If I could do my first semester over again...

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First Offense
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby First Offense » Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:52 pm

Get my resume/cover letters ready early instead of waiting until during winter break to do all of that stuff.

Spend less time in the library.

Read a lot less for class.

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jk148706
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby jk148706 » Sat Aug 16, 2014 12:09 am

First Offense wrote:Read a lot less for class.


Please elaborate

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TheFutureLawyer
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby TheFutureLawyer » Sat Aug 16, 2014 12:20 am

jk148706 wrote:
First Offense wrote:Read a lot less for class.


Please elaborate


Don't read for class.

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twenty
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby twenty » Sat Aug 16, 2014 12:39 am

it seems like you can get away with cutting your "reading assignment that shouldn't take more than 6 hours" down to about thirty minutes, but I'd also imagine you don't want to be that one asshole who has a "fuck readings" tee shirt\baseball cap combo since you invariably want to go back to these professors for LORs.

for those of you who took a "fuck readings" approach, how did you manage to convince your professors to write nice things about you?

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First Offense
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby First Offense » Sat Aug 16, 2014 5:54 am

twenty wrote:it seems like you can get away with cutting your "reading assignment that shouldn't take more than 6 hours" down to about thirty minutes, but I'd also imagine you don't want to be that one asshole who has a "fuck readings" tee shirt\baseball cap combo since you invariably want to go back to these professors for LORs.

for those of you who took a "fuck readings" approach, how did you manage to convince your professors to write nice things about you?

I mean, how long does it take to skim a case and find the holding? I'd normally just skim at the very beginning of class and find where the holding was and maybe some surrounding reasoning at most - 3 minutes worth of "work" at most. I just winged it when I was cold called. I'd be paying attention, have my casebook in front of me, and when prof asked a question I'd try to quickly skim and just throw something out there. No one seemed to mind - and a lot of cold calls are kind of vague enough that you can BS your way through it. I still expressed interest in the material (went to office hours, etc.), but it just looked like I sucked at cold calls, and no one gives a shit about cold calls anyway.

Note: I'm not saying don't read for class if that's what you want to do. Some people can take better in class notes if they have a foundation to build off of, and that makes sense. But I still think the people that come in with cases colored in five different highlighters and are still briefing into 2L year are doing WAY too much work. 1Ls are all going to go overboard on their work and be incredibly inefficient with how they spend their time at the beginning of the year anyway, but hopefully some of them will pick up that a) good class notes are way more important than good reading notes, since the class notes tell you exactly what the Prof finds important, while reading is necessarily going to be incredibly broad, and b) once you feel comfortable with how the vast majority of cases are structured and organized, it's okay to kind of let go a bit and not work as much on preparing for class. That time is probably better spent either preparing for exams (condensing notes, E&E, whatever), or even better yet, switching off law school mode for awhile.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Aug 16, 2014 12:43 pm

Clearly there are plenty of people here who did well without doing the reading, but I read the assignments all through law school (well, most of the time), because I found the reading necessary to follow what was going on in class. Of course, there are plenty of people here who don't go to class, either. But personally, I suck at traditional outlining, or learning class material from outlines. Instead, I did the reading, went to class, took notes (being careful to take them in an outline-y format - to show the relationship/hierarchies between different topics), and then just studied from my notes at the end of the semester.

This worked in part because I mostly had profs who were good teachers, and what they covered in class was useful for doing well on their exams. It doesn't always work if you have a crappy prof whose class time doesn't bear much relation to the exam.

For reference, though, I only formally briefed cases for the first month or so, until I had figured out how to read a case and identify the different parts. After that I book briefed - I basically underlined stuff and just marked in the margins where the facts, issue, holding, and rule were, for reference during class. I never used rainbow highlighters or any of that crap. I've also underlined/written marginal notes in the reading since I was in college, so it was natural for me. I also don't take notes on the reading apart from in the book or during class, because I read pretty fast and I find taking notes soooooooooo slow. And I agree with First Offense that good class notes are much more useful than reading notes.

But I offer this not to say it's the only way to go, just to give another example of how to handle the reading etc. I actually agree that there isn't much point in preparing for class if the point is just not to look bad on cold calls. For me, being prepared/answering questions helped me follow what was going on in class, and therefore take better notes for the final, but not everyone works that way.

Also, in terms of taking notes, it may take a little while to figure out what material is important for the final; especially in 1L, profs tend to make you walk through a lot more details than you're going to need to know for the exam, just as an exercise in how to read/think, and so you tend to take a lot of notes that have no real relevance for the exam. You get better at this as you go.

(Re: cold calls - I had at least 3 1L profs who reserved the right to bump grades up or down for participation, and I know one actually did bump up my grade for participation, but 1) my sense is this is very unusual, and 2) profs only bump down if you look consistently unprepared, like you haven't even opened the book in weeks. The purpose in having people answer cold calls is to get out that day's material and keep class moving, not to trap the unwary. If you read but didn't understand it, you're fine. If you get called out one day as completely unprepared [in a class like these where the prof cares], the easiest solution is to prepare well for another day, then volunteer to answer stuff so you can show you've done some work. Do that a couple of times and profs generally don't bother you.)

Stevoman
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby Stevoman » Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:19 pm

Read a lot less for class, work a lot harder in LRWA. It's really the only LS class where your grade is fairly proportional to the amount of work you put in.

My first semester, I was the nerd that read, highlighted, and briefed every single case. Stopped doing that my second semester. Black letter grades stayed high, LRWA grade increased.

Stevoman
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby Stevoman » Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:27 pm

ShitLawOrBust wrote:i'd drop out the first week and get my student loans back before I was ahead of myself. go back to UG and cop a STEM major


I don't want to be "that jackass", but if you didn't succeed in law school, you probably wouldn't have succeeded as a STEM major.

The analytical requirements overlap between these two fields is surprising. There's a good reason engineers and mathematicians have disproportionately high LSAT scores and law school grades.

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lhanvt13
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby lhanvt13 » Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:54 pm

Stevoman wrote:
ShitLawOrBust wrote:i'd drop out the first week and get my student loans back before I was ahead of myself. go back to UG and cop a STEM major


I don't want to be "that jackass", but if you didn't succeed in law school, you probably wouldn't have succeeded as a STEM major.

The analytical requirements overlap between these two fields is surprising. There's a good reason engineers and mathematicians have disproportionately high LSAT scores and law school grades.

Law school is easier than my stem.

Stevoman
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby Stevoman » Thu Aug 21, 2014 2:06 pm

Same.

That being said, and I have no numbers to back this up, I would wager STEM employes dig deeper down into the class ranks. Conventional wisdom here for law school is top 25% or bust. Conversely, I know people from my graduating class with sub-3.0 GPAs that all got good jobs. Then again, engineering more comes down to whether you can actually do the job or not. It doesn't matter how high your grades are, if you can't solve your way out of a paper bag, you won't be keeping a job for very long.

Spartan_Alum_12
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby Spartan_Alum_12 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:30 am

lhanvt13 wrote:
Stevoman wrote:
ShitLawOrBust wrote:i'd drop out the first week and get my student loans back before I was ahead of myself. go back to UG and cop a STEM major


I don't want to be "that jackass", but if you didn't succeed in law school, you probably wouldn't have succeeded as a STEM major.

The analytical requirements overlap between these two fields is surprising. There's a good reason engineers and mathematicians have disproportionately high LSAT scores and law school grades.

Law school is easier than my stem.


Agree, they're not even close regarding material difficulty IMO. Law school is more stressful though (at least 1L), more pressure to get high grades based on one exam.

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sublime
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby sublime » Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:33 am

..

Spartan_Alum_12
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby Spartan_Alum_12 » Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:47 am

What worked for me:

1. No study groups. I think this was a good thing for me. I study better alone and felt like a study group really wouldn't add anything, and actually would eat away at more time/freedom.

2. Outlining early/weekly. Professors say not to outline too early, but I did and didn't see it being harmful at all. It helped me stay on top of my classes and not be overwhelmed at the end of the semester.

3. Hand writing notes. Helped me stay focused in class, not get sidetracked, and remember more things (I truly believe that).

What didn't work for me:

1. Worried too much about cold calls. They really don't matter. If anyone judges you off cold calls, they're probably not someone you want to be friends with anyway.

2. Spent too much time worrying about LRW and my oral argument. I actually think LRW is the most useful 1L course, but when it comes down to class rank, they didn't factor in the LRW grade at my school. Yeah, I wish I didn't work that way, but employers are obsessed with class rank and you should devote your time to classes that factor into that.

3. Felt like I always had to be studying. You don't. Go out and have fun when you can, it's okay. I'm not saying I didn't go out and do things I enjoy, I did, but I should have more often instead of having often unproductive study sessions because I felt like I had to.

michaelbluth
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Re: If I could do my first semester over again...

Postby michaelbluth » Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:21 am

FWIW, ended 1L better than top 5% at my T2. Did better 1L spring than fall.

What I did that I wouldn’t change
- Focused on leaning professors as much as learning the law
- Started outlining early
- Took really good class notes
- Differentiated between studying (i.e., preparing for the exam) and class prep (i.e., preparing for a cold call), focused on the former.
- Made friends
- Didn’t do the big study group thing - just studied with one close friend
- Talked through the material with friends - not just the one I studied with but anyone who wanted to talk about it
- Shared notes with people who needed them, answered questions when people asked
- Maintained non-law school friendships and relied on non-law school friends for moral/emotional support
- Volunteered early both semesters (which meant I was barely cold called)
- Didn’t use supplements but did do CALI exercises
- Went to office hours when I had questions and hung around to listen to classmates questions
- Spent at least one day per week watching TV/cleaning/reading for fun/seeing movies/etc. and generally taking time off from being stressed

What I would change
- Spend exactly no time thinking/stressing about orientation
- Deal with résumés and apps earlier
- Ignore what other people were doing or how they were studying
- Worry less about being cold called
- Don't stress so much that I was having full-on panic attacks by mid-October
- Attend more networking events
- Spend less time reading (read, just not as intensely) and rely more heavily on online briefs
- Sleep more
- Drink more
- Tailor my outlines to the way I think/learn and less to the way I thought outlines "should" look
- Skip the LR write-on competition because I would have graded on anyway.
- Not go visit my mom out of state over a long weekend in October

During 2L, I still made my own outlines, still spent too much on takeout, and wasted WAY too much time caring about law review weekly assignments. I skimmed the readings and took great class notes. I socialized more, drank more, slept more, and generally cared less. I spent a lot less time on school during the semester (except for one class that I *loved* and sunk a lot of time into because I enjoyed it). I spent a lot more time studying during the exam period. GPA and rank went up. That said, I don’t think I could have slacked as much as I did during 2L if I hadn’t figured out how to learn the material the way I did during 1L.




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