Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

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lawschoolftw
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Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

Postby lawschoolftw » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:12 pm

This is not designed to be comprehensive by any stretch of the imagination. This site was enormously helpful for me last year and I just wanted to contribute something. As some background, I was just outside the top 10 percent at a T20 which I was admitted to with an LSAT score 6-7 points below the median. Some of you may have higher goals so as with any advice take it with a grain of salt. My goal in doing this is to supplement/emphasize things that may or may not be mentioned in the success guides on this site which again, were enormously helpful. They're basically points that I haven't noticed that have been mentioned or emphasized. I figure as 1L's are approaching potential midterm exams and starting to think about prepping for exams, now might be a good time to post this.


Point 1- 0L Prep

Yes I know this has been beaten to death. But, the number one thing you can do as a 0L is preparing to know how to prep. Reading all the success guides on TLS and in other places will be enormously helpful. You will still be very confused about what to do coming in, but at the very least you can have some idea of how to begin tailoring your study method once school starts in a way that many of your peers won't know how to do. As far as substantive prep goes, I think it's a waste of time, but there's enough resources on this site to read up on that that I won't waste your time here.

Point 2- Hard Work DOES correlate with success

Conventional wisdom seems to be that working hard does not mean better grades. This is true to an extent. Spending hours a day memorizing the facts of a case will NOT lead you to good grades. However, people in law school are not super-humans. They, like everyone else in the world can and will be lazy. If you study harder then them (as long as you do so efficiently) you will generally do better. Are there exceptions? of course. However, I honestly believe that my grades are attributable to the raw study hours I put it as compared to my peers. Again, it has to be smart studying (and smart studying is all over the conventional wisdom of TLS), but I totally believe that those who did better in general worked harder. Yes, there are the anecdotes I'm sure I'll hear about the person who didn't work very hard and got A's. That is the exception and not the rule. It could be you as well, but why chance it?

Point 3- Keeping Point 2 in mind, law school is a marathon, not a sprint.

Okay, I'll try to make it so these points don't seem to contradict each other, but be smart about your work habits, especially early in the semester. Generally, people who were working 14 hours a day in the library in sept/oct. were too burned out to be able to keep it together come exam time. If you put in your work early on and do so consistently throughout the year, you shouldn't have to kill yourself come exam time either. Now a month before exams I was working 10 -12 hours a day, but I was still sleeping eight hours a night and giving myself a couple hours for down time. If you can maintain a balanced workload through exam period, you will be more mentally prepared for your exams. I had so many friends who crammed too hard come exam time, stayed up all night and come the last exam could barely keep it together. I on the other hand felt just as fresh and prepared for my last exam, and I attribute a lot of that too maintaining a hard working but balanced life throughout the semester AND THROUGH EXAMS. Don't throw away your habits come exam time, just ramp up the study time a bit and turn down the socializing.

Point 4- Keeping Point 3 in mind, TRULY understand your limits

This is kind of a big picture thing to keep in mind. There are some of you out there who can realistically study 14 hrs a day all year. Those people will likely kill it, if they are mentally/emotionally prepared for that. Most of us are not equipped like that, I certainly am not. When you evaluate this though, be realistic about this. This is not an excuse to say "I'm not the kind of person who can study more then three hours a day." BS, sure you are, but understanding your limits is important. There will be those nights where you need to recognize that your mind will benefit more from taking a few hours off then it will from four hours of cramming. BUT BE HONEST ABOUT IT. Are you taking time off because you need a break, or because you really want to hook up with the cute girl from your section at Bar Review.

Point 5- Exercise

Even if you've never been an "exercise person" learn to be. This will give you infinitely more energy throughout the year. Try to start early (now if you haven't). One, you will have more energy throughout the semester, and two, you will feel better about yourself overall. It's just a way to escape from law school a little bit. Plus sitting down and studying civ pro might seem more appealing after having just conquered a monster workout :).

Point 6- Find alternatives to make studying not seem that bad

When you're in a rut, but know you should be studying find things to do that don't seem as daunting as staring at your casebook or e&e. Some examples I saw were doing Cali Lessons, talking through hypos with friends, studying outside, etc. I even had a friend that found reading a supplement in the bath to be more appealing then sitting at a desk and doing it. Just these little changes can make studying seem less burdensome and at least you're doing something.

Point 6- Basic Exam Prep ( the more conventional wisdom which can never be repeated enough)

A. Apply Law to Fact

This has been beaten to death over and over again, but seriously, it doesn't matter how you learn to do this, learn to do it early and often. You're exam will be about applying law to fact. People can suggest 18 million ways to learn this, but do it. E&E's, Cali, old exams, etc. Just practice it early. This is what will separate the men from the boys. See the other articles on TLS to learn how to do this better.

B. Memorize your outline

Yes memorize it. Know everything on there. When everyone else is flipping through looking for the law, you will pound it out in 30 seconds. If it takes them 5 min to find it and type it out, that will give you 4 and a half more minutes of typing and picking up points. Your outline should be a study tool and safety net, it should not be your number resource on an exam.

C. Don't talk about it with friends

You won't feel better talking with friends. If there are 200 possible points on an exam and 85 gets an A. you can get 85 points one way, someone else get them another way and you could have nothing in common. You will only feel worse/make someone else feel worse. Seriously, finish the exam, walk out of the room, and don't think about it again.


I know this is far from comprehensive and I'd be happy to expand on any of these points if anyone wants me to. Just wanted to add something to the community of TLS that has already given me so much, especially in terms of success in law school

thegrayman
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Re: Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

Postby thegrayman » Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:31 pm

Always appreciate more exam success guides, thanks!

In fact, I am so inspired that I am going to study instead of procrastinate on TLS :P

zomginternets
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Re: Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

Postby zomginternets » Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:00 am

lawschoolftw wrote:C. Don't talk about it with friends

You won't feel better talking with friends. If there are 200 possible points on an exam and 85 gets an A. you can get 85 points one way, someone else get them another way and you could have nothing in common. You will only feel worse/make someone else feel worse. Seriously, finish the exam, walk out of the room, and don't think about it again.


tl;dr most of this post. But I did want to +180 this part that I did read. I made the mistake of talking about an exam after I got out, and spent the next 24 freaking out about whether I wrote my essay on the correct topic. The major added stress is seriously just terrible for your general frame of mind going into later exams, and stressing post-exam will make zero difference to your grade (on that exam). It'll be tempting to talk about it afterwards, but absolutely do not do it!!

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rocon7383
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Re: Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

Postby rocon7383 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:55 pm

thanks for the post. Did you have any closed book exams? How did you prepare differently for those? During this time of year (mid October) how was most of your studying done? Was it simply reading and digesting what your professors assigned, or did you focus more on putting this material into outlines/look forward to the final. Thanks!

Metaread
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Re: Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

Postby Metaread » Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:43 pm

Can someone give a nice example of a good way and a bad way to apply law to facts? People always echo the maxim, but I haven't yet found an example of the maxim in use.

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northwood
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Re: Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

Postby northwood » Tue Oct 11, 2011 10:17 pm

Metaread wrote:Can someone give a nice example of a good way and a bad way to apply law to facts? People always echo the maxim, but I haven't yet found an example of the maxim in use.



i think its just taking the rule, and using the facts of the case at hand to explain how the rule applies, or doesnt apply. If there is something thats fuzzy, then you would have to go into a discussion of possible interpretations and how the outcome would be for each interpretation......

i may be wrong though.

zomginternets
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Re: Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

Postby zomginternets » Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:14 am

Metaread wrote:Can someone give a nice example of a good way and a bad way to apply law to facts? People always echo the maxim, but I haven't yet found an example of the maxim in use.


The law states a rule--i.e. in a particular factual situation, a person is required to do/not do something. So for promissory estoppel, the rule is that when someone has (i) made a promise to someone else, and (ii) that someone else reasonably and detrimentally relied on that promise and (iii) has suffered an injustice, that someone has an obligation to fulfill their promise.

You then describe how the persons in the fact pattern do or do not fit that factual situation that the rule contemplates. You do this by describing how it is that (i) the promisor either did or did not make a promise someone [i.e. maybe what X said to Y was too vague to be considered a "promise"], (ii) the promisee either did or did not reasonably & detrimentally rely on the promise [i.e. maybe Y had good reason to believe that X was bluffing or joking and not promising, and thus didn't "reasonably" rely], and (iii) the promisee either did or did not suffer an injustice [i.e. maybe it was a promise to kill someone else for money]. Of course, the fact pattern will inevitably be vague on one or more of the issues, such that it is ambiguous as to whether that requirement was met--this is where you set out arguments on one side, and arguments on the other (you should conclude one way or another on the issue as well, although what you conclude typically doesn't matter).

If you decide that the three reqirements for PE have been satisfied, you conclude that X has to fulfill their promise to Y; if an element hasn't been satisfied, you conclude that X does not have to fulfill their promise to Y.

lawschoolftw
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Re: Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

Postby lawschoolftw » Sun Oct 16, 2011 10:17 pm

rocon7383 wrote:thanks for the post. Did you have any closed book exams? How did you prepare differently for those? During this time of year (mid October) how was most of your studying done? Was it simply reading and digesting what your professors assigned, or did you focus more on putting this material into outlines/look forward to the final. Thanks!


I did not have any closed book exams, so I can't really comment on it intelligently. I would say that essentially prep would be the same, since you should be memorizing your outline nonetheless.

As far as this time of year, I'm a big outline as you go fan. So if you haven't started outlining I would (again just my approach). I found that having a big outline where I already condensed everything was pure gold once crunch time came around. I always re-outlined at the end of the semester because it helped me memorize things, but it saved al ot of time because I didn't have to first go about synthesizing everything.

lawschoolftw
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Re: Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

Postby lawschoolftw » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:50 pm

Metaread wrote:Can someone give a nice example of a good way and a bad way to apply law to facts? People always echo the maxim, but I haven't yet found an example of the maxim in use.


I think the example given was a good one. The biggest thing about applying law to fact is to find the ambiguities and never go on the presumption that what you did was right. So, for example. Lets say your torts exam has a battery involved. You're going to have to have to analyze 1) intent 2) causation 3) harmful or offensive 4) contact. Likely, there will be ambiguity in some if not all of these elements. What you would want to do is explore the ambiguities both factually and legally (see Getting to Maybe). So lets say intent is ambiguous (a likely case). You might want to discuss that depending on the jurisdiction and whether it applies single or dual intent, you might get a different outcome (i.e. did he need to have intent to harm the person, or just intent to make some kind of contact). Further, the facts might be ambiguous and you're going to want to address factually how depending on how they are viewed it could be different. (i.e. he had intent because he said "i'm going to punch you" but there is some ambiguity here because they were friends and had been known to engage in "horseplay" before." ) These are poor examples because my Torts is rusty, but hopefully you get the gist.

Next, never discount the rest of the analysis because you think you're right. So, going off this same example you might conclude there was clearly no intent to make contact and therefore it can't be a battery. However, analyze the other elements as well. There are a lot of points to be had there. And worse off, if you're wrong about the intent element you will end up getting nothing in terms of the battery analysis.

Finally, one last point. If something really is THAT obvious, don't harp on it. So for example. In a battery hypo if the person punches the person in the arm you're going to want to say "the contact element is satisfied because Bill's hand made contact with Joe's arm" but that's it. There is no need to spend more then that on it, because that's obviously not where the points are. However, if you had a more ambiguous question (e.g. blowing smoke in the face) you might want to take some more time sorting through it.

HTH

desertlaw
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Re: Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

Postby desertlaw » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:58 pm

TLS/Getting to Maybe is a big reason for my 1L success, but I think a point needs to be made here is to always remember you are taking YOUR PROFESSOR's contracts/torts/property exam. At the end of the day, you can memorize every hornbook and spit out all the answers that the E&E would deem correct, but you want to please your professor. The more you can get inside your prof's head, the better your answers on the exams will be. I think doing E&E's/hornbooks are incredibly helpful, but don't take them to mean that you can ignore what your prof says during class time.

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crossarmant
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Re: Success in Law School- A supplement to Conventional Wisdom

Postby crossarmant » Mon Oct 17, 2011 7:53 pm

zomginternets wrote:
lawschoolftw wrote:C. Don't talk about it with friends

You won't feel better talking with friends. If there are 200 possible points on an exam and 85 gets an A. you can get 85 points one way, someone else get them another way and you could have nothing in common. You will only feel worse/make someone else feel worse. Seriously, finish the exam, walk out of the room, and don't think about it again.


tl;dr most of this post. But I did want to +180 this part that I did read. I made the mistake of talking about an exam after I got out, and spent the next 24 freaking out about whether I wrote my essay on the correct topic. The major added stress is seriously just terrible for your general frame of mind going into later exams, and stressing post-exam will make zero difference to your grade (on that exam). It'll be tempting to talk about it afterwards, but absolutely do not do it!!


To be fair, you can do this without talking to others and just psyching yourself up. I decided not to talk about our midterm with anyone and worked myself up to a frenzied status and thought I was going to fail and die alone in a gutter... got my grade back today and got an A. So, it's entirely dependent on the person.




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