The time limit/word limit on exams
Seriously professors are bastards at CLS. If it takes 5 hours to give a coherent answer they give you 4. If it takes 2000 words to give a well-rounded treatment to a subject, they give you 1500. Then again that's the whole point.
Did I mention the curve? It's just stupid, at least HLS and Yale don't do traditional grades. Here you've got all the people jockeying for firm jobs and you don't have the faintest idea of where you fall into the mix.
Based on my experience so far, being smart isn't enough. I thought it might be, just be a little sharper than everyone else and you'll pull ahead right? Nah this isn't the LSAT, you've got to pound down material until you can recite the Restatement for your class if you want to be considered for a really prestigious clerkship/firm/etc....
Yea you need to be smart too, you need to understand what the professor wants, but I've finished 2 out of 2 exams in a dead heat because every time I open an outline, look up a case, check on a rule, verify the statute/section number, and "think twice" about the application of an obscure case - the guy who had his outline done by Thanksgiving, took every practice exam under test conditions, and spent his spare time making a 10 page attack outline off of his 80 page long outline when he wasn't re-reading his hornbook will be typing. He will be typing seamlessly, word after word, and by the time you get back from your little sojourn in your outline, he has 250 more words down. Those are points of analysis that you won't get to, nuanced counter-points that you don't have time for, and those things will impress the professor and the professor sees two exams, all the major issues spotted in both, but one is "colored" with more complex reasoning, do you have any doubt who is walking out with an A?
Even on the 8-hour take home tests. Finishing in 4 hours and spending the remaining 4 editing, proofreading, and clarifying your answers will be what gets an A, not the other 80% who "take it slow", spot all the same issues, and finish with a "rough draft" for an answer.