Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
acrossthelake
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby acrossthelake » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:22 pm

edgeofthenight wrote:Any former/current Groupius residents have pro-tips for making the room a tolerable temperature in the summer? I'm dying a slow, melty death.


What the other poster said. Also, it'll be fairly cool in about three weeks, and it wasn't that hot last May. So, temporary, at least.

Yuuup
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Yuuup » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:35 pm

Just realized there is a prerequisite (Analytical Methods for Lawyers) for Corporations. Is it actually necessary to have taken this prerequisite? I do not have an econ/finance background.

acrossthelake
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby acrossthelake » Tue Sep 03, 2013 6:59 pm

Yuuup wrote:Just realized there is a prerequisite (Analytical Methods for Lawyers) for Corporations. Is it actually necessary to have taken this prerequisite? I do not have an econ/finance background.


No.

hlsperson1111
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby hlsperson1111 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 12:16 am

I assume we are talking about Spamann's class . . . I agree that you don't need it, although I do think it helped (and I think it helped me think about both of the essay questions on the exam in a really helpful way). Really, the one thing you need to keep in mind is that the exam is not an issue spotter and you can do very well on it without knowing a whole lot of law (and, conversely, you can get a P on it even if you know quite a bit of law).

ETA: Acrossthelake, did we take Corporations together last Fall?

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Searchparty
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Searchparty » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:23 pm

If an exam is CLOSED and open-book, can we still access our notes? Is open book usually JUST the book? Or does it vary so much there's no point in asking....

tomwatts
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby tomwatts » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:29 pm

In that exam format, usually you can have your printed notes on your desk (and read them). Open-book usually means open-outline, too.

I mean, think of the alternative. You could have the book (in which you can write notes) on your desk, but you can't have your notes on your desk. Um... then write your outline in the book.

acrossthelake
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby acrossthelake » Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:35 pm

hlsperson1111 wrote:I assume we are talking about Spamann's class . . . I agree that you don't need it, although I do think it helped (and I think it helped me think about both of the essay questions on the exam in a really helpful way). Really, the one thing you need to keep in mind is that the exam is not an issue spotter and you can do very well on it without knowing a whole lot of law (and, conversely, you can get a P on it even if you know quite a bit of law).

ETA: Acrossthelake, did we take Corporations together last Fall?


hlsperson111, just saw this, and I don't think so. I just asked people who took Spamann's class before responding to the question. :)

pillowcase33
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby pillowcase33 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:54 am

Am I the only one who finds 1L fall really difficult?

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BlakcMajikc
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby BlakcMajikc » Tue Sep 17, 2013 12:50 pm

pillowcase33 wrote:Am I the only one who finds 1L fall really difficult?


Once you get your schedule in order and get more efficient reading/studying, it will become less difficult. Just don't listen to your fellow 1L classmates. Do what go you here.

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Mr. Elshal
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Mr. Elshal » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:40 pm

BlakcMajikc wrote:
pillowcase33 wrote:Am I the only one who finds 1L fall really difficult?


Once you get your schedule in order and get more efficient reading/studying, it will become less difficult. Just don't listen to your fellow 1L classmates. Do what go you here.


On this note, do you have any advice on how to get readings done in a decently short amount of time? I have more reading each week, here than I had in all of undergrad combined, and it's taking me forever to get through readings, even without highlighting or taking notes on any of it.

acrossthelake
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby acrossthelake » Tue Sep 17, 2013 5:57 pm

Mr. Elshal wrote:
BlakcMajikc wrote:
pillowcase33 wrote:Am I the only one who finds 1L fall really difficult?


Once you get your schedule in order and get more efficient reading/studying, it will become less difficult. Just don't listen to your fellow 1L classmates. Do what go you here.


On this note, do you have any advice on how to get readings done in a decently short amount of time? I have more reading each week, here than I had in all of undergrad combined, and it's taking me forever to get through readings, even without highlighting or taking notes on any of it.


The extent to which this is going to be hard is going to depend on how rigorous your undergrad experience was in terms of reading load.

Over time you'll start to naturally get a feel for what's important, and what isn't, and it'll speed up.

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ph14
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby ph14 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 6:46 pm

pillowcase33 wrote:Am I the only one who finds 1L fall really difficult?


1L fall is really difficult. It gets easier as you learn to speak the language, so to speak. Just keep taking it day by day and working hard. Don't worry if you are confused a lot, that is normal and part of the learning process, especially as a 1L.

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ph14
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby ph14 » Tue Sep 17, 2013 6:49 pm

Mr. Elshal wrote:
BlakcMajikc wrote:
pillowcase33 wrote:Am I the only one who finds 1L fall really difficult?


Once you get your schedule in order and get more efficient reading/studying, it will become less difficult. Just don't listen to your fellow 1L classmates. Do what go you here.


On this note, do you have any advice on how to get readings done in a decently short amount of time? I have more reading each week, here than I had in all of undergrad combined, and it's taking me forever to get through readings, even without highlighting or taking notes on any of it.


I think a lot of it just takes time. Reading dense cases and case books just takes time, plain and simple. You'll get faster as you learn lots of things and become familiar with reading cases (not to mention not having to look up basic terms like appellant versus appellee, etc.). My advice would be to mainly skip/skim any procedural sections left in the case, except for your civil procedure class. The only important thing out of there really would be the standard against which the case is judged. That is, if the case is at the motion to dismiss stage, then the court must accept the nonmoving party's facts as true and grant them all reasonable inferences.

I would also think about why you are reading the case. Generally you are reading it for a main point, or a few main points, and focus in on that and don't worry nearly as much as more peripheral details. But again, reading cases as a first semester 1L is a slow process and there's not necessarily anything you could or should do differently.

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Searchparty
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Searchparty » Tue Sep 17, 2013 8:57 pm

pillowcase33 wrote:Am I the only one who finds 1L fall really difficult?


As a fellow 1L, I don't find the material to be difficult, as I find that my professors don't actually expect me to understand the difficult material anyway.... However, what is difficult is finding the motivation to read all the reading. In UG I definitely did not read at all, except cramming at the very end. Now, it's pretty certain you'd never be able to do that and want to be prepared for class discussion anyway. On the other hand, comparing the work load to my 9-5 job I used to have, it's not so bad. I think, if I put together all the time spent in class and actual time just spent straight up reading the material - it might amount to less than a 9-5 job. The motivation to push through so much reading each day is a little more difficult than the motivation to show up to your job... because you'd get fired.

I do it one day at a time, read all the readings the day before the day they've been assigned for. I don't try to read ahead. Copying what a previous posted said... definitely day-by-day.

Last point... I utilize a planner so heavily, before I never did. I'm referencing this thing so many times a day... for my readings, for calendar events I may want to attend, for things I have to do outside of law school that seem to get lost between class and readings. Really helps because I don't have to stress about "what was that thing I feel like I have to do, but can't remember I have to do..."

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TripTrip
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby TripTrip » Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:30 pm

Searchparty wrote:As a fellow 1L, I don't find the material to be difficult, as I find that my professors don't actually expect me to understand the difficult material anyway.... However, what is difficult is finding the motivation to read all the reading. In UG I definitely did not read at all, except cramming at the very end. Now, it's pretty certain you'd never be able to do that and want to be prepared for class discussion anyway. On the other hand, comparing the work load to my 9-5 job I used to have, it's not so bad. I think, if I put together all the time spent in class and actual time just spent straight up reading the material - it might amount to less than a 9-5 job. The motivation to push through so much reading each day is a little more difficult than the motivation to show up to your job... because you'd get fired.

+1 to that.

I have also found that there is a balance. Most of my classes assign something like 20 pages/class, which is manageable. However, I have one professor who is not afraid to assign on Monday 100-150 pages for Tuesday. In these situations, I have found that skimming, as well as pre-written case briefs, are a necessity because I will stress myself out otherwise.

tomwatts
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby tomwatts » Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:33 pm

It's always possible to fall back on canned case briefs and prior students' outlines in classes in which the cases are the standard ones and the prof has been teaching for a while. That said, you'll get a lot better at reading cases if you do the work yourself.

It's also worth thinking about what's taking forever. Sometimes what's hard about reading a case is that it's been edited to crap, because the casebook author only cares about some small portion of the case. In such a situation, I feel no shame about looking up a case brief (or, in rare situations, the entire case via Google Scholar). It's hard to understand not because of you but because it was edited to death.

Sometimes it takes forever to read a case because it wasn't edited at all. The only thing that's relevant is the holding, maybe, but you're given the entire opinion with all the procedural issues, random tangents, and secondary concerns. In that case, read the whole thing, but bear in mind which section of the book you're in (e.g. the chapter is called "Contract Formation" and the section is entitled "Offer" — what you want to know is what one party did that constituted or didn't constitute an offer, not all the other arcane details). Focus on what you need and skim over the rest for background.

But it does get better after a while. I don't know why casebooks aren't written to be more intuitive — it seems like it wouldn't be that hard — but you have to get used to them in the first month or so. You'll fall into a rhythm.

Stinson
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Stinson » Tue Sep 17, 2013 9:57 pm

I don't have any magic tips for 1L fall unfortunately, but I can tell you all it is the hardest semester and it will get easier. In particular, assuming this is still the same, LRW adds a lot more to the workload in fall than in spring, because there are more assignments than in spring and you don't know how to do any of the stuff.

All I can suggest is to be absolutely ruthless about what needs to be done and what, in an ideal world with infinite time, would get done. You need to do just enough for class so that you don't look like a total dumbass - partial dumbass is an acceptable compromise - while in class, and remember that beyond that the exam is all that matters. I can't tell you what the most efficient way to exam success is, because it depends on you, but briefing all your cases and worrying about looking like a whiz in class isn't it. And I'm not making this up - most of the summa cum laude's in my section tended to come off as at least somewhat unprepared in class.

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BlakcMajikc
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby BlakcMajikc » Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:33 pm

acrossthelake wrote:
Mr. Elshal wrote:
BlakcMajikc wrote:
pillowcase33 wrote:Am I the only one who finds 1L fall really difficult?


Once you get your schedule in order and get more efficient reading/studying, it will become less difficult. Just don't listen to your fellow 1L classmates. Do what go you here.


On this note, do you have any advice on how to get readings done in a decently short amount of time? I have more reading each week, here than I had in all of undergrad combined, and it's taking me forever to get through readings, even without highlighting or taking notes on any of it.


The extent to which this is going to be hard is going to depend on how rigorous your undergrad experience was in terms of reading load.

Over time you'll start to naturally get a feel for what's important, and what isn't, and it'll speed up.


My advice is to read the canned case briefs from google or notes from an outline before you read the case in the casebook. The cases can be dense, but once you understand what the heck is going on (from a factual perspective), you'll be able to absorb the case quicker. (For example, I felt once I understood the facts re the Ps or Ds in a contracts case, that concreteness helped me understand the case -- making it more akin to a novel or movie plot with people arguing against another when crap hit the fan.) By the second half of first semester 1L, I basically did almost all of my reading for the week all day on Sunday, and just reviewed my notes a few minutes before each class.

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Mr. Elshal
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Mr. Elshal » Wed Sep 18, 2013 12:26 am

Thanks a lot. I'm glad to have gotten so much advice. I wasn't really expecting so many people to chime in but I'm definitely going to try taking things day by day, like one person said, and I definitely have to get it into my head that class participation isn't part of the final grade.

And the idea of bearing in mind the section I'm reading and why I might be reading a particular case is great. I think that'll help a lot too.

It makes me happy to see that so many people think 1L fall is so hard. I'M NOT ALONE!!!!

pillowcase33
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby pillowcase33 » Wed Sep 18, 2013 2:02 am

Thank you for all the advice. It's really helpful, and I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one confused.

But, I am still confused. You don't learn what you need to in class to do well on your exams?
How do you even prepare for exams then? I thought reading cases and being prepared for class were all you really needed to do well in the end.

despina
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby despina » Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:25 am

Just echoing what others have said -- 1L fall is hard for everyone. Anyone who makes it look easy is either faking it really hard or overconfident. And don't make the mistake of assuming that those who are best prepared for cold calls or who volunteer the pithiest comments are the "smartest" -- you're all smart, and some of the minds I ended up most admiring in my own section were people who spoke in class only reluctantly.

pillowcase33 wrote: But, I am still confused. You don't learn what you need to in class to do well on your exams?
How do you even prepare for exams then? I thought reading cases and being prepared for class were all you really needed to do well in the end.


Those are the building blocks to doing well on the exam. Exams are about synthesizing the material you've learned over the course of the semester and being able to creatively and quickly apply it to a new, complex set of facts that will be designed to be different from the facts of the cases but with some connections. Your job is to see the connections, see the differences, decide which of the legal concepts you learned are relevant, explain how reasoning from prior cases would affect the outcome. Some professors also like to ask "policy questions," which ask you to think more broadly about how the law works and how it affects people in and out of court.

As has been mentioned earlier in this thread (and as you will see as you receive many tips from your BSA's, affinity groups, etc) there are a lot of different ways to study, and by trial and error you will find a combination of methods that works for you. What all of them should have in common is that they force you to become more familiar with the material that you couldn't possibly have just memorized over the course of an overwhelming semester, and they encourage you to make new connections between concepts and see how the different pieces of the course fit together.

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bedefan
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby bedefan » Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:29 pm

pillowcase33 wrote:Thank you for all the advice. It's really helpful, and I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one confused.

But, I am still confused. You don't learn what you need to in class to do well on your exams?
How do you even prepare for exams then? I thought reading cases and being prepared for class were all you really needed to do well in the end.


I think exam performance is based on: what you know, how well you write, how well you think on your feet (especially for 3 hour exams). So preparing for class covers number one, but numbers two and three are not taught in class. Just remember you're here and therefore belong and so you'll get a pretty good handle on numbers two and three once you do a couple of practice exams. (Note that actually taking practice exams is probably useless until much further into the semester.) Ergo, no worries mate.

Stinson
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Stinson » Wed Sep 18, 2013 1:45 pm

pillowcase33 wrote:Thank you for all the advice. It's really helpful, and I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one confused.

But, I am still confused. You don't learn what you need to in class to do well on your exams?
How do you even prepare for exams then? I thought reading cases and being prepared for class were all you really needed to do well in the end.


I think my statement was a bit confusing. You do want to prepare for class in the sense of knowing what all the cases basically say ahead of time so that you can spend your class time absorbing what the professor says about how the cases fit together and what their significance is. This is why some people suggest reading the canned briefs - they distill down to the important stuff.

What I mean by not getting crazy about preparing for class is that you can look awesome on a cold call by knowing the facts and idiosyncrasies of a case inside and out, but that's not going to be helpful on the exam at all. Traditional Socratic method style questioning focuses on very case-specific stuff like fact situations that doesn't have a lot of significance outside the four corners of that case. It makes for interesting class discussions and adds flavor and makes the professor feel smart, but that's about it.

pillowcase33
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby pillowcase33 » Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:05 pm

Ok, that's really helpful to know.

In class, I get overwhelmed because it seem as if everyone read every little detail in half the time it took me just to get a general picture of the case. I go in thinking that I should know everything the professor/other students are saying. Wrong and stressful perspective.

It's frustrating because the professor will start making a point, and in the process, someone will ask a question that is related to what was being said to a certain extent. But, we'll shift our discussion to another point, without fully discussing the prior point. It just confuses me even more.

Thank you for all the help! Really appreciated, and makes me feel a bit better.

Stinson
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Re: Harvard Student(s) Answering Your Questions

Postby Stinson » Wed Sep 18, 2013 7:25 pm

Oh, student questions are the bane of actually learning what you need to learn, no doubt about it.




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