After Grades - What did we learn?

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06072010
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After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby 06072010 » Wed Jan 16, 2008 12:58 am

I'm going to revise this after having 5 semesters of grades...

RTR10
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby RTR10 » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:10 am

Torts
Read high court case summaries instead of cases. Made charts and flowcharts. Transformed every major rule into a rule sentence/paragraph that I could insert straight into my IRAC for a mental break. Always carried Crunchtime with me. Two full length practice tests. Went through the law in a flash deck three times. Ignored every single thing any student said in class because that's was the prof's que to misguide the rest of the class. A-

Civ Pro
Only read the personal jurisdiction cases (high court case summaries for the rest). Did my outline after each section (Personal Jurisdiction, Venue, Forum Non Conveniens, Joinder, Pleadings, Discovery, Summary Judgment, JMOL, Verdicts, SMJ, Supplemental Jurisdiction, Removal, Erie, Preclusion). Always carried Crunchtime with me. Read Glannon before and after each topic. Made/annotated my own FRCP rule book instead of just reading/tabbing the one I bought (listed cases that applied to each rule). Made flowcharts. One full length practice test. Law in a flash decks five times each. Took very detailed notes in class. B+

Contracts
Ignored the professor entirely since he didn't even know the facts to the case on the first day of class, nor did he ever call on anyone. Taught contracts to myself. Who knows how this guy even graded the test. B

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bumpjon
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby bumpjon » Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:46 am

***Warning*** This is a very oddball and nutty study method. While I had some success with it I do not advocate that you try it. If you do attempt copy my study method you do so at your own risk. I realize that this is a pretty poor excuse for a disclaimer and no self respecting lawyer would write something so inane. However, it's past 12:45 and I'm finally ready for bed.

I used the same basic technique for all of my classes:
I read the assigned cases and used LSC's briefing strategy. On Sunday I would try to read the suplement listed below for the subject matter to be discussed the next week in class (Probably only 50% of the time I would succeed in this). I took very sparse notes, listened to what the porfessors said, ignored the students, and focussed on the black letter law. Alas, my professors were more into lecturing w/ powerpoint than they were into the Socratic method. However, when the professor asked a question I tried to answer it in my head and tried to ignore my clasmates responses.

A couple weeks before finals I began to compile my outlines. I type a skeleton outline based on my syllabus or casebooks table of contents. I essentially transcribed the BarBri outline's relevant sections including only the black letter law but no case names. I matched up rules from the BarBri outline to the cases we discussed leaving the general rules not specifically discussed without case names. I ended up with a 12-20 page outline for each class. After I knew my outline fairly well, I made my own flash cards and studied them.

Contracts: B+
I read Emanuels. In addition to matching rules to cases I matched relevant rules to UCC sections. I took almost no notes.

Civ Pro: B
I read Glannon's E&E. The professor didn't assign a casebook but instead created her own package of cases. Mainly from Alabama, some from Illinois (where she practiced), and a handful of the seminal/major cases. We focussed solely on the FRCP. I only took notes on the major cases and the rules themselves.

Torts: B
I read Gilberts Law Summaries. My professor was very neurotic (no offense proffessor D, I just used neurotic for lack of a better word) about the exact wording of rules and tests. He would spend about five minutes before each class discussing what we have already discuss, I copied every word he said during this time and took very little notes otherwise. He also loves Posner, and to a lesser exter Calebresi and Easterbrook, and I noted any opinion or quote by them.

Criminal Law: A
I read Gilberts Law Summaries. This professor was the most Socratic of my professors. I pondered the questions he asked but took very little notes. The professor didn't care about case names, all he cared about was applying the law. The final was closed book, so I came up with 13 acronyms to help memorize my outline. As soon as my test began I wrote my Acronyms across the top of my scratch paper and used it as a checklist.

SecondTimeAround
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby SecondTimeAround » Wed Jan 16, 2008 8:50 am

Criminal law: A-
I had an A average on the papers and blew the final a bit. I didn't know the black letter law as well as I needed to. I relied on the case book and to some extent on Gilbert summaries. The final was from another planet. I was very glad to have the papers as ballast.

Torts: B
I put the most time into this, thought I knew it thoroughly (150 or so cases, plus holding for each), but my mind, despite taking 2-3 practice tests, deserted me in the panic of the first exam. This was a "failure" of nerve, not of preparation. I supplemented the case readings with Gilbert summaries. I made an excel spreadsheet with facts, rule of law, and analysis.

Civil procedure: B or B+ (expected; knock on wood!)
I read E&E and the rules thoroughly; the cases were often a mystery to me, at least on first reading, and since the professor deemphasized them, I didn't worry about them too much. At the end, I got into an excellent study group, which made all the practical difference for me. The group used questions from Emanuel's civil procedure supplement.

In general, my notes were spotty; my mind tended to wander during class. I also got a bit too intimidated by people who seemed in class to have mastered the material, and this threw my concentration. I was good about outlining -- I did it all along -- but I don't think that my outlines were concise or on point enough. I learned a lot from one particular classmate who took superb notes -- by hand -- and who knew what to focus on. I have a knack for the papers; they "concentrated" me in a way that ordinary reading and exam preparation did not. Now I have to learn how to extract what I need -- no more, no less -- for the exams.

I think PK's point about practice is excellent. It's one thing to "know" the law. It's quite another -- as I learned -- to apply it. I think that if you have the application down, issues of organization and timing will be greatly mitigated.
Last edited by SecondTimeAround on Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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sbjohnsn
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby sbjohnsn » Wed Jan 16, 2008 10:04 am

The main factor in how well I did on the exam seemed to be how many practice tests I look. For my classes that were all essay or at least 2/3 essay, finding practice exams was easy because the teachers either gave 2 or 3 out, and if they didn't give more than one out, it was easy to find old exams from 2Ls. For my exam that was mostly multiple choice, that was rough because there were no old multiple choice questions to practice with from that professor. Needless to say, the class that was mostly MC was my worst grade.

So, I suppose next semester I will take every practice exam available to me, under timed conditions of course. If an exam ends up being heavy on the MC, I will find a supplement with sample questions and just study those.

JBo48
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby JBo48 » Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:01 pm

Two points I would highlight:
1) Get started outlining EARLY. Preparing for class by outlining the assignment can be effective, but be sure to revise and make additions as the semester goes on. The people who start outlining in late November typically get screwed because it is an arduous process that can leave little time for practice exams.
2) Understand what your professor wants and what skills they test. Don't simply buy a book full of generic practice exams and take them all. All professors have quirks, and you could end up spending 100 hours practicing skills or concepts that never surface on the exam.

Contracts: A
My professor was 100% rule based. You needed to know the entire Restatement, literally, including comments to get an A. Knowing the cases was secondary but still important because the professor at times simply altered the fact patterns of cases we read. Be on the lookout for professors who do this because those should be gravy points.

Civil Procedure: B+
The exam did not resemble what was discussed in class. It was closer to a logic game on the LSAT, with ridiculously complex fact patterns, e.g. 15 different people involved in multiple lawsuits, all with debatable domiciles, cross-claiming, counter-claiming, and impleading all over the place. Analyses of personal jurisdiction, supplemental jurisdiction, and subject matter jurisdiction was 80% of the exam. The people who did well took all of the past exams available in the library and new exactly how much time could be spent on each question. Less than 25% of the class finished the exam.

Torts: A+
Highest grade in the class. The professor virtually had no syllabus and was not student friendly, so two strategies were key. 1) Buying a good hornbook (Dobbs) and letting that guide my outline. 2) The professor awarded points for knowing the different approaches to analyzing a particular type of tort and justifying a choice between them using social policy considerations. If you simply explained one approach, you were screwed, and without a discussion of social policy, you could get no higher than a B or B+. For example, one essay was about economic harm caused by a negligent accountant. The perfect essay discussed the Restatement approach, the New York (Ultramares) approach, the New Jersey foreseeability approach, and the actual privity approach (leave it to contract law). I justified my choice by explaining the macroeconomic ramifications of each approach.

Good luck to all second semester!

SecondTimeAround
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby SecondTimeAround » Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:57 pm

Those are tremendous grades, JBo48. Congratulations. Were any of your exams open book, and if yes, how did you make the most of the fact? By the way, are you in the part-time program? I ask because three courses are, I think, typical of part-time programs. I'm in one myself.

JBo48
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby JBo48 » Wed Jan 16, 2008 3:50 pm

Thanks STA. I'm full-time, but I left out Legal Writing/Research because it's so different. All of our exams were closed book, which is a trend that is likely to spread because of its positive effect on bar passage rates. My outlines ranged from 22 - 39 pages, and I created attack outlines to more easily see the course as a whole (4 - 8 pages). I forgot to mention that it is important to create an outline from outside in . . . take time and care constructing the broad skeleton of the outline and everything else will more easily fall into place.

06072010
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby 06072010 » Wed Jan 16, 2008 4:17 pm

Thanks for the great responses everyone. This is wonderful advice.

Master Tofu
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby Master Tofu » Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:35 pm

Great advice/thread; thanks for sharing/bump for posterity! :)

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Grad_Student
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby Grad_Student » Thu Jan 17, 2008 12:47 am

Excellent advice and congrats to you smarties except PK.

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dssinc
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby dssinc » Thu Jan 17, 2008 5:03 pm

I'm going to have to be the outlier here...

With the exception of Property, I did not write outlines. Not even a little bit. I also barely looked at my class notes. (I spent most of my time in class listening and learning and much less time writing, so there were not too many notes to review.

I attacked Property (open book) by doing a few sample tests, reading my professor's law review articles, and studying (i.e., contemplating and reflecting on) cases within four or five core themes over and over again, in addition to making the outline.

For Contracts (closed book save for the red book of rules) I re-read my reading notes, read the appropriate parts of the Emanuels a couple of times. took a couple of untimed sample tests, and played with the E&E flash cards. I also did some Cali on-line quizzes.

For Civ Pro (24-hour take home), I re-read my course pack, and did two sample test questions.

For Con Law (closed book), I chose five broad themes, re-read the cases relating to them, and wrote sample essays answering the thematic questions that I would ask. (I was three for three on the actual test in terms of guessing the themes to write about!)

All in all, I know I broke a couple of rules, but I found that focusing on the cases and the concepts served me well. I was much less about the black letter law and outlining. I was also very deliberate about writing the exams, using the powers of calm, confidence, and focus to produce thoughtful writing. Early on in the semester, my favorite lawyer friend (total biglaw stud) told me to relax and look for the obvious in an effort to understand. Very much the force approach. A little schmaltzy, but it worked for me.
Last edited by dssinc on Wed May 21, 2008 12:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Katkins
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby Katkins » Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:16 pm

Go to every class. Even if you go and browse the Internet and don't pay attention, I honestly think that being in the room helps you absorb things without realizing it.

I did outline (started in December), did look at/do practice tests, did read Glannon and other hornbooks. In December, I made up for slacking the three months prior by studying about 12 hours/day every day for 3 weeks.

I didn't have a study group and didn't go to profs' office hours. I did get drunk 3 nights/week on average. I did not usually do the reading in 2 of my classes, but I did it in the one I liked best. I went to about 1/4th of the TA sessions for each of my classes, which is still more than a lot of people managed.

My grades were much better than I expected, though I tend to underestimate myself. I won't say what they were cause apparently that's taboo. /gasps. Wouldn't want NewHere or mcb or Criminy to get mad at me. :)

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nonunique
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby nonunique » Sat Jan 19, 2008 2:39 am

Do practice tests until your eyes and fingers bleed. At "top" law schools (and even not-so-top schools), everyone there is pretty bright. What is important is being able to write to your professor's liking quickly and fully.

Also, though others have suggested otherwise, office hours are entirely worth it for three reasons. First, every professor I've had has a policy of bumping grades. The grading is blind, and then, based on "performance," they are willing to raise your grade one notch (though rarely). Why pass up the opportunity for a free 0.33 GPA points? Second, if you're not an asshole, they will be references and recommenders. Finally, if you happen to soak up something while you're there, you're set. So few students actually go to office hours, you can be fairly certain what you are garnering there is relatively unique.

Incidentally, noting that your grades were good is not taboo. Mine were great. I totally had a 12.5 (4.33 scale). I'm amazed that you people did so well in school with such a penchant for missing the point.

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Mr T.
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby Mr T. » Tue May 20, 2008 9:28 pm

tag.

nkp
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby nkp » Tue May 20, 2008 9:56 pm

tag

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Grad_Student
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby Grad_Student » Wed May 21, 2008 2:42 pm

Whats this "tag" thing? The new "bump"?

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brokendowncar
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby brokendowncar » Wed May 21, 2008 2:55 pm

Tag means I am going to come back and read this later. Basically you post in the thread so that it goes into your "view your posts" file and you can find it more easily at a later date.

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Corsair
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby Corsair » Wed May 21, 2008 3:11 pm

..

SWilson
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby SWilson » Wed May 21, 2008 3:18 pm

tag

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Corsair
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby Corsair » Wed May 21, 2008 3:22 pm

..

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Corsair
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby Corsair » Wed May 21, 2008 3:23 pm

..

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aguyingeorgia
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby aguyingeorgia » Wed May 21, 2008 3:54 pm

I just felt some panic. Thanks for sharing though.

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bocifious
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby bocifious » Wed May 21, 2008 3:57 pm

Torts - 4 units
I loved my torts class, and I knew the bll cold thanks to prosser. The test was you standard issue spotter, and I tend to do really well on those. I type extremely fast and was able to get out around 7,000 words, meaning I hit both sides of every issue on that test -A+

Contracts - 4 units
Contracts was a hard class, and I had trouble paying attention in class sometimes, but I used the E&E and one of the Lexis outlines to really learn the bll. The test was a nice issue spotter with some short answer questions, and i found it pretty easy to go through my outline and apply the bll to the issues - A-

Civ Pro - 3 units
Civ Pro was hard, and our first semester was basically learning all of the rules. I had taken an old test and nailed it, so I thought I would do pretty well. I had some trouble on the issue spotter part of the test figuring out what he wanted from us. It was a little tricky. I'm thinking that my short answer and policy question grades pulled me up a little bit - B+

Con Law - 3 units
Federalism semester. I liked con law but I found it to be rather boring, and the opinions really pissed me off sometimes. Our test was out of left field, and I had a pretty hard time answering the questions. It was basically a mixed policy/issue spotter test. I had used the E&E, but nothing was really going to help me for this test - B+

Overall I would say the most helpful things I did were to keep up on the reading, outline things early and throughout the semester so you aren't doing everything at the end, read the E&Es and hornbooks during the semester and don't wait until the very end, and then take practice tests as early as you can. These all kind of relate, because if you haven't outlined and gone over study materials then it is going to be hard to take a practice test a month before you are even done with class. You will probably learn things in sections/chapters most classes, so when you get to the end of a section (personal jurisdiction, sm jurisdiction, preclusion, etc.) go back and outline that entire section. Everything will be fresh in your mind and it will help you out at the end of the semester when you need to start studying. There's really no point in waiting.

SecondTimeAround
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Re: After Grades - What did we learn?

Postby SecondTimeAround » Sat May 24, 2008 6:44 am

How did you manage to type 7,000 words? In four hours? That's amazing.




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