Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
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Poll

1Ls, how do you feel at this point in the semester?

Totally on top of it.  Outlines in great shape.  Preparing for Exams.
 3 (33.3%)
Current with reading, but need to put more effort into outlines and exam prep.
 2 (22.2%)
Mostly current with reading.  Only slightly behind.
 2 (22.2%)
Clearly falling behind.  Not current with reading.  Starting to feel overwhelmed.
 1 (11.1%)
Totally lost.
 1 (11.1%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Voting closed: October 23, 2011, 10:45:40 AM

Author Topic: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?  (Read 3340 times)

Duncanjp

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Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2011, 02:18:29 PM »
1ls are not tested on legal writing skills.

You think I'm nuts? LOL.

They are tested on well they understand the material when given a different set of fact patterns.  Making sure all the elements are met or not met.  IRAC with detail. 

This is accurate.

If you think you have to write like you are some judge in 1800 England

Who said anything of the sort? I said, "It's not just an enhanced vocabulary: it's analysis." Professors may give you a pass on a certain measure of misspellings when you're writing against the clock, but writing in IRAC format is writing like a judge. The "legal voice" of which I spoke is in the mind. It's a sensitivity, a capacity for proper analysis of a fact pattern that begins to develop as you become increasingly familiar with case law. You start to hear the attorney in your head. As Justanothersucker suggested, A/B papers are not written by Jersey Shore writers. It has little to do with using 25-cent words, although if your vocabulary doesn't enlarge noticeably after even a mere month of law school, then you aren't doing the reading.

your nuts guy.

You're my nuts guy?



Duncanjp

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Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2011, 02:28:43 PM »
Good legal writing is usually learned through practice, not study.  Some people are naturals, but most people have to write briefs and pleadings over and over to improve. 
It's extremely easy as a 1L to get side-tracked by pursuits and strategies that will not actually help you prepare for the final exam. 

Try to listen and read and all that good stuff.  Read a commercial outline or hornbook if you are stumped... but in your extra time: get an old outline for the class and go over it many many times along with taking notes on the outline during class, get any practice tests you can get your hands on and write out your answers.  The best way to succeed on a law school exam is to prepare specifically for a law school exam, rather than trying to be a universal legal scholar.

Absolutely correct. There is no question that the best way to succeed on exams is to practice writing exams, especially old exams from the same professor. I aced my finals in May, and I did it by spending 14 hours a day for the three or four days just prior to each exam doing nothing but writing practice exam after practice exam.

Cher1300

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Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2011, 01:04:00 PM »
So far so good, but it's really hard to tell until exam time comes.  I'm going at night, and it's been helpful for me to keep a schedule for studying.  As tired as I might get, I'll put on a pot of coffee and just sit and do it.  There are people in my class who don't brief and are taking the short cuts people suggest, but I'm avoiding all of that.  Frankly because I don't care if someone "never briefed a single case."  If they don't have to then good for them.   I, however, prefer to brief because it helps me understand the law and cases a bit better since I'm writing it in my own words.   I've been out of school for a long time, so I don't want to mess with short cuts.
I try to work on my outline once a week.  The practice exams have also been helpful.  I just started doing them, but think it's an invaluable way to study for your classes.  Our professors are really good about going over our practice tests during office hours also - so the feedback is important.  Lastly, I am using the law in a flash cards and find those to be a nice break from regular studying. 
If I can keep this up, I'm hoping it will pay off.  A's will be difficult on a C curve, but I want to at least be comfortable taking my exams when they come around.     

jack24

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Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2011, 03:14:40 PM »
I really hope this works for you.   Do what you are comfortable with and work hard, but just recognize that everyone else is probably doing something similar, so you'll only get better grades than them if you have more gifted legal mind.   What I have tried to describe in this thread is not a short-cut.  I'm not saying that if you do _________ you'll have a ton of free time to follow your dreams and party.  I'm simply suggesting that, in my case, if I would have spent all the time I wasted reading cases and briefing during 1L analyzing outlines and practice tests, I would have done a lot better.

1L I did almost exactly what you are doing.  I read every case, I took notes, I analyzed the notes and I made my own outlines.  I used flashcards and supplements to give me an edge.  I got a 3.09 on a 2.8 curve.

2L I read for about half the classes, but I started to use other outlines.  I was on law review and doing moot court and had a new baby so things were tough.  But I got a 3.4 on a 3.0 curve.

3L I still took tough classes with a lot of 2Ls, but I concentrated my time on old outlines, practice tests, and my writing quality.  3.92 on a 3.1 curve.


I'm not saying my method (or short-cut or whatever) will work for you..  But I do think that if you spend 25% of your study time reading and briefing cases you are probably wasting a lot of time.  Some students find reading and briefing and discussing to be difficult but comfortable.  They think they are working hard because they are putting in the time, but they aren't actually preparing for the test at all.   Doing well on a law school final requires the ability to take a sentence from each one of those cases (rules) and apply those rules to the fact-pattern they provide.   
Yes, each case essentially represents a court applying a list of rules to a fact pattern, and it's helpful to understand that process.. But reading and briefing cases is the slowest way to understand.


So far so good, but it's really hard to tell until exam time comes.  I'm going at night, and it's been helpful for me to keep a schedule for studying.  As tired as I might get, I'll put on a pot of coffee and just sit and do it.  There are people in my class who don't brief and are taking the short cuts people suggest, but I'm avoiding all of that.  Frankly because I don't care if someone "never briefed a single case."  If they don't have to then good for them.   I, however, prefer to brief because it helps me understand the law and cases a bit better since I'm writing it in my own words.   I've been out of school for a long time, so I don't want to mess with short cuts.
I try to work on my outline once a week.  The practice exams have also been helpful.  I just started doing them, but think it's an invaluable way to study for your classes.  Our professors are really good about going over our practice tests during office hours also - so the feedback is important.  Lastly, I am using the law in a flash cards and find those to be a nice break from regular studying. 
If I can keep this up, I'm hoping it will pay off.  A's will be difficult on a C curve, but I want to at least be comfortable taking my exams when they come around.   

Hamilton

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Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2011, 03:29:29 PM »
IMO Jack is right.  You can get everything you need by spending quality time with a canned brief, study guide, and perhaps scanning the case - will save 30% to 50% time reading and "learning."  Spend the time you saved taking practice tests and applying the concepts.  Do you really need to read an 8 page case to effectively learn and understand the concept of "open and obvious" in premises liability?  The "black letter" series were excellent briefs for getting to the heart of things.

Duncanjp

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Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2011, 03:36:07 PM »
IMO Jack is right.  You can get everything you need by spending quality time with a canned brief, study guide, and perhaps scanning the case - will save 30% to 50% time reading and "learning."  Spend the time you saved taking practice tests and applying the concepts.  Do you really need to read an 8 page case to effectively learn and understand the concept of "open and obvious" in premises liability?  The "black letter" series were excellent briefs for getting to the heart of things.

We've had this discussion before, but I always enjoy advocating for the other side. Sick in the head, perhaps. The platitudinous obvious, of course, is to do what works for you. With 1L under my belt, I can't deny that I don't feel the need to read every word of every case anymore. This is especially true on those eight-page cases where you take away a single rule of law that can be succinctly expressed in about eight words. In hindsight, some of that reading is probably a waste of time, particularly if your time needs to be budgeted. A canned brief can cut to the chase - and I made good use of canned briefs as a 1L, especially in contracts. (I don't want to intimate that I would never use a canned brief.) However, I was a much greener student last year than I am this year. Today, my case reading consists almost exclusively of speed reading through the facts and fluff to find that one-sentence rule of law or the two-pronged test that I'm going to need to apply to fact patterns on exams. But are most 1Ls equipped to assume such an abbreviated approach right from the start without having read any significant number of cases? Maybe, maybe not. It's a value judgment, granted. It's also a gamble. Learning to glean relevant information quickly from elaborate fact patterns takes practice. Canned briefs don't teach you how to brief. And being able to brief a fact pattern thoroughly is fundamental to writing a good paper. I have no regrets at all that I read all of the cases last year. Almost half of my 1L class didn't make it to 2L, and while the reasons are diverse, I don't know any 2Ls next to me who shortchanged the reading last year. After reading so many cases, you eventually arrive at a point where you can zip through them at speed and find the point that you need to take from it without having to read every single word comprehensively. Some people get there faster than others. But I would only caution 1Ls, especially early in the game, not to assume that they're smarter than the law school process. If reading the cases were not important to a well-rounded understanding of how to apply the law, then worthwhile law schools would not assign them to be read in the first place.

Parting thought. When called upon to brief cases in class, those who didn't survive 1L, together with those who placed in the bottom of the class, invariably just started reading the case aloud. And they'd read every freakin' bloody word until the professor mercifully stopped them. I used to marvel at this. God, I'd sit there squirming in silent agony at these high school reading-out-loud voices "briefing" the given case, and all I could think was, "Future attorney? Good luck." The students who placed at the top of the class never did that, including the book-briefers, like myself. I didn't have time to write out a formal brief for every case, although I tried to write at least one of my own for each class. Yet even by just book-briefing, a quick glance  at the facts and the issue you've scrawled in the margin and you'd say, "Oh yeah, I remember this one. The guy did this and that. The issue was whether... The rule was... Overturned." 1, 2, 3. It's easy to tell when somebody has read the case at least once, and the whole class respects that person a lot more than the plain readers. However, the litmus test is, who did better on the exams? This becomes self-evident. Ultimately, the students who discipline themselves to do most or all of the reading will also discipline themselves to do the necessary practice tests and further, they'll get more mileage from every practice test they write than will those who skirt the reading.

justanothersucker

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Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2011, 05:28:19 PM »
that all works untill the prof ask you specific details on the case, you don't know them, look like an idiot, it happens a few more times in a row, get sent to the dean, get kicked out..........stuff like that.

You can pass your tests and do your work at the same time too. It's crazy I know.

Hamilton

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Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« Reply #17 on: October 06, 2011, 08:09:44 AM »
I would bet dollars to donuts that has never happened.

that all works untill the prof ask you specific details on the case, you don't know them, look like an idiot, it happens a few more times in a row, get sent to the dean, get kicked out..........stuff like that.

You can pass your tests and do your work at the same time too. It's crazy I know.

jack24

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Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2011, 11:33:12 AM »
that all works untill the prof ask you specific details on the case, you don't know them, look like an idiot, it happens a few more times in a row, get sent to the dean, get kicked out..........stuff like that.

You can pass your tests and do your work at the same time too. It's crazy I know.

You are just full of sass.

You may be fully aware of this, but law school is almost always graded on a hard bell curve.  My school curved to a 2.8-3.0.  The result was that after my 1L year a 3.5 was in the top 12%, a 3.1 was ranked 33%, and a 3.0 was ranked 48%.  More than 50% of the class was between a 2.8 and 3.1. 
That 50% chunk was made up of a lot of hard workers who read and briefed and "passed" their tests.   

You may be able to rely on raw intelligence, incredible memory, or a unique and persuasive writing style to give you an advantage, but its far more likely that those people who really excel in law school know how to target the truly important information and present it to the professor. 

My argument here is not that people should abandon doing their homework, but I do think that it is unnecessary and wasteful (at least after week 3) to spend more than 30 minutes per one hour of class reading your book.  My recommendation to most 1Ls would be to cap your weekly book and case reading time to 8 hours.

15 hours in class, 8 hours of reading the book, 4 hours of reading your class notes, 8 hours of studying hornbooks, supplements, and prior class outlines (preferably before class time starts) and then about an hour a day either writing out your own outlines or doing practice tests and flash cards.


That's 40 hours a week of SOLID work.  For most law students, that would take about 50-60 hours a week to accomplish since most people can't pull a true 9-5 every day without getting distracted and taking breaks.

justanothersucker

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Re: 1Ls: How are you doing after the first month+?
« Reply #19 on: October 07, 2011, 12:01:21 PM »
If you say so guys. Plenty of Profs have been "I don't care who fails" and let you check facebook all day. Most of mine though actually have asked specific details of each case and made students stand up in front of the class while doing it. They claim they learned it in some archaic movie called the "paper chase" (which I hear had hippies crying or some BS in it)

Socratic method. What do you THINK it means?