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So... the Civ Pro exam

That excellent novel, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, describes the effects of the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster as "likened to having your brains smashed out with a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick."

Take away the lemon, and you'd have about the net effect of that twenty-four hour Civ Pro takehome. I never thought anything would keep me from blogging for almost two days, but that exam did it.

I spent about two hours regretting how poorly prepared I was. Then I spent the next hour getting an outline together, and realizing that a whole other week of studying wouldn't have done me any good: I'd never have felt prepared for this thing. I'm not saying the exam wasn't fair, or suitable to the course, or whatever: it was just very, very hard.

All in all, I got about four hours of sleep in that twenty four hours. By the time I was done, I was reasonably happy that I had something I could hand in. It was the requisite number of words, answered all the questions, and more or less made semi-plausible arguments for whatever it was I'd wanted to assert. I have no idea if it was actually correct, but it was words on paper. That was about the height of my ambitions by the time I finished.

The worst exam I ever sat was my unseen translation final back when I was studying Japanese, in which I was met with a classical Japanese character I couldn't have hoped to meet, and translated it as 'rose.' When I got home, I figured out that this very active rose whose story I'd been translating was actually a hawk. The part of the character that meant 'bird' should have been a dead giveaway, but oddly wasn't. This exam wasn't that bad, but it runs a close second.

Since 4PM on Friday, I've spent the statistical majority of my time in bed recovering. And soon I'm off home for the holidays, to leave all thoughts of law school behind me. Oh, except for the following:

(a) If given the choice, I'm never taking an course with a takehome again.
(b) If there's any second-years reading this who have good ideas on breaktime reading for Con Law, I'd appreciate it. My teacher apparently assigns hideous amounts of reading each night, so I figure reading a hornbook over the break would hurt me.


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I'm not a second year (having gone through that several years ago), but I was a big fan of the Examples & Explanations series (by Aspen) and the "Understanding ***" series (by Lexis). E&E saved my butt in a number of classes (trusts & estates, civ pro, bankruptcy, and real estate finance, just to name a few). Either one would be a good primer on the subject.
Chemerinsky's Supreme Court Cases is a good supplement, especially if you are using his text. It has good overviews of the cases.
hey, take a break from law (lest you go crazy). :-) give yourself a week off, at least.
Seems like we all are in agreement on that Civ Pro exam, and on the need to avoid take homes. I wonder why any professor gives those except to torture their students.
For ConLaw, get the two E&E books (one on federalism, one on sdp/ep) and Chemerinsky's hornbook. I'd read the hornbook instead of your casebook during the semester, but no reason to read it now, as it really just explains (well) the holding of a case. Know, however, Chemerinsky has a tendency to make opinions he disagrees with (pretty much everything from the Rehnquist court) more confusing than they really are. If your prof plans on doing a lot on the 11th amendment, read John Noonan's book. It's a wonderful read, and will provide you some great context/arguments. You can pick it up at any bookstore with a decent legal section. Heck, just read the first chapter or two to really impress the hell out of your prof with your mastery of sovereign immunity. If you want something really substantive, do the Aspen E&E books -- and I'd start with federalism. The substantive due process/equal protection stuff has changed since the last term (Grutter, Lawrence), and I don't think the book have been updated. Plus sdp/ep is fairly intuitive, or at least, in the news frequently. I doubt many pay that much attention to truckers' mud flaps or wheat-growing farmers, however, so I would read the federalism E&E. It provides some good context and is a quick read. Good luck!

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