#DearFindLaw: Study Supplements, Outgunning Gunners
Today's #DearFindLaw is all about the first few days of law school. Gunners are gunnin', answering questions (often incorrectly) like they think they're teaching the class, outlining their whole casebook before class even begins, and memorizing 57 study supplements.
What's a "normal" student to do?
This is one of those things where everyone has a different opinion. Some will say to avoid supplements completely for your first few weeks -- no crutches means you'll learn how to "think like a lawyer" sooner. Honestly, that's probably the best approach.
At a minimum, I'd recommend doing your class assignments supplement-free, and then, if you're not confident about your understanding of the cases, double-checking your notes against case briefs. You can buy these in books or find them for free online by Googling the case name.
As for hornbooks and treatises, my personal favorite was the "Examples and Explanations" series -- long, exhaustive explanations of the law followed by Q&A hypos to test your understanding. You could use these to review topic-by-topic, or just use them to review at the end of the semester.
Keeping Up With the Gunners
It's Day One of orientation and a friend's classmate has already announced that she has outlined all of the following week's work. When the first day of class arrives, others seem to know the answer to all of the professor's questions. A friend asks: How do you keep up with gunners and sincere scholars (overachievers)?
The wisest thing I can say at this point is this: Your class grade has little to nothing to do with how you perform in class. Many professors grade anonymously, and most don't include class participation as a significant part of your grade.
In short, it's all about the final. Everything else is a means to that end.
So should you be outlining? Sure, outline as you go in class -- just be aware that a lot of the stuff you're writing in these first few weeks will require revision once you actually know what you're talking about.
As for class, nobody knows the answer to all of the professor's questions. The questions are designed to either be extremely difficult or they don't have an answer at all -- it's all about forcing you to develop stronger analytic abilities and to think on your feet. These are your first few weeks. Don't worry if you don't know the answer to some (or most) of the questions.
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