Frankly, it's pretty darn hard, if not impossible to overcome skepticism (1) that there's anything new under the law school sun; (2) that some guy (Wentworth Miller), some program (LEEWS) completely removed from law school (despite over 30 years in the business) knows (far) more about taking/preparing for law exams than any law professor or law school academic support adjunct.
[LEEWS note. We instructed many current law professors. We helped them get A’s that led to a professorship. However, implementing LEEWS implies a significant makeover of law school instruction. Touting LEEWS would mean rocking the boat. Moreover, many are loathe to give LEEWS credit for their “brilliance” on exams. Thus, most LEEWS law professor grads prefer to remain mum.]
We know the most effective advertising is not anything we say here, but recommendations from among the well over 100,000 who have done LEEWS during the past 3+ decades – lawyers, judges, current law students, (increasingly) prelaw students. (As many as 10-12 percent of current lawyers did LEEWS!!)
The many many satisfied grads tell others about us. (However, rarely classmates. "Too powerful to share," they say.) Word-of-mouth has kept us going where so many study aids* have (deservedly) fallen by the wayside. We have more and more students whose parents benefited from LEEWS when they were in law school (!!).
If that is how you got here – a lawyer, judge, law professor, relative, friend, etc. said, "Do LEEWS!" –, perhaps you want to stop now and proceed to the order/register page.
We remain the best, perhaps the only bargain you're going to find in the quest to become not just a law school graduate, but a graduate with a job waiting. You have, as always, something no other study aid has ever offered (or dares offer) – a free trial of either live or audio program. (See Guarantees.)
* LEEWS is unique. "Study aid" hardly describes/encompasses the revolutionary change in thinking and approach respecting both law school and exams LEEWS effects. However, it is the descriptive term/category given to all law school and exam-related instruction apart from what occurs in the classroom.
Here's the bottom line, what every law student or person planning to attend law school needs to grasp: THE INSTRUCTIONAL FORMAT FEATURED IN EVERY AMERICAN LAW SCHOOL – it's called "case method" (briefing and reviewing [appellate] cases, the whole Socratic thing) – DOES A LOUSY JOB TRAINING THE LAWYERING MIND. (I.e., something approaching the thought process of a practicing lawyer.)
Lawyers still learn to be lawyers as they did prior to the invention of law schools – by practicing law.
LAW SCHOOL (every one!) FAILS TO TRANSITION ACADEMIC THINKER/LEARNERS (virtually all who enter law school) INTO SOMETHING APPROACHING A PRACTICING LAWYER THINKER/LEARNER.
At the same time, the "hypothetical-type" essay exam exercises featured in all law schools, especially first year, precisely call for students to perform "as a lawyer." Complex, confusing contractual, tort [non-contractual harm, injury], procedural – whatever legal subject tested – tangles of facts are often followed by the instruction, "Imagine you are a lawyer [judge, law clerk]. Sort out rights and liabilities [as a lawyer would]." Time pressure is typically severe.
No matter how smart or diligent, whether at Yale, Harvard, Stanford Law, or Law School on the Internet, law students, with nary an exception, perform miserably on such exams. (Then blame themselves. They think, "I don't have what it takes to be a great lawyer." Professors and everyone else think that as well. Yet many who get B's, even C's, go on to be fine lawyers. [What's that about?!])
Even students who get the rare A's (newly minted "geniuses of the law") write lousy exams. As a professor at University of Georgia Law told his first year torts class some years ago:
“If 100 points are possible on my [final] exam, I'm expecting scores in the range of 25 to 35.”
Correct. 35 out of 100 earns an A in law school. [Note. 35, 45, 55 out of 100? Is such a person a genius of the law? Hardly. More likely just academic thinker/learners with backgrounds – typically math/(hard)science/engineering (not English!) – that encourage thinking akin to that of a practicing lawyer. Grade curves mandate that some (few) get A's. Their efforts are merely less incompetent than those of classmates.)]
That's the "skinny," as is said. LEEWS (Law Essay Exam Writing System) founder, Wentworth Miller, Yale Law grad ('77), Rhodes scholar, onetime practicing New York lawyer, has painstakingly figured it all out, especially how to transition academic thinker/learners into (a facsimile of) practicing lawyer thinker/learners. During 30+ years in the business, he's evolved, tested, polished, refined, and continued to polish and refine a proven (enormously) effective, true science of preparing for and taking any and all law essay exams, law school or bar.
LEEWS is actually several systems (see longer introduction below). LEEWS takes full advantage of the shortcomings of (all) law schools. One does not become a "genius of the law." (There is no such thing! Certainly not by dint of any quality/aptitude that is "innate.") However, one easily out-competes clueless classmates who may be smarter, often more hard working. LEEWS gets one (rather easily) to 35, 45, 65, even 85 and higher out of 100.
No tricks, no short cuts. No wasted motion either. (E.g., page-long [non exam-focused] case briefs and endless [mostly useless] class notes.) Just a confident march toward a well-understood goal – the all-important final exam; and skills and unique approaches necessary to exercise control, even mastery over confusing, intimidating essay exercises.
AND NOTHING ELSE COMES CLOSE! Nothing one's law professors and academic support personnel have to say. Nothing an upperclassman who did well has to say. (Did he/she score 35, 45 out of 100?) Nothing BAR-BRI, Flemings, – Sure, we'll name names. –, Getting to Maybe, Aspen Series, Great Lecture Series, Emanuels or Gilbert's, Delaney, Planet Law School (which, along with other books, recommends LEEWS as "by far the best" of study aids, and "nothing comes close"), or anyone or anything else has to say!
They and their IRAC-based, standard wisdom on how to prepare for and take law exams – that often sounds good, has been around forever, and has never been particularly effective (See Standard advice – free!) – are not even in the ballpark. (E.g., none gleans the underlying problem with law school instruction; none challenges and takes advantage of the shortcomings of case method; none adequately addresses the failure to transition academic thinker/learners to lawyer thinker/learners.)
You can stop now, believe everything we've said, order the highly effective, still ridiculously reasonable audio program – $175 (the price of a new casebook, incl. shipping); ten day free trial –, or sign up for a one-day live program (if scheduled).
Or continue reading. A table of introduction contents follows to assist in navigating (should you care to read more). We'll try to flesh out the how/why/wherefore of the assertions above. An awful lot has accumulated at this website over many many years. There is a wealth of free, useful advice. (However, know that it is mere advice, not LEEWS.)
There are1,000 or more attested (signed!) comments, letters, etc., from LEEWS grads. They represent almost all of the nearly 250 American law schools. They are but a fraction of countless positive responses to questionnaires we have accumulated over three plus decades, many with names added. (Note. For the most part comments that inform are presented, not the many many more that merely circled "excellent" or "very good" in rating the [live] program, and "excellent" in rating the presentation.)
However, here's a hint. For a synthesis of 30+ years of accumulated wisdom useful to a law student, particularly one about to begin law school (as well as all one needs to understand LEEWS, how LEEWS came about, why it is so effective, etc.), start with the free downloadable 2012 book advertised at the homepage – Gaming Emperor Law School.
What LEEWS is is an innovative, tested and polished (for over 30 years!), proven effective), comprehensive (A-Z) science – a true science of both preparing for and (in particular) taking the problematic, "hypothetical-type" law essay exam featured in all law schools and on all bar exams. LEEWS is the antidote to law school instruction that fails, utterly, to train "lawyerlike thinking."
“System” means an orderly arrangement of things that are so related or connected as to form an organic whole. (E.g., solar system.) An orderly, logical method linking various parts is evident.
Applicable to all subjects, LEEWS is actually three systems – 1) a disciplined, three-step approach to breaking any essay exercise down into manageable components that reveal "issues" – issue identification system; 2) a consistent format for presenting issue analysis in concise paragraphs – presentation system; 3) a regimen of day-to-day, week-to-week preparation geared to effective implementation of system #1 (e.g., 2-4 line [exam-focused] case briefing; 30-50 page course outlining) – daily/weekly preparation system.
The most important advantage LEEWS provides is the best instruction ever devised for inculcating the critical skill of thinking/analyzing "as a lawyer."*
LEEWS provides precise, hands-on guidance respecting what, exactly, to do at all times and at every phase of both taking (main focus) and preparing for any law essay exam. (Also assists with so-called objective exams – multiple choice, short answer, true/false.)
LEEWS is nothing less than a revolution, a breakthrough in insights and instruction. Compared with LEEWS, current omnipresent, ineffective, IRAC-based exam writing/preparation instruction merely scratches the surface of what law students can and need to know. (See Standard Advice – Free!)
LEEWS accomplishes what no law school at present does – transition academic thinkers/learners to lawyer thinkers/learners.
Although nationwide, even international, LEEWS is a small, low overhead operation. (Perhaps apparent?) Moreover, Mr. Miller, LEEWS founder/owner/instructor, thinks law students are gouged quite enough. Therefore:
Acquiring LEEWS (thereby ensuring law school success) is remarkably inexpensive – $135 for the live program (less for groups, includes manual/primer); $175 for the equally effective audio CD program. (The latter probably more effective, providing you do it!)
If you are prepared to sign up for a live program or order the audio program, you may want to do that now. (Each comes with a free trial guarantee! See Guarantees.)
* This skill/mindset, typically acquired only via actual law practice – in legal clinics, summer legal jobs, practice following law school –, is key in impressing on law exams and competing for rare "A" grades. The absence of this skill/mindset largely explains why smart, diligent students at even Yale/Harvard/Stanford flounder on law exams.
Current "case method" instruction in law school – reading, briefing, discussing actual legal cases – fails to adequately convey the lawyer analytic mindset. Students enter law school as academic thinkers/learners, and remain so. Students whose prior experience and instruction brings them closer to the lawyer mindset – math/science and engineering majors; philosophy majors; whatever hones precise [nitpicking], analytic thought – enjoy some advantage.
Only after learning to "think as a lawyer" can students properly learn the law. Thus, the typical lament of law students following mediocre exam performance that "I knew the law" is incorrect. They didn't "know the law" so as to apply it "as a lawyer." They merely memorized rules.
The difficult obstacle over the years has been threefold: 1) persuading new and prelaw students, all intelligent and with a lifetime of academic success, that help in law school is needed; 2) persuading that LEEWS is different in a meaningful way, head and shoulders above the instruction offered by law schools, law professors, and all other sources in effectiveness; 3) persuading students who've taken exams, floundered, and are grateful for the probable B, even B+ nevertheless received (gifts!), and who are convinced that nothing less than a "genius of the law" brain transplant can enable mastery on an essay exam, that A's in law school are not only possible, but probable.
What is required is instruction that they cannot conceive of – LEEWS!
In seeking to overcome these obstacles, over the years we have endeavored at length to explain the what, why, how of LEEWS and its remarkable (wholly predictable) effectiveness. We have tried to answer commonly asked questions, etc.
That (lengthy) discussion follows, prefaced by a guide to contents.
Should you choose to peruse it, we're sure you will find it interesting, edifying, informative. Alternatively, as suggested elsewhere, or in addition, take the time to read Mr. Miller's new book, currently available free at this website — Gaming Emperor Law School (30+ years of taking advantage of the failure of American law schools — all 200+ of them! — to train lawyers; 30+ years of LEEWS).*
* Gaming Emperor Law School explores the history of law schools, what is wrong with law school instruction (no exceptions!), and why and how this can be taken advantage of – rather easily. It describes a typical first day of class in law school. It explores how LEEWS came about, what it entails, the innovations and new insights that underpin it. It explores the lessons of Mr. Miller's experience as a high-LSAT, but typical floundering (and bored) law student at Yale (class of 1977), and later as a practicing attorney. It explores the greater effectiveness and how and why of revolutionary 2-4 line exam-focused (not classroom discussion focused!) case briefing. It provides a test of lawyer insight versus that of a group of Harvard 1Ls. It makes recommendations for sweeping changes in instruction and a two-year law school education. There is much much more. (E.g., instruction on perplexing, multi-level state and federal court systems; law school transfer advice; perspective on USNews law school rankings; instruction on Latin terminology; etc., etc.) THIS IS A MUST READ FOR ANYONE ENTERING LAW SCHOOL, TRYING TO UNDERSTAND LAW SCHOOL, THINKING ABOUT HOW LAW SCHOOLS SHOULD CHANGE.
Newsflash! — The (very) good news in law school is that top grades — A's! — are not so out of reach as most law students think.
The simple fact in all law schools is that however smart, however diligent, the great majority of students write mediocre exams. As a result, you don’t have to write a great exam to get a top grade. A competent, lawyerly effort will impress and compete for an A!
Time-pressured law essay exams confuse and intimidate even the great majority of law students at Yale/Harvard/Stanford. As a couple revealing quotes below attest, those few who get A’s are not “geniuses of the law” (as they and many law professors believe). They're just a bit less confused than equally smart … Indeed, often smarter, more diligent classmates! “Case method” instruction (all the briefing and note taking law students engage in) does little to prepare one to perform “as a lawyer” on time-pressured essay exams. Nor is “IRAC" and standard, rather obvious advice others offer (including law professors and law school programs!) very helpful. (Standard advice such as “pay attention to time limits,” “plan your response,” “read the facts carefully," “identify all issues," “argue both sides [of issues],” “support your conclusions,” “follow IRAC,” etc., won’t be of much assistance. We cannot adequately convey how far beyond IRAC and standard exam writing and exam preparation advice the comprehensive, insightful science that is LEEWS goes. You have to rely on our 30+ years of experience (we know more about this than any law professor!), and the testimony of others, both at this website, in books, and in online blogs and chat rooms. Suffice that LEEWS grads are not just less confused. They're not confused at all! They know exactly what to do and how to do it on any and all law exams!
Welcome to the (“clunky,” “old school,” “amateurish”) LEEWS website Also described as “looks-like-it-was-constructed-by-a-10-year old,” “hard-to-navigate,” “too much information,” etc.
We plead “guilty.” The website has grown over the years and needs updating. This introduction is probably far too long. But, please excuse us. There's a lot of useful, free information here.
Moreover, a slick website won't make up for offering little more than the ineffective, IRAC-based, standard exam writing advice offered by all of our competitors. (Including law school/law professor in-house sessions!)
If you're prepared to order the audio program or sign up for a live program, both of which offer a free trial guarantee (see “Guarantees”), stop now. Save yourself some time.
Otherwise, there is much here to ponder. The problem of law school, especially law exams, and how and why only LEEWS has been successful in solving the problem is a complex topic. Much of this website is devoted to persuading the doubters, the bulk of whom are students already in law school.
Weeks into law school, when a fog of confusion and self doubt begins to descend, it's hard to believe a clear path out exists. “Gotta be a scam!” is a typical reaction to our advertising. (Perhaps that's a good thing for those who do LEEWS. Less competition.)
Our aim is to empower law students. The myths and pre and misconceptions regarding law school are familiar. Our aim is to dispel the myths, many of which are destructive and self defeating, correct the misconceptions, and intelligently and accurately paint a portrait of what's what in law school all law schools! (The law school experience from north to south, east to west, large to small, top to lower tier, is remarkably similar.)
Our aim is to paint a hopeful portrait of what is possible. Law school can be a stimulating, productive experience. It isn't for most.
Please bear with and excuse any unnecessary or repetitive discussion you may encounter. We mean well. We're in your corner!
Welcome, especially, new law school admits! Whether you found us via book, friend, lawyer, judge, internet chat room, web search, etc., we're glad you're here.
Congratulations on your admission to law school! Think about that. You're going to be a lawyer!
In coming to this website you perhaps have some interest, some curiosity, some hope that LEEWS will provide what? ... An advantage, a leg up before starting law school? If so, in this supposition you would be incorrect. For reasons we will attempt to make clear, LEEWS provides much more than a mere advantage.
Be sure to click on “Message(s) of the Moment” for advice tailored to both new “1Ls” and upperclassmen. We've added topics over the years. A sample – “A portrait of 1Ls first term (What happens for most, versus what could/should be [Had they taken LEEWS!]);” “Why so few law students get 'A' grades;” “If LEEWS is so helpful, why hasn't it been incorporated into law school curriculums after all these years?” (Short answer – It would give law students too much power!); etc.
If your school is not your first choice. Grasp and practice what we instruct, get great grades, transfer to the law school of your choice. “A” grades are that important in law school. Get A's, and college gpa, LSAT, etc. no longer matter.
Off hand, LEEWS grads come to mind who have transferred from Thomas Cooley to Washington U. and Northwestern, Chicago-Kent to U. Michigan, U. Tulsa and Hofstra to Georgetown (3 in one class from Tulsa to G'tn.!), Nova to Duke, U. Minnesota to U. Chicago, South Texas to U. Texas, U. Texas to Harvard, Whittier to UCLA, ....
Alternatively, thanks to you and your schoolmates, law schools have a ton of money. (They really do. Wait until you learn what professors earn for minimal teaching duties.) If you're at a lower tier school and get high grades, intimate that you're thinking of transferring. They'll cough up scholarship money to keep one of their stars.
What is “LEEWS?” It's an acronym for (Wentworth Miller's) Law Essay Exam Writing System.
LEEWS is actually several systems – a system for dissecting any essay exercise to reveal “issues” professors (and bar examiners) want identified; a system for doing analysis, and presenting it in concise paragraphs; a system of day-to-day, week-to-week exam-focused preparation.
LEEWS offers the best instruction on how to perform “lawyerlike analysis.” Acquisition of this skill is essential to compete for top grades. However, few law students ever fully grasp what is meant by “analyze as a lawyer” and “think like a lawyer.” (Not while in law school.)
For most students, “case method” instruction, featured in every law school, fails to adequately how to “analyze as a lawyer.” We do. Along with our systems and other instruction, this gives our students a significant advantage.
We address objective-type exam formats (multiple choice, true/false, short answer), use of ancillary aids (“hornbooks,” commercial outlines, etc.), “policy” versus “black letter law” emphasis, open book versus closed book exams, and much more.
In sum, LEEWS is a proven effective, comprehensive, A-Z approach to preparing for and writing the kind of competent, lawyerly exam that impresses and earns a top grade.
What does LEEWS cost? We offer LEEWS for what, given value received (what are A's worth?!), our customers uniformly think is an absurdly low price. $135 early registration (by Weds. prior) for the live program (includes book and coffee), $150 at the door. Group discounts can reduce cost considerably. E.g., 3-6 = $120; 7-12 = $115; 13+ = $110, OR free course to organizer and $115/per. $175 for the equally effective audio program (incl. book and shipping).
The small, personal operation that is LEEWS: We're nationwide, even international, but not large. Basically a mom 'n pop operation run by Wentworth Miller LEEWS founder/instructor, former Brooklyn prosecutor, former assistant United States attorney (EDNY), Rhodes scholar, Yale Law grad ('77). Most important, as many of the 900+ attested remarks in “Student Reactions” indicate, Mr. Miller has deep empathy and concern for his students.
We're not about slick (expensive. deceptive?) promotion. We have a single sophisticated product that we've polished for over 30 years. Nothing else comes close to it in effectiveness. (Which is why other study aids can't match our guarantees.)
It may be noted that Mr. Miller uses a whiteboard, a flipchart, and the LEEWS Primer to instruct programs – not power point, videos, etc. This is more than adequate. Students enjoy themselves. Most also enjoy the equally effective audio CD alternative.
The important thing, perhaps the only thing you need to know is that LEEWS solves the problem of law school and law exams!
A matter of trust: LEEWS is effective because of one salient circumstance – the unique difficulty of the challenge law exams pose, and across-the-board failure of law school teaching to adequately prepare students to address this challenge with skills/approaches needed to exhibit mastery.
A tangle of confusing facts, coupled with the instruction, “Sort this out as a competent lawyer would!,” immediately puts the brightest, most diligent student on the defensive. Confused and intimidated, the great majority of students, even at Harvard/Yale/Stanford, flounder.
This uniform confusion and resulting mediocrity of response explains why LEEWS enables students of lesser college gpa and LSAT statistics, relative to classmates, to write the top exams, make Law Review, secure top jobs and clerkship opportunities.
[Note: “Law review” (called “law journal” at Yale) is the flagship publication of every law school. It is normally staffed by upperclassmen in the top ten percent of their classes. Participation on law review is hard work. Membership on law review is a signal honor that virtually assures a top job.]
However, you have to trust us and Mr. Miller's near 35 years obsessing over the problem of law school and law school exams in making such a bold and self-congratulatory assertion. You have to trust the book, lawyer, judge, friend, etc., who perhaps told you, “Do it!,” “Do LEEWS!”
You have to trust that LEEWS offers the correct path, not your professors and the many classmates moving in a different direction. And that is to ask a great deal.
Because implicitly we are criticizing an institution for which you understandably have great respect, and which you contemplate with a certain awe – your law school.
It is perhaps asking too much once a student finds him/herself sitting in class with that aforementioned fog of confusion and self doubt descending.
However, consider this. If law schools did what they're supposed to do, LEEWS would not be so effective. LEEWS would not exist. (!!)
Much of what follows is our attempt to earn/justify your trust. (If we're preaching to the choir, then, as noted, perhaps what follows is for the student already in law school.)
Be sure to check out “Basic Truths About Law School.” It provides hard-hitting, somewhat jarring facts (requiring the trust we have alluded to). For example, much-feared class participation normally counts nothing respecting the final grade. The advice about purchasing used books may save you a few dollars.[Note: Below, in the sections indicated above and entitled, “Do Study Aids Make a Difference,” and “More on What Sets LEEWS Apart,” you'll find, inter alia,* the following topics: “The scoop on standard exam writing advice;” “The problem with 'IRAC;'” “Beyond standard Advice (enter LEEWS);” “What LEEWS offers (that no one else does);” “The LEEWS advantage (in a nutshell);” “Why LEEWS is so effective;” “More on the LEEWS advantage;” etc.] * Means among other things. Yes, we even instruct useful Latin phrases – arguendo, supra, infra, sua sponte, etc. Latin phrases should be expressed in italics, or underlined. They should be bracketed by commas. Properly used, they are useful. They also impart a lawyerly aspect to an exam response or other legal writing.
Game for more discussion? ...
Doing law school the right way (differences in LEEWS day-to-day approach versus traditional approach): A major commitment of time, sweat, and money lies before you. A lot of money! The important thing is to do school the right way, preferably from day one.
Law school needn't be the “scary,” “awful,” “you'll hate it,” “your life ends,” “frustrating” experience many would have you anticipate. The law school game, even including exams, can and should be interesting, intellectually stimulating. But it's a different and unfamiliar game.Once again, you have to trust us and Mr. Miller's nearly 35 years of experience and obsessing over the problem of law school and law exams.
LEEWS approach and instruction is very different. It is what law schools ought to instruct, but don't.
For example, where classmates' case “briefs” facts, procedure, issue, rule, holding, rationale, etc. – are typically laborious 1/2 page to page-long affairs (until they switch to “book briefing”), a LEEWS grad's case brief is only 2-4 lines. (Really! 2-4 lines in the left margin of the note pad. [Complete] “black letter law” needed for the exam, an understanding of how to use or apply that law [to new and different facts on an exam], a ten word synopsis of the case.)
2-3 weeks into term, classmates, unable to keep up their lengthy briefs, switch to “book briefing” – highlighting and marginal notes in the casebook. The problem with book briefing, which some study aids tout as a tactic, is that one has to go back and review cases prior to exams. Very inefficient!
Where classmates take copious notes (typically 3-4 pages per class hour), ending the term with a mountain of notes they won't have time to review, the LEEWS grad takes 1/2 to a single page of notes per class hour. These notes are then discarded weekly. (Literally!) Because weekly, everything of importance in those 2-3 pages (versus 10-15 for classmates!) is incorporated into a “course outline” – a summary of law deemed relevant to the exam, organized for speedy reference.
[Most first term law students typically begin course outlines too late in the term. Moreover, their outlines are often 100 pages and more in length. A LEEWS-constructed outline will be in the range of 30-50 pages, sometimes a bit more, often a lot less [10-12 pages!].)
[Note: The reason students take copious notes is they don't know how to “analyze as a lawyer,” don't understand what is needed for exams, don't understand how class relates to exams. Confused, unable to make sense of the many threads of discussion, they compensate by writing everything down. They reason, “I'll make sense of this later.” But there's no later in law school. Material keeps coming at you. Once behind the curve, it's nigh impossible to catch up. Especially if you don't understand the game and its rules.]There is much more. Suffice that for less than the cost of a new casebook, you'll understand the game, start off on the right track, march methodically and confidently toward an exam performance that will stand head and shoulders above that of seemingly superior, but clueless classmates. Why LEEWS is doubted: Within days of starting law school, many doubt our claim that “A” grades are possible, even probable.
The reason is that law school classmates will seem the most able group you've ever had to compete against. Many have PhDs. Many have written books. Some have been doctors and CEOs of companies. Even at lower tier schools, most had near 4.0 gpa's in college, and many have high LSATs.
The confident erudition of some who respond in class will intimidate. Students think, “I can't do better than that person;” “I'm not as smart as that person and that person and that person.”
Thus, students begin to buy into the most prevalent, self-fulfilling, and destructive myth in law school – all law schools! Namely, that doing well on law exams requires special, innate, lawyering aptitude – “genius for the law,” “the Right Stuff.” Moreover, you either have it (very very few), or you don't (the great majority).
Law professors (who almost uniformly did well in law school) and those who do well naturally propagate this myth, because it is so self congratulatory. (Who doesn't want to think he/she is a genius of the law?)
This myth also excuses the failure of case method instruction – reading, briefing, discussing law cases – to give students a fair shot at writing masterful exams. Confronted with the usual pile of mediocre exam responses, a law professor must conclude a) I failed to train lawyers; or b) ability to master law exams requires a rare, innate aptitude. (Duh-h!)
The confusion and intimidation most students experience in class reinforces a growing sense of inferiority. Students begin to accept that A's are beyond their ability. Many are worried about just passing exams. Getting the B's most schools now award for mediocrity is therefore a great relief. Students are content with B's. A's are believed to be beyond reach. Anyone or anything that asserts that A's are possible, even probable (LEEWS!) has to be lying.
Mr. Miller has been invited for several summers to instruct a very able group of minority law students headed to top law schools. (E.g., 18 going to Harvard, 5 to Yale one year.) He is struck by the confidence of this group (indeed, most prelaws) compared with students he instructs six weeks into first term. (Cowed, skeptical, merely hopeful of passing. We're pleased to note that by day's end they are much more confident. They're even eager. Because they now understand the game and see the possibility of doing well.) Doing LEEWS via audio program prior to starting law school: More and more students do LEEWS via the audio CD program prior to starting law school. If you choose to do this, we suggest you revisit the program six weeks into first term. (OR attend a live program at the reduced “repeater” rate.)
It will be hard to resist following the herd of confident-seeming (on the outside) classmates who, as advised, will be preparing lengthy briefs and taking endless and useless class notes. So you'll likely need to refresh what we instruct. Trust us and our 30+ years of experience. They're wrong!
Meantime, enjoy your summer. Read biographies of lawyers. (E.g., My Life in Court by Louis Nizer.) Read novels. Then enjoy law school. (Yes, it's possible!)
STILL WITH US? STILL INTERESTED? STILL WANTING MORE PERSPECTIVE, MORE INSIGHT, MORE PERSUASION?
Welcome to law school, where the only thing that counts is grades. Not membership in organizations or on sports teams, as in college. Not being president or secretary of your law class (unless you plan a career in politics and/or seek a non-legal job). Grades are everything in law school, and, counterintuitively, first year grades are most important. Grades largely determine who makes the aforementioned, prestigious “law review,” who gets choice jobs (now, more than ever!), who gets prized judicial clerkships. Across the board, in every one of America's 200+ law schools (Yes, over 200!), grades are almost exclusively based on a final exam at the end of term. Very rarely is a paper assigned in first year, or are quizzes given. There is homework (case briefing), but it is not turned in. The feared Socratic give and take in class normally counts little toward the grade. (Perhaps a half grade bump for those who participate frequently, but do poorly on the exam, as they often do.) If there is a midterm exam, it will count – 10%, 20%, 30% – only if it boosts the final grade. It won't detract from a good performance on the all-important final exam. Grades have inflated greatly in law school in the past 15 years, particularly and curiously at higher ranked schools. One rarely hears of a professor who, as many once did, gives no A's in a class of 75, or only two. One rarely hears of grades of F, which were once common in law school, and very few D's. At Harvard, Yale, and Stanford first term grades are simply pass or fail, and almost no one gets a fail.
Nevertheless, typically no more than 10 percent of grades in law school are solid A's. This is so even at top schools, where everyone works hard, had a 4.0 gpa in college, and has a high LSAT score. In the increasing number of (usually top tier) schools where the grading curve mandates as many as 20-30 percent A's (once unheard of in law school), professors satisfy the requirement by giving A-'s. It may be noted that until recently the grade of A- did not exist at most law schools. Respecting who will do well in law school, gradewise, LSAT score and college gpa matter little. Hard work isn't enough. Confusion, time pressure, unfamiliarity with what is wanted (a competent, knowledgeable lawyer coming off the exam page!), and lack of necessary skills – especially how, precisely, to analyze “as a lawyer” – ensure that almost all law students write mediocre exams. (Again, even at Harvard/Yale/Stanford.)
In law school an unexpected opportunity exists for not just possible A's, but probable A's. (B's, no problem.) It is upon this circumstance that our 30 years of success is based. LEEWS ensures a competent, lawyerly exam response. Such a response will impress and compete for a top grade in any class at any law school.
Consider the following recent statement by a University of Georgia law professor to his classes:
“If 100 points are possible on my [final] exam, I anticipate scores in the range of 25-35.”
In other words, after a semester of his instruction, this professor anticipated performances considerably worse than mediocre. A's would go not to “natural geniuses of the law,” students who had by any measure “mastered” the exam, but to students whose exams were merely somewhat less incompetent than those of equally smart, hard-working classmates. Students who scored 35 out of 100!
The example of this professor may be a bit extreme. However, in fall 2010 when Mr. Miller mentioned this quote to a class, a student said, “My torts professor said there were 200 possible issues on her last exam. The person who got the top grade only identified 60.”
This points up an important truth about all law schools that creates an opportunity for advantage. ( Again, note: “All” includes Harvard/Yale/Stanford. )
Most everyone in law school is smart. Most everyone works hard. However, measured against the standard of what a competent lawyer, knowledgeable in the subject tested, would produce, most every law student writes a relatively mediocre exam.
[It may be noted that the “competent lawyer” would also be possessed of a system for dissecting any essay fact pattern into component parts, corresponding to issues the professor wants discussed, under time pressure. He/she would also be able to present analysis of issues concisely, roughly one per paragraph. He/she would be possessed of LEEWS!]
The reason for this mediocrity of the great majority of law exam responses is apparent (to us at LEEWS), and is unlikely to be remedied any time soon. So why not take advantage of it?
We've noted the failure of case method instruction to adequately impart the lawyering mindset. The format and time pressure of law essay-type exams adds to the confusion. IRAC and standard exam-writing advice – “support your position,” “argue both sides,” etc – doesn't come close to providing adequate guidance. (Standard law exam writing advice is big on what one should do, but short on the exactly how.)
The result, almost without exception, is rambling, conclusory, scatter-shot exam responses that fall far short of any standard of lawyerly competence.
Law professors have come to expect such ineptitude. They regard it as the norm. They reason [an excuse for inadequate instruction?!] that only a select few – “natural geniuses of the law” – are capable of mastery of problematic law essay exams. (Of coming off the page as a competent lawyer, knowledgeable in the subject area.)
But even these “geniuses” fall short of a truly lawyerlike effort. Typically their exams are not great, but merely less inept.
Most any student properly trained to “think as a lawyer,” and in addition possessed of a proven effective system for preparing for and handling any essay exercise, will distinguish herself amid the sea of mediocre exams professors are confronted with, and compete for A's.
We expect LEEWS grads to achieve not 35 our of 100 possible points, but 45, 55, 75, even 90! We are not at all surprised that our students typically “Am Jur” exams. (Win the American Jurisprudence award for the highest grade in the class.)
[Here, as elsewhere, you'll have to trust our 30+ years of single-minded focus on the law school game. No one but no one, including law professors (many of whom were instructed by us!), understands the ins and outs of America's 200+ law schools better than Wentworth Miller, LEEWS founder/instructor.]
Perhaps you're wondering whether any of the many study aids competing for law students' attention can make a meaningful difference. The answer is probably not, if “meaningful difference” means vaulting a student from having no chance at A's to a genuine possibility of A's. However, LEEWS does. Dramatically so.
We do advocate getting a (used) “commercial outline” for each course as an adjunct to our instruction. (I.e., Gilbert's [on torts, property, etc.], or Emanuel's [on torts, property, etc.], or Legal Lines, Blonde's, Nutshell Series, etc.) Get one early on at the used book exchange or by posting a notice for upperclassmen (who will be pleased to unload theirs). ($10-15, versus $30-40 new.)
The commercial outline is a source of more complete “black letter law” – legal rules, precepts – than will normally be found in cases. You'll go to this source early on in implementing the LEEWS 2-4 live case briefing approach. Bar review materials are also a good source of black letter law. Choose the outline that sets forth the law in a way you find pleasing, easily comprehensible.
The scoop on standard exam writing advice: What it is: Not so many years ago, exam writing advice from law professors and law schools consisted of little more than “prepare for/attend every class; take careful notes; learn the law; study hard.” It was deemed that having diligently pursued the foregoing, and in addition compiling a course outline (summary of law covered) toward the end of term, success could be had on exams. ... IF, in addition, you had the Right Stuff! (Quasi mystical, innate aptitude/genius for the law.)
Talk to upperclassmen who had done well, and some swore by their outline summaries as the key to success. Others were found to have worked extensively practicing with old exams. Some might emphasize paying close attention to predilections – likes, dislikes, peeves – of the professor. The advice on how to write the “A” law exam was a patchwork.
Some more sympathetic professors began to sketch out specific do's and don'ts respecting ingredients of superior law exam writing. At the segment of this website entitled, “The Standard Advice – Free!,” we set forth precisely such do's and don'ts. Save for an added emphasis on “IRAC,” discussed shortly, and parenthetic updates, almost word for word this reproduces advice complied and desseminated free to students by onetime Harvard, later NYU law professor, Derrick Bell, in the early 1970's. (To this day Mr. Miller, LEEWS founder/instructor, has this mimeograph among his archives, complete with highlighting.)
As law school tuition and fees have surged past 20 and 30 and $40,000 per year, law student/consumers have became valuable commodities in the (financial) calculations of law school administrators. (Yes! You represent important $$$!) Schools (below the very top tier) began to respond to student complaints about lack of adequate preparation for exams they found bewildering and intimidating.
Here and there, SBA (student bar association) and other law school organizations had long conducted informal exam writing advice sessions for 1Ls. However, now administrations began to offer formal in-house exam writing instruction. They brought in “experts” from outside, persons and organizations (such as LEEWS), to conduct exam writing advice sessions. Professors took it upon themselves to offer such instruction. (A six-week program conducted by a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Law comes to mind.)
Professors have written books on the subject, such as Getting to Maybe. (Evaluated in our segment, “How LEEWS Differs.”) Some programs, such as the Academic Resource Center at 3,000 student, three campus, law school factory, Thomas M. Cooley, are elaborate indeed. Cooley's “ARC” has its own building. More and more law schools incorporate exam writing preparation/writing instruction, along with brief-writing instruction, in orientation programs.
Add to this body of do's and don'ts an emphasis on IRAC, and a practice exam or two, which is gone over to reinforce the do's and don'ts (most of which are fairly obvious – e.g., “label what you're doing,” “paragraph frequently,” “don't assume facts,” “allocate time wisely,” “argue both sides,” etc.), and you have the gist of the best that law schools and commercial competitors of LEEWS have to offer respecting exam writing/preparation advice.
Why it's ineffective: Standard advice is surely helpful. Given the anxiety and woeful ignorance of entering law students respecting addressing exams, it is well received and appreciated. To a new law student, merely learning IRAC – Issue, Rule, Application/Analysis, Conclusion – is a revelation. Students often ask Mr. Miller, “Are you familiar with the IRAC system?”
The problem is that standard advice, while reassuring, has never made that much of a difference in exam performance. Following disappointment with first term grades, the universal judgment of students respecting standard exam writing advice, whether from a professor, the law school administration, or one of our commercial competitors, is that “it didn't make that much of a difference.” They knew they were supposed to “follow IRAC,” and “IRAC the exam,” but precisely how eluded them.
Confronted with severe time pressure, and several dense fact patterns ending with an instruction such as, “Prepare a memo for a partner at your firm addressing the issues raised in the foregoing fact pattern,” and helpful do's and don'ts are merely that – helpful! In their aggregate they are not a system! The student remains confused about how to begin, how to make sense of so much information. He/she learned how to address the exercise as a lawyer!
And that student finds fault not with the professor, not with the law school (after all, they provided instruction), but with him/herself. He/she buys into the myth. He/she concludes that the requisite aptitude/genius for writing the superior exam deserving an “A” grade is lacking. That student resigns him/herself to second class citizenship in the law school. That student is content, even grateful for B's.
The problem with “IRAC”: IRAC is merely a formula. It indicates what professors (and bar examiners) want to see in the analysis of an issue – the four elements. However, it does little to instruct how this is to be accomplished. IRAC is therefore hardly a system.
For example, IRAC posits an issue to be analyzed – I! However, how, systematically and methodically, one identifies issues is not addressed. Indeed, what, exactly, constitutes an issue is never made clear.
A review of competitor offerings reveals that none of them precisely define what an issue is. Nor do law professors. (Students don't ask!) If one were to ask, one would likely hear that an issue is “a topic,” “a question,” etc. The notion remains vague. It's sort of like, “I know it when I see it.”
LEEWS, by contrast, precisely defines issue. It's a legal inquiry. E.g., is party X liable for battery? Its also something contested by competing parties, as in a lawsuit. E.g., did a battery occur? Also – subissues of determining whether a battery occurred – , was there an intentional act?; was it harmful or offensive?; was it unprivileged?; was there contact? (These being the elements of a battery that must be established to a preponderance – i.e., more likely than not.) A contested fact can also be an issue. E.g., was the weapon “deadly?”]
When professors (and bar examiners) say they want “relevant issues spotted,” they mean they want legal inquiries implied/raised by the facts of the essay, in conjunction with the question/instruction posed by the professor (e.g., “Discuss the liability of all parties.”), to be identified.
“Issue spotting”— An example of the inadequacy of standard advice: Respecting issue identification, the advice offered by professors and other study aids goes little beyond the following: “Read the facts carefully!”; “Pay attention to issue-generating words and phrases”; “Every word may have issue-generating significance”; “Pay attention to adverbs and adjectives” (seriously!); etc.
In sum, standard advice does little more than advocate a hunt and peck approach. Thus, law essay exercises are often referred to as “issue spotters.” It is assumed that identifying or spotting (relevant) issues is an art or talent or knack that some will have a greater aptitude for. This feeds the myth that writing the superior law exam requires an innate, lawyering aptitude or genius.
Nonsense! LEEWS reduces issue identification to a disciplined science. Where others haphazardly “spot” issues, a LEEWS grad systematically identifies issues. Indeed, a problem of LEEWS is that students identify so many issues, often issues the professor failed to see in her own hypo. But this is also how one begins to compete for the top grade.
No one else has discovered anything close to the LEEWS issue identification system! Beyond standard advice (enter LEEWS): Over 30 years ago (1978), as a neophyte prosecutor, Mr. Miller, LEEWS founder/instructor, published an article in the New York Bar Journal describing his experience preparing for and taking the New York Bar. (Reprinted in Case and Comment, 1978.) As a result, he was invited by the Bar Association of New York City to participate in a pilot program preparing minority graduates for the New York bar exam. (The idea was to address the very low pass rate of such candidates.) Coming from Yale Law School, which to this day offers little in the way of exam writing instruction, Mr. Miller was unfamiliar with much of the standard wisdom, including even IRAC. However, he quickly familiarized himself with the existing literature on how to approach law essay exams, and passed it along to his tutees.
He found it ineffective.
The unusual circumstance that Mr. Miller was both practicing law (first as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, later as an assistant United States attorney – EDNY, civil div.), while trying to offer advice that would make a meaningful difference for tutees facing the essay segment of the New York bar exam, led, eventually, to a breakthrough insight.
This insight was truly new. It had never before been articulated in any book, or by any person purporting to instruct how to address law exams. It is an insight that, strangely, despite 30 years of LEEWS, continues to be unknown and unexplored in legal pedagogy.
The insight, based upon the recognition that all legal problem solving presupposes conflict resolution, enables all legal problem solving exercises, including law exam essays, to be understood and approached in exactly the same way. In other words, it provides a common demnominator for comprehending and resolving all legal problem solving exercises. LEEWS grads report using this denominator and approach not only on exams, but on writing assignments, and later in the practice of law in client interviews, when a new matter lands on their desk, etc.
Lawyers who took LEEWS consequently sometimes pay for their law student interns to attend LEEWS.
Mr. Miller recalls to this day the precise circumstances of his eureka moment, and the excitement it inspired in him (and stills does!). He immediately grasped that the insight would have made a big difference for him as a law student at Yale. He began experimenting with introducing the insight to his tutees. A rudimentary version of LEEWS soon evolved.
Mr. Miller eventually became so convinced of the effectiveness of his instruction and the difference it would make for law students, that he abandoned the practice of law altogether to promote the approach now known as LEEWS.
What LEEWS offers, an indication of its several systems, facets, and skills imparted, is described up top – “What LEEWS offers (that no one else does).”
What LEEWS offers (that no one else does): LEEWS' chief innovation, offered by no other exam writing aid, is the disciplined, step-by-step issue identification system that enables all legal problem solving exercises – reading/analyzing cases, writing assignments, client interviews, and especially the complex essay exam exercise (called “essay,” “hypothetical,” “hypo,” and [erroneously] “question”) – to be approached, comprehended, dissected, and managed in exactly the same way.
The idea is to make handling any and all essay exams in particular, predictable and manageable. No confusion, no uncertainty. The student is in control, not the exam.
In “What is 'LEEWS'” (up top), we've noted the instruction on how to analyze “as a lawyer,” and the system for presenting analysis concisely. (Roughly one paragraph per issue.) The latter makes a “poor writer” good enough, and a “good writer” better.
The how (as opposed to the what) of standard, but merely helpful exam writing advice offered by others – e.g., “IRAC the exam,” “follow IRAC,” “be objective,” “argue both sides,” “analyze as a lawyer,” etc. – , which is elusive of understanding and application, is now comprehended and easily implemented.
Of more immediate note, LEEWS instructs a day-to-day, week-to-week preparation regimen that points not toward performance if called upon in class (the obsession of most law students), but toward the only thing that counts — the final exam. This regimen supplants ineffective, conventional case briefing. It enables students to both better comprehend and benefit from class discussion, as well as discern the often elusive linkage between class and final exam.
LEEWS grads “brief” cases in 2-4 lines (versus the normal 1/2-one page), take no more than 1/2-1 page of notes per class hour (versus the normal 2-3 pages), and weekly work on “course outlines” that most law students begin much too late in the term. Course outlines will be constructed so as to effectively implement the LEEWS issue identification approach on exams.
There is much more. (E.g., knowing your professor, consideration for the professor, “policy” versus “black letter” emphasis, etc.)
And never doubt but that a LEEWS grad will acquit her/himself more than competently if called upon in class. Knowing how to “analyze as a lawyer” and what is required for exams, enables correct preparation for class.
A LEEWS grad is able follow and grasp what's important, while ignoring the considerable wasted motion in the best of classes. (E.g., “gunners” [talkative classmates] going on and on with irrelevant blather.)
The LEEWS advantage (in a nutshell): As suggested in the foregoing, the considerable LEEWS advantage is that where most flounder in uncertainty and eroding confidence, the LEEWS grad understands both the law school and law exam game. He/she avoids busywork (e.g., typing up notes and briefs). She/he proceeds with confidence, certainty, purpose. He/she proceeds with a proven effective PLAN.
In a sense the secret weapon and chief ally of a LEEWS grad is confusion and intimidation inculcated by law school, compounded by ineffective law school teaching. As noted, this enables students of lesser college gpa and LSAT credentials to ascend to the top of the class.
As Mr. Miller is fond of saying to classes, “It's not that you have to write an excellent exam to get an A. The good news in law school is that most students write poor exams. A reasonably competent, lawyerlike effort will impress and compete for A's. Earning B's shouldn't be a problem.”
[Note: “most law students” includes those at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, U. Chicago, NYU, Columbia, UPenn, UVA, Duke, etc. The smartest and most diligent law students fail to grasp the lawyering game and how to play it on exams.] Why LEEWS is so effective: Simple. As a consequence of their skepticism that anything can make a meaningful difference, most law students don't do LEEWS. Usually no more than 3-8 percent in a class, although the numbers can bump to 10, even 20 percent. Even days before exams doing LEEWS propels a student beyond clueless classmates.
[Respecting how many in a class do LEEWS, in fall 2007 word got out that the ed-in-chief of the UGA Law Review had taken LEEWS as a 1L. 32 UGA 1Ls flocked to the Atlanta live program, and several ordered the audio. Similarly, word-of-mouth regarding successful upperclassmen prompted 40+ 1Ls from Northwestern and 50+ from NYU this past year. Still, that's just 16% of NW's 2009 entering class of 260, 12% of NYU's class of 450.]
The advertising we distribute seems to have little impact. In order to overcome the reasons for not taking the minimal time and expense to do LEEWS – skepticism, inertia, false economics, arrogance, misplaced faith in exam writing/preparation instruction offered by professors and others, etc. –, it seems someone or something – book, lawyer, judge, upperclassman, friend at another law school, professor – has to say, emphatically, “Do this program!”
So you would be among the minority privy to LEEWS. (And those who do LEEWS normally don't tell classmates.)
As noted, here is where failings of law school teaching respecting exam preparation become the great equalizer and the ally of those who do LEEWS. As a subsequent segment will demonstrate, even those who impress in class are unable to perform much beyond a mediocre level on exams.
What Mr. Miller tells classes bears repeating: “It's not that you have to write an excellent exam to get an A. The good news in law school is that most students write poor exams. A reasonably competent, lawyerlike effort will impress and compete for A's. Earning B's shouldn't be a problem.” Why no one else, including law professors, has discovered the science of exam writing and preparation that is LEEWS: Simple. If you don't believe a science of preparing for and writing something as challenging as law essay exams could possibly exist, you don't seek such a science.
We've noted the self flattery implicit in the notion/myth that writing the “A” law exam requires an innate aptitude, a genius for the law. If you are one who happened to write an “A” exam, there is no need, no motive to mull greatly over the details of how such a singular effort was achieved. One doesn't seek to quantify or qualify genius!
The simple fact is that law professors and those who did well on law exams don't want to discover a science of how to prepare for and write the “A” exam. To discover such a science would dispel the myth in which their egos have a major vested interest.
Mr. Miller had the benefit of being one of those many smart law students who lacked a kanck and didn't write “A” exams. (As an upperclassman he managed to write “A” papers!) In sum: We at LEEWS are gratified at the recognition of our effectiveness by such reputable sources as Planet Law School, Getting the Gold, and The Princeton Review (see quote on right).
However, much more than any of these sources, word-of-mouth from satisfied former students has long been our best advertising. It continues to be.
Bottom line. It is difficult to excel in law school on your own – to get A's. We make A's attainable, even probable. (Because you'll write far better exams than clueless classmates.) Our cost is less than a new textbook (!!).
B's are guaranteed (and a top 1/3 finish first term!). You have a free trial of either the one-day live program or the equally effective audio CD program. No one else – Fleming. BAR-BRI, Law Preview, etc. – offers a free trial of their product.
We've explored at length how LEEWS is different from any and all other study aids, and why LEEWS is so much more effective. (Yes, yes. At too great length!)
Hopefully, we've persuaded even the student already in law school that he/she need not accept that A's on law essay exams are not possible.
If not yet, if a bit more belaboring is needed, then here it is.
More on the LEEWS advantage: Law schools across the board, from Harvard to online offerings, are remarkably similar. Usually one building, large lecture classes in first year, same method of instruction, same type exams. Indeed, nothing important has changed since Mr. Miller graduated from Yale Law School in 1977. (The big change has been online research tools and the introduction of computers and the internet to classrooms. But many professors now ban computers in class. They're distracting. Bored law students surf the web, play solitaire, etc.)
Law schools across the board commit the same omissions/misdirections in instruction that LEEWS corrects and takes advantage of.
For example, excepting perhaps Northeastern, which heavily relies on a work-study approach, all law schools instruct the aforesaid “case method” popularized by legendary Harvard Law dean Christopher Columbus Langdell over 100 years ago. “Brief” assigned cases, discuss them in class.
Here's where feared socratic exchanges occur. However, while fear of being called on motivates students to read and brief cases, the exercise is too academic, too similar to previous memorize-and-regurgitate learning to properly convey “how lawyers think and analyze.”
Those few who seem to “get it” in terms of analyzing “as a lawyer,” probably had “it” before entering law school. (This likely explains the phenomenon that those with backgrounds in math, hard sciences, engineering, philosophy, Talmudic studies, and the like tend to do better on law exams than English, history, and poli sci types, the latter supposedly the “better writiers.” The former are already in the lawyerly mode of close, nitpicky thinking, concisely expressed!)
Mr. Miller is a pretty clever guy. He had one of the higher LSATs in his class. He was a Rhodes scholar. But he acknowledges that he didn't learn to “think as a lawyer” in law school (and he went to Yale!). Indeed, Mr. Miller asserts that in his 30 years of delivering LEEWS programs to many tens of thousands of law students from over 200 schools (hundreds from Harvard alone!), most of them 1Ls, but many 2 and even 2Ls, he has “yet to encounter a student who was much good at the nitpicking dialectic that is lawyerlike analysis.”
The simple fact is that law students learn to think as lawyers as lawyers did before there were law schools – by practicing law! Clinical programs in law school – “mock trial,” “moot court,” etc – are helpful. Summer and term time legal employment is more helpful. But mostly you learn to be a lawyer and think as a lawyer once you get out into practice.
Case method instruction fails to transition academically-oriented law students to the practical, law-as-a-tool-applied-to-facts-to-achieve-a-client-objective perspective and approach of the legal practitioner.
Curiously, perhaps tellingly, the words “lawyer” and “attorney” are rarely heard in law school classrooms.
Law professors often have little experience in the actual practice of law. (Typically a prestigious judicial clerkship and a couple years in the library of a major law firm.) Few have ever tried a case. Many have PhD's in subjects other than law. Many do not seem to like lawyers!
Yet the final exam, naturally, inevitably, unavoidably, is typically a very practical exercise in performing as a lawyer knowledgeable in the subject area being tested.
“Lawyerlike analysis” is different from normal analytic thinking. However, the good news is that it is a skill that can be taught and acquired, as Mr. Miller is fond of saying, “By anyone able to find his or her way to one of our programs.” Some will pick up the skill faster than others. But all can acquire it with practice.
Acquisition of this single skill puts students miles ahead of the great majority of classmates who don't have IT!
Only by making the transition from academic to facsimile of a lawyer will a student have a chance at performing competently on exams.
As noted, LEEWS aims to make all law exams a predictable exercise. Professors like to think that what is required on their exam differs from what is required on another professor's exam. But this is yet another conceit/misconception born of misunderstanding the very similar nature of all legal problem solving.
At base, stripped to its essentials, every law exam exercise posits the same task – “Perform as a competent lawyer, knowledgeable in [property law, torts, contracts, wills, agency, antitrust, etc.].” (Whatever subject is being tested.)
The student who learns to analyze as a lawyer before law school, or early on in law school, is therefore considerably ahead of the game in terms of competing for rare law school “A” grades. Indeed, he/she enjoys an absurdly unfair advantage.
Final salvo (LEEWS is basically all you need): In the winter/spring term, when most attendees of a live LEEWS program have a set of exams under their belt, they are guaranteed “better (essay exam) grades – or your money back!” This guarantee applies if the previous gpa was a 2.3 or a 3.3.
Consistently over many years, fewer than 2 percent of such students take us up on this guarantee. Does that mean 98 percent of students improve exam performance, as we are given to advertise based on this finding? Surely not. We know that some who don't do better don't seek a refund, because they feel they benefitted. They typically acknowldege that they didn't do the necessary follow up practice.
The important thing is that they are confident they can improve in future by better implementing LEEWS.
To cite two examples of LEEWS’ effectiveness, it is no accident that in 2000-2001 40 percent of members of law review (top ten percent) and Washington University School of Law in St. Louis (including the editor-in-chief) and 25 percent of members of law review at Duke Law took LEEWS as 1Ls.
The most important difference between LEEWS and other instruction, apart from the system and innovative aspects respecting breaking down complex fact patterns into manageable compnents (revealing issues) and concise presentation on paper (roughly one paragraph per issue analyzed), is that LEEWS finally, where all others do not, including 3-4 years of law school (!!), turns academically oriented students into reasonable facsimiles of practicing lawyers.
That's the key and the real bottom line. If they have fully grasped LEEWS, and have done the follow up practice to become proficient in the skills and approaches LEEWS instructs, LEEWS grads approach exam exercises, and come off the exam page, as lawyers knowledgeable in the subject area being tested. As much noted, the comparison with rambling efforts of students who are clueless about what lawyers do (assist clients in achieving goals), and who are confused and unable to take control of essay exam exercises, is inevitably beneficial.
We wish you could just take our word for it – or the word of the many, many former students whose remarks and letters are reproduced throughout this website (with names!). Beyond (used) textbooks, (used) commercial outlines, and sometimes a treatise or “hornbook” (use the library copy!), LEEWS is all you need. You don't need resources that purport to teach or review substantive law. (You'll be able to learn the law from your casebook and [commercial] outline.)
You don't need the many study aids recommended in Planet Law School. You especially don't need the expensive, hand-holding, one and two-week simulated law school programs. They offer nothing new. Our students who have taken them typically lament the waste of money.
You may not even need LEEWS. Absent LEEWS, some few law students (5-7 percent?) will consistently perform better on exams than their peers. It's not that they work harder or are smarter. As noted, training and habits of thought acquired prior to attending law school more approximates the “lawyerlike thinking” professors are looking for in exam responses.
Problem is, this 5-7 percent cannot be predicted by college gpa, LSAT score, library hours, etc. Moreover, their seeming knack brings success only because it raises their effort somewhat above the mediocre level of most classmates. Their exams still tend to fall far short of a truly lawyerlike effort. They would prepare more efficiently and do even better with LEEWS.
Final point re comparison with others: If you are comparing law school study aids, consider the most obvious difference – only LEEWS guarantees results. Only LEEWS offers a free trial of both its products – the one-day live program ($135 or less in a group, including book), and the equally effective audio version ($175 including book and shipping). (Click Guarantees.)
The reason is that no other program or aid offers much beyond IRAC and the standard advice presented free at this website. (Click Standard Advice – Free) Thus, they don’t impart much of an advantage.By the end of first term most 1Ls know what they instruct.
Click How LEEWS is Different for comparisons between LEEWS and exam writing/study instruction offered by professors and student groups, LEEWS vs. Fleming’s, LEEWS vs. Getting to Maybe, LEEWS vs. the free, 45 minute Bar-Bri-sponsored session, formerly with professor Charles Whitebread (now deceased), LEEWS vs. prelaw, simulated law school programs (e.g., Law Preview, Bar-Bri/NILE), etc.]
Again, there is a lot at this website. That’s because there is a lot to know about us, law school exams, law school itself.
Unless there is something you want to go to immediately, you might want to begin with Law School Basic Truths and Message(s)/Advice of the Moment. (Click Message(s)/Advice of the Moment. Click Basic Truths.)
* Click Guarantees.