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How did you manage the toughest issues when you were in law school?

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22 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I got the second highest mark in a 1L midterm with the same strategy!

I remember freaking out after talking to a friend (I felt good immediately after the exam) because he mentioned he brought up x y and a issues that I never did.

I didn't realize I was just better at realizing the relevancy of issues than he was. I got the second highest grade. He got a C+.

Spot on. If it was an issue spotting/analysis heavy exam like torts or contracts, this absolutely worked for me. Especially at the mid-term 1L stage, when your classmates are most likely to freak out and start information dumping without enough analysis. I managed to get the highest mid-term mark in my section in one of those classes, and the second highest in the other, and my exams were probably half the word count of many others I saw.* 

Most students likely already type faster than they can (logically) think. No matter how slow they type.

 

*my grades steadily declined from that point, for a number of reasons, so I will refrain from providing any further advice on law school performance.   

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15 minutes ago, QuincyWagstaff said:

Spot on. If it was an issue spotting/analysis heavy exam like torts or contracts, this absolutely worked for me. Especially at the mid-term 1L stage, when your classmates are most likely to freak out and start information dumping without enough analysis. I managed to get the highest mid-term mark in my section in one of those classes, and the second highest in the other, and my exams were probably half the word count of many others I saw.* 

Most students likely already type faster than they can (logically) think. No matter how slow they type.

 

*my grades steadily declined from that point, for a number of reasons, so I will refrain from providing any further advice on law school performance.   

It sounds like we had a very similar law school tenure.

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1 hour ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I got the second highest mark in a 1L midterm with the same strategy!

I remember freaking out after talking to a friend (I felt good immediately after the exam) because he mentioned he brought up x y and a issues that I never did.

I didn't realize I was just better at realizing the relevancy of issues than he was. I got the second highest grade. He got a C+.

Can you elaborate more on your strategy? How do you know which issues are relevant to bring up and which aren't? Or does it become more obvious once you get there?

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This discussion reminded me that my first mid-term in law school, I felt sick in the middle and fainted in the washroom for a few minutes before forcing myself to go back to class and frantically finish writing. When I got back I could barely think and all I could do was force myself to get words on the page and finish writing. 

I ended up getting a B- on that exam. It was only worth 10% but I over-studied the days leading up to it, could barely sleep the night before and even though I got up early the day of the exam, I only drank a black coffee before starting. I'm pretty sure I felt sick either from dehydration or over-exertion because of the lack of sleep and failing to eat anything in the morning. 

Since then, I made sure to always have a meal before my exam (wake up early to make breakfast if its a 9AM) and to bring 2 bottles of water with me. It turns out if you neglect your body to try harder in school, you can end up doing worse in school as well. 

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4 minutes ago, Cheech said:

Can you elaborate more on your strategy? How do you know which issues are relevant to bring up and which aren't? Or does it become more obvious once you get there?

Compare the facts of the cases and decide if that issue is relevant to your fact pattern.

Don't worry if it doesn't come to you immediately. That's the essence of legal analysis, and it improves with time.

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2 hours ago, GrumpyMountie said:

Lol - worried about this too! Want to brush up on my typing, but also need to pick a new laptop... don't want to rush that decision, but before I get used to the new keyboard, not much point practicing the typing!

-GM

If you can type normally, don't sweat it. This guy went from a ~15 year career in a physical job to his Masters then Law School. He typed almost like a grandma, with two fingers! 

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1 hour ago, QMT20 said:

This discussion reminded me that my first mid-term in law school, I felt sick in the middle and fainted in the washroom for a few minutes before forcing myself to go back to class and frantically finish writing. When I got back I could barely think and all I could do was force myself to get words on the page and finish writing. 

I ended up getting a B- on that exam. It was only worth 10% but I over-studied the days leading up to it, could barely sleep the night before and even though I got up early the day of the exam, I only drank a black coffee before starting. I'm pretty sure I felt sick either from dehydration or over-exertion because of the lack of sleep and failing to eat anything in the morning. 

Since then, I made sure to always have a meal before my exam (wake up early to make breakfast if its a 9AM) and to bring 2 bottles of water with me. It turns out if you neglect your body to try harder in school, you can end up doing worse in school as well. 

See, what you needed was some one telling you “Stop being a monkey. Go to sleep and tomorrow you’ll get a B just like everyone else.”

 

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Taking care of your body is underrated at all stages of life. Go to the gym or do some other form of physical activity. It makes you happier, smarter, and healthier. It will improve your sleep, skin, mental health and social life. It will make you more successful in your academic or career pursuits.

Regular exercise is the closest thing to a fix-all for your life we have. I don’t know why so many people abandon it in 1L. 

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Some general advice from someone who graduated and is now awaiting the bar and articling. Here are some things I would say when it comes to managing some tough issues in law school (this is anecdotal of course).

1. Don't listen, or at least, take with a grain of salt, the things some of your anxious class mates say to you. For example, a class mate of mine after an exam would talk to me about the answer he wrote. He would say things like "hey PropJoe, that exam was totally all about R v Insert Case Name and R v Insert Other Random Case Name". I went home in a  state of panic and shock thinking I totally messed this exam up, I didn't even mention those cases. Turned out I did better than him on the midterm. Finish your exam, and go home. Staying around and discussing your answer will make you anxious and is a waste of time.

2. Exercise, at least 3 ish times a week. I didn't exercise much in 1L and I believe this impacted not only my grades, but my life overall. I was more irritable, stressed and gained about 10 lbs in the year.

3. Have a good support network for when things get stressful. Confide in your classmates, other friends, family, or any other support service you may need.

 

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3 hours ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

Regular exercise is the closest thing to a fix-all for your life we have. I don’t know why so many people abandon it in 1L. 

We won’t have access to gyms this year unfortunately (Ontario). 

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36 minutes ago, jatthopefullawyer said:

We won’t have access to gyms this year unfortunately (Ontario). 

Honestly, you can stay fit with a set of dumbells, pull up bar, yoga mat and block, and winter running shoes!

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While exercise neurophysiology is not my specialty (neuroscience-background though), there appears to be plenty of evidence that moderate-to-high intensity cardiovascular exercise can directly improve blood flow, growth factor production, neurogenesis and/or neural plasticity in your hippocampus. This can be associated with improved memory retention and cognitive functions.

I believe there is also similar pre-clinical research showing a negative impact of high fat/sugary diets (or "Western diet") on hippocampal function, but I'd have to do more reading on the subject to provide any significant insight. For what it's worth, I've also read a recent paper that suggested the same diet can trigger inflammation and other pathological responses in the otherwise healthy spinal cord in rodents, which suggests our diet can have a far greater impact on our long-term health beyond our waistlines or cardiovascular system. 

Therefore, it's likely best to exercise regularly and cut out those sugary/fatty foods! ;)

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11 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Honestly, you can stay fit with a set of dumbells, pull up bar, yoga mat and block, and winter running shoes!

Ya I decided to trial one of those workout apps that give you classes at home (something I’ve never done in my life) and it’s been great. I think I enjoy working out quickly at home more than going to the gym, something I can easily stretch to three or four hours depending on my energy level, lol. 

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17 minutes ago, Astrowelkyn said:

While exercise neurophysiology is not my specialty (neuroscience-background though), there appears to be plenty of evidence that moderate-to-high intensity cardiovascular exercise can directly improve blood flow, growth factor production, neurogenesis and/or neural plasticity in your hippocampus. This can be associated with improved memory retention and cognitive functions.

I believe there is also similar pre-clinical research showing a negative impact of high fat/sugary diets (or "Western diet") on hippocampal function, but I'd have to do more reading on the subject to provide any significant insight. For what it's worth, I've also read a recent paper that suggested the same diet can trigger inflammation and other pathological responses in the otherwise healthy spinal cord in rodents, which suggests our diet can have a far greater impact on our long-term health beyond our waistlines or cardiovascular system. 

Therefore, it's likely best to exercise regularly and cut out those sugary/fatty foods! ;)

But is it the fat or the sugar!? Isolate your damn variables, nutrition science.

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16 minutes ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

But is it the fat or the sugar!? Isolate your damn variables, nutrition science.

I do know that a ketogenic diet (low carb, high fat) has shown to improve some pathological and functional outcomes in animal models for pathologies of the central nervous system. Either a fatty diet exerts opposing effects in the healthy or injured CNS, negatively acts in synergy with high sugars, or sugar is in fact the main culprit.

It is possible, dare I say a near certainty, that we've been lied to all these years and sugary cereals are not in fact part of a balanced breakfast!

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Sugar is pretty bad. Some fats are good. Some are pretty bad.

But many western diets are in fact unbalanced in one or both regards. This is pretty bad too.

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I am only starting law school in the fall, but since we are on the topic of exercising, I like to do yoga to relax and I highly suggest the app I use called Down Dog. It gives video tutorials based on how long you want to practice and what level you are at.

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I cycle alot, I absolutely love it. I try to do about 300km a week. However, I still haven't been able to kick some of the bad stuff in my diet. I'm still eating a lot of sugary and processed foods. The exercise isn't a problem, but the diet has been very difficult to phase out.

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On 6/2/2020 at 7:03 AM, CleanHands said:

One thing I'd like to say on this subject is that I'd encourage anyone going to law school to be kind to themselves.

In law school I have worked with and studied under lawyers who were gold medalists, Supreme Court of Canada clerks, Ivy League or Oxbridge grad degreeholders, etc. People who have worked on genocide cases at The Hague, people who have argued or been cited before the SCC, people who have advised Prime Ministers, etc. And many of them did this while juggling family life and all sorts of other responsibilities. I had fewer personal responsibilities and accomplished none of the things any of those people did.

It is really easy to forget that studying at a Canadian law school is itself an indication of some degree of success and competence. It is easy to forget that law exams--while not meaningless--assess some very specific skills and aren't necessarily completely representative of your intelligence or ability or potential as a practicing lawyer. It is easy to forget that assessments of you (in academics, in OCIs, in clerkship applications, etc) are relative to other people who are switched on, intelligent, motivated and high achieving people. It is hard to contextualize everything.

In short, there is a lot of noise in law school that will inevitably make the majority of people there feel like fuckups.

I'm sure that different people will have different ways of dealing with this, but what I found really valuable was doing all sorts of volunteering providing legal services to those who couldn't afford it but didn't qualify for Legal Aid, and keeping the messages that I received from people thanking me and making notes of such things when they happened in person. In the end what has reassured me of my own worth wasn't any grades or recommendation letters or job offers I received, but rather the time a psychiatric patient shook my hand and thanked me because I got him released from the hospital, the time an accused hugged me because I was able to prevent her from getting a criminal record over a minor assault that a prosecutor was treating as the crime of the century, the time a client wrote a long, heartfelt letter thanking me for caring and fighting for them even though I lost their case, the time a single father thanked me for successfully fighting the eviction of him and his disabled daughter, the time that a client's refugee claim was successful and they texted me to thank me for helping make it happen.

Whatever else, good or bad, pursuing all of this has meant for me, this all serves as a reminder that I do have value and so did my decision to go down this path. And further, that I owe it to both myself and others to work hard and keep at it, because as law students and lawyers we are empowered to do some real good and shouldn't squander it.

Hey man, just want to say, as someone currently studying for LSAT and planning to apply for the next cycle, thank you for the inspiration. You've reminded me more about what's beyond this test, and why I want to do this in the first place -- it's not just about whether or not I can score really high on the LSAT. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences and insight. 

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, goodisgood said:

Hey man, just want to say, as someone currently studying for LSAT and planning to apply for the next cycle, thank you for the inspiration. You've reminded me more about what's beyond this test, and why I want to do this in the first place -- it's not just about whether or not I can score really high on the LSAT. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences and insight. 

Thanks for the kind words. I was very surprised at how many doors opened for me the moment I started law school. Definitely take advantage of those volunteering opportunities--both for others and for yourself.

Good luck with the LSAT and applications!

Edited by CleanHands

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