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

Postby iamgeorgebush » Tue May 19, 2015 5:49 pm

ManoftheHour wrote:
scottidsntknow wrote:
starry eyed wrote:I know this has been asked before but this seems to be a good way to consolidate everything. What should 0Ls do to prepare the summer before law school? I've read that you should only read "gettin to maybe," do absolutely no prep, and do extensive prep.

People really are all over the map on this, but personally I think you should do nothing. You don't even need to read getting to maybe (I didn't) if you've been keeping up with TLS advice since that generally tells you what you need to know. I don't really see how doing anything over the summer would help, and I also think you should try to relax and enjoy that time.

I read it but I didn't learn anything that I didn't already know by casually browsing TLS.

-Apply the law to the facts.
-Argue both sides.

There. I just saved you $14 and a few hours of reading. Grades are so professor dependent that there's no real way to prepare without actually taking the class and taking the those professors' practice exams.

thing is, this advice is good, but it is lost on many people what exactly "apply law to facts" and "argue both sides" really means. that's why i recommend reading GTM and looking at model answers to exam questions---in order to actually understand what it means to "apply law to facts" and "argue both sides."

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

Postby quiver » Tue May 19, 2015 8:57 pm

Below is a quick and general summary of my opinion on law school success from the perspective of a law school grad. I also have a long description of my particular 1L study method that I'm happy to send to anyone via PM (I don't feel like it's necessary to inflict it on this thread).

In my experience, doing well in law school boils down to 3 steps:

1) find out what you need to know
2) learn what you need to know
3) practice

As everyone has said in this thread, different methods work for different people and different professors. The key aspect of studying smart is not wasting time on stuff you don't need to know for the exam; hence step 1 above. There are several ways to do this. I always looked at my professors' past exams before the first day of class to see what areas they stress and the format of their exam. Do they only care about BLL or do they ask policy questions too? Is it all issue spotter or do they throw in multiple choice? What areas do they stress the most? Past exams usually answer these questions. Obviously you don't know the law for the class yet so you won't know any of the answers, but the main point is to just find out what's on the exam and, because of that, what you need to focus on all semester. Another way to find this stuff out is to just ask the professor throughout the semester. Sometimes they'll be helpful and sometimes they'll blow you off. You can also try to ask 2Ls and 3Ls who previously had your professor.

The second step is pretty straightforward. Based on what you learned in step 1, learn that stuff. If they only test BLL then don't waste time on finding policy angles. If they tell you exactly how to approach a certain problem in class, then there's no need to read supplements on that problem. This step is all about efficiency; if you just study nonstop throughout the semester I'm sure you'll find everything you need to know but you wasted a bazillion hours doing it (and also created an outline that is a bazillion times longer than needed). This step is also a huge judgment call. Sometimes cases will work best, sometimes supplements, sometimes just taking good class notes will be enough. This is why the first step is so key in my opinion. For example, if you look at the exam at the beginning of the semester and it's nothing but BLL and the professor tells you the BLL straight out in class, then everything else is repetitive. I had one class 2L year that was like this; I never cracked the casebook and got an A. Same thing for crim law my 1L year. But I read every single case in con law to get that A. It's just about matching step 2 to step 1.

With respect to steps 1 and 2, I would err on the side of being overinclusive at first. As you progress through law school you'll get better and better at automatically knowing what's useless information and what is important. It's tough to know this at first but it's a pretty easy skill to pick up. I think I cut my study time by 1/3 during my second semester of 1L and I got the same grades.

The third step is pretty straightforward as well: take practice exams. I usually started doing isolated questions about a month before the exam then ramped up to doing full exams by the time I had to take the actual exam. This is mostly personal preference; whatever gets you prepared to take a full exam by your professor when exam time rolls around.

One final, overall point: no one thing you do during the semester will make or break your grades. If you're feeling burnt out or something, then just take a day off. And with respect to practice exams, I don't remember ever doing as well on them as I wanted to; I always missed issues or ran out of time or something. It was tough because I remember feeling dejected and down, and it made me not want to do any more of them. But that's why you take practice exams. This will sound cheesy, but every time I bombed one I would say: "I can do this wrong a thousand times, but I only have to do it right once." That says nothing of the fact that you're graded on curve against your classmates, so any mistakes or missed issues on your exam only matters if other people don't make those same mistakes (which they will).

Those are my thoughts. Again, everyone has different methods. As I said, I'm happy to PM anyone with an all-too-detailed version of my 1L study method.

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

Postby LawsRUs » Wed May 20, 2015 2:00 am

I wanted to thank everyone again for contributing.

quiver, I think we are all interested as one perspective on how we can do well. Please feel free to inflict it here!

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Smoking Gunner
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby Smoking Gunner » Wed May 20, 2015 7:58 am

LawsRUs wrote: quiver, I think we are all interested as one perspective on how we can do well. Please feel free to inflict it here!

+1

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

Postby MurdockLLP » Wed May 20, 2015 9:24 am

Plunder the Lox wrote:
LawsRUs wrote: quiver, I think we are all interested as one perspective on how we can do well. Please feel free to inflict it here!

+1


+2

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usn26
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby usn26 » Wed May 20, 2015 10:20 am

Are there any guides like this for Legal Writing on TLS? I'm still not totally clear on what happens in LRW and what is required, much less what it takes to do well.

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

Postby ManoftheHour » Wed May 20, 2015 2:03 pm

usn26 wrote:Are there any guides like this for Legal Writing on TLS? I'm still not totally clear on what happens in LRW and what is required, much less what it takes to do well.

Yeah:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:1L legal writing/research - follow the directions exactly and give your prof exactly what they're asking for, regardless of whether it makes sense to you.


But definitely this:
jbagelboy wrote:Don't go to a school with graded legal writing is TCR

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

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed May 20, 2015 2:30 pm

ManoftheHour wrote:
usn26 wrote:Are there any guides like this for Legal Writing on TLS? I'm still not totally clear on what happens in LRW and what is required, much less what it takes to do well.

Yeah:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:1L legal writing/research - follow the directions exactly and give your prof exactly what they're asking for, regardless of whether it makes sense to you.


But definitely this:
jbagelboy wrote:Don't go to a school with graded legal writing is TCR


This is a post-first-year piece of advice, but it's a good idea to look carefully at the seminars/non-trad classes you take and try to find out how they are graded. I had an internship/seminar combo thingy (run with the school's participation) where there was no one supervising or evaluating our work in any meaningful way, and then I got a B+, and the best grade, an A-, was imply given to the boss's pet. I had actually gone out of my way to do extra work for the internship outside of scheduled time. I also had a seminar where I got the top grade award, with an A-. If you're looking to keep your GPA up or raise it in 2l/3l, these are things to consider.

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

Postby quiver » Wed May 20, 2015 11:22 pm

MurdockLLP wrote:
Plunder the Lox wrote:
LawsRUs wrote: quiver, I think we are all interested as one perspective on how we can do well. Please feel free to inflict it here!

+1

+2

Alrighty. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The first thing I'd suggest (and the first thing I did) is to read all the advice articles/threads here on TLS (Arrow's, xeoh85's, etc.). These have excellent advice and reading all of them will allow you to pick and choose which strategies appeal to you or your learning style. I used sort of a modified version of Arrow's method but obviously there is no ONE correct way to succeed in law school. I'll try to go through the main points and people can ask any follow-up questions (either here or via PM).

I'll start with outlining. Lots of people will take extensive notes in class (aka merely regurgitating what the professor says onto their computer) and then go back through these (literally) hundreds of pages of notes late in the semester to make an outline. While the process of making the outline this way can function as a review of the material, I believe that its costs outweigh its benefits. An outline is putting all the info you need into one place in an organized manner; so, the way I see it, every second you spend going through material that you don't put in your outline is wasted time. However, that being said, I know plenty of people who were successful with this method.

I did outlining differently. I would take notes sparingly during class and take these notes directly into my outline. I've always taken notes like this and I don't type fast enough to create a transcript of class anyway. I figured that if something was important enough for me to take down, it was going to end up in my outline anyway. Why not cut out the middle man and just make my notes into my outline? Because of this, my outline was essentially up-to-date by the end of every class (with minor edits later for clarity, conciseness, format, etc.). I think this was critical for me because it freed up time during "test prep" (more on that later) to do practice exams.

I think now is a good time to talk about my daily schedule. First semester and second semester differed in terms of my routine but I think overall it looked like this: wake up and go to class, do briefing between classes (usually about 2 hours), go to my second class, head back to my apartment and eat, study for about 2 hours, workout, eat dinner, study a little more if I felt it was necessary, go to bed. I used the time between classes to do case briefing (more on that later) and I spent almost all the time after class reading supplements. Almost all the professors I had 1L year were excellent and nearly all of them told us the black letter law flat out. Because of this, the supplements functioned more as review and a way to get another perspective on the material rather than a way to learn the black letter law. Weekends were pretty laid back: I used Saturdays for LRW assignments and Sundays I used for review.

This leads perfectly into my next point. One thing that I think was key to my success was setting aside Sunday as a review day. Because my outlines were up-to-date by the time I walked out of class, I was able to study and memorize my outlines every Sunday. I guess this would be considered "frontloading" the semester a bit, but I look at it more as pacing myself. Lots of people go through the motions at the beginning of the semester and are stuck trying to both study and make their outlines at the end. By constantly being up-to-date on my outlines and reviewing every Sunday, I memorized and learned the material as it came. As a result, I barely studied at all in the days before finals (in the sense of pulling all-nighters, getting cracked out on caffeine, memorizing material, and frantically creating outlines) and was able to focus exclusively on practice exams.

Practice exams are absolutely critical in my opinion. By practice exams I mean old exams by my professor. I would print these out before classes even started and look through them. Obviously I had no idea what the hell I was looking at, but I could still spot certain issues that were frequently tested or different areas that were stressed every year. I used these during "test prep" which I guess I'll discuss now.

For the majority of the semester I followed the schedule above, but about a month before finals I entered "test prep". This is one aspect I stole from Arrow. I would assign 3 days to each subject and just drill that subject for those 3 days, then move on to the next subject and so on. So for example, I would study only Torts for 3 days, then only Contracts for the next 3, then only Civ Pro for the next 3, then back to Torts for the next 3. I would schedule it so that the last 3 day section before the first exam was for that subject. The schedule within those 3 days looked something like this: first day was strictly review and memorization, second day was one practice question and more review, third day was 2 or 3 practice questions. I liked to ramp up and start with fewer practice questions at the beginning of test prep (and more review) and then do more practice questions (and less review) by the end of test prep. By this method, I was doing full practice exams in the days before each actual exam so that it was pretty much second nature when I sat down for the real thing. One other thing to note is that I did these practice questions and tests under exam conditions (timed, typed everything out, etc.). Obviously old exams with answers are the best because you can see what you missed, but I did ones without answers too because it helped get my timing down in addition to just seeing how my professor tested certain issues and what key things to look for (patterns in wording or key words corresponding to certain issues).

One last point about practice exams: keep doing them no matter how poorly you perform. I don't remember ever doing as well on practice exams as I wanted to; I always missed issues or ran out of time or something. It was tough because I remember feeling dejected and down, and it made me not want to do any more of them. But that's why you take practice exams. This will sound super cheesy, but every time I bombed one I would say: "I can do this wrong a thousand times, but I only have to do it right once."

IIRC, Arrow said that he was like 2-3 weeks ahead in his case briefing such that he was basically done with all assigned readings before starting test prep. That's absurd. First semester I was 2-3 DAYS ahead in briefing and second semester I would brief the night before or even right before class. When I started test prep, I stopped briefing all together and took my chances on being cold called. Yes it did happen anyway, and yes it sucked. But I wouldn't change anything; class participation doesn't really figure into your grade (although it depends on your school's policy) and I thought it was a calculated risk to gain more on the final exam (which was 100% of my grade) than to gain some dignity in class (which was 0% of my grade).

Case briefing (assigned class readings) is a waste of time in my opinion. Some people type/write out full briefs for each case (facts, holding, procedural posture, etc.) but almost everyone abandons this during or after the first semester. I stole Arrow's method on this too (which he actually stole from LEEWS). I had a document with 2 columns: on one side I'd have a few sentences just stating the facts of the case and the rule of law and the other side would be left blank to take any notes about that case during class. In reality I barely ever used that second column for notes since I would take notes directly into my outline (see above), but I would throw occasional lines in there that were really case specific or that weren't quite important enough to put in my outline.

I'll say two more quick things. The first is LRW. If LRW is graded at your school, it is likely worth significantly less credits than your substantive classes. The assignments suck ass, there's just no way around it. They're annoying and they take up a hugely disproportionate amount of time for the number of credits. I don't have any advice on this front except to not lose sight of the big picture. As I explained above, I tried to keep LRW work to only Saturdays. When the assignments got bigger and more involved (mostly second semester) I had to use some of Sunday or some time during the week too. I think that's fine as long as you're not sacrificing too much of your study time for the substantive classes that are worth a lot more credit. It's a judgment call but I'd caution not got so engrossed in the assignment (as many people do) that your studying for the other classes suffers. If LRW is ungraded, then kick back, relax, and play this game.

Ok, home stretch. The last thing I'll say here is that it's fine to not be a machine. There were plenty of days where I didn't feel like studying or I didn't feel well and I just didn't get a lot done those days. That's okay as long as those don't become too frequent. It's perfectly normal to have some down days and I would definitely suggest staying with the things you do for fun (going out drinking early in the semester, watching a game, hanging with friends, playing sports, going to the gym, etc.). Also, one thing I wish I could have done better was to let things go. I spent hours after I went to bed just staring at the ceiling and thinking about the law, exams, etc. After each exam I would constantly think about it and mentally find issues I missed. Without exaggeration, I actually had dreams where i would sit down and grade my own exam, finding issue after issue that I should have examined. Eerily, these dreams were 100% accurate. But here's the thing: the curve will do most of the work. There is no sense trying to predict your grade--just take the exam and wipe it from your memory.

Hopefully that gives a good sense of my study method. Again, I'm happy to answer any follow-up questions.

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

Postby LawsRUs » Thu May 21, 2015 12:30 am

Solid, thanks!

quiv, when you entered into "practice test mode," when you were rotating every three days, did you still allocate your Sunday to memorize your outline?

Can I also ask how many supplements / hornbooks you used for Con Law?

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

Postby quiver » Thu May 21, 2015 7:40 am

Good questions.

LawsRUs wrote:quiv, when you entered into "practice test mode," when you were rotating every three days, did you still allocate your Sunday to memorize your outline?
No. Review/memorization was incorporated into the 3 day period (usually on the first of the 3 days). As I got closer to exams, I would generally replace review with more practice questions/tests, although it depended on the situation. For example, if I had a closed book exam, I still used the first of the 3 days as strictly review/memorization all the way through the end.

LawsRUs wrote:Can I also ask how many supplements / hornbooks you used for Con Law?
I believe I used only one: Chemerinsky.

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Smoking Gunner
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby Smoking Gunner » Thu May 21, 2015 7:49 am

quiv, how were you able to gauge how well you did on the practice exams that didn't provide answers? Were you in a study group? Did you go to your professor's office hours (would a professor even be willing to grade a practice exam?), or did you just kind of give yourself a grade based on how many issues you were able to spot after time expired?

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby POTUSorSCOTUS » Thu May 21, 2015 11:19 am

If you want to do good at something, immerse yourself in it; have no distractions; commit all of your time to it - but most importantly you need to have a passion for it. Read and brief the cases, wake up early before class and review the briefs, start working on outlines after each segment of the course, and try to memorize your outlines even if their open book tests (which means you need to turn your 100 page outline into 5-15 pages)

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Smoking Gunner
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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby Smoking Gunner » Thu May 21, 2015 11:42 am

POTUSorSCOTUS wrote:If you want to do good at something


Lol

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

Postby LawsRUs » Thu May 21, 2015 4:04 pm

^^ :?:
---
quiver--
quiver wrote:Practice exams are absolutely critical in my opinion. By practice exams I mean old exams by my professor. I would print these out before classes even started and look through them. Obviously I had no idea what the hell I was looking at, but I could still spot certain issues that were frequently tested or different areas that were stressed every year.

This sounds really clean. Do professors write exams out of fairness so that certain issues are frequently tested or different areas are stressed every year? I think what I would like to know is what happens if you are not able to see a clear pattern, or if this is not an issue because they want to make the exams fair each year so they test the same or similar issues for the most part. I'm guessing it's probably the latter. Thanks in advance.

"I can do this wrong a thousand times, but I only have to do it right once."
^^ Thanks for this and for your guide. Really helpful.

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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 21, 2015 7:02 pm

I mean, I don't think there are many, if any profs who actually set out to write an unfair exam. They may not be any good at writing exams, and may not test on what students think they covered in class, but they don't try to make unfair ones.

My sense is that generally profs try to write fact patterns that hit all the most important elements of the subject. There are certain basic things you learn in any given topic, and part of prepping for an exam is making sure you know what material was covered and what's likely to be tested. If you take a contracts exam and don't write something somewhere about whether some kind of statement is an offer and whether something else is consideration for an offer, you're probably missing something because most profs will test that somewhere in the exam.

That said, I took an Admin exam that never once tested on Chevron (which I know doesn't make sense to you but was weird), even though it was in prior exams. I don't think that was unfair as much as my prof didn't care about it as much as other stuff and so decided just to put other stuff in. (Or he thought he was testing on Chevron and no one I knew could see it, which meant he wasn't very good at writing exams.)

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

Postby quiver » Thu May 21, 2015 7:53 pm

Smoking Gunner wrote:quiv, how were you able to gauge how well you did on the practice exams that didn't provide answers? Were you in a study group? Did you go to your professor's office hours (would a professor even be willing to grade a practice exam?), or did you just kind of give yourself a grade based on how many issues you were able to spot after time expired?
Solid question. At the outset, I should say that practice exams with model answers are obviously preferable; practice exams without answers were a last resort toward the end of my test prep period when I had exhausted all exams with answer keys.

I was not in a study group and I did not ask professors to grade my practice tests (I found it much more helpful to ask them discrete questions). Because these non-answer exams were at the end of my studying, they were mostly about timing and getting used to how my professor tested certain issues. As you point out, there was no way to know if I caught everything the professor was looking for, but part of getting ready for the exam is just being comfortable with exam urgency, planning out your answer (mentally for me), and figuring out how to word your analysis. There was no "success" but there was certainly failure if I ran out of time, had lots of incoherent sentences, etc.

LawsRUs wrote:^^ :?:
---
quiver--
quiver wrote:Practice exams are absolutely critical in my opinion. By practice exams I mean old exams by my professor. I would print these out before classes even started and look through them. Obviously I had no idea what the hell I was looking at, but I could still spot certain issues that were frequently tested or different areas that were stressed every year.

This sounds really clean. Do professors write exams out of fairness so that certain issues are frequently tested or different areas are stressed every year? I think what I would like to know is what happens if you are not able to see a clear pattern, or if this is not an issue because they want to make the exams fair each year so they test the same or similar issues for the most part. I'm guessing it's probably the latter. Thanks in advance.

"I can do this wrong a thousand times, but I only have to do it right once."
^^ Thanks for this and for your guide. Really helpful.
Good question. Let me clarify a little bit. Looking at the exams before the semester was more about seeing how my professor structured the exam than about what they tested. I think I touched on this in a prior post, but it was important for me to see if I would be dealing with issue spotters, short answers, multiple choice, policy questions, or some combination thereof. This guided my focus throughout the semester. From what I've found, professors do not seem to vary their exam structure from year to year unless they're relatively new.

With respect to spotting certain issues, it wasn't about seeing, for example, "oh, there are a lot of questions about expectation damages vs. compensatory damages" or whatever. Obviously I had no idea what the law was at the beginning of the semester. It was more like, "hmm there seem to be a lot of contract fact patterns where the buyer’s purchase order and the seller’s acknowledgment contain terms that don't match". (As all law students know, this is a battle-of-forms issue.) So if I ran across such a situation in the readings or in class, it would alert me to the fact that I should pay close attention.

I don't think professors purposely test the same issues every year out of a sense of "fairness". I think they do it because the material, for the most part, is not that complicated and certain doctrines lend themselves to good exam questions. In contracts, that's stuff like battle of the forms; in torts, there will be negligence situations that test proximate cause; in civ pro, there will likely be an Erie issue; etc. These things are mushy concepts with no easy answer and thus really test whether you can argue both sides of an issue.

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby lawman84 » Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:59 am

As a student who just finished his 1L year near the top of his class, the best advice I can give you is to do what you're most comfortable with. A bunch of 2Ls, 3Ls, professors, friends, adults, dogs, cats, babies, etc. (maybe not cats...they tend to be apathetic) will be giving you advice on how to prepare, how to study, the "dos", the "don'ts", the things that make them think you're an idiot, etc. Most of it is utterly irrelevant. You know what you're good at, you know what you're bad at, and you know how you best study. Just remember that Law School isn't undergrad. It's not a walk in the park. You can't get "As" if you don't go to class, don't study, and don't take notes.

Now, the most important things for you to remember are:
1. Listen to 2Ls and 3Ls who had the same professor if they offer exam taking techniques (study techniques might not be relevant but exam taking techniques are) since they will likely know how the professor structures the exam and what they look for.
2. Listen to your professors on what they look for and pay attention(don't spend all of class on facebook or looking at your fantasy team)...many professors will give you subtle hints or not so subtle hints at what will be on the exam (some of my professors actually told me, "write this on the exam and you have two free points" while others dropped subtle hints that made it clear what one question would be).
3. Take notes in the manner that is most logical to you and works best for you. I prefer to hand write my notes because I remember it better while many people prefer to type it up.
4. Your professor is grading your exam, cater to them. Law school exams aren't about who knows the law best, they're about who understand how to cater their exam to the professor best. This is unfortunate but true. Note arguments, words, phrases, etc. that your professor loves to use and hear.
5. While catering your exam to your professor is important, recognize that law school exams are about answering the question and applying the facts to the law. Don't spew out a bunch of rules and expect an "A". Answer the question they give you and use every fact you can from the fact pattern to apply to the law. Giving them the rules will earn you half the points at most. Lawyering is about applying the facts of those situation to the rules of law and analyzing it. The cases throughout the semester allow you to make analogies. Some professors care about case names; some don't. Just remember that you should go back through the fact pattern and make sure you used every fact you possibly could.
6. Read every day. It sucks. It's no fun. But it pays off in the end. Some people will try to cram with supplements and if they're smart enough, it might work but the majority of the people will not succeed doing that. Best way to succeed is to put the work in.
7. Be outgoing, have fun, and make friends. Pretty much every person is nervous going in, law school is a lot easier and less stressful when you have friends and a social life. You need to blow off stress. The vast majority of people will be nice and cool because they're also looking to make friends in a new place.
8. Use study groups for the exams. You don't need to do all your studying with the group but they're great for helping you with topics you don't understand and allowing you to see other issues or arguments you might miss. I've found that 3-5 people work best for a study group. Any more than that and it's tough to get things done. Pick people that you are comfortable with so that you're not afraid to call out people's arguments or state your opinion authoritatively. Also, pick people that you know will focus and get work done rather than distracting you.
9. Finally, go into the exam with the utmost confidence in yourself. I don't care if you have to fake it. Believe you're going to wreck that exam. Do not doubt yourself.

Those are my best general tips.

This is how I studied...but keep in mind that how I study and how you study are likely quite different. Do what works for you. I have an outstanding memory and am very adept at memorizing concepts. Thus, I did not do my outlines before the week of the exam. It was a tad bit stressful having to put so much work in that week but it worked for me because I remembered everything in my outline and exactly where things were located. If you don't have a great memory, start outlining early. I also found that practice tests and model answers are a god send. I typically tried to take practice tests with my study group as well as on my own. We usually started by going through a practice test question by question and discussing each question without writing a full answer.(we either outlined an answer or just discussed it) After that, we'd write full answers question by question with each question being timed. After we felt confident with that, we'd take a practice test for real. We'd take it under the same time constraints, writing out full answers, and after we finished, we read the model answer and discussed our arguments.

If a professor gives you a model answer and allows you to take it into the exam as part of your outline, do it. It tells you how they want you to structure your answer and often includes cases or analysis that could be helpful for you.

Beware of best student answers because they're not always right. Assume they know what they're talking about but if you and your study group agree on something and all have it in your notes, the student is likely wrong. They can certainly be helpful but professor model answers are always better.(some won't give you their model answers though)

As for exam taking, I broke every rule that 2Ls gave me. I didn't outline answers before writing them. I didn't stop to think them through. I didn't take the full time on my exams. I didn't check my answers. Why? Because I know how I take exams best and I did it the way I was comfortable with. I prefer to jump right in otherwise I struggle to get started and I think better while writing than I do while planning. I didn't take the full time because I didn't need it. I typically was done 75% of the way through the time we had and I wasn't going to sit there doing nothing. I didn't check my answers because I know what I know and I knew if I checked them, I'd just second guess myself on concepts that were right.

But that's just me. Many other people do not take exams that way. Which is why you need to do what you're most comfortable with. That's my theme here. You know yourself. Trust yourself. Don't worry about what other people are doing. Just do what you do best.

EDIT: And I also want to say that I did zero case briefs. I think there were less than 10 people in my 1L class that actually briefed cases after the first month. I saw it as a complete waste of time. But it depends on how good your memory is. If you can remember the cases for when you're cold-called, don't brief them. Your briefings won't likely be useful after you get the class notes from the professor. But if you can't remember cases, I guess you have to take reading notes or brief cases or else risk embarrassment when you get cold-called.(because you will)

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

Postby LawsRUs » Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:13 am

Thanks!

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby lawman84 » Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:20 am

quiver wrote:This leads perfectly into my next point. One thing that I think was key to my success was setting aside Sunday as a review day. Because my outlines were up-to-date by the time I walked out of class, I was able to study and memorize my outlines every Sunday. I guess this would be considered "frontloading" the semester a bit, but I look at it more as pacing myself. Lots of people go through the motions at the beginning of the semester and are stuck trying to both study and make their outlines at the end. By constantly being up-to-date on my outlines and reviewing every Sunday, I memorized and learned the material as it came. As a result, I barely studied at all in the days before finals (in the sense of pulling all-nighters, getting cracked out on caffeine, memorizing material, and frantically creating outlines) and was able to focus exclusively on practice exams.


Haha, this is exactly why I say that people have to trust themselves and know how they study best. Because I did the opposite of what you did and we were both successful. It's all about catering to yourself. Because I was definitely the person in bold.

I had no outline until the week of the exam. I did no practice tests until 3 days before the exam (but I binged on them suckers). However, I also never had any issues with pulling all-nighters. I slept like a baby during exam week. I loved exam week. I slept in every day because I could make my own hours and study when I was comfortable studying. That's one other point I neglected to mention. Get sleep during exam week. You'll do better on your exams if you're rested.

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby quiver » Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:02 pm

lawman84 wrote:
quiver wrote:This leads perfectly into my next point. One thing that I think was key to my success was setting aside Sunday as a review day. Because my outlines were up-to-date by the time I walked out of class, I was able to study and memorize my outlines every Sunday. I guess this would be considered "frontloading" the semester a bit, but I look at it more as pacing myself. Lots of people go through the motions at the beginning of the semester and are stuck trying to both study and make their outlines at the end. By constantly being up-to-date on my outlines and reviewing every Sunday, I memorized and learned the material as it came. As a result, I barely studied at all in the days before finals (in the sense of pulling all-nighters, getting cracked out on caffeine, memorizing material, and frantically creating outlines) and was able to focus exclusively on practice exams.


Haha, this is exactly why I say that people have to trust themselves and know how they study best. Because I did the opposite of what you did and we were both successful. It's all about catering to yourself. Because I was definitely the person in bold.

I had no outline until the week of the exam. I did no practice tests until 3 days before the exam (but I binged on them suckers). However, I also never had any issues with pulling all-nighters. I slept like a baby during exam week. I loved exam week. I slept in every day because I could make my own hours and study when I was comfortable studying. That's one other point I neglected to mention. Get sleep during exam week. You'll do better on your exams if you're rested.
Yeah, I completely agree: to each their own. I think was I was definitely in the minority on my outlining strategy; most people started outlining 4-6 weeks before exams and finished pretty close to the actual exams. I know plenty of people who were successful with that strategy. I just liked having my outline done and memorized so I could solely focus on practice tests for the last couple of weeks.

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby quiver » Wed Jun 03, 2015 8:52 pm

Just a few comments on lawman's post.
lawman84 wrote:2. Listen to your professors on what they look for and pay attention(don't spend all of class on facebook or looking at your fantasy team)...many professors will give you subtle hints or not so subtle hints at what will be on the exam (some of my professors actually told me, "write this on the exam and you have two free points" while others dropped subtle hints that made it clear what one question would be).
This point cannot be stressed enough. I know some people who didn't go to class or who dicked around on facebook the entire time and still did well, but those people are in the extreme minority. The point of class is to hear what your professor thinks is important. You can get BLL in supplements but the only way to figure out the topics important to your professor, how they word rules of law, how they characterize cases, etc. is to pay attention in class.

lawman84 wrote:7. Be outgoing, have fun, and make friends. Pretty much every person is nervous going in, law school is a lot easier and less stressful when you have friends and a social life. You need to blow off stress. The vast majority of people will be nice and cool because they're also looking to make friends in a new place.
I didn't do this and it's one of my biggest regrets. Law school is a vacation compared to certain post-grad jobs like biglaw. I know it can be tempting to get stressed about grades and become a recluse, but fight that urge. Law school classmates could easily become friends for the rest of your life and you'll likely interact with your classmates in practice, be it as co-counsel, opposing counsel, etc.

lawman84 wrote:8. Use study groups for the exams. You don't need to do all your studying with the group but they're great for helping you with topics you don't understand and allowing you to see other issues or arguments you might miss. I've found that 3-5 people work best for a study group. Any more than that and it's tough to get things done. Pick people that you are comfortable with so that you're not afraid to call out people's arguments or state your opinion authoritatively. Also, pick people that you know will focus and get work done rather than distracting you.
As lawman is alluding to, be careful with study groups. They range from being an extremely valuable resource to being a complete waste of time. Personally, I did not use study groups at any point in law school. I just found it more efficient to work by myself. From talking to many people who used study groups, I think the main reason to use them is the exact reason lawman notes: to review practice exams (especially those without model answers). I'm not sure how they would even be used most of the semester. My impression is that law students liked to say they were in a study group to make it seem like they were working hard, but instead used it as a good excuse to slack off and gossip with a table full of casebooks. I'm not advocating against study groups generally, I'm just cautioning against using useless ones.

lawman84 wrote:9. Finally, go into the exam with the utmost confidence in yourself. I don't care if you have to fake it. Believe you're going to wreck that exam. Do not doubt yourself.
This is a variation on something I said in my post. I think it can be just as dangerous to overestimate yourself as it is to doubt everything you do. I never walked into an exam thinking I was going to ace it, and I certainly never felt that way after taking an exam. I think the point is to take enough practice exams that you feel comfortable with what you'll be facing. It was very important for me to know, for example, I will have my computer in front of me, my exam will be on the left, and my outline on the right; I'm going to read the question and start writing right away; I'm going to blow through the multiple choice first so I can have more time on the issue spotters; etc. I think the sweet spot for me was some combination of quiet confidence, cautious optimism, and absolute terror (for a shot of adrenaline).

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby law_101 » Wed Jun 03, 2015 9:26 pm

Long time lurker, first TLS post. Just finished 1L year in top 10%.

The advice for doing well during 1L year is solid in this thread. I wanted to add my perspective for 0L prep.

I definitely recommend reading Getting to Maybe. It's a good book that gives you an understanding of what professors look for on exams. My advice for 0Ls is to try to really understand what a good exam answer looks like and why. Read GtM and the TLS advice threads with this frame of mind. Look at how those answers briefly state the issue and relevant rules, and then apply the facts to those rules. Understanding what it really means to apply the facts to the law is a great thing to know before starting school. It sounds very simple (and in reality it is), but sometimes it's kind of difficult to put it in writing when you are taking your first few practice exams. Starting the first semester having already looked at exam questions and what good answers look like will put you in a better position.

Hope this makes sense and helps someone. Good luck everyone.

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby lawman84 » Wed Jun 03, 2015 9:49 pm

quiver wrote:As lawman is alluding to, be careful with study groups. They range from being an extremely valuable resource to being a complete waste of time. Personally, I did not use study groups at any point in law school. I just found it more efficient to work by myself. From talking to many people who used study groups, I think the main reason to use them is the exact reason lawman notes: to review practice exams (especially those without model answers). I'm not sure how they would even be used most of the semester. My impression is that law students liked to say they were in a study group to make it seem like they were working hard, but instead used it as a good excuse to slack off and gossip with a table full of casebooks. I'm not advocating against study groups generally, I'm just cautioning against using useless ones.


Oh yea, study groups during the semester are a complete waste of time. Whenever it was a group of us at a table, nothing got done. But come exam week, they're useful. Just know who you should pick and don't be afraid to bail on a group if it's not working. My study group this past semester was great. I did probably 75% of the studying on my own but they were perfect for the other 25% because it seemed like each person had a class they knew really well. So when I was unclear about concepts, they could explain them to me and I could do the same with them. And yea, we were able to go over practice exams without model answers which is helpful. Especially when you hear arguments you never would have thought of.

This is a variation on something I said in my post. I think it can be just as dangerous to overestimate yourself as it is to doubt everything you do. I never walked into an exam thinking I was going to ace it, and I certainly never felt that way after taking an exam. I think the point is to take enough practice exams that you feel comfortable with what you'll be facing. It was very important for me to know, for example, I will have my computer in front of me, my exam will be on the left, and my outline on the right; I'm going to read the question and start writing right away; I'm going to blow through the multiple choice first so I can have more time on the issue spotters; etc. I think the sweet spot for me was some combination of quiet confidence, cautious optimism, and absolute terror (for a shot of adrenaline).


I'm cocky and arrogant. It works for me. I don't mess with other people or anything (will trash talk with some friends but only because I know they can take it and will give it as good as they take it) but I've got the utmost confidence going in.

Others may not need that level of confidence but I think we can agree that you do need to be confident. Don't go in terrified or anxious or freaking out. It's not going to help. Gotta trust yourself and believe that you know the material and can handle whatever they throw at you.(until you get the exam and read it...then you have that 30 seconds to 1 minute of panic before kicking it into gear)

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Re: How do I do well in Law School?

Postby LawsRUs » Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:01 am

Can I ask if employers tend to care if you are not involved, or are minimally engaged, in extracurricular activities during your 1L year?




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