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A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
20141023
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Postby 20141023 » Tue May 21, 2013 1:46 am

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rinkrat19
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue May 21, 2013 1:51 am

Law school exams are absolutely nothing like science and math exams. What the fuck.

20141023
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby 20141023 » Tue May 21, 2013 1:59 am

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rinkrat19
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby rinkrat19 » Tue May 21, 2013 2:00 am

kappycaft1 wrote:
rinkrat19 wrote:Law school exams are absolutely nothing like science and math exams. What the fuck.

:lol: I'm not saying they are... I'm just looking for an explanation from you non-0L students about what the aforementioned "reputable" (?) sources imply.

I was responding to this
If there’s something in your test-taking background most akin to a law essay exam, it’s not a poli-sci, or English, or history exam; rather, it’s a math or science exam.
from the LEEWS dude.

Haven taken a lot of science and math exams (engineering major, science minor), I'm not sure I could come up with anything LESS like a law school exam than a math/sci exam.

indo
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby indo » Tue May 21, 2013 2:19 am

kappycaft1 wrote:So, as any diligent gunner would, I've already started my 0L prep for law school ( :lol: ); however, I came across something that I found interesting in both LEEWS and Getting to Maybe. Both of these commonly-recommended resources both use an analogy which compares engineering exams to law school exams… Wentworth Miller even goes as far to say that it seems like students with hard math backgrounds do better on law exams.

After hearing / reading this, I had a couple of questions for the knowledgeable TLS community:

1) Is there really any data that shows that students with engineering backgrounds do better in law school?

2) Regardless of whether any such data exists, for those of you who are currently in law school / have already graduated law school, do you believe that engineers typically outperform their non-engineer counterparts? (If so, do you think it is because they've already acquired the "knack" discussed below, or because of some other reason?)

Lastly, just for reference:

Wentworth Miller: Legal Essay Exam Writing System (CD1, Track 6) wrote:The professor’s not really interested in your prediction, so much as your steps of analysis in route to that prediction. This is a different kind of exam, but not an exam you haven’t encountered before. You've gone into exam situations with rules, formulas, theorems firmly fixed in mind, and you had to perform close, analytic problem solving exercises, applying those rules and formulas, and although a certain amount of credit was given for the correct answer, more credit was given for the steps of analysis in route to that answer. Indeed, the grader emphasized that he wanted to see your steps of analysis in route to the answer. What kind of exams am I talking about? When this question is posed in the live program, students fidget and smile; they know the answer, and so do you. I’m talking about math exams. Physics, chemistry, engineering, accounting exams. If there’s something in your test-taking background most akin to a law essay exam, it’s not a poli-sci, or English, or history exam; rather, it’s a math or science exam. Therein perhaps is the source of some of the confusion and unease students feel regarding the hypothetical-type exam. Therein perhaps is the explanation, for the circumstance that the students with math, science, engineering, accounting backgrounds seem to do better on law exams. So much for the idea that doing well on law exams requires that one be a good writer. Math and science majors aren't good writers, are they? Probably not, but they’re accustomed to close analytic thinking, concisely expressed.

Fischl & Paul: Getting to Maybe (Page 4-5) wrote:To get a sense of what we mean, forget about the law for a moment. Assume instead that you are taking a graduate course in engineering and that you have spent the semester studying the properties of various building materials and a host of theories of design. You have dedicated virtually every waking moment to this course. You have read and re-read every assignment and taken copious notes; you have come to each class session meticulously well-prepared; you have taken down almost every word the instructor has uttered; you have saved and annotated every handout; and – during the two weeks just before the final exam – you have organized and reorganized and outlined and committed everything to memory with such success that, in the highly unlikely event that someone besides a classmate were to ask you to explain the differing properties of (say) plastic vs. glass, you could quickly rattle off everything that could possibly be said on the subject.

You enter the room for the final examination, and the proctor presents you with a large box containing a seemingly random assortment of materials of the sort studied in the course. On the blackboard, the proctor writes the following instructions: “Using the materials in the box before you, design and construct a widget according to the principles we studied in the course.” (Unlike law students, engineering students know exactly what widgets look like!) Confused with this daunting task, you would no doubt find the mass of information you have mastered in preparation for the exam helpful – indeed, crucial. But you would obviously be making a serious mistake if you left the contents of the box untouched and proceeded instead to compose an essay on the fundamentals of materials and design and to submit it for the grade. The point of the exercise is not, after all, to regurgitate what you know, but to use what you know on what you happen to find inside the box.

Perhaps the most important lesson we can teach you about law exams is that each question you will encounter is a lot like the engineering student’s box: It’s what you do with what you find inside the question that counts the most. In all likelihood, what distinguished Student X’s performance for everybody else’s on that Torts exam was less what she “knew” coming into the exam – let alone which outline she had or which hornbook she studied – than what she did with the questions she encountered on the exam itself. And the intellectual skills that enabled her to handle the questions so well can be learned and developed by virtually any student who is smart enough to get into law school and diligent enough to put in the time.



Most engineers are not good in writing .

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smaug_
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby smaug_ » Tue May 21, 2013 2:21 am

The people who terrify me/seem to do universally well are people who did journalism or some real writing. (Not generic English majors.)

I don't know enough engineers here (or know their grades) to know if they did particularly well. I'd doubt it.

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laxbrah420
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby laxbrah420 » Tue May 21, 2013 2:27 am

The dude that sits next to me on the seating chart is mechanical engineering, ended up top 3rd, and went to class less than half the time. Nobody can answer your question man. It shouldn't be that surprising that people motivated to study engineering do better than lazy ass poly sci people, but what kind of sample sizes do you think that 1Ls have? Also, I have no idea what engineering exams look like, but economics exams were WAY closer to law school exams than my science/math courses.

sfhaze
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby sfhaze » Tue May 21, 2013 2:29 am

rinkrat19 wrote:Law school exams are absolutely nothing like science and math exams. What the fuck.

+1

Engineers are trained to work on complex systems constructed by humans. Some can then very successfully apply basic principles/skills learned therein to a wildly different law school/exam experience, though it doesn't necessarily happen. I suspect this is because most engineering types are inherently disinterested in "law" with the two fields being so different at their core.

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togepi
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby togepi » Tue May 21, 2013 2:40 am

I'm a 0L too, but I feel that all they are talking about is the mindset about tackling exams.

For my engineering exams we were allowed to have formula sheets and the whole semesters were usually spent working out problems via number crunching. Come exam time, the professor constructs some problem that is similar to problems in class with a twist and we are expected to apply the formulas and handle the question to the best of our ability.

Maybe there can be some analogy to draw between a formula sheet and tackling a huge problem we've never seen before and having an outline and taking a law school exam. The separation lies in those who are used to taking exams that are just information dumps and those that are asked to problem solve and use the tools they have learned throughout the semester and apply them properly.

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RELIC
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby RELIC » Tue May 21, 2013 2:58 am

I just came here to tell you that 0L prep is a waste of time.

Randomnumbers
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby Randomnumbers » Tue May 21, 2013 2:58 am

As someone who did hard math in undergrad, I'll say that law school exams are incredibly formulaic. Math (once you get past the rote application that is all most people experience) is entirely about logical thinking and analysis. It's the exact same tool set that you use in law school. As long as you are capable of reducing the fact pattern to the component parts competently, the kind of thinking that is required in law school (applying law to fact) is far easier, yet very similar, to the type of work you do in math (writing proofs).

It doesn't translate entirely, as you still need to be competent with writing and be able to convert the 'story' of the fact pattern into the 'facts' that you apply the law to. But as long as you can do that, and spot the issues, it's incredibly easy to brute-force a law school exam with the same type of analysis that you would use for mathematics.

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RELIC
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby RELIC » Tue May 21, 2013 3:06 am

Randomnumbers wrote:As someone who did hard math in undergrad, I'll say that law school exams are incredibly formulaic. Math (once you get past the rote application that is all most people experience) is entirely about logical thinking and analysis. It's the exact same tool set that you use in law school. As long as you are capable of reducing the fact pattern to the component parts competently, the kind of thinking that is required in law school (applying law to fact) is far easier, yet very similar, to the type of work you do in math (writing proofs).

It doesn't translate entirely, as you still need to be competent with writing and be able to convert the 'story' of the fact pattern into the 'facts' that you apply the law to. But as long as you can do that, and spot the issues, it's incredibly easy to brute-force a law school exam with the same type of analysis that you would use for mathematics.

Yeah maybe on a torts exams but what about a Constitutional Law test with policy questions?

Your math and organizational skills won't help you at all on that.

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lhanvt13
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby lhanvt13 » Tue May 21, 2013 3:08 am

laxbrah420 wrote:The dude that sits next to me on the seating chart is mechanical engineering, ended up top 3rd, and went to class less than half the time. Nobody can answer your question man. It shouldn't be that surprising that people motivated to study engineering do better than lazy ass poly sci people, but what kind of sample sizes do you think that 1Ls have? Also, I have no idea what engineering exams look like, but economics exams were WAY closer to law school exams than my science/math courses.

As an engineering major + econ minor 0L this thread intrigues me.
Tagging

Also, kappycaft1: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=207638
This was my post asking a similar thing. Enjoy :)

Randomnumbers
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby Randomnumbers » Tue May 21, 2013 3:12 am

RELIC wrote:
Randomnumbers wrote:As someone who did hard math in undergrad, I'll say that law school exams are incredibly formulaic. Math (once you get past the rote application that is all most people experience) is entirely about logical thinking and analysis. It's the exact same tool set that you use in law school. As long as you are capable of reducing the fact pattern to the component parts competently, the kind of thinking that is required in law school (applying law to fact) is far easier, yet very similar, to the type of work you do in math (writing proofs).

It doesn't translate entirely, as you still need to be competent with writing and be able to convert the 'story' of the fact pattern into the 'facts' that you apply the law to. But as long as you can do that, and spot the issues, it's incredibly easy to brute-force a law school exam with the same type of analysis that you would use for mathematics.

Yeah maybe on a torts exams but what about a Constitutional Law test with policy questions?

Your math and organizational skills won't help you at all on that.


It's not as if our classmates are any better at policy questions. So if you beat them at all the brute-force issue spotters and pull even on policy, you'll still end up ahead.

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HBBJohnStamos
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby HBBJohnStamos » Tue May 21, 2013 7:12 am

Probably not. Take a look at this thread in December and have a laugh.

20141023
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby 20141023 » Tue May 21, 2013 7:14 am

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togepi
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Re: Are engineers really "better" at law school?

Postby togepi » Tue May 21, 2013 7:33 am

kappycaft1 wrote:
RELIC wrote:I just came here to tell you that 0L prep is a waste of time.

Rigorous intellectual stimulation is never a waste of time for a gunner. 8)

But in all seriousness, I'm not studying black-letter law or anything like that; I'm simply reading books about law school that others on TLS have recommended in my free time instead of watching TV or doing something equally as unproductive.


MOAR CHARTS N TABLEZ

Same here. I'm about halfway through GTM and will do LEEWS next month then call it quits.




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