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magicmtn

Should I do all the readings?

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Hi all,

1L here. So far I have been doing all the assigned readings and my own case briefs for the cases that I read. I have been trying to refrain from relying on other people's summaries.

Only a month or so in, but I'm finding it more and more difficult to keep this up. I don't have much time to do any other stuff. Besides doing house chores and going to the gym, my days are dedicated to going to class and well, doing the readings/case briefs. I notice that some of my classmates rely on previous outlines and summaries, and also keep hearing from 2Ls that you don't really have to all the readings. In other words, I'm tempted not to either. 

Do you think what I'm doing is not an effective method? I try to read everything mainly so that I would get used to reading law stuff. But sometimes I feel like it's just too much (especially on long weekends like this), but I also feel kind of guilty when I think about skipping the readings, that somehow I'd be missing out on something. I think that's why my case briefs end up being way too detailed, which I gather wouldn't be useful for exam purposes. 

Obviously we should all be doing what works for us, but I just wanted to hear from other students/graduates. How have you managed? What works for you?

Happy Thanksgiving! Any advice appreciated. 

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As you mentioned, it really is dependent on what works for each individual. Some people might take the whole first semester, or even the first whole year to figure out what reading method fits them best. 

Personally, I didn't do much reading at all. I focused on investing my time elsewhere, though I don't recommend that to anybody. 

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Here's what I do:

I follow along with the outline given by the professor at the beginning of the year. When a case comes up I will take notes from a CAN. I will then read the case myself and quickly add anything that adds clarity to the CAN or that I think the CAN missed (e.g. I'll make a note that in coming to X decision the judges balanced policy positions on X and Y)

I found that doing this is approximately twice as fast as trying to take notes on a case by myself from scratch and sacrifices essentially nothing in terms of comprehension.

Using this method I did excellent on the 1L midterms and was comfortably above average in every single class by the end of the 1L school year despite some things coming up in my life that caused me to fall behind and have to cram the last 25% of the school year.

As a disclaimer, everyone has to find out what works for themselves. We all learn differently.

 

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I found a combination worked for me in some 1L classes: reviewing outlines where available and then reading/ skimming quickly to get a bit more context and ensure accuracy. Starting with an outline helps you stick to the important information and avoid focusing on unnecessary info while you are still learning how to read cases. Perhaps try switching up your method different weeks and see how prepared you feel in class etc.

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Should you do the readings? Yes, probably.
Do you need to do the readings to do well in the course? Not necessarily.

Edited by beyondsection17
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There's a million threads on this topic.  Some people are probably more fine than others with not doing the readings.  You won't really know what works for you until you have at least one set of your exams under your belt, so it is best to keep pushing through as many readings as possible.  As for "Besides doing house chores and going to the gym, my days are dedicated to going to class and well, doing the readings/case briefs", this is the norm for law school.  Lots of people even find difficulty squeezing in much gym, chores, socializing, especially near exams.  Hell, this is kind of like what my life sounds like now, substituting "doing the readings/case briefs" with "writing and meetings" and substituting "the gym" with chauffeuring a child to activities.

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You'll often hear lawyers say that law school did not prepare them for the actual practice of law. They mean the day-to-day realities of the business of law. 

A great deal of being a practicing lawyer is figuring out efficiencies and effectively managing your own time. You can justify spending an expansive amount of time on nearly every file. For example:

  • Should you, personally, be doing this task or should you delegate it to staff?  
  • You could do much more research on this topic but is it necessary for the task at hand?
  • You want to take an hour or two to draft the perfect intelligent response but there are other things to do and all that is required is a half page template letter.
  • (Should you be so lucky) You could take on that case/file but do you have time?
  • And a thousand other hypotheticals...

Being inundated by required readings and assignments in law school is perhaps the single greatest element of practical legal education that law school presents. You can't do it all as a lawyer and those who try to do it all often burnout. You can't do it all as a law student either. You need to learn to triage your tasks and manage your own time in an efficient, effective, and healthy way. The best thing you can do is figure out systems that work for you, personally. 

Whether or not you should do all the readings is personal and class specific. I had classes where, in hindsight, there was a very poor return on the time investment to do the readings. I had classes where the readings were very valuable. I had classes where I didn't do the readings and it burned me a bit. You just need to be careful when making those decisions and try to consciously be making such determinations within the context of making responsible, efficient choices.   

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On 10/12/2019 at 8:42 PM, magicmtn said:

Obviously we should all be doing what works for us, but I just wanted to hear from other students/graduates. How have you managed? What works for you?

Not sure how to answer this since you gave the answer yourself.

Yes, you should do the readings.  No, it is not absolutely required.  Some people, in some classes, can get by with just readings summaries.  No, you won't really be able to tell which is working for you until your first exams.

If I were you, I'd try to keep up with your readings.

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