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Matthew Fenn, a 3L at Fordham Law School, takes time out of his very busy schedule as the Fordham Law Review's Editor-in-Chief to talk about pre-law advice, future aspirations, and the demands of being a law review EIC.
What do you like most about law school?
I have always been someone who loves learning about new things and exploring why society is the way that it is, and law is perfect for this.
My favorite thing about law school is that it forces you to tackle issues, in depth, in a lot of different subjects and areas of life. Law school makes you think about politics, education, sports, art, medicine, economics, and any other topic you can possibly think of from a whole new perspective. I have always been someone who loves learning about new things and exploring why society is the way that it is, and law is perfect for this.
Is there a study tactic or method you find most helpful?
Keeping smart people around to chat with, bounce ideas off of, and study with never hurts, either!
One thing that was difficult for me in college and continues to be challenging in law school is that you have a lot of “unstructured” time, or time when you are not in class but have plenty of work to get done. The most helpful thing, for me, was to keep a regular schedule and treat law school like a full-time job. Keeping smart people around to chat with, bounce ideas off of, and study with never hurts, either!
Can you tell us more about Fordham's Law Review?
The most challenging part of the job is the sheer amount of work that it requires, as my friends—who don’t see me very often these days—can attest to!
The Fordham Law Review publishes roughly 3,000 pages of legal scholarship each year on topics ranging from constitutional law to corporate law and everything in between. We also host symposia and lectures to bring distinguished professors, scholars, judges, and practitioners together to discuss advancements in law.
The editor-in-chief, from a big-picture perspective, is in charge of making sure that the publication of each book, the execution of each event, and relationships among editors on the board are all smooth. The editor-in-chief’s primary responsibilities include approving articles and notes to be published in the law review, working with the managing editor to set a publication schedule, and making final edits on each piece that will be published.
My favorite part of the job is the opportunity to lead and work with a group of extremely intelligent, hard-working people, and to be part of an esteemed tradition of editors who have done the same. Fordham Law Review has an impressive legacy, and it’s an honor to carry on that legacy and attempt to make a personal mark on it. The most challenging part of the job is the sheer amount of work that it requires, as my friends—who don’t see me very often these days—can attest to!
Do you have any advice for students interested in legal research or in publishing (as you did in the Fordham Law Review)?
Great legal scholarship doesn’t have to be about a popular U.S. Supreme Court case or a constitutional amendment.
My biggest piece of advice would be to find an interesting topic and start to learn more about it, whether that is by watching the news, browsing the internet, or following experts in the field. As I mentioned earlier, law touches so many corners of life. Great legal scholarship doesn’t have to be about a popular U.S. Supreme Court case or a constitutional amendment. It doesn’t have to revolutionize the law. It just needs to expose a pressing legal problem, examine the problem in depth, and suggest a solution or point out something that others hadn’t necessarily thought of before.
What are you interested in doing after law school?
Mostly, though, I just want to work hard with smart people tackling difficult problems and have a good time doing it.
I will be working at a big firm next year, and for a judge the year after that, both of which I am eagerly looking forward to. I am very interested in appellate practice and would love the opportunity to argue in front of the Supreme Court, but so few lawyers get the chance to do that. Mostly, though, I just want to work hard with smart people tackling difficult problems and have a good time doing it.
Any other law school related advice?
When the workload is especially heavy, it’s easy to cash it in early or take shortcuts, particularly when the only person watching over you is you. Just remember that you are working hard for a reason.
For prospective students, read and write as much as possible—fiction, nonfiction, news, comedy, sports, really anything. Thinking critically and being a strong reader and writer are, I think, the most important qualities a lawyer can have and also correlate pretty closely with success in law school. The only way to hone these skills is through practice.
For current students, one important piece of advice is to keep your long-term goals in mind, especially when the going gets tough. When the workload is especially heavy, it’s easy to cash it in early or take shortcuts, particularly when the only person watching over you is you. Just remember that you are working hard for a reason. Also, an underrated piece of advice: be considerate and nice to your peers. A little kindness goes a long way, especially in an intense environment like law school.
Visit the 7Sage Law School blog to read more interviews with students and lawyers. In the coming weeks, we'll interview a former tennis star turned law student, a public defender who volunteers in Palestine, and a NYU Law graduate working as an angel investor.
The single most important thing you can do to improve your LSAT score is to take real, full length, timed LSAT Prep Tests.
In a previous post, I told you about the biggest mistake that everyone makes: underestimating how hard the LSAT is.
Now it’s time to take your very first LSAT Prep Tests. Download the June 2007 LSAT from your course. If you don't have a course yet, click here for a free trial.
Enter your answers and then score your lsat. This will help you analyze your strengths and weakness and know what you should focus on for maximum results.
With a free or paid account you can watch the video explanations for every single question on that test. Understanding every question you got wrong or weren't sure about is vital to improving your score.
The more LSAT Prep Tests you take, the better your score will be.
Anyone who is really good at something can do the basic skills without thinking. It's just pure instinct. That is what you want to happen with the LSAT. You want to read the question and then just KNOW.
To get there, you need to internalize the logic of the LSAT. Use the flashcards in the 7Sage course to drill the fundamental concepts into your head.
I know, I hate memorizing too. That's why these flashcards have been carefully selected to only cover only the most important areas that need to be memorized.
They're really easy to use. Work through them from top to bottom. Put your cursor over a card to see the answer. If you make a mistake, drag that card to the bottom. That way you'll see it again and reinforce that concept.
For example, here are the vocabulary flash cards that are used in the full course:[ss_flashcards source="http://7sage.s3.amazonaws.com/lsat/lessons/lsat-vocabulary-flashcards.txt"/]
What should you do today to study for the LSAT? How long do I need to study to get ready for my test date? When do I start taking timed Prep Tests? How do I plan out my days?
To answer all these questions for you, we’ve created a highly detailed and personalized LSAT study schedule that will answer these and more questions about how to plan out your LSAT studies. Our week by week study schedule gives you just enough information that lays out the goals you should accomplish for this week.
Having small discrete goals is incredibly important for staying on track and accountable.
Have you taken Prep Tests yet? You need to if you want to do well on the LSAT.
Now, if you've taken Prep Tests, have you properly reviewed them? To properly review your LSAT Prep Tests, you need to understand the reasoning behind each question and each answer choice.
We have short, to the point, bite sized video explanations for how to approach every LSAT question in the June 2007 LSAT. If you have a free account, you can see all the explanations to June 2007 here.
We also have the same explanations for every single LSAT question from Prep Tests 46 - 69 and many of the questions from Prep Tests 36 - 45. If you have a full course, you can access those from your progress page. You can also purchase explanations for individual LSATs here.
Studying for the LSAT can be demoralizing at times. I’ve been there myself and I know how much that sucks.
I also know that when it gets you down. The most important thing you need is a supportive community who also understands what you’re going through.
Over 1,000 students and teachers gather in the 7Sage LSAT Forums to discuss everything related to the LSAT and law school. From explanations to specific questions that you don’t understand, to finding an LSAT study buddy, you can find all the help and support you need.
If you’re doing well on the test, the forum is a great place for you to be a teacher and a leader. Help out others who don’t understand the LSAT as well as you do and improve your own understanding at the same time. After all, as Aristotle said, teaching is the highest form of understanding.
Let’s beat the LSAT together!
Practice LSATs can be a gold mine of valuable data on *exactly* what you need to work on to improve. Unfortunately, most students don't know how to take advantage of this.
That's why we made the most powerful LSAT grader available anywhere. It will let you drill into your answers to figure out exactly what you did wrong, and what you need to work on. You can analyze your performance with pretty charts, question and section difficulty ratings, and question type analysis.
Took a prep test recently? Enter your answers into our free grader. Try keyboard entry, it's a really fast way to enter your scores. Just use the 1-5 keys to enter your answers, and ~ to input blind review.
Most people take practice LSATs wrong. I see it all the time, and it sucks because it comes back to bite them in the ass on test day. I don't want that to happen to you!
The key to practicing LSATs is to simulate the real testing environment as closely as possible. That way, test day is just like another practice test. How do you do this?
First, gear up with exactly what you are allowed to use on test date:
LSAT printed on paper. Never take an LSAT displayed from a screen of any kind.
No. 2 pencil, eraser and sharpener. Never use a mechanical pencil, pen, marker etc.
Analog wristwatch. Never use a digital timer - you need to get used to your watch. If you don't have one yet, use the one in our LSAT Proctor App until you get one.
Secondly, set the mood with the right test environment
Find your test location and practice in a similar place. If you can, practice in the actual test location.
You will test in the early morning (unless you are taking the June LSAT, when it is in the early afternoon). Take your tests at that time.
Lastly, listen to the real test instructions with appropriate background noises.
This is easy - just download the free LSAT Proctor App in less than 30 seconds (Android app is coming soon)
Use the app when you practice. The app includes real proctoring instructions, realistic background sounds and a virtual analog watch.
That's it! Now that you know how to take LSATs the *right* way, get the app and take an LSAT Prep Test right now.
You already know that taking real LSATs is vital to improving your score. But properly reviewing the tests you take will really take your score to the next level.
First, let's look at how most people review. They take a timed test or section. When they finish, they flip to the answer key and rush to correct their work. "Yes, I'm right - I'm awesome!", or "Argh, I'm wrong - I suck!".
You probably review this way - I did when I started out. Heck, there were times when I flipped to the answers mid test. I just couldn't wait to check.
Unfortunately, this is an AWFUL way to review. Think about it - you don't really care if you were right. This isn't test day, so your points don't count. Some answers might just have been lucky guesses.
You really care whether your reasoning was right. And it's hard to check your reasoning if you check the answers first. Once you see that the answer is D, you'll invent reasons why D is obviously correct. I see students make up wrong reasons for right answers all the time.
The trick is to review questions before you check your answers. We call this Blind Review, and it's the best way to study. For details on how to do it, check out this video we made explaining how do Blind Review.
Underestimating your enemy is the biggest mistake you can make in a fight and nearly everyone underestimates how difficult the LSAT is.
Let’s avoid that blunder right now. The LSAT is hard. Really f*ng hard. Law school is even harder. If you already knew this, then you’re in better shape than the vast majority of prospective law students. High five! If you didn’t get a high five but want a high five, just reread this paragraph until you get one.
I will often remind you that this test is hard. This is simply to remind you that you need to study to do well. If the idea of taking a hard test that you need study for is very scary for you, you may want to rethink going to law school.
One last time: The LSAT is hard. Understood? Good, you just avoided the biggest mistake that LSAT newbies make.
And, you also happen to be half way done with your first LSAT lesson! Get a Free Account and finish the rest of it in less than one minute and be on your way to defeating the LSAT.