xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

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megaTTTron
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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby megaTTTron » Tue May 25, 2010 11:18 pm

traydeuce wrote:I probably studied about 5% as much as this guy and still did rather well, but I will say to 0L's that, while the amount of time he spent studying may be insanely excessive, the actual STUFF he says you should do is entirely correct. Do not, whatever you do, (a) rely on your 2L friends' old outlines, (b) attempt to learn law out of a supplement (consult supplements solely for practice problems or to clear up areas you don't get, but be careful even with that - they may say different things than what you learned in class), (c) study for an open-book test any differently than you would a regular test (though see below), (d) for whatever bizarre reason, choose to not look obsessively through your professors' old exams. (That said, be aware that your professor may change exam formats wildly, though that's the exception, not the norm.)

A few other comments, elaborations, and hedging remarks. On open-book exams, while you must prepare for them seriously, unless you take a practice midterm and realize your professor is too much of an imbecile to write a tough test (this happened to me), don't think that there's some iron-clad rule that you should NOT look in the book. On the contrary, use the book. Way too few people realize this. I've had 5 open-book exams (and one take-home), all of which were A's, and on all but Civil Procedure, which you really should just know down pat, it's all rules, I spent a lot of time in the book. Why? Did I study insufficiently? No. Rather, this is what happens. Law school exams are weird; they often cover only about 10% of what you learned, and do so in great depth. They're frequently more of a random sample of what you know than anything else. I might have half a page in my outline on some topic that they want a long essay on, and that half page isn't really enough to work with to get an A. So this is when you go and look in the book for more detail. For example, in Admin Law you'll learn about how much power the President has to fire people in the executive branch. Does he have total power, can restrictions be placed on it, etc. We were asked whether Congress could place restrictions on the power of the President to remove people who sit on a commission that investigates plane crashes. The most recent big case in this area said that Congress could place restrictions on the power of the President to remove independent counsels. Rather than just recite the 2 or 3 things I had memorized about that case, I went and looked in the book for the exact reasons the Court was okay with restricting the P's power to sack ind. counsels, and analogized from those things to the plane crash people. Hence, I got an A. A more wishy-washy answer that just cited the very abstract rule of the case (some absurdity like "it's okay so long as executive power isn't unduly trammeled on") would not be an A. Now, this will only work if you read cases quickly and know how to root out the important bits of reasoning, but that's kind of what law school's about.

Don't mess with supplements. You will be burned. You will repeat something you saw in there that you never ever learned and the professor doesn't know, and the professor will have no idea where you got it and think you're just making stuff up.

Like OP says, it's all about the old exams. One professor's exams on a subject are completely different from the next. The difference between one professor's Torts exam and another's can be about as big as the difference between an LSAT and a poetry contest. Of course, you should be prepared to take any type of exam, but if I hadn't known what to expect going in from some of these guys I could easily have been in a state of shock for 15 minutes. Reading old exams can be huge. For example, our civil procedure professor is known to ask weird policy questions. These days in Civ Pro the big policy question is a case called Iqbal. Those of us who read his exams all knew that he would ask us whether Iqbal was wrongly decided. Those of us who were serious about preparing even went and read lots of law review articles about Iqbal so we could come up with arguments for and against. Before exam day, I already knew what I was going to write. Roughly speaking.

Make your own outlines. I outlined Admin Law the night before the test, was up till 3, arrived at the exam 40 minutes late. Prior to that I hadn't really studied at all. I still aced the thing because I really got the stuff from going through it myself, wrestling with it myself. And when you make an outline, work from the cases. Memorizing someone else's outline, copying the law from a supplement into an outline, even copying things straight out of your notes - that's not quite the same. My sole means of studying en route to all A's in nearly everything was this. I looked back at each case, wrote 1-3 sentences in the margin about it, and then typed up these in-book notes. The process of pulling the law out of the cases and then outlining helps you memorize; equally importantly, it helps you actually get the stuff. And it saves you a lot of time on the back end, because if the outlining process is more of an active exercise than simply copying and pasting things from your notes, you won't have to study your outline nearly as much.


OH COME ON. DID YOU 4.0 THIS SEMESTER TOO!?!?! We're dying to know man. You can't just tease us like that.

Also, excellent advice. Except I would fail if I showed up 40 minutes late lol.

teebone51
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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby teebone51 » Tue May 25, 2010 11:35 pm

General Tso wrote:I quit reading at "you MUST make your own outlines"

my advice is to take bits and pieces from others' strategies but above all else figure out what works best for you.


+1. No need to totally reinvent the wheel, but the majority of the work should come on your end in figuring out how to adapt it to whatever kind of professor you have, and the types of exam he or she tends to give.

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby snowpeach06 » Tue May 25, 2010 11:52 pm

BobSacamano wrote:Whenever this or Arrow's post comes up, I always feel like it's my duty to un-freak out the 0L's, so here goes: while this sort of schedule probably will lead to success in law school, it is by no means necessary to be successful. These guys are in the 99.9th percentile for work done in law school. It's great that it worked for them, but the vast majority of students just don't have what it takes to put in this kind of effort. The good thing for those of us that fall into that majority is that this effort is by no means required to make yourself stand out. I probably did a quarter of the work that xeoh did and I'm sitting in the top 5% right now. I'm not posting this to dissuade anyone from going all out (if you can do it, you should), I just don't want 0L's reading this and being freaked out by their competition.

Glad you said this. I was damn near hyperventilating after reading the first post. I don't think I could ever work that hard; and even though it's easy to assume "law school kids are hyper-competitive, they are probably just that type of person who has to win at everything including time spent working," it's hard to convince yourself that what they are saying isn't true.

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby 09042014 » Wed May 26, 2010 12:00 am

KingJames6 wrote:X gets 4-4.5 hours of sleep a night?? How is this possible?


You get used to it.

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

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

traydeuce wrote:I probably studied about 5% as much as this guy and still did rather well, but I will say to 0L's that, while the amount of time he spent studying may be insanely excessive, the actual STUFF he says you should do is entirely correct. Do not, whatever you do, (a) rely on your 2L friends' old outlines, (b) attempt to learn law out of a supplement (consult supplements solely for practice problems or to clear up areas you don't get, but be careful even with that - they may say different things than what you learned in class), (c) study for an open-book test any differently than you would a regular test (though see below), (d) for whatever bizarre reason, choose to not look obsessively through your professors' old exams. (That said, be aware that your professor may change exam formats wildly, though that's the exception, not the norm.)

A few other comments, elaborations, and hedging remarks. On open-book exams, while you must prepare for them seriously, unless you take a practice midterm and realize your professor is too much of an imbecile to write a tough test (this happened to me), don't think that there's some iron-clad rule that you should NOT look in the book. On the contrary, use the book. Way too few people realize this. I've had 5 open-book exams (and one take-home), all of which were A's, and on all but Civil Procedure, which you really should just know down pat, it's all rules, I spent a lot of time in the book. Why? Did I study insufficiently? No. Rather, this is what happens. Law school exams are weird; they often cover only about 10% of what you learned, and do so in great depth. They're frequently more of a random sample of what you know than anything else. I might have half a page in my outline on some topic that they want a long essay on, and that half page isn't really enough to work with to get an A. So this is when you go and look in the book for more detail. For example, in Admin Law you'll learn about how much power the President has to fire people in the executive branch. Does he have total power, can restrictions be placed on it, etc. We were asked whether Congress could place restrictions on the power of the President to remove people who sit on a commission that investigates plane crashes. The most recent big case in this area said that Congress could place restrictions on the power of the President to remove independent counsels. Rather than just recite the 2 or 3 things I had memorized about that case, I went and looked in the book for the exact reasons the Court was okay with restricting the P's power to sack ind. counsels, and analogized from those things to the plane crash people. Hence, I got an A. A more wishy-washy answer that just cited the very abstract rule of the case (some absurdity like "it's okay so long as executive power isn't unduly trammeled on") would not be an A. Now, this will only work if you read cases quickly and know how to root out the important bits of reasoning, but that's kind of what law school's about.

Don't mess with supplements. You will be burned. You will repeat something you saw in there that you never ever learned and the professor doesn't know, and the professor will have no idea where you got it and think you're just making stuff up.

Like OP says, it's all about the old exams. One professor's exams on a subject are completely different from the next. The difference between one professor's Torts exam and another's can be about as big as the difference between an LSAT and a poetry contest. Of course, you should be prepared to take any type of exam, but if I hadn't known what to expect going in from some of these guys I could easily have been in a state of shock for 15 minutes. Reading old exams can be huge. For example, our civil procedure professor is known to ask weird policy questions. These days in Civ Pro the big policy question is a case called Iqbal. Those of us who read his exams all knew that he would ask us whether Iqbal was wrongly decided. Those of us who were serious about preparing even went and read lots of law review articles about Iqbal so we could come up with arguments for and against. Before exam day, I already knew what I was going to write. Roughly speaking.

Make your own outlines. I outlined Admin Law the night before the test, was up till 3, arrived at the exam 40 minutes late. Prior to that I hadn't really studied at all. I still aced the thing because I really got the stuff from going through it myself, wrestling with it myself. And when you make an outline, work from the cases. Memorizing someone else's outline, copying the law from a supplement into an outline, even copying things straight out of your notes - that's not quite the same. My sole means of studying en route to all A's in nearly everything was this. I looked back at each case, wrote 1-3 sentences in the margin about it, and then typed up these in-book notes. The process of pulling the law out of the cases and then outlining helps you memorize; equally importantly, it helps you actually get the stuff. And it saves you a lot of time on the back end, because if the outlining process is more of an active exercise than simply copying and pasting things from your notes, you won't have to study your outline nearly as much.


Great tips.

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Paichka
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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby Paichka » Wed May 26, 2010 6:39 am

Traydeuce has some great tips.

I disagree with the supplement thing, though, and that might just be a function of my professors' focus in class. My torts professor, for example, never talked BLL in class. He would go on wild tangents about when he was a young attorney, or famous torts cases, or fun stories about the judges who wrote the opinions we were supposed to read. He'd talk about the history of a certain tort. He'd talk about the facts of the case. VERY RARELY would he actually talk about the elements of any particular tort. The exam was an 8 page monster issue spotter, and he expected you to talk about the elements of each tort in your analysis. I'm glad that I read Understanding Torts -- it cleared up a couple of things I didn't understand about products liability, and it taught me the BLL that I didn't get in class.

I always deferred to what my professors said, but I used supplements for each class to clarify things, to get another perspective on a particular subject, and to help me learn the BLL. I would read the casebook first, and then I'd read the relevant section in whatever hornbook I had for that class. I'd do that before class, so that IN class I would just update my "reading notes"...it increased the likelihood I'd had an "aha!" moment while listening to the professor talk.

The bottom line though is, don't use supplements just because I said to use them (or Xeoh, or Arrow, or whatever)...and don't NOT use them just because Traydeuce said not to. Wait until you're at school and have been to class once or twice -- then look at the supplements in the library or the bookstore, and decide for yourself whether they'll be useful to you. If they will, then buy them (or read them on reserve at your library) but if they won't, then don't buy them. Being successful in lawschool is all about learning how to write a solid exam, and figuring out what is going to HELP YOU best understand the law. Reading your professors' old exams and working them is a huge part of that -- but in my opinion, supplements are incredibly useful in their own right for learning how the cases create the body of law that you're learning for the exam.

Netopalis
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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby Netopalis » Wed May 26, 2010 10:32 am

Things to take away from this post: Read your supplements and casebooks.

Things to disregard from this post: The schedule outlined is ridiculous - I have no idea what the author did with all that time spent in the library

Things to understand in applying this post: Do what works for you. There is no single method of study that works for everybody. Personally, I absolutely hate studying in the library. Others can only work there. Figure out what works for you.

Things not mentioned in this post that are, in my opinion, huge: Learn to write well. Seriously. I know I've said this in several threads, but good writing is really the biggest thing that separates top-level exams from the lower ones. Everybody applies the same law - you just want to make sure that yours is the most polished, professional and coherent paper in the pile so that it's easy for the professor to see what you're trying to say. Honestly, spelling and grammar checks don't take that long on exams, nor does outlining your answer or writing an easily-digestible paragraph.

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby 20121109 » Wed May 26, 2010 10:41 am

Thanks for this :)

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby JOThompson » Wed May 26, 2010 10:50 am

Study smarter, not harder. I like it. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

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Paichka
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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby Paichka » Wed May 26, 2010 10:50 am

Netopalis wrote:Things not mentioned in this post that are, in my opinion, huge: Learn to write well. Seriously. I know I've said this in several threads, but good writing is really the biggest thing that separates top-level exams from the lower ones. Everybody applies the same law - you just want to make sure that yours is the most polished, professional and coherent paper in the pile so that it's easy for the professor to see what you're trying to say. Honestly, spelling and grammar checks don't take that long on exams, nor does outlining your answer or writing an easily-digestible paragraph.


This is huge.

This is why things like IRAC (or my school's version, TREAT) are so helpful. If you have a coherent method of organization for your exam answer, you're already 50% there. I organized my answers with headers -- in crim, I'd have a new underlined header for each defendant; in torts and contracts I organized by parties to the suit, etc. I also double spaced between paragraphs, and tried to start a new paragraph for each new thought or issue. It's just easier to read that way, and for the professors, much easier to grade.

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby Protolaw » Wed May 26, 2010 1:12 pm

One thing I'm a little unclear on in xeoh85's discussion of "case briefs, notes, & outlines"... he noted that case briefs "build" notes which "build" outlines, and that he took 95% of his notes in the library as opposed to in class. Do most law students take notes that are separate from what they put in their case briefs and outlines? From reading other sources, it seems like most everyone briefs cases (which tends to include some important notes about the case from the professor and supplemental materials), and then builds their outlines from the case briefs and legal concepts learned from the cases/professor comments/supplemental materials (with a greater emphasis on the legal concepts than cases themselves) - and some students make a super-condensed "attack" outline for the final too. Am I on point with this? Or is there a great deal of other "note taking" involved that is somehow distinct from case briefs and outlines?

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby BobSacamano » Wed May 26, 2010 1:35 pm

I think you're leaving out class notes. *edit* No wait, I just re-read what you wrote, I'm not really sure what notes he took in the library. I'd guess he took notes on the reading and then made case briefs, which seems redundant to me, but it worked for him so that's all that matters. For me, class notes were more important than any other notes I took because they capture what your professor focused on. This is important because you're taking YOUR PROFESSOR'S exam, and they tend to test the stuff they focus on. My outlines were condensed versions of my class notes with notes from supplements added in. I used the class's syllabus as a guide for how to structure my outline because I think it captures the "big picture" that your professor wants you to see.

Many people give up on briefing. You'll have to see if it does anything for you. I stopped after a month or so and started just highlighting and making notes in the margins of my book. Briefing's great for getting cold called on but not as much for preparing for the test (although it is a way to internalize the material, so that's always good).

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby Protolaw » Wed May 26, 2010 1:49 pm

Yeah, that's what I thought. I figure I'll probably "brief" by using the highlighter/note-in-margin technique too, spend class time taking a few notes on important points the professor makes, and then incorporate important information into the outline after class. I suppose my guess as to what xeoh85 actually did by "taking 95% of his notes in the library" in addition to his briefing/outlining is as good as anyone else's...

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby NayBoer » Wed May 26, 2010 7:25 pm

So basically he spent ~18 hours a week (or >10% of his life) commuting. I think the secret here is to be an introvert who's able to unwind with all that alone time, and who only needs 4 hours of sleep. Also, make sure your girlfriend is okay with not seeing you 5 or 6 days a week.

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby legends159 » Wed May 26, 2010 7:55 pm

He may have exaggerated how hard he worked 1L year but maybe not.

But it's worth it in the end if you get the results and he's got an ultra elite job and clerkship lined up so I'd say working really hard for two years to set yourself up for a great career is worth it.

Depends on what you want from life but very few success stories come w/o sacrifice and work.

You could potentially achieve the same w/o doing nearly as much work and you might fall well short of his accomplishments even if you do put in that amount of work. But I find very few people who say that they regret trying as hard as they could to be the best at what they do.

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby Jarndyce » Wed May 26, 2010 7:58 pm

I didn't read all of the posts in this thread- I just read the original compilation, but I figured I would throw my two cents in. I am in the top 5% of my class (not T25) working big law this summer- I have one grade in so far for this semester, and it is an A+.

The original post is way too much. Way too much. Law school does not have to be hard- it is all about setting goals and limits and meeting them. I start out the semester super-slow: I brief my cases (and by brief, I mean throw the rules and facts together enough to where if I get called on I won't flame out), and that is it. Once I get a section done in a class, I generally start my outline. At that point, I begin outlining in class. I have my brief and my outline up in OneNote, and I word things in my outline as the professor says them as he says them. What I have found is that by getting stuff directly in your outline when the prof says it, you don't tend to miss much.

Handle the semester in increments: for the first couple of weeks, work until 5 or 5:30... then step it up to 6... then 7... and by the end of the semester, about two weeks before finals, you should be working until pretty late. But you don't have to be working all of the time. The night before my CivPro exam last semester, I played video games more than I studied- I earned an A. Just be smart about things and learn how your professor likes his exams- that is really the key. Some professors love IRAC and some hate it- if your professor prefers you to state the rule outright, you will get knocked points if you don't do so. Figure out your professor's preference in their office hours and use them.

Don't read all of those stupid "how to do this" books- I didn't even read Getting to Maybe. Instead, if you want some fun reading about law school over summer, I recommend the following books: 1L (Turow); Barman: Ping Pong, Pathos, and Passing the Bar (Whelen); and Lawyer Boy (Lax). Those are all memoirs from various perspectives, and I enjoyed them greatly.

Anyway, I wrote more than I meant to, but I just want to emphasize that it is possible to succeed without going crazy... and following the original post will invariably lead you to that point. :)

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Wed May 26, 2010 8:52 pm

Protolaw wrote:Yeah, that's what I thought. I figure I'll probably "brief" by using the highlighter/note-in-margin technique too, spend class time taking a few notes on important points the professor makes, and then incorporate important information into the outline after class. I suppose my guess as to what xeoh85 actually did by "taking 95% of his notes in the library" in addition to his briefing/outlining is as good as anyone else's...

You can't outline as you go, you have no idea what you need in the outline until November 1st. Any outlining you do before then, you'll have to do again.

Netopalis
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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby Netopalis » Wed May 26, 2010 11:06 pm

Briefing is an odd beast. You only need it until you learn how to do it well, then it's not necessary at all. Briefing is useful during your first semester of 1L because it teaches you how to hone in on what is important and ignore that which is unimportant. As you study law, you gradually learn what is important and what is unimportant, meaning that you no longer need to brief. However, to get to that point, you do need to brief. Does that make any sense? The resultant briefs have little value, but the production of those briefs are vital.

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby megaTTTron » Wed May 26, 2010 11:27 pm

mikeytwoshoes wrote:
Protolaw wrote:Yeah, that's what I thought. I figure I'll probably "brief" by using the highlighter/note-in-margin technique too, spend class time taking a few notes on important points the professor makes, and then incorporate important information into the outline after class. I suppose my guess as to what xeoh85 actually did by "taking 95% of his notes in the library" in addition to his briefing/outlining is as good as anyone else's...

You can't outline as you go, you have no idea what you need in the outline until November 1st. Any outlining you do before then, you'll have to do again.



absolutely wrong. outlining is condensing your notes down to only BLL, policy notes, or important nuances. its the process of taking facts out or things your professor has indicated were unnecessary. it's also the process by which you organize and polish your notes into outline form, from messy class/ case notes.

it IS possible. whether you should do it is certainly up for debate tho :mrgreen:

EDIT: Milky, I sound like a dick. I'm not trying to be mean, I just disagree with you. :D

martin55
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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby martin55 » Fri May 28, 2010 1:46 pm

xeoh85 was notorious at ucla for being the #1 uber gunner of the entire class (i.e. raising his hand so much that professors stopped calling on him). then again, he transferred to stanford, got onto law review, and had offers at cravath and irell, so good on him i guess?

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mikeytwoshoes
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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Fri May 28, 2010 9:44 pm

megaTTTron wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:
Protolaw wrote:Yeah, that's what I thought. I figure I'll probably "brief" by using the highlighter/note-in-margin technique too, spend class time taking a few notes on important points the professor makes, and then incorporate important information into the outline after class. I suppose my guess as to what xeoh85 actually did by "taking 95% of his notes in the library" in addition to his briefing/outlining is as good as anyone else's...

You can't outline as you go, you have no idea what you need in the outline until November 1st. Any outlining you do before then, you'll have to do again.



absolutely wrong. outlining is condensing your notes down to only BLL, policy notes, or important nuances. its the process of taking facts out or things your professor has indicated were unnecessary. it's also the process by which you organize and polish your notes into outline form, from messy class/ case notes.

it IS possible. whether you should do it is certainly up for debate tho :mrgreen:

EDIT: Milky, I sound like a dick. I'm not trying to be mean, I just disagree with you. :D

You didn't sound like a dick until you misspelled my fucking name.

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haole_20
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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby haole_20 » Fri May 28, 2010 10:02 pm

good advice. thanks!

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megaTTTron
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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby megaTTTron » Fri May 28, 2010 10:11 pm

mikeytwoshoes wrote:
megaTTTron wrote:
mikeytwoshoes wrote:
Protolaw wrote:Yeah, that's what I thought. I figure I'll probably "brief" by using the highlighter/note-in-margin technique too, spend class time taking a few notes on important points the professor makes, and then incorporate important information into the outline after class. I suppose my guess as to what xeoh85 actually did by "taking 95% of his notes in the library" in addition to his briefing/outlining is as good as anyone else's...

You can't outline as you go, you have no idea what you need in the outline until November 1st. Any outlining you do before then, you'll have to do again.



absolutely wrong. outlining is condensing your notes down to only BLL, policy notes, or important nuances. its the process of taking facts out or things your professor has indicated were unnecessary. it's also the process by which you organize and polish your notes into outline form, from messy class/ case notes.

it IS possible. whether you should do it is certainly up for debate tho :mrgreen:

EDIT: Milky, I sound like a dick. I'm not trying to be mean, I just disagree with you. :D

You didn't sound like a dick until you misspelled my fucking name.


haaaaaaaaaaaahahahahah. That is truly amazing. I laughed out loud. I am so sorry. Milkytwoshoes - haaaahahaha.

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby rv11 » Fri May 28, 2010 10:19 pm

.

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Re: xeoh85's Advice for Doing Well in Law School

Postby mikeytwoshoes » Fri May 28, 2010 10:22 pm

mikeytwoshoes wrote:--ImageRemoved--

What Insanity-Wolf said.




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