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What Incoming Law Students Want and Need To Know:
I've been thinking it might be helpful to write up a guide for incoming law students that answers some of the common questions shared by new law students about law school and legal education. There's a cottage industry specializing in such advice, I realize. Incoming law students are famously obsessed with getting any edge they can, and authors and book publishers are happy to exploit those fears with all sorts of advice books (some of which are moderately helpful; others of which are pretty lame).

  My sense is that I could do better than the current offerings in three ways. First, I think I can capture the best sense of things from the collective knowledge of actual law professors and practicing lawyers, instead of from the sometimes idiosyncratic perspective of individual authors. A number of the books reflect a I-made-law-review-when-I-did-this-in-1972 mentality, and it's hard for incoming students to know whether the approach will work for them, too. Second, I think I would have a distinct advantage on price: my plan is to keep the guide short and put it on the web for free, probably pursuant to a creative commons license. Finally, while far brighter minds than mine have tried their hand at this genre, the best product is rather outdated and a bit hard for today's law students to use effectively.

  So here's where I need your help: What do incoming law students want to know? What are your questions? I assume one big question is how to do well academically, and that you also want to know how to prepare for class, how to study for exams, how (if at all) to prepare the summer before law school, and the like. But what else is there? Please leave comments, and I'll leave the comment thread open for a while. Thanks for participating.

  UPDATE: Just to be clear, I am seeking input on the questions students want answered, rather than advice on what readers think the answers are. Sorry for the confusion.
Tulkinghorn:
I would say that students need to realize and accept that they are entrepreneurs. Whether they are going to work for a large firm, small firm, solo or for some branch of the government, they will be fundamentally business-persons living on a portfolio of expertise.

The more exposure they get to a range of work experience, the happier they will be with their decisions when they graduate, even if the range of decisions is limited by finances and academic success.

Too many law school graduates are miserable with the careers they end up in. If this is made clear very early on, more students will take charge of creating the right opportunities for themselves.
5.22.2005 9:09pm
Thomas:
Susan Estrich has just published a book which deals with getting into law school and how to succeed once you enroll. I cannot remember the title. But it should be on the web somewhere.
5.22.2005 9:32pm
Kathleen:
My questions prior to starting school:
(1) Should I do anything to prepare for school prior to the first assignments?
(2) Law school appeared to have a fairly entrenched system of education - was there anything that could help me understand the system so, once school started, I could focus on the substance of what I needed to learn?

The most useful advice I received on the above questions:
(1) No. Law school is enough of a grind that you should spend the time leading up to school enjoying the summer and spending precious free time with family and friends. (Although I would modify this advice for people who have weak writing skills. Summer writing programs are helpful for many students and bolster their confidence going into legal writing classes and exams.)
(2) "Getting to Maybe" by Fischl and Paul. You can read about the substance of their book elsewhere but for me it explained the thinking skills professors are trying to teach law students.
5.22.2005 10:22pm
Andy:
This is excellent news for those of us about to begin our legal education. One small request: please don't make the assumption (as so many of the current books do) that the incoming class are all fresh from their undergraduate degrees. More and more of us have allowed a decade or two of life to intervene!
5.22.2005 10:23pm
Kevin Brown (mail):
Thanks for the opportunity to add 2 cents. I'll be a 1L either this year or next.

I've heard plenty about the academic system and "getting the edge," but for those of us who don't like being edgy - I'd be interested in hearing what kinds of networking are possible (and desirable), that would be useful later in a career. Thanks.
5.22.2005 10:30pm
Aleks (mail) (www):
As a prospective law student, I have got a few questions.

What should one do in a law school to obtain a successful and fulfilling career post graduation? What organizations, experiences and other things would you recommend for a law school experience so that a law school graduate could present himself as a well-rounded boon for a potential employer? How do you decide what area of law you should specialize? What would it depend on? Personal interest? Certain skills?

Of course, there are academic questions as well. But I think a successful undergratuate who learned his learning skills should not have problems at a law school. But maybe, I am completely mistaken.

For me, education is an investment. So the logical question is: what is the best way to make the most return on my investment?
5.22.2005 10:30pm
anonymous (mail):
As a student who just finished his first year, and actually should be working on his write on right this minute, I would say I can look back at a couple 'I wish I knew' things. The first is I wish that I prepared for legal writing. Legal Writing is pretty unique and I wish that I had read a book or two on the subject before being thrown into it in law school. Secondly, I wish I started my job search earlier. I ended up landing a summer job that I think I will enjoy and will be very helpful in the future, but I wish I started browsing through the career center in the first semester to check out deadlines and start scheduling my job search. Lastly I wish that I wouldn't have read some of the books about law school that I did. For me it hasn't been this impossible struggle that many make it out to be. If you are diligent and hard working, then there shouldn't be too much of a problem. I think those that have been in the working world have a slight advantage because they are used to the 9-5 schedule and those of us coming straight out of college are still used to tons of freetime and not having to hit the books EVERY night.
5.22.2005 10:51pm
Hanah Volokh (mail) (www):
As an incoming 1L, I'm interested in the issue of prestige versus substance. There are some very presitgious things you can do during law school, e.g. law review, that some people say are not worth the hype. Which things are worth it and which aren't? What issues are important to consider when deciding whether something will actually be helpful?
5.22.2005 11:01pm
Stephen Aslett (mail):
If you really want to do a bang-up job, read either Robert Miller's Law School Confidential or Atticus Falcon's Planet Law School II. That should give you an idea of what you're competing against.

Both books answer all the common questions pre-1Ls ask (and then some). For my money, PLS II is far more helpful than LSC (I took its advice pre-law school and continue to do so), though you may be put off by the author's critique of law school education in general. He has some harsh words for the professoriate.

For now, here's a few common topics I can think of off the top of my head:

1) How will law school affect my marriage or long-term relationship with my SO? (Alternatively, how will law school affect my social life?)

2) How does the job hunt work while I'm in law school? What sort of summer jobs are out there and how does one go about getting the good ones?

3) I'm thinking about getting a joint degree (JD/MD, JD/Ph.D, JD/MBA). Is it worth it? (Alternatively, I'm thinking about eventually getting an L.L.M. or S.J.D. Is it worth it?)

4) What classes should I take?
5.22.2005 11:17pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
There are many different ways up the mountain -- the mountain, of course, being law school -- and each really has to experiment and find what works best for him or her.

Don't buy into the line that: "This" is what you have to do; whatever "this" may be. For instance, I went through many classes where I didn't do any, literally none of the reading for classes and still did well (like B+ or A-; and I'm speaking of classes that had a grade curve between 2.85-3.00). In my case, I found it helpful to attend every class and pay absolute attention to everything the teacher said; take down everything she said like you are a stenographer in Court. And then type up your class notes into an outline and memorize the outline. If you do that, you don't have to prepare at all and can still ace each class.
5.22.2005 11:32pm
Todd Kincannon (mail):
I just finished my 1L year. I bought several books in the "law school advice" genre. The most helpful were Law 101 by Jay M. Feinman, Acing Your First Year of Law School by Shana and Henry Noyes, and Academic Legal Writing by Prof. Volokh.

Law 101 was extremely helpful because it introduced me to many basic legal concepts and gave me a tremendous advantage upon walking into the school. The worst advice ever given to incoming 1Ls (and my apologies to my fellow commenters who have given this advice) is "Don't worry about reading anything before you start school." I frankly wish I'd spent my pre-1L summer studying more law than I did.

Having a basic understanding of concepts like estoppel and consideration and proximate causation before you walk in the law school building puts you well ahead of the game. It makes class time more profitable, because you can focus on trying to understand the concepts the professor is communicating without bogging yourself down with thoughts like "What the heck is summary judgment?"

Plus, the more you know before you start, the more you can goof off in school and still get good grades. Having a little extra goofing off time during your 1L year will help you keep your sanity and enhance your quality of life dramatically. So I would strongly suggest encouraging students to start learning some law as soon as they decide they want to go to law school.

Another suggestion would be to tell students that it's perfectly ok to use commercial study guides. I used Gilberts to learn the rules and Examples and Explanations to practice issue spotting. The notion that using such things will cause you to be unable to analyze issues on an exam is ludicrous, in my opinion. Before you even get to analysis you have to spot the issue and state the rule. Examples and Explanations help with the former, Gilberts help with the latter.

The final piece of advice I would give would be on this question of analysis. What is "analysis?" The best answer I can give 1L is to explain as well as you can why the rule you stated should apply to the facts of the case and why it should not apply to the facts of the case. Cover all your bases, and don't assume that anything is self-evident (for instance, if the rule deals with "automobiles" and the guy in the problem owns a truck, state that a truck is likely an "automobile" per the rule).
5.23.2005 12:21am
Unlearned Hand (mail) (www):
I just finished my 1L year too and would enjoy sharing some suggestions for those about to enter law school.

While I agree with the suggestions Todd Kincannon made, I would like to add to them. Before that, however, I read a suggestion from another first-year veteran I think worthy of passing on. Ask around about the most useful, most common commercial supplements and consider getting them the summer before you enter and read them. The students suggested that if he knew, he would’ve read Glannon’s Civil Procedure prior to entering. It would’ve primed his mind for first year civil procedure class. If I could remember where I read this suggestion, I would give attribution.

The summer before entering law school, my school’s admissions department was kind enough to send me a copy of An Introduction to Legal Reasoning, by Edwards H. Levi [ISBN 0226474089]. It centered on what is meant by legal reasoning and how to do it, which was a help. Unfortunately, it did not give much help in the way of what to expect once I entered law school. To any prospective student, I would suggest they consider reading this book sometime before they begin their law school career.

1. Start outlining early. I kept my case briefs and notes in one document, which were separated by chapter. While this method may prove unruly for some, I managed to keep it organized (by color coding). These documents served me well when building an outline.

2. Start looking at/taking practice tests early. Many of my professors either distributed (via e-mail) or filed their old exams with the school’s reserve reading sometimes. Find out whether you professors have done, or will do, something similar. If so, get hold of these tests early on and get acquainted with the questions. While you may not necessarily be able to answer the questions—especially if you look at these tests too early on—you will be prepared to look for those tested concepts in the cases you read and the information your professor relays. If you have the benefit of several years of your professors’ exams, reviewing them may give you some indication of what sorts of questions routinely appear on exams. You may see that your civil procedure professor can mask a personal jurisdiction—you will soon find out what this is if you don’t already know—in so many ways.

As a result, I was able to make “plan of attacks” or specific ways to handle certain questions, which I knew would appear on my finals. In addition to outlining the entire course, I would suggest this method of finals preparation for use closer to finals.

3. Be prepared, but don’t forget big picture. I suggest that first year students never loose sight of the “big picture.” I failed to do this in my classes when I became concerned with the minutiae of the cases we covered on a daily basis. Of course, if you have a professor or are in the sort of class where remembering cases is of integral importance, being prepared every day is necessary. While I might’ve been among the best prepared day-to-day, I wished I had seen how the cases we were covering were trying to put forth a rule. Certain commercial supplements help towards this end.

4. Make a schedule. I did. While I did not always keep to it, my separation from it was easily noticeable to me, which served oftentimes as motivation to get back to sticking to it. An upperclassman suggested to me that I treat my day like a workday. Notwithstanding classes, decide how many hours a day you should study and distribute those hours throughout the day, interspersed with break and mealtimes. I managed to take one day a week off (but never entirely), and a few nights a week, which usually meant after nine o’clock. Even my most studious classmates managed some similar arrangements.

5. Strive to be the best, but be prepared to not be. One of my fiercest battles of my fist year was with myself. I did well as an undergraduate—as did most, if not all, of your peers you will soon see—and figured this would carry over into law school. While it might, it’s not guaranteed. The atmosphere is different, and material is different too. Your successful undergraduate career is what landed you in law school, except it doesn’t necessarily determine how well you will do as a law school student.

I hope my suggestions help those discerning their way into law school.
5.23.2005 2:51am
Michael Sarabia (mail):
-A no-fluff list of books that would provide an adequate grounding in legal concepts would be great; there's so many choices as far as hornbooks, guides and other text, but which ones can be best utilized?

-What can I do to prepare my wife for my new law school lifestyle--should a plan of attack be laid out beforehand, or should I not have such expectations going in?

-If still undecided after my first year as to what kind of law I want to practice, what's the best, general type of internship/summer law job to obtain that will look good on my resume after my 3rd year, no matter where I apply? Is there such a thing?

-Should a 1L worry about self-initiating summer-job interviews, or do law school's career services offices do a pretty good job of that for them?

Thanks!
5.23.2005 3:50am
NickBlesch (mail) (www):
I am an incoming 1L, and one thing that I found (or rather, still generally find) quite confusing is the Bar Exam.

My girlfriend (also an incoming 1L) found a somewhat useful book that explained some things about how the bar works - for example, what if I want to practice in a state other than that in which I attended law school? - but the whole thing is still pretty hazy to us. I know that the bar is three long years away, but I'd like to know something going into this.
5.23.2005 5:04am
Public Defender:
Question: What classes will help me most in practice?

Answer: The ones with the professors who make you think, and the ones that teach you something you wouldn't learn elsewhere.

I'm a public defender, but my most useful classes were civil procedure, insurance law, commercial transactions, corporate law, and property. Why? Because the professors made me think. For example, the sense of strategy and fairplay I learned in civil procedure is far more useful than my criminal procedure classes (taught by hornbook/case book authors) ever were.

You have a lifetime to specialize. You have only three years to get a broad understanding of the law.

Other Questions:

How do I prepare for a career in public service? (Answer, see answer above, plus do public service while at law school.)
How important are grades?
How much studying is enough?

Other question that is not asked often enough:

How will my actions in law school affect my reputation as a practicing lawyer? (Answer: More than you'd think.)
5.23.2005 8:51am
Aultimur:
1. How much class preparation is enough?
2. Why should/shouldn't I use commercial outline?
3. Am I measured against the other students in my school/year or an external standard?
4. What's the benefit of choosing "bar" v. fluff v. personally interesting classes?
5. What undergrad classes are most like each of law school lecture, seminar and legal reasearch &writing?
6. What's this law review thing?
5.23.2005 10:08am
ScottMagee (mail):
I am graduating from law school this week, so this post is forcing me to think back three years, but I'll do my best.

First, I would like to respectfully dissent from those people who have advocated reading about law or from hornbooks or so on the summer before law school. It is absolutely unnecessary in my view because you'll have plenty of time to do that in school.

Second, here are a couple questions I remember thinking when I started law school, followed by what I found to be the best answers for me in italics.

1. What are outlines? I know this sounds rudimentary, but I started hearing everyone talk about outlines really early and didn't know what they were. For me, outlining early would have been a waste. Preparing my outlines just a week or two before the exams helped me review all of my notes and distill out the most important parts.

2. What is law review? How important is it? How do you get on law review? Of course each school has a slightly different way of choosing law review members, but grades and a writing competition seem to be it. Law review is of course good on a resume, but beyond that, it means more to some people than others. For those interested in someday clerking, going into academia, or with a desire to be on the judiciary, it can be more important than for others. My equivocal answer is that it varies from person to person, depending on what your goals and interests are.

3. Am I studying enough? How much is enough? Is there such a thing as too much? In many ways I felt like I studied less than most of my classmates. I was very efficient with my time though. Having worked a 9-5 job before school rather than coming straight from undergrad had me used to that schedule, so I studied on that schedule. While many of my classmates were wasting time between classes, I would use it. That way, I could go home to be with my wife at night. How much you need to study all depends on aptitude. Some people get it faster. Some are faster readers. Just don't gauge your study habits on the basis of others.

4. Should I find a study group? How do I pick the right people? Some people like them. I don't. I work better on my own. Study groups are a cliche law school experience though, so most incoming 1L's would probably like to know about their usefulness.

5. How do I do well on exams? Go to class regularly. Getting notes from other people don't do the classes justice. Check the library to see if the professor puts past years' exams on reserve. Use them to study, and you will be a rock star.

6. What classes should I take my 2L and 3L year? Ask other students who the best professors are. Good professors, in any subject, will engage you and make you interested in the subject. I will be a litigator at a large firm doing all civil litigation, but one of my best classes was Crim Law, which I took only because of the professor's reputation. It was worth it.

7. What do I need to know about the bar exam my first year? Absolutely nothing. That's what Barbri is for after you graduate.

I hope this helps.
5.23.2005 10:22am
adam (mail) (www):
Other questions that, in restrospect, I'd have loved to have asked and known the answers to:

1. How important are my first year grades, exactly?
2. Are there ways I can use my JD other than practicing at these big firms that are coming to campus?
3. What's a "gunner"? When is it okay to be one?
4. When professors say that they welcome students to come to their offices, do they mean that? What's an appropriate type of conversation to have with them? Will they think I'm an idiot?
5. Why do judicial clerkships matter?
5.23.2005 10:52am
Sean (mail):
1. What commercial outlines would you recommend? Should you make your own outlines?
2. Advice about on-campus interviews.
3. Advice on legal analysis.
4. What is "substantive due process?"
5.23.2005 11:12am
Goober (mail):
The things I wanted to know:

1) How should I prepare for getting called on in class, and what is the professor trying to do with the Socratic method?
2) How should I prepare for exams, and what's the professor trying to guage with them?
3) Does the first year really determine the rest of your life / what does it take to get a job after law school?
5.23.2005 11:59am
Honest Abe (mail):
I read in an article out of UCLA that the most common method of taking notes was less effective than not taking notes at all.

I'd like to know: what are the methods of taking notes and how well do the various methods work and how to I fix my method if it is wrong or bad? That seems critical to me and isn't in any of the prepare for law school books.
5.23.2005 12:11pm
Dustin (mail):
1. I speak Russian from minoring in college + 7 years of full-time work in Russia and Central Asia. I desperately want to get back overseas after finishing law school (will be 1L this Fall). What classes/emphasis can a student pursue to complement an international background?

2. What materials are best for learning legal writing?
5.23.2005 12:12pm
Dave! (mail) (www):
These are the questions I would have liked answered when I was starting school:

1. Readings for the summer before.
2. How to read a case.
3. How to prepare for class.
4. Different methods of outlining.
5. How to prepare for exams.
6. How legal writing is not like typical academic writing/
How legal writing is like typical academic writing.

Honestly, though, another "view from the top" isn't what I would have wanted... advice from professors is great, and I'm sure you have great advice to give; however, advice from the *student* perspective would have been more valuable (to me) than many of the books written by people who are, well, frankly a little distant from the reality of being on the student side of the game.
5.23.2005 12:15pm
JamesT:
What, exactly should be my daily dose of psychotropic
drugs during my first year? And how do I choose the one right for me, such as clozapine, trazodone, paroxetine, chlorpromazine, buspirone or olanzapine? Will the muscle twitches induced by chlorpromazine affect my note taking? Should I use water resistent ink to counteract the constant drooling induced by some psychotropic medications? Pills, liquid or injection? Or should I avoid them alltogether and allow the voices in my head to conduct their own socratic dialouge?
5.23.2005 12:25pm
Señor Limpio:
1. What questions should I ask of each case as I prepare for class?
2. Do classmates ever have anything useful to add in classroom discussion? Should I write it down when they speak?
3. How early should I start looking for employment the summer after my 1L year?
4. What are some good resources for learning about the different areas of law practice? How do I decide what type of law to focus on?
5. How seriously should a student take a law prof's encouragement to disagree with her in class?
6. What ratio should I use as a rule of thumb for class preparation?
7. Is it better to start outlining early or late in the semester?
8. Does caffeinated soap really work?
5.23.2005 12:59pm
schlereth (mail):
why do some really smart lawyers fail to have great careers while some others do ( ie: what makes for a great career above and beyond just knowing the law )
5.23.2005 1:18pm
Jim Walsh (mail) (www):
While many comments here mention the importance of distinguishing between legal and other types of academic writing, I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned legal research. As a librarian who teaches research skills to 1Ls, I can tell you that legal research is very different from other types of academic research. Many students come to law school believing they are master web researchers because they can use google, yahoo and the like. In fact, many free sources of legal information on the web are unreliable, e.g., out-of-date or incomplete. Most search engines do not index individual cases, statutes,or regulations. Incoming 1Ls will need to develop a critical eye for evaluating web-based legal resources.
Furthermore, many incoming 1Ls know they will get access to Lexis and Westlaw. They believe these electronic services will have everything they need for legal research. Yes, Lexis and Westlaw are both superb research services, fully laden with features and databases. However, some types of legal issues can be researched more efficiently using print sources. For example, I believe print codes are generally better than online sources for performing statutory research. Also, print West Digests are excellent for researching broader legal concepts in case law.
In sum, the legal research universe is composed of multiple formats and resource types. All incoming 1Ls should get to know their law school librarians. We love helping students learn how to find the law.
5.23.2005 1:37pm
Nermous (mail):
After getting rotten grades my first year in law school, I wanted to know what type of writing got points on an exam. As opposed to writing, like mine, that did not get points.
5.23.2005 1:54pm
Wallace Francis (mail) (www):
1.How do you choose who to listen to for advice and who to ignore?
2.What the the signs of a 'pontificator' who needs to be ignored because they are convinced they always have the answers? (see above posts)
3.Is there really a "technique" to writing or do you just have to learn the law?
4.Do you have to write differently for different professors?
5.Is a "glib" understanding better than a comprehensive in depth understanding of the law?
6.why are law students always posturing?

5.23.2005 2:11pm
Jonathan M (mail) (www):
I am an incoming law student.
1) I would like to know some key diffferences between American and Commonwealth law before studying anything.
2) I would like to know as much as possible about the Bar test so that knowledge I learn can be appropriated properly.
3) I would like to know, personally, what kinds of books are must-reads for someone like me, who hopes to take as many legal philosophy and jurisprudence-type classes as possible.
4) What do law professors generally look for in assignments/test answers?
5.23.2005 3:30pm
bengalgirl:
I just finished my first year. I was bombarded by advice as a 1L, so what comes to mind for me are all the things you SHOULDN'T be telling students, because we hear them over and over everywhere else:

1. DON'T write your guide as if your reader attends Yale. I've noticed that most advice seems tailored for those that least need it. Since 90% of law students are at public universities, regional schools, etc, please don't forget them.

2. SKIP most of the advice about *how* to study. The top students tend to just do what works for them, rather than what everyone else tells them to do. I've never touched a commercial supplement and I usually read the news rather than paying attention in class: I've been very successful with this technique -- but that doesn't mean I would recommend it to others; it just works for me.

3. DON'T go on about how difficult law school is b/c it gives the wrong impression. The substantive material isn't particularly difficult (it isn't quantum physics!) -- it's just the competition and quantity of reading that's hard.

4. DON'T say that a law degree is great for everyone. Keep in mind that a good 2/3 of law students are there because they didn't know what else to do, not because they have any burning desire to be lawyers. I've noticed that many professors seem overly positive about the merits of a law degree (a bit suspect for someone who escaped having to actually practice). IMO, it is absolutely NOT worth 50K and 3 years to get a law degree if one isn't going to ultimately achieve some sort of successful legal career.

5. DON'T be mysterious and refer to undefined "new ways of thinking" that one will acquire. I've surveyed my classmates and less than 1/4 feel that they've developed this supposed "new way of thinking". Yet we hear about it constantly. So try to avoid the whole "you won't really understand until you've been through it" thing, because I think that's absolutely false.
5.23.2005 3:43pm
Public Defender:
bengalgirl touches on a question no one else has asked:

When should I give up and try something other than law school?

For local law schools (well, for all law schools, but especially local law schools):

What can I do to make sure I'll be able to put up a shingle when I pass the bar? (networking, client development, office space, office management, etc.)
5.23.2005 4:23pm
Russianlawstudent (mail):
I am Russian and have a rather noticeable accent. Any advice you could offer to a foreign-educated J.D. student?
5.23.2005 5:52pm
Sean (mail):
I forgot one:
I think you should discuss a simple highlighting method for briefing in your textbook (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Facts, Claims, Dicta, Dissent, Etc.) That saves a bunch of time versus typing individual case briefs.
5.23.2005 6:26pm
Grace:
As an incoming law student I am interested mostly in tips on issue spotting, how to analyze the facts, how to answer questions well in class, etc. Thanks to Jim Walsh for bringing up the importance of legal research. I will probably be pestering law librarians all year long.

I also want to know how most law students take notes. Do a lot of them use software like StoreLaw? How helpful or necessary are such programs? Should I expect having to drastically change the way I take notes?
5.23.2005 7:57pm
SupremacyClaus (mail):
1. Begin by studying for the Bar. Buy bar review CD's on ebay, cheap. Listen to each 1L subject set of CD's 6 times. You will be shocked. It is another language. All of the education is learning medieval gibberish with no validity, in total violation of the Constitution, with lawyer cover up, for unjust enrichment, a euphemism for robbery at the point of a gun. All other sources of learning are harder. Some CD's have genuine entertainment value because the profs are real characters. Best is Fessler on Contracts, like a radio show comedy from 1940. Even if you only do that later, many lingering mysteries will be cleared in minutes.

2. Best advice heard so far, is the cynical, A students get professor jobs. B students are recruited by law firms to be associates. C students hire the B students.

3. You are an adult now. You need to attain your goals, not please nor impress others anymore.

4. This impresses me:

http://www.williegary.com/plane.html

I would like to know what he did in law school. Was he law review? How many fatuous, Ivy windbags have a 737?

5. The system is totally rigged and airtight to enhance lawyer thievin' from lawyer abuse victims. Learn it well. Enjoy it fast.
5.24.2005 12:43am
dw:
I would like something that takes an objective view at advice out there and that speaks to whether that advice is relevant to all law schools, or only specific ones. That is, the advice given for say, Stanford, might be different than that given for University of Washington... and it would be nice to know in what way it would differ.
5.24.2005 1:20am
hayesms73 (mail):
top 10 things i wish i had known....

as a newly-minted third-year at georgetown, here's what i wish i knew at the time (and if you want to contact me for the book, feel free):

1. grades matter more than anything for getting a job, etc. (see below)

2. the condom rule: i.e., ways to get around reading and briefing all the cases. i know, i know, this sounds bad. but it would have been nice to have a system whereby i could have balanced reading/briefing/using commercial outlines or the lexis/westlaw outlines that are free. in other words, a sort of if-you're-going-to-break the rules, do this. like if you're gonna have premarital sex, wear a condonm at least

3. outline early, as in at least the first month or so (just don't make them so detailed -- state one or two rules per case)

4. learn how to write legal arguments. i studied history and then theology/ethics before law school, and the legal genre (esp. of the law school exam) is so different that i think lawyer-types don't often realize it once they get acclimated.

5. don't stress out. the law is not rocket science; it's not even chinese.

6. take practice exams before the exams -- not so much to learn the material, but to learn how to time yourself when using outlines, writing, and trying to have it all make some sort of sense. (i tend to be a perfectionist when writing, a luxury that is fine when you just have one paper to write all semester at your leisure, but not on law exams).

7. the benfits of narrative outline-writing (where you sort of state the rules and anticipate issues): this tends to work out very well for me when coupled with a relatively short (5-10 page) summary outline. my As so far have all been in classes where i did this. the long 50 + page outlines tend to be too long to use during a exam (though they may have educational value).

8. about getting jobs: grades matter the most, forget community service B.S. and whatnot. there's plenty of time to help the poor. if you must, find one extracurricular activity -- and don't forget the gym to keep your mental health.

9. get to know at least one professor your first-year: talk to them after class a few times (but not just to talk, they see through that), and then email some afterward if you do well. it helps for getting recommendations, etc.

10. make friends in law school, esp. upper-classmen. they can help tell you who to take, who to avoid, etc. they are also more calm than first-years, so they help keep you balanced.

as for the other advice (e.g., how hard it is to date in law school) -- forget all that. you can do whatever you want, you just have to figure out how to make it all work out in tandem. but it can be done...
5.24.2005 2:53am
SupremacyClaus (mail):
James: When someone is put on trazodone, especially a male, the story of priapism and its management should be laid out. Failing that, there is a risk of a lawsuit. This is a niche practice for the consideration of the law student. Question I wish I had asked: Should I become a priapism specialist?

http://www.injuryboard.com/view.cfm/Topic=908

The psychotic law student challenges the faculty in questions of professional responsibility, and the rules mandating the reporting of impaired colleagues.

Best of luck to you. If you are passing law school classes, I admire your academic achievements, in the face of great adversity.
5.24.2005 3:08am
fresh out of undergrad:
1) What classes should we have taken by the time we finish lawschool, i.e., what kind of education should every good lawyer have?
2) How easy is it to lateral into government or other jobs after working for a large firm for a few years after graduation?
3) Clerkship vs. associateship (at a firm) for all specialties, or if that's even an issue.
5.24.2005 3:05pm
Honest Abe (mail):
There are lots of books on the subject.

One thing I'd like to know is how your advice differs and what you think of the other books out there:

link to advice books about law school

Which of these are good, which are dangerous which are just a waste of time?
5.24.2005 6:45pm