Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

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Never attending law school classes is:

 
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caribelita
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Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby caribelita » Sat May 17, 2008 4:45 pm

I have several 1L friends who got top grades in their classes and NEVER went to class (at most once or twice per semester, normally just for the first day). Instead, they used the weeks to read supplements (only the portions that corresponded to their professor's syllabus) and practice with hypotheticals and old exams.

How dangerous do you all think this route would be? I've always gone to every single class, and although I can see how they can be a waste of time (for the most part), I'm also a bit cautious to stop attending since it seems that there are moments of "jewels" where the professor says something really impt.

And for those of you that think going to class is VERY important, then what is it about classes that you think are that important?

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Ipsa Dixit
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby Ipsa Dixit » Sat May 17, 2008 4:53 pm

caribelita wrote:And for those of you that think going to class is VERY important, then what is it about classes that you think are that important?


Attendance is mandatory at my school. Profs can drop you 1/3 of a grade for failure to participate (obviously, if you are not there, you can't participate) and if your absences are excessive, profs or the administration can refuse to let you sit for the exam.

I usually found class helpful and interesting.

reverendt
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby reverendt » Sat May 17, 2008 5:05 pm

It seems ridiculous to go off to law school planning NOT to attend your classes. If law is going to be your profession, you should WANT the insight that you're only going to get from good attendance.
In undergrad I typically allowed myself to miss each class once, and always let the professor know beforehand.
I don't even think I'm going to allow myself that luxury in law school...

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caribelita
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby caribelita » Sat May 17, 2008 5:11 pm

It seems ridiculous to go off to law school planning NOT to attend your classes.


Although this seems logical, the reasoning behind not attending law school classes often resides in the fact that many, if not most, law professors "hide-the-ball" during classes, and students often leave class more confused than when they entered.

My friends who chose not to attend class told me that just b/c they were paying a whole lot of $$$ to attend law school, that didn't mean that they should go to class if it wasted their time and didn't help them prepare for law school exams or even practice after graduation.

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TTT-LS
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby TTT-LS » Sat May 17, 2008 5:15 pm

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Last edited by TTT-LS on Sun Jun 20, 2010 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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sbjohnsn
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby sbjohnsn » Sat May 17, 2008 5:28 pm

Except for the rare occassion where I had a bad professor and they taught an exceptionally bad class, I never felt that going to class was a waste of time.

Going to class is incredibly important. That is the only way that you are going to learn the way a professor reasons and what they consider to be important, and you need to know that to write a good exam for that professor. I can't imagine that a supplement could teach someone everything they needed to know. I never had a class where 100% of the material was covered in the supplement.

Additionally, getting cold called and being absent can lower your grade if the professor gives herself discretion to raise or lower a grade based on exemplary or poor class participation.

At my school, if you are chronically truant and the professor notices, the professor can report you to the administration, who can refuse to allow you to sit for the final exam if you have more than a certain number of unexcused absences.

How are you going to develop a relationship with a professor if you don't go to their class? Yes, you can go to their office hours, but do you really think a professor is going to write a good reference for an employer for someone who got a good grade but never came to class? The relationships you sacrifice by not going to class are substantial.

Just go to class. Honestly, there isn't anything more important to do with your time while you're a law student.

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sbjohnsn
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby sbjohnsn » Sat May 17, 2008 5:31 pm

Although this seems logical, the reasoning behind not attending law school classes often resides in the fact that many, if not most, law professors "hide-the-ball" during classes, and students often leave class more confused than when they entered.


All the more reason to go to class. Professors hide the ball and confuse you because they want you to struggle with the material and think through it so that you can develop your reasoning skills and master the material. People who don't like being challeneged in this way are lazy.

Alexandria
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby Alexandria » Sat May 17, 2008 5:35 pm

I don't know that I would NEVER go to a class, and like someone above mentioned, at my school the prof can drop your grade if you don't go. But you can figure out if you are learning in class or not. I had one class that I absolutely was not learning anything in, so I skipped it often. And it's not like undergrad, where you skip it to have fun. Instead, I skipped it to make what I judged to be a more productive use of my time, in terms of studying.

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caribelita
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby caribelita » Sat May 17, 2008 5:58 pm

The question was only meant in regards to courses where there's a strict policy where attendance doesn't matter and there's no possibility of being lowered in terms of grades due to non-attendance. Therefore, classes that have an attendance policy are outside the realm of this question.

(Hopefully this clears that up a bit)

Some of you make good points and hit upon some of the things I've thought about, but then there's this wall that I hit:

When you go to class, preparation often revolves around knowing the details of the cases assigned, just in case you're called in class. However, the nitty-gritty of the details isn't really what's tested on exams. Therefore, the prep time that you spend trying to learn the cases so that you won't look like a fool in class 'could' be used for other, more useful things (i.e. reading supplements, practicing, etc.). On the other hand, if you skip reading your cases from the case-book to save on time, then you run into the problem of not being completely prepared for being called on in class (since profs often ask REALLY detailed questions about the cases).

Does anybody have any ideas of how to reconcile this dilemma?

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TTT-LS
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby TTT-LS » Sat May 17, 2008 6:16 pm

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Last edited by TTT-LS on Tue Jul 13, 2010 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Ipsa Dixit
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby Ipsa Dixit » Sat May 17, 2008 6:27 pm

If you think class is useless and you don't have to be there then don't go. You'll have to figure out on your own which classes are valuable to you and if you can skip them.

If you are going to go, for the sake if your classmates if not yourself, then be prepared or take a pass. No one likes when an unprepared person wastes class time and irritates the prof. Also, even if you are prepared, your prof may still make you look like a fool... you get used to it; it's not really a big deal.

It is possible to both prepare for class AND prepare for exams. Thousands of students manage it every year. It takes discipline though and I think there could be some danger in falling behind if you aren't disciplined enough to do both. It will also be tough to go to your prof for help if you haven't been reading the cases and going to class.

Skipping class to focus on other study methods may work for you. I don't know. For me, attending class and being prepared helped keep me disciplined and focused even for the one class I felt like I rarely *needed* to be present for (Ks, so much more straight forward than class would make it out to be.)

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MTal
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby MTal » Sat May 17, 2008 6:49 pm

Other than illness, what would even be a good reason to skip class? I can't really think of one.

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standre2008
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby standre2008 » Sat May 17, 2008 7:17 pm

MTal wrote:Other than illness, what would even be a good reason to skip class? I can't really think of one.




Laziness, fatigue, oversleeping are some other seasons. Not legitimate reasons, of course, but eh...

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sbjohnsn
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby sbjohnsn » Sat May 17, 2008 7:38 pm

When you go to class, preparation often revolves around knowing the details of the cases assigned, just in case you're called in class. However, the nitty-gritty of the details isn't really what's tested on exams. Therefore, the prep time that you spend trying to learn the cases so that you won't look like a fool in class 'could' be used for other, more useful things (i.e. reading supplements, practicing, etc.). On the other hand, if you skip reading your cases from the case-book to save on time, then you run into the problem of not being completely prepared for being called on in class (since profs often ask REALLY detailed questions about the cases).


I guess I just don't see the dilemma. There is plenty of time to read the cases carefully to understand the details and time to read supplements and outline. It's just a matter of the will power to do it. There is time to do it all you just have to buckle down and make the effort.

CaptainDirtyBird
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby CaptainDirtyBird » Sat May 17, 2008 7:56 pm

I like the self-reliant model of learning as much as anyone...but why would you drop 150k on an education by some of the best in thier field only to spend that time trying to do it yourself. In most endeavors in life, your standing on the shoulders of giants, why piss on 150k view.

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orangeswarm
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby orangeswarm » Sat May 17, 2008 8:30 pm

I have a hard time believing someone's law school attendance was "at most, once or twice per semester." I have an even harder time believing any, much less "several", of them could pull off top grades. I think whoever told you this may be embellishing a bit.

paisley
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby paisley » Sat May 17, 2008 8:31 pm

caribelita wrote:How dangerous do you all think this route would be?



i totally think you shouldnt go to class ever, especially if you are going to uw - madison. you should tell all of your friends not to go too.

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caribelita
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby caribelita » Sat May 17, 2008 8:37 pm

OK, so the several people that did this (and which it worked for) are three of my very close undergrad friends and 2 of my best friends at HLS (one of which tried it as an experiment during his 2nd semester since his 1st semester grades weren't that hot, and he ended up at the top of his section).

They've all been trying to convince me to stop going to class so that I can have more time to focus on the "stuff that counts." This is why I asked the question. PLUS, for those of you who don't know, I have a 5 1/2 yr. old son and a fiance, so I'm not a typical law student who has ALL day to devote to reading cases from the casebook, reading supplements, outlining, going to class, and practicing with hypotheticals starting on week 1.

For those of you who have insinuated that this is merely a matter of being lazy, I'd have to counter and say that it's a matter of efficiency in terms of learning well, preparing for exams, and preparing for practice.

AND although it's true that there are several HLS professors who are "titans" in their area, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're good profs. If anything, most of my professors have helped me learn VERY little law. The only thing I've ever felt that I got out of class are: occasional insights into the way THEY think and what THEY think is important, insights into their political background, examples of hypos from their own heads, and tid-bits of advice for exams.

zeezoo
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby zeezoo » Sat May 17, 2008 8:44 pm

When you go to class, preparation often revolves around knowing the details of the cases assigned, just in case you're called in class.


My 0L assumption:
Exams also revolve around knowing how to spot details in fact patterns. Can't you find a middle ground? You can still brief cases--just not in overkill mode--as long as you accept you might look like a fool. You can still go to class and get something out of it without prepping for the nitty gritty questions.

dat_raw_n_tellect
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby dat_raw_n_tellect » Sun May 18, 2008 12:41 am

Hi caribelita!!

I hope your 1L year went well!! I am actually in the middle of writing my note...but this is so much more interesting lol!

I understand what you are saying. I definitely thought about no longer attending classes that did not count attendance. In fact, I had one class in particular that many of my classmates did stop attending (it was our earliest class). I found it to be a blessing and a curse. Blessing: The teacher had a syllabus, but often strayed from it. So those students that missed class, missed out on important changes in the syllabus. Curse: While I was in the class, my classmates were prepping and studying for a different class that was seen as more difficult. Thus, probably making the curve more difficult in the other class.

Overall, I did not regret attending class. Personally, even if the class was not helpful in explaning per se, you get to see what your teacher really cares about. Plus, I pay wayyyyy too much money (me and Sallie Mae!) not to attend class. I always feel like I did all I could do (attending class included), so no matter the grade...I did my best.

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NewHere
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby NewHere » Sun May 18, 2008 12:54 am

On top of the arguments already mentioned:

Even if you do think the professor isn't explaining much, and even if the casebook explains the material well, going to class has the benefit of showing you what the professor emphasizes; what s/he finds important, and what kinds of arguments s/he likes and dislikes.

I voted for the second option. I always went to class, but there are one or two classes where I can see that not showing up (after the first two or three weeks) wouldn't hurt much: those were courses where the professor pretty much went through the casebook case by case, without adding a whole lot that wouldn't be covered by the notes in the book. On the other hand, I'm also thinking of one class where the professor pretty much taught his own private theory of Crim Law, and studying the material out of a casebook or hornbook would have meant taking an entirely different class (with an entirely different exam).

RTR10
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby RTR10 » Sun May 18, 2008 1:06 am

I usually went to class (unless I was at interviews or something), but I didn't really pay attention. Even if you sit there and are working on something else for another class (or that class), at least you can absorb whatever the professor is saying.

But you're right, for the most part, I don't think what goes on in class is actually what is tested (except for policy questions).

SecondTimeAround
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby SecondTimeAround » Sun May 18, 2008 9:57 am

Caribelita, is it possible, do you think, that your friends were just intellectually superior and would've gotten top grades whatever they did? It's hard to believe that for most people success would be so unrelated to attending class.

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NewHere
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby NewHere » Sun May 18, 2008 10:28 am

Apparently it might be inversely correlated, STA. Caribelita said that one of her friends tried this after his first-semester grades weren't that great, and he did better the second semester. It's interesting.

SecondTimeAround
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Re: Is skipping classes in law school dangerous?

Postby SecondTimeAround » Sun May 18, 2008 11:01 am

It's a real indictment of either the teaching or the system if it's true. In most other academic areas as far as I know doing and understanding the assigned work is what would lead to success. In law school it seems that for most people you have to do a whole separate set of work -- reading supplements, taking practice tests, camping out at the professor's office -- to be able to do well. Of course it's a great way to weed out people, one of the goals of law school. The naive student relies on what the professor tells him or her to do and suffers on the exam as a result.




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