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Author Topic: A typical law school class session?  (Read 2422 times)

M112

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Re: A typical law school class session?
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2010, 12:10:38 AM »

Thanks again for the thorough response.  It is very much appreciated by myself personally and I am sure of all the other countless individuals you have responded to.  Again, many thanks.  Another question for you specifically:  what do you think of "canned" case briefs? 

Are these a better investment of time rather than briefing the case from scratch?  Would it be better to peruse the canned case brief and use it as an outline and follow that up with my own case brief?  Thanks again either way.

Every casebook/ professor has a different style, but you have the gist of it. Read cases and talk about them. Very little black letter law is talked about.


Very true, and very dangerous.  Cases are the method, but black letter law is the objective.  If it doesn't tie directly into your ability to address an issue on that final exam, that's not an hour well spent.  You should know EXACTLY what rule (i.e., which part of black letter law) is under discussion in that day's class.  With that understanding, the cases will make much more sense, and so will the discussion. 

Another point:  you're in class not to hear the Socratic Method, but rather to hear the Socratic Method from your professor's perspective.  With the above understanding, what the professor says should make sense.  (With the above understanding of the point of law under discussion, it will.)

Does this help?

Thane.

Hamilton

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Re: A typical law school class session?
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2010, 02:57:23 PM »
For me, it worked well to first read the professional brief, then read the case (skimming some parts but identifying the same relevent points in the case that were identified in the brief), and then adding some notes to the brief.  I think its important to actually read the case, even if skimming it.


Are these a better investment of time rather than briefing the case from scratch?  Would it be better to peruse the canned case brief and use it as an outline and follow that up with my own case brief?  Thanks again either way.

Julie Fern

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Re: A typical law school class session?
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2010, 07:38:27 PM »
class always start with stripper.


M112, stick with Julie. 

She apparently goes to the classes worth going to.

that really depend on stripper.

Thane Messinger

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Re: A typical law school class session?
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2010, 12:26:42 AM »

Thanks again for the thorough response.  It is very much appreciated by myself personally and I am sure of all the other countless individuals you have responded to.  Again, many thanks.  Another question for you specifically:  what do you think of "canned" case briefs? 

Are these a better investment of time rather than briefing the case from scratch?  Would it be better to peruse the canned case brief and use it as an outline and follow that up with my own case brief?  Thanks again either way.


M112 -

It might be helpful to reverse the question:  What are cases good for? 

They're not there for their own importance: they're there to highlight a specific point of law.  (In the real world, a case is cross-referenced to numerous points of law, which complicates and confuses matters greatly.  Law school casebooks simplify this, with mixed success, by editing those complications down to (they hope) a single point.

Cases are not usually important, except for the rule of law they highlight.  In only a handful of exams will you even refer to a case (the exceptions being Con Law and Civ Pro), and even there only as shorthand for the rule of law.

Some recommend full case briefs.  Will this work?  Sure.  But it will take 40 hours per week to do a decent job, and there's still classes, outlines, practice exams, legal research and writing, chatting, and so on.

Canned briefs?  Like cocaine, they sure feel good.  (Or so I'm told.)  They certainly save time.  But are they real?  Yes and no.  If you're using them to slide by in class, hoping to answer the prof's question's well enough, that's a trap.  Class participation, in the sense of performing well in class, is a dead end.  Sure, some profs will add a point or two--but that's nothing compared to doing well on the exam, where even a few missed points will more than wipe out that maybe-bonus.

My own take is a bit of a mix:  it's good to do a full brief, preferably before class starts, so that you can see what parts there are that can be dissected and discussed.  From there, however, it's better to shift to the following:

I recommend that to get the LEEWS material, and attend Wentworth's session if you can, and from there practice the real-world habits of attorneys in how we pull the rule from a case.  I added his "2-4 line case brief" description in my book, but the credit goes to him.

I hope this helps,

Thane.

fllaw

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Re: A typical law school class session?
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2010, 05:21:15 AM »
I'll add that Professor John Delaney's Learning Legal Reasoning: Brieifing, Analysis and Theory provides a great introduction to what law and legal reasoning is all about. He teaches case dissection and gives examples of good and bad briefs. This book is given to all 1Ls at my school and is the textbook for orientation.

Also, check out Delaney's web site. He now uses it to supplement his books and provides tons of great information for free!
Here is a link: http://www.johndelaneypub.com/catalog/index.php

You can also get a feel for his teaching methods on YouTube. His a retired Crim Law professor at NYU Law School and CUNY.
Here is a link: http://www.youtube.com/user/ProfessorJohnDelaney

Also, if you have not read Thane Messinger's Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold please do so. It is one of the best books for getting an idea of how to do law school (the Getting Good section).

conrad42

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Re: A typical law school class session?
« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2010, 04:56:46 PM »
When you walk in the class, here is the goal: for each case assigned, have a rough idea of (1) the legal issue(s) presented; (2) the relevant facts; (3) the holding; and (4) the reasoning behind that holding. With these in mind, the class discussion will be much more relevant, and you'll be able to take better notes. The point of pre-reading is to be ready to take meaningful notes on which your later outlines can substantially rely. While supplements can help when you're stuck, you want to focus substantially on the class because the professor will be looking for you to parrot back what he taught and not necessarily what the restatements or other supplements say. Re the socratic method, you should also strive to answer each of the professor's questions either silently to yourself or in your notes so it forces you to think through these issues, but be careful about what your classmates say.

For the first few weeks to months of law school, it will be a hard slog to pick out those four items from a reading a case. By the end of 3L, you should be able to skim most cases (unless they're horribly written) and pick those out easily. This is why I strongly second the earlier comment about getting Delaney's Learning Legal Reasoning: Brieifing, Analysis and Theory. (You should also get his book on exam writing, and review both before law school so you have an idea what will be expected from you at the end of the semester). Follow Delaney's briefing method religiously for at least the first month, and then as you get busier and better at reading cases, you can stop briefing or create more cursory briefs. You don't need to memorize the cases, just be ready enough so you know what the professor is talking about when he starts covering a case.

Note also that a lot cases will be followed by case notes. Don't spend too much time on them, but they can be worthwhile, depending. Many are just asking questions to think about, and those should be glossed over. Others, however, will cover majority and minority rules, and often those are worth making note of.

kenpostudent

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Re: A typical law school class session?
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2010, 02:17:31 AM »
I guess it depends on whether or not your professor uses the Socratic Method and how in-depth they discuss cases. I've had professors who do not use the socratic method and only teach from powerpoints. I've had professors who call on one or two people the entire class and other professors that bounce around the room randomly. Some professors parse out the minute details of cases. I've had other professors that never discuss one case but only discuss broad rules and spend the class presenting hypos.

Generally, class time is low value. I don't think most class sessions add much to your exam performance, at least not in my experience. I have found that the preparation is important to learn the black-letter law, while class time fleshes out the contours of the law. If you don't prep well, class time will be of absolutely no value. If you prep well, you'll probably get one or two nuggets out of each class. Generally, I pay attention to the hypos that professors present and how they change the hypos during the course of the class. Those are previews to your exam.