A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

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hollamcholla1

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A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby hollamcholla1 » Thu Sep 15, 2016 12:43 pm

Before I start, I'd like to give a little background and then explain why I am writing this guide when there are already so many on this site.

A little more than 2 years ago, I realized I was less than 1 month away from beginning law school and had absolutely no idea how to do well. I had heard it was different from undergrad, and that was about it. I went on this website, and read all of the "How to do well in law school" threads. I ordered LEEWS and Getting to Maybe. I wrote down all the supplements people suggested to buy. Alas, I at least knew all of the advice that one would give another on how to do well in law school. I also knew that lots of people knew this, and knowing the path is a far cry from walking the path.

It is now 2 years later and I am a 3L in the top few pct. of the class grades wise who made law review, and who has a big law job lined up. I will let this part serve as a *DISCLAIMER*--I go to a Tier 2 law school. I’m not sure if this makes my advice more or less worthy, but there it is. My school actually does not officially rank, but I am relatively sure I was either #2 or #3 in the class after 1L (in a class of 350 or so). I did not get any grade lower than an A-. My grades dropped very slightly during 2L but not much, and I only took a few classes anyway since I did many clinics in attempt to game the system and keep my GPA high. Besides, everyone knows that 1L is all that really matters anyway.

So the reason I am writing yet another "How to Do Well in Law School" Guide is because I think this will be very unique. I did things considerably differently and have very different views than almost everyone else who has written a guide. Obviously we all will have some things in common in our approach--every good student will. But this is a guide that I think could serve a lot of purpose, to let TLS readers know there are lots of different ways to skin a cat.

Most guides I have read involve someone telling you to spend 14 hrs a day studying or someone telling you that you barely have to work hard and as long as you know how to take a law school exam you can get by with minimal effort. I think both pieces of advice are crap for the vast majority of people. Of course studying all day and night will likely get you good grades, or at least, will greatly improve your chances at getting them. That's not exactly groundbreaking. The reality is that working that hard is a SKILL. A skill that very very few people have. I always laugh when I read Xeoh's thread. I especially like the part where he sleeps 4 hrs a night and studies the rest of the time. He's either a great liar or a very special person with rare abilities. The advice he gives just won't be applicable to the average person. Advice on the other end of the spectrum is equally as useless. If you are unwilling to ever do work on a weekend in law school, you probably won't do well. If you manage to do well anyway, good for you, but realize that you are not average.

That's where I come in. I am average. Don't get me wrong--I am above average intelligence for the masses. But I am simply average compared to law students. I did well below the average TLSer on my LSAT, and do not have any unique abilities. I had no interest in giving up 100% of my free time as a 1L, and I didn't. Even Arrow--whose advice on this forum is legendary--went to an Ivy League undergrad and is probably really really smart. I went to a no name undergrad that accepts 100% of students. This guide, I hope, will work for those of you out there like me.

Again, my methods worked at a TT. Perhaps it is different at a T14, and if you think so, then feel free to ignore all of this.

There is no particular order to this guide. It will be a random mix of topics, mostly the ones on which I disagree or did differently from other guide writers.


0L

I never opened Getting to Maybe, and I got through about 5% of LEEWS before realizing I just didn't have time to continue because school was starting. As mentioned, I read some guides on TLS. That's it. So read this guide and all the others and I'm sure you can do fine.

Briefing Cases

Every thread on how to do well goes into a long diatribe on why briefing cases is a terrible idea. I SOMEWHAT agree with this. I don't need to spend a long time convincing you not to brief cases. The reality is that 97% of you won't brief cases anyway, simply because it's a lot of work and you'll be too lazy. In my experience though, show me a student who briefs every case, and I'll show you a student who is probably doing pretty well on exams. The key is to know how to brief. Briefing in the classic way is clearly ridiculous and a huge time sink, and you would have realized that on your own after 2 weeks without ever having read this thread or any other. But certainly taking notes after or during your reading can be quite helpful. During is harder because it will slow down your reading, but still doable. I did both of these things at least some percentage of the time. Even just a single 3-5 sentence paragraph that gives the key facts and the holding can be very useful, both for in class and for studying.

Cold Calls and Class Participation

Another topic that every thread is in agreement on. They don't matter. Don't waste your time. Don't stress about them. Don't!!

Well, none of that ever made sense to me and it still doesn't. I suppose I agree with the underlying premise, which is that if you are the worst of all time at responding to cold calls and fuck up a ton during the semester, and yet still ace the exam, you'll get an A. That's great, except to say that the majority of you will be in neither boat. Is it true that profs. grade exams anonymously? Sure. But that's just while they're physically reading it. At most schools, at some point, they get to put a name to an exam grade. There is always subconscious biases and even conscious ones that can affect grading. If you think that professors never bump students up or down (especially when they are on the margins) due to their classroom presence/performance, then you are delusional or naive.
Moreover, fucking up when being coldcalled is downright embarrassing. When someone gets called on and they have no idea what's going because they have been playing games on their phone or clearly didn't read, he or she looks like an idiot. It's nice to say "oh don't worry it doesn't matter at all." Except in real life, when that happens to you, YOU WILL CARE.
I was and still am a VERY active class participant. I asked questions I didn't know the answer to, and I answered questions I did. I found participating actively had multiple purposes:
1. Perhaps most importantly, it kept me engaged in the class discussion. It's so easy to zone out when a prof. is rambling on. If raising your hand will help you stay involved, then DO IT.
2. It preempted cold calls. Professors have very different styles when it comes to cold calls. There will be some that will call on you regardless of how much you participate. This especially goes for the profs. that stick with students for long periods of time and will not call on others who have their hand raised to let the struggling student get bailed out. But then there will be many others that will specifically target the quiet students--the students whose names they have to look up on the seating chart. I have had several classes where I wasn't cold called once the entire semester because I participated a bunch in the beginning. Some of you may be saying "so what who cares?" Well, if you don't want to get embarrassed in front of the prof. and your peers on days you didn't do the reading and want to cruise through some harder classes with the prof. thinking you're smarter than you really are, then you might care. Or if you’re the quiet type who will dread the idea of being called on no matter how many times people tell you it doesn’t matter, then you might care as well. If you can manage to come out of your quiet shell to raise your hand a few times early in the semester you may have strategically gamed your way out of your innate fear. It’s not foolproof, but it does work. And it’s much easier to know the answer to a question the prof. asks to someone else than the one he or she asks to you. A real trick is just to raise your hand a few times with questions. If that gets you on the professor’s radar then you don’t even need to answer correctly.
3. It helps build rapports with professors which can be valuable one day in terms of recommendation letters and help with internships/job offers etc. Just for example: In one class during 1L, I received an email the morning after we took the final asking me to be the prof’s research assistant. I literally submitted the final on ExamSoft at 7:05PM on a Tuesday, and then at 8:30AM on Wednesday, 13 hrs later, there was the email. Considering he had 100 fifteen page exams to grade, I am fairly confident he didn't finish them all in 13 hours.
Class participation folks.

Supplements

Another controversial topic. Personally, I used them. I used a lot of them and I used them often. As mentioned, I am of average intelligence. Most of the time when I read a case during 1L I said to myself, "wtf did I just read?" Supplements help parse it out. I bought at least 1 and sometimes 2 or 3 supplements for every class.

The supplements I think are the best: The 2 Glannon authored E and Es for Torts and Civ Pro, Understanding Crim Law by Dressler, Gilbert Law Summaries on Property by Krier, and Principles and Policies by Chemerinsky for Con Law. Most people on here agree that these are some of the best. I bought various other ones, and also bought case note summaries for several classes. This was more to alleviate cold call fear. If I didn't understand or forgot to read a case, for $40, I had a book in front of me that would bail me out if called on. To me it was worth it. It may not be to you. You may also not need supplements to do well, but realize you will be in the minority of students and are probably really fucking smart.

Reading Cases

I'll keep this one short because I agree with most other threads here. Reading the cases sucks because you often spend a ton of time for 1 or 2 phrases of Black Letter Law. Having said that, I still read and still do read almost every case assigned, and won’t change that. It’s what is covered in class and it’s how the professors have chosen to teach. I know of people who do well even though they rarely do the reading. These people are the anomalies.

Outlines

Again, I do things very differently. A vast majority of these threads say to make your own outline from scratch. People say the point of the outline is not to have something to use but rather to help drill the material into your brain.

I only made my own from scratch for 1 class, and that was because it was the first year my prof. was using that casebook and so outlines from past students who had my prof. were useless. In every other class, I found students who had that prof., preferably students who did well, and asked for outlines. I got as many as I could. I would network with other classmates and share. I would take every outline I had collected, and choose the one I liked best. Then I would use my class notes, the casebook, my supplements, and all the other outlines I had to alter it appropriately. I would not start super early like some people suggest. I think it is important to have a solid base of the course before you start going crazy with outlines. Outlining week by week starting week 1 is dumb to me. You will end up going back and redoing all of it. I did try to have most of it done several weeks before exams however. By thanksgiving/spring break I would have my outline updated to that point in the semester. Then I would update daily or weekly with the new material until the end.

So how long were my outlines? Anywhere from 15-100 pages, depending on the class. Every other thread will harp about how you need a condensed 15-20 page version of your notes in an outline. But this is not every other thread. In one class in which we had a 5 hr exam, I had a 68 page outline, and then printed all of my class notes and all of the class notes from a brilliant student the year before who took insanely great notes. I had well over 300 printed pages with me during the final. And YES, I used them. Not all obviously, but there were things on random pages in both my notes and the other student's notes that weren't in my outline that I used on the exam. How did I locate them quickly enough? I made a TOC. It wasn't hard. Did I waste paper? Sure. Would I do it again if given the chance? Absolutely. My thinking was always, why NOT have everything available at my fingertips during the exam? You'll never know what is asked of you. As long as I had a TOC that listed page numbers of each case and/or topic in my outline, I never worried about how long it was. Now in some classes my outline was 20 pages because I didn't need more than that. No hard and fast rules. Those are for shitty how to do well in law school guides.


Study Groups

You know the drill, I disagree with everyone else. Was I super pro-study groups? No. But I definitely was not anti anti like most other threads. I used them at different times in different ways. Some of my peers are smart, smarter than me. I took advantage of that. We'd talk about issues we didn't understand, outline together, trade outlines, go over exam questions, etc. For Civ Pro, 3 days before the final, I spent the entire day in a library study room with one other student just talking out our outlines and making sure to look up whatever we got stuck on. It was incredibly helpful for me. Am I saying that you should definitely find a study group? No. Do what you think you need to do. But realize that being a part of a study group whether formally or informally will not preclude you from doing well in law school, contrary to what other threads may imply.
Oh and btw, I had 4-5 people in my informal study group. We outlined a bunch together, and generally just were super close the entire year and relied on one another for help with whatever. I can definitively say that I would not have done as well as I did without them and other random students I consorted with from time to time. And yet, I was the only one in our study group who finished in the top of the class and made law review. So don't even be concerned that people you study with will bring you down if they don’t do well.


Studying in the Library/Getting All Your Work Done on Campus/Study Schedule


This one goes in my “you’ve gotten this far probably doing something right, you shouldn’t need advice on this” category. People come to law school thinking it will be totally different than anything they have ever done before.
It’s not. Sure, the exams are a bit different. But school is school. You should already have some sort of routine you’ve developed over life and know what works for you. Only if you were an extreme splitter with a 2.5 GPA might I say that you should look for some new habits.
Personally, I studied in the library about 20% of the time. I just don’t like it that much. Most people say they can’t focus at home because there are too many distractions. For me, people eating, whispering, walking around, shuffling through papers, and typing loudly in the library is much more distracting than my apartment. You may very well be like the “average” person who needs to get his work done in the library. Well that’s fine, but don’t do it because someone on TLS told you that you should.

As far as my typical weekday, it would be something like this:
Class from 10am-11am.
Break from 11am-1:30pm. During this time I would usually read or reread the assigned reading for my class later in the day, hang out and bullshit with friends, and eat lunch.
Class from 1:30pm-4:00pm
More bullshitting with friends from 4:00pm-5:00pm
Then I’d go home. I’d relax for a bit, maybe take a nap, eat dinner, and do my reading for the next day. This could take an hour or 3-4 hours depending on how long it was. If I felt I couldn’t finish I would make sure to read for my first class the next day knowing I could always read during the next day’s break.

Fridays I would go to class, get done early, and then go home and take the rest of the day off. I took 80-90% of Saturdays off as well (this changed in the last 2-3 weeks prior to finals). Sundays I would relax and watch football, and do my reading for Monday during commercials, halftime, or late at night.

There were exceptions. I probably stayed until 6 or 7pm a few times on a Friday. There might have been a random Saturday or 2 prior to finals studying time when I did work, especially when I had legal writing assignments due. But generally, my weekends were pretty lax. I was willing to do work if I had to, but usually didn’t have to. Putting in Arrow or Xeoh type hours only occurred during finals week and for a weekend or 2 prior to finals week.


Taking Notes During Class

Consistent with my "have it your way" approach, I did this very differently depending on the class. For some classes, I non-stop typed. I tried to type every word that came out of the profs. mouth. I didn't see the point not to. It's not like hitting keys on your comp. costs money. I wanted to have everything the prof. said. You never know when a specific word or phrasing that you managed to capture in your notes but others didn't may buy you exam points. If the prof. was particularly on point and offered useful advice, I wanted it verbatim. Obviously I couldn't always do this, but I tried.
In other classes, the prof. just rambled on about nonsense. You just knew what they were saying wouldn't be on the exam. In those classes I didn't type non-stop. As with most things, it depends. All in all, I took a lot more notes during class than the average person and there's just no way it was a bad thing. Worst case, I wasted energy.

Reading Ahead

Every thread highly suggests reading ahead, with the exception of lazy guy's thread, since he's too lazy. I wasn't too lazy, but I never read ahead anyway. I understand why people do it, but for me it's a huge waste. My memory just isn't good enough to read far in advance. If I read for the upcoming week on a Saturday, by Tuesday I'd be rereading the cases because I would have forgot what I read (I would reread stuff a ton as it was just to be better prepared for class). Generally I would read class by class. If I had Class X on M/W/F, I would read Monday's assigned reading on Sunday, Wednesday's on Tuesday, and Friday's on Thursday. Sometimes I would even read the day of in the morning if it was for a late afternoon class. I wanted the material to be as fresh in my mind for class as possible. I felt I could better understand the lectures this way, and be more prepared to participate/answer cold calls. I also didn't trust myself to know what the hell I was reading. Others recommend reading ahead especially in the last few weeks so you can be 100% done with you outlines 2-3 weeks early and just review them and take practice exams. Well more on practice exams in a minute, but I certainly never did that. I made sure to always wait until we covered a topic in class before I "outlined it" (which again meant editing someone else's outline to save time and effort). Otherwise I wouldn't be confident that what I wrote was correct or the most useful for THIS professor's exam.

Practice Exams

In my opinion, probably the most overrated exercise suggested on TLS. Did I do practice exams? Sometimes. Did I do them in full? Practically never. Do I think they are the holy grail and the one key to doing well? No.

First of all, you have to be very very careful not to trap yourself into taking exams that won't be useful to you. Let me give you an example. After many many years of doing so, my property professor decided for the first time for our class, NOT to teach us the Rule Against Perpetuities. Just experimenting with his course I suppose, realizing that it wasn't worth the aggravation. So if I went on the internet and got a practice Property exam, or borrowed one from a different professor, I'd undoubtedly have a fact pattern that has issues that I don't know what to do with because they are designed to capture the RAP. It becomes a huge waste of time, especially if you're gung ho on taking practice exams under exam conditions. The only time I would take a practice exam was when I was given access to a RECENT exam from MY professor using the SAME casebook and also had access to ANSWERS. Even in these rare perfect scenarios, I still did not take the full exams in earnest. I would usually write out a few answers to random hypos, jut to get the feel, and then make sure to read the answers thoroughly after. If I was confused about the meaning or importance of certain facts or entire hypos, I’d discuss them with friends. But no matter how much you try, you have necessary adrenaline on exam day that you can never duplicate in other situations. And it's not like taking a practice LSAT exam where the formats are so similar from year to year. Even profs. that teach the same course from the same casebook can have wildly different perspectives and expectations. The key is doing what YOUR professor wants, and not worrying about anyone else.

Exams

This brings me to the exam itself. I tried to know everything as best as I could, to the point where if you ask me to talk about a case or an issue, I could give you a solid summary without looking at my notes. Though there were plenty of topics I undoubtedly couldn’t do this for. I just made sure to know the big ones that I knew FOR SURE would be tested. For specific words, legal tests, phrases, factors, etc.--that is what outlines are for. I used them often during my exams. Other threads warn that you will have no time to look at your outlines during the exam. Well I can say that I am a habitually slow worker, always need the full time and usually more, and yet still had time to look at my outlines and type from them often during all of my exams. And as mentioned, I had much longer outlines than the avg. TLSer to boot.

Another thing often said is don't worry about case names, you basically never have to cite cases on an exam. I was really excited about that and figured I would have a huge advantage over every one of my classmates that had an unnecessary summary of every case in their outline from jumpstreet--until I realized that most of my profs. required you to cite cases in order to get an A. Now is the law more important than the case it came from? Of course. But again, every prof. is different. Don't think you know how yours will be. I was sure my crim law prof. wouldn't care at all about cases. Then I saw some sample exam answers written by him. Cases galore. Obviously if your prof’s model answers does something, your exam should do it too. In Con Law, you got pts literally for just writing the most analogous case. The prof’s hypos were written with certain cases in mind and the prof. was looking for you to mention that case on the exam. Otoh, my torts prof. didn't care at all about them, and basically said as much, and so I didn't cite a single one.

Random Thoughts

I have read over and over again that law school is all about learning how to take law school exams. To this I say “meh.” Of course your grade in every course is based on how well you do on the exam. But I don’t actually think you need to spend your days learning how to take a law school exam. Reading guides on here or reading Getting to Maybe once will be plenty. One guide suggests reading it over and over again throughout your 1L year. That seems ridiculous to me.
The general consensus among TLSers, professors and "successful" students in general is that everyone knows the law and the reason some students do better than others is because some apply more facts to the law.  While some students undoubtedly apply more facts than others, I believe that this stems from their ability to understand the law more precisely.  The reason students miss relevant facts is because they don't understand the law they should be applying.  If you know and understand the law cold, the facts jump off the page.

I unlike most, spent most of my study time learning THE LAW. To me, knowing the law is not half the battle, it is more like 75-85%. You still need to know how to use it (keep in mind that by knowing the law I mean knowing how YOUR PROFESSOR views the law) and random test-taking strategies. But if you know the law and really feel comfortable with it, I think you’ll be amazed at how many facts you can find to apply to it. Lot of students think they know the law and can’t understand when they do poorly on the exam. Most people assume they just suck at taking exams. That’s possible I guess, but unlikely in my experience. Again, I just don’t think exam strategy is this all important topic. Maybe they just didn’t understand the law nearly as well as they thought and they misapplied it a lot and missed issues. If you think taking practice exams will help you not miss issues on exam day, I think you’re probably wrong. It’s not a terrible idea to get practice, but again, you’ll just never be able to simulate exam day. Unless your prof. is wildly predictable (and most aren’t), the exam will be something you hadn’t really seen before and there will be issues you weren’t expecting and weren’t on past exams.


I think you guys mostly get the point. There’s not one way to do well in law school. I definitely did do things similarly to a lot of the previous guide writers in some respects. For the most part though, I tended to do it differently, with great success. I’m 100% sure my law school is not wildly different from other schools. I just did what felt natural to me, even if that was different from what was recommended. So don’t stress too much. Take it seriously when you need to, and you will do fine.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask. I will hang around and answer.

And as always, in before the flame.

 
Last edited by hollamcholla1 on Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

hangingtree

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby hangingtree » Sat Sep 17, 2016 9:11 am

I'll sign on to this. Finished top 20% at a T10. On my own reflection of how I could have done better in law school, many things that hollamcholla mentions here came to mind. In particular I'm thinking of how s/he approached class participation, study groups, and studying in general--with a narrow focus on learning "THE LAW." My goal in each class was to get the big picture. If a study group felt like a good idea I would do that and, leading up to the exam, if I still didn't get the big picture, I would sometimes work in a practice exam. But getting the big picture was the primary and, in many ways, only goal. Once I "got it," I would spend my time sleeping, hanging out, or studying something else.

On this note of laziness and scattershot approach to studying, hollamcholla astutely notes that one who can work 15 hours a day every day is a rare talent. Really think about whether you'll have the capacity to be a machine. You probably won't.

I think the omits a few crucial points, however. First, as hollamcholla notes, T14 is probably a totally different ballgame than a Tier 2. While a majority of the T14 students won't be nearly as focused as hollamcholla was, you can expect everyone to be working as hard or harder than this guide provides. Of course harder work doesn't necessarily translate to better grades, but the poster here beat out a huge portion of the class just by his hard work. At a T14 this only guarantees you not bad grades.

Second, whether it's because of the policy-based exam questions or different expectations of the students, I think having a real command over the subject matter ("getting it") helped me greatly, which this guide downplays. I think I got A's when an A- was probably more appropriate based strictly on my knowledge of "THE LAW." This also helps in issue spotters. I got an above average grade in every class I "got" largely because I just understood the subject well enough to sort of feel when there was an issue.

Finally, the guide doesn't mention the skill of writing an exam. You often hear professors talking about confident exam writing, such that when they read the exam they just have the feeling that the student knows exactly what is going on. Some people naturally have this gift. Others acquire it in undergrad studying English or whatever. You can also acquire it before law school or during, like when you take practice exams. A lot of this does come down to being a naturally good legal writer, but not all. There is a huge difference between awkwardly discussing an issue and concisely, naturally, and confidently discussing an issue, even when the content is exactly the same. This can score you major points on an exam. I think hollamcholla naturally had the ability to write exams and thus overlooked this skill. Even if s/he is of average intelligence among the law school peers, s/he clearly started way ahead of the rest if s/he finished top 1% and only gave the skill of actual exam taking a cursory look.

All this said, always helpful to the 0Ls/recently-started 1Ls to gain another perspective. hollamcholla's guide is worth the read I think.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby star fox » Sat Sep 17, 2016 12:50 pm

Tldr for this for those who didn't read can be boiled down to using sheer raw man power in terms of spending a lot of hours studying throughout the semester.

Thanks for putting this together. In my opinion though there isn't a whole lot unique about this. And I disagree with the approaches of try really hard to do well with cold calls and don't take a lot of practice exams. I think this is backwards as far as efficient studying goes. Someone who does it your way probably would do ok regardless because of all the time you put in throughout the semester but I think at least with those two things you did well in spite of putting a lot of effort into cold calling and not a lot into writing exams, and not because of it.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Sep 17, 2016 1:16 pm

star fox wrote:I think at least with those two things you did well in spite of putting a lot of effort into cold calling and not a lot into writing exams, and not because of it.

I agree. Obviously it worked out for the OP, so as always, ymmv. But I think a lot of the qualifications on the use of practice exams is unnecessary - I don't know anyone who says you should take exams from a different prof than your own, for instance. (I have done it on occasion just to get practice where there were very few exams available for my prof, but it's of very limited use.) And saying "do practice exams" rarely means doing them fully under timed conditions, as much as "go through and outline the issues."

I will defend class participation generally, for some learners, though. I always understand things better if I talk about them, and I agree that participating keeps me engaged in class, and that where class was useful, participation was useful. But that will also vary by person - I know some people who find talking in class a real distraction from following what's going on. (For the classes referenced where the prof just rambled, class participation isn't really worth the effort, except for the "avoiding being cold called" advice, which I also agree with. I didn't care about being cold-called but if you wanted to be able to coast a little on the days you weren't prepared, participating regularly when you were helped.)

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Mon Sep 19, 2016 5:08 pm

Just a little comment on cold calls.

I think people misplace their value to the learning process. It's not about participation points (if there even are any), it's about HIGH STRESS PRACTICE of being CONVERSANT with the Subject Matter and THINKING on one's feet.

Where else would one need such a skill? On an exam. So you talk to the prof about the subject, think on your feet, and then maybe the prof parlays with you and you clarify your reasoning or consider an alternative viewpoint. On an exam, you really should do the same thing - discuss one side, then consider what the prof might say as a counterpoint, and discuss that too.

Look, I happened to be both (apparently) great at cold calls generally and writing exams, so maybe it's all just correlation not causation. But I'd be willing to bet someone who impresses generally during a cold call will probably be able to write a good issue spotter exam on that subject.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby hollamcholla1 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:27 am

star fox wrote:Tldr for this for those who didn't read can be boiled down to using sheer raw man power in terms of spending a lot of hours studying throughout the semester.

Thanks for putting this together. In my opinion though there isn't a whole lot unique about this. And I disagree with the approaches of try really hard to do well with cold calls and don't take a lot of practice exams. I think this is backwards as far as efficient studying goes. Someone who does it your way probably would do ok regardless because of all the time you put in throughout the semester but I think at least with those two things you did well in spite of putting a lot of effort into cold calling and not a lot into writing exams, and not because of it.


You clearly didn't read. I didn't spend many hours studying throughout the semester. That's kind of the point. I would estimate that of everyone in my 1L class, I was somewhere in the middle in terms of total hours spent studying. Hence the non-Xeoh view, and the non-lazy guy view. The key is efficient studying, not aggregate studying. I've already acknowledged that anyone can do well if he is willing to put in 70 hours a week in the library. This, however, is not novel or surprising, nor relevant for most people since they are simply incapable of that kind of dedication.

This guide is precisely for the people like me, who are willing to not completely slack off, but will never have the discipline to spend their Saturdays (or even many late nights) in the library.

I'm sure you do disagree about strategy re: cold calls and practice exams. Most do on this site. That is why my guide is indeed unique.

I also did NOT put a lot of time into cold calling. That is misunderstanding the point. In fact, I specifically said I would voluntarily participate to preempt cold-calls, such that I would not have to deal with them at all. This was all part of a much larger point, which is that class participation matters more than not at all.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby star fox » Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:38 am

You took notes on the reading, you used supplements and you used them a lot, you came very prepared to class and actively participated. You were involved in study groups. You studied hard dude.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby pancakes3 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:50 am

OP succeeding using a different strategy as someone else who similarly succeeded actually renders those strategies null rather than validates them. hth.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:18 am

Saying that you didn't prepare for cold calls by preparing for class participation seems somewhat contradictory...

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby rcharter1978 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:20 am

I get OP's point. I was speaking to a professor, and he let slip that after first semester/first year students generally have a reputation. If a student has a reputation for constantly contributing to class discussion or briefing cases, a professor probably isn't going to cold call that student. This can be helpful if you haven't done the reading, or there was just a big case you didn't want to read.

Professors know who to pick on, and I think it is just embarrassing to say that you know nothing about a case, or to have to pass. Its not the worst thing in the world, but I've sort felt a shiver of second hand embarrassment. Especially when the third or fourth person asks for a pass and the professor starts to yell at the class.

I also had a unicorn professor that DID do grade bumps up for class participation.....from what I could gather, it sort of sounded like for every participation bump UP, there had to be a corresponding grade bump down. He sort of hinted around it, but he didn't confirm that it was true. But I realize thats a rarity.

I also think its an easy way to stay engaged in class.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby hollamcholla1 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:50 pm

star fox wrote:You took notes on the reading, you used supplements and you used them a lot, you came very prepared to class and actively participated. You were involved in study groups. You studied hard dude.


I very rarely took notes on the reading actually. When I did, it was a few sentences, or some specific highlighting. My point was, when I did so, it helped, and doing so is not necessarily the big waste of time that everyone here says it is.

None of the rest of the things you said necessarily means I "studied hard." Again, efficiency vs. total hours. I can virtually guarantee I studied equal to or less than the average student (in terms of total time spent).

I used supplements during the times WHEN I DID study--as opposed to breaking apart the cases. I did try to come to class prepared, but this just meant doing the reading most of the time. The study groups, similarly to the supplements, were in lieu of other types of solitary studying, not in addition to.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby Fed_Atty » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:19 pm

OP - why are you so defensive? Your guide, like all the others out there, is just what worked well for you. You have some advice in there that is bad. That's ok, it still worked for you. There is no need to fight everyone who offers comments or criticism.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby Minnietron » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:44 pm

rcharter1978 wrote:I was speaking to a professor, and he let slip that after first semester/first year students generally have a reputation. If a student has a reputation for constantly contributing to class discussion or briefing cases, a professor probably isn't going to cold call that student.

Before the start of classes this semester, if one of my five professors knew anything more than my name, I would be shocked. Nay; super-shocked.
Last edited by Minnietron on Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby rcharter1978 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:50 pm

Minnietron wrote:
rcharter1978 wrote:I was speaking to a professor, and he let slip that after first semester/first year students generally have a reputation. If a student has a reputation for constantly contributing to class discussion or briefing cases, a professor probably isn't going to cold call that student.

Before the start of classes this semester, if one of my five professors knew anything more than my name, I would be shocked. Nay; super-shocked.


I don't think you're supposed to know they know. Law school classes are relatively small, IMO, so people can stand out. Especially someone who ALWAYS passing/doesn't know what's going on or someone who is ALWAYS talking.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby Minnietron » Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:16 pm

rcharter1978 wrote:
Minnietron wrote:
rcharter1978 wrote:I was speaking to a professor, and he let slip that after first semester/first year students generally have a reputation. If a student has a reputation for constantly contributing to class discussion or briefing cases, a professor probably isn't going to cold call that student.

Before the start of classes this semester, if one of my five professors knew anything more than my name, I would be shocked. Nay; super-shocked.


I don't think you're supposed to know they know. Law school classes are relatively small, IMO, so people can stand out. Especially someone who ALWAYS passing/doesn't know what's going on or someone who is ALWAYS talking.

5/6 1L doctrinal classes had 100+ students. I don't consider that small. Additionally, 1/6 had a randomized cold calling system. I think your generalization is school dependent.
Last edited by Minnietron on Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby rcharter1978 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:41 pm

Minnietron wrote:
rcharter1978 wrote:
Minnietron wrote:
rcharter1978 wrote:I was speaking to a professor, and he let slip that after first semester/first year students generally have a reputation. If a student has a reputation for constantly contributing to class discussion or briefing cases, a professor probably isn't going to cold call that student.

Before the start of classes this semester, if one of my five professors knew anything more than my name, I would be shocked. Nay; super-shocked.


I don't think you're supposed to know they know. Law school classes are relatively small, IMO, so people can stand out. Especially someone who ALWAYS passing/doesn't know what's going on or someone who is ALWAYS talking.

5/6 1L doctrinal classes had 100+ students. I don't consider that small. Additionally, 1/6 had a randomized cold calling system. I think your generalization is school dependent.



How do you know the cold calling was randomized? And I think students can stand out, even in a class of 100. I don't know if it's school dependent, but I know second semester on there were particular students that were ALWAYS called on. And they were generally students that didn't know the material.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby hollamcholla1 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:14 pm

Fed_Atty wrote:OP - why are you so defensive? Your guide, like all the others out there, is just what worked well for you. You have some advice in there that is bad. That's ok, it still worked for you. There is no need to fight everyone who offers comments or criticism.


Why am I getting defensive? Because I clearly don't agree that the advice is bad and people, seemingly yourself included, assume there is a such thing as "objectively bad how to do well in law school advice," which is of course ridiculous. More importantly, the commenters have mostly misconstrued what I have wrote while making incorrect assumptions, and their criticisms fall apart when those assumptions are corrected.

It's a guide offered to help people who, like me, feel the existing guides were too simple or too impractical. If you think it is not useful, feel free to ignore.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby Minnietron » Tue Sep 20, 2016 9:02 pm

hollamcholla1 wrote:
Fed_Atty wrote:OP - why are you so defensive? Your guide, like all the others out there, is just what worked well for you. You have some advice in there that is bad. That's ok, it still worked for you. There is no need to fight everyone who offers comments or criticism.


Why am I getting defensive? Because I clearly don't agree that the advice is bad and people, seemingly yourself included, assume there is a such thing as "objectively bad how to do well in law school advice," which is of course ridiculous. More importantly, the commenters have mostly misconstrued what I have wrote while making incorrect assumptions, and their criticisms fall apart when those assumptions are corrected.

It's a guide offered to help people who, like me, feel the existing guides were too simple or too impractical. If you think it is not useful, feel free to ignore.

How to do well in law school: Don't go to class. Don't read. Just type faster than all others on the exam.
This is objectively bad advice. Now that we have established this is not a ridiculous proposition, defend your advice on the merits. :D
Last edited by Minnietron on Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby lavarman84 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:05 am

I disagree with the OP in a lot of respects, but that's simply because I learn my own way (like any person). However, I do agree with the OP that there are a lot of benefits to participating in class and doing well when cold-called...especially if you're not at a t14 school and want to clerk.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:25 am

hollamcholla1 wrote:If you think it is not useful, feel free to ignore.


Do you see how this is self-contradictory?

You put this advice out there on the web, and you specifically offer it as a guide, not as a personal narrative. So I'm at a loss. If you didn't want this to be discussed or critiqued, why did you post it on a forum with the heading "A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide"?

Incidentally, I'm thinking of publishing a one-page guide of my own, called "How to Avoid Getting Mired in Endless 'How to Succeed in your 1L Year' Guides and Just Do Your Work".

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby pancakes3 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 9:27 am

itt bro is mad

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby hollamcholla1 » Thu Sep 22, 2016 10:06 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
hollamcholla1 wrote:If you think it is not useful, feel free to ignore.


Do you see how this is self-contradictory?

You put this advice out there on the web, and you specifically offer it as a guide, not as a personal narrative. So I'm at a loss. If you didn't want this to be discussed or critiqued, why did you post it on a forum with the heading "A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide"?



Look at all the other guides. How many are critiqued? None. Maybe a random post or two but most just contain 0Ls or 1Ls saying thank you and asking for advice.

They are not designed for all of you lawyers who already finished law school and have your own opinions on how to do well.

And no, I do not see how it is self-contradictory. I am very average in all respects and did amazingly well following the advice given. Seems reasonable to believe many others could too. I think 0 and 1Ls could learn a lot and benefit from realizing that my way might be better for them than other ways. The feel free to ignore is for someone like you, who has no use for reading this guide anyway.

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Sep 23, 2016 5:19 am

hollamcholla1 wrote:Look at all the other guides. How many are critiqued? None. Maybe a random post or two but most just contain 0Ls or 1Ls saying thank you and asking for advice.

They are not designed for all of you lawyers who already finished law school and have your own opinions on how to do well.

And no, I do not see how it is self-contradictory. I am very average in all respects and did amazingly well following the advice given. Seems reasonable to believe many others could too. I think 0 and 1Ls could learn a lot and benefit from realizing that my way might be better for them than other ways. The feel free to ignore is for someone like you, who has no use for reading this guide anyway.


Have you noticed that all the other guides you're referring to are from a specific 2010 content competition, and that these are mostly the winners of the bunch? If you look at any other generic "How to Succeed in Law School Without Really Trying (Except it Involves a Lot of Trying)" post, then you'll see criticism. And when you frame your guide as specifically being in opposition to others (which is what you did here), can you really be all that indignant that you received criticism?

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby rcharter1978 » Fri Sep 23, 2016 6:16 am

OP -- was your goal here to get praise for your work, or was it to potentially help future students?

If your goal was to potentially help future students than your mission has been accomplished. You put your advice out there, and perhaps a future law student will read it and remember it as they are trying to navigate their way through law school. The fact that others disagree with you only means that they are sharing their own feedback on how to help future students. That will be the filter they view your advice through.

If your goal was to simply get praised for your work/guide than that is silly. You found a way to do things that worked for you and it resulted in great grades.

As someone else pointed out, it probably sucks that you spent a bunch of time writing out your thoughts and others don't agree with you, however, if all the other guides have advice A and are celebrated and lauded by the community and your guide has contradictory advice B it makes sense that people may rail against it.

Either way, congrats on doing great!

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Re: A New How to Do Well in Law School Guide--A Different Perspective

Postby Fed_Atty » Fri Sep 23, 2016 7:34 am

Most guides I have read involve someone telling you to spend 14 hrs a day studying or someone telling you that you barely have to work hard and as long as you know how to take a law school exam you can get by with minimal effort. I think both pieces of advice are crap for the vast majority of people. Of course studying all day and night will likely get you good grades, or at least, will greatly improve your chances at getting them. That's not exactly groundbreaking. The reality is that working that hard is a SKILL. A skill that very very few people have. I always laugh when I read Xeoh's thread. I especially like the part where he sleeps 4 hrs a night and studies the rest of the time. He's either a great liar or a very special person with rare abilities. The advice he gives just won't be applicable to the average person. Advice on the other end of the spectrum is equally as useless. If you are unwilling to ever do work on a weekend in law school, you probably won't do well. If you manage to do well anyway, good for you, but realize that you are not average.


Here, you are attempting to argue that your guide is somehow superior to some of the other guides out there. It is not. When you come out saying that your guide is better, or seems to have hit on some unique silver bullet that everyone else has missed, you are going to get some skeptics. Those of us who have been through law school and done just as well, if not better than you, are a valuable filter.

You do 1Ls and 0Ls a great disservice by telling them to focus on cold calls instead of practice exams. No-one is taking away from your achievements, but you may have done even better in law school had you focused more on practice exams.

Finally - people are being very gentle with criticism here. You need to get a thicker skin.



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