Reading in Law School

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crazi4law
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Reading in Law School

Postby crazi4law » Sun Apr 21, 2013 8:58 am

Obviously there is going to be a lot of reading assigned in law school.

The thing is, I read at a much slower pace than other people, and so to save time, I always used online summaries and sparknotes instead of actually reading whatever books were assigned. This has worked out for me just fine in high school and in college. I'm worried though that there is going to be lots of reading assigned in law school that don't have any online summaries and that I won't be able to keep up, given that I'm a slow reader.

Can anyone tell me if I should be concerned about this? Aiming for a T6 school.

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby Scotusnerd » Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:06 am

Different strokes for different folks during law school. You can definitely get by on commercial outlines and online case notes. All of the cases you will be assigned will have summaries available online for free.

However, I would try to pick up the skill to quickly skim a case and pick out relevant facts. It takes about six months to a year to learn, and relying on commercial outlines does not build that skill. Sure, it lets you know the law that someone else has digested, but if you have a brief due in two weeks and a brand new case on your appeal comes out, you don't want to be the one relying on another associate to do the reading for you (particularly when you should be able to do it yourself in about five minutes.)

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crazi4law
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby crazi4law » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:19 pm

Thanks!

Anyone else have any input on this?

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kapital98
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby kapital98 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:41 pm

Many casebooks have a supplement that summarizes all cases. These are not very expensive. Worst case scenario, you could always look up the case on westlaw and they will give you the rules.

However, like the above poster mentioned, this is a skill you need to learn. You can get by not reading cases in law school. You cannot get by in a job without reading cases.

Almost every case you read in 1L will only have 1 or 2 important rules in them. So, even if you have a 15 page case, you're really only looking for a few key sentences. You need to learn how to spot the rules and then how the court applies the rule. You won't learn this through case summaries (or westlaw summaries). Once you learn it reading cases will become much quicker.

Randomnumbers
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby Randomnumbers » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:51 pm

You read slower than most people because you've never read. You'll never get faster at reading without, you know, actually reading. Eventually you'll run out of shortcuts, at least in this field.

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kapital98
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby kapital98 » Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:10 pm

Randomnumbers wrote:You read slower than most people because you've never read. You'll never get faster at reading without, you know, actually reading. Eventually you'll run out of shortcuts, at least in this field.


And by time that happens no one will care he went to a T6 school :|

jad0re
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby jad0re » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:50 pm

crazi4law wrote:Obviously there is going to be a lot of reading assigned in law school.

The thing is, I read at a much slower pace than other people, and so to save time, I always used online summaries and sparknotes instead of actually reading whatever books were assigned. This has worked out for me just fine in high school and in college. I'm worried though that there is going to be lots of reading assigned in law school that don't have any online summaries and that I won't be able to keep up, given that I'm a slow reader.

Can anyone tell me if I should be concerned about this? Aiming for a T6 school.




How did you score so well on the LSAT? (if you did)

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Nova
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby Nova » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:59 pm

Probably well over half of the cases I was assigned during 1L had corresponding online briefs. If your prof assignes a famous case book like Kadish or Dressler for crim law, youll be able to find EVERY case briefed for you online . If you read the brief before reading the case, youll get through it much faster, becasue youll know what to expect.

indo
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby indo » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:12 pm

Randomnumbers wrote:You read slower than most people because you've never read. You'll never get faster at reading without, you know, actually reading. Eventually you'll run out of shortcuts, at least in this field.


+1 so true

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby JamMasterJ » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:33 pm

biggest issue is when you have a case from like 2008ish or later because they aren't always on casebriefs. For the main classes, you should be fine, but for a few, it's worth understanding the minutiae that goes into it

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rinkrat19
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby rinkrat19 » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:36 pm

Casebriefs aren't gonna help when you're researching for your writing class. Westlaw and Lexis have those header note things that help a lot (in most cases), but you still have to be able to at least skim cases to decide whether/how to use them in your memo or brief. Even for a pretty narrow topic, you might end up with 30 cases, which you narrow down to the 6 or so you end up using.

Your writing class might be ungraded or pass/fail so it might not kill you in school, but it's also the most similar to actual legal work.

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Nova
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby Nova » Mon Apr 29, 2013 2:33 am

Youll probably get better at reading pretty fast. You dont really have a choice. Just know that reading isnt everything. There is a finite amount of info in the case book. You ought to find a good supplement to read too. Then just reinforce the law and figure out how to efficiently apply law to fact.

ksllaw
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby ksllaw » Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:02 pm

crazi4law wrote:Obviously there is going to be a lot of reading assigned in law school.

The thing is, I read at a much slower pace than other people, and so to save time, I always used online summaries and sparknotes instead of actually reading whatever books were assigned. This has worked out for me just fine in high school and in college. I'm worried though that there is going to be lots of reading assigned in law school that don't have any online summaries and that I won't be able to keep up, given that I'm a slow reader.

Can anyone tell me if I should be concerned about this? Aiming for a T6 school.



I think most people can read more quickly than they believe. It often just takes a bit of "practice" (to be safe, you may want to see my comments on practice in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=206584&start=75 ).

But a more important concern for me may be lost or un/under-developed reading comprehension skills from reading outlines and other supplements (like Spark Notes). I doubt that you meant that you literally only read course supplements, but if they consisted of a significant part of your college reading experience, then one potential drawback is the missed opportunity for flexing those reading comprehension muscles and skills that can be important for dissecting dense and/or longer passages of text.

And, actually, as I'm writing this post (somewhat on the run right now), a few other thoughts on this topic come to mind as well. ... Let me get back to you on this a bit later this week (hopefully), because there are some other potential concerns as well that you may want to consider.

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dubster101
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby dubster101 » Wed May 01, 2013 3:18 pm

Nova wrote:Probably well over half of the cases I was assigned during 1L had corresponding online briefs. If your prof assignes a famous case book like Kadish or Dressler for crim law, youll be able to find EVERY case briefed for you online . If you read the brief before reading the case, youll get through it much faster, becasue youll know what to expect.


Isn't this counterproductive? If you know what to expect before reading a case, are you really improving your skills or learning anything by reading it? If you already know what the main points are ahead of time, you aren't going to learn how to pick them out on your own.

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kapital98
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby kapital98 » Wed May 01, 2013 3:58 pm

dubster101 wrote:
Nova wrote:Probably well over half of the cases I was assigned during 1L had corresponding online briefs. If your prof assignes a famous case book like Kadish or Dressler for crim law, youll be able to find EVERY case briefed for you online . If you read the brief before reading the case, youll get through it much faster, becasue youll know what to expect.


Isn't this counterproductive? If you know what to expect before reading a case, are you really improving your skills or learning anything by reading it? If you already know what the main points are ahead of time, you aren't going to learn how to pick them out on your own.


Yes you will. After reading 3-5 weeks of cases you will be able to predict how the court will rule by just reading the first 1-2 pages. Legal writing is not creative. Often opinions will give the holding in the first paragraph. Most give strong signals showing how they will rule (ex: How they frame the facts so that it's almost impossible to reach a contrary conclusion). It also helps in learning legal jargon.

You can't learn this stuff from the keyed briefs. They take out the confusing prose and jargon on purpose to make it easier to read. Once you start doing real research you will need to know this. You will need to quickly identify the rule from the rest of the prose, understand the key passages of analysis, and put it in your own words. Keyed briefs don't do any of this. They're sufficient for most 1L purposes but will leave you at a significant disadvantage doing research and in the workplace.


Example: You research a Supreme Court case. All Supreme Court cases have an unofficial preface written by a clerk giving the rules and a short explanation of the analysis. This is unofficial but (as far as I've seen) always accurate. However, you still have to read the case. The analysis within the case will be far more helpful for nuanced arguments than the preface. Fact patterns and hypotheticals are always different than the case facts. You need to know how to apply the analysis to the new facts.

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Nova
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby Nova » Wed May 01, 2013 7:14 pm

dubster101 wrote:Isn't this counterproductive? If you know what to expect before reading a case, are you really improving your skills or learning anything by reading it?

No, its not counterproductive. Its efficient. Youre going to be reading hundreds of cases per semester, many of which wont have briefs available. Youll have plenty of opportunities to improve your case reading abilities. The skills you need to do well in docrinal law school classes are mostly related to writing quality essays.

I agree with Kap. Organtically pulling out what is necessary from cases is vital in practice.

Im looking at the issue primarily from a 1L strategy stand point. Strategy creates separation on the curve. Many of my classmates spend too much time in their casebooks.

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kapital98
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby kapital98 » Wed May 01, 2013 8:09 pm

Nova wrote:
dubster101 wrote:Isn't this counterproductive? If you know what to expect before reading a case, are you really improving your skills or learning anything by reading it?

No, its not counterproductive. Its efficient. Youre going to be reading hundreds of cases per semester, many of which wont have briefs available. Youll have plenty of opportunities to improve your case reading abilities. The skills you need to do well in docrinal law school classes are mostly related to writing quality essays.

I agree with Kap. Organtically pulling out what is necessary from cases is vital in practice.

Im looking at the issue primarily from a 1L strategy stand point. Strategy creates separation on the curve. Many of my classmates spend too much time in their casebooks.


This is very important. You should be getting (almost) everything out of your casebook the first time around. Maybe a second look if your notes are confusing and the professors doesn't explain the issue well. Using your casebook as a study guide is a terrible mistake.

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby Scotusnerd » Wed May 01, 2013 9:22 pm

Also, your firm is not going to be keen on letting you bill $200+ for struggling to read 60 pages of a single Supreme Court brief in an hour. You can learn it in law school, or you can it in practice. I'd recommend law school.

KidStuddi
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby KidStuddi » Thu May 02, 2013 3:34 am

Scotusnerd wrote:Also, your firm is not going to be keen on letting you bill $200+ for struggling to read 60 pages of a single Supreme Court brief in an hour. You can learn it in law school, or you can it in practice. I'd recommend law school.


This. You can certainly get by in law school without reading cases, but most people who do it that way do it because it's (arguably) more efficient to spend time learning the material than trying to distill it, not because the volume of material is overwhelming. At a large firm of any size, the entire job of an attorney is reading and then, to a dramatically lesser extent, writing about what you just read. If your goal is BigLaw, recognize now that your job will essentially being the guy who prepares the summaries, not the guy who reads them. There won't be a commercial outline of your doc review assignments.

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Crowing
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby Crowing » Fri May 03, 2013 3:46 am

If you scored well enough on the LSAT for a T6, then you can't be THAT slow of a reader.

09042014
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby 09042014 » Fri May 03, 2013 4:27 am

Scotusnerd wrote:Also, your firm is not going to be keen on letting you bill $200+ for struggling to read 60 pages of a single Supreme Court brief in an hour. You can learn it in law school, or you can it in practice. I'd recommend law school.


Yea, they'd be pissed you didn't bill the standard 400 dollar rate.

LOL at firms being super pissed someone is a little slow at reading a case. Billables = their profits.


But OP shouldn't go to law school if he isn't even willing to read anything. That is just insane. Wrong profession bro. Don't make this mistake.

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Blessedassurance
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby Blessedassurance » Fri May 03, 2013 5:10 am

you'll feel overwhelmed at first but you'll eventually figure it out.

the more important skill is determining what's relevant and what's not (for exam purposes). once you get better, you can learn a class in two weeks or less (this is not recommended for your first semester or something like civil pro, but even then some may disagree).

for lrw you'd have to read everything because part of advancing an argument is learning to distinguish caselaw that go against your position based on the facts.

you'll read everything in the beginning because you'll be scared of looking stupid in front of your classmates because you didn't remember what color the plaintiff's shoes were, and if he showered that morning. In due course you'll learn not to give a fuck and that it's all irrelevant. hell, you don't have to know which party was the plaintiff which one was the defendant. you need a general sense of what the case was about (about one or two sentences).

Anyways, you'll figure it all out...hopefully.

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby Scotusnerd » Fri May 03, 2013 7:59 am

Desert Fox wrote:Yea, they'd be pissed you didn't bill the standard 400 dollar rate.



Oh, right, my bad. I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to bill dem hours though.

NYstate
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby NYstate » Fri May 03, 2013 8:34 am

crazi4law wrote:Obviously there is going to be a lot of reading assigned in law school.

The thing is, I read at a much slower pace than other people, and so to save time, I always used online summaries and sparknotes instead of actually reading whatever books were assigned. This has worked out for me just fine in high school and in college. I'm worried though that there is going to be lots of reading assigned in law school that don't have any online summaries and that I won't be able to keep up, given that I'm a slow reader.

Can anyone tell me if I should be concerned about this? Aiming for a T6 school.


Most of what lawyers do is read.

MinEMorris
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Re: Reading in Law School

Postby MinEMorris » Fri May 03, 2013 11:35 pm

I think it matters if your problem is actually your reading speed, or if it's an attention-span issue. As a starting point, I'd take one of those free online reading speed tests (just google one) and see where you fall in terms of actual reading speed. Given your LSAT performance, my guess is that you'll find out that you read at an above-average speed.

If you have a poor attention span, even if you read quickly, you'll frequently find yourself losing concentration. When you get distracted, you not only lose time on what you were distracted by, but you also lose time rereading a passage or figuring out where you last were in the reading so that you can restart. Because of this time loss, people with low attention spans find that it takes them a long time to complete concentration-oriented tasks like reading. Often this gets misunderstood as a problem with their speed when actually engaging the task, such as reading speed.

It's difficult to explain until you're actually in law school, but I believe that you can do very well in law school and the practice of law as someone with attention-span problems. For one thing, my experience and what I've heard from many other students at different law schools tend to show that in the vast majority of professors' classes, you can do extremely well doing virtually no reading. As far as the practice of law itself, while you will do almost nothing other than reading and writing, I think that the nature of the reading tasks is segmented enough so that attention span is less of a problem. I'm not a practicing attorney, so I invite other people to chime in here if I'm wrong, but I think it's pretty rare that you sit down and read a thirty page case in practice. Instead, you'll spend most of your time reading specific sections of secondary sources (basically cliff notes on the law), and when you do find a case that you're interested in, you'll skip to the specific part of the case you're interested in and probably end up reading only a page or two from the case. Even when you encounter something long that you must read, like an opposing party's brief or a contract, it's often broken up into specific sections (e.g. by issue in briefs and by topic and provision in contracts), so you can successfully break it into pieces that you can work on in sessions without testing the limits of your attention span.

If you have severe enough attention problems that you find your life shaped by them, which sounds quite possible in your case, getting a medical diagnosis and trying things like medication is of course another option. I personally don't like the idea of taking something like ritalin, so this is not a route that I ever looked into, but I know medication does wonders for some people.

And yes, I see the irony in writing a post of this length :p. Hope this helps!




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