How much rote memorization is there in law school?

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
whymeohgodno
Posts: 2508
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:15 pm

How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby whymeohgodno » Tue May 03, 2011 12:32 am

I'm guessing a ton.

User avatar
kalvano
Posts: 11720
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby kalvano » Tue May 03, 2011 12:45 am

Not really, unless you have a closed-book final. Most of what you learn is pretty broad stuff. Application is a thousand times more important than memorization. Having the UCC Statute of Frauds memorized cold will get me maybe a point or perhaps two on the exam. Taking the facts the professor has given and applying the SoF to them will net me 8-10 points.

random5483
Posts: 684
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:17 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby random5483 » Tue May 03, 2011 12:47 am

whymeohgodno wrote:I'm guessing a ton.



There is a lot of rote memorization, especially in 1L classes that tend to be closed book, but nothing a reasonably intelligent person can't handle. The difficulty is knowing how all the information interacts with each other, spotting issues in tests, and applying the rules to the given facts. An "A" student might do a little more rote memorization than a "B" student, but for the most part the application/analysis is the central distinction.

To put it simply, you need to be able to memorize a lot of information. But, the memorization is not the hard part. I can usually memorize everything I need to know in 1-2 days (I have a good memory, but nothing close to photographic). The place where most law students have trouble is the application.

whymeohgodno
Posts: 2508
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:15 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby whymeohgodno » Tue May 03, 2011 12:50 am

Memorization has traditionally been the most difficult part for me on almost anything. Just wondering how much memorization there is in law school 1L compared to say....biology.

User avatar
Ty Webb
Posts: 517
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby Ty Webb » Tue May 03, 2011 12:53 am

Like with most things, the answer is: It depends.

I memorized a lot of stuff for open notes finals, but it all kind of ran together anyway in some classes. I have three closed book finals this semester. One of those is Con Law where the professor expects us to remember case names, case facts, Justice opinions, and everything in between. This is the most memorization I have done in my academic career yet.

This is atypical, though.

User avatar
DoubleChecks
Posts: 2333
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:35 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby DoubleChecks » Tue May 03, 2011 12:53 am

whymeohgodno wrote:Memorization has traditionally been the most difficult part for me on almost anything. Just wondering how much memorization there is in law school 1L compared to say....biology.


really depends on your profs/class

in virtually all of mine [no closed finals], i would say some memorization required, but overall, less than ugrad (made my initial studying for law school exams confusing cuz i was like, what am i studying? lol) -- but yeah, application much more important

random5483
Posts: 684
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:17 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby random5483 » Tue May 03, 2011 12:56 am

Depends on whether the exams are open or closed book. So far, all my exams have been closed book, but most 2L/3L classes are open book exams. There is a significant amount of memorization for closed book exams. Much more than I ever had to do in any undergraduate class.

But don't think of law school as memorizing a bunch of statutes. We memorize the key segments of the rules not like statutory versions of them. And you work with a lot of the rules throughout the course so when you memorize them before finals you are familiar with them.

Just to clarify, memorization does not differentiate an A and a C (maybe an F and a C). Application makes the difference between an A, B or C.

09042014
Posts: 18282
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby 09042014 » Tue May 03, 2011 12:58 am

Damn near none. You have to have a working knowledge, but that's about it.

Law school exams are almost entirely application.

It's more like physics than biology, except the laws of nature are ambiguous and different in each state.

User avatar
patrickd139
Posts: 2883
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:53 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby patrickd139 » Tue May 03, 2011 1:00 am

Desert Fox wrote:Damn near none. You have to have a working knowledge, but that's about it.

Law school exams are almost entirely application.

It's more like physics than biology, except the laws of nature are ambiguous and different in each state.

Agree with all of this except the no memorization part. I find that rote memorization is a prerequisite for working knowledge, especially in courses with closed book exams.

ogurty
Posts: 135
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:16 am

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby ogurty » Tue May 03, 2011 1:01 am

whymeohgodno wrote:Memorization has traditionally been the most difficult part for me on almost anything. Just wondering how much memorization there is in law school 1L compared to say....biology.


While there is a lot of memorization, it probably won't be as rote as memorizing for some intro biology class. There is a lot you need to know, lots of basic rules that you need to learn cold before you can effectively apply them for an exam, and for closed book exams you might have to do some serious rote memorizing, but most law school exams (I think most - at least the vast majority at my school) are open book, so if your studying looks like rote memorization, ur doin it rong.

whymeohgodno
Posts: 2508
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:15 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby whymeohgodno » Tue May 03, 2011 1:03 am

Everyone seems to be saying application is what really matters but I'm getting conflicting views on whether a significant amount of memorization is necessary for success. I guess it really depends on the class?

09042014
Posts: 18282
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby 09042014 » Tue May 03, 2011 1:03 am

patrickd139 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Damn near none. You have to have a working knowledge, but that's about it.

Law school exams are almost entirely application.

It's more like physics than biology, except the laws of nature are ambiguous and different in each state.

Agree with all of this except the no memorization part. I find that rote memorization is a prerequisite for working knowledge, especially in courses with closed book exams.


Who the fuck gives closed book tests, what a silly idea. I'm sure closed book exams need it.

But for open book you don't really need much at all.

random5483
Posts: 684
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2010 8:17 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby random5483 » Tue May 03, 2011 1:03 am

patrickd139 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Damn near none. You have to have a working knowledge, but that's about it.

Law school exams are almost entirely application.

It's more like physics than biology, except the laws of nature are ambiguous and different in each state.

Agree with all of this except the no memorization part. I find that rote memorization is a prerequisite for working knowledge, especially in courses with closed book exams.



Agreed. Working knowledge is fine since you don't have to know the rules word for word, but some key phrases are important. You have to know factors to analyze, variances in the law, and the some of the key words for specific elements. A working knowledge requires memorization.

With that said, I think all of us can agree that application is what matters. Don't worry about the memorization or working knowledge. If you go to class, take notes, read the cases and work on an outline you will find the memorization is not too bad.

User avatar
Rurik
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:35 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby Rurik » Tue May 03, 2011 1:06 am

It's been largely my impression that the farther you go down in school ranking, the more closed book exams you see (I have yet to have one). I can say that I have memorized essentially nothing, at least in the sense of not intentionally sitting down and trying to memorize something, and I've received pretty decent grades thus far. Certainly is different than some of the closed-book economics exams I took in undergrad.

jrose5
Posts: 660
Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:54 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby jrose5 » Tue May 03, 2011 1:06 am

Desert Fox wrote:Damn near none. You have to have a working knowledge, but that's about it.

Law school exams are almost entirely application.

It's more like physics than biology, except the laws of nature are ambiguous and different in each state.


This is awesome. I am majoring in a sub-field of biology and I honestly think I am getting dumber from all the hours I spend idly memorizing shit (excuse the language). Thankfully I have taken philosophy every semester since freshman year so hopefully my application skills aren't completely atrophied.

User avatar
Rurik
Posts: 107
Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:35 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby Rurik » Tue May 03, 2011 1:06 am

Desert Fox wrote:
patrickd139 wrote:
Desert Fox wrote:Damn near none. You have to have a working knowledge, but that's about it.

Law school exams are almost entirely application.

It's more like physics than biology, except the laws of nature are ambiguous and different in each state.

Agree with all of this except the no memorization part. I find that rote memorization is a prerequisite for working knowledge, especially in courses with closed book exams.


Who the fuck gives closed book tests, what a silly idea.


Why, for training you to work in closed-book law firms, of course :wink:

User avatar
straxen
Posts: 135
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:39 am

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby straxen » Tue May 03, 2011 1:32 am

I suck so horribly at rote memorization (to the point I hit just about bottom in my notoriously "easy" college physiology and geology classes because of it)...and I haven't found this to be a problem at all in law school.

Law school exams are so much more about analysis on the basis of a reasonably limited set of doctrines. To the limited extent that you need to commit certain things to memory, you'll have gone over it so much that you don't need to make an effort to remember them--it should be natural. (Aside: A lot of times, I find that even if you don't know the "rule" you can at least intuit what it would be.) Even tax, which is about as rote as it can get, and it's totally doable without being a memorizer.

Most professors couldn't care less whether you know the name of the cases/restatements/UCC/code sections except for the key ones you'll remember anyway, or at least will let you take your outline. The outlines will be a crutch, and a necessary one at that, but I didn't find myself relying on them much at all in my first semester exams. I did have one quasi-closed book exam (we were allowed one page of notes) and it was not a problem. I did not even try to "memorize" my outlines as many would advocate, because frankly that would be impossible with my memorization skills. While some people like to, you certainly don't need to do flash cards or any crap like that.

This will vary somewhat by school/subject/professor, but I think that memorization pretty universally plays a lot less of a role in law school than in most other contexts.

User avatar
rayiner
Posts: 6184
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:43 am

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby rayiner » Tue May 03, 2011 1:33 am

You don't need to memorize much, but you need to synthesize everything. Eg: you don't need to memorize the elements of adverse possession (you can just glance at your outline) but you damn well better know how to apply the elements without reading anything from your outline.

Generally, it's useless to try and memorize specific bits of the law. However, you do need to work with your outline to synthesize what you need to know, and in the process you'll actually end up memorizing a lot.

whymeohgodno
Posts: 2508
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:15 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby whymeohgodno » Tue May 03, 2011 2:00 am

straxen wrote:I suck so horribly at rote memorization (to the point I hit just about bottom in my notoriously "easy" college physiology and geology classes because of it)...and I haven't found this to be a problem at all in law school.

Law school exams are so much more about analysis on the basis of a reasonably limited set of doctrines. To the limited extent that you need to commit certain things to memory, you'll have gone over it so much that you don't need to make an effort to remember them--it should be natural. (Aside: A lot of times, I find that even if you don't know the "rule" you can at least intuit what it would be.) Even tax, which is about as rote as it can get, and it's totally doable without being a memorizer.

Most professors couldn't care less whether you know the name of the cases/restatements/UCC/code sections except for the key ones you'll remember anyway, or at least will let you take your outline. The outlines will be a crutch, and a necessary one at that, but I didn't find myself relying on them much at all in my first semester exams. I did have one quasi-closed book exam (we were allowed one page of notes) and it was not a problem. I did not even try to "memorize" my outlines as many would advocate, because frankly that would be impossible with my memorization skills. While some people like to, you certainly don't need to do flash cards or any crap like that.

This will vary somewhat by school/subject/professor, but I think that memorization pretty universally plays a lot less of a role in law school than in most other contexts.


How well did you do? You sound like me in a lot of ways (at least when it comes to study methods).

User avatar
kalvano
Posts: 11720
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby kalvano » Tue May 03, 2011 2:25 am

The only real "memorization" that's necessary is knowing stuff well enough to spot it. In other words, being familiar enough with something to spot it on an exam. So while you don't have to memorize all of the elements of adverse possession, you need to be familiar with it enough that you can spot the issue on the test.

When you say "rote memorization", I assume you mean sitting down for the sole purpose of committing things to memory. You will do that about zero times unless there is a closed-book exam. Most of what people mean by "memorization" will come from reading a ton of cases and taking notes and listening to your professor. Memorization by osmosis, not in a rote fashion like memorizing names and locations of bones or organs for later recital.

User avatar
Grizz
Posts: 10583
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:31 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby Grizz » Tue May 03, 2011 2:29 am

kalvano wrote:The only real "memorization" that's necessary is knowing stuff well enough to spot it. In other words, being familiar enough with something to spot it on an exam. So while you don't have to memorize all of the elements of adverse possession, you need to be familiar with it enough that you can spot the issue on the test.

When you say "rote memorization", I assume you mean sitting down for the sole purpose of committing things to memory. You will do that about zero times unless there is a closed-book exam. Most of what people mean by "memorization" will come from reading a ton of cases and taking notes and listening to your professor. Memorization by osmosis, not in a rote fashion like memorizing names and locations of bones or organs for later recital.


I'd add to all of this that the best way to learn how to do the bold is to take and go over practice exams.

whymeohgodno
Posts: 2508
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:15 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby whymeohgodno » Tue May 03, 2011 4:40 am

I've heard that even for open note exams you have almost no time to look at your notes/outlines so it's nice to memorize. But it seems like people are saying there is a difference in memorization between open/closed note test.

User avatar
Ty Webb
Posts: 517
Joined: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby Ty Webb » Tue May 03, 2011 4:43 am

whymeohgodno wrote:I've heard that even for open note exams you have almost no time to look at your notes/outlines so it's nice to memorize. But it seems like people are saying there is a difference in memorization between open/closed note test.


It's not that there's "no" time to look. It's that there's no time to 1)search and 2)synthesize. You're finished if you have to flip through pages and pages on end to find a concept, then you have to spend 2 minutes thinking about what it means before you begin writing.

There is time to to quickly scan for the particular wording of a rule or one of the elements of a rule, granted that you understand the foundation of that rule in the first place. People with good typing skills can even look down at their outlines while their fingers keep moving.

keg411
Posts: 5935
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 9:10 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby keg411 » Tue May 03, 2011 8:21 am

Desert Fox wrote:Damn near none. You have to have a working knowledge, but that's about it.

Law school exams are almost entirely application.

It's more like physics than biology, except the laws of nature are ambiguous and different in each state.


This (minus that I know nothing about physics and biology).

I have yet to have a closed book exam, and though I did try to memorize in a few of my classes last semester, I found overall it was a waste of time. I do end up memorizing the concepts in general, but you don't have to sit there with 100 index cards or whatever (at least not until the bar exam); it's just from doing PT's, going over your notes, synthesizing the material while outlining, etc..

User avatar
GATORTIM
Posts: 1214
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 3:51 pm

Re: How much rote memorization is there in law school?

Postby GATORTIM » Tue May 03, 2011 8:26 am

U have to know elements in order to do analysis




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: addie1412, Gunner19, S. Goodman and 7 guests