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Author Topic: 0L anxious about being a 1L.. any advice?  (Read 2300 times)

cvargas84

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0L anxious about being a 1L.. any advice?
« on: January 10, 2012, 02:38:48 PM »
I was admitted to all three law schools that I applied to, and I'm pretty sure where I will be going. I've started reading some of the 0L books (GTM, 1L of a Ride, etc..) and I'm freaking out a bit. I did fine in undergrad, but to be very honest, it wasn't outrageously difficult. (or even "very", if I am totally honest.) I know law school will be different. My worry is mainly getting on a study "system", one that will work for me and that will be effective. I am prepared to study a lot, but I'm worried that I won't know "how" to properly study in the beginning, and then I'll be trying not to sink by the end of the semester when exam time comes. I know this is probably premature, but can anyone tell me where I can find an idea of how to start my 1L year right? Most texts, posts, tell you to "outline", "take notes", "brief cases", but no one tells you exactly how to do it in the most effective way possible. Is there a prevalent method to 1L studying? a recommended method, or schedule of how much time to devote to each class and avoid time traps (excessive briefing that is unnecessary after covering the basic information that "is" necessary, etc..)?

Cher1300

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Re: 0L anxious about being a 1L.. any advice?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2012, 04:45:46 PM »
I just finished my first semester and felt the same way.  It does take a bit to figure out the best way to study, but it also depends on what your professors are looking for in your exams.  Really, that is probably the most difficult part.  Different professors are looking for different things on their exams.  I read a couple of books myself, but found the best thing to do was meet with the professors with practice exams and outlines.   To give you an idea, one professor was adamant about briefing and expected the holdings of specific cases on the exams, whereas, another just preferred we book brief and learn the black letter law.  4lawschools.com have commercial briefs you can look at to get an idea of how to brief and what to look for.   Really though, when I look at back at my briefs from the beginning of last semester and compare them to the briefs I did at the end, they were pretty awful.  You'll get a groove as time goes on, but be sure to do all your reading and really try and understand the cases, etc. even if you don't have time to brief them. 
People will tell you they went through a semester without briefing a single case, used commercial outlines etc., and got great grades.  You may be able to get away with it later, but don't risk it until you're absolutely sure you can understand the material.  Shortcuts are great, but I didn't use any help until I figured out how to do them on my own.   
I stuck to a strict schedule, i.e. do my Leagal Writing on Wednesday, Contracts on Saturday, etc.   I wouldn't stop studying until the work due for that week was done.  There really is no magic amount of time for each class, but you don't want to get behind on your reading!  Organize your time that way so you don't go crazy trying to figure out what you should do next.  One girl in my class got two weeks behind on her reading and was struggling like crazy to keep up and didn't understand any of the lectures.  Also I tried to keep my reading about one-to-two weeks ahead because there were other projects to do not listed on the syllabi.   Keep that in mind!
Othere than that, everyone learns differently.  I bought flash cards which are a great secondary source and a nice break from regular study, but found I learned the rules best by writing them out over and over again.   If you can find a good study partner that will help also.  In the beginning you'll need to figure out which students are the most serious.  It helps because they might have info on their outlines you missed and vice versa. 
Anyway, hope that helps.   Good luck!

cerealkiller

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Re: 0L anxious about being a 1L.. any advice?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2012, 09:12:11 PM »
First and foremost, relax! If you're starting classes in the fall, it's far too early to be sweating this stuff right now. Enjoy your break. Visit friends and family. Just relax.

Law school is hard but, let's face it, it's not rocket science. I think people make far too much out of the perceived intellectual intensity of law school. At the end of the day, it's all about reading and thinking about what you've read. Once you've mined the legal rule out of a particular case (or series of cases), you'll need to know the rule(s) for the exam where you will be asked to apply the rule(s) in a unique (and somewhat puzzling) issue-spotter exam question.

Here's my advice. Most certainly stay current with your class readings. As for class notes, there's no one-size-fits-all model. Every class and professor is different. Because most 1L courses utilize a heavy dose of Socratic method, you may not want to write down every utterance by your professor and classmates. More often than not (especially for the first few weeks of class), your classmates are wrong, or at best, only partially right. Thus rather than passively filling your computer with copious notes, you want to be actively listening and thinking through both the professors questions and the students answers. This is your first opportunity to attempt "thinking like a lawyer."

Where most 1Ls go wrong in the first few weeks of class (or, for some, months), in my opinion, is they harbor the belief that the professor is going to teach them the law. No, no, no. You, my friend, will teach yourself the law. This notion evades some students longer than others. They leave each class with random notes and more confused than ever. Some will even become angry at the professor for not being a better teacher.  What they fail to understand is that the function of class is not to teach you law but merely demonstrate how you may or may not apply the rule(s) to particular factual situations. The same rule(s) you should have distilled from your assigned readings for class.

As for briefing cases, all you need to know is you should do it. I believe most schools cover this topic in student orientation. However, even if it is discussed in orientation, the required format still may change from professor to professor. If your professors don't specify what they want, you'll want to development something that works insofar as it allows you to answer any questions your professor may ask during class--as well as possible inclusion into your final outline.

Prawo Pracy

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Re: 0L anxious about being a 1L.. any advice?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2012, 08:42:58 PM »
Yes. Regarding essay exams, remember that law professors are human, and like all humans they will be flattered and thrilled if you spit back at them what they said in class. Obviously essay exams will require some independent thought, but carefully listening to your professor, note taking and obsessively re-reading your notes throughout the semester will all but guarantee that you'll spot and analyze the issues the way the professor wants you to. (Note: I purposefully did not include conclude in the previous sentence, because, grade-wise, the ultimate conclusion of an essay question tends to be the least important aspect of an essay question answer. Think about it as a game. You're a hunter stalking your prey; make some hunting calls (i.e., mimic the sound your prey makes). Happy hunting. Also, from my experience, professors rightfully don't expect you to know any material that is not assigned or discussed in class. (I'm a recent grad. It took me my entire first and midway through my second semester to figure all this out.)
I realize their is a strong tendency / inclination to glamorize law school. (Perhaps popkultur is to blame.) Do not fall into that trap. Law school is just like any other academic pursuit; unique in their own particular ways.
AASoch-ski

lawschoolsurvival

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Re: 0L anxious about being a 1L.. any advice?
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2012, 02:02:30 PM »
Hello CVargas,

I know how you feel. Once I finally "Got it", I realized how little guidance i had actually received as a 1L and decided to do something about it.

For the last two months I have been working on a website (www.lawschoolsurvival.org) and have added dozens of articles covering subjects such as "how to outline" and "how to brief cases". The site is FAR from complete, but most of what I have published thus far is applicable to 0L and 1Ls.

It is free, funded only by ad clicks. Enjoy.
www.LawSchoolSurvival.org  - Tips, tricks, and strategies for surviving law school and the bar exam.

Thane Messinger

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Re: 0L anxious about being a 1L.. any advice?
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2012, 03:24:05 AM »
I was admitted to all three law schools that I applied to, and I'm pretty sure where I will be going. I've started reading some of the 0L books (GTM, 1L of a Ride, etc..) and I'm freaking out a bit. I did fine in undergrad, but to be very honest, it wasn't outrageously difficult. (or even "very", if I am totally honest.) I know law school will be different. My worry is mainly getting on a study "system", one that will work for me and that will be effective. I am prepared to study a lot, but I'm worried that I won't know "how" to properly study in the beginning, and then I'll be trying not to sink by the end of the semester when exam time comes. I know this is probably premature, but can anyone tell me where I can find an idea of how to start my 1L year right? Most texts, posts, tell you to "outline", "take notes", "brief cases", but no one tells you exactly how to do it in the most effective way possible. Is there a prevalent method to 1L studying? a recommended method, or schedule of how much time to devote to each class and avoid time traps (excessive briefing that is unnecessary after covering the basic information that "is" necessary, etc..)?

Aloha, cvargas -

In the interest of kicking things up a bit, I disagree with much of the conventional wisdom.  Now *is* the time to worry.  Not "worry" in a useless, fretful way, but worry in a focused, careful, directed way.  It is not the time to "relax"; such a word is not heard in halls of law.  For reasons I spell out, this is a recipe for disaster (and not just because of preparation, which is often done poorly in any event).

It would be easy to recommend my own book, of course, but I would suggest a few others, including Hibbard's Law School Fast Track and Professor X's Law School Undercover.  Hibbard focuses on achievable habits; X focuses on what profs are really thinking.  Both are quite helpful.

Best of luck!

Thane.

cerealkiller

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Re: 0L anxious about being a 1L.. any advice?
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2012, 10:10:41 PM »
Well, it's obvious that a virtual cottage industry has grown up around legal education which profits handsomely off the fears and uncertainties of countless law students. Yes, cvargas, you could spend a small fortune and the next 7 months locked in your room consuming 0L books until you turn blue in the face. But the truth of the matter is these books will only nominally improve performance, at best. They're certainly not going to magically pour more brain matter into your skull.

Law school exams are speed tests. Typing tests to be more accurate. The faster you type, the more issues you can analyze, and the more issues you can analyze, the more points you're likely to get.

If you really want to excel on law school exams, put down the 0L books and work on your typing speed and accuracy. Ideally, you should be above 60 wpm and as close to 100 wpm as possible.

Thane Messinger

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Re: 0L anxious about being a 1L.. any advice?
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2012, 12:37:52 AM »
Well, it's obvious that a virtual cottage industry has grown up around legal education which profits handsomely off the fears and uncertainties of countless law students. Yes, cvargas, you could spend a small fortune and the next 7 months locked in your room consuming 0L books until you turn blue in the face. But the truth of the matter is these books will only nominally improve performance, at best. They're certainly not going to magically pour more brain matter into your skull.

Law school exams are speed tests. Typing tests to be more accurate. The faster you type, the more issues you can analyze, and the more issues you can analyze, the more points you're likely to get.

If you really want to excel on law school exams, put down the 0L books and work on your typing speed and accuracy. Ideally, you should be above 60 wpm and as close to 100 wpm as possible.


True, but not really the point.  This is like saying that penmanship will help you win that promotion.  Actually it will, but it's hardly determinative, and there are lots of people with bad writing who get promoted.  The "A" law exam is not necessarily the one spit out at a mile a minute.  It's almost certainly not the one written slowly, but the two extremes, while relevant, are not determinative.  Yes, one ought to learn to type well, and quickly, and the time to do so is before law school.  But that's hardly a recipe for success.

It's also a straw man to say that prelaw books will not teach one the law.  Well, duh.  That's not what these books are there to do.  What they are there to do is to alert one to various aspects of the experience one is about to, well, experience, and to adjust one's attitude accordingly.  A "don't worry, be happy" attitude is not the attitude of the "A" student (or even of the "B" student).  And it's a false dichotomy to say that one either turns blue in the face reading/wasting time on too many prep books or rises against the capitalist cottage industry surrounding law school.  (As an aside, it ought to be notable that there IS such a cottage industry, leading to the question "I wonder why?"  Enough is at stake, and the results so seemingly random, that a smart student at least asks the questions of whether the common wisdom is in fact all that wise.  It certainly is common.)

If anyone is interested, I've arranged to have my second book available, for free.  There's a discussion on pages 140-45 and 188-91 on just this topic.  The free book is available to Amazon Prime members, who can borrow one book at a time, for whatever duration they wish (I think).  Amazon offers a special deal to students for Prime membership; about half off. 

Thane.

cvargas84

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Re: 0L anxious about being a 1L.. any advice?
« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2012, 08:54:38 PM »
Thanks, everyone, for your input.

Mr. Messinger- I don't know if you remember me, but you helped me out quite a bit last year when I was preparing to take the LSAT and researching the law school process. You even mailed me a copy of two of your books for free. Thank you SO much. I read them both and found them to be very helpful.




Thane Messinger

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Re: 0L anxious about being a 1L.. any advice?
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2012, 11:49:18 PM »
Thanks, everyone, for your input.

Mr. Messinger- I don't know if you remember me, but you helped me out quite a bit last year when I was preparing to take the LSAT and researching the law school process. You even mailed me a copy of two of your books for free. Thank you SO much. I read them both and found them to be very helpful.

Aloha -

I do indeed remember, and am glad you found them helpful.  Do look at the variety of materials available and plot a careful course for the upcoming journey.  Not too much; not too little.

Go get 'em! 

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