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jatthopefullawyer

Study Routine for Law School

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I just finished Getting to Maybe so I started researching some study strategies and came across this 

https://supremeadvocacy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Study-System.pdf 

While I recognize that everyone learns in different ways and there is not one strategy that is successful, is this a good routine in general to follow? By making weekly summaries, it kind of forces you to know what happens every week and it would be great to make my own summaries too. I have also read on this forum that students who make their own summaries often do better so that's why I kind of like this idea. Also open to other study strategies that worked thanks! 

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15 minutes ago, jatthopefullawyer said:

I just finished Getting to Maybe so I started researching some study strategies and came across this 

https://supremeadvocacy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Study-System.pdf 

While I recognize that everyone learns in different ways and there is not one strategy that is successful, is this a good routine in general to follow? By making weekly summaries, it kind of forces you to know what happens every week and it would be great to make my own summaries too. I have also read on this forum that students who make their own summaries often do better so that's why I kind of like this idea. Also open to other study strategies that worked thanks! 

There’s a bunch of stuff I would disagree with in that document, but I think the general idea of summarizing as you go through the course and summarizing again to further distill the course content is sound. 

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From my perspective the most valuable thing you can do is be able to dedicate some time to studying for and practicing exams. Most students only follow along week to week which means that they end up with a crunch around exam time when a lot of the workload increases. 

That means by the end of the semester you need to be several weeks ahead of your readings. Spend time increasing not simply your knowledge of the content, but the application of it. You are graded on the latter far more than the former. 

Law school rewards superficial brilliance, that is well worded, logical and brief applications of the law. 

 

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I’m going to hijack this thread if I may. I’ve seen many references to “maps” and other sort of study tools/tricks for law schools. 
 

Could anyone explain what all of those are or point me to a thread that does?

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24 minutes ago, CarletonChonkers said:

I’m going to hijack this thread if I may. I’ve seen many references to “maps” and other sort of study tools/tricks for law schools. 
 

Could anyone explain what all of those are or point me to a thread that does?

It’s just a flow chart. Some people find them useful, but I never found it that difficult to figure out the next step in any given analysis. 

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Posted (edited)

My routine was: 

  • Monday to Thurs before each class: I read each case before class. If no time to do so, I read a case brief of the case or a good upper year summary so I at least knew what was happening during class. Never go into class cold, it's not a productive use of time. 
  • During class: I took sorta shitty notes per what the Prof is saying. Focused less on students and the questions they asked unless the Prof emphasized that it was a very important or thematic question. If the Prof provided powerpoints, then it was a lot of transferring text over from their powerpoint to my notes. If I had a good summary, I would use the summary text and copy and paste over, but rephrasing things and adding concepts for my own understanding. Last option was to just type into a blank page, but did a good deal of that too. 
  • Every Friday: Most important day of the week for me. I would go through my crappy notes and beautify and organize, and synthesize them, This included highlighting ratios and key facts and jurisdiction/holding with a colour scheme I understood. If there is time, I would  think about the cases thematically and how this weeks' content fit into thte course overall (offer/consideration/acceptance or duty of care/standard of care, w.e. course it was). 
  • Saturday: always took this day off. 
  • Sunday: Began reading Monday's classes

 

Edited by OzStudent
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Posted (edited)

To ask a relevant question, what is the best way to go about acquiring quality CAN's/Summaries? I will be attending Osgoode in the fall and it's Legal and Literary society facilitates first year student access to a variety of summaries from a multiplicity of years for a wide range of courses; however, I would ideally like to ensure i'm using the best materials available to help guide and structure my own studying. Are there any traits good CAN's/Summaries have in general that I could keep in mind when seeking them out? I understand too that CAN/Summary construction is also a subjective task, and what constitutes a "good" summary will differ person to person. Still, there are so many to choose from and any expository advice or opinions would be appreciated. 

Edited by LabouriousCorvid

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Just now, LabouriousCorvid said:

To ask a relevant question, what is the best way to go about acquiring quality CAN's/Summaries? I will be attending Osgoode in the fall and it's Legal and Literary society facilitates first year student access to a variety of summaries from a multiplicity of years for a wide range of courses; however, I would ideally like to ensure i'm using the best materials to help guide and structure my own studying. Are there any traits good CAN's/Summaries have in general that I could keep in mind when seeking them out? 

What makes a good CAN is super subjective, although one you made yourself will almost always be superior to grabbing one from last year's course prize winner just before the exam. 

Look for CANs that make sense to you and for the course. My first semester constitutional law exam was purely on the federalism analysis. I wrote that exam with a 6 page flow chart, a friend of mine wrote a 100 page CAN with in depth notes on every case talked about. We both got Bs. There's no real set of criteria that's going to make something a better CAN.

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15 minutes ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

What makes a good CAN is super subjective, although one you made yourself will almost always be superior to grabbing one from last year's course prize winner just before the exam. 

Look for CANs that make sense to you and for the course. My first semester constitutional law exam was purely on the federalism analysis. I wrote that exam with a 6 page flow chart, a friend of mine wrote a 100 page CAN with in depth notes on every case talked about. We both got Bs. There's no real set of criteria that's going to make something a better CAN.

What makes a good summary is how correct it is. That’s the principle advantage of getting summaries from people who do well in the course – you have some assurance that the summary contains correct material. 

The summaries I’ve seen from average students, and the summaries found on the L&L database, are riddled with errors. In contrast, I’ve rarely found more than one or two errors in the 1L summaries I got from a 3L who medaled. 

The form is much less important than the substance, because form can easily be changed when you draft your own summary. 

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1 minute ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

What makes a good summary is how correct it is. That’s the principle advantage of getting summaries from people who do well in the course – you have some assurance that the summary contains correct material. 

The summaries I’ve seen from average students, and the summaries found on the L&L database, are riddled with errors. In contrast, I’ve rarely found more than one or two errors in the 1L summaries I got from a 3L who medaled. 

The form is much less important than the substance, because form can easily be changed when you draft your own summary. 

I guess there is one objective criteria, make sure it has the right law.

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41 minutes ago, LabouriousCorvid said:

To ask a relevant question, what is the best way to go about acquiring quality CAN's/Summaries? I will be attending Osgoode in the fall and it's Legal and Literary society facilitates first year student access to a variety of summaries from a multiplicity of years for a wide range of courses; however, I would ideally like to ensure i'm using the best materials available to help guide and structure my own studying. Are there any traits good CAN's/Summaries have in general that I could keep in mind when seeking them out? I understand too that CAN/Summary construction is also a subjective task, and what constitutes a "good" summary will differ person to person. Still, there are so many to choose from and any expository advice or opinions would be appreciated. 

Sorry for the stupid question but what is a CAN? 

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Just to add to what makes a good summary: the next huge indicator of quality is organization. You want to access the information as fast as possible in exam conditions. This also means cutting out fluff and highlighting the most useful bits. 

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8 minutes ago, CarletonChonkers said:

Sorry for the stupid question but what is a CAN? 

Condensed Annotated Notes. It's another name for summaries or outlines. 

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2 minutes ago, choijonesjr said:

Just to add to what makes a good summary: the next huge indicator of quality is organization. You want to access the information as fast as possible in exam conditions. This also means cutting out fluff and highlighting the most useful bits. 

I disagree with this. Plenty of awful summaries are concise and nicely highlighted/colour coded. Plenty of good ones are overly long and devoid of emphasis. I think the only good way to ascertain how good (read: correct) a summary is is by reference to the author’s grade. Even that’s really just an estimate of quality. 

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Which brings me nicely to my cardinal rule for summaries: don’t rely on them for the correctness of their content unless you know either the grade that summary got its author or that the author is the type of student who could be relied upon to have scored well in the course. You can use other summaries to suss out what form your prefer, but for content you should be relying on your professor, your notes, the cases, and reliable summaries. 

Also, upper years, tell people what grade you got if you’re giving out summaries and don’t give out shitty ones. 

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3 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

I disagree with this. Plenty of awful summaries are concise and nicely highlighted/colour coded. Plenty of good ones are overly long and devoid of emphasis. I think the only good way to ascertain how good (read: correct) a summary is is by reference to the author’s grade. Even that’s really just an estimate of quality. 

Sorry, I should've been more clear. By organization, I mean more than just highlighting and including trying to organize the content in a way that's conducive for exams. For example, in 1L contracts, having doctrines with a case reference could be more useful than having a long case brief. 

Still, I take your point that accuracy is most important, especially since really be making your own summaries and perhaps using other summaries as a base.

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2 hours ago, OzStudent said:

My routine was: 

  • Monday to Thurs before each class: I read each case before class. If no time to do so, I read a case brief of the case or a good upper year summary so I at least knew what was happening during class. Never go into class cold, it's not a productive use of time. 
  • During class: I took sorta shitty notes per what the Prof is saying. Focused less on students and the questions they asked unless the Prof emphasized that it was a very important or thematic question. If the Prof provided powerpoints, then it was a lot of transferring text over from their powerpoint to my notes. If I had a good summary, I would use the summary text and copy and paste over, but rephrasing things and adding concepts for my own understanding. Last option was to just type into a blank page, but did a good deal of that too. 
  • Every Friday: Most important day of the week for me. I would go through my crappy notes and beautify and organize, and synthesize them, This included highlighting ratios and key facts and jurisdiction/holding with a colour scheme I understood. If there is time, I would  think about the cases thematically and how this weeks' content fit into thte course overall (offer/consideration/acceptance or duty of care/standard of care, w.e. course it was). 
  • Saturday: always took this day off. 
  • Sunday: Began reading Monday's classes

I really like this. The advice I posted suggests the end of the week should be used to clean up your notes as well, so I am guessing that is very important. It's also a great idea to take Saturday's off. I am assuming Saturday's were used for studying a few weeks closer to exams  

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I always find it interesting to see what other people did in law school. I don’t think I’ve ever noted in a summary (or even my notes) what jurisdiction or level of court a decision is from. Sure, I know that Walton Stores is an Australian case, but that’s because it stands for a principle that’s rather explicitly not been adopted into Canadian law. And even that didn’t make it into my summary, I just knew that about the case. 

When it comes to your run of the mill, accepted cases, I never paid any attention to where the case was or what level of court it came from. No professor ever seemed to care that I didn’t know that Carbolic Smoke Ball was an English court of appeal decision, not an English House of Lords decision. 

My summaries were always just a list of ratios with headings, and by the end of 1L that’s what my notes were too. I never took note of the facts, issues, reasoning, etc. except in so far as the facts were directly relevant to the ratio. 

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1 hour ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

I always find it interesting to see what other people did in law school. I don’t think I’ve ever noted in a summary (or even my notes) what jurisdiction or level of court a decision is from. Sure, I know that Walton Stores is an Australian case, but that’s because it stands for a principle that’s rather explicitly not been adopted into Canadian law. And even that didn’t make it into my summary, I just knew that about the case. 

When it comes to your run of the mill, accepted cases, I never paid any attention to where the case was or what level of court it came from. No professor ever seemed to care that I didn’t know that Carbolic Smoke Ball was an English court of appeal decision, not an English House of Lords decision. 

My summaries were always just a list of ratios with headings, and by the end of 1L that’s what my notes were too. I never took note of the facts, issues, reasoning, etc. except in so far as the facts were directly relevant to the ratio. 

I almost always put jurisdiction and level of court in my CANs (year too). It's not useful on the exam really, but I didn't memorize them instantly, and often found myself wondering while reviewing later in the semester. Especially in first year. 

As far as what makes a good CAN, if I had to pick one with excellent structure or (near) perfect content accuracy. I didn't assume anything was complete or correct, but someone laying out a framework for application saved me more time than it took me to go through it for correctness/accuracy. I also do have a great memory for the content of cases, so lengthy summaries that included briefs with facts and analysis were usually unnecessary. I just wanted to hammer down a clear structure. 

Caveat, I did love a few long summaries from medalists, but I used them more as supplementary textbooks. 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, LabouriousCorvid said:

To ask a relevant question, what is the best way to go about acquiring quality CAN's/Summaries? I will be attending Osgoode in the fall and it's Legal and Literary society facilitates first year student access to a variety of summaries from a multiplicity of years for a wide range of courses; however, I would ideally like to ensure i'm using the best materials available to help guide and structure my own studying. Are there any traits good CAN's/Summaries have in general that I could keep in mind when seeking them out? I understand too that CAN/Summary construction is also a subjective task, and what constitutes a "good" summary will differ person to person. Still, there are so many to choose from and any expository advice or opinions would be appreciated. 

For most classes I jumped around between several, sometimes settling on one I found I liked the best, but other times pulling from up to four to make my own.

People don't always agree on the best one. It can definitely be subjective. But at my school, people would discuss which ones they were using, and if there was a publicly available one that was popular, no one kept it a secret. 

Edited by feraenaturae

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