How do I do well in 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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djbatista
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How do I do well in Law School?

Postby djbatista » Tue May 12, 2015 2:58 pm

I'm beginning in August and I would like some tips from those of you who are veterans. How should I approach studying and preparing for exams? I also want a good balance between school, clubs/organizations. Thanks for your input, guys!

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PourMeTea
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby PourMeTea » Tue May 12, 2015 3:05 pm

Check out these guides and the Forum for Law School Students on here. Good luck!

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TasmanianToucan
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby TasmanianToucan » Tue May 12, 2015 3:11 pm

This 0L thanks you.

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djbatista
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby djbatista » Tue May 12, 2015 3:15 pm

Thanks!

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twenty
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby twenty » Tue May 12, 2015 4:55 pm

1L with very good first semester grades. Still waiting for second semester.

The single most important thing you can do as a 0L is find yourself, on the first day of class, not worrying about grades. If you followed TLS' advice in picking a law school, you're either attending a T13 school, or a lower ranked school with a full scholarship in the region you want to practice in. If you're at a T13, you don't have to worry about your grades, because, like, 80% of the kids at Columbia and Penn were getting biglaw/A3, and the rest of the T14 isn't far behind. As long as you're not in the very bottom of your class, you'll be fine. At a regional school with a full scholarship, grades don't matter nearly as much as networking, outside work, "hustle", etc. Either way, whether you do well or not in law school is almost entirely determined by choices you make long before your first day of class.

Having said all that,

Brief a case at the beginning of the semester. It will feel clunky, counterintuitive, and like you wasted a lot of time. Now never brief another case. Take good notes in class, but "good notes" doesn't mean writing everything down, it means writing down things that matter. For instance, suppose your professor says this:

In Lefkowitz, Great Minneapolis Surplus Store published advertisements in a newspaper for a sale on fur coats, mink scarves, and a lapin stole. Each of the advertisements indicated that the sale items would be sold on a first come first served basis, stated the quantities of each item available, and stated that they would be sold for one dollar each. Lefkowitz, the plaintiff, was the first customer to present himself and offer the one dollar price per the terms of the advertisement. The defendant refused to sell the sale items to Lefkowitz and told him that according to the “house rules” the offer was intended for women only. At trial, the court determined that the advertisement was clear, definite, and explicit and left nothing open for negotiation. The court held that Lefkowitz was entitled to performance by the defendant because he complied with the terms of the advertisement and offered the stated purchase price. The court granted judgment in favor of the plaintiff and awarded damages equal to the stated value in the advertisement for the mink stole minus the $1 purchase price. The court denied the claim on the coat, ruling that the value was too speculative and the defendant appealed. What circumstances might an advertisement for the sale of goods constitute an offer? The appellate court concluded that an advertisement involving a transaction in goods is an offer when it invites particular action, and when it is clear, definite, and explicit and leaves nothing open for negotiation. Great Minneapolis Surplus Store contended that a newspaper advertisement constitutes a unilateral offer which may be withdrawn without notice. The general rule is that advertisements are invitations to contract rather than offers; for contract formation purposes the prospective purchaser makes the offer and the seller can accept or reject the offer when received. An advertisement construed in such a manner does not become a contract for sale until a buyer’s offer is accepted by the seller, and the advertised terms can be modified or revoked without notice. The test is whether the facts show that some performance was promised in positive terms in return for something requested. Whether such an advertisement is an offer rather than an invitation to make an offer depends on the legal intention of the parties and the surrounding circumstances. As for the Lapin fur, the offer was clear, definite, explicit, and left nothing open to negotiation. While the offeror has the right to modify his offer prior to acceptance, he cannot change his offer after acceptance.


Here's what your notes should look like:

Lefkowitz (the case with the dude who likes ladies' clothing): an offer must be clear, definite, explicit, and must not leave anything open for negotiation. offeror can modify offer before acceptance, but can't change offer after acceptance. advertisements are usually not offers - go back to leonard v pepsico for more advertisement rules relating to offers


...which will translate into your exam:

...The issue is whether Walt's written notice to Jesse is a legal offer. An offer must be clear, definite, and explicit, and must not leave anything open for negotiation (Lefkowitz). An offeror may modify the offer prior to acceptance, but can't change the offer after acceptance. (Lefkowitz). Advertisements are usually not offers, (Leonard), and a reasonable person in the offeree's shoes would see the outward manifestation as an offer (Lucy). Here, Walt's written statement "Jesse, let's cook!" may not be clear, definite, and explicit. Jesse could argue that "let's cook" is sufficiently vague enough to where even if Jesse agreed, it's not clear as to what he's agreeing with; Jesse will argue that in order for Walt's written notice to be clear, definite and explicit, the offer must lay out when Walt wants the meth by, what condition the meth must be in, what price Walt is willing to pay for Jesse's services, but Walt will argue ...

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MurdockLLP
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby MurdockLLP » Tue May 12, 2015 5:08 pm

twenty wrote:Brief a case at the beginning of the semester. It will feel clunky, counterintuitive, and like you wasted a lot of time. Now never brief another case.


Can you elaborate?

ub3r
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby ub3r » Tue May 12, 2015 5:35 pm

twenty wrote:1L with very good first semester grades. Still waiting for second semester.

..........

This was a neat post. Thanks.

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AOT
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby AOT » Tue May 12, 2015 6:22 pm

ub3r wrote:This was a neat post. Thanks.

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ManoftheHour
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby ManoftheHour » Tue May 12, 2015 6:34 pm

Have your outlines done pretty much 1 month before exams. This way, you can just slowly add to the outlines for your last few weeks of classes. 2 weeks before exams, start studying. Once you think you fully understand the material, do lots of PTs. My grades directly correlated with how many PTs I did for each class. This way, you not only know which areas you suck at, but also get an idea of what the professors want. This advice is even better for classes in which professors give you an answer key or checklist of some sort. My crim professor, for example, always gave a point in the essay portion if you mentioned that conspiracy doesn't merge with target crime. Seems like a redundant thing to do on an essay when describing that crime. One would not know to put that on the essay if he did not look at the PTs. I saw that in the key and on the real thing, I mentioned it in a sentence.

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twenty
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby twenty » Tue May 12, 2015 7:04 pm

MurdockLLP wrote:Can you elaborate?


Briefing is a time suck at best, and kind of a siren song to 1Ls at worst. It gives you this false comfort that you're being studious when in reality you're just spinning your wheels and wasting time. You will get no points for knowing the full case name. You will get no points for knowing the procedural history of a case. You will get no points for knowing all the facts of a case, (although you WILL get points for analogizing to cases: i.e, "P will argue that the deadly electric fence here is similar to the spring-gun in Katko..." but only as long as you're actually doing analysis), you will get no points for knowing what the issue in a case was, you will get no points for knowing what the court's holding was based on, and you will get no points for knowing whether the lower court's decision was affirmed.

Exam 1:

For as long as western civilization has subscribed to common law--a methodology in which judicial officers, or "judges" apply precedent recognized in social customs and traditions--society has recognized the need for contracts. A functioning commercial system would be nearly impossible without uniformity and the faith of the parties that their promises would be legally enforceable, and thus contract law was born. As the court concludes in Hamer v. Sidway, 124 N.Y. 538, 27, N.E. 256 (N.Y. 1891), consideration is a key element of a contract, and one for which without, contract law could not exist. The unanimity of the court is an artfully-symbolic representation of common law in action - consideration is valuable in the sense that the binding contract may function in the scope of some right, interest, profit or benefit accruing to the one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss or responsibility given, suffered or undertaken by the other. As such, the executor of Story I’s estate, Sidway, was therefore legally bound to deliver the promised $5,000 to whoever currently held the interest in the sum, which by the time of the trial was Hamer. However, since the early 20th century (especially as embodied in the First and Second Restatements of Contracts), a dominant view has been the "bargain theory." According to the "bargain theory," a typical contract must consist of a bargained-for exchange where the consideration offered by one party (promisee) induces the making of a promise by another party (promisor), and the promisee, having been induced by the promise, gives this consideration. Thus Hamer was decided on the basis of a legal theory that has largely been replaced or supplemented by newer theory, meaning that similar cases may be viewed differently by contemporary courts. In our situation, a court would likely conclude that, like in Hamer where Respondent's forbearance of legal rights on the promises of future benefit made by Petitioner could constitute valid consideration, Jesse's willingness to forgo his legal, nay, inviolable right to choose upon his free will and readily-available sentience (See Generally: In God We Trust), the Agreement Jesse makes with Walt crystallizes the absolute necessity of consideration in contract law. But for Jesse, Walt would remain a decrepit old man, alone with his dreams of societal deviance.


Exam 2:

here goes fuck fuck fuckity fuck

offer??

Rule: offer must be clear definite and explicit (lefkwotz)
Rule: reasonable person in the offeree's shoes must see it as an offer (that case with the guy who drew a contract on a napkin
Rule: offeror is master of the offer
Rrule: offer may not be revoked after acceptance (that csae with the guy whose hunting the offeror down in london to accept)

analysis 1: offer is cde because walt's words stipulate the exact dollar amount, the exact quantity of meth, the quality of which walt epexcts the metht o be, and the time in which its supposed to be done by. walt is the master of the offer, and he can revoke the offer any time before it's acceptance. a reasonable person in jesse's shoes would have seen walts words as an offer to create a legally binding agreement; it doesn't reserve any assent

analysis 2: walt's saying 'fuck off, jesse' is probably sufficient to create a revocation, but Jesse will argue that walt says these things all the time and it's not actually enough to create a real revocation.

conclusion: a court would probably have difficulty buying that walt's telling jesse to fuck off ISN'T a revocation but maybe walt can introduce evidence where he's like "yeah, we talk like this all the time and jesse would obviously know that i don't REAALLY mean for him to fuck off" and that'd probably meet the reasonable person in Jesse's shoes requirement for whether the revocation was in effect prior to jesse's acceptance

acceptance??

rule: acceptance must be unquivocal (the case with the airplane)
...



The first student has beautifully prepared briefs with case citations, procedural histories, facts, proper names, dissenting opinions, the whole nine yards. He meticulously reads every case, comes to class fully prepared to discuss Pennoyer, has tabbed outlines he refers to, and asks impressive questions like "Where do we, as a society, draw the line between concocting legal fiction in the name of equitable justice, like with the felony murder rule, and the requisite constitutional requirement for due process in which felony murder is so aptly criticised?" If he was an undergraduate, or even a graduate student, he would quickly rise to the top of his class. On Exam 1, he receives almost no points.

The second student can't remember case names, and instead just cites to "the case with the X". His outline is atrocious, and looks something like this:

PROMISSORY ESTOPPEL:
1) promise
2) promissor reasonably expects to induce action/forbearance
3) promisee acts/forbears based on promise
4) injustice can only be avoided by enforcement of the promise

He never reads cases, he never participates in class - in fact, he regularly shows up late, he writes notes in his laptop rather than prestigiously writing down notes by hand, and he is absolutely terrified when all the other students sound a lot more like student 1. In a last ditch attempt to succeed, student 2 gets a copy of a past exam and its model answer three weeks before the final, and spends time trying to replicate the model answer student's answer. Taking practice exams hurts his outlining time, and he ends up with an incomplete outline. Some subject material from the middle of the semester is completely missing.

Student 2 will receive a significantly higher grade in the class than will Student 1.

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starry eyed
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby starry eyed » Tue May 12, 2015 8:24 pm

twenty wrote:
MurdockLLP wrote:Can you elaborate?


Briefing is a time suck at best, and kind of a siren song to 1Ls at worst. It gives you this false comfort that you're being studious when in reality you're just spinning your wheels and wasting time. You will get no points for knowing the full case name. You will get no points for knowing the procedural history of a case. You will get no points for knowing all the facts of a case, (although you WILL get points for analogizing to cases: i.e, "P will argue that the deadly electric fence here is similar to the spring-gun in Katko..." but only as long as you're actually doing analysis), you will get no points for knowing what the issue in a case was, you will get no points for knowing what the court's holding was based on, and you will get no points for knowing whether the lower court's decision was affirmed.

Exam 1:

For as long as western civilization has subscribed to common law--a methodology in which judicial officers, or "judges" apply precedent recognized in social customs and traditions--society has recognized the need for contracts. A functioning commercial system would be nearly impossible without uniformity and the faith of the parties that their promises would be legally enforceable, and thus contract law was born. As the court concludes in Hamer v. Sidway, 124 N.Y. 538, 27, N.E. 256 (N.Y. 1891), consideration is a key element of a contract, and one for which without, contract law could not exist. The unanimity of the court is an artfully-symbolic representation of common law in action - consideration is valuable in the sense that the binding contract may function in the scope of some right, interest, profit or benefit accruing to the one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss or responsibility given, suffered or undertaken by the other. As such, the executor of Story I’s estate, Sidway, was therefore legally bound to deliver the promised $5,000 to whoever currently held the interest in the sum, which by the time of the trial was Hamer. However, since the early 20th century (especially as embodied in the First and Second Restatements of Contracts), a dominant view has been the "bargain theory." According to the "bargain theory," a typical contract must consist of a bargained-for exchange where the consideration offered by one party (promisee) induces the making of a promise by another party (promisor), and the promisee, having been induced by the promise, gives this consideration. Thus Hamer was decided on the basis of a legal theory that has largely been replaced or supplemented by newer theory, meaning that similar cases may be viewed differently by contemporary courts. In our situation, a court would likely conclude that, like in Hamer where Respondent's forbearance of legal rights on the promises of future benefit made by Petitioner could constitute valid consideration, Jesse's willingness to forgo his legal, nay, inviolable right to choose upon his free will and readily-available sentience (See Generally: In God We Trust), the Agreement Jesse makes with Walt crystallizes the absolute necessity of consideration in contract law. But for Jesse, Walt would remain a decrepit old man, alone with his dreams of societal deviance.


Exam 2:

here goes fuck fuck fuckity fuck

offer??

Rule: offer must be clear definite and explicit (lefkwotz)
Rule: reasonable person in the offeree's shoes must see it as an offer (that case with the guy who drew a contract on a napkin
Rule: offeror is master of the offer
Rrule: offer may not be revoked after acceptance (that csae with the guy whose hunting the offeror down in london to accept)

analysis 1: offer is cde because walt's words stipulate the exact dollar amount, the exact quantity of meth, the quality of which walt epexcts the metht o be, and the time in which its supposed to be done by. walt is the master of the offer, and he can revoke the offer any time before it's acceptance. a reasonable person in jesse's shoes would have seen walts words as an offer to create a legally binding agreement; it doesn't reserve any assent

analysis 2: walt's saying 'fuck off, jesse' is probably sufficient to create a revocation, but Jesse will argue that walt says these things all the time and it's not actually enough to create a real revocation.

conclusion: a court would probably have difficulty buying that walt's telling jesse to fuck off ISN'T a revocation but maybe walt can introduce evidence where he's like "yeah, we talk like this all the time and jesse would obviously know that i don't REAALLY mean for him to fuck off" and that'd probably meet the reasonable person in Jesse's shoes requirement for whether the revocation was in effect prior to jesse's acceptance

acceptance??

rule: acceptance must be unquivocal (the case with the airplane)
...



The first student has beautifully prepared briefs with case citations, procedural histories, facts, proper names, dissenting opinions, the whole nine yards. He meticulously reads every case, comes to class fully prepared to discuss Pennoyer, has tabbed outlines he refers to, and asks impressive questions like "Where do we, as a society, draw the line between concocting legal fiction in the name of equitable justice, like with the felony murder rule, and the requisite constitutional requirement for due process in which felony murder is so aptly criticised?" If he was an undergraduate, or even a graduate student, he would quickly rise to the top of his class. On Exam 1, he receives almost no points.

The second student can't remember case names, and instead just cites to "the case with the X". His outline is atrocious, and looks something like this:

PROMISSORY ESTOPPEL:
1) promise
2) promissor reasonably expects to induce action/forbearance
3) promisee acts/forbears based on promise
4) injustice can only be avoided by enforcement of the promise

He never reads cases, he never participates in class - in fact, he regularly shows up late, he writes notes in his laptop rather than prestigiously writing down notes by hand, and he is absolutely terrified when all the other students sound a lot more like student 1. In a last ditch attempt to succeed, student 2 gets a copy of a past exam and its model answer three weeks before the final, and spends time trying to replicate the model answer student's answer. Taking practice exams hurts his outlining time, and he ends up with an incomplete outline. Some subject material from the middle of the semester is completely missing.

Student 2 will receive a significantly higher grade in the class than will Student 1.


I like you, please post more often.

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Tue May 12, 2015 9:18 pm

ManoftheHour wrote:Have your outlines done pretty much 1 month before exams. This way, you can just slowly add to the outlines for your last few weeks of classes. 2 weeks before exams, start studying. Once you think you fully understand the material, do lots of PTs. My grades directly correlated with how many PTs I did for each class. This way, you not only know which areas you suck at, but also get an idea of what the professors want. This advice is even better for classes in which professors give you an answer key or checklist of some sort. My crim professor, for example, always gave a point in the essay portion if you mentioned that conspiracy doesn't merge with target crime. Seems like a redundant thing to do on an essay when describing that crime. One would not know to put that on the essay if he did not look at the PTs. I saw that in the key and on the real thing, I mentioned it in a sentence.

This, like all things related to law school studying, will depend on the person. I found I did best when I did all my outlining in the 2-3 days before each exam since all the information was fresh in my mind. Practice tests were utterly useless to me.

I think lots of law students overstudy and then see an issue and feel the need to waste time writing about all the minutiae surrounding that issue instead of moving on to spot more issues.

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jk148706
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby jk148706 » Tue May 12, 2015 9:44 pm

never brief cases

from day one, focus on writing a good exam. that is all that matters. case facts/procedural history literally do not matter

take good class notes

learn your professors and give them what they want. I think this is key. Don't try to be too smart; just give the prof what she wants

take practice exams

outlining is optional if u can find a good one

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue May 12, 2015 9:49 pm

And to provide another perspective, I did best when I didn't outline - I just took notes very carefully in class, basically outlining as I went, then studied from those at the end. I tabbed the shit out of them and brought them into the exam. For me, outlining turned into a process of formatting my notes, but not actually learning them. I learned the most from practice exams because that's when I was confronted with what I didn't actually know. And the classes where I didn't read/go to class were by far my worst grades.

But I definitely agree with twenty's two exam examples. You want to do the second one. There are just a variety of ways to get there.

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MurdockLLP
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby MurdockLLP » Wed May 13, 2015 9:14 am

starry eyed wrote:
twenty wrote:
MurdockLLP wrote:Can you elaborate?


Briefing is a time suck at best, and kind of a siren song to 1Ls at worst. It gives you this false comfort that you're being studious when in reality you're just spinning your wheels and wasting time. You will get no points for knowing the full case name. You will get no points for knowing the procedural history of a case. You will get no points for knowing all the facts of a case, (although you WILL get points for analogizing to cases: i.e, "P will argue that the deadly electric fence here is similar to the spring-gun in Katko..." but only as long as you're actually doing analysis), you will get no points for knowing what the issue in a case was, you will get no points for knowing what the court's holding was based on, and you will get no points for knowing whether the lower court's decision was affirmed.

Exam 1:

For as long as western civilization has subscribed to common law--a methodology in which judicial officers, or "judges" apply precedent recognized in social customs and traditions--society has recognized the need for contracts. A functioning commercial system would be nearly impossible without uniformity and the faith of the parties that their promises would be legally enforceable, and thus contract law was born. As the court concludes in Hamer v. Sidway, 124 N.Y. 538, 27, N.E. 256 (N.Y. 1891), consideration is a key element of a contract, and one for which without, contract law could not exist. The unanimity of the court is an artfully-symbolic representation of common law in action - consideration is valuable in the sense that the binding contract may function in the scope of some right, interest, profit or benefit accruing to the one party, or some forbearance, detriment, loss or responsibility given, suffered or undertaken by the other. As such, the executor of Story I’s estate, Sidway, was therefore legally bound to deliver the promised $5,000 to whoever currently held the interest in the sum, which by the time of the trial was Hamer. However, since the early 20th century (especially as embodied in the First and Second Restatements of Contracts), a dominant view has been the "bargain theory." According to the "bargain theory," a typical contract must consist of a bargained-for exchange where the consideration offered by one party (promisee) induces the making of a promise by another party (promisor), and the promisee, having been induced by the promise, gives this consideration. Thus Hamer was decided on the basis of a legal theory that has largely been replaced or supplemented by newer theory, meaning that similar cases may be viewed differently by contemporary courts. In our situation, a court would likely conclude that, like in Hamer where Respondent's forbearance of legal rights on the promises of future benefit made by Petitioner could constitute valid consideration, Jesse's willingness to forgo his legal, nay, inviolable right to choose upon his free will and readily-available sentience (See Generally: In God We Trust), the Agreement Jesse makes with Walt crystallizes the absolute necessity of consideration in contract law. But for Jesse, Walt would remain a decrepit old man, alone with his dreams of societal deviance.


Exam 2:

here goes fuck fuck fuckity fuck

offer??

Rule: offer must be clear definite and explicit (lefkwotz)
Rule: reasonable person in the offeree's shoes must see it as an offer (that case with the guy who drew a contract on a napkin
Rule: offeror is master of the offer
Rrule: offer may not be revoked after acceptance (that csae with the guy whose hunting the offeror down in london to accept)

analysis 1: offer is cde because walt's words stipulate the exact dollar amount, the exact quantity of meth, the quality of which walt epexcts the metht o be, and the time in which its supposed to be done by. walt is the master of the offer, and he can revoke the offer any time before it's acceptance. a reasonable person in jesse's shoes would have seen walts words as an offer to create a legally binding agreement; it doesn't reserve any assent

analysis 2: walt's saying 'fuck off, jesse' is probably sufficient to create a revocation, but Jesse will argue that walt says these things all the time and it's not actually enough to create a real revocation.

conclusion: a court would probably have difficulty buying that walt's telling jesse to fuck off ISN'T a revocation but maybe walt can introduce evidence where he's like "yeah, we talk like this all the time and jesse would obviously know that i don't REAALLY mean for him to fuck off" and that'd probably meet the reasonable person in Jesse's shoes requirement for whether the revocation was in effect prior to jesse's acceptance

acceptance??

rule: acceptance must be unquivocal (the case with the airplane)
...



The first student has beautifully prepared briefs with case citations, procedural histories, facts, proper names, dissenting opinions, the whole nine yards. He meticulously reads every case, comes to class fully prepared to discuss Pennoyer, has tabbed outlines he refers to, and asks impressive questions like "Where do we, as a society, draw the line between concocting legal fiction in the name of equitable justice, like with the felony murder rule, and the requisite constitutional requirement for due process in which felony murder is so aptly criticised?" If he was an undergraduate, or even a graduate student, he would quickly rise to the top of his class. On Exam 1, he receives almost no points.

The second student can't remember case names, and instead just cites to "the case with the X". His outline is atrocious, and looks something like this:

PROMISSORY ESTOPPEL:
1) promise
2) promissor reasonably expects to induce action/forbearance
3) promisee acts/forbears based on promise
4) injustice can only be avoided by enforcement of the promise

He never reads cases, he never participates in class - in fact, he regularly shows up late, he writes notes in his laptop rather than prestigiously writing down notes by hand, and he is absolutely terrified when all the other students sound a lot more like student 1. In a last ditch attempt to succeed, student 2 gets a copy of a past exam and its model answer three weeks before the final, and spends time trying to replicate the model answer student's answer. Taking practice exams hurts his outlining time, and he ends up with an incomplete outline. Some subject material from the middle of the semester is completely missing.

Student 2 will receive a significantly higher grade in the class than will Student 1.


I like you, please post more often.


+1. Thank you for that. I used to have to do outlines in undergrad and learned nothing by doing so. I want to make sure that I can continue to study my way going into my 1L year.

My main question however, was why you indicated we should outline our first case?

whats an updog
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby whats an updog » Wed May 13, 2015 9:46 am

Briefing the first couple weeks was helpful for me to be able to just understand what the cases were all about and how to use them. Before law school, I'd never read a court opinion, so understanding what I needed to take away from them was something I had to learn.

The important parts of a brief are separating the facts, the issue, the holding, and the reasoning. I think briefing a few times at the beginning of the semester will give you some context for how to think about the cases. Actually writing out briefs after you understand what the elements are and how to spot them isn't super necessary. A lot of people will just mark in their casebooks "I" or "H" next to specific parts of the text to indicate where the issue or holding is. That said, I know classmates who did very well and briefed every single case. There is no single way to do well in law school and you have to find the way that works best for you.

I'd also add that while generally, just knowing the rule is enough, also knowing the facts of the cases or knowing specific portions of the opinion may be helpful for some exams. Being able to distinguish an exam fact pattern from the facts of a case can help your analysis or tease out possibly rulings for open questions.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed May 13, 2015 9:49 am

I can't speak for twenty, but if I can barge in, briefing isn't the same as outlining. In any case, for me, briefing for the first couple of weeks was a helpful way to get used to reading cases and figuring out what the different parts were and how to identify them as I read. It's not because you will need to brief anything on an exam, it's just a tool to learn how to read cases effectively. (I needed to do it more than just once, clearly.)

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MurdockLLP
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby MurdockLLP » Wed May 13, 2015 10:19 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I can't speak for twenty, but if I can barge in, briefing isn't the same as outlining.


Obvious 0L here. Can you explain the difference?

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KD35
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby KD35 » Wed May 13, 2015 10:30 am

MurdockLLP wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:I can't speak for twenty, but if I can barge in, briefing isn't the same as outlining.


Obvious 0L here. Can you explain the difference?


Briefing is a way of taking notes on cases from class reading. Outline is a consolidation of all class notes into what really matters for the subject (BLL) that you study for finals from.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed May 13, 2015 10:43 am

Yeah, briefing is something you only do to cases, and technically speaking involves writing out very specific constituent parts (procedural posture, facts, issue, holding, rule - of those the issue and rule are most important, though facts can be useful as people have already commented). An outline is taking all the material in the course and putting it together in a hierarchical way that shows the relationship of different legal ideas. So the start of a basic contracts outline might read:

Contracts
I. Formation
A. Offer
B. Acceptance
C. Consideration
II. Breach (etc.)

For each of those subheadings there are going to be specific cases that fit that topic, although really you want to know the rule more than just the case. Possibly wrong example:

A. Offer
a. must be clear, definite, and explicit (Lefkowitz - ad for fur coat case)
b. reasonable person in offeree's shoes must see it as offer (etc.)

Briefing is something you (maybe) do to be able to understand what you read in Lefkowitz, the fur coat case. But by the end of the semester you need to know where the rule you learned from the Lefkowitz case fits into the course as a whole. I would suggest only formally briefing (as in writing out a brief) until you can ID the different parts as you read without any problem. For some people that may be once (my school made us write one and turn it in during orientation), some people do it their whole LS career (or at least all of 1L), for me it was a couple of weeks.

(Edit: that's supposed to look like an outline above - imagine it's properly indented at each section.)

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby Effingham » Wed May 13, 2015 10:47 am

I found I got the most out of outlining about a month before exams, and then starting a long process of weekly practice exams. I would use the practice exams to find holes in my outline. Then, I would use the supplements to fill in the holes and identify potential forks.

In my opinion, no matter how you do or do not create your outline, using practice tests, e and e's, and any former exam memos you get from professors to identify holes in your study material is key.

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jk148706
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby jk148706 » Wed May 13, 2015 11:04 am

imo briefing cases is a massive waste of time.

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed May 13, 2015 11:07 am

I would brief cases (not even neccessarily all assigned cases) in the beginning, until you feel comfortable figuring out what the information you need from a case is. Maybe this means only the first class, maybe the first few weeks, depends on your comfort level. Briefing is a clunky but functional way of breaking down how case law works.

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby LawsRUs » Wed May 13, 2015 10:49 pm

Did you guys memorize / recommend memorizing your outlines in your 1L year? Also, can I ask how long your outlines generally tended to be (1L doctrinals)?

Wrt PTs, how many per class would you say you did them?

Thanks all

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby cannibal ox » Wed May 13, 2015 11:03 pm

LawsRUs wrote:Did you guys memorize / recommend memorizing your outlines in your 1L year? Also, can I ask how long your outlines generally tended to be (1L doctrinals)?

Wrt PTs, how many per class would you say you did them?

Thanks all


You don't need to memorize your outline, but you should get to a spot where you're only checking the outline to make 100% sure you've got the black letter law correct.

I don't think I've had an outline over 30 pages, but the ones I've gotten from 2Ls/3Ls have been ridiculously (and unnecessarily) long. Like 90-120 pages. Outlines are about distilling the information, not writing every word out of your professor's mouth.

First semester I did a lot, mostly because I didn't know what I was doing and I wanted to be comfortable. PTs and discussing PTs were the best way for me to learn to apply the law. I hesitate to give an actual number because it depends on the class, the exam format, your professor, your learning style, etc. but.. more than a couple for every class. For what it's worth I did a lot less second semester.




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