HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

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KLOVEIT
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HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby KLOVEIT » Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:09 pm

Just finished my first semester at HLS and thought I would take some questions about admissions, classes, law school exams, or just law school in general- as this site was really helpful for me.

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glitched
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby glitched » Sat Dec 18, 2010 6:13 pm

Edit: ...

KLOVEIT
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby KLOVEIT » Sun Dec 19, 2010 1:38 pm

No questions?

I guess Ill just say that as a whole I really enjoyed my first semester of law school. It was definitely challenging at times, especially during exams, but classes were interesting and while the workload was no doubt heavy I thought it wasnt terrible. I was most pleasantly surprised by the people- I liked nearly everyone in my 80 person section- we all went out and socialized together and there was no sense of the competitive/ cut-throat environment that lots of people talk about at HLS.

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Non-Chalant1
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby Non-Chalant1 » Sun Dec 19, 2010 8:57 pm

What was the group of people like? Was it a predominately older crowd? What is your best/worst experience with the Socratic method? How much knowledge did most people come in with? (In regards to how to study, etc.)

eli88
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby eli88 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:20 am

Can you talk a little about the format & difficulty of the exams?

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Calla Lily
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby Calla Lily » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:26 am

How was the workload and how much free time would you say that you had? Also, where do you live? How were your professors? How long do you think it took you to get the hang of your 1L classes?

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Na_Swatch
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby Na_Swatch » Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:34 am

eli88 wrote:Can you talk a little about the format & difficulty of the exams?


Jumping in on the other 1l's thread since hes mssing at the moment... Anyways exams for 1ls fall into 3 main categories: 3 hour in class, 8 hour take homes, and 1 hour inclass + 6 hour take-home. Difficulty of the actual exams vary due to question amounts/ word limits/ materials allowed but are almost all essay responses to long issue spotters or policy type questions. Some classes like civpro are a little more difficult as harvard has 4 BLL classes + LRW each semester and every 1l class is only one semester. ( so civpro is jam packed with material). Still, I think the classes/ exams are pretty manageable... The most difficult thing is definitely the curve/ level if students. Basically I felt everyone in my class had a strong grasp on the material and could write a very good exam answer. Won't know more until grades actually come out

Free time was pretty abundant the first half of the semester as thy ease you into it. Contact with the other sections is a bit limited as it's up to you to meet those outside ur own, but I had some close friends from outside my section

ctxmike
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby ctxmike » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:02 pm

I had a question concerning admissions. I had to take a "W" this semester after I transferred to a top 20, non-Ivy university because I didn't read the requirements closely enough and signed up for an unnecessary science course. I know the general consensus on TLS is that a "W" or 2 have negligible to zero effect on applications even in the T14, but I was wondering if the same was true for HYS. Did you have any similar discrepancies on your transcript? Thanks.

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Na_Swatch
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby Na_Swatch » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:16 pm

ctxmike wrote:I had a question concerning admissions. I had to take a "W" this semester after I transferred to a top 20, non-Ivy university because I didn't read the requirements closely enough and signed up for an unnecessary science course. I know the general consensus on TLS is that a "W" or 2 have negligible to zero effect on applications even in the T14, but I was wondering if the same was true for HYS. Did you have any similar discrepancies on your transcript? Thanks.


I don't think this should be a problem. If you really are worried about it just write a short addendum about it... I had a couple of P/NP classes as an UG and they didn't care

mtrl
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby mtrl » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:23 pm

ctxmike wrote:I had a question concerning admissions. I had to take a "W" this semester after I transferred to a top 20, non-Ivy university because I didn't read the requirements closely enough and signed up for an unnecessary science course. I know the general consensus on TLS is that a "W" or 2 have negligible to zero effect on applications even in the T14, but I was wondering if the same was true for HYS. Did you have any similar discrepancies on your transcript? Thanks.


I can vouch that this was not a problem.

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Calla Lily
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby Calla Lily » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:39 pm

What is a typical schedule/day like for you? What have been your favorite and least favorite parts about HLS? What made you choose HLS? Thank you for taking questions!

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Na_Swatch
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby Na_Swatch » Mon Dec 20, 2010 10:57 pm

Calla Lily wrote:What is a typical schedule/day like for you? What have been your favorite and least favorite parts about HLS? What made you choose HLS? Thank you for taking questions!


Typical day for me: Wake up, straight to classes in the morning... lunch with some friends in section, hour or two to do some reading, and then class or not depending on day. After that usually go to the gym for a bit/ take a break/ dinner... then continue to do some reading/ studying at night. Really not anything stressful at all, although the final month was a lot tougher. (there are also a ton of events/ activities available at HLS so you fit those in as you like).

Favorite part has probably been just getting to know all the other students/ hanging out with people you meet... Least favorite part.. hmm dunno morning classes are hard to pay attention to sometimes + pace of classes was sometimes extremely fast.

As for choosing HLS, I really liked Cambridge and wanted a large class size. Most law schools at like ~200 just seemed to small to me, I really wanted something with a larger campus/ class/ different opportunities.

KLOVEIT
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby KLOVEIT » Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:48 am

Took me awhile to respond to these questions as I was out of town but here is my attempt at a few words of wisdom.

Hope some of this info helps. Let me know if there are other questions.


The people

I would say that there was a good mix of people straight through from undergrad as well as those who took an extended period of time off- 4 years or more. On the whole though I felt that most people were between 1 and 3 years out.

Socratic method

Most of my classes were part Socratic method plus part lecture/open discussion. Some teachers have panels- in which they will only call on the group of people who know they are on panel for the day, other professors go down the line, while some will cold-call with no rhyme or reason. For the first 2 or 3 weeks I was nervous before going to each class but after that the Socratic method wasn’t all that scary. When you get called on you do your best to answer the question and if the teacher doesn’t like your answer they will usually move on without grilling you too badly- as long as you have done the reading the questions usually aren’t that difficult- and if you haven’t done the reading you can always pass- really not that big of a deal. Some teachers are known for being a little harder on kids but for the most part none of the kids in my section ever really got embarrassed.

Some kids definitely had done some reading and preparation coming in based on the answers that they gave early on. I didn’t do any preparation and while some basic preparation may have made the first few weeks easier I don’t think that it really mattered in the long run.

Exams

Echoing the earlier poster most exams are in class and 3 hours or 8 hour take homes. Either way almost all exams are open note open book so you are never going to be completely blanked on a question not having any idea what to say. That said during the in class exams I didn’t really spend much time looking at my outline or notes as I tried to spend most of the time writing. Most exams are a mix of longish issue spotters that require you to look through hypo fact patterns and pick out and analyze the major issues & policy/ theory questions that ask you to think about the themes of the course and usually to analyze the pros and cons of a certain legal institution or practice.


Workload and free time

I think that the first 2.5 months or so and the last month are pretty different. For the first 2.5 months I probably did 4 hours of reading/work a night- which left time to go to the gym 4 times/week, go out 3-4 nights a week and watch some tv as well. However during the last month the studying really ramps up and the going out definitely goes down. I still tried to make time to go to the gym and hang out and relax but reading/outlining/studying definitely increases during the last couple weeks. The workload was hefty at times but I didn’t really get the sense that people ever thought that it was totally overwhelming.

I lived in Hastings- one of the on-campus dorms and I liked my room and roommate. There was a good mix of people who lived on vs. off campus. I will probably move off next year- just to have a kitchen and a little bigger bedroom.

I liked most of my professors- but some were definitely more clear than others. Teaching styles definitely vary- some focus more on cases while others focus on themes/ legal theory. All of my professors were definitely available and knowledgeable but there were significant differences in the level of clarity of teaching.

I think it took about 5-6 weeks to really get into the hang of things and feel comfortable with classes/ reading/ people/ surrounding area.

Typical day

A typical day for me was waking up and going straight to class- some people would wake up early and read before class but I could never get myself to do this. Then class for a few hours before having lunch at noon. Then I would read/ nap between lunch and class. After afternoon class I would usually either go to the gym or read before going to dinner. After dinner I would read for a few more hours and then either go out with friends or hang in my room and watch tv.

Best-worst parts of hls

I think that the people were definitely the best part of my first semester. I lucked out and happened to be in a really fun/social section in which everyone got along well and socialized outside of class. Everyone came from different backgrounds and had really interesting experiences and interests.

In the early part of the year I think that early morning class was the worst part while toward the second half of the semester I think that studying for finals was grueling and exhausting at times.


Why hls

I chose Harvard because I thought that the larger class size would allow me to meet more interesting people and have a greater variety of opportunities in terms of clinics/ journals/ classes. I also really liked the campus and surrounding city.

I am really happy with my choice so far- I think that for me personally a super small class size (200-300) would feel stifling- this isn’t to say that it might not be preferable for other people. I was a little worried about a super-competitive cutthroat environment, but I did not get this feeling at all. Almost everyone was really cooperative in sharing notes, helping with outlines/ and preparing for classes/exams. I really didn’t feel like I was in competition with my classmates but rather approaching a challenge together- this leads to a strong sense of community within each section.

Hope this helps

jborn
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby jborn » Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:58 pm

Do you think the advice given in this thread (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=77628) is applicable? Main reason I ask is because the other thread deals with a T2 school, whereas HLS is obviously T1.

KLOVEIT
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Re: HLS 1L- just finished 1st sem- taking questions

Postby KLOVEIT » Sat Dec 25, 2010 6:01 pm

I do think that there is a lot of good information in that thread. Especially the focus on preparing for the exam and not excessively focusing on case information and details.

The one thing I would say is that studying is really a very personal thing. Some people really liked to brief cases because they felt it allowed them to remember them later in the year, while I stopped briefing after the first couple weeks because I just didnt feel like it was all that helpful. Some people really liked study groups while others didnt. I think that one thing that most people did that was helpful was getting together with other students toward the end of the semester to go over and discuss old exams- especially helpful for exams that dont have answers.

Most people will do some sort of outlining- and while I think it is something important to do- ultimately I think that going through old exams is the most effective way to really prepare for the final exams.

Also something at HLS which I think might be different from other lower tier schools is that each professor has a really different style and often class and thus the exam will reflect a focus on legal themes and trends rather than just the black letter law. Thus while study aids can be helpful to learn the basics of a topic they will definitely not suffice for the exam. I often found that class notes were really helpful because some of my exams focused on ideas and themes that my professors thought were really important but just dont come up in generic study guides or outlines. Also your studying should be geared to the specific class- sounds obvious but I think it is worth mentioning. If a teacher spends a lot of class time on topics beyond mere case law then the odds are that the exam will not simply consist of issue-spotters but will focus more on policy-type questions. Similarly some teachers want you to reference cases in your exam to support your arguments, while other teachers explicitly say that including cases is not necessary or even encouraged. Hence your studying for different classes will often be very different experiences.

Lastly I will say that there will always be more time to spend studying- either re-reading cases, briefing cases, outlining, etc. However I think that meeting people, having fun, exercising, socializing etc. is really really important. While your grades will have an impact on your future, after your first job no one will ever care about your grades. However, the people you meet, interests you acquire, and memories you create will have a far more lasting impact on you personally and professionally. I would recommend doing all or most of the reading and going to class (I only missed a handful of classes even though some missed many more) but during the first 2-3 months I would recommend that people try to go out and have fun as much as possible. The last month will not allow you to have as much free time so I think you should definitely take advantage of the first few months and have fun. As long as you keep a level-head and a good perspective on everything law school should and will be a fun experience.




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