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Author Topic: 1L Advice  (Read 34956 times)

AZWildcat

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1L Advice
« on: April 20, 2006, 01:43:59 PM »
I remember being in your shoes this time last year, and I received a lot of good advice from 1Ls, so I thought I'd do a little payback.  Here are my "hints."

Summer Reading:  Do nothing!  You're more likely to learn bad habits trying to be the 0L gunner over the summer.  If you must read, take a look at how courts are structured.  Many people in my class had no idea how the trial/appellate level system worked, and it's important when you're looking for binding vs persuasive authority.  If you're unclear of how they work and/or the hierarchy, read about it because it will not be covered in class. 

Class notes/reading is NOT enough:  Most of you already know this from being on this board, but most of your classmates will not.  One of the most annoying things in law school is how professors love to hide the ball and then expect you to play.  One of the ways to "discover the ball" is through commercial outlines, hornbooks, etc.  I'm partial to Examples and Explanations.  It will take your fellow students a semester to learn this; use it to your advantage!

Study for exams like they're a math test:  Most people approach law exams as though it's their poly sci final-- it's not!  You will be given a factual scenario that you have not seen and asked to apply legal premises to the facts.  This is much like math...  you know the general principles of how to differentiate/integrate/add/etc, but on the exam you'll see the problem in a form that you haven't worked with.  I prepared for my math tests with a formula sheet (which will be your law outline) and through practicing the problems!  I know it's cliche and seems obvious, but you must work hypotheticals in all parts of your class to get a firm grasp.  Nothing will focus you like having to explain the law.  It's all so clear when the professor is working through an issue in class, but, just like math, when it's you and the blank paper, things become more challenging.  You couldn't score well on math without working the problems... same thing here.

Legal writing is not for English majors:  The people with extensive writing backgrounds were crushed in legal writing.  Legal writing looks more like math (surprising?) than English.  They will focus on sharp, condensed sentences.  For an excellent example of modern day legal writing, look up some opinions by judge Easterbrook (7th Circuit court of appeals).  Do not read the opinion for the law, but for an idea of how legal writing should look.  Once you can rid yourself of the idea that you'll be writing verbose prose, the better you'll be.

Take LEEWS:  I can't stress it enough, but that helped me to all As.  There is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat, and I'm sure there are other ways to writing exams which work, but this one is proven.  Buy it.

Half of your class is there because of their parents:  Shocking to learn, but many are there because of outside pressures.  They are not your competition and will not put up much of a fight.  This also tends to be true at the Harvards of the world as well.

Don't be a dickhead:  If someone asks you a question, answer it.  If someone asks which outline you like the best, tell them.  That doesn't mean you have to go around giving up "secrets", but if you're asked a pointed question, give a pointed answer.  It'll serve you much better in the long run.

Do not join anything your first year:  People will disagree with me on this, but you have three years to pad your resume; how about you start by padding it with As?  There's plenty of time for this stuff, but none of that time will be found in your first year.  Get the grades!!

I hope this helps, and I'll post more as it comes to me. :)
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cesco

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Re: 1L Advice
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2006, 01:53:09 PM »
Thx...always helpful to hear feedback and opinions of 1Ls.

Most of your advice (other than the summer reading part) seems to mirror PLS2.  The guy is rough around the edges but seems to have some good feedback on study habits.
He highly recommends LEEWS as well.

thanks for taking the time to provide your hints!
2L

dbgirl

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Re: 1L Advice
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2006, 01:54:35 PM »
I remember being in your shoes this time last year, and I received a lot of good advice from 1Ls, so I thought I'd do a little payback.  Here are my "hints."

Summer Reading:  Do nothing!  You're more likely to learn bad habits trying to be the 0L gunner over the summer.  If you must read, take a look at how courts are structured.  Many people in my class had no idea how the trial/appellate level system worked, and it's important when you're looking for binding vs persuasive authority.  If you're unclear of how they work and/or the hierarchy, read about it because it will not be covered in class. 

Class notes/reading is NOT enough:  Most of you already know this from being on this board, but most of your classmates will not.  One of the most annoying things in law school is how professors love to hide the ball and then expect you to play.  One of the ways to "discover the ball" is through commercial outlines, hornbooks, etc.  I'm partial to Examples and Explanations.  It will take your fellow students a semester to learn this; use it to your advantage!

Study for exams like they're a math test:  Most people approach law exams as though it's their poly sci final-- it's not!  You will be given a factual scenario that you have not seen and asked to apply legal premises to the facts.  This is much like math...  you know the general principles of how to differentiate, but on the exam you'll see the problem in a form that you haven't worked with.  I prepared for my math tests with a formula sheet (which will be your law outline) and through practicing the problems!  I know it's cliche and seems obvious, but you must work hypotheticals in all parts of your class to get a firm grasp.  Nothing will focus you like having to explain the law.  It's all so clear when the professor is working through an issue in class, but, just like math, when it's you and the blank paper, things become more challenging.  You couldn't score well on math without working the problems... same thing here.

Legal writing is not for English majors:  The people with extensive writing backgrounds were crushed in legal writing.  Legal writing looks more like math (surprising?) than English.  They will focus on sharp, condensed sentences.  For an excellent example of modern day legal writing, look up some opinions by judge Easterbrook (7th Circuit court of appeals).  Do not read the opinion for the law, but for an idea of how legal writing should look.  Once you can rid yourself of the idea that you'll be writing verbose prose, the better you'll be.

Take LEEWS:  I can't stress it enough, but that helped me to all As.  There is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat, and I'm sure there are other ways to writing exams which work, but this one is proven.  Buy it.

Half of your class is there because of their parents:  Shocking to learn, but many are there because of outside pressures.  They are not your competition and will not put up much of a fight.  This also tends to be true at the Havards of the world as well.

Don't be a dickhead:  If someone asks you a question, answer it.  If someone asks which outline you like the best, tell them.  That doesn't mean you have to go around giving up "secrets", but if you're asked a pointed question, give a pointed answer.  It'll serve you much better in the long run.

Do not join anything your first year:  People will disagree with me on this, but you have three years to pad your resume; how about you start by padding it with As?  There's plenty of time for this stuff, but none of that time will be found in your first year.  Get the grades!!

I hope this helps, and I'll post more as it comes to me. :)

I agree with most of this ... except the part about people who won't put up much of a fight. I only know a handful of people who are trying to just get by. Most of the people I know want As.
Also, I wish I had known about/could afford Leews last semester.
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lululu

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Re: 1L Advice
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2006, 01:57:04 PM »
This is great AZW -- I will read this again as the fall gets nearer.

Thanks!

asalie

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Re: 1L Advice
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2006, 02:25:34 PM »
thanks for the advice! do you recommend taking the LEEWS seminar or buying the CDs? Or are they roughly equal? thanks in advance!

pinkybella

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Re: 1L Advice
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2006, 02:28:00 PM »
thanks for the advice! do you recommend taking the LEEWS seminar or buying the CDs? Or are they roughly equal? thanks in advance!

I've heard the seminars are pointless. The CDs are better because you can listen to them over & over and whenever you'd like.

AZWildcat

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Re: 1L Advice
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2006, 02:55:07 PM »
Thx...always helpful to hear feedback and opinions of 1Ls.

Most of your advice (other than the summer reading part) seems to mirror PLS2.  The guy is rough around the edges but seems to have some good feedback on study habits.
He highly recommends LEEWS as well.

thanks for taking the time to provide your hints!

I didn't read PL2, so it's interesting that our advice is similar.  Thanks for your feedback!
USD 2L

AZWildcat

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Re: 1L Advice
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2006, 02:57:47 PM »
I agree with most of this ... except the part about people who won't put up much of a fight. I only know a handful of people who are trying to just get by. Most of the people I know want As.
Also, I wish I had known about/could afford Leews last semester.

I would encourage you to speak with your legal writing professor about this issue.  Most students will not confide in others that they don't care, aren't into it, or are just trying to "get by."  That's not the law school thing to do.  However, they will confide in prosessors.  When my lawyering skills professor told me that, it really opened my eyes.  Everyone wants As... difference being who will really try for them.  In law school, there is a *completely* different mindset between someone who gets a diploma and someone in the top 10%.  In my experience, only 30% is competing for the top 10%.

As far as the LEEWS price, you (we) spend tens of thousands on law school.  To not spend $100 seems silly to me.  In retrospect, I wish I would have spent more money in other places.  For instance, it would be sensible to spend $30,000 in LSAT prep work if it enabled you to get to where you wanted to go or paid for school.  Making a ~$100,000 investment and not finding $100 for a proven product is absurd.  Of course, not knowing about it is another issue. :)
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AZWildcat

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Re: 1L Advice
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2006, 03:01:51 PM »
thanks for the advice! do you recommend taking the LEEWS seminar or buying the CDs? Or are they roughly equal? thanks in advance!

I have a cousin who graduated NYLS and sent me the tapes.  I think the tapes/CDs are more valuable than the live since it is a little more in depth (by Miller's admission) and you can replay them.

The only serious problem I've found with LEEWS is it does not focus enough on policy question exam writing.  Thus far, 40% of my exam grades have been from policy-- that's a huge chunk.  Miller claims they rarely ever test policy, and never do on first years; that's not my experience!
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Erapitt

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Re: 1L Advice
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2006, 03:06:37 PM »
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