snarf's emails to her mentees

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snarfing
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snarf's emails to her mentees

Post by snarfing » Fri Aug 24, 2018 3:17 pm

Hi guys I am a 1 L adviser this year and as part of that I send emails to a group of students I have assigned. There is some ny specific advice and fordham specific advice but I figure I might as a well post it here because 1L is hard and there cant be too much advice. This will be updated weekly at first then be tailored to specific times a for fordham students, though I assume it will match up with many of your schedules, i.e.

short memo, long memo, right before exams, after exams, coming back to school, brief, if my students ever have midterms (unlikely), finals again, writing competition, grats on first year.

Each email is intended to keep my group focused on what they should be doing now, not worrying about exams/oci/writing competition ahead of time.

THE FIRST EMAIL, WELCOME TO LAW SCHOOL! HELP FOR GETTING THROUGH THE FIRST WEEK OF CLASS:

Hello guys,

Welcome to 1L! I hope your orientation is going well and youre all getting settled into apartments/ getting ready for class.

Here are some more condensed tips for starting off 1L right, of course everyone is different, but this worked well for me:

1. GO TO CLASS. Not showing up to class is the number 1 way to do badly on exams. Professors share what they think is important and what they think is important is what they test on

2. Be mentally present in class. I leave my phone in my locker to not distract myself during class, if you have more will power than me more power to you but focus on discussion not what your friend is texting you/what sales stores have. Also, by leaving your laptop in the locker you are forced to only write down what is important and synthesize the information you hear rather than be a transcriber.

3. Try and do readings at least a week ahead of time. I did most of my readings on Fridays because I only had 1 morning class that day and could just work until about 5 pm and be done for the week. Then during the week id read the cases deeper, retype my notes check supplements, go to study groups, etc.

4. Some basic tips for doing the readings, what youre looking for is some relevant facts on which the case is decided, what is the issue (that is whats the question of law), what the holding is (that’s the answer to the question), a 1-2 sentence “rule” that the case stands for, any interesting points from dissents/concurrences, and comments on arguments.

5. You will likely stop briefing cases fully after awhile, that’s fine. But definitely do it at first because learning to read a case takes awhile and briefing it helps you learn how to pick out what is important

Im going to detail my controversial method for doing the readings, but I wouldn’t recommend this for the first couple of weeks, or maybe at all depending on what works for you.

1. Read through the case and quickly pull out the rule and some memorable facts as well as some points about the dissents etc. Make sure you stay about 1-2 weeks ahead on this, skim the notes 10 min before class

2. Read through the notes, but don’t take notes on them

3. Go to class, listen intently and take notes on the cases/notes

4. As soon as possible after class, reread the case more intently, editing your rule/memorable facts based on what was emphasized for class

5. Really dive into the notes, work through hypos (great thing to go to office hour with and check if youre doing it right) and take notes on the notes.

For me everything but what was in class was typed, this way when you start outlining its all there and easy to move around.


TIPS for stuff you might need to buy / mental health and physical health

1. Sign up for ABA and get 3 free months of quimbee, then if you like quimbee on black Friday buy it for a discounted price.

2. I highly recommend buying a bookstand like this http://a.co/d/hhMt9bx it will save your neck a lot of pain

3. a Shelf for your locker might help keep things organized

4. When buying supplements the order you should look for is professor written ones> ones keyed to casebook>ones that are well reviewed online

5. I recommend keeping a blanket/jacket in your locker the library is pretty cold

6. there are discounts at a lot of places nearby, I recommend attempting to use your id anywhere youre buying something to see if they offer a discount. Some places I know have a discount: bread bakery and Alan’s, New York Philharmonic, J Crew, West Elm, YogaWorks, The NYC Ballet. Wichcraft has half off coffee between 3-6 pm. I think you can go to the Broadway Box office and use your id there.

7. The New York Bar has a great free and confidential assistance program for lawyers and law students. https://www.nycbar.org/serving-the-comm ... ce-program utilize it or the counseling center or a third party if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, general stress, alcohol or drug abuse, gambling addiction etc. I am also here if you need me, feel free to pm me.

8. If you notice a fellow student not coming to class, reach out to them, and if its someone in this group that’s doubly true. If you want you can also tell me and I will keep it anonymous and reach out to them on your behalf.

9. Try to spend a couple of hours every week not doing something law related, hiking, playing softball whatever you enjoy. You likely dont need to "work weekends" until at least october, possibly later.

10. Fordham has a great deal with NYSC gym and they have really good classes, but in general, spending some time at the gym is good too.


You can also find good advice on the forums Lawschool.life: https://www.lawschool.life/forums/ and on their guides page: https://www.lawschool.life/guides/ [meta]

also there are forum games like sheep which are a lot of fun and a good stress relief.

Sometime next week I’ll be emailing about outlining, if you have any questions before that though dont be afraid to reach out.

Best,

snarf

---

THE SECOND EMAIL, OUTLINING:

Hey guys,

So you made it through week 1, CONGRATS! Today’s email is all about outlining, Im giving you this a bit early because I know some people like to start right at the beginning, even though I don’t advise that.

FIRST: there is no secret to outlining, everyone does it in a pretty similar way and outlining is just one way to learn the law. There is more to law school exams than learning the law, but we will get to that later.


You may want to start right at the beginning at the start of next semester, but this semester you probably are still figuring out how to read a case and likely aren’t good at picking out the big picture yet, and if you start outlining too early you risk missing the forest for the trees because there isn’t enough to put together. For that reason, I recommend sometime between early and mid October to begin outlining.

CHECK YOUR EXAM SCHEDULE, this will tell you which classes you need to outline sooner. For you guys its Crim on December 12th, Property on December 17th and Contracts on December 19th. That means you need to start your crim outlines about a week before the other two, because you have a week less time at the end of the semester. So for example you maybe start your crim outline on the 1st of October and your property and contracts outline on the 8th.

Alternatively, you could plan to start them all at the same time and just put in extra time for the last two because they’re worth more credits. I usually back end this and break down my last month studying in proportion of the credits the classes are worth.

The goal should be to be caught up on your outlines around thanksgiving, that means since you’re starting a month after classes start you will be outlining a little over a week worth of material every week. You want the last weeks to only be outlining what you learned THAT WEEK and to start taking practice exams with your outline.

Going back through your outlines over and over again to make them shorter is also very helpful. Your first outline may be about 60 pages, by the end you want it to be about 20 pages and also to have a 1-2 page checklist style outline.

The best way to figure out what an outline should look like (though this can vary, for example some people like flow charts and some classes may lend themselves to certain styles) is to look at other people’s outlines.

You also shouldn’t be solely using a self made outline, these outlines I am sending to you represent probably a 5 or so students work being edited each time to be more and more correct. That being said, there will likely be incorrect things in these outlines, part of the usefulness is to go through it and notice “hey they didn’t quite say that in class! It was a bit different” and then edit it.

I recommend looking through one of the outlines I send you or an outline you got somewhere else weekly and checking it against what you heard in class. This is something you can start right away. That means if you just learned 1st degree murder, flip to the part of the outline that is on 1st degree and check if everything seems right. Then later you should somehow Frankenstein your outline and this edited outline together, anything you wanted to flesh out more.

At the end of the semester, after thanksgiving, you should look at all your case briefs, edit them into 1 sentence or blurb of facts (could be the rail road case, or something more extensive, however you remember it), and 1 sentence of rule. Then organize them into subjects (these cases are the consideration cases, these are the substitutes for consideration). A table is very helpful for this.


TO SUMMARIZE:

1. Start outlining early to mid October

2. Keep in mind that your finals are at different times and make sure you give yourself enough time to study for all of them.

3. Keep in mind your classes are worth different amount of credits and split up your studying accordingly

4. Look at old outlines, I am sending you some from someone I knew did well in the class with your professors and also I can send you the ones I made for my professors, but keep in mind they may cover different topics.

5. You can also get outlines from outline banks, for example APALSA on twen has a bunch of outlines to look at for each professor.

6. Be caught up on your outlines by thanksgiving or a week or so before thanksgiving.

7. Once your outlines are caught up begin taking practice exams to both learn how to take an exam (more on this next week probably) and to figure out the weaknesses in your outline.app.php/post/193668/report

8. Use other outlines and check them for correctness week by week. Combine them into your outline, flesh them out as you want to.

9. Get your outline to a manageable size so that its actually helpful on exams. Eventually maybe tab it by subject.

10. Summarize cases into a usable size, this will help you put together the big picture.

Best,

snarf

THIRD EMAIL, ON MEMO WRITING
Hi all,

I believe this week you all got assigned your first memo so this email will be on writing your memo, generally. I cannot look at your individual memos, as that is against the honor code, but I can tell you some of the mistakes I made on my first memo so hopefully you don’t make the same mistakes.

1. If your professor says she wants you to do something, do that thing even if you think there is a better/ smarter/ more eloquent/ clearer way. They’re the one who is grading it. Feel free to change it for when you send out writing samples. For example, my professor wanted our issue to be one sentence even though it was two distinct issues and it seemed clearer to put it in two. It doesn’t matter what I thought, I put it in one sentence and got a little check mark next to it. As such, if your professor says anything that contradicts what I say here or what you find online, listen to her.

2. I did not leave enough time to proof read. This was a big deal for me, especially since I was coming from a non-writing intensive background. Bad grammar and spelling are the quickest ways to have people forget the good legal theory you have in there. Id leave at least one day per 5 pages to proof read, that’s bare minimum. Also, my professor was very against singular they, which as you may notice I use a lot in typing, I recommend just avoiding that in general. Check for passive voice as well.

3. I did not know the correct terms to use to describe cases. Trial courts “hold” things, they don’t discuss things, or think things, or write things. They may grant/ deny a motion for blank. Appellate courts also hold things, but they often reverse, affirm, vacate, or remand (or some combinations, reverse in part and affirm in part, reverse and remand.) Use the correct terms to say what the court is doing. These are terms of art and mean specific things.

4. My issue presented was not specific enough. Make sure to include some relevant facts in your issue presented. Whether the court should hold x when y. y should have some facts.

5. I did not explain every step of my logic. Each time you make some sort of logical conclusion, examine it as you would a logical reasoning question on the LSAT. Did you make an assumption? If yes explain that assumption. Did you not write out every single step that makes it clear you should end at that conclusion? Make sure you put in those steps. A memo should require no thinking to read, it should instead show all the thinking you are doing.

If you have any general questions about memos let me know, and if after your assignment is complete you have any more specific questions let me know that too.

Don’t forget to relax once you hand it in, I know you’re all going to great on this first assignment!

Best,
snarf
Last edited by snarfing on Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:24 am, edited 2 times in total.

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: snarf's emails to her mentees

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Fri Aug 24, 2018 5:37 pm

I disagree on your bookstand recommendation.


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snarfing
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Re: snarf's emails to her mentees

Post by snarfing » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:15 pm

HelloYesThisIsDog wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 5:37 pm
I disagree on your bookstand recommendation.

That looks like it's have trouble holding larger books but if it doesnt I'm willing to buy it right now.

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: snarf's emails to her mentees

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:19 pm

It did fine for me. I mean if it's a mega massive book, maybe, but I am straining to think of the books it didn't do well with. You can also order a larger or smaller size depending on preference.

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snarfing
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Re: snarf's emails to her mentees

Post by snarfing » Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:31 pm

bump for second email

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ymmv
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Re: snarf's emails to her mentees

Post by ymmv » Mon Sep 03, 2018 12:54 pm

snarfing wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 7:15 pm
HelloYesThisIsDog wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 5:37 pm
I disagree on your bookstand recommendation.

That looks like it's have trouble holding larger books but if it doesnt I'm willing to buy it right now.
Much prefer folding metal bookstands that easily fit in any bag pocket.

Image

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HelloYesThisIsDog
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Re: snarf's emails to her mentees

Post by HelloYesThisIsDog » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:02 pm

I tried those and I hated them. The one I linked can fit in a backpack. It's not tiny but it fits. I ended up buying two bookstands. One I kept at home and the other I kept at school. That way if I did some reading at school, and wanted to do more at home, I just grabbed the book I needed and left. Lighter load overall.

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snarfing
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Re: snarf's emails to her mentees

Post by snarfing » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:18 pm

thats the one i have ymmv

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ymmv
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Re: snarf's emails to her mentees

Post by ymmv » Mon Sep 03, 2018 1:20 pm

oh lol it’s a good one. That thing saved my neck in law school.

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snarfing
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Re: snarf's emails to her mentees

Post by snarfing » Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:25 am

third email up

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bvest
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Re: snarf's emails to her mentees

Post by bvest » Mon Dec 24, 2018 3:42 am

tagging.

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