General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

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applecore

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General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby applecore » Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:59 pm

I just thought I'd take a minute to put down my thoughts now that I'm done with 1L year. (I'm not new to TLS, but I lost my old password). I'm definitely not claiming to "know everything" about 1L year - there are plenty of books for that. I'm just sharing some things that I wish I had known at the beginning of my 1L year. I had plenty of successes and just as many failures, and ended up in the middle of my class. I also threw in some notes on specific U Chicago professors for anyone who's interested.

Non-School Specific Advice:

1) Try different strategies.
Do NOT lock yourself into one method. In my opinion, there is no one method that works for every class. Vary your methods throughout the year, and see what works for you. Tweak your briefs or highlighting. It's also important to get a feel for every class - in some classes, the readings are vitally important, in others, they won't help you at all. There's no good way to figure this out beforehand. Just notice whether you are getting most of your knowledge from the textbook or from class discussion, and then focus your efforts accordingly.

2) Don't be a perfectionist.
Outlines don't have to be incredibly detailed and perfect - they just need to jog your memory. Like everyone says, the process is what helps. Personally, I wouldn't recommend the "outline-as-you-go" method, especially for 1Ls. For some courses, like Contracts, you probably won't know what is really important until you get to the end of the class. For rules-based classes, like Civ Pro, you can probably start outlining earlier. My favorite method of outlining is to read over an entire section of class notes first, THEN outline it. This keeps your outline from becoming a shorter version of your class notes. Most importantly, you need to tailor your outline to the amount of time you have. If it's a week before exams and you haven't started outlining, don't be afraid to make it quick and dirty. Be realistic about how much time you have and DON'T overestimate your ability to finish an extensive outline.

3) Sleep.
You will need as much sleep as you can get. If you're prone to procrastination, it's better to get your reading done directly after class. If you take a break, there is a distinct possibility it will turn into an extended period of procrastination. There are some serious reading assignments. If you get behind, you will be miserable, and you probably won't be able to catch up. If you don't get enough sleep, you will be even more miserable. So try to make a workable schedule. If you're consistently behind on readings and/or sleep deprived, shift everything in your daily schedule earlier.

4) Study away from law students.
Studying around other law students was highly stressful for me. I wouldn't recommend living with another law student, unless you know them already, or they go to a different school. Even unintentionally, law students psych each other out by talking about how much work they're doing. This is rarely helpful. Avoiding this discussion will help you concentrate on yourself and your own goals. That being said, study groups can be very useful. The group activity that helped me the most was to ask and answer each others' questions. Explaining familiar concepts helps you just as much as hearing about unfamiliar ones.

5) Add some variety to your weekdays.
Doing the same thing every day gets incredibly tedious and leads to burnout. For that reason I recommend doing other things during the week wherever possible. If your schedule has one day that is less intense, plan to get out of the house and do something on that day to recharge your batteries. It can be something as simple as dinner in Chinatown, or seeing a movie - the point is to break up the monotony of your class/reading/sleep schedule. I always did best when I had something to look forward to, no matter how insignificant.

------------------
University of Chicago Professors-
The 1Ls were split in half for all the core classes. Certain two-quarter classes were split so that one professor taught the first quarter and another taught the second. I'm writing based on both my own knowledge and my friends' reviews.

Civ Pro I:
Buss - Buss is great at easing you into law school. Her readings are easy and geared toward helping you understand. She wastes a lot of time on circular class discussion where you end up hearing from the same 6 people.
Samaha - People were fairly terrified of Samaha and found him intense, but with a wicked sense of humor.

Contracts:
E. Posner - NOT Judge Posner, but his son. He commands a lot of respect and has a "tough but fair" reputation. Most people liked him, a few hated him. He's not known for being a joker and I heard quite a few complaints that his class was boring.
EDIT: According to pehaigllleises, E. Pos actually makes hilarious "sarcastic wisecracks."

Ben-Shahar/Anup Malani - "Omri" Ben-Shahar is probably best known for being very nice to his students - he hosted a party at the end of fall quarter for his students. He was very effective at clarifying difficult concepts with concrete examples. Malani was very confusing and condescending. His syllabus had no set dates, and he ended up rushing some concepts while beating a dead horse with others.

Criminal Law:
McAdams - Hilarious professor, and a really enjoyable class to sit through, but the exam was very easy and therefore the curve was tight. Little mistakes ended up costing a lot.
Braman/Harcourt - Both professors were confusing and at times dull. Harcourt rushed through material toward the end of the class, and his personal views on the death penalty took up a lot of class time.

Elements
Strauss - Really nice person, funny, and enjoyable in class. He assigned dramatically less reading than Dixon, but chose to cover less material.
Dixon - Quite intimidating young, attractive Australian woman. The up-side of Dixon's class is that everything was relevant to the rest of the 1L classes and ended up helping a lot, and those who didn't learn it felt a little lost.

Torts
Gersen/Levmore - Gersen was a character - he has a lot of tics and peculiarities, and was a little hard to follow, but he was very likeable and really cared about his students. Levmore came across as pompous and mean early on, but most gradually ended up liking him. He taught basically whatever he felt like, and assigned much-despised worksheets.
Fennell/Epstein - Fennell was boring but relatively clear. Epstein was the opposite: incomprehensible but quite amusing. There was quite a lot of reading and it was pretty vital for the exam.

Property
Helmholz - Helmholz is amusing in class, and also terrifying. He wants his students to know the cases inside out and will pick on the same group of students all year. You learn a very limited amount of property law, and the exam is random and based largely on strategy. However, there is very little reading.
Strahilevitz - Strahilevitz covered the basic property curriculum much better than Helmholz, and was loved by basically everyone.

Civ Pro II
Wood - Assigned massive readings and then didn't review them. This was one of those classes where people basically taught themselves the material. Many people gave up on the readings and just used case briefs and Glannon to get by. However she had lots of amusing anecdotes.
Cox - Nice, funny, a total hipster, and a lot of the girls thought he was hot. He gave out helpful charts and was very good at distilling complex material. He also assigned way less reading so you could figure out which cases were really important.
Last edited by applecore on Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:14 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Nicholasnickynic

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby Nicholasnickynic » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:11 pm

It's also important to get a feel for every class - in some classes, the readings are vitally important, in others, they won't help you at all. There's no good way to figure this out beforehand.


1. Ask professor if she wants you to cite/discuss cases on exams
2. Ask students who had professor before
3. Look at professor's old exams
4. If Professor allows, have her review an old exam of hers that you completed.

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Whatisthis

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby Whatisthis » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:42 pm

First off, I want to thank u for this. This is especially helpful given that I will be at Chicago this fall.

I was wondering if you had any opinions on summer prep before 1L? The July student letter actually recommended against it, but it seems like most students do some kind of prep.


Anyhow, thanks again for this!

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doyleoil

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby doyleoil » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:44 pm

Whatisthis wrote:
I was wondering if you had any opinions on summer prep before 1L?


Totally unnecessary, particularly given the idiosyncrasies of our professors.

(BTW, nice post - the characterization of professors is pretty much spot-on)

applecore

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby applecore » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:54 pm

Nicholasnickynic wrote:
It's also important to get a feel for every class - in some classes, the readings are vitally important, in others, they won't help you at all. There's no good way to figure this out beforehand.


1. Ask professor if she wants you to cite/discuss cases on exams
2. Ask students who had professor before
3. Look at professor's old exams
4. If Professor allows, have her review an old exam of hers that you completed.


I meant before the class begins. Talking to students is certainly helpful for planning your strategy, but I'm not sure you can tell by looking at old exams whether the reading is important. Of course all of your suggestions are helpful when preparing for exams.

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby pehaigllleises » Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:09 am

Whatisthis wrote:First off, I want to thank u for this. This is especially helpful given that I will be at Chicago this fall.

I was wondering if you had any opinions on summer prep before 1L? The July student letter actually recommended against it, but it seems like most students do some kind of prep.


Anyhow, thanks again for this!


You do NOT need to do any prep to do well. If you must do something, understand the tiered/geographical structure of the federal court system, read a summary of no longer than 2 pages about the life cycle of the litigation process, and flip through Getting to Maybe. You MUST do all of this with a frozen drink in hand, it helps the learning process.

I'm a rising 2L, I still live in Regents, and I'm around all day because I work from home/at the school. I remember being really anxious around this time last year, but you really do not need to do anything right now. If you feel anxious about anything, I'm happy to chat.

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Knock

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby Knock » Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:43 am

Applying in the 2011 cycle, U. Chi is one of the law schools i'm interested in, and just wanted to thank you so much for this great post. I hope a lot of other people will follow your lead, especially on the individual professors. Thanks for taking the time to help some 0L's.

marburger06

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby marburger06 » Thu Jul 22, 2010 5:48 pm

Very spot-on prof descriptions.

Another word of advice that I gathered from my experience at UofC, but probably is applicable to other schools too: for 2nd and 3rd quarters, start outlining the previous quarter either during break or BEFORE you get your writing assignment for that quarter. You're not going to be getting any outlining done while you're working on the memo or brief, and you don't want to be left with only 2-3 weeks to outline after you turn it in.

And don't do 0L prep. You'll just confuse yourself, especially at UofC. If I had learned Torts or Contracts from a hornbook before I took the class, I would be even more confused than I was after listening to the profs in class.

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hiromoto45

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby hiromoto45 » Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:57 pm

thanks!

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby pehaigllleises » Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:17 pm

I want to add that you need to trust yourself enough to not worry about what other people are doing, and be confident in doing what you think will work for you. You (not them) got yourself here, after all. I definitely broke A LOT of molds in my study habits, and I got freaked out by what other people and every advice thread in the world were doing and I wasn't, but it worked for me.

Also, since when is E. Posner not known for being a joker? He made sarcastic wise cracks constantly. I thought he was hilarious. He was definitely my favorite.

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doyleoil

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby doyleoil » Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:28 pm

pehaigllleises wrote:I want to add that you need to trust yourself enough to not worry about what other people are doing


spot on - this is absolutely right - it's fun to be an anti-gunner :)

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johnstuartmill

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby johnstuartmill » Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:33 pm

Great thread -- this UChicago 0L really appreciates the advice!

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dresden doll

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby dresden doll » Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:35 pm

doyleoil wrote:
Whatisthis wrote:
I was wondering if you had any opinions on summer prep before 1L?


Totally unnecessary, particularly given the idiosyncrasies of our professors.


This is gospel truth. Absorb it.

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UnTouChablE

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby UnTouChablE » Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:50 pm

Like!

applecore

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby applecore » Thu Jul 22, 2010 7:55 pm

JS Mill, you will do well at Chicago. :lol:
Last edited by applecore on Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

applecore

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby applecore » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:13 pm

marburger06 wrote:Start outlining the previous quarter either during break or BEFORE you get your writing assignment for that quarter. You're not going to be getting any outlining done while you're working on the memo or brief, and you don't want to be left with only 2-3 weeks to outline after you turn it in


Definitely.

pehaigllleises wrote:Also, since when is E. Posner not known for being a joker? He made sarcastic wise cracks constantly. I thought he was hilarious. He was definitely my favorite.


I didn't have E. Pos. The girl I talked to said he made a lot of jokes that got some obligatory laughs but fell flat. I'll go ahead and amend the comment on him though since apparently some at least liked them.

miamiman

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby miamiman » Thu Jul 22, 2010 8:25 pm

Wow, surprised to hear D. Wood was less than stellar.

iwantawhiteiphone4

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby iwantawhiteiphone4 » Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:25 pm

...
Last edited by iwantawhiteiphone4 on Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

iwantawhiteiphone4

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby iwantawhiteiphone4 » Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:28 pm

...
Last edited by iwantawhiteiphone4 on Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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doyleoil

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby doyleoil » Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:31 pm

iwantawhiteiphone4 wrote:
miamiman wrote:Wow, surprised to hear D. Wood was less than stellar.


D. Wood was a median law professor - not terrible, not great. I loved her stories about 7th Circuit cases, but a good hornbook was a must in her class.

And she told us that class actions wouldn't be on the final. And they were on the final.


I wonder if she'll be more on her game next year when she's less, umm, distracted? :)

Also, probably good to have a rep of the "0L prep = good" side in here. Just goes to show that different stuff works for different people.

Oh, and to MM, I'm pretty sure the "big name" thing has little correlation to teaching prowess. So don't be disappointed if you don't recognize your professors' names when the schedule comes out. It might turn out to be a good thing. [As an example, I was a little disappointed with my section assignment for one of the doctrinal classes when I first saw it. Turned out to have been an extremely good thing.]

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hiromoto45

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby hiromoto45 » Tue Aug 24, 2010 5:17 pm

Do you have any insight into Masur and Baird?

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby scat_cat » Wed Aug 25, 2010 1:23 am

Prof characterizations are great. If you want more:

Omri does not love the common law of contracts. But he will test you on the common law of contracts. I might have done better in that class had I never attended. Also, as 3Ls learned the hard way, he will hate you if you do not respond positively to his show of friendliness. He has a deep need to be the most popular professor in the school.

Baird is a charming gnome person. (He is also unconsciously sexist. If you are a woman and you play squash, you should challenge him to a game in the Green Lounge sometime--I want to see his head explode.) He was not terribly good at previewing the big picture in civ pro I--which is one of the more alien classes you'll take in law school)--but it seemed to come together in the end. Read a supplement early on so you can see one rule ahead of whatever he's teaching.

Dixon is fantastic. Do not complain about the amount of reading. It's first quarter; you have plenty of time to read.

Play along with Gersen. Yes, it's weird when he's all, "Clown made of knives, toddler, GO!" But you should obey his every whim. Not only does it make class more entertaining, but I've been in an upper-level class where students pretended not to get him, and it was horrid.

I thought Wood was a fairly good teacher (better than Cox, who lets discussions get out of hand), but you definitely need the E&E.

Work hard in legal writing in the winter and spring even though there's a friendly curve. Winning either writing prize will give you a nice resume boost at OCI.

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JollyGreenGiant

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby JollyGreenGiant » Wed Aug 25, 2010 3:37 pm

This is great, thank you. Now if only I had my schedule.... :x

ToTransferOrNot

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:05 pm

Masur is a very hard-driving professor, but he's quite good. Make sure you're prepared for his classes, or he'll tear you apart fairly mercilessly.

Baird is an amazing prof - I had him for both Bankruptcy and Secured Transactions. Supplements are fairly important to do well in his classes (though I don't know about his 1L teaching).

miamiman

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Re: General 1L Year Advice / U Chicago Professor Reviews

Postby miamiman » Wed Aug 25, 2010 9:50 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:Masur is a very hard-driving professor, but he's quite good. Make sure you're prepared for his classes, or he'll tear you apart fairly mercilessly.

Baird is an amazing prof - I had him for both Bankruptcy and Secured Transactions. Supplements are fairly important to do well in his classes (though I don't know about his 1L teaching).


given masur's areas of expertise, I was shocked to see he was teaching criminal law.... what did you have him for previously, tton?



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