A little bit about me:
I go to SLS and I got in with 25th percentile LSAT. Recently got all my grades and after talking with career services and comparing grades with some peers I'd approximate that I'm at least top 10%. I have almost all H's and multiple class prizes (given to 1/15 in exam based classes).
Work life balance:
I'd say I worked as hard if not harder than the average student here. I would usually leave the library at 8 and I didn't do any work once I got home. On weekends I would usually work 10-7 both days. I was very disciplined though and when I worked I didn't fool around (e.g., I didn't surf the web, I didn't chat with friends). However, when I wasn't working I would hang out with friends, my s/o, watch sports, play sports, go to the gym etc.
I did not do any 0L prep for law school besides read Getting to Maybe, which I did not find useful. I found that the book was repetitive and gave very obvious advice that was not applicable for my exams. However I would recommend everyone take a look at it though because what was obvious to me might not be to everyone.
I would recommend against doing 0L prep not because it will be detrimental but because it's a waste of time. You have plenty of time once LS starts to learn what you need to learn. If you do want to do 0L prep I would recommend looking through the E&E since you're probably going to use them anyway later in the semester and it can't hurt to read it once before. But seriously, don't fret until you have to. You really won't get a leg up on your peers.
I didn't make my own outlines from scratch. Instead I would look up outlines from the outline bank, or google for outlines that were written by students who took classes from the professors who wrote the casebook. I would then use that outline and its "skeleton" form and fill it out with my own information. By the end, I would have almost a brand new outline since I would've deleted and retyped all the information in my own words and adding my own knowledge to the outline. I think it's a truism that the most helpful part of an outline is making one yourself. However, a second truism is to practice using that outline either on practice tests if there are any or by reading it over and over again and condensing the information down.
I made outlines depending on the style of the exam the professor would give. For professors who cared a ton about policy (which in my experience is pretty much academic theories that they talked about in class, such as economic analysis for why a certain rule is better, or why we should resolve the case a certain way when the law could go either way) I would add a policy section after each doctrine we learned. I would get these policy from the readings, class notes, supplements, and law review articles. For professors who were straight BLL (black letter law) I would simply have the law, the elements and the cases that applied them. I didn't focus too much on cases in my outlines but I would have one or two factual sentences because there were a few times when I reasoned from analogy to bolster my arguments using the facts in certain cases.
Here is an example of my civ pro outline. Very straight to the point, no fluff, very short.
PERSONAL JURISDICTION [waived if not included in single pre-answer motion]
Need POWER and NOTICE.
In order to have power over D, need BOTH
1. STATUORY (LONG-ARM STATUTE)
Make sure to read the language of statute (if there is one) and argue if broad enough?
2. DUE PROCESS
Can get through:
1. Consent - Motor vehicle in state and cause accident Hess v. Pawloski (to be safe also discuss int’l shoe test)
2. Waive objection by acting in any way incompatible with objection to PJ
- Waived if did not include it on objection to case on other grounds
3. Citizenship based on domicile or state of incorporation/principal operations
4. Tag jurisdiction—give process to person in state at time. Burnham
5. General JX (not relating to controversy)
- PJ over D whether or not claim is related to activity within forum state
- based on “systematic and continuous” contacts
- usually requires something like having offices or employees in forum
- tag jx
- where person is domiciled or corp’s PPB and state of incorporation (just to be safe mention how clearly they have systematic contacts there)
6. Specific JX (relating to controversy)
- REMEMBER: each claim must arise from min contact with forum state
- Federal court Specific jx authorized by 4(K)(1)(A): which allows PJ to be exercised when it would be allowed in a state court in the forum in which the federal court sits.
- PJ in state court hinges on long arm statute and 14th amendment due process
a. Test for 14th amendment = Int’l shoe: "D must have such minimum contacts with the forum that exercise of jurisdiction not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice"
MINIMUM CONTACTS [absolutely necessary]
1. Purposeful Availment: of the privilege of conducting activities within forum
a. Not fortuitous or accidental; must be volitional act purposefully directed
b. Calder effect in forum
c. Benefits from state laws and protection
a. Contacts such that D must reasonably anticipate being haled into court
b. No unilateral activities
FAIRNESS: O'connor 5 factor test WWVW
1. Burden on D
a. Inconvenience of constitutional magnitude Burger King. Ie., so gravely inconvenient that she is put at severe disadvantage of litigation
2. Interest of state
3. P's interest in getting expedient relief
4. Interstate judiciary efficiency
5. Shared interest of several states in furthering social policies
Specific JX: K and Stream of commerce
I. Contracts: "quality and nature" of contracts to determine minimum contacts (BK)
1. Nature of prior negotiations--did you reach into forum state?
2. Contemplated future consequences of entering contract
3. Terms of contract--choice of law (purposeful avail to benefits)
4. Course of dealing between parties
No PJ in contracts obtained through fraud, other wrongdoings, unfair bargaining
II. Stream of Commerce Asahi (internet modern application of stream of commerce?)
Try to figure out how Asahi can fit into the answer. “Products” do not have to be tangible goods. Look at BK/McGee court found minimum contacts based on a contract where D arguably never sent any products into forum state. Ads may be seen as product
O'connor test: (4 votes) (any min contact that satisfies O’connor will satisfy Brennan)
1. purposefully placed into stream of commerce and
2. additional conduct purposefully directing product into forum state
a. Designing the product for the market in forum state
b. Advertising in forum state
c. Establishing channels for providing advice to customers in forum state
d. Marketing the product through a distributor who will serve as sales agent in forum state
Brennan test: foreseeability test (4 votes) (looser than O’connors)
1. Awareness: aware that final product will end up in forum state and
2. Benefit from it being in forum state
Steven’s concurrence: Sheer Volume = purposeful availment
1. If unreasonable and unfair then don’t even need to assess minimum contacts
2. 100,000 units sent to CA would seem like purposeful availment, even if marketed throughout the world
- in other words, more contacts = more likely to find minimum contacts.
1. PJ is only valid for each claim that arise out of those minimum contacts
2. Single K, esp when needed for public (insurance Ks). McGee
3. Direct reaching out and contacting/doing business w/ forum state. Burger King
4. An effect felt in the forum state can be enough -Calder
5. Calder and BK show that one can be hauled into court in a stat where she has caused an effect, regardless of a lack of physical presence there.
IF INT’L: IF US citizen wants to sue out of state alien
1. Can still be state JX 4(k)(1) must have min contacts with state
2. Can get general JX in all of US under if 4(k)(2), GMAC (nationwide service of process)
If subject to PJ under 4(k)(2) then can be sued in any federal court in US
(a) (4(k)(2) authorizes PJ in cases that arise under federal law (1331)
(b) and defendant is not subject to jx in any state
-D may try and argue that they are subject to PJ in some state to avoid this fed court
(c) and they have minimum contacts under the 5th amendment, which looks at contacts with the US as a whole.
Should run the Zippo test from GMAC (esp for internet) and Asahi
3 part Zippo (ALS) test: a state may exercise PJ consistent with due process if:
1. Directs electronic activity into the state (or US)
2. with the manifested intent of engaging in business or other interactions within state (or US)
3. That activity creates a cause of action within a person of the state (or US)
Here's an example of policy from my Ks outline. This excerpt is from implied warranties (implying a warranty in a K):
6. Policy Consideration for applying an established category: what satisfies “habitability” or “skillful construction”
a. Precautions (sellers)
i. Liability incentives – Warranties=Strict Liability. Even if the seller is not negligent and has taken precautions, putting the loss on them, places additional incentives on them to take precautions
1. Con: Impact on prices? Inefficient precautions?
ii. Market incentives (if courts view this is enough, should back down)
1. Con: However, buyers lack information - cannot distinguish between good and bad sellers.
b. Precautions (buyers)
i. Sometimes buyers have information and can better control precaution of products they buy [otherwise cross subsidization problem]
1. Can buy right type of equipment
2. Can control better: controlling teenage son from bashing house
i. Sellers should buy insurance: better position to spread losses
1. Cross subsidization problem
2. Hard for sellers to know individual risk (are they going to ask you how you plan on furnishing your home?)
ii. Buyers should get private insurance:
1. They can choose their own level of insurance based on their individual estimation of risk.
Notice that my policy is written in pro-con based argument ready format. When i get a fact scenario that would trigger this kind of policy I'm ready to just type out what's in my outline and apply them to the facts in my exam.
Exam writing tips:
The key to writing a good exam is to make good arguments. That's the only secret.
1. Read the Question
Read the question very carefully to figure out what position your professor wants you to take. A lot of students don't do this. They read the fact pattern and then proceed to type a stream of consciousness that only tangentially address the issues at bar. If the exam says to write a bench memo, you better make damn sure to argue BOTH SIDES and come to a conclusion. If the exam says that you are advocating one party, focus less on arguing BOTH SIDES and more on being persuasive. You should still bring up counterarguments but only as a way of addressing or dismissing them.
Spot the key issues
The key issues are in the fact pattern and usually triggered by key words so make sure you pay close attention to the parties involved, the situations they find themselves in and what remedies are sought if any. For example in civil procedure if one of the parties is a company you must recognize this and apply the special rules for corporations in establishing personal jurisdiction. In constitutional law if you encounter a federal statute and a state actor you might have to address commandeering and the 10th Amendment. In torts if you encounter a pregnant woman who takes drugs that are later discovered to cause birth defects and then has a child with birth defects, you will need to address causation (did the drugs cause the birth defects? When did she take them? If she took them 4 months into her pregnancy, could the defects have been caused before she took the drugs?).
Address the issues persuasively and throw in policy when your legal analysis doesn't yield a clear answer
You'll likely encounter a long fact pattern and there will be a short question at the end that asks you to answer the question somehow. Make sure to write persuasively and stick to the point. Think about the exam as a persuasive brief that you're writing to the judge to get a ruling in your favor. Even for exams that simply ask you to assess all the issues and address them you should still make arguments for one side (though you should address the merits of BOTH SIDES).
In terms of length, i would aim for 5-6 double spaced pages per hour of exam. I used headings, which I would bold and underline and made sure to keep my paragraphs manageable. A lot of exam writing is based on small factors such as writing style, how concise and thorough your analysis is, and how good it looks. If it looks like a law school exam then it'll be treated more favorably than a "mind dump, let-me-tell-you-everything-i-learned-this-year" type of exam.
this is what confused me the most when I started 1L year. I had trouble as is keeping up with the main reading and I didn't know how to begin with hornbooks/E&E/law review articles etc. I think I wasted so much time trying to understand how to use supplements rather than actually using them.
I would recommend that you not use supplements for the first month of law school. Don't touch them, don't even buy them yet (they'll be cheaper later on amazon/half.com anyway). I say this because you'll end up confusing yourself more than anything. The first month of law school should be devoted entirely to reading the cases so you learn how to do that and paying close attention in class. more on class time later. After the first semester I almost only read the supplements and barely touched my casebook except for a few classes where I had to b/c the professor wrote the casebook. And I ended up doing just as well with half the effort. But you won't know how to really use supplements exclusively until after your fall semester so don't try this right away.
After the first month of law school, you'll (hopefully) learn a few foundational concepts about the law. Likely you'll be taking the common law doctrinal classes your 1L fall so you'll learn all about the difference between civil and criminal litigation; what a tort is; what the holding of cases are; how a complaint begins litigation; the process of service etc. Pretty simple stuff but confusing to someone who has no legal background.
After you learn some stuff about the law you'll know in what areas you should supplement you knowledge. You should look at an old outline if possible to see where the course is headed and also review your notes to see what areas of the class you are a bit shaky in. This is when the supplements come in handy. They're called supplements for a reason--they supplement your knowledge. For example, say you're learning about personal jurisdiction in civil procedure and you've read a bunch of cases dealing with minimum contacts and then you read Asahi and you're not sure how all those cases fit together. Well you could read the relevant section in Glannons or Freer and look for the answer to your question. You should then look back to your casebook and make sure that you can substantiate the supplements with the reasoning from the case (sometimes professors have different interpretations on a case and how it applies and remember your professor is always right).
Dealing with stress/anxiety
This was a big issue for me. I was very scared coming into LS about not doing well since my classmates were all so intelligent and hardworking. I felt like such a slacker in the beginning of the year when I would leave the library at 8 and my friends would be there until midnight. I felt incredibly stressed when I would sit in class sometimes and not completely grasp everything.
But you know what helped me the most when I was feeling scared and lost? Talking to my classmates and being honest with them about not understanding something. Not only would you get advice from your peers but you'll also realize that they're going through the exact same thing. It's weird, but it's a nice feeling to know that you're not the only one who is confused or worried about doing well and that everyone is pretty much in the same boat but just puts up an exterior of confidence because they think they're the only one who feels lost or overwhelmed.
Feel free to ask some questions so I can add more to this. I read Xeoh's post as well as Arrow's post and I found them very useful and I just wanted to give back whatever I could. Cheers and good luck
Random pieces of advice
A. Be nice to your classmates. Competition is a good thing but don't let it interfere with the law school experience. I always give notes/help classmates who need help. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a mother Theresa altruist. I am not doing it for completely unselfish reasons.
1) Helping others has really helped me cement my knowledge. Explaining something to others helps me realize gaps in my reasoning and knowledge. Furthermore, some things that others don't know you might not realize that you don't know either.
2) Helping others builds strong relationship with people who can help you now and later. They can help you now because they will be more inclined to give you information that might be critical. For example, in one of my classes, a fellow student that I always give notes to and help when he has questions shared an outline with me that he got from an upperclassman. That outline from a prior year had a section on it that we didn't cover much (b/c our quarter system was shorter) but was featured prevalently on the final.
Finish your outlines early.
I aimed to finish my outlines by Thanksgiving (or at least have it outlined up to the where the class was). I would then take as many practice tests as I could and update my outlines based on mistakes I made on the exam or what I learned from the practice exams. While many of my classmates spent the weeks before the exam doing outlines and then rushing to do a few practice tests, I was spending the weeks before the exam doing exams, redoing them and analyzing the model answers if there were any. This helped me immensely because during the exam I was not nervous since I had already trained my brain how to tackle an exam. I didn't need to take time organizing how I would answer the questions because I already knew what steps to take.
I also spent this time skimming law review articles written by the professor and trying to guess what the policy questions will be (if the professor says there will be policy questions it's a good idea to look at their articles--you can glean from what they cite from the kinds of articles that they read and will likely get their policy questions from).
Never did it. Found it a complete waste of time. I rather spent my time reading supplements or re-reading the cases to get the nuances from them.
This is the single most important factor in doing well in law school. Go to every class and pay attention. Don't surf the web and take copious notes. These are the notes that you will be referring to when you make your outline. Don't focus so much on what your classmates say unless they seem relevant but make sure to take down everything your professor says. You don't need to type it down word for word, but you should take down 90% of what your professor says.