law school academic success

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Deep Learning with Elaborative Interrogation

Elaborative Interrogation Exemplified with question mark in maze

The elaborative interrogation technique may sound like a spy how-to manual, but it is used to go beyond simply memorizing difficult concepts to understanding them. For example, you may be able to recite the three elements for res ipsa loquitur, but have no idea what they mean or how to apply them in a fact pattern. This method helps you remember and understand by having you ask how and why questions, thereby allowing you to see connections between the various concepts. Compare and Contrast As you use this technique you will compare and contrast ideas by asking how two concepts are similar and...

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Black Letter Law

Black letter law with know the rules on chalkboard

What do professors mean when they say you need to know black letter law, or hornbook law? Black letter laws are the legal rules and principles that are so well accepted across the country that there is no longer any basic disagreement as to what they are. But keep in mind many states have slight variations on how they articulate the rules or in how they define certain key terms. So when you become a lawyer, or if a professor asks for a certain state’s rule, make sure that you use the variation in your state.With that slight caveat, no...

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How the Brain Benefits from Exercise

Brain benefits from exercise as woman exercises a brain by her leg

Recent studies indicate that the brain benefits from exercise. We all know we need to exercise!  And we all know that there are physical health benefits from exercising. But did you know that exercise will help you in the classroom and while studying, as well? While reading Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, written by Harvard professor John Ratey, M.D., I discovered that modern science is confirming what the ancients understood thousands of years ago. Dr. Ratey begins by quoting from Plato’s Republic:In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means,...

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Law School Exam Myth: Art and Science

Student taking law school exam

So you get back your first law school exam and you did not do as well as you were hoping. You go to the professor and ask what you could do to improve on the final exam. At some point during your meeting with the professor, he or she says that exam writing is part art and part science. Even I used to say garbage like that when I was a new professor. What the professor is really telling you is that you really can’t improve and there is really nothing that he or she can do to help you....

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Law School Notes

Man in blue suit.

Are you wondering how to take law school notes? If you are not a genius, like Mike from Suits, you will need to learn the best how to take notes during a classroom discussion. Many new law students fall into the trap of thinking they need to write down every word said during a class. This is a mistake! The key is engagement, rather than mindlessly copying everything you hear in class. Here are a few things that will help you in determining what you need to write down from a classroom discussion.One thing you should be aware of is...

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Case Briefs: Key to Success

Shakespeare Portrait: to case brief or not case brief

To case brief or not to case brief? That is the question! Your professors and academic support faculty are telling you yes. And some upper level students are telling you no.Early in my teaching career, this question came up in a faculty meeting. In the room were very successful academics who attended the most prestigious law schools in the country. About half of them said they briefed all throughout school, the other half saying they quit after the first semester.Before answering the question, we have to discuss the purpose of case-briefing, which is two-fold. First, case-briefing is designed to prepare...

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When to Use Law School Study Aids

Person at desk with a book covering their face

Have you wondered when to use law school study aids? Perhaps you have heard some 2Ls or 3Ls talk about certain study aids that helped them get an A in a class. Maybe one of your friends bought one of those 3L’s study outlines. If you are considering using a commercial study aid, please read this first to learn how to effectively use these study aids.A commercial study aid is anything other than what you created. This can be outlines, hornbooks, treatises, notes from a prior year, case briefs, audio, video, anything that you did not create is what I...

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How to Read and Outline a Book

An open book with eye glasses on an open page.

Have you wondered what is the best way to read and outline a book? When most students read an assignment from a book, they pull out the book and the assignment, which says, for example, read pages 39-47. So they go and read the pages. That’s what most of us do unless you learn how to read a book better.When you start reading the assignment on those pages, have you ever asked yourself what you are about to read? Probably not. Students will of course know the title of the course and maybe even the topic. But they probably will...

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Memorization Issues: Try Leitner Boxes (Flash Cards)!

Law books. Use Leitner boxes to learn law.

If you have worked hard to prepare for classes all semester, you probably get frustrated when you have trouble remembering information for final exams. The method we learn in today’s blog post will help you move that information from your short-term memory to long-term memory....

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