beat law school book?

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hopefulaw
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beat law school book?

Postby hopefulaw » Tue May 25, 2010 12:07 pm

hi,

has anyone read beat law school by michael west? anyone know anything about it? two law grads recommended it to me, they both liked how the author steers students away from spending a lot of money on study aids. it's supposed to be unpleasantly honest. i think i might risk it.

thanks

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JWicker10
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby JWicker10 » Tue May 25, 2010 7:38 pm

Getting to Maybe.

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Dustin.
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby Dustin. » Tue May 25, 2010 7:48 pm

I haven't heard of that particular book, but study aids are a necessity in law school.

If you are interested in getting a good overview of law school, I would reccomend the book Law School Confidential.

Good luck.

Edit: Grammer

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RUQRU
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby RUQRU » Tue May 25, 2010 7:57 pm

Planet Law School II: What You Need to Know (Before You Go), But Didn't Know to Ask... and No One Else Will Tell You, Second Edition [Paperback]

# Paperback: 858 pages
# Publisher: Fine Print Press; Rev Upd edition (November 2003)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1888960507
# ISBN-13: 978-1888960501


Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold [Paperback]
Thane Messinger (Author)

# Paperback: 384 pages
# Publisher: Fine Print Press (October 10, 2008)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 1888960809
# ISBN-13: 978-188896080

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Iconoclast
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby Iconoclast » Tue May 25, 2010 9:14 pm

Dustin. wrote:
Edit: Grammer


Oh, the irony!

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vexion
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby vexion » Tue May 25, 2010 9:24 pm

Iconoclast wrote:Oh, the irony!

Guffaw. Good catch.

OP, I haven't read that book. In terms of books to prepare you for the law school experience as a whole, I would like to second Law School Confidential by Robert Miller, and strongly disagree with those who recommend Planet Law School II.

Law School Confidential is a more "light and fluffy" overview of the law school experience from start to finish — applications through jobs and clerking. Personally I found it a very good touchstone to know where you stand and what you should be looking forward to. It offers some of the standard advice for success once you're in law school (do practice tests early, outline early, make law review), and it advocates the "rainbow method" (six highlighters) for briefing cases, which is generally panned around here, I think.

Planet Law School (warning: personal opinion ahead) was dreadful. Did it have some solid advice? Sure. But it's 800 pages of venomous, spite-filled diatribe which seemingly meanders from "law school success" to how much the author hates law school professors to... baseball, without much guidance. Keep in mind that the author, 1) writes under a pseudonym, 2) refuses to reveal which law school he went to, how well he did, whether he got a job out of law school, or where he is currently employed, and 3) openly admits that he did not know the "secret to law school success" until he figured it out after law school. On top of that, a common criticism of the book is that it basically just recommends you buy 1,000 other books. PLS shills for supplements like they're going out of style. And the "three-month 0L study program" it offers is kind of ridiculous. That said, I want to reiterate that the book is not 100% bad. It gives a sobering critique of law school that may shake the rose-colored glasses off of some people. But it's depressingly mean-spirited and not as helpful as you would hope for its length.

Finally, I haven't read it yet, but 110% of TLSers recommend reading Getting to Maybe. G2M only applies to success on law school exams, though, and AFAIK doesn't tell you how to format a law school résumé, or get a clerkship, or whatever.

hopefulaw
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby hopefulaw » Wed May 26, 2010 1:38 am

thanks guys. i really appreciate it. i dont think i want to read an 850 page book, but i will certainly check out a few of the ones you all listed. i feel like everyone has already read everything but me haha.

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vexion
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby vexion » Wed May 26, 2010 7:03 am

hopefulaw wrote:i dont think i want to read an 850 page book

Wait till law school. :P

hopefulaw
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby hopefulaw » Wed May 26, 2010 7:58 am

vexion wrote:
hopefulaw wrote:i dont think i want to read an 850 page book

Wait till law school. :P


haha you make a good point. i guess now is as good a time as any to start.

mikesterns
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby mikesterns » Thu May 27, 2010 11:08 am

Hi hopefulaw,

I picked up a copy of Beat Law School after reading the amazon reviews. It is excellent. I liked the way the author set out to write a book that he would have wanted to read before law school.

Also, the book is recent enough to include what's currently going on at law firms with the economy the way it is, and the author is honest about his current experience at his law firm, and the experiences of other current associates in New York City.

I hope that helps. I liked it and it was a quick read so if you want to postpone the 900 page books until law school you can give it a shot.

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MURPH
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby MURPH » Thu May 27, 2010 11:28 am

I just finished reading the relevant chapters of PLS2. I skipped the ones about what to take in years 2 + 3. I really enjoyed it. I also am doing the 13 week self study program. I am glad to see that he recommends other books and products that he is not affiliated with. The author may be pseudononomous but he is not a huckster who just trys to get law school students to buy useless crap. When he recommends products, he says to buy older editions and to buy used and to share among study partners.
So far the 13 week study program is interesting and not overwhelming. Fun isn't the right word but it is good.
The author also runs a yahoo web group and he is available to give advice or answer questions.
Also, I know Thane Messinger the author of Getting in getting Good and getting the gold. He is a good guy but his book covers a lot of topics. Everything from applying to your first job. It is a good read but not a prep book. It is more of a reference book. Read it once then look back on the relevant topics from time to time. He has good information (I assume) about how to run a study group in law school.

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toolshed
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby toolshed » Thu May 27, 2010 11:30 am

Welcome to TLS Michael West and/or CreateSpace's marketing department.
mikesterns wrote:Hi hopefulaw,

I picked up a copy of Beat Law School after reading the amazon reviews. It is excellent. I liked the way the author set out to write a book that he would have wanted to read before law school.

Also, the book is recent enough to include what's currently going on at law firms with the economy the way it is, and the author is honest about his current experience at his law firm, and the experiences of other current associates in New York City.

I hope that helps. I liked it and it was a quick read so if you want to postpone the 900 page books until law school you can give it a shot.
hopefulaw wrote:hi,

has anyone read beat law school by michael west? anyone know anything about it? two law grads recommended it to me, they both liked how the author steers students away from spending a lot of money on study aids. it's supposed to be unpleasantly honest. i think i might risk it.

thanks

mikesterns
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby mikesterns » Thu May 27, 2010 11:56 am

Haha I'm just bored at work. Real estate is not exactly "where it's at" right now. I don't believe createspace has a marketing department as it is Amazon's self-publishing branch. Anyway thanks for the welcome. Now that I think about it...I should write a book! About not going into real estate law...

toolshed wrote:Welcome to TLS Michael West and/or CreateSpace's marketing department.
mikesterns wrote:Hi hopefulaw,

I picked up a copy of Beat Law School after reading the amazon reviews. It is excellent. I liked the way the author set out to write a book that he would have wanted to read before law school.

Also, the book is recent enough to include what's currently going on at law firms with the economy the way it is, and the author is honest about his current experience at his law firm, and the experiences of other current associates in New York City.

I hope that helps. I liked it and it was a quick read so if you want to postpone the 900 page books until law school you can give it a shot.
hopefulaw wrote:hi,

has anyone read beat law school by michael west? anyone know anything about it? two law grads recommended it to me, they both liked how the author steers students away from spending a lot of money on study aids. it's supposed to be unpleasantly honest. i think i might risk it.

thanks

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RUQRU
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Opinions on West's Advice

Postby RUQRU » Mon May 31, 2010 9:55 am

Anyone care to comment on the advice given by Michael West in Beat Law School?

Cramming For Exams
Pg 46:
Cramming works because you make a concentrated effort to learn everything for a class in a few days and then reproduce everything you hold in your head on the exam.

Almost every other advice book says cramming does not work. Do you cram for exams? If so, does it work?
The way a 3L takes an exam is by studying everything right before the exam and writing as much as possible on the exam with as many seemingly tangents as possible.


Brevity
Pg. 47:
Exam papers that also discuss issues of incentives , risk distribution, and addresses seemingly weak arguments will do much better than your succinct exam paper...Writing more is always the ticket to a better exam. The more you write, the more arguments you have to put down, on your exam, and the more arguments you have put down, the better you have demonstrated your ability to anticipate and respond to potential counterarguments...Silly arguments are good too. Some of the best exam writers in my class were able to write two or three times more than everyone else in the same amount of time.


Practice Exam Writing
Pg 48:
1Ls waste far too much time on this. It's OK to write one or two practice exam answers...in your whole law school career. Do not waste your study time on writing answers...when I interviewed law review students about this tactic they laughed it off. The best law students...concentrated on absorbing the material on the syllabus...By avoiding time-wasters such as hornbooks and practice answer writing, you will do far better than your peers on exams


Does this advice make sense?

Esc
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Re: Opinions on West's Advice

Postby Esc » Mon May 31, 2010 11:55 am

RUQRU wrote:Anyone care to comment on the advice given by Michael West in Beat Law School?

Cramming For Exams
Pg 46:
Cramming works because you make a concentrated effort to learn everything for a class in a few days and then reproduce everything you hold in your head on the exam.

Almost every other advice book says cramming does not work. Do you cram for exams? If so, does it work?
The way a 3L takes an exam is by studying everything right before the exam and writing as much as possible on the exam with as many seemingly tangents as possible.


Brevity
Pg. 47:
Exam papers that also discuss issues of incentives , risk distribution, and addresses seemingly weak arguments will do much better than your succinct exam paper...Writing more is always the ticket to a better exam. The more you write, the more arguments you have to put down, on your exam, and the more arguments you have put down, the better you have demonstrated your ability to anticipate and respond to potential counterarguments...Silly arguments are good too. Some of the best exam writers in my class were able to write two or three times more than everyone else in the same amount of time.


Practice Exam Writing
Pg 48:
1Ls waste far too much time on this. It's OK to write one or two practice exam answers...in your whole law school career. Do not waste your study time on writing answers...when I interviewed law review students about this tactic they laughed it off. The best law students...concentrated on absorbing the material on the syllabus...By avoiding time-wasters such as hornbooks and practice answer writing, you will do far better than your peers on exams


Does this advice make sense?


Is this really what the book says? If so, it's a total scam. You have to study throughout the semester, word count is only very loosely connected to exam performance (and this varies by professor, some like to have every possible lead mentioned while others value concision), and writing full practice exams under timed conditions is the BEST way to prepare for an exam.

You want to know why 3Ls cram? Because by the time they are 3Ls they don't care what grades they get anymore.

That book is a sham

concurrent fork
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Re: Opinions on West's Advice

Postby concurrent fork » Mon May 31, 2010 12:06 pm

RUQRU wrote:Anyone care to comment on the advice given by Michael West in Beat Law School?

Cramming For Exams
Pg 46:
Cramming works because you make a concentrated effort to learn everything for a class in a few days and then reproduce everything you hold in your head on the exam.

Almost every other advice book says cramming does not work. Do you cram for exams? If so, does it work?
The way a 3L takes an exam is by studying everything right before the exam and writing as much as possible on the exam with as many seemingly tangents as possible.


Brevity
Pg. 47:
Exam papers that also discuss issues of incentives , risk distribution, and addresses seemingly weak arguments will do much better than your succinct exam paper...Writing more is always the ticket to a better exam. The more you write, the more arguments you have to put down, on your exam, and the more arguments you have put down, the better you have demonstrated your ability to anticipate and respond to potential counterarguments...Silly arguments are good too. Some of the best exam writers in my class were able to write two or three times more than everyone else in the same amount of time.


Practice Exam Writing
Pg 48:
1Ls waste far too much time on this. It's OK to write one or two practice exam answers...in your whole law school career. Do not waste your study time on writing answers...when I interviewed law review students about this tactic they laughed it off. The best law students...concentrated on absorbing the material on the syllabus...By avoiding time-wasters such as hornbooks and practice answer writing, you will do far better than your peers on exams


Does this advice make sense?


Students who made law review laughed at the idea of writing practice exams? To each their own I suppose. I think for the vast majority of students writing practice exams is not only helpful, but essential.

The point on discussing policy issues and the consequences of particular choices, even where it might seem tangential, is fairly accurate. Everyone will identify the obvious arguments and counterarguments. To make your response stand out (time permitting), you often need to show a deeper level of analysis. GTM has some great advice on this.

As for "cramming" - depends on how you define the term. I would not recommend checking out all semester and then cracking open a supplement for the first time a couple of days before your final. However, if he means holding off on outlining and practice tests until a few days before an exam, then sure, people pull that off. But you would still need to put in the work all semester long in order to make connections between the material and see the nuances your prof picks out in each area.

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bgc
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby bgc » Mon May 31, 2010 12:26 pm

Regarding practice exams, they are tremendously helpful. Each professor has a consistent style of exam writing; learning that is key.

I will say, however, that it's better to space them out over the semester. It will help you understand what the course is about and which elements are to be highlighted. You don't want to take 3 practice exams the night before the real thing and find out all the LR articles you didn't read are integral.

Also, you DO need to leave some time to actually study in those final hours.

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RUQRU
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Questionable Advice?

Postby RUQRU » Mon May 31, 2010 7:19 pm

I thought the book was kind of strange. It appears self-published. There is no publisher information. It costs $9.95 on Amazon and is only 91 pages. Very cheaply put together.

His advice about not writing practice exams seemed odd. Every other source recommends that you do these and especially old exams given by the professor.

I suspected the author may be perpetrating some kind of spoof when I read the "What not to do" chapter at the end of the book. He says:

Don't look a porn in class; the professor will catch you sooner or later.


Do adults really need this kind of advice? I certainly hope not!

tomwelling
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Re: Opinions on West's Advice

Postby tomwelling » Mon May 31, 2010 7:34 pm

RUQRU wrote:Anyone care to comment on the advice given by Michael West in Beat Law School?

Cramming For Exams
Pg 46:
Cramming works because you make a concentrated effort to learn everything for a class in a few days and then reproduce everything you hold in your head on the exam.

Almost every other advice book says cramming does not work. Do you cram for exams? If so, does it work?
The way a 3L takes an exam is by studying everything right before the exam and writing as much as possible on the exam with as many seemingly tangents as possible.


Brevity
Pg. 47:
Exam papers that also discuss issues of incentives , risk distribution, and addresses seemingly weak arguments will do much better than your succinct exam paper...Writing more is always the ticket to a better exam. The more you write, the more arguments you have to put down, on your exam, and the more arguments you have put down, the better you have demonstrated your ability to anticipate and respond to potential counterarguments...Silly arguments are good too. Some of the best exam writers in my class were able to write two or three times more than everyone else in the same amount of time.


Practice Exam Writing
Pg 48:
1Ls waste far too much time on this. It's OK to write one or two practice exam answers...in your whole law school career. Do not waste your study time on writing answers...when I interviewed law review students about this tactic they laughed it off. The best law students...concentrated on absorbing the material on the syllabus...By avoiding time-wasters such as hornbooks and practice answer writing, you will do far better than your peers on exams


Does this advice make sense?


I disagree with all of it.

mikesterns
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby mikesterns » Wed Jun 02, 2010 9:29 am

I can't say I agree with every strategy in the book. I think the main
problem with it, however, is that just about all of the advice in the
book is the product of hindsight. It's the kind of thing you learn
when or after it is too late. I think that if someone gave me this
advice when I was a scared beginning law student, I would have thought it was crap because of what everyone else says and does. Basically there is more here than you think. I would have taken more away from law school if I had someone sit me down and be as honest with me as the author is here. When I finished reading I started passing the book around my office and the associates all love it. Maybe because we're all bitter about the advice we ourselves received and took.

About adults not having to be told not to watch porn in class...just about everything that can happen in law school does happen, for the most part everyone has some weird law school porn story. Porn in class is nowhere near the limit of the absurd behavior you will see from your fellow "adults." Does it stop at the firm? In some ways it gets worse.

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RUQRU
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby RUQRU » Thu Jun 03, 2010 6:49 am

mikesterns wrote:I can't say I agree with every strategy in the book. I think the main
problem with it, however, is that just about all of the advice in the
book is the product of hindsight. It's the kind of thing you learn
when or after it is too late. I think that if someone gave me this
advice when I was a scared beginning law student, I would have thought it was crap because of what everyone else says and does. Basically there is more here than you think. I would have taken more away from law school if I had someone sit me down and be as honest with me as the author is here. When I finished reading I started passing the book around my office and the associates all love it. Maybe because we're all bitter about the advice we ourselves received and took.

About adults not having to be told not to watch porn in class...just about everything that can happen in law school does happen, for the most part everyone has some weird law school porn story. Porn in class is nowhere near the limit of the absurd behavior you will see from your fellow "adults." Does it stop at the firm? In some ways it gets worse.


If you care to, can you please say what you agree with and what you find not so helpful. Seems most people think writing practice exams is essential to success. Mr. West says "no." What do you think. From your comments your are a practicing attorney, right? So please expand on your comments.
Last edited by RUQRU on Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mikesterns
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby mikesterns » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:15 pm

Hi RUQRU,

I am a practicing attorney and I graduated from a so-called "top" law school only a few years ago so I still remember exactly what you guys are going through. I did a lot of practice exam writing during my 1L year and I thought that it was marginally helpful. I think it is most helpful for people who are coming from the least writing-intensive undergraduate majors. As I got more experience at taking law school exams, I realized that writing practice answers was not the best strategy, at least not for me, as I was ok at the writing aspect and needed to focus more on understanding the material.

I don't think West demonizes the practice of exam writing as much as he minimizes its importance. I agree with him that understanding the material is more important than writing exam answers, but I would absolutely advise you to write some exam answers if you have enough study time and especially if you have your professor's previous exams on file. I would always look at a prof's previous exams if they were available to get a sense of his style, but I wouldn't look at other exams for the same subject.

I also don't think this guy is pushing cramming, he just says it works, and I definitely knew people in law school that would study for just a few days and pass. They didn't get As, but they did fine. I personally would try to keep up with the material throughout the semester, especially 1L year when it is all new and weird. There is always a push at the end to try to "get" everything, but I would be uncomfortable leaving all of my studying for the last week.

I think rather than the test-taking and studying advice, the most important information in the book is about the importance of networking, how to interview, how to treat the summer internship, becoming familiar with bar exam subjects before bar review, relaxing before law school, and picking a law school. Also the section in the beginning about talking to some real attorneys to figure out if law school is actually a good move is vital.

I disagree some with the book's treatment of the Socratic Method. I did have abusive professors, but I am just not that cynical, I don't think the method is completely useless, and I did get a lot out of some classes. Also, while I like much of his advice about saving money on casebooks and hornbooks, sometimes it's just not practical to do so. I also thought the book could have been longer, but apparently West intended a quick and dirty guide. Other than that, for the most part the book closely approximates my own law school experience.

I hope that helps.

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RUQRU
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby RUQRU » Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:00 pm

Mike,

Thanks for taking the time to reply. Your comments are very helpful!

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seespotrun
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Re: beat law school book?

Postby seespotrun » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:57 pm

mikesterns wrote:I can't say I agree with every strategy in the book. I think the main
problem with it, however, is that just about all of the advice in the
book is the product of hindsight. It's the kind of thing you learn
when or after it is too late. I think that if someone gave me this
advice when I was a scared beginning law student, I would have thought it was crap because of what everyone else says and does. Basically there is more here than you think. I would have taken more away from law school if I had someone sit me down and be as honest with me as the author is here. When I finished reading I started passing the book around my office and the associates all love it. Maybe because we're all bitter about the advice we ourselves received and took.

About adults not having to be told not to watch porn in class...just about everything that can happen in law school does happen, for the most part everyone has some weird law school porn story. Porn in class is nowhere near the limit of the absurd behavior you will see from your fellow "adults." Does it stop at the firm? In some ways it gets worse.

Let me get this straight: You are a practicing attorney who reads books about how to succeed in law school. But you aren't the only practicing attorney reading law school success guides; the other associates in your office are reading it too.

Nice to meet you Mr. West.

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Mr. Matlock
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Re: Questionable Advice?

Postby Mr. Matlock » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:59 pm

RUQRU wrote:
Don't look a porn in class; the professor will catch you sooner or later.


Do adults really need this kind of advice? I certainly hope not!

*sigh* Yes. :|




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