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Academic Success Tip - Beware of Bad Advice

This week’s tips focus on bad advice that is often given out by well-intentioned students.  Critique these pieces of advice carefully and consider the alternatives.

Bad advice:  When you have someone else’s outline for the course, you don’t have to make your own outline.

Why this advice is bad advice:

  • Having the outline of someone else who did well in a course does not mean that you will do well in the course.  You will only do well if you know the material in-depth and understand it and can apply it.  Having an outline from an anonymous source is even less positive because you do not even know if the student who created it did well in the course.
  • An outline matches someone else’s learning styles and may not match how you learn material.  It also does not tell you how to apply the material to new fact scenarios – the very essence of law school exams.
  • Outlines of other students are shortcuts that avoid your having to process the information yourself.  Processing the information through your own outlines increases understanding and retention of material.
  • Outlines from prior years may not include changes in the law, changes in the professor’s approach to a subject, and changes in textbooks.  Unless you are carefully taking notes and outlining, you may miss important changes since the last time the professor taught the course.
  • When each member of a study group outlines one course and then gives her/his outline to the other study group members, the same type of problems can result.  Each study group member will know the course s/he outlined very well.  Each study group member will only have a partial understanding of the other two or three courses.

Alternatives:

  • If you have not already done so, begin NOW to process material and make your own outlines.  Use any outlines you have depended upon up to now only as comparisons.
  • Consider whether you can condense material before you put it in your own outlines so that you will not have to condense your outlines later.
  • Be efficient and effective in making your own outlines: do not include everything – include the important things that give you the bigger picture and inter-relationships.
  • Consider whether flowcharts and other visuals will be helpful for you as a way to condense the material and understand the “big picture” of the course.

The Bar Exam - What You Need to Know!

Mark your calendars for Monday, October 26!  Learn what you can do now to prepare for the upcoming Bar Exam.  This presentation is open to all Brandeis law students, but will be more applicable to upper-division law students.  This workshop will cover the various components of the bar exam in multiple states, planning, a day in the life of the bar examinee, and strategies for the essay and multiple choice components of the bar exam.  For those upper-division students with class beginning at 12:35 or 12:45, you are invited to stay until you need to leave for class.  The presentation will be in Room 275 from noon to 12:50.  Food will be provided.  

Academic Success Tip - Beware of Bad Advice

This week’s tips will focus on bad advice that is often given out by well-intentioned students.  Critique these pieces of advice carefully and consider the alternatives.

Bad Advice:  Save up your absences and use all of them the last two weeks of class so that you can focus on exam studying.

Why this advice is bad advice:

  • Important topics are often covered at the end of classes because the topics are more advanced than some of the material you have had previously.  You will be dependent on another student’s version of the material if you cut classes.
  • Your professors are likely to tie the course together in the last weeks of class.  You will be dependent on another student’s version of the course if you cut classes.
  • Your professors are likely to talk about the exam in more detail during the last weeks of class.  You will be dependent on another student’s version of the exam instructions, tips, and study guidelines if you cut classes.
  • You will go into exams with less personal understanding of the material covered at the end of the semester.  Some professors emphasize material covered at the end of classes very heavily in the exam questions.
  • If you follow this advice, you will also not be reading your cases.  You will only be more behind in understanding the course than you were previously.

Alternatives:

  • Plan your time management for the coming weeks so that you get all of the tasks done that are necessary for success – including going to class prepared.
  • Do not stop reading your cases.  You need to understand the material through the last class.  Become more efficient and effective in your reading.
  • If you do not know how to structure your time for the remainder of the semester to get each task done, visit the Academic Success Office for help.

Trager Wins Pirtle-Washer Oral Advocacy Competition

Congratulations to Duffy Trager, winner of the 2009 Pirtle-Washer Oral Advocacy Competition!

2009 Pirtle-Washer Participants

The semifinal and final rounds were held on Friday, October 9th in the Allen Courtroom.

Here’s the schedule:

9 AM, Semifinal Round

  • Appellant: Duffy Trager
  • Appellee: Algeria Ford

10:30 AM, Semifinal Round
  • Appellant: Eric Lowe
  • Appellee: Barry Dunn
Semifinalists
 

Duffy B. Trager is a native of Louisville.  He earned his B.A. in Political Science and Religious Studies from Western Kentucky University in 2006.  In law school, he competed on the 2008 National Moot Court Team.  He is currently Constitutional Law Editor of the Journal of Law and Education, founder and Vice President of the International Law Society and a Marshall - Brennan Fellow.  In the summer of 2009, he was awarded an IOLTA Fellowship with Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services.  Duffy has recently become an avid runner.

Algeria Ford
is a third year law student and the winner of last year’s Pirtle-Washer competition.  He has a range of interests including criminal and civil litigation, intellectual property law, and environmental law.  He would like to thank his wife for her continued support.

Eric Lowe
is from Mt. Washington, Kentucky, but currently lives in the Louisville area.  He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of the Cumberlands, in Williamsburg, Kentucky, where he played varsity football and competed in Parliamentary Debate.  Throughout his career at the Cumberlands, he studied in the areas of Communication and Political Science.  Currently, he is a second year evening student and has been employed full time throughout his law school career at Bullitt Central High School.  At the law school he participates in various programs and activities such as: University of Louisville Law Review, Moot Court Board, Student Bar Association, and as a member of the Health Law Moot Court Team.  He is honored to have been selected to compete in the Pirtle Washer finals and would like to wish all if his fellow competitors congratulations and best wishes.

Barry Dunn
is a Columbia, Kentucky, native who received his undergraduate education at Lindsey Wilson College before obtaining an M.A. in political science from the University of Cincinnati.  Mr. Dunn came to law school after teaching eighth grade social studies.  He currently serves as President of the Moot Court Board and Notes Editor for the University of Louisville Law Review.  Mr. Dunn is also a member of the school's National Moot Court Competition team.  Mr. Dunn has worked for the law firms Stoll Keenon Ogden and Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs.  After law school, he hopes to clerk for a federal judge for one year before practicing litigation.


Presiding Judges


Each semifinal round was judged by the following three judge panel:


Appellant, Duffy Trager, and Appellee, Barry Dunn, advanced to the final round at 1 PM, which was judged by the following:


Remembering Lively Wilson

Lively Wilson was an admired and respected member of the legal profession who made a significant impact on the judicial system in Southern Indiana and Kentucky.  A native of Kentucky and a Harvard Law School graduate, he was a role model and mentor to an entire generation of lawyers in the region. 
 
As a member of the Stites & Harbison firm in Louisville since 1953, Lively Wilson had a national reputation for his commitment to civility and professionalism by both civil and criminal trial lawyers.  He spoke about the importance of professionalism when he delivered the law school’s 2005 commencement address. 

His reflections about his practice in Kentucky are included in “Kentucky Lawyers Speak:  Oral History from Those Who Lived It,” the recently published book of interviews with seventy-four Kentucky lawyers.  In 1995, Lively Wilson and Dean Donald Burnett founded the Louis D. Brandeis Inns of Court. 

As a tribute to his example, in 2003 Edward H. Stopher, and the firm of Boehl Stopher & Graves and the Stites & Harbison firm, through the leadership of T. Kennedy Helm III, provided support to create the Lively M. Wilson Oral Advocacy Program.  The fund provided for furnishing the Moot Court office and establishing an endowment to fund participation in oral advocacy competitions.  Other major support came from Ronald E. Christian ’83 and the estate of Arnold Robinson ’61.

On July 22, 2009, Lively Wilson lost his valiant three-year battle with cancer.  Kennedy Helm’s email to the community noted that “Lively’s most recent gift to us was the example of optimism, grace and dignity he exhibited every day that he fought his illness.”

Academic Success Tip - Exam Preparation (Cont'd)

The calendar no longer supports the idea that exams are a distant event.  There are only seven weeks remaining before the end of classes.  This week's tips focus on exam preparation.

  • Walk away from temptation.  Law school classmates are sometimes the hardest to say “no” to because they are adroit at arguing that not studying is reasonable.  After all, if they can convince someone else to waste time, their own wasting time is not as obvious.
  • Focus on one day at a time.  All you can ask of yourself is your best.  Work as hard as you can each day.  Then, you can go to sleep knowing that you did all you could do that day.

Academic Success Tip - Exam Preparation (Cont'd)

The calendar no longer supports the idea that exams are a distant event.  There are only seven weeks remaining before the end of classes.  This week's tips focus on exam preparation.

  • Keep your eyes focused forward.  Do not look back over your shoulder to bemoan what you wish you had done in August, September, or the beginning of October.  You cannot control the past, but you can control the future.
  • Learn to say “no” diplomatically.  Family and friends, especially if they are not in law school, do not understand how important studying is for exams.  After all, in the past you just crammed for a week or two to get A grades.  Explain to them why it is so different now and ask for their understanding. 

The Bar Exam - What You Need to Know!

Mark your calendars for Monday, October 26!  Learn what you can do now to prepare for the upcoming Bar Exam.  This presentation is open to all Brandeis law students, but will be more applicable to upper-division law students.  Presented by T. Leigh Hearn of Kaplan PMBR, this workshop will cover the various components of the bar exam in multiple states, planning, a day in the life of the bar examinee, and strategies for the essay and multiple choice components of the bar exam.  For those upper-division students with class beginning at 12:35 or 12:45, you are invited to stay until you need to leave for class.  The presentation will be in Room 275 from noon to 12:50.  Food will be provided.  

Academic Success Tip - Exam Preparation

The calendar no longer supports the idea that exams are a distant event.  There are only seven weeks remaining before the end of classes.  In light of the seriousness of the time in the semester, this week's tips will focus on exam preparation.

  • Stop fragmenting your efforts and refocus.  If you have been coasting through class until now, stop.  If you have been focusing on extracurricular activities to the exclusion of academics, stop.  If you have been partying instead of studying, stop.  You need to prioritize your efforts for studies now.
  • Take responsibility for wherever you are in your studies.  If you are in good shape, congratulate yourself and plan the next step before you are tempted to rest on your laurels.  If your studying is in shambles, do not blame your present situation on your professors, study partners, family, or whomever comes to mind.  Own it and move forward.
     

Academic Success Tip - Campus Health Services

As a student of the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law, you may take advantage of the many services offered through the Belknap Campus Health Center.  Campus Health provides confidential, affordable, effective and student-focused medical, mental and health education services to all students in the university community.  For example, Campus Health Services provides confidential psychiatric services at no-charge to any student for a variety of mental health issues including:

  • New or existing depression or other mood problems
  • Panic attacks or other forms of anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling totally "stressed out" or overwhelmed
  • Problems with alcohol or drugs

Other campus health services include counseling, primary care, personal nutrition counseling and self-management support, prescription assistance, and Yoga and Pilates classes.  To learn more about the services you can take advantage of this semester and throughout the school year, visit the Campus Health website at https://louisville.edu/campushealth/.  The Student Health Center is a 5-minute walk from the law school and is located between the Student Activities Center and the Houchens Building and behind the Floyd Street Parking Garage.