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Author Topic: Time Saving Advice for Law Students  (Read 4531 times)

GobBluthJD

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Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« on: August 17, 2012, 08:29:17 AM »
Hey all,

This forum helped me out a lot back in my pre-law school days (seems so long ago now). I'm currently in my 2nd year of being an attorney, so I thought I'd share a few tips I picked up in law school to help some of those 1L jitters.

(1) Stop prepping for class, start prepping for the final.

Starting from BEFORE THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS, your only job in your big doctrinal classes (contracts, torts, civ pro, etc) is to prep for the final. Class participation means @#!*-all. Your grade solely depends, for almost all professors, on your final exam. That means stop wasting time with the casebook. I got Aís in Civ Pro, Con Law, Election Law and a few others literally without even buying the casebook.
Before class starts, buy a good hornbook for the subject ó I found that getting the E&E and the LexisNexis Q&A books for each subject gave a good mix of content and practice questions. Work your way through those books for each subject over the first half of the semester. When you get to the halfway point in the semester, switch to taking final exams. You should be able to get practice exams from 2Lís and 3Lís or from the school itself.

THE SINGLE BIGGEST MISTAKE students make in law school is sinking thousands of hours reading and briefing cases in preparation for class, all of which achieves NOTHING for your grade on the final. Taking final exams is an art form that you have to start prepping for on Day 1. All of your classmates will start shitting bricks a week before finals when they realize all the work they spent through the semester means nothing for the final exam.

(2) Stop wasting class time, make class your prep time

If you get called on in class, just ask to pass. Itís embarrassing and the professor may give you *&^%, but just let it roll off you. Donít waste class time f-ing around on facebook or kissing the professorís ass. Neither of these activities helps your performance on the final exam. Use class time to work through the E&E.

If you sit in the back of your big doctrinal classes youíll see something like 40% of your classmates on facebook, another 40% screwing around doing something else, and maybe 20% actually taking notes. None of these activities is a useful way to spend your time.

Open up your laptop lid just so you look like everyone else. Then open up your book of practice questions (E&E or Q&A or whatever) and start working your way through them. I would usually be working through the E&E for whatever class I was currently sitting in, so that it at least looked like I was doing something relevant.
Thatís it.

Those two things are all you need.

Spend ALL of your ďclassworkĒ time in prepping for the final, and spend ALL of your class time prepping for the final.

Now there are as many different ways to succeed in law school as there are law students, but these two pieces of advice are based off of the mistakes I saw all my classmates making, and what worked for me.

Anecdotes are not data, but these two things worked tremendously well for me. I graduated with High Honors, got Order of the Coif, all that happy crap. And I did it while working ~30-35 hrs/wk (in flagrant violation of school rules) and happily maintaining my relationship with my lovely lady.

Because I used class time as my study time, I was able to spend 8:30-4:30 M-F at the law school every week, and never bring a single book home. It was less stressful than any job Iíd ever had.

Law school can be fun. It can be easy. And you can succeed. Just stop wasting your time in class, and start prepping for your finals from day 1 of the semester.

jack24

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Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2012, 05:18:45 PM »
This is credited.

RobWreck

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Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2012, 12:55:16 PM »
I would summarize the following points from the original poster...

1) Don't do the work that the professors and the legal education institution, whose expertise you're paying tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars for, feel you should to obtain a quality legal education. (THE SINGLE BIGGEST MISTAKE students make in law school is sinking thousands of hours reading and briefing cases in preparation for class)

2) Flagrantly disregard rules instituted by the school and the accrediting board of law schools ( I did it while working ~30-35 hrs/wk (in flagrant violation of school rules)) (See 304(f) http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/misc/legal_education/Standards/2012_standards_chapter_3.authcheckdam.pdf)

The poster states that he is currently in his 2nd year as an attorney and offers statements indicating a highly successful law school career ("graduated with High Honors, got Order of the Coif"). Although his law school is not identified, OP's profile shows a location of Miami. Although certainly not the only possibility, University of Miami is an Order of the Coif member school.

He has no other posts, although acknowledges that this forum helped him alot in his pre-law days. His profile indicates that he only joined LSD yesterday. His sig file is a link to a rather detailed lawyer/law student website, but there is no readily available information identifying the owner/author of said website.

Taken all together and contrasted with my law school experience, I would not credit his response as being suitable for most potential law students. His post suggests that shortcuts and disregarding rules is a way to a successful legal career. It is a method that does work for some. Conversely, some that follow that method grace the disciplinary review pages of my local bar association's newsletter. Relying on not getting caught and exclusively using commercial supplements rather than learning to synthesize the material yourself may have worked for the OP but I question whether the majority of other law students would be satisfied with the results.

JMHO
St. John's University School of Law '11
Part-time PM Division
Admitted in NY

jack24

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Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2012, 10:52:44 AM »
I would summarize the following points from the original poster...

1) Don't do the work that the professors and the legal education institution, whose expertise you're paying tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars for, feel you should to obtain a quality legal education. (THE SINGLE BIGGEST MISTAKE students make in law school is sinking thousands of hours reading and briefing cases in preparation for class)


Rob, I get your beef with working more than the rules allow, but this statement?  That's crazy.   You talk like those people who say commercial outlines are bad (a lot of those people were my professors.)

Almost nobody pays all that money for "expertise."  People pay that money to get a degree and a chance to sit for a bar exam.
I could go on and on about the subject of "quality legal education" especially how law school relates to bar prep and practicing law in the real world, but I'll save that for later.

I will provide one example: The erie doctrine.   Yeah, that stupid doctrine that almost nobody ever deals with.  Students all over the country spend hours and hours and hours on that crap, and it's useless for 99.9 percent of lawyers.  Most people would just have to learn it again, should the question pop up. 

Shoot, here are a couple more.  Miranda v. Arizona and Roe v. Wade.  Let's set aside the fact that Roe isn't really controlling anymore.  Roe and Miranda are huge cases of massive importance, but there little reason read every page of those cases.  Particularly Miranda.   Law professors are academics.  They desperately try to make their professional programs into research programs so they can feel more like Ph.Ds.  My 1L contracts professor spent an entire semester writing a law review article on the development of the law in the wild west. (I edited the piece of crap).    His contracts class was so full of legal history that we never really got into any examples of common contract problems.  Sure, he covered farrow cows, ambiguously named ships, and 19th century advertising offers, but he openly despised training students to become contract lawyers.  His statement (I'm paraphrasing) was, "I'm here to teach the law, not how to be a lawyer.  Everyone knows you have to learn on the job.  Law school's purpose is to teach you how to be a legal scholar, not a legal practitioner."

RobWreck

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Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2012, 01:20:29 PM »
You won't get any argument out of me about the vast differences between law school, sitting for the bar and the actual practice of law. I guess I just fall more into the law school = legal education camp, rather than the law school = career training belief.
St. John's University School of Law '11
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jack24

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Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2012, 06:34:58 PM »
You won't get any argument out of me about the vast differences between law school, sitting for the bar and the actual practice of law. I guess I just fall more into the law school = legal education camp, rather than the law school = career training belief.

That's fine, but it sucks that a practitioners' group like the ABA and state bars would require three years of legal education unless those years were necessary.   I'm fine with 1L, and 2L really depends on what type of law you want to do, but 3L is a joke for pretty much everyone.  I did law review, moot court, and worked part time and I had a ton of time to mess around.

legend

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Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2012, 07:43:53 PM »
I will say law school and any educational experience is what you make of it. Many people at my school complained about 3L and the pointlessness of it, but I accomplished a lot during that year I participated in two mock trial competitions, took some great writing courses which lead to me having solid writing samples, had two great internships, and developed solid relationships with professors. If you sit in the back of the class and just want to get your degree then 3L is a waste of time, but it is the system and you might as well make use of it while your in the law school bubble.

Furthermore, I don't think having law school go on for the three years is the only arbitrary possibly unnecessary institutional setup in the professional world and you might as well make the most of it.

As for the original post I would not recommend not doing the reading and relying solely on commercial outlines. Plenty of people at my school spent more time trying to find shortcuts than they did studying and it didn't turn out well for them. I went to class everyday, read every page assigned, and briefed every case 1L. I did not buy or look at single commercial outline.  This was lot of work, but not unbearable and since I was paying a good deal of money to be there and had nothing else to do I feel it was a good use of time. I finished near the top of my class first year and would recommend following the professors instructions. The simple reasons for this is that often the professor will have their own spin on the law and they might cover something not in the commercial outlines. 1L's will learn are a lot of subjective opinions on the law and at the end of the day the professor at your school is writing their own exam and you need to read into what they want.

This is no different from practice where you need to know what each judge wants. Not every judge has the same opinion and one argument might work with Judge X but not Judge Y. Learning to read into a person's opinions and what they want is very helpful in the practice of law IMHO.

However, realize that everyone posting on this board or others is nothing more than an anonymous internet poster and nobody can know what the best system is for you. People have different learning styles and expectations so know what you want. Good luck to all the starting 1Ls

RobWreck

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Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2012, 08:43:27 AM »
You won't get any argument out of me about the vast differences between law school, sitting for the bar and the actual practice of law. I guess I just fall more into the law school = legal education camp, rather than the law school = career training belief.

That's fine, but it sucks that a practitioners' group like the ABA and state bars would require three years of legal education unless those years were necessary.   I'm fine with 1L, and 2L really depends on what type of law you want to do, but 3L is a joke for pretty much everyone.  I did law review, moot court, and worked part time and I had a ton of time to mess around.

Don't most states have an alternative route for eligibility to sit for the bar exam? NY does - a combination of law school and real law office experience. My thought is that if you're going to be in law school, paying for law school, then "do" law school. If you're not there for the education, then why pay for those later years?

http://www.nybarexam.org/Rules/Rules.htm#520.4
520.4 Study of Law in Law Office (effective April 1, 2012)

(a) General. An applicant may qualify to take the New York State bar examination by submitting to the New York State Board of Law Examiners satisfactory proof that:

(1) the applicant commenced the study of law after the applicant's 18th birthday;

(2) the applicant successfully completed the prescribed requirements of the first year of full-time study in a first degree in law program at an approved law school as defined in section 520.3(b) of this Part, whether attending full-time or part-time, earning a minimum of 28 credit hours (the threshold period);

(3) at the conclusion of the threshold period the applicant was in good standing, not on academic probation, and was eligible to continue in the law school's degree program;

(4) the threshold period was completed within 36 months of the commencement of law school study; and

(5) the applicant thereafter studied law in a law office or offices located within New York State, under the supervision of one or more attorneys admitted to practice law in New York State, for such a period of time as, together with the credit permitted pursuant to this section for attendance in an approved law school, shall aggregate four years.

(b) Employment and instruction requirements. An applicant studying law in a law office or offices within New York State must be actually and continuously employed during the required period as a regular law clerk and student in a law office, under the direction and subject to the supervision of one or more attorneys admitted to practice law in New York State, and must be actually engaged in the practical work of such law office during normal business hours. In addition, the applicant must receive instruction from the supervising attorney or attorneys in those subjects that are customarily taught in approved law schools.

(c) Credit for attendance in approved law school. Credit shall be allowed toward the required four years of combined law school and law office study in accordance with subdivision (a) as follows:

(1) one full year (52 weeks) of credit shall be allowed for successfully completing the threshold period;

(2) following the threshold period, two weeks of credit shall be allowed for every additional successfully completed credit hour at an approved law school, but only if at the conclusion of the semester in which the credits were earned the applicant was in good academic standing, was not on academic probation and was eligible to continue in the schoolís degree program.

(d) Vacations. Vacations taken by the applicant in excess of one month in any year of law office study shall be deducted from the period of law office study for which credit shall be given, but if the applicant does not take a vacation there will not be an adjustment in the period of study required by this section.

(e) Certificate of commencement of law office study. It shall be the duty of the attorney or attorneys with whom a period of law office study is about to be commenced to obtain from, complete and file with, the Clerk of the Court of Appeals a certificate of commencement of clerkship, Appendix B-2, infra. At the time the certificate of commencement of clerkship is filed, the applicant shall provide the Court of Appeals with a copy of the determination of the State Board of Law Examiners of the credit to which the applicant is entitled under subdivision (c) of this section.

(f) Credit for law study in law office. Credit shall be given only for study in a law office or offices engaged in after the successful completion of the threshold period of law school study and after the filing of the certificate required by subdivision (e) of this section.

(g) Proof required. Compliance with the requirements of this section shall be proved to the satisfaction of the State Board of Law Examiners.


St. John's University School of Law '11
Part-time PM Division
Admitted in NY

jack24

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Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2012, 11:15:49 AM »
I will say law school and any educational experience is what you make of it. Many people at my school complained about 3L and the pointlessness of it, but I accomplished a lot during that year I participated in two mock trial competitions, took some great writing courses which lead to me having solid writing samples, had two great internships, and developed solid relationships with professors. If you sit in the back of the class and just want to get your degree then 3L is a waste of time, but it is the system and you might as well make use of it while your in the law school bubble.


Let me explain my third year of law school.   I only had 22 credits left, so I was able to work as many hours as I wanted and not violate the rules.
I wasn't an amazing student, but by 3L I had things figured out.

3L GPA was 3.8 on a 3.0 curve.
Law Review Editor (4 credits)
Moot Court (4 credits)
30 hours as student licensed intern (student practice rule)
Faculty research assistant (I helped a professor write a law review article for another school) (3 credits)
And I had 11 credits in class, split between two semesters.

Was that a waste?  Absolutely not.  I honed my skills during 3L, but I really didn't receive "instruction" in the same way I did as a 1L.  It's tough to swallow that heavy bill when you really aren't using the school resources in the same way.  I had a friend who managed to get 25 of is 90 credits from externships.  Yes, he paid $800 per credit to work for someone.

Also, while I understand that some people are uncomfortable with commercial outlines, I really think that, for most people, reading every case and taking vigorous notes after your first semester can be a massive waste of time.   I think analyzing citizens united by saying, "Hey, Corps are people dudes!"  is obviously deficient, but a full analysis of the entire case and dissent, and a study of the history of those justices and why they voted the way they did is not necessary or helpful to most attorneys.   There is a middle ground.