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thebadwife

Feeling disadvantaged by my undergrad (1L)

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Posted (edited)

Many law students are insecure braggarts, whether they do well, or not. You may have noticed a handful of them even on this forum.

Tune it out.

I think that law school may particularly attract insecure people, but this I am not sure of.

Any perceived advantage in this regard is shortlived,  and quickly disappears once you've spent even only a couple of hours reading cases.

Seriously, don't even worry about this.

 

Edit: you'll learn to appreciate the humble law students you meet 10x more due to this.

Edited by HouseOfPolycarbonate
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13 hours ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

Honestly, I felt that a science degree provided a pretty great foundation for the type of reasoning that is tested by most law school exams. 

This.

In law school, I had a lot of trouble with reading vast quantities of material and distilling it down to ratios. Science textbooks are basically the opposite - no real "obiter", just straight facts where, generally, every line of information is crucial. My writing skills were (and still are in practice...) basically garbage because all I ever knew was lab reports. Embarrassingly enough, I didn't even know federalism was a thing when I started law school and had no idea how basic government worked.

Interestingly enough, I did very well on law school exams. A science background gives you a great foundation in technical reasoning and analysis. You are trained to look at all the tools (ratios) in your arsenal in order to solve a problem (like a hypo on an exam) using outside the box analysis, logic, and reasoning.

Maybe you won't be able to wax-poetic on exams (which some profs despise, btw), but you as @BringBackCrunchBerries said, you will have a great foundation that law exams test.

Once you survive midterms, everybody basically is on the same footing.

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Warning: my experience is years ago, not recent!

There were some people who knew more, some less, coming into law school, about the law. Knowing more wasn't necessarily an advantage, because I've looked at some materials from people I know who took university law courses as non-law students (much more recently than when I was in law school) and it was very much black-letter law, telling them what the law is at the time they took the course, not teaching them, as law school does, how to understand and analyze the law. So even if someone has already studied, they may have to unlearn some seeming certainties to think about why, not just what.

So if they aren't bothering doing the readings or paying attention because they think they know what they need to, I think that's a significant problem that will hit them eventually, final exams if not midterms.

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1 hour ago, HouseOfPolycarbonate said:

Many law students are insecure braggarts, whether they do well, or not. You may have noticed a handful of them even on this forum.

Tune it out.

I think that law school may particularly attract insecure people, but this I am not sure of.

Any perceived advantage in this regard is shortlived,  and quickly disappears once you've spent even only a couple of hours reading cases.

Seriously, don't even worry about this.

 

Edit: you'll learn to appreciate the humble law students you meet 10x more due to this.

Often people who get into law school were top-tier in whatever program they were in. Now they're average. That's a hit to their egos. I say this not to excuse, but to analyze. 

I don't know if it's humility per se that's a plus, but just not being too boastful, being normal. I socialized with my non-law housemates, joined sports with non-law people and did some socializing ( :drinkers: ) with them also, and it was a lot more relaxed than many parties with law students... 

One student I knew clerked at the SCC. They weren't boastful about their marks before they got the clerkship, they weren't boastful about the clerkship after, many students didn't even know at graduation because they didn't see any need to make a big deal of it with, or even mention it to, other students. I only knew because we were friendly enough for them to tell me and for me to be genuinely happy for them. It might even have been their spouse who told me, not them. That might have been overly humble, but it was refreshing.

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I think the extractions of the above video are:

  1. People who have studied details of some aspects of the law before, often are overconfident mistakely and do not do as well as they'd expect. I.e., criminal justice majors, paralegals. 
  2. Law school mostly is about disciplining and critical thinking. Thus, philosophy amd musical and engineer majors often does better. 
  3. Law school writing is a kind of technical writing. Thus often English majors and Journalism majors would suffer, at least in the beginning, because they do not know how to write law school essays but think they do mistakenly. 

 

So it is mostly about discipline and critical thinking

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I can tell you some observations I obtained in high-tech industry. I believe it is true in most if not all fields such as economics, military, and investing.  Maybe they can calm you. 

 

The more one knows, the less ones brag about it:

  1. The more ones know, the more one realizes one doesn't know. 
  2. Greater knowledge brings more fears if not humbleness simply because one knows one could be wrong. Only fools believes they must be right for something.
    • For instance, one may say nothing can just hit the wall and then go through it without damaging the wall or itself.
      • really? quantum mechanics says it is possible. 

 

 

The best employers or schools mostly does not care about technicals but fundamentals.

Are you really a self-learner?

Do you have discipline and integrity? 

For instance, medicore companies often require bug free code in interviews but Google does not and focuses on the logic(pseudocode). 

 

Seemly simple characteristics are extremely hard to come by, although everyone claims he/she is reliable, disciplined, honest and a self-learner. Most of them are just gibberish if not propaganda. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by ScipioAfricanus

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12 hours ago, thebadwife said:

What type of reasoning specifically? Like a science example? 

I had to do a lot of research/the scientific method/analysis in undergrad (though in a "soft" science) that I am hoping will help me at least a little bit 

The majority of your law school grades will probably come from questions on your open book exams that are based on long fact patterns. For example, a two page story about a messy commercial real estate deal that is followed by the question, "you are a new associate at LAW FIRM. Discuss any potential claims your client may have."

There might be two dozen hypothetical claims, and you might not have time to type anything about half of them. Often a law student can waste time and lose marks by getting lost in a narrative argument. If you've done a lot of scientific reasoning, it's probably not your inclination to make narrative arguments and it will be more second nature to stick to the facts, and perhaps make clear and concise arguments. 

If you have a handle on deductive vs. inductive reasoning, which someone from the sciences should through hypothesis formation and all that jazz, moving from a fact pattern to a generalization about a potential legal claim may be somewhat familiar. This is often a form of inductive reasoning (or something close to it). Example - claim X needs to have the components A, B, and C. Client Y's situation has components A, B, and D. Based on the following reasons there is a good chance that a court would consider component D to satisfy the elements of component C (this is where you insert your argument from precedent cases, or what have you). Therefore this claim would have a strong chance of success. You're kind of forming a hypothesis based on inductive reasoning. Sort of kind of. 

I think having read a lot of scientific research papers can also help people in reading legal cases. They are often more similar to a research paper than an essay. If a research paper has a hypothesis, method, results, and discussion, a legal case might have similar elements like an issue, a legal framework, a holding, and some obiter discussion. 

It's not like having a science degree is an advantage but various types of backgrounds can have different advantages. 

 

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7 minutes ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

I think having read a lot of scientific research papers can also help people in reading legal cases. They are often more similar to a research paper than an essay. If a research paper has a hypothesis, method, results, and discussion, a legal case might have similar elements like an issue, a legal framework, a holding, and some obiter discussion. 

 

And don't forget the oh so important abstract. Or as it's known in law, a "headnote".

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As other people have commented, you really don't need to be concerned about this. Undergrad material is basically irrelevant to law school material.

The only benefits of your undergrad education that translate to law school are the underlying skills you have developed: reading large volumes of material with a critical eye, memorization (useful even for open book exams), analyzing problems and offering solutions, etc.

That being said, some undergrad degree will train certain skills more than others. A science degree might focus more on logical reasoning and problem solving, but an arts degree might train you better to handle very large amounts of readings (both are generalizations).

Bottom line: You did well enough in undergrad and on the lsat to get into law school, therefore you have the tools to succeed in law school. It's just a matter of putting those tools to work in a patient, methodical fashion over a lengthy period of time.

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17 hours ago, Deadpool said:

This is news to me. Look, wait until you've written a law school exam and grades have released. You will be surprised at the results. Anecdotally, some of the highest performing students in my class had STEM backgrounds. I literally have no idea how pol sci gives you an advantage on a law school exam. I encourage you to look at some sample exams. They don't expect you to write a 20 page paper on federalism.

This, I found the same. Almost all of the STEM students had good marks.

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OP,

I have, admittedly, not read all the replies in this thread, but some anecdotal evidence.

I scraped into law school with a sub 3.00 cGPA from a quant-related degree. Our first week, we had a "Foundations of Law" exam that was, in hindsight, almost entirely derivative of a poli sci undergrad exam. I got a D-, which I confirmed was the lowest mark in the class. I was devastated, particularly when my poli sci-aware classmates obtained much better marks.

I ended up the top student in my first year. As others have said, the study of law is entirely different. Don't focus on what has passed, but instead on developing a sustainable and effective approach to learning the materials put before you. Be thorough, curious and reasonably confident. While not universally true, those who felt bored in the first months of 1L did not appreciate what was coming with December exams.

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Yeah, I don't know if this helps the OP with a health/psych degree, but I too scraped into law school after finishing my BSc, but quite honestly found law school easier than undergrad and generally got strong marks.

Any advantage from having a PoliSci degree with quickly vanish.  Law is very much its own thing.

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I'm going to take a different tune here, and this is purely my experience. For reference, I scraped into law school on a B average from a political studies degree. I also did far better in law school than I ever did in undergrad. 

Two courses I did take in political studies (and were my two highest undergrad marks) were Canadian Charter Politics and Canadian Constiutional Politics. They were with a longtime constitutional politics scholar who was incredible. And to be honest, they gave me a fairly significant leg up when it came to my 1L. 

It wasn't necessarily the law content or the reasoning that helped though (reasoning was mostly my philosophy minor) though having read the cases before helped. It was the fact that I had gotten used to reading case law and pulling macro themes from it. Identifying ratios, etc. This made me quicker across the board when it came to readings, and gave me more time for other things. 

Here's the thing, any continuing advantage from that was all but gone by the time second semester rolled around. By the time second year came, any latent advantage was gone, especially because I left the realms of constitutional law. 

There may well be a person or two in your cohort that are like me, but I can't imagine its the norm. Regardless, keep your head down and keep learning, you're going to catchup sooner rather than later. 

Edited by whoknows

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On 10/9/2019 at 1:18 PM, ScipioAfricanus said:

The more one knows, the less ones brag about it:

  1. The more ones know, the more one realizes one doesn't know. 
  2. Greater knowledge brings more fears if not humbleness simply because one knows one could be wrong. Only fools believes they must be right for something.

 

nah. in RL that's not always how things go. people with shitty personalities still brag about shit they know. just because someone is highly knowledgeable does not mean they also know how to be humble. it's always a pleasure to find people like that, yes 

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I did an Honours thesis in Canadian History and while it helped me in the first year Indigenous and Constitutional law classes at the beginning, my classmates quickly caught up. I may have understood the context of the course a bit better, but ultimately studying Canadian political history didn't really help when doing a Paramountcy test. The only real advantage my undergrad gave me was being used to doing a lot of reading and not being terrified of a 35+ page major paper. And honestly, that's negligible. 

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I felt disadvantaged coming from a biology background. It took me a while to get my legal writing abilities... if I have them. 

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On 10/11/2019 at 2:04 PM, almondbutter said:

I felt disadvantaged coming from a biology background. It took me a while to get my legal writing abilities... if I have them. 

I wrote my first law school paper in the format of hypothesis - method - results. 

Ended up doing ok in law school, all considered.

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On 10/8/2019 at 6:32 PM, thebadwife said:

 they seem to have a major leg up in a few of the courses (namely public and constitutional law). They often talk about how they've learned or have been introduced to so many of the topics already, how they're bored with the content because of this, and how they don't have to do all the readings because they already know the stuff from poli sci.

They're wrong, lying and trying to intimidate you. 

Source: Poli Sci was one of my majors and now I see these people's grades.

On 10/9/2019 at 1:07 PM, ScipioAfricanus said:

I think the extractions of the above video are:

  1. People who have studied details of some aspects of the law before, often are overconfident mistakely and do not do as well as they'd expect. I.e., criminal justice majors, paralegals. 
  2. Law school mostly is about disciplining and critical thinking. Thus, philosophy amd musical and engineer majors often does better. 
  3. Law school writing is a kind of technical writing. Thus often English majors and Journalism majors would suffer, at least in the beginning, because they do not know how to write law school essays but think they do mistakenly. 

So it is mostly about discipline and critical thinking.

First, love the handle.

Second, just going to add that this seems right to me.  The most useful course I ever took from a legal perspective was probably symbolic logic in the Philosophy department. 

Also, as a (predominant) English major that went on to grad studies, I can tell you that I was absolute flaming trash at legal writing for my first semester. 

That being said, because I spent all that time learning to write, I had the skills to analyse and adapt my own writing style and did so effectively, basically getting top grades in every essay class for the rest of law school. (Topped out at B/B+ for exams, though.)  And after another bumpy year or two of learning to write in the "real world", partners from other offices around the world send me written advocacy work on the perception, rightly or wrongly, that they're getting the gold standard.  So, Point Three is true, but... English majors, represent.

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10 hours ago, Uriel said:

They're wrong, lying and trying to intimidate you. 

Source: Poli Sci was one of my majors and now I see these people's grades.

First, love the handle.

Second, just going to add that this seems right to me.  The most useful course I ever took from a legal perspective was probably symbolic logic in the Philosophy department. 

Also, as a (predominant) English major that went on to grad studies, I can tell you that I was absolute flaming trash at legal writing for my first semester. 

That being said, because I spent all that time learning to write, I had the skills to analyse and adapt my own writing style and did so effectively, basically getting top grades in every essay class for the rest of law school. (Topped out at B/B+ for exams, though.)  And after another bumpy year or two of learning to write in the "real world", partners from other offices around the world send me written advocacy work on the perception, rightly or wrongly, that they're getting the gold standard.  So, Point Three is true, but... English majors, represent.

Thank you for your story. An interesting read.

 

I doubt there is a causal relationship between your quick adaptability and the time you spent learning to write. Some people become rigid because they spent so much time.

 

Nonetheless I cannot ascertain the exact reason for your adaptability, could be your IQ, could be your personality(high openness, industrious, etc). God knows. 

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On 10/8/2019 at 4:32 PM, thebadwife said:

I've been a lurker for a while but decided to finally make an account because this has been bothering me for quite a few weeks, and it is really starting to impact my mental health, so I apologize in advance for the vent. I am a 1L and did my undergrad degree in health/psych. I did this under the impression that with law, it was good to pick an undergrad that you had genuine interest in because law is so different from most disciplines. Now that I am in 1L I'm realizing that most people in my class did Poli Sci, and they seem to have a major leg up in a few of the courses (namely public and constitutional law). They often talk about how they've learned or have been introduced to so many of the topics already, how they're bored with the content because of this, and how they don't have to do all the readings because they already know the stuff from poli sci. With the amount of work there is in 1L (7 classes is such a new concept) it seems like by not having the poli sci background, you are disadvantaged in that you have to put in more work in all 7 classes rather than being able to dedicate more time to certain ones. Given that we are being marked on the curve, and 1L grades are so important for future work opportunities, I am get increasingly stressed by the fact that I (and other non-poli sci students) are getting compared on a curve to students who have already had the advantage of learning many of the concepts. 

In your experience, how have non-poli sci students faired in comparison with grades and such? Does the advantage eventually go away? How do you deal with people in your class gloating about how easy the content is because they've already learned it when you are being thrown into a completely new area and struggling to grasp the concepts as quickly as you would like? 

 

You need to just wait til after midterms.  They tend to humble some of those loud talkers into silence.  If you did well in your undergrad (which you must've to have gotten in), you have the potential and skillset to do well in 1L already.  And so do those who took poli-sci and did well. Don't worry so much about what everyone else is saying, especially those who are acting like they got this in the bag the first month into full year courses. 

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