Tips for doing well 1L year

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uvabro
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Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby uvabro » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:02 am

So I think I'm doing really well, but am admittedly nervous. I understand all the cases we're learning, why they're where they are in the curriculum and the relevant rules from each, but also know that almost everyone here is really smart and contrary to the law school stereotype have great social skills and are generally just good people anyone would want to work with.

A few things are 60 hours a week just doesn't work here. Assuming 7-8 hours of sleep, 1 hour of exercise, some grocery shopping/laundry/cleaning/meals, there's no way to do the full 60 hours and have any kind of social life. I also find it difficult to sit for over 2 hours at a time particularly if I'm doing review where I know the material already but am trying to get something more out of it. I find the cases all pretty fascinating at the first read, but then once I get the rule they kind of annoy me.

Aside from understanding and briefing and separating the BLL from each case, what else should I know?

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bk1
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby bk1 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:22 am

guy who is 3 months away from finals wrote:So I think I'm doing really well

:lol:

Suggestion: chill. Do you reading, comprehend your reading, go to class. Buckle down when finals comes.

ETA: What is taking you 60 hours a week?

uvabro
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby uvabro » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:34 am

bk1 wrote:
guy who is 3 months away from finals wrote:So I think I'm doing really well

:lol:

Suggestion: chill. Do you reading, comprehend your reading, go to class. Buckle down when finals comes.

ETA: What is taking you 60 hours a week?

so far it's around 40 including classes.

reading each case twice, briefing, class, changing brief.

also my roommate can be very noisy and seems less academically motivated than most so is always around. hence, i only work from the library and you see everyone you know, and then you have to engage them in meaningless banter, which kills time.

honestly, i could probably do 12 hours of work outside of classes and understand everything. most of it is ocd above that bec law preview says 60 hours a week.

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bk1
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby bk1 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:38 am

uvabro wrote:so far it's around 40 including classes.

reading each case twice, briefing, class, changing brief.

also my roommate can be very noisy and seems less academically motivated than most so is always around. hence, i only work from the library and you see everyone you know, and then you have to engage them in meaningless banter, which kills time.

honestly, i could probably do 12 hours of work outside of classes and understand everything. most of it is ocd above that bec law preview says 60 hours a week.


Caveat: everyone studies/learns differently.

My opinion: the biggest thing to worry about other than learning is burnout. If you're grinding 60 hours per week you will burn out. I didn't burn out first semester but I definitely could feel it second semester (I noticed it in most of my classmates as well). If it takes you 60 hours to learn/comprehend the material then do it. Otherwise it shouldn't take you that long. If you're grasping the material you don't need to read it twice.

uvabro
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby uvabro » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:43 am

bk1 wrote:
uvabro wrote:so far it's around 40 including classes.

reading each case twice, briefing, class, changing brief.

also my roommate can be very noisy and seems less academically motivated than most so is always around. hence, i only work from the library and you see everyone you know, and then you have to engage them in meaningless banter, which kills time.

honestly, i could probably do 12 hours of work outside of classes and understand everything. most of it is ocd above that bec law preview says 60 hours a week.


Caveat: everyone studies/learns differently.

My opinion: the biggest thing to worry about other than learning is burnout. If you're grinding 60 hours per week you will burn out. I didn't burn out first semester but I definitely could feel it second semester (I noticed it in most of my classmates as well). If it takes you 60 hours to learn/comprehend the material then do it. Otherwise it shouldn't take you that long. If you're grasping the material you don't need to read it twice.

a lot of it is just learning what's common law and what's the model penal code or restatement, or removing fluff from my notes that i don't realize is useless till weeks later. more than anything else it's the sheer volume of stuff covered - making sure i remember it.

like is personal j really just all looking at minimum contacts the defendant had, and seeing if they purposefully availed themselves towards the forum state after 100s of pages of reading about ad in rem, in personam, all that horse crap that rocked all our brains, it's really just minimum contacts and we're good?

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bk1
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby bk1 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:52 am

uvabro wrote:a lot of it is just learning what's common law and what's the model penal code or restatement, or removing fluff from my notes that i don't realize is useless till weeks later. more than anything else it's the sheer volume of stuff covered - making sure i remember it.

like is personal j really just all looking at minimum contacts the defendant had, and seeing if they purposefully availed themselves towards the forum state after 100s of pages of reading about ad in rem, in personam, all that horse crap that rocked all our brains, it's really just minimum contacts and we're good?


While min contacts is substantial portion of PJ, you still have a lot to flesh out depending on how your prof teaches it. Yes the Pennoyer stuff is largely vestigial and not important down the line, but you'll realize that as you go and be able to streamline once you have a bigger picture and are condensing an outline.

Maybe you learn differently than I do but I don't think making sure you have everything down cold at the end of each week is that important. There were definitely things that I had forgotten when I started making outlines and even after I made them I hadn't remembered everything. For me it was the process of taking practice tests that really got everything hammered into my brain (especially the things I would miss on the PTs).

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JoeFish
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby JoeFish » Sun Sep 09, 2012 1:07 am

bk1 wrote: I don't think making sure you have everything down cold at the end of each week is that important.


This is absolutely correct. Don't freak out that you're not studying 60 hours a week. That goes with my larger tip for doing well 1L year: remember that the ONLY thing that matters is the information that you can put on the final exam during the three or four or eight hours you have to take it. It doesn't matter when you learn the material, it doesn't matter how much time you spent in the library, it doesn't matter whether you sound like a total moron every single time your professor calls on you... remember that it's all about the final exam, and do whatever comes naturally to you to make sure that you show up the morning of the test with your A game. For me, that was taking it very easy early in the semester, relaxing in mid-to-late October when everyone else was freaking out, and, a week before the exam, studying for 14 hours a day. I can work really hard in short spurts but can also get burned out.

In summation, I agree with everything bk has said, especially
bk1 wrote:everyone studies/learns differently.

and
bk1 wrote:the biggest thing to worry about other than learning is burnout.

catlawl
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby catlawl » Sun Sep 09, 2012 2:14 am

I finished 1L at a T20 with a 4.0+ gpa and law review, along with book awards in half my courses. Here are my tips.

1. Chill out because, unlike real lawyers, your success does not hinge on billable hours. Success lies in innate ability and the quality, not quantity, of the time you work.

2. Do all of the reading assignments.

3. Go to class.

4. Take notes focused only on important doctrines, rationales, landmark case fact patterns, and professorial preferences. Do not become a 1L court reporter. Taking notes by hand can drastically improve notetaking by limiting your ability to record extraneous information. Additionally, taking notes by hand will crush your inevitable desire to create a uselessly immense outline. You can readopt the laptop, as I have, after you thwart the court reporter mentality.

5a. Memorize all important concepts. I walked into 6/8 open book exams without an outline. Seriously, just memorize all important doctrines, rationales, landmark case fact patterns, and professorial preferences. You don't cover that much material in law school. Homer memorized the Odyssey. You can memorize the important bits of your casebook and notes.

5b. Along the same lines as 5a, use supplements to clarify anything you're having trouble memorizing. Rather than dive into supplements at the end of the semester, refer to supplements throughout the semester as conceptual difficulties (or poor teaching) arise. Do not read entire supplements for s's and g's; doing so is a waste of time.

6. Do a few practice exams in the weeks leading up to exams. It reinforces your memorization, builds confidence etc.

7. Be a fast typer. (No secrets here. If you're slow now, you will probably not improve.)

8. Be a good writer. Whether profs admit it or not, writers who are concise, logical, organized, and generally sound smart make better grades. (No secrets here. If you're not a good writer coming into law school, you will probably not improve.)

9. Actually resolve the issues that appear in exams. Do not simply "spot" issues. State your conclusion on an issue, argue your case while acknowledging opposing arguments in a rebuttal, then state conclusion again. For each exam answer, you should seek to write an air-tight legal argument for your chosen position that thoroughly refutes the opposition.

10. Pray (or sacrifice, or do whatever personally signifies blind hope).

11. Profit.

To be honest, law school success, from my experience, is not complicated. Do the reading. Go to class. Take good notes. Memorize throughout the process. Type fast. Write well. Resolve the exam issues. Frankly, you will realize that innate legal intelligence rules the day in law school, not arcane knowledge about secret formulas for success. You may as well cut out all of the unnecessary and counterproductive 1L work habits that are really just coping mechanisms for stress, then see where your innate legal-reasoning acumen lands you. You will have more free time and be no worse off for it.

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jrf12886
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby jrf12886 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:02 am

I'll second everything catlawl said, and add a few points of my own. I would suggest doing EVERY practice test you can get your hands on (from your professor, ideally). This means you will need to finish your outlines a little early in order to make time for 3-4 practice exams for each class. Also, I used supplements more extensively (as in I read the corresponding supplement section for almost every topic covered), but that's really a matter of preference. It's hard to say whether this actually helped, or if I was wasting time.

uvabro
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby uvabro » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:28 am

I do type very quickly, and writing was always my best academic feature so I'm confident there - just memorizing rules is what i'll focus on. The concern here is it's almost too easy. We learn 1 rule a class.

johndhi
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby johndhi » Sun Sep 09, 2012 11:18 am

uvabro wrote:I do type very quickly, and writing was always my best academic feature so I'm confident there - just memorizing rules is what i'll focus on. The concern here is it's almost too easy. We learn 1 rule a class.


There are no doctrines in law school that are so mind-blowingly complex that you won't be able to understand them with some critical thinking. Maybe you'll discover that they are silly, or don't work very well with the human condition, but you're basically right to imply that law school isn't rocket science.

However, at least for me, it generally isn't a beneficial attitude to have to be overly confident in your knowledge of the material. Come finals, you won't be tested on your knowledge of the material; you'll be tested on your ability to USE the material in a new factual setting. It's a fine but important distinction. I find that I might be able to memorize the facts of Pennoyer or whatever (actually that would be a hard one to do that with if I recall), but when something looks just a little bit like Pennoyer but is different, I might not know how to bend my knowledge to squeeze it into the new facts.

With respect to your disliking reading parts of a case other than the strict holding, you're smart to notice that, but here's a few reasons that extra text is in there and how you can make it work for you:
-with their lengthy narratives, the judges or justices are trying to explain what their decision means not just for this case, but what it could mean for the next one
-being able to recognize the wheat from the chaff (basically what you say you're doing) is good practice; it's one of the essential skills of being a lawyer, so keep on doing it
-there's great material for policy arguments in the text outside of the holding: your exams will likely have not only issue-spotters, but also "why" questions or questions about how things ought to be. Carefully reading and thinking about the dicta in a case is a good way to develop thoughts in this area.
-let's bring it back to that seminal case, Marbury - it seems you can always do that. why did Justice Marshall write a crazy long opinion about judicial review when he really only needed to decide a basic question? Maybe I'll let you think about that because I'm too old for this shit :)

GL

uvabro
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby uvabro » Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:16 am

johndhi wrote:
uvabro wrote:I do type very quickly, and writing was always my best academic feature so I'm confident there - just memorizing rules is what i'll focus on. The concern here is it's almost too easy. We learn 1 rule a class.


There are no doctrines in law school that are so mind-blowingly complex that you won't be able to understand them with some critical thinking. Maybe you'll discover that they are silly, or don't work very well with the human condition, but you're basically right to imply that law school isn't rocket science.

However, at least for me, it generally isn't a beneficial attitude to have to be overly confident in your knowledge of the material. Come finals, you won't be tested on your knowledge of the material; you'll be tested on your ability to USE the material in a new factual setting. It's a fine but important distinction. I find that I might be able to memorize the facts of Pennoyer or whatever (actually that would be a hard one to do that with if I recall), but when something looks just a little bit like Pennoyer but is different, I might not know how to bend my knowledge to squeeze it into the new facts.

With respect to your disliking reading parts of a case other than the strict holding, you're smart to notice that, but here's a few reasons that extra text is in there and how you can make it work for you:
-with their lengthy narratives, the judges or justices are trying to explain what their decision means not just for this case, but what it could mean for the next one
-being able to recognize the wheat from the chaff (basically what you say you're doing) is good practice; it's one of the essential skills of being a lawyer, so keep on doing it
-there's great material for policy arguments in the text outside of the holding: your exams will likely have not only issue-spotters, but also "why" questions or questions about how things ought to be. Carefully reading and thinking about the dicta in a case is a good way to develop thoughts in this area.
-let's bring it back to that seminal case, Marbury - it seems you can always do that. why did Justice Marshall write a crazy long opinion about judicial review when he really only needed to decide a basic question? Maybe I'll let you think about that because I'm too old for this shit :)

GL

not overly confident, just feeling good with hard work i can understand how these rules work and can be applied. when you say how something should be, would i include my thoughts or be expected to know the views of the common law philosophers in the case book and the opinions my professor expresses? the 2nd seems much easier.

uvabro
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby uvabro » Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:20 am

bk1 wrote:
guy who is 3 months away from finals wrote:So I think I'm doing really well

:lol:

Suggestion: chill. Do you reading, comprehend your reading, go to class. Buckle down when finals comes.

ETA: What is taking you 60 hours a week?

law preview recommends 60 hours a week. I'm def in school 60 hours per week because i don't have a car and all the people i know are there - most of my foods in the fridge there. but i am probably spending about 44 with 17 hours of class, half of which is review and reading supplements.

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Flips88
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby Flips88 » Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:24 am

Suggestion #1: don't read cases twice

Suggestion #2: Chill out

LSATNightmares
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Re: Tips for doing well 1L year

Postby LSATNightmares » Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:25 am

You'll do fine, and catlawl gives great advice. I have found that hard work, conscientiousness, and smart studying are really all what it takes. I'm on Law Review at a T30, and I'm surprised at how sloppy a student note is (no pincites in any of the cases cited). And that's Law Review. Not everyone is working as diligently as you.

People gave good advice earlier. I would just add that there are two types of exams. First, there are the black letter law exams (e.g. Torts, Property), and it seems like you're doing everything right. Second, there are the "creative thinking" exams, as I like to call them. You have to be able to look at a totally foreign fact pattern and try to make analogies and connections to cases you have read. You can get brain freeze when that happens, so it's good to practice going through your outline/case checklist to see what new connections you can make. This was the case for me with Contracts and Con Law.




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