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

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

Postby Naked Dude » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:12 pm

mscarn23 wrote:I take it you're not an Ayn Rand fan, which is a shame... Anyway, like I said in my post, I had been out of the classroom for quite a while, and while running my business honed certain skills (client development, capacity to work long hours, employee management, etc.) these skills did not necessarily prepare me for law school. Not wanting to squander 1L year, I did everything in my power to be successful, and for the most part it worked.

As I've said, I can understand being wary of my approach, but I would disagree that successfully following it would be a predictor of big law burn-out. I spent 8 years growing and running my business and during that time I consistantly put in 80 hour+ work weeks. I would argue that someone who shudders at the idea of putting in as many hours of studying as I did- especially knowing the importance of 1L year- would be at a much higher risk of being chewed up and spit out if they managed to land big law after graduation. I know the pain of 12 hour days, the realities of both office and industry politics, and would begrudge no one who decided they didn't want that life.

Likewise, I can understand someone imagining a schedule like mine would make them suicidal, but it's really not that bad once you do it and get used to it. I prepped hard during 0L summer, but I also took a 2-week vacation to Scotland. I killed myself during the fall, but then I took a 12 day trip to Brazil over Christmas break. I studied like crazy during the spring, but it scored me a high-paying summer associate position which will fund my end-of-summer vacation. I managed to go to the gym every day, eat a great dinner every night (though my wife is entirely responsible for this aspect of things), drink many, many decent bottles of wine, and enjoy a great sex life.

If this makes you suicidal, then so be it, but for my tastes there are a lot worse ways to spend a year. Sure, I could have done things differently, but I also need to acknowledge that my idea of fun may not be the same as those who have trouble fathoming how I made it out alive. I could have made a million new friends, or gone to bar review every week, but let's level for a minute. I'm a married guy in my early 30's, who ran a successful business, and who takes pride in his 200 bottle wine cellar and collection of first editions. I don’t want to force my idea of a good time on people who are just looking to get drunk, play trivia, and forget about law school for a few hours, and there’s no reason I should force their idea of fun onto myself. I'm happy with a small group of good friends, and think I was successful in that respect during my 1L year. I'm not Vince Vaughn in "The Breakup," playing Madden and looking forward to quarter beer night, or Owen Wilson in “Hall Pass” trying to score floozies at Starbucks. (I should acknowledge that the interests which made me slightly less social with other students have had the opposite effect since starting work, but that’s not really my point with all this.)

Oh, and with regards to research points, they can definitely be lucrative- I'm sitting on around 11k Lexis points after my first year, and got a handful of free supplements and a free 1-year ABA membership thanks to raffles Lexis held at my school.


This might seem like a hairsplitting psychology question, but here goes. It looks like you found the "brute force" school is my job/future, etc, your motivation. Do you see this as mutually exclusive to, or more effective than the "learn to love it" advice that some people give. Yeah I know, bad question...

HTBKLP78
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby HTBKLP78 » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:30 pm

Hello. I have never posted on this board, but felt compelled to do so after reading the original poster's guide on 1L success. I sincerely applaud him for his hard work, but would like to point out to any incoming law students reading his post that you should try to find the right balance and study habits that work for you and not get caught up in what others are doing. I am a 3L and have done well at a good law school, and I also have a market-paying firm job. I never outline, rarely annotate, take notes by hand, and try to take some time off from working on the weekends and during the week to make sure that I don't burn myself out, and to make sure that I maintained some semblance of work-life balance. I also try to get a good night's sleep every night, eat healthy, and stay in shape -- to be honest, I think being healthy goes just as long a way as does studying hard. I admit my routine is a little unconventional. But it just goes to show that there are many paths to doing well in law school and, really, to doing well at anything in life. I just encourage you to take some time to figure out what works for you. Whether you adopt the original poster's study habits or some system closer to mine, or something in between, all that matters is that you feel comfortable and confident with the work you're doing, even if everyone else seems to be doing something else.

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

Postby mscarn23 » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:44 pm

With OCI stuff, I was lucky to get callbacks for almost everywhere I applied, and scored a job in that manner. I have no connections that I could use to even score an interview, so OCI was my only guaranteed chance to get in front of firms. Having run a business I've been on the other side of hundreds of interviews and think I have a leg up because of it (having strong work experience, a pretty impressive soft that I prefer not to mention- minds out of the gutter please- and top grades certainly doesn't hurt either.).

Regarding the psychology behind my motivation it's probably a combination of both- brute force and learning to love it. It's rewarding when things click and everything comes clear or when professors look to you when they need participation on a challenging concept. On the other hand, there are days where you're bored by the subject, the cases don't make sense, you don't like the prof's teaching style, and it's determination alone that keeps you moving forward.

I guess that brute force is always there in the background, you just don't need it when things happen to be going well. It's the same as any other job- there are days when you feel like you'd do it for free (you've learned to love it), and there are days when nothing but the burning need for a pay check (brute force) can keep you going.

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

Postby Naked Dude » Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:58 pm

Very interesting. Thanks for your perspective, and congrats.

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

Postby Naked Dude » Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:15 am

Is Delaney out of print? I can only find it used on Amazon, might see if the bookstore of my local law school has a cheaper copy

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

Postby Renne Walker » Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:26 am

mscarn23 wrote:I have no connections that I could use to even score an interview, so OCI was my only guaranteed chance to get in front of firms.


At the interview, what do they usually want to see? Do they have access to your grades? I suppose providing a resume highlighting your XY&Z accomplishments is in order, right? I have read very little on TLS regarding the OCI interview procedure. Any tips you can provide to make these interviews akin to shooting fish in a barrel is appreciated.

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

Postby Holly Golightly » Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:59 am

Naked Dude wrote:I am most definitely doing GTM and LEEWS. A family friend who graduated law school in 93 still has a bunch of old hornbooks but I don't know if it's worth it. He told me those "nutshell" books are supposed to be good, but maybe times have changed. I'm at the point where I have the "working disorder" mindset of, you know, "more is more," and if I ONLY do GTM and LEEWS I will be behind. I don't care about wasting my time, because I'm not really doing anything else this summer, but I am worried about, as some people have said, getting confused, although I don't know if this is overblown.


This could be just me, but I honestly don't think that reading hornbooks before school starts would do any good, grades-wise. I don't think hornbooks/supplements are even helpful for every class (this especially depends on your prof - for example, I have several friends who couldn't use Glannon for civ pro because of their prof, even when it was pure gold for me), and you're not going to have any idea what ways your prof views things until you're actually in school. More than that, supplements aren't there to give you an overview of the law before you start - generally, they are to help you truly master subjects before finals, and reading them before you know anything won't do anything. Also, by the time finals roll around, even if they are helpful for your class you're just going to end up reading them all over again. And finally, I have also seen people burn out by finals because they killed themselves all semester.

If reading a bunch of stuff before you even start classes will make you feel better, then I guess go for it. I just feel like, from my experience, it's not going to help and there is a chance it could even hurt.

To each his own, but my 0L prep advice would be to leisurely read Getting to Maybe while having as much fun as you possibly can. Law school is a marathon, not a sprint.

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

Postby sjedood » Sat Jun 11, 2011 6:26 am

I am also a 1L who finished his first year at a similarly ranked law school. My school does not rank individually, and I have no way to know if I am #1 or 10, but I can certainly say i'm up there.

That being said, I should just point out the while OP's regiment is commendable, I think the best and only thing to take away is his motivation to do well. That is the key. I had a similar mindset and did just as well. I got A's in almost all my classes and I did not spend every hour of my day studying by myself, outlining for classes, etc. I did spend time in the lounge, went out for drinks, and enjoyed my time in school with my friends. That is not to say I didn't read for all my classes and study hard as he'll during finals spending long hours in the library, but one need not be a machine in order to succeed. I did not do ANY 0L prep. When you think about it, the difference between an A and b+ in most schools is very very little, and insane prep during the course of the semester won't be the deciding factor. What is important is how you perform on the exam. Sure, insane prep will lend to making exam time studying easier, but if you keep up with the work you will realize that what you spent hours studying in the beginning if the semester is now all foggy. It is who shows up to exam day that will be determinative.

I do want to point out that I know many people who studied like OP and many of them did very well. I know people who studied like me that didn't do well. And I know people that studied like OP that also didn't do well. I am not saying chose one or the other. What I am saying is that every person is different and if you commit to a style of learning that does not work for you simply because it worked for someone else, you might be shooting yourself in the leg before the race even begins.

Good luck with your first year!

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

Postby mscarn23 » Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:45 am

Regarding interviews, what the firms have access to will vary- at my school we used simplicity to bid, and each firm had a list of documents they wanted you to upload (resume, cover letter, transcript, possibly writing sample, although none of the firms I bid on asked for one). I would imagine the interviewers would have looked at these materials prior to the interview, but in the actual interview itself all anyone had in front of them was my resume. Obviousy I had my rank and various awards on there, but we discussed grades only briefly- a "well obviously you did really well last semester- what do you think made you successful," before moving on (though not walking them through my routine I would generally respond by crediting some degree of natural ability, and a lot of hard work.).

Then they mostly wanted to discuss my work experience and softs- as I mentioned, I started what eventually grew to be a 30-person, multi-million dollar operation when I was barely out of college. Interviewers were always interested in what we did, how I managed to do it, and why I decided to go back to law school. I guess this gave me a chance to talk about how law school had always been the plan (which is true) and how I read the writing on the wall once the economy started to tank and made the necessary (and tough) decisions about the future of my business well in advance of finding myself in dire straits.

My feeling though, after doing a number of these screeners, is that mostly they want to get a feel for whether you'll fit in with the firm. My situation of having taken an interesting path to school is probably unique, and most firms will not care if your resume is a bit thin. They want to see (and this is unsubstantiated guessing) that you can speak intelligently, that you have a personality that will fit with their firm culture, and maybe (if you have a lot of stuff on your resume) that you actually have a depth of knowledge about your activities.

During the call-back phase it's slightly different- you obviously meet with more attorneys, and although I didn't get any legal questions they did at times challenge parts of my resume to get a better idea about what kind of person you are. In my case I had a few interviewers ask me things like "these are all impressive achievements, but they raise a red flag- can you play well with others? You're first in your class, did xyz impressive soft, ran a successful business for almost 10 years- you have a successful history of working and succeeding on your terms. Do you think this will hinder you from being successful in a 500 person law firm where you're going to have many people above you in the chain of command?"

This isn't really (in my mind) an attack on my work experience or anything- it's a test in problem solving. My response would usually be to hurl insults at the interviewer, curse the firm, and then storm out... Only kidding. What I would actually do is discuss how I have always had a boss- a strict boss- the client. I would discuss how law is a services business, and how in the present economy the people who drive decisions about your future really are the clients who pay for your expertise. I would discuss the collaborative nature of my business, the college jobs I'd had in a corporate setting, and how when a firm's mission is clear and all employees are working to a mutual goal the hierarchy or 'chain of command' is rendered invisible. For someone with different background experiences I'm sure the questions are different, and maybe some firms even ask law related questions (though I'd doubt it).

Hope this helps.

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

Postby Kabuo » Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:15 am

Just wanted to say thanks, OP, for your sharing your experience and your responses to criticism and interview questions. I love how they're all ~4 paragraphs but still manage to be topical and helpful.

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

Postby NYC Law » Sat Jun 11, 2011 11:16 am

Holly Golightly wrote:
Naked Dude wrote:I am most definitely doing GTM and LEEWS. A family friend who graduated law school in 93 still has a bunch of old hornbooks but I don't know if it's worth it. He told me those "nutshell" books are supposed to be good, but maybe times have changed. I'm at the point where I have the "working disorder" mindset of, you know, "more is more," and if I ONLY do GTM and LEEWS I will be behind. I don't care about wasting my time, because I'm not really doing anything else this summer, but I am worried about, as some people have said, getting confused, although I don't know if this is overblown.


This could be just me, but I honestly don't think that reading hornbooks before school starts would do any good, grades-wise. I don't think hornbooks/supplements are even helpful for every class (this especially depends on your prof - for example, I have several friends who couldn't use Glannon for civ pro because of their prof, even when it was pure gold for me), and you're not going to have any idea what ways your prof views things until you're actually in school. More than that, supplements aren't there to give you an overview of the law before you start - generally, they are to help you truly master subjects before finals, and reading them before you know anything won't do anything. Also, by the time finals roll around, even if they are helpful for your class you're just going to end up reading them all over again. And finally, I have also seen people burn out by finals because they killed themselves all semester.

If reading a bunch of stuff before you even start classes will make you feel better, then I guess go for it. I just feel like, from my experience, it's not going to help and there is a chance it could even hurt.

To each his own, but my 0L prep advice would be to leisurely read Getting to Maybe while having as much fun as you possibly can. Law school is a marathon, not a sprint.


"Law school is a marathon, not a race" - Original Barry v. Nova thread (IIRC)

I hope NR doesn't mind me still talking about this, but it's relevant (and this thread is pretty clearly directed at 0Ls, even if it is in the Law Student board)..
I'm just leisurely reading the E&Es, not even so much for intensive studying purposes, but just because I genuinely find it interesting. I don't do it anywhere near a burn out level, I just read a bit, maybe a chapter or two, until I don't feel like reading anymore and go do something else. I don't think/hope this will be harmful. But for the most part I'm planning on focusing on Cover Letters, updating my spreadsheets of employers, contacting recent alum, reading the threads on here, reading general pre-law books (Reading "1L of a Ride" now, it's really good so far and I'd recommend it), etc.
It's just difficult to keep everything straight because of all the conflicting advice. Several top students advocate strongly for 0L prep, then a slew of other top students highly recommend against it (most professors also recommend against it). It seems like more recommend against it than recommend for it though.

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

Postby grash » Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:00 pm

NYC Law wrote:
Holly Golightly wrote:Law school is a marathon, not a sprint.


"Law school is a marathon, not a race" - Original Barry v. Nova thread (IIRC)

I hope NR doesn't mind me still talking about this, but it's relevant (and this thread is pretty clearly directed at 0Ls, even if it is in the Law Student board)..
I'm just leisurely reading the E&Es, not even so much for intensive studying purposes, but just because I genuinely find it interesting. I don't do it anywhere near a burn out level, I just read a bit, maybe a chapter or two, until I don't feel like reading anymore and go do something else. I don't think/hope this will be harmful. But for the most part I'm planning on focusing on Cover Letters, updating my spreadsheets of employers, contacting recent alum, reading the threads on here, reading general pre-law books (Reading "1L of a Ride" now, it's really good so far and I'd recommend it), etc.
It's just difficult to keep everything straight because of all the conflicting advice. Several top students advocate strongly for 0L prep, then a slew of other top students highly recommend against it (most professors also recommend against it). It seems like more recommend against it than recommend for it though.


Did you just try to correct a current law school on the origin/correct form of a popular law school saying that probably predates the internet? Because she said it correctly.

Also, different strokes for different folks. 0L prep is largely a low ROI scheme (as in, sometimes it's a complete waste of time, sometimes it's somewhat useful, and it's really hard to tell in advance which it will be), and if you're the sort of person who might burn out during the course of the year (which, of course, nobody is. Despite the fact that I saw burnout among my classmates time and again second semester, and experienced more than my fair share of it...1L is motherfucking hard.) it'd be better to go in fully charged than with depleted reserves. But if you've got that energizer up in you, 0L prep could be worthwhile because when you're on a curve with people who are close to you in intelligence and work ethic, every little bit counts.

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

Postby NYC Law » Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:54 pm

grash wrote:
NYC Law wrote:
Holly Golightly wrote:Law school is a marathon, not a sprint.


"Law school is a marathon, not a race" - Original Barry v. Nova thread (IIRC)

Did you just try to correct a current law school on the origin/correct form of a popular law school saying that probably predates the internet? Because she said it correctly.


I'll refrain from insults since I appreciate the rest of your input, but you're misunderstanding the reference.

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

Postby thecilent » Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:34 pm

NorB

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

Postby Oglethorpe » Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:19 am

Thanks so much for your post and congrats. When you read the E&E's over the summer, did you write out answers to the examples or just read through for understanding?

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

Postby mscarn23 » Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:41 am

I just answered them in my head, although actually writing out the answers might be the better idea. I get the feeling from talking to other students that people are nervous about actually writing answers out because they might discover that what they're writing isn't correct. It's the same with writing out practice tests during exam time- it seems like many would rather close their eyes, work on "perfecting" their outlines, and hope for the best.

I think writing out the E&E answers would help break you of this habit, and may make self-assessment easier (I.e. there's a tendency when you answer things in your head as opposed to putting them to paper of bending the truth and giving yourself more credit than you're really due. Writing out the answers decreases the likelihood that you'll get an answer half right and then tell yourself you came up with the same answer that's printed in the book.)

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

Postby Verity » Sun Jun 12, 2011 6:06 pm

Thanks for the insight OP, this is a major solid. One question: how did your profs react when you asked for recommendations? Did they see it coming? Did you prime them early on?

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

Postby mscarn23 » Sun Jun 12, 2011 7:02 pm

This is a good question, and one which I was definitely concerned about going in. I've read on this site that profs don't take too kindly to their favorite students jumping ship (and rightly so), so wanted to tread carefully. Although it isn't my primary aim, teaching is something that (like many ambitious law students) I would like to keep on the table. Truth be told, I want to keep everything on the table, and to do whatever I can to open every potential door that I can for myself- but it was in the vein of teaching by which I approached recommendations.

Professors- whether at a T10 or at a TTTT- know that there are certain (very lofty) requirements for becoming a professor. While the trend has shifted slightly (away from the simple "T3 law school, law review, COA clerkship, possibly 1-2 years big law, professor gig" to the "T14 law school, law review, clerkship, publishing several works, possibly big law, visiting professor program, professor gig"), they know that unless you're already at Yale or Harvard, a desire to join their fraternity will be well served by a transfer.

I decided to approach things in this manner after an early recommendation conversation didn't go as well as I'd hoped. Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I could have gotten 5 or 6 recommendations if I'd been so inclined (due mostly to my reaching out to profs early and performing in the classroom and on exams), and I decided to try out my "pitch" one a professor who would have provided a good (but not great) recommendation. I approached it by discussing my primary objective (scoring a V5 caliber job), and it was not very well received. I don't think professors keep up on the legal hiring market, and as a result every professor I spoke to (including this one) was convinced that by grading on to law review and being ranked first in the class, I would have my pick of any big law job I wanted. In my first meeting I wasn't quite sure how to respond to this- I hadn't thought about the prospect of his/her not understanding how difficult it is to score a job of this caliber- and ended up just saying that I hadn't realized how much capital being ranked first carried.

In my next meeting, with a prof who I thought would provide a great recommendation, I began with my pitch about big law but followed it up with a mention of teaching. The mood shifted. There was no question that teaching jobs were hard to come by, and that it would be improbable to gain one from my current school. I think that professors have a fair amount of loyalty to the school at which they teach (meaning they don't like to do recommendations which will cost their school top students, especially since subconsciously they may interpret a desire to transfer as as a statement that "you're a good teacher, but not good enough for someone of my talent."), but that they respect the profession of "law professor" even more. If you want to transfer for better job prospects you're insulting them, but if you want to transfer to become a professor-well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no?

I think it helped that I had been accepted to T14 schools originally- which came up in almost every initial discussion when they inquired "with your list of credentials, why did you decide to come here?"- and that I was only interested in transferring to a select list of schools (this helped because it probably seemed more probable that teaching was my ultimate goal- transferring from TTT to T50 may not make this bit of advice as useful).

So, the takeaway from this long bit is that you should be honest about your reasons for transferring, but should also take into account the audience to which you're speaking. There is no single motivation to a person's actions (usually), and you will be well served to highlight the motive that is likely to resonate with your audience (this is a free bit of business and life advice as well, if you choose to take it that way).

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

Postby NYC Law » Sun Jun 12, 2011 8:33 pm

Since you pretty much did everything, how would you rate the importance of each item of prep/work/whatever (Outlining, innate ability, case briefing, supplements, summer prep, GTM/LEEWS/ETC, understanding of professor, memorization of BLL) come exam time? I know you said you can't really tell what you could have gotten away without doing, but is there anything you feel was absolutely necessary, or anything that definitely didn't matter on the exam?

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

Postby Verity » Mon Jun 13, 2011 4:51 pm

That's a clever approach, though I think it would be specious for most people to use it. I had a friend who went to a T2 school in Cali, finished top 2%, and just wanted NYC corporate law. He made up some bull about wanting to be close to family, who were from Boston, and applied for transfer to Y, H, BU & BC. His professors kind of reluctantly wrote letters, but he never found out how good they were. He didn't get Y or H, but I'm not sure if the reccs had anything to do with that.

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

Postby mscarn23 » Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:51 pm

That’s a tough question, but obviously one of great importance for someone who doesn’t want to follow my schedule to the last letter. For me, 0L prep was incredibly helpful, because I had been out of school for so many years. If you’re someone who is coming directly out of undergrad (or another graduate program) and is used to the rigors of heavy reading and retention, then the first thing you could probably do without is reading the E&E during the summer. I think this goes along with what many people on this discussion and others have said, and will save 90% of those reading this from the confusion and despair which can accompany 0L prep (others’ words, not mine).

So now we know what’s probably least important, but from there it’s really a crap shoot. I think reading Delaney/GTM/LEEWS are all very useful, although they don’t really do anything earth shattering. They each present a different method of looking at a legal problem, which basically comes down to this- there is no “right” answer to essay questions in law school (most professors will boast that there are 0 points for your conclusion), there’s always an argument on either side, and the analysis is where you earn your grade. While you would probably come to this conclusion by virtue of reading your casebooks (many offer two or more cases illustrating different approaches that courts take, and even if only one case is offered it will usually discuss one side’s argument versus the other which gives you the same takeaway), I think reading one or more of these “how to” books can be helpful. They give you examples of how exams should be written, spell out in greater detail how analysis is done, and have practice questions which can make for somewhat useful summer prep (take my recollection about what each book contains with a grain of salt, as I haven’t touched any of these three since last summer).

Once you know how to write an exam, it really becomes more about personal preference. I think having a supplement or two- be it the E&E, a horn book, whatever- to explain the law when/if you get confused (or your prof does a crap job of really elucidating a particular topic) is really useful, however if you’re looking to cut time out of your schedule it’s likely not essential that you read multiple supplements every week (which is what I did). If you really wanted to be lazy, you could probably get a copy of an old outline keyed to your prof’s class, spend an hour or so reading it the weekend before each class, and still have a pretty good overview of the topics you were to cover that week before going doing that week’s casebook reading. Once again, I found my method to be successful, but this seems like it would get you to about the same place if you didn’t want to do the work of crafting your outline from scratch each weekend.

Having said that, being in possession of a strong outline is really important- whether you put it on flashcards and memorize it (which is what I basically did for closed book exams) or have it to carry like a talisman into the exam room, THIS is where your black letter law will be coming from. Doing well on exams presupposes (in my opinion) that you know the law very well, and your outline should be a tightly organized and familiar universe of this law by the time reading week comes along. Whether you want to take someone else’s outline and get to know it each week, or make one from scratch (which is what I did, and what I recommend), you need to spend time getting acclimated with your universe of law before the exam.

Lastly, professor preference is also a really important thing. The classes I performed worst in (though in full disclosure I got As in those classes as well), were classes in which I was least comfortable with what the professor was looking for. They were the two profs who I didn’t feel comfortable with socially, who I wouldn’t have thought to ask for recs (even prior to getting back my grades), and who (for whatever reason) I just didn’t “get.” I don’t think knowing your prof is going to bump you from a B to an A, but it might be the difference between getting the CALI/book award for the class, and barely missing out on it.

I know this reply is a bit scattered, due in part to the fact that I’m drafting it on my phone, but here’s the takeaway. Most important in my opinion- having a great outline which you know like the back of your hand (in other words, have an accurate and complete universe of law at your fingertips and know how to use it). Please, note that I’m stressing the importance of knowing the outline (and by extension the law) cold. Wentworth Miller, founder of LEEWS (and for anyone who’s familiar with Prison Break, real-life father of Wentworth Miller Jr. AKA Michael Scofield) goes on at length about how an outline is like a carpenter’s toolbox, and how unless the box is well stock and well organized it will be completely useless. He’s absolutely right.

The second most important thing is to know how to take an exam- although multiple choice questions have one right answer (or more accurately, one ‘best’ answer, since there are often several choices which are technically correct), essay questions don’t. You need to realize this, and understand how to apply the law to this reality.

Third would be knowing your professor’s preferences- these will be unlikely to cost you (or gain you) more than a few points, but at the margins can be important (case in point- one of my professors had a “very strict” word limit, which proved problematic for me since I write a lot. I did my best to abide it, but ended up nearly doubling his recommendation. I still CALI/booked the class. Could I have gotten another few points if I paid attention to his directive? Probably- and if I wasn’t spewing out quality stuff he’d probably have filleted me for it. Nevertheless, bending a word limit or not knowing your professor’s preferences is UNLIKELY to be a death sentence- though there are probably exceptions out there.).

The final thing to mention is talent, and this is the toughest nut of all to crack. As people have pointed out, and I acknowledge myself, I came into law school with the mental tools to succeed. The LSAT can certainly be learned, but prior to scoring my 177 my initial diagnostic was a 173, and I never scored below a 170 on any practice test that I took. This suggests that at least so far as the LSAT and whatever it tests is concerned I had a leg up from the get-go. Having said that, I think that talent will get you pretty far, as will hard work- having both is likely required to finish at the top of the class. I’m sure there are people who were smarter than me that finished in my wake, and people who worked harder than me who finished still further down the ladder. At this point in the game though, there isn’t much control that you can take over your innate intelligence (or more accurately talent for taking exams). The same cannot be said about how much time and effort you put into maximizing whatever talents you were born with.

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

Postby Borhas » Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:59 pm

you typed up that post on your F'n phone?

now that's impressive

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theturkeyisfat
Posts: 236
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Re: Guide to 1L Success from someone ranked #1.

Postby theturkeyisfat » Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:31 pm

you are a beast

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

Postby goodolgil » Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:51 pm

Borhas wrote:The LSAT can certainly be learned, but prior to scoring my 177 my initial diagnostic was a 173, and I never scored below a 170 on any practice test that I took


That says even more than the 177 in terms of what was actually the reason behind OP's success. That score as a diag is probably in the 99.9999 percentile.

I think you probably would have been #1 (not just top 5 or 10%) doing a third as much work as you did. Thread is still helpful thoughl.

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

Postby theturkeyisfat » Tue Jun 14, 2011 1:20 am

question for OP (or anyone else who can help): how do you find the "sweet spot" between reading quickly and making sure you're comprehending everything and also taking adequate notes?

i didn't really do regular textbook reading in college, so i didn't learn this as well as i should have. and when i do read and am not cramming, i find that i usually spend too much time focusing on notes and asking myself questions, to the point where i proceed really slowly. i assume this is one of the things you figured out during your 0L summer, and i'd appreciate any advice you have about this.

thanks!




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