My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

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AVBucks4239
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My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby AVBucks4239 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:49 pm

AVBucks' Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

I. Introduction
II. About Me
III. 0L Prep
IV. Getting the Right Mindset
V. Things You MUST Do (or not do)
VI. Organization
VII. Legal Writing/Thinking
VIII. Reading Cases
IX. Lecture/Taking Notes
X. Study Groups/Friends
XI. Using Supplements
XII. Outlining
XIII. Studying Previous Exams
XIV. Putting All of This Together (The Final Stretch)
XV. Taking Exams
XVI. The 1L Job Hunt
XVII. Acing Legal Writing
XVIII. Other Must Read TLS Links
XIX. Final Thoughts

I. Introduction
I'm not trying to re-invent the wheel with this post. A lot of what I will be posting is repetitive from what you will read in other great guides on TLS (after all, I learned from them first). With that said, I do believe I emphasize things a little differently than conventional wisdom on here. This guide, unlike others, will also feature pictures (yay) so you can see exactly what I'm doing.

II. About Me
I would never, ever claim to be the smartest guy in the room. Far from it. I actually got a 146 the first time I took the LSAT (don't ask), ended up getting a 158, and opted to accept a 2/3 scholarship to a TTT in the city I want to practice/live in for quite some time.

I tell you this because despite my lack of intelligence, I did well in my first year of law school (top 10%). I credit this entirely to the knowledge and wisdom I took from reading TLS for three years before school. Being honest, there's not a chance in hell I'm smarter than 9/10 students in my class, but I'd guarantee I know more about law school than 9/10 of my classmates.

So, if you're like me and fear being the dumbest person in the room when you get to law school, here's the most important thing you can do: read about law school...

III. 0L Prep
You should probably not be doing any substantive prep (i.e., don't read your contracts hornbook before August). Instead, you should be reading about what law school is like, legal thinking, legal writing, etc. This allows you go into school with a gameplan.

The first thing you should do is read as many guides from TLS as possible. This will give you a lot of different study strategies to contemplate using. Why is this important? I know it's cliche, but nobody thinks/studies alike. There are plenty of stories on here from 1L's who used the exact study methods as recommended by somebody finishing number one, yet they finished median. You need to read, read, read, and think about what works for you.

The guides I would most highly recommend:
Arrow's Advice for Doing Well in Law School: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=77628
Talon's Success in Your First Year of Law School: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=123699
Lazy's Guide to Top 10% Without Working Nights or Weekends: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=162799

Second, I recommend Andrew McClurg's "1L of a Ride" (http://www.amazon.com/1L-Ride-Well-Trav ... +of+a+ride). I don't think TLS gives this book enough credit because it's basically TLS in a book, but I think it's great read. It is written by a professor in an extremely easy-to-read prose. He covers everything--where to sit in lecture, taking notes, how exams are graded, what not to do an exams, etc. I definitely learned a few nuggets from his book.

Third, I believe a must read is "Getting to Maybe" (http://www.amazon.com/Getting-To-Maybe- ... gy_b_img_b). Smart people on here summarize it and dismiss it ("Argue both sides. End Book.") However, people like me really have to give time and effort to learn how to think this way. Even if you are smart, it's a good read on how you should be looking at legal issues/rules/etc.

A short and simple read can be found in "The Eight Secrets of Top Exam Performance in Law School" (http://www.amazon.com/Eight-Secrets-Per ... 0314183582). It's only 150ish pages and the font is huge. I actually recommend reading this over Thanksgiving break because it's such a short/easy read. There are definitely a few nuggets of advice that will make you go, "Oh, wow, that makes sense...good idea."

Aside from that, enjoy life. Visit friends who have moved away, eat dinner with your parents, visit your undergrad, and have fun. You'll have plenty of time to study in law school.

IV. Getting the Right Mindset
By far the best advice I gleaned from McClurg's "1L of a Ride" was his chapter about getting the right mindset. Law school is hard, but it's not impossible. Law school might be easier for some than others, but it is never a cakewalk.

McClurg's advice for getting the right mindset was brilliant (I thought). Imagine that you didn't go to law school and this was the first job you got coming out of college. You're just an entry level person who is aspiring to work your way up. There are a ton of doors you can open, but there's also plenty you can shut if you're an idiot. McClurg asked some great rhetorical questions:

Would you skip days of work just because you didn't feel like going?
Would you show up to work late on a regular basis?
Would you text during a meeting at work?
Would you show up to a meeting unprepared if you knew your boss might call on you for your input?
Would you not push yourself if a big assignment/deadline was coming up?
Would you procrastinate anything that you knew was important?

The answer to all these, of course, is no. Show up to class on time (early) every day. Pay attention during class. Always show up prepared. Stay on top of everything.

Another reason you want to treat it like a job is the scheduling factor. If you don't get stuff done during the day, you're going to be up until 1:00 or 2:00 every morning. That's not good. Thus, your main priority from 9:00-6:00 (with some obvious breaks--eat, exercise, etc.) should be law school. This definitely means getting stuff done between classes (see my schedule below). Not only does this allow you to stay on top of everything, but more importantly, it allows you to have a life--even during the week.

Edit: I got several PM's asking how much time I spent on nights/weekends. The answer to that is usually very little (the schedule linked below is for a week where I had a midterm and motion the following week...obviously things get a little more busy then). I would usually not do anything from Friday night to Sunday morning (college football addict, and I like to go out). I don't advise getting completely trashed on Saturday, because Sunday is a day to get some things done. I usually did some lighter things during NFL games (type notes, organize assignments/schedule for the week, etc.) but nothing too much. Then I usually did study Sunday nights to get back in the groove.

V. Things you Must Do (or not do)
Like I said earlier, everybody studies differently; however, there are certain things that are an absolute must:

1) Never, ever, ever fall behind. The most important thing you can do is stay on top of your assignments and always show up prepared. I can't stress this enough. Law school isn't so much quality as it is quantity. You're going to have a lot of things to do, and you need to stay on top of them. Furthermore, if you come across something you don't quite understand, confront it there and then and figure it out. Finals period is for studying/reviewing, not learning the material.

As anectodal evidence, I completely blew off estates in Property spring semester (you will want to, too). Instead of learning it as the professor was teaching it, I thought, "Screw it, I'll figure it out around finals." Well, when it was time to study property, I spent so much time studying estates that I didn't have a nuanced understanding of the other material. I ended up with a C+ in property (we have a B- curve). Just give me a B+ (my lowest grade in any other class) and I finish 4th in the entire class.

2) Do not procrastinate legal writing assignments. This is related to the first one, but legal writing is the one class that procrastinating will 100% affect your other classes. For instance, think about the above example about me blowing off estates in property. Ya, it hurt me in property, but it didn't affect any other class other than property.

Legal writing is different. If you procrastinate legal writing and want to earn a good grade, you basically have to blow off everything else for 2-3 days. This will result in you assuredly falling behind in other classes. The relief you feel from turning in the legal writing assignment will only be met by a monstrous list of things you've ignored for two days.

3) Have a life. It's so important to maintain a good study/life balance. If you've always exercised, make time for you to exercise. If you went out and drank 3 nights a week in undergrad, make time to go out a couple times a week. If you like traveling, clear out a weekend or two and hit the road.

VI. Organization
This is one area where I don't think TLS puts enough emphasis. As I alluded to earlier, law school is more quantity than quality. It's really important for you to make an effort to keep things organized throughout the semester.

I wrote this guide (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=163781) on setting up OneNote and Outlook. I would highly recommend reading it because it will at least give you some insight as to how to keep track of everything.

I emphasize organization because a huge part of doing well in law school is being efficient. Most people put a lot of hours into studying, but it's most people's belief that those who are the most efficient with their study hours are the ones who end up at the top of the class. There are lots of ways to be efficient, but the easiest way is to just be organized. Always know what you want to accomplish with the day, get it done as soon as possible, and then go about having a life.

For a specific example of why I think organization is so important, here is my Outlook schedule for a particular week during Spring semester. I chose this week because I had a Legal Writing motion due the following Tuesday and a Criminal Law midterm the following Wednesday. You can see how hectic law school can get when you have stuff like this due. You can also see why it's so important that I didn't procrastinate legal writing (most of it was done by Thursday night, weekend was for reviewing drafts/citations; had I not done this, my CrimLaw midterm grade would have probably suffered). Physically putting on paper/Outlook what I was going to get done every day, and when I was going to do it, relieved the overwhelming feeling of stress I would have had. Anyway, here's how the week played out:

Image

Note, all my weeks definitely weren't this busy. I more or less followed Lazy's "no work on night or weekends" mantra and usually did very little Friday night-Sunday morning. This week was a little different due to the midterm and motion due the very next week. I just used that week to show why it's important to stay on top of things.

Lastly, the one thing you need to be doing during finals period is studying. That's it. The last thing you need to be doing is organizing all your stuff or looking for something. Again, this goes to being efficient.

You don't have to be as OCD as I am, but I think you really need to put forth an effort to staying organized throughout the semester.

VII. Legal Writing/Thinking
Again, for the "thinking" part, I can't recommend Getting to Maybe highly enough.

As for the writing, you really need to be honest about this with yourself. Law school exams are pretty much 3-4 hour essay exams. It is very important that you are confident and comfortable with your ability to communicate your thinking/logic. If you need to show the logical progression of, "A leads to B, which leads to C," then you need to be able to express that effectively. If you just go "A leads to C," the professor is going to ding you every time.

In my opinion, the best thread on TLS regarding this (and this is a must read) is Scribe's How to Learn How to Do Well on a Law School Exam: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=120673

In addition, you also need to be honest about your typing speed. Imagine the time crunch of the LSAT only writing an exam--that's what law school exams are like, only way worse. Word count is definitely not the be-all end-all of law school grades, and if you are average, you are fine. But if you are terrible at typing (i.e. less than 40-50 words per minute), you should get some type of program to help improve your typing speed.

This is a broader point, but I bring up the typing thing because what you should be trying to do with your study habits is eliminate any and all variables that you can control that could potentially inhibit you from success. Are you disorganized? Make an effort to stay organized. Are you a poor writer? Practice, read books, work very hard at it. Are you a slow typer? Get better. The list is endless, but you should fix things you can control.

Edit: a poster ITT made a great point. Your goal in increasing typing speed isn't just to write more, it's to write more complete arguments (for example, adding policy) while still being efficient. Never just ramble for the sake of rambling...make use of your words.

VIII. Reading Cases
You should read every case. As a cautionary tale, here's a thread of a pretty smart girl who did everything TLS recommends...except read the cases (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=176539). First semester, she got median pwned; second semester, she read the cases and got straight A's in her substantive courses.

Reading cases constantly exposes you to legal analysis/logic, which is what you will be doing on a law school exam. Do not give up reading them if you don't get them at first, because not many people do. Eventually, you should able to extract the rules, policy, and rationale of each opinion. Those are all things that can be used on exams.

Here are the important things to extract from a case that will help you on an exam: basic facts, rule, policy, court's reasoning.
Stuff you might need to know for lecture: detailed facts, procedural history, other bullshit your stupid professor thinks of.

Whether you write a case brief or book brief is your own call. I actually did both. I read the case, made my book brief while reading, then when I was done with the assignments, I would type up some brief notes in my OneNote. I usually did this while watching sports, so it wasn't that big of a "time sink" for me. I had the following abbreviations (note this is very similar to Powerscore's Reading Comp tips for the LSAT):

PH = Procedural History
* = Rule
CR = Court's Reasoning
P = Policy
Pi/Delta Symbol = Plaintiff Argument/Defendant Argument

For an example, here is a picture of a tort case that I will use as an example throughout this guide:
Image

This allowed me to write my brief more easily later on in the day, follow along during lecture, etc. If you are highlighting more than that, you're probably doing it wrong.

IX. Lecture/Taking Notes
On a basic level, attend every lecture. There's really no excuse to miss class for minor reasons. In addition, do your best to not eff around online during lecture. Use lecture as a time to pay attention and study the material. If some gunner is ranting about how this case compares to his studies in France, then by all means Tweet until your heart explodes. But if the professor is speaking and things are on track, pay attention.

Second, do not fret over the Socratic method. Everybody knows how stupid it is, and nobody will remember/care if you didn't know the procedural history of Palsgraf. The above book brief should get you through most Socratic dialogues. From my experience, though, if you are completely unprepared for class and get called on, expect to get called on the next lecture.

Things you should be looking for in lecture:

1) The syllabus. I think the syllabus is one of the more undervalued tools for all students, not just law school students. If your professor spends 4 weeks on consideration in contracts, odds are that he/she thinks it's important. Be prepared for that on the final.

2) How the professor states rules. If your Professor states a rule as "x," every other definition of that rule (from supplements, hornbooks, the case itself, etc.) now becomes irrelevant. Your professor's words are the only ones that matter, since he/she is grading your exam.

3) Policy. A lot of the time, a rule will be pretty straightforward (for example, battery). But why? Why is that rule the way it is? This is what separates the A-'s from the A's. Those who state "why" on an exam separate themselves. Your professor will often state policy reasons for particular rules, and you should write them down. He/she will eat it up on an exam.

4) Don't transcribe lecture. You should be actively thinking about what's going on and why. Always engage in the Socratic questioning even if you aren't the one being called on.

My lecture notes and case briefs were one in the same document. Thus, during lecture, I was basically inserting important information and deleting irrelevant stuff.

The structure of my lecture notes was the casebook itself. This provided me with a skeleton for my outline. Looking back at that Torts case (Comacho), it's in Chapter 8 (Products Liability), Section C (Types of Defects), Part 2 (Design Defects). That's exactly how it appears in my notes. Before I did any reading in Part C, this is how my notes looked:

Image

As you can see, it's outlined to the casebook. This lets me know where the case "fits" within products liability. I then had my very brief case brief typed before lecture:

Image

Below is how my notes looked after lecture. Note that there really isn't much added, just clearing things up/changing the words a bit.

Image

X. Study Groups/Friends
Make as many friends as possible. You're going to have to deal with these people for an entire year, so you might as well make the most of it. I got very lucky in that 90% of the people in my section were pretty damn cool, and I have a really good group of about 10-12 friends that I go out with all the time.

One thing I always did was send notes to people who missed lecture, even if they didn't ask. I initially did this just to be nice, but then realized it had some pretty nice returns. I missed lecture for an interview, and when I got home, I had 4 emails of people who sent me their notes. In addition, any time I had a question, I didn't hesitate asking anybody because I knew I probably helped them out at one point or another.

This making friends/being nice thing is why I don't think you need to be in a study group. If you have a question, just call somebody and ask. There's no need to be forced to sit in the library for more time than you have to be. If you constantly have questions, find a BFF to bounce questions back and forth.

The only study group that I thought was effective was this "outline study group." Basically, they met every Friday and had to show up with updated outlines for two classes. So basically, they were updating a particular class's outline every two weeks. This forced them to keep up to date on their outlines and also allowed them to fill in gaps of stuff they might have missed. They had 5 people in the study group and 3 of them finished top 15%.

Overall, though, just make friends and ask questions when you need to.

XI. Using Supplements
Out of everything you read about in any guide, the use of supplements is the most "you" type thing, meaning that what works for you might not work for others. Thus, I'm not going to sit on my high horse and tell you what to read/do; instead, I'll tell you what I did and give you a broad understanding of what each of the supplements are for.

For every class, I read the E&E or Understanding Series when we finished a particular chapter. So for that Torts products liability stuff, I didn't read the supplement until we were done with all of products liability. This gave me a great review of everything we covered, allowed me to ignore the stuff we didn't, and give me a "big picture" perspective on where it fit within the class. I then typed everything I highlighted from the supplement into OneNote. This was incredibly time-consuming, but I'll get into why I did it when I discuss outlining.

The only time I used supplements other than this was if I was completely clueless. Going back to property, when we started covenants, I had no clue what was going on. We might as well have been talking about quantum physics. So after lecture, I went to the library, read the introduction of the Understanding Property section on covenants, and was like, "Oh. That's not so hard." Which is the point of supplements.

Picking what supplements to use are dependent on your learning style and your professor. The pecking order, in general, is as follows:
1) Use the supplement your professor recommends/wrote
2) Use the supplement written by your casebook author
3) Use the supplement recommended by successful 2L's and 3L's (emphasis on successful)
4) Use the supplement that's comfortable for you.

I think the E&E's are great for examples and exam prep. They explain the law reasonably well and provide examples, allowing you to apply the material (which is what you will be doing on an exam). The only class the E&E is worthless for is Criminal Law (get Dressler's "Understanding Criminal Law").

I think the Understanding series (i.e., Understanding Torts) explains the law the best. They also provide a great (actually, outstanding) structure for your outline if you don't like your casebook's organization. That said, they don't provide examples, which is where you should use the E&E's on reference at your library to supplement your studying.

An important thing to emphasize: your professor's wording of a rule ALWAYS trumps the wording used by a supplement. If information ever conflicts, always do whatever your professor says.

XII. Outlining
Outlining is simply synthesizing your lecture notes, supplement notes, case briefs, and anything else into a single document for you to review for exams. The process of outlining helps you see the "big picture" while also focusing on the important details.

Because it is a "big picture" task, you should wait until at least week 5 or 6 to start outlining. You will have no idea what is going on in contracts for the first three weeks, so it's worthless for you to try and outline it. It's literally a giant waste of time. A few weeks will pass and then, a light will go off--"Oh. It's just a bunch of rules about offer, acceptance, and counteroffers." That's when you start outlining.

You want your outline to be short and straightforward. That said, I don't buy the hardcore "minimalist" or "maximizing" attitudes prevalent on TLS/at law schools. Nobody cares if your outline is 5 or 50 pages. Make it as short/long as necessary for you to understand the material. It's your outline. That said, your outline should only have rules, rationale, and policy in it. There's no reason to have cases in there unless your professor said that he/she wants cases cited on the exam.

I actually don't have supplement notes on that products liability case. Usually, I would combine the notes from the supplement with my lecture notes to create a cohesive outline. That said, here is the outline for that portion of the products liability stuff:

Image

Note how it's basically just rules, organized a little differently from the casebook so I can understand where everything goes. I moved things around so I understood how to show different ways a product was defective. That's basically what you're trying to do when you outline, put everything together.

I strongly recommend updating your outlines every two weeks. When finals come around, you should be reviewing/studying, not putting an entire outline together. Some do, however, like to wait because it stays fresh in their head. That said, definitely don't wait for exam period to start.

XIII. Studying Previous Exams
I think everybody knows they should be looking at previous exams, but I think people misuse them. This isn't like the LSAT where you are trying to take a bunch of timed tests to make sure you're going at the proper pace. Yes, you should take a few timed ones to make sure you're confident with the timing (meaning 1-2 total practice exams, not 1-2 for each class).

Instead, you should be studying past exams. You can tell how an exam is going to be by looking at several things:

1) The model answer. Basically, the professor is saying, "This is what I expect from you on an exam." Study it and learn from it. That said, a lot of old exams don't come with model answers. So, you also need to look at...

2) The structure of the exam. Is it going to be one big hypothetical? One long essay and one short one? Two medium-sized essays? Multiple choice? You should be looking for this so you are prepared.
(Note, if there are multiple choice questions, use a multiple choice supplement to practice. I recommend the Q&A series. MC questions can be very difficult, so you need to practice.)

3) Topics covered. Professors hate grading, but they like certain topics. This results in them testing on topics they actually find interesting. This goes back to using the syllabus to see where the emphasis of the class is (it's also the reason why some people recommend reading the professor's law review articles, but that's a waste of time for me). For example, my torts professor thought defamation was incredibly interesting (he's also a ConLaw professor). We covered it for three and a half weeks. He had about eight previous exams online, and six of them had a defamation hypo. If that doesn't make a 1000 watt lightbulb go off in your head, drop out. For the record, there was a defamation hypo on the exam.

4) The type of exam. By this, I'm referring to how much content the professor is putting into a hypothetical. Looking at my torts professor's old exams, he always had two hypos with just 1-2 issues. Seems easy, but he wanted your analysis to be incredibly in depth. Thus, you knew ahead of time that you better know the nuances of everything. Meanwhile, my CrimLaw professor's exam was one giant hypo. Looking at the practice exams, you could tell you weren't going to be able to finish her exam. Thus, I had the mindset going in of, "Don't get too in depth with analysis, move your ass and touch on everything."

5) Closed book vs. open book. This is obvious. Know ahead of time whether your exam is closed or open book. Structure your outline accordingly.

Other than that, there's not much you can do with the exams. Just do as much as possible so that you aren't surprised on an exam.

XIV. Putting All of This Together (The Final Stretch)
The only period of time I found law school to be mind-numbingly terrible was during exam periods. All you're doing is studying and it can be very taxing.

Rewinding a bit, this is why I emphasize organization, staying on top of your understanding of topics, and keeping up to date on outlines/assignments. This is the time to reviewing and memorizing everything, not learning it. Thus, I think your outline should be done before the exam period starts.

The first thing you need to do is make a schedule and stick to it. Looking at it from a three week period, it is literally unbelievable how much work you know you'll have to do. Your brain might just explode. That is why you need to break it up and stick to it. If you know you're weak in contracts, own up to it and allot more time for it.

You should then be doing everything you can to memorize the material, whether your exam is open or closed-book. Knowing the information cold will give you confidence, and it will also make issues jump off the page during the exam. The best way to memorize material, for me, was through repetition. I either typed out a definition a bunch of times or used notecards.

One website I can't recommend highly enough is StudyBlue (http://www.studyblue.com/). The site allows you to make digital notecards that sync to your phone. The site also keeps track of your particular scores for each card. It's fantastic. That said, notecards are obviously time-consuming to make. You should try and only have about 75-100 per class. Go through them over, and over, and over.

The last thing you should do is follow Arrow's method of "pre-writing" your answers. Not only should you know the rules cold, but you should know EXACTLY what you are going to write about those rules. Criminal law is pretty straightforward and easy to understand, so I will use that as an example.

My CrimLaw professor went out of her way to teach burglary. It wasn't in the casebook, she actually found cases, created a packet for us, and spent a week on it (a lot for a simple topic). Thus, I knew it was probably going to be on the exam. Common law burglary has six elements: (1) the breaking and (2) entering (3) into the dwelling house (4) of another (5) at nighttime (6) with the intent to commit a felony. It's different under the Model Penal Code: (1) breaking (2) into an occupied structure (3) with the intent to commit a crime. Here is my "pre-answers" for burglary:

Image

Note that the ellipses are where the analysis comes in. This is exactly what I wrote on exams. On the midterm and final, when I saw burglary, I was able to type all of that on the page fairly quickly. Then it came down to attaching the right facts to the applicable laws (as explained by Scribe).

XV. Taking Exams
If you've put in the effort throughout the semester and through finals period, be confident and don't doubt yourself. The hard part (the entire semester's worth of work) is over, and the exam is just that...an exam. I obviously just discussed a lot of what you should be doing on an exam. There are some general points you should keep in mind:

1) Keep your answer organized. Professors are inherently lazy. You should do everything you can to make your essay as easy to read as possible for your professor, and that usually means keeping it very organized. This means use headings for different causes of action, make new paragraphs, use a separate paragraph for each element of a cause of action, use numbers, etc.

2) Issues versus conflict pairs. Building on that, find out from your professor if he/she wants things organized by issue or conflict pair. Again, you're always pandering to your audience.

3) Organize before you write. When you get the exam, take a deep breath and just read it. So many people just start vomiting all over the page as soon as they get the exam that they end up writing themselves in circles. You should read the fact pattern just like you read a case--take notes, write down the issues, etc. Then outline your answer. This should all only take 10 minutes, and that's not going to make or break you on your exam.

4) Allocate your time properly. The biggest mistake a lot of my friends made was not allocating time properly. It usually involved them talking too much about one topic and getting carried away, taking time from another thing to write about. This is why I think you should outline your answer before writing anything. If you can tell the products liability issue is going to take a lot more time to talk about than the battery you just read about, allocate accordingly.

5) Know where the points are. Everybody knows the rules, so you're not going to get points for writing a bunch of rules. Instead, state the applicable law as concisely as possible and get to the analysis. The analysis (saying 'why') is always where the points are. You definitely don't want to write a treatise about the law--get to the point, get to the analysis.

Lastly, after you take an exam. Forget about it. This was easily the hardest thing for me to do during an exam period. After torts, I was like, "OMFGz I forgot to blah blah blah and I think I mistated X." Then I drank a few Guinnesses and didn't give a shit. Do whatever you need to do to be able to focus on the upcoming exam.

XVI. The 1L Job Hunt
A great read is Vanwinkle's "The 1L Job Hunt": viewtopic.php?f=22&t=107596

To summarize, a lot of people on TLS have aspirations of BigLaw/clerkships. That's great and all, but you have to realize those summer associate positions are almost always for 2L summer associates. Landing a 1L SA, whether you're at a T14 or a TTT, is incredibly difficult. Keep this in mind when you're applying for jobs. Your goal is to get a great legal position where you're doing as much real legal work as possible.

I say this because I feel awful for people in the Legal Employment forum who are far more qualified than I am but were still looking for jobs in April/May. A lot of the time, it was due to only applying to BigLaw firms and other highly coveted jobs. Especially 1L, you have to bite the bullet and take what you can get.

If you want BigLaw after 1L, then your shit needs to be in order before school starts. You won't have time to update your resume, write your cover letter, etc when finals period rolls around. You need to be ready to mass mail all your stuff right on December 1st and get it out of your mind so you can focus on grades. Remember, grades always, always, always, always trump your 1L summer position.

If you are willing to settle, then focus on your grades entirely fall semester. Use Christmas break to get everything in order. Look at your school's website (probably Simplicity) and start applying places. Make sure you have some "safety" targets.

The biggest thing to remember, like I said, is to always focus on your grades. Yes, you need to get some type of legal job your 1L summer, but your grades are much more important.

XVII. Acing Legal Writing
I think by far the biggest myth on TLS is that Legal Writing is a crapshoot. I think it's the exact opposite--it's the one class you have most control over your grade. Of course this is what everybody thinks, leading to a groupthink of a pretty gunnerish attitude.

That said, there are certain things you should be doing to ace legal writing:

1) Write the way your professor tells you. This is by far the most important thing. If your LWR professor hates what students use "phrase x," never use that phrase. If he/she doesn't want a bunch of legal jargon, don't use it. So many people go against their professor's words, it's hard to believe.

2) Don't procrastinate. I already covered this, but it's worth re-emphasizing. Start the assignment a day or two after you get it. Revise, revise, revise.

3) Use your professor's grade sheet. Most legal writing classes have two papers due fall semester. Usually, you will write a draft for the first paper and you will get a grade sheet/comments back from your professor. KEEP THIS AND USE IT. What is he/she looking for with your analysis? How many points does he/she give for citations? What writing attributes is he/she focusing on? My professor's grade sheet broke down into 5 main parts (Format, Writing, Organization, Analysis, Citations). I revised my paper just looking at one of those over and over (meaning that I looked just at my organization for an entire revision, just citations on an entire revision, etc.).

4) Your citations should be perfect. The Bluebook is the worst thing that will ever happen to you in law school. That said, learn it and make your citations as perfect as possible. Review them no less than 4-5 times. I actually reviewed them completely separate from my papers (meaning I would edit my draft not even looking at the citations, then go back through and only look at the citations).

5) Go to office hours. I've probably been to office hours a total of 10 times in my life outside of legal writing. That said, I was in my legal writing professor's office hours twice a week when assignments were almost due. She'll either help you out or eventually get sick of seeing you and help you out. It's a win-win.

6) Less is always more. The most brilliant writers, not just legal writers, say the most with the least amount of words. The example my TA used was the Gettysburg Address. That speech is so incredibly profound, addresses so many complex issues, yet it less than 300 words. That's obviously a hard thing to match, but you should always be trying to say as much as possible with as few words as possible. The less it takes you to say something, the more you can actually say.

But, legal writing takes time and effort. Never underestimate an assignment. Start your writing early, start your research even earlier, and never procrastinate.

XVIII. Other Must Read TLS Links
Aside from what I've already posted, here are some other great links on TLS:

A Guide to the Mechanics of OCI: viewtopic.php?f=23&t=161018
Other School's Exams: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12526
1L Guide to Buying Cheap Books: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=162127
Guide to Law School Loans: viewtopic.php?f=22&t=124530

There's one that's a collection of recommended supplements, but I can't find it.

XIX. Final Thoughts
Law school is personal to you. Take this guide with a grain of salt. It's just something to steer you on the right path.

If you have any questions whatsoever, feel free to ask/PM. I'm on these forums way too often.
Last edited by AVBucks4239 on Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:05 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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dowu
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby dowu » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:51 pm

Great write up, AV! Thank you and again, great job on your place haha

Dreas
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby Dreas » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:54 pm

.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby AVBucks4239 » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:54 pm

nmop_apisdn wrote:Great write up, AV! Thank you and again, great job on your place haha

Ha, still have to get the final touches done. Going to Target now to get me a rug.

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moneybagsphd
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby moneybagsphd » Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:36 pm

AVBucks4239 wrote:II. About Me
I would never, ever claim to be the smartest guy in the room. Far from it. I actually got a 146 the first time I took the LSAT (don't ask), ended up getting a 158, and opted to accept a 2/3 scholarship to a TTT in the city I want to practice/live in for quite some time.

I tell you this because despite my lack of intelligence, I did well in my first year of law school (top 10%). I credit this entirely to the knowledge and wisdom I took from reading TLS for three years before school. Being honest, there's not a chance in hell I'm smarter than 9/10 students in my class, but I'd guarantee I know more about law school than 9/10 of my classmates.

So, if you're like me and fear being the dumbest person in the room when you get to law school, here's the most important thing you can do: read about law school...

You are a good argument against the LSAT...

Impending1L
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby Impending1L » Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:40 pm

Tag

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BuckinghamB
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby BuckinghamB » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:36 pm

Tagged. Great post!

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Scotusnerd
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby Scotusnerd » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:57 pm

Wonderful stuff. Posts like these are why I lurk on these forums. Thanks! :)

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kalvano
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby kalvano » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:10 am

3L. I support this post very much.

To "must read" books, I would add "The Eight Secrets Of Top Exam Performance In Law School" by Charles Whitebread.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/031418358 ... 262&sr=8-2

It often gets overlooked on here, but it was incredibly helpful to me. Far more so than "Gettin To Maybe" or anything else. Highly, highly recommended. Plus, it's like $10.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby AVBucks4239 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:19 am

kalvano wrote:3L. I support this post very much.

To "must read" books, I would add "The Eight Secrets Of Top Exam Performance In Law School" by Charles Whitebread.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/031418358 ... 262&sr=8-2

It often gets overlooked on here, but it was incredibly helpful to me. Far more so than "Gettin To Maybe" or anything else. Highly, highly recommended. Plus, it's like $10.

For the record, I read this book as well. It's a great and simple read. I'll add it to the guide, and thanks for mentioning.

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Nova
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby Nova » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:23 am

Thank you

Scottie2Hottie
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby Scottie2Hottie » Sun Jul 15, 2012 8:49 am

What did you end up doing for the summer?
Awesome post btw, 2 weeks before my contracts exam this helps to reinforce my belief in my own plan and help retool a bit

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AlanShore
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby AlanShore » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:09 am

Tag. this is great, thanks!

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Law Sauce
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby Law Sauce » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:25 am

Agreed with much of what you said, but just wanted to add that everyone does it differently and you don't need to try to follow someone else's schedules and techniques. You have to find out for yourself what works for you through trial and error (mostly trial and trial and trial). I do think that taking law school as seriously as this is a very important part of success in your first semester. People who do well nearly always put this much thought/work into it even if they make it look like they aren't. Another key imo is being a good self-evaluator as you go.

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IHeartPhilly
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby IHeartPhilly » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:41 am

Taggy tag. Congrats OP

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hume85
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby hume85 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:59 am

moneybagsphd wrote:
AVBucks4239 wrote:II. About Me
I would never, ever claim to be the smartest guy in the room. Far from it. I actually got a 146 the first time I took the LSAT (don't ask), ended up getting a 158, and opted to accept a 2/3 scholarship to a TTT in the city I want to practice/live in for quite some time.

I tell you this because despite my lack of intelligence, I did well in my first year of law school (top 10%). I credit this entirely to the knowledge and wisdom I took from reading TLS for three years before school. Being honest, there's not a chance in hell I'm smarter than 9/10 students in my class, but I'd guarantee I know more about law school than 9/10 of my classmates.

So, if you're like me and fear being the dumbest person in the room when you get to law school, here's the most important thing you can do: read about law school...

You are a good argument against the LSAT...


No, he is not.

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kalvano
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby kalvano » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:13 am

Don't screw up an excellent and helpful thread with a pointless debate about the LSAT.

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Lawbro
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby Lawbro » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:49 am

Fantastic write up OP, thanks

btowncane
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby btowncane » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:07 am

Awesome stuff, AVBucks!

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AVBucks4239
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby AVBucks4239 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:44 am

Scottie2Hottie wrote:What did you end up doing for the summer?
Awesome post btw, 2 weeks before my contracts exam this helps to reinforce my belief in my own plan and help retool a bit

I got a law clerk position (paid...yay) at a personal injury, workers' comp, and medical malpractice firm. I like torts so the PI/MedMal was a good fit, and the workers' comp/medical malpractice is very interesting from the plaintiff's side. The guys are great attorneys and as a bonus are cool as hell, so it's been a blast to work there. I'm actually staying on (at minimum) till the end of 2L.
Last edited by AVBucks4239 on Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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AVBucks4239
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby AVBucks4239 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 11:48 am

Law Sauce wrote:Agreed with much of what you said, but just wanted to add that everyone does it differently and you don't need to try to follow someone else's schedules and techniques. You have to find out for yourself what works for you through trial and error (mostly trial and trial and trial). I do think that taking law school as seriously as this is a very important part of success in your first semester. People who do well nearly always put this much thought/work into it even if they make it look like they aren't. Another key imo is being a good self-evaluator as you go.

I thought I mentioned this in the "0L prep section," but it can't be emphasized too many times. Arrow's guide itself probably won't work for you; same with Talon; same with Lazy; same with mine. If you're reading this, you need to be reading as much as possible and thinking about will work for you.

I also wholeheartedly agree with the "trial and trial" method. Even if you thought something would work well for you, make sure you're always re-evaluating whether it truly is working. If you just sat down for 3 hours and made 75 notecards, was it a waste of time, or did you actually learn something? If it was a waste of time, don't be stubborn and keep doing it.

Again, it all goes back to just being efficient with your time.

siscokyd
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby siscokyd » Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:30 pm

Great job on this !

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2014
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby 2014 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:21 pm

Thanks a bunch for this!

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Bronck
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby Bronck » Sun Jul 15, 2012 3:22 pm

Fantastic guide -- thanks for writing it up!

victortsoi
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Re: My Guide to Top 10% at a TTT (and Probably All Schools)

Postby victortsoi » Sun Jul 15, 2012 7:14 pm

Do you guys read cases before supplements or supplements before cases? I'm just starting out and not sure what really "works". I'm leaning towards supplements then cases. (obviously in the same study session, though).




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