(Many of which professors are unaware of or won't tell you, but any 2L, 3L, or lawyer will confirm.)
Okay. There are more than a "few" basic truths here. Some are large insights. Some are very practical. (I.e., you needn't purchase new, expensive [$175+?] casebooks! See advice below.) Most are startling, even disturbing, and controversial. They challenge the status quo in all law schools, profit motives, etc.
Gaming Emperor Law School is one big compilation of truths about law school! However, all information is designed to smooth and ease a successful passage through law school. It is based upon over 30 years of experience instructing well over 100,000 law students from all law schools (many hundreds from Harvard alone!), and personal interaction with literally thousands of these law students.
- The disconnect between hard work / law school instruction and law school success
- Transferring law schools after doing well
- More basic truths (including but not limited to . . .)
- You don't need most study aids;
- Conventional case briefing (procedure, facts, issue, rule, holding, rationale, etc.) is largely ineffective
- Grades are almost always based solely on a 3-4 hour final exam
- Cases are not the best source of black letter law
- Class participation counts very little, if at all
- The biggest mistake law students make . . .
- and more . . .
Recently admitted to law school? Congratulations! (That make you a “1L,” as beginning law students are termed.) Doubtles, you are nervous, yet excited.
We don't want to diminish your excitement. Law school tends to accomplish that soon enough. Rather, our aim is to enable successful progression through this necessary, expensive step toward acquiring a law license with eyes wide open. In order to accomplish this certain common misconceptions must be countered.
In point of fact, reading Gaming Emperor Law School (GLS), currently a free download, provides a complete A-Z of what one needs to know about law school. Based upon 30+ years of experience, all myths, misconceptions, problems, etc., are explored, along with how the problems can be taken advantage of.
As GLS acknowledges, we seem disrespectful of an institution (and professors) that initially must seem august, awe inspiring, deserving of the highest regard. Our aim is to counteract confusion, intimidation, self doubt, and wasteful, unproductive effort preventing law students from achieving success. To accomplish this it is necessary that law schools and law professors be taken down a peg. If this offends, we apologize.
Our allegiance is with students. Word-of-mouth from former students is our chief calling card. If you don't at this point trust us, trust over 30 years of experience. A few weeks into law school you'll begin to suspect something is amiss. After the first set of exams most law students know something is amiss. Who is to blame for confusion, uncertainty, and mediocre grades after so much hard work?! Unfortunately (mistakenly!), law students blame themselves.
[Confession: We ARE disrespectful, even disdainful of (all) law schools and their enabling professors. Law school is too expensive, a year too long. Plain and simple, law school doesn't do what it is supposed to do – train lawyers! (The chief problem when it comes to exam performance.) However, apart from an apprentice route to law practice (available in some states – CA, NY, VA, etc. – and, as discussed in GLS, good enough for such great lawyers as Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton), there is scant alternative to attending law school. The good news is that success in law school, meaning getting rare “A” grades, is not just possible but imminently probable. Moreover, law school can be much more enjoyable than it is for most.]
For over 30 years we at LEEWS have been in the business of instructing
law students, primarily 1Ls (and some law school graduates preparing for the bar), in nothing less than a proven effective
science of (day-to-day, week-to-week) preparation and essay exam writing technique. (Applicable to any and all law exams!)Mr. Miller,
LEEWS founder/instructor, is a law school graduate (Yale '77),
a onetime practicing attorney, a member of the New York bar (retired
status). We have instructed well over 100,000 law students from
200+ American law schools, as well as law schools in foreign countries.
We do not solicit support from any law school or law professor. (Although not a few of the latter are LEEWS grads.) Rather, we are and have been clear-eyed, critical observers. Our focus and purpose is simple – to assist law students. In that regard we pull no punches.
Here again is the primary, fundamental truth that most any practicing lawyer will confirm, that no less than United States Supreme Court justices have complained of, and that every entering law student should know. Given the cost of attending law school, given the mystique and majesty of the law and lawyers in America, it is likely a truth that an entering “1L” will find hard to accept. However, we have the experience and the boldness to state it. Our mission of assisting law students demands no less.
All law schools, from mighty Harvard to those on the internet, do a poor job training lawyers! No exceptions!
The primary reason for this is ineffectiveness of so-called “case method” instruction* (reading and briefing actual legal cases), employed by virtually all professors in all law schools in first year subjects, in transforming academic thinkers/learners (most entering law students) into legal thinkers/learners – reasonable facsimiles of practicing lawyers.
Excepting that he/she may have learned something in a so-called “clinical program,” or while working for a lawyer, judge, or law firm while in law school, as noted in the authoritative books, Planet Law School I and II (reviewed herein – see homepage), ...
No law school graduate, following 3-4 years of attending class, briefing cases, and writing the occasional paper, is qualified to advise a prospective client! She may have conducted a (mock) trial. She may have argued as an appellate advocate (in an exercise called "moot court"). However, unless she attends classes belatedly and hurriedly being instituted in third year in some few law schools (precisely in response to growing criticism in this regard), she has never drafted a will or contract, never conducted a house closing, never drafted a summons and complaint to initiate a lawsuit.
Certainly, her orientation to the law has been overly academic. Practicalities of law practice and an appropriate focus on applying law and legal strategies to assist clients in achieving practical goals (what lawyers do!) has been wholly lacking in formal instruction.
More than anything else, this disconnect between (continued) academic focus and orientation in class and the practical focus and process of what lawyers actually do and how they think -- not lack of effort, deficiency of intellect, or absence of "innate genius for the law," "the Right Stuff," and the like – has been the cause of confusion and mediocre exam performance.
Why this problematic circumstance and disconnect is so is explored at length in GLS and elsewhere at this website. It is a circumstance that has yet to be recognized and addressed by law schools, law professors, or the legal profession. [Yes, this is new territory pioneered by LEEWS!]
Suffice that lawyers still learn how to think and function as lawyers the
way Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, Clarence Darrow, and all lawyers
do to this day – by practicing law, preferably under the tutelage of an
However, here's very good news indeed! This circumstance, this across-the-board failing on the part of (all) law schools creates an opportunity for those who can bridge the gap between overly theoretical law teaching and law practice.
The student who learns to think and function as a reasonable facsimile of a practicing lawyer while yet in law
school, preferably early in law school (here – surprise, surprise! – is where LEEWS enters in) will enjoy a significant advantage over clueless classmates. As
is said in the law, res ipsa loquitor, the thing speaks for itself.
Exam writing programs and advice offered by law schools and professors (and all other sources!) is singularly ineffective in instructing "how to think (analyze) as a lawyer." The reason is mistaken reliance upon case method instruction to instruct this critical skill, which it doesn't.** (E.g., "IRAC," typically touted by law professors as "all one needs to know," does not instruct precisely HOW to "think and analyze as a lawyer." Its "A" merely instructs that students analyze or apply law to facts.) All such exam-writing instruction is further ineffective in enabling law students to take control of confusing, time-pressured essay exams. It has never progressed much beyond standard IRAC-based do's and don'ts. (Again, explored in GLS. See Standard Advice – Free! See Standard Advice – Free!)
*Case method instruction was pioneered at Harvard Law School and popularized by legendary HLS dean Christopher columbus Langdell, for whom the HLS building is named. With very very few exceptions, it is de rigeuer in law school classrooms, certainly in first year.
** It is invariably a surprise when results of (blind-graded) exams become known. LSAR score, college GPA, hours in the library predicts little. Those deemed "the smartest" based upon classroom performance typically get B's. The few, precious A's typically go to someone unexpected – someone in the back who never spoke, spoke inarticulately, etc.
The deal is that those few who exhibit a "lawyerly" mode of thought and application on all-important final exams, either acquired the skill prior to entering law school – via disciplines such as hard sciences and Talmudic studies that emphasize close, nitpicking, analytic thought –, and/or they took LEEWS! And here, yes, it must be conceded that the skill or habit of thought, already existing, may well have been enhanced somewhat by review and analysis of cases. However, the passive, academic exercise of briefing and going over cases (case method!) does not and cannot adequately inculcate skill at "lawyerlike analysis." (Again, see GLS for in-depth discussion of the topic.)
The following letter received two years after LEEWS came into being in 1981 is a classic. (We were pretty good then, but we've gotten so very much better since!) It sets forth certain truths that are as valid today as in 1983. It also encapsulates perfectly a very fundamental truth, namely the startling disconnect between hard work, law school teaching, and law school success. Its author, Randall Aiman-Smith, is currently a practicing attorney in San Francisco and a writing instructor at U. California Hastings College of Law. Additional truths follow.
I took your course in December of 1983. It changed my law school career.
I was at that time at Golden Gate School of Law. I had just finished midterms
and had not done as well as I had hoped. Your class made the difference
I was able to finish the first year very near the top of my class and transfer to Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley School of Law). I am currently on both law review and the moot court board.
It is important to stress that I learned from your class what I wasn't told anywhere else: that the exam is everything and exam taking skills can be articulated, practiced, and improved. You articulated them, I practiced them, and they certainly improved. Just as you said, all my professors – even the very liberal and student oriented ones – had the “right stuff” attitude. If you had the “right stuff” to be a lawyer, then it would show in exams. Before I took your class I used to write practice exams and try to get profs to read them. They would tell me, “just study law – not taking exams.” What BULL____!! Almost everyone in the class knows the law – the challenge is to write it down in a fashion that will impress the grader. That is what
NOTE: Transferring from a lower to higher ranking law school after doing well first year is relatively easy. Many of our students do. So rare are A's in law school, so completely do professors and administrators believe that lawyering aptitude is an innate quality manifested in performance on law school exams, that once you perform at the top of the class – at any school! – you are golden.
Professors seek you out to be a research assistant. You are asked to instruct 1Ls the following year. At lesser schools you are (or should be) offered scholarship money. Other law schools want you. Your LSAT score and college GPA are now irrelevant.
Thus, the LEEWS rep at Nova SE Univ. in Ft. Lauderdale for 2000-2001 transferred to Duke (!!). He ordered the audio program, then attended live. Overkill? Probably, but he got all A's. He completely altered his prospects for a legal career. More recently (2006) the LEEWS rep at U. Dayton, who was unable to gain admittance to any of the six law schools in his home Chicago area, some of which are “fourth tier,” was able to transfer to the University of Illinois Law School after his first year. Students come to mind who transferred from Univ. Florida to Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley) and U. Michigan; John Marshall in Chicago to Northwestern and Washington U.; from Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent to U. Michigan; South Texas College of Law to U. Texas (see letter in Results section); U. Texas to Harvard; Ohio Northern to Ohio State; U. San Diego to Berkeley; Hofstra and U. Tulsa to Georgetown; etc.
Alternatively, let your school know that you are thinking of transferring, and that money is a concern. (Perhaps your first negotiation!) If it is a lower ranked school, they'll quickly come up with lots of cash – often a full tuition. This happened for students at U. Cincinnati, St. Louis U., Oklahoma City U., Georgia State U., U. Memphis, etc.
Basic Truth – Law
school is going to involve hard work. No getting around that. But
it can be meaningful hard work in the sense of knowing exactly what you
are doing and why, with excellent prospects for success (“A” grades!),
OR drudgery amid confusion, anxiety, eventually boredom, with every
likelihood of mediocre results (B's and worse) and poor job prospects.
Basic Truth – Curiously, law school doesn't instruct exactly what it is that lawyers do. Can that be right? If the purpose of law school is to train lawyers (which surely it must), then how can you not learn what, basically, lawyers do? The reason lies in the overly academic and theoretical way in which the “case method" of instruction is conducted. You read lots of cases (decisions by appellate courts respecting lawsuits). However, rarely are the words “lawyer” or “attorney" heard in law school. Mostly it's queries about “what are the facts of this case,” “why do you think the judge ruled as he (or she) did?,” “do you think this decision makes for good law,” etc. This recitation of facts and theorizing and speculating both reinforces academic habits you bring to law school, and obscures the fundamental task posed by law school exams – discern and solve problems posed by made up fact scenarios ("hypotheticals” or “hypos") as a lawyer would.
Okay. We'll help you here. In a nutshell, lawyers employ legal, procedural,
and other tools and strategies to assist clients in achieving objectives like
money, clear title to property, protection of trade secrets, steering clear
of jail, etc.
Basic Truth – Sadly, for most, following the initial excitement of being in law school,
meeting classmates, and reading actual law cases, law school becomes tedious
and boring. The reason is that you came to law school to become a lawyer,
and little about the first term makes you feel you are making much progress
in that direction. It has been noted that the words “lawyer” and “attorney”
are seldom heard. You don't visit a courthouse. You study contract cases,
but don't draft a contract. Unless you are fortunate enough to get a job interview,
you don't even put on a suit. It's just reading, briefing, and talking about
cases. Kind of a continuation of the academic life you are accustomed to,
but the subject matter isn't as interesting. (Really, are cases as interesting
Another problem is your focus on reading and briefing cases for the purpose
of being prepared for class, rather than reading and briefing in preparation
for the only thing that counts in law school -- the final exam at the end
of term! Trust us! That's a different kind of reading and (2-4 line!) briefing
that most students have no clue about.
Basic Truth – The intimidation factor of law school is a major impediment to your success! Let's face it. To be in law school is, in the popular parlance, awesome
and awe inspiring. The language -- all those Latin phrases -- is different.
The cases are confusing. The prospect of being called upon is unnerving. Then
that is that classmate who has already written a book, who sounds so impressively
erudite in class. Most law students have had their confidence substantially
eroded by the time they face exams, which add on yet another layer of intimidation.
The good news is that there is a game afoot, and as in all games, once
you know the rules and acquire the necessary skills, the game becomes manageable,
doable, even enjoyable. Given that most in law school never learn the rules
or acquire the necessary skills, the advantage of those who do is all the
Basic Truth – If you are a prelaw (or a 1 or 2L!), the nervousness you likely feel about law school is natural. (Abetted by the intimidation factor. See the foregoing.) Much of this nervousness is also unnecessary. Tens of thousands of students no more capable than you have successfully negotiated law school and the bar exam to become attorneys. Moreover, most of them did it without benefit of approaches and insights as effective as LEEWS offers. It is precisely those many law graduates who worked harder than they needed to, felt more confusion and anxiety than necessary, and got poorer results than their efforts and intelligence would have predicted (yet got through!), who have constructed and perpetuated the idea of law school being so tough and scary and all the rest.
Well, yes. Law school is surely tough, confusing, and unrewarding – when you never catch on to how lawyers think, how to analyze, how to learn the law, etc. (as most law students don't). But as we say to students in both our live and audio programs, "lawyering is different, but not rocket science. If you are able to graduate from college, if you are able to find your way to the room in a hotel where our program is held, then you are more than able to think and analyze as a lawyer and handle law school." SO TAKE A DEEP BREATH. RELAX. Lawyering is a highly stimulating, intellectually engaging mental activity. Law school can even be (should be!) fun!
Basic Truth – You don't need most of the glut of study aids vying for your attention.
You don't need to attend expensive, hand-holding, one and two-week prelaw
simulations of law school – e.g., BAR-BRI/NILE, Law Preview, etc. Sure, you'll
feel more relaxed and prepared. But they don't guarantee results, and they
have no track record of proven results. They can't guarantee results because,
like all other aids out there, they offer little beyond the standard advice
offered free at this website and the experience of “being in law school."
Our students who have taken such programs always lament the money they could
have saved. Nor, once you have learned to “analyze as a lawyer” (and therefore
know how to extract and think about the law in cases and [used] commercial
outlines), do you need first year “Great Lecturer” tapes and reviews, primers
on the law, flashcards, etc.
You may not even need LEEWS! A law professor at the University of Georgia offered the following insight to his class: “If 100 points are possible on my final exam, I anticipate scores in the range of 25 to 35." In other words 35 gets one of the rare “A” grades! The bar is that low respecting law school exam success.
Basic Truth – Doing well on law school exams -- getting A's
-- is more a function of not being so mediocre and incompetent as classmates,
than having a special (innate!) “genius for the law.” (As most professors
and law students surmise.) Some students come to law school already
possessed of something approximating the nitpicky, lawyering mindset that
law professors and law school seek but utterly fail to inculcate. Often students
who do well are found to have math, science, engineering, and philosophy
backgrounds. Perhaps they have engaged in the close parsing of Talmudic studies.
They are accustomed to nitpicking and nuancing -- emphasizing the process
of (objective) argumentation over the arrival at a conclusion. They miss
issues lurking in dense fact patterns as classmates do. Their analysis does
not approach the insightfulness of a competent lawyer. However, their responses
impress in comparison to the unfocused ramblings of their classmates. They
achieve the 35s and therefore the A's.
Some students are simply more organized. Some students
are less apt to be emotionally undone by the unfamiliarity and severe time
pressure of law exams.
It may be noted that LEEWS grads frequently “AM JUR"
exams. They receive the American Jurisprudence award for the highest grade
in the class. Moreover, often the disparity between their grades and others
is so great as to be jarring. On a scale of 100 they score 50 and 60 and
75. A professor at U. Memphis School of Law told a LEEWS grad he could not
post her grade, as to do so would create credibility problems. It was 109,
where 75-80 was deemed deserving of an A.
At Harvard, as in most law schools, professors typically
award no more than two grades of exceptional distinction -- A+. This, despite
80 students in a typical Harvard fiorst year section, most of whom have stratopheric
LSAT scores, and have seldom had less than an “A” grades in their lives.
The expectation that students will produce an exam of significant lawyerly
competence is that low. Often no A+'s are awarded.
As Mr. Miller, LEEWS founder and instructor is fond
of saying, "The good news in law school is that you don't have to write
an excellent exam to get an A. Owing to confusion respecting how to handle
law essay exams, and the failure of law schools to instruct exactly how lawyers
think and analyze, the great majority of law exams, even at Harvard and Yale,
are mediocre efforts. A reasonalby competent, lawyerly effort will impress
and compete for an A."
Basic Truth – You needn't purchase “hornbooks,” a law dictionary, or new textbooks. Use library copies of the former. Purchase used textbooks. Compare them with new texts, and look up cases not included in the library. (Your law school or the local bookstore will usually have a used book section. Ask about it.) Return books already purchased for a refund. Keep your textbooks clean for resale.
Basic Truth – Conventional case briefing (procedure, facts, issue, rule, holding, rationale,
etc.) is largely busywork and a waste of time. Nor is “book briefing” a satisfactory
alternative. No one writes (or types) briefs in the elaborate way
students are instructed after a few weeks. It simply cannot be sustained.
Nor is it effective in instructing how to “think as a lawyer.” Indeed, it
merely reinforces the academic bent students bring to law school. However,
the alternative, so-called “book briefing,” which consists of highlighting
and making notes in the margins of the text, while easier and faster, is
also unsatisfactory. You don't want to have to go back to each case in preparing
What is needed is to extract relevant law (with the
ehlp of a commercial outline), know how to apply it (the hard part), incorporate
it weekly in a course outline. And never have to revisit that case! Our
students typically brief cases in 2-4 lines, and take less than a page of
notes per class hour. Law professors would likely pooh-pooh such advice and
denigrate the idea of a 2-4 line case brief. However, a lawyer can brief
a case in 2-4 lines! Moreover, that lawyer would have a more in depth understanding
of what that case involved. Most important, she would know how to apply the
lessons of that case, especially the law introduced, to new facts -- the
task of law students on exams.
Note that the precise facts assigned cases will never be seen again! A variation of the facts, but never those precise facts. Conventional case briefing encourages marrying one's understanding of the law to the facts of the assigned case.
Basic Truth – The sooner you learn to effectively brief cases in 2-4 lines, take less than a page of notes per class hour, and outline courses in 30-50 pages
Basic Truth – Class participation is normally unrelated to exam performance and/or grades. 9 of 10 who impress in class don't get A's. So you needn't worry about being called on. Even if the professor says class participation counts (did he/she say “will” or “may"?), it will only count a little, at most half a grade, and only if you are super terrific (which would detract valuable time from exam preparation) or super bad (e.g., three “not prepareds"). Prepare (from day one) for what counts – the final exam.
Basic Truth – Midterms (at midsemester) are generally practice exercises that count only if they assist the final grade. Don't sweat them. Typically 45 minutes to an hour in length, often the professor acknowledges that they won't count. Use them to test the effectiveness of your outlines and your approach to preparing for and writing exams. Midterms at mid year in year-long courses may count 25-30% of the final grade. However, most students report that if they do well in April or May in a year-long course, the December midterm grade becomes irrelevant.
Basic Truth – The easier it is to get into a law school, generally the tougher the grading at that school, and vice versa. Thus, schools like Thomas Cooley (in Lansing, MI), Southwestern (LA), etc. tend to make it tough even to get B's. Conversely, it is practically impossible to flunk out of Yale or Harvard. The reason is that lesser schools are terribly concerned about their bar pass rate. It's a selling point for them, and many law schools are very much in the business of attracting students and their hefty tuitions. [Oh, yes! Most law schools are very much about making money. Some years back George Washington U. Law School provoked a furor among its students when it was revealed that 70 percent of its revenues were being shunted over to the university at large. That's right. It took only 30 percent of revenues to run the law school.] So practically anyone can get into law school – somewhere! $30,000+ in tuition is too hard to pass up. But then they set about weeding out the “weaker” students before they can mess up the bar pass rate. At some schools that means flunking students out in their third year, . . . after collecting all that tuition!
Basic Truth – Although A's were the norm for most law students in college, A's are rare in law school. Despite grade inflation that has taken the mean grade to B and even B+ in many of the higher ranking schools (e.g., Harvard, Stanford [before they moved away from letter grades in fall '08], NYU, Duke, Penn, UVA), typically over 80% of 1Ls manage no A's on exams – none (!). The grading curve mandates a certain percentage of A's. (Sometimes as many as 20-25 percent, which professors satisfy by giving A-'s, a grade that did not exist in law school a few years ago.) However, even these exams are often subpar. (If they were truly good, they would get an A+. This grade is usually reserved for no more than two exams, and is often not awarded. Or is awarded to LEEWS grads!) LSAT score, college GPA, and long hours in the library are largely irrelevant in terms of predicting who will get rare A's. All B+'s puts you in the top half at many top schools, the top fifth at many, many others.
Basic Truth – Grades are almost always based solely on a 3-4 hour final exam. Class participation and midterms are typically irrelevant, as is acquaintance with the professor. Grading is usually anonymous. There is a trend toward longer exams – i.e., 8-24 hour “take home” exams -- in some top ranked schools. This is intended to temper criticism of the time pressure of traditional exams. However, professors typically instruct that these “take homes” are to be thought of as 3-4 hour exercises, and limits are placed on how much you can write or type.
Basic Truth – The biggest mistake 1Ls make is to concentrate on briefing and class preparation, while ignoring the all-important final exam. Cases, classes, new people, a new discipline – you're overwhelmed, not sure what to do, how to set priorities. Unless they have a midterm, most 1Ls don't even look at old exams (on file in the library) until a few weeks before finals. Then it's too late. (Although LEEWS can still elevate performance above the mediocre norm.)
Basic Truth – However policy oriented the course (i.e., social, economic, philosophic emphasis), you must know “black letter law” (i.e., rules, legal definitions) – cold! But knowing the law is only the first step of effective preparation. [See the section herein, Excerpts From the LEEWS Primer, especially the reprinted text on “Policy – What is it? (If a professor wants it discussed – where, how?)"]
Basic Truth – Cases are not the best source of black letter law. Acquire a (used) commercial summary. [See Excerpts From the LEEWS Primer, especially the reprinted text on “The Role of Commercial Outlines."]
Basic Truth – Successful law students are not smarter than many of their classmates.
There is certainly no such thing as being a “genius of the law,” the
quality law professors (who typically got A's) deem essential for doing well
on confusing law essay exams. What they have, as described
at the outset of these Truths, is a predisposed lawyer-think mindset, a knack – for organizing voluminous information for quick reference;
for identifying “issues” hidden in complex fact patterns; for presenting
concise, nitpicking ("lawyerlike") analysis under severe time pressure –,
and they practice with old exams – a lot.
And/or they have taken LEEWS (!!).
Basic Truth – Unless you happen to be one of the 5-7% of law students with the mindset and knack described above, a 2-hour freebie lecture featuring “IRAC” and the standard exam writing advice offered by professors, upperclassmen, and ALL LEEWS competitors (e.g., "make an outline; get organized; spot issues; argue both sides; be concise;" etc. – click on Standard Advice – Free!) will be of little help in getting A's.
Basic Truth – If you're in a study group, you'll have to get out after taking LEEWS (unless your fellow members also attended or shared the audio program). Why? Because explaining LEEWS is like the blind man trying to describe an elephant. Overall, it's too complex, too in depth. It's not like mere advice that can be easily passed along. Your thinking will be too different. Moreover, you don't want to find yourself in the position of having to instruct and lead them along.
Basic Truth – Once again (a Truth that deserves belaboring), the view (near universal) that doing well on law school exams requires an innate, lawyering aptitude or genius – the “right stuff,” “you have it, or you don't” – is a fallacy. (Typically perpetuated by law professors to excuse the abysmal exams most students write, and also to congratulate their own success. Ditto students who do well.) Some few students (5-7%) exhibit an ability to handle law exams that elevates them marginally above the typical mediocrity (see above). But are the rest – most equally bright and diligent – genetically impaired? Hardly. Two years into practice most lawyers exhibit what professors are looking for on exams. What have they learned?
Basic Truth (2nd term) – First semester performance is neither critical to job prospects, nor predictive of success as a lawyer. Consider first term a learning experience. You learned, for example, that endless hours in the library briefing cases has little to do with performance on exams. Now you do things differently. For example, start course outlines earlier. Concentrate on learning black letter law. Practice with old exams. And think about taking “LEEWS.” Good grades second term will impress in job interviews the following fall.
Basic Truth – The issue identification system and analysis/presentation skills, etc. we at LEEWS have instructed and polished for 30 years more than compensate for not having a knack for handling law essay exams.
GIVE YOURSELF A CHANCE
(We can guarantee B's, because you'll compete for A's.)
Skeptical of the above? Not sure we're on target?
Talk to lawyers. Talk to upperclassmen.