Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

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rowlf
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Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby rowlf » Sat May 08, 2010 2:22 pm

0L here, looking to make the most of 1L while getting good grades--pretty standard.

I was just hoping for some thoughts from people who've been there on how you related what you know about how you work and live to choosing a study strategy and schedule 1L. I'm looking for your thought processes in choosing an approach to law school, descriptions of how you function, and the study plan you ultimately went with and how it well it worked for you. Obviously a lot of this might be trial and error, but I want to hear about that too.

This came to mind as I noticed that there are at least three different ways of studying that are floating on this board who've worked for people, so I want to mindfully choose my strategy.

Thanks.

Netopalis
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby Netopalis » Sat May 08, 2010 3:02 pm

Well, I'm not really sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, but this was my approach. I'd imagine that others did things that were fairly similar.

Reading: I had roughly 50 pages of reading assigned per night. The slowest rate that I've ever read cases at is 20 pages per hour. If you take that long, you're spending 5 minutes per page, which is a bit much. The key is to focus on what will be important for you on the final exam and in class. Read the case once and get the determinative facts, holding and reasoning down. You need to know enough facts to survive the Socratic, but beyond that, the facts are fairly meaningless. After your classes, formulate a rule from what you've done in that period and save it - it will be useful later. Remember that law school is a test of how well you can distill and concentrate knowledge. Each class session can be summarized in a few sentences, and you're not going to be able to remember more than that for the final anyway.

You'll also want to keep up with your supplements. Every weekend, read the chapters of your supplements that correspond to what you've been studying. This should be about 100-150-ish pages for the weekend. It's completely worth it. Just remember that if your professor and supplement disagree, go with what your professor said.

Outlining: I will probably get flamed for this, but I believe that most students overoutline. I get 50-100 page outlines from upperclassmen, and while those are impressive...they're not necessary. An outline should contain two things: rules and policy. An outline should not include the facts of cases, case names (except in Con Law or cases which are extremely important), class notes or anything like that. If you've done your work well, you can get your outline down to fewer than 20 pages. My longest outline was 15 pages, and my shortest was 5. I got a 97 on my 5-page outline and a 86 on my 15 page outline. The value of an outline should be measured by its usefulness, not by its length.

Exam taking: As I said in another thread recently, the biggest thing that you can do to improve your exam scores is to write well. Organize your answers and use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. Use the "enter" key to make several paragraphs, each with a separate idea. Use headers to show the professor where you're headed. Your professor will sit down with your exam, a list of issues, and point values for each of those issues. Make it clear where you discuss each of those issues and show your reasoning in an easily-digestible format. I think that a lot of people who are otherwise brilliant don't realize this and simply dump their entire outline into the exam - that's not the point.

Another thing about exams - study every past exam given out by professors. They are worth their weight in gold. Professors are extremely consistent in their exams from one year to the next. By looking at those exams, you can notice patterns and pretty much guess what questions will be on the final. This is a huge advantage.

Other notes: I think that, overall, my mantra in law school has been "Focus only on that which is important. Anything that will help you on the final exam is important. Anything that will not help you on the final exam is unimportant." Of course, you do need to know enough to avoid looking like an idiot in class, but don't try to remember that information beyond class. Oh, and one more thing - whatever you do, don't insist on reading cases multiple times unless you're absolutely stumped. It's a waste of time.

Altogether, here's what my day looked like:
Weekday:
~5 hours spent at the school (meetings, classes, study sessions with other students, etc.)
~3 hours spent reading assigned work
~8 hours sleep
~2 hours for cooking/cleaning/eating/life in general
~6 hours of whatever I wanted to do

Weekend:
~5 hours spent reading
~8 hours sleep
~3 hours for cooking/cleaning/eating/life in general
~8 hours for whatever I wanted to do

As you can see, the pace isn't terribly grueling. It's more than a 40-hour/week job, but it's not unmanageable. Of course, things change a bit as you get closer to exams, but the theory is still there.

Edit: I'd recommend not studying in the library, BTW. Working in the library distracts and stresses out a lot of students. There is nothing that you will actually need in the library, but by leaving, you keep from getting interrupted by people wanting to chat with you while you work or freaking out because you're sitting next to somebody in your class who's studying stuff that you've never even heard of. At home, you can control the environment. Use that to your advantage.

Tautology
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby Tautology » Sun May 09, 2010 1:33 am

Thanks for the suggestions. I've heard a lot of advice as far as how to get good grades in law school, and I understand the importance of grades, but if I were also interested in getting the most learning out of my classes do you have any suggestions for that?

Also, might want to check your math.

Netopalis wrote:Reading: I had roughly 50 pages of reading assigned per night. The slowest rate that I've ever read cases at is 20 pages per hour. If you take that long, you're spending 5 minutes per page, which is a bit much.

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Knock
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby Knock » Sun May 09, 2010 2:28 am

Netopalis wrote:Well, I'm not really sure if this is exactly what you're looking for, but this was my approach. I'd imagine that others did things that were fairly similar.

Reading: I had roughly 50 pages of reading assigned per night. The slowest rate that I've ever read cases at is 20 pages per hour. If you take that long, you're spending 5 minutes per page, which is a bit much. The key is to focus on what will be important for you on the final exam and in class. Read the case once and get the determinative facts, holding and reasoning down. You need to know enough facts to survive the Socratic, but beyond that, the facts are fairly meaningless. After your classes, formulate a rule from what you've done in that period and save it - it will be useful later. Remember that law school is a test of how well you can distill and concentrate knowledge. Each class session can be summarized in a few sentences, and you're not going to be able to remember more than that for the final anyway.

You'll also want to keep up with your supplements. Every weekend, read the chapters of your supplements that correspond to what you've been studying. This should be about 100-150-ish pages for the weekend. It's completely worth it. Just remember that if your professor and supplement disagree, go with what your professor said.

Outlining: I will probably get flamed for this, but I believe that most students overoutline. I get 50-100 page outlines from upperclassmen, and while those are impressive...they're not necessary. An outline should contain two things: rules and policy. An outline should not include the facts of cases, case names (except in Con Law or cases which are extremely important), class notes or anything like that. If you've done your work well, you can get your outline down to fewer than 20 pages. My longest outline was 15 pages, and my shortest was 5. I got a 97 on my 5-page outline and a 86 on my 15 page outline. The value of an outline should be measured by its usefulness, not by its length.

Exam taking: As I said in another thread recently, the biggest thing that you can do to improve your exam scores is to write well. Organize your answers and use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. Use the "enter" key to make several paragraphs, each with a separate idea. Use headers to show the professor where you're headed. Your professor will sit down with your exam, a list of issues, and point values for each of those issues. Make it clear where you discuss each of those issues and show your reasoning in an easily-digestible format. I think that a lot of people who are otherwise brilliant don't realize this and simply dump their entire outline into the exam - that's not the point.

Another thing about exams - study every past exam given out by professors. They are worth their weight in gold. Professors are extremely consistent in their exams from one year to the next. By looking at those exams, you can notice patterns and pretty much guess what questions will be on the final. This is a huge advantage.

Other notes: I think that, overall, my mantra in law school has been "Focus only on that which is important. Anything that will help you on the final exam is important. Anything that will not help you on the final exam is unimportant." Of course, you do need to know enough to avoid looking like an idiot in class, but don't try to remember that information beyond class. Oh, and one more thing - whatever you do, don't insist on reading cases multiple times unless you're absolutely stumped. It's a waste of time.

Altogether, here's what my day looked like:
Weekday:
~5 hours spent at the school (meetings, classes, study sessions with other students, etc.)
~3 hours spent reading assigned work
~8 hours sleep
~2 hours for cooking/cleaning/eating/life in general
~6 hours of whatever I wanted to do

Weekend:
~5 hours spent reading
~8 hours sleep
~3 hours for cooking/cleaning/eating/life in general
~8 hours for whatever I wanted to do

As you can see, the pace isn't terribly grueling. It's more than a 40-hour/week job, but it's not unmanageable. Of course, things change a bit as you get closer to exams, but the theory is still there.

Edit: I'd recommend not studying in the library, BTW. Working in the library distracts and stresses out a lot of students. There is nothing that you will actually need in the library, but by leaving, you keep from getting interrupted by people wanting to chat with you while you work or freaking out because you're sitting next to somebody in your class who's studying stuff that you've never even heard of. At home, you can control the environment. Use that to your advantage.


Great post, very informative...thank you so much.

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A'nold
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby A'nold » Sun May 09, 2010 3:58 am

Or......you could just wing it? I am the exact opposite of dude above. I couldn't tell you how many pages I read per hour, how many hours I study, when I do it, etc. I just do it......wow, that was quite the hours chart there.

Leeroy Jenkins
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby Leeroy Jenkins » Sun May 09, 2010 4:02 am

A'nold wrote:Or......you could just wing it? I am the exact opposite of dude above. I couldn't tell you how many pages I read per hour, how many hours I study, when I do it, etc. I just do it......wow, that was quite the hours chart there.

haha +1

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macattaq
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby macattaq » Sun May 09, 2010 6:17 am

Leeroy Jenkins wrote:
A'nold wrote:Or......you could just wing it? I am the exact opposite of dude above. I couldn't tell you how many pages I read per hour, how many hours I study, when I do it, etc. I just do it......wow, that was quite the hours chart there.

haha +1


+2

As long as the work gets done such that you understand the material, nothing else matters.

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rbgrocio
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby rbgrocio » Sun May 09, 2010 7:54 am

I haven't gone out once since I started law school, but I'm married and have the fun at home. the only time I went out was a weekend on a cruise during spring break. I wake up at 5:45 a.m. everyday and I'm at school from 6: 45 to 5 p.m. everyday. I go home shower, and study until 10 a.m. I outline everyday, do every reading, brief every case and study the week's material during the weekend unless we have a writing assignment, in which case that just becomes impossible. Legal writing is the worst class ever!

Netopalis
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby Netopalis » Sun May 09, 2010 9:29 am

*shrug* I like to make things organized and try to figure out an optimal use of my time. Most of the stuff was largely a guesstimate...I did figure out how long it took me to read 20 pages, but beyond that, the rest was just piecing together stuff, like knowing that I would usually go in at 8:30 and be done by 3:30, while having a 2 hour break in there where I'd usually head back to the apartment for lunch. And yeah, I meant 3 minutes per page - sorry, I'm a bit scatterbrained lately.

As far as getting the most out of your classes, honestly, just doing the reading and the work will get you as much out of them as you can. For your 1L year, you're going to be busy enough just keeping up, and you want to remember that grades are your goal. I can't think of a single way to spend more time that would have made those 1L classes more informative. You see, the thing is, you can always go back and look up a rule or substantive area of law later in practice. The only reason that you're in law school is to learn a mode of thought (and improve advocacy skills, if you're a litigator or in appellate practice). I'd spend any extra time getting involved in student organizations and/or doing student competitions.

Tautology
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby Tautology » Sun May 09, 2010 11:26 am

Netopalis wrote:*shrug* I like to make things organized and try to figure out an optimal use of my time. Most of the stuff was largely a guesstimate...I did figure out how long it took me to read 20 pages, but beyond that, the rest was just piecing together stuff, like knowing that I would usually go in at 8:30 and be done by 3:30, while having a 2 hour break in there where I'd usually head back to the apartment for lunch. And yeah, I meant 3 minutes per page - sorry, I'm a bit scatterbrained lately.

As far as getting the most out of your classes, honestly, just doing the reading and the work will get you as much out of them as you can. For your 1L year, you're going to be busy enough just keeping up, and you want to remember that grades are your goal. I can't think of a single way to spend more time that would have made those 1L classes more informative. You see, the thing is, you can always go back and look up a rule or substantive area of law later in practice. The only reason that you're in law school is to learn a mode of thought (and improve advocacy skills, if you're a litigator or in appellate practice). I'd spend any extra time getting involved in student organizations and/or doing student competitions.


Thanks.

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sayan
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby sayan » Sun May 09, 2010 7:24 pm

Thanks Neto.

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mikeytwoshoes
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Sun May 09, 2010 8:08 pm

A'nold wrote:Or......you could just wing it? I am the exact opposite of dude above. I couldn't tell you how many pages I read per hour, how many hours I study, when I do it, etc. I just do it......wow, that was quite the hours chart there.

I agree with A'nold. I'm not one to divide my day into little section that take a certain amount of time. Unfortunately, this worked much better for A'nold than me.

FML

On the bright side, I only read the Pennoyer thread for LULZ.

GermX
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby GermX » Mon May 10, 2010 1:26 pm

Outlining: I will probably get flamed for this, but I believe that most students overoutline. I get 50-100 page outlines from upperclassmen, and while those are impressive...they're not necessary. An outline should contain two things: rules and policy. An outline should not include the facts of cases, case names (except in Con Law or cases which are extremely important), class notes or anything like that. If you've done your work well, you can get your outline down to fewer than 20 pages. My longest outline was 15 pages, and my shortest was 5. I got a 97 on my 5-page outline and a 86 on my 15 page outline. The value of an outline should be measured by its usefulness, not by its length.


Really, outlines are graded in law school (not 0L yet, attending in the fall)?

gollymolly
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby gollymolly » Mon May 10, 2010 1:40 pm

.
Last edited by gollymolly on Sat Dec 11, 2010 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

Netopalis
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby Netopalis » Tue May 11, 2010 1:17 am

Oh, no, outlines aren't graded! Sorry for giving you that impression! What I was trying to show was that there was no correlation between having a long outline and having a good score on the class, in my experience.

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napolnic
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby napolnic » Tue May 11, 2010 8:17 pm

Do what you did to get into law school.

Period.

If you did psychometrics on yourself before law school, do it during law school. If you didn't, don't now. People like to quote the importance of E&Es and hornbooks, but if you've done well simply going to class and paying attention, do that. Law school is not the place to change everything about your study habits and do something because someone on a message board has given over their first born to Chemerinsky.

Netopalis
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby Netopalis » Tue May 11, 2010 8:36 pm

With all due respect, I'm afraid that I have to disagree. Ignoring the differences between undergrad and law school is a grave mistake. Four differences jump to mind:

1) The Books - There are no analogous materials to E&Es in undergrad, at least, not that I am aware of. Therefore, saying that you shouldn't use them because you didn't use them in undergrad is foolhardy.

2) The Class - Very few, if any, classes that most people take in undergrad will be taught using the Socratic Method. Learning through the Socratic Method is an acquired skill.

3) The Work - The amount of work in law school is a significant increase from undergrad. Also, instead of being spoon-fed material as you are in most undergrad courses, law school basically forces you to figure it out for yourself, then find out whether you're right or not.

4) The Curve - In undergrad, most classes aren't curved. Those that are curved usually have a large number of slackers or weaker students who make the curve easier. In law school, however, almost everybody is brilliant, and only a few raw points separate a mid-A from a curve grade. Because the measuring stick is now set at such a harder level, you need to adapt to produce a higher quality of work.

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napolnic
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby napolnic » Wed May 12, 2010 8:34 am

Netopalis wrote:With all due respect, I'm afraid that I have to disagree. Ignoring the differences between undergrad and law school is a grave mistake. Four differences jump to mind:

1) The Books - There are no analogous materials to E&Es in undergrad, at least, not that I am aware of. Therefore, saying that you shouldn't use them because you didn't use them in undergrad is foolhardy.

2) The Class - Very few, if any, classes that most people take in undergrad will be taught using the Socratic Method. Learning through the Socratic Method is an acquired skill.

3) The Work - The amount of work in law school is a significant increase from undergrad. Also, instead of being spoon-fed material as you are in most undergrad courses, law school basically forces you to figure it out for yourself, then find out whether you're right or not.

4) The Curve - In undergrad, most classes aren't curved. Those that are curved usually have a large number of slackers or weaker students who make the curve easier. In law school, however, almost everybody is brilliant, and only a few raw points separate a mid-A from a curve grade. Because the measuring stick is now set at such a harder level, you need to adapt to produce a higher quality of work.


I guess I should have listed my assumption that you got into the best school based on your abilities. That said:

1) Wikipedia
2) I never said that law school was like undergrad; I said that if you did well in undergrad, chances are, those skills are transferable, no need to entirely change your study habits.
3) Again, I never said law school was like undergrad.
4) See above.

Yes, law school is harder than undergrad. There is more work. There is a curve. Your classmates are brilliant. It's still school; you are still learning things, albeit maybe in a different way. But to entirely change your habits because something is harder is not necessarily or even probably the right way to go. Don't be so quick to abandon what has worked in the past. Yes, you might need to tweak, but that's what 1L year is for, it sucks. Almost no one just 'gets it' right out of the gate. See any 0L who has read an E&E and stumbles on this section of the board.

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TTT-LS
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby TTT-LS » Wed May 12, 2010 11:15 am

,
Last edited by TTT-LS on Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Netopalis
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby Netopalis » Wed May 12, 2010 5:36 pm

Meh, I'd still argue that supplements are something that is different between undergrad and law school. Wikipedia is nice as a review for some courses, but for other courses (mathematics, foreign languages, Chemistry and Physics, to name a few), there is no similar help available. What's more, there's no need to, since it's not curved. In undergrad, if you're smart, you can get away without doing the reading for a lot of your classes. In law school's 1L year, not so much.

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rowlf
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby rowlf » Wed May 12, 2010 9:02 pm

gollymolly wrote: I think having an idea of who you are and how you learn is the most important thing for you to figure out before coming to LS.


I agree, hence this thread. Thanks for everyone's thoughts so far!

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zeth006
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby zeth006 » Fri May 14, 2010 7:44 am

rowlf wrote:
gollymolly wrote: I think having an idea of who you are and how you learn is the most important thing for you to figure out before coming to LS.


I agree, hence this thread. Thanks for everyone's thoughts so far!


I don't suppose a Myers-Briggs test assessment might help? A 4-letter personality combination can say much about who we are and how we tick especially in a work environment. Some people perform best in acutely structured environments. There's little spontaneity in their schedule so they're almost never late to work or an appointment. Others thrive on improvising on the spur of the moment and thus prove to be more flexible to changes in their schedule on a day to day basis.

Separate from that, there's also photographic memory factor. That can sure make a difference in how well we do on a detail-oriented test. But then again by now, most of us have learned at least since high school just how good we are at retaining concepts and ideas over long periods of time. I personally learned the hard way that I'm no born test-taker.

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Paichka
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Re: Relating personal style to a winning 1L strategy

Postby Paichka » Mon May 17, 2010 1:02 pm

I did essentially what Netopalis did -- did the class reading, then read relevant sections of supplements, rinse, repeat. Before 1L started, I read Arrow's and Xeoh's guides here on TLS, and basically followed them like the gospel. :)

I also always read the notes after the cases. A lot of people will tell you not to do that, that it's a waste of time, and maybe it is. Sometimes, though, the notes can shed some additional light on a particularly complex rule. In property this past semester, our professor would grill some poor schmo for 20-30 minutes on a single case...half the time, the answers he was looking for were brought up by the casebook authors in the notes. So I read 'em.

My outlines were never super-long...20-25 pages, usually. Civ Pro II was 40 or something, but that was because I made the font huge and set off certain blocks of text, for readability. What makes mine longer are the fact that I organize them by rule, then cases using the rule, then policy considerations for the rule. Unlike a lot of people, I cited cases in every exam. I used them as shorthand -- "As in the case of Finders v. Keepers, where ..., these facts present a sequential possession issue. Unlike in that case, however, here the finder was a trespasser and so..." Who knows if that actually made a difference or not. Our professors always said it wasn't necessary, but it was a way to distinguish yourself. So, I do it.




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