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Author Topic: To Prep or Not To Prep  (Read 23367 times)

Thane Messinger

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Re: To Prep or Not To Prep
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2013, 01:05:11 AM »
[“Goodness, you have to prepare! You’ll be lost!! Why aren’t you done yet!!! Where’s my Prozac!!!!”

The first camp is not the camp to be in. If you decide not to prepare you will be way, way behind and lost. It might be useful, however, to discuss why this is true, so that the importance of preparation will make sense, and so that you’ll know what and how to prepare, in a way that is manageable and beneficial. You should enjoy your summer before law school (as you should enjoy all summers). But you absolutely should not blow off preparing for what’s to come.][Thane]



PS:   Wow, whoever wrote that must be really on the ball.  = :   )

Thank you.

NavyLaw2016

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Re: To Prep or Not To Prep
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2013, 10:01:26 PM »
What does prepare mean?

Outline the entire course?
Learn to brief a case, spot the issue, use IRAC method?

I'd love to outline the entire course and feel that would be the best course of action because you can adjust it as you progress through the course, but how much detail should be involved in that initial outline.

Does anyone have any 1L Outlines they would like to share?

Thane Messinger

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Re: To Prep or Not To Prep
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2013, 01:12:36 AM »
What does prepare mean?

Outline the entire course?
Learn to brief a case, spot the issue, use IRAC method?

I'd love to outline the entire course and feel that would be the best course of action because you can adjust it as you progress through the course, but how much detail should be involved in that initial outline.

Does anyone have any 1L Outlines they would like to share?


NavyLaw: 

You're not outlining the course, you're outlining the subject.  (The distinction is important, as what will be tested is the subject; what is covered in class is often tangential and plain irrelevant.)

How much detail?  Surprisingly, not that much--or certainly not as much as most assume.  As students we twist ourselves into knots, but the truth is that excellent exams use basic principles . . . very, very well.  That's the key.  Outlines are a tool, they're not the donut.

Do NOT use someone else's outline.  You must do your own.  In fact, you must do two. 

You *can* use another outline to confirm points of law--and you should and will use commercial outlines for this purpose.  But the work must be your own, and the main effort is not the outline, but in what you do with it.

Thane.

Thane Messinger

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Re: To Prep or Not To Prep
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2013, 01:15:40 AM »
Do NOT use someone else's outline.  You must do your own.  In fact, you must do two. 


I should have specified "Do not use someone else's 1L outline."  Different rules apply after first year.

I know I'm . . . against the wind, but for first year you MUST do your own outlines.  All of them.  It will make a big difference.  (But the outlines are only the starting point.  They're not the goal.)

Thane.

Thane Messinger

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Re: To Prep or Not To Prep
« Reply #24 on: July 14, 2013, 05:51:25 AM »
'Tis the season for students to get serious about their first-year adventure about to begin. 

Charles Cooper, author of Later-in-Life Lawyers and swell guy, and I recently wrote a new Book, Con Law: Avoiding...or Beating...the Scam of the Century (The Real Student's Guide to Law School and the Legal Profession).  In Con Law we argue that most students should not attend law school.  Both Cooper and I came to this conclusion after many years and much thought.  We even waited a year, to see if things would change.  They have, but not for the better.

On the one side are those who protest that no one should go to law school, ever; on the other are those who dismiss these concerns out of hand--the "special snowflake" defense mechanism.  Obviously both "sides" in the above debate are dangerous if taken alone.

Here's why this is important, and why Cooper's and my earlier advice fit in to the broader advice elsewhere:  Many law students fall into law school, for a variety of personal and family reasons.  Yet the market now is--there's no nice way to put this--horrendous, and it's not likely to improve significantly within three years.  A lucky few will do fine.  This worsens the Snowflake Syndrome.  It's hard to realize that a forced curve WILL impact many students, and one of them could be you.  The market is unforgiving, so you should be especially sensitive to advice of those who've been there, survived that, and care enough to hang around to warn others.

The bottom two tiers of ABA-accredited law schools--one hundred of them--could disappear tomorrow, and the result in the job market would be . . . zero.  If anything, a healthier balance would be struck.  Then (and only then) could law graduates reasonably assume a reasonably good law job would be waiting.  (I was excoriated for stating something along these lines in GGG, written before the Great Recession took hold.  If anything, its warnings are too mild.)

This is worsened by two factors:  (1) the rise of tuition to exorbitant heights, resulting in extraordinarily heavy debt burdens that are nearly certain to limit one's future; and (2) structural changes within the legal profession (for obvious reasons not well disclosed to law students), making the above trends worse.

The point is not to dissuade, or not merely to dissuade.  If one absolutely, positively wants to be a lawyer, and is willing to do the work (and to work throughout law school), and can get accepted to a good law school, at least, with some scholarship options, and is willing to be a very different student in law school than ever before . . . that is the student who should go.  If any of the above qualifiers apply in the negative to you, however, beware.

Choose and read any one of the following:

Con Law (Cooper & Messinger); or Don't Go to Law School (Campos); or Failing Law Schools (Tamanaha); or The Lawyer Bubble (Harper). 

Which one(s)?  It doesn't matter, just as it doesn't matter which commercial outline you buy. It does matter that you read it.

Con Law is priced at $2.99 on Amazon.  http://www.amazon.com/Con-Law-Avoiding-Beating-ebook/dp/B00D2YJZM0/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1373793370&sr=1-2   

The others should be available in a library, or you could ask them to buy a copy.  Often they will.


You should also read ALL of the following:

Law School Fast Track (Hibbard).  Short but important in its focus on building good law school habits.  http://www.amazon.com/Law-School-Fast-Track-Essential/dp/1888960248/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold (Messinger)  http://www.amazon.com/Law-School-Getting-Good-Gold/dp/1888960809/ref=pd_sim_b_4

Law School Undercover (Professor "X").  An insider's look behind the curtain.   http://www.amazon.com/Law-School-Undercover-Professor-Admissions/dp/1888960159/ref=pd_sim_b_12

Slacker's Guide to Law School (Doria). Good section on "Should I go?" and quite funny.  http://www.amazon.com/The-Slackers-Guide-Law-School/dp/1888960523/ref=pd_sim_b_26

Here's where I'll be a little old-fart-ish:  If you're not willing to read a measly half-dozen books, what on Earth are you doing in law school?  Seriously. A lawyer reads all day. Every day. You'd better damned well like it, and be good at it, and be able to glean what you need from any source, boring or not, and fast.


Then read three books by Morten Lund:

Jagged Rocks of Wisdom: Professional Advice for the New Attorney.  http://www.amazon.com/Jagged-Rocks-Wisdom-Professional-Attorney/dp/1888960078/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373793817&sr=1-1&keywords=morten+lund

Jagged Rocks of Wisdom--The Memo: Mastering the Legal Memorandum.   http://www.amazon.com/Jagged-Rocks-Wisdom-Mastering-Memorandum/dp/1888960086/ref=pd_sim_b_3

Jagged Rocks of Wisdom--Negotiation: Mastering the Art of the Deal
http://www.amazon.com/Jagged-Rocks-Wisdom-Negotiation-Mastering/dp/1888960094/ref=pd_sim_b_3

You must read Lund. If you read just one page and can stand it, *that's* law practice.  If you can't stand it, that's an even better--and cheaper--lesson. It's written by a partner, as a partner will speak and think. (Think Drill Instructor but without bullets, or at least without physical bullets.)

If you're in the mood, The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book (Messinger).  It's a bit dated, but its author has his moments.

There's also The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law (Hermmann), but it's so expensive (ABA!) as to be ridiculous. (It's a good book, just not worth that relative to Lund's books. You can pretty much buy two of Lund's for the price of Hermmann's, and Lund's are better.)

I would recommend a few others, but I cannot. Most prelaw books are not just dreck, they're flat-out wrong.  Read them all, and decide for yourself.

Color code cases? Sure, waste your semester until just before finals, and realize you've no idea how to assemble and reframe what you've been reading. Brief cases? Do it just enough to realize what a waste of time it is, and better options to accomplish the same task. Piles of notes?  Yeah, those are bound to help you in May.  Be the best gunner there ever was, and a suck-up to boot? Join the ranks of former-gunner suck-up failures.

Law school does not have to be torture.  In fact, done right, it should be both stimulating and even fun.  It should be and it can be.  It's a lot of work, but not nearly as much as many proclaim.  And it is not make-work.

Law school also does not have to be a path to indentured servitude, as it is for far too many graduates today.  But, avoiding this fate requires serious effort and foresight.

Thane.

PS:  If anyone cannot afford any of the books above, please send me a note and I will buy you a copy.  I'll add a single request: that you share your views with others, and pay it forward. 

HomoHominiLupus

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Re: To Prep or Not To Prep
« Reply #25 on: July 24, 2013, 06:56:25 PM »
I suppose I'm one of your special little snowflakes. I am a full-time employee at the university where I am starting law school part-time ($45 a semester for classes, I can't afford not to go here and I have health insurance and a retirement plan!).  I have very little debt and I have no illusions that from a tier 2 school I will likely never be recruited by a large firm with beaucoup bucks. My aim with my education is earn a JD/MS in water and resource law so I can practice environmental law at a government agency or a non-profit. I have a strong understanding that I may end up writing wills and working at legal aid for no money. For me the fear that I will be trapped in debt and unemployable is a bit moot. The worst that happens to me is that I get a useless degree which I'll have to hide from my resume so I can be underemployed. BFD.

So, I've been preparing most of the summer by getting as much fun packed in as I possibly can since I will attend law school part-time and am staring down the barrel of a 5-6 year term. Now that summer is on the decline, I am starting to read the recommended books and finding that they aren't particularly helpful. I am an ABA certified paralegal and have experience in a public and private law firm setting so I have a bit more experience than the regular 1L but having been out of law for 2-3 years I'm sure I'm rusty at the  IRAC and CASE methods. My classes this year will be legal research/writing and civil procedure - I'm not sure how I can prepare if not by the actual classes I took in my paralegal and the work experience on litigation. Should I calm down and not worry so much? Should I familiarize myself with my outlines from my past classes? Look ahead at the textbooks they assigned?

My anxiety seems un-affected by reading the trite how to succeed in law school books. I know what it's like to sit in a law library overnight shepardizing cases to triple check it's the most recent case law, and exams are certainly stressful but not as stressful as knowing the strength/weakness of your arguments could mean a parent losing custody of their children or someone losing their home.