Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

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Oh my God you're a dork

Seriously.
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But Ender's Game is pretty awesome, so I'll let this one slide.
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thesealocust
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Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby thesealocust » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:20 pm

Happy December 1Ls!

Random tip/observation: It gets repeated a lot, but your grades are going to depend on sophisticated application of basic doctrine. Not memorizing every detail of every case, and not solving especially complex legal puzzles.

Right now learning the law probably seems stressful and daunting. It's not so bad, but it's definitely new and will take a lot of work. But when it comes to exams, how well you know the law rarely separates the good grades from the meh grades, as long as you know it well enough.

Points come from analysis. In practice, that means points come from making more and better arguments. The way to do that is to take all of the facts on the exam, and work as hard as you can to come up with ways to make arguments based on them.

Quick (famous) example:

- - - - - - - - - -

A park has a sign which states "no vehicles are allowed in the park." John enters the park with a tricycle. Discuss the rights and liabilities of all parties.

- - - - - - - - - -

Crappy answer:

The issue is whether or not a tricycle will qualify as a vehicle for purposes of the sign. The sign states that no vehicles are allowed in the park. John entered the park on a tricycle, which is a vehicle. Therefore John has violated the park's rule.

Note the lovely IRAC, the conclusory analysis that goes where the analysis should be, and the number of words wasted without doing any analysis. This answer might be worth a point.

- - - - - - - - - -

Decent answer:

The issue is whether or not a tricycle will qualify as a vehicle for purposes of the sign. The sign states that no vehicles are allowed in the park. John entered the park on a tricycle, which is designed to transport a human rider, and thus likely a vehicle. Therefore John has probably violated the park's rule because the sign clearly forbids entry of any vehicles, and under nearly any standard definition a tricycle would constitute a vehicle.

This comes much closer to real analysis. It's still a little conclusory and still not getting as deep into policy and counterarguments as it could, but it's accomplished - at a minimum level - what an exam needs to accomplish, and will get at least a point or two.

- - - - - - - - - -

Good answer:

An issue will be whether a tricycle counts as a vehicle. John will argue that it does not, at least not within the meaning of the sign, because the sign is probably designed to keep dangerous vehicles out of a park filled with pedestrians. A tricycle, on the other hand, is small and incapable of great speed, meaning it likely isn't the kind of "vehicle" the sign-makers anticipated. On the other hand, it is clearly a means of transportation for John, and so by the sign's plain meaning his tricycle is probably prohibited. Additionally, if a tricycle didn't count as a vehicle for purposes of the sign, then it might leave ambiguity about what vehicles counted if the plain meaning couldn't be used, which could lead to people being confused on other fringe cases. And while tricycles are smaller than cars, they do still pose danger relative to pedestrians. in fact, because they are quieter than cars or other motorized vehicles, they may present even greater danger to pedestrians who can't hear well or who might not be paying attention. They also tend to be operated by children who may pose a greater danger to them than adults and the vehicles they tend to operate.

John may argue that because it's a park, a tricycle and other recreational vehicles are actually the kind of things designed to be in the park -- and protected from other, large vehicles. Parks are traditionally places where children gather to play and tricycles are traditionally viewed as toys and not as vehicles. Much like a matchbox car might bear many of the attributes of a car, most wouldn't consider a vehicle or subject to regulations regarding larger and more standard means of transportation.

Finally, the facts state that John entered the park with the tricycle but not on it. If he's only pushing it or carrying it, there's a much better argument to be made that it's not being used as a vehicle and thus does not violate the sign. Much as a person could walk through the park with a boxed bicycle under their arm, being in possession of something that could be used as a vehicle likely isn't the same thing as operating one. The park owners are likely more concerned with the uses of vehicles being operated than with their presence for any reason.


This is probably overkill, but you could likely write more if you wanted to. You need to use judgement to figure out when to move on, but being thorough and fleshing things out are how you spot the same issues as your classmates but wind up with more points.

Notice that it doesn't really look like IRAC and never even really comes to a conclusion. Professor styles and desires vary, but usually all of the points are in the analysis.

- - - - - - - - - -

First observation - the law here is literally one sentence, but you can still see a lot of variation. Second, all three answers spotted the issue, but one is getting way more points for it than the others. Lastly, there is no need to spend time restating the law or the facts when you're actively applying them.

But do you see how much you can come up with to say while forming arguments and counter arguments even when the law is simple? That's how you get points on exams. You muck around in the gray areas, and you show that you're capable of marshaling the facts given and the policies behind the rules to show how things could turn out. The exam will certainly have far more facts, and you should do your best to come up with some way for each fact to be legally operative. If you had facts about the nature of the park, the nature of the tricycle, the purpose behind the sign, etc. that could all go into fleshing it out even further.

Good luck, and remember that what you do on the exam is going to matter much more than how furiously you study the laws, so long as you do enough studying of the laws.

swimmer11
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby swimmer11 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:28 pm

This is a fantastic post! Thank-you for taking the time to write it out.

How much analysis or how little analysis is needed for a race horse torts exam where everything is the same amount of points e.g: battery is worth the same as negligence.

TYIA

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thesealocust
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby thesealocust » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:39 pm

swimmer11 wrote:This is a fantastic post! Thank-you for taking the time to write it out.

How much analysis or how little analysis is needed for a race horse torts exam where everything is the same amount of points e.g: battery is worth the same as negligence.

TYIA


Use your judgement. Only you know how fast you think/write, and the ability to sift between the important and ambiguous issues that deserve a lot of attention vs. the less important and/or more clear-cut issues which you can address quickly or even put off in case you run out of time is part of what you're being tested on.

It's never a bad idea if you've given an issue good treatment but can think of a few more threads of analysis to just leave a note to yourself to return there if you have extra time.

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gaud
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby gaud » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:50 pm

tyty

I appreciate this post

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Jsa725
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby Jsa725 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:51 pm

.
Last edited by Jsa725 on Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kage3212
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby Kage3212 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:59 pm

I have done well on my only midterm thus far doing exactly this; exploring both sides of the argument. What I don't understand is do a majority of students really only write about one side on the exam...thus placing them at median? It seems to me that this is a pretty easy thing to understand; every time you spot an issue know that you should be using the facts to present both sides. I just find it baffling that so many students would not know about this, or refuse to adhere to the methodology come exam time.

SportsFan
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby SportsFan » Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:10 pm

Kage3212 wrote:I have done well on my only midterm thus far doing exactly this; exploring both sides of the argument. What I don't understand is do a majority of students really only write about one side on the exam...thus placing them at median? It seems to me that this is a pretty easy thing to understand; every time you spot an issue know that you should be using the facts to present both sides. I just find it baffling that so many students would not know about this, or refuse to adhere to the methodology come exam time.

For some (at a guess, the bottom quarter/third) I think so. In my torts class (which is really the only one where we have competing rules) people are still always asking things like "well you just taught us what the 2nd restatement said and the 3rd restatement said, which one do you want us to use on the exam?" not realizing that (assuming we can remember both haha) we should be applying both. And in addition to that, I think some people are just better at spotting/creating counterarguments than others. I think taking practice exams has helped me a lot in terms of making sure to always make counterarguments, and a lot of people may not take more than 1 or 2 per class.

About 2 weeks ago I decided to 'borrow' from Newton's 3rd law of motion a bit, and wrote this on a sticky note:
For every argument there is a counterargument.
Plain and simple, but I always keep that in mind when I'm taking practice exams and it helps.

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rbomb
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby rbomb » Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:12 pm

Thanks for this post!

lawhaus
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby lawhaus » Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:14 pm

great post, thank you for the reminder.
any tips for closed book, word limit exams?

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Pleasye
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby Pleasye » Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:21 pm

Jsa725 wrote:
gaud wrote:tyty

I appreciate this post

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thesealocust
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby thesealocust » Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:26 pm

lawhaus wrote:any tips for closed book, word limit exams?


Closed or open book doesn't make a big difference. With word limits, be sure your sentences are spares and that you NEVER repeat law/facts without analysis. You can still pack a lot of good-stuff in, you just have to make it count.

Kage3212 wrote:I have done well on my only midterm thus far doing exactly this; exploring both sides of the argument. What I don't understand is do a majority of students really only write about one side on the exam...thus placing them at median? It seems to me that this is a pretty easy thing to understand; every time you spot an issue know that you should be using the facts to present both sides. I just find it baffling that so many students would not know about this, or refuse to adhere to the methodology come exam time.


Maybe no just writing about one side, but not getting into the depths they good. I've looked at some exam answers of people with different grades, and from a thousand feet they often cover a lot of the same territory. The good exams are extremely thorough and make deep/back-and-forth arguments that incorporate more of the facts, more consistently. It's a few more check marks on each page that makes the exam total to an 'A' instead of landing at median.

MinEMorris
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby MinEMorris » Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:01 pm

Great post and example by thesealocust.

Two points I would add are:

1. If you can find opportunities to drop a line or make a point that just shows you were paying attention in class and cared about what the professor said, I think it's almost always worth it. For example, if when you studied cases similar to the hypo above your professor went on a 10 minute tangent about how because of the ambiguity posed by laws like that in the park in this hypo, legislatures have in recent years become much more exact in their preambles about what sort of scenarios they're concerned about, you might want to drop that on the exam. For example:

"...And while tricycles are smaller than cars, they do still pose danger relative to pedestrians. in fact, because they are quieter than cars or other motorized vehicles, they may present even greater danger to pedestrians who can't hear well or who might not be paying attention. They also tend to be operated by children who may pose a greater danger to them than adults and the vehicles they tend to operate. The clear difficulty of discerning the extent of the prohibition by the plain meaning of the sign in this case is a great example of why legislatures have sought to be more specific in their preambles about their intentions in recent years."

I've been surprised sometimes when I've gotten tests back and seen that sentences like that racked me up a disproportionate amount of points. I think most professors are simply flattered when students pay attention and care to remember. That said, I certainly wouldn't waste very much time trying to regurgitate the tangents of your professor.

2. While it's hard to imagine a class where the sort of answer discussed by thesealocust wouldn't be an A-ranged answer, I just want to emphasize to any 1Ls out there that you cannot ignore the emphasis of your professor. While it is absolutely the safest rule of thumb in exam test taking to simply apply the applicable law to the facts thoroughly, it is neither impossible nor unheard of to have professors where this general approach is a B- answer. If, for example, your crimlaw class spent half of the semester talking about the policies behind accomplice liability, and you get a hypo involving accomplice liability, you almost certainly want to thoroughly discuss the policy rationales behind accomplice liability in addition to the BLL as to whether accomplice liability would arise from the facts.

I personally always found that preparing for an exam involves some investigatory work. Looking at previous exams, asking your teacher specific questions about what sort of answers they were looking for on those previous exams, knowing whether your professor cares about whether you compare and distinguish the facts of the cases you studied to the facts of the hypo or if (s)he just wants you to apply the principles derivable from the cases, all of these things are important and having a good grasp on them gives you a leg up for exams.

This is all going beyond what I think the point of this thread is, though. The big take away that everyone should get from this thread is that the first two answers given by thesealocust are bad/mediocre in virtually any law class, and sadly it's the sort of answers that many law students end up giving. If you find yourself writing an answer like those two answers and you feel you're done, it should give you real pause.

Good luck on exams everyone!

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20130312
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby 20130312 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:12 pm

Always making useful threads. Well done TSL.

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thesealocust
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby thesealocust » Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:53 pm

MinEMorris -- agreed completely on all points. One could write a book on law school exams (and many have!) but this topic is one that I felt was always crucial but easy to miss. And it's absolutely a generalization - giving the professor (and later the senior attorney / judge / client) what they want is really your number one task, so paying attention to them and their style is critical.

005618502
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby 005618502 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:23 pm

thesealocust wrote:Happy December 1Ls!

Random tip/observation: It gets repeated a lot, but your grades are going to depend on sophisticated application of basic doctrine. Not memorizing every detail of every case, and not solving especially complex legal puzzles.

Right now learning the law probably seems stressful and daunting. It's not so bad, but it's definitely new and will take a lot of work. But when it comes to exams, how well you know the law rarely separates the good grades from the meh grades, as long as you know it well enough.

Points come from analysis. In practice, that means points come from making more and better arguments. The way to do that is to take all of the facts on the exam, and work as hard as you can to come up with ways to make arguments based on them.

Quick (famous) example:

- - - - - - - - - -

A park has a sign which states "no vehicles are allowed in the park." John enters the park with a tricycle. Discuss the rights and liabilities of all parties.

- - - - - - - - - -

Crappy answer:

The issue is whether or not a tricycle will qualify as a vehicle for purposes of the sign. The sign states that no vehicles are allowed in the park. John entered the park on a tricycle, which is a vehicle. Therefore John has violated the park's rule.

Note the lovely IRAC, the conclusory analysis that goes where the analysis should be, and the number of words wasted without doing any analysis. This answer might be worth a point.

- - - - - - - - - -

Decent answer:

The issue is whether or not a tricycle will qualify as a vehicle for purposes of the sign. The sign states that no vehicles are allowed in the park. John entered the park on a tricycle, which is designed to transport a human rider, and thus likely a vehicle. Therefore John has probably violated the park's rule because the sign clearly forbids entry of any vehicles, and under nearly any standard definition a tricycle would constitute a vehicle.

This comes much closer to real analysis. It's still a little conclusory and still not getting as deep into policy and counterarguments as it could, but it's accomplished - at a minimum level - what an exam needs to accomplish, and will get at least a point or two.

- - - - - - - - - -

Good answer:

An issue will be whether a tricycle counts as a vehicle. John will argue that it does not, at least not within the meaning of the sign, because the sign is probably designed to keep dangerous vehicles out of a park filled with pedestrians. A tricycle, on the other hand, is small and incapable of great speed, meaning it likely isn't the kind of "vehicle" the sign-makers anticipated. On the other hand, it is clearly a means of transportation for John, and so by the sign's plain meaning his tricycle is probably prohibited. Additionally, if a tricycle didn't count as a vehicle for purposes of the sign, then it might leave ambiguity about what vehicles counted if the plain meaning couldn't be used, which could lead to people being confused on other fringe cases. And while tricycles are smaller than cars, they do still pose danger relative to pedestrians. in fact, because they are quieter than cars or other motorized vehicles, they may present even greater danger to pedestrians who can't hear well or who might not be paying attention. They also tend to be operated by children who may pose a greater danger to them than adults and the vehicles they tend to operate.

John may argue that because it's a park, a tricycle and other recreational vehicles are actually the kind of things designed to be in the park -- and protected from other, large vehicles. Parks are traditionally places where children gather to play and tricycles are traditionally viewed as toys and not as vehicles. Much like a matchbox car might bear many of the attributes of a car, most wouldn't consider a vehicle or subject to regulations regarding larger and more standard means of transportation.

Finally, the facts state that John entered the park with the tricycle but not on it. If he's only pushing it or carrying it, there's a much better argument to be made that it's not being used as a vehicle and thus does not violate the sign. Much as a person could walk through the park with a boxed bicycle under their arm, being in possession of something that could be used as a vehicle likely isn't the same thing as operating one. The park owners are likely more concerned with the uses of vehicles being operated than with their presence for any reason.


This is probably overkill, but you could likely write more if you wanted to. You need to use judgement to figure out when to move on, but being thorough and fleshing things out are how you spot the same issues as your classmates but wind up with more points.

Notice that it doesn't really look like IRAC and never even really comes to a conclusion. Professor styles and desires vary, but usually all of the points are in the analysis.

- - - - - - - - - -

First observation - the law here is literally one sentence, but you can still see a lot of variation. Second, all three answers spotted the issue, but one is getting way more points for it than the others. Lastly, there is no need to spend time restating the law or the facts when you're actively applying them.

But do you see how much you can come up with to say while forming arguments and counter arguments even when the law is simple? That's how you get points on exams. You muck around in the gray areas, and you show that you're capable of marshaling the facts given and the policies behind the rules to show how things could turn out. The exam will certainly have far more facts, and you should do your best to come up with some way for each fact to be legally operative. If you had facts about the nature of the park, the nature of the tricycle, the purpose behind the sign, etc. that could all go into fleshing it out even further.

Good luck, and remember that what you do on the exam is going to matter much more than how furiously you study the laws, so long as you do enough studying of the laws.


I am proud to even be able to say I go to the same school you did.

Thanks for continuing to be so helpful!

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Ludo!
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby Ludo! » Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:28 pm

Another amazing sealocust post.

1ls - search out this users posts next summer when you are going through OCI. They are invaluable.

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noleknight16
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby noleknight16 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:46 am

This issue falls under our breach - negligence per se analysis, correct?

MinEMorris
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby MinEMorris » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:52 am

I second whoever said to look at TSL's OCI posts. Those are golden.

I don't think the hypo was supposed to be subject specific at all. Obviously, whether or not a law was broken is applicable to the breach-negligence per se analysis, so yes, you could probably include such a discussion in a similar hypo. I think, though, the point was just to show in general how you might analyze and argue whether a law was broken, a crime was committed, there was liability, etc.

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typ3
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby typ3 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:50 am

Once you do work in Law, your grades.. where you graduated from etc. will almost play no bearing on whether or not you are successful. That will all come down to your business acumen. Yahtzee!

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20130312
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby 20130312 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 12:52 am

typ3 wrote:Once you do work in Law, your grades.. where you graduated from etc. will almost play no bearing on whether or not you are successful. That will all come down to your business acumen. Yahtzee!

Are you a 0L? GTFO.

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thesealocust
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby thesealocust » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:04 am

typ3 wrote:Once you do work in Law, your grades.. where you graduated from etc. will almost play no bearing on whether or not you are successful. That will all come down to your business acumen. Yahtzee!


I mean, I agree with you, but this is the law student forum and exams are coming up, and 1L grades are crazy important with respect to the first job, so...

Omerta
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby Omerta » Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:05 am

I'd add another note to this. This is a great subsection, but questions are often much more complex -- with multiple intertwined issues. Thesealocust's answer has great structure and you should seek to create the same logic in your overall answer.

For example, you have a boilerplate jurisdiction question in Civpro involving parties A, B, and C. The "meta" structure for the answer should look something like
I. Overall conclusion (write this last! It'll also help you make sure you didn't gloss over anything too obvious)
II. Personal Jx
A. State has/doesn't have P Jx.
As to A. A's counter arguments. Arguments against A's counterarguments. Policy if applicable.
B. ...
Repeat for B.
C. ...
Repeat for C.
III. Subject Matter
IV. Venue
etc.
V. Policy goals
By using this format, you keep yourself focused on each discrete issue and prevent yourself from getting lost in the forest. Many students just vomit out thousands of words, with no clear formatting or direction. Have you ever tried to read dense pages with no clear delineation between points (if not, wait til you get to Con law)? It's fucking impossible. Rather, keeping a clear overall structure will make it much easier for your professor to award you points since their answer key is likely formatted in the same way.

One thing you may want to try during a practice exam is to write questions in your exam. I actually do this in my real finals (though not with as many as I put in my example). it looks something like "Is a tricycle considered a vehicle? It most likely isn't. J will argue it doesn't because the intent behind prohibiting vehicles in the park is protecting park visitors. Does a tricycle really pose a threat to park visitors? Probably not. Assuming there are concrete walkways in the park, the relevant authority likely contemplated that people would use the park for activities like biking. Riding a tricycle is an activity traditionally associated with being in a park. But isn't a tricycle considered a means of conveyance? ... so on.

Putting in questions to yourself will force you to stay on relevant subject matter. Even if you don't like how it sounds, I think it's a helpful exercise that can help you internalize where you're taking your answer.

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typ3
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby typ3 » Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:25 am

thesealocust wrote:
typ3 wrote:Once you do work in Law, your grades.. where you graduated from etc. will almost play no bearing on whether or not you are successful. That will all come down to your business acumen. Yahtzee!


I mean, I agree with you, but this is the law student forum and exams are coming up, and 1L grades are crazy important with respect to the first job, so...



Depends on what that job is. If you want to be on your knees all day at a defense mill sure.

Citizen Genet
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby Citizen Genet » Mon Dec 03, 2012 8:09 am

Props for Enders Game reference.

fosterp
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Re: Remember, the enemy's gate is down.

Postby fosterp » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:01 pm

What do you do when your professor asks you to be brief and come to definite conclusions?

Do you still spend a whole bunch of time exploring possible arguments/counterarguments?




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