Freaking Out...Help?

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nodummy
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Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2009 4:20 pm

Freaking Out...Help?

Postby nodummy » Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:37 pm

Hey, thanks for reading.

I'm a 1L, have been following Talon's advice since last spring during 0L prep (bad idea, I should've just enjoyed the summer). Also, I've kept up with the reading in all my classes. Right now I'm ahead in most of them.

Here's the problem. When I started trying to take practice exams two weeks ago, I froze and still right now have no idea what I'm supposed to do with the hypo.

For instance, in property, I'm given a fictional company that owns advertising billboards and the city ordinance is trying to take back the land because the billboards are distracting drivers.

It took me ten minutes to figure out this was a takings issue. Then I spent the next five minutes trying to find an applicable case. I found one, Logan, and then I froze. What do I do at this point? What's the issue? The question asked me to determine if the company could get compensation for the land the state was taking. What am I supposed to do with this?

For most of the semester I've felt pretty good about all the information, haven't really been lost in class or in the reading. But I am freaking out because I have no idea how to write an exam. Am I doomed? There are only a few weeks left before finals and I honestly think I'm going to fail.

Advice, please, anything would be great.

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NYC Law
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Re: Freaking Out...Help?

Postby NYC Law » Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:51 pm

My strategy so far has been:

1. Read through the fact pattern, and the question, pay very close attention to what the question is asking.
2. Go through again, looking for issues, every time I spot something just write it in the margin (there can be multiple issues for one fact, or even multiple larger issues... My property class is different, I don't even know what a taking is, but we might have to cover Adverse Possession and Purchase laws for one event of a stolen and re-sold painting)
3. Set up headings for the major issues and subheadings for every element of the major issue, or applicable sub-issues
(Always include every element, but only include relevant sub-issues that aren't an actual element ... ie Tacking is a sub-issue under Adverse Possession, but if the fact pattern only mentions 1 adverse possessor this need not be addressed)
4. Rule - the issue is already out there under your subheading, that counts as the 'issue', I don't think you need to actually pose a question or anything. Just jump into the rule (which for some professors, ie my Prop professor, would be the rule in full, but for many you don't need to actually state the entire rule up front, just work it into your analysis).
5. Analysis - use any factors, balancing tests, whatever and just apply the law to the facts at hand (and only the facts at hand). If more information is needed, say so and state what would happen under each possibility (ie The statute of limitations is necessary but not provided, if it is under x years, adverse possession would be successfully completed). This is also your chance to ensure you bring up any arguments of both sides. Be sure to evaluate the strength of each argument.
6. Conclusion - If the sub-issue has clearly been met (which rarely happens) you can just say so. If it's closer to the middle, you may want to include public policy and state which interest would prevail on a particular issue.

Hope this helps and I'm not just stating the obvious here. But I think it helps to have a fairly formulaic mindset about it, just look at your checklist for every issue and sub-issue that needs to be addressed and determine whether it applies from the fact pattern, then do the remaining steps as necessary.
Last edited by NYC Law on Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ph14
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Re: Freaking Out...Help?

Postby ph14 » Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:51 pm

nodummy wrote:Hey, thanks for reading.

I'm a 1L, have been following Talon's advice since last spring during 0L prep (bad idea, I should've just enjoyed the summer). Also, I've kept up with the reading in all my classes. Right now I'm ahead in most of them.

Here's the problem. When I started trying to take practice exams two weeks ago, I froze and still right now have no idea what I'm supposed to do with the hypo.

For instance, in property, I'm given a fictional company that owns advertising billboards and the city ordinance is trying to take back the land because the billboards are distracting drivers.

It took me ten minutes to figure out this was a takings issue. Then I spent the next five minutes trying to find an applicable case. I found one, Logan, and then I froze. What do I do at this point? What's the issue? The question asked me to determine if the company could get compensation for the land the state was taking. What am I supposed to do with this?

For most of the semester I've felt pretty good about all the information, haven't really been lost in class or in the reading. But I am freaking out because I have no idea how to write an exam. Am I doomed? There are only a few weeks left before finals and I honestly think I'm going to fail.

Advice, please, anything would be great.


Read either Getting to Maybe, LEEWs primer, or possibly Open Book (haven't read it but I had it recommended to me) for advice on taking some law school exams. Some quick advice would be to start by organizing claims against a defendant. So claims against X. And then IRAC it (although in a course like civ Pro I might not organize by claims against X but rather something like SMJ, PJ, Venue, etc.). So say it was torts and someone hit someone else.

Claims against X

[Issue] X hitting Y may constitute Battery. [Rule] Battery is an (1) intentional, (2) harmful or offensive (3)contact with the (3) person of another. [Or however you want to formulate the rule]. Intent is met because...Harmful is met because... Contact is met because... etc. Therefore, the court will likely find X liable for battery to Y.

[Next Issue, rinse and repeat].

Anyways, I feel like once you break it down and approach it in parts it's much easier-- kind of like logic games on the LSAT. At least for me the first time I looked at one I was very confused, but then when I systematically broke it down and worked through it I was able to handle it well.

Disclosure: 1L, read Getting to Maybe and taken a few practice exams but not a real one.

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AreJay711
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Re: Freaking Out...Help?

Postby AreJay711 » Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:52 pm

1) You don't need an applicable case, you need an applicable legal principle which you might want to support by mentioning a case.

2) Come up with legal reasons why the company should be able to get compensation. Write those down. Come up with any legal reasons why it shouldn't. Write those down. If it is close, which any law school exam should be, come up with some broad, policy reasons and pick one that seems to be controlling.

3) This question also likely warrants a discussion of what compensation the company should get.

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NYC Law
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Re: Freaking Out...Help?

Postby NYC Law » Sat Nov 12, 2011 7:55 pm

AreJay711 wrote:1) You don't need an applicable case, you need an applicable legal principle which you might want to support by mentioning a case.


This too. But if the particular facts just jump out at you as being very familiar, you can include the other case in your analysis and state the similarities and holding. But this isn't necessary. In general you'll just cite cases (if your professor requires them) when you mention a specific rule or set of factors.

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itsirtou
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Re: Freaking Out...Help?

Postby itsirtou » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:00 pm

One thing you might try is making a short, 1-2 page outline containing an organized list of every issue that could possibly be in a question. Then, if you get to a question and you're totally stuck on what it could be, do a quick scan down your checklist and see whether each thing on it is something at issue in the fact pattern. I did this for Civ Pro and Torts, and it definitely helped me.

It's also useful for checking to make sure everything possible has been addressed, once you're done with a question.

Right now, I would recommend taking a lot of practice tests, too.

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I.P. Daly
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Re: Freaking Out...Help?

Postby I.P. Daly » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:48 pm

This might be a helpful resource for you:

http://www.amazon.com/Exam-Pro-Property ... 0314239480

This book might be available at your library or though interlibrary loan.

It has a bunch of practice essays with model answers. You'll probably get the hang of it after working on a few practice tests.

Geist13
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Re: Freaking Out...Help?

Postby Geist13 » Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:56 pm

you've spotted the issue. Next step what is the law associated with that issue. Taking, requires a taking, for the "public use" interpreted as a public purpose for which there has been compensation, if I remember correctly. So is there a taking? Well one side would argue no. the land still belongs to them, they can use it a number of other ways etc. The other side will argue that the ordinance rises to the level of a taking because it effectively prevents them from using the property. On the other hand, they could use the land to advertise in a way that doesn't distract drivers. etc.

Second is this in the public use, interpreted as public purpose. Well driver safety surely sounds like it is in the public purpose. But you also need to consider whether driver safety falls within the state's traditional police powers (i can't imagine it wouldn't) But you make the arguments on both sides like above.

Then, is there a second issue? Maybe one that isn't so obvious. Does the question prompt suggest you could make a public nuisance argument? I don't know it depends on the scope of the facts given and the type of prompt. I also don't remember much about property, but you get the idea.

Saying Oh I know this case applies is a really bad approach. The point is to show that you understand how the doctrine, taken as a whole, applies. Rarely is the doctrine associated with a single case. Sometimes it's good to analogize to cases. Sometimes that's not necessary. But don't just say this is THE issue and this is THE case. That will be a very bad answer. Generally there's a number of issues to be found, with a number of relevant cases/ lines of analysis, your job is to address as many as you can.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: Freaking Out...Help?

Postby AVBucks4239 » Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:59 am

nodummy wrote:Then I spent the next five minutes trying to find an applicable case.

1L disclaimer, but I did well on my property midterm so here it goes...

Like others have said, don't try to think of an applicable case. The only time you should is when the facts are so strikingly similar that the case just pops into your head.

For example, in a Landlord-Tenant hypo on my property midterm, one of the facts was that the tenant had a leaking roof and didn't report it to the landlord. This is essentially exactly what happened in a case we read to learn the concept of "waste" so I mentioned that case. I didn't sit and think about it, but the facts were so similar that the comparison was obvious and I thought it should be applied to beef up the analysis.

In most cases, you simply need to think about the main issues involving a taking. What is a taking? Is this a public use? Were they justly compensated? The umbrella rule of this entire discussion is the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment, so get a good grasp of that. Then read the issues of the Takings cases you read and understand how and why courts held the way they did. They should be something like, "Is this a public use," "Were the property owners justly compensated," etc. Learn the principles from those cases and how they apply to your hypothetical.

And really, don't worry about how long it took you to figure out that it was a Takings issue. That will come with practice. Instead, focus on the facts that made you realize it was a takings issue. A huge hint that you're dealing with a taking is when the government is trying to take land from a private property owner. A huge hint you're dealing with a restrictive covenant/equitable servitude is when one private property owner is trying to restrict another property owner in some way. A huge hint you're dealing with an easement is when one person is trying to use the land owned by another for a particular purpose. Take a step back and look at the big picture of all these property concepts and what they are trying to accomplish.

To clarify this, think about your other classes. In torts, somebody making contact with somebody else should trigger a battery analysis. In CivPro, somebody trying to sue on multiple claims, one being federal and the other being state, should make you think about supplemental jurisdiction. In contracts, a contract dealing with 5 forms and a clear sale of goods should trigger a §2-207 analysis.

Take a step back and look at the big picture. I know it's cliche, but if you get so buried in the rules instead of understand the concepts they govern, you're not going to be able to spot the issues. The easiest way to see that your hypo was a taking would be to really understand what a taking is.

Hope that helps...

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northwood
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Re: Freaking Out...Help?

Postby northwood » Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:34 am

step 1. try to calm down.
step 2 take some hypo questions using your outline and go over
step 3. take some untimed, full essay questions with your outline and go over
step 4. take a timed full essay question and go over
step 5. take a timed full essay without your outline then go over it again with your outline and re take it using your outiline
step 6 if stiill confused consult your prof ( actually do this anyways with an exam)
step 7. memorize your outline as best as possible
step 8 dont worry about others, or other things. only you have to take the exam and only you know what works for you
step 9: stay healthy
step 10: keep your stress levels down
step 11: stay healthy and do a little bit each day, but listen to yourself and if you need a day off( or even a few hours) take it
step 12: try to keep persective. keep a positive mind set, and restore as much condifence in yourself as possible.

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I.P. Daly
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Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:27 pm

Re: Freaking Out...Help?

Postby I.P. Daly » Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:23 pm

northwood wrote:step 1. try to calm down.
step 2 take some hypo questions using your outline and go over
step 3. take some untimed, full essay questions with your outline and go over
step 4. take a timed full essay question and go over
step 5. take a timed full essay without your outline then go over it again with your outline and re take it using your outiline
step 6 if stiill confused consult your prof ( actually do this anyways with an exam)
step 7. memorize your outline as best as possible
step 8 dont worry about others, or other things. only you have to take the exam and only you know what works for you
step 9: stay healthy
step 10: keep your stress levels down
step 11: stay healthy and do a little bit each day, but listen to yourself and if you need a day off( or even a few hours) take it
step 12: try to keep persective. keep a positive mind set, and restore as much condifence in yourself as possible.


Nice, modeled after the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step program.




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