Below median and bewildered

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Cade McNown
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Cade McNown » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:34 pm

Helmholtz wrote:
Peg wrote:I did not deserve to be below median


Unfortunately, not how law school works.

Step one is to grow up and stop feeling sorry for yourself. If your classmates wrote better exams than you, then you deserve to be below median.

Once you've accomplished that much, here's some red flags I see with what you wrote OP:
1. Read the damn textbooks. Reading cases closely is not just about learning the law; it's about learning to analyze complex fact patterns and pull out what matters quickly. If you have no practice reading cases, you will likely struggle on issue spotter exams.
2. You say nobody knows who you are, which tells me you probably weren't in any study groups. If true, big mistake! Law school is not a solo activity. You need classmates to help you (a) see wrinkles in course material you'd otherwise have missed, and (b) avoid misinterpreting the material.
3. On creativity & sophistication: lolwut? No 1L has a sophisticated understanding of any doctrinal coursework, and there's nothing creative about off-topic exam responses.

Reviewing your answers with the profs was a good move, and you've got plenty of time left to recover your gpa. Take your lumps with grace. Do better next time.

/Tough Love

Peg
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Peg » Fri Jan 20, 2012 6:52 pm

nStiver wrote:
romothesavior wrote:But they've do dictate your job prospects. So cool story bro.


I never said that they weren't the major factor in dictating job prospects. I just said it's not worth the self-hate that OP is piling on because of them.


While I do appreciate what you wrote earlier, my self worth is absolutely proportional to my job prospects, and my current self-loathing is...impressive.

@AVBucks4239: Gotcha. I did keep track of the syllabus, but I didn't attach importance to the amount of time devoted to each topic. In fact, this semester I wanted to read a book that a professor of mine just published and is very proud of - would that be waste of time? It's not directly relevant to the class.

And yes, I am beginning to agree that I may have been over-thinking everything last semester.

@Cade McNown: I really shouldn't be this bitter, but I did just see my Biglaw prospects vanish in a big POOF of purple smoke. I want to do all the stuff you advised, but tonight I just want to mass-mail lawyers from my UG alma mater (I feel like people are more likely to help their college alums rather than law school alums?) and pray that I can still somehow salvage my career.

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Always Credited
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Always Credited » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:02 pm

Peg wrote:
nStiver wrote:
romothesavior wrote:But they've do dictate your job prospects. So cool story bro.


I never said that they weren't the major factor in dictating job prospects. I just said it's not worth the self-hate that OP is piling on because of them.


While I do appreciate what you wrote earlier, my self worth is absolutely proportional to my job prospects, and my current self-loathing is...impressive.

@AVBucks4239: Gotcha. I did keep track of the syllabus, but I didn't attach importance to the amount of time devoted to each topic. In fact, this semester I wanted to read a book that a professor of mine just published and is very proud of - would that be waste of time? It's not directly relevant to the class.

And yes, I am beginning to agree that I may have been over-thinking everything last semester.

@Cade McNown: I really shouldn't be this bitter, but I did just see my Biglaw prospects vanish in a big POOF of purple smoke. I want to do all the stuff you advised, but tonight I just want to mass-mail lawyers from my UG alma mater (I feel like people are more likely to help their college alums rather than law school alums?) and pray that I can still somehow salvage my career.


1.) Dear Peg, please just focus on the basics. Apply basic doctrine thoroughly, making legal arguments from the facts in an organized manner and while making reasonable counter-arguments.

2.) I'll punch you if you read that book instead of going out and having a dinner with friends.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby AVBucks4239 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:04 pm

Peg wrote:
nStiver wrote:
romothesavior wrote:But they've do dictate your job prospects. So cool story bro.


I never said that they weren't the major factor in dictating job prospects. I just said it's not worth the self-hate that OP is piling on because of them.
@AVBucks4239: Gotcha. I did keep track of the syllabus, but I didn't attach importance to the amount of time devoted to each topic. In fact, this semester I wanted to read a book that a professor of mine just published and is very proud of - would that be waste of time? It's not directly relevant to the class.

And yes, I am beginning to agree that I may have been over-thinking everything last semester.

Yes, that would be a complete waste of time. You're still over-thinking "getting to know your professor." Here's an example...

My torts professor ALWAYS mentioned that in negligence cases, all the plaintiff's attorney was trying to do was get the case to the jury in any way possible. Thus, on my conclusion statement for a negligence issue, I'd write something like, "The facts aren't certain that plaintiff can recover on this negligence cause of action. However, plaintiff's attorney should at least get the case to a jury trial in order to blah blah blah. Still, it is unlikely that he will succeed."

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sunynp
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby sunynp » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:05 pm

You can't ever make your self-worth attached to your job prospects or your grades. You need to work on this now - that is a ridiculous way to think. With the job market the way it is, even the top people in your class can't count on jobs; can't count on getting hired; can't count on not getting no-offered; can't count on the economy not tanking again and not getting Lathamed; can't count on not getting pushed out as a junior; can't count on hanging onto a grueling schedule long enough to make partner; can't count on the partnership not dissolving or kicking you out...There is no certainty with jobs for the great majority of practicing lawyers. If your self worth is attached to your job, you may never be happy.

I can understand being terrified of not being able to repay debt because of grades. I can understand working hard for a few months and being upset that it didn't pay off.

I can't understand thinking you are stupid if you aren't top of your class. Jesus, half your class is below median -did it not ever once occur to you that you might be in that half. Are they are pathetic losers too? In the nicest way possible, I think you need to get over yourself.

And, probably every person here can agree with the idea that in law school effort doesn't always correlate with grades, at least not on the positive side.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby AVBucks4239 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:07 pm

And, really, this all comes back to you reading the cases. You're probably missing things like that in lecture because you are unprepared. I don't care how many hornbooks or supplements you read, if you don't read the cases, you're not going to pick up things like that during lecture.

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ilovesf
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby ilovesf » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:12 pm

My torts professor gave us a checklist of everything he wanted on the test. He wanted us to cite a case for every thing we argued. He even had a case listed that was in a note. For some classes, you really have to read all of the cases and memorize them.

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I.P. Daly
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby I.P. Daly » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:25 pm

A really efficient way to approach reading cases is to enter the case citation in Lexis or West and review the headnotes first. The research companies have already found the black letter law for you. You can simply copy and paste the BLL from the headnotes into your outline.

Once you know the rule, you can quickly read the case to see how the court applied the rule to a particular set of facts.

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Bildungsroman
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Bildungsroman » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:34 pm

Cade McNown wrote:2. You say nobody knows who you are, which tells me you probably weren't in any study groups. If true, big mistake! Law school is not a solo activity. You need classmates to help you (a) see wrinkles in course material you'd otherwise have missed, and (b) avoid misinterpreting the material.

This really depends on personal choice. I've found study groups and group discussion of the material to not be an effective use of time. When I spend time in the law school I'm around study group meetings pretty frequently, and I see a lot of "the blind leading the blind" type of situations. Some people, however, find them to be very helpful. I don't think there's a "right" answer to whether to use a study group.

Geist13
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Geist13 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:35 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.


To me it actually sounds like you did every single thing incorrectly. First and foremost, you bought into this myth, prevalant on TLS, that law school is somehow different than learning anything else and that there are ways for you to outdo your classmates. That's incorrect. All it takes to do well in law school is reading the cases and going to class and taking notes. All this other nonsense that people on this board go on and on about is a bunch of garbage that will only work for a small % of people.

I tried doing all that stuff myself during my first semester and also ended up below median. Then I said fuck it, just stuck to the casebook, didn't open any supplements didn't over think finding "forks" or being interesting on exams or anything like that and just answered the damn questions asked. Top 5% grades that semester. Repeated again this last semester, top 15% grades. It's not a special thing. Just read what you're supposed to read, listen in class and go over the material before exams and don't try to do special things on exams, just hit all the points and move on.

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ilovesf
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby ilovesf » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:35 pm

Bildungsroman wrote:
Cade McNown wrote:2. You say nobody knows who you are, which tells me you probably weren't in any study groups. If true, big mistake! Law school is not a solo activity. You need classmates to help you (a) see wrinkles in course material you'd otherwise have missed, and (b) avoid misinterpreting the material.

This really depends on personal choice. I've found study groups and group discussion of the material to not be an effective use of time. When I spend time in the law school I'm around study group meetings pretty frequently, and I see a lot of "the blind leading the blind" type of situations.

Totally agree. They don't work well for me, I am not in one. Law school has been almost a totally solo thing for me (study wise).

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NYC Law
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby NYC Law » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:37 pm

Geist13 wrote:
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.


To me it actually sounds like you did every single thing incorrectly. First and foremost, you bought into this myth, prevalant on TLS, that law school is somehow different than learning anything else and that there are ways for you to outdo your classmates. That's incorrect. All it takes to do well in law school is reading the cases and going to class and taking notes. All this other nonsense that people on this board go on and on about is a bunch of garbage that will only work for a small % of people.

I tried doing all that stuff myself during my first semester and also ended up below median. Then I said fuck it, just stuck to the casebook, didn't open any supplements didn't over think finding "forks" or being interesting on exams or anything like that and just answered the damn questions asked. Top 5% grades that semester. Repeated again this last semester, top 15% grades. It's not a special thing. Just read what you're supposed to read, listen in class and go over the material before exams and don't try to do special things on exams, just hit all the points and move on.


TITCR.

alabamabound
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby alabamabound » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:44 pm

NYC Law wrote:
Geist13 wrote:
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.


To me it actually sounds like you did every single thing incorrectly. First and foremost, you bought into this myth, prevalant on TLS, that law school is somehow different than learning anything else and that there are ways for you to outdo your classmates. That's incorrect. All it takes to do well in law school is reading the cases and going to class and taking notes. All this other nonsense that people on this board go on and on about is a bunch of garbage that will only work for a small % of people.

I tried doing all that stuff myself during my first semester and also ended up below median. Then I said fuck it, just stuck to the casebook, didn't open any supplements didn't over think finding "forks" or being interesting on exams or anything like that and just answered the damn questions asked. Top 5% grades that semester. Repeated again this last semester, top 15% grades. It's not a special thing. Just read what you're supposed to read, listen in class and go over the material before exams and don't try to do special things on exams, just hit all the points and move on.


TITCR.


OP clearly over-thought the whole law school thing.

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NoleinNY
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby NoleinNY » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:49 pm

Geist13 wrote:
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.


To me it actually sounds like you did every single thing incorrectly. First and foremost, you bought into this myth, prevalant on TLS, that law school is somehow different than learning anything else and that there are ways for you to outdo your classmates. That's incorrect. All it takes to do well in law school is reading the cases and going to class and taking notes. All this other nonsense that people on this board go on and on about is a bunch of garbage that will only work for a small % of people.

I tried doing all that stuff myself during my first semester and also ended up below median. Then I said fuck it, just stuck to the casebook, didn't open any supplements didn't over think finding "forks" or being interesting on exams or anything like that and just answered the damn questions asked. Top 5% grades that semester. Repeated again this last semester, top 15% grades. It's not a special thing. Just read what you're supposed to read, listen in class and go over the material before exams and don't try to do special things on exams, just hit all the points and move on.


+1.

I.P. Daly wrote:A really efficient way to approach reading cases is to enter the case citation in Lexis or West and review the headnotes first. The research companies have already found the black letter law for you. You can simply copy and paste the BLL from the headnotes into your outline.

Once you know the rule, you can quickly read the case to see how the court applied the rule to a particular set of facts.


Also, if you're in CA and some of the stuff you need to know is CA law, Rutter Group Guides are fantastic.

rjl
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby rjl » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:06 pm

Great advice in this thread.

Some bad advice too.

The LEEWS technique that is a must-apply is the rubber-meets-the-road approach to answering an essay question. The first 10-15 minutes are critical.

Read the call of the question first. Then read the fact pattern. The fact pattern is often (read: almost always) written in a way where it includes superfluous information meant to throw you off or waste your time; PAY ATTENTION TO THE CALL OF THE QUESTION AND DO NOT DIVERT. Then sketch a brief outline of your answer.

If your exam is closed book, and you're facing an issue-spotter, a technique I used was this: memorize a brief skeleton outline of what you went over that semester--something no more than a handwritten page long. Then, as you read the fact pattern, refer to your sketched outline and use it to spot issues. I found that this kept me from missing the "obvious" things, such as standing in a Constitutional Law essay (you can pretty much always discuss standing in ConLaw).

I can pretty much guarantee you that the people I saw who were typing their little fingers off within 5 minutes of the exam's start were probably going to grade in the lower half of the class. Planning is critical to get all the points.

Planning is also critical to make your essay readable. As has been discussed in this thread, your professors are having to sift through 100 of these gawdawful things, and trust me, they are reading some pretty horrible stuff along the way. Making yours clear and intelligible goes a long way towards creating a better perception of your work, and a better perception leads to a few more points being given as your professor bombs his way through the stack.

Lastly, read before class. I am a 3L now, and I don't really read much any more, but I at least familiarize myself with all the material before class. Not doing so renders class pretty much a waste--the sole purpose of class is to apply what you have just been exposed to, so inverting that structure doesn't work in any conceivable way.

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Ludo!
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Ludo! » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:10 pm

Why do people think that because something worked for them it's bad advice for anyone to suggest something different? Different approaches work for different people.

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NoleinNY
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby NoleinNY » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:12 pm

Ludovico Technique wrote:Why do people think that because something worked for them it's bad advice for anyone to suggest something different? Different approaches work for different people.


Confirmation bias?

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NYC Law
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby NYC Law » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:12 pm

rjl wrote:I can pretty much guarantee you that the people I saw who were typing their little fingers off within 5 minutes of the exam's start were probably going to grade in the lower half of the class. Planning is critical to get all the points.


I don't see how typing right away and planning are mutually exclusive. My method of 'planning' is to just to type out headings right away for all the conflict pairs/causes of action/major issues

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ilovesf
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby ilovesf » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:13 pm

NYC Law wrote:
rjl wrote:I can pretty much guarantee you that the people I saw who were typing their little fingers off within 5 minutes of the exam's start were probably going to grade in the lower half of the class. Planning is critical to get all the points.


I don't see how typing right away and planning are mutually exclusive. My method of 'planning' is to just to type out headings right away for all the conflict pairs/causes of action/major issues

Me too. I typed all of my headings right away to make sure that I didn't forget them or ignore the issues.

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Ludo!
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Ludo! » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:14 pm

NYC Law wrote:
rjl wrote:I can pretty much guarantee you that the people I saw who were typing their little fingers off within 5 minutes of the exam's start were probably going to grade in the lower half of the class. Planning is critical to get all the points.


I don't see how typing right away and planning are mutually exclusive. My method of 'planning' is to just to type out headings right away for all the conflict pairs/causes of action/major issues


I did the exact same thing and was top 5% both 1l semesters. Clearly bad advice though

sillyboots
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby sillyboots » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:20 pm

Hey Peg,

Sounds like, as most people have pointed out here, you probably just hit on too few issues and got diminishing returns as you went deeper into your analysis. As I'm sure you know, there's no rule of thumb that applies to every single teacher, so you won't know for sure until you speak with the professors. In my experience with issue spotting exams, though, they harp on analysis because many students stop in the very shallow end. After a certain depth, though, they also tend to give really limited points. Getting a good sense of where that limit is is part of the art of being a successful law student, and unfortunately also part of the total luck of being a successful law student.

Another issue could have just been sheer speed and volume. A lot of people told me the importance of spending 1/3-1/2 of your time outlining your answer. I worked hard to be able to organize my answers in my head quickly so that I could spend all of my time typing, and at least when the midterms were handed out I noticed my printed midterm was at least double the size of the very vast majority of students, and on that basis alone (just getting at least a point for every sentence) I was able to surpass people that may have had a much better conceptual grasp of the issues in the exam. It's unfair and more about ability to be quick than an ability to analyze well, but it's one of the few options available to a professor who wants to make sure that everyone's answers will be distinct and plottable on a curve.

I can imagine all of the humiliation, frustration, and sense of waste you're experiencing. I think you should step back and realize a few things, though. First, you should give yourself a standing ovation for putting in the effort that you did. The chillingly unsympathetic nature of law school and law school grading beckons a person to give law school everything, yet few do. Faced with the prospect of trying their hardest only to find out it wasn't good enough and that they wasted a precious, young year of their lives, most people don't invest nearly as much as they could. Rather, they bank on the offchance they will cowboy their ways into good grades and success, and if for some reason it doesn't work out, they can always comfort themselves with the thought that they didn't try that hard and that the bloodthirsty gunners got their fix. You should be proud of yourself for not taking the easy way out in terms of self-image protection. You took a real risk, and it's really admirable.

Second, there's not a single candid professor out there that can look you in the eyes and tell you that they believe their exams are reliable indicators for who would be successful practicing in that area of the law. Much of the time, it's the best they can do given all of the restraints and pressures they have, but everyone knows it's far from sure fire. Your post was written intelligently, it sounds like you had a very thoughtful approach to law school, and while it might not have been what the professors had in mind on their grading rubric, I'd be very surprised if your analysis wasn't more intricate, precise and deep than the very vast majority of your class. All of these skills combined with your willingness to work hard will, I imagine, make you a fantastic lawyer. You might not be playing croquet on the Yale lawn come this time next year, but you're going to have some very fortunate clients down the road if this is what you want to do and stick with.

Finally, while such misfortunes as yours are too disheartening to seek out, in many ways they can be cherished as gifts when they come. Some day you might have a family, even some kids (if you don't already). I guarantee at one point your child is going to invest a lot of themselves in something and it's not going to pan out, and it's going to hurt awfully bad. The ability to understand other people experiencing these things in a truly genuine way gives you a very unique and privileged position from which to love and comfort them-- and that's something not even partners at Wachtell can buy. As good ol' Garth Brooks sang, somewhere down the road you might just be thanking god for your unanswered prayers.

Best of luck to you here on out and congratulations on your courage, I wish I had more of it.
Last edited by sillyboots on Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rjl
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby rjl » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:21 pm

What I impliedly meant was those who are typing their responses within minutes. You can tell apart those who are hammering away on a response and those who are typing headings.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby AVBucks4239 » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:33 pm

Looking back, I can't believe I wasn't shockingly dumbfounded when I essentially read, "I expected to finish top 10% despite not reading the cases after the first week of law school." Such is the nature of reading too much TLS.

thsmthcrmnl
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby thsmthcrmnl » Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:53 pm

Geist13 wrote: just stuck to the casebook, didn't open any supplements didn't over think finding "forks" or being interesting on exams or anything like that and just answered the damn questions asked [. . . ] It's not a special thing. Just read what you're supposed to read, listen in class and go over the material before exams and don't try to do special things on exams, just hit all the points and move on.

Arbinshire
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Re: Below median and bewildered

Postby Arbinshire » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:00 pm

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


+1 Casebook reading is essential. Can't play it off and expect to do well.




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