and trees (and leaves and silkworms) be clear to you.



3)According to what you say, lawyers are people who have mastered these skills of seeing the big picture. Does that mean a lawyer would always end up getting the highest grade if she re-took the first year law school class? even without listening to the lecture(because she KNOWS THE LAW?) Isn't grading subjective to a certain degree? Don't professors issue spot when they grade exams? Doesn't that mean lawyers who do not know what the professor thinks important wouldn't do so well even if she knows the law?

I had to chuckle, as I just finished a response (it's good to play hookey) . . . before I read yours . . .  on what happens if an attorney takes a law exam.

Yes, there is a subjective component to grading.  But it's not the crapshoot that many assume it to be.  Moreover, when reading an "A" paper and comparing it to a "B" paper, it might not be immediately apparent just why it's so different . . . until one has mastered the law.  That's when the essence of legal reasoning is clear.

First, there is zero room for the mushy, emotional thinking that is part of everyone's life.  Just listen to the talking heads sometime.  If we could have an electric shock for every unsubstantiated, misleading, or outlandish statement, we'd have a shortage of electricity (and, likely, a more civil society).  On a law exam, this is a trap.  If the prof sets up a sweet, innocent party, chances are many students are going to miss point after point because they WANT that person to win.  And so, they'll shade the analysis, thinking that they're getting to the "right" answer.  Nope.  Likewise, the bad guy will cause students to miss legitimate claims, and thus points.  

(Does this help explain why a lawyer would not miss issues, regardless of whether he had spent ten minutes in class?)

Second, a lawyerlike analysis requires structure.  A "B" paper (or worse) will meander.  An "A" paper will run through the tests with seeming mechanical precision.

Third, proper English can be a hindrance.  This is a hugely unfortunate side effect of law exams.  But it's important to condition oneself *in a law exam* not to write in full, flowery sentences.  An "A" exam is almost choppy, because it is precise.


I hope the above helps.  Law school is important.  Class is important.  Friends are important.  The key is to make sure each is given the proper weight and treatment.  Don't assume you're in class to "learn" the law; you're there to master what you've already learned (via your outline the night before).  Don't rail against law school, the system, professors, (me?), or anyone or anything else.  At least not yet.  It is what it is.  And enjoy the positive reinforcements and good karma of being nice.  (As you no doubt are by your posts.)  Take care of your friends, respond courteously and with genuine compassion, and know that everyone is experiencing what you are.

With aloha,

Thane.



lovelyjj

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Re: How do you think like a lawyer?
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2010, 07:22:57 PM »
Thank you so much Thane. It is amazing how I, just by taking couple minutes to read what you wrote here, learned more than by talking to so many different people at school for an entire semester. I really think you should get paid for providing such excellent advice (I already ordered your book btw  ;) I just have few more questions regarding what you said...

1)What exactly is Rule of Law? Is it just a trend created by compilation of statutes and case decisions? and how do I learn them? by reading books like E & E? Wouldn't study aids ever give conflicting information regarding the rules?

2) What is legal reasoning? I know this sounds awefully general, but I did not really understand what you meant by what you said regarding my last question in the answer you gave me.

I have nothing against the school or traditions. But it is really frustrating if I think about it because I believe many students, like me, are confused about what is true and what is not. We hear so many different things that conflict with each other, sometimes these things we are confused about are the very basic studying method or how to approach class discussions. Yet, when I discuss these problems with others, many tell me some strange things, even the academic advisor at my school. (Like I may not be for law school or I might have some learning deficiencies or whatever). I know this sounds very emotional and not logical, but really, people who are not doing so good now may improve if they are given proper directions. (After all, how can you judge whether someone is for law school or not after only 1 semester of studying the law? assuming that person never studied law in her life?)

Thane Messinger

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Re: How do you think like a lawyer?
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2010, 09:37:32 PM »
Thank you so much Thane. It is amazing how I, just by taking couple minutes to read what you wrote here, learned more than by talking to so many different people at school for an entire semester. I really think you should get paid for providing such excellent advice (I already ordered your book btw  ;) I just have few more questions regarding what you said...

1)What exactly is Rule of Law? Is it just a trend created by compilation of statutes and case decisions? and how do I learn them? by reading books like E & E? Wouldn't study aids ever give conflicting information regarding the rules?



Aloha, Lovelyjj, and thank you.  

[If you'd be willing to share your comments (after the year is over), I would be happy to send you the other book.  I would be most interested in areas that were unclear or might use revision, correction, or wholesale shredding.]

The Rule of Law, like law itself, is both majestic and minute.  Broadly, the rule of law is the idea that society has organized itself so that its affairs will be handled by a commonly-accepted set of, yes, rules.  Whether these are constitutional, criminal, civil, or commercial, these rules are the road signs for civic life.  We rarely stop to think about these, and we more rarely stop to appreciate them.  We tend to ignore them until, as the saying goes, they're no longer there.  So, life in a slum in a Third World country (sorry to be stereotypical, but in this case, it's true) is life without the rule of law.  In such a world (think "Slumdog Millionaire") there are no rules that apply, other than the rules of survival and power.  This is what Hobbes writes about in the "state of nature"--an apocalyptic, nightmarish landscape in which life is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."  This is why the law is important.  Without it, that apocalyptic nightmare is our future.

Okay.  Enough philosophy?  The practical end of the rule of law is the body of actual rules, from constitutions through statutes and cases and on down to regulations, ordinances, and letters of interpretation.  These are all part of the rule of law.  The irony in practice is that the *lower* one is in the hierarchy, the better.  In law school, however, we spend our time on the "big picture" rules.  This too is misleading, especially come exam time, because the rule of law is more than just what a judge said, or many judges said.  It is everything.

Among this "everything" that will be useful in the exam is a framework: just how do these rules fit together?  (Much of the section on "Getting Good" in the book is about this framework.)  

This is, broadly, the outline of the law.  (Sound familiar?)  So, if were were to look at a commercial outline in, say, Torts, we would see the very same topics in every one.  When we drill down to, say, negligence law, we will see something interesting.  Old outlines will have a "majority rule" for contributory negligence, for example, plus all the ancillary doctrines (assumption of risk, last clear chance...), and also the "minority rule" for comparative negligence.  We fast forward to a modern outline and what do we see?  The very same doctrines . . . except they're now reversed.  As a society, we didn't like the old rule; it was too strict.  So, we developed a new rule.  Over time, the minority rule became the majority rule, and the old majority rule became the exception.  But the specific rules within that structure remain steadfastly consistent.  This is why it really doesn't matter what source you use; they're all pretty much the same.  It is absolutely crucial, however, to understand that framework.  Without that understanding, it's all gibberish.

This is why the law exam is the law exam is the law exam.  It seem crazy (and scary), and it is.  But every exam is going to test the basic concepts, because it has to.  (The "basic concepts" includes ALL of the rules, exceptions, and exceptions-to-exceptions.  Thus, it's a combination of general and highly technical . . . just like the law.)  

It also thus draws upon all the skills of crafting your own outline and working through hypotheticals (including practice exam after practice exam).  This is why the conventional means of "study" in law school are inefficient at best, and often counterproductive.  They're certainly exhausting and highly frustrating and quite likely to lead to burnout and excruciatingly unlikely to lead to that "A" grade.



2) What is legal reasoning? I know this sounds awefully general, but I did not really understand what you meant by what you said regarding my last question in the answer you gave me.

I have nothing against the school or traditions. But it is really frustrating if I think about it because I believe many students, like me, are confused about what is true and what is not. We hear so many different things that conflict with each other, sometimes these things we are confused about are the very basic studying method or how to approach class discussions. Yet, when I discuss these problems with others, many tell me some strange things, even the academic advisor at my school. (Like I may not be for law school or I might have some learning deficiencies or whatever). I know this sounds very emotional and not logical, but really, people who are not doing so good now may improve if they are given proper directions. (After all, how can you judge whether someone is for law school or not after only 1 semester of studying the law? assuming that person never studied law in her life?)

It is general, but in fact this is an excellent question and concern.  This is one reason law students are so miserable, and misled.  Hour upon hour without a real sense of what it is they're supposed to be doing, and never quite sure if what they are doing is in fact right.

Okay.  "Legal reasoning" is the process of thinking through a fact pattern in light of the law.  

Alternatively, "legal reasoning" is the process of thinking through the law in light of a fact pattern.

If you like the details of life, try the former; if the big picture, try the latter.  See?  We can too have fun in law school.  

We can go about this in two ways.  We tend to think that law school is about the law.  Not exactly.  Clearly there is law in law school.  One would be shocked otherwise, yes?  But that's not all it is.  In reality, law school is about the law in light of fact patterns.  So, simply knowing a rule is nice ("in the majority of jurisdictions a plaintiff's recovery is limited under comparative negligence to the net of its non-negligence") . . . but that's not enough.  To simply write that on an exam does nothing.  (Or, more precisely, it's a "C" response.)  What is needed is to understand how that rule affects a claim for a person in a set of facts, and defenses for the other side.  So, if Plaintiff P does a, b, and c, and Defendants D, E, and F have done x, y, and z, you'll reason through (i.e., conduct a lawyerlike analysis) what happens with that claim.  Or, more correctly, those claims (and defenses, and counterclaims, and counter-defenses...).  Legal analysis is the process of separating all of those potential claims and counterclaims and sifting them through the sieve of the rules.  

The funny thing is that, for legal analysis, it doesn't matter if it's a real case or a made up one.  [!]  The process of thinking through the law in light of facts requires, well, facts to look at.  They can be real or fanciful.  But, like numbers to an accountant, they're just grist for the legal mill.  They're what we need to actually "do" legal analysis.  To a practitioner, that's called a client.  To a law student, it's a hypo . . . or an exam.

If we want to look at it in the reverse, Client P has a problem.  Something happened.  Defendants D, E, and F have done x, y, and z.  Okay.  What do we do?  Exactly the same.  We look at those facts and ask "What law applies here"?  (The difference in law school being that your prof will be kind enough to give you the facts, whereas in practice you have to find them out for yourself.)  In most cases, it's obvious.  After we think about it a while, we'll think of more possibilities.  From there, we're doing exactly the same:  evaluating those facts in light of the law.

That is legal reasoning.  And it really is fun.

 . . . And I hope that that has been helpful.

With aloha,

Thane.

Soren

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Re: How do you think like a lawyer?
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2010, 07:16:49 AM »
We can go about this in two ways.  We tend to think that law school is about the law.  Not exactly.  Clearly there is law in law school.  One would be shocked otherwise, yes?  But that's not all it is.  In reality, law school is about the law in light of fact patterns.  So, simply knowing a rule is nice ("in the majority of jurisdictions a plaintiff's recovery is limited under comparative negligence to the net of its non-negligence") . . . but that's not enough.  To simply write that on an exam does nothing.  (Or, more precisely, it's a "C" response.)  What is needed is to understand how that rule affects a claim for a person in a set of facts, and defenses for the other side.  So, if Plaintiff P does a, b, and c, and Defendants D, E, and F have done x, y, and z, you'll reason through (i.e., conduct a lawyerlike analysis) what happens with that claim.  Or, more correctly, those claims (and defenses, and counterclaims, and counter-defenses...).  Legal analysis is the process of separating all of those potential claims and counterclaims and sifting them through the sieve of the rules.  

I think this point needs emphasis. Ignoring one side of the issue at the preference of another is probably the most fatal mistake new law students make in their pursuit of a "right" answer. Lay people typically judge one side correct before they even begin analyzing the issue, and their prejudice misleads them. It's important to overcome that.

BTW, Thane, your replies are absolutely exceptional. I haven't read anything like them before.

Thane Messinger

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Re: How do you think like a lawyer?
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2010, 02:45:57 PM »

I think this point needs emphasis. Ignoring one side of the issue at the preference of another is probably the most fatal mistake new law students make in their pursuit of a "right" answer. Lay people typically judge one side correct before they even begin analyzing the issue, and their prejudice misleads them. It's important to overcome that.

BTW, Thane, your replies are absolutely exceptional. I haven't read anything like them before.


Thank you, Soren.  As it happens I've had the, ah, luxury of thinking about this for some years now, in both the practice and teaching of law.  The writing and editing projects--which started as a hobby of sorts--have caused me to think about, and re-think, how students go about the study of law.  So, it's not so much me as it is this unusual circumstance, as most attorneys forget about their law school travails practically the day of the last law exam.  I started working literally the week after my last law exam, and the bar review course that same week.  So, if nothing else, as a pro bono matter of sorts I'd like to help the next generation, and perhaps correct some of the more egregious excesses of the law school and law practice worlds.

When I was in law school I was destitute.  I scrounged in the several Half-Price Books in Austin for whatever I could find.  So, I understand.  But I also cheated myself.  In many ways, I was penny-wise and pound-foolish.  If you can pick up even one good tip from any source, it's worth its time.  If money is tight, as it usually is as a student, then ask your library to buy a copy for you.  Chances are they might.

At the risk of getting into (more) trouble, I'd like to suggest resources depending upon where one is in the process.  I've had a role in many of these, so you'll know whom to blame.  

Here goes . . .

If you're still in college (or even before), I'd recommend Planet Law School and, in immodesty, my own book (Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold).  It's fine and expected to read the other pre-law books, but be wary about advice that sounds formulaic.  Law school is simply not the same as college and before.  Thus, an approach based on what worked before will, at best, not be the optimal approach.  (As I argue in the above book, the "formula" for successful college study wasn't actually even good, but it worked for you for a reason having nothing to do with its usefulness--or lack thereof.  You were smart, and so the tools . . . any tools . . . were useful.  That doesn't mean they were good.)

If you've not yet taken the LSAT, I suggest devoting a LOT of time to that.  It will be the most important exam you take.  Yes, more important than the bar exam, and, in some ways, all law exams put together.  Plan on spending AT LEAST six full weeks.  Twelve is a better target.  Plan on spending a mimumum of eight hours per day for six days of each of those weeks.  It's that important.  Plan on using multiple sources, starting with several commercial and the LSAC's test booklets, and going on down the line.  Two hundred dollars' worth here will be the best effort yet.  (And don't write in the books, for goodness' sake.)

If you're an older law student, or have spent even a year or so in a job (Peace Corps, military, etc.) after college, take a look at Later-in-Life Lawyers.  Non-traditional students face numerous differing obstacles, so it's good to hear from those who have gone before.

If you're too easily stressed, scan The Slacker's Guide to Law School.  While I wouldn't suggest his approach in total, his is a good antidote to the insanity that takes over many in law school.  His anecdotes are quite funny, and his personal story is an important one to hear, especially given how his story ends.

If you're a 1L now and are smack in the middle of that insanity, I would get Planet Law School and Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold . . . BUT read ONLY those parts that focus directly in study and exams.  Now is the time to focus.  The author of the former has a list of pages to study, while for my book, the middle sections will be most helpful.  In one sense there's not much time.  In another sense, wasting another five hours on case briefs is time much better spent figuring out how to spend time wisely.  A mid-course correction is among the most important functions in navigation.  And it's a skill every good lawyer learns to perfect.  Never cry over time wasted.  Dust yourself off and move on.  With equal force, insist of yourself that you re-focus and re-dedicate at any moment to that which is better.  This is much of what law practice is.

If you can, attend LEEWS or a similar exam seminar.  If you cannot, buy the LEEWS material, and take it seriously.  Again, I do not make a penny on LEEWS.

If you're struggling with finding a job, get The Insider's Guide to Getting a Big Firm Job.  Its information is helpful for all job-seekers.  (In a way, even moreso for those not in the OCI pageant.)

If you're seriously considering changing law schools and are following the above advice (and thus more likely to get top grades), read The Art of the Law School Transfer.

Before you start your clerkship, read Jagged Rocks of Wisdom: Professional Advice for the New Attorney and also Jagged Rocks of Wisdom--The Memo.  Especially read the Memo book.  But you MUST read both, really.  (These are the first two in a series of four books.)  They're like having a senior partner right next to you for your first year.

And when life is too dull (or you need help sleeping), try my original, The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide.

I hope these help.

With aloha,

Thane.