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Methodological Distraction

Instead of briefing my cases this evening, I spent the time looking at past papers some recommended articles on studying for law school. (Findlaw's student section is remarkably good for this.)

I'm coming to the conclusion, looking at past papers, that an outline which is based solely on a set of case briefs is a bit of a mistake. (If this is obvious to you 2Ls, be kind to the blinding flash of the obvious, OK?) The first question on the exam always seems to be on how to apply a set of laws, which may or may not relate to these cases; the second question is an evaluation of statutory interpretation issues. In other words, I might have been better off taking more detailed notes on the discursive sections than spending all this time on case briefs.

Ah well: yes, it's a waste of time for this class, but mistakes are the best way to avoid screwing up next time. At least, that's what I'll tell myself.


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Okay, dude, this is why you're going to an Ivy League school--and I'm not. My goal is merely to outline last week's stuff while keeping this week's work under control and maintaining a sufficient amount of sleep. I have yet to think about taking exams and stuff. Sheesh.
Nah, this is "how a dumb person competes with smart folks."[1] I doubt there's much Ivy/non-Ivy difference. [2] The way that I've always managed is to figure out the rules of the game before I start playing it, in order to avoid wasting time. I work quite slowly, so if I don't do that, I'm going to be lost. I'm worried that when things really start hopping next week after Legal Methods, I'll spend hours trying to correct these mistakes if I don't figure them out now. Also, Columbia's structure (for those of you considering this school) is quite amenable to this strategy. We don't start torts, contracts, civ pro, etc. until next week. Instead, we've spent a week doing general 'Legal Methods,' with an exam sometime in September that is pass fail. (I've been told it's nearly impossible to fail the exam.) So considering exams at this point (near the end of a 'course') is not so strange. [1] Not saying I'm dumb (though I'm near-terminally lazy), but I'm certainly no smarter than the average blogger-about-town, and I don't put much stock in 'Ivy folks are smarter.' [2] And I should probably lose points here for not consciously recognizing that Columbia is an Ivy-league school. For some reason, that phrase has always impressed on me the vision of buildings covered with ivy--and there's almost no greenery on this campus to speak of.
As I see it, there is major difference between Ivy and non-Ivy. From reading your posts, I note that Columbia concentrates a great deal on theory... in comparison, we spend our time with the practical stuff. No "evolution of the concept of man." No, for us it's the difference between offensive battery v. harmful battery and various types of fraud via contracts. But I wouldn't trade my school for yours. :-) I am very happy with my school.
Ha! I had the same reaction to Columbia being an Ivy - a 'hum, oh wait, I suppose it is' moment. Personally, I think detailed case briefs are a waste of time, and I'm better served by an outline containing all related cases with a few bullet points about the facts and legal reasoning/importance. I did one for the product liability cases, and it's been extremely helpful. I'll send it to you if you want. If you haven't already at least skimmed Law School Confidential, I'd suggest doing so. You might not agree with all of the discussion about how to study (I've avoided the technicolor highlighting so far), but it seems to be a fairly coherent pedagogical viewpoint, and one that resonates for me.
Hmm. I think we're a bit too early in the game to be making that kind of broad generalization. I certainly don't know enough to know it's a major difference between Columbia and anywhere else. There isn't a lot of theory being taught here either. (The 'differing concept of man' post you're referring to is all off my own back.) The Legal Methods course is mostly basics that might apply to any course--how to interpret a statute, basics about precedent and stare decisis, etc. I doubt that there's a substantial difference in what's taught, or at least it doesn't seem so yet. I don't think the legal methods structure is common even to a lot of Ivys. This is my guess, though. But heck, I'm guessing at whether you capitalize 'Ivy League.' :)

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