Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Next Round Is Gonna Be Different..

This is the term where I get off the ropes and turn things around…

Last term I could barely stay awake. I initially thought it was just the normal pressures of the wife and kids being back in Arizona, trying to pay the bills, the lack of breathing fresh air, the need to constantly study, or plain old depression. While all of these things were certainly clouding my ability to concentrate, I also needed a boost in some basic nutrients. Resolving that issue has in and of itself done wonders for me.

My attitude and approach to the materials and to the exams is also different this term… it’s healthier and less hostile. And when it does rev up to being pissed and jaded (thanks to some of Cooley's antics/policies), I try to step back and see the big picture - and get the monster to calm down.

Last term I did very few written practice exams and even fewer multiple-choice warm-ups. Four weeks into this term I am already doing practice exams each and every week. I do practice multiple-choice from the Finz Book, Q&A books and Finals series. Once I sign up for Bri/Bri – I plan to work with those as well. Practicing multiple-choice has several upsides to it – the primary one being the emergence of patterns and a prism through which to see and learn how a given rule is applied to a small set of facts.

I meet with my professors on a regular basis. Rather than assume I will find an answer to a concept on my own, I set appointments with my profs and meet with them. I have met with three different professors thus far this term and they have been incredibly helpful, not just with their specific area(s) of expertise, but how to approach exams in general. Each prof gives me their own unique angle, which in turn gives me insight into what they are expecting of their students on their own exams. I also get my questions answered.

I brief each and every case and read the notes as well. I hate briefing. I still debate the merits of doing this task, but I do it anyway, if for no other reason than to keep my mind working and thinking about law and watching for patterns that sometimes emerge from the cases. The patterns I am referring to have more to do with language and usage/application of the rules rather than trends in law itself (although that is certainly useful as well).

I am outlining differently. Last term I didn’t start outlining until well after midterms. This term my outlines and notes are already starting to morph into a form that makes them useful and reviewable. I am by no means perfect at this, but I’m definitely better at outlining this term compared to last term.

Time management. I set aside blocks of time for doing only law school related studies and entire blocks of time for doing other things. I try to get out of the studio/apartment and into the regular world if for no other reason than to back off from legal studies to give my mind a rest. Too much of this stuff can make one sick. Too little of it can make one careless. I believe a big part of success in this venture will be a matter of finding a sense of balance.

I try to avoid politics – a toxic yet desirable opiate that I’ve concluded I can’t handle in large quantity this term.

My choice of legal supplements is different. Although I happen to think Emanuel Law Outlines on Civil Procedure is outstanding, the balance of my supplements this term is Examples and Explanations. I have the entire series and it’s highly readable – almost enjoyable. Before approaching a topic in the regular textbook (for eg Parol Evidence Rule in Contracts), I read the section in Examples and Explanations about the topic first. This method seems to provide a good map for me before wading into in the regular textbook and the class itself.

For some people law school comes with considerable ease. They can hold down two jobs, balance ten different things on their pinky, sleep 8 hours a day and still get straight A’s with relative ease. That just isn’t me. I thought it was, but it’s not.

I have a decent analytical mind, but frankly I am a little slow on the uptake. However, once I get a head of steam going I can cruise along quite nicely. I am one of those students that if he wants to get A’s and B’s rather than C’s and D’s in law school – it’s pretty clear (to me) that I will need to continue taking a fresh approach and combine it with developing ever more effective study skills. The only person who can turn this around for Majqa – is Majqa. Great professors or crappy ones it boils down to my own ability to narrow my thinking, focus and get with the program. Being something of a rebel by nature (high school drop out at 15, been fighting “the man” ever since) such a task of giving up ones own huge ego to The Borg of Law is definitely an uncomfortable adjustment.

Last term I was all over the map and it showed up in my grades. This term… this term will be different.

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At Sunday, January 30, 2005 9:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a pretty good plan. I agree with you briefing is the biggest waste of time, takes a semester or two for people to realize it –thanks to the Cooley intro to law class instilling the fear that if you don’t brief you will fail. Examples and Explanations is the best supplement you can buy, if you can do those problems you will ace the finals. Emanuel Law Outlines always seemed to go into to much detail for my taste, I was a Gilbert’s Outline fan, but everybody has a favorite. I relied so heavily on commercial outlines, tried doing my own outlines a few times but gave up because the countless hours of putting the stuff together wasn’t helping me learn the material, but everybody learns in their own unique way. Oh by the way, defiantly get Gilberts outline for property, the same guy that wrote your textbook also wrote the outline for Gilberts I believe his name is Dukinamer or something like that, it is so on topic it is scary.

At Sunday, January 30, 2005 11:36:00 AM, Blogger E. McPan said...

It sounds like you're on the right track. Do what works for YOU, not what everyone else says. I'm in my last semester and I still mini-brief, but that's because I can't remember what happened in some case I read a week prior.

Heh...the Borg of Law. That explains an awful lot!

At Monday, January 31, 2005 9:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I discovered the Examples and Explanations books two weeks before the finals last term and that was all I studies from and it was worth it.


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