1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

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rzzza
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1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby rzzza » Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:53 am

It seems like the environment is such that, instead of striving for students to soak in the information, the approach is to toss as much stuff at the students as possible as quickly as possible so that they become confused, stressed and at best retain maybe half of everything they're supposed to know. Why do they do it this way? For example, I barely have time to understand future interests before we're onto perpetuities. I think only my torts class moves at what I would call a reasonable pace.

I also don't understand the rationale for having only one major exam at the end of the semester. Why not several exams spaced out during the course like they do in undergrad? Wouldn't that be more helpful for students to compartmentalize what they learn and have a better hope of actually retaining the information?

Is this something that is done by necessity because there's too much material to cover, or is it a purposeful approach they use to weed out the weak? I just don't get it.

sparkytrainer
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby sparkytrainer » Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:57 am

That's law school for you.

albanach
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby albanach » Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:58 am

Law school can be hard. There's a lot to learn, particularly as a 1L.

Are you using supplements? You need to find a way to extract from the class the pertinent stuff that you're supposed to take away.

rzzza
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby rzzza » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:03 am

albanach wrote:Law school can be hard. There's a lot to learn, particularly as a 1L.

Are you using supplements? You need to find a way to extract from the class the pertinent stuff that you're supposed to take away.


I honestly don't even have time for supplements, I'm swamped with just the main material we're supposed to read. I know they have some recommended material they want you to look at, I just don't know how anyone has the time for that.

The best I've managed as far as supplemental material so far is youtube videos. I've found them helpful but as far as actually doing the problems on an exam? I don't feel like I'm anywhere near ready. They don't give you enough time to practice the material that was covered before they're moving on to another topic, assigning reading for that topic, etc. It becomes just a game of playing catch up, forget actually understanding the material.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:05 am

The point isn't really for you to learn the information most effectively, it's to be able to rank you on the curve at the end of the semester.

(Well also "learn to think like a lawyer" and all that, which tends to happen along the way.)

Also you will learn to handle the amount of reading better and you get a better sense of what in it is important and what is not.

sparkytrainer
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby sparkytrainer » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:10 am

rzzza wrote:
albanach wrote:Law school can be hard. There's a lot to learn, particularly as a 1L.

Are you using supplements? You need to find a way to extract from the class the pertinent stuff that you're supposed to take away.


I honestly don't even have time for supplements, I'm swamped with just the main material we're supposed to read. I know they have some recommended material they want you to look at, I just don't know how anyone has the time for that.

The best I've managed as far as supplemental material so far is youtube videos. I've found them helpful but as far as actually doing the problems on an exam? I don't feel like I'm anywhere near ready. They don't give you enough time to practice the material that was covered before they're moving on to another topic, assigning reading for that topic, etc. It becomes just a game of playing catch up, forget actually understanding the material.


Yeah thats law school. Kind of the point really, gotta figure out who is the top of the class somehow.

albanach
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby albanach » Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:26 am

sparkytrainer wrote:
rzzza wrote:
albanach wrote:Law school can be hard. There's a lot to learn, particularly as a 1L.

Are you using supplements? You need to find a way to extract from the class the pertinent stuff that you're supposed to take away.


I honestly don't even have time for supplements, I'm swamped with just the main material we're supposed to read. I know they have some recommended material they want you to look at, I just don't know how anyone has the time for that.

The best I've managed as far as supplemental material so far is youtube videos. I've found them helpful but as far as actually doing the problems on an exam? I don't feel like I'm anywhere near ready. They don't give you enough time to practice the material that was covered before they're moving on to another topic, assigning reading for that topic, etc. It becomes just a game of playing catch up, forget actually understanding the material.


Yeah thats law school. Kind of the point really, gotta figure out who is the top of the class somehow.


Indeed, it's supposed to be hard work. If becoming a lawyer was easy, everyone would do it.

As for being overwhelmed, you need to start figuring out how to work smarter. Which of your profs cold call? If some don't then you can focus more on the rule for the upcoming class (assuming you're not on call) and less on the minutia of the individual cases.

For each class you need prep before and review afterwards. Initially at least you probably do need to brief each case, but as you get better at reading cases and picking out the salient details, that becomes less necessary.

At the end of the day, remember you're graded on exam performance, not class performance. Tailor your studying accordingly.

rzzza
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby rzzza » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:24 pm

I'm glad you guys said I don't need to understand everything, that alleviates my anxiety some. I'm still not certain of the rationale behind this teaching style though. Why is the goal to compare students against the curve instead of just instilling these lessons into the student body? I mean hypothetically someone could turn in C level work but get an A because the rest of the class got an F. Good for that kid, but he still did C level work. How is that good for the profession as a whole?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:31 pm

That person still did better than the rest of his class, so the grade reflects that achievement. C level work in some classes is a huge achievement, based on how those profs teach. Also there isn't really some kind of objective "C" level work - it depends on the exam and the students.

But really you're better off just not worrying about this. It's not going to change and being pissed off about whether it's effective just drains your energy. And what's taught in class has only a tenuous relationship to what you actually do as a lawyer.

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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby ClubberLang » Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:36 pm

rzzza wrote:I'm glad you guys said I don't need to understand everything, that alleviates my anxiety some. I'm still not certain of the rationale behind this teaching style though. Why is the goal to compare students against the curve instead of just instilling these lessons into the student body? I mean hypothetically someone could turn in C level work but get an A because the rest of the class got an F. Good for that kid, but he still did C level work. How is that good for the profession as a whole?


That shouldn't be your takeaway. Learn to tolerate the pace and style because it isn't going to change. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of material, you are probably missing the key points and takeaways from the cases. Different people address this different ways. Try outlining your materials as you go along. It will help you stay organized and see where everything fits in.

I believe the rationale behind the style is that it teaches you to think like a lawyer. Dumb kids getting passing grades doesn't matter because the real barrier to entry is the bar exam.

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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby run26.2 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:48 pm

rzzza wrote:It seems like the environment is such that, instead of striving for students to soak in the information, the approach is to toss as much stuff at the students as possible as quickly as possible so that they become confused, stressed and at best retain maybe half of everything they're supposed to know. Why do they do it this way? For example, I barely have time to understand future interests before we're onto perpetuities. I think only my torts class moves at what I would call a reasonable pace.

I also don't understand the rationale for having only one major exam at the end of the semester. Why not several exams spaced out during the course like they do in undergrad? Wouldn't that be more helpful for students to compartmentalize what they learn and have a better hope of actually retaining the information?

Is this something that is done by necessity because there's too much material to cover, or is it a purposeful approach they use to weed out the weak? I just don't get it.

If you don't like this type of environment, I would caution you to talk to attorneys in the field where you think you might practice. The flow of information and assignments is high in the practice of law and many people that succeed work at a fairly hectic pace, day-in and day-out, for months at a time.

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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby pancakes3 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 2:55 pm

rzzza wrote:I'm glad you guys said I don't need to understand everything, that alleviates my anxiety some. I'm still not certain of the rationale behind this teaching style though. Why is the goal to compare students against the curve instead of just instilling these lessons into the student body? I mean hypothetically someone could turn in C level work but get an A because the rest of the class got an F. Good for that kid, but he still did C level work. How is that good for the profession as a whole?


bc the curve actually works the OTHER way. everyone turns in A-level work (A-level in that they're competent and understand the concepts) and not everyone can get A's. if you want to separate the A's, you have to curve it.

the best LS advice i read on this site actually came from DF who said "LS isn't that hard" and it isn't. The material isn't hard. It's beating the curve that's hard.

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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:05 pm

Man, if only someone had warned you that law school isn't a three-year vacation for someone who doesn't know if they want to practice law.

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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby Junebug75 » Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:22 pm

run26.2 wrote:
rzzza wrote:It seems like the environment is such that, instead of striving for students to soak in the information, the approach is to toss as much stuff at the students as possible as quickly as possible so that they become confused, stressed and at best retain maybe half of everything they're supposed to know. Why do they do it this way? For example, I barely have time to understand future interests before we're onto perpetuities. I think only my torts class moves at what I would call a reasonable pace.

I also don't understand the rationale for having only one major exam at the end of the semester. Why not several exams spaced out during the course like they do in undergrad? Wouldn't that be more helpful for students to compartmentalize what they learn and have a better hope of actually retaining the information?

Is this something that is done by necessity because there's too much material to cover, or is it a purposeful approach they use to weed out the weak? I just don't get it.

If you don't like this type of environment, I would caution you to talk to attorneys in the field where you think you might practice. The flow of information and assignments is high in the practice of law and many people that succeed work at a fairly hectic pace, day-in and day-out, for months at a time.


This is 100% the key. Very little of the substantive material you learn in law school is going to help you in your legal career or even for the bar exam. No one is going to ask you or expect you to remember that one holding from that one torts case. What will help you is the skills you learn to master that material. Most types of lawyers (especially in biglaw) have zero idea what kind of work is going to be coming at them everyday. You are constantly dealing with competing pressures from clients, judges, supervisors, etc. and you need to be able to figure out how to prioritize it and get to the root of the problem, which will always be different depending on your clients circumstances at that time or for that deal. Most lawyers feel overwhelmed daily. It's a steep learning curve and even as you get more senior you don't necessarily get more comfortable, because the law changes or evolves and because the increasing levels of responsibility keep you on your toes. If you really hate this and are someone that does better in an environment where everyone goes at their own pace and works really hard on only one thing until it's perfect, then this might not be the career for you.

And while the curve seems stupid in an academic environment, it makes complete sense in the legal world. You get clients/jobs/opportunities and win cases on the basis of how well you outperform those around you. This is not an environment in which there are A's for everyone.

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Wild Card
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby Wild Card » Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:32 pm

It's bullshit--I'm sorry.

AspiringAspirant
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby AspiringAspirant » Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:14 pm

Wild Card wrote:It's bullshit--I'm sorry.


TITCR

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Pneumonia
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby Pneumonia » Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:05 pm

I agree with what everyone else has sad. Since you seem particularly interested in the pedagogical aspects of the 1L curriculum, I'll add the below.

1L isn't about learning the material, it's about learning how to learn the material. If you go into biglaw, especially if you're in litigation, every case/client will force you to quickly become competent in a new subset of a new area of law. In that regard it is similar to 1L, and in that regard the 1L teaching style is highly appropriate.

Please take the above with the caveat that—for exams—you definitely need to learn the material.

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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby rzzza » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:50 pm

Junebug75 wrote:
run26.2 wrote:
rzzza wrote:It seems like the environment is such that, instead of striving for students to soak in the information, the approach is to toss as much stuff at the students as possible as quickly as possible so that they become confused, stressed and at best retain maybe half of everything they're supposed to know. Why do they do it this way? For example, I barely have time to understand future interests before we're onto perpetuities. I think only my torts class moves at what I would call a reasonable pace.

I also don't understand the rationale for having only one major exam at the end of the semester. Why not several exams spaced out during the course like they do in undergrad? Wouldn't that be more helpful for students to compartmentalize what they learn and have a better hope of actually retaining the information?

Is this something that is done by necessity because there's too much material to cover, or is it a purposeful approach they use to weed out the weak? I just don't get it.

If you don't like this type of environment, I would caution you to talk to attorneys in the field where you think you might practice. The flow of information and assignments is high in the practice of law and many people that succeed work at a fairly hectic pace, day-in and day-out, for months at a time.


This is 100% the key. Very little of the substantive material you learn in law school is going to help you in your legal career or even for the bar exam. No one is going to ask you or expect you to remember that one holding from that one torts case. What will help you is the skills you learn to master that material. Most types of lawyers (especially in biglaw) have zero idea what kind of work is going to be coming at them everyday. You are constantly dealing with competing pressures from clients, judges, supervisors, etc. and you need to be able to figure out how to prioritize it and get to the root of the problem, which will always be different depending on your clients circumstances at that time or for that deal. Most lawyers feel overwhelmed daily. It's a steep learning curve and even as you get more senior you don't necessarily get more comfortable, because the law changes or evolves and because the increasing levels of responsibility keep you on your toes. If you really hate this and are someone that does better in an environment where everyone goes at their own pace and works really hard on only one thing until it's perfect, then this might not be the career for you.

And while the curve seems stupid in an academic environment, it makes complete sense in the legal world. You get clients/jobs/opportunities and win cases on the basis of how well you outperform those around you. This is not an environment in which there are A's for everyone.


Very interesting. Thanks for the insight everyone, it's been helpful

run26.2
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby run26.2 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:32 pm

Also, I should say that I said "many," but that was understatement. I think most and probably the substantial majority is the better idea here. Attorneys that are successful work a lot.

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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby anonanonny » Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:09 pm

rzzza wrote:I'm glad you guys said I don't need to understand everything, that alleviates my anxiety some. I'm still not certain of the rationale behind this teaching style though. Why is the goal to compare students against the curve instead of just instilling these lessons into the student body? I mean hypothetically someone could turn in C level work but get an A because the rest of the class got an F. Good for that kid, but he still did C level work. How is that good for the profession as a whole?

Some lawyers and professors have explained it to me like this... If Jim from Firm A hires Pam from School X who has all As on her transcript over Angela who has all Bs on her transcript, Jim can't be blamed later on if Pam turns out to fail the firm, but Jim looks bad if he hires Angela and she sucks (her grades were bad so why would you hire her?). The curve is just an arbitrary way to draw a line between which people are worth investing in and not. It's total crap, but if firms don't have much to go on they will certainly prefer someone with better grades (particularly at bigger firms).

run26.2
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby run26.2 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:26 pm

anonanonny wrote:
rzzza wrote:I'm glad you guys said I don't need to understand everything, that alleviates my anxiety some. I'm still not certain of the rationale behind this teaching style though. Why is the goal to compare students against the curve instead of just instilling these lessons into the student body? I mean hypothetically someone could turn in C level work but get an A because the rest of the class got an F. Good for that kid, but he still did C level work. How is that good for the profession as a whole?

Some lawyers and professors have explained it to me like this... If Jim from Firm A hires Pam from School X who has all As on her transcript over Angela who has all Bs on her transcript, Jim can't be blamed later on if Pam turns out to fail the firm, but Jim looks bad if he hires Angela and she sucks (her grades were bad so why would you hire her?). The curve is just an arbitrary way to draw a line between which people are worth investing in and not. It's total crap, but if firms don't have much to go on they will certainly prefer someone with better grades (particularly at bigger firms).

This is an oversimplification. Sure maybe in the case you gave, a firm might be justified in hiring the student with all As. But what if the students' grades are all the same except one has two B+s where the other has two As? There is certainly a difference on the curve between these two students. Generally (unless, for instance, a firm is very honors sensitive and the slight difference means a difference in honors), the firm is not going to just pick the student with the slightly better grades. Once you are above (or possibly even slightly below) some threshold, you start to be evaluated based on other criteria than grades, such as fit.

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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby lavarman84 » Wed Sep 27, 2017 9:36 pm

rzzza wrote:It seems like the environment is such that, instead of striving for students to soak in the information, the approach is to toss as much stuff at the students as possible as quickly as possible so that they become confused, stressed and at best retain maybe half of everything they're supposed to know. Why do they do it this way? For example, I barely have time to understand future interests before we're onto perpetuities. I think only my torts class moves at what I would call a reasonable pace.

I also don't understand the rationale for having only one major exam at the end of the semester. Why not several exams spaced out during the course like they do in undergrad? Wouldn't that be more helpful for students to compartmentalize what they learn and have a better hope of actually retaining the information?

Is this something that is done by necessity because there's too much material to cover, or is it a purposeful approach they use to weed out the weak? I just don't get it.


Because they don't want you to compartmentalize it. They want you to understand the bigger picture to the class and that specific area of law. This isn't undergrad, but it gets a lot easier after your first semester. It takes a little bit of time for things to click because you have to learn how to learn the law.

This isn't like undergrad where the most important thing is memorizing stupid minutia. In law school, it's all about understanding how the various concepts interact to allow you to see the big picture. That's what will allow you to analyze law school exam questions effectively. You still have to learn stupid minutia, but that's not what separates an A from a B.

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Pneumonia
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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby Pneumonia » Wed Sep 27, 2017 11:25 pm

anonanonny wrote:
rzzza wrote:I'm glad you guys said I don't need to understand everything, that alleviates my anxiety some. I'm still not certain of the rationale behind this teaching style though. Why is the goal to compare students against the curve instead of just instilling these lessons into the student body? I mean hypothetically someone could turn in C level work but get an A because the rest of the class got an F. Good for that kid, but he still did C level work. How is that good for the profession as a whole?

Some lawyers and professors have explained it to me like this... If Jim from Firm A hires Pam from School X who has all As on her transcript over Angela who has all Bs on her transcript, Jim can't be blamed later on if Pam turns out to fail the firm, but Jim looks bad if he hires Angela and she sucks (her grades were bad so why would you hire her?). The curve is just an arbitrary way to draw a line between which people are worth investing in and not. It's total crap, but if firms don't have much to go on they will certainly prefer someone with better grades (particularly at bigger firms).

Yes, the idea of "covering one's ass" is one way to make sense of the disproportionate weight that firms put on school and class rank. I think it ends with shareholders, and the tone they set affects the rest of legal market.

Here's what I mean. Shareholders choose the board, who chooses management, who chooses outside counsel, who chooses which associates to hire. At each of these levels, the person or group in the subordinate position wants a way to say that "they did the best they could." It's easier to do that when you have some concrete standard to point to. US News rankings provide one.

So if company X loses a huge case or gets shafted on a deal, people will be looking for heads to roll. If you're the GC and you hired the "best" firm that you could, then you have a plausible argument that it should be some head other than yours.

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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby anonanonny » Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:51 am

run26.2 wrote:
anonanonny wrote:
rzzza wrote:I'm glad you guys said I don't need to understand everything, that alleviates my anxiety some. I'm still not certain of the rationale behind this teaching style though. Why is the goal to compare students against the curve instead of just instilling these lessons into the student body? I mean hypothetically someone could turn in C level work but get an A because the rest of the class got an F. Good for that kid, but he still did C level work. How is that good for the profession as a whole?

Some lawyers and professors have explained it to me like this... If Jim from Firm A hires Pam from School X who has all As on her transcript over Angela who has all Bs on her transcript, Jim can't be blamed later on if Pam turns out to fail the firm, but Jim looks bad if he hires Angela and she sucks (her grades were bad so why would you hire her?). The curve is just an arbitrary way to draw a line between which people are worth investing in and not. It's total crap, but if firms don't have much to go on they will certainly prefer someone with better grades (particularly at bigger firms).

This is an oversimplification. Sure maybe in the case you gave, a firm might be justified in hiring the student with all As. But what if the students' grades are all the same except one has two B+s where the other has two As? There is certainly a difference on the curve between these two students. Generally (unless, for instance, a firm is very honors sensitive and the slight difference means a difference in honors), the firm is not going to just pick the student with the slightly better grades. Once you are above (or possibly even slightly below) some threshold, you start to be evaluated based on other criteria than grades, such as fit.

Of course, but there are many firms that *require* students be top 5%, 10%, etc. These students' grades wouldn't look too different from each other. I didn't mean to suggest that in every single instance a person with higher grades will be picked. My example was an oversimplification, but I think it's sufficient to understand at least some basics about why we draw arbitrary lines with grades.

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Re: 1L dismayed with the teaching style/pace of law school

Postby ggocat » Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:52 am

cavalier1138 wrote:Man, if only someone had warned you that law school isn't a three-year vacation for someone who doesn't know if they want to practice law.

That was amusing.




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