Torts: Easy but not. How to distinguish yourself.

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Torts: Easy but not. How to distinguish yourself.

Postby greenchair » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:16 am

I've been talking to a lot of 2L/3Ls lately and the consensus seems to be that people in general were disappointed about their Torts grade after 1st semester. It seems that people think this way about Torts more than other classes.

Is it because Torts, as a subject, is relatively straight forward, and people tend to ASSUME they will do well -- and either don't study as hard, or stop studying once they learned the black letter rules and call it a day?

People in my section *as a whole* seem to be very confident in themselves about Torts because the rules are relatively simple, it's open-book and you get to use an outline. People are much more worried about CivPro and Property. They all think the Torts exam will be straightforward and easy. I am having a tendency to fall into this trap and I'm trying to fight it -- because curved law school exams, by definition, cannot be easy As. I should be putting just as much energy studying for Torts as for other classes.

I just want to see if others feel the same way. If you do, how do you distinguish yourself on an "easy" exam? It's true, the material is easy. But that's what scares me the most. Because a curved exam is never easy. You'll probably say "do practice exams -- most people won't." -- but it feels like a lot of people in my section is done outlining and already doing practice tests -- so I can't distinguish myself there.

So what else is there even left to do? Type faster? Memorize BLL definitions to save time?

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Re: Torts: Easy but not. How to distinguish yourself.

Postby JG7773 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:29 am

Torts in the one class where I feel that the information in Getting To Maybe will come in handy. Torts on the surface is an easy subject; however, the underlying complexity is where you can get sucked in. I think the way to distinguish yourself on your Torts exam is to take the view of being an advocate and argue for both sides. Explain my P will want to expand Res Ipsa, explain my D will want to stop it Res Ipsa as soon as they can, talk about the various standards of care that could possibly apply in a situation (often times the sides will try to argue for two different standards), and even argue why something should or should not be considered a superseding intervening cause.

It is easy to just power through an answer on the top level knowing the BLL, but I think the point are really one in the critical analysis on the underlying complexity.

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Re: Torts: Easy but not. How to distinguish yourself.

Postby Gorki » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:51 am

If you are doing PTs and trying different strategies that is all you can. My school was the same, median in Torts was knowing everything, median in CivPro was knowing the most general big picture concepts...

Think of it this way, in Torts there is a lot more pressure to hit those few smaller notes to get the few points that bump you up on the huge and inflated curve... In CivPro having an awesome understanding may do the trick.

But all of this starts to sound a bit ridiculous... Well it is, and honestly if you are maxing out on PTs and doing your best, then you did your best. LS is full of fear, despair, and eventually apathy solely because people can max out and be determined "average."

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Re: Torts: Easy but not. How to distinguish yourself.

Postby thesealocust » Thu Nov 08, 2012 1:06 pm

As compared to other 1L courses, people struggle the least with understanding the law in torts.

Having said that, the law necessary to perform well on the exam isn't hard to understand in any 1L course, and the exams aren't testing your understanding of the law except indirectly (i.e. if you do not understand it you won't be able to apply it).

People walk away from 1L exams bewildered for a lot of reasons. The symptom is the feedback is absolute garbage - single letter grades in a curved class don't tell you much, and most people have little to know feedback of any sort before the first set of exams.

But the real reason is that people who know the law and spot the same issues can get wildly different grades. Points on law school exams come from making as many strong arguments as possible. To take torts as an example, and three people answering a hypo. All three probably see that it might be negligence for a construction site to not have posted warning signs prior to an accident. But one of them might do a better job integrating all of the facts in the hypo making that argument, and one of them might also present reasonable counter arguments. And some people might even skip almost entirely over the analysis part, because they think it's "obvious" or aren't accustomed to precisely what is expected of them.

So when grades come back, even if those 3 people all "spotted" the hell out of the negligence issue in the fact pattern, one person might have gotten one point, one 2 or 3 points, and the other 5 or 6. Extrapolate that across all the issues they have time to address and all of the sudden even if they all spot the same issues one walks away with an A+, one walks away with a C, and one is probably around median.

Torts often highlights this because there's less complexity in the law to cause people to doubt they understood how to answer the question at all. The same principles usually hold true in civ pro, but civ pro lends itself both to the occasional "objectively" correct answer people can doubt themselves on as well as leaving people less confident that they spotted all of the issues properly. Even there though, it's usually the volume and quality of analysis that separates people.

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Re: Torts: Easy but not. How to distinguish yourself.

Postby JCFindley » Thu Nov 08, 2012 1:21 pm


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