What is the consensus on supplements?

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whats an updog
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby whats an updog » Sat May 13, 2017 7:13 pm

There is a real danger coming into a class with a preconception about the material which may not be accurate or not fit with the exact class. People commenting that it's professor-specific are exactly correct. A professor is likely to cover less than half of the material provided in any given supplement and have their own spin on things.

To the degree you MUST get started, I would recommend reading more general books like The Legal Analyst by Ward Farnsworth or Thinking Like a Lawyer by Fred Schauer. Skim Getting to Maybe. These types will give you a general background that might be useful and introduce concepts that are not often explicitly taught in law school (even though they are important).

Anyway, so long as you work as hard as you seem to be right now when you actually start, you'll be fine.

cavalier1138
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby cavalier1138 » Sat May 13, 2017 8:33 pm

whats an updog wrote:There is a real danger coming into a class with a preconception about the material which may not be accurate or not fit with the exact class. People commenting that it's professor-specific are exactly correct. A professor is likely to cover less than half of the material provided in any given supplement and have their own spin on things.


OP, this is hugely important, and it's the point you seem to be ignoring or glossing over. You cannot prepare for a class in advance. Trying to "learn" a topic like civil procedure before you learn how your professor addresses the subject could end up hurting your grade, and it certainly won't end up helping it.

I get the nerves that come with having been out of school for a while, but your approach to this (trying to pre-game the class) is not a solution to that.

agnes_bean
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby agnes_bean » Sat May 13, 2017 8:48 pm

The point I'm trying to make here is that I don't want to be led in a direction that, while well-suited for most, is ill-suited for me. With that in mind, do you have any thoughts on what I should do from now until law school to get a head start? Just a few things I feel I should get out the way: (1) I actually find the law very interesting and would thoroughly enjoy reading through the restatements, hornbooks, etc.; (2) I've been out of school for a while, so there's added motivation to work out the mental kinks now rather than when school starts; and (3) I need to score near the top of my class, as I'll be attending a school outside the T14 (I'd also love to have transfer as a possibility).


First of all, very glad you found my post helpful! To this question, I agree with whats an updog: While I understand that it's tempting to try to learn the material beforehand, it's ultimately not a good idea. As people have said, every professor is going to approach the subject differently; if you learn too much in advance you could end up being at tension with what/how they want you to learn. They will also each have their own pedagogical methods, and coming in thinking you have a handle on the material (or even just a sense of it) will often rub up against that.

I also want to specifically address point #2. I had also been out of school for a while (over half a decade), so I get this worry. But the fact is that you have a lot of time to figure things out during first semester. At most law schools you won't have any graded assignments in your black letter classes until finals -- that means you can use the beginning of the semester to work the kinks out and still be in great shape come exam time. 1L is intense; I seriously think the best thing I did for myself was spend the summer leading up to it having fun (traveled a lot) and letting my mind relax after years of working. Going into the semester refreshed and ready to hit the ground running got me a lot further than any prep could have, and if you spend too much energy prepping, you risk setting yourself up to burn out.

That said, if you absolutely MUST start reading something now, I agree with updog's advice to just read general guides. I never touched them so I have no particular recs. Alternatively, since you seem interested in history, etc., I am sure there must be some general interest legal history books (about SCOTUS, or about particular areas of law) that could be interesting/give you some background, without interfering with your learning of black letter. But seriously, save learning the black letter for class.

ernie
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby ernie » Sat May 13, 2017 8:51 pm

I agree with posters above regarding the danger of starting class with preconceptions about the material, and that if you do any preparation at all, it should be general.

The best thing you could do right now is enjoy your summer, and maybe do some preparation for the job hunt—researching potential opportunities, starting to think about your resume and cover letters, etc.

If you decide that you absolutely must ruin your summer by preparing for law school, I recommend that you at least try to avoid spending money on supplements or programs, and instead take advantage of free online resources. The Bridge and Legal Theory Lexicon are good starting points for learning about legal reasoning and theory. Heritage's Guide to the Constitution is an excellent read (no matter what you think of Heritage). You can browse around some law blogs—some of the most popular ones are The Volokh Conspiracy, SCOTUSblog, How Appealing, and Lawfare. If you have specific interests I can probably make additional recommendations. The podcast First Mondays is also very good. But yeah, seriously no need to blow money on law school prep.

agnes_bean
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby agnes_bean » Sun May 14, 2017 11:51 am

I'm mainly looking to supplements to build a foundational understanding of the BLL--just enough to where I can begin taking mock exams. Once I'm in law school, I'll do my best to understand my professors' individual nuances on the material.

Reading back over your post I just noted this response. I just want to extra emphasize that this sounds like a total waste of time. IMO there is no value added in taking mock exams before you even get to school! I really want to double down on the idea that the only practice exams worth taking are old exams from your prof (or any mock exams THEY give you), and those are only worth working on once you've started taking the class, so you can understand how the prof thinks.

IMO the value of practice exams is not that they are a good way to learn the material, but that they are a good way to learn how to take any given professor's test well. Since every professor is going to approach tests differently, you only get that value by using their actual tests.

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whats an updog
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby whats an updog » Sun May 14, 2017 7:13 pm

agnes_bean wrote:
IMO the value of practice exams is not that they are a good way to learn the material, but that they are a good way to learn how to take any given professor's test well. Since every professor is going to approach tests differently, you only get that value by using their actual tests.


Exactly.

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Mon May 15, 2017 9:09 pm

Wow. Before going on any further, I’d like to thank everyone who commented (whats an updog; cavalier1138; agnes_bean; ernie). You guys have been amazingly helpful, and I deeply appreciate the time y'all took out of your Saturday nights and Sunday mornings to advise a complete stranger. I don't want anyone to feel like I'm ignoring their advice with this reply. In fact, I hope y'all take away the opposite--that I've thought deeply about the advice offered, which is why it's taken me so long to reply.

Now, each of your responses deserve a personal reply, but due to time constraints I’ll have to address the three common arguments I’ve extracted, which essentially boil down to: (1) you're going to waste your time; (2) you're going to confuse yourself; and (3) you're going to burnout. There's overlap between (1) and (2), but they're sufficiently distinct to be addressed separately.

(1) You're going to waste your time (and, for the sake of theoretical clarity, I'll conceptualize this argument as having two separate dimensions).

(1a) You're going to waste your time with learning the BLL.

whats an updog wrote: People commenting that it's professor-specific are exactly correct. A professor is likely to cover less than half of the material provided in any given supplement and have their own spin on things.


Am I going to cover extraneous material? Yes. Am I going to learn contradictory material? Almost certainly. Do the benefits of learning the BLL beforehand justify these costs? Yes.

And here's why.

First, and most importantly, learning the BLL will allow me to take mock law school exams. My aim in taking these mock exams is to improve my proficiency with the skills tested (i.e., issue-spotting). It's a means to an end, not an end in itself. Since law school final exams typically account for 100% of your 1L grade, further justification as to their importance likely isn't needed.

Second, learning the BLL will likely improve my in-class performance. Class time shouldn't be the first time I'm introduced to the material being discussed. On the contrary, I want to come prepared. This'll, hopefully, allow me to see the forest for the trees and pick up on those higher-order things you only notice once you've mastered the fundamentals.

Third, learning the BLL will allow me to come to law school in excellent mental shape. Although I haven't been out of school as long as others, I've done little intellectually demanding work since. Learning the BLL isn't the only way I can get my brain in tip-top shape again. But it is something I find interesting, something I'll have to do once I get to law school, and something that will help me out.

Look, I know it'll suck if I spend my summer reading 1000 pages of dense material, only for 1/5 of that material to be covered in class (and in a cursory manner at that). I also know it's very likely this scenario will repeat across all my 1L courses, making me even more acutely aware of how much time I wasted reading X amount of pages that ultimately ended up being irrelevant. Still, I do think the above three benefits justify these costs.

(1b) You're going to waste your time with taking mock exams.

agnes_bean wrote: the only practice exams worth taking are old exams from your prof (or any mock exams THEY give you), and those are only worth working on once you've started taking the class, so you can understand how the prof thinks. [...] the value of practice exams is not that they are a good way to learn the material, but that they are a good way to learn how to take any given professor's test well. Since every professor is going to approach tests differently, you only get that value by using their actual tests.


Are mock exams useful for understanding your professor's thinking? 100%. Are there other potential uses of mock exams that are sufficiently beneficial to offset the costs of pre-learning the BLL as an 0L? Most definitely.

As I mentioned above, learning the BLL is a means to an end: getting better at taking law school exams. Law school final exams, which I'm sure y'all are far more familiar with, test issue-spotting (for the most part, at least). I want to develop and strengthen that muscle through deliberate, focused practice. And I can only do that if I've learned enough BLL. 1L grades are everything, and I don't want to leave any stone unturned in my prep.

(2) You're going to confuse yourself.

agnes_bean wrote: every professor is going to approach the subject differently; if you learn too much in advance you could end up being at tension with what/how they want you to learn. They will also each have their own pedagogical methods, and coming in thinking you have a handle on the material (or even just a sense of it) will often rub up against that.


cavalier1138 wrote: You cannot prepare for a class in advance. Trying to "learn" a topic like civil procedure before you learn how your professor addresses the subject could end up hurting your grade, and it certainly won't end up helping it.


whats an updog wrote: There is a real danger coming into a class with a preconception about the material which may not be accurate or not fit with the exact class. [A professor will] have their own spin on things.


I'd like to consider myself intelligent enough to recognize differences between competing interpretations (and, of course, I'd always defer to my professor's take on things). But, this remains perhaps the most compelling reason against 0L prep. Thanks to everyone for bringing this up.

(3) You're going to burnout.

agnes_bean wrote: I seriously think the best thing I did for myself was spend the summer leading up to it having fun (traveled a lot) and letting my mind relax after years of working. Going into the semester refreshed and ready to hit the ground running got me a lot further than any prep could have, and if you spend too much energy prepping, you risk setting yourself up to burn out.


I love learning about the law. And I'm otherwise committed to a life-draining job until the start of law school. The readings will be the highlights of my week--seriously.

cavalier1138
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby cavalier1138 » Mon May 15, 2017 9:29 pm

This is kind of mind-boggling logic. You've never had a law school class, but you seem to have convinced yourself that you know how to prepare for class better than actual law students. Please trust me (and everyone else): this strategy is going to end up biting you in the ass.

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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby Mullens » Mon May 15, 2017 9:32 pm

GarnerB wrote:Wow. Before going on any further, I’d like to thank everyone who commented (whats an updog; cavalier1138; agnes_bean; ernie). You guys have been amazingly helpful, and I deeply appreciate the time y'all took out of your Saturday nights and Sunday mornings to advise a complete stranger. I don't want anyone to feel like I'm ignoring their advice with this reply. In fact, I hope y'all take away the opposite--that I've thought deeply about the advice offered, which is why it's taken me so long to reply.

Now, each of your responses deserve a personal reply, but due to time constraints I’ll have to address the three common arguments I’ve extracted, which essentially boil down to: (1) you're going to waste your time; (2) you're going to confuse yourself; and (3) you're going to burnout. There's overlap between (1) and (2), but they're sufficiently distinct to be addressed separately.

(1) You're going to waste your time (and, for the sake of theoretical clarity, I'll conceptualize this argument as having two separate dimensions).

(1a) You're going to waste your time with learning the BLL.

whats an updog wrote: People commenting that it's professor-specific are exactly correct. A professor is likely to cover less than half of the material provided in any given supplement and have their own spin on things.


Am I going to cover extraneous material? Yes. Am I going to learn contradictory material? Almost certainly. Do the benefits of learning the BLL beforehand justify these costs? Yes.

And here's why.

First, and most importantly, learning the BLL will allow me to take mock law school exams. My aim in taking these mock exams is to improve my proficiency with the skills tested (i.e., issue-spotting). It's a means to an end, not an end in itself. Since law school final exams typically account for 100% of your 1L grade, further justification as to their importance likely isn't needed.

Second, learning the BLL will likely improve my in-class performance. Class time shouldn't be the first time I'm introduced to the material being discussed. On the contrary, I want to come prepared. This'll, hopefully, allow me to see the forest for the trees and pick up on those higher-order things you only notice once you've mastered the fundamentals.

Third, learning the BLL will allow me to come to law school in excellent mental shape. Although I haven't been out of school as long as others, I've done little intellectually demanding work since. Learning the BLL isn't the only way I can get my brain in tip-top shape again. But it is something I find interesting, something I'll have to do once I get to law school, and something that will help me out.

Look, I know it'll suck if I spend my summer reading 1000 pages of dense material, only for 1/5 of that material to be covered in class (and in a cursory manner at that). I also know it's very likely this scenario will repeat across all my 1L courses, making me even more acutely aware of how much time I wasted reading X amount of pages that ultimately ended up being irrelevant. Still, I do think the above three benefits justify these costs.

(1b) You're going to waste your time with taking mock exams.

agnes_bean wrote: the only practice exams worth taking are old exams from your prof (or any mock exams THEY give you), and those are only worth working on once you've started taking the class, so you can understand how the prof thinks. [...] the value of practice exams is not that they are a good way to learn the material, but that they are a good way to learn how to take any given professor's test well. Since every professor is going to approach tests differently, you only get that value by using their actual tests.


Are mock exams useful for understanding your professor's thinking? 100%. Are there other potential uses of mock exams that are sufficiently beneficial to offset the costs of pre-learning the BLL as an 0L? Most definitely.

As I mentioned above, learning the BLL is a means to an end: getting better at taking law school exams. Law school final exams, which I'm sure y'all are far more familiar with, test issue-spotting (for the most part, at least). I want to develop and strengthen that muscle through deliberate, focused practice. And I can only do that if I've learned enough BLL. 1L grades are everything, and I don't want to leave any stone unturned in my prep.

(2) You're going to confuse yourself.

agnes_bean wrote: every professor is going to approach the subject differently; if you learn too much in advance you could end up being at tension with what/how they want you to learn. They will also each have their own pedagogical methods, and coming in thinking you have a handle on the material (or even just a sense of it) will often rub up against that.


cavalier1138 wrote: You cannot prepare for a class in advance. Trying to "learn" a topic like civil procedure before you learn how your professor addresses the subject could end up hurting your grade, and it certainly won't end up helping it.


whats an updog wrote: There is a real danger coming into a class with a preconception about the material which may not be accurate or not fit with the exact class. [A professor will] have their own spin on things.


I'd like to consider myself intelligent enough to recognize differences between competing interpretations (and, of course, I'd always defer to my professor's take on things). But, this remains perhaps the most compelling reason against 0L prep. Thanks to everyone for bringing this up.

(3) You're going to burnout.

agnes_bean wrote: I seriously think the best thing I did for myself was spend the summer leading up to it having fun (traveled a lot) and letting my mind relax after years of working. Going into the semester refreshed and ready to hit the ground running got me a lot further than any prep could have, and if you spend too much energy prepping, you risk setting yourself up to burn out.


I love learning about the law. And I'm otherwise committed to a life-draining job until the start of law school. The readings will be the highlights of my week--seriously.


Honestly, there's like a 1% chance that doing this insane amount of work before having any idea what you're doing will help you and a pretty decent chance it hurts you immensely. You aren't listening to what people who know what they're talking about are telling you and frankly, that might be the biggest indictment of all. You need to learn the law they way the professor teaches and learn to take exams how the professor wants. Im concerned you're gonna end up confusing yourself and missing the forest for the trees. A+ exams are not a discussion about the history and development of the case law (you will get the lowest grade in the class if you do this anywhere but conlaw) they are a typing race of applying law to facts and fitting the pieces of the puzzle together in the exact way your professor wants.

If you really want to do something that will help then you should improve your typing speed and develop good habits (exercise, sleep, etc.).

Credentials: top 1% at T14 after 1L.

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Mon May 15, 2017 9:46 pm

Mullens wrote: A+ exams are not a discussion about the history and development of the case law [...] they are a typing race of applying law to facts and fitting the pieces of the puzzle together in the exact way your professor wants.


Re-read my post. Specifically, "learning the BLL is a means to an end: getting better at taking law school exams. Law school final exams [...] test issue-spotting [...] I want to develop and strengthen that muscle through deliberate, focused practice. And I can only do that if I've learned enough BLL."

Mullens wrote: You aren't listening to what people who know what they're talking about are telling you and frankly, that might be the biggest indictment of all.


I am listening. But I am also pushing back on the advice I'm getting. As I should be. Forgive me for trying to be an educated consumer of information.

Mullens wrote: You need to learn the law they way the professor teaches and learn to take exams how the professor wants.


I don't want to attribute a position you don't hold, so I'd appreciate your clarification here: Are you saying there aren't meta-skills (e.g., issue detection, issue analysis) that I could develop between now and law school that would help me on law school exams?

cavalier1138 wrote: Please trust me (and everyone else): this strategy is going to end up biting you in the ass.


I don't accept arguments on the basis of who's making them.

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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby agnes_bean » Mon May 15, 2017 9:57 pm

Are mock exams useful for understanding your professor's thinking? 100%. Are there other potential uses of mock exams that are sufficiently beneficial to offset the costs of pre-learning the BLL as an 0L? Most definitely.

As I mentioned above, learning the BLL is a means to an end: getting better at taking law school exams. Law school final exams, which I'm sure y'all are far more familiar with, test issue-spotting (for the most part, at least). I want to develop and strengthen that muscle through deliberate, focused practice. And I can only do that if I've learned enough BLL. 1L grades are everything, and I don't want to leave any stone unturned in my prep.

OK, I'm going to try to make my point on this issue one last time: in my opinion, there is no such thing as a useful issue spotter muscle divorced from your specific professor's issue spotters. I can't emphasize this enough. I have taken a different approach to every. single. professor's exam, because everyone's conception of an issue spotter is so different.

Are you saying there aren't meta-skills (e.g., issue detection, issue analysis) that I could develop between now and law school that would help me on law school exams?

Not Mullens, but I honestly don't think that trying to develop these skills through learning black letter law and then taking random mock exams is going to be very useful, because issue detection and issue analysis has to be so very tailored to each exam. Seriously. My 1L year every one of my 8 classes had at least one question on the exam that could broadly be considered an issue spotter, and yet every one required a different methodology to do well.

I mean listen, you know yourself better than any of us know you. Maybe this approach will work for you. All I know is that I was top 10% as a 1L at Harvard, and was friends with many people who were similarly successful, and not one of us ever wasted a second on practice exams that were not from our professor.

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Mon May 15, 2017 10:03 pm

agnes_bean wrote: Not Mullens, but I honestly don't think that trying to develop these skills through learning black letter law and then taking random mock exams is going to be very useful, because issue detection and issue analysis has to be so very tailored to each exam. Seriously. My 1L year every one of my 8 classes had at least one question on the exam that could broadly be considered an issue spotter, and yet every one required a different methodology to do well.


Look. Y'all know law school better than me. I'm coming here for advice. Your advice is precisely the type of advice I'm looking for. The parts I bolded provide very compelling arguments against 0L prep. I'd appreciate it if you could elaborate on those bits.

ETA: In all honesty, I'd much rather do pleasure reading this summer instead of 1L supplements.

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Mullens
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby Mullens » Mon May 15, 2017 10:32 pm

GarnerB wrote:
Mullens wrote: A+ exams are not a discussion about the history and development of the case law [...] they are a typing race of applying law to facts and fitting the pieces of the puzzle together in the exact way your professor wants.


Re-read my post. Specifically, "learning the BLL is a means to an end: getting better at taking law school exams. Law school final exams [...] test issue-spotting [...] I want to develop and strengthen that muscle through deliberate, focused practice. And I can only do that if I've learned enough BLL."

Mullens wrote: You aren't listening to what people who know what they're talking about are telling you and frankly, that might be the biggest indictment of all.


I am listening. But I am also pushing back on the advice I'm getting. As I should be. Forgive me for trying to be an educated consumer of information.

Mullens wrote: You need to learn the law they way the professor teaches and learn to take exams how the professor wants.


I don't want to attribute a position you don't hold, so I'd appreciate your clarification here: Are you saying there aren't meta-skills (e.g., issue detection, issue analysis) that I could develop between now and law school that would help me on law school exams?

cavalier1138 wrote: Please trust me (and everyone else): this strategy is going to end up biting you in the ass.


I don't accept arguments on the basis of who's making them.


I'm not gonna do the block quoting thing but I'll answer all your points in order.

1. I know what your post said. The issue is that you don't really have an idea of what you're doing and that comment shows it in spades. There's a difference between being able to describe flying a plane and actually flying one. You're far more likely to "teach yourself" bad habits that you will have to undo during 1L when you re-learn to take an exam properly to do well than you are to actually get an advantage. That's the problem. What you describe is correct, in theory, in that it is how you prepare for a law school exam. But when doing so you have to have (1) the correct BLL, (2) an idea of how your professor wants you to apply that BLL to the facts, (3) how your professor thinks about the law, (4) how they write exams so you can learn how to issue spot for their class, and (5) know how to write exams. Have you ever heard of IRAC? Because that's how you're supposed to write an exam and you're not gonna be able to teach yourself how to do it without the right context.

I'm struggling to come up with an analogy for this, but here's the best I can do. Let's say you want to build a very complicated dresser. During 1L you are slowly given all of the pieces and the directions of how to build it, all your have to do is follow them. Instead of waiting, you are insistent on starting early so you go to Home Depot, buy a bunch of wood and screws and shit and start trying to build that dresser. When you finally start 1L and slowly get the pieces and directions, they all end up jumbled in the same pile and in your mind. So now you have to try to put the dresser together with a bunch of parts that don't fit and your own conception of how to proceed. Sure, you could separate the pieces physically in this analogy, but you can't really do that with the law and some of it will stick in your mind. This strategy will hurt you.

2. Sure, but you also have to realize that you don't really know what you're talking about. You're not properly valuing your own ideas versus the ideas of people who have done this and done it very well. Your professors will also have ideas about the law. I guarantee you will disagree with some of them. You have to learn that only their opinion matters and yours is largely irrelevant.

3. Yes, there are meta-skills. Someone who is very good at law school exams will generally do well on all their exams. But again, you are far more likely to improperly learn these skills than you are to do something right. Issue spotting and analysis is not very hard, but it requires the right mindset and if you build up the wrong mindset as a 0L then it's gonna be hard to fix.

4. See #2. People are rightly given credibility based on the basis their experience and credentials. I listen to my doctor over webmd because he is a professional. Hell, this is a good analogy. Have you ever tried to self-diagnose off webmd and been super wrong? I have. I generally consider myself really smart and I have the academic credentials to back it up. But I'm not a doctor and I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to medicine. Even when I have access to all the information on the internet. Similarly, you are not a law student or lawyer.

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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby agnes_bean » Mon May 15, 2017 11:53 pm

GarnerB wrote:
agnes_bean wrote: Not Mullens, but I honestly don't think that trying to develop these skills through learning black letter law and then taking random mock exams is going to be very useful, because issue detection and issue analysis has to be so very tailored to each exam. Seriously. My 1L year every one of my 8 classes had at least one question on the exam that could broadly be considered an issue spotter, and yet every one required a different methodology to do well.


Look. Y'all know law school better than me. I'm coming here for advice. Your advice is precisely the type of advice I'm looking for. The parts I bolded provide very compelling arguments against 0L prep. I'd appreciate it if you could elaborate on those bits.


Well, I guess the best way to elaborate is to give some examples. Here's just a smattering of what some of my 1L "issue spotters" looked like:

Prof A: Always focused the issue spotter on the same four issues, and they weren't hidden at all. Instead, this prof LOVED the idea that he was teaching us "problem solving" as well as black letter. So it was super easy to spot the general issues; the analysis I had to learn to do was to look at where any given "character"'s argument was the weakest, and what leverage that might give their opponents, and what kind of compromise might be reached.

Prof B: Was all about the diverging types of analysis different courts applied in her subject. Like prof A, her issue spotters generally focused on the same issues, and there was no hiding of the ball. The key was to learn to do the different types of analysis for each one and then make an argument for why the court should pick one over the other. (Practicing for this exam in particular before taking her class would have been the biggest waste of time in the world, because she made it so clear exactly how she thought each type of analysis should be done. )

Prof C: This was a more standard issue "crazy fact pattern, tons of issues, trying to find and write about them all in the time limit" type issue spotter. This is the one type of exam I guess you might be able to build some skills towards without having a particular prof's exam in hand (though I agree with Mullens that you risk learning it wrong if you start before you even have a class). But even on this type of more classic issue spotter, I certainly found the biggest advantage of practice tests was figuring out where your spotting of issues was weakest for this professor. Like "Oh, she always includes X issue and I've missed it a few times, so I should remember to look out for it." Different professors are tricky on these in different ways.

Prof D: This is the one I referenced as my hardest exam. Was really big on assigning you different "roles" for different questions (judge vs. lawyer writing a brief, etc.) and wanted you to take those roles seriously, so I had to put some thought into how to do that. This prof really wanted to push you on the edges of the doctrine, where the open questions were. You could probably predict in broad strokes the categories of issues, but the exact angle varied wildly from year to year. Honestly, here I ended up deciding that doing the practice tests myself was a waste of time because the questions would vary so much; instead I just ended up reading a bunch of different answers from the previous years and then debating the tough issues with some of my friends. (Which ended up working out miraculously well--to this day I think the only reason I did well on this exam was that I happened to have an intense argument with one of my friends about one of the main issues the night before and that pushed my thinking several steps further than I would have ever gotten to on my own.)

Anyway, hope that gives you a sense of how vastly different exams can look! (That's not even touching on the profs who like, just give song lyrics and crazy stuff like that. So far I've avoided anything too off the wall, but I know they are out there.)

cavalier1138
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue May 16, 2017 6:14 am

GarnerB wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote: Please trust me (and everyone else): this strategy is going to end up biting you in the ass.


I don't accept arguments on the basis of who's making them.


And if this were a back-and-forth dialogue where both parties had equal experience and information, that would make perfect sense. You started this thread asking for advice, and now you appear to be telling a bunch of law students who are placing at or near the top of their class how to study.

Even among people who really strongly recommend supplements, you will not find a single person who would tell you to read them before class starts, let alone over the summer. If you really, really, really can't stand feeling like you're not doing anything, read "Getting to Maybe", "1L of a Ride", and "Law 101". But don't, for the love of all that is good and holy, try to learn black letter law before starting school.

Edit: Also, to add to the anecdotal experience above, a professor with a law and economics approach will throw a monkey wrench in any attempt to do pure issue spotting on an exam.

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freekick
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby freekick » Tue May 16, 2017 8:28 am

To the non-OP posters ITT: Issue-spotters seem to have a hypothetical containing a lot of facts.
- Is there a method for wrapping your head around these facts in a short time? Do you guys rejig the facts party-wise or chronologically or on some other lines before getting into analysis?
- Or do you straight away turn to the applicable rule, take its first ingredient, locate facts relevant to it, do the argument/counter-argument analysis and conclude whether the ingredient is satified. And so on for every other ingredient.

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BmoreOrLess
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby BmoreOrLess » Tue May 16, 2017 9:53 am

freekick wrote:To the non-OP posters ITT: Issue-spotters seem to have a hypothetical containing a lot of facts.
- Is there a method for wrapping your head around these facts in a short time? Do you guys rejig the facts party-wise or chronologically or on some other lines before getting into analysis?
- Or do you straight away turn to the applicable rule, take its first ingredient, locate facts relevant to it, do the argument/counter-argument analysis and conclude whether the ingredient is satified. And so on for every other ingredient.


A lot of times you can organize facts by parties. Obviously rewriting facts would be a monumental waste of time, so I tended to use different color highlighters for each party as I read through the facts so I could quickly find the facts related to those parties if I needed to go back to them.

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Mullens
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby Mullens » Tue May 16, 2017 10:12 am

freekick wrote:To the non-OP posters ITT: Issue-spotters seem to have a hypothetical containing a lot of facts.
- Is there a method for wrapping your head around these facts in a short time? Do you guys rejig the facts party-wise or chronologically or on some other lines before getting into analysis?
- Or do you straight away turn to the applicable rule, take its first ingredient, locate facts relevant to it, do the argument/counter-argument analysis and conclude whether the ingredient is satified. And so on for every other ingredient.


The hypotheticals are usually written in chronological order so that's not helpful as a method of reorganization. I usually will read through the fact pattern and make a list of the issues (crimes/torts/defenses/whatever) in my exam doc. I then do a straight-forward IRAC where I list the issue, the rule (i pre-write my rule statements for everything in the course and write them verbatim to save time), and then do analysis of the elements applying as many facts as possible. If there is no real argument about one element of a rule, I will write a conclusory sentence to show I considered it and might reign a counter-argument but won't spend any decent time on it. I do counters for all the disputed parts of the rule, reach a conclusion then move on. Part of writing a top exam is to know where to spend your time and using the right counter-arguments. It's an inexact science so you just need to get a good grasp on the BLL and how your professor thinks. I use a strict IRAC even when explicitly told it's not necessary to excellent results. I do it because (1) it helps me organize my thoughts, (2) professors read a lot of exams and are less likely to miss your arguments and fail to give you points if you lay it out for them on a silver platter, and (3) you're more likely to get the benefit of the doubt for borderline points if your exam is clearly written and organized.

As to the facts, I think it's helpful to consider how professor write exams. I use the mindset that every sentence in the exam serves at least one purpose and each fact fits in somewhere (occasionally multiple places if your prof is clever). I make sure to use every fact somewhere in my exam and will use the last few minutes of time, if I have any left, to make sure I used all the puzzle pieces everywhere they could go.

agnes_bean
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby agnes_bean » Tue May 16, 2017 10:24 am

freekick wrote:To the non-OP posters ITT: Issue-spotters seem to have a hypothetical containing a lot of facts.
- Is there a method for wrapping your head around these facts in a short time? Do you guys rejig the facts party-wise or chronologically or on some other lines before getting into analysis?
- Or do you straight away turn to the applicable rule, take its first ingredient, locate facts relevant to it, do the argument/counter-argument analysis and conclude whether the ingredient is satified. And so on for every other ingredient.


This is another example of something that will probably vary by prof/fact pattern design. I agree with BmoreOrLess that organizing by party is going to be the trick that will come up the most. But in Contracts, for instance, it made way more sense to basically just go through my checklist of issues in order -- first dealing with whether a contract was formed, then the content of the contract, then if there was a breach, then possible remedies. And in Con Law I went by issue (Is there a dormant commerce clause argument here? Privileges and Immunities? Equal protection?)

As for how I dealt with the facts, I generally took notes on the side of the exam about issues I saw as I read through. I definitely agree with Mullens that it's important to think about where every fact could fit in. That said, that's another place where using your prof's practice exams can be useful -- I had some profs where there was not a single wasted line in their fact patterns, so if you hadn't used a fact yet you were definitely missing something. But others liked to have more fun with the fact patterns and would include details that made it more entertaining without actually mattering for the analysis. It's pretty easy to figure out which category any prof fits into by going over old exams and model answers.

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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Tue May 16, 2017 12:25 pm

Your arguments are convincing. I'm now on the fence about 0L prep. Just want to hear what y'all think of the three cases below. People who prepped in a similar manner the summer before their 1L year.

Anecdata 1: Highest 1L GPA at T14. Took around 50 mock exams before even starting their 1L year. 0L prep was “absolutely essential" to their 1L success.

Anecdata 2: LR and top 10% at CCN. Learned the BLL from supplements and took a few mock exams before 1L. 0L prep was "indispensable" to 1L success.

Anecdata 3: "One approach to 1L success from someone ranked #1" <http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=157251>

This is one of the more controversial subjects on TLS, with many (probably most) insisting that it is at best a waste of time, and at worst a recipe for burnout and confusion. While I respect these opinions, and believe them to be valid for many people, I prepped and found it to be useful. During my 0L summer I read [...] E&Es for almost all of my classes (instead of E&E I did Delaney for Crim and Chemerinsky for Con Law).

Think of it like distance running- if you haven’t run in several years, you’re not going to throw on a pair of New Balances and run the Boston Marathon […] Law school is the same sort of thing- if you haven’t gotten yourself ready for first year, you’ll be gasping for breath by the time November comes around. Even if you’re not gasping for breath, it’s very possible that someone like me is running against you, and that his 0L prep has gotten him into ridiculous shape.

To put this into the perspective of grades, the difference first semester (when 0L prep was likely most useful) between me and the person ranked #2 in the class was over twice as wide as the difference between #2 and #15. While I ended up with the highest grades both semesters, the lead that I’d opened up after the fall was insurmountable- everyone else was playing for second.


Recommendation: "Success in Law School - A Unique Perspective” <http://www.top-law-schools.com/success-in-law-school.html>

If you want to do some work, but not an outrageous amount, I would start by reading the Examples & Explanations books before school […] it is very valuable to get an overview of a course in advance, and you are cutting out work that you are going to have to do anyway […] If you are a gunner, and value nothing other than school, I would probably recommend reading all E&E books and hornbooks before class. I would begin to really work into the statutes like the UCC and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. I would make a sample outline for one class, and begin with practice tests in that area.


If you thought what I was doing was overkill, I'd love to see how y'all would react to this recommendation. :lol:

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Tue May 16, 2017 12:34 pm

agnes_bean wrote: Well, I guess the best way to elaborate is to give some examples. Here's just a smattering of what some of my 1L "issue spotters" looked like [...] hope that gives you a sense of how vastly different exams can look! (That's not even touching on the profs who like, just give song lyrics and crazy stuff like that. So far I've avoided anything too off the wall, but I know they are out there.)


Yep. I can now see how there's very limited utility in taking mock exams that aren't from a professor you're taking a class with. Definitely not useful enough to justify the time commitment and opportunity costs of 0L prep--and that's not even mentioning the potential harms associated with 0L prep. Thanks for the awesome reply.

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Tue May 16, 2017 12:39 pm

cavalier1138 wrote: Also, to add to the anecdotal experience above, a professor with a law and economics approach will throw a monkey wrench in any attempt to do pure issue spotting on an exam.


Hey cavalier1138, would you be so kind as to provide an example of the above? I'm sure it'll help others browsing this thread as well. On a separate note, you've been particularly animated in your responses, and I don't think it's because you're trolling. I do appreciate you trying to look out for potentially misguided 0Ls like myself. Many sincere thanks for your efforts.

cavalier1138
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue May 16, 2017 12:51 pm

GarnerB wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote: Also, to add to the anecdotal experience above, a professor with a law and economics approach will throw a monkey wrench in any attempt to do pure issue spotting on an exam.


Hey cavalier1138, would you be so kind as to provide an example of the above?


If you're answering a question from a law and economics perspective, you're largely spotting the same issues as any other exam. The difference is that your answers will often have to include why your application of the black letter law makes sense based on economic principles like cost/benefit analysis, lowest cost avoider, etc. Those are entirely non-legal principles that can be read into almost any area of law.

Also, with regards to the specific examples you mentioned: I'm hesitant to take advice for how to be #1 in your class. At any decent school, the difference in practical outcomes for someone who is ranked #1 vs. everyone else in the top 10% is negligible (or non-existent). Being the absolute top of the class is a nice bragging point, but even though the person who got #1 claimed that the difference was 0L prep, they have no way of knowing that. In all likelihood, the real difference between that student and the #2 student in the class was probably innate ability or luck of the draw on 1L professors.

taking 6y back
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby taking 6y back » Wed May 17, 2017 4:31 pm

this has got to go down as one of the most hysterical troll threads of all time. dude GarnerB sounds like the most pretentious Draco Malfoy lookin prick that you'd ever have the displeasure of encountering in law school or life. he is currently refuting the advice of ranking t13 law students as a 0L in an "Ask a Law Student" forum. :lol: LMAO!

browsing his profile will be one of the funniest things you do all day. pure narcissistic trolling. bravo, young man.

GarnerB
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Re: What is the consensus on supplements?

Postby GarnerB » Wed May 17, 2017 6:24 pm

taking 6y back wrote:this has got to go down as one of the most hysterical troll threads of all time. dude GarnerB sounds like the most pretentious Draco Malfoy lookin prick that you'd ever have the displeasure of encountering in law school or life. he is currently refuting the advice of ranking t13 law students as a 0L in an "Ask a Law Student" forum. :lol: LMAO!

browsing his profile will be one of the funniest things you do all day. pure narcissistic trolling. bravo, young man.


I love how you followed your "lol" emoticon with an all-caps "LMAO!". Pretty cringe. Also, I'd much rather be a "pretentious Draco Malfoy lookin prick" than an anti-social pimple-faced 4Chan basement-dweller. Good luck in life, buddy.




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