"Law School Confidential" briefing method

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Thane Messinger
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Thane Messinger » Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:34 pm

yinz wrote:
Cavalier wrote:Book briefing is almost as pointless as actual briefing. Personally I used two highlighters - one color for "facts" (mainly for smoother cold calls), and one color for the court's reasoning, important dicta, etc. But that's not even necessary - you can easily get by with one color or even just by underlining with a pen. It doesn't matter.


1. I use rainbow colors per the LSC-method, pastels for adjectives, crayons for conjunctions, and erasable markers for possessive pronouns.

2. I thought Thane was a shameless plugger, but I've come to think that is hardly his only reason for posting; I think he actually enjoys imparting knowledge.



Why, thank you. = : )

PS: I would suggest testing yourself for value gained in color-coding (which I assert has a low benefit-to-cost). The acid test, I propose, is the ability to draw THE lesson from each case in application to a new fact pattern (i.e., a hypothetical or practice exam). So, after completing a section of cases with highlighting, try your hand at a practice exam, or one of the Restatement fact patterns. I submit that the effort and fumes of highlighting do almost nothing for the very real needs of an exam, and, indeed, for the needs of classroom discussion. Just saying.

Thane Messinger
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Thane Messinger » Sun Jun 20, 2010 10:39 pm

edcrane wrote:
tomwelling wrote:Also, in my opinion, I don't see how one would gain anything by outlining before class. Individual classes tend to be over fairly narrow aspects of law; anyone who simply reads the case should already know why the case is being discussed. If you don't, making an outline of it won't help.


Yeah, this is a pretty bizarre suggestion. Maybe things have changed in the 20 years since Thane attended law school. I have certainly never felt that this level of preparation was necessary to absorb the material presented in class.



Necessary? No.

Beneficial? Efficient? Good? Well, those seem to be the questions at hand.

I do have to smile, I must admit. It's not as if an outline goes "Poof!" once done. Gosh, all that useful outlining just waiting to be reviewed, already done (with less effort, I might add) and with each pass part of one's legal mind just itching to be tested.

= : )

PS: As to my old-fart status, perhaps we can find someone who graduated 40 years ago. = : )

tomwelling
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby tomwelling » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:00 pm

Thane Messinger wrote: Following the advice to "Relax!" for the next two months is all-but suicidal, not because law cannot be learned well in nine months but because for most, it is not.



Considering that the vast majority of students do nothing over the summer, saying relaxing is "suicidal" is quite the exaggeration. Is it helpful to prepare over the summer? Possibly, but it is debatable. Is it a terrible to do nothing? Absolutely not.

Law can very easily be learned in 9 months. Applying the law separates students. Something may be helpful over the summer insofar as it helps someone develop the ability to apply law.

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edcrane
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby edcrane » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:06 pm

Thane Messinger wrote:
edcrane wrote:
tomwelling wrote:Also, in my opinion, I don't see how one would gain anything by outlining before class. Individual classes tend to be over fairly narrow aspects of law; anyone who simply reads the case should already know why the case is being discussed. If you don't, making an outline of it won't help.


Yeah, this is a pretty bizarre suggestion. Maybe things have changed in the 20 years since Thane attended law school. I have certainly never felt that this level of preparation was necessary to absorb the material presented in class.


Necessary? No.

Beneficial? Efficient? Good? Well, those seem to be the questions at hand.

I do have to smile, I must admit. It's not as if an outline goes "Poof!" once done. Gosh, all that useful outlining just waiting to be reviewed, already done (with less effort, I might add) and with each pass part of one's legal mind just itching to be tested.


I don't find the efficiency justification persuasive. Virtually every professor I've had has, on a regular basis, assigned significant amounts of material that they don't touch on (or barely touch on) in class and don't test. If I outlined this material before class, I would develop a broader understanding of the subject but waste time with respect to the exam. The outline itself would be of limited use to me unless, immediately after class, I edited the hell out of it to reflect the actual material covered in class and the professor's take on it. It seems to me that it's far more efficient to simply do the assigned reading and outline after you understand the intended scope of the class.

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edcrane
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby edcrane » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:20 pm

tomwelling wrote:
Thane Messinger wrote: Following the advice to "Relax!" for the next two months is all-but suicidal, not because law cannot be learned well in nine months but because for most, it is not.



Considering that the vast majority of students do nothing over the summer, saying relaxing is "suicidal" is quite the exaggeration. Is it helpful to prepare over the summer? Possibly, but it is debatable. Is it a terrible to do nothing? Absolutely not.

Law can very easily be learned in 9 months. Applying the law separates students. Something may be helpful over the summer insofar as it helps someone develop the ability to apply law.


Between this and the wild claim that anyone who starts outlining halfway through the semester will be lucky to make in into the top 1/3, I'm starting to wonder whether this is an elaborate flame.

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vamedic03
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby vamedic03 » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:27 pm

edcrane wrote:
tomwelling wrote:
Thane Messinger wrote: Following the advice to "Relax!" for the next two months is all-but suicidal, not because law cannot be learned well in nine months but because for most, it is not.



Considering that the vast majority of students do nothing over the summer, saying relaxing is "suicidal" is quite the exaggeration. Is it helpful to prepare over the summer? Possibly, but it is debatable. Is it a terrible to do nothing? Absolutely not.

Law can very easily be learned in 9 months. Applying the law separates students. Something may be helpful over the summer insofar as it helps someone develop the ability to apply law.


Between this and the wild claim that anyone who starts outlining halfway through the semester will be lucky to make in into the top 1/3, I'm starting to wonder whether this is an elaborate flame.


Its been a load of BS and shameless shilling for a book he published.

Thane Messinger
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Thane Messinger » Sun Jun 20, 2010 11:33 pm

edcrane wrote:
rando wrote:
edcrane wrote:
Thane Messinger wrote:

No way. Wait until then and you’re lucky to hit the top 33%.


What world do you live in? I do not know a single person on law review who starts outlining during the beginning of the semester. I mean it's fine to recommend a more aggressive approach, but I think you need to come up with a justification that comports with reality.


Follow this guys advice for sure fire failure


Are you directing that comment at me? If so, wut?



Whew. Had me worried there for a second.

= : )

Thane Messinger
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Thane Messinger » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:36 am

vamedic03 wrote:
edcrane wrote:
tomwelling wrote:
Thane Messinger wrote: Following the advice to "Relax!" for the next two months is all-but suicidal, not because law cannot be learned well in nine months but because for most, it is not.



Considering that the vast majority of students do nothing over the summer, saying relaxing is "suicidal" is quite the exaggeration. Is it helpful to prepare over the summer? Possibly, but it is debatable. Is it a terrible to do nothing? Absolutely not.

Law can very easily be learned in 9 months. Applying the law separates students. Something may be helpful over the summer insofar as it helps someone develop the ability to apply law.


Between this and the wild claim that anyone who starts outlining halfway through the semester will be lucky to make in into the top 1/3, I'm starting to wonder whether this is an elaborate flame.


Its been a load of BS and shameless shilling for a book he published.


Well, there we have it.

It would seem that continued discussion is pointless, as your minds seem quite made up.

For others, it's fine to choose not to prepare for your first week, semester, and year of law school, but it's rather better if it's for reasoned pedagogical objections. If, however, it's out of raw laziness because you've better things to do and and are flatly unwilling to put in the extra effort (which, ironically, will be less than what you'll likely end up doing)--and, darnit, who wants to work when a boss isn't telling you it's absolutely required?!--beware.

Paradoxically, what I advise isn't some version of "Study 12-hour days and have no life"--quite the opposite. It's to help law students learn more and better with less effort. But to do so in the world of law school--which everyone admits is "different!" than college--you'll need to think and learn and study, well, differently. Part of the reason I wrote the book was to help law students avoid the awful, conventional reality, which is brought on by the standard "techniques" we're discussing, like color-coding, mountains of note-taking, brown-nosing, and case briefing, all of which are, in varying ways and extremes, garbage. Worse than that, actually. It's not just that they won't help, but that they will distract you from real learning and they will cause you to burn out. Nine months or eleven will make not one bit of difference as to the latter.

There's yet another aspect of this, in that this is one factor your future bosses will be on the lookout for, as measured by grades, efficiency, and pleasantness. If you can waltz into the exam room and pull off that A, as you have been able to do for a dozen-plus years, good for you. If, however, you're part of the 50% who ends in the bottom half, well, in the modern world of hundred-thousand-plus debt, that seems pretty good reason to question one's prejudices.

The same perspective takes over with veteran law professors, by the way: they see this pattern of knee-jerk know-it-all-ness and tune out, ever more content with the grand leveling mechanism of the law exam.*

Best of luck to all, sincerely.

Thane.

* If anyone would like to see a thread on this very topic (which happens to include not one but three profs), take a look at http://www.nontradlaw.net/forums/ubbthr ... #Post90803 . . . which is how I learned of this thread. Lucky me. = : )

Thane Messinger
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Thane Messinger » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:55 am

tomwelling wrote:
Thane Messinger wrote: Following the advice to "Relax!" for the next two months is all-but suicidal, not because law cannot be learned well in nine months but because for most, it is not.



Considering that the vast majority of students do nothing over the summer, saying relaxing is "suicidal" is quite the exaggeration. Is it helpful to prepare over the summer? Possibly, but it is debatable. Is it a terrible to do nothing? Absolutely not.

Law can very easily be learned in 9 months. Applying the law separates students. Something may be helpful over the summer insofar as it helps someone develop the ability to apply law.



To judge by conversations with university counselors, actually, "suicidal" is not too strong a word. It is, at the very least, suicidal to one's careeer.

And if ever there were an exaggeration, "Law can very easily be learned in 9 months" would certainly make the top 14.*

*The paradox is that your statement is true . . . but not for most, for the very reasons discussed in this thread.

rando
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby rando » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:16 am

edcrane wrote:
rando wrote:
Thane Messinger wrote:
vamedic03 wrote:
No way. Wait until then and you’re lucky to hit the top 33%.


What world do you live in? I do not know a single person on law review who starts outlining during the beginning of the semester. I mean it's fine to recommend a more aggressive approach, but I think you need to come up with a justification that comports with reality.


Follow this guys advice for sure fire failure


Are you directing that comment at me? If so, wut?


Sure fire failure is certainly too strong a phrase. my bad.

However, your statement implies that outlining early is useless and does not "comport with reality," which is so inherently false that it makes you seem silly. I don't know where you go to school, maybe that's how it is done there. But many many people I know (who did very well) start outlining early, as in within two weeks of the beginning of the semester. And yes, some people who didn't, did well. But those who started early invariably did much better. Is it due to the outlining? Mostly not, would be my guess. I would imagine that most of it is the type of person that starts outlining at that point.

As for outlining before class. Yeah, that's crazy town.

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edcrane
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby edcrane » Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:38 am

rando wrote:
Sure fire failure is certainly too strong a phrase. my bad.

However, your statement implies that outlining early is useless and does not "comport with reality," which is so inherently false that it makes you seem silly. I don't know where you go to school, maybe that's how it is done there. But many many people I know (who did very well) start outlining early, as in within two weeks of the beginning of the semester. And yes, some people who didn't, did well. But those who started early invariably did much better. Is it due to the outlining? Mostly not, would be my guess. I would imagine that most of it is the type of person that starts outlining at that point.

As for outlining before class. Yeah, that's crazy town.


I think you need to read my original post again. I was responding to the assertion that anyone who waits until halfway through the semester to begin outlining will be lucky to make it into the top 1/3. That certainly does not comport with reality at NYU--maybe it's true elsewhere. That does not mean that outlining early is useless. It simply means that choosing to begin outlining halfway through the semester may be a viable strategy rather than a choice that inevitably dooms one to mediocrity.
Last edited by edcrane on Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sophie316
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby sophie316 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:08 pm

God this thread is making me exhausted just reading it. This is what I did:

1) Read most of the cases before class(the amount I read depended upon whether or not the prof cold called...outside of civ pro if there was no cold calling I mainly skimmed). No briefing but I did underline.

2) Went to most classes(i'd say I missed between 5 and 20% depending on the class)

3) Took fairly craptastic notes.

4) About 2.5 weeks before exams I started outlining. This involved taking as many old outlines as I could and combining them, supplementing them with any class notes that really stood out and adding holdings from canned briefs for cases that were new this year.

5) I generally finished my outlines 2 days before the test(if I was lucky, sometimes just 1 day). I would then read old exams(not do them though). My main focus was on model answers which I read every single one I could find. If the professor said we could take anything in to the exam, i would take these in with me. I think I only had one test with no model answers given and for that I just made my best guess at what kind of style the professor would like, but other than that I stuck very closely to the format(word vomit v carefully structured and outlined w subheadings) and writing style(ie formal v. conversational) etc of the model answers. Where the questions were similar I almost just substituted the new facts for the old ones(also true of practice problems we went over in class, I put these in my outlines and then just switched out the facts/changed things around as needed).

And that's it. Outside of exam time and when I had writing assignments due I never did more than an hour of two a work a day. And I did just fine. So all the above is not always needed(I realize sometimes what I have said is not enough, everyone's different etc etc...but I just wanted to give 0Ls reading this an alternative perspective/try and calm people down a bit).

solidsnake
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby solidsnake » Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:28 pm

top 1%

Took great notes and participated in class (a lot). Reviewed my notes at the end of the day, a few days later, and then every couple of weeks thereafter (spaced repetition). Didn't make an outline until the last few weeks of class -- at that point, you are essentially trimming the fat from your notes. If you've been studying your notes throughout the semester, however, the outline is kind of useless. You may get some utility from it, but I wouldn't recommend spending too much time on it. Some people obsess on making a really beautiful-looking outline, which is just foolish (form over substance and all that). Practice tests w model answers are the key. Did those everyday for hours in the days leading up to the final.

As for the LSC/rainbow bright coloring method, I pretty much know every person in the top 10% of my class, and not one did that (know some other non-top 10%ers that insisted on doing it). Correlation? I don't know, but I think it's a waste of time. Your time is better spent meeting up w a friend for drinks and arguing legal theory and psychoanalyzing your profs, seriously.

Alyosha
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Alyosha » Mon Jun 21, 2010 3:51 pm

In my experience the most dangerous part of the book Thane is recommending (Law School Getting In, Getting Good, etc) is when he says not to take notes. He recommends taking very few notes, if any, during class. Like solidsnake, my notes were absolutely essential while studying for exams. I outlined directly from my notes, and they were helpful for knowing what the professor focused on, how he phrased the rules/doctrine, which policy arguments were important, and for reminders about what the professor wanted on exams. When half of my section would sit down for class, pull up their internet browsers and sit through class on facebook or whatever, it was absolutely amazing to me.

As for preparing before school starts, I read some of PLSII and Thane's book, both of which heavily recommend it. Then I read all of the TLS posts from people in the top of their classes, at top schools, who were strongly against it (See e.g. the "After grades, what did we learn" thread), and decided not to do it. I don't regret this decision in the slightest. It's important to remember that there is a financial interest in Thane encouraging people to prep, since his book encourages it and the more people who use his method and encourage others to use it, the more books he sells.

I will say that Thane's book had some parts that were actually helpful during 1L.

I did not follow the law school confidential briefing method. I underlined and made notes in the margins. I think I may have done perhaps three case briefs all year.

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RUQRU
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby RUQRU » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:11 pm

Alyosha wrote:In my experience the most dangerous part of the book Thane is recommending (Law School Getting In, Getting Good, etc) is when he says not to take notes. He recommends taking very few notes, if any, during class. Like solidsnake, my notes were absolutely essential ...


Wentworth Miller, author of LEEWS also recommends minimal note taking:
Where classmates take copious notes (typically 3-4 pages per class hour), ending the term with a mountain of notes they won't have time to review, the LEEWS grad takes 1/2 to a single page of notes per class hour. These notes are then discarded weekly. (Literally!) Because weekly, everything of importance in those 2-3 pages (versus 10-15 for classmates!) is incorporated into a "course outline" — a summary of law deemed relevant to the exam, organized for speedy reference.

[Most first term law students typically begin course outlines too late in the term. Moreover, their outlines are often 100 pages and more in length. A LEEWS-constructed outline will be in the range of 30-50 pages, sometimes a bit more, often a lot less [10-12 pages!].)

[Note: The reason students take copious notes is they don't know how to "analyze as a lawyer," don't understand what is needed for exams, don't understand how class relates to exams. Confused, unable to make sense of the many threads of discussion, they compensate by writing everything down. They reason, "I'll make sense of this later." But there's no later in law school. Material keeps coming at you. Once behind the curve, it's nigh impossible to catch up. Especially if you don't understand the game and its rules.]


Source: http://www.leews.com/

I realize the criticism of Miller will be the same, "he has a financial interest" in selling more LEEWS classes. Not sure why there is a bias against those who sell books or classes in this forum. People, including lawyers, offer their services for sale every day. The bigger the settlement the bigger the payday. Should people not take an attorney's advice because he has a "financial interest" in the outcome?

The advice Thane and Miller offer may be good, maybe not good. But the fact that they make money selling advice does not mean the advice is wrong or worthless.

tomwelling
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby tomwelling » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:29 pm

Thane Messinger wrote:
tomwelling wrote:
Thane Messinger wrote: Following the advice to "Relax!" for the next two months is all-but suicidal, not because law cannot be learned well in nine months but because for most, it is not.



Considering that the vast majority of students do nothing over the summer, saying relaxing is "suicidal" is quite the exaggeration. Is it helpful to prepare over the summer? Possibly, but it is debatable. Is it a terrible to do nothing? Absolutely not.

Law can very easily be learned in 9 months. Applying the law separates students. Something may be helpful over the summer insofar as it helps someone develop the ability to apply law.



To judge by conversations with university counselors, actually, "suicidal" is not too strong a word. It is, at the very least, suicidal to one's careeer.

And if ever there were an exaggeration, "Law can very easily be learned in 9 months" would certainly make the top 14.*

*The paradox is that your statement is true . . . but not for most, for the very reasons discussed in this thread.



It is an ENORMOUS exaggeration to call it suicidal to do nothing over the summer. Once again, since the vast majority of students do nothing over the summer (even the vast majority of those students who are very successful), calling it suicidal is hyperbole.

When I say that law can be learned quickly, I am referring to the amount of material that must be learned for an exam. Most classes can, at their core, be summarized in a 15-20 outline. It is (relatively) easy to memorize and understand this outline. The ability to recognize issues on an exam and apply the principles is difficult. Nearly everyone knows the actual from a class for the test, but there is obviously a great deal of disparity in how well people can apply the law.

So to clarify what I said previously: doing something over the summer that tells you, for instance, what murder means in a common law jurisdiction is worthless; it is quite simple to memorize that over the course of the semester. However, an activity could be worthwhile if it helps you learn how to apply the definition of murder to a complicated fact pattern like you must do on an exam.

Thane Messinger
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Thane Messinger » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:35 pm

solidsnake wrote:top 1%

Took great notes and participated in class (a lot). Reviewed my notes at the end of the day, a few days later, and then every couple of weeks thereafter (spaced repetition). Didn't make an outline until the last few weeks of class -- at that point, you are essentially trimming the fat from your notes. If you've been studying your notes throughout the semester, however, the outline is kind of useless. You may get some utility from it, but I wouldn't recommend spending too much time on it. Some people obsess on making a really beautiful-looking outline, which is just foolish (form over substance and all that). Practice tests w model answers are the key. Did those everyday for hours in the days leading up to the final.

As for the LSC/rainbow bright coloring method, I pretty much know every person in the top 10% of my class, and not one did that (know some other non-top 10%ers that insisted on doing it). Correlation? I don't know, but I think it's a waste of time. Your time is better spent meeting up w a friend for drinks and arguing legal theory and psychoanalyzing your profs, seriously.


Solidsnake -

I would agree. The color-coding method, which I tried ONE time when it was recommended by another faculty member, is one of the reasons I wrote the second book and am here. It is, at best, a heavy time (and marker) investment for very little payoff. At face, it's just plain silly.

My note as to notes is not that they're not valuable, but that they're not optimal. As you did, you essentially used notes as an outline, with the reviews at the end of each day (which I recommend), and spaced repetition. The difference is in one of structure: the difference between "notes" and "outline" is that with the latter you really don't need to worry in class. You can just listen, actively.

I agree absolutely with your comment about "pretty" outlines, and that is not at all my emphasis. In fact, the best outlines (and law exams, for that matter) are not pretty. I came to outlining late, when studying for the bar exam, and was amazed at how much more efficient it was. It was also fun, where notes in class tend to be rushed and to distract. With an outline for that day's class (which should be just a few lines), class becomes fun, not a chore.

Thank you for your comments, and although your first paragraph seems to be at odds with what I write, I encourage others to read what you write seriously.

Thane.

Thane Messinger
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Thane Messinger » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:46 pm

Alyosha wrote:

I will say that Thane's book had some parts that were actually helpful during 1L.

I did not follow the law school confidential briefing method. I underlined and made notes in the margins. I think I may have done perhaps three case briefs all year.


Aloha, Alyosha -

I would be most interested in which parts were helpful. (Via private message is fine.) And I am happy to share, at my cost, another book in appreciation. [Darn. There goes that extra limo I've had my eye on.]

Book briefing, such as you used, is an improvement over conventional case briefing . . . but not as good as another alternative.

Also, as you see in GGG, even where I make recommendations (as to both note-taking and case briefing) I am fully aware just how strongly against the grain this cuts, and so I offered rather extensive explanations of the why, and then a modified style to take into account our ingrained habits.

I stand by the advice, and for each new law student, only time will tell. My task here, aside from funding that new island off Corsica, is to at least be a voice to counter (what I see as) the extreme silliness that passes for considered advice. I don't mean to be rude, but for anyone not yet in 1L, does it make sense why there's so much fuss in law school? Answer that question--or at least understand why it is even a question--and you'll have a good clue as to just how mistaken much of our commen "sense" in the new world of law school is.

With aloha,

Thane.

Thane Messinger
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Thane Messinger » Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:51 pm

RUQRU wrote:
Alyosha wrote:In my experience the most dangerous part of the book Thane is recommending (Law School Getting In, Getting Good, etc) is when he says not to take notes. He recommends taking very few notes, if any, during class. Like solidsnake, my notes were absolutely essential ...


Wentworth Miller, author of LEEWS also recommends minimal note taking:
Where classmates take copious notes (typically 3-4 pages per class hour), ending the term with a mountain of notes they won't have time to review, the LEEWS grad takes 1/2 to a single page of notes per class hour. These notes are then discarded weekly. (Literally!) Because weekly, everything of importance in those 2-3 pages (versus 10-15 for classmates!) is incorporated into a "course outline" — a summary of law deemed relevant to the exam, organized for speedy reference.

[Most first term law students typically begin course outlines too late in the term. Moreover, their outlines are often 100 pages and more in length. A LEEWS-constructed outline will be in the range of 30-50 pages, sometimes a bit more, often a lot less [10-12 pages!].)

[Note: The reason students take copious notes is they don't know how to "analyze as a lawyer," don't understand what is needed for exams, don't understand how class relates to exams. Confused, unable to make sense of the many threads of discussion, they compensate by writing everything down. They reason, "I'll make sense of this later." But there's no later in law school. Material keeps coming at you. Once behind the curve, it's nigh impossible to catch up. Especially if you don't understand the game and its rules.]


Source: http://www.leews.com/

I realize the criticism of Miller will be the same, "he has a financial interest" in selling more LEEWS classes. Not sure why there is a bias against those who sell books or classes in this forum. People, including lawyers, offer their services for sale every day. The bigger the settlement the bigger the payday. Should people not take an attorney's advice because he has a "financial interest" in the outcome?

The advice Thane and Miller offer may be good, maybe not good. But the fact that they make money selling advice does not mean the advice is wrong or worthless.



Aloha, RUQRU -

Thank you. One side topic we've not covered is just how much of a shock is the world of law practice, where nearly everything is done for an exceedingly pragmatic reason. As a colleague once remarked, law firms are the world headquarters for capitalism. (Actually, I think we're in the West Wing.) Despite the current economic goings-on, that there is so little regard for the essential qualities of capitalism is its own comment.

This is one element of culture shock (in both directions to be sure) on the web, where capitalism is disdained, at best.

In any event, thank you,

Thane.
Last edited by Thane Messinger on Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Thane Messinger
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Thane Messinger » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:03 pm

tomwelling wrote:
It is an ENORMOUS exaggeration to call it suicidal to do nothing over the summer. Once again, since the vast majority of students do nothing over the summer (even the vast majority of those students who are very successful), calling it suicidal is hyperbole.


I would have thought so too, but as it happens I recently had a conversation with a university mental health counselor (he heads the department, actually), and he surprised me with his first-hand knowledge of just how pervasive and severe are mental health disorders among law students, including thoughts of suicide. That alone ought to take the breath out of everyone in this forum--as these students are just like you. ["You" referring not to tomwelling but to all of us.]

So, yes, I stand by the assertion.

PS: My statement should have related “suicidal” to “grades,” although again, the connection is stronger than most new law students would ever know.


tomwelling wrote:
When I say that law can be learned quickly, I am referring to the amount of material that must be learned for an exam. Most classes can, at their core, be summarized in a 15-20 outline. It is (relatively) easy to memorize and understand this outline. The ability to recognize issues on an exam and apply the principles is difficult. Nearly everyone knows the actual from a class for the test, but there is obviously a great deal of disparity in how well people can apply the law.


Agreed, and this is much of my point.

In fact, I’ll go further: everything needed to ace an exam MUST be in your mind in the equivalent of 1-2 pages, at most. (Thus, there are not one but two outlines for each course that are best in first year.)


tomwelling wrote:
So to clarify what I said previously: doing something over the summer that tells you, for instance, what murder means in a common law jurisdiction is worthless; it is quite simple to memorize that over the course of the semester. However, an activity could be worthwhile if it helps you learn how to apply the definition of murder to a complicated fact pattern like you must do on an exam.


True enough, but this is not what I’m recommending. In fact, I go into great detail as to why most efforts at preparation “study” fail.

In any event, I encourage all soon-to-be 1Ls to consider these points seriously, from all angles. You will have exactly one chance to get your first year right.

Thane.
Last edited by Thane Messinger on Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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edcrane
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby edcrane » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:33 pm

Thane Messinger wrote:
tomwelling wrote:
It is an ENORMOUS exaggeration to call it suicidal to do nothing over the summer. Once again, since the vast majority of students do nothing over the summer (even the vast majority of those students who are very successful), calling it suicidal is hyperbole.


I would have thought so too, but as it happens I recently had a conversation with a university mental health counselor...
So, yes, I stand by the assertion.

PS: My statement should have related “suicidal” to “grades,” although again, the connection is stronger than most new law students would ever know.


Anything that could arguably have an adverse effect on your grades is suicidal. It all makes sense now. Fail to attend LEEWS? Suicidal. Fail to purchase an E&E? Suicidal. Fail to outline before class. Well, you get the picture. It's a tough world out there.

In all seriousness, I appreciate that you're trying to help students out. I even agree that most of your recommendations are at least potentially useful--obviously there are different paths to success and some strategies may be effective for some students but not others. But you really do yourself a disservice when you make (and stand by) wildly hyperbolic statements.

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Mr. Matlock
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Mr. Matlock » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:49 pm

Question for the current law school students:

What percentage of your exams was based off information that wasn't covered in class?

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edcrane
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby edcrane » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:58 pm

Mr. Matlock wrote:Question for the current law school students:

What percentage of your exams was based off information that wasn't covered in class?


I'm tempted to say 0%, but in a few classes I've had policy questions that were raised but not answered in class.

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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby vamedic03 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:03 pm

Mr. Matlock wrote:Question for the current law school students:

What percentage of your exams was based off information that wasn't covered in class?


Absolutely none - even 'unfamiliar' stuff was designed to be interpreted / evaluated through what was learned in class. Bringing in outside info can only hurt you and, right now, over the summer - you should be doing nothing but: relaxing or making money.

Thane Messinger
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Thane Messinger » Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:09 am

edcrane wrote:
Thane Messinger wrote:
tomwelling wrote:It is an ENORMOUS exaggeration to call it suicidal to do nothing over the summer. Once again, since the vast majority of students do nothing over the summer (even the vast majority of those students who are very successful), calling it suicidal is hyperbole.


I would have thought so too, but as it happens I recently had a conversation with a university mental health counselor...
So, yes, I stand by the assertion.

PS: My statement should have related “suicidal” to “grades,” although again, the connection is stronger than most new law students would ever know.


Anything that could arguably have an adverse effect on your grades is suicidal. It all makes sense now. Fail to attend LEEWS? Suicidal. Fail to purchase an E&E? Suicidal. Fail to outline before class. Well, you get the picture. It's a tough world out there.

In all seriousness, I appreciate that you're trying to help students out. I even agree that most of your recommendations are at least potentially useful--obviously there are different paths to success and some strategies may be effective for some students but not others. But you really do yourself a disservice when you make (and stand by) wildly hyperbolic statements.


Perhaps, but aside from being taken out of context, the assertion is less hyperbolic than it should be. There are things besides people that can die, and with debt surpassing one hundred thousand for even a public law school education, one would think career rather high on the list of concerns.

I appreciate your posts, and except for this one rather serious disagreement, perhaps someday we can share the appropriate beverage and compare, ah, notes.

Funny you mention LEEWS and E&E, because those are good examples where students who forego them will put themselves at a disadvantage relative to students who take each (or both) seriously. It should be no controversy to mention that law school is notable for its grade curve, with blind grading, etc., and the importance of relative as well as absolute mastery as a result. Yet mention the logical conclusions from this and the crowd goes nuts.

My purpose here, aside from the aforementioned millions that my books apparently make,* is to be a voice to highlight the conventional wisdom, which is anything but. It's funny, in a way. Law students have spent years achieving success in high school and college, have taken test after test and qualifying exam after exam, have "passed" the LSAT, and at just the point where they can do something that will actually make a significant difference to their performance (and to reduce the likelihood of their burning out), there's that ubiquitous (and, too often, ruinous) advice to do nothing. Relax. Enjoy. You'll be busy soon enough. Were this in any other context it would be laughable.

It's ironic as I'm the one arguing that law students study too much. If one burns out, it won't make a whit of difference whether it took nine months or eleven months to get there.

If one believes I'm promoting some superhuman (and equally silly) effort to duplicate law before one gets to law school, well, there's not much point in continuing to spar. As the "Getting Good" part of Law School: GGG takes pains to explain, there are several keys, focusing on greater comprehension with less effort. Not sure how I can make that more plain. Part of that effort is in getting ready to learn the law.

It's understandable to read "preparation" as meaning "lots and lots and lots of study," but in fact that's part of the problem. It's not a solution. GGG is all about NOT "studying" like crazy, for the simple reason that that's not the best way to ace exams. Color-coding, excessive note-taking, case briefing, gunning, brown-nosing, psy-ops . . . all of these things are distractions and potentially disastrous. In short, suicidal to one's as-yet undetermined legal career.

Yet another part of this discussion focuses on our societal fetish for differentness: that because we're all different there just must be just that many ways to learn, and that each is equally valid. Perhaps. But to those who are not yet started, are you willing to bet your career on it? And a reverse acid test: What do you have to lose? In calculating the relative risks, even if one values free time and a maximum lack of work, the calculus is rather stark.

With aloha,

Thane.

* Note to self: Check with accounting minions on status of Swiss accounts.




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