Law School Discussion

My take on the first year of law school

Re: My take on the first year of law school
« Reply #90 on: June 25, 2008, 07:09:46 AM »
I took practice exams, when available, but I didn't go overboard.  My focus was never on memorization (obviously, for open book tests), but instead, for grasping the issues and their interrelationships, and for practicing finding the information I might need during the test. 

Is it relatively typical of most 1L exams to be open book, or is this entirely dependent upon the prof? (which to some degree i suppose it is, just wondering if there is any "norm" worth taking note of)

pikey

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Re: My take on the first year of law school
« Reply #91 on: June 25, 2008, 07:17:18 AM »
I took practice exams, when available, but I didn't go overboard.  My focus was never on memorization (obviously, for open book tests), but instead, for grasping the issues and their interrelationships, and for practicing finding the information I might need during the test. 

Is it relatively typical of most 1L exams to be open book, or is this entirely dependent upon the prof? (which to some degree i suppose it is, just wondering if there is any "norm" worth taking note of)

It's entirely dependent on the prof, but the majority of mine were open book.  I only had one was closed book, and even that allowed us to use the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for part of the exam. However, the prof's definition of open book may vary greatly.  At my school exams can be unblocked, which means that you can access your computer, and blocked, which means that you can't.  Some will allow you to bring in anything you want and access anything on your computer, including internet access.  Some won't allow internet access, but will allow anything else (computer and books/supplements).  Some will be blocked, but will allow you to bring in a hard copy of anything.  Some will just allow an outline and textbook.

Make sure that you clarify with your teacher what their definition of open is, as this will affect your preparation.  For exams that were unblocked, I never printed my outline because I found it way easier to just ctrl-F.  For blocked exams I had to make sure that my outline or anything that I was bringing in was organized and tabbed in a useful way.

Re: My take on the first year of law school
« Reply #92 on: June 25, 2008, 10:32:47 AM »
I took practice exams, when available, but I didn't go overboard.  My focus was never on memorization (obviously, for open book tests), but instead, for grasping the issues and their interrelationships, and for practicing finding the information I might need during the test. 

Is it relatively typical of most 1L exams to be open book, or is this entirely dependent upon the prof? (which to some degree i suppose it is, just wondering if there is any "norm" worth taking note of)



It's entirely dependent on the prof, but the majority of mine were open book.  I only had one was closed book, and even that allowed us to use the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for part of the exam. However, the prof's definition of open book may vary greatly.  At my school exams can be unblocked, which means that you can access your computer, and blocked, which means that you can't.  Some will allow you to bring in anything you want and access anything on your computer, including internet access.  Some won't allow internet access, but will allow anything else (computer and books/supplements).  Some will be blocked, but will allow you to bring in a hard copy of anything.  Some will just allow an outline and textbook.

Make sure that you clarify with your teacher what their definition of open is, as this will affect your preparation.  For exams that were unblocked, I never printed my outline because I found it way easier to just ctrl-F.  For blocked exams I had to make sure that my outline or anything that I was bringing in was organized and tabbed in a useful way.

Thanks Pikey, good to know!

Intuition

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Re: My take on the first year of law school
« Reply #93 on: June 25, 2008, 10:56:11 AM »
The index feature in Word is helpful when outlining if you, like me, hate tabs.

Pearl

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Re: My take on the first year of law school
« Reply #94 on: June 25, 2008, 11:00:44 AM »
I took practice exams, when available, but I didn't go overboard.  My focus was never on memorization (obviously, for open book tests), but instead, for grasping the issues and their interrelationships, and for practicing finding the information I might need during the test. 

Is it relatively typical of most 1L exams to be open book, or is this entirely dependent upon the prof? (which to some degree i suppose it is, just wondering if there is any "norm" worth taking note of)

It's entirely dependent on the prof, but the majority of mine were open book.  I only had one was closed book, and even that allowed us to use the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for part of the exam. However, the prof's definition of open book may vary greatly.  At my school exams can be unblocked, which means that you can access your computer, and blocked, which means that you can't.  Some will allow you to bring in anything you want and access anything on your computer, including internet access.  Some won't allow internet access, but will allow anything else (computer and books/supplements).  Some will be blocked, but will allow you to bring in a hard copy of anything.  Some will just allow an outline and textbook.

Make sure that you clarify with your teacher what their definition of open is, as this will affect your preparation.  For exams that were unblocked, I never printed my outline because I found it way easier to just ctrl-F.  For blocked exams I had to make sure that my outline or anything that I was bringing in was organized and tabbed in a useful way.

Another reason to clarify what "open" means is that you don't want to be that guy that got hauled out of my property final for using a commercial outline when they weren't allowed. (And I'm convinced he didn't know, because he was sitting in the front row with the commercial outline in plain sight of the proctor).

Intuition

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Re: My take on the first year of law school
« Reply #95 on: June 25, 2008, 11:26:28 AM »
LMMFAO and I thought MY law school was filled with idiots.

Re: My take on the first year of law school
« Reply #96 on: June 25, 2008, 05:18:50 PM »


Is there more to cases than identifying the rule?


Yes, because there often is no "rule."  The next case in your book will often have extremely similar facts but a different outcome.  It's more important, in my opinion, to understand the reasoning each judge used.  And then on your exam if you have a similar hypothetical, you can talk about both of those approaches and why one is superior than the other in this case.

I totally agree with this, which is why I don't agree with TexasLawGuy that black letter outlines are useless.  I didn't use them very often, but sometimes you just need to clarify a confusing concept.  Not all casebooks are straightforward or easy to read, so it may be difficult to clarify the rule or figure out what's the majority rule based on a bunch of case excerpts.  Once again, yymv, but I don't think it's good advice to say that bll outlines are useless for everyone.

If you need to clarify a confusing concept, ask a classmate or your teacher. There is no need to spend money on a black letter outline that does nothing but over-simplify legal concepts that are supposed to be complex and relatively ambiguous. Not to mention, the outlines have way more information than you will ever need for an exam, and often (if not VERY often) distract a student from learning what was actually covered in the casebook and in class.

Having said that, I stand by what I said before: it really doesn't matter whether anyone uses or does not use a black letter outline, because nothing you do is going to put you at the top of your class if you don't belong there.

Re: My take on the first year of law school
« Reply #97 on: June 25, 2008, 05:27:17 PM »
What is "it"?  Judging from the posters on this site who did well, it seems to be a born analytical ability and effortless writing skills.

There has to be a way to define "it."  I am sick and tired of mystifying accounts of how top students climbed to LR on the back of sea turtles.  Earlier this year, I thoroughly read the 1L blog of a former Michigan student who ended up on SCOTUS.  Then I compared it to her peers' blogs via links.  It's obvious that she had 1) better writing skills 2) better analytical skills 3) more clarity and more ability to get to the point (regardless of subject).  Is it possible that she simply spent more time on her blog than others?  Yes.  That would weaken my argument.  But I'm rambling at this point, and this probably isn't an argument

Law school, I've been told, is a lot like free-style rap.  Some people, despite using a top-flight dictionary, still can't rhyme "zebra" with "libra" on the spot, while others rise to the top like Eminem in 8 Mile

Is there more to cases than identifying the rule?

(Thank you, by the way, mysterious Texas stranger.)

The two things you mention are probably the two most important factors, but I think it's something more of an amalgam of skills. You need logic, reasoning, and communicative abilities. However, you also need a large dose of creativity. You can't craft a well-reasoned argument until you've engaged your right hemisphere created the initial skeleton of the argument.

Also, I think there's a type of inner monologue that you need to have constantly running. You need the little voice in your head that plays back anything you've written (or any arguments you've made) so that you can "listen" to it. You need a knack for knowing how to structure your own thoughts so that they make sense to other people, which is often very difficult.

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Re: My take on the first year of law school
« Reply #98 on: June 25, 2008, 06:23:20 PM »
tag...and thanks everyone for the insight.

Cabra

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Re: My take on the first year of law school
« Reply #99 on: June 26, 2008, 12:06:32 AM »
I am sick and tired of mystifying accounts of how top students climbed to LR on the back of sea turtles.

 ;D

I'd love a link to that blog--I'm trying (and failing) to find some decent 1L blogs.

And I'm glad to see that Texas guy still has "it" even with all the extraneous "simply put" and "to be quite frank" and "allow me to say this" nonsense.
Useless words!