Am I missing something about law school?

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minnbills
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Re: Am I missing something about law school?

Postby minnbills » Thu Sep 08, 2011 11:22 am

BruceWayne wrote:
minnbills wrote:
Naked Dude wrote:What's a good WPM? I just timed myself twice and got 79 and 86. Need to get on gchat more often


I do about 90 on a wpm test but that's unrealistic for an exam. Considering you have to look at your outline, other notes etc.


The people pulling off 7000 word exams and getting As and A+s aren't looking at their outlines. They know the law cold; you should aim to know it cold too.


Good point. I don't have a particularly strong memory though

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JCougar
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Re: Am I missing something about law school?

Postby JCougar » Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:24 pm

vamedic03 wrote:
JCougar wrote:
Younger Abstention wrote:You guys make it sound so difficult; even at my T10, many exam answers are absolutely terrible. Some people don't learn the law, others cannot apply it. Many can't do either. (I'm a 3L)


Yet a lot of people both understand the law and can apply it, and get average grades because they don't type enough words.

There's also a few uber gunners that don't have a clue as to what they're talking about that still can succeed on exams due to refined outline copying/outlining skills.

Law exams reward superfluous "analysis" and throwing unnecessary things from your outline in there not because they have practical value, but because they proved that you studied stuff.


It's not about typing the most. It's about doing a thorough analysis. There's no reason to crank out 2000 words / hour, but a good few thousand words are typically necessary for a decent exam. If you're writing super short stuff then you're probably giving issues short shrift and being conclusory.

To reiterate the point - a good exam has a good analysis. This means not just giving the conclusion, but saying why. If there's not a lot of X because Y type sentences in your answer, then you're probably being conclusory.


Are you giving me a lecture about how to answer law exam questions?

I've gotten some pretty fantastic grades, and I've gotten some pretty shitty ones. The best I've ever done on an exam was when I just stopped caring and thinking and just copied basically everything that was on my outline onto the exam without even looking at the question. I've looked at model answers, and that's basically the story. Even the people who do finish in the top 5% basically admit that it's mostly typing speed and writing down everything even if it's mostly irrelevant.

I am not conclusory in my answers. Honestly, though, you could pretty much sum up a 10-issue question with one decision tree-like diagram and a few bullet points manipulating the facts to argue each way. Kind of like how you could sum up everything in Getting to Maybe in a 3-page pamphlet, or sum up your entire 1000-page casebook with a 10-page outline.

The rest is just extraneous bullshit invented by people with jobs where you excel not by producing practical and efficient results, but by producing more and more pages and paperwork. If you're a partner and you want to hire an associate, both who know the law cold and can apply it perfectly, which one do you want to hire? The one that can sum up the legal problem in three pages and bills two hours, or the one that bloviates on and on about marginally relevant policy issues, etc. and takes 30 hours to do the same work? You'd hire the latter, of course, because you bill the client $300/hour, pay the associate $75/hour, and make a huge profit on the remaining $225.

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JCougar
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Re: Am I missing something about law school?

Postby JCougar » Thu Sep 08, 2011 4:35 pm

I guess a succinct way to sum it up is just to remember: good grades don't go out to people who provide a complete and thorough legal analysis. Good grades go out to people whose main goal on the exam is to prove that they know and remember a lot of shit, whether it is relevant to the question or not.

Edit: and who also provide a good legal analysis.

All of this is assuming that you have the good legal analysis in the first place. But you have to pile on so much other shit on top of that, and it gets confusing. There's a very fine line between bullshit that gets you points and bullshit that doesn't get you points. Every professor has a different line. But since typing more than you need can't hurt you (you almost never can lose points), it's best to just put down every detail you can possibly concieve of, whether it's relevant or not.
Last edited by JCougar on Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

keg411
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Re: Am I missing something about law school?

Postby keg411 » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:17 pm

BruceWayne wrote:
minnbills wrote:
Naked Dude wrote:What's a good WPM? I just timed myself twice and got 79 and 86. Need to get on gchat more often


I do about 90 on a wpm test but that's unrealistic for an exam. Considering you have to look at your outline, other notes etc.


The people pulling off 7000 word exams and getting As and A+s aren't looking at their outlines. They know the law cold; you should aim to know it cold too.


I used my outline for and during every exam and only got one grade lower than an A- all of 1L year (and it was a B+). I actually feel like not having to worry about memorization (and all of the nuances) gave my brain more room to think about the question and do more careful analysis. (I did type a lot though, and I do type and think fast -- but using your outline is NOT going to hurt you).

Seminole_305
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Re: Am I missing something about law school?

Postby Seminole_305 » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:22 pm

I feel like I am missing something as well. I for the life of me can not write a good response to a hypo nor do I know how to analysis at all. I just saw what OBan did and that was impressive because I would not have thought to get that detailed. Anyone have advice for a lowly 1L who is trying to be proactive in learning the law cold and wanting to write amazing exams so I can maybe get a scholly?

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crossarmant
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Re: Am I missing something about law school?

Postby crossarmant » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:58 pm

Seminole_305 wrote:I feel like I am missing something as well. I for the life of me can not write a good response to a hypo nor do I know how to analysis at all. I just saw what OBan did and that was impressive because I would not have thought to get that detailed. Anyone have advice for a lowly 1L who is trying to be proactive in learning the law cold and wanting to write amazing exams so I can maybe get a scholly?


I have a similar issue; I may know subject matter and can apply it all, but I do so concisely. Extra meandering and rambling just seems useless when everything can be summarized and explained with much less. I'll have to start working on that.

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vamedic03
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Re: Am I missing something about law school?

Postby vamedic03 » Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:29 pm

crossarmant wrote:
Seminole_305 wrote:I feel like I am missing something as well. I for the life of me can not write a good response to a hypo nor do I know how to analysis at all. I just saw what OBan did and that was impressive because I would not have thought to get that detailed. Anyone have advice for a lowly 1L who is trying to be proactive in learning the law cold and wanting to write amazing exams so I can maybe get a scholly?


I have a similar issue; I may know subject matter and can apply it all, but I do so concisely. Extra meandering and rambling just seems useless when everything can be summarized and explained with much less. I'll have to start working on that.


Law school exams aren't about achieving a high word count. Rather, they're about explaining the why (i.e., analysis). It's not like a math exam where the credit is given for the solution. Rather, it's all about showing your work and explaining how you got to the solution.

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JusticeHarlan
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Re: Am I missing something about law school?

Postby JusticeHarlan » Fri Sep 09, 2011 6:53 am

JCougar wrote:I guess a succinct way to sum it up is just to remember: good grades don't go out to people who provide a complete and thorough legal analysis. Good grades go out to people whose main goal on the exam is to prove that they know and remember a lot of shit, whether it is relevant to the question or not.

Edit: and who also provide a good legal analysis.

All of this is assuming that you have the good legal analysis in the first place. But you have to pile on so much other shit on top of that, and it gets confusing. There's a very fine line between bullshit that gets you points and bullshit that doesn't get you points. Every professor has a different line. But since typing more than you need can't hurt you (you almost never can lose points), it's best to just put down every detail you can possibly concieve of, whether it's relevant or not.

I don't disagree with the last paragraph, but the mentality of the first paragraph is wrong. Yes, you do need a "thorough legal analysis" to get good grades. Analysis and typing fast to hit a lot of issues aren't mutually exclusive; in fact, those are the two things you need to do to excel. Hit every issue and analyze each thoroughly. Don't minimize one part just because the other part is necessary too.

Oban
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Re: Am I missing something about law school?

Postby Oban » Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:54 am

Alot of grading is also knowing the professor, which is really hard to glean and takes going to office hours and forcing them to look at your hypos and practice tests. First semester, I employed the same general strategy for all my exams and got grades all over the place.

I'd posit that good grades comes when: you know the law, you know the professor, and you vomit/type like a fucking machine.

I know several people who are incredibly smart, and probably had a better grasp of the law then most people, but they always ran out of time because they couldn't work at a high pace, guess how their grades turned out?

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JCougar
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Re: Am I missing something about law school?

Postby JCougar » Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:42 pm

vamedic03 wrote:Law school exams aren't about achieving a high word count. Rather, they're about explaining the why (i.e., analysis). It's not like a math exam where the credit is given for the solution. Rather, it's all about showing your work and explaining how you got to the solution.


This is a pretty good way of putting it, I think.

Except the "explaining why" part does seem to require a lot of superfluous "analysis." Not only do you have to state the main, solid reasons why, but you have to list every single possible conceivable reason why, even if it's a very marginal argument. Overkill is the key. It's not enough to simply be correct. I've seen people make up their own facts to advocate additional reasons why; I've seen people make up stories about policy that have almost zero argumentative value get tons of points; I've seen people work in the professor's work from outside the class (law review articles, papers, etc.) and get tons of points, etc. A good law exam answer defies common sense of how you'd normally communicate. But when the "legal analysis" part of the exam is so easy that 90% of the students get it, professors have to give out points for something due to the mandatory curve in order to differentiate grades.




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