Wednesday, September 12, 2007

studying...one gal's thoughts.

i saw michelle's comment asking how we study, so i thought i'd chime in.

as far as con law goes, i have one word: chemerinsky. it bears repeating...chemerinsky. he has a soft-cover treatise on constitutional law, and it's the con law bible. i read that treatise in lieu of the casebook, at the end of the semester, and con law was my highest grade that semester. i didn't outline, or even look very much at my (almost nonexistent) notes...i just depended on old erwin to pull me through, and that he did.

i'm usually not so cavalier about not doing the reading. my con law class was just plain weird...i had a professor who talked to us as if we were philosophy grad students instead of law students. (he was a philosophy professor by trade, who taught law on the side.) his lectures were...opaque to put it nicely, or unintelligible to put it bluntly. he called on people in seating chart order, so you knew exactly what day you were going to be called on.

for any of my other classes, my regimen goes a little like this:
  • stay on top of the reading for class. take notes in the book on things that jump out to help with class participation, and take good notes in class about what was discussed.
  • at the end of the semester, right before the final, condense the material from the notes into an outline. outlining is a forced comprehensive review of the class, and involves running through the material from beginning to end, to refresh my memory.
  • some classes are harder to outline or condense than others. that is where study aids come in. i don't buy study aids for every class, or even the majority of them, but i find myself quite partial to the "CaseNote" canned briefs, if i'm using a book that has a CaseNote volume keyed to it. CrunchTime is also a good series, because it is very clear, and has good practice problems to run through and discuss.
that's it. i did a lot of playing around my first semester, figuring out what would help me studywise, but that is what i have settled on now that i'm two years into this law school thing. that's the best thing to do...talk to people, figure out what study regimens work for them, and then try the ones that sound like they may be helpful to you. you'll settle on something that fits how your brain works, and then just keep doing that.

6 comments:

Butterflyfish said...

OH MY GOD:
as far as con law goes, i have one word: chemerinsky. ... i read that treatise in lieu of the casebook, at the end of the semester, and con law was my highest grade that semester....

THIS IS MY STORY EXACTLY.

I DID THE EXACT SAME THING.

I have blog posts at my place about this.

I can only assume you had the same nightmare of a casebook I did (blue cover, Sullivan.)

For Con Law especially, Nicolle speaks the truth kids. Erwin is a god!

Butterflyfish said...

To Michelle: if you choose to do what Nicolle and I did understand this: you will look like a jackass in class. You'll understand the big picture, you'll see how the cases fit together, you'll truly know con law.

But when your professor asks you to discuss the details of Scalia's dissent or asks for more facts from the case, you won't know.

So if you insist on outlining, at least a little, do this:

Table of contents becomes outline. Add one or two sentences per case. And Erwin. Con Law, managed.

(BTW not only was con law my highest grade, I got one of the highest grades in the class)

nicolle said...

i actually didn't have that same textbook--i don't remember who wrote it, but it had a red cover on it. and then my professor threw in a bunch of extra cases--we must have had fifty stapled supplements.

so...it just involved whatever the prof wanted to throw at us, which happened to mesh really, really well with chemerinsky.

Calculating Bitch said...

Wait, butterflyfish, who was the wise one that told you to pick up Chemerinsky? ;-)

Oh, and forget the wakeboarding. Cliff diving is the new initiation.

Butterflyfish said...

Oh hail the sage Calculating Bitch, she who was cutting corners in law school to great effect long before I even took the LSAT!


Good news about the initiation. But since there are few cliffs near water around here, you're saying its a suicide pact now? Ok, cool.

Michelle said...

Great, thanks for the advice on con law! I got the treatise. We're also using Erwin's casebook, so I think it's pulling things together nicely. Good luck to everyone this year - in con law and otherwise ;)