2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

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Duo311
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2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby Duo311 » Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:57 am

I need some confirmation/direction from successful 2Ls about my 1L study plan.

For classes with a syllabus that has reading assignments from the beginning to the end of the semester:
1) Read and take notes on casebook assignment. For cases, read case brief book keyed to my casebook instead of reading the case itself and take notes on it.
2) Read corresponding section of E&E and take notes.
3) Read corresponding section of hornbook and take notes.

For classes without a syllabus or for classes in which I can't find a corresponding section in my E&E or hornbook's table of contents to match the content of the readings:
1) Read and take notes on casebook assignment. For cases, read case briefs book keyed to my casebook instead of reading the case itself and take notes on it.
2) Read E&E from cover to cover and take notes (obviously, I can't read it all in one sitting so I divide the # of pages with the # of days left until exams in December).
3) Read hornbook from cover to cover and take notes (reading schedule same as E&E).

During week of Oct. 6 (midpoint of semester):
-Work on poblems in E&Es
-Start reading "Getting to Maybe"


Am I wasting my time by reading the E&Es and hornbooks from cover to cover? Is it ok NOT to be taking notes in class when prof. goes on and on about small details of the case? I see people typing away but, from looking at the prof.'s hypo on his exam last semester, I don't know how anything but the substantive law would apply. Please enlighten me. Any constructive tips are appreciated.

helfer snooterbagon
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby helfer snooterbagon » Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm

I ended up in the top 5%, not the top 1% like some others on here, but ...

I think it is very important to read the cases, at least once. If you read the cases first your follow on reading of casebook summaries, will be more beneficial because you will see whether you actually took away the same issues. Also, there is a fairly good chance that at least a portion of a question on your exam will be a variant on a fact pattern that was in a case. It is important to recognize this because the prof will be expecting you to compare and reach either a similar or different conclusion based on key differences.

Reading an E&E cover to cover is much more feasible than reading a hornbook cover to cover. However, it is almost certain that your prof will not cover everything that is contained in the E&E, and even more certain that they will not cover everything in a hornbook. There is no point in reading a hornbook cover to cover, if your Torts class does not cover Dignitary Torts (invasion of privacy, publication of a private matter, defamation etc.) there is absolutely no sense in reading this.

I would spend that time taking previous exams, under exam conditions. The first time you take a lawschool exam will be stressful, there is no way around it. However, if you have taken previous exams and always used a set structure (1. Skip straight to the call of the question, 2. Read the exam through once at a normal pace, 3. Read one more time focusing on particular sections, and 4. OUTLINE your answer first) it will be much easier to actually do this on the big day. Otherwise, you are almost certain to simply begin writing as soon as you have received the exam.

Taking an exam is an art, knowing the black letter law cold is a necessary condition for receiving a high grade, but it is not a sufficient condition.

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mumbling2myself
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby mumbling2myself » Wed Aug 27, 2008 3:01 pm

snooterbagon's pretty spot on.

You need to learn to read cases. The cases in your casebook are already abridged, and should be easy enough (you're going to be starting a pretty intense career... if reading a few cases is a problem, get out now). Canned briefs often focus on very different things than your prof will, and may leave out things that your professor finds to be really important. Things your prof finds important need to be things you find important.

As for details the prof is going on about in class, the prof is likely focusing on them because he or she believes they're important. Important details == details you need to watch out for on exams. You don't need to be a stenographer (your classmates will figure this out gradually), but if the prof is telling you something is important, you need to make some note of it at some point.

Knowing the blackletter law is awesome, and will probably guarantee you pass both the class and the barzam. Knowing what the prof wants you to is going to be the difference between acing the class and getting a median grade (and, if your prof is worth his salt, teach you the subject well enough to be in good shape for the barzam).

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Duo311
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby Duo311 » Thu Aug 28, 2008 12:54 pm

helfer snooterbagon wrote:(1. Skip straight to the call of the question, 2. Read the exam through once at a normal pace, 3. Read one more time focusing on particular sections, and 4. OUTLINE your answer first).


First, thanks you two for the advice and congrats on the high ranking in your class helfer.

helfer, is what I quoted how you approached taking exams?

I have started to take better notes in class. Hopefully, I'll pick up on an important theme that the prof is trying to emphasize that will lead to big points on the exam.

Should I be taking practice exams early November or earlier than that? Did you two find your profs' old exams to be any similar to the one you had to take?

Did you two just read the casebooks or did you use supplements?

Anything I should be doing different towards the middle or end of the semester in order to prepare for exams?

helfer snooterbagon
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby helfer snooterbagon » Thu Aug 28, 2008 2:46 pm

I followed the procedures outlined in LEEWS (I bought the CDs, did not attend the live course). Certainly not everyone here thinks that LEEWS is that great, however, one of the most valuable parts for me was the step by step guide to taking the exams. If you can organize your answer both in your head and on your outline it will be easier to present an organized answer on the test paper. There are people who can simply read the pattern, and immediately begin writing a cogent, well-organized, "A" response. I am not one of those people.
I would say right after Thanksgiving is a good time to start "taking" practice exams because you will have covered at least ~80% of the material at that point. Taking them earlier will probably frustrate you because there will be certain things you just won't have any idea about. Also, our school had TAs assigned (typically 2nd or 3rd year students who had gotten at least a B+ in the class (we had a pretty tight curve)). If you do have TAs and they hold office hours, go see them and ask for hypos, all of the TAs at our class were bored out of their minds because no-one ever came to office hours until the very end. I enjoyed going to office hours and usually got some good tips. Keep in mind that they will have access to the Professor as well, and can probably get info that you could not get yourself.
I used the E&E's and the hornbooks, but I certainly did not read either one cover-to-cover. 2nd semester I used some commercial outlines as well, they were marginally useful.
I think the most important thing is to just stay on it, try to review on the weekends, even if it is only for an hour or so at first. Many of my classmates got overwhelmed by Legal Writing Assignments, but that class was only worth 3/5 as much as each Doctrinal Class.
Finally, your time is much more valuable at the end of the semester, an hour spent studying then is worth so much more than in the beginning simply because that is when you are synthesizing the entire course. Make sure you save something for the final push.

upgrade
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby upgrade » Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:28 am

Do you guys recommend Prosser's Hornbook (latest edition I see is from 1984) or the Dobb's Hornbook?

Darth Topher
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby Darth Topher » Fri Aug 29, 2008 10:09 am

Cool thread

JusAbstinendi
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby JusAbstinendi » Fri Aug 29, 2008 10:33 am

mumbling2myself wrote:Canned briefs often focus on very different things than your prof will, and may leave out things that your professor finds to be really important. Things your prof finds important need to be things you find important.


Question: If the casebook has something such as a LegalLines keyed to it, is it safe to assume that this version of a canned brief is pertinent? Or are even keyed versions of canned briefs suspect?

helfer snooterbagon
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby helfer snooterbagon » Fri Aug 29, 2008 10:42 am

Do you guys recommend Prosser's Hornbook


I think Prosser's Hornbook is great. I actually bought both Prosser's and Dobb's hornbooks (2nd semester I realized that it was much more economical to simply read the books in the library) and found that Prosser's was much easier to comprehend. He is really a power house in Torts, court opinions still quote from his book. Additionally, most of what is covered in a first year torts class is not particularly dynamic and the changes since 1984 will not really come into play.

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mumbling2myself
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby mumbling2myself » Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:17 am

JusAbstinendi wrote:
mumbling2myself wrote:Canned briefs often focus on very different things than your prof will, and may leave out things that your professor finds to be really important. Things your prof finds important need to be things you find important.


Question: If the casebook has something such as a LegalLines keyed to it, is it safe to assume that this version of a canned brief is pertinent? Or are even keyed versions of canned briefs suspect?



The only briefs that are ever worth getting are keyed. Different casebooks abridge cases differently, reflecting the opinions of the authors as to what is and is not important, so canned briefs that aren't keyed won't cover the same information (they may, in fact, contain completely different cases and be totally worthless to you). The canned briefs necessarily abridge a case that's already highly abridged in the casebook. They're excellent for refreshing one's memory at the end of the semester, and for getting the general feel for a case, but they may miss nuances the prof finds highly relevant.

Here's an example from the Business Associations class I took this summer. We looked at a McConnel v. Hunt Sport Enterprises, a really interesting case. There, a group of Columbus investors formed an LLC to attempt to bring an NHL franchise to the city of Columbus. HSE was a really successful investor who owned shared of sports franchises in other cities and was generally successful. Because of this, he was included in the LLC, and was generally a leader among the group. Without consulting the rest of the LLC, Hunt turned down a rental agreement at the local arena. McConnel was unhappy with this, and told the arena that, if the LLC refused to rent, he would. This dramatically undercut the LLC's bargaining position (McConnel ended up forming a separate group to rent the space). The whole case ended up revolving around language in the LLC's charter stating that shareholders could compete directly with the LLC, and it was decided in McConnel's favor.

That's the canned brief version of the case.

In class, however, the prof went waaay deeper. We looked at why such a provision was included (HSE owned sports franchises in other cities - competition, and was trying to bring a pro-soccer team to columbus; HSE probably demanded the provision to protect its interests). How it should have been written (it shouldn't have been so broad, narrower language could have protected HSE), and whether or not it's even legal to have a provision that would effectively negate the duty of loyalty to other shareholders in a situation like this (if this case is valid precedent, probably).

Think of it this way; it was a 15 page case, and we spent over an hour talking about it. A one page case summary probably never going to contain an hour's worth of information. It's not worth relying on them, especially early in your law school career.

The canned brief is really good, however, to go over to refresh my memory of the case (I just looked it up in my outline; basically my own canned briefs) so that I could remember the nuances from the class discussion. This class discussion relied upon a fairly close reading of the case itself, including specific language from the opinion. If I'd just read a legalines brief, I wouldn't have followed most of it.

JusAbstinendi
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby JusAbstinendi » Fri Aug 29, 2008 1:58 pm

Thank you for the in-depth response.

zeezoo
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby zeezoo » Fri Aug 29, 2008 7:07 pm

A lot of people seem to be implying that if you use a commercial outline, you aren't going to actually read the case and take some extra notes for yourself. An outline should help you get an overview, not completely replace briefing, especially in the first month or 2.

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mumbling2myself
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby mumbling2myself » Sat Aug 30, 2008 12:58 pm

zeezoo wrote:A lot of people seem to be implying that if you use a commercial outline, you aren't going to actually read the case and take some extra notes for yourself. An outline should help you get an overview, not completely replace briefing, especially in the first month or 2.


The OP specifically said that his plan was to skip reading the cases and read canned briefs keyed to his casebook, and asked for 2L advice on it. I wasn't referring to users of canned briefs in general, but the OP specifically. I definitely think that canned briefs can have value, but, as you said, should never replace reading the actual material assigned.

My point (assuming I'm one of the 'lot of people'?) was that the value to canned briefs is limited, nothing more. I've only ever used canned briefs for one class, and didn't even look at them until the last few weeks of the term. They were a great study aid, but could never have replaced the hundreds of pages I read for the class.

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stavand
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby stavand » Sat Aug 30, 2008 1:01 pm

For courses without syllabus (that sucks by the way), I would read the hornbook along with your cases (or case summaries). Use those to know what sections you need to read (acting in part as a syllabus).

upgrade
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby upgrade » Sat Aug 30, 2008 7:29 pm

If one of the purposes of reading cases is to learn to spot relevant issues, isn't reading the main points in the E&E or Hornbook defeating that purpose?

I did this with Shaffer v. Heitner today as a test. While the opinion seemed to be more clearly written than many of the cases I have read, I'm not sure if it was easier knowing most of the relevant details ahead of time or just because the writing style was more modern. I didn't use a canned brief, just looked in the Hornbook's table of cases and found the sections where the case was cited several times.

In this first week I read each case 2-4 times to get to the point where I think I understand what the court is saying. Shaffer, seems to make sense after reading only once... I'm not a masochist, but if I need to be developing some analytical skill that is going to help me on the exam, I would rather do that while the semester is slow.

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AR75
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Re: 2Ls: Please Evaluate My 1L Study Plan

Postby AR75 » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:27 pm

Read the cases, brief the cases, listen to lecture. Lather, rinse, repeat. Take it from me. I'm at the middle of my class.

Cheers,

Longodds.




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