Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Alrighty Then ... Law School 1L the Summary: Part 1
(as written for those yet to experience the bliss of law school)

I know ... I've been thinking about how to go about putting this all down for some time now. Hopefully this turns out more coherent than confusing, but I'll do my best.

So ... 1L. How to summarize in a useful and meaningful way. First of all, I want to address some of the questions that I had last summer that I couldn't seem to get answers to.

1. What's the workload really like?

For me, at the U of S, the workload was really quite manageable. Law school consists mostly of keeping up with your readings for each class, some assignments (we had four assignments throughout the entire year), and exams.

Readings: Assigned readings consist of mostly cases, but sometimes we were assigned current event clips, and journal articles. Readings were anywhere from 6 - 40 pages per class, they took me longer than the readings that I used to do in undergrad, but I only had class twice a week for each class ... so you had quite a bit of time between classes to get to the reading. Since I treated law school like a job I was at school at 8:00 (ish) every morning and did my readings then, and in between class. I rarely read at home, and I kept up with almost all my readings. I also took lunch in the law lounge with my buddies, and sometimes didn't even get to the readings between classes. The 2 hours in the morning really helped me stay on track.

Assignments: The four assignments that we had were

The Closed Memo (i.e. your research is handed to you). This is the first 1L assignment, and so some people really freak out. Basically, you have to read about 6 cases (which you'll have had practice doing already), and write a memo about them within a week. The memo is about 12 pages long double spaced. The best piece of advice that I have about this is to really use this as an opportunity to understand legal writing. It is different from other types of writing. Don't freak out, it isn't worth it. It is a little bit ridiculous to have a melt-down over an assignment worth so little, and where any kind of feedback that you get is really helpful. Also - don't leave it to the last minute. It may take you a bit longer than assignments you did in undergrad (not the theory, but the actual construction ... took me awhile to organize in a way that I liked).

The Open Memo (i.e. you do your own legal research). You'll have about 10 days or so to research and write a memo about a fact pattern. This, I found to be easier than the closed memo because I had a better idea about what was expected. I think I wrote a lot about it after I finished the assignment in November.

The Written Summary and Oral Advocacy (MOOT). This was a little terrifying, but didn't take nearly as long to prepare (although, I'm fairly comfortable with public speaking). Again, i think I wrote a lot about this after I finished the moot in January.

The ADR Assignment. A paper type of assignment, not like legal writing assignments, applying the alternate dispute resolution methods that we'd been learning about. This assignment was relatively quick compared to the others, I did most of mine leisurely over spring break.

Exams: I prepared like crazy. All exams were open book and worth so much of your mark, you really had to be prepared. Last minute cramming won't fly, and this is where staying up with your readings really helps out.

Summary: I didn't work while I went to law school, but I think I could have swung a part-time job, especially in first term. This would require extreme organization, but I think it could be managed. Part-time work would have to be evenings and weekends, though. There isn't much time during the day, as your classes span regular business hours (at U of S, anyway) from Monday to Friday.

2. What are the classes really like?

One things that is important about law classes is preparation. The profs don't lecture, really, and tell you what is what ... they discuss the cases from your assigned reading, and show you how the cases fit together to form a dynamic picture of the law. Discussion is key - and if you haven't read, there's not much to discuss. I got a lot more out of classes when I was prepared for them.


Jamie said...

I'm still not quite ready sit back and reflect on 1L. Here at Dal we haven't gotten our marks back, so I think once that happens, I'll let them digest and then have a chance to reflect on the year. I loved it, but am happy that I'm doing something different for now.

Enjoy your summer!

Cappy said...

Okay now you're just making it sound easy!

Lisa Hutch said...

Ahahaha. For me ... it wasn't easy, but it was less of a struggle than my undergrad in CPSC ... which in my mind probably made it seem easier ... but it's still a lot of hard work!