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grishamlaw

0Ls: do this.

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It has long been accepted wisdom on this website that you should relax before 0L. In terms of not working 80 hours a week in august, that is true. But this does not mean you should learn law school on the fly. That will give you Bs. If you want As, here's what to do instead: 

Read "Open Book" - this is a simpler  introduction to how law school works than Getting to Maybe. This will help you conceptualize what your profs are looking for. 

Read Getting to Maybe. This is a classic for a reason. It is a detailed guide for beating the competition on law school exams.

Learn how to learn. There are tons of studies on what works and what doesn't. For example, test yourself wherever possible. This means testing yourself on a reading or doing a practice exam.

Learn about productivity. Some of it works. Some of it doesn't. Try three things that are easy to implement. 

Learn how to read. Seriously. Learn how to read for speed and how to learn for comprehension. Just read the wikihow page. If you were good on the RC in the lsat, don't forget your strategies. 

Learn how to write like a law student/lawyer. I suggest writing for lawyers or something like that. 

Introducing yourself to legal reasoning is a bonus. I recommend reading Logic for Lawyers. This helps de-mystify legal reasoning. This is really valuable for every part of law school. 

Make guides for yourself that implement what you learn above. Make checklists even. This is important because knowing how something works is worthless without an action plan. 

1L is a high stakes game for a lot of people. This is especially the case for people taking on debt so don't leave this to chance. Also, you won't have time to improve these skills in October. I hope someone finds this helpful and other people contribute. 

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I would think most of that is useless. I never read Getting to Maybe, BTW. I can't imagine how you can learn to write like a lawyer in 0L summer. Writing like a lawyer is a process that you develop throughout law school and articling and into practice. Likewise you don't learn to think like a lawyer by reading one book. That is a process that also is developed over time. Nothing you do in 0L summer will help... except relax, spend time with the people you value, do interesting and unique things if you can, and read for pleasure.

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I do not know about 0L , but

I observe people in law school can get higher grade usually people who are also good notes taker, and their note is remarkably beautiful, clear, and much more detail. Or the one seems to  analyze or argue things in much more logical manner usually do better. Or people with strong logic reasoning may usually do better.

If one can finish all the reading a couple of times ahead of time in law school , one  can do slightly better than one who probably do not keep track of the reading. It's about familiarization of class material  , and then applying those accumulated knowledge in exam.

I  think law school is  about efficiency.  One can either cooperate with a small group or utilize  class annotated notes, or class outline to speed the above process, one might feel  things is under control.  It doesn't necessarily mean to get A.  But it may allow you to visit your parents ,friends, often and go outdoor activities sometimes.

 

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8 hours ago, Jaggers said:

I don't think those things have anything to do with whether you get A's, B's or C's.

They don't have "anything" to do with your marks? How do you think grades work then? The things I described help you know what points to hit and how to hit them. Getting to maybe and Open Book show you what professors want. Knowing how to read, write and manage your time shows you how to translate that into an action plan. Even if you don't read the books, you need to know that stuff eventually. 

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Those things may be beneficial, if they are all actually achievable, for some 0Ls but there is no single plan that is going to make it an achievable goal for a 1L to get A grades. If it were that simple, everyone would do it and everyone would get A's, which cannot happen.

I think it's important for everyone to find what works for them. For many, it will be the same type of work habits that they had in undergrad. I know that i didn't change much of what I'd done for the previous four years. I didn't, however, do anything on grishamlaw's list and I graduated with honours, which at U of T, at that time meant an A average.

There is no magic formula for getting A's in law school. There have been many discussions here about the best way to approach law school, e.g., keeping up with your readings, attending all classes, making use of office hours if necessary, not waiting until the last minute to study for exams, etc. Those discussions show that what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. Some of my classmates spent hours daily in the library, yet I set foot in the library maybe a handful of times in three years. Some formed study groups, I never did. Some decided they could skip class and just do the readings, I always attended class and I did all the readings. I rarely went to office hours, some classmates did it regularly. All of us may have been making the right choices for ourselves, but these choices may not have worked for others.

I think a lot of who makes up the top maybe 10% of the class, who have A averages, is a combination of innate ability and luck, with a dash of good work habits.

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7 hours ago, providence said:

I would think most of that is useless. I never read Getting to Maybe, BTW. I can't imagine how you can learn to write like a lawyer in 0L summer. Writing like a lawyer is a process that you develop throughout law school and articling and into practice. Likewise you don't learn to think like a lawyer by reading one book. That is a process that also is developed over time. Nothing you do in 0L summer will help... except relax, spend time with the people you value, do interesting and unique things if you can, and read for pleasure.

 

I'm not saying you need to be able to write a SCC factum by September. The list is meant to kickstart what you need to do. Also, why would  I wait to do poorly on assignments until learning this stuff? 

Useless is a strong word I would say. Like I said to Jaggers above, you need to know this stuff. It is impossible to do well without knowing what your professors want and how to put that into action. So, what you're saying is you should try to do one of the these things:

1. Learn as you go. That would be lovely if all of Canada's law school used the pass fail system. If you think about it, a big part in doing in law school is knowing what your professors want better than your peers do. Now, I know what you'll say in response: ask your professors what they want. That's usually a road to nowhere in my experience. Talking to your professors tends to provide you with bits and pieces of information. You would get the same thing summarized in GTM. Why not just economize on your time?

2. Get lucky. Not everyone has access to someone who went to law school. Even if you did, they wouldn't have the same caliber of advice as a law professor  who wrote one of these books (so if you do know a law professor, that may be better than one of those books!)

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6 minutes ago, erinl2 said:

I think a lot of who makes up the top maybe 10% of the class, who have A averages, is a combination of innate ability and luck, with a dash of good work habits.

I don't disagree that luck is a big factor in the equation, but what you're saying seems to be that doing well is more or less out of your control. To an extent I agree, but I would also say that this implies that a lot of people in Canada should not be going to law school. If the expected value of a law school investment is so uncertain (yes, outcomes do depend on grades at least initially), then the debt is too heavy and the legal market is too weak to justify playing a game of chance. 

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My comment, which was a bit tongue in cheek, was directed at your ideas about how to achieve A grades, and I don't think that anyone believes that you need A's to be considered doing well. I certainly don't believe that. What I think may challenge some law students in 1L is the idea that they are going to get lots of A grades, or that there is some magic formula for them to achieve that, and that by simply following that magic formula, they will end up at the top of the class. That isn't going to happen for most.

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29 minutes ago, grishamlaw said:

I don't disagree that luck is a big factor in the equation, but what you're saying seems to be that doing well is more or less out of your control. To an extent I agree, but I would also say that this implies that a lot of people in Canada should not be going to law school. If the expected value of a law school investment is so uncertain (yes, outcomes do depend on grades at least initially), then the debt is too heavy and the legal market is too weak to justify playing a game of chance. 

You quoted Erinl and then purported to agree with something other than what she said in your quote. She didn't say that "luck is a big factor" but rather that success in the 10% is a "combination of innate ability and luck, with a dash of good work habits."

I'm always skeptical of advice that comes from a source that's desperately eager to believe what they are claiming is true. Of course every student wants to believe that with sufficient hard work, with sufficient will, with sufficient determination, or whatever else it comes down to when you really really want something, success can be guaranteed. But have you actually found that to be true? Or do you only wish it were true?

Yes, innate ability plays a large role. No one likes to hear that, but it's true. It's a gross and unhelpful simplification to pretend that you either hit the jackpot or you're left on the margins scrambling for table scraps. I mean, seriously. The rest of your post makes it sound as though everyone not in the top 10% is somehow starving. I cannot agree that any amount of hard work can somehow guarantee that one is going to come out on top in the most challenging pool of talented people. I absolutely endorse the view that with sufficient hard work, reasonable habits, and realistic expectations, just about anyone in law school can forge a good career for themselves. But now we're saying different things - one that you haven't agreed with, and another you haven't even considered.

It's fine to promote good work habits. But right now, your post reads like another version of "here's what you do to guarantee a 170+ LSAT." And really, does anyone thing it's reasonable to write something like that and mean it literally?

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I didn't do any of these and I still did well. I don't think you should make assertions like "that will give you B's". You have 1 experience and shouldn't really claim to know the secrets to getting As...

Edited by CoffeeandLaw
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this post didn't go over terribly well haha. I don't feel like defending this anymore, but I'll just say that if you wanna do well and want to do something about it, try the stuff above. 

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1 hour ago, grishamlaw said:

I don't disagree that luck is a big factor in the equation, but what you're saying seems to be that doing well is more or less out of your control. To an extent I agree, but I would also say that this implies that a lot of people in Canada should not be going to law school. If the expected value of a law school investment is so uncertain (yes, outcomes do depend on grades at least initially), then the debt is too heavy and the legal market is too weak to justify playing a game of chance. 

"Doing well" doesn't necessarily mean getting As, since most law students won't get As most of the time and will still have successful careers. Getting As in law school is "doing exceptionally." I don't think people should not be going to law school because they won't get As - then 90% of the law students in the country shouldn't go! And I agree with Erin that there is no magic formula for that. I too had an A average and as I said, I never read Getting to Maybe or that other book. I never tried to learn legal writing before law school. I think she and I had different approaches but ended up with more or less the same results. The one trend I noticed with myself and others who had high marks was that we didn't read the case law until after the prof discussed it in class. If there was a simple way to guarantee As, more than 10% of the class would have them and they would no longer be the indication of something special. 

I do agree that if you're doing poorly, ie. getting Cs/Ds, you may want to rethink the investment of law school after 1L. We've had discussions on that before. But there's a vast space between that and getting As.

And asking the prof about what you need to do well isn't just about efficiency. It's about getting to know the prof so the prof knows you, which is useful for references, getting research jobs, etc. 

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While I'm more on the skeptical side re OP's advice, their law school experience is much more recent than mine. So take anyone's advice, including/especially mine, with a grain of salt.

What I do agree with is the learn to learn, be productive, read, and to write. I just don't know if the month before law school at this point, really gives enough time to meaningfully work on those things.

One thing that I think would help and be doable within a month, if one doesn't already type well and reasonably quickly, work on it. Even if you take notes in class by hand (and I and others have made posts about studies suggesting that may be better) for assignments and exams you're probably going to want to type, and that's the sort of skill that even in a few weeks you could improve significantly. You want your time during an exam to be focused on reading/thinking/analyzing/outlining/writing, and anything that makes the writing portion more efficient is a plus.

Similarly for reading, I'm just not so sure about how much can be done in a month to improve your reading skills.

That said, and more generally, I wonder if practice at paying attention and not multitasking - e.g. reading something without TV or music on, phone off, etc. - may be helpful? Yes, some forms of music while studying may be helpful but you won't (shouldn't!) be listening during class. Or maybe practice watching some lectures (about anything) on YouTube similarly without checking email or texts or minimizing the window to listen while searching or reading something else...and perhaps while taking notes to practice? This is just a thought off the top of my head based on what I've read about problems with multitasking and distractions generally, not something I recall having seen specific advice about.

Oh, and if one has health (including mental health) or stress issues, try as best as possible to address those before law school, e.g. if you need dental work, or help coping with exam stress, or whatever, if you can address it or start to before September, you should probably do so.

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4 minutes ago, epeeist said:

That said, and more generally, I wonder if practice at paying attention and not multitasking - e.g. reading something without TV or music on, phone off, etc. - may be helpful? Yes, some forms of music while studying may be helpful but you won't (shouldn't!) be listening during class. Or maybe practice watching some lectures (about anything) on YouTube similarly without checking email or texts or minimizing the window to listen while searching or reading something else...and perhaps while taking notes to practice? This is just a thought off the top of my head based on what I've read about problems with multitasking and distractions generally, not something I recall having seen specific advice about.

This ^. I really struggled to pay attention in class. I played games, read articles, watched Tasty videos on Facebook. While I still did well, I wish I would have kicked that habit before school. 

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Take the time off and relax. You'll soon realize that law is one hoop after the next, after the next, after the next (literally: first its undergrad grades, then LSAT seems like your whole world, then grades in school, then getting a job, then passing the bar, then feeling incompetent...). Take the time off, try to relax, enjoy yourself...it may be that last chance you get to do so for quite some time. I think this is the reason a lot of young lawyers burn out, and a lot of lawyers have substance abuse dependencies, they don't take the time needed for self-care. 

Also, one can definitely get good grades and relax before LS. 

Edited by beentheredonethat4
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36 minutes ago, epeeist said:

While I'm more on the skeptical side re OP's advice, their law school experience is much more recent than mine. So take anyone's advice, including/especially mine, with a grain of salt.

What I do agree with is the learn to learn, be productive, read, and to write. I just don't know if the month before law school at this point, really gives enough time to meaningfully work on those things.

One thing that I think would help and be doable within a month, if one doesn't already type well and reasonably quickly, work on it. Even if you take notes in class by hand (and I and others have made posts about studies suggesting that may be better) for assignments and exams you're probably going to want to type, and that's the sort of skill that even in a few weeks you could improve significantly. You want your time during an exam to be focused on reading/thinking/analyzing/outlining/writing, and anything that makes the writing portion more efficient is a plus.

Similarly for reading, I'm just not so sure about how much can be done in a month to improve your reading skills.

That said, and more generally, I wonder if practice at paying attention and not multitasking - e.g. reading something without TV or music on, phone off, etc. - may be helpful? Yes, some forms of music while studying may be helpful but you won't (shouldn't!) be listening during class. Or maybe practice watching some lectures (about anything) on YouTube similarly without checking email or texts or minimizing the window to listen while searching or reading something else...and perhaps while taking notes to practice? This is just a thought off the top of my head based on what I've read about problems with multitasking and distractions generally, not something I recall having seen specific advice about.

Oh, and if one has health (including mental health) or stress issues, try as best as possible to address those before law school, e.g. if you need dental work, or help coping with exam stress, or whatever, if you can address it or start to before September, you should probably do so.

Yeah gees Grimshaw, it's not bad advice but did you have to spring it now? I'm working till Sept 1 and trying to set up my move at the same time etc. Where were you four months ago? : P

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15 minutes ago, kiamia said:

Yeah gees Grimshaw, it's not bad advice but did you have to spring it now? I'm working till Sept 1 and trying to set up my move at the same time etc. Where were you four months ago? : P

I think you're completely missing the point of every other poster in this thread telling you you don't need to do any of that. Relax- it really won't hurt you if you don't have time to do this. Not many people do and lots and lots of them still succeed in 1L!

Edited by CoffeeandLaw

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8 minutes ago, CoffeeandLaw said:

I think you're completely missing the point of every other poster in this thread telling you you don't need to do any of that. Relax- it really won't hurt you if you don't have time to do this. Not many people do and lots and lots of them still succeed in 1L!

Oh I agree that it's optional. Getting to Maybe has been sitting in my Kindle App unread for probably half a year now. I was just pointing out that at this point making a list of "get better at this" is probably not going to change much, even if people wanted to take the advice. And again, I don't think it's bad advice to do a little research, but helpful != necessary. 

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