How hard is it to do well in law school?

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Bosque
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby Bosque » Sun May 23, 2010 11:53 pm

Cilent21 wrote:
Leeroy Jenkins wrote:
teabag wrote:if you can remember thousands of pages of text and apply it then you will do well but who can do that?

lol, a 0L who thinks he knows how to do well in lawl skool


Um this has nothing to do with him being an 0L. I think the point is pretty clear: anyone who can memorize thousands of pages of text and apply it is going to well, obviously -- but it's just that no one can physically do this


No, they wont. That is the point. Just memorizing and saying on the exam "this thing I read applies here" is not enough. You need to go beyond the material and be able to figure out how the law will work for fact patterns you have never read before.

TheGreatFish
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby TheGreatFish » Wed May 26, 2010 9:11 am

Bosque wrote:
Leeroy Jenkins wrote:
GetItPatented wrote:I am trying to get an idea as to the difficulties of law school. How would any of you compare any given class in law school with something like an engineering physics class like electricity and magnetism?

Here's how I would rank them, from easy to hard.

Torts
Criminal Law
Freshman Physics <---
Property
Constitutional Law
Contracts
Civil Procedure


Ignoring the Physics (because they really are different), I don't think you can really rank the subjects like that. The difficulty level depends almost entirely on the professor you get. The right professor can make any class the easiest or the hardest.


Overall I would actually say the list is fairly accurate. Torts and Crim Law require little memorization and have very straightforward application. As long as you can memorize the elements and issue spot, applying the facts is easy. Just hit each element with the facts and you should do fine. In torts, the exam is going to be almost entirely based around Intent and Duty anyway.
Compare this with Contracts where you have "factors" instead of elements and the application becomes far more difficult. Couple that with the seemingly endless exceptions to every rule and the exam can quickly become quite intimidating.

Although I completely agree with your point about the professor making a difference. For a Torts exam fact pattern that was fairly straightforward and had numerous torts and defenses, the call of the question was, "The defendant makes an argument that causes the judge to rule in his favor. What was his argument? Was the judge correct in siding with the defendant?"
I can apply the elements of any tort or defense fairly easily, but trying to guess which defense the professor wants me to apply is a bit more challenging... it's sad when the class is praying the professor will give a "discuss" question on the final. At least then we could just talk about everything instead of trying to guess which answer to even attempt.

To get back on point for the original poster... It's different for everyone. I knew people that spent cash on Flemming's courses and 10+ hours in the library every day during finals and still couldn't manage to hit the median. For others it just came naturally. If you want to do well, really spend some time learning how to do IRAC properly. When I was helping my classmates out with improving their exams, I could not believe how many of them would skip over their Analysis and go straight to the conclusion. You really need to be able to get that IRAC format down if you want to do well.

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RayFinkle
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby RayFinkle » Wed May 26, 2010 11:40 am

1) Prod your professors individually for what they like to see on the exam.
2) See if they will read a practice exam for you and give you feedback.
3) Take notes on what they say IN THEIR WORDS.
4) Focus on what they focus on in class more than things the gloss over.
5) Look for an outline from someone who took the class with THAT SPECIFIC PROFESSOR RECENTLY and DID WELL. (this is to supplement your own outline/notes and give you a sense of where the class is going and what the most important topics are)

Follow these steps and you will likely succeed. I often here people say, and I agree, that professors just want you to tell them what they told you. If you can do this in the right places, you'll be fine.

Law school, in my opinion, comes down to who plays the "law school game" the best. People who aren't smart won't do well and people who are insanely intelligent will (I'm talking top 5% and bottom 90%). Once you get in the middle area, where you likely fall, it's all about studying and taking exams in the "right" way.

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Mattalones
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby Mattalones » Wed May 26, 2010 12:19 pm

Top 5% and bottom 90%? That only leaves the top 5-10% of the class as the middle area you talk about who aren't as affected by intelligence as other things. ... That seems odd. Did you mean to type this or did you mean to type that the-super-smart are top 5% and the-not-smarts are bottom 10%? That makes more sense to, but I don't want to put words in your mouth either.

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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby RayFinkle » Wed May 26, 2010 12:57 pm

lol... yes, bottom 10%.

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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby Mattalones » Wed May 26, 2010 1:05 pm

I see. So that still leaves a lot of variation, right. I mean, assuming that's true, then 85% of the class has roughly equal intelligence (doesn't seem to far fetched to agree with that for most law schools). It seems like what the OP was getting at were questions that apply to being a competitive member of that 85%.

Another point, I don't think that the-super-smarts and the-not-smarts always know that they belong to those groups. They probably know most of the time, but I'd guess a good number find out in LS. For me, I know from taking law school classes at my UG, which had a T15 LS, that intelligence def. isn't my concern. What I noticed was that the people seemed way more gun-ho (spelling?) about doing well than I did; maybe professional maturity was the difference. That isn't an issue any longer, but it made me happy that took a few years off before going to LS.

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doyleoil
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby doyleoil » Wed May 26, 2010 1:12 pm

this thread is packed with the worst two qualities of law students:

(1) mindless gunnerism*
(2) mindless speculation*

if you're a grinder, and you're smart, then by all means go ahead and pull 12 hour days. eat, sleep, and breathe the law, and have no outside interests whatsoever. there are plenty of tradeoffs to that lifestyle, but no one will deny its payoffs are immense. xeoh85 is the meme that comes to mind.

if you're a grinder, and not that smart, and you're pulling 12 hour days to barely scrape above median, you should find a different profession.

if you're not a grinder, and you're smart, then you can do well in the law school world without pulling constant 12 hour days. you can have relationships, and outside interests, and health, and etc. and you can eventually have a career that justifies your law school investment. maybe not scotus. but good. that's where it's at. and to answer the op's question: frankly, no, that's not that hard. but the mindless gunners will try their damnedest to convince you it is.

*this article sums up pretty well the attitudes i'm describing: --LinkRemoved--
Last edited by doyleoil on Wed May 26, 2010 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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RayFinkle
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby RayFinkle » Wed May 26, 2010 1:14 pm

Mattalones wrote:I see. So that still leaves a lot of variation, right. I mean, assuming that's true, then 85% of the class has roughly equal intelligence (doesn't seem to far fetched to agree with that for most law schools). It seems like what the OP was getting at were questions that apply to being a competitive member of that 85%.

Another point, I don't think that the-super-smarts and the-not-smarts always know that they belong to those groups. They probably know most of the time, but I'd guess a good number find out in LS. For me, I know from taking law school classes at my UG, which had a T15 LS, that intelligence def. isn't my concern. What I noticed was that the people seemed way more gun-ho (spelling?) about doing well than I did; maybe professional maturity was the difference. That isn't an issue any longer, but it made me happy that took a few years off before going to LS.


Okay, you win. The bulk of my post was about the steps I would take to be successful. If you are hung up on the statistical assumptions I made, disregard them.

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Mattalones
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby Mattalones » Wed May 26, 2010 2:12 pm

RayFinkle wrote:Okay, you win. The bulk of my post was about the steps I would take to be successful. If you are hung up on the statistical assumptions I made, disregard them.

Sorry. I was trying to agree with you, but looking back wasn't very transparent. No competition intended ... I thought you made a very good point worth considering :)
doyleoil wrote:*this article sums up pretty well the attitudes i'm describing: --LinkRemoved--

In this link: Harvard Law grad puts ideas about bad practices into peoples' head, enabling them for failure, and then he makes people feel okay about failing the BAR. :roll:

Awful!

Thane Messinger
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby Thane Messinger » Thu May 27, 2010 2:14 pm

Cilent21 wrote:
Leeroy Jenkins wrote:
teabag wrote:if you can remember thousands of pages of text and apply it then you will do well but who can do that?


Um this has nothing to do with him being an 0L. I think the point is pretty clear: anyone who can memorize thousands of pages of text and apply it is going to well, obviously -- but it's just that no one can physically do this


Hate to be the contrarian (well, not really), but, no, this is wrong. Law school is not about memorization. That gets you a set of "C" exams.

Law school is much more than this, and it's much different than college. While that's fairly obvious, law students insist on a mindless, macho approach to law school. There's little in law school that should be something "no one can physically do." If you find yourself slipping into this mindset, stop. Stop. That's the path to a very bad ending.

Thane.

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Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold
The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide

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Doritos
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby Doritos » Sat May 29, 2010 4:34 pm

I am no expert but I have spoken with several practicing attorneys who have graduated Order of the Coif, law review, etc. and asked how they did well. They all said it comes down to...

a.) working hard.
b.) finding a study method that works for you
c.) not burning out when finals come around (you can study 12 hours a day all semester but if you burn out when finals hit it was all worthless)

I was hoping for a super secret "do this and you will succeed" answer but I don't think that exists. It seems the common theme was to work very hard consistently over the course of your time in law school and find a study method that works for you (some like to do school like its a 9 to 5 job others are better @ studying 12am to 7am).

I think these threads are looking for the law school secret but in actuality it does not exist. Also, I asked about the luck factor in grading. They all said that there is a degree of luck when it comes down to an A vs. A- . Those exams are to a degree pretty interchangeable according to them but there is a demonstrable difference between top 10% and median they say. So the thought that law review kids just got lucky and median kids did just as well on their exams is a fallacy according to these attorneys (and summer associates).

bigben
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby bigben » Sat May 29, 2010 4:48 pm

On a scale of 1 to 100, 1 being the easiest and 100 being the hardest, I would give it a 63.

hope this helps

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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby Thane Messinger » Sun May 30, 2010 3:33 pm

Doritos wrote:I am no expert but I have spoken with several practicing attorneys who have graduated Order of the Coif, law review, etc. and asked how they did well. They all said it comes down to...

a.) working hard.
b.) finding a study method that works for you
c.) not burning out when finals come around (you can study 12 hours a day all semester but if you burn out when finals hit it was all worthless)

I was hoping for a super secret "do this and you will succeed" answer but I don't think that exists. It seems the common theme was to work very hard consistently over the course of your time in law school and find a study method that works for you (some like to do school like its a 9 to 5 job others are better @ studying 12am to 7am).

I think these threads are looking for the law school secret but in actuality it does not exist. Also, I asked about the luck factor in grading. They all said that there is a degree of luck when it comes down to an A vs. A- . Those exams are to a degree pretty interchangeable according to them but there is a demonstrable difference between top 10% and median they say. So the thought that law review kids just got lucky and median kids did just as well on their exams is a fallacy according to these attorneys (and summer associates).


These are quite right. Like medical school, there seems an expectation of Hurculean effort as part of the rite of passage . . . despite the negative impact on patients (or, in law school, grades).

"Working hard" is part of it, but it's not simply about hours. Rather, it's about the maximum amount of learning with the MINIMUM amount of effort.

"Finding a study method that works for you" is slippery, as it's easy to simply say that we're all different therefore there are no rules. Not really. There are techniques that are better than others: namely, those that real, live attorneys use. We wouldn't dream of wasting time in the same way that law students understandably but mistakenly do. Notably, just about every "technique" that law students assume are the right ones are in fact the wrong ones. Not only do they not work, they are the reason law students find themselves in desperation in November and April. Color-coding, note-taking, brown-nosing, case-briefing . . . all are BAD habits. (But don't take just my word for it. Ask the nearest practicing attorney if he or she agrees.)

Here's to not burning out,

Thane.

--
Thane Messinger
Author of:
Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold
The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide

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dresden doll
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby dresden doll » Sun May 30, 2010 3:43 pm

mallard wrote:Well, you'll be up against a few hundred people who are, by all objective measures, about as smart as you, many of whom will be working ten- or twelve-hour days, and all of whom have also asked this question.


<3

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yinz
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby yinz » Sun May 30, 2010 5:05 pm

Thane Messinger wrote:These are quite right. Like medical school, there seems an expectation of Hurculean effort as part of the rite of passage . . . despite the negative impact on patients (or, in law school, grades).

"Working hard" is part of it, but it's not simply about hours. Rather, it's about the maximum amount of learning with the MINIMUM amount of effort.

"Finding a study method that works for you" is slippery, as it's easy to simply say that we're all different therefore there are no rules. Not really. There are techniques that are better than others: namely, those that real, live attorneys use. We wouldn't dream of wasting time in the same way that law students understandably but mistakenly do. Notably, just about every "technique" that law students assume are the right ones are in fact the wrong ones. Not only do they not work, they are the reason law students find themselves in desperation in November and April. Color-coding, note-taking, brown-nosing, case-briefing . . . all are BAD habits. (But don't take just my word for it. Ask the nearest practicing attorney if he or she agrees.)

Here's to not burning out,

Thane.

--
Thane Messinger
Author of:
Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold
The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide


I'm missing a link in your argument (that is, Good Attorney Work Habit --> Good Law Student Study Habit), so I went out in search of a few living, breathing attorneys and solicited their advice for effective study habits.

You know what they told me? One can ask 100 different law review students for their techniques and receive 100 different answers; one can outwork a good percentage of your class; take practice exams at least two weeks before the exam period; avoid large study groups; and outline from day one (continually condensing and memorizing ad infinitum).

Most important, they told me with hushed breath, it's about being a good law student--more specifically, a good exam taker--than a good lawyer. That last part, then, implies there is a difference between the two and that perhaps not everything a practicing lawyer finds useful would be useful to studying law in law school.

Now, with that said, you are very correct that wasted, unfocused effort will not go unpunished (if not during exam time, then on one's sanity). But again, to state note-taking and brown-nosing are "BAD habits" isn't the whole story. As any recent 1L or member of TLS who has read GTM will agree, taking notes on class discussions/professor pontifications regarding common law ambiguities or competing statutory purposes can only help when a question regarding that topic or issue shows up on an exam. And is it detrimental to attend office hours to discuss issues left unresolved in class or muddled and incomplete on your outline? I concede this may not be classified as "brown-nosing" per se, however, to suggest that others should not to seek out professors or the like for fear of seeming sycophantic is, I think, not sound advice.
Last edited by yinz on Mon May 31, 2010 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

sophie316
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby sophie316 » Mon May 31, 2010 8:09 am

My conclusion after 1L is the majority of students dramatically over complicate law school. They get bogged down in the minutea and miss the big picture. I think people make it a lot harder than it needs to be. Not that it's not still hard, but I did ok reading no supplements, not doing all of the reading or going to all my classes/taking many notes, because I'm pretty good at studying for and taking exams.

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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby rando » Mon May 31, 2010 8:50 am

sophie316 wrote:My conclusion after 1L is the majority of students dramatically over complicate law school. They get bogged down in the minutea and miss the big picture. I think people make it a lot harder than it needs to be. Not that it's not still hard, but I did ok reading no supplements, not doing all of the reading or going to all my classes/taking many notes, because I'm pretty good at studying for and taking exams.


This is probably the best way to explain the fallacy that encompasses most law students. On the other hand though, when actually taking your exam, it is very important to make an in depth analysis which is what I think most average exams suffer from. For example, not making counter arguments or stating the predicted outcome without adequately explaining why.

To the above posts that say how important it is not just to "know" the law but to "apply" it. I don't think most law students suffer from that problem. In fact, I can't imagine someone really writing/typing the BLL following an exam hypo without mentioning the facts in the hypo and how they are related. Yes, law school is different than undergrad because it involves more than just memorization. But is it really that difficult to apply facts to the law? Not really.

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badfish
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby badfish » Mon May 31, 2010 10:02 am

It is best not to worry too much about this shit until you have to.

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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby Thane Messinger » Sat Jun 05, 2010 5:36 am

badfish wrote:It is best not to worry too much about this shit until you have to.



This might be fine if law students began law school in the right direction. But most do not.

Everyone reading this is very smart. A few are very, very smart. And a handful are very, very, very smart. Just about any of us could take a given set of instructions, even highly complex ones, and figure out a solid solution (sorry for the fecal allusion) within a nine-month deadline.

This is not law school. Just ask any 2L or 3L what the atmosphere is in March and April, and ask the question, "Is this right?" Why are super-smart people so utterly clueless all of a sudden? Mostly, it's because they have no idea whether they're doing the right thing or not. Most are not. Note-taking until your fingers are numb, case briefing, brown-nosing, color coding--you've got to be kidding!--all of these are ways in which law students spin their wheels until the cloud of toxic fumes is practically choking everyone. Those all worked in high school, kind of. They even worked in college--badly, but they worked. They will not work in law school. They worked before not because they were good techniques, but because you are so smart. Practically any of us who could stay awake in class before could get a "B"...at least.

I try not to refer everyone to books . . . really I do . . . but this is just so insane. There are references out there to help. Read Planet Law School. Radical and widely attacked, it's also the best map for doing very well in law school. To put that book into context, there's my book, Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold. I recommend a more moderate approach: prepare, but prepare in modest ways that will give you the biggest grade bang for the buck. You can still enjoy your summer, but you really, truly DO need to prepare.

If you're not willing to prepare for law school AT ALL, ask whether this career is really for you. Do you not want to be in front of your senior partner's desk when you're explaining why your memo sucks like few memos have ever sucked before. It's not a pretty scene. (As long as I've mentioned memos, for anyone embarking on a clerkship, you MUST read Morten Lund's book, Jagged Rocks of Wisdom--The Memo. If you don't read it, you deserve that partner's scowl and, likely, letter declining the permanent offer. Sorry to be blunt, but this is exactly how it's seen in a firm. Get it or don't get it, but either way make your move. A lack of preparation is its own answer.)

Thane.

PS: I've been criticized for trolling with the above-type references. Perhaps. But aside from the fact that we could probably share a not-too-fancy lunch with the cumulative royalties for the relatively few times that I mention my own books, these works have advice and knowledge that simply cannot be duplicated, in the same way, here. Indeed, it's striking how much the Net is, in a real sense, a reverse-troll: everyone wants everything for free--very much unlike the world of law, by the way--and much of what is given is only partially beneficial, at best. Consider that our grandparents--or, more correctly, grandfathers--dealt with these issues with just about zero help, absent their father who happened to also be a lawyer. There's so much more out there now. Be wise in how you take advantage of it all.
Last edited by Thane Messinger on Sat Jun 05, 2010 6:01 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby Thane Messinger » Sat Jun 05, 2010 5:50 am

yinz wrote:
Thane Messinger wrote:These are quite right. Like medical school, there seems an expectation of Hurculean effort as part of the rite of passage . . . despite the negative impact on patients (or, in law school, grades).

"Working hard" is part of it, but it's not simply about hours. Rather, it's about the maximum amount of learning with the MINIMUM amount of effort.

"Finding a study method that works for you" is slippery, as it's easy to simply say that we're all different therefore there are no rules. Not really. There are techniques that are better than others: namely, those that real, live attorneys use. We wouldn't dream of wasting time in the same way that law students understandably but mistakenly do. Notably, just about every "technique" that law students assume are the right ones are in fact the wrong ones. Not only do they not work, they are the reason law students find themselves in desperation in November and April. Color-coding, note-taking, brown-nosing, case-briefing . . . all are BAD habits. (But don't take just my word for it. Ask the nearest practicing attorney if he or she agrees.)

Here's to not burning out,

Thane.

--
Thane Messinger
Author of:
Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold
The Young Lawyer's Jungle Book: A Survival Guide


I'm missing a link in your argument (that is, Good Attorney Work Habit --> Good Law Student Study Habit), so I went out in search of a few living, breathing attorneys and solicited their advice for effective study habits.

You know what they told me? One can ask 100 different law review students for their techniques and receive 100 different answers; one can outwork a good percentage of your class; take practice exams at least two weeks before the exam period; avoid large study groups; and outline from day one (continually condensing and memorizing ad infinitum).

Most important, they told me with hushed breath, it's about being a good law student--more specifically, a good exam taker--than a good lawyer. That last part, then, implies there is a difference between the two and that perhaps not everything a practicing lawyer finds useful would be useful to studying law in law school.

Now, with that said, you are very correct that wasted, unfocused effort will not go unpunished (if not during exam time, then on one's sanity). But again, to state note-taking and brown-nosing are "BAD habits" isn't the whole story. As any recent 1L or member of TLS who has read GTM will agree, taking notes on class discussions/professor pontifications regarding common law ambiguities or competing statutory purposes can only help when a question regarding that topic or issue shows up on an exam. And is it detrimental to attend office hours to discuss issues left unresolved in class or muddled and incomplete on your outline? I concede this may not be classified as "brown-nosing" per se, however, to suggest that others should not to seek out professors or the like for fear of seeming sycophantic is, I think, not sound advice.



I suspect we'll be mostly in agreement in tracing the various parts of the dicussion.

Yes, there are many different pieces of advice if we ask the super-successful. But, I submit, it's not because a million different techniques worked. Rather, it's because the naturally gifted law exam taker simply wouldn't easily be able to explain WHY they did well. Often, it's an off-hand (and self-complimentary), "Oh, I just jotted down a few things and, by my brilliance, did great." As we should all do, these should be taken with a grain of salt.

Likewise, practicing attorneys--who are often those who did well on exams--have internalized those good habits. You're quite right as to their take, but again, we have to ask whether that's because the techniques are good (or bad) or are just badly applied (as you noted with most study groups).

Color-coding, for example, was quite rare twenty years ago. It came into greater use with a reference book that touted it and, since it "fit" with the college experience, it was quickly adopted and seemingly swamped good reading habits. I stand by my considered opinion that it is a bad, bad habit. It does absolutely nothing for internalizing the law, it is a waste of time, and it is both distracting and confusing.

Clearly the practice of law is not necessarily the same as the study of law, but I disagree with the easy conclusion that law exams are dissimilar from what attorneys do day in and day out. These skills are closely aligned. This is how law profs (most of whom have never practiced law at any level of seniority) can almost instantly know who knows how to think like a lawyer and who does not. It's falsely narrow--but it's not false. The firm picks grads up from there and trains them in the specifics of that firm and practice area.

The point as to note-taking is right, but I think we're talking about different things. Jotting down A POINT is very different from page upon page each class session. The former is wise thinking. The latter is both silly and counterproductive . . . yet that's what we see students doing, day in and day out.

And, as to your point about brown-nosing, I agree. There's a big difference between building a genuine understanding with a professor . . . and just yakking away in class. Office hours are exactly the time to discuss these points . . . after one has done a real job to understanding that point of law.

Thank you for the detour. Or was it a frolick?

Thane.

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nealric
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby nealric » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:28 am

What, like it's hard?
Image

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James Bond
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby James Bond » Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:36 am

A'nold wrote: VERY HARD


That's what he said

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let/them/eat/cake
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby let/them/eat/cake » Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:02 pm

doyleoil wrote:this thread is packed with the worst two qualities of law students:

(1) mindless gunnerism*
(2) mindless speculation*

if you're a grinder, and you're smart, then by all means go ahead and pull 12 hour days. eat, sleep, and breathe the law, and have no outside interests whatsoever. there are plenty of tradeoffs to that lifestyle, but no one will deny its payoffs are immense. xeoh85 is the meme that comes to mind.

if you're a grinder, and not that smart, and you're pulling 12 hour days to barely scrape above median, you should find a different profession.

if you're not a grinder, and you're smart, then you can do well in the law school world without pulling constant 12 hour days. you can have relationships, and outside interests, and health, and etc. and you can eventually have a career that justifies your law school investment. maybe not scotus. but good. that's where it's at. and to answer the op's question: frankly, no, that's not that hard. but the mindless gunners will try their damnedest to convince you it is.

*this article sums up pretty well the attitudes i'm describing: --LinkRemoved--



what an A+ answer. you hit all the points in my grading rubric doyle

Thane Messinger
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby Thane Messinger » Thu Jun 17, 2010 3:57 am

doyleoil wrote:this thread is packed with the worst two qualities of law students:

(1) mindless gunnerism*
(2) mindless speculation*

if you're a grinder, and you're smart, then by all means go ahead and pull 12 hour days. eat, sleep, and breathe the law, and have no outside interests whatsoever. there are plenty of tradeoffs to that lifestyle, but no one will deny its payoffs are immense. xeoh85 is the meme that comes to mind.

if you're a grinder, and not that smart, and you're pulling 12 hour days to barely scrape above median, you should find a different profession.

if you're not a grinder, and you're smart, then you can do well in the law school world without pulling constant 12 hour days. you can have relationships, and outside interests, and health, and etc. and you can eventually have a career that justifies your law school investment. maybe not scotus. but good. that's where it's at. and to answer the op's question: frankly, no, that's not that hard. but the mindless gunners will try their damnedest to convince you it is.

*this article sums up pretty well the attitudes i'm describing: --LinkRemoved--


To take these two qualities--being a "grinder" and being smart--these are fair comments.

The caveats are: (1) the correlation coefficient of study-to-success is low, perhaps +0.3 or so; (2) thus, it is clear that studying a lot is no guarantee of success; (3) the correlation is not negative; (4) thus, not studying will almost certainly result in a sub-par performance; (5) far more important than the volume of study is the quality of study; (6) most law students' study habits, carried forward from past academic adventures, is woefully inadequate to the study of law; (7) if one just "studies" "a lot" during the summer on the assumption that that will help, it almost certainly won't; (8) if one doesn't study, on the assumption that it won't work (or out of raw laziness), the chances of starting off right in law school is very, very low.

Unless the individual in #8 is being coached by a family member or friend who is also a law professor or practitioner (which, by the way, is one way "A" students are separated out, and one reason my advice comes on so strong), it is exceedingly unlikely that their study habits will help them in any positive way, whether or not they even consider preparing in the summer.

This discussion misses the point. Preparing during the summer (not "studying") is not about getting some substantive advantage. What one needs to learn in law school CAN be learned in nine months. But, for most, it won't be. The summer is about getting ready, mentally, for the subjects. Not about actually learning a million specific points.

For those who've not yet been in law school, read just four pages . . . pages 152 to 155 of Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold (awkwardly, "GGG"). If you read those pages and decide not to prepare, all the more power to you.

But please don't go into law school after goofing off for a crucial summer--again, we're not talking about "grinding" through anything, but about a few dozen hours for each of six subjects to get yourself into the MINDSET of law study--please don't do that because someone says "Study" and someone else says "Don't study!" and dammit the second one sure sounds like more fun.

Thane.

PS: As to "speculation," I did rather well in law school many years ago, and by accident have been working with practitioners, professors, and authors of prelaw and law practice books for ten years or so.

PPS: Some law students WILL be grinding away over the summer. They'll do well, on average . . . but not for the reason most would assume. Pages 188-190 of GGG will explain why. More to the point, not only will they do well, they will, on average, do better than you . . . if you don't do anything AND if you do what most other law students do when school actually does start.

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edcrane
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Re: How hard is it to do well in law school?

Postby edcrane » Sun Jun 20, 2010 9:46 pm

I don't think it really takes much more time to do well (as opposed to hit median) provided you're putting in a good faith effort (going to classes, doing reading, etc.). As others have suggested, the central challenge is simply figuring out how to study for and take exams. This was certainly the case for me. During my first semester of 1L, I studied my ass off, reading tons of supplements and taking lots of practice tests, and ended up with median'ish grades. During my second semester of 1L, I reoriented my study habits and changed my exam writing technique. I studied about 15-20% less than I did during my first semester and ended up doing very well.

That said, you can choose to make law school an all consuming exercise in grinding. That would probably be good preparation for biglaw, but it certainly isn't necessary.




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