Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Advice for the new 1Ls in Lawschool @UM

1. Go to Dean’s Fellows. DFs are 2Ls or 3Ls who took your class last year or the year before and got an A. They’re not necessarily the smartest people in law school but they have figured it out. They know what it takes to succeed in law school and in most cases they mastered the way your prof teaches. I had 7 DFs last semester. Four were terrific. Two were fine. One was awful, but I still went because occasionally the DF would throw out a useful nugget. Use the DFs as a resource. They’re doing the DF job because they want to help you. Take advantage.
2. Don’t let Elements get you down. It is the bane of many 1L’s existence. Understand that you’re not supposed to really get it from the beginning. For most people, it starts to come together at the end. Don’t panic about Butler v. Wolf Sussman. Read it. Then read it again. Then one more time. Then don’t sweat it. It’s not supposed to make sense after one case. Elements is a process.
3. Eat at Subway as infrequently as possible. If you can avoid it, eat somewhere else or bring your lunch. You’ll end up eating plenty of meals at Subway and you’ll get sick of it soon so avoid it whenever possible.
4. Join lots of clubs and go to lots of lectures. Most serve pizza. That’s a free lunch.
5. If you start a blog, don’t use your real name. Use a pseudonym. Like Klio or Lawfool or Tortious intereference.
6. Don’t be a gunner. People hate gunners. There’s a clear line between being the guy who talks a lot because he answers the prof’s questions and the guy who has a “What if…” question and anecdote for every case and who argues constantly with the prof. Don’t be That Guy.
7. Start outlining early. It makes exam time more tolerable. But not too early. The point of outlining is to get a general overview of what’s important in the class. You can’t do that for at least a month, maybe six weeks or so.
8. Do not get stressed about the midterm exam. This school has an odd tradition: It gives all 1Ls one midterm – you’re randomly assigned to take it in one of your classes. You get written feedback from the prof, but no grade. The prof will never know who wrote it because you use blind grading numbers and they’re handed back with blind grading numbers. It’s a one-hour exam. It has no relation to real law school exams. It’s a waste of time, an exercise in frustration and nothing more than a reason to ruin a good weekend.
9. Don’t necessarily do what other people do. Law school is rough. People manage it in different ways. He goes out and gets hammered five nights a week. She never goes out and studies until 2 a.m. He never seems to study (but that’s because he gets up at 4 a.m. and does all his work before class). Whatever routine seems to work for you is fine. The problem is you’ll have no idea what works for you because you get no feedback until after the first semester. By the end of the semester you’ll have a sense of how much you know and how hard you need to work during exam time.
10. Carry an umbrella. It rains a lot in South Florida.
11. Ignore most advice (including the advice on this blog) and do whatever you think works for you. The first year of law school is no picnic for most people. But you’ll get through it. Although it’s tough, the purpose here is not to weed out people. (I’m not sure what the purpose of making it so grueling is, but I know the objective isn’t to weed you out; the school needs your money um, I mean wants to educate you.)

posted by some guy @ 4:16 PM

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