How do I do well in Law School?

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malleus discentium
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby malleus discentium » Wed May 13, 2015 11:15 pm

My advice is to not listen to advice (this is true for all aspects of law school, coincidentally). You know how you study best--the kinds of things that worked for you in undergrad will probably be your best bet in law school. I have one friend with killer grades who only studied by taking practice tests and reading his class notes. I have another friend with killer grades who outlined every class. You'll do yourself a disservice if you decide not to outline just because people told you not to, only to find out that it would've been helpful. Same goes for briefing cases. It sucks that the first semester's grades are the most important since you're going to have to figure out how to study at the same time, but that's the way it is.

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

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed May 13, 2015 11:40 pm

My feeling about outline length is that the idea that it necessarily "shouldn't be too long" is a myth. That's not to say it SHOULD be long. But how the information is organized is more important than brevity. If you have an open outline test, there's no reason not to have extra note cases and lecture note points in there to refer to, with a MAJOR caveat that (1) you have to know your outline really well in order for this to be of any use and (2) it has to be designed/organized in a way that you can find that little note case you want to refer to for an extra point in a mere few seconds.

It can help to use different fonts/sizes/colors, use flags and stickies, etc. Use some kind of visual cues regarding relative importance of topic, big picture vs small picture, etc.

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

Postby doing_it_in_a_car » Thu May 14, 2015 12:53 am

I just finished 1L at a T10 and did reasonably well (so far). I'd echo a lot of the solid preparation advice in this thread, but I'd add that maintaining good mental health is incredibly important. Make sure you come into law school prepared to work hard with minimal distraction. Feeling connected to and supported by your friends and family will anchor your sanity when 1L is darkest, and 1L gets very dark. 1L is full of pressure and stress, and if you let it get to you, you will find yourself constantly distracted and unable to actually absorb any information no matter how many hours you spend pounding it into your head. As others have mentioned, you should try to cultivate a mindset of "me and the material" - forget about how everyone is doing, what they know or don't know, if they sound smarter or more eloquent - none of that matters. Hold yourself to your own standard - set your own goal of knowing the material as best you can - push your brain to its limits - see if there's anything you can't learn if you put your mind to it.

Also, make sure you have a solid regimen of coping mechanisms. I like to meditate, work out at least once a week, and listen to good music. Above all though, what really got me through 1L were my amazing friends and study group. It's important to have people you trust, care about, and care for you. Looking back, some of my favorite memories from 1L are from our study sessions during finals. Cramming for a class we blew off, seeing the looks on my friends' faces as we all collectively got a concept after hours of banging our heads against the wall. Pulling an all-nighter together to take a 24 hr take home exam in the same room, fetching take out burgers from the bar across the street, pilfering food left out from different events, sharing snacks and stupid, sleep-deprivation-induced jokes. Find good people and invest in them.

In general, learn to know your self and respond accordingly. You have to notice if you're hungry, in which case, you should eat. You should notice if you're getting distracted - figure out if you're just temporarily burned out, in which you should take a break, or if there's deeper issues troubling you, which you should seek to resolve. If you're tired, take a nap and return to studying when you're well-rested.

One last thing - be prepared for the second semester slump. No one warned me about it, but I noticed that I and many others felt burned out from first semester, even after winter break, and found it difficult to start getting into the material second semester.

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

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Thu May 14, 2015 7:29 am

doing_it_in_a_car wrote:I just finished 1L at a T10 and did reasonably well (so far). I'd echo a lot of the solid preparation advice in this thread, but I'd add that maintaining good mental health is incredibly important. Make sure you come into law school prepared to work hard with minimal distraction. Feeling connected to and supported by your friends and family will anchor your sanity when 1L is darkest, and 1L gets very dark. 1L is full of pressure and stress, and if you let it get to you, you will find yourself constantly distracted and unable to actually absorb any information no matter how many hours you spend pounding it into your head. As others have mentioned, you should try to cultivate a mindset of "me and the material" - forget about how everyone is doing, what they know or don't know, if they sound smarter or more eloquent - none of that matters. Hold yourself to your own standard - set your own goal of knowing the material as best you can - push your brain to its limits - see if there's anything you can't learn if you put your mind to it.

Also, make sure you have a solid regimen of coping mechanisms. I like to meditate, work out at least once a week, and listen to good music. Above all though, what really got me through 1L were my amazing friends and study group. It's important to have people you trust, care about, and care for you. Looking back, some of my favorite memories from 1L are from our study sessions during finals. Cramming for a class we blew off, seeing the looks on my friends' faces as we all collectively got a concept after hours of banging our heads against the wall. Pulling an all-nighter together to take a 24 hr take home exam in the same room, fetching take out burgers from the bar across the street, pilfering food left out from different events, sharing snacks and stupid, sleep-deprivation-induced jokes. Find good people and invest in them.

In general, learn to know your self and respond accordingly. You have to notice if you're hungry, in which case, you should eat. You should notice if you're getting distracted - figure out if you're just temporarily burned out, in which you should take a break, or if there's deeper issues troubling you, which you should seek to resolve. If you're tired, take a nap and return to studying when you're well-rested.

One last thing - be prepared for the second semester slump. No one warned me about it, but I noticed that I and many others felt burned out from first semester, even after winter break, and found it difficult to start getting into the material second semester.

Extremely solid advice. Particularly the "find good people and invest in them." This means not just latching onto the first people you meet during orientation, it means stepping back and watching people for a few weeks, and being comfortable with not making serious attempts at friendship during that time while you figure out who the good people are (and I don't mean the smartest/best study buddies, I mean the most supportive/friendly/funny/chill-enough-to-not-raise-your-anxiety-levels-just-by-being-around-them people).

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby kcdc1 » Thu May 14, 2015 8:41 am

I'll share the advice that people generally don't -- many top students essentially write their exams beforehand and furiously transcribe their pre-written exams to fit the fact pattern on exam day. The idea is that you can identify every analytical rule given in a class and every analogy and counter-argument for each rule. If you write out those rules, analogies, and counter-arguments into complete sentences in your outline, you get to the nuanced analysis much quicker and you reduce the likelihood that you miss some turn that would have been worth a point. On short timed exam without a word limit, you want to hit at least 2,000 words per hour of rule + analysis (6,000+ words on a 3-hour exam). If you don't have to spend time thinking about how to phrase rules, it's much easier to surpass that mark.

Take notes planning for the exam. This means identifying rules and useful factual points for analogies. Every time a case or series of cases presents a fork - alternative rules that apply with different factual variations - plan to hit every prong on that fork on exam day. You'll be able to make up facts as an excuse to drag your analysis through each prong. "If the fact pattern is accurate, then Rule A, which means B. If, on the other hand, aliens have invaded the moon, then Rule X, which means Y." It seems silly sometimes, but if the prof mentions Rule X in class, you don't want to be the student that doesn't apply Rule X on the exam.

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

Postby jbagelboy » Thu May 14, 2015 9:52 am

I never briefed cases; on the other hand, I think prose does play a role in exam writing. And certainly avoid profanity.

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

Postby starry eyed » Thu May 14, 2015 9:53 am

kcdc1 wrote:I'll share the advice that people generally don't -- many top students essentially write their exams beforehand and furiously transcribe their pre-written exams to fit the fact pattern on exam day. The idea is that you can identify every analytical rule given in a class and every analogy and counter-argument for each rule. If you write out those rules, analogies, and counter-arguments into complete sentences in your outline, you get to the nuanced analysis much quicker and you reduce the likelihood that you miss some turn that would have been worth a point. On short timed exam without a word limit, you want to hit at least 2,000 words per hour of rule + analysis (6,000+ words on a 3-hour exam). If you don't have to spend time thinking about how to phrase rules, it's much easier to surpass that mark.

Take notes planning for the exam. This means identifying rules and useful factual points for analogies. Every time a case or series of cases presents a fork - alternative rules that apply with different factual variations - plan to hit every prong on that fork on exam day. You'll be able to make up facts as an excuse to drag your analysis through each prong. "If the fact pattern is accurate, then Rule A, which means B. If, on the other hand, aliens have invaded the moon, then Rule X, which means Y." It seems silly sometimes, but if the prof mentions Rule X in class, you don't want to be the student that doesn't apply Rule X on the exam.


would like to hear others' views on this

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

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu May 14, 2015 10:05 am

I think the value of shoehorning in a rule where the facts don't raise it depends on the prof. Many won't give you any points for that, so doing so runs the risk of not getting the points they do want you to get.

I also don't think prewriting (as in literally writing out sentences to copy) would save me time, but then, I write pretty fast, so it doesn't matter to me. If you have a hard time formulating rules on the fly or it helps you study the material I'm sure it's helpful. It's also more pertinent for a shorter, racehorse exam than, say, a word-limited take home.

So it depends on the prof and how you study/work best. Could be great, could be less helpful.

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

Postby starry eyed » Thu May 14, 2015 10:11 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I think the value of shoehorning in a rule where the facts don't raise it depends on the prof. Many won't give you any points for that, so doing so runs the risk of not getting the points they do want you to get.

I also don't think prewriting (as in literally writing out sentences to copy) would save me time, but then, I write pretty fast, so it doesn't matter to me. If you have a hard time formulating rules on the fly or it helps you study the material I'm sure it's helpful. It's also more pertinent for a shorter, racehorse exam than, say, a word-limited take home.

So it depends on the prof and how you study/work best. Could be great, could be less helpful.



thanks nony.

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

Postby Effingham » Thu May 14, 2015 10:22 am

yeah, whenever you have word limits it's a lot more important to tailor the answer to the question than to just throw in the kitchen sink. And one thing that was literally the reason the professor said he didn't give me the a, always hit the word limits. If it's a 250 word short answer, you should be hovering around 240 words. Might be different for take home exams, but in class you usually won't be given enough words to get out everything you need to say any way.

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby kcdc1 » Thu May 14, 2015 10:31 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:I think the value of shoehorning in a rule where the facts don't raise it depends on the prof. Many won't give you any points for that, so doing so runs the risk of not getting the points they do want you to get.


For most profs, you don't want to shoehorn where the rule is not raised at all. But if there is any pretext at all to hit the rule, hit it. Profs don't take off points for spewing irrelevant nonsense, so how far afield you want to travel comes down to time constraints. If you're time-crunched, you hit the major rule and move on. If you're moving along quickly, you can drag the fact pattern through more tortured analysis to squeeze out every last possible point.

I also don't think prewriting (as in literally writing out sentences to copy) would save me time, but then, I write pretty fast, so it doesn't matter to me. If you have a hard time formulating rules on the fly or it helps you study the material I'm sure it's helpful. It's also more pertinent for a shorter, racehorse exam than, say, a word-limited take home.


Definitely varies person-to-person. If you plan to look to your outline for rule statements at all, I highly recommend phrasing at least those rule statements exactly how you'll write them on your exam. You don't want to read the rule from your outline and then think about rephrasing. It's much faster to just retype words as you read them. On the other hand, if you know the material to the point that you don't plan to look at your outline, it might be faster to just phrase the rule from memory. Honestly, I'm pretty fast writing from memory, and it's still faster for me to flip to the rule statement and transcribe - at least for longer rules or for rules where I care about precise phrasing.

The degree to which many top students have pre-written rule statements, counter-arguments, and pivots surprised me coming into law school. People don't really share this type of preparation because it preserves their competitive edge and it's so personalized that it can't be easily transferred between students. Do what works best for you, but it's worth at least being aware that others might use this technique.

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

Postby chuckbass » Thu May 14, 2015 10:37 am

Just remember that different things work for different people, so there are multiple ways you can approach things. I never made an outline because I always had access to good ones, and I think that outlining is generally a waste of time. Instead of outlining, I would spend my time working through supplements and doing PTs. I did as many as 7 or 8 PTs for one class (torts) and that was my best grade first semester.

If you don't waste your time briefing at the beginning of the semester like everyone else, you'll honestly have a lot of time over the first half of the semester. There's not really much you can do until you learn enough material so that it all starts fitting together, so I'd definitely take that time to relax so that you've got more energy for the last month when you need it. One of the biggest things in 1L is that you need to just keep your head down and not try to follow the crowd just for the sake of following the crowd.

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby Germaine » Thu May 14, 2015 10:43 am

scottidsntknow wrote:Just remember that different things work for different people, so there are multiple ways you can approach things. I never made an outline because I always had access to good ones, and I think that outlining is generally a waste of time. Instead of outlining, I would spend my time working through supplements and doing PTs. I did as many as 7 or 8 PTs for one class (torts) and that was my best grade first semester.

If you don't waste your time briefing at the beginning of the semester like everyone else, you'll honestly have a lot of time over the first half of the semester. There's not really much you can do until you learn enough material so that it all starts fitting together, so I'd definitely take that time to relax so that you've got more energy for the last month when you need it. One of the biggest things in 1L is that you need to just keep your head down and not try to follow the crowd just for the sake of following the crowd.


This can't be emphasized strongly enough. I booked classes and I'm an outliner, underliner, briefer. My buddy who booked a class literally never touched his book with a highlighter and didn't outline. To me, that means that what both of us were good at was knowing our own strengths and weaknesses -- what works for us and what doesn't -- more than trying to emulate a model of what a 1L should do. Some 1L's are better at figuring that lesson out more quickly than others, and I think it gives them a big advantage.

(All of this is built on the necessary condition of discipline, obviously. If you lack discipline, you will have an exceedingly hard time distinguishing yourself from other equal-brained students.)

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pancakes3
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby pancakes3 » Thu May 14, 2015 11:05 am

It also depends on the prof. Some profs don't give out practice exams, or at least not 7-8 practice exams.

So, yeah. There are a lot of "depends on..." qualifiers going on.

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

Postby chuckbass » Thu May 14, 2015 11:51 am

pancakes3 wrote:It also depends on the prof. Some profs don't give out practice exams, or at least not 7-8 practice exams.

So, yeah. There are a lot of "depends on..." qualifiers going on.

For the 7-8 I referenced, a few of them were not from my prof since clearly most don't give out that many. I was able to find similar exams to my prof's however, and these were still helpful to run through.

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

Postby chuckbass » Thu May 14, 2015 11:57 am

starry eyed wrote:
kcdc1 wrote:I'll share the advice that people generally don't -- many top students essentially write their exams beforehand and furiously transcribe their pre-written exams to fit the fact pattern on exam day. The idea is that you can identify every analytical rule given in a class and every analogy and counter-argument for each rule. If you write out those rules, analogies, and counter-arguments into complete sentences in your outline, you get to the nuanced analysis much quicker and you reduce the likelihood that you miss some turn that would have been worth a point. On short timed exam without a word limit, you want to hit at least 2,000 words per hour of rule + analysis (6,000+ words on a 3-hour exam). If you don't have to spend time thinking about how to phrase rules, it's much easier to surpass that mark.

Take notes planning for the exam. This means identifying rules and useful factual points for analogies. Every time a case or series of cases presents a fork - alternative rules that apply with different factual variations - plan to hit every prong on that fork on exam day. You'll be able to make up facts as an excuse to drag your analysis through each prong. "If the fact pattern is accurate, then Rule A, which means B. If, on the other hand, aliens have invaded the moon, then Rule X, which means Y." It seems silly sometimes, but if the prof mentions Rule X in class, you don't want to be the student that doesn't apply Rule X on the exam.


would like to hear others' views on this

I think prewriting definitely depends on the class/professor. I pre wrote intensively for torts, which was very helpful and makes sense because that class boils down to a lot of simple elements. I also pre wrote for crim, but this was all policy/philosophy stuff that he wanted thrown in, and I wouldn't have done this if I had a different prof/exam.

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

Postby LawsRUs » Thu May 14, 2015 1:54 pm

Thanks all. Much appreciated.

A quick follow up question:
How long would an outline with prewriting be? 60 pages? More? Less?

Also, on exam day, when you see the question, did you take time to outline you answers? Or did you start writing right away because of the time crunch?

I am trying to see what has worked for people and what didn't and to get a general sense of different approaches so that I can figure out what will work for me. Thanks everyone.

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

Postby PeanutsNJam » Thu May 14, 2015 2:01 pm

twenty wrote:Two exam examples


Is the first example for real?

If I were grading, I'd give exam 2 guy a better grade too. He talked about what was necessary and important. Exam 1 was a waste of everybody's time. Didn't even answer the question.

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

Postby starry eyed » Fri May 15, 2015 11:11 am

I'm gonna bookmark this thread so i don't lose it. thanks everyone.

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AreJay711
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby AreJay711 » Fri May 15, 2015 11:21 am

twenty wrote:[H]e writes notes in his laptop rather than prestigiously writing down notes by hand . . . .


I know so many people who were all about taking notes by hand. They were dumb.

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

Postby blsingindisguise » Fri May 15, 2015 11:23 am

AreJay711 wrote:
twenty wrote:[H]e writes notes in his laptop rather than prestigiously writing down notes by hand . . . .


I know so many people who were all about taking notes by hand. They were dumb.


Taking notes by hand is the biggest scam perpetrated by boomers on this generation since six-figure debt for law school.

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L’Étranger
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby L’Étranger » Fri May 15, 2015 11:38 am

twenty wrote:
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.




How did you get a copy of my contracts exam?

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

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri May 15, 2015 11:46 am

Taking notes by hand works really well for a lot of people. If paying attention and taking notes in class helps you - which it does many people - writing them by hand can be really effective, mostly because you don't get online and distract yourself. It's not necessary, but dismissing hand writing as boomerism is shortsighted.

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby kcdc1 » Fri May 15, 2015 12:14 pm

LawsRUs wrote:A quick follow up question:
How long would an outline with prewriting be? 60 pages? More? Less?

Also, on exam day, when you see the question, did you take time to outline you answers? Or did you start writing right away because of the time crunch?

I'll share my own experience. FWIW, I have decent enough grades at my lower T14 (well above median, but definitely not top 5%). I have a family, so I don't typically work after 6 PM, even during exams. I'd describe my approach as efficient, but not optimal if you're gunning for #1.

I take notes all in one document and try to organize my initial notes into outline-ish form. I takes reading notes (very light case briefs without the procedural nonsense) for each case and if there is a clear takeaway for the case, I'll write the rule statement above the facts of the case - typically on the same line as the case name so it's easy to find. Then I take lecture notes either under the case headings or up above the cases for that topic/section so that I can synthesize rules from multiple cases under my topic heading.

When exams are a few weeks away, I ask around for outlines from students that previously did well in the course, and I'll read through them until I find one I trust. Then I pull from my notes and outlines to write a new word document of complete sentence rule statements, case analogies, and counter-arguments. This document seems to wind up around 10-25 pages depending how much content we covered in class. Sometimes I color code. Sometimes I organize in flow charts. Sometimes I just use bullet points for analogies/counterarguments. But I always write complete sentences for at least rule statements. I also make a second outline for policy if I know the prof likes to give policy questions.

I'd recommend taking a few practice tests to work out timing until you're comfortable.

In the exam, I really only look at my rule statement document. I'll have my notes and the prior student outline open as well, but I almost never look at them unless there's a small detail from a case that turned out to be important for whatever reason (usually a date if I'm telling a narrative in a response to a policy question.)

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

Postby djbatista » Fri May 15, 2015 1:07 pm

Thanks for all the responses guys! I'm seeing a general consensus that practice exams is the right way to go. Any advice on where to look for exams assuming the prof/upperclassmen don't provide any old ones?




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