Monday, November 27, 2006

Real advice for 1Ls

Ah man, do I feel sorry for all you 1Ls. This is about the time where it's really kicking in. You start to realize what you've gotten yourself into just as the crushing weight of finals starts to descend. All you want to know is how to make it through exams, and all you get is lame advice like "just do what you did in undergrad, it got you here didn't it?" Well your boy M is here to give you the real lowdown. Just follow these simple steps.
  1. Chill out, this isn't the end of the world.
  2. Ok I lied, yes it is. If you're not stressed out something's wrong. These grades determine your future. You want to do all this for nothing?!
  3. Talk to your professors. I know they're scary, but often they have widely differing views of what they want on the exam.
    • Also, they will often say that they don't want you to just repeat what they've taught you. This is a lie. If your professor is a raving Marxist, so are you. Trust me, they've been convincing themselves they're right for years, you're not going to change their minds. Smarter people have tried. You are a parrot.
  4. Find a study partner. It should preferably be someone who is slightly smarter than you, and if you read this blog it shouldn't be easy. I promise, the best way to study is to go through the material with someone else, and ask a lot of questions. Your smart friend will get a better understanding by having to explain it all to you, and you can learn it all for the first time. Win - win.
  5. Buy commercial study guides. I prefer Emanuel's "Crunchtime", as it has only the very basic info, set out simply and clearly. Crap like "tort stories" and other books that give you background on cases and supposedly a "deeper understanding" of the cases are a waste of money.
  6. Make an outline. If it's over 50 pages it's too long, if it's under 20 it's too short. Modifying the one you got from your friend who took the course last year is FINE, no matter what anyone tells you. Most important is to have the information easily accessible.
  7. Learn the counter-arguments. The best way to analyze a fact pattern is to first make the strongest case you can for one side, then look at the other's side's counterarguments (making them as strong as you can), then go to your answers to the counterarguments, and so on. Lawyers can argue both sides.
    • if your first year exams aren't essay based, and consist only of multiple choice questions, get out now, you're not getting a job.
  8. Do practice exams. Do at least one of them in a timed environment- you'll be surprised how the time flies. Compare your answers with others, and argue about the differences in your answers.
  9. When you get to the exam don't just start writing. Do an answer outline first, and make it thorough. If you rush into it blindly you're going to realize half way through that you're way off base, and the panic will set in. Set aside at least 15% of the time for each question for outlining, preferably more.
  10. Finally, stop wasting your time reading law blogs, and don't take advice from people who write them.

3 Comments:

Blogger Durga said...

First year Law exams are multiple choice in the US? NO WAY!
I had 3hour problem based questions all the way.

11:44 AM  
Blogger M said...

Haha, my point was more that if you go to a school that gives you multiple choice exams as a 1L, your job prospects are not so hot, and you should consider getting out now.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until you have had a five hour exam--on the quarter system, please don't complain.

5:46 PM  

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