University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
jms1987
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby jms1987 » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:42 pm

Would UT be a sound investment for an OSS like myself? I know tuition is higher and whatnot, but I really like what I hear about the school.

Esc
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby Esc » Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:51 pm

Snooker wrote:
iSpool wrote:If it helps at all, as a Texas resident, every UT graduate I've met (ages 30-45) are all rolling in the dough and very taken care of. They do all reside in Dallas, however. All of them love the education they got at UT law and had no complaints. Further, I have a question for anyone at UT. Will a 162/3.77 dual finance/econ major even have a chance or should I save my $?


You have a shot, but it's not a very strong one. I would prefer if the school would put less emphasis on LSAT scores and more on past achievements and rigor of education. It's much more impressive to see a 3.77/162 who went through a challenging economics and philosophy curriculum from a good school, published portions of his thesis, then worked as a financial analyst for two years, than a 3.2/172 with no real achievements to speak of. If an investment bank would give you serious consideration, then a law school should, as well.


UT is actually one of the most GPA-heavy top schools, which really isn't too surprising, what with the high resident cap. That said, I would not hesitate to pick a 172/3.2 over a 162/3.77. GPA is very, very relative depending on school, major, and individual classes taken, and I don't believe adcomms should be in the business of trying to figure out which GPAs are "worth more." At the end of the day, the LSAT is the best predictive factor available.

Work experience is very good, of course, but similarly, it is hard to determine which work experience is "better." An admissions process that put serious weight on work experience would be subject to the personal biases of the adcomms. You think being an investment banker is a experience worthy enough to outweigh a shitty LSAT. I think it's a black mark on one's resume. Neither views would serve an adcomm well in their pursuit of offering admissions to the optimal student body.

My $0.02.

Kumba84, there is a small environmental law community here, with some really excellent professors and a wonderful clinic, but environmental law is really a regional practice. At UT the curriculum seems to focus heavily on water law, pollution, and energy (Read: oil/gas) issues, which aren't going to be that relevant to practicing environmental law on the east and west coasts. There doesn't seem to be too much natural resource law here, aside from that dealing with oil. If you know you are interested in Public Service and Public Interest on the coasts, Texas probably isn't the best place to go.

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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby Snooker » Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:42 am

I recommended looking more closely at the rigor of the curriculum. Granted, GPA does vary by school, but there's GPA reports for the various schools with differences by major. If the adcoms people see a lot of junk courses and a general lack of commitment to challenge one's self, that should be taken into account.

I personally do not think that differences in high LSAT scores bear out a whole lot; a 140s score is an indictment, the person scoring in that range is barely answering any questions, but a difference between a 167 and 172 is a couple of fairly opaque questions. Basing everything on a fairly modest correlation to exam grades is wasteful, especially since the focus of law school is absolutely not to take law essay exams. The real world does not have law essay exams. The LSAT measures, in isolation, a small set of cognitive skills especially important for law exams in the same sort of time-pressured, four hour ordeal, and ignores skills exclusively useful in the real world. (as noted by the Berkeley study)

We shouldn't be focusing all of our recruitment ammunition on factors that have no real-world application. LSAT is a relevant factor, but I don't think it should be the only relevant factor. I have no doubt that a well-rounded, hard-working applicant will make a better lawyer than someone with a high test score but otherwise is lazy and lack skills needed for the profession.

ArmyVet07
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby ArmyVet07 » Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:29 am

j2d3 wrote:Thanks for posting all this. I'm very interested in Texas now. Much more than I was. I was in Austin for SXSW in 08 and I loved it. Loved the crazy libertarian radio stations, 6th street, the alamo theaters... the whole general atmosphere.

UT & Michigan seem to be the only schools regularly producing scholarly research in areas I'm really excited about (AI and law). Stanford and Berkeley have a great focus on technology but it's more about IP law, which I'm interested in, but not in the typical sense (also I have less chance of getting in there and if I did get in I'd probably have to pay full price). I don't want to prosecute patents for some tech company or be an IP lawyer... I'm interested in *policy* that has to do with technology and the changes that are soon to come, the legal/philosophical dilemmas that we face with trans/posthumanism. They're very into this stuff in Europe but not so much in the US yet... except there are some people who seem as crazy as me writing PhD theses about these things at Michigan and UT. There is a journal called AI and the Law but it's like $600/year to subscribe to. I'm going to see if I can read it at UCLA library.

Anyway - I like that UT is focused on academia and clerkships, I like TX in general, and I like the collegiate atmosphere (rather than cutthroat) you describe.


I'm curious about what AI means to you. To me it means artificial intelligence.

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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby ArmyVet07 » Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:32 am

Snooker wrote:
Esc wrote:
yournamehere wrote:Its really hard to gauge how much people study. i'm almost always at the library, but i tend to be really inefficient about studying. some people study at home by themselves. i think one thing that really makes a difference is that nobody that I talk to spends a lot of time telling everyone else how much they have been studying. By and large, everyone is pretty laid back and I haven't heard of too many people blowing off bar review to study just yet.


good point. some people study all the time and others party all the time, but neither group rubs the respective fact in the other's face


I think there's good "academic" reasons to go to bar review, developing your place in the social network of Texas lawyers is relevant.

Would it be awkward for someone who doesn't drink alcohol?

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OperaAttorney
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby OperaAttorney » Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:21 am

catharsis wrote:I got into UT (my dream school) and one of my questions was about living. If you wouldnt mind sharing where you live, how much you pay, and whether you like it or not, it would be tremendously helpful once I start looking at housing options.

And thanks for the help guys! This is a tremendously helpful thread :D


Right now I live at the edge of Hyde Park. But I'm close to campus. My bus ride (straight down Duval) is under 10 minutes. At the end of the year, I'm moving into an awesome condo across the street from the law school. That will put me 15 seconds away from the school. Rent + Utilities = $ 700. There is a God!

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OperaAttorney
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby OperaAttorney » Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:31 am

Snooker wrote:
Ragnar wrote:Can one of you 1L's comment on the large class size. I know the societies break it up. How big are the societies? How likely is it that you get to know many people outside of your section? Can you sell me on Texas' big class size as compared to something smaller (like sub 200)? If you want to make an impact it seems like it would be easier in a smaller class. Maybe I'm off base. Fill me in.


As above, big section about 95 people, small section around 20, and a writing seminar of 20. I believe when you average it all together, we actually have a lower average class size than Harvard. The small section is very good, you get some real hands-on training there. I personally hope they introduce more small classes and start emphasizing legal training more than other professor obligations.

As for the size of the whole class, I don't think it makes a huge difference. I showed up to a party and there's tons of people there, but I still know where my friends are... It's like living in a small town (Ithaca, NY) compared to a city of over a million (Austin, TX). Even if everyone in the small town knows the other people, you can still have friends in a big city, and it's a more dynamic, vibrant place for the extra population. In general, law schools are small. I wouldn't want an ultra-huge law school. We had a big, dynamic halloween party this year for the law school, with a great contest. Some guys came dressed as several different tetris blocks; others as American gladiators. With half the number of costumes, we wouldn't have these sorts of contestants coming forward.

Bigger is better, basically. I also know lots of people outside my section; in fact about half of my friends are. I think this is a good balance, because we're not all in the same classes.


Is your small section course really 20 students? Mine was closer to 25 at the beginning of the semester. Now, at least 2 students no longer come to class. I'm not sure what's up with that.

At UT enrolling in large classes is almost inevitable. But I'm not a fan of the big class model. It just doesn't suit my personality and the way I learn. Most of the people I know well aren't even in my big section. I've met people through the organizations I've joined. I'm even become friends with some random person who almost spilled coffee on me in a stairway. LOL

As regards small classes (<20 students), there are enough for students who prefer them. There are seminars and clinics. Many clinics have fewer than 15 students. There's also the independent study option for students interested in specific subject areas. Right now the enrollment for my spring elective (which is also a writing-intensive course) is under 15. I doubt it will go much higher, as it hasn't in the last 5 years.
Last edited by OperaAttorney on Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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OperaAttorney
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby OperaAttorney » Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:34 am

ArmyVet07 wrote:
Snooker wrote:
Esc wrote:
yournamehere wrote:Its really hard to gauge how much people study. i'm almost always at the library, but i tend to be really inefficient about studying. some people study at home by themselves. i think one thing that really makes a difference is that nobody that I talk to spends a lot of time telling everyone else how much they have been studying. By and large, everyone is pretty laid back and I haven't heard of too many people blowing off bar review to study just yet.


good point. some people study all the time and others party all the time, but neither group rubs the respective fact in the other's face


I think there's good "academic" reasons to go to bar review, developing your place in the social network of Texas lawyers is relevant.

Would it be awkward for someone who doesn't drink alcohol?


Yes, my first bar review was awkward. I didn't enjoy it at all. I think my next bar review will be the last bar review of my 3L spring semester. I think you need to be drunk to enjoy being around other drunk people LOL.

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JazzOne
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby JazzOne » Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:17 pm

Snooker wrote:I have no doubt that a well-rounded, hard-working applicant will make a better lawyer than someone with a high test score but otherwise is lazy and lack skills needed for the profession.

Damn, I'm screwed.

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JazzOne
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby JazzOne » Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:21 pm

catharsis wrote:I got into UT (my dream school) and one of my questions was about living. If you wouldnt mind sharing where you live, how much you pay, and whether you like it or not, it would be tremendously helpful once I start looking at housing options.

And thanks for the help guys! This is a tremendously helpful thread :D


I live at the edge of the north campus area and Hyde Park (45th Street). I pay $1,050 for rent, but I have a two-bedroom house with double covered parking for the cars and a backyard for the dogs. COL is very reasonable here.

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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby JazzOne » Thu Nov 05, 2009 5:43 pm

OperaAttorney wrote:Would it be awkward for someone who doesn't drink alcohol?


Yes, my first bar review was awkward. I didn't enjoy it at all. I think my next bar review will be the last bar review of my 3L spring semester. I think you need to be drunk to enjoy being around other drunk people LOL.[/quote]
It was nice to see you in class today. Where were you yesterday? Ya, that's right. We keep tabs on your truancy! lol

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OperaAttorney
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby OperaAttorney » Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:31 pm

JazzOne wrote:
OperaAttorney wrote:
Yes, my first bar review was awkward. I didn't enjoy it at all. I think my next bar review will be the last bar review of my 3L spring semester. I think you need to be drunk to enjoy being around other drunk people LOL.

It was nice to see you in class today. Where were you yesterday? Ya, that's right. We keep tabs on your truancy! lol


I can't believe you'd call me out on TLS, JazzOne! :lol:

At this point in the semester, I'm taking an "ends-justifies-the-means" approach. ;) That's my excuse.

See you on Monday.

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JazzOne
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby JazzOne » Thu Nov 05, 2009 9:56 pm

OperaAttorney wrote:
JazzOne wrote:
OperaAttorney wrote:
Yes, my first bar review was awkward. I didn't enjoy it at all. I think my next bar review will be the last bar review of my 3L spring semester. I think you need to be drunk to enjoy being around other drunk people LOL.

It was nice to see you in class today. Where were you yesterday? Ya, that's right. We keep tabs on your truancy! lol


I can't believe you'd call me out on TLS, JazzOne! :lol:

At this point in the semester, I'm taking an "ends-justifies-the-means" approach. ;) That's my excuse.

See you on Monday.

lol

I didn't mean to call you out. It's just that you sit in the front in contracts, so it's obvious when you're not there.

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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby Snooker » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:42 pm

OperaAttorney wrote:
catharsis wrote:I got into UT (my dream school) and one of my questions was about living. If you wouldnt mind sharing where you live, how much you pay, and whether you like it or not, it would be tremendously helpful once I start looking at housing options.

And thanks for the help guys! This is a tremendously helpful thread :D


Right now I live at the edge of Hyde Park. But I'm close to campus. My bus ride (straight down Duval) is under 10 minutes. At the end of the year, I'm moving into an awesome condo across the street from the law school. That will put me 15 seconds away from the school. Rent + Utilities = $ 700. There is a God!


I have similar rent, but I drive to school from hyde park. One day I forgot my lunch and had to drive back; turned out it only takes me 5 minutes for my commute to the "cheap" area. Cost and quality of life is very good in Austin... CNN Money has rated it #2 in the nation for cities.

Snooker
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby Snooker » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:43 pm

OperaAttorney wrote:
Snooker wrote:
Ragnar wrote:Can one of you 1L's comment on the large class size. I know the societies break it up. How big are the societies? How likely is it that you get to know many people outside of your section? Can you sell me on Texas' big class size as compared to something smaller (like sub 200)? If you want to make an impact it seems like it would be easier in a smaller class. Maybe I'm off base. Fill me in.


As above, big section about 95 people, small section around 20, and a writing seminar of 20. I believe when you average it all together, we actually have a lower average class size than Harvard. The small section is very good, you get some real hands-on training there. I personally hope they introduce more small classes and start emphasizing legal training more than other professor obligations.

As for the size of the whole class, I don't think it makes a huge difference. I showed up to a party and there's tons of people there, but I still know where my friends are... It's like living in a small town (Ithaca, NY) compared to a city of over a million (Austin, TX). Even if everyone in the small town knows the other people, you can still have friends in a big city, and it's a more dynamic, vibrant place for the extra population. In general, law schools are small. I wouldn't want an ultra-huge law school. We had a big, dynamic halloween party this year for the law school, with a great contest. Some guys came dressed as several different tetris blocks; others as American gladiators. With half the number of costumes, we wouldn't have these sorts of contestants coming forward.

Bigger is better, basically. I also know lots of people outside my section; in fact about half of my friends are. I think this is a good balance, because we're not all in the same classes.


Is your small section course really 20 students? Mine was closer to 25 at the beginning of the semester. Now, at least 2 students no longer come to class. I'm not sure what's up with that.

At UT enrolling in large classes is almost inevitable. But I'm not a fan of the big class model. It just doesn't suit my personality and the way I learn. Most of the people I know well aren't even in my big section. I've met people through the organizations I've joined. I'm even become friends with some random person who almost spilled coffee on me in a stairway. LOL

As regards small classes (<20 students), there are enough for students who prefer them. There are seminars and clinics. Many clinics have fewer than 15 students. There's also the independent study option for students interested in specific subject areas. Right now the enrollment for my spring elective (which is also a writing-intensive course) is under 15. I doubt it will go much higher, as it hasn't in the last 5 years.


20+, I think we are at 22 or 23 right now. About the same ball park.

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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby Snooker » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:44 pm

JazzOne wrote:
Snooker wrote:I have no doubt that a well-rounded, hard-working applicant will make a better lawyer than someone with a high test score but otherwise is lazy and lack skills needed for the profession.

Damn, I'm screwed.


Considering how TLS is gunner-ville I have a hard time buying that you are this lazy bum type guy. But in general the real world cares about the whole person, and what they can do. Law schools should as well. If a test has 0 bearing on what sort of lawyer you'll be, why make it the be-all-end-all?
Last edited by Snooker on Thu Nov 05, 2009 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby Snooker » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:46 pm

The first bar review may be a bit awkward but the later ones are much smoother. Bar review is always worth attending. This month, there's no more bar review, so the professors are deciding to throw all these parties if you can believe that!

Once you know everyone, bar review is good for 1Ls. You shouldn't be an unknown element in the law school, especially in one with a network like UT's.

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catharsis
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby catharsis » Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:56 pm

so Im guessing most people live at Hyde Park or really near it? i want to live somewhere nice that's not too far away from the school but that has a large concentration of law students living there as well (and that's not a dorm lol).

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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby Snooker » Thu Nov 05, 2009 11:00 pm

Also, has anyone noted Dean Sager's recent attempts to breathe some innovation into the curriculum? He has professors on board with providing practical training in the context of doctrinal courses with their approach to writing assignments. Perhaps assigning essays in a doctrine class is not revolutionary, but the sort of hands-on training you can get from it is top notch. It is amazing that, according to articles I've read, Professors at law schools have resisted this sort of thing. Sager seems particularly motivated to improve this part of the curriculum and the whole school is on board. We know that real lawyers need real skills.

If they can bring this to its logical conclusion - practical training of analytical legal problem solving skills and expository writing - I think they will have made a great achievement. I think that would involve increasing the writing component of doctrine classes and providing for more feedback and opportunities for students to go over their work with professors.

(this post may be a bit incoherent, I was on call today)

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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby Snooker » Thu Nov 05, 2009 11:01 pm

catharsis wrote:so Im guessing most people live at Hyde Park or really near it? i want to live somewhere nice that's not too far away from the school but that has a large concentration of law students living there as well (and that's not a dorm lol).


Most people seem to live around that area. There's 2 law students in my apartment complex, lots more live within walking distance of campus. I recommend living near a gym so you have a high incentive to go work out every day.

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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby Esc » Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:12 pm

The writing component to the small section is interesting, but I'm a little unsure how helpful it is. I presume its helpfulness will vary depending on how much feedback the prof gives on improving the technicality of your writing. We haven't got our first paper back yet.

LRLW is pretty useful, though the class time is pretty boring. The research training plus the memo have all been good training, IMO.

I haven't been to any of the bar reviews. Socializing is fine if you're into it, but I don't really like mixing with drunk people and find it hard to actually converse in such noisy environments. The TLF auction last night was pretty damn fun, though.

I live about 6 miles from school, on a bus line. I bike to school about twice a week, so I get good exercise that way (especially when carrying 50 pounds of books, laptop,etc.). I don't bother with the gym. I've never much cared for upper-body workouts, so biking gives me the dopamine rush I need, keeps my cardio in shape, and keeps the pounds off.

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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby Snooker » Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:18 pm

We've gotten our papers back already and I'm writing the second one today. The professor zeroed in on the problems in the draft like the terminator; we also have a system of turning in rough drafts, getting feedback, and then turning those back in. He will give as much feedback as you want. The professor in that class is able to comment on substantiative issues much more than a legal writing instructor would, because he's an expert in that field, so you are working on not only legal analysis skills but also legal writing.

I figure the number of writing assignments in doctrinal classes could be increased a lot of they had you use the existing cases to analyze legal problems, much like you'd be doing on the exam. We could have had a good essay topic on the 12 cases we covered for consideration, and 15 cases on offer & acceptance... But we didn't. I'm not pitching rocket science here - have students take what they learned in class to analyze real-world problems in written format.

The present model of postponing everything until the final exam really belongs in the stone age. Former Deans of the old days reportedly thought that legal writing skills could be developed simply by reading cases, neglecting the whole writing curriculum. This is the misguided tradition we find ourselves mired in.

I figure each class has room for about 5-6 papers each running 5-7 pages. For an undergraduate curriculum, that'd be an appropriate work load (about a paper per week). I imagine the "don't change anything, ever" crowd might speculate that the tradition is just fine, but the incontrovertible principle is that practice makes perfect. Writing papers is a good way to practice critical legal skills.

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kurama20
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby kurama20 » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:02 pm

Wait so at UT first year is similiar to undergrad in that you are turning in papers every couple of days? I have to say I prefer the traditional 1l format.

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JazzOne
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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby JazzOne » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:09 pm

kurama20 wrote:Wait so at UT first year is similiar to undergrad in that you are turning in papers every couple of days? I have to say I prefer the traditional 1l format.

That was snooker's proposal, not how the curiculum is currently structured.

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Re: University of Texas 1L Taking Questions

Postby Esc » Fri Nov 06, 2009 6:14 pm

kurama20 wrote:Wait so at UT first year is similiar to undergrad in that you are turning in papers every couple of days? I have to say I prefer the traditional 1l format.


No, it is traditional. Snooker was just laying out his image for improving the curriculum. The one small section doctrinal class will have either 1 or 2 papers, LRLW will have 1 or 2, and the other doctrinal classes won't have any.

I have to say that I think the current way that doctrinal classes are taught is fine. I don't think that doctrinal classes should involve a bunch of papers. Reading the cases and supplements and reviewing class notes is, IMO, the best way to learn the material. You don't need to write a paper to learn the theories that underlie torts, property, or Crim Law. Requiring a lot of papers in these classes would cause people to pontificate on different substantive issues without paying enough attention to the writing technicalities, just like the typical sloppy UG essay that doesn't teach anyone jack shit about writing.

I think the writing curriculum should be expanded through a 3 credit LRLW class requiring more memos, more research, and longer papers. Focusing on the writing itself, without needing to pay too much attention to the substance, will allow for better training and retention of writing skills.




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