The whole point of the post is that you can't be specific, because the law school experience is not the same for everyone. That's contrary to popular opinion, which says that every law student is an overachiving psycho out for blood who finds the only way to reduce sress is devloping a drinking problem or drug addiction. Most people aren't like that. People's goals are very different. Study habits, learning types are all different as well.
how is that different from being a dictator?
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.
Four -- Do NOT fall into the trap of neglecting your core courses to spend additional time on your Lawyering Skills/Legal Research and Writing Pass/Fail course. At most schools, a "Honors" or "High Pass" grade offers no boost to your gpa or class rank. Only 5% get a Low Pass or Fail, and with ANY sort of effort and by turning the assignments in on time, you won't fall here. There are some, including your skills professor, who will tell you that this class is SO important and blah blah blah...they are LYING to you. It means nothing. Ask an employer the difference on a transcript between someone who has three As and a Pass vs someone who has Bs and a High Pass. Who gets the job? You get three guesses and the first two don't count. The class sucks and means nothing in the long term. Focus on the classes that will lead to class rank and future employment.
Two -- pay attention in class. Also seems obvious...but look around and watch in amazement as your classmates watch mlb.tv, shop ebay, surf the drudgereport, etc.