Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I had no idea.

You can read the books, listen to what others have to say about it, and talk to professors and attorneys. But it didn't really prepare me for this. I am swamped all of the time. I was behind by the second day of classes. I just said good-bye to my weekends.

And I can't figure out if it's just me. It feels like everyone else is getting the reading done much quicker than I am. But then I just learned something horrible about my learning. I do not really get something until I have created notes for it. I am a transcriber. Reading doesn't do it. I can read passages until the cows come home, whatever the hell that means. But if I don't write it down in my own words, I don't learn it.

I am hanging on to the one bit of hope, it will get easier. If nothing else, it will get easier to say goodnight to everyone and turn back to my books. It will get easier to pour myself into the shower at 5 am to get more reading done before class. And it will get easier to only have a few hours on the weekend to "play." I know I have to get faster, more efficient, but with this whole bit about writing things down, I don't know how.

Any one can chime in on this, please!


Butterflyfish said...

Law students lie. They lie a lot. Some may say they're reading 10 times more than you and try to make you feel like a slacker. Some may say they just skim the cases and are *smart* enough to get it so easily. Ignore em. Or better, don't ttalk about your study habits.

Work at your pace. You *will* get more efficient. Look at some supplements *before* you read -- sometimes having the big picture helps you pull out the point of the reading better, minimizing the note taking.

Eliza said...

Thank you! I think maybe I am going to have to start with canned briefs before reading the cases. I just take in the info far too slow.

Eliza said...

If you (especially you, with child and hubby) have any suggestions on how to FEEL more rested on less sleep, I would love to hear it!

divine angst said...

Ditto. You will get faster at this. What takes you three hours now will only take you an hour and a half by next semester.

In the meantime, supplements are great. Go ask the prof if he or she recommends any in particular. And while you're there, ask the prof any questions you might have. So many students don't take advantage of office hours--don't be one of them!

And yeah, make it your practice not to talk about your study habits. Try to meet and make friends with people who don't boast (or whine or complain) about their study habits. You will be much more sane in the end.

Austin said...

Learning how to read a case is tough. It will get a lot easier.

But you'll also learn that some of the minutia in cases isn't as important as what you might think now or as the prof will have you believe in class. It's just hard to know on what to concentrate at this point in your school career. You'll get the hang of it and understand what I mean by that after your first year especially.

Remember, the final exam is the only important thing and don't be afraid to consult supplemental material as suggested.

The good thing is that your are putting this kind of work in right now whereas some of the students are surely treating law school like undergrad.

CALI's Pre-Law Blog

George said...

Do what works for you. It will take a while to figure out what that is.

I started law school in 1980. I marked my books up with red and blue pens, using various combinations of underline color and marginal line color coding for different parts of the case.

27 years later, I read cases like a champ. Which is to say I read the first paragraph or two, the last paragraph, and the legal analysis part. I read the facts only to the extent the legal analysis leaves me puzzled about certain facts.

A well-written court opinion (many are not) will mention all relevant facts not just in the facts section (where many irrelvant ones tend to creep in), but also in discussing application of law to facts, which is really where it's at.

Now your profs may try to put you on the spot about marginal facts, but you could always come back with the fact that the court didn't indicate that fact was relevant to its analysis (with which you have familiarized yourself). Then they may ask you if you nonetheless thought it relevant.

So in the end as a student you need to read all the facts to perform like a champ when called on in class, but I'd definitely start with the guts of the case -- the statements of legal principles and their applications.

I wouldn't use secondary materials unless I was stumped. I got through law school, magna cum laude, without ever reading a hornbook.

Did I devote all my waking hours to the law? Except eating, reading one daily paper, and taking off Sunday mid-afternoon to evening, you bet!

Did I know people who did as well or better grade-wise spending less time? Sure. That's life.