Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

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KentuckyFried
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby KentuckyFried » Wed May 13, 2009 7:15 pm

thanks for the helpful advice. it would ease my anxiety much more if more 1L TLSers commented on their study habits and results as well

snotrocket
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby snotrocket » Wed May 13, 2009 7:32 pm

KentuckyFried wrote:thanks for the helpful advice. it would ease my anxiety much more if more 1L TLSers commented on their study habits and results as well

Likely some more will as soon as their second round of grades come in.

mbdymu02
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby mbdymu02 » Wed May 13, 2009 7:43 pm

.

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atlantalaw
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby atlantalaw » Wed May 13, 2009 10:09 pm

ari20dal7 wrote:
how many practice tests did you take per class? when did you start taking practice tests?


I looked over a practice test to get a feel for structure and what would generally be expected of me in the first month of class. I didn't take all that many exams: sometimes as few as one. I believe that was a mistake. I did well and expect to do well again, but taking practice tests is one of the most efficient things you can possibly do with your law school study time. I would suggest looking over a test in the first few weeks, trying to finish the reading on the syllabus by mid-semester, and spending the latter half of the semester taking practice exams and filling gaps.


thanks for answering! i'll definitely try to look at practice tests as soon as i can next semester.

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Mr. T6
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby Mr. T6 » Thu May 14, 2009 7:55 am

I go to a T6, so I'll be happy to chime in on that. I'm NOT a super-star, but I am above the median, so take this with the right salt:

Unlike most law schools, T6s (at least at my school, and the experience of a HLS friend) stress policy on the exams. I've had four exams thus far, two of which were incredibly wonky and for which no amount of BLL would have helped, and two of which were standard issue spotters. In class, I think that most law schools stress policy, but there is more carry-over to the exams at my school, so you want to be careful. Knowing the difference between strict liability and negligence regime made up 75% of my Torts exam.

However, Ari's vision of law school still fits mine. You can fit most policy arguments onto a short outline. More importantly, you can pick up all of the policy you need from class discussion. In addition to old outlines, I cram using my class notes before the final. Finally, Ari is correct in the sense that you want your notes to remain terse. For my Crim final, I will almost certainly have to know the difference between two coercive interrogation regulatory regimes, but I can sum up the reasons in four bullet points, and applying them to the exam's facts will be more important. (This is assuming I'll get a fact pattern, which is not that likely, sadly.)

The other major difference, at least in my experience, is that everyone does what Ari does, so the curve is tighter. Before law school, I thought that I could game it because I read posts like his. But virtually everyone understood Ari's perspective after a few exams, and a few people had an intuitive grasp of it before even coming to law school. Simply put, people understood "gaming" once we encountered practice exams. I had many conversations, after people started working through them, in which they discussed their new tactics. Most of them went something like this:

"This is a game. I downloaded ten old exams and I’m going to look for Professor B’s pet issues."
"Oh, totally. You must play the game. I copy the old formats of their model answers. What else do you think B is looking for? It seems like we’ll probably get a quick issue spotter. My outline is geared toward that."

Let me put it even more bluntly: if you do not "game" law school at the T6 level, you can easily end up below the median, because so many people, perhaps even the majority of students, are "gamers."

2Ls and 3Ls send me their old exams with the earned grades. Unfortunately, even our median exams look like "good" exams at T25-ish schools; my Property teacher posted answers from her visit at these schools. I'm NOT trying to be arrogant. I'm saying, The curve is tighter. I think that the OP and sensible minds agree with me. Legal employers also agree with me. I think there's a reason, besides prestige, that firms set their cut-off at the median for one school, and the top 5% for another.

Everything else that Ari said is correct. Sadly, more studying often hurts you, as it hurt me to an extent on a few exams. Instead of responding to the facts before you and constructing legal arguments, you learn too much law and policy and try to cram the facts onto it. This is wrong. Get a two page outline, cram, and you can still get that A. Don't fall into the traps that Ari describes. The entire 1L experience is a shell-game. Law School deludes you into thinking that the work is overwhelming, but the amount of information you need for the exam is hilariously limited -- almost to the point at which law school seems like epic flame. Your incredibly expensive, "prestigious" legal education consists of memorizing case and statutory law in a week-long period before the final. I can't find better flame than that. My study method is reminiscent of what I did in junior high, rather than what you would expect from a famous graduate program at one of the world's best universities.

Finally, his remarks about enjoying yourself could not ring more true. Assuming you understand what's expected of you in law school, you can excel academically while having fun. One Tuesday night, I drank an entire bottle of wine with a classmate before skipping Contracts. I read Pablo Neruda in class, rather than paying attention. I never read a Torts case, much less briefed any of them; I relied on an old outline and practice exams. My grades are fine.

Okay, done. Good luck to everyone.

snotrocket
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby snotrocket » Thu May 14, 2009 8:25 am

Mr. T6 wrote:Everything else that Ari said is correct. Sadly, more studying often hurts you, as it hurt me to an extent on a few exams. Instead of responding to the facts before you and constructing legal arguments, you learn too much law and policy and try to cram the facts onto it. This is wrong. Get a two page outline, cram, and you can still get that A. Don't fall into the traps that Ari describes. The entire 1L experience is a shell-game. Law School deludes you into thinking that the work is overwhelming, but the amount of information you need for the exam is hilariously limited -- almost to the point at which law school seems like epic flame. Your incredibly expensive, "prestigious" legal education consists of memorizing case and statutory law in a week-long period before the final. I can't find better flame than that. My study method is reminiscent of what I did in junior high, rather than what you would expect from a famous graduate program at one of the world's best universities.

TITMFCR. Laziness is a perverse virtue in law school, because it forces you to be efficient when you get down to the wire and to just let the little stuff go. Even the future SCOTUS clerks can use this advice to minimize their grunt work, so they can get on to writing the notes they will have published before they even get on law review. Most other people will do an equal amount of work and get rather little from it, until they figure this out the hard way. Having said that -- you do have to bust your ass at some point. You have to know when to cram and how to do it right if it's going to work. And you have to go at it hard for the one or two weeks it takes. Also, once you get through 1L it becomes somewhat less absurd if you let it. You can do clinics, get on a journal, and find externships or part-time legal work to start learning something useful. And you have summer work also, which you can use to build some real skills. And as mentioned above -- this is all a good reason to pay more attention to legal research and writing. The "academic" faculty pretend to look down on all forms of practical or skill-based training because they say these courses drink from the carton and leave the seat up and just generally make a mess of the place. But the real reason is that practical courses only highlight what a silly embarrassment our system of legal education has become.
Last edited by snotrocket on Fri May 15, 2009 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ari20dal7
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby ari20dal7 » Fri May 15, 2009 4:12 pm

Thanks for the perspective, T6. I sort of suspected it might be like that, but I'm not at a T6, so I can't offer the confirmation that you can. Law school really is a theater of the absurd in all sorts of ways and you've just got to realize it. I do want to emphasize one more time: if what I call a theater of the absurd is your cup of tea, then drink deep. Don't feel like you have to hate law school's pretentiousness in order to be a "smart" person. Just realize it's there and be sure you listen to T6's advice for an hour a day before knocking yourself out.

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gladiator
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby gladiator » Fri May 15, 2009 4:34 pm

My advice would be to do what works for you and don't worry what other people are doing. I don't highlight the book at all and try to brief every case still and my grades are good. I also don't use hornbooks at all. Sometimes the briefs are worthless but I like being prepared for cold calls even if they don't matter and it actually helps me when I'm outlining because it makes it easier to recall the cases.

Preparing for exams is a marathon, not a sprint. After making the outline, I didn't spend much time doing pure studying. The key is to be able to spot issues because, at least at my school, most of the exam questions are fact pattern issue spotters. Make your outlines useful. I make Tables of Contents or topic lists so during the exam, I can run through and see what general topics I should be talking about and then can ctrl-f if there are any points I need to remember.

This is somewhat tough to hear, but some of law school success is just innate ability. The friends I have here who are doing better than me do so because it just seems to click for them better than it does for me, not because they're outworking me. Some people just get law school and some don't. I noticed that after fall semester, there was all the talk about course correction but it seems like most people ended up just doing essentially the same thing and I bet most get close to the same results.

Also, don't just blindly vomit on the page. All of my answers have been shorter than most of my friends' and it hasn't negatively affected me. You want to talk about as much as possible but don't just throw it out there, try to talk about the issue coherently and make sure you're not ignoring quality for the sake of quantity.

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Cole S. Law
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby Cole S. Law » Fri May 15, 2009 5:49 pm

gladiator wrote:Also, don't just blindly vomit on the page. All of my answers have been shorter than most of my friends' and it hasn't negatively affected me. You want to talk about as much as possible but don't just throw it out there, try to talk about the issue coherently and make sure you're not ignoring quality for the sake of quantity.


:D Don't blindly vomit on the page...nice! I'm a 0L, but in almost all of my undergrad finals/midterms I was done very early. I would concisely answer the question and move on. While everyone else was burning through their 3rd bluebook, I would be handing in my test and getting condescending looks from the vomiters. I rarely got anything less than an A for the finals I took. Now if I just could have shown up for a few more...but that's another story.

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ari20dal7
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby ari20dal7 » Fri May 15, 2009 6:21 pm

I wholeheartedly endorse what gladiator had to say. If you vomit stuff out, then you're not really spotting issues. The only way you can get points for spotting issues is by not only seeing that the professor is talking about something, but by handling it appropriately. You can actually be worse off by "spotting" a personal jurisdiction issue, for example, and then horribly mishandling the analysis. A person who simply doesn't spot the issue at least doesn't explicitly admit that s/he doesn't know anything about it.

As far as studying goes, you should certainly figure out what works for you, with the following caveat: memorizing the intricacies of facts of cases won't be efficient because it just isn't what's tested. So your method is up to you, but you must tailor your method to the end result of doing well on exams. Learning styles are all well and good, but you can't use that reasoning to evade the reality that you can't just study whatever you want and expect to do well.

snotrocket
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby snotrocket » Fri May 15, 2009 6:30 pm

ari20dal7 wrote:As far as studying goes, you should certainly figure out what works for you, with the following caveat: memorizing the intricacies of facts of cases won't be efficient because it just isn't what's tested. So your method is up to you, but you must tailor your method to the end result of doing well on exams. Learning styles are all well and good, but you can't use that reasoning to evade the reality that you can't just study whatever you want and expect to do well.

This is credited. Just remember: successful 1Ls are all alike; every unsuccessful 1L is unsuccessful in his own way.

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Mr. T6
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Re: Friendly advice for future 1Ls from a longtime TLSer

Postby Mr. T6 » Sun May 31, 2009 12:24 am

This post is excellent and I think that it should be bumped for the benefit of incoming law students.




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