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Contents

Law School Survival Manual: From LSAT to Bar Exam

Bios

Acknowledgments

Introduction

CHAPTER 1:  BEFORE LAW SCHOOL BEGINS

1.1 The basics:  what you’ll need before you apply for admission to law school.

 1.1.1. The LSAT.

 1.1.2. Your grades.

 1.1.3. Your personal statement.

 1.1.4. Getting the most useful letters of recommendation.

 1.1.5. Other admissions issues.   [Criminal issues, etc.]

1.2 Choosing a law school.

 1.2.1.  Choosing a law school because you want to specialize in a particular area of law.

 1.2.2. Choosing a law school when you want to keep your options open.

 1.2.3. Choosing a law school when you have geographic restrictions.

 1.2.4. Choosing a law school when you have no idea why you want to go to law school. 

 1.2.5. Some thoughts about using the U.S. News & World Report rankings when choosing a law school. 

1.3 Two months before you arrive.

1.4. Know yourself.

 1.4.1. The typical law student personality. 

 1.4.2. Your personal learning style.

1.5. One month before you arrive.

1.6. A word about state bar admissions rules.

 1.6.1.   Generally.

 1.6.2. Character and fitness requirements. 

CHAPTER 2:  ORIENTATION – WELCOME TO LAW SCHOOL

2.1 Orientation:  An overview.

 2.1.1.  Orientation as high school redux?

 2.1.2. A taxonomy of law students.

 The “straight-through” students.

 Older students. 

 Students who come from a long line of lawyers or who have been paralegals before coming to law school. 

 Students who are the first in their famiies to go to law school. 

 Second-career students. 

 “Gunners.” 

 Quiet students. 

 Saboteurs.

 Braggarts. 

 Socially awkward students. 

 “Frat boys” and “sorority sisters.” 

 2.1.3. Orientation basics.

 The dean’s pep talk.

 The pep talk by the dean of students. 

 The pep talk from the Student Bar Association president.

 The introduction to the school’s honor code. 

 The financial aid lecture.

 The “demo” class. 

 An introduction to the career services dean. 

 An introduction to the academic support dean, if your school has one. 

 The pitch from student organization leaders. 

 The meeting with student mentors. 

 The getting-to-know-your-classmates mixer (and the first few weeks of getting to know them in class). 

 Upperclass law students. 

 2.1.4.  Do you need any disability accommodations?

2.2. A few introductory words about stress and law school. 

 2.2.1.  Surviving the stress.

2.2.1.1. Where does the stress come from? 

2.2.1.2. What should you do about the stress?  

2.2.1.3.  Keep a lifeline to the outside world.

2.3 Your checklist for law school.

2.3.1. Books that you should have.

2.3.2. Other things to have.

2.4. Be careful how much you borrow.

2.5 What if you want to do public interest work after you graduate?

CHAPTER 3:  SOME UNIVERSAL TRUTHS

3.1. Collegiality and etiquette.

 3.1.1. Help each other out.

 3.1.2. Don’t be an insufferable braggart.

 3.1.3. Have mercy on the awkward, the stressed, the cranky, and the shy.

3.2. Stereotypes (either on the “giving” or “receiving” end).

3.3. The care and feeding of romantic relationships.

3.4. Career-limiting moves that come with social networking and the Internet.

3.5. Nancy’s favorite story about miscommunication in emails.

3.6. Favorite law professor “games.”

3.7. FAQs. 

 3.7.1. Does it matter where I sit in class?

 3.7.2. If I really, really have to go to the bathroom during class, is it ok if I get up and leave?

 3.7.3. If my readings for class have footnotes, do I need to read the footnotes, too?

 3.7.4. Do I need to look up all of the cases, statutes, and other material mentioned in those footnotes and read those as well?

 3.7.5. What harm is there in surfing the web in class or IM’ing my friends if I’m bored?

 3.7.6. If I hate my law school, can I transfer after my first year?

 3.7.7. What if I want to live somewhere else after graduation other than where my law school is located?

CHAPTER 4:  THE FIRST TWO WEEKS

4.1 Managing the workload.

4.1.1  “Do I need to know this?”  Why law school is not like your undergraduate education.

4.1.2. A word about reading cases.

4.1.3. Reading statutes.

4.1.4. Highlighting (or how to increase the resale value of your used books).

4.1.5. How to use case briefs.

4.1.6. A typical week’s study schedule.

4.2.  The secret way to learn (real-life examples).

4.3.  Preparation before class.

4.4.  Notetaking during class.

4.5 The post-class “preparation” before outlining.

4.6.   Study groups versus going solo.

4.6.1. Forming a study group.

4.6.2. Study groups during finals.

4.7. An early warning about people trying to psych you out.

CHAPTER 5:  THE FIRST MONTH

5.1. Finding the right “advisors.”

5.2. Why outline now?

5.3. A better type of outline.

 5.3.1. The garden-variety outline, and why it’s worthless.

 5.3.2. A better outline.

  5.3.2.1. Option one:  an outline as a set of continuums (continuua?). 

  5.3.2.2. Option two:  an outline as a set of flowcharts.

  5.3.2.3. Option three:  an outline as a series of questions.

  5.3.2.4. Option four:  combine all of those other three options, depending on what type of material you’re covering. 

  5.3.2.5. Timelines.

5.4. What if you’re going to have a multiple-choice exam at the end of the semester or, worse yet, a closed-book exam?

5.5. Commercial outlines.

5.6. Hornbooks.

5.7. Test-drive your outline.

5.8. Student organizations—join now or wait?

5.9. Congratulations!  You’ve made it through your first month of law school!

CHAPTER 6:  SOME ADVICE ABOUT WRITING

6.1. You can become a better writer (and thinker) in law school.

 6.1.1. What if you’ve entered law school without already knowing the basic rules of grammar?

 6.1.2. You can’t trust computers to do your dirty work for you.

6.2. There is no worse crime in academia than plagiarism.

6.3. Nancy’s pet peeves.

 6.3.1. Passive voice.

 6.3.2. Unclear references. 

 6.3.3. Don’t use “impact” unless you’re discussing a collision. 

 6.3.4.  Know the difference between “that” and “which.” 

 6.3.5. Avoid lawyerese and wordiness/redundancy (e.g., “at a future point in time” instead of “later” or “in the future.”) 

 6.3.6. Subject/verb disagreement and noun/pronoun disagreement. 

 6.3.7.  Misused temporal words. 

6.3.8. You cannot make a singular noun plural by adding an apostrophe and an “s,” no matter how many times you try. 

6.3.9. On the subject of proofreading, please spell your professor’s name correctly on all papers.

CHAPTER 7:  PREPARING FOR EXAMS

7.1.   “Drill the skills”—using hypotheticals and old exams.

7.2. Working with classmates.

7.3.  The nitty-gritty:  how to take a law school exam.

7.3.1. Types of law school exams.

 7.3.2. The point of an essay exam.

 7.3.2.1.  What on earth is IRAC?

  7.3.2.2. Of the four elements of IRAC, which one counts the most?

 7.3.3. How to analyze an exam hypothetical.

7.3.3.1.  An example of a well-written question:  Paul Bateman’s burglary hypothetical.

  7.3.3.2.  One way to think about Professor Bateman’s hypo.

7.3.3.3.  Another way to view the Bateman Hypothetical:  The Beazley Approach

7.4. Other exam issues. 

 7.4.1. Time allocation.

 7.4.2. Red herrings in the hypos.

 7.4.3. Misreading a question.

 7.4.4. Failing to “read” what kind of answer your professors prefer.

 7.4.5. Freaking out or an unexpected crisis. 

7.5. Taking closed-book and multiple-choice exams.

7.6 Writing answers to short-answer questions or page-limited exams.

7.7. Some other great resources on how to take exams.

CHAPTER 8:  THE MARATHON ASPECT OF EXAMS

8.1. Sleep.  It’s good for you, so do it once in a while.

8.2. Exercise helps vent your stress and keep you calm.

8.3. Substance abuse problems.

8.4. The unexpected crisis.

8.5. Some pointers about clinical depression.

8.6. Collegiality – play especially nice with the other students during exams.

8.7.  Exam-time etiquette.

 8.7.1. Law school exams are like FIGHT CLUB.

 8.7.2. Law school exams are not as important as relationships.

CHAPTER 9:  FIRST-SEMESTER GRADES

9.1. First-semester grades:  the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 9.1.1. If your grades are uniformly good, uniformly mediocre, or uniformly bad.

 9.1.2. If your grades are all over the place.

 9.1.3. If you have one “outlier” grade.

9.2. Some advice no matter how your grades turned out.

 9.2.1. Grades have very little to do with your intelligence or your future abilities as a lawyer.

 9.2.2. Grades have a lot to do with short- and intermediate-term opportunities (law review, summer jobs).

  9.2.2.1. Taking advantage of good grades.

  9.2.2.2. Making the most of other parts of your resume if you don’t have the grades.

 9.2.3. Grades and law school etiquette.

 9.2.4. Grades and the second-semester doldrums.

 9.2.5. Get to know your professors, no matter how your grades turned out.

CHAPTER 10:  THE UPPER-CLASS CURRICULUM

10.1. Considerations as you’re choosing your upper-level courses.

 10.1.1. Your first-year class standing.

 10.1.2. Your interests.

 10.1.3. Your favorite professors.

 10.1.4. Subjects that are too ugly to learn on your own.

10.1.5. Your law school’s strengths.

 10.1.6. Prerequisites.

 10.1.7. A short list of courses that Jeff and Nancy believe to be exceptionally useful.

10.1.8. Classes you might want to consider if you’re planning to clerk after law school.

10.2. Joint-degree programs.

10.3 Co-curricular activities.

10.4. Etiquette in your upper-level courses.

10.5. Options for GPA enhancement in the upper-class curriculum.

10.6. Scheduling your life.

10.7.  A few words about your final year of law school.

CHAPTER 11:  SUMMER JOBS

11.1. Searching for a summer job.

11.2. On-Campus Interviewing (a/k/a OCI), or Statistics 101 Revisited.

11.3. “Stupid interviewing mistakes” that students make.

11.3.1.  Stupid resume and social networking mistakes.

11.3.2. Making your resume too short.

11.3.3. Not researching the employers with whom you’re seeking a job. 

11.3.4.  Personal grooming mistakes.

11.3.5. Having a bad handshake.

11.3.6.  Stupid questions during the interview.

11.3.7. Not having any questions prepared for the interviewer.

11.3.8.  General rudeness.

11.3.9.  Badmouthing previous employers.

11.3.10.  Trying to be too “cool” at the end of the interview. 

11.3.11. Skipping too many classes for call-backs.

11.4. Stupid interviewing mistakes that interviewers make, and how you might want to deal with them.

 11.4.1. Illegal questions.

 11.4.2.  Bad interview skills.

11.5. Substitutes for summer jobs.

 11.5.1. Research assistantships.

 11.5.2. Unpaid clerkships and externships.

 11.5.3. Summer school (including summers abroad).

 11.5.4.  Non-law jobs.

 11.5.5. Other pointers.

11.6. Success at your summer job.

11.6.1.  Stupid summer job tricks.  Avoid making these mistakes at all costs.

 11.6.1.1. Treating people poorly.

 11.6.1.2. Getting an assignment wrong, doing it poorly, or turning it in late.

 11.6.1.3. Treating social events as, well, social events.

 11.6.1.4. Assuming that the summer program is anything like the regular (non-summer) world.

  11.6.1.5.  “Blamestorming.”

 11.6.2. Make sure that you get feedback.

11.7. After the summer job’s over.

 11.7.1. If you’ve gotten an offer.

 11.7.2. If you haven’t gotten an offer.

CHAPTER 12:  EVENING (PART-TIME) PROGRAMS / THE NON-TRADITIONAL LAW STUDENT

12.1. The first year of the evening program.

12.1.1. Your professors and their office hours.

12.1.2.  Grades and the evening program.

12.2. The upper-class curriculum.

12.3. Getting the job skills that you’ll need.

12.4. Maintaining some semblance of life outside law school.

12.5. Advice for non-traditional law students going through the day program.

CHAPTER 13:  THE JUDICIAL CLERKSHIP PROCESS

13.1. Should you clerk?

13.2. Choosing your list of judges.

13.3. Your application packet.

13.4. The only two acceptable answers to a clerkship offer.

13.5. Before you start your clerkship.

13.6. What judges value.

CHAPTER 14:  THE BAR EXAM

14.1. Approaches to studying for the exam.

 14.1.1. Old exams.

 14.1.2. Setting the odds.

 14.1.3. The MPRE.

 14.1.4. Bar review courses and other study aids.

14.2. Working while studying for the exam.

14.3. How long to study each day.

14.4. The exam itself.

 14.4.1.   Sleep.

14.4.2.  Eating.

14.5. Daily post-exam session aftermath

CHAPTER 15:  A FEW LAST SURVIVAL TIPS

APPENDIX A—Jeff’s First-Year Schedule

APPENDIX B—Nancy’s First-Year Schedule

APPENDIX C—Jeff’s Upper-Class Schedule

APPENDIX D—Ode to a Hypothetical: The Saga of Dan And Vic as Nancy’s Twisted Brain Might Think About It