2L to 0L AdviceDump

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AnonymousGunner
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:57 am

2L to 0L AdviceDump

Postby AnonymousGunner » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:10 am

Just finished my 1L year very strong. I'm very close to the top of my class at a not very well ranked school (think T40-60).
I've monologued some of my thoughts and advice for 0Ls below. Take from it what you will.

What you should be doing your 0L summer:
-Fuck “how to do law school” books. You read your cases. You study. You take your finals. No book can tell you anything more than these. They are a waste of time and money.
-Work on your application letters and your resume
-Practice typing. If you’re not fast, get fast. I don’t know why this doesn’t get talked about more often. Tests are timed. The faster you can put your thoughts on the screen, the more time you have to re-read the problem for facts you may’ve missed, to check your outline for the exact wording you want to use, to review your answers at the end, or to find the name of that case that you applied the rule from. Being a fast typer is like cheat codes for law school. In my experience, profs don’t dock for IDing non-issues or even for saying shit that’s wrong (and this has really surprised me, so it’s probable that it’s not the case everywhere). They’re sitting there with a list of issues they’re looking for next to your exam and going through and making check marks. You start with 0 points and you can only get them. You can’t lose them. The more you say, the better your odds of picking up those check marks. Seriously. You can achieve no better benefit your 0L summer than upping your wpm.

In school:
It may seem counterintuitive, but take your notes by hand, and don’t keep an up-to-date outline throughout the semester. Yes, it makes finals time a HUGE pain in the ass, but that whole process of going back through your notes and hating yourself for not keeping your outline up to date is what makes you learn the material. Reviewing your outline when studying isn’t as beneficial as actually combing through notes, freaking out because you don’t remember wtf this case was about, and figuring it out. Seriously. The harder you make things for yourself at finals time, the better you’re going to learn the information when it really matters – right before you walk in to that test. This is also why I don’t use (and don’t recommend) commercial outlines. The easier your life is for that week or two before finals, the less you will learn.

I don’t know why they teach law school kids to read cases the way that they do. The whole “take note of the facts and the procedural history and what court you’re in and the rule and the holding...” paradigm blows. There’s only two things you need from a case, and they’re usually the same thing: (1) the rule, and (2) why you read the case. I can’t stress (2) enough. For every case you read, after you discuss it in class, write a 1-sentence (and the shorter, the better – 3-4 words is great) answer to the question “Why did the prof. have us read this case?” Now, of course it’s important that you know all of that other shit in the event that you get called on, but it’s not going to make you do any better on the exam. Everybody gets up in arms “but the facts are crucial! That’s what distinguishes one case from another! How can we apply the rule if we don’t know all of the specifics of the facts?!” Lucky for 1Ls, you cover a shit ton of topics in your 1L classes, so you don’t typically dive deep into any particular rule to examine the intricacies (a particular prof may structure his class different from this. eg. my civpro prof writes a lot about pleading standard, so we spent a ton of time on rule 8. In these instances, you’re still fine because you will have spent so long on a given topic that you’ll know it like the back of your hand) – for a given topic (the illusory promise rule, caveat emptor, Rule 15 amendments...). You may read 3-4 cases, tops. Sure, in that case, know what the SINGLE key fact is that provides the insight into how the rule is used (again, this is the reason you read the case), but usually your take-home is simple and straightforward: “There’s a duty to disclose latent material defect.” “You’re going to get your ass sued off if you have an attractive nuisance on your property and some brat loses a leg.” Don’t sweat the small stuff. Despite what everyone tells you, with the exception of Con Law (maybe), your 1L year isn’t rocket science. Learn the rule, know why you read the case and where it fits in to the course, and move on to the next one.

After your first big chunk of your first semester, maybe mid-way through, work up a practice exam answer and send it to your prof and ask them for feedback. Don’t be embarrassed. You’re a dumbass, and they know it. They literally have no expectation from you, so you’re not going to look any stupider than they already assume you to be. Do this for as many of your professors as you have time to. Depending on the prof, your feedback will be anywhere from fucking awesome useful feedback that will turn you into an exam answer-writing machine to very mediochre “wellp. thanks for your time” feedback. Even in the latter case, though, it’s more useful than the books or the “how to write an exam answer” seminars.

As a followup to the above, I don’t know if there are undergrad majors that do this, but get used to the thought of having 1 grade for the semester. You have no feedback on how well you’re grasping the material or how good you are at writing answers until the big show. Writing practice answers during the semester will help you get some of this feedback while you can still do something about it.

Ignore your career service counselors. They’re just terrible. Not only are they not helpful, I’ve personally (and know others who have) received detrimental advice. Literally, your completely uninformed speculations and intuitions are better than their “expert” advice. Look at it this way – if you’ve got a JD and you’re good at finding big shot lawyer jobs...why are you working a career services desk?

Clubs – To my knowledge there isn’t any real prestige or resume-boosting benefit to be had from extracurricular activities. I could be wrong here, and I invite discussion. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do them, but that shouldn’t be your primary motive. I was involved and it never came up in interviews or anything. In hindsight, I probably should’ve recognized the absurdity of an interviewer saying “So, it says here that you were involved with the [Asian Student Association/Student Bar/ Second Amendment Society/etc.]. I can tell you’re a real go-getter.” No. Participate to make friends. Participate if you want to and think it’ll be fun. Don’t participate because you want it on your resume. Your time would be better spent studying and making the grade. One caveat might be if your campus has some sort of 1L competition club – that is, some group that lets 1Ls do intracampus moot court or mock trial competitions. I didn’t do it, and I think it probably would’ve been good practice for when you do it for real (interscholastically).

Day-to-day
If you’re able, do your assigned reading the day of rather than the night before. Not only does this strategy fit perfectly with the procrastinator/slacker lifestyle, it means that everything is still fresh when you go in to discuss it. Obviously, this will mean you’ll do better if called on, but it also means any questions you had will still be fresh, and the information will be more complete and better cemented in your mind than it would be if you read the night before, slept/kinda forgot about it, talked about it for an hour, and then moved on.

Also on day-to-day, talk alot. As I said above, don’t be scared of embarrassing yourself in front of your professor. You can’t do anything to make them think that you’re dumber than they already know you are. Don’t be afraid of looking like a gunner in front of your colleagues. If there’s anything I know about haters, it’s that they’re gonna hate. Fuck ‘em. Speaking in class has a shit ton of benefits, including: (1) helping you learn the material better, (2) demonstrating to the prof that you give a fuck, (3) irritating the haters, and (4) ensuring that when the day comes that you haven’t read, you’re less likely to get called out at random.


So there you go. That's what's worked for me + what I wish I'd done differently. Good Luck, newbies.

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TyrionLannister
Posts: 122
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:12 am

Re: 2L to 0L AdviceDump

Postby TyrionLannister » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:22 am

Thanks for taking the time to write that. A lot of good stuff there.

What are you doing this summer?

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bceagles182
Posts: 615
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:53 pm

Re: 2L to 0L AdviceDump

Postby bceagles182 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:25 am

AnonymousGunner wrote:Just finished my 1L year very strong. I'm very close to the top of my class at a not very well ranked school (think T40-60).
I've monologued some of my thoughts and advice for 0Ls below. Take from it what you will.

What you should be doing your 0L summer:
-Fuck “how to do law school” books. You read your cases. You study. You take your finals. No book can tell you anything more than these. They are a waste of time and money.
-Work on your application letters and your resume
-Practice typing. If you’re not fast, get fast. I don’t know why this doesn’t get talked about more often. Tests are timed. The faster you can put your thoughts on the screen, the more time you have to re-read the problem for facts you may’ve missed, to check your outline for the exact wording you want to use, to review your answers at the end, or to find the name of that case that you applied the rule from. Being a fast typer is like cheat codes for law school. In my experience, profs don’t dock for IDing non-issues or even for saying shit that’s wrong (and this has really surprised me, so it’s probable that it’s not the case everywhere). They’re sitting there with a list of issues they’re looking for next to your exam and going through and making check marks. You start with 0 points and you can only get them. You can’t lose them. The more you say, the better your odds of picking up those check marks. Seriously. You can achieve no better benefit your 0L summer than upping your wpm.

In school:
It may seem counterintuitive, but take your notes by hand, and don’t keep an up-to-date outline throughout the semester. Yes, it makes finals time a HUGE pain in the ass, but that whole process of going back through your notes and hating yourself for not keeping your outline up to date is what makes you learn the material. Reviewing your outline when studying isn’t as beneficial as actually combing through notes, freaking out because you don’t remember wtf this case was about, and figuring it out. Seriously. The harder you make things for yourself at finals time, the better you’re going to learn the information when it really matters – right before you walk in to that test. This is also why I don’t use (and don’t recommend) commercial outlines. The easier your life is for that week or two before finals, the less you will learn.

I don’t know why they teach law school kids to read cases the way that they do. The whole “take note of the facts and the procedural history and what court you’re in and the rule and the holding...” paradigm blows. There’s only two things you need from a case, and they’re usually the same thing: (1) the rule, and (2) why you read the case. I can’t stress (2) enough. For every case you read, after you discuss it in class, write a 1-sentence (and the shorter, the better – 3-4 words is great) answer to the question “Why did the prof. have us read this case?” Now, of course it’s important that you know all of that other shit in the event that you get called on, but it’s not going to make you do any better on the exam. Everybody gets up in arms “but the facts are crucial! That’s what distinguishes one case from another! How can we apply the rule if we don’t know all of the specifics of the facts?!” Lucky for 1Ls, you cover a shit ton of topics in your 1L classes, so you don’t typically dive deep into any particular rule to examine the intricacies (a particular prof may structure his class different from this. eg. my civpro prof writes a lot about pleading standard, so we spent a ton of time on rule 8. In these instances, you’re still fine because you will have spent so long on a given topic that you’ll know it like the back of your hand) – for a given topic (the illusory promise rule, caveat emptor, Rule 15 amendments...). You may read 3-4 cases, tops. Sure, in that case, know what the SINGLE key fact is that provides the insight into how the rule is used (again, this is the reason you read the case), but usually your take-home is simple and straightforward: “There’s a duty to disclose latent material defect.” “You’re going to get your ass sued off if you have an attractive nuisance on your property and some brat loses a leg.” Don’t sweat the small stuff. Despite what everyone tells you, with the exception of Con Law (maybe), your 1L year isn’t rocket science. Learn the rule, know why you read the case and where it fits in to the course, and move on to the next one.

After your first big chunk of your first semester, maybe mid-way through, work up a practice exam answer and send it to your prof and ask them for feedback. Don’t be embarrassed. You’re a dumbass, and they know it. They literally have no expectation from you, so you’re not going to look any stupider than they already assume you to be. Do this for as many of your professors as you have time to. Depending on the prof, your feedback will be anywhere from fucking awesome useful feedback that will turn you into an exam answer-writing machine to very mediochre “wellp. thanks for your time” feedback. Even in the latter case, though, it’s more useful than the books or the “how to write an exam answer” seminars.

As a followup to the above, I don’t know if there are undergrad majors that do this, but get used to the thought of having 1 grade for the semester. You have no feedback on how well you’re grasping the material or how good you are at writing answers until the big show. Writing practice answers during the semester will help you get some of this feedback while you can still do something about it.

Ignore your career service counselors. They’re just terrible. Not only are they not helpful, I’ve personally (and know others who have) received detrimental advice. Literally, your completely uninformed speculations and intuitions are better than their “expert” advice. Look at it this way – if you’ve got a JD and you’re good at finding big shot lawyer jobs...why are you working a career services desk?

Clubs – To my knowledge there isn’t any real prestige or resume-boosting benefit to be had from extracurricular activities. I could be wrong here, and I invite discussion. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do them, but that shouldn’t be your primary motive. I was involved and it never came up in interviews or anything. In hindsight, I probably should’ve recognized the absurdity of an interviewer saying “So, it says here that you were involved with the [Asian Student Association/Student Bar/ Second Amendment Society/etc.]. I can tell you’re a real go-getter.” No. Participate to make friends. Participate if you want to and think it’ll be fun. Don’t participate because you want it on your resume. Your time would be better spent studying and making the grade. One caveat might be if your campus has some sort of 1L competition club – that is, some group that lets 1Ls do intracampus moot court or mock trial competitions. I didn’t do it, and I think it probably would’ve been good practice for when you do it for real (interscholastically).

Day-to-day
If you’re able, do your assigned reading the day of rather than the night before. Not only does this strategy fit perfectly with the procrastinator/slacker lifestyle, it means that everything is still fresh when you go in to discuss it. Obviously, this will mean you’ll do better if called on, but it also means any questions you had will still be fresh, and the information will be more complete and better cemented in your mind than it would be if you read the night before, slept/kinda forgot about it, talked about it for an hour, and then moved on.

Also on day-to-day, talk alot. As I said above, don’t be scared of embarrassing yourself in front of your professor. You can’t do anything to make them think that you’re dumber than they already know you are. Don’t be afraid of looking like a gunner in front of your colleagues. If there’s anything I know about haters, it’s that they’re gonna hate. Fuck ‘em. Speaking in class has a shit ton of benefits, including: (1) helping you learn the material better, (2) demonstrating to the prof that you give a fuck, (3) irritating the haters, and (4) ensuring that when the day comes that you haven’t read, you’re less likely to get called out at random.


So there you go. That's what's worked for me + what I wish I'd done differently. Good Luck, newbies.


I agree with most of the above. I would add, however, that career services offices are school specific, and I found mine to be fairly helpful.

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dowu
Posts: 8334
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:47 pm

Re: 2L to 0L AdviceDump

Postby dowu » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:27 am

:shock: :shock:
Last edited by dowu on Sun Apr 17, 2016 11:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bceagles182
Posts: 615
Joined: Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:53 pm

Re: 2L to 0L AdviceDump

Postby bceagles182 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:28 am

I'd also add that there is a fine line between participating and being a douche about perticipating. The former entails raising your hand when you have something insightful to say and the later involves participating just to participate. If you think you have something insightful to say more than twice per class, you're overestimating yourself. Intelligent and confident people have no problem if you raise your and occasionally, just don't be a complete asshat about it. Recognize that your classmates are there to learn from the professor, not from you.

AnonymousGunner
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:57 am

Re: 2L to 0L AdviceDump

Postby AnonymousGunner » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:34 am

TyrionLannister wrote:Thanks for taking the time to write that. A lot of good stuff there.

What are you doing this summer?

half with a federal appellate judge,
other half with a public interest non-profit.

I sent apps way too late (because I believed my career service people over a forum of strangers on the internet) to Biglaw and heard nothing back. I was ranked in the top 10 people in my class after last semester and will presumably be moving up once new rankings come out following spring grades.

There was 1 guy in our class who got biglaw 1L SA. He had a 4.0 after fall semester and a background in engineering.

AnonymousGunner
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:57 am

Re: 2L to 0L AdviceDump

Postby AnonymousGunner » Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:39 am

bceagles182 wrote:I'd also add that there is a fine line between participating and being a douche about perticipating. The former entails raising your hand when you have something insightful to say and the later involves participating just to participate. If you think you have something insightful to say more than twice per class, you're overestimating yourself. Intelligent and confident people have no problem if you raise your and occasionally, just don't be a complete asshat about it. Recognize that your classmates are there to learn from the professor, not from you.

exactly.

Know the difference between asking things and saying things that you think are insightful. It's tough because one of the problems with being a dumbass 1L who doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground is that this distinction is really hard to make. I guess the best way to put it is this: Don't be afraid to speak up, don't feel obligated to speak up, and certainly don't try to make a point or demonstrate anything about yourself by speaking up.




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