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Academic Success Tip - Keep Up the Good Work

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!

Exam Tip - Analyze the Elements

Analyze each element of the relevant causes of action in your exam answer.  While you must address all the elements, the depth of your analysis regarding each element will depend on the complexity of the problem.  For example, with respect to an assualt, it might be quite obvious that the defendant was acting intentionally, but the real question is whether the plaintiff’s apprehension was of an imminent battery.  In this instance, your analysis of imminence will likely be longer than your analysis of intent.  Forcing yourself to analyze every element will accomplish two things: (1) it will let the professor know that you understand that every element of a cause of action must be proven; and (2) it will force you to consider whether each element has been satisfied, thus avoiding the mistake of failing to discuss a complex problem that, at least on the surface, seemed quite obvious.  (Adapted from Succeeding in Law School by Herbert N. Ramy.)

Want to learn a new language--and thereby develop your own legal niche--for free?



The Dept. of Education offers Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship grants to professional students (YOU!). FLAS Fellowships offer students the chance to learn one year's worth of a language (generally--though not exclusively--those spoken outside of western Europe) in an eight-week intensive summer immersion setting at one of many universities in the United States. All expenses are paid: tuition, room, and board. You could apply to go back the next summer for another intensive course, or alternatively pursue an advanced-level Critical Language Scholarship, Graduate Boren Fellowship or Fulbright grant to the country in which the language is spoken. Note that based upon our contacts to sponsoring universities, FLAS Fellowships are often not highly competitive, compared with other national awards, such as the summer Critical Language Scholarships.


Don't delay! First, students should pick a language (almost any imaginable) that they might be interested in learning. Second, they should call [past FLAS winner and Brandeis Law alum] Jeff Benedict at the U of L Office of National and International Scholarship Opportunities at 852-1515 between the hours of 11:00 and 5:00 pm or email him at for an appointment. The applications for individual FLAS programs are not particularly difficult, but the process of navigating the bureaucracy regarding which universities offer intensive summer FLAS programs each year is highly unwieldy. Jeff will help students there, as well as with giving a general sense of what’s expected with the applications and essays. Note that Jeff will be out of the office and away from email contact from Dec. 16th through Jan. 16th. Deadlines for the FLAS applications vary between mid-January and March, so students should contact Jeff before Dec. 16th.

Are You Still Reading the Docket?

Congratulations to Janet Lewis, the 1L Daily Docket winner.  To claim your prize, a $10 Burger King gift card, stop by Dean Ballard's office by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 1.

Exam 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.

Exam 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, they 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.

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

Remember to Return Your Study Aids

As you finish your final exams, be sure to return any study aids that you may have checked out during the semester.  Also, if you checked out study aids to use during the Thanksgiving holiday, please return them so other students may use them.

Free Massages for Law Students Today

Are you at the Law School studying for an upcoming final exam?  Did you just finish an exam?  Reward yourself with a free massage today!  On Monday, November 28, massage therapists will be in the Washer Lounge from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to provide complimentary massages for law students sponsored by your Student Bar Association.

Exam Tip - Outline Your Answers

Before answering an essay question, you must outline and organize your response.  Too many law students read the first paragraph 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 - Studying over Thanksgiving

Decide how you need to balance your play and study time over the holiday.  What family commitments do you have?  Are your outlines complete?  Where are you in your review for exams?  Keep in mind the following:

  • Be realistic about your ability to study over the holiday.  Do not expect to accomplish six weeks of work in 5 days.  Enjoy Thanksgiving Day with family or friends.  Block out times when you can realistically study during the remainder of the holiday.
  • Make a priority list of tasks.  Work on tasks in the order of priority.
  • Break tasks into smaller steps. 
  • Consider productive ways that you can use travel time:  listen to Sum and Substance CDs; review an outline sitting in the airport; quiz yourself with flashcards; if traveling with a classmate, consider answering practice questions together during the trip.
  • Consider whether you can include your family or friends in helping you study: quizzing you from flashcards or quizzing you on your outlines, for example.  You get to study, and they get to participate.
  • Determine your reward system to stay motivated.  The rewards can be large or small depending on the tasks.  You might go to the movies with your family if you study for a certain number of hours.  Use your imagination for rewards:  a new pair of shoes at the mall; reading a magazine; a luxurious soak in a bubble bath; dinner with friends; a morning at the spa; a run with the family dog.  You will accomplish more and find it easier to start tasks if you have a reward waiting for you. 
  • And, most importantly, have safe and healthy traveling and holiday celebrations.