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

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

Postby notanumber » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:25 pm

hds2388 wrote: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.


I don't think anybody really believes that grading is random. Rather, I think the argument is that there are highly determinative factors that are beyond your control. This means that studying "more" or even studying "better" aren't necessarily going to ensure that you do well.

I've taught college classes before and, while there is a correlation between the students who work hard and the students who do well, there are plenty of exceptions at both extremes.

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

Postby missinglink » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:29 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.

Indeed. I know of some people who followed similar schedules to the OPs. Absolute dedication to studying at all hours; they finished below median.

This is to caution 0Ls reading this. The OPs study schedule is neither necessary nor sufficient for good grades in law school. Certainly dedication to studying helps, but there are other intangibles at work (IMO).

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

Postby Borhas » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:58 pm

I tried really hard to find a reason to hate the OP, but he seems a genuinely well meaning fellow. But I don't think he realizes that by posting what he did he may have actually hurt a significant number of people (the 0L gunners that think hard work will get them there...) I mean the guy has a lot things going for him, a 177 means he's probably got solid innate logical reasoning skills, a stable relationship means he gets laid on the reg, and the rest of the post just seems to indicate someone that doesn't have issues outside of law school... those are big + factors.

lastly, I wonder if OP is getting dosed on adderall

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

Postby NarwhalPunter » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:14 pm

OP's regimen certainly does not guarantee top grades. However, taking a similar (most likely less intense) approach will ensure that you gave it your absolute best effort. If you didn't succeed, then frankly it's because you were significantly lacking in law school test taking ability at the outset, and you were unable to compensate for it by working harder than the peers who beat you.

I did not work as consistently hard as OP. However, I did put in 50-60 hours a week for the first half of the semester, and probably 65-75 hours a week on the back half. I came in with the following mindset: You only get one shot at 1L. And I'll be damned if the employment opportunities I desire are closed off to me because I didn't give it my ABSOLUTE best effort.

There was still time for fun until a month or two before finals. I threw parties, dated around a litte, and made a lot of great friends. In fact, doing these things helped me stay sane and maximize my productivity when I was studying. Distractions can really help avoid burnout. You just have to be mature enough to know when it's time to buckle down and cut out activities like bar review. Also, remember that OP is married and had a support system to help him live like he did. Isolating yourself like that if you are single could be very difficult from a mental health standpoint.

In short, give it your absolute best. ITE, with the level of debt we're all taking on, you'll regret it forever if you don't.

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

Postby fastforward » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:19 pm

You only get one shot at 1L. And I'll be damned if the employment opportunities I desire are closed off to me because I didn't give it my ABSOLUTE best effort.


Some would not function optimally by blindly following OP's schedule. But for those who want to leave it all on the field, it's a solid baseline for an individualized plan.

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

Postby mscarn23 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:33 pm

It's not my intention to lead any 0Ls astray, and I would suggest that anyone considering a derivation of my schedule consider the other opinions that were voiced here and in other threads. I had great success utilizing this method, but as others have rightly pointed out there were likely many other factors that contributed to my 1L achievements.

Even with my approach, I was beaten on 2 of my 8 exams by people who probably didn't follow anything close to my road map (I know for certain that the exam I didn't book during first semester was taken by someone who had an approach similar to that suggested as an alternative in this thread). While taking CALI/book awards in 6/8 classes is an impressive feat, those 2 exams are proof that my technique wasn't infallible for me during either semester.

Either way, I didn't want to end the semester kicking myself because I knew I could have done more to maximize my chances of success. What it takes to maximize these chances will depend on the individual- I actually found all the studying to be a fun break from the workaday world, and had a life which wouldn't have invited too much bumming around campus even if I hadn't spent so much time in the books.

And no, I never used Adderall to study. I tried it once years ago, but like caffeine it just makes me jittery... A nice glass of wine or whisky on the other hand- well, that's a story for another post.

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

Postby risktaker » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:35 pm

OP, you are my God! I have a question for you though. Did you set aside date night or anything like that with your wife? Also, when you went out if you ever went out with law school friends, did you take your wife with you as well? I am very interested because my fiance will be moving with me, but I am very concerned about making next to no friends if I am hanging out with my fiance all the time.

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

Postby mscarn23 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:59 pm

My wife and I did do the occasional "date-night" where I would close things up at 5ish, get dressed up, and do the whole night out thing, and in addition I made a strong effort to leave law completely behind once 7pm hit. This gave my wife and I a good amount of time to hang out and relax.

In addition my wife did come along to hang out with my law school buddies occasionally, but I can't lie and say having a wife didn't detract further from social opportunities. Unfortunately my friends didn't have wives or girlfriends, which in law school (as in life) can be tough. Oh, and warn your fiancé that law students (at least my friends and I) are really dorky with their conversations- everything is law related, even the inside jokes. Warn her, and try to get your buddies to stick to normal topics for at least part of the conversation and she'll be happier.

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

Postby bartleby » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:06 pm

mscarn23 wrote:My wife and I did do the occasional "date-night" where I would close things up at 5ish, get dressed up, and do the whole night out thing, and in addition I made a strong effort to leave law completely behind once 7pm hit. This gave my wife and I a good amount of time to hang out and relax.

In addition my wife did come along to hang out with my law school buddies occasionally, but I can't lie and say having a wife didn't detract further from social opportunities. Unfortunately my friends didn't have wives or girlfriends, which in law school (as in life) can be tough. Oh, and warn your fiancé that law students (at least my friends and I) are really dorky with their conversations- everything is law related, even the inside jokes. Warn her, and try to get your buddies to stick to normal topics for at least part of the conversation and she'll be happier.


OP, have you had any trouble sleeping / used supplements for it (i.e. melatonin)?

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

Postby mscarn23 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:16 pm

I used to use valerian root and melatonin, but now I usually just take benedryl. I have allergies and used to take those supplements plus claritin. Once I switched to benedryl though, problems solved.

With regards to the caffeine though, if I touch the stuff I have problems sleeping. It doesn't wake me up, just makes me jittery when I try to sleep.

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

Postby GoldenGloves » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:21 pm

Thanks for the advice! I've gotta tag this.

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

Postby TatteredDignity » Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:24 pm

Tagged for supplement list.

Or if I decide to get crazy.

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

Postby Bronte » Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:26 pm

I speculate that law school grades are dictated by about 50% innate intelligence of a very particular type (of which LSAT/UGPA are only partial predictors), 30% hard work of a very particular type, and 20% luck, including imprecision in the grading process and uncontrollable performance deviations on test day. There's a plausible (if fatalistic) argument that all three of these variables are outside of your control. Even mental endurance is to a certain extent an innate quality. Recognizing this may be scary, but it might help to lower your expectations and prepare you for the most probable result: median.

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

Postby Holly Golightly » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:01 pm

I find a lot of things that other people do to be completely unnecessary. Yes, there are some classes where an E&E or other supplement can be incredibly useful (civ pro and conlaw are the two that come to mind). However, I have also done very well in classes where I never opened a supplement, went to a TA or prof's office hours, or really did anything other than the daily reading and then outlining for finals.

TL;DR: everyone is absolutely right when they say that you need to figure out what works for you. One of the most important things that everyone needs to know is just how to take a law school exam; once you have that down, the material really isn't that hard.

Also, I was drunk for a good 3/4 of second semester and am perfectly happy with my grades.

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

Postby Bronte » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:04 pm

Holly Golightly wrote:I find a lot of things that other people do to be completely unnecessary. Yes, there are some classes where an E&E or other supplement can be incredibly useful (civ pro and conlaw are the two that come to mind). However, I have also done very well in classes where I never opened a supplement, went to a TA or prof's office hours, or really did anything other than the daily reading and then outlining for finals.

TL;DR: everyone is absolutely right when they say that you need to figure out what works for you. One of the most important things that everyone needs to know is just how to take a law school exam; once you have that down, the material really isn't that hard.

Also, I was drunk for a good 3/4 of second semester and am perfectly happy with my grades.


You're at Michigan, yeah? I wonder who you are that was drunk 3/4 of the semester...

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

Postby Holly Golightly » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:06 pm

Bronte wrote:
Holly Golightly wrote:I find a lot of things that other people do to be completely unnecessary. Yes, there are some classes where an E&E or other supplement can be incredibly useful (civ pro and conlaw are the two that come to mind). However, I have also done very well in classes where I never opened a supplement, went to a TA or prof's office hours, or really did anything other than the daily reading and then outlining for finals.

TL;DR: everyone is absolutely right when they say that you need to figure out what works for you. One of the most important things that everyone needs to know is just how to take a law school exam; once you have that down, the material really isn't that hard.

Also, I was drunk for a good 3/4 of second semester and am perfectly happy with my grades.


You're at Michigan, yeah? I wonder who you are that was drunk 3/4 of the semester...

Northwestern

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

Postby Bronte » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:13 pm

Holly Golightly wrote:
Bronte wrote:
You're at Michigan, yeah? I wonder who you are that was drunk 3/4 of the semester...

Northwestern


Joan Hollaway must be the one I was thinking of, looking at the Class of 2013 list.

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

Postby WayBryson » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:32 pm

Borhas wrote:I tried really hard to find a reason to hate the OP, but he seems a genuinely well meaning fellow. But I don't think he realizes that by posting what he did he may have actually hurt a significant number of people (the 0L gunners that think hard work will get them there...) I mean the guy has a lot things going for him, a 177 means he's probably got solid innate logical reasoning skills, a stable relationship means he gets laid on the reg, and the rest of the post just seems to indicate someone that doesn't have issues outside of law school... those are big + factors.

lastly, I wonder if OP is getting dosed on adderall


I really don’t think that this post could possibly hurt anyone. OP has done a fantastic job not only of outlining the specifics of what he did but also his thinking and reasoning behind making those choices. The real take away from this post is not to emulate OP’s specific plan if you want to rank high but rather to emulate the self-aware long term perspective that he employed. Anybody who reads this, is planning on attending a law school, and somehow only manages to read “work hard=number one, Kerblooow!” is obviously going to have a tough time of it for reasons completely unrelated to OP.

On a related note, I also think a lot of folk are overestimating just how “insane” his schedule is. He has schedule a full 7 hours a sleep a night, exercise, and time for his wife. My guess is that a good number of folk reading this are hoping for Big Law… I hear those guys put in long hours. Distilling OP’s post down to a few words, ‘insane’ and ‘grind’ really don’t come to mind. But ‘focused, ’ ‘disciplined,’ and ‘balanced’ certainly do.

Thanks for the write up OP.

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

Postby Holly Golightly » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:39 pm

I agree with the person above me that this post could be helpful, but saying that it couldn't possibly be hurtful is just wrong. If I tried to do a schedule like the OP's, I would burn out and perform horribly come exam-time.

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

Postby WayBryson » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:50 pm

Holly Golightly wrote:I agree with the person above me that this post could be helpful, but saying that it couldn't possibly be hurtful is just wrong. If I tried to do a schedule like the OP's, I would burn out and perform horribly come exam-time.


At no point does OP say, "Do this if you want to achieve what I did." The overall theme is about finding a system that works for the individual. OP also freely admits that he might have done much less and achieved the same and the same for others. He even points out that his main reason for doing a lot of the supplemental reading was to keep in a rhythm--he uses a very good analogy to long distance running. Moreover, he also addresses issues of networking, social life, and the tradeoffs he made. If this inspires someone to try a schedule that is incompatible with himself/herself, then they flat out missed the point.

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

Postby goodolgil » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:20 am

Holly Golightly wrote:
Bronte wrote:
Holly Golightly wrote:I find a lot of things that other people do to be completely unnecessary. Yes, there are some classes where an E&E or other supplement can be incredibly useful (civ pro and conlaw are the two that come to mind). However, I have also done very well in classes where I never opened a supplement, went to a TA or prof's office hours, or really did anything other than the daily reading and then outlining for finals.

TL;DR: everyone is absolutely right when they say that you need to figure out what works for you. One of the most important things that everyone needs to know is just how to take a law school exam; once you have that down, the material really isn't that hard.

Also, I was drunk for a good 3/4 of second semester and am perfectly happy with my grades.


You're at Michigan, yeah? I wonder who you are that was drunk 3/4 of the semester...

Northwestern


Well, I was drunk for a good 3/4 of second semester at Michigan and am perfectly happy with my grades.

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

Postby Vronsky » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:38 am

NYC Law wrote:
FantasticMrFox wrote:
romothesavior wrote:
ogurty wrote: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.



I want to respond to this and add my comments to the other top students. I ended up ranked 3rd in my class at a T2, and took the OP's general strategy but toned down about two levels. I gunned maybe 75% as hard, read supps and did goofy amounts of reading as a OL, consuming anything I could get my hands on.

First, what is spot on about the OP is the mentality. The people who are saying "yeah well I worked kinda hard and ended up top 25% at a good school," you aren't playing the same kind of game. (I'm talking about Michigan and Columbia.) At a lower T1 and T2+, there is the very real motivation that if you do not excel, you are risking your financial future. The best way to not have crushing debt hang over your head with a worthless degree and thus the inability to pay off your debt is to set your sights from the beginning.

You are not in law school to go out drinking. This does not mean you cannot make friends + chill once or twice a week, but you should devote 97% of you life to law school for the first year. It's not even that bad: 4 months, a month off, and 4 more months. Everything should be aimed at law school: i.e. exercising, eating well, maintaining stable relationships, and even taking time off when appropriate.

Second, it is true that there are ALWAYS some people who work super hard and don't do that well (i.e. fall outside the top 10% but still stay above, say, top 40% if they are actually working at a T1/T2). What differentiates them is not luck: luck may come into play when you're splitting hairs on a B+/A-. What differentiates people is the ability to perform on a 3 hour law school exam. Plain and simple. I know that there are some people in my class who I did better than on exams but who are nonetheless "smarter" than me. Some are more conversant, some have much more life experience and other areas of knowledge, and some know more about the law itself.

What separates people is the ability to type out the answer to your law school exams; you are tested on output and not on your understanding of the law. To that end, if you read the same insane amount of material as the OP, but aren't skilled at expressing and applying your knowledge as the professor expects to the facts of the exam, you wouldn't end up #1. You would probably end up top 10%, but there's a big difference. Thus "test-taking prep" like LEEWs and GTM (as aside from substantive stuff like E&E), while not cure-alls, are critical. I also read every guide on TLS, and added them all up in a bank in my head, picking and choosing test taking strategies and concepts as they became suitable to my particular professors.

In addition to the work ethic, the OP is also clearly an excellent test-taker as seen by the 177. Many people simply get too nervous on exams and make dumb mistakes; a few people use the nervousness to work quickly and thoroughly.

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

Postby shoeshine » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:56 am

Image

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

Postby Renne Walker » Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:25 am

As an about-to-be 1L, this thread provides a nicely detailed and appreciated insight into preparation options. While I believe in preparation, it isn’t a secret-sauce that always work. . . I was practice scoring in the 175-178 LSAT range, but apparently choked on test day―170―good enough for the bottom half of the T-6 (and a likely debt of +$200K). What I hope is addressed at some point is preparation for OCI. To me the primary benefit of a high “T” ranking are the OCI opportunities. If not for the inducement of the OCI, I would have opted for a free ride at a respectable Tier 1 school. Is Law Review, or Moot Court honors or [is it] something else that paves the way for a successful OCI outcome?

As a side note, I am glad to read that the OP suggests reading prior to entering LS. A number of posters have suggested that it is a waste of time because of various reasons. I just received my code to LexisNexis so I suppose reading indoors beats 103° outdoors!

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

Postby happyfeet » Fri Jun 10, 2011 2:50 am

thanks so much for this!




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