Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Sat May 15, 2010 6:53 am

Hey guys. Still on my exam sleep/non-sleep schedule, so I'll answer all the questions I counted in the last two posts. As I've said above, I don't claim to be representative or exemplary of Harvard students in any way. I have a lot of quirks and often feel I don't entirely share the goals or traits of my peers, and I'm in kind of a negative place regarding law school right now (although looking back this was true before, too, wasn't it!), so take this all with a lot of salt.

Biggest surprises.
One surprise is that people are relatively cool and normal. I've made a lot of really good friends. On the other hand, I don't feel as though I'm about to develop some new theory of law with incandescently brilliant friends, or even that my professors could. There's a degree of similarity among the people, as well. So I guess I'd say the ups and downs of the other people have been pretty surprising.

Competition and expectations.
It's a pretty competitive place. I've had a few rough personal experiences with competitive mindsets, and in general even some quite friendly people will want to see a return on investment if they offer you notes, outlines, etc.

I want to say something a little deeper about this too, which is that part of doing well in law school is about liking the competition qua competition. I'll talk about the differences between my first and second semester experiences a bit below, but one major thing to which I'd attribute them is that I simply no longer cared that much about being better than the kid next to me. That's something you're supposed to care about in law, which is both combative and heavily prestige-oriented, so do some thinking about it.

That said, the place can be genuinely collaborative, which was the one redeeming (very redeeming) feature of the Problem-Solving Workshop in January. But not having grades probably helped a lot with that.

Something I wish I knew.
I mostly wish I'd done more thinking about what my real motives and reasons were. I haven't been really taken that much by surprise by anything here, but sometimes my own reactions have been a bit surprising to me. Learn as much as you can about what you want and who you are before you show up. You should watch The Paper Chase on this, too, but really internalize it, and take seriously the female character and the closing scene.

Tips for doing well.
I did quite well first semester, probably did badly this semester. I worked first semester, didn't really this semester. As for the specifics, xeoh85's guide is good; I also recommend fiver's posts on autoadmit. In general, here's what I'll say.

First of all, you should be frontloading your work. This is very important. Start outlining a few weeks into the semester. Start taking practice tests a few weeks before reading period, if not earlier. Finish your outlines and apply for jobs during Thanksgiving break so that you can just take practice tests every day when you get back. I briefed cases; you don't have to. I didn't use E&Es or hornbooks; you probably should. The ideal outline length is maybe ten to twenty-five pages. The outlines you do during the semester should probably seem like they're going to be longer than that. After you've done those, you want to go back and remind yourself of what's important (hint: it's probably not the case or the policy; you only learned those to help you remember how to use the rule).

Second and in a way more importantly, read Getting to Maybe, fiver's post about law school exams, or just keep reading this. There is a specific way to do "legal reasoning" which is basic to success on an exam. It has to do with the interaction between law and facts. The elements of A are X, Y, and Z. X is met because of fact F1. Y is met because of fact F2. Z is probably not met. Plaintiff will argue that fact F3 looks like case C1, in which blah, blah, blah. However, defendant can argue that this case is actually more analogous to the situations in C2 and C3, in which blah, blah, blah, because blah. Further, there is only a weak case that finding liability here serves the purposes of the doctrine of A, since P1, P2, P3, blah, blah, blah.

"Black box" exams.
Continuing on the theme above, you want to read successful exams, maybe early in the semester, ideally but not necessarily from your own professors. Internalize the dynamics of legal argument (balancing tests, purposive analysis, broad and narrow holdings). I don't really think the exam is much of a black box. I've always known pretty much what I've been in for as long as I've spent a few minutes with a practice test. I don't think an LP is much of a threat to hard workers. Many professors don't even give them. I certainly hope mine don't.

LRW.
If you mean Legal Research and Writing, LRW is bullshit and it is a fucking travesty that it's graded. Seriously, I cannot think of anything stupider than asking stressed-out 1Ls to spend hours and hours on legal writing that washout instructors have failed to teach and which is not even implemented in practice anyway (you're mostly going to just be sending emails, not doing anything near an LRW level of formality). Oral argument was fun, but it's not graded.

If you mean the law review write-on, it's not abbreviated LRW, and it is an enormous thing. Not sure what else to say. I tend to think that things like this are intended as mechanisms to signal who (as above) is willing to put in the time to best their peers. That said, I believe I did poorly enough this semester that I'm going to need the bump, and it would probably help a lot if I ever try for academia. So I'm doing it.

Studying alone and in groups.
Personally, I study a lot better in groups, for a lot of reasons. If you study better alone, it's probably better for you. You will waste a lot less time and will probably get a better understanding of the material. However, groups can fill gaps in your knowledge you might not have realized you had. You should at least take exams in a group, in my view, and that's probably the most important kind of studying there is.

marsim
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby marsim » Sat May 15, 2010 7:37 am

I am from Greece and currently a classics major intrested in obtaining a law degree from a top US law school. Do you perhaps know how the international students in your school distinguised themselves from the applicant pool? Do you have any advice on the path I have to follow to admitted like them? Thank you in advance!

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of Benito Cereno
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby of Benito Cereno » Sat May 15, 2010 8:53 am

.,.,.
Last edited by of Benito Cereno on Tue May 18, 2010 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

marsim
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby marsim » Sat May 15, 2010 2:42 pm

of Benito Cereno wrote:
marsim wrote:I am from Greece and currently a classics major intrested in obtaining a law degree from a top US law school. Do you perhaps know how the international students in your school distinguised themselves from the applicant pool? Do you have any advice on the path I have to follow to admitted like them? Thank you in advance!

I'm guessing american law school are about to see a huge spike in applications from Greece.



I don't know about that...Due to the current economical situation many graduates are thinking about leaving the country and persuing careers or advanced degrees, but mostly in the European countries...As for law schools in particular, the legal system here is quite different and a law degree is offered as an undergrad one, so there aren't many considering a j.d in the states...At least the Fullbright advising counsellor here was surprised to hear about my aspiration towards it , that's why I would appreciate any help you can offer me!

APimpNamedSlickback
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby APimpNamedSlickback » Sat May 15, 2010 3:13 pm

Hey guys, thanks for taking questions. Feel free to be as candid as possible here, as I've already deposited.

Did you guys find that you became more efficient at managing the various demands of 1l during the second semester in a way that improved your general QOL? I've heard lots of 1ls' tales of woe, and my hope is that life will improve once i've got a full semester under my belt.

thanks!
Last edited by APimpNamedSlickback on Sat May 15, 2010 3:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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of Benito Cereno
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby of Benito Cereno » Sat May 15, 2010 3:13 pm

.,.,.
Last edited by of Benito Cereno on Tue May 18, 2010 1:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Sat May 15, 2010 3:22 pm

marsim, I'm afraid I don't know that much about the international student pool or what applicants did to distinguish themselves. Certainly the basics, LSAT and GPA, remain important.

APNS, during the second semester almost everyone relaxed a lot and worked a lot "smarter," except for those of us who basically stopped working at all. I'm not sure if that speaks to greater efficiency (in a broad sense, it must) or just to exhaustion.

marsim
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby marsim » Sat May 15, 2010 3:50 pm

of Benito Cereno wrote:
marsim wrote:
of Benito Cereno wrote:
marsim wrote:I am from Greece and currently a classics major intrested in obtaining a law degree from a top US law school. Do you perhaps know how the international students in your school distinguised themselves from the applicant pool? Do you have any advice on the path I have to follow to admitted like them? Thank you in advance!

I'm guessing american law school are about to see a huge spike in applications from Greece.



I don't know about that...Due to the current economical situation many graduates are thinking about leaving the country and persuing careers or advanced degrees, but mostly in the European countries...As for law schools in particular, the legal system here is quite different and a law degree is offered as an undergrad one, so there aren't many considering a j.d in the states...At least the Fullbright advising counsellor here was surprised to hear about my aspiration towards it , that's why I would appreciate any help you can offer me!

yea, I meant that many greeks with law degrees would be applying to llm programs. I know a whole bunch of people in western europe (uk, france, germany) applying to top llm programs because of the horrid entry-level job market even in those countries. i know 3 people going to do the harvard and two going to do the columbia llms. let me give you one example, I'm friends with a French girl who studied abroad at my undegraduate school who goes to Sciences Po in paris and she just finished a Matrise in economic law and is now coming to harvard to do an llm.




I happen to know a couple of those seeking an llm straight out of law school here but no one in my position :cry: ...But I am very interested in the law and I know that there's no better place to earn such a degree so I am trying my best to keep my grades up and study hard for the LSAT's and who knows maybe I'll get a shot at it! I just hope that my degree in classics and modern greek lit is acceptable since I don't know quite yet which majors are.

mallard, thank you anyway!

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Sat May 15, 2010 3:51 pm

I am quite sure that will be an acceptable major if you are headed for a J.D.

marsim
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby marsim » Sat May 15, 2010 4:02 pm

mallard wrote:I am quite sure that will be an acceptable major if you are headed for a J.D.


I am , I mean I want to at least...Other than GPA and LSAT scores what else are they looking for that I can work on?

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Mr. Matlock
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby Mr. Matlock » Sat May 15, 2010 4:04 pm

marsim wrote:
mallard wrote:I am quite sure that will be an acceptable major if you are headed for a J.D.


I am , I mean I want to at least...Other than GPA and LSAT scores what else are they looking for that I can work on?

Clarity?

marsim
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby marsim » Sat May 15, 2010 4:09 pm

Mr. Matlock wrote:
marsim wrote:
mallard wrote:I am quite sure that will be an acceptable major if you are headed for a J.D.


I am , I mean I want to at least...Other than GPA and LSAT scores what else are they looking for that I can work on?

Clarity?


Clarity???

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Sat May 15, 2010 4:10 pm

They're looking for the normal stuff, man, good essays and solid softs.

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Mr. Matlock
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby Mr. Matlock » Sat May 15, 2010 4:15 pm

marsim wrote:
Mr. Matlock wrote:
marsim wrote:
mallard wrote:I am quite sure that will be an acceptable major if you are headed for a J.D.


I am , I mean I want to at least...Other than GPA and LSAT scores what else are they looking for that I can work on?

Clarity?


Clarity???

Eh... I misread a bit, read-comp fail on my part. Other than that, what else could he possibly tell you? He already stated:
Mallard wrote:I'm afraid I don't know that much about the international student pool or what applicants did to distinguish themselves.

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of Benito Cereno
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby of Benito Cereno » Sat May 15, 2010 4:33 pm

are your grades in the top 10% of your university? is your university one of the best in greece or at least a major institution with some international profile? beyond that, as an international student what really counts is your lsat. when you send you grades to LSAC they will just qualify them as below average, average, above average, superior (sometimes they convert to the american letter scale, in which case you should have roughly the equivalent of an american A- or A average), otherwise so long as your academic record is qualified as at least above average its pretty much all lsat. if you can get above a 174 and can get decent enough recommendations from two professors you'll be able to get into a top 5 american school, and a 170 should get you into a top10. all of those schools are worth the trip. for foreign students its really just the lsat.

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sayan
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby sayan » Sat May 15, 2010 4:45 pm

Excellent responses, Mallard. Thanks.

And I did mean Legal Researching and Writing.

To follow-up on someone's question:

How would you go about finding group members with which to study exams?
What's the best resource for finding professors' old exams? Library reserve?

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Sat May 15, 2010 4:51 pm

Professors' exams are posted online; you can find them through myHLS. That's the best way. For study group members, just scope it out. Think about how many people you want in your group, how early you want to start, how much work you want to do on your own, how socially close you want to be, etc.

Lysis
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby Lysis » Sat May 15, 2010 4:54 pm

Thanks so much for your continued insight, Mallard. Congrats on finishing up 1L!

It's nice to get some straight talk, but as an entering student I'm particularly worried about the competitive atmosphere--I'm coming from a relatively collaborative place and kind of bought the admissions office's sales pitch that the H/P/LP system has reduced the level of cutthroat behavior Harvard is known for. Would you mind sharing some more specific stories? Perhaps by PM if you don't want to go into details here.

More generally, can you (and the other HLSers here) comment on experiences with living arrangements? I selected a room in Hastings in the lottery this week so I have to decide if I want to sign a contract for it, and I'm having mixed feelings. What worked best for you guys and your friends?

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mallard
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby mallard » Sat May 15, 2010 4:56 pm

I'll send you a PM, but I have no reason to doubt that the level of competition has been reduced.

marsim
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby marsim » Sat May 15, 2010 6:30 pm

of Benito Cereno wrote:are your grades in the top 10% of your university? is your university one of the best in greece or at least a major institution with some international profile? beyond that, as an international student what really counts is your lsat. when you send you grades to LSAC they will just qualify them as below average, average, above average, superior (sometimes they convert to the american letter scale, in which case you should have roughly the equivalent of an american A- or A average), otherwise so long as your academic record is qualified as at least above average its pretty much all lsat. if you can get above a 174 and can get decent enough recommendations from two professors you'll be able to get into a top 5 american school, and a 170 should get you into a top10. all of those schools are worth the trip. for foreign students its really just the lsat.


Thanks!!!!! :)

creatinganalt
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby creatinganalt » Sun May 16, 2010 7:57 am

mallard wrote:I'll send you a PM, but I have no reason to doubt that the level of competition has been reduced.


In my mind HLS is competitive in a good way. Like DC. Is this the case? A few years living in NY/London has cured me of any desire to hang out with the 'trendy people who don't care'. I'm not socially inept enough to be a gunner (I've never ever spoken in class) but am not really save the world/butter won't melt/PI.

So... is HLS a good fit or I am gonna hate it? Really didn't like Chicago when I visited.

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sayan
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby sayan » Wed May 19, 2010 4:17 pm

mallard, do you know if Terry Terrace is currently suffering from any noise problems due to construction nearby? I'm strongly considering getting a place there, but I'm not too sure if the noise will be an issue or not.

conn09
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby conn09 » Wed May 19, 2010 7:13 pm

Lysis wrote:Thanks so much for your continued insight, Mallard. Congrats on finishing up 1L!

It's nice to get some straight talk, but as an entering student I'm particularly worried about the competitive atmosphere--I'm coming from a relatively collaborative place and kind of bought the admissions office's sales pitch that the H/P/LP system has reduced the level of cutthroat behavior Harvard is known for. Would you mind sharing some more specific stories? Perhaps by PM if you don't want to go into details here.

More generally, can you (and the other HLSers here) comment on experiences with living arrangements? I selected a room in Hastings in the lottery this week so I have to decide if I want to sign a contract for it, and I'm having mixed feelings. What worked best for you guys and your friends?



A lot of my friends lived in Hastings. I think objectively it's probably the best dorm on campus. It has the most living space and doesn't feel like a cell. The only downside is the community bathroom. It's not as social as the Groupis dorms, but its still pretty lively. I lived in North Hall, which I personally loved because it's basically a ghost town and they have private bathrooms.

c0rpusdelicti
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby c0rpusdelicti » Wed May 19, 2010 7:35 pm

Thanks a lot, Mallard, for quelling all of our anxieties!

Quick question: pros/cons of living on or off campus?

Lysis
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Re: Harvard 1L will take some questions about Harvard.

Postby Lysis » Wed May 19, 2010 9:00 pm

conn09 wrote:
Lysis wrote:Thanks so much for your continued insight, Mallard. Congrats on finishing up 1L!

It's nice to get some straight talk, but as an entering student I'm particularly worried about the competitive atmosphere--I'm coming from a relatively collaborative place and kind of bought the admissions office's sales pitch that the H/P/LP system has reduced the level of cutthroat behavior Harvard is known for. Would you mind sharing some more specific stories? Perhaps by PM if you don't want to go into details here.

More generally, can you (and the other HLSers here) comment on experiences with living arrangements? I selected a room in Hastings in the lottery this week so I have to decide if I want to sign a contract for it, and I'm having mixed feelings. What worked best for you guys and your friends?



A lot of my friends lived in Hastings. I think objectively it's probably the best dorm on campus. It has the most living space and doesn't feel like a cell. The only downside is the community bathroom. It's not as social as the Groupis dorms, but its still pretty lively. I lived in North Hall, which I personally loved because it's basically a ghost town and they have private bathrooms.


Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I've decided to bite the bullet and live in Hastings. It seems like the right choice for me.




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