Monday, August 09, 2010

a few answers.

alright, we've had a few questions in the last post on here, so i'm going to take a crack at providing some answers. if anyone else has anything better, feel free to comment or write a new post.

Jess asked whether there were any other suggestions to getting law school books for cheaper than the bookstore, other than Amazon or half.com. for one, you can always ask around...sometimes people who took the class last year are willing to sell their books for cheap, or even lend them to you. if the edition hasn't changed (or even if it has...shhhh!), this can be a cheap option. Google Shopping can also be full of win in this regard...be it books or anything else, i love its site-comparison features, and have had good luck finding things cheap through it.

jumi asked about standard software. first and foremost...i got through law school without Microsoft Office on my box. i used OpenOffice...which was perfectly suited for law school even in 2005 when i started, and has only gotten better over the years. that, Firefox, and a .pdf reader got me pretty much everywhere in law school. the only other piece of software that comes to mind was ExamSoft's SofTest, the computerized test-taking software my law school (Washington University in St. Louis) used. when i started law school, it was Windows-only, and i was pretty uncomfortable even attempting to use a virtual machine to take my test at that point. (fast forward to 2010...i've become a linux geek who has forsaken the legal field to work in information technology. go figure.) i kept Windows on my laptop until graduation for the sake of running SofTest. when i was in law school, people either ran it from Windows, or ran it on their Macs using Windows XP on BootCamp. i never tested it from Linux in a Windows VM; ExamSoft says that SofTest is not supported by any VM software. i'm tempted to find a way to test this claim out just to satisfy my own curiosity...but i understand that law school testing is stressful and high-stakes, so can only suggest that you at least make sure to either have a Windows or Mac box, or one you can borrow, come exam week. i also know there are a few other testing software suites out there, but i'm not familiar with them since my law school didn't use them. SofTest is also the most common.

The Jogger asked if you had to memorize things like the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or the UCC verbatim. that wasn't my experience. as unrealistic as the expectations of law school often are, professors are generally not that crazy. when i took civpro my 1L year, we were issued a fresh copy of the FRCP to go with our exam. we were responsible for being familiar with the applications and caselaw interpretations of the Rules, but as for the text of the rules or the rule numbers for each rule, we could look them up. most of my law school exams were either open-book (bring whatever resources you wanted) or modified open-book (bring your course textbook and whatever else the professor speciically said you can bring). but, one caveat here...it is good to have at least a general idea of the layout of the rules, and the course material. you're not going to have enough time to look absolutely everything up, as well as write a satisfactory response to the questions, during the exam time. even in an open-book test, preparatory work pays off--if nothing else, you'll know where to look, instead of flailing around trying to find relevant information.

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