One approach to 1L success from someone ranked #1.

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Sewilcox
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby Sewilcox » Wed Jun 08, 2011 6:18 pm

great post!

GertrudePerkins
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby GertrudePerkins » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:29 pm

I guess I have to respect the diligence and drive of OP, but as someone who just finished 1L at a T14 in the top 20%, I want to warn frightened 0Ls that you don't need to half of this stuff to do well. To be more precise, there are many people who don't need to do half this stuff to do well. There are some people who do. And there are other people who could read every Emanuel's/E&E/etc. ever written, make 1000 flashcards per class, receive personal tutoring from John Roberts, and still not do very well in law school.

My congratulations to the OP, but my condolences to those 0Ls who read these masochistic "How I Dominated Law School" threads. I'm glad I wasn't an avid TLS reader in the year before law school.

skrillo
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby skrillo » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:40 am

NYC Law wrote:
skrillo wrote:^ Agree.

I am #1 (ghost) and while I socialized a lot less than some, I made friends, went out 1 night per week if averaged across the whole semester. (Probably less than once per week for the last 4-6, but 2-3 at the beginning.)

But hey, whatever works.


What rank school?
Higher than OP, lower than HYS
NYC Law wrote:I certainly hope you're working on an article :D

(Even though the TL;DR version of all these articles combined is do what works for you and work smart and hard)
Exactly. No plans to do so, I think the ones that are around here cover it pretty well.

ObviouslyAnAlt
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby ObviouslyAnAlt » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:55 am

I was #1 at a T14 law school my first year. Seriously, OP's advice and lifestyle are nothing like what I did, or what the people who had very similar grades did. It's great that it worked for him or her, but nobody reading this should for a second think that this kind of spartan lifestyle is necessary to do well - even to finish first - in law school.

I did know some people who put in hours and just grinded away the way the OP discussed, and many of them failed to distinguish themselves.

Hard work isn't enough in law school. Following the advice on TLS about learning how to take exams is much more important than reading 20 hornbooks per class, scheduling your day as though it were bootcamp, and shunning socialization.

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kwais
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby kwais » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:28 am

thanks. helpful.

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NYC Law
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby NYC Law » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:35 am

ObviouslyAnAlt wrote:I was #1 at a T14 law school my first year. Seriously, OP's advice and lifestyle are nothing like what I did, or what the people who had very similar grades did. It's great that it worked for him or her, but nobody reading this should for a second think that this kind of spartan lifestyle is necessary to do well - even to finish first - in law school.

I did know some people who put in hours and just grinded away the way the OP discussed, and many of them failed to distinguish themselves.

Hard work isn't enough in law school. Following the advice on TLS about learning how to take exams is much more important than reading 20 hornbooks per class, scheduling your day as though it were bootcamp, and shunning socialization.


But if we don't put in this level of effort how will we be able to feel like we have control over something we have little control over?

jjlaw
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby jjlaw » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:17 am

OP, when you had lunch with professors, what did you discuss?

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Corwin
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby Corwin » Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:34 pm

GertrudePerkins wrote:I guess I have to respect the diligence and drive of OP, but as someone who just finished 1L at a T14 in the top 20%, I want to warn frightened 0Ls that you don't need to half of this stuff to do well. To be more precise, there are many people who don't need to do half this stuff to do well. There are some people who do. And there are other people who could read every Emanuel's/E&E/etc. ever written, make 1000 flashcards per class, receive personal tutoring from John Roberts, and still not do very well in law school.

My congratulations to the OP, but my condolences to those 0Ls who read these masochistic "How I Dominated Law School" threads. I'm glad I wasn't an avid TLS reader in the year before law school.

OP gets at this in his guide. There's just a big difference between top 20% and #1.
Looking back at 1L I am confident that I would have finished in the top 10% without killing myself (see my schedule below), but who knows if I would have finished #1 without a ridiculous amount of work.

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romothesavior
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby romothesavior » Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:18 pm

Corwin wrote:There's just a big difference between top 20% and #1.

Obviously, but you're cherry picking and ignoring the other posts from top of the class people who also said that this approach is extreme.

I'm not knocking OP and I would love to have this kind of success in law school. My sincere congrats to OP for kicking ass. I didn't come anywhere close to #1 in my class. But I have been able to still do pretty well at a pretty good school, and I didn't have to sacrifice the things and people I enjoy to get it done. If people want to work like OP or arrow or whoever, then they should go for it. But for those of you 0Ls who are like, "Man, I could never do this," you shouldn't worry. You can get good (even great, as in top of the class great) grades without doing this, and a lot of the insanely hard working people still get pwned.

That said, this is still a great guide. You 0Ls should take things from it that will help you to be successful in your own way, but don't feel like replicating it is the only way to do well. Do what works for you.

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NYC Law
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby NYC Law » Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:21 pm

I always felt bad for the insanely hard workers who still got bad grades in UG. It would suck to become one of those in law school.

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brose
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby brose » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:21 pm

NYC Law wrote:I always felt bad for the insanely hard workers who still got bad grades in UG. It would suck to become one of those in law school.


Yeah... that would blow.

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romothesavior
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby romothesavior » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:26 pm

brose wrote:
NYC Law wrote:I always felt bad for the insanely hard workers who still got bad grades in UG. It would suck to become one of those in law school.


Yeah... that would blow.

Happens far more often in law school than it did in undergrad.

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FantasticMrFox
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby FantasticMrFox » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:51 pm

romothesavior wrote:
brose wrote:
NYC Law wrote:I always felt bad for the insanely hard workers who still got bad grades in UG. It would suck to become one of those in law school.


Yeah... that would blow.

Happens far more often in law school than it did in undergrad.

:shock: :(

mscarn23
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby mscarn23 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:57 pm

At lunch with professors we discussed a pretty broad range of topics. Initially, they were interested in my background, college and work experience, what areas of law I was interested in. As we spent more time together conversations were more centered around basic lunchtime matters- sports, current events, weekend or holiday plans. I'm sure that it would be fine to discuss any law-based matters as well, but I tended to keep my lunch meetings on a social/networking tip as opposed to turning them into travelling office-hours. During second semester I was forthcoming about my interest in transferring, and sought advice and opinions on this topic as well. I think many professors are happy just to meet students, get to know them, and of course to grow their own professional networks. A prof who's 50 may have another 20+ years ahead of him/her. Befriending top students today means having a bank of prominent attorneys to reach out to for the next generation of students.

jjlaw
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby jjlaw » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:15 pm

mscarn23 wrote:I think many professors are happy just to meet students, get to know them, and of course to grow their own professional networks. A prof who's 50 may have another 20+ years ahead of him/her. Befriending top students today means having a bank of prominent attorneys to reach out to for the next generation of students.


Thanks! I didn't think of that.

bartleby
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby bartleby » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:15 pm

Respect to OP but does anyone know of someone who worked comparatively hard and didn't end up in top 10%?

ogurty
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby ogurty » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:23 pm

bartleby wrote:Respect to OP but does anyone know of someone who worked comparatively hard and didn't end up in top 10%?


Yes. Everyone knows people like that.

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NYC Law
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby NYC Law » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:24 pm

ogurty wrote:
bartleby wrote:Respect to OP but does anyone know of someone who worked comparatively hard and didn't end up in top 10%?


Yes. Everyone knows people like that.


But did they actually work that hard and know their stuff? Or did were they just in the library 24/7 but on facebook?
But I wouldn't doubt that the former exists.

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Gemini
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby Gemini » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:27 pm

ogurty wrote:
bartleby wrote:Respect to OP but does anyone know of someone who worked comparatively hard and didn't end up in top 10%?


Yes. Everyone knows people like that.


That's scary.

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romothesavior
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby romothesavior » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:31 pm

ogurty wrote:
bartleby wrote:Respect to OP but does anyone know of someone who worked comparatively hard and didn't end up in top 10%?


Yes. Everyone knows people like that.

+1. Once you get above a certain threshold of hard work, you'll see diminishing returns on more work. Obviously if you slack, you're at a disadvantage, and if you uber-gun, you'll probably do better, but there are people who worked 2x harder than I did and got worse grades, and I know people who worked less than me and did better.

In my experience, the correlation between work and grades is pretty weak inside the high/low extremes.

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FantasticMrFox
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby FantasticMrFox » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:34 pm

romothesavior wrote:
ogurty wrote:
bartleby wrote:Respect to OP but does anyone know of someone who worked comparatively hard and didn't end up in top 10%?


Yes. Everyone knows people like that.

+1. Once you get above a certain threshold of hard work, you'll see diminishing returns on more work. Obviously if you slack, you're at a disadvantage, and if you uber-gun, you'll probably do better, but there are people who worked 2x harder than I did and got worse grades, and I know people who worked less than me and did better.

In my experience, the correlation between work and grades is pretty weak inside the high/low extremes.

What's the other variable then? Luck? I'm guessing that efficiency is actual difference between the outliers and the consistent correlation, though. I know I've done useless all-nighters before because I can't focus for more than an hour.

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NYC Law
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby NYC Law » Thu Jun 09, 2011 4:38 pm

FantasticMrFox wrote:
romothesavior wrote:
ogurty wrote:
bartleby wrote:Respect to OP but does anyone know of someone who worked comparatively hard and didn't end up in top 10%?


Yes. Everyone knows people like that.

+1. Once you get above a certain threshold of hard work, you'll see diminishing returns on more work. Obviously if you slack, you're at a disadvantage, and if you uber-gun, you'll probably do better, but there are people who worked 2x harder than I did and got worse grades, and I know people who worked less than me and did better.

In my experience, the correlation between work and grades is pretty weak inside the high/low extremes.

What's the other variable then? Luck? I'm guessing that efficiency is actual difference between the outliers and the consistent correlation, though. I know I've done useless all-nighters before because I can't focus for more than an hour.


Sometimes it seems that way from TLS; like you're just throwing 200 equally sized marbles into a funnel. One has to come out first, but there's no specific characteristic of the marble making it happen. Or kind of like those who make it big in the stock market, and how its usually just consistent good luck.
Who knows.

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romothesavior
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby romothesavior » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:09 pm

FantasticMrFox wrote:
romothesavior wrote:
ogurty wrote:
bartleby wrote:Respect to OP but does anyone know of someone who worked comparatively hard and didn't end up in top 10%?


Yes. Everyone knows people like that.

+1. Once you get above a certain threshold of hard work, you'll see diminishing returns on more work. Obviously if you slack, you're at a disadvantage, and if you uber-gun, you'll probably do better, but there are people who worked 2x harder than I did and got worse grades, and I know people who worked less than me and did better.

In my experience, the correlation between work and grades is pretty weak inside the high/low extremes.

What's the other variable then? Luck? I'm guessing that efficiency is actual difference between the outliers and the consistent correlation, though. I know I've done useless all-nighters before because I can't focus for more than an hour.

Intelligence, typing speed, and probably more than anything else, the ability to write a law school exam.

Again though, I'm just relaying my experience, but others may disagree. It does sound like my experience is the norm at most law schools, however. I firmly believed that a certain level of hard work is necessary, but not sufficient, to doing well in law school, and people of varying work ethics can be found all over the grading spectrum.

Anyways, I'm gonna leave this thread so you guys can get back to asking OP questions. If you want my opinion, you can ask it in the WUSTL 2L questions thread I started.

hds2388
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby hds2388 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:16 pm

I'm less inclined to believe in the luck argument. I think that this is evidenced by the relatively tight correlation people see in their grades. Obviously some people have some dramatic swings, but if there were a significant portion of randomness (i.e. luck) involved, I don't think the names you'd see on dean's list would be so frequently similar. I believe that the aforegoing is based almost exclusively on my gut reaction, so it's obviously to be taken with salt.

mscarn23
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby mscarn23 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:22 pm

I think the takeaway when comparing scrillo and obviouslyanalt’s experiences to mine, is that there isn’t any one “recipe” for law school success. As I said in my original post, I would probably have been very successful without going overboard, and I was successful by following the guide I’ve shared with everyone here. The trouble is that we only have one opportunity to do 1L, which makes the whole process of critiquing different approaches somewhat unfair. You could follow my advice and finish first in your class, or you could follow it and end up last (or decide after a few months of my “spartan” game plan that law school just isn’t for you). On the flip side you could do less and kill it, or do less and flunk out- the only way to tell whether a certain technique will work for you is to look at the options available, alter them to suit your needs or beliefs, and take the plunge.

As I mentioned previously my approach to college was much different than my approach in law school- back then I didn’t even bother to go to class half the time, and my results were predictably average (i.e. much closer to 3.0 than to 4.0). If I had been less intelligent, maybe I would have flunked out instead of getting a merely average set of grades, and if I had been more intelligent maybe I would have realized sooner that GPA is kind-of important… Regardless, what I learned from running my business is that diligence and long hours are important in the working world, and I brought that knowledge with me to law school. While I might have finished first without putting in 70 hour weeks, would I have lost the knowledge of hard work that I spent so many years acquiring? By the same token, if I’d taken it easy, how would I have adapted to life at a law firm during the summer? I can’t speak to anyone else’s summer experience, but at the big law job I landed I have basically been left to my own devices in terms of picking up projects and networking. If I’d forgotten how important it was to work hard, if I’d not put in those long hours, how would I have responded to this lack of supervision? When I was running my business, I couldn’t afford to sleep on the job, because I was the person who kept the work coming in. As a summer associate I’m not making it rain- I’m begging others to let me mop up after them. If I had killed first year with the same laziness that I championed in college, wouldn’t that have made a difference this summer?

These questions are my own, and yet I tried in my original post to disclaim that my method was not for everyone. In addition to giving a little love to Charlie Sheen (who has fallen on hard times as you may have read), my comment about melting faces and exploded bodies was meant as an honest warning that my method might not work for everyone. For many, the ideal study method is probably somewhere in the middle, though I think spending more time is generally better than spending less. If you aren’t able to read 8 civil procedure supplements (or whatever I ended up reading), don’t stress yourself out over it. If you can’t commit yourself to 12 hour days right off the bat, start slow and work your way up (I say work your way up because regardless of which advice you succeed with, the big bad law firms are going to want you to put in your hours at work.).

Finally, I agree with what others have said about people putting in serious hours and then coming up short- law school should come with one of those mutual fund disclaimers stating that “past performance is no guarantee of future success.” Whether you coasted in college or gunned it, whether your technique was successful or not, law school is a different beast. Read all the “guides” you can, and do so with a grain of salt, because what worked for me might not work for you. The tragedy as I mentioned above is that you will never know what works or doesn’t until it’s too late, and to that criticism I’m afraid I have no response.




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