You cannot perform legal analysis without discussing the facts. Remember, most law school essay questions are written in the form of a lengthy fact pattern or story. The facts within these stories create the issues that you must discuss. Almost every fact in these stories must be reproduced and discussed in your examination answer. While it is true that your professors will know the facts in the problem, your professors do not know whether you understand which facts are relevant to resolving each issue.
To ensure that the facts are making their way into your essay answers, place a line through each fact as you use it. Do not cross the fact out so that it becomes illegible, however, because a single fact may be relevant to more than one issue. After you finish your essay answer, look back at the fact pattern. If there are facts left over, one of three things has occurred: (1) the facts are truly irrelevant and do not need to be discussed; (2) the facts are relevant to an issue or issues that you have already discussed; or (3) the facts are relevant to an issue that you have not addressed at all.
Caution: Listing facts is not the same thing as discussing them. True legal analysis occurs when you explain to a reader why a fact (or facts) leads to a legal conclusion. Consider the following examples.
Example 1 - John told the plaintiff “I will hit you if you come around here again.” Therefore, the battery was not imminent.
Example 2 – John told the plaintiff “I will hit you if you come around here again.” Generally, words alone cannot satisfy the imminence element of an assault. More specifically, these words merely inform the listener that he might be “hit” at some point in the future. The words “if you come around here again” placed a condition on the plaintiff being struck, which means that the plaintiff might never be struck by John. The fact that John might never strike the plaintiff means that the battery cannot be imminent.
If you were not sure, example 2 is the better answer! This is a somewhat obvious example to illustrate the point. The pattern in the second example – note a fact (or facts) and then explain why you have brought it to the reader’s attention – consistently appears in well done legal analysis.
If you are planning to take a make-up exam, please submit your request to take a make-up exam form to Student Records by Monday, April 19.
Skeletal Outlines - You will be nervous when the examination proctor says “Begin,” so the worst thing you can do is to start writing out your answer immediately. Instead, consider writing out your skeletal outline as soon as the exam begins. A skeletal outline is merely an organized list of principles and issues, created by you, which relates to a given area of the law. Think about the outline you have been creating all semester, but now reduce it down to a page or two – this is your skeletal outline. Writing out this list will give a few moments to compose your thoughts before digging into the exam.
Instructions - Read the instructions! This is the most obvious advice imaginable, but every exam period several students will, for example, answer 3 short exam questions, only to discover that the instructions said “provide an answer to 1 of the following 3 hypotheticals.” Most students get flustered at the start of an exam, so this type of mistake is more common than you might imagine. When the exam starts, take a deep breath, slow yourself down, and read the instructions.
Organization - Before answering an essay question, you must outline and organize your response. Too many students read the first sentence in an essay exam question, recognize an issue, and are so overjoyed at finding an issue that they spend the next 20 minutes responding to it. The problem with this approach is that the fact pattern was probably over a page long, and the writer just spent more time than was necessary in responding to a relatively straightforward issue. While different students outline differently, students who perform well on law school exams take the time to read through the entire essay question, create a list of the various issues contained therein, and then take a few more minutes to separate out the major issues from the minor ones. This approach will give you a better sense of how much time you have to complete your entire answer.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7 IS THE DEADLINE TO SUBMIT PRE-REGISTRATION FORMS.
Be sure to read all of the registration instructions before registering for classes.
Congratulations! You are about to finish another semester in law school. Here are some tips to make the most of the last two weeks of classes in preparation for finals:
- Do not skip classes. Professors often give information about the exam during the last few classes. In addition, there is a good chance that there will be questions on the exam specifically on the last week’s material.
- Attend all review sessions that your professors offer. Professors provide review sessions to help you do well on the exam. Whether the session is a professor-led review of the material or based on questions and answers, you can use the session to your advantage. If you are confused about certain areas, then this is the time to get the material straight. If you think you understand the material, then this is the time to “test” your depth of understanding.
- If there are not scheduled review sessions, ask your professors any questions that you have this week. Once classes are over, many professors work from home or work in their offices during limited hours. Yes, you could e-mail or telephone the professor regarding your questions; however, there is no substitute for being there face-to-face.
- Try to have all of your reading and outlining completed by April 16. You want to allow yourself plenty of time for learning your outlines, memorizing black letter law, and applying the concepts through practice questions.
- Evaluate your status in each course. Determine which topics and sub-topics still need to be learned for each course. Determine which topics and sub-topics just need to be reviewed. Determine how many practice questions need to be completed for each topic and sub-topic. Prioritize your studying tasks. Be realistic.
- Map out your plans for each day for the next two weeks. A monthly calendar format may help you to see when your exams are, when papers are due, when other projects may be due. Mark down review sessions being held by professors. For each day, indicate the course(s) you plan to study, the topics or sub-topics for that course, and the hours of study.
- Maximize your study time within your plan. Decide whether you learn better by studying one course all day or by mixing up two or even three courses in the same day. Decide when you are most alert and place the most difficult tasks (intense learning and memorization for many students) in those time slots. Use time slots when you are less alert for tasks that you find easier (review of material already learned, practice questions, and flashcards for many students).
- Re-check the exam schedule to make sure that you have written the correct days and times down for all of your exams. Nothing can be more distressing than to find out that you missed an exam because you were not careful enough in noting the dates and times on your calendar. If in doubt, find out now.
- Have a talk with your significant others about the fact that you will be studying for exams and need their understanding. Have a heart-to-heart with your friends, parents, spouse, children, and any others who need to be cooperative with your efforts. Schedule needed babysitters now.
It is the student's responsibility to read all of the registration instructions.
Please check your "Summary of Account" on ULink to make sure that you do not have any financial holds on your account. If you have a financial hold on your account, you will not be able to register for classes.
Pre-registration forms are due by Wednesday, April 7.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Barbara Thompson in Student Records.
May, August & December 2010 Graduates
Wednesday, March 31 is the deadline to order your graduation apparel.
Attached are the times for 2010 summer and fall registration. Registration times are based on credit hours completed and does not include spring 2010 credit hours.
Please check your summary of account to make sure that you do not have any financial holds. If you have a financial hold, you will not be able to register for classes.
All forms are due by 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, April 7.
Dean Bean is having a registration advising session for first year students on Tuesday, March 30 and April 5 for upper division students. If you have question, please feel free to contact Dean Bean.