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BuddyBoy

Overwhelmed in 1L Not Understanding Anything

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Hey everyone, 

So I started 1L this September after being out of school for a few years. I was excited and everything to begin law school but now everything is feeling overwhelming. I don't think this is for want of trying. Currently, I am doing all my readings, briefing all the cases, trying to supplement with treatises and going to every class but I just feel the material is incomprehensible to me. I find I vaguely understand concepts and can pick out rules in cases but then I struggle to apply to new fact patterns. By contrast, it seems my colleagues understand everything and bring unique insights to most of our topics. People also brag about how little work they seem to do. I know they may be just talk but it seems to be instantiated with actual contributions in class. 

With exams approaching I am starting to get very nervous.I do not know, realistically, how much more work I can put in. Still, I feel as if at this rate I am heading towards disaster for the first exams. 

Any suggestions for how to cope and better approach things would be greatly appreciated. 

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I'm only a 1L, so take my advice with a grain of salt, as I have yet to see if it works. These are some pieces of advice I have gotten from upper years so far. Pick and choose your battles. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. Find good upper year summaries and use those for classes where you don't think you need to do all the readings. Do practice exams. You don't have to do EVERYTHING. Do enough work until it makes sense for you. For example, I'm having trouble with my property class, and I have devoted this entire weekend just to learn the statute of uses. Find out your weaknesses, and work on those. Good luck with the semester! 

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11 minutes ago, BuddyBoy said:

So I started 1L this September after being out of school for a few years. I was excited and everything to begin law school but now everything is feeling overwhelming

Normal

 

11 minutes ago, BuddyBoy said:

I just feel the material is incomprehensible to me.

This is normal

 

12 minutes ago, BuddyBoy said:

it seems my colleagues understand everything and bring unique insights to most of our topics.

They dont

 

12 minutes ago, BuddyBoy said:

People also brag about how little work they seem to do.

They are either lying or about to have a very rude awakening come midterms.

 

12 minutes ago, BuddyBoy said:

Any suggestions for how to cope and better approach things would be greatly appreciated. 

If you are having a hard time understanding things email or talk to profs about they, they have office hours for a reason and spend most of them bored waiting for someone to come by and ask questions. Ignore everyone else, until you get grades back on your exams no one actually knows how well they understand the material. If you made it into law school, you can make it through law school.

 

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3 hours ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

They are either lying or about to have a very rude awakening come midterms.

Yeah, @BuddyBoy just wait and see how the class dynamic changes and how people don't talk quite so loudly come January. haha

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I have slightly different advice from the above (although I agree that your perception your peers are better off than you is probably wrong!). 

You wrote that you're doing a lot of reading and briefing, but struggling with the application. It sounds like you need to focus more of your study time to that. You can do that through practice questions/tests, but I also just recommend making up your own hypotheticals in your head. I always would try to simplify it to the most basic and relatable terms. A lot of 1Ls say they struggle with the old cases because of the language, but I think it's also that the facts of cases aren't relatable. So try applying the rule to relatable problems.

I may not be explaining this well. Feel free to PM me with a rule/case and I can give a concrete example of what I meant. 

Learning the law matters so much less than being able to apply it, and it sounds like that's where you're struggling right now. 

Edited by feraenaturae
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7 hours ago, BuddyBoy said:

I know they may be just talk but it seems to be instantiated with actual contributions in class. 

Well, if it makes you feel any better, I didn't know that was an actual word.

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I'm not sure if this is your problem, but my advice may nonetheless help. From your description of briefing cases, I feel that maybe you are getting mired in the details. In the beginning of 1L, I was so obsessed with the facts that I missed the forest for the trees. Eventually I learned that the details didn't matter much and they actually prevented me from applying the ratio to situations that weren't exact replicas of the facts in the case. It sounds scary, but try to distill the facts into as broad of a summary as possible and how the ratio applies to these pertinent facts. Also speak to your professors on how they think the case would apply to other facts. Usually they are happy to elaborate on how this case would apply to other sets of facts (if you're afraid of taking up too much space or appearing like a gunner, do it during office hours).

Also, I agree with everyone else that your colleagues are either delusional about their understanding or boasting (or both). I found there was a lot of bravado signaling in 1L where people alleged to do so little and understand so much. Ignore the noise, everyone has their own process of coping with a new learning environment.

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14 hours ago, BuddyBoy said:

Hey everyone, 

So I started 1L this September after being out of school for a few years. I was excited and everything to begin law school but now everything is feeling overwhelming. I don't think this is for want of trying. Currently, I am doing all my readings, briefing all the cases, trying to supplement with treatises and going to every class but I just feel the material is incomprehensible to me. I find I vaguely understand concepts and can pick out rules in cases but then I struggle to apply to new fact patterns. By contrast, it seems my colleagues understand everything and bring unique insights to most of our topics. People also brag about how little work they seem to do. I know they may be just talk but it seems to be instantiated with actual contributions in class. 

With exams approaching I am starting to get very nervous.I do not know, realistically, how much more work I can put in. Still, I feel as if at this rate I am heading towards disaster for the first exams. 

Any suggestions for how to cope and better approach things would be greatly appreciated. 

Try to keep your head up :) It's normal to feel this way especially when you're new to something.

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21 hours ago, JusticeLordDenning said:

For example, I'm having trouble with my property class, and I have devoted this entire weekend just to learn the statute of uses

This is unbelievable to me. We spent like 20 minutes on the statute of uses, were told it didn't matter, and we have no actual cases on it or anything. Are there even any significant cases on it?

Amazing how different the curriculum can be between different CL schools in Canada!

-GM

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29 minutes ago, GrumpyMountie said:

This is unbelievable to me. We spent like 20 minutes on the statute of uses, were told it didn't matter, and we have no actual cases on it or anything. Are there even any significant cases on it?

Amazing how different the curriculum can be between different CL schools in Canada!

-GM

Wow, that is crazy. It's honestly not that bad after studying it, but I'm doing the rule against perpetuities now, and that's a different story. How much time did you spend on this? We spent 2-3 classes I think just on statute of uses, so I think our experiences are definitely not the same. There's no cases on it, but from what I understand, we're going to have a multiple choice exam (instead of a fact-pattern). Also, we have year-long courses, so that might be why your experience is not like mine. We're learning real property in the next semester.  

Edited by JusticeLordDenning

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2 hours ago, GrumpyMountie said:

Amazing how different the curriculum can be between different CL schools in Canada!

If you think that discrepancy is interesting: those of us who were "taught" property law by Tony Sheppard learned absolutely nothing about property law at all! :)

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