Tips from a top law school graduate

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jessjaneeve

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Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby jessjaneeve » Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:01 am

Hi everyone,

I graduated in the top 10 (not top 10%, literally top 10) of my cohort at one of the top 15 law schools in the world, according to this list: http://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/university-subject-rankings/2016/law-legal-studies. I was one of the few who graded onto law review and I was one of those crazy overachievers who graduated a semester early. I am currently working in the largest law firm in the city.

Here are my simple tips on how to do well in law school:

1) Read hornbooks. Whatever your lecturers may have said about the Socratic method, it sucks: http://abovethelaw.com/2014/06/former-law-prof-says-the-socratic-method-is-a-shty-method-of-teaching/. Don't bother reading full cases for those "meandering discussions that often have no real point and leave students even more confused than before". Hornbooks are effective because they are written by lecturers who explain key cases succinctly.

2) Get awesome outlines and update them or write your own. Make sure they don't waffle on, but contain just the essentials of cases: the facts, the issues, the rules/principles, and the holding (who wins).

3) Focus on your application of the rules to the hypothetical facts, analogising or distinguishing with key cases. See a law professor's examples of bad and good ways of applying the law to the facts: http://volokh.com/posts/1168382003.shtml.

4) (If you have done steps 1-3) Profit. Make law review. Break into biglaw. Write this post on TLS.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions! 8)
Last edited by jessjaneeve on Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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mjb447

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby mjb447 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:18 am

Thanks for these hot tips.

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UVA2B

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby UVA2B » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:10 am

#hottakes

cavalier1138

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:36 am

Well, now I know that there's a ranking scale where American and GW are both better than UVA. I feel that I could have gone through life without knowing this, but I'm glad for the experience.

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zhenders

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby zhenders » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:40 am

cavalier1138 wrote:Well, now I know that there's a ranking scale where American and GW are both better than UVA. I feel that I could have gone through life without knowing this, but I'm glad for the experience.


The rankings indicators are also pretty excellent -- as in completely non-law-specific and generally irrelevant for anything except (sort of) Academia.

OP this was fun thx

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mjb447

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby mjb447 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 11:42 am

cavalier1138 wrote:Well, now I know that there's a ranking scale where American and GW are both better than UVA. I feel that I could have gone through life without knowing this, but I'm glad for the experience.

I'm just shocked that there was actually something to learn here.

BEng,MBA,FRM,JD(?)

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby BEng,MBA,FRM,JD(?) » Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:29 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:Well, now I know that there's a ranking scale where American and GW are both better than UVA. I feel that I could have gone through life without knowing this, but I'm glad for the experience.


you would be relieved to know that only the top 50 are ranked. 51-100 are not.

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rpupkin

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby rpupkin » Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:42 pm

I can't believe that OP was willing to give away that advice for free.

Mods: can we sticky this thread?

Lettow

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby Lettow » Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:16 pm

jessjaneeve wrote:1) Read hornbooks. Whatever your lecturers may have said about the Socratic method, it sucks: http://abovethelaw.com/2014/06/former-law-prof-says-the-socratic-method-is-a-shty-method-of-teaching/. Don't bother reading full cases for those "meandering discussions that often have no real point and leave students even more confused than before". Hornbooks are effective because they are written by lecturers who explain key cases succinctly.


If you mean to say don't read casebooks but instead read supplements only, then this is bad advice for most people. If you did this and did well, you probably did well despite this strategy. Reading case after case helps teach how to analyze law, because you're reading courts analyzing law. Beyond exams, it's also really helpful for when you practice law -- learning how to effectively and efficiently read cases is extremely important.

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smaug

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby smaug » Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:20 pm

You were top 10 and landed at Skadden?

Mortifying.

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby Minnietron » Sun Jan 22, 2017 1:46 pm

smaug wrote:You were top 10 and landed at Skadden?

Mortifying.

Thanks for clarifying! I thought OP went to The Australian National University and is working at Minter Ellison in Canberra, Australia.

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:07 pm

Minnietron wrote:
smaug wrote:You were top 10 and landed at Skadden?

Mortifying.

Thanks for clarifying! I thought OP went to The Australian National University and is working at Minter Ellison in Canberra, Australia.


My money is actually on this scenario. I can't see any reason that someone would use those rankings if they went to any of the American schools, because just saying "HYSCCN" would have already made their stats way more impressive.

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PeanutsNJam

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby PeanutsNJam » Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:24 pm

Yeah that is such a weird list to reference. Why not say HYSCCN.

But top 10 and get Skadden? lololol

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mjb447

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby mjb447 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:42 pm

If OP genuinely thought his/her post contained information worth posting on TLS, it seems possible to me that s/he's also not that familiar with the metrics of success and prestige on TLS (and perhaps with U.S. legal employers generally).

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby jessjaneeve » Sun Jan 22, 2017 6:53 pm

Hi everyone,

Okay, so I got found out. I actually went to the Australian National University. But I did do really well and I think the tips are still relevant to US law students. I know US law students focus on T14, the top 14 law schools according to US News. But the list that I posted corresponds roughly with the T14 list. The ANU isn't a bad uni at all! I still stand by reading hornbooks instead of cases for doing well though, despite the above poster's disagreement with me on this point. Don't be so US-centric when the method for doing well at law school is universal! :)
Last edited by jessjaneeve on Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

cavalier1138

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:27 pm

jessjaneeve wrote:Hi everyone,

Okay, so I got found out. I actually went to the Australian National University. But I did do really well and I think the tips are still relevant to US law students. I know US law students focus on T14, the top 14 law schools according to US News. But the list that I posted corresponds roughly with the T14 list. The ANU isn't a bad uni at all! I still stand by reading hornbooks instead of cases for doing well though, despite the above poster's disagreement with me on this point. Don't be so US-centric when the method for well at law school is universal! :)


I don't think that being Aussie-centric is the issue here...

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UVA2B

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby UVA2B » Sun Jan 22, 2017 8:11 pm

jessjaneeve wrote:Hi everyone,

Okay, so I got found out. I actually went to the Australian National University. But I did do really well and I think the tips are still relevant to US law students. I know US law students focus on T14, the top 14 law schools according to US News. But the list that I posted corresponds roughly with the T14 list. The ANU isn't a bad uni at all! I still stand by reading hornbooks instead of cases for doing well though, despite the above poster's disagreement with me on this point. Don't be so US-centric when the method for well at law school is universal! :)


How do you feel about going to professor office hours and looking at/taking old exams from that professor? Is it usually a good idea to focus exam answers on the things professors talk about in class?

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby jessjaneeve » Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:39 pm

UVA2B wrote:
jessjaneeve wrote:Hi everyone,

Okay, so I got found out. I actually went to the Australian National University. But I did do really well and I think the tips are still relevant to US law students. I know US law students focus on T14, the top 14 law schools according to US News. But the list that I posted corresponds roughly with the T14 list. The ANU isn't a bad uni at all! I still stand by reading hornbooks instead of cases for doing well though, despite the above poster's disagreement with me on this point. Don't be so US-centric when the method for well at law school is universal! :)


How do you feel about going to professor office hours and looking at/taking old exams from that professor? Is it usually a good idea to focus exam answers on the things professors talk about in class?


My uni has a past exam questions database. We even have sample answers from past top students. I found practicing past exams or simply looking at top answer scripts very helpful indeed.

I didn't really go to the professor office hours because I understood the material well enough just from attending lectures and reading the hornbooks.

Yes, of course we focus exam answers on what the professor emphasizes in class. I can't imagine a situation where this wouldn't be the case, unless your professor was odd and tested stuff he/she never taught!

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UVA2B

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby UVA2B » Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:46 pm

jessjaneeve wrote:
UVA2B wrote:
jessjaneeve wrote:Hi everyone,

Okay, so I got found out. I actually went to the Australian National University. But I did do really well and I think the tips are still relevant to US law students. I know US law students focus on T14, the top 14 law schools according to US News. But the list that I posted corresponds roughly with the T14 list. The ANU isn't a bad uni at all! I still stand by reading hornbooks instead of cases for doing well though, despite the above poster's disagreement with me on this point. Don't be so US-centric when the method for well at law school is universal! :)


How do you feel about going to professor office hours and looking at/taking old exams from that professor? Is it usually a good idea to focus exam answers on the things professors talk about in class?


My uni has a past exam questions database. We even have sample answers from past top students. I found practicing past exams or simply looking at top answer scripts very helpful indeed.

I didn't really go to the professor office hours because I understood the material well enough just from attending lectures and reading the hornbooks.

Yes, of course we focus exam answers on what the professor emphasizes in class. I can't imagine a situation where this wouldn't be the case, unless your professor was odd and tested stuff he/she never taught!


I'm sorry you didn't get my sarcasm

ETA: If you haven't gathered this yet, you're giving tired advice that is approaching gospel in some respects and patently bad advice in others. Go to the stickied topics in this forum, there is much better advice there. I appreciate you trying to help, but there is nothing particularly original about the advice you're giving.

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rpupkin

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby rpupkin » Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:56 pm

UVA2B wrote:
I'm sorry you didn't get my sarcasm

Jessjaneeve, please disregard UVA2B's bitter sarcasm. He's just upset that the reputable international rankings you cited do not rank UVA as nearly as high as USNWR does. Apparently, the international rankings don't have distinct categories for beer drinking, softball, and bro-ness.

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby UVA2B » Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:59 pm

rpupkin wrote:
UVA2B wrote:
I'm sorry you didn't get my sarcasm

Jessjaneeve, please disregard UVA2B's bitter sarcasm. He's just upset that the reputable international rankings you cited do not rank UVA as nearly as high as USNWR does. Apparently, the international rankings don't have distinct categories for beer drinking, softball, and bro-ness.


Make American Great Again!

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby jessjaneeve » Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:05 pm

Look, I know there are outliers in the ranking that I posted (e.g. American University, which I know isn't that hot in the US News rankings). But honestly, I can't believe the pretentious attitude of some of these posters. I graduated at the top of my uni (which is a very good uni for law), made law review and am working at a great firm and you discount my post like it was rubbish. I may be new here and that's why I may not be aware of everything that has been posted, but you don't have to be so mean. Especially when the tips I posted are actually a good summary of study advice instead of the extremely long posts of advice that some of you hail as golden advice on these forums. :|

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby UVA2B » Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:16 pm

jessjaneeve wrote:Look, I know there are outliers in the ranking that I posted (e.g. American University, which I know isn't that hot in the US News rankings). But honestly, I can't believe the pretentious attitude of some of these posters. I graduated at the top of my uni (which is a very good uni for law), made law review and am working at a great firm and you discount my post like it was rubbish. I may be new here and that's why I may not be aware of everything that has been posted, but you don't have to be so mean. Especially when the tips I posted are actually a good summary of study advice instead of the extremely long posts of advice that some of you hail as golden advice on these forums. :|


Congratulations on doing well in law school. Sincerely, I mean that. And I appreciate you want to help others succeed in law school. But look at the advice you posted: what in it was particularly groundbreaking, unique, or even hard to grasp for any average law student? It's an Internet forum, so I apologize for getting snarky, but honestly it was because your advice added nothing to this board. We all, collectively, congratulate you on performing in law school. But getting past that, can you not see how your advice is stated in every imaginable form in the very first topic in this subforum? Go read it and tell me how your advice is different than what had been established ad nauseum here. You're right that I was mean, but this entire thread added literally nothing of value to this forum, and further, did some potential damage in trying to suggest reading cases is a waste of time. Maybe it was for you, but that's seriously dangerous advice to give because you're risking missing important nuance in the opinion.

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lymenheimer

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby lymenheimer » Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:17 pm

Here's a better summary for you:

1) go to a top law school
2) do gud job
3) get gud job

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rpupkin

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Re: Tips from a top law school graduate

Postby rpupkin » Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:22 pm

jessjaneeve wrote:Look, I know there are outliers in the ranking that I posted (e.g. American University, which I know isn't that hot in the US News rankings). But honestly, I can't believe the pretentious attitude of some of these posters. I graduated at the top of my uni (which is a very good uni for law), made law review and am working at a great firm and you discount my post like it was rubbish.|

I've been working at a top law firm for several years, so allow me to pay it forward by giving you some advice:

1. Work hard! A lot of new associates make the mistake of not working hard. Don't fall into that trap!

2. Respond to emails! Partners hate it when you ignore their emails for days or weeks at a time. When you get an email, write back!

3. Submit high-quality work. For example, if a partner asks you to draft a motion to dismiss, write it using clear, persuasive language. Don't make the mistake of doing a bad job when a good job is called for!



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