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Success in Law School - A Unique Perspective


Published August 2007, last updated February 2011 Foreword by Ken DeLeon, creator of Top-law-schools.com This is a very candid and pragmatic guide to doing well in law school and getting excellent grades while allowing you time for other interests. As you will read, it is quite different from the typical focus and study preparation that most first-year students fall into with a herd mentality. This guide to success in law school has a nontraditional emphasis, focusing upon success in the final exam, which is the sole determinant of your grade. Most study methods, which involve detailed briefing of cases, generally result in students getting lost in minutia and not being adequately prepared for the exam. As a result, most first-year law students generally fail to keep in sight the big picture each course seeks to present, and they do not comprehend how the parts fit and relate together, until the very end of the course, if even then. Conversely, this system is focused on the big picture. It prioritizes legal concepts instead of cases. This study system begins with the end goal in sight: Success on law school final exams. This primer also mentions study aids that will become familiar to you in law school, which are available at your local bookstore and online at Amazon.com. You may want to begin buying and studying some of these materials before entering law school in order to pave the way for success. The main reason you should consider the words of advice in this pr imer is because the proof is in the pudding. This primer was written by a fellow Top-Law-Schools reader who just completed his first year at NYU Law School. He was able to party and socialize five nights a week yet get grades that placed him in the top 10% of his class. This result was simply a matter of studying efficiently and not just following the herd and landing in the middle of the pack. Through achieving these grades, he had several choices of working for top law firms and making over $2800 a week during his first summer after law school. While this primer views law school with a slightly cynical perspective, it offers effective and practical tips for success. The tips suggested in this primer, such as doing flow charts for your outlines, were taught to me in my second year of law school when a third-year student shared some of the secrets he learned after his first two years of law school. Once I learned this secret, my grades jumped, and I received several of the top grades in my remaining classes at UC Berkeley/Boalt Hall. Thus, having been through law school myself, I immediately recognized the value of the advice in the primer below. Whatever study method you choose, I wish you great success in law school.

Success in Law School A Unique Perspective


In Law School nobody tells you what to do to excel . If you only do the assigned readings and participate in class, you will not distinguish yourself enough to stand out from your peers. By doing what everyone else is doing you will most likely end up where everyone else does, in the middle of the pack. Below is a description of the effective study techniques I utilized to rank in the top 10% a top-five law school. This was all done while having a great social life outside of law school. In short, thi s is a candid and no bullshit guide to succeeding in law school. Let me describe the typical law students first semester. They first buy their books. Then they do the assignments the night before, as asked. They read the casebook and meticulously brief every case. They take detailed notes in class and feel they understand everything said by both students and the professor. They join a study group that reviews and discusses the cases for the week. After Thanksgiving, they put together a voluminous outline of over fifty pages cobbled together from their class notes and reading notes. They review the outline until they feel they have achieved a solid comprehension of the information. They take a few practice tests in the week leading up to the test. The test is a typical open-book, three- or four-hour exam worth 100% of their grade. They come to test day equipped solely with their giant fifty-page outline and their annotated casebook. They feel security from the weight of prepared materials. The exam is intense, hectic, and difficult. They are continually flipping through their fifty-page outline and books for little notes they

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know are somewhere, as valuable time slips away. They finish the exam in a bit of a time crunch and feel a little worried but somewhat satisfied. Grades come back in January. Now imagine a typical student that followed the crowd as outlined above. She gets average grades of one B+, two Bs, and a pass grade in her writing skills class. She has never gotten a GPA so low before. What went wrong? I. Grade Distributions The hypothetical student did not actually do badly; her grades were average for a top law school like NYU, where the grade distribution is usually less generous than it was in college. For example, a typical grade allocation at NYU Law School is as follows: A: 5% A-: 15% B+: 30% B: 42% B-: 6% C or below: 2% This is not made up or a guess about the grade distribution, this is approximately what the grade distribution was in my Civil Procedure class, rounded to the nearest percent for clarity. It is important to note that getting an A in law school is somewhat like getting an A+ in college, for that grade is given to a much smaller percentage of the class. The hypothetical student did not do poorly; she just simply failed to distinguish herself from her peers. Because all those attending law school generally succeeded in college, getting average grades can be disconcerting and quite a blow to ones ego. However, by effectively studying for law school, with the primary goal always being to succeed on the final exam, one can do very well while still living a balanced and fulfilling life in law school. II. Focus on the Final Exam from the Beginning The weaknesses in the typical students approach are numerous. I would estimate, based on the law students I know, that 75% or more of the first-year students in my class followed the road outlined above. Some extremely bright students follow this road and get As. This is a measure of their brilliance, not a justification for their study sy stem. I would wager that using a smarter system would allow them to fare even better. The first major issue here is failure to respect an exam worth 100% of your grade. It is essential that you always budget enough time in your schedule for exam preparation. You should not be spending time doing things that do not contribute to an increase in your exam score until you have completed all of those things that do increase your exam score. A professor may open a class and welcome you to law school and to her class. She may inform you about the lengthy readings and level of preparation she expects from you. She may inform you of the test at the end worth 100% of your grade, but tell you not to worry about it because it is too early. She may tell you to brief every case and not to read study guides. You need to hear beyond her words, into the reality and implications of what she is saying. This is what I hear:

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Welcome to Contracts; I am Professor Smith. I am going to talk about what I am interested in because this is my class and I am going to teach the way I want to. I am not going to advise you on how to play tricky games to maximize your grades because when the end of the semester comes I am going to give out a fixed number of As, Bs, and Cs anyway. I care about my research, not about how you guys fight it out amongst yourself for the 5 A and 15 A- grades I will be awarding. I dont want you to read study guides or for you to practice tests all year long, even though doing so will get the select few of you that do it better test grades. Reading these books and practicing sample tests may get you great at taking tests, but you are short-cutting past all of the hard work that will make you better suited for a career in legal academia in the long run. Or sometimes this: Welcome to Contracts; I am Professor Smith. I am completely out of touch with what it is like to be an average law school student with typical abilities relative to my peers. When I was at Harvard Law School in 1972 we used the Socratic Method, and I stand by that tradition. It doesnt matter that I was a 178 LSAT and 3.98 student in undergrad, with a 172 I.Q. and that I could have only studied ten hours a week and still have made Harvard Law Review. I am completely out of touch with what it would take for the typical law student to read or practice in order to do well on my exam. The Law School Professor has no interest in helping you do well on his exam because his grades will be fixed anyway. He is concerned about teaching you what he wants to teach you, not helping you to be the one to get the A. It is up to you to figure out a good system, since there will always be a trick to excelling. In no way do I intend to disparage any law school professor at my school or any other school. The law school professors I know and have known have been brilliant and professional while still remaining approachable and helpful. However, in my opinion, many of these law school professors have been out of school for so long that they have lost touch with the law school students perspective. When thinking about how to do well in school, I value the opinions of those of similar intelligence and who have recently experienced law school. To excel in law school by definition, you must ace your final exam, which is the sole determinant of your grade. It is surprising to me that people do not start from the vantage point of exam preparation when choosing how they study and prepare for law school. The road to success must lie in preparing in a way that optimizes your law school exam score. III. Thinking Outside of the Box It is a bad strategy to do exactly what everyone else is doing in terms of study and preparation. Students are afraid that if they vary from the pack, then they will end up falling to the bottom of the class. This is a valid concern, especially if the system you propose is poorly thought out. However, unless you are brilliant, following the pack by definition will get you average grades, which is generally a B. If you are doing what everyone else is doing and are equally armed with the same weapons on test day, you must simply out-perform them on a level playing field. There is an alternative. You can bring a gun to a knife fight. Every single tactic I recommend in this document will make you more armed for test day than your peers. If at any point you cannot see or do not believe in a justification of how a proposed study strategy will improve your test score, then I would discourage adopting that method. However, I stand by every part of my system and the explanations for how and why they improve your exam score. To quickly defend myself and my study system: I am not a lazy person. I can see how I could be misconstrued as one by a reader of this guide. In reality, I am the opposite of lazy. I value my time so much that I do not want to waste any minute of it doing things unimportant to my life. I plan to practice at a large law firm, and I am fully aware that it is not the law review students who make partner at most law firms. It is those with solid academic skills and superb social skills that make partner. I push myself to socialize and network as much as possible. These are the skills that are most important to me. Whether you value networking and socializing, or having time to exercise or pursue other interests, following this system efficiently allows you to do well in law school while having time to allocate as you choose. I fully respect the law school tradition. However, the law school system is geared toward a career in academia. For someone with my objective of private law firm practice, I do not have to reread and spend hours studying and rereading Posners perspectives on torts when an analysis of the professors last fourteen exams indicate that he does not test and never will test on policy.

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IV. Exams, the Importance of Class Rank, and Introduction to My System Have you ever looked at a law school exam before? If you are just starting law school and havent yet, why havent you? I sometimes am amazed by how many students do not even look at a law school exam until deep into their first semester. You are graded 100% by your performance on this test; you must respect this test and know what you are facing. Everyone at law school is familiar with the law school admission process. There are many of you who did not get into your top schools because of either GPA or LSAT. Your amazing personal statement or your outstanding job performance meant nothing to the school that rejected you because your GPA and LSAT were too far outside of their target range. A similar judgment will also be passed by law firms, who base their employment decisions on where you rank amongst your classmates, not what you take out of law school. Although activities and intangibles will help your job prospects, the number one hiring criteria will be where you placed in your class (and of course which school you graduated from, but you cannot change that now, unless you plan to transfer, in which case grades are even more critical). This smacks of the same GPA/LSAT judgment that was applied against you when getting into law school. If the number one criterion you will be judged by is class rank, and this is determined solely by an aggregate of your 3- to 4-hour final exams, it only makes sense to study with the aim of maximizing your exam performance and scores. This leads to the most critical point. Since the entire legal world judges you on your grades, you must study exclusively for the exam, even if this means reading additional materials, skimming assigned readings in order to buy time to do other forms of study, going against the advice of your professor, or taking some lumps in class because you are preparing for the test rather than to look good when you are called on. The most fundamental error a law school student can make is to believe that by doing the assigned readings and preparing for class as expected will result in strong grades. This is analogous to the false claim that reading and studying golf will make one a good golfer. The actual writing of quality law school exams is a completely different skill set than reading case books and learning in class by the Socratic Method. I like to think of the assigned readings, casebooks, and the Socratic Method as a suggestion by the professor as to a possible, traditional route to exam preparation. What I hear is, We learned to study for these tests by the tradition of casebooks and the Socratic Method. Times have progressed and vastly superior ways to exam preparation exist, but there is a beauty to sticking to a system that dates back to Greek antiquity. When you open up a law school exam, you will most likely find a series of traditional fact pattern questions and possibly a policy essay. The key to tackling these questions does not lie in the casebooks. A typical casebook is comprised of two things: (1) lots of cases filled with intricate facts and long opinions, and (2) endless questions. I just opened my property casebook to a random page. The case is six full pages, with another five pages of notes and squibs. There is a near infinite stream of questions, with no answers or even a discussion of the answers. Questions include, Under what circumstances might a seller or purchaser want the contract to include such a clause? and Why is there so much resistance to a uniform approach to real estate transactions, given the striking success of the Uniform Commercial Code, dealing with goods (personal property) throughout the United States? Intricately reading these cases and answering these questions with no feedback on your response is a poor substitute for exam practice. Most law students who do not know any better spend their entire semester briefing each case and working in study groups through these questions. In my opinion, this is one of the most inefficient study systems imaginable. It might take ten hours of study by this method to equal one hour of directed study toward the exam. It also does not teach any of the skills related to applying your knowledge to a fact pattern, which is what the final exam requires. I see some strength in discussing the questions with a study group that is intelligent, terse, and efficient with their responses, but repeatedly reading those long cases and briefing them is an incredible time sink. I do not recommend briefing cases. If I am assigned a fifty-page reading in contracts, I will treat it differently than the rest of the class. The rest of the class will go home and read all fifty pages. They will brief all cases, and spend a lot of time taking notes, highlighting, and writing in the margins. They will spend some time thinking about some of the proposed line of questions.

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On the other hand, I will go home and take out my Case Summary book keyed to my class. I will also read the corresponding sections of the Examples and Explanations book for the class that explains and then applies the material. I will also read the sections of the hornbook, which is a treatise on that subject, relevant to the material. I will then read the assigned reading very quickly. I will only carefully read the heart of the courts analysis, which I can easily spot because the case summary book, hornbook, and Examples and Explanations book have all pointed me toward it. The rest of the material will only get a quick read. My time is spent thinking about how this case will be tested on an exam and how it will fit on my dense outline. I see where the case fits in the scheme of things because my system is big-picture focused. I will end up bumping into a fellow student the next day before class. When she comments upon how long the reading was last night, I will comment on how it wasnt long for me because I read it very quickly, with the exception of the courts analysis. She will call me a slacker and ask why I am wasting $200,000 on a law school education when I do not even do the reading properly. She will accuse me of disrespecting the school, the professor, and the class. She will smugly think to herself how easy it will be to get good grades, because here is just another student she will have one-upped by her diligence and careful reading, rereading, and studying. To her, law school is about how well you listen in class and how carefully you do the assignments and prepare for class. To me, law school is about how well you perform on the exam. When exam day comes, she will have all of her book notes, case briefs, and class notes. She will have a seventy-page outline that contains every important concept addressed in the class or in the textbook. She will have all the information at her fingertips, but it will take her too long to access, and she will not know how or when to put it on the page. The result will be a clumsy fifteen-page essay that misses issues, fails to make leaps regarding questions on the boundaries of the class, and lacks legal restatements, rules, and case citations because she cannot access them quickly enough from her outline. After grades are posted, she will likely realize that my legal education was not being wasted but instead I was using my time studying in a different and more efficient way in order to maximize my grades, the primary criteria that perspective employers and fellow lawyers will judge me by. I come into each exam with a functional, no bullshit sixteen-page outline of flow charts, dense rules and applicable case summaries. Nothing in my outline is explanatory or in the form of a narrative. Everything on the page is an applicable tool aimed at gaining points when the professor grades my test from a point-awarding checklist. I have associated key ideas with a set of visually distinguishable slides, and when I close my eyes, I know exactly what page and spatially where the material is on the outline. I have printed my outline on both sides of the paper and carefully chosen flow charts that are on opposing sides of an outline that resembles a small pamphlet because it is stapled at the spine and opens like a book. I rarely have to flip pages because each major topic is set out on a carefully grouped set of pages that is designed for minimal page flipping. I type continuously because by practice and with my outline design, I am able to do this. I do not miss any issues because I have practiced countless exams and have honed my issue spotting skills by practice. I know what a good argument looks like and how to write one because I have done it so many times. When the professor tests issues at the margins of the class, I make difficult leaps that impress the professor. The professor does not know that I have mastered the hornbook and therefore have a comprehensive survey of the entire branch of law. I know what the students who have not read the hornbook dont: that in reality, a certain question is a well -debated and discussed point in academia. For me the leap was easy, even though it was on the fringe of the class. My exam is twenty-two pages and is loaded with case and rule citations that make my arguments convincing. My essay does not ramble; it cites equally as many, or more, issues with analysis per page as my peers. The efficiency came from practice, familiarizing myself with the big picture, and a usable outline for test day. The teacher grades the two exams along with the other ninety-eight over the winter break. Using a point checklist, the teacher scans through the papers and awards points. The points are totaled, and the grades are awarded. The fifteenpage paper from the first student is average, and the professor ends up awarding 150 points, which works out in the end to be a B, narrowly missing the B+ cut-off. When the professor encounters my paper, he appreciates the citations of rules and cases which make it both easier to understand and easier to award points. The essay misses few issues and has a solid analysis based on hardened practice. The professor is impressed when I make a difficult jump and appreciates the fact that I listened to the subtle points that he was alluding to in class (he does not know that a hornbook turned those subtle points into fully discussed and addressed points). I score 230 points, and I am awarded an A-. The paper was one of the better in the class, but not on par with the 5 that were awarded an A. Those A grades went to students who were strong admits at Harvard and Yale and instead took a scholarship at NYU. They generally had a limited social life and solely focused on their studies. They have read the casebook, answered the study questions, read the hornbooks, conducted independent research, and sacrificed personal and social relationships to get an A. Their hard work was rewarded, as it should be. Occasionally I will also land in the A pile, when I make a particularly great argument that impresses the teacher in a highly subjective sense. Occasionally I will also land in the B+ pile, when I make a mistake on a big issue or the subject is highly

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subjective and the teacher is not impressed by my approach. In ge neral, the B+s and As are canceling and I am getting mostly A- grades, placing me at about a 3.7, which is approximately the top 5-10% of the class. Doors are open at all firms upon graduation, 1L big firm internships that pay $2,800 a week become available, Law Review is a possibility if I make a solid showing in the writing competition (admittance to Law Review being a combination of grades and the writing competition), and transferring to Harvard is a possible consideration. V. The Essential External Materials For every class you need to buy three external books, and in some cases, four. The sum total of cost of these books is a real concern, but dwarfed by the tangible gain received by finishing high in your class. Since you have likely sunk well over $120,000 into law school, the additional cost of about $120 per class is worth it. Hornbooks typically are $60, while Examples & Explanations (E&E) are $30, and the case briefs are $30. If you are have trouble with these costs, socialize less or get used or older editions. Links to the Examples & Explanations book series and hornbooks can be found below.

Examples and Explanation Series: Civil Procedure: Examples & Explanations (Glannon) The Law of Torts: Examples & Explanations (Glannon) Contracts: Examples & Explanations (Blum) Property: Examples & Explanations (Burke) Criminal Law: Examples & Explanations (Singer) Professional Responsibility: Examples & Explanations (Wendel) Constitutional Law: Examples & Explanations (Ides & May) Hornbooks Torts (Prosser & Keeton) Criminal Law (La Fave) Contracts (Calamari & Perill) Civil Procedure (Friedenthal, Kane & Miller) Constitutional Law (Nowak & Rotunda) The hornbook should be the one volume student version. Every branch of law has an established hornbook that is the most highly regarded in the field (e.g. Corbins Contracts). This is the hornbook you should buy, and it can be found by asking around or using the internet. The only exception to this rule is if your professor or the author of your casebook wrote a hornbook on the subject. If this is the case, you must certainly buy that hornbook. Hornbooks are typically 800 to 1200 pages. They are your real textbook for the course. A casebook is a maze in which the reader is somehow expected to be able parse through in order to obtain both rules and the big picture. It does not work. While other students read a 1000-page casebook, I only quickly read the casebook and instead focus my time on reading a 1000-page hornbook. We both invest the same amount of time, but the hornbook is about answers or a set of debatable answers and not about questions. By reading the hornbook, you will get a summary of the entire area of law and not just a set of sampled points that your professor chooses. If the professor were only to test on material directly covered in class, there would be no problem skipping these hornbook sections. The reality is, however, that a professor will quickly touch on a lot of things and expect you to have made connections and leaps from his comments. Sometimes, this would be nearly impossible to do so given the materials discussed in class. However, the hornbook likely covered the material in more depth. Also, sometimes professors will model a test question on a somewhat famous case that has been academically debated that is not in your casebook. He is testing how you extend the tools he taught in class to a new situation, although you, as a reader of a hornbook that covered that case, have seen the courts actual reasoning. The other book that is your co-textbook is any rule book that the teacher relies on. For example, in Civil Procedure, you must know the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Along with the hornbook, this is your true textbook. Too many students dont pay attention to the restatement or rule book because the teacher doesnt spend a lot of time on this in class. Often they will be surprised when the Civil Procedure test is nothing but a test on how well you can apply the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the related statutes.

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You need to look at former tests from each of your professors and see what is going to be needed. In all classes I have had so far, knowledge of something like the Uniform Commercial Code, a Restatement, or the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure has been a major key to exam success. The extracted rules of cases and the rule book or restatement are the weapons for test day; the hornbook teaches you how these weapons are used and what they are, and doing practice tests teaches you how to use these weapons. Do not forget that the rule book is a weapon for test day that is equal to or exceeds the utility of rules from cases. E&E books are an essential supplement. They are simple quick summary guides that give you a big picture of the class and have some problems to test your understanding. I find this to be an essential tool, if only for the questions alone. I find going through the entire E&E book before classes start or early in the semester to be extremely helpful to get a picture of the entire course as quickly as possible. Without this big picture, you get less out of reading the hornbook, which is very detailed. The case summary book is a fast guide to your casebook. As pointed out earlier, your casebook, in my opinion, aids you minimally in test preparation. However, the central rule of a case is an essential weapon for use on the test. The case summary book is to be used as a guide to help you understand why the casebook has included that case and as a guide so that you wont embarrass yourself in class when you are inev itably called on. However, if you are reading the court opinions like I suggest, it should only be some factual nuance that should trip you up in class. You should not be wasting time perfecting factual nuances for recital in class. A fourth book, a policy book, is essential in classes that are heavily policy-focused and have a policy essay or expect policy commentary while answering a classic fact pattern. In the later case, I will often throw policy in the conclusion of an argument to determine which way an issue will be resolved when the analysis otherwise does not clearly point to resolving the issue in a specific way. For example, in Contracts, we were informed that a policy essay would be on the exam. Most students used the basic policy tools taught in class to piece together a reasonable answer to the question. The very brightest students likely used these tools better than anyone else and got an A or A- level essay for this portion of the exam. Instead, I located a nonrequired policy book by the author of our casebook. In this policy book were a series of law review articles and scholarly pieces covering policy analysis on all areas of contracts. In my outline I summarized this book as a series of arguments with pros and cons to each situation. As expected, on test day, I got a question involving policy analysis of standard form contracts that required some critical thinking. Using both my own ideas and ideas from two of the essays from the book, I was able to write a very strong policy essay. Two groups of people wrote A and A- essays that day. The first group included those select brilliant few, who by virtue of their cunning, came up with persuasive arguments on the fly of A or A- quality. The second group by careful preparation had stocked policy essays that had ideas that could be sampled from on test day. From the perspective of the teacher, this second group was either a highly motivated group of over-achievers who had worked above and beyond what was required, or they were so smart as to come up with arguments similar to the brightest in the field, on the fly, on a four hour exam. In either case, the teacher is highly impressed which results in large point awards. I would argue that most teachers couldnt distinguish which A and A- papers were in each of those two categories. I am generally opposed to the concept of casebooks. I do not mean to disparage any particular professors case book. Reading case books is likely very helpful training tools for those entering academia, but, in my opinion, they are not very useful as aids in preparing for the exam. I consider spending an inordinate amount of time reading case books to be a distraction from real study. Be careful not to be fooled into thinking you are on track because you are up to date on the casebook readings. VI. Selecting a Class for Early Test Taking By their third year, law students are accomplished test takers. They have enough experience to no longer fear the exam in any way. You will succeed on your customary first-year exams if you can master the art of exam taking without requiring three years of experience. Thus, it is critical for an incoming law student to have as much exam practice as possible before exam day. In particular, an entering 1L needs to truly know what a law school exam is so that he or she can make the modifications necessary to his or her test preparation plan well in advance.

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I cant tell you how many students regret so much of their work first semester because they realize, in hindsight, how much work they did was completely useless. This is oftentimes due to bad advice they received. For example, one of my TAs kept reassuring us not to worry about the exam. He explained that he had started his outline for that class after Thanksgiving, took his first exam shortly after, and still got a good grade (probably an A-). I laugh when I hear advice like this. You cant base a strategy on exceptions, because there are always exceptional cases from exceptional or lucky people. It was immediately clear to me that I needed to use one class as a trial, in which I would work ahead, so that I could take a real law school exam and ascertain what it is was like. Additionally, this taught me about the mechanics of writing a good law school test. I found I needed to do things such as the following: train my mind to write answers to fact pattern questions, learn how to pace myself on a four-hour exam, learn how to decipher fact patterns and spot legal issues, learn what it is I should truly be getting out of the cases I am reading, learn what an A essay consists of, and learn what I should be doing to develop the skills necessary to write an A essay. The lack of test taking experience by your fellow first semester 1Ls gives you an opportunity to distinguish yourself from your peers. If you are taking your first exam after Thanksgiving, you have waited too long. Do not base your strategy on the basis of one success story that has no basis in why or how it works. The TAs suggestion of not to worry was more of a way to calm the growing test day tensions and not a system to excel on the test (how can starting late and not worrying result in high grades?). By telling students that by starting late and not worrying it was stillpossible to get an A-, he conveyed the mistaken notion to many that starting late and not worrying was not a factor in who gets an A-. By the middle of the semester, I was taking generic torts exams. (Torts is the required first-year class that focuses upon negligent and intentional harms done to another person. Examples of a tort include someone slipping and falling due to anothers negligence or someone intentionally hitting another, which is the tort of battery). I had worked through the torts Examples & Explanations, hornbook, and had worked out a basic course outline. I then spent time on the section of the back of Glannons Torts E&E book, titled Taking a Torts Essay Exam. In this section, Glannon gives a masterful introduction to test taking and includes comments on IRAC, common exam writing style mistakes, and general test taking wisdom. In this text, there are many of the gems of wisdom I have already passed on. For example, Most students spend inordinate amounts of time learning more and more about rules, and very little time practicing the skill of applying the fundamental rules to new facts. You would be wiser to spend less time memorizing rules and more time applying them. Glannon is speaking out against the typical law school students strategy in the introduction to this document. Around the middle of the semester, I also paid for a one-day law school test-taking seminar, which was an excellent experience, if only to confirm several of my suspicions about law school. By the middle of the semester, I knew what a law school exam was. Just like you cant learn how to apply law only by reading about it, neither can you know what a law school exam truly is without doing one. Even if I could lecture to you on what a law school exam is, it is so much easierand I can only be sure you truly understand what it is if you actually are somewhat prepared for one and take it. When you arrive at law school, stay afloat in all of your classes. However, pick one class (not Civil Procedure or Property, the most technically complex two classes) to be your test vehicle. Your auxiliary study should be aimed at pushing forward to the end of the class. You must learn as soon as possible what a law school exam truly is so that you can adjust your study habits in all classes in a way so as to redirect work and optimize exam success. Additionally, this class can be used as a basis for doing practice tests early and often, so that you can learn how to apply an IRAC based system, create an outline, and other general test taking mechanics. You should aim to be taking these tests in this special class before or around the middle of the semester. VII. What to Do the Summer Before I did nothing the summer before in preparation for law school and mainly focused on preparing for and passing the Patent Bar Exam. During law school, I placed a high priority on a lot of other things (mostly social) inside and outside of law school. Although I like to be smart about what and how I study, I cut corners in areas like casebook reading and preparing for class in order to open up time for other things. By managing my time wisely, I was able to go out 5+ nights a week to social events (cutting back severely during the 4 weeks leading up to finals) in order to network and develop interpersonal skills and yet still do well in school. A gunner, in contrast, will cut all areas of their life in exchange for high grades. They

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spend their time reading hornbooks, supplementary books, going to office hours, studying in groups, preparing for class, reading the casebook, etc. It is very easy to do well in school if you are willing to wholesale the rest of your life for success in school. This is probably what you must do if you want to go into academia, although I strongly question this road for those planning to practice in a law firm. You can be like me and do nothing before starting school and you can still do well (although it may be harder). If you want to do some work, but not an outrageous amount, I would start by reading the Examples & Explanations books before school. Start with torts or one of the easier subjects, since this may be your first introduction to law. I think 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 were to do this before law school, and then continue with gunner tendencies throughout the semester, I could not see how you would fail to get nearly all A's (a few scattered A-s are probably unavoidable because there is some subjective judgment in picking the A's from the A-'s). If you cannot make law review after doing all of that, the issue lies with you and not your diligence. VIII. What You Are Doing at School Before every class, you must have read the E&E sections corresponding to the material in class. I like to get the E&E books finished and out of the way very early. I also read the hornbook section before class. In between classes I am extremely efficient with my time and am working. I will not be spending a lot of time reading the casebook, as mentioned earlier. Most of my time will be spent doing the E&E books, pushing forward in the hornbook, and studying the set of rules or statutes for the class (like the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the UCC). In the end, I actually end up reading the hornbook and E&E books twice, although in the second pass, certain areas may be skipped. For a general class, I read the E&E book from cover to cover first. I am not smart enough to understand everything after the first pass, but I have a general view of things and a basic understanding of the course and a few of the big cases and what they mean. Next, I read the hornbook as the course progresses, being careful to always be ahead of the course. I spend a huge amount of time getting to know the actual statutes and rules associated with the class. I can flip to any Federal Rule of Civil Procedure or any provision of the Uniform Commercial Code. I do not memorize these rules, but rather work to understand why the rule was written and how it fits into the law as a whole. In class, I dont know the facts of the case very well and dont do that well when called on. Some people actually prepare to look good in class, but this is a waste of time. I am preparing for the test. My peers would never guess that I am smart. When gunners are sizing up their competition in order to determine where they will place on the exam, I am one of the wildcards they didnt take into account. I am not taking endless notes on everything said. I am noting only the important ideas that I have not already thought about or are not completely obvious to me. I am thinking about how this case fits in the big picture and how it might show up on an exam in the context of statutes and the other cases. By middle of the semester all of the E&E books will be finished. I will still be working through the hornbooks and staying ahead of the casebook with these. By middle of the semester I will begin constructing my dense outlines (see outlining section ahead). When the four weeks leading up to finals come around, I will no longer be going out any more than once a week. I will be studying continuously, like everyone else. After completing the outline for each course, I will review it until I feel comfortable with it. I will then redo all of the E&E problems. I will likely reread most of the hornbook sections with the aim of finding hornbook gems to add to my outline. I will review class notes. This is an active process, resulting in

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modifications to my dense outline. I develop an incredible familiarity with my outline and where information is located on it. Four weeks before exams I will have at least one class where the outlining process is completed. I will be taking many exams with this outline. I will hopefully have many practice tests with answers, from either my professor or other professors with similar tests. If practice answers are not available, I will form a study group solely for discussing exam answers. Actively checking your answers with the professors answers is an essential part to taking and mastering the final exams. To summarize, the general procedure early in the semester is: 1. 2. 3. 4. Read E&E from cover to cover early for every class (get a solid overview, quickly) Stay in front of the class with your hornbook reading Dont spend a lot of time with the casebook (I know you are going to hesitate and not believe me on this one) Have fun and network in law school

The general procedure for the middle of the semester is: 1. Begin and complete constructing dense outlines for each class 2. Make sure all E&E books are complete 3. Continue to have fun and network in law school The general procedure for the last four weeks of the semester is: 1. Stop going out and study all day, every day; an hour of study now is worth more than four hours of study in the first week of school 2. Start taking practice tests (nearly one daily), and use sample test answers to iteratively correct your outline 3. Go through the E&E questions again (you should be acing these and adding to your outline if the questions find a hole in your knowledge) 4. Review the most relevant sections of the hornbook, incorporating essential details into your outline 5. Now would be the time to read and outline a policy essay book, if applicable My study techniques are common for a third-year law school student, but are almost never done by during a 1Ls first semester. It is studying effectively that is a huge advantage in your first-year grades, which are by far the most important in determining employment opportunities. For if you do well in your first year of law school, getting a great law firm job during your summer is quite easy. The jobs are both high-paying and generally lead to offers of permanent employment. Thus, success on your first-year exams is crucial and paves the way for a great law school experience. For the first semester, you have the additional work of pushing ahead in one class to get a crude outline together that allows you to take a few practice tests. This is essential for you to understand your target goal so that you can do your work properly in preparation for it. Aim for at least five practice tests in each class. Spend particular time on the test you are going to take last. Many students burn out or never get around to fully studying for their last test. This class may be your best shot at an A-. If you have a poor teacher, this is also a great chance to go for the A-. Your peers are unprepared, from bad lectures while you are stocked with hornbook knowledge which provides a comprehensive and solid overview of the class. The outline you bring to the exam is essential to you doing well on the exam. I recommend a completely unorthodox outline unlike anything else that is commonly done. The test taking process, hornbook review, and answering the E&E questions will produce many revisions to your outline. It is a good time to discuss outlines at this point. IX. Outlines Many students fall prey to the mistaken notion that bigger is better when it comes to outlines.

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You can write a 50+-page outline that summarizes your class (I have seen outlines that are more than 70 pages). This will likely help you review everything in the class and by putting it together on one document it may help you to remember it. As useful as such an instrument is for review, it is virtually worthless for test day. My outlines for my classes were 11, 13, and 16 pages respectively. I also had large outlines, but these were accessed at most once or twice on test day. They were based on the fundamental premise that it is not feasible to flip pages constantly. The idea of an open-book exam may be appealing to some. They think that they will have time to look up cases and research cases on a four-hour exam (four hours is a very long time, right?). This idea is fundamentally wrong. This is just another immediate realization that will come to you when you do your first real exam (which is why I so strongly insist you get to test taking immediately for you to see and believe this for yourself). A simple refutation lies in comparing a large outline system to mine. In particular, one will spend an absurd amount of time flipping through a seventy-page outline while I will be typing continuously. The few extra points a voluminous outline contains will not compensate for the extra 25% I will write more than others. If my writing has as many points per page as others do, I will score 25% more points off the checklist and excel past others on the test by a large margin. The 11, 13, and 15 page outlines are near the same length for a reason. The fundamental assumption I used in construction my outlines is that I must never be required to flip a page while addressing one single, major topic. There are only so many major topics per course, so you will naturally find your outline length to be somewhat near mine. Although I may have time to flip to a single page in my outline from time to time, generally I must be able to be able to continuously type while only glancing at my outline for specific rules, cases, or tests. While I incur ten minutes of overhead in accessing and scanning for information from my outline, those with long outlines will incur upwards of forty minutes to an hour looking for and finding the same information. I only realized the utility of the succinct and dense outline from my experiments with test taking. I encourage you to do the same. I now include four pages (download printable pdf file of the four pages). First, I show you a flow chart. Second, there are two pages on class actions (a Civil Procedure subject). My outline must be printed on two-sided paper, and the two pages on class actions open like a book; thus, I will not be required to flip a page while writing on class actions. The final page is a sample page from a typical civil procedure outline. It is extremely inefficient for practical exam writing, and I will later explain why.

How to Succeed in Law School Student Guide #1


The following article was adapted from a fantastic series of TLS Blog posts by user JayCutlersCombover. This student achieved immense success during 1L at a Tier 2 school; in turn, he was able to transfer to UC Berkeley Law. He generously took the time to detail his successful strategies below. Published February 2010, last updated September 2010. Table of Contents -Topic 1: 0L Prep -Topic 2: 1L Mythbusters -Topic 3: 1L Study Schedule -Topic 4: Supplements -Topic 5: Commercial Outlines -Topic 6: Random 1L Advice

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Topic 1: 0L Prep Should you prep this summer? Yes. An emphatic yes. I did, and it helped. However, they key is that you should focus on test-taking prep rather than substantive law prep. No one in law school will ever teach you how to take a law school exam (at least in my experience), so it is up to you to figure that out on your own. Since you will be inundated with substantive material during the semester, it is best to get test-prep done during the summer (at least as much as you can). Once you understand the types of tests you will be taking, this can help you structure your studying during the semester. I had a friend who applied for a summer internship (a nonpaying legal job). My friend was bright and ended up in the top 25% at my school. This friend told me about how he ended up getting his summer job. It seems that the employer collected resums until a certain deadline and then organized the resums in order of GPA (from highest to lowest, with the highest GPA's on top of the stack). Then, the employer called the first 3 people off the top of the stack and offered them summer positions. Grades are all that matters to employers (most of them anyway), and this is why I am advocating summer test prep. Additionally, I would not have been able to secure my current job, which pays more than $1K per week, had I not prepped. Here is a list of books you should get this summer for test prep: Getting to Maybe: http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Maybe-Exc ... 0890897603 LEEWS: http://www.leews.com/ How to do Your Best on Law School Exams: http://www.amazon.com/How-Your-Best-Sch ... 0960851453 The important thing in the "0L Prep" debate is to distinguish between substantive prep (e.g., Examples and Explanations) and exam prep (the three books I listed -- Getting to Maybe, LEEWS, and John Delaney's examsmanship book). I did the 6 week substantive prep program as outlined in Planet Law School before 1L started (at least most of it anyway) and was convinced that I was going to get ahead. It ended up generally being a waste of time, and here's why: my teachers didn't go over half the stuff I prepped. For example, in property, I read all of the E&E sections on personal property (mislaid property, bona fide purchasers, etc.). All told, I spent about twelve summer hours on prep for personal property. Then I got to my property class, and the entire class focused on real property. We didn't spend one second on personal property [As a side note, I'll address the E&E's later and why they are useful once you are actually in law school]. Biggest waste of time ever. As a caveat, I will say that, if as a 0L you are totally clueless about the law and the legal system in general (like me prior to law school), there is one "substantive" book that *might* be useful for you: John Delaney's Learning Legal Reasoning (http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Legal-Re ... 0960851445). It is basically an introduction on how to brief and provides great background on the common law, the court system, policy, and other general legal knowledge that no one will ever discuss with you in law school. If you are like me and could neither pronounce nor define "appellate court" before law school, you will probably find this book useful. Others will think it is the stupidest book ever. I will add that I briefed all the cases in Delaney's book and compared them to the model answers, and that was the last time I formally briefed a case. Once school started, I used the LEEWS briefing method, which is an abbreviated method that I will get into when I talk about LEEWS more in depth. --------------------------------------------------------------------------Getting to Maybe by Fischl and Paul WHY GETTING TO MAYBE ROCKS: First, the book is written by law professors Fischl (https://www.law.uconn.edu/people/110) and Paul (https://www.law.uconn.edu/people/133), both of whom graduated from Harvard. If nothing else, getting the exam-taking perspective from professors is beneficial, since most other pre-law books (Law School Confidential, PLS) are written by former law students rather than law professors. The book also gives a good overview and breakdown of the types of exam questions you will encounter on a 1L exam (issue spotters and policy essays). Perhaps most importantly, this book was helpful in drilling home the point that in law school, you will need to get comfortable with ambiguities. On exams, there are no "right" answers, and two "A" exams might end up having different (and sound) reasoning and end up reaching different conclusions.

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WHAT GETTING TO MAYBE MAY LACK: The authors spend about half the book talking about forks, twin forks, pitchforks and all kinds of stupid forks, which I never understood. The authors also get a bit preachy at points, and the book drags at multiple points. Also, the exam taking tips are a little too general, as I felt that LEEWS (which I will discuss next) gave a better system for attacking law school exams. Overall: I took about a week to get through this book and really didn't understand what the authors were taking about until I got through a couple weeks of law school. My advice would be to get through the book, and if you have time at fall break/thanksgiving, thumb through it again briefly to touch up on the main points. It is a pretty easy read and a good introduction to law school exams, and since your entire grade depends on one exam, it is never too early to start thinking about ways to attack your law school exams. Get this book used somewhere (half.com, amazon.com), as it can probably be had for under 10 bucks. Also, as a companion to this book, if you can somehow get access to Jeremy Paul's article "A Bedtime Story," 74 Virginia Law Review 915, read that before school starts or sometime after school starts. I read it in one of my classes, and it was a great introduction to legal reasoning that cleared up some of the stuff Getting To Maybe had discussed. LEEWS Program On to LEEWS (http://leews.com/). I like to think of LEEWS as analogous to an LSAT prep class because it gives you a systematic approach for law school classes and law school exams. In my experience, I only had one class in which a professor actually went over the best way to write a law school exam. Most professors I had would merely go over one exam in class and then tell you that on the real thing, you would need to spot the issues and argue both sides. Most professors never touched on any of the material the Miller talks about in LEEWS (i.e. read the call of the question first, set up conflict pairs, outline your answers before typing, flip through the entire exam before starting, use headings and small paragraphs to make essay answers easy to read, and so on and so forth). Like an LSAT prep class, LEEWS will be the priciest supplement you will purchase ($100+ brand new for the CD and book set), but I guarantee you that it is a worthwhile investment. [side note: please check out this thread on LEEWS for a two-sided argument about LEEWS; there is a bunch of good stuff in the thread - viewtopic.php?f=3&t=77646]. There is no difference between attending the live session and purchasing the CD's, but I would recommend purchasing the CD's and doing LEEWS before 1L if it is feasible. Frankly, once you get into 1L you will soon realize that you won't have 8 hours of free time to listen to LEEWS and learn the system. Moreover, if you purchase the CD's before school starts, you can work at your own pace. I would recommend taking about 1-2 hours a day over the course of a few weeks to work through LEEWS. There is A LOT of information to digest, and most of it is rock solid advice. In addition to the exam prep, the LEEWS briefing method was one of the most beneficial things I learned during law school. I read every case that was assigned and used the LEEWS briefing method for each case. The gist of the LEEWS briefing method is that you should pull out the black letter law and only write down the facts needed to jog your memory about the case if you are called on in class. Class participation (in my experience) DOES NOT MATTER AT ALL! I never once volunteered to speak during the semester when I wasn't cold called, and I generally made a good faith effort when I was cold called (if you were to ask my peers, I would bet they would say I was a median student based on what I said in class). Don't waste your time doing one-page briefs just because it will help you look better in class. Keep your eye on the prize and only do what will help you on an exam. Here is an example of a LEEWS brief that I did for Torts. It is pretty simple, but it helps you get the idea. When I would go back and outline, I could then just insert the "Tools" section into my outline (since it was the BLL that I needed for the exam) and delete the fact summary: Vosburg v. Putney (Battery) Tools: A wrong-doer is liable for all injuries resulting directly from a wrongful act/battery whether they could or could not have been foreseen by the wrong-doer. [Note: Children are treated differently under intentional torts versus negligence.] Fact Summary: D held liable for kick of Ps shin during normal class hours (not during playground hours, and therefore an unlawful act), which ultimately led to the non-use of his limb.

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WHY LEEWS ROCKS: Aside from the briefing method, LEEWS gives you a comprehensive exam-taking strategy that you can implement on any type of law school exam. As I said before, it is up to you to figure out the best way to take a law school exam, and this system (in my opinion) is the best one out there. You might be a natural born genius of the law and be able to kill your law school exams without this system; however, I was not that person. Having an organized system for breaking down and analyzing an issue-spotting exam was a gigantic help for me throughout the year. In my experience, most of my classmates, even after 1st semester exams, still were not sure the best way to approach a law school exam. This system gets you on the right foot from Day One. WHAT LEEWS MAY LACK: LEEWS is great system for the "racehorse" exams in which your professor asks you to "Discuss all the issues raised by the fact pattern." However, I found that some of its recommendations were only marginally useful when an exam had a word limit. Only 2 of my 8 exams had a word limit, so this system was generally useful in 3/4 of my classes. Many of its recommendations can be modified for word-limit exams, and the organizational system is still useful on any exam. Additionally, LEEWS uses a Torts hypo to demonstrate the exam taking system. While this helped me book torts (highest grade in the class), I found that I did have some trouble applying the LEEWS method in Contracts. Realize that you will need to be flexible with this system depending on the subject matter, the type of exam (issue spotter vs. policy), and if there is a word limit on the exam. LEEWS will take a lot of time to get through, but I can't tell you how helpful it is to go over before 1L. There is a bunch of information, but if you stretch it out over a few weeks, you can break it down into more manageable parts. How to do Your Best on Law School Exams by Delaney As for a review of John Delaney's "How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams," I think this book is good to thumb through simply because it provides you with another professor's test-taking perspective. Planet Law School praises Delaney a lot, and while I think Delaney's book would rank third behind LEEWS and GTM, it is still a quick, easy, and informative read. LEEWS and GTM's strategies might not click for some people, and you might find that some of the techniques in Delaney's book suit you well. One of his best pieces of advice is his notecard outlining method, which you might find beneficial. As I've said before, my strategy was to collect as many data points as possible and then make a decision based on the data that I gathered; because of this, I think Delaney's book is another solid 0L prep book. I will admit that I found the LEEWS system better (overall) for exam-taking, but Delaney's book is still solid. Summary: 0L Prep The first step is finding the right material to prepare yourself (I think LEEWS, GTM and Delaney's book are the right materials for test prep). The next step is to actually get your hands on the supplements (total cost less than $150 if your purchase all 3 used, or less than the cost of a new torts casebook). Once you've got them, you need to read through the material and understand the challenges you will face while taking a law school exam (which, like losing weight, can be daunting but not impossible to overcome). Then, it is up to you to implement the system (whether it is LEEWS, GTM, or some other system). Just like avoiding work-outs and healthy eating won't help you lose weight, it will be more difficult to earn top grades if you avoid taking the extra time to utilize the methods in these books. And just like there are some people who can drink a 24 pack of Natty Light and eat 2 large pizzas and lose weight, there will be people who are natural born geniuses of the law who can kill law school exams without these books; generally, however, those lucky people are the minority. --------------------------------------------------------------------------One more tangentially related thing about law school exams. It is important to self-assess and think about whether you can really write (organization, grammar, thesis sentences, etc.). Your entire grade is based on how well you WRITE, not how well you can handle the socratic method in class. Literally, the only work product the professor will see from you all year is your 4-hour written/typed exam. Unless you are able to compose exam answers quickly, concisely, and in a well organized manner, your exam will be difficult for the professor to grade and you will be more likely to end up at the median. As you are doing exam prep, think about this: "What is the best way I can present this exam and make my professor's job easy?" I used to teach, and let me tell you it is awful to grade a stack of 80 papers. You will be more likely to get a higher grade if your writing is clear and easy to read and doesn't force the professor to work hard. Just something to think about as you focus on exam taking strategies.

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------Topic 2: 1L Mythbusters MYTH #1: STUDY GROUPS ARE NECESSARY TO SUCCEED IN LAW SCHOOL There is already an interesting thread about this in the TLS Law School Forum (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=76375&start=25), but I thought I would expand on this a bit. There seems to be this myth floating around that if you don't form a study group in the first week of class, you are doomed to finish in the bottom of the class, and, upon graduation, work as a public defender in Smalltown, USA, making 25K per year. I think this is patently false. There are basically two questions you need to ask yourself with regards to study groups: (1) How is this going to help me on the final exam? and (2) What type of learner am I? With regards to question #1, this should and needs to be your focus throughout the semester. You should always be asking yourself whether the effort you are expanding is going to pay some dividends on the final exam. Frankly, for me, I thought study groups were only useful around final exams, and I refused to study in groups up until maybe the last 3 weeks before finals. Even when I did get together with a group, it was ONLY to go over old exams and never to argue about some stupid case or Scalia's reasoning in the dissent of some random case. For me, getting together with a study group to talk about the class was not going to help me on the final exam, as my time could be better spent reading supplements and working on hypotheticals/E&E's/Cali lessons (see supplements section for explanations of these). With question #2, I know that I work better by myself (I am more productive working alone), and I hate having my time wasted. In law school, you don't have enough hours in the day to waste even one hour, and throughout my academic career, I've found that more often than not, it takes 10 times as long to accomplish something in a group that it would for me to just sit down and figure it out on my own. However, this might be different for some people. If you liked group work and excelled at in undergrad, by all means, get a group together and go at it. If you are a loner, there is no problem in this. You shouldn't change what has worked for you up until this point simply because you are in law school. It is still learning, and you should do whatever you think best fits your learning style. WHAT WORKED FOR ME WITH STUDY GROUPS: For me, the following approach worked for study groups: keep them small if you use them (3-5 people, anything larger than that was too difficult to organize and the larger the group, the more difficult it became to work efficiently); use them only to go over old exams (you can learn a lot from others and the way they spot issues and attack an exam); when you get together with a study group, make everyone in the group finish their work ahead of time (i.e., if you are getting together to go over an old exam, make sure everyone in the group does the test beforehand so you don't have free-riders in the group or people who slow the group down with constant questioning on simple topics); (4) if you use study groups, a lot of the time you can each visit individually with a professor to discuss part of an old exam (i.e., if an exam had 3 questions, each person would go over 1 question with the professor) and then get together and compare notes and have a complete answer for an old exam. WHY STUDY GROUPS ARE POTENTIALLY USELESS: It is tough to gauge potential group members, which is also why I think it is stupid to try and get people in a study group early in the semester. At that point, it is the blind leading the blind and the chances of a study group being beneficial seem slim to none. If you wait until the end of the semester, at least by that point you should have a good idea of your friends/acquaintances who are lazy/hard workers/genuinely interested in doing well, and then you can pick and choose people to work with based on your impressions. Granted, no one really knows who is smart and who isn't until grades come back (if you consider doing well on a 3 hour exam "smart", which is a dubious proposition), so it is somewhat of a crapshoot. As I mentioned earlier, study groups have the potential to be a big time-waster, as it is difficult to get everyone to (1) show up on time and (2) stay on task during the study sessions. This is another reason why it is good to wait until the end of the semester to do study groups. Everyone will realize that they can't be messing around, so the potential that people will waste your time decreases exponentially because of the looming prospect of finals.

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My recommendation is to keep the study groups small, use them only around finals to go over old exams, and if you are lucky enough (like I was) to find a good core group of people to work with, a study group can be a great way to prep for exams. It is tempting to form study groups because working with people can at least give you some feedback on how you are grasping the material (since you will get ZERO feedback from professors during the semester), but I think that time would be better spent on supplements and going over hypos. --------------------------------------------------------------------------MYTH #2: YOUR 1L GRADES AREN'T ALL THAT IMPORTANT If you've done any research prior to applying to law school, you are probably thinking there is no way that anyone would say 1L grades arent important. However, I swear to you, I've heard multiple people say "Well even if I don't do well, I can always make it up 2L and 3L years," or "I'm not trying to work at a big firm and only want to do (insert random non-firm job here) and grades don't really matter for that." I think it is important to lay out what is at stake with your 1L grades. I'm not sure many people grasp how you can set yourself up for 2L and 3L years with good grades or torpedo your chances at your dream job with a poor 1L performance. So here is what is at stake for your 1L year: (1) Possible paying gig during 1L summer: Yes, these are few and far between, but finishing at the top of your class will give you a chance for a 1L firm gig. I'm not sure that the 1L big law firm gig will exist in any shape or form next summer, but let's say you are someone like me who has a connection to a secondary market (I'm not even sure if where I work can be called a secondary market, but it is not someplace that typical law school graduates from T14's flock to) and networked with an alum. Because of my grades (and a bit of networking), I was able to secure a 1L firm gig that pays more than 1K per week. When you are staring down the type of loans that most law students take on, the extra cash can be a HUGE help. Moreover, even if you don't want to work in a firm, most summer employers simply screen by grades because it is the easiest thing to do. 1L summer jobs don't really seem to matter that much in the grand scheme of things, but the chance to make extra cash is one motivation to do well during 1L. (2) Law Review: The one credential that all employers seem to love is Law Review. At most schools, law review is a combination of 1L grades and a journal writing competition. At my school, the top 10% automatically were invited to law review, and there were another dozen spots for write-ons (but 1L grades were weighed heavily when deciding who would be invited based on the combination of their writing score and grades). At other schools, it is completely a combination of grades and the write on score, but from anecdotal evidence I have seen on this board and others, 1L grades usually are weighed more (typically 2/3) and the write on competition is weighted less (usually 1/3 or so). However, the point is that only your 1L grades are considered for law review status. There are some schools that allow you to submit a journal note to the law review as a 2L, and if it is published, you are invited to law review (I think Chicago does this, but I am not certain), but that seems to be the exception. By all accounts, the actual work that you have to do with law review seems awful at first, but the credential will open numerous doors for you. And, yep, it is mostly based on 1L grades. (3) 2L OCI is Based Entirely on 1L Grades: Assuming that 2L OCI/OGI/EIP (or whatever acronym your school uses) will continue to exist, all the bidding and interviewing will be done based on 1L grades. Unless you are at a T14 (and sometimes at T14s as well), most firms have GPA and/or class rank cutoffs that you need to hit. Even if you have a lottery interview system (i.e. bids are assigned by lottery system), I would imagine that if your grades are low and you get an interview at a good firm, it will probably be a waste of 20 minutes for both you and the interviewer. But, if you think about it, it is entirely possible to get a job after you graduate based SOLELY on your 1L grades. Let's say you finish in the top 10%, get a summer associate position, and the knock the firm's socks off and get an offer after the summer. You will have done that entirely based on your 1L grades and can now spend your 3L year beer drinking and playing softball. (Of course, this is assuming that firms will even be hiring SA's to begin work sometime before 2050 with all the employment deferrals the legal world has seen recently.) Either way, the GPA cutoffs at my school seemed to go up to the top 10% mark for the major legal markets, and in this economy, you will want to keep that GPA as high as you can. Even if you are someone that wants to do non-firm work (PI, etc.), there sure will be a lot of deferred Big Law people who will be competing with your for those jobs. (4) It is Difficult to Have Major Movement in GPA/Rank as a 2L and 3L: From lurking on the Law Students Forum here on TLS, most 2L's and 3L's have indicated that the grading curve as a 2L and 3L is not as harsh. There is the opportunity to clinics and seminars that are not curved, which means that you will have a chance to rack up some A's and raise the GPA. The only problem is that everyone else in those classes will be getting high grades too, which means that what

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matters (your class rank), won't be making any major movements. Additionally, you will already have 28-32 credits under your belt from 1L, and with only 60 or so credits left in law school, it will be tough (although not impossible) to move up in rank. The bottom line, as I said earlier, is that 1L grades can go a long way to opening doors for you. (5) The Opportunity to Trade Up and Transfer: You can only transfer after 1L, and if you can finish in the top 10%, it is possible to trade up into a T14, T10, or T3 school depending on where your school ranks and what your individual class rank is. I will write an article about transferring later, but unless you kill 1L, you won't have the opportunity to transfer. Which kinds of brings it all full circle in why I advocate prepping during the summer and doing LEEWS/GTM/Delaney's books. There is so much riding on the line with you 1L grades, why wouldn't you work to put yourself in the best position possible? --------------------------------------------------------------------------MYTH #3: IF YOUR PROFESSOR TELLS YOU NOT TO USE SUPPLEMENTS, DON'T USE THEM I had multiple professors at the beginning of each semester explicitly tell the class that using supplements would be a waste of time and that everything we needed to do well in the class was in the casebook. I didn't listen to my professors and I ended up doing quite well. Here are some quick reasons why you shouldn't listen to your professors if they tell you this: (1) Your professors are probably a lot smarter than you and didn't need supplements while they were in law school, so of course they are going to tell you that. Most of your professors were probably top of their class at T14 schools and probably all-around natural-born geniuses of the law. I'm sure they mean well, but I think a blanket "don't use supplements" statement is bad advice. I only recall one professor during 1L who recommended a specific supplement. While not all of the rest of my professors explicitly said I shouldn't use supplements, at least half said supplements were not worthwhile. (2) Supplements are the only way to get feedback and gauge your progress . As I've said many times before, in law school you will receive ZERO feedback on your progress before exams. Personally, I would rather find out in November that I don't know what I am doing rather than get my exam grade back and THEN find out that I was clueless. Supplements are a great way to test your knowledge of the black letter law and your ability to analyze different fact patterns. I was a terrible issue-spotter when I started law school, but it was skill I learned through practicing with hypotheticals in supplements. I seemingly sampled every supplement known to man and found that they varied from great to mediocre. I used Law in a Flash, E&E's, and Cali Lessons, and while I am not sure everything I used was helpful, I do know that if I had tried to learn things straight from the casebook, I definitely wouldn't have done as well. Here is a list of the supplements I used for each class. Check out the supplement section below for more in-depth information on the main supplements. Every Class: Cali Lessons (get password from your law school librarian). IMHO, best supplement other than LEEWS that I used during the year (http://cali.org/) Crunchtime: I hated the gigantic Emmanuel's commercial outlines, and I loved the shorter versions that had charts, multiple choice questions, and short answers sample questions. They also had short outlines with exam tips that I read through the night before the exams (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url ... me&x=0&y=0) Contracts: Blum E&E: Sample answers are really in depth but overall a solid book (http://www.amazon.com/Contracts-Example ... 1567066348)

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Chirelstein: Didn't like it all that much but seemed like everyone had this book (http://www.amazon.com/Concepts-CaseAna ... 819&sr=1-1) Siegel's: Essay and multiple choice questions coded by area of law. Useful in every class I took except Crim Law and Con Law (http://www.amazon.com/Siegels-Contracts ... 424&sr=1-2). Crim Law: E&E: Has both model penal code and common law examples. Mediocre at best but still marginally useful because I couldn't find any supplements that focused specifically on the Model Penal Code, and that is what my entire exam was on (http://www.amazon.com/Criminal-Law-Exam ... 173&sr=1-1) Delaney: Didn't use all that much since class focused on MPC, but if you like his other books, you will find this one useful too (http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Criminal ... 026&sr=1-1) Civ Pro: E&E: Glannon kicks major ass. Indispensible supplement (http://www.amazon.com/Procedure-Example ... 333&sr=1-1) Glannon Guide: Another great Glannon supplement. Civ pro exam was MC so this was a great book (http://www.amazon.com/Glannon-Guide-Civ ... 509&sr=1-1) Siegel's: see discussion, supra (http://www.amazon.com/Siegels-Civil-Pro ... 544&sr=1-1) Torts: E&E: Another great Glannon book. Weak on intentional torts but all the sections on negligence are great (http://www.amazon.com/Law-Torts-Example ... 596&sr=1-1) Siegel's: http://www.amazon.com/Siegels-Torts-Mul ... 722&sr=1-1 Property: [Note that I hated property and therefore tried every supplement in the world because I just wasn't getting it. Somehow got an "A." Not sure how that happened.] E&E: Could be better, could be worse. About on par with the Crim Law E&E (http://www.amazon.com/Property-Examples ... 688&sr=1-1) Siegel's: http://www.amazon.com/Siegels-Property- ... 749&sr=1-1 Understanding Property: Some people said this series of books was also useful during Crim Law. More hornbook than a supplement as it does not contain questions and answers (http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Pro ... 815&sr=1-1) Glannon Guide to Property: Another useful Glannon book, although it is not written by him (http://www.amazon.com/Glannon-Guide-Pro ... 856&sr=1-1) Law in a Flash: Needed more hypos in order to "get" property. These are organized by area of law and were pretty good for quizzing myself on the application of the BLL. There are two sets, one for real property (http://www.amazon.com/LawFlash-Real-Pr ... 913&sr=1-1) and one for future interests (http://www.amazon.com/Law-Flash-Interes ... 913&sr=1-2) Con Law: Chemerinsky: I could have used this book instead of buying my casebook. The BEST Con Law supplement. Everyone will have it, but it breaks down the confusing SCOTUS cases that have like 8 different parts with a different set of judges concurring and dissenting with all the different parts. Bonus in that you can keep it and use it in Con Law II if you take that as a 2L or 3L (http://www.amazon.com/Constitutional-La ... 169&sr=1-1)

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E&E: Meh, not the best. There is one on individual rights (http://www.amazon.com/Constitutional-In ... 216&sr=1-1) and another for federalism (http://www.amazon.com/Constitutional-La ... 216&sr=1-2) Lexis Q&A: Didn't get a chance to try these out in other classes, but I loved this book. Had multiple choice with really detailed explanations (like 3 pages worth for one question), and also short answer/mini-essay questions. Great supplement IMHO. Randomly bought in the bookstore in a late semester panic and ended up being a solid purchase. (http://www.lexisnexis.com/store/catalog ... odId=46673 ). --------------------------------------------------------------------------MYTH #4: GRADES ARE ENTIRELY BASED ON LUCK I will agree with this myth to some extent, because when you are graded on a curve, your grade is in part based on the performance of your peers. However, I am a true believer in the following saying: Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I have only felt good walking out of one law school exam, and it was the one I did my best on. The rest of the exams, I usually felt somewhere between "thank God that is over" and "that wasn't that bad, and everyone else probably thought the same thing." The one thing I did have going for me was that I always walked into an exam prepared. My motto was that when a law school exam was over, I wanted to be able to look myself in the mirror and say "I did everything I could this semester to do well in the class, and whatever the grade comes out as, I can live with it." I read the cases, worked with supplements, implemented LEEWS, attended every class, worked with study groups to go over exams, and lived and breathed law school. Was it the most healthy approach? Not necessarily. Have people done better by doing less work? Without a doubt. But at the end of the day, I wanted to be able to say that I gave it my best, and if my best wasn't good enough, then so be it. At least I had given it my all. So what message should you get out of this? Do the best of your ability because that is all you can reasonably expect from yourself. You can learn about law school exams this summer by going over LEEWS, GTM, and Delaney's book. You can show up to class every day and "take your professors frequency" by learning about what you prof is stressing and any exam information they give. You can pick up your professors exams from the exam bank at the beginning of the semester and spend the entire semester figuring out what the heck your professors is looking for on test day. What you shouldn't do is worry about what anyone else is doing. Were my grades "lucky? To some extent, yes. In torts, I focused heavily on intentional torts and got lucky when one 90 minute essay was dedicated exclusively to intentional torts. In property, I guessed right that one policy essay would be about 3 certain theories of property (but I guessed right because I looked at all the professors old exams and noticed that certain types of essay questions kept popping up every other year). Realize there is inherently some luck involved in law school exams (and grading in general). Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, so make the most of your opportunity to show your professor how much you know on your law school exams. --------------------------------------------------------------------------Topic 3: 1L Study Schedule It is tough for me to put an exact figure on the number of hours I studied, but I will say that I was an ultimate grinder. You can, no doubt, do well with doing a lot less studying. For whatever reason, I felt guilty when I wasn't studying, and I was always under the impression that someone was working harder than me. It was unhealthy, but I got good grades, so I guess it is up to you to determine to what extreme you are willing to take things. As I said, you can do well with doing a lot less, but considering that I read and briefed all the cases in every single class (using the LEEWS briefing method) and worked through multiple supplements, this was something that simply couldn't be done in a short amount of time. MICRO LEVEL

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On a week to week basis, I always did my reading for the upcoming week during the weekend. This means that I spent probably around 8 hours per day each Saturday and Sunday reading my casebook for the upcoming week. If the class met 4 times a week, I read 3 days ahead (leaving one day of reading for the week). If it was a 3 meetings a week class, I read the entire weeks assigned reading over the weekend. I had four classes in the fall and three in the spring, but I didn't break them up in any particular order. Yes, that is a boring weekend full of homework, but it worked for me. Because of this schedule, I somehow managed to attend a Big Ten school and not make it to a single home football game. I still kick myself for that, but that grades I received made up for it. There are a couple reasons I did this. First, there is nothing worse than spending 8 hours at school Monday through Thursday and then coming home to 3+ hours of reading. After sitting in class and shuttling back and forth between the library, I had zero motivation to read my casebook during the week. Any reading I didn't get done on the weekend I did in between classes during the rest of the week (which usually was only 1 day worth of reading for 2 classes, which would take about a total of 3-4 hours). Second, I am a big picture guy. I liked to see where the class was going, and doing reading in 3 or 4 day chunks gave me a good "big picture" view of whatever topic we were working with. Lastly, I wanted to work with supplements during the week and I knew that class participation didn't matter, so it wasn't life or death if I didn't remember all of the little facts of each case. During the week, I attended every class (only missing two classes all year for callback interviews for 1L summer positions). You will usually have a break in between your 1L classes (my breaks ranged from 45 minutes to 90 minutes), and always try to do something law-related (supplements, Cali lessons) during those breaks (save for your lunch break). Treat it like a job where you put in your time during the day. You would be surprised how many people play grab ass and waste time during the day and then are up all night reading and doing other stuff. Also, once my last class was over, I would head to the gym for a workout, go home and eat dinner, and then spend the night working with supplements for about 1-2 hours, outline, or work on Legal Writing assignments (when they were due). Overall, I thought it was a solid schedule. MACRO LEVEL I believe the schedule I followed on a week-to-week basis really set me up for success over the long term. Because I put in my time every day and on the weekends, I never had to press to fit in everything at the end of the semester (in terms of outlining, taking practice exams, etc.). There are a couple big-picture things to keep in mind: First, figure out when your big Legal Research assignments are due. You will have 2 (most likely) memos/briefs due at some point during the fall and spring semesters, and things get pretty hectic around that time. If I had a big LRW project due, I would usually spend my nights working on it (instead of working with supplements) and cut out some of the casebook reading on the weekend (still doing at least 2 days ahead and bumping the rest to in between classes or maybe 1 night of reading per week, if necessary). Second, I would recommend using any breaks (fall break, spring break, Thanksgiving break) to outline. I took weekends off for any week long breaks that I had during the year (i.e., spring break) and usually spent the rest of the time outlining. I would try to spend about 6-7 hours per day outlining and working through supplements over fall break and spring break. I also did not go home on Thanksgiving and spent the entire weekend from Wednesday to Sunday holed up in my apartment outlining. I did take Thanksgiving night off to eat dinner with some friends who also stayed around campus, but that was about it for breaks. Typically, these school-sponsored breaks also coincided with natural breaks in the material (i.e., you will be finished with a major section of K's or Con Law), and it is a great way to synthesize the material and get a handle on what you do and do not know. Not having a 5 day break before finals in the spring (like you have for Thanksgiving in Fall) sucks in terms of having free days to outline and get stuff done, so plan accordingly. Third, make a study schedule and stick to it. The semester is a grind, and if you have get in the habit of good study techniques, these habits will be hard to break. I have always said that both good and bad habits are hard to break, and if you get in the habit of making the most of the time that you have, things will work out more smoothly towards the end of the semester. --------------------------------------------------------------------------Topic 4: Supplements

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First, I'll tackle what I think were the two most helpful supplements for me during law school: (1) Cali lessons and (2) E&E's. #1 CALI LESSONS: To me, the Cali lessons are on par with LEEWS as a supplement that I feel was critical to my success in law school. And the best part: IT'S FREE! (I can't overestimate how clutch this is when you are dropping 60K per year for law school). (http://cali.org/) Your school librarian can provide you with the user password to access Cali, and, at least at my school, they also handed out CD's with all the lessons on them. There will be a lesson for most of the material you will go over in all your foundational classes, and the lessons usually range in length from 15 minutes to 2 hours. Most lessons are about 30 minutes long and are perfect to do when you have that pesky 45 minute break between classes. WHY CALI ROCKS: I know I sound like a broken record, but when you get ZERO feedback on your progress in law school, the Cali lessons are a great way to figure out if you are learning the black letter law and are able to apply it to hypotheticals. Every question not only tells you whether you got it right or wrong, but it also provides an explanation (varying in detail) on why you got the question right or wrong. Cali cites numerous cases that you will read in class, and it also cites the Restatements for torts and K's. It is mostly comprised of multiple choice and true/false questions, but there are some short essay questions to practice for exams. I only had two classes where I had multiple choice on the final, but I used Cali lessons in all my classes. I have also lifted entire paragraphs out of the Cali lessons and dropped them into my final exam outlines. WHY CALI MIGHT NOT WORK FOR YOU: The only downside to Cali lessons is that the lessons almost always cover more material on a topic than your professor will in class (and that you would be expected to know on an exam). Every teacher approaches subjects in a different manner, but, in my own experience, I was able to recognize what we did and did not go over in class and adjust accordingly. The other drawback is that your professor and the professors who write the Cali lessons will often use different terminology (for example, this happened in my property class for the estates and future interests portion of the class). When there is any conflict, ALWAYS USE THE TERMINOLOGY THAT YOUR PROFESSOR USES! This can't be stressed enough. VERDICT: Go through these as the semester progresses to test yourself on the topics. Don't leave them all until the end (although they are great for exam review). Two enthusiastic thumbs up from me. --------------------------------------------------------------------------#2 EXAMPLES AND EXPLANATIONS: Everyone will lug these around in law school, and maybe half will crack them at some point. Most people make the mistake of waiting until the end of the year to buy supplements as "exam cram," but I found them more useful to read through as the semester went on. Buy used copies, except for Con Law (which weren't all that great and you might not even need to buy them if you have the Chemerinsky text) and Civ Pro (at least 2007/08 version since I think the FRCP were modified in Dec. 2007, but you might want to check that). WHY E&E'S ROCK: Similar to the Cali lessons, E&E's are great because they have hypos and detailed explanations of the correct answers. Again, you will need to rely on yourself throughout 1L to gauge your own progress, and the E&E's were great for doing this. I found that it was best to at least outline a rough answer to each hypothetical presented, but I will admit that with the time crunch, I rarely wrote out complete answers to the questions. If I had to rank the E&E's from most useful to least useful, I would go (1a) Torts; (1b) Civ Pro; (2) Contracts; (3) Property; (4) Crim Law; (5) Con Law. I liked to read through them before doing my assigned casebook readings and then try and do the problems once I finished reading the supplement and my assigned reading (not always possible to do but at least it was an aspirational goal). Also, there is usually a table to cases in the index of the book, so if you focused on one major case, look it up in the index and find the corresponding section in the E&E so you hit on what is covered in class. WHY E&E'S MIGHT NOT WORK FOR YOU: The answers to the hypos range from treatises (See Blum's Contracts E&E) to only marginally useful (See Property & Crim Law). Blum's E&E took forever to read through since he usually provided ridiculously detailed explanations of his answers, while the Property and Crim Law were succinct and to the point (which was good and bad). I really didn't have many qualms with the E&E's other than the fact that I bought Con Law ones new, setting me back about 80 bucks for both books. Also, as with the Cali lessons, be aware of different terminology that your professors might use.

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VERDICT: I've heard anecdotally of people reading the E&E for Civ Pro, working through all the examples, never cracking a case book and acing the class. These are pretty standard supplements for most law students, but most people fail to actually go through the Q&A at the end of each section. If you can get them for cheap online (Half.com, Amazon.com), they are well worth the price. --------------I found that the most helpful supplements were Cali and E&E's because you could get instant feedback on your grasp of the material. Keep in mind that law school exam success requires you to go through a 2 step process: Learn the black letter law Apply it to a fact pattern. Most people stop at (1) and don't learn how to apply it to new situations, and that is why these supplements worked for me. They challenged me to apply the BLL to new fact situations and figure out what was applicable and why. --------------------------------------------------------------------------Topic 5: Commercial Outlines #1 CRUNCHTIME WHY CRUNCHTIME ROCKS: I used the Crunchtime outlines by Emmanuels in nearly every class, and I found them superior to the larger commercial outlines. The larger Gilbert's/Emmanuels outlines were too cumbersome, and it was difficult to find information that I needed. The larger commercial outlines go way more in depth than what you will cover in the foundational 1L classes, and the Crunchtime outlines present a more concise and easier to navigate supplement (at least in terms of commercial outlines). I also loved the charts in each Crunchtime that walked you through the best way to analyze certain exam questions that you are certain to see (parol evidence in K's, equal protection in Con Law, etc.). There were also short hypos in the book and "exam tips" (which are also in the larger outlines) that I always went over the night before exams. They were helpful in refreshing your memory about the entire body of law that you will have crammed in your head. WHAT CRUNCHTIME MAY LACK: The book skims on some areas of law and sacrifices some of the depth of the larger commercial outline. However, I think that coverage (or lack thereof) was not detrimental, at least in the classes that I took. The book still covered pretty much everything that I covered in my classes (with a few exceptions of course) VERDICT: Buy them used since they are too expensive to purchase new. Solid supplement all around. --------------------------------------------------------------------------#2 GLANNON GUIDES I used the Glannon guides in both Civ Pro (thumbs up) and in Property (another thumbs up, although it was not written by Glannon). I believe these books are also available for Criminal Law, Torts, Secured Transactions, and Bankruptcy. WHY GLANNON ROCKS: The format is similar to an E&E in that each chapter presents a summary of the body of law in a certain area (i.e., Easements, Future Interests, Joinder) and tests your knowledge with multiple choice questions. There are no essay questions in this book, as they are all multiple choice. It is a great way to test your knowledge of the body of law, and each multiple choice questions contains a detailed description of why each answer was right or wrong. I used this book in Civ Pro (where I had multiple choice on my final) and in Property (which was all essay) and found the books helpful in each class. WHAT GLANNON MAY LACK: If you don't have multiple choice questions on your final exam, you might not find these as useful. They can be somewhat overkill if you already have the E&E's and work through the Cali lessons (since the Cali lessons are similar with testing your BLL knowledge via multiple choice).

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VERDICT: I found these books useful, but they might be overkill. Not indispensable, but definitely not worthless. You'll need to get a post-2007 version for Glannon (FRCP rule change), but the old property one will do just fine. --------------------------------------------------------------------------#3: UNDERSTANDING SERIES I only used this book in Property but found that it was a good hornbook (if you can call it that). WHY UNDERSTANDING ROCKS: The book addresses most of the major cases for the different areas of property law (I found it helpful for the Con Law cases on takings, which really confused me). It also gave a concise treatment to the different theories of property (helpful if you have a policy question on the final exam). It was a pretty easy read, too. WHAT UNDERSTANDING SERIES MAY LACK: There are no questions to test yourself on the doctrine (and feedback is key when you use supplements). Thus, there was no way to test yourself on the black letter law. However, if you already do the CALI lessons and some of the other supplements, this might be a non-issue. I also purchased this book for Civ Pro, but gave up because I didn't like the length and preferred Glannon. VERDICT: Good way to brush up on some of the doctrine, good for property, not sure about any other class. I got my book for around 3 dollars on half.com, so it is a cheap supplement to track down. --------------------------------------------------------------------------#4 THE REST OF THE SUPPLEMENTS Q&A: Only purchased for Con Law but LOVED this supplement. It gave great explanations for the questions, but I didn't use them in any other class. It cost only about $25 new and was a panic purchase toward the ends of the semester. Verdict - useful in Con Law, jury is out on the other classes. Chemerinsky [CON LAW]: If you don't have this book for Con Law, you are making a terrible life choice. Everyone seems to know this book is solid and has it. I could have not purchased my casebook and I would have been fine reading this book. Use the table of cases in the back of the book to find the corresponding cases you are covering in class. Verdict You MUST by this book, in my opinion. Its great at breaking down all the confusing SCOTUS opinions and laying out the doctrine for each area of law. Chirelstein [K's]: Many people had it, but I didnt find it too helpful. I gave up on it halfway through the semester. Verdic t Other people swear by this book, but purchase it at your own risk. I liked the Blum E&E better. Law in a Flash: I only bought these in property, and they were great for testing myself on the BLL. They are broken down by subject area (easements, takings, adverse possession, etc.), so you can set out each one and go through it as you tackle the subject in class. I can't speak to the usefulness in other classes, but for me, they were great to go over in between classes (when I had 30-45 minute breaks). Verdict - Get them used for cheap if you feel that the Cali lessons aren't making things clear for you. --------------------------------------------------------------------------Topic 6: Random 1L Advice (1) FIND TIME TO WORK OUT/PARTICIPATE IN AN ATHLETIC ACTIVITY It is no secret that 1L takes up a huge chunk of time (at least for me it did). And it's no secret that generally, when things get crunched for time, working out is usually the first thing to go. But I would urge everyone to schedule time during each week to workout/run/play hoops or just do something to stay in shape. The first year of law school is a grind. It will wear you down physically and mentally. But staying in shape and working out can actually pay dividends during finals week. When other classmates you have might be fading, you might be able to

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keep up your work level and maintain a high level of focus. Personally. I tried to work out 4 times per week leading up to finals, and then when finals week rolled around, I would try to fit in workouts after my finals to relieve the stress. It is an approach that I think worked well for me. It doesn't matter if it is lifting weights, running, or just walking around campus, but do something physical. I've found that even if I am tired, working out will actually give me more energy than I would have had if I had not worked out. I had multiple classmates who put on 15-20 pounds during 1L, generally looked and felt awful, and (at least from my view) were tired and unable to function at their best once finals rolled around. It sounds like something simple and stupid, but I truly think that working out regularly can give you a slight edge over the entire course of the 1L year. Like I've said before, habits (whether good or bad) are tough to break, and if you get in the habit of working out, it can, and will, pay off. (2) WRITE DOWN YOUR GOALS FOR 1L AND POST THEM SOMEWHERE THAT YOU CAN READ THEM EVERYDAY So this suggestion might sound stupid/hokey/ridiculous, but it is something that I did when I played sports in college. Before each season, I would sit down and write out 5-10 personal goals that I wanted to achieve and then post them in my locker. Seeing those goals each day kept me focused and motivated, particularly on the days that I didn't feel like giving my best effort. Moreover, I think writing down your goals forces you to articulate what it is you want to accomplish during 1L. Do you want to make law review? Put it down on the list. Do you want to be above the curve in each class? Put it on the list. Do you want to be prepared for each class? Put it on the list. Putting something in writing and forcing yourself to look at everyday is a reminder of why you are in law school and what you need to do in order to get to where you want to be. There are a couple caveats with writing down your goals. First, you need a mixture of goals that can be somewhat easily accomplished (such as being prepared for each class), some medium goals (having outlining done before the last week of class), and difficult goals (making law review or transferring). If you choose goals that are too difficult to achieve (such as getting the highest grade in every 1L class or finishing at the top of you 1L class), it will only cause stress and anxiety. I did this once in college and it hurt my performance. I set an individual goal that was much too difficult to reach, and everyday I had to read that goal, it made me think about how hard it was to do. In turn, I preformed at a much lower level. On the other hand, make sure that your goals are not too easy to achieve. You need to have the goal list as a reminder to push yourself everyday, and if you make your goals too easy, it will defeat the purpose of writing them down in the first place. Truthfully, I can't tell you what you goals you want to achieve during 1L. It might be something like getting on law review, or it might be something like getting elected as SBA rep. Both are great goals. Both are somewhat difficult to achieve. Different people have different goals. Whatever your goals might be, I think it is important to take some time before the school year starts and write them down. It will force you yo think about why the heck you are about to put yourself through 1L. And who knows, you might end up like me and totally exceed your goals. It is a good feeling. Trust me. Your success in law school is the first and most important factor in your success as a lawyer. Whether you want to be a corporate lawyer or a public defender, you are much more likely to achieve your goals if you do well in law school. Law students with top grades earn top salaries in their first year out of school. Even if money is not a concern (and as tuition debt mounts, it might become one), your academic performance will profoundly affect your employment options after graduation. Only law students with great grades have opportunities to obtain coveted judicial clerkships, teaching positions and government jobs. Here are some strategies that will help you succeed... Prepare before you arrive Law school is rigorous. It requires a level of diligence and organization that was not necessary in college. A reliable routine for classroom preparation and a consistent method of outlining are very important to navigate the massive workload you will encounter. Hit the ground running

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Your first year of law school is critical. Law firms generally hire summer associates at the beginning of their second year of law school, when only first-year grades are available. First-year grades will also heavily influence your eligibility for law review, other law journals and moot court. These credentials are considered the most significant signs of law school achievement, even more than your GPA in many cases. Many of the top private and public employers seek out young lawyers who've served on law journals or excelled in moot court. It's the exams, stupid Academic success in law school means one thingsuccess on exams. Your grades, particularly during the first year, will be determined almost exclusively by the scores you receive on your final exams. Most exams are a three- or four-hour written test given at the end of the semester. The amount of material you must master for each law exam will dwarf that of any exam you took as an undergraduate. You will not be able to cram a semester's worth of information into a one-week reading period, so you should prepare for your final exams beginning on day one. Don't get bogged down in class preparation if it will not result in some discernible improvement in your exam performance. Don't forget class time Your first law school class can be an intimidating and frustrating experience. They will get easier once you get a few under your belt. It's important to go to every class and be prepared to discuss the reading material. If you skip class, you'll miss hearing the professor's perspective (which will probably be on the final exam). Don't write down what other students say in class there's only one person who's being paid to be there. Finally, you'll study hundreds of cases, so don't get bogged down in minutiae. Keep your eye on the big picture!