tlc wrote:Hey NoleinNY,
I'm not sure whether you were aware and a participant of the TLS forums before you entered LLs, but how do you think the advice for 0L and 1Ls would compare to your experience in your first year. From what I gather from your posts, you had some events that threw off your grades so that they were less than ideal, but if you were doing it all over again, what would you suggest?
Follow Arrow's advice religiously? Don't burn out?
You need KNOW you have one of two things to succeed in school: a good support system or an iron will. You can't just assume you do. I've read a lot of the guides of how to succeed, and Arrow's is very good... But don't follow it religiously. His style may not work for you. If I could do it all over again, this is what I would've done (some of it I did do, some I didn't)
*Take good notes. Specifically, take notes appropriate for the professor. Sometimes, it's best to take notes in a sort of proto-outline format with a separate set of notes just for cases. Sometimes the professor will provide you with a template and you just fill in the blanks, etc. You should be able to figure out in the first few weeks which style works for whom.
*Go to LA law books. Tell the guy who your professors are. Buy the books he advises (even if you don't buy them from him). He gets feedback from students and knows a ton of the professors and he knows what works best for who.
*I have a theory that seems validated based on people I know in law school and how they've adapted. I lump people into two categories: science and non-science backgrounds. For science, I'm lumping engineering, chem, math, etc.
Those people seem to, on average, have a better time understanding what I like to call "algorithmic classes;" that is, classes that ask you to put together a hundred different pieces in a specific process. Contracts, Civ Pro, and to a lesser extent, Conlaw are algorithmic classes. They have a harder time in what I like to call "elemental" classes, or classes where you need to understand things in chunks. These are Property, and Crim; torts is a bit of a hybrid class, since intentional and strict liability torts are elemental, but negligence is algorithmic.
Non-science people are the opposite; elemental classes come naturally and algorithmic classes are harder. Whichever is harder for you, buy the E&E and/or Hornbooks. Whatever is easier, just test yourself at the end of a chunk of material with other multiple choice questions or short hypos.
*Outlining: Useful, but overrated. I made true, complete outlines for some of my more complicated classes. For less complicated stuff (like property) create an "attack outline," which was a 3 page checklist of issues you have to cover.
*Type fast. You don't need to crank out 7000 words (and some professors have strict 3000 word limits anyway), but be able to do 25-60 wpm.
*More on exam taking:
Know the format your professor wants and follow it. Regardless of what that format is, you should spend the first 15-40 minutes just reading the prompt and outlining. I only know one person, a genius in another section, who could skip outlining after reading the question and crank out a treatise. Before halfway through the semester, he already had a 3 inch binder with a tabbed outline that he started to memorize. You do not need to be that crazy, unless you absolutely positively have a) a strong support system b) an iron will, AND c) a burning desire to be THE #1 IN YOUR CLASS BY 1000 MILES.
My property professor told us a story of a class he taught a couple years ago. Everyone had scored between 30-65 points (it's a curve, so that 65 was an A). Except one guy. This one guy had a 96. He had to get permission from the registrar and the dean to take the kid out of the curve just so everyone else would be fairly graded. The kid got an A+*. He did the same thing two more times in that professor's upper division classes. The guy was the #1 of his graduating class. To paraphrase the professor's description of him "He's a nice enough guy, just a bit odd. Not very social. He wound up working in corner office of a big law firm downtown doing transactional work. I went to see him and he told me his day consisted of people slipping paper under his door and him cranking out work product, leaving his office to go to the bathroom, eat or go home. Minimal interaction with people; he gets paid a ton of money, and he's happy."
I have more words of advice, but my browser keeps closing so I don't want to have to retype everything...
You may have noticed I mentioned having a support system and/or iron will to survive. Law school is hard. But life doesn't put itself on hold because you are taking class. You may get sick. Your (grand)parents may die. Your heart may be broken. Your car may breakdown. You're friends may come to you with problems of their own. Bills will have to be paid.
You may think you're unbeatable; you may think you have the mental and physical fortitude to power through the hardest 9 months you've had to deal with up to this point. Maybe you are all those things. Maybe not. For some people, will is enough. For others, friends/family/significant-others help you clear those obstacles. They help you keep things in perspective.