Below median and bewildered

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Peg
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Below median and bewildered

Postby Peg » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:44 am

I worked really, really hard last semester, but I thought I was working "smart". Instead of focusing on the casebook readings, I focused on the BLL. I read my professors' law review articles to pick their mind, figure out what they were interested in, and learn their biases. I took good notes in class. I used supplements like LEEWS and GTM. I didn't go out and socialize - didn't attend a single bar review. Pretty sure half my section doesn't know who I am, in fact. I looked at past exams and sample responses to those exams. I did practice exams and compared my responses.

I even used a supplement that very few others in my class knew about, which had been recommended to me by a 2L in the top 10%, and I felt like I aced my exams. Almost nothing in those exams surprised me or seemed impossible. I was very calm and focused during my exams (beta-blockers), and I thought my answers were creative and showed sophisticated application of basic doctrine, like Glannon preaches.

But I also got my 7 hours of sleep each night. I didn't feel burned out. I felt invigorated, and I felt I was using my time efficiently.

I ended up below median. Not even at median, below median.

I have appointments to meet my professors today and on Monday and go over the exams, but I have spent the last few days full of grief. Grief is the only word that can describe what I'm going through. I did not deserve to be below median with the way I worked, I did everything right. I have been crying so much that my eyes hurt. It does not make sense. I've been going over my study method last semester in detail and I just don't know where I went wrong. My study plan seemed savvy and not the sort of mindless grinding that most hard-working 1Ls go through.

None of my mentors or my friends know what kind of grades I got. I am too ashamed to face them. I cannot talk about this with anyone in real life. Just thinking of the words "below median" is still unbelievable to me right now. In my worst nightmares I did not expect that.

Am I stupid? Is law school just not for me?

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Always Credited
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Always Credited » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:48 am

Shit...

BeenDidThat
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby BeenDidThat » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:50 am

Peg wrote:I worked really, really hard last semester, but I thought I was working "smart". Instead of focusing on the casebook readings, I focused on the BLL. I read my professors' law review articles to pick their mind, figure out what they were interested in, and learn their biases. I took good notes in class. I used supplements like LEEWS and GTM. I didn't go out and socialize - didn't attend a single bar review. Pretty sure half my section doesn't know who I am, in fact. I looked at past exams and sample responses to those exams. I did practice exams and compared my responses.

I even used a supplement that very few others in my class knew about, which had been recommended to me by a 2L in the top 10%, and I felt like I aced my exams. Almost nothing in those exams surprised me or seemed impossible. I was very calm and focused during my exams (beta-blockers), and I thought my answers were creative and showed sophisticated application of basic doctrine, like Glannon preaches.

But I also got my 7 hours of sleep each night. I didn't feel burned out. I felt invigorated, and I felt I was using my time efficiently.

I ended up below median. Not even at median, below median.

I have appointments to meet my professors today and on Monday and go over the exams, but I have spent the last few days full of grief. Grief is the only word that can describe what I'm going through. I did not deserve to be below median with the way I worked, I did everything right. I have been crying so much that my eyes hurt. It does not make sense. I've been going over my study method last semester in detail and I just don't know where I went wrong. My study plan seemed savvy and not the sort of mindless grinding that most hard-working 1Ls go through.

None of my mentors or my friends know what kind of grades I got. I am too ashamed to face them. I cannot talk about this with anyone in real life. Just thinking of the words "below median" is still unbelievable to me right now. In my worst nightmares I did not expect that.

Am I stupid? Is law school just not for me?


Talk to your professors. Chances are, if you know the law really well, you just had a problem with application. Maybe not enough arguing both sides of the case. Only way to find out is to go talk to the profs. It's not at all unheard of for people to do poorly first semester, switch up their steez, and dominate 2nd semester.

nucky thompson
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby nucky thompson » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:52 am

Peg wrote:I'm starting to feel convinced that I'll get Bs or Cs in everything - I'm going to hate myself so much in a couple of weeks. It's going to suck.




Somehow, you knew....

MrAnon
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby MrAnon » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:53 am

welcome to law school. this is why people who are ahead of you or graduated preach not to go. Even the "smart" kids finish with bad grades. Someone has to. At this point you might want to cut your losses, don't focus on classwork so much, start looking for a job you can work in while in school. Be realistic. I would not come back for spring semester all geared up to do better in class because frankly what more can you do? You'd just be chasing something that you may not be able to catch.

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Always Credited
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Always Credited » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:00 pm

Peg wrote:I worked really, really hard last semester, but I thought I was working "smart". Instead of focusing on the casebook readings, I focused on the BLL. I read my professors' law review articles to pick their mind, figure out what they were interested in, and learn their biases. I took good notes in class. I used supplements like LEEWS and GTM. I didn't go out and socialize - didn't attend a single bar review. Pretty sure half my section doesn't know who I am, in fact. I looked at past exams and sample responses to those exams. I did practice exams and compared my responses.

I even used a supplement that very few others in my class knew about, which had been recommended to me by a 2L in the top 10%, and I felt like I aced my exams. Almost nothing in those exams surprised me or seemed impossible. I was very calm and focused during my exams (beta-blockers), and I thought my answers were creative and showed sophisticated application of basic doctrine, like Glannon preaches.

But I also got my 7 hours of sleep each night. I didn't feel burned out. I felt invigorated, and I felt I was using my time efficiently.

I ended up below median. Not even at median, below median.

I have appointments to meet my professors today and on Monday and go over the exams, but I have spent the last few days full of grief. Grief is the only word that can describe what I'm going through. I did not deserve to be below median with the way I worked, I did everything right. I have been crying so much that my eyes hurt. It does not make sense. I've been going over my study method last semester in detail and I just don't know where I went wrong. My study plan seemed savvy and not the sort of mindless grinding that most hard-working 1Ls go through.

None of my mentors or my friends know what kind of grades I got. I am too ashamed to face them. I cannot talk about this with anyone in real life. Just thinking of the words "below median" is still unbelievable to me right now. In my worst nightmares I did not expect that.

Am I stupid? Is law school just not for me?


I can't find a single thing, based on what you say, that you should've done differently to change this outcome. Just a few questions:



-Did you have your outlines memorized? I mean really, really memorized - not just familiar.

-Do you go to a school ranked lower than a T30? I know this sounds odd...but from talking with a good amount of people I find that after the T30, professors seem to really value simple, straightforward exam answers much more than the creative, argument-counterargument style we teach ourselves to write.

-How closely did you follow LEEWS? There have been seriously mixed reactions to it. I took it, and following it to the letter (fortunately on just a midterm) led to a really bad exam. It was legitimately stupid. However, applying the broader principles in my own style - a mix of LEEWS, GTM, and IRAC - led to a much better result. There's a lot of people who found this with LEEWS.

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Supremo Skelator
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Supremo Skelator » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:06 pm

Yes, what schoolish do you go to? Knowing this will help everyone's evaluation.

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:11 pm

That you describe your exam answers as "creative" is a red flag.

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NeighborGuy
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby NeighborGuy » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:15 pm

Always Credited wrote:-Do you go to a school ranked lower than a T30? I know this sounds odd...but from talking with a good amount of people I find that after the T30, professors seem to really value simple, straightforward exam answers much more than the creative, argument-counterargument style we teach ourselves to write.


So far only one of my profs at my TTT give giant-issue spotter argument-counterargument exams like I've been hearing about on TLS and in GTM this whole time. The others have mostly depended on how well you can get inside the profs head, use their exact language back at them and develop your arguments on only the points they care about, and in the right order.

My best grades were in the issue spotter exam and in one of the latter kinds of profs; he wrote the textbook we used and I studied that mother like a madman to get inside his head.

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IAFG
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby IAFG » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:16 pm

MrAnon wrote:welcome to law school. this is why people who are ahead of you or graduated preach not to go. Even the "smart" kids finish with bad grades. Someone has to.

Yup. The admissions process leads to people generally of similar intelligence and work ethic being curved against each other. That's a tough system to beat.

Peg
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Peg » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:16 pm

@AlwaysCredited: I didn't memorize my outlines. I had to look at them a few times during the exam. I'm starting to wonder if this slowed down my typing speed compared to everyone else...but then, when I compared word counts, I was more or less at par with people? (Maybe "at par" is the problem here.)

Yeah, I'm bitter about LEEWS. I did that LEEWS trick of writing about conflict pairs that aren't explicitly asked for in the question, and that might have fucked me over.

@Supremo Skelator: My school is T20-T25 range.

@ BaiAilian: yeah, I was big on creative arguments all through my practice exams because I figured, how else can you distinguish yourself from the herd? Plus it was another LEEWS thing. I really hope that is not what got me ass-raped.

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johansantana21
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby johansantana21 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:25 pm

See what your professors say.

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BaiAilian2013
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby BaiAilian2013 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:26 pm

Peg wrote:@ BaiAilian: yeah, I was big on creative arguments all through my practice exams because I figured, how else can you distinguish yourself from the herd? Plus it was another LEEWS thing. I really hope that is not what got me ass-raped.

In my experience of most 1L classes (which for full disclosure includes some good grades and some bad grades but a lot of reading model answers) a lot of the herd just doesn't get all the points down in time. Seeing which facts go where as you regurgitate isn't really the hard part; there's just a LOT to regurgitate. It's pretty rare that someone hits on everything that's in the professor's rubric, so trying to get as much of it as you can is going to be more worth your time than trying to think of something they may not have seen, no matter how clever it is.

Not focusing on the casebook readings at all is potentially a mistake. It seems at first like the only purpose of the cases is for you to extract the rules, but a lot of fact patterns on the exams are analogous in places to cases you read, so reading the cases and at least jotting down a couple notes can help you categorize the facts on the exam quickly and correctly.

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Always Credited
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Always Credited » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:27 pm

Peg wrote:@AlwaysCredited: I didn't memorize my outlines. I had to look at them a few times during the exam. I'm starting to wonder if this slowed down my typing speed compared to everyone else...but then, when I compared word counts, I was more or less at par with people? (Maybe "at par" is the problem here.)

Yeah, I'm bitter about LEEWS. I did that LEEWS trick of writing about conflict pairs that aren't explicitly asked for in the question, and that might have fucked me over.

@Supremo Skelator: My school is T20-T25 range.

@ BaiAilian: yeah, I was big on creative arguments all through my practice exams because I figured, how else can you distinguish yourself from the herd? Plus it was another LEEWS thing. I really hope that is not what got me ass-raped.


For your sake, I really hope that is exactly what got your ass raped. The only alternative isn't a pleasant one to think about, nor is it something that can be fixed. But if your exam setup (LEEWS) played a large role, that can be fixed easily.

Also, the memorization of outlines isn't just for speed purposes. Yeah, not looking at it during the test is cool and adds some words to your exam. But the real reason is for understanding - having something memorized cold generally leads to a deeper understanding (seeing the ambiguities, unclear areas of the law, etc.) that really helps on exams. Granted...this is heavily debated. Some people say its a waste of time to memorize outlines. I disagree and find it the most important thing to do - on par with practice exams. Give it a shot if you think it might help.

If I were you this semester, I'd scratch LEEWS organization (keep the nitpicking philosophy in mind though, its baller) and memorize your outlines.

shock259
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby shock259 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:29 pm

I think speaking to your profs is the only way to figure out what happened. Like everyone has said, you seemed to do everything right on paper.

On the brighter side, you know how to prepare for a class. I think it'll be a relatively easy "tweak" to get your grades much higher next semester once you figure out what you were missing.

Good luck. Hang in there.

Edit: Re LEEWS - I found LEEWS very helpful to get a sense of how to write an exam answer. I definitely didn't follow it to a T, though. I found it to be too stifling and unnatural. And the planning phase was far too long IMO. And many of the steps can be done in your head. For my exam writing, I'd read the question once to get a big picture, make notes about big issues, read the question again more carefully, add any other issues, then start writing. I had my BLL pre-written, so I just started copying that while thinking about how I would deal with that issue. I ended up in the top 15% or so.

I guess if I had to give advice, I'd say personalize it. Personalize every piece of advice/guidance you hear. Take what you can use from it and throw out the rest. Don't follow any system too much, including my own. Figure out what works for you and go with it.
Last edited by shock259 on Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

rogermurdoch
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby rogermurdoch » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:35 pm

Peg wrote:Yeah, I'm bitter about LEEWS. I did that LEEWS trick of writing about conflict pairs that aren't explicitly asked for in the question, and that might have fucked me over.

Can you explain more? Were the instructions open-ended like "analyze the potential claims and defenses of the parties" or were they more like "analyze any claims A has against B"? LEEWS definitely tells you to look at the call of the question first and write to that (I think that's one of the first steps). If you get the open-ended questions, you definitely want to analyze every conflict pair. If the question asks you to analyze A vs. B specifically, you don't want to go off talking about B vs. C.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:35 pm

Ignoring casebook readings may not be the best way to prepare for class & exams.

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NYC Law
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby NYC Law » Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:37 pm

What do you mean by 'creative'? Like someone else pointed out, pretty much all exams are designed with more issues than anyone get spot and fully analyze, so you get the most points just analyzing as many issues as you can get to with as thorough analysis as time allows. If you get too creative you might miss out on this, and be especially screwed if your professor follows a checklist (many do).

You can get a little creative with arguments, especially if there's a non-obvious argument for the other side (always try to find both sides), and with policy questions. Other than that, type as fast as you can and spot the standard issues.

rogermurdoch
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby rogermurdoch » Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:30 pm

NYC Law wrote:What do you mean by 'creative'? Like someone else pointed out, pretty much all exams are designed with more issues than anyone get spot and fully analyze, so you get the most points just analyzing as many issues as you can get to with as thorough analysis as time allows. If you get too creative you might miss out on this, and be especially screwed if your professor follows a checklist (many do).

You can get a little creative with arguments, especially if there's a non-obvious argument for the other side (always try to find both sides), and with policy questions. Other than that, type as fast as you can and spot the standard issues.


I think this hits the nail on the head. You have to treat it like a game to score as many points as possible. At a lot of NBA games there's a competition during TV breaks where they take a random fan and give him 30 seconds to shoot baskets to win cash. He gets something like $50 for every layup, $100 for a free-throw, $200 for a three, and $1,000 for a half court shot. The people who get the most money are those that just sit by the basket making easy lay-ups. Nobody wants to follow this strategy because it's boring so they go out there an chuck up threes and half court shots before giving up and tossing in layups.

The point of this shitty analogy is that your goal should be to make as many points as possible, not to try and impress the professor with your brilliant legal mind. Your professor is more impressed by your ability to spot every issue. When they grade with a checklist, it really is quantity over quality. I don't mean the quantity of words, but rather the quantity of issues you hit (which in turn means more words). The first priority is to hit every issue. In-depth analysis is secondary, and you should be able to tell which issues call for more analysis. Analysis has majorly diminishing returns because professors will only give you so many points for any given issue.

If you outline your answer ahead of time, you'll likely identify most of the issues. Even if it's barely a sentence, at least put something for each one. I like to imagine in my head that every time I hit an issue I get a +1 (like in a video game). Type fast and rack up as many +1's as possible. There's nothing really "creative" about finding an issue or making an argument.

Peg
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Peg » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:04 pm

So let me explain my casebook approach, and then why I put emphasis on "creative arguments" rather than number of issues.

1) Casebook approach - the first week of 1L (god, that seems like it was another lifetime ago) I did the classic method of meticulously briefing each case. By Friday of that week I realized that this was a huge time sink and that I wasn't learning anything from it - I kept thinking of my end goal, the issue spotter, and how to prepare for that final fact pattern. So I switched to book-briefing for a couple of weeks, and still found it a frustrating waste of time. I wasn't learning the BLL effectively. I also began to notice that, while we would be assigned to read a certain number of pages, our professors didn't always talk about the entire reading in class. So for the rest of the semester, I would usually read after class, not before. And I wouldn't read the casebook, I would use canned briefs of the cases that the professor discussed in class. Then I would think about the case from the perspective of what the professor talked about.

I admit, sometimes I wouldn't even bother with this when I thought my professor was using way too many cases to explain a set of nuances that I had already read about in a supplement.


2) Creative Arguments - two of my professors talked to the class about what they want to see in an exam, and they said that the analysis is more important the naming the issue and garnered more points. I interpreted this to mean I should sacrifice the number of issues spotted in favor of more detailed analysis. This doesn't mean I like spotted five issues per exam and decided to stop there, but in all my practice exams and in the real exams, I allocated more time in my planning stage for issue analysis than for issue spotting. In my real exams, I knew I had missed some issues, but I felt confident that I had hit all the main ones and analyzed the hell out of them.

Then again, some people say professors aren't good at telling students what they want to see. When I see the grading checklist, the sample answer and my answer, I will know if actually hitting a high number of issues was better than analyzing fewer issues in more depth.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby AVBucks4239 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:17 pm

Peg wrote:So let me explain my casebook approach, and then why I put emphasis on "creative arguments" rather than number of issues.

1) Casebook approach - the first week of 1L (god, that seems like it was another lifetime ago) I did the classic method of meticulously briefing each case. By Friday of that week I realized that this was a huge time sink and that I wasn't learning anything from it - I kept thinking of my end goal, the issue spotter, and how to prepare for that final fact pattern. So I switched to book-briefing for a couple of weeks, and still found it a frustrating waste of time. I wasn't learning the BLL effectively. I also began to notice that, while we would be assigned to read a certain number of pages, our professors didn't always talk about the entire reading in class. So for the rest of the semester, I would usually read after class, not before. And I wouldn't read the casebook, I would use canned briefs of the cases that the professor discussed in class. Then I would think about the case from the perspective of what the professor talked about.

I admit, sometimes I wouldn't even bother with this when I thought my professor was using way too many cases to explain a set of nuances that I had already read about in a supplement.

I think your casebook approach is very misguided. You took the "don't brief cases" advice from TLS and took it to an insane level. I don't think anybody on here would recommend not reading the cases before class, reading canned briefs after class, etc. Yes, you need to focus on BLL, but that doesn't mean avoiding your casebooks like the plague.

Essentially, you gave up on reading cases before you learned how to read a case. You need to read the cases to (1) find the black-letter law and (2) see how the court applied it. If you can't figure out how to find BLL in a case, you're doing it wrong. If you can't find the court's application of that law, you're doing it wrong.

Reading canned briefs after lecture instead of reading cases before is also not a good idea. Canned briefs should only be referenced for (1) the facts and (2) the procedure. They are absolutely worthless for the relevant rule and its application. Start reading the cases before class and you'll quickly notice a difference in things you pick up during lecture. Since you didn't read the case, you are leaving yourself open to not realizing what is important during lecture.
Last edited by AVBucks4239 on Fri Jan 20, 2012 3:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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kalvano
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby kalvano » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:31 pm

Also, often my professors would use a note case they didn't talk about in class as a basis for an exam fact pattern. If you could spot that, you were golden.

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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby dazzleberry » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:37 pm

Instead of arguing creatively, argue thoroughly and well. Don't attempt to impress your profs with arguments that look cool and novel, but use arguments which appear complete and read clearly. You will be ahead of the curve. (assuming you've spotted the issues and discussed them in detail). That's what I did and did fairly well on all my exams. Nothing fancy. Also, try prefacing each issue with headings on the tests. I think that helped the professors go through my exams with less frustration than they would have if it was one big wall of words. In fact, I'd go far as to say don't try anything new - only if it pertains exactly to something your professor said in a law review article or any other of his or her personal publications; otherwise, just stick to something streamlined.

I did this and got grades well above median. This is also why I don't like to call law school an "intellectual" experience.
Last edited by dazzleberry on Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.

dazzleberry
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby dazzleberry » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:39 pm

AVBucks4239 wrote:
Peg wrote:So let me explain my casebook approach, and then why I put emphasis on "creative arguments" rather than number of issues.

1) Casebook approach - the first week of 1L (god, that seems like it was another lifetime ago) I did the classic method of meticulously briefing each case. By Friday of that week I realized that this was a huge time sink and that I wasn't learning anything from it - I kept thinking of my end goal, the issue spotter, and how to prepare for that final fact pattern. So I switched to book-briefing for a couple of weeks, and still found it a frustrating waste of time. I wasn't learning the BLL effectively. I also began to notice that, while we would be assigned to read a certain number of pages, our professors didn't always talk about the entire reading in class. So for the rest of the semester, I would usually read after class, not before. And I wouldn't read the casebook, I would use canned briefs of the cases that the professor discussed in class. Then I would think about the case from the perspective of what the professor talked about.

I admit, sometimes I wouldn't even bother with this when I thought my professor was using way too many cases to explain a set of nuances that I had already read about in a supplement.

I think your casebook approach is very misguided. You took the "don't brief cases" advice from TLS and took it to an insane level. I don't think anybody on here would recommend not reading the cases before class, reading canned briefs after class, etc. Yes, you need to focus on BLL, but that doesn't mean avoiding your casebooks like the plague.

Essentially, you gave up on reading cases before you learned how to read a case. You need to read the cases to (1) find the black-letter law and (2) see how the court applied it. If you can't figure out how to find BLL in a case, you're doing it wrong. If you can't find the court's application of that law, you're doing it wrong.

Reading canned briefs after lecture instead of reading cases before is also not a good idea. Start reading the cases and you'll quickly notice a difference in things you pick up during lecture. Since you didn't read the case, you are leaving yourself open to not realizing what is important during lecture.


yepyepyep. Can briefs are good for clarification, but I think it's still necessary to read every case.

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BruceWayne
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby BruceWayne » Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:57 pm

Peg wrote:@AlwaysCredited: I didn't memorize my outlines. I had to look at them a few times during the exam. I'm starting to wonder if this slowed down my typing speed compared to everyone else...but then, when I compared word counts, I was more or less at par with people? (Maybe "at par" is the problem here.)

Yeah, I'm bitter about LEEWS. I did that LEEWS trick of writing about conflict pairs that aren't explicitly asked for in the question, and that might have fucked me over.

@Supremo Skelator: My school is T20-T25 range.

@ BaiAilian: yeah, I was big on creative arguments all through my practice exams because I figured, how else can you distinguish yourself from the herd? Plus it was another LEEWS thing. I really hope that is not what got me ass-raped.



How many pages per exam did you type? The number of pages you type up is critical to your grade on most exams. Also from your post you sound a lot like me last year. You are mistaking law school and law school exams being about intellectual horsepower, quality of arguments, making insightful observations etc. That's a mistake.




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