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Author Topic: Succeeding in a bottom tiered law school - suggestions  (Read 1207 times)

politicolaw

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Succeeding in a bottom tiered law school - suggestions
« on: January 28, 2011, 03:00:44 PM »
Fall 2011 is on it's way, and half of us (entering 1L's) will be attending law schools in the bottom tiers. If your going to one of these schools I'm sure your tired of the your school sucks, and you shouldn't be a lawyer messages.

So here it goes.. how about some suggestions for having an awesome 1L year, and starting off a successful legal career?

john4040

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Re: Succeeding in a bottom tiered law school - suggestions
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2011, 04:49:47 PM »
My advice (applicable to everyone regardless of tier):

(1) Work old exams (assuming they're available).  This will help you with issue spotting, organization, and will give you a good idea of which areas your teacher tends to focus;

(2) Determine and answer the CALL OF THE QUESTION.  Do NOT talk about irrelevant issues, but DO identify and briefly discuss relevant collateral issues;

(3) On the exam, do not be conclusory.  Teachers are more interested in your analysis than your conclusion.  Look at both sides of the coin and argue both positions.  Tell the teacher what facts might have to be assumed.  Explain why the facts are relevant / irrelevant.  Do not skimp here - your analysis is where all the points lie and it is what will separate you from the pack;

(4) Relax.  It's not about how much you study, but how smart you study;

(5) Network.  Do Law Review / journals, Moot Court, etc.  Volunteer.  Do informational interviews with attorneys from the area.  ATTEND BAR EVENTS AND FREE CLEs.  Get your name out there.

NonTradInSATX

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Re: Succeeding in a bottom tiered law school - suggestions
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2011, 05:03:04 PM »
I'm in the same boat as you, but as I've been looking at my situation, I've realized that I'm not in as dire a place as some would have me believe.

Obviously these are personal, but here are some positive notes I've come to realize:
1-From anecdotal experience, people attending T3/4 schools are more likely to be doing it for the wrong reasons (i.e. deferring undergrad loans 3 more years).  Using my own pseudo-psychology, people that attend for the wrong reasons (like deferring life/loans) are less likely to be putting forth full effort.  This gives you, the hard working LSD reader, fewer competitive students.
2-Depending on your scores, you can get a law degree at a phenomenal discount by going T3/4 and I'd rather be a T3/4 grad unemployed with no debt than a T100 grad unemployed and 150K in the hole.
3-If you love your city, attending the local T3/4 may let you network with mid/small firms locally.  Of course, this doesnít work as well for BigLaw (if you care) or if you want to relocate.
4-Related to 2, if you are an excellent student forced to attend T3/4 by life or bad fortune with GPA/LSAT, you may be smarter than the rest of your class.  While this is no reason to rest on your laurels, you should consider that you could be starting ahead of your section/class and that hard work will ensure you stay there.

Enough self-justifying a T4 law school though, this is my plan:
1-Donít waste time on anything not related to grades, resume or job hunting.  (read Thane Messinger's 'Getting in, Getting Good, Getting the Gold')
2-Go through the recommended PLS II prep materials prior to starting 1L.
3-Know all black letter law before class so I can focus on nuances instead of rules.
4-Focus on Law Review/Moot Court so I can make sure to pad my resume.
5-Network with my local firms/judges as possible to ensure I have contacts when it comes time to job hunt.

And this is what I keep in mind every time the idea of attending T4 starts to get me down:  America loves the underdog, we we're built on a revolution and the little guy overcoming his disadvantages.  So be the best you can possibly be and let the elitists worry about name dropping while you're graduating with honors and law review.
Military Officer separating, 1L fall 2011

San Antonio, TX

john4040

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Re: Succeeding in a bottom tiered law school - suggestions
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2011, 05:33:39 PM »
3-Know all black letter law before class so I can focus on nuances instead of rules.

Mistake.  Focus on the larger picture, as this is not an efficient way to use your time.  You will forget the black letter law before exam time.  Prepping for class is only important if the professor gives (or takes away) points for attendance, or grading is not anonymous.

NonTradInSATX

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Re: Succeeding in a bottom tiered law school - suggestions
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2011, 11:51:06 AM »
John, I'm in no position to argue, but all of my strongest resources and 'how to succeed' type books have repeatedly said that exams are on black letter law only.  I take your comment to mean that by understanding the big picture the black letter law is clear naturally.  If so, then we really dont have a disagreement as its just understanding black letter law to the point that you see the forest and know the trees because you know the forest.

My big point was that I dont want to fall in the trap of just case briefing and trying to glean law from the case, but rather read the E&E and hornbooks ahead of time (before the semester) so that I'm just refining knowledge throughout the class.

3-Know all black letter law before class so I can focus on nuances instead of rules.

Mistake.  Focus on the larger picture, as this is not an efficient way to use your time.  You will forget the black letter law before exam time.  Prepping for class is only important if the professor gives (or takes away) points for attendance, or grading is not anonymous.
Military Officer separating, 1L fall 2011

San Antonio, TX

john4040

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Re: Succeeding in a bottom tiered law school - suggestions
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2011, 01:57:11 PM »
John, I'm in no position to argue, but all of my strongest resources and 'how to succeed' type books have repeatedly said that exams are on black letter law only.  I take your comment to mean that by understanding the big picture the black letter law is clear naturally.  If so, then we really dont have a disagreement as its just understanding black letter law to the point that you see the forest and know the trees because you know the forest.

My big point was that I dont want to fall in the trap of just case briefing and trying to glean law from the case, but rather read the E&E and hornbooks ahead of time (before the semester) so that I'm just refining knowledge throughout the class.


It is true that you have to know black letter law for the exams.  However, knowing the black letter law will only get you half way there (about 1/2 of your classmates will have memorized the black letter law by exam time as well).  You still have to know when the law applies to the facts and how to apply it.  You learn how to spot issues and apply the law to the facts by reading cases.  Get a good outline (preferably from someone on law review), read some cases, but don't overprepare for class. 

NonTradInSATX

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Re: Succeeding in a bottom tiered law school - suggestions
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2011, 12:48:52 PM »
I'll keep those points in mind, thanks!

It is true that you have to know black letter law for the exams.  However, knowing the black letter law will only get you half way there (about 1/2 of your classmates will have memorized the black letter law by exam time as well).  You still have to know when the law applies to the facts and how to apply it.  You learn how to spot issues and apply the law to the facts by reading cases.  Get a good outline (preferably from someone on law review), read some cases, but don't overprepare for class.
Military Officer separating, 1L fall 2011

San Antonio, TX

like_lasagna

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Re: Succeeding in a bottom tiered law school - suggestions
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2011, 03:06:15 AM »
Read Getting to Maybe