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Michigan 1L: Advice Based on 1 Semester in Law School

Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
in Off-topic 4423 karma

@keets993 @eRetaker
I'm writing this because I promised to and because the internet has a sort of strong response bias where only those who do well to report back on their experience.

I ended up with a B in Civil Procedure, a B+ in Constitutional Law, and a B+ in Torts for a total of a 3.2.

As a consequence, it is a little bit hard for me to claim that I know what helped me and what didn't with regards to how I prepared before or throughout the semester.

My 0L prep: I bought E and Es for Tort law and Contracts since I didn't know what classes I would have. Once I found out I focused mainly on the Torts E and E. I also listened to the Sum and Substance audio lectures for torts. My goal was to be able to take practice tests early in the semester in at least one class. I read Getting to Maybe. I also learned to touch type over the summer before law school.

Preparation during the semester: I was fairly busy just reading and rereading the texts, as well as outlining. As a consequence, I did not begin taking practice tests any where near as early in the semester as I had hoped. However, I still ended up going through quite a few. My Torts professor made all of his past exams available. I took all of them, using their model answers and comparing answers to some of them with my peers. In Constitutional Law, I took the three practice exams which my professor made available as well as others from other professors. In Civil Procedure my professor did not give us an old exam so I tried other professor's exams and also just spent a lot of time going over my class notes and re-reading cases as well as looking at other people's outlines who had taken him and trying to incorporate any nuggets of their wisdom into my own outline and memory.

What I think probably worked?
First of all, it is pretty clear that not much worked very well.

Typing Practice: I would say that learning touch typing was very important to me not doing substantially worse. It is hard to make any claims for sure, but in Civil Procedure where we did not have a word limit most people seemed to have typed a lot. I felt like mine was on the short side, but probably more because I never felt like I had a great grasp on the material no matter how much I studied. I would not have wanted to compound that by also having had to struggle to literally type the exam. Most of my fellow students seem to type faster than me(I now type about 70 words per minute max and probably more like 50 when I am composing the sentences rather than just copying). However, at a certain point I am sure there are diminishing marginal returns on investment in typing. I think that it is worth learning to touch type before law school if you don't know how. I further think that whenever you type notes up for an outline or work on a legal practice assignment you should consciously maintain this skill.

Substantive 1L prep:
I had read the E and E and listened to the sum and substance lectures on Torts before 1L. I felt much more comfortable in that class. I also had a fairly good exposure to American history and the Constitution before 1L which I think led me to be fairly comfortable in Constitutional Law. In contrast, I felt lost and adrift for most of the semester in Civil Procedure. As a consequence of this, I struggled through Civil Procedure readings and instead of using the time which I had saved in Torts and Constitutional Law to practice exam taking early in the semester, I spent it on trying to understand Civil Procedure. Consequently, I don't really think that the 0L prep ended up helping me all that much. However, if someone were to actually dedicate themselves to it and then to practice exam taking once in law school, I think that it could help.

Non-substantive 1L Prep:
While the prevailing view is that reading Getting to Maybe is about the only thing that you should do prior to law school, I think that is pretty much backwards. I read Getting to Maybe and listened to the LEEWS audio tapes over the summer. It was basically impossible to practice anything in them without having something to practice on. This meant that I don't think that I necessarily gained all that much from them. I think that they are more useful once you actually have something to apply them to.

My Recommendations based on my 1L experience:

0L Prep: I think that if I were to decide how to prep for 1L again, I would read supplements for all of my 1L classes(or just the first semester classes if I knew what they were early enough). I wouldn't be trying to learn everything perfectly since you don't know if your prof and casebook are going to agree on every element of a tort with your supplement. However, I would try to get the gist. I would go through the E and E questions and such.

If I couldn't touch type, I would definitely still dedicate some time to working on that.

1L prep: I would do the readings and outlining and all the other normal 1L stuff. However, I would hopefully do it a little faster and more easily. I would try not to worry about cold calls or really focus on them. I also would as I think I did, still participate a fair bit in class and attend office hours regularly. Having a relationship with the professor is important even though grading is blind.

Mainly, I would try to practice exam taking very early, taking about 1 exam per class every week rather than trying to cram them in at the end as I ended up doing. (This semester, that is basically what I am going to try to do, except that I need to read the supplements while doing my work for each class, while applying for jobs(which is a little more frantic with my grades), and still won't be able to start any practice exams for at least a month.

Other Lessons Here:
First of all, my law school related advice obviously is not that of an expert and all the old guides and stuff from TLS are probably better.

Second, it really is true at least in my experience that LSAT has very little ability to predict your grades. I had LSAT high of 180 on my retake which is of course pretty much as above the median as you can get. From the beginning of class, I have nonetheless found my peers to be every bit as smart and as hardworking as me which is pretty much as I expected. They just for whatever reason either were not as good at the LSAT or alternatively didn't put as much of a systematic effort into improving on the LSAT as 7sage enabled me to. That worked to my benefit by ensuring that I got my scholarship and therefore have a tolerable level of debt if I either chose not to try to get Big Law or if by virtue of grades and other circumstances(for example a recession) I end up not exactly having a choice in the matter.

So don't go to a school thinking that you will be able to get good grades based on an above median LSAT or work ethic and that those grades will make the experience worthwhile. Go if because of a combination of your drive to be a lawyer and how good a financial deal you can get, you will be happy with your decision even if you end up with below median grades and maybe a below median(financially) career outcome.

I'm still happy with my decision to come here and will be as long as I end up with some legal job because with basically any job(as long as I find one) I can pay back my small debt pretty quick. If I like said job, I can stick with it and have opened a door that was not available to me before law school. If not, I won't be trapped in that job or the law forever or even for more than a couple years. Additionally, while I felt like I was struggling in Civ Pro, I have generally liked being in law school because the classes have been interesting and at least at Michigan the people have by and large been very friendly and nice. I have made friends who I hope to have for life and am overall very happy to be here.

That brings us to the last point:
Some of you may have heard of the notable exception to the general niceness of the people at Michigan Law School. https://abovethelaw.com/2018/12/law-school-student-mocks-the-disabled-because-why-not/
https://www.reddit.com/r/LawSchool/comments/a8h96r/dont_be_this_stupid/

This student has lost the respect of everyone in the law school who knew who he was(and law schools especially Michigan where a large share of the 1L class stays in the Lawyer's Club are pretty close knit communities). He probably would have trouble transferring since the Dean would certainly tell any other school that asked of the situation if asked why he was transferring down or parallel. Therefore, he is likely very much alone and deservedly so. Having got my own generally discouraging grades today, I can tell you that it is the friendships with classmates which make them tolerable. So if you happen to have vile and unmerited negative feelings about your classmates at whatever school you eventually attend, you should get some help, you should not drink to excess, you should not tell people about them other than a counselor, and you should definitely not send out an email to the whole school disparaging students who are part of your community.

The school is taking some actions in response, but has generally dealt with it quietly(perhaps because they are worried about publicity or perhaps because they are worried about the student's mental health and substance abuse problem). They are also taking positive steps. At 4 today we have a(previously scheduled speaker) for Martin Luther King Jr. day which is focused in part on disabilities and there is a mandatory event on Friday.

If anyone has any questions about Michigan Law, 1L, 0L prep, or my experience in law school so far, feel free to ask. Obviously I am pretty busy and am going to get more busy as a result of my need to improve my grades and expand my job search. I justified taking the time to post this on the basis that I was too stressed out by seeing my grades to get much done for a couple hours anyway. However, I will check back and respond to any questions sooner or later.

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Comments

  • brigittebrigitte Member
    432 karma

    Did you have much experience with writing analytical papers before law school? What was your undergrad major?

  • LSAT_WreckerLSAT_Wrecker Legacy Member
    4850 karma

    Thanks for this post.

  • BamboosproutBamboosprout Alum Member
    edited January 2019 1694 karma

    Great post, and thanks for following up with that promise. One thing that confused me was when you said to take practice tests every week. How does that work? If you haven't even gone through most of the material yet, what does taking practice tests do? I get the gist that maybe doing the tests early can be a useful guide to direct your studying efforts, but it also reminds me of when I took 40PTs before getting 7sage, and thus not having any fresh material to work with. I apologize if this is a silly question. I understand very little about how law school actually is like.

    Also, do you have any experience with 0L online material like LarryLawLaw, or books like 1L of a Ride, Getting to Maybe, Reading like a Lawyer, or the Bramble Bush? If yes, what are you thoughts on them?

  • The NoodleyThe Noodley Alum Member
    662 karma

    thank you for the post! glad to see you again!

  • LSAT_AthleteLSAT_Athlete Monthly Member
    305 karma

    Hey man, thank you for the feedback. Sorry about your grades

  • VibrioVibrio Alum Member
    625 karma

    Thank you for taking your time and posting this. All the best for the next semester!

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @anonclsstudent said:
    Did you have much experience with writing analytical papers before law school? What was your undergrad major?

    Sort of. I had two majors one of which was kind of a mix of political science and philosophy. We wrote quite a lot of papers which were sort of analytical. I did well in my legal practice class (where we get grades on assignments, but it will ultimately be pass/fail) so I don't think poor writing was the major cause of my grades. I'd say more, but if I did I would pretty much reveal my identity to anyone here who knows me. I'd rather not do that both because I mentioned my opinion on the listserve email and because I'd rather not have my LSAT score widely known here since it isn't the kind of thing you talk about in law school(at least at Michigan).

    @Bamboosprout said:
    Great post, and thanks for following up with that promise. One thing that confused me was when you said to take practice tests every week. How does that work? If you haven't even gone through most of the material yet, what does taking practice tests do? I get the gist that maybe doing the tests early can be a useful guide to direct your studying efforts, but it also reminds me of when I took 40PTs before getting 7sage, and thus not having any fresh material to work with. I apologize if this is a silly question. I understand very little about how law school actually is like.

    Also, do you have any experience with 0L online material like LarryLawLaw, or books like 1L of a Ride, Getting to Maybe, Reading like a Lawyer, or the Bramble Bush? If yes, what are you thoughts on them?

    That's why I recommend reading the supplements over 1L summer. It would give you some basis to begin taking practice exams and practicing issue spotting. Ultimately, on the exams you get a fact pattern which you have to analyze to see where it presents issues and then argue it will most likely go one way or the other because of precedents and the cases you study in class. You can practice spotting the issues and doing some analysis of them even without knowing the exact set of cases your teacher will focus on.

    To some extent there is a problem of running out of materials. Some profs don't give many or any of their own tests out. If there are not many, I would definitely save them for near the end. But, if the goal is just getting better at the skill of issue spotting other profs exams work too and are basically unlimited in number.

    Of those books, I only read Getting to Maybe though I also used LEEWS audio tapes. Both were helpful to understamd the broad idea of a law school exam and how to organize it, but I didn't really know enough law to learn from them when I read them. They were a little more useful when I circled back to them later in the semester. However, I think that largely they give obvious advice. You need to know what they convey, but it isn't going to make you stand out.

    @LSAT_Athlete said:
    Hey man, thank you for the feedback. Sorry about your grades

    Don't feel bad for me. I came into this pretty clear headed. My debt is manageable with any job and I should still be positioned fine to get something. Feel bad for the people across the country going a couple hundred thousand dollars in debt who just realized they might not land the big law job they were counting on and can't count on getting the same good grades they always have. And know that when you guys are studying for the LSAT right know, what you are doing is making your downside more palatable either by getting a larger scholarship, by going to a school with better job results for larger segments of their class, or by some combination of the two.

  • msk12345msk12345 Alum Member
    247 karma

    what's touch typing?

  • acsimonacsimon Alum Member
    1264 karma

    I'm also sorry to hear about the grades. While I know that it is a blessing to be in the position you're in and not having to worry so much about grades because of (a) prestige and (b) monetary assistance, it is still hard when your grades don't satisfy your expectations.

    I know it is hard taking a bird's eye view of things at this stage--especially, with regard to what might have hindered you because of blindspots--but what do you think would've helped you in semester besides starting issue-spotting practice exams early and often? For instance, do you have friends that had a little bit of a better grasp of the Civ Pro material (from your vantage point or just the hindsight of the grades given in that course) that gave you some evidence where you might have gone a bit off course?

    I think that this is a lesson to everyone, at the very least, to study the LSAT for the LSAT and to take it as important just for admissions and try to forget it as soon as possible. I can imagine that many people, in awe of your perfect score, would think that it is some sort of red-carpet towards top grades if you work hard (which you did). Of course, that isn't necessarily the case for many reasons. However, people are still liable to fall into that way of thinking--at least when talking about their personal expectations (i.e., even if they wouldn't admit as much).

    In any case, it seems that you have a good handle on the first semester and that you've settled in. That it seems, is the difficult transition to make and I'd expect that you'll be right in the thick of things (as far as clerkships and the like) when it comes to options in your 3L year. May we all transition as well and as maturely on this front!

    P.S. I worried about the typing thing as well. Before the summer, my typing speed (and writing speed) was so horrendous compared to others (I guess my natural fine motor skills are lacking). That's why I tried to get a head start on things by practicing a bit of touch typing everyday for the last six months and it does really help if you put the time into it. I'm glad that you recommended that people try to get their touch-typing skills to at least an acceptable/decent level before they go into their 1L year. It seems like it is really important, although it is not really a substantive skill.

  • btownsqueebtownsquee Alum Member
    1207 karma

    Thank you for the post!

  • unclesysyunclesysy Alum Member
    106 karma

    Thank you for the post. Do you just receive grades, or do you also get comments on your exams? And if so, did you detect any patterns in the remarks, or what you did well or less well?

  • _oshun1__oshun1_ Alum Member
    edited January 2019 3652 karma

    @msk12345 said:
    what's touch typing?

    I think it means typing without looking at the keyboard. I honestly didnt think this was a thing anyone under the age of 30 even thought about. It was so rare to see anyone handwriting notes in college.

  • msk12345msk12345 Alum Member
    247 karma

    @oshun1 Haha yes I had never heard of touch typing before; for us millennials, I believe touch typing is called breathing!

  • LSATcantwinLSATcantwin Alum Member Sage
    13286 karma

    Wow! You and I had almost identical experiences with our first semester of 1L. My grades were very close to yours as well.

    I can say one thing for sure, no matter how you prep for your first semester, nothing other than going through it can fully prepare you for it.

    The upside is: I’ve learned a TON about my study habits, what worked for me, what didn’t work for me, and know what I need to change to hopefully improve!

    We got this! Keep pushing forward. It’s just like the lsat my first attempt was not good, my second attempt was better, but my final attempt was spectacular! Hopefully I can just skip from first to third attempt with law school grades :)

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @oshun1 said:

    @msk12345 said:
    what's touch typing?

    I think it means typing without looking at the keyboard. I honestly didnt think this was a thing anyone under the age of 30 even thought about. It was so rare to see anyone handwriting notes in college.

    It still is definitely a thing for some people. There was a person in my class who said he didn't know how to type at all and was going to handwrite his exam, but changed his mind when he realized he would be the only one.

    If you never formally learn it is pretty easy to go through life on momentum and just keep staring at the keyboard while you type.

    But not thinking about it is definitely where you want to be and is pretty easilly attainable.

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    edited January 2019 4423 karma

    @unclesysy said:
    Thank you for the post. Do you just receive grades, or do you also get comments on your exams? And if so, did you detect any patterns in the remarks, or what you did well or less well?

    We just get grades. I am going to meet with my profs and go over the exams though. I'll share if any clear pattern emerges.

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @acsimon said:
    I'm also sorry to hear about the grades. While I know that it is a blessing to be in the position you're in and not having to worry so much about grades because of (a) prestige and (b) monetary assistance, it is still hard when your grades don't satisfy your expectations.

    I know it is hard taking a bird's eye view of things at this stage--especially, with regard to what might have hindered you because of blindspots--but what do you think would've helped you in semester besides starting issue-spotting practice exams early and often? For instance, do you have friends that had a little bit of a better grasp of the Civ Pro material (from your vantage point or just the hindsight of the grades given in that course) that gave you some evidence where you might have gone a bit off course?

    I think that this is a lesson to everyone, at the very least, to study the LSAT for the LSAT and to take it as important just for admissions and try to forget it as soon as possible. I can imagine that many people, in awe of your perfect score, would think that it is some sort of red-carpet towards top grades if you work hard (which you did). Of course, that isn't necessarily the case for many reasons. However, people are still liable to fall into that way of thinking--at least when talking about their personal expectations (i.e., even if they wouldn't admit as much).

    In any case, it seems that you have a good handle on the first semester and that you've settled in. That it seems, is the difficult transition to make and I'd expect that you'll be right in the thick of things (as far as clerkships and the like) when it comes to options in your 3L year. May we all transition as well and as maturely on this front!

    P.S. I worried about the typing thing as well. Before the summer, my typing speed (and writing speed) was so horrendous compared to others (I guess my natural fine motor skills are lacking). That's why I tried to get a head start on things by practicing a bit of touch typing everyday for the last six months and it does really help if you put the time into it. I'm glad that you recommended that people try to get their touch-typing skills to at least an acceptable/decent level before they go into their 1L year. It seems like it is really important, although it is not really a substantive skill.

    I think that most of us felt Torts was easiest and Civ Pro hardest. I just felt it more strongly. I learn and remember things best when I have the full context around them and by its nature Civ Pro kind of throws you into very specific things one at a time and hopes that by learning them individually you will eventually get the whole picture. Instead, I had a harder time understanding each part because I didn't fully understand the whole. Even though I think I improved at this over the semester as I grasped the big picture better, that doesn't make up for the not having learned the early things as well.

    That sort of a learning style probably also makes substantive prep with some sort of supplement more useful to me than it might be for some others. It's not that I really expect to learn the fine details of the law with the supplement, but the bigger picture and how everything connects so I can understand and learn the other seemingly isolated legal areas better when the class get to them. So I think even aside from letting me practice issue spotting sooner, substantive prep would have helped.

    The other thing I noticed was that the couple former paralegals in our class I knew seemed a little more confident in Civ Pro because they were more familiar with it. I can't and probably wouldn't want to go back in time and be a paralegal just for this advantage, but it leads me to believe more exposure to civil procedure ahead of time leads to a better understanding of it.

  • eRetakereRetaker Member
    2038 karma

    @"Seeking Perfection" Thank you so much for the insights! All things considered I figured those are actually pretty good grades for 1L semester.

    Do you think there is a huge difference between schools like Michigan that do letter grade scale versus schools like Berkeley that do Honors, Pass, etc. system in terms of stress and work load?

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @LSATcantwin said:
    Wow! You and I had almost identical experiences with our first semester of 1L. My grades were very close to yours as well.

    I can say one thing for sure, no matter how you prep for your first semester, nothing other than going through it can fully prepare you for it.

    The upside is: I’ve learned a TON about my study habits, what worked for me, what didn’t work for me, and know what I need to change to hopefully improve!

    We got this! Keep pushing forward. It’s just like the lsat my first attempt was not good, my second attempt was better, but my final attempt was spectacular! Hopefully I can just skip from first to third attempt with law school grades :)

    Congrats on getting through the semester and good luck with having swift improvement.

  • unclesysyunclesysy Alum Member
    106 karma

    @LSATcantwin said:
    The upside is: I’ve learned a TON about my study habits, what worked for me, what didn’t work for me, and know what I need to change to hopefully improve!

    @LSATcantwin Hi! Could you talk a bit more about what you learned about your study habits?

  • 1000001910000019 Alum Member
    3279 karma

    IMO, with the exception of the extremes (The A's and the B-'s), law school grades are arbitrary.

  • LawSchoolClassof_2022LawSchoolClassof_2022 Alum Member
    82 karma

    What role does memorizing play in law school? I have heard it isn't sufficient, not even close, for getting good grades but it is necessary to even begin to issue spot. How much of it is there? What kinds of stuff? I have always had a "good" memory (competed in memory competitions etc) and am trying to figure out how to leverage this strength as much as people in law school. I got into Michigan and it is probably where I end up (pending scholarship negotiations). Thanks so much for doing this!!! Go blue

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @Reasonable_Clout said:
    What role does memorizing play in law school? I have heard it isn't sufficient, not even close, for getting good grades but it is necessary to even begin to issue spot. How much of it is there? What kinds of stuff? I have always had a "good" memory (competed in memory competitions etc) and am trying to figure out how to leverage this strength as much as people in law school. I got into Michigan and it is probably where I end up (pending scholarship negotiations). Thanks so much for doing this!!! Go blue

    There is definitely a role for memorization.

    My torts class for example was closed book and closed notes. So you basically had to have the elements of all the different torts memorized (and everyone did). However, if you could memorize them quicker that would leave more time for other preparation.

    With Civ Pro and Con Law my exams were open book and open outline. However, you did not want to have to consult said outlines much because it restricted how much you could write and spend time thinking and planning. So by default you had to have all the important Federal Rules of Civil Procedure basically memorized(though not verbatim) and all the Constitutional Law cases memorized.

    So there might be some advantage on exams. However, day to day your advantage is going to be that it will be easier to prepare for cold calls. They expect you to have the facts of every case you read pretty much memorized in order to provide a base for the discussion. This will hopefully be easier for you. This is good because you don't want to have to spend more time than needed on those details since most won't be relevant to the main take aways from that discussion. At the same time, you don't want to be panicking in class vecause you can't remember the facts of the case and miss out on learning important things.

  • LSATcantwinLSATcantwin Alum Member Sage
    13286 karma

    @unclesysy said:

    @LSATcantwin said:
    The upside is: I’ve learned a TON about my study habits, what worked for me, what didn’t work for me, and know what I need to change to hopefully improve!

    @LSATcantwin Hi! Could you talk a bit more about what you learned about your study habits?

    Just some small things - I would spend way to much time reading the cases and not enough time figuring out the rules and applications of law that they really stood for.

    The way I outlined wasn’t logical - instead of making it make sense I had it follow the way the course was structured. This meant that my material was really scattered and I couldn’t access it in efficient ways.

    I spent to much time thinking the case books were the “end” of my studying and didn’t put enough effort into trying to apply the laws to fact patterns.

    On two of my exams I felt like I just brained dumped everything instead of going about it logistically one issue at a time. Which lead to missing things and incomplete thoughts.

    All this is very fixable and will just take a little bit of work!

  • Jonathan W SJonathan W S Alum Member
    35 karma

    @10000019 said:
    IMO, with the exception of the extremes (The A's and the B-'s), law school grades are arbitrary.

    What do you mean? I'm not saying you're wrong. But how did you come to this conclusion?

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @"Jonathan W S" said:

    @10000019 said:
    IMO, with the exception of the extremes (The A's and the B-'s), law school grades are arbitrary.

    What do you mean? I'm not saying you're wrong. But how did you come to this conclusion?

    I actually wondered the same thing.

    If I had to bet I would say they probably are not arbitrary. It is my impression that people's grades usually remain fairly consistent. So the exams must be measuring something other than chance.

    I think what may well be true is that the gap between moderate grades is pretty small. Similar numbers of issues may be spotted and analyzed similarly well by almost everyone. There might not be a very big gap. The results seem arbitrary to law students leading to stories of exams being thrown down a staircase and otherwise being arbitrary. Of course if we can't predict which students or even which exams will score what, it might sometimes seem like it doesn't matter if they are graded arbitrarilly or based on a good criteria.

    One of my professors jokingly told us that he doesn't grade by throwing exams down a staircase because it wouldn't be fair. The papers at the top of the stack would slide farther.

  • mrowley91mrowley91 Alum Member
    203 karma

    Thanks for the great post! I am super interested in U of M (I'm a Michigan native and have always heard how great their law school was). I've been to the campus many times and seen the incredible law library, but I am in a weird minority that is trying to go back to school after a 6-year military career. Is your class primarily students straight out of undergrad? And how do you like the law school in general?

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @rowleyml said:
    Thanks for the great post! I am super interested in U of M (I'm a Michigan native and have always heard how great their law school was). I've been to the campus many times and seen the incredible law library, but I am in a weird minority that is trying to go back to school after a 6-year military career. Is your class primarily students straight out of undergrad? And how do you like the law school in general?

    It is a mix. I would say that most are about 24-26 so about two to four years out with quite a few more straight through or having taken a one year gap and still quite a few between about 26 and 30. After that, there are fewer and we seem to see them a little less because some of the older students have family. All law schools are known as a little clicky and in many ways(some of which are positive) it is very high school. This is augnented at Michigan by the existence of the Lawyer's Club. The majority of 1Ls stay in the Lawyer's Club and eat meals together. Between the people you eat with and your section(the people you have all your classes together with) you have two really good ways to make friends. Clubs and such are also a good source. But if you are worried about feeling isolated at law school, I think that probably the most certain path to getting to know some people really well is to go to Michigan and live in the Lawyer's Club.

    As far as I know, most of the Top 14 is roughly distributed like Michigan except that Northwestern is older on average because they value work experience a little more. Lower ranked schools usually tilt a little more toward the straight through types. I do know one guy who worked in the army for about 6ish years before coming here, but he isn't in my section so I don't know ecactly how classes and his social life are.

    I love law school so far. I enjoy the people and the concersation both in and out of class. To use that high school idea again, I magine if you were in high school again, but everyone was relatively mature, were good students, and were almost all interesting to listen to. Then imagine your classes were extremely interesting, were relevant to you future life, and were taught by charismatic professors. I think that is basically what law school especially 1L year and especially at Michigan with the Lawyer's Club is.

    I recommend sitting in on a class from the first year if you are in the area and can visit. I sat in on one with Sherman Clark when I was considering Michigan and while he might be a tad better than the average that same infectious energy seems present in a lot if the professors.

  • futurelawstudentfuturelawstudent Legacy Member
    118 karma

    Thank you for putting such an A-mazing trove of invaluable information in writing and sharing it here. Really underscores what a solid community 7Sage is for you to give back like this. Don’t be too hard on your 1L grades. Like you observed about the LSAT score not being a predictor of how1L would go, these grades too are only a beginning part of your learning and gaining insights into how you learn. Your answers are so precise and instructive as to what worked or how you might do this or that differently. And in terms of the things you had to do differently you communicate well the need for applying your mind differently which is so fascinating and makes so much sense. The fact that you are able to convey it indicates how your way of learning and thinking itself is changing. That is so huge and a pretty profound pedagogical event. Carry on and shine. And thanks again for taking the time to share all this.

  • Regis_Phalange63Regis_Phalange63 Alum Member
    1058 karma

    At a top notch, world-premier law school like yours, isn't your GPA median? or maybe slightly under median? I thought anything above 3.0 at a T14 school was good enough for biglaw and what not. I know you're not pleased with your grades but they sound pretty darn good on the surface. I mean these are not high school algebra classes!

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @Regis_Phalange63 said:
    At a top notch, world-premier law school like yours, isn't your GPA median? or maybe slightly under median? I thought anything above 3.0 at a T14 school was good enough for biglaw and what not. I know you're not pleased with your grades but they sound pretty darn good on the surface. I mean these are not high school algebra classes!

    Slightly under median. The median for 1Ls is basically a B+ or about a 3.33. I'm pretty much at a 3.2 because of the one B.

    What grades will position you well for Big Law really varies by school. As I understand it, firms don't really care about your GPA. They care about your school and how you are positioned relative to the rest of your class.

    It might be good enough for Big Law. It's hard to say. It probably would have been in some recent years. However, it definitely would have been kind of dicey during the recession. We can't really know what the future holds.

    However, I think it is most likely that my grades won't guarantee or shut me out of Big Law. That means things like work experience, luck, and interviewing ability will play important roles. It would be nicer to feel a little more secure.

    And hardly anyone really wants to be a little below average when we are almost all used to being solidly above average.

  • BamboosproutBamboosprout Alum Member
    1694 karma

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    One of my professors jokingly told us that he doesn't grade by throwing exams down a staircase because it wouldn't be fair. The papers at the top of the stack would slide farther.

    Lol, implying that he thought about or tried it.

  • Regis_Phalange63Regis_Phalange63 Alum Member
    1058 karma

    @"Seeking Perfection" said:

    @Regis_Phalange63 said:
    At a top notch, world-premier law school like yours, isn't your GPA median? or maybe slightly under median? I thought anything above 3.0 at a T14 school was good enough for biglaw and what not. I know you're not pleased with your grades but they sound pretty darn good on the surface. I mean these are not high school algebra classes!

    Slightly under median. The median for 1Ls is basically a B+ or about a 3.33. I'm pretty much at a 3.2 because of the one B.

    What grades will position you well for Big Law really varies by school. As I understand it, firms don't really care about your GPA. They care about your school and how you are positioned relative to the rest of your class.

    It might be good enough for Big Law. It's hard to say. It probably would have been in some recent years. However, it definitely would have been kind of dicey during the recession. We can't really know what the future holds.

    However, I think it is most likely that my grades won't guarantee or shut me out of Big Law. That means things like work experience, luck, and interviewing ability will play important roles. It would be nicer to feel a little more secure.

    And hardly anyone really wants to be a little below average when we are almost all used to being solidly above average.

    @"Seeking Perfection" Duly noted. I just wanted to say that you should give yourself more credit! I'm still studying for the LSAT so what you wrote up there is tremendously helpful to so many others out there. You're going to do great this semester. Best wishes!!!

  • _oshun1__oshun1_ Alum Member
    3652 karma

    I think the most important question is how are you surviving the polar vortex!!

  • Pride Only HurtsPride Only Hurts Alum Member
    2186 karma

    @oshun1 said:
    I think the most important question is how are you surviving the polar vortex!!

    Jesus you're right. lol. Things to consider before applying to Michigan

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @"Pride Only Hurts" said:

    @oshun1 said:
    I think the most important question is how are you surviving the polar vortex!!

    Jesus you're right. lol. Things to consider before applying to Michigan

    I'm a Michigan native so fine.
    The university cancelled school here for two days and hadn't cancelled a day since 2015. I think they are just getting caught up in mass hysteria.

    The days off are a nice break from readings, but is frustrating because we were supposed to have a Meet the Employers event where people from 60 firms came tonight. That is cancelled and will be hard to make up.

  • Pride Only HurtsPride Only Hurts Alum Member
    2186 karma

    The days off are a nice break from readings, but is frustrating because we were supposed to have a Meet the Employers event where people from 60 firms came tonight. That is cancelled and will be hard to make up.

    That's tough but I'm sure you'll get another shot! Good luck!

  • annewr253annewr253 Legacy Member
    439 karma

    @"Seeking Perfection" Thank you so much for this valuable post! I also plan on learning to tough type efficiently for 0L prep. Do you mind sharing your practices/ any websites or tools that you utilized in order to grasp it well? Thank you again!

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    edited February 2019 4423 karma

    @annewr253 said:
    @"Seeking Perfection" Thank you so much for this valuable post! I also plan on learning to tough type efficiently for 0L prep. Do you mind sharing your practices/ any websites or tools that you utilized in order to grasp it well? Thank you again!

    Sure. I bought a keyboard cover for my laptop and painted over the keys on it with black nail polish so I couldn't see the keys. It wears off eventually, but you can just repaint them on.

    Then I used the free lessons at typingclub.com. After I hadthe keys generally down I used 10fastfingers and typeracer.

    I also left the keyboard cover on whenever I typed anything although if something really important had come up early on, I always could have simply removed it.

    This is the on aspect of my 0l prep that I think definitely was worthwhile. Even if it hadn't made a difference on exams it would still have been worth it. We are going to write a lot in the course of our lives.

  • LSAT_WreckerLSAT_Wrecker Legacy Member
    4850 karma

    There is not much that makes me feel old, but threads with significant discussion of learning to type is one of them. I guess everyone did not take typing in high school, on actual type writers. Long live the 80s!

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @LSAT_Wrecker said:
    There is not much that makes me feel old, but threads with significant discussion of learning to type is one of them. I guess everyone did not take typing in high school, on actual type writers. Long live the 80s!

    Most young people have the opposite reaction and are shocked someone could go so long in the modern world typing poorly and not having taken an effective typing class in elementary, middle, or high school.

    Some of us just slip through the educational cracks and then stare at our hands the rest of our lives. But it's a pretty easy skill to pick up so we are not resigned to our fate.

  • LCMama2017LCMama2017 Alum Member
    2134 karma

    @LSAT_Athlete said:
    Hey man, thank you for the feedback. Sorry about your grades

    I don't think a B and two B+ are something to feel sorry about. Perhaps I'm not > @LSAT_Wrecker said:

    There is not much that makes me feel old, but threads with significant discussion of learning to type is one of them. I guess everyone did not take typing in high school, on actual type writers. Long live the 80s!

    I'm with you! I very much remember typing class with actual typewriters!

  • AudaciousRedAudaciousRed Alum Member
    2689 karma

    Had a typing class with real typewriters. I hen peck at around 50 words per minute when copying text, faster when I'm comfortable and thinking of what I'm writing instead of having to look. LOL Guess how I'm probably going to be spending my summer...

  • Leah M BLeah M B Alum Member
    8392 karma

    @LSAT_Wrecker Being an older millennial, we had sort of an in-between version of typing lessons. I vaguely remember some sort of typing lesson that was not on an actual type writer but I feel like they were some sort of portable keyboard things, like a digital typewriter. Old millennials are really a one-foot-in-each-era group haha.

    Only a little related, I had a high school teacher that was passionate about us knowing how to take handwritten notes without looking down at the paper. It’s a super weird and awkward skill to learn, but I think it is true that looking down at the paper while you take notes hurts your ability to hear and process what a teacher/prof is lecturing on. I think that skill might come in handy for law school too.

    PS - I did some googling and found the mystery digital typewriter things - behold and grasp how old I am that I used these in school: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlphaSmart

  • LSATcantwinLSATcantwin Alum Member Sage
    13286 karma

    @"Leah M B" said:
    @LSAT_Wrecker Being an older millennial, we had sort of an in-between version of typing lessons. I vaguely remember some sort of typing lesson that was not on an actual type writer but I feel like they were some sort of portable keyboard things, like a digital typewriter. Old millennials are really a one-foot-in-each-era group haha.

    Only a little related, I had a high school teacher that was passionate about us knowing how to take handwritten notes without looking down at the paper. It’s a super weird and awkward skill to learn, but I think it is true that looking down at the paper while you take notes hurts your ability to hear and process what a teacher/prof is lecturing on. I think that skill might come in handy for law school too.

    PS - I did some googling and found the mystery digital typewriter things - behold and grasp how old I am that I used these in school: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlphaSmart

    Oh. My. God. I forgot those things existed....I used those in elementary school holy cow!

    I think you and I fall into such a weird combo of the modern world and the past. I was learning how to type while being taught cursive and told how important it was.

    Also the infamous “you won’t always have a calculator with you - write the math out” yeahhhhh about that haha

  • FixedDiceFixedDice Legacy Member
    edited February 2019 1804 karma

    @LSATcantwin said:
    Also the infamous “you won’t always have a calculator with you - write the math out” yeahhhhh about that haha

    My high school math and science teachers forced students to write calculations out -- not because they weren't concerned about the calculator thing, but because they wanted their students (especially those who plan to take on advanced coursework like Advanced Placement) to logically think and express thought processes.

    I also took typing lessons in high school with computer keyboards. The teacher -- an old-timer -- kept confidently saying that a student wouldn't have to worry about being unemployed for a single month so long as (s)he knew how to type and create his or her own cover letter and résumé. To this date, that assertion remains one of the best (or worst) BS I had heard during my high school years.

  • LSAT_WreckerLSAT_Wrecker Legacy Member
    4850 karma

    re: educational anachronisms - I'm still waiting for the guy to walk up to me on the street, hand me a piece of chalk, and tell me to diagram a sentence on the sidewalk. Talk about a useless skill set.

    http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/diagrams2/one_pager2.htm

  • keets993keets993 Alum Member 🍌
    6045 karma

    Realized I forgot to reply to this. Thanks so much for coming back @"Seeking Perfection" and sharing your experience.

    I love these stories because they remind you that there is life after lsat and that it is only a test, which is something that gets lost in the frenzy of it.

    Good luck this semester, you're gonna kill it. Imo, law school exams are a matter of grasping a new skill set, just like the lsat is. But that could just be my ignorance 😅. Be sure to come back and keep us updated 😁

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    @keets993 said:
    Realized I forgot to reply to this. Thanks so much for coming back @"Seeking Perfection" and sharing your experience.

    I love these stories because they remind you that there is life after lsat and that it is only a test, which is something that gets lost in the frenzy of it.

    Good luck this semester, you're gonna kill it. Imo, law school exams are a matter of grasping a new skill set, just like the lsat is. But that could just be my ignorance 😅. Be sure to come back and keep us updated 😁

    I think you probably are right about the exams being a skill that is improvable like the LSAT. The difference is that you have exactly the same amount of time to improve the skill as everyone else and are trying similarly hard.

    People don't generally put as much time and effort as they should into the LSAT which makes it a unique opportunity. Take advantage while you can.

  • Seeking PerfectionSeeking Perfection Alum Member
    4423 karma

    Everyone's job search is progressing. I know some people with summer clerkships, some with firm jobs lined up, and some of the more public interest dedicated students who already have that type of position lined up.

    Most of us however, are moving on from applying to 1L firm sommer associate positions to unpaid public interest positions.

    That makes it a good time to discuss summer financial aid.

    I think Michigan's setup makes a lot of sense. There are competitive $6000 grants you can apply for if you commit to public interest. If not, everyone has access to a $4000 summer loan. The loan has to be paid back during your third year after your second summer, but is forgiven if you make little enough money over the two summers.

    If you make less than $18,000 over the two summers you don't pay anything back. If you make $18,000 you pay back $2,000. There is then a sliding scale with you paying back all $4,000 if you make more than $20,000 over the two summers.

    Since most Michigan students work big firm positions 2L summer, most of the loans are paid back. This enables them to keep running the program. They also have an even stronger incentive to help us get those positions.

    However, if you decide to go into a public interest position the second summer (and probably for your career) then you don't have to pay it back even if you make a little money over the summer either in your public interest job or in some side-gig.

    I'm nots ure what other schools do, but it is certainly worth looking into. Most 1L jobs are unpaid and since you need to get some legal experience during the summer that means there is a very significant chance you will be working without pay. That means you must either have your own savings, work part time at a paid job that is not law related, live on less than your full cost of attendance during the academic year(some schools inflate said number to help students do this) to save money for the summer, live with family, or rely on institutional support.

    I'll probably be doing the last two if what I think are my most likely job opportunities pan out.

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