Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
User avatar
macattaq
Posts: 441
Joined: Fri Mar 20, 2009 1:46 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby macattaq » Sun May 02, 2010 3:10 pm

Dear 0L(s), I think I realized one of the best things you can do to "get ahead". Apper alluded to this in a post somewhere, and I just made this realization yesterday. I have noticed a trend in my exam-taking, my studying, and my academic career in general. I have noticed it in the sports I played and quit, the hobbies I took up and dropped, and I can contrast my prior experiences with the things I do now. I have spent my entire life, really, rushing through one project to get to the next. If it didn't come easily, if I couldn't easily identify and solve a problem, if something didn't come to me immediately, I simply guessed at the answer and quit.

Why is this relevant?

Because if I had taken the time to look at my habits and prior experiences before starting law school, my 1L experience probably would have been quite different. Fortunately, my first exam is tomorrow, so I can be mindful of this over the next two weeks, in order to ensure that I don't repeat prior patterns of behavior. But this is only effective going forward.

So what I am advocating to you all, 0Ls, is that you use some of your time off to 'know thyself'. Seriously. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, root out hubris and arrogance, and look for patterns in your behaviors. Take time to really get to know your helpful and harmful behaviors. Figure out how you react under stress, and what your tendencies are when you have downtime. I'm not going to tell you that you should get rid of the harmful behaviors, or develop new ones. But I am saying, that if you know your weaknesses, and can rely on your strengths, you won't be unintentionally shooting yourself in the foot as you try to make progress. Oh yes, and learn to be patient with yourself. It is easy to become frustrated while learning legal concepts, because it is unlike anything you have done before.

User avatar
mikeytwoshoes
Posts: 1117
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:45 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Sun May 02, 2010 3:11 pm

gochrisgo wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:
traehekat wrote:[strike]From what I have gathered Getting to Maybe and Law School Confidential are worth the read. PLS... not so much. I have read through most of all three. LSC is a practical, broad overview of pretty much everything in law school. Getting to Maybe is said to do a great job of introducing you to how law school exams work and how to do your best on them. I've enjoyed it so far, but I'm a 0L so I can't speak to its effectiveness. PLS is a poorly edited, rambling, incoherent mess of bitterness and resentment. While there are some useful pieces of advice, it is not worth wading through 800 pages of nonsense.

As far as substantial prepping (E&E's, LEEWS, etc.), I would say slightly more people on here will say they are glad they prepped (or wish they had done some prep) before law school than there are people who say it is worthless. My opinion? I think it is good to prep, but you need to put it in the right context. Don't prep and expect to really know anything. Just do it to get an introduction to terminology, areas of law, etc. (especially if you are coming from a background that has provided you with very little in regards to information on the law).

Personally I plan on doing a bit of substantial prep, including LEEWS, before August. I'm doing it out of fear more than anything, as I am going to a non-T14 school without any merit aid. That said, I'm not going to waste my summer buried in books. I think there is this weird idea around here that enjoying your summer and doing substantial law school prep are mutually exclusive.[/strike]

You couldn't be more wrong if you tried.


You couldn't be more unhelpful if you tried.

Apology accepted.

User avatar
gochrisgo
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:23 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby gochrisgo » Sun May 02, 2010 3:20 pm

.
Last edited by gochrisgo on Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby 270910 » Sun May 02, 2010 3:30 pm

gochrisgo wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:
gochrisgo wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:You couldn't be more wrong if you tried.

You couldn't be more unhelpful if you tried.

Apology accepted.


Seriously, though, please give us some insight as to why you think that sort of preparation is bogus.


The TLS overwhelming consensus is that substantive (i.e. law related rather than law school / exam strategy related) preparation prior to law school is worthless. Chiefly because it won't give you any kind of competitive edge.

The problem is that for students who haven't been to law school, that is hard to conceive. They miss the fact that 1) teacher's cover very specific parts of the doctrine, meaning each course requires careful knowledge of what is presented rather than what a treatise or hornbook covers and 2) the law school exam rewards sufficient knowledge adeptly applied, meaning there isn't any kind of time or effort hurdle that can't be easily accomplished in the time given the semester.

On top of that, it will increase your odds of burnout and may cause you to learn doctrine such that when you write an exam it isn't narrowly tailored to the professor's expectations (god help you if you cite a case you didn't cover in class).

Basically, there are 3 or 4 major risks and no benefits to trying to, say, learn torts before the school year starts. Law students know this after a semester or a year in the trenches, pre-law students are full of eagerness and don't understand or believe that advice. But the absolute TLS consensus is that substantive prep may well be tempting but all but certainly won't yield dividends.

hubtubrub
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:02 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby hubtubrub » Sun May 02, 2010 3:32 pm

macattaq wrote:Dear 0L(s), I think I realized one of the best things you can do to "get ahead". Apper alluded to this in a post somewhere, and I just made this realization yesterday. I have noticed a trend in my exam-taking, my studying, and my academic career in general. I have noticed it in the sports I played and quit, the hobbies I took up and dropped, and I can contrast my prior experiences with the things I do now. I have spent my entire life, really, rushing through one project to get to the next. If it didn't come easily, if I couldn't easily identify and solve a problem, if something didn't come to me immediately, I simply guessed at the answer and quit.

Why is this relevant?

Because if I had taken the time to look at my habits and prior experiences before starting law school, my 1L experience probably would have been quite different. Fortunately, my first exam is tomorrow, so I can be mindful of this over the next two weeks, in order to ensure that I don't repeat prior patterns of behavior. But this is only effective going forward.

So what I am advocating to you all, 0Ls, is that you use some of your time off to 'know thyself'. Seriously. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, root out hubris and arrogance, and look for patterns in your behaviors. Take time to really get to know your helpful and harmful behaviors. Figure out how you react under stress, and what your tendencies are when you have downtime. I'm not going to tell you that you should get rid of the harmful behaviors, or develop new ones. But I am saying, that if you know your weaknesses, and can rely on your strengths, you won't be unintentionally shooting yourself in the foot as you try to make progress. Oh yes, and learn to be patient with yourself. It is easy to become frustrated while learning legal concepts, because it is unlike anything you have done before.


thanks for this!

User avatar
mikeytwoshoes
Posts: 1117
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:45 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Sun May 02, 2010 3:34 pm

gochrisgo wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:
gochrisgo wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:You couldn't be more wrong if you tried.

You couldn't be more unhelpful if you tried.

Apology accepted.


Seriously, though, please give us some insight as to why you think that sort of preparation is bogus.

The only goal of law school is to dominate the exam as a means to whatever your brass ring may be. The reason why we want to dominate exams is so that employers see us as better than our peer group. Prep w/r/t learning the lingo supposedly just gives you a sense of what you're going to be reading for 3 years. Prep-proponents try to twist this into just a feeling of confidence. However, the feeling of confidence clearly relates to being able to understand the law faster than you would have otherwise. So you see, prep is always about gaining some advantage. Of course it doesn't work. Each prof. has their own style and that's how you must learn the law. Therefore, prep fails at the stated (and the unstated *wink-wink*) goal.

User avatar
gochrisgo
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:23 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby gochrisgo » Sun May 02, 2010 3:45 pm

.
Last edited by gochrisgo on Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
mikeytwoshoes
Posts: 1117
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:45 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Sun May 02, 2010 3:53 pm

gochrisgo wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:
gochrisgo wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:Apology accepted.


Seriously, though, please give us some insight as to why you think that sort of preparation is bogus.

The only goal of law school is to dominate the exam as a means to whatever your brass ring may be. The reason why we want to dominate exams is so that employers see us as better than our peer group. Prep w/r/t learning the lingo supposedly just gives you a sense of what you're going to be reading for 3 years. Prep-proponents try to twist this into just a feeling of confidence. However, the feeling of confidence clearly relates to being able to understand the law faster than you would have otherwise. So you see, prep is always about gaining some advantage. Of course it doesn't work. Each prof. has their own style and that's how you must learn the law. Therefore, prep fails at the stated (and the unstated *wink-wink*) goal.


I think I agree with some of this, but I don't think seeing some of the terms beforehand wouldn't offer at least some help. I'm glad that I had my "WTF?" moment with some weirdass legal terms (like defeasance or remittitur or some of those crazy latin ones) before the start of school, rather than when I was trying to wrap my head around a larger subject.

mikeytwoshoes wrote:So you see, prep is always about gaining some advantage.

I dunno, I think prep work for me is more about not feeling like a compete moron when trying something new.

When everyone else feels like a complete moron, is this not an advantage?

User avatar
gochrisgo
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:23 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby gochrisgo » Sun May 02, 2010 3:58 pm

.
Last edited by gochrisgo on Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby 270910 » Sun May 02, 2010 4:02 pm

mikeytwoshoes wrote:When everyone else feels like a complete moron, is this not an advantage?


Honestly, and I know this might sound hippie shit, but I think feeling at sea, lost, and like a complete moron is important. Not in a "school of hard knocks" way either - in a realistic approach to the law way. If Twombly and Iqbal don't confuse the shit out of you after reading the FRCP and Connoley, then you're doing it wrong. Reading about equal protection is supposed to make less sense until its been contextualized by reading about substantive due process. And coming to the point where you accept the feeling of inadequacy and confusion, and then learning how to embrace ambiguity and argue out of it, may be the only path to success.

People often post about bombing exams they felt that they had rocked, and I think it has something to do with it. When undertaking to analyze a legal problem, modesty can win you points. Admitting weakness of arguments, realizing counter arguments, etc. breeds sophistication.

Now I grant that the kind of 'feeling like a moron' I'm talking about up there isn't really the kind that comes from latin terms, but latin terms and jargon are rarely, if ever, actually all that important. All can be easily defined in a sentence, and most needn't be used at all in modern times.

/inappropriate soap box
Last edited by 270910 on Sun May 02, 2010 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
gochrisgo
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:23 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby gochrisgo » Sun May 02, 2010 4:14 pm

.
Last edited by gochrisgo on Mon Dec 20, 2010 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
rbgrocio
Posts: 560
Joined: Wed Dec 10, 2008 7:58 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby rbgrocio » Sun May 02, 2010 4:16 pm

Prepping for law school is stupid. I did it and it was worthless. I got very good grades but not thanks to anything I taught myself in the summer. Law school is a creature of its own..... there is no way to prep for it...

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

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby 270910 » Sun May 02, 2010 4:18 pm

gochrisgo wrote:Could using a resource like GTM be a good idea then? It doesn't purport to take away the "feelings of being at sea," but it does help you understand what exams can be like. Kinda keeps the part about feeling like a moron, but might help transfer some of the learned sophistication into non-failing grades?


Yes! Getting to maybe, as the name implies, is like a self-help book for accepting the contradiction and ambiguity that you need to succeed in law school and beyond. It's not going to lift the veil when you read it without having taken any law school classes yet, but it's going to help prime your expectations.

In law there are no answers, only arguments. Maybe somebody could come up with a curriculum to hone legal argumentation prior to starting law school, but reading hornbooks/E&Es is absolutely NOT about that.

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

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby traehekat » Sun May 02, 2010 5:50 pm

Alright, I will admit that perhaps when I said slightly more people on here favor substantive prep as a 0L than not, I could have been wrong. I seem to remember some giant thread with students discussing what they were glad they did/wish they would have done and seeing a number of people mention substantive 0L prep. It is entirely possible this thread doesn't exist and it was some dream, as I cannot seem to find it anywhere (well, I found a thread like what I described, but no one was advocating substantive 0L prep).

However, from Arrow's thread, which I know a lot of people hold in high regards...

0L prepping is highly controversial and it is hard to tell whether it truly helps. The E&E’s took the longest time to read, but gave me a solid background and introduction to thinking about the typical questions that come up. The number 1 ranked student at my school last year read all 6 hornbooks as a 0L, but I personally felt reading the E&E’s were a better introduction.


Aside from Arrow, I can't find anyone else really advocating for it though. xeoh85, JayCutler'sCombover, and Wahoo1L all say it is a waste of time in their threads, and I guess most people tend to agree. Almost EVERYONE agrees GTM is a great book to read through before law school, and LEEWS comes highly recommended as well, so I stand by that and the rest of my post.









Now where the hell did this phantom thread go... maybe I am going crazy...

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

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby 270910 » Sun May 02, 2010 6:00 pm

traehekat wrote:this thread doesn't exist and it was some dream

I am going crazy


I feel like Arrow might want to edit that part of his post. It gets dragged out as persuasive authority by 0Ls from time to time, but if you actually interact with the guy he takes a much less favorable stance towards it. Even his post is more or less agnostic, but 0Ls repudiate it.

The big problem there is all 0Ls want to think preppring will give them a silver bullet, so they get good at ignoring choruses of "NOOOOOO" so long as they can get one 'yes'.

If you're looking for more stances from TLS posters who've done well, TTT-LS is the poster child for 0L prep hate and is clerking for an international space law justice in the court of entertainment and sports law or something after school IIRC.

As for anecdote, I know people who did no prep and dominated as well as multi-hornbook readers who face planeted.

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

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby traehekat » Sun May 02, 2010 6:18 pm

disco_barred wrote:The big problem there is all 0Ls want to think preppring will give them a silver bullet, so they get good at ignoring choruses of "NOOOOOO" so long as they can get one 'yes'.


I just think because law school is such an enormous investment, coupled with the fact the economy is shit, it is natural for prospective students to want to do all they can to put them in a position to succeed. I certainly don't think it is INTUITIVE to think of substantial preparation as a waste of time, even if it may be true. I mean, look at it like this...

Person A: Oh hey, you are about to shell out $150,000 for a law school education, and your first year grades are of incredible importance to getting a job and getting the most out of your investment. Would you like to spend a few hours a week during the summer going over some of the material you'll cover in law school instead of going into it blind?

Person B: Nah, I'll be aight...

Just doesn't seem like the... natural response. But like you guys have said, I guess it is the truth.

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

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby 270910 » Sun May 02, 2010 6:24 pm

traehekat wrote:
disco_barred wrote:The big problem there is all 0Ls want to think preppring will give them a silver bullet, so they get good at ignoring choruses of "NOOOOOO" so long as they can get one 'yes'.


I just think because law school is such an enormous investment, coupled with the fact the economy is shit, it is natural for prospective students to want to do all they can to put them in a position to succeed. I certainly don't think it is INTUITIVE to think of substantial preparation as a waste of time, even if it may be true. I mean, look at it like this...

Person A: Oh hey, you are about to shell out $150,000 for a law school education, and your first year grades are of incredible importance to getting a job and getting the most out of your investment. Would you like to spend a few hours a week during the summer going over some of the material you'll cover in law school instead of going into it blind?

Person B: Nah, I'll be aight...

Just doesn't seem like the... natural response. But like you guys have said, I guess it is the truth.


You are absolutely correct. We are here to supplement your intuition, which will in many (but not all) respects get you into rather than out of trouble during your first year of law school.

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

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby acdisagod » Sun May 02, 2010 6:32 pm

macattaq wrote:Dear 0L(s), I think I realized one of the best things you can do to "get ahead". Apper alluded to this in a post somewhere, and I just made this realization yesterday. I have noticed a trend in my exam-taking, my studying, and my academic career in general. I have noticed it in the sports I played and quit, the hobbies I took up and dropped, and I can contrast my prior experiences with the things I do now. I have spent my entire life, really, rushing through one project to get to the next. If it didn't come easily, if I couldn't easily identify and solve a problem, if something didn't come to me immediately, I simply guessed at the answer and quit.

Why is this relevant?

Because if I had taken the time to look at my habits and prior experiences before starting law school, my 1L experience probably would have been quite different. Fortunately, my first exam is tomorrow, so I can be mindful of this over the next two weeks, in order to ensure that I don't repeat prior patterns of behavior. But this is only effective going forward.

So what I am advocating to you all, 0Ls, is that you use some of your time off to 'know thyself'. Seriously. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, root out hubris and arrogance, and look for patterns in your behaviors. Take time to really get to know your helpful and harmful behaviors. Figure out how you react under stress, and what your tendencies are when you have downtime. I'm not going to tell you that you should get rid of the harmful behaviors, or develop new ones. But I am saying, that if you know your weaknesses, and can rely on your strengths, you won't be unintentionally shooting yourself in the foot as you try to make progress. Oh yes, and learn to be patient with yourself. It is easy to become frustrated while learning legal concepts, because it is unlike anything you have done before.


Did you read split infinity?

User avatar
mikeytwoshoes
Posts: 1117
Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2008 11:45 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Sun May 02, 2010 8:17 pm

disco_barred wrote:
traehekat wrote:this thread doesn't exist and it was some dream

I am going crazy


I feel like Arrow might want to edit that part of his post. It gets dragged out as persuasive authority by 0Ls from time to time, but if you actually interact with the guy he takes a much less favorable stance towards it. Even his post is more or less agnostic, but 0Ls repudiate it.

The big problem there is all 0Ls want to think preppring will give them a silver bullet, so they get good at ignoring choruses of "NOOOOOO" so long as they can get one 'yes'.

If you're looking for more stances from TLS posters who've done well, TTT-LS is the poster child for 0L prep hate and is clerking for an international space law justice in the court of entertainment and sports law or something after school IIRC.

0L psychosis, son.

User avatar
mmmadeli
Posts: 88
Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 6:54 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby mmmadeli » Sun May 02, 2010 10:59 pm

Frankly, I'm relieved people are telling me not to prep for two schools. I'm also ignoring the "hit the bars and the beach!" advice. I'm working two jobs this summer to pump up my COL budget during the year. I'm actually surprised more people don't try to work and save as much as they can during 0L summer, but that doesn't seem to be the vibe on here.

User avatar
RUQRU
Posts: 134
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:32 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby RUQRU » Mon May 03, 2010 6:54 am

I would like to take a different approach to this question. Would some EXPERIENCED 1L who has grades or above answer this, no "0L" opinions please!

1. The law school final exam counts for nearly, if not totally, 100% of your grade. YES/NO?

2. The law school final requires that at a MINIMUM you know the basic BLL for the topic. YES/NO?

3. You need time to learn, not merely memorize, BLL so you know how to apply the elements to the fact pattern on the final exam. YES/NO?

4. The prof does NOT teach BLL in class. YES/NO?

5. Every 1L class final exam is testing the basics. Torts covers negligence, intentional torts and so forth. The BLL in these areas does not change much from year to year. Why would a BASIC understanding of the elements be detrimental to an incoming 1L? Why would knowing the Erie doctrine from reading Glannon before you walked into your first Civ Pro class be harmful?

Yes, you must pay attention to the areas the prof seem to emphasize and by what you can find on past exams, yes? But at the end of the day the typical issue spotter final exam is testing if you know BLL and can APPLY it the fact pattern. So pray tell, how could doing something, not everything Arrow did, but some lessor amount of familiarization hurt. It seems to me a more positive way of spending one's time than getting drunk or "hanging out."

Thanks for your comments...

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

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby 270910 » Mon May 03, 2010 8:01 am

RUQRU wrote:I would like to take a different approach to this question. Would some EXPERIENCED 1L who has grades or above answer this, no "0L" opinions please!

1. The law school final exam counts for nearly, if not totally, 100% of your grade. YES/NO?

2. The law school final requires that at a MINIMUM you know the basic BLL for the topic. YES/NO?

3. You need time to learn, not merely memorize, BLL so you know how to apply the elements to the fact pattern on the final exam. YES/NO?

4. The prof does NOT teach BLL in class. YES/NO?

5. Every 1L class final exam is testing the basics. Torts covers negligence, intentional torts and so forth. The BLL in these areas does not change much from year to year. Why would a BASIC understanding of the elements be detrimental to an incoming 1L? Why would knowing the Erie doctrine from reading Glannon before you walked into your first Civ Pro class be harmful?

Yes, you must pay attention to the areas the prof seem to emphasize and by what you can find on past exams, yes? But at the end of the day the typical issue spotter final exam is testing if you know BLL and can APPLY it the fact pattern. So pray tell, how could doing something, not everything Arrow did, but some lessor amount of familiarization hurt. It seems to me a more positive way of spending one's time than getting drunk or "hanging out."

Thanks for your comments...


'experienced 1L' here:

1) Yes

2) Yes

3) Yes

4) All profs teach the BLL. They don't do it the most obvious or direct way possible, but the 'profs don't teach the law' thing is kind of a crock of shit

5) Extraordinarily wrong. There are probably some things that come up in every class, but there isn't any one set of 'basics'. I know a professor who never covered do intentional torts. I know people who never did takings or nuisance in property. I know people who spent a lot of time on discovery in civ pro and others who never touched it. More importantly, how a professor teaches the law differs drastically from class to class. Con law is the perfect example: every professor emphasizes certain cases, opinions in those cases, and lines of reasoning between the cases differently. If your professor only cares about O'Connor's concurrence in Lawrence v. Texas then most of the info you would pick up on it prior to law school would be pointless.

To repeat ad-nausem: as a 1L, I understand your instinct to want to do well on exams. The problem is you only have this vague, far away concept of how that will be necessary. Reading a hornbook on torts won't really tell you anything worthwhile over the summer. Looking at a hornbook after taking the class, you use it to supplement your knowledge in a helpful way - it reviews some basics / suggests structure and you will be able to skip over material that doesn't jive with what happened in class. Reading a hornbook before you have read and studied the cases won't be priming your memory in a helpful way. You'll develop a general idea of what to expect, but the same effect could be had by literally spending an hour reading a short outline of the course the night before it starts.

The most important point: 0Ls expect law school to be hard. They are not disappointed by his expectation. What they don't understand is that learning the law - the black letter stuff - is easy, straight forward, and not time consuming. You don't NEED a summer of study to do it. And on the test, you won't be rewarded for knowing the law better than your peers once you've reached the sufficient level of comfort.

Say it with me: law school exams are skills tests. Glannon in the back of his torts E&E calls it 'sophisticated application of basic doctrine' and that's a great way to put it. Even Arrow, if you read carefully, notes that his study partner "always knew the law better than him" (or at least, one of those guide-writing TLS posters did). 0Ls think law school will be like regular school, and that learning the law better-er will be helpful. And you know what? The myth is pervasive. It's not going to go away once you get to law school. People will talk about those who have the most highlighting in their books, those they see reading hornbooks the earliest, those with the longest briefs, those who spend the most time reading the cases.

But none of those activities are likely to pay dividends come exam day either! It's the hardest thing in the world to accept that despite the fact that everyone is competing, it's not a race to see who can learn more law or memorize that law better. The amount of time and effort it takes to internalize the doctrine from a course mean it can probably be done in 2 or 3 days after attending class for a semester. That - to 1Ls who have survived the process with some modicum of self awareness - is what makes it so ridiculous sounding for 0Ls to talk about doing substantive research to get ahead. It's just totally, completely, 100% unnecessary. And it's putting a bold foot forward towards inefficient and ineffective study measures taken in a wild panic.

I get it, we get it. You're scared. I'm scared. Everyone who isn't a 3L heading to a clerkship or big firm in a few months is scared. But your instincts, honed from times when effort was rewarded in a way it never will be in law school, is leading you into a trap.

To share more anecdotes: I go to a great law school, and I know people who got grades anywhere from substantially below median to the top 1% of the class. Taking as a whole the group of people who studied like crazy people, making meticulous briefs, reading several hornbooks, and often having completed substantive prep prior to coming to law school, I know exactly one person who did well enough to be in the running for law review. One. Out of maybe 7 or 8 people who fit in that obnoxious category that practically drips sweat and tension and poisons the well of the rest of the class when people talk about how hard this person is working.

Who are the people that make up the top 10%, top 5%, top 1%? Without exception, they are the people who figured out the rules of the game and made the decision to play by them. They didn't sound smart when they were cold called, they often hadn't touched even a fraction of the supplements that other people in the class had. But they knew their practice exams inside out, they had spent time reflecting on the skills necessary to perform well on a class, and their time studying the law and outlining focused on tracing the trends and background of the legal doctrine rather than grinding way at the facts of individual cases or trying to memorize every dissent, minority rule, and squib case.

Executive summary: Law school is a terrifying place with massive payoffs for strong performance. If strong performance were only a matter of effort, 70%+ of every law school class would have straight As. But it's not. And until you can make the counter-intuitive leap that is required to go from being scared of law school to understanding what you need to do to beat law school, you'll just be increasing your stress without measurably increasing your ability to obtain solid grades.

/Soap box

User avatar
RUQRU
Posts: 134
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:32 pm

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby RUQRU » Mon May 03, 2010 9:21 am

... until you can make the counter-intuitive leap that is required to go from being scared of law school to understanding what you need to do to beat law school, you'll just be increasing your stress without measurably increasing your ability to obtain solid grades.


OK. I'll bite. What is needed to "beat law school"? What are the rules of the game?

You say to make a counter-intuitive leap. To what or where?

Exams are everything, yes? So not briefing, not falling for all the make-work they throw at you and just do the all practice exams you can (so long as you have real answers to verify against). Is that part of the game?

Thanks again for writing such informative answers.

shutterbug
Posts: 115
Joined: Mon Dec 28, 2009 11:17 am

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby shutterbug » Mon May 03, 2010 9:55 am

hubtubrub wrote:
macattaq wrote:Dear 0L(s), I think I realized one of the best things you can do to "get ahead". Apper alluded to this in a post somewhere, and I just made this realization yesterday. I have noticed a trend in my exam-taking, my studying, and my academic career in general. I have noticed it in the sports I played and quit, the hobbies I took up and dropped, and I can contrast my prior experiences with the things I do now. I have spent my entire life, really, rushing through one project to get to the next. If it didn't come easily, if I couldn't easily identify and solve a problem, if something didn't come to me immediately, I simply guessed at the answer and quit.

Why is this relevant?

Because if I had taken the time to look at my habits and prior experiences before starting law school, my 1L experience probably would have been quite different. Fortunately, my first exam is tomorrow, so I can be mindful of this over the next two weeks, in order to ensure that I don't repeat prior patterns of behavior. But this is only effective going forward.

So what I am advocating to you all, 0Ls, is that you use some of your time off to 'know thyself'. Seriously. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, root out hubris and arrogance, and look for patterns in your behaviors. Take time to really get to know your helpful and harmful behaviors. Figure out how you react under stress, and what your tendencies are when you have downtime. I'm not going to tell you that you should get rid of the harmful behaviors, or develop new ones. But I am saying, that if you know your weaknesses, and can rely on your strengths, you won't be unintentionally shooting yourself in the foot as you try to make progress. Oh yes, and learn to be patient with yourself. It is easy to become frustrated while learning legal concepts, because it is unlike anything you have done before.


thanks for this!


+1. This is a fuckin' terrific post.

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

Re: Planet Law School/0L Prep Question

Postby 270910 » Mon May 03, 2010 11:33 am

RUQRU wrote:
... until you can make the counter-intuitive leap that is required to go from being scared of law school to understanding what you need to do to beat law school, you'll just be increasing your stress without measurably increasing your ability to obtain solid grades.


OK. I'll bite. What is needed to "beat law school"? What are the rules of the game?

You say to make a counter-intuitive leap. To what or where?

Exams are everything, yes? So not briefing, not falling for all the make-work they throw at you and just do the all practice exams you can (so long as you have real answers to verify against). Is that part of the game?


Yes. You can fall for make work and still do well, but it's much more likely to distract you from what you should be doing.

The rules are that you need to know how to get points on exams. Professors all vary a little, but mostly it comes down to applying law to fact and building arguments. Spending effort practicing that and thinking about how to do it with the material discussed in class is going to give you an edge.

There's a gulfing chasm of a difference between 'the exam is everything - thus I shall read 10 hornbooks / subject and 2 before class begins' and 'the exam is everything - thus I must spend effort learning what makes a good exam vs. a bad one, what material I actually need to get out of class / reading, and what I can do to practice'.

2L year the people who did best in law school get stuck on law review, with a 10++ hour per week commitment and huge amounts of stress relating to job searches, doing work for professors, writing articles, etc. They still maintain good grades, because no matter the subject there's no need to get a substantive head start.

Two more points about the rules of the game:

1) It's easier to say what is useless (over-hornbooking, briefing, worrying about cold calls, etc.) than it is to say what will get you good grades consistently

2) Building on that, you can't distill what's important, say it to a 0L, and have it click. If you ever 'see the light' it probably won't come until the case method, socraticism, practice exams, and simultaneously learning the contours of 3-5 doctrines first semester really highlights the meaning of phrases like 'apply law to fact' 'irac isn't necessary' 'argue both sides' 'spot the issue' etc. Books like getting to maybe are gold, but there's greatly diminished meaning to derive from it without a substantial exposure to all of the aspects of learning the law as a 1L. (Concrete tip: read getting to maybe at least once more during law school, hopefully near thanksgiving, even if you read it as a 0L).




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 7 guests