Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
User avatar
FlightoftheEarls
Posts: 857
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:50 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Tue May 11, 2010 9:27 pm

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]

FTFY.

User avatar
JCougar
Posts: 3175
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:47 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby JCougar » Tue May 11, 2010 9:41 pm

LOL. Okay I fell for it initially.

The thing that scares me right now is that I don't know what a "brief" actually is, I don't have the slightest idea of how to put together a law school-type outline. I think I'm going to take one of those classes on how to take a law school exam, read GTM, and that's it. I really want to see what an exam looks like before I even look at a syllabus.

acdisagod
Posts: 431
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 12:46 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby acdisagod » Tue May 11, 2010 9:51 pm

JCougar wrote:LOL. Okay I fell for it initially.

The thing that scares me right now is that I don't know what a "brief" actually is, I don't have the slightest idea of how to put together a law school-type outline. I think I'm going to take one of those classes on how to take a law school exam, read GTM, and that's it. I really want to see what an exam looks like before I even look at a syllabus.


I'm a 0L but everything ive read about briefing goes as follows. Sum up the facts in one sentence. Focus almost exclusively on the legal rule derived from the case and the rationale behind the rule. 'm guessing good outling is more of a science that I would be too uninformed to advise about.

270910
Posts: 2437
Joined: Thu May 21, 2009 9:51 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby 270910 » Tue May 11, 2010 9:58 pm

acdisagod wrote:
JCougar wrote:LOL. Okay I fell for it initially.

The thing that scares me right now is that I don't know what a "brief" actually is, I don't have the slightest idea of how to put together a law school-type outline. I think I'm going to take one of those classes on how to take a law school exam, read GTM, and that's it. I really want to see what an exam looks like before I even look at a syllabus.


I'm a 0L but everything ive read about briefing goes as follows. Sum up the facts in one sentence. Focus almost exclusively on the legal rule derived from the case and the rationale behind the rule. 'm guessing good outling is more of a science that I would be too uninformed to advise about.


Since I'm feeling guilty about the OP, here is a serious response:

There's no 'good' way to brief or outline, if the metric you use is success on exams. Everyone does something differently, and there's hardly a correlation. So no need to stress about the proper way to do it, just learn the material ;)

The only thing I know of that yielded a strong correlation to GPA after first semester was focus on how to write a good law school exam. In fact... nobody I know who put in effort to figure out how to properly approach a law school exam got below median. Possibly not even below top 25%, to be honest.

Everything else - uGPA, LSAT, hours worked, hornbooks read, highlighting style, outlining style, reading pace, height, notes on laptop vs. computer, skin color, outline schedule, college rank, hair color, gender, briefing style - seemed to have no correlation with law grades whatsoever. But the people who clearly said "gee, I'd better figure out how to write a good law school exam" seem to have seen their efforts fairly consistently rewarded.

Learning the material + prepping for class + dealing with LRW is overwhelming enough that a lot of people don't give it serious thought. And I'm not talking about reading GTM and doing practice tests either, because most people will do some of both. I'm talking about really trying to understand how the system works prior to taking the first set of exams in the fall.

User avatar
traehekat
Posts: 3195
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:00 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby traehekat » Tue May 11, 2010 10:03 pm

<-- leveled.

Well done.

User avatar
chicoalto0649
Posts: 1172
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 11:34 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby chicoalto0649 » Tue May 11, 2010 10:10 pm

Should I start familiarizing myself with the rules of civil procedure for the state in which I will take the bar in? I know the FRCP can only take you so far and I want an edge in my regular civ-pro class as well as a head start on bar prep.

User avatar
A'nold
Posts: 3622
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:07 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby A'nold » Tue May 11, 2010 10:10 pm

Yeah, I was joking too, except for my part about professors. Make sure to do exactly as I say to get those participation points, no better way to separate from the pack on a curve!

User avatar
wakefield
Posts: 148
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:45 am

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby wakefield » Tue May 11, 2010 10:16 pm

disco_barred wrote:In fact... nobody I know who put in effort to figure out how to properly approach a law school exam got below median. Possibly not even below top 25%, to be honest.


I'm going to ignore everything negative ever written on TLS and desperately cling to this anecdote instead. thaaanks!

User avatar
vanwinkle
Posts: 9740
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:02 am

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby vanwinkle » Tue May 11, 2010 10:16 pm

JCougar wrote:LOL. Okay I fell for it initially.

The thing that scares me right now is that I don't know what a "brief" actually is, I don't have the slightest idea of how to put together a law school-type outline. I think I'm going to take one of those classes on how to take a law school exam, read GTM, and that's it. I really want to see what an exam looks like before I even look at a syllabus.

You may not believe me, but this is a serious response:

I did not "brief" a single case this entire year of law school, and I have above-median grades. Briefing is one way to learn, but it's not the only way. It depends on what works for you. You certainly should try it, if you think it'll help you, in order to find out. But you don't have to.

Briefing means different things to different people, too. For some people, briefing just means identifying the holding and justification for the holding. Other people will write a full summary of the facts, and summaries of concurring and dissenting opinions. It depends on how in-depth you need to go.

Really, for the most part it's rare to need things like the facts of an individual case or the concurring/dissenting opinion though. If the concurrence or dissent is that important, your professor will tell you (or at least spend so much time talking about it that you can figure it out for yourself). So briefing is more about learning to read cases and figure out how judges think than it is about actually getting relevant info out of the case. Usually the holding (and some understanding why the holding is what it is) will be all you really need.

User avatar
JCougar
Posts: 3175
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:47 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby JCougar » Tue May 11, 2010 10:17 pm

A'nold wrote:Yeah, I was joking too, except for my part about professors. Make sure to do exactly as I say to get those participation points, no better way to separate from the pack on a curve!


Does that include wiggling my hand and grunting, "oooh, oooh!" when I am raising it in case the professor didn't notice it up at first?

User avatar
FlightoftheEarls
Posts: 857
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:50 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Tue May 11, 2010 11:13 pm

wakefield wrote:
disco_barred wrote:In fact... nobody I know who put in effort to figure out how to properly approach a law school exam got below median. Possibly not even below top 25%, to be honest.


I'm going to ignore everything negative ever written on TLS and desperately cling to this anecdote instead. thaaanks!

You're going to thank yourself for that later. Learning how to write an exam is absolutely critical to doing well - being intelligent and knowing the material will only get you so for, so definitely do cling to this.


vanwinkle wrote:
JCougar wrote:LOL. Okay I fell for it initially.

The thing that scares me right now is that I don't know what a "brief" actually is, I don't have the slightest idea of how to put together a law school-type outline. I think I'm going to take one of those classes on how to take a law school exam, read GTM, and that's it. I really want to see what an exam looks like before I even look at a syllabus.

You may not believe me, but this is a serious response:

I did not "brief" a single case this entire year of law school, and I have above-median grades. Briefing is one way to learn, but it's not the only way. It depends on what works for you. You certainly should try it, if you think it'll help you, in order to find out. But you don't have to.

I briefed for the first two weeks, then book briefed for the remainder of the year. Briefing cases truly is the most ridiculous waste of time, with a very possible (and even then, only possible because it applies only to certain cases and depends on the professor) exception for Con Law. That said, everyone will start by doing it and then the people who figure out how to study smarter and more efficiently will let it go to the wayside in place of more effective study habits.

User avatar
OperaSoprano
Posts: 4410
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:54 am

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby OperaSoprano » Tue May 11, 2010 11:17 pm

Since I spent the past three hours taking the last practice exam supplied by my property professor, I will append my thoughts here. Everything the OP says is credited. Whenever he shows up in a thread, I know I am about to read something accurate and wise. 0Ls, take heed.

Excellent edits: this is golden.

User avatar
kalvano
Posts: 11720
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby kalvano » Tue May 11, 2010 11:24 pm

So, what is the best way to learn how to write a law school exam?

I've written a lot of papers (English major), but I understand that legal writing is pretty much another universe from regular writing.

270910
Posts: 2437
Joined: Thu May 21, 2009 9:51 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby 270910 » Tue May 11, 2010 11:37 pm

kalvano wrote:So, what is the best way to learn how to write a law school exam?

I've written a lot of papers (English major), but I understand that legal writing is pretty much another universe from regular writing.


LEEWS and GTM will help, as will threads on TLS about prepping for and taking exams (Arrow, JayCutler'sCombOver, Wahoo1L etc.). One place I saw where the poster actually talked more about how to teach yourself about taking an exam rather than how to take an exam was buried in Scribe's posts in the blog section (here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=84040#p2599055)

User avatar
vanwinkle
Posts: 9740
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:02 am

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby vanwinkle » Tue May 11, 2010 11:49 pm

kalvano wrote:So, what is the best way to learn how to write a law school exam?

I've written a lot of papers (English major), but I understand that legal writing is pretty much another universe from regular writing.

1) Pay attention to the idea of "how to think like a lawyer". This is what you're expected to do on law school exams. Or, at least, what you write is supposed to show that you're doing this.

2) Read other people's success stories on how to write exam answers. There are a few posters on here who've written some pretty epic guides on how to be successful. Read their posts again and again, once every few weeks, during the first semester. Follow their advice as best you can.

3) Talk to your professors. They'll usually be willing to give you at least some guidance.

4) If you can find them, read model exam answers toward the end of the semester. I found this more valuable than actually taking practice exams, because before that could help, I needed to know what I was doing.

Essentially, just try to pay attention to what has worked for people in the past, and do that.

User avatar
kalvano
Posts: 11720
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby kalvano » Tue May 11, 2010 11:54 pm

Right then. Thanks very much, I will now continue to do nothing of importance for the rest of the summer. I'm not going to sit around and worry about how to take an exam until I have at least some vague concept of what I will be examined on.

Thanks to the OP for a very helpful post that has been bookmarked and will be referenced when needed.

User avatar
somewhatwayward
Posts: 1446
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:10 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby somewhatwayward » Wed May 12, 2010 11:31 am

disco_barred wrote:
Since I'm feeling guilty about the OP, here is a serious response:



so your OP was a joke?

270910
Posts: 2437
Joined: Thu May 21, 2009 9:51 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby 270910 » Wed May 12, 2010 11:44 am

somewhatwayward wrote:
disco_barred wrote:
Since I'm feeling guilty about the OP, here is a serious response:



so your OP was a joke?


My OP is literally the opposite of good advice. Being overly conclusory on exams will doom you (you get points for spotting ambiguity and arguing both sides), restating the law on an exam is never worth points (and is a common trap for 1Ls), the facts of cases are all but irrelevant come exam time, 0L prep is useless, fed courts and tax don't come up even in a passing way as a 1L, and giving your prof hypos is a sure way to attract ire without much benefit.

User avatar
somewhatwayward
Posts: 1446
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:10 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby somewhatwayward » Wed May 12, 2010 1:22 pm

i am a tool :oops:

i just read the first part about what to read before law school....is there really nothing that is of use? someone mentioned conflicts of law....is that a joke, too?

User avatar
OperaSoprano
Posts: 4410
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:54 am

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby OperaSoprano » Wed May 12, 2010 1:31 pm

somewhatwayward wrote:i am a tool :oops:

i just read the first part about what to read before law school....is there really nothing that is of use? someone mentioned conflicts of law....is that a joke, too?


The only things you need honestly know are found here and here:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=84040

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=77628

That's it. Seriously. This is your last summer of freedom, and you ought to use it well.

User avatar
somewhatwayward
Posts: 1446
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2009 5:10 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby somewhatwayward » Wed May 12, 2010 2:08 pm

^
that second link says it is for T2 schools, and i'm going to a T-14....do you think that matters?

User avatar
apper123
Posts: 985
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 11:50 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby apper123 » Wed May 12, 2010 2:54 pm

somewhatwayward wrote:^
that second link says it is for T2 schools, and i'm going to a T-14....do you think that matters?


lol

(i assume that was a joke... if not... wow)

User avatar
FlightoftheEarls
Posts: 857
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:50 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby FlightoftheEarls » Wed May 12, 2010 3:21 pm

somewhatwayward wrote:^
that second link says it is for T2 schools, and i'm going to a T-14....do you think that matters?

No, it doesn't matter. Arrow is at a T14 now as well, and he is still likely to kick serious ass there based on the clarity of his exam writing.

Read it. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

270910
Posts: 2437
Joined: Thu May 21, 2009 9:51 pm

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby 270910 » Wed May 12, 2010 3:22 pm

apper123 wrote:
somewhatwayward wrote:^
that second link says it is for T2 schools, and i'm going to a T-14....do you think that matters?


lol

(i assume that was a joke... if not... wow)


*whaps apper123* be nice!

Back to my penitence: somewhatwayward, all law school exams are identical. Which is an overstatement, but only slightly - all law professors have very similar credentials, the first year curriculum is nearly standardized, and almost every exam is some variation on an issue spotter. Doing well at any law school in the country requires largely the same steps, skills, and aptitudes - as evidenced by the fact that transfer students often remain at the top of the class at their new schools.

User avatar
wakefield
Posts: 148
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:45 am

Re: Pre-law school preparation + LS study / exam tips

Postby wakefield » Wed May 12, 2010 3:33 pm

disco_barred wrote:
apper123 wrote:
somewhatwayward wrote:^
that second link says it is for T2 schools, and i'm going to a T-14....do you think that matters?


lol

(i assume that was a joke... if not... wow)


*whaps apper123* be nice!

Back to my penitence: somewhatwayward, all law school exams are identical. Which is an overstatement, but only slightly - all law professors have very similar credentials, the first year curriculum is nearly standardized, and almost every exam is some variation on an issue spotter. Doing well at any law school in the country requires largely the same steps, skills, and aptitudes - as evidenced by the fact that transfer students often remain at the top of the class at their new schools.


I've heard rumblings that there are subtle differences - like applying the LEEWS method may be more helpful at a T2 than a T14, for example. False? Or are the differences just so minuscule that it doesn't really matter?




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 2 guests