mistergoft wrote:[strike]Not to discount any of the information furnished by disco, who is extremely smart and an awesome poster, but I though I'd add some of my thoughts for a bit of a contrast.[/strike]disco_barred wrote:but if you can learn fed courts and tax inside out before 1L, you'll blow the competition away. There's no doubt about that.
[strike]I don't think this would be helpful, though I must admit I haven't read this. However, I think that trying to learn any material before law school starts and you know what to focus on isn't usually productive. There are various things that 0Ls can do that are less labor intensive than attempting to learn Federal Courts before having taken a law school class, possibly before even really reading an entire court opinion; this doesn't seem, in my opinion, like it would serve to do anything more than to confuse so[/strike]meone.disco_barred wrote:Studying:
The most important thing to doing well in law school is learning the facts from the cases. It’s horrible and painful, but it’s the challenge you’re going to be up against and it’s what you’ll have to do to succeed on exams. Professors aren’t subtle about this – the Socratic method demands you be prepared with the facts of every case, every day if you get cold on – and that goes double for exam time. Spend your time re-reading cases and coming up with thorough briefs would be how I would do it, but there are a lot of ways. I do know one or two people who got high grades while only reading the cases once, but for the most part repetition helps. Re-reading over the weekend or during the exam period is absolutely critical.
Otherwise, outline as you need. Keep the outlines heavy on the cases - especially on open book exams it's helpful to have most of your initial briefs wind up in the outline. A short outline might help as an afterthought, but your first objective should be getting it all into one 'master' outline. And once you know all of the facts of all of the cases well enough, you can start getting ready for the exam by prepping for the kinds of fact patterns and questions you'll be tasked with having answers for (see exam prep later).
[strike]I disagree with this entire section; I don't think learning the particular facts of cases is helpful or necessary to succeed in most law school classes (excepting, of course, Con Law). Furthermore, I don't think extensive factual information from particular cases has any place in a good outline, which should consist of (IMHO) black letter law, some hypos for particularly confusing legal issues, and maybe a relevant fact or two of an important case. Cases are used to explain how judges apply the law to particular cases and develop new law through analogical reasoning, which helps students establish a sense of how the law progresses and how the law can be applied to novel situations that don't have a clear legal answer. I think the most important aspect of studying is discerning how the judges apply the law to factual scenarios and cultivate an understanding of how to do it yourself by working through practice exams and hypotheticals. You'll eventually develop a comprehensive understanding of how the law works and how it will resolve certain issues; while you should certainly memorize how the law will interact with certain predictable scenarios, I don't think that memorizing the facts of particular cases is a productive use of your time.[/strike]disco_barred wrote:The second thing you need to do is solve the legal problem! You’ve been trained to analyze rules and their implementation, and you should be able to answer any fact pattern you are given. Law professors hate NOTHING more than people who attempt to ‘argue both sides’ or show merits to different interpretations of the facts. You need to state the legal rules and then come up with an answer. State it as plainly and directly as possible – I had one prof last year who made sure to doc points for any right answers if you later hedged or included wrong ones. You’ll blow it and get it wrong sometimes, but there will be enough points on an exam that it’s OK. You can’t compete for As if you’re not stating clear conclusions for every legal issue you’re confronted with.
I[strike]don't think there are necessarily clear answers to good exam questions; your professor is often going to present you with a factual scenario that doesn't have any law you've learned exactly on point, and you're just going to have to show the professor that you understand both sides of the argument, however, there might not be a clear answer. Obviously, there are exam questions that have clear answers, and you absolutely have to get these correct; but the most difficult exam questions aren't going to have a clear answer, and a lot of the time the professor is just looking for your to point out the ambiguity of the facts and move on with your life.[/strike]disco_barred wrote:it’s impossible to work ‘too hard’!
[strike]This is not correct, at least in my experience. If you don't take time off and relax every once and a while, unless you've got some impressive sense of resilience, you should definitely take a day off a week to clear your mind and recuperate. 1L is a marathon and if you work past your physical/mental limitations, you're going to burn out by the time exams come around and then all that time you spend studying will be for naught. Working too hard is definitely possible, and keep in mind that you're still human and you need a break every once and a while, this is a complex, mentally enervating process and students always need to make sure they're still taking care of themselves.[/strike]