What you wish you had known before law school...

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
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Re: What you wish you had known before law school...

Postby ManoftheHour » Mon Jan 26, 2015 2:40 am

twenty wrote:I wish I'd known that TLS was ridiculously helpful in some regards, and ridiculously unhelpful in others.

I got eight hours of sleep every night, even during finals season. I had a social life, got to spend time with the girlfriend, did a lot of pro-bono shit, and even held onto my old job in a part time capacity. I ended up with very good grades my first semester, but I could have just as easily gotten really terrible grades or top 1% grades contingent upon some minor tweaks during exams. People on this site need to take "retake" more seriously - not just the people being told to retake the LSAT, but the people telling others to retake the LSAT as well. Your success or failure in law school almost entirely depends on decisions you make long before you set foot in a classroom.

I made a few "risky" bets early on in law school that paid off well. My "reading" looked like getting to class 15 minutes early and quickly skimming through the casebook so I wouldn't look like a complete ass if I got cold-called. Any class where the prof didn't cold call, I would do absolutely no reading. For those classes, I should have returned the books to the bookstore. I did no outlining. I regularly skipped class. I heavily relied on my professors' past exams for finals studying, and I wish I'd looked at them earlier in the year. I went to office hours to talk about college football and classical music. I am a sub-par student by every measure. I'm sure most of the people at my school are more intellectually capable than I am. The big difference in my attitude towards law school and my peers' attitude towards law school was that I knew from day one that 1) I wasn't going to get biglaw from a regional school, and 2) I made the choice to take a full ride for a reason.

The supplements I paged through were mostly a waste of time with the notable exceptions of Dressler on Crim, Glannon's Torts, and the CALI lessons which I browsed through occasionally when I felt like I wasn't getting something.

As far as exams go, the biggest mistake I made was not taking "what is your professor looking for?" more seriously. One professor couldn't care less about analysis/both sides of the issue, gave points for citing cases, and gave the class a 6 hour exam to be completed in two and a half. Another professor was the exact opposite. I came into law school believing there was a one-size-fits-all approach that I could take by reading a guide on TLS/Getting to Maybe. Big mistake.

I feel like we're the exact same person. My sentiments exactly.
Having a good social life is very possible. At my school, it's like high school (which is a pro for me). At this point, even if I end up unemployed, I would not have deemed my 3 years here a "waste" because of the amount of fun I've had. Don't get me wrong, it would suck major ass to spend 3 years in school and end up unemployed. It's still a huge waste. I'm just saying it wouldn't be a COMPLETE waste.
Reading the casebook in detail is a huge flame. It takes me an hour per day to skim all the readings. Honestly, I would have aced Torts without opening the casebook. Just pay attention in class and take good notes. YMMV.
Loading up on supplements can be a waste of time too. A few were very useful. I personally loved Glannon's Torts and Gilbert's Property. YMMV.
+ 1 on believing that there was a one-size-fits-all approach. There isn't. It's up to you to figure out what your professor wants. And the way you can find out is by going to class and paying attention.
Do talk to your TAs. They aced the class. Professors are reluctant (at least at my school) in talking about exams and what they want. But the TAs are completely open for any line of questioning. Do PTs early on (1 monthish before finals) so you can talk to your TAs about them and get valuable feedback. I really wish I did this earlier.

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Re: What you wish you had known before law school...

Postby banjo » Mon Jan 26, 2015 2:58 am

Lincoln wrote:Example: The last 8-9 months I've been doing much better work than I did when I started. Partners and senior associates have told me they feel like I've become an asset to the team, I've gotten more responsibility, including things like solo travel representing the firm in various capacities, and I'm definitely looked at by other attorneys--junior and senior to me--more as someone who knows what I'm doing. But in all that time I haven't done a single Westlaw search, read a single legal opinion, or written a single memo or brief.

Damn, congrats. I didn't know that last part was possible except in some corporate groups.

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Re: What you wish you had known before law school...

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:08 am

I wish I had known how fucking awesome it is to be a consulting/testifying expert compared to being a lawyer. I definitely would have paid attention and gotten better grades in UG in order to qualify for a PhD program in some STEM field.

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