Academics News

Academic Success Tip

Congratulations!  You have completed your first week of law school final exams.  The good news is that there is only one more week to go, and after finals you will have a much-deserved long break.  While it is important to take some time for yourself this weekend, do not abandon your studies.  You want to end strong, so be sure to devote enough hours to studying this weekend.  Do not procrastinate.  Good luck!

Donate Your Study Aids to the Academic Success Office

Graduating students and upper-division students:  Please consider donating your study aids to the Academic Success Office.  Not only will you free up some space in your home or apartment and provide a great resource for other law students in the future, but you may also claim a tax deduction for your donated books up to the amount of their cost.  If you are interested in donating some of your study aids, please stop by the Academic Success Office, Room 212.

Free Massages for Law Students

Massage therapists from Advanced Massage Therapeutics will be offering free chair massages for law students on Monday, December 7.  Massages will be offered in the Washer Lounge from noon to 6:00 p.m.  Students are encouraged to sign-up for an appointment time.  A sign-up sheet is posted in the Washer Lounge.  This service is sponsored by your Student Bar Association and the Academic Success Office.

Academic Success Tip - Legal Analysis

Your analysis is the most important thing that goes into a law school exam, so make sure it is in there!  Much of what students write when answering a law school exam is not legal analysis, and has originated in places other than the student’s mind.  The issues you will be dissecting were created by your professors and are contained within the examination fact patterns.  The same is true of the facts you will be discussing in your answer; they were created by your professor.  The law you will be relying on to resolve these issues originated in the cases and statutes you read during the course of the semester.  The only part of an essay answer unique to you is your commentary on WHY certain facts lead you to believe that a legal issue should be resolved in a particular way.  This commentary is legal analysis, and is the difference between the grades of “C” and “A” on a law school exam.  (Adapted from Succeeding in Law School by Herbert N. Ramy.)

Academic Success Tip - Do not Just List the Facts!

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.

(Adapted from Succeeding in Law School by Herbert N. Ramy.)

Academic Success Tip - Use the Facts!

You cannot perform legal analysis without discussing the facts.  There are few absolutes in law school, but including the facts in your answer to essay questions is one of them.  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, we do not know whether you understand which facts are relevant to resolving each issue.  Including the facts in your answer does not guarantee success on your law school exams, but excluding the facts guarantees that you will perform below your capabilities.

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 (unlikely!); (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.

As for supposedly irrelevant facts, professors rarely place information into their fact patterns that does not need to be discussed.  Most “irrelevant” facts are there so that you can explain why they are irrelevant.  (Adapted from Succeeding in Law School by Herbert N. Ramy.)

FREE MASSAGES TODAY

Massage therapists from Advanced Massage Therapeutics will be offering chair massages for law students today.  Massages will be offered in the Washer Lounge from noon to 6:00 p.m.  Students are encouraged to sign-up for an appointment time.  Sign-up sheets are posted in the Washer Lounge.  This service is sponsored by your Student Bar Association and the Academic Success Office.

Academic Success Tip - Organizing Your Exam Answers

Before answering an essay question, you must outline and organize your response.  When the proctor says “Begin,” 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.  (Adapted from Succeeding in Law School by Herbert N. Ramy.)

Academic Success Tip - Exam Tip (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.  Adapted from Succeeding in Law School by Herbert N. Ramy.

Free Massages for Law Students!

Massage therapists from Advanced Massage Therapeutics will be offering chair massages for law students on two days during finals - Monday, November 30 and Monday, December 7.  Massages will be offered in the Washer Lounge from noon to 6:00 p.m. each day.  Students are encouraged to sign-up for an appointment time.  Sign-up sheets are posted in the Washer Lounge.  This service is sponsored by your Student Bar Association and the Academic Success Office.