Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bar Adjustments

Should the bar change to reflect a push to have law students respond to questions about practicing law and not just theory? There is a longstanding debate on how law schools teach/prepare lawyers. Firms are now spending more time training first year associates on the pragmatics of practicing law than before.

The Bar has complained. So who will adjust? The schools will respond to meet the gap, but let's say the Bar wants change fast, they could effectively adjust the test to reflect the new focus.....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Write in Books

Am I the only person who does this? I met a friend who is studying for the Virginia bar at Starbucks yesterday and she seemed horrified that I was writing all over my books - filling in the BarBri outlines, circling answers in the PMBR and Strategies books, underlining and highlighting rules from the explanatory answers. She was shocked that I was foregoing the opportunity to sell my materials to someone else once this experience is over. I was shocked that that would be a primary consideration for anyone. Granted, I bought my books used and they have very few markings, but I thought they came from someone who took notes on computer during class and who did the practice tests on the provided fill in the answer pages. It is true that many of my books will be unusable at the end of summer. But hopefully I will have actually learned something in the process. Keeping them clean just seems way too difficult. I'll sell my audio lectures, Conviser, and anything that still seems intact. The rest of it can go out in the rubbish bin. Or perhaps to a nice November bonfire. =)

I had a highly productive morning. Up at 6:30, finished going through Constitutional Law and answered 25 MBE questions before 9:00. Unfortunately it is now 10:18 and my studying productivity seems to have ended. Now I'm trying to prevent the cleaning bug from setting in. The laundry is in and beds are made, but Procrastination Girl wants to vaccuum and dust and mop the kitchen floor. Not to mention figure out what to make for dinner and then go and acquire the ingredients to do so. Perhaps I will listen to one CD, answer 25 more questions, and then see about switching to June Cleaver mode. Regardless of anything else I do today, I'm under strict orders to make dinner. Blah. I hate obligation cooking. I like over-the-top designed to impress cooking and there is no time for that now.

Public Service Announcement of the Day - If you haven't already consolidated your student loans, don't forget to look into it and, if it is right for you, get your application in before June 30th. Payments will be bad enough as is. No one needs the scary new interest rates on top of them.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

So Contracts Can't Be Learned in One Day

I suppose Property can't either. Which sort of screws up my plan to have all of the MBE subjects substantively reviewed before leaving for California on Wednesday. Grrr. I hate it when my plans, even my crazy plans, get off course.

The good news of the day is that I'm starting to notice when the books and the lectures and the other books contradict each other. For example, one set of books says that the Statute of Frauds applies to sales of goods of $500 or more and real estate transfers of more than one year. The other set says that the Statute of Frauds applies to sales of goods over $500 and transfers of real estates for one year or more. So why is this a good thing? It is proof that I'm actually paying attention. Unfortunately I'm not sure which source is the most trustworthy. I'm thinking Conviser because the most people use it by far and such problems would hopefully have been worked out by now. I also noticed yesterday - and unfortunately did not make a note of the exact question - that AdaptiBar and the Strategies & Tactics for the MBE book have different answers correct for at least one of the questions. Grrr again.

I'm also suffering from Mac withdrawal. I so miss my little Mac. It was sleek and cheery and never crashed. But I temporarily retired it so I could get used to a Windows piece of junk in preparation for the three days in July. It amazes me that ExamSoft doesn't run on the education computer. I think it is a plot by Bill Gates to force members of the legal profession to use PCs. Unfortunately I bought the PC before the MacBook came out and I couldn't afford the MacBook Pro (plus I'm not so sure I would be ready to trust something so new on the Bar Exam) so I might as well suck it up and continue getting used to it. But for the record, PCs suck.

Finally, I really miss coffee. I gave it up after finals because it doesn't fit with my unemployed budget and I don't own a coffee pot since I only like "fancy" coffee. I didn't even have it when I was at Starbucks, drinking tea instead out of respect for my poverty. Big mistake. I need coffee. With chocolate. And steamed milk. And whipped cream. And maybe some peppermint syrup. I'm not sure whether it should be blended together with ice in that glorious Frappucino creation or just enjoyed in a big steamy cup since I haven't been outside today. Perhaps I should go back to work a few hours a week. Then I could have coffee. And some of the other things I've been missing about the employed life.

OK, back to Contracts. I think I reached the fourth issue, performance, last night. Which makes me 3/4 of the way done. Yes, I'm going now. =)

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Miss Working

Yes, I just said that. But I do. I miss structure. I miss going out to lunch. I miss having people to talk to during the day. I miss knowing what day of the week it is. I miss the concept of weekends. On the other hand, I don't miss work itself. I'm just having trouble with this concept of the days blending together. The years of work full-time and go to school at night left me WAY over-structured. I looked forward to the weekend because I made a point of never scheduling anything before 9:00 or 10:00 so I could just drink tea in my pajamas or wander around the house like a zombie for a few hours. It isn't so much fun now that I can do it whenever I want, so long as I don't spend too much time on it. I'm sure I'll have the opposite problem once I go back to work in the fall.

This is turning out to be a very whiny post. Because now I'm ready to complain about the weather. It is so hot and sticky and dark because were are having nothing but thunderstorms. Life in the swamp is supposed to be beautiful in the spring and this spring totally sucked. There was, like, five nice days. I'm, like, so glad I'm, like, a Valley Girl by birth, 'cause I can, like, talk like that. Fer sure, fer sure.

So, once I stop grousing, contracts is going to be the subject of the day. I started last night and am going to me a concerted effort to finish a comprehensive initial review today and do the same for Property tomorrow. Then I can start reviewing the MBE subjects, writing essays, and all the rest on Monday. I'm also flying out to California for a few days next week, although books will be accompanying me so it isn't going to be all that fun. I'm ready to leave the other coast for the sunny coast. But since it will be at least three years before I can consider a permanent relocation, I'd better go back to remembering all of the things I like about the swamp: (1) fireflies; (2) free musems; (3) the baby panda; (4) cheap flowers for sale on street corners and at metro stations; (5) .... I can't even remember the rest. But I KNOW I like it here. I do.

A contract is simply an offer and an acceptance supported by consideration. Nothing to fear and nothing to make me continue to ramble on in a concerted avoidance effort. Breakfast and then to work.

Why Is Every Subject the Hardest and the Scariest

The audio lecture for Contracts begins with comments on how Contracts is the subject most likely to strike fear in the hearts of students. The audio lecture for Property begins with comments about how hard it is. Evidence professors talk about the intricacies of the rules and the importance of remembering every small detail. Does every law professor think their subject is the hardest, the scariest, the most difficult to master? And from that are we supposed to infer that, because the lecturer was the speaker chosen by PMBR or Law School Legends or BarBri or Sum & Substance, he or she must be the smartest, most special person ever? F*#!wits.

My brain seems again to be regressing to the first year of law school days when everything - especially unshoveled sidewalks outside of Starbucks - was a negligence suit waiting to happen and I yelled at TV lawyers for getting things wrong. I'm not really watching TV and I'm not going to Starbucks, but the law taking over common sense and normal human interaction is happening again. Someone makes a declaratory or conclusory statement and my automatic response is, "Do you have any evidence to back that up?" Trading food supplies with my roommate and the subject of value comes up, I point out the peppercorn theory of consideration, and she responds that she liked me better before I decided to go to law school. Fun stuff.

I'm again planning to spend my day having fun with Real Property. I tried my first set of MBEs last night and it was a disaster. I fell for every trick in the book. I'd like to excuse my poor performance by saying that it was 1:00 in the morning and I was doing it because I couldn't sleep, but that just seems lame. I can consistently get 75-80% when I answer questions one subject at a time. I should be able to get something close to that when the subjects are mixed, even if I should be sleeping at the time. Just in case you think I'm being to hard on myself, I do allow myself to get them all wrong if I'm actually asleep.

Going to yoga now and then back to the books! Collected mneumonics and study tips to come later.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

BarBri Lectures

Constitutional law is the subject of the day. I have four sets of notes from the same BarBri lecture and am going through and filling in the in-class work. Amazingly, each of the four sets of notes emphasizes different things. I don't get it. Aside from a few things here and there, shouldn't notes from the same lecture be largely the same? Maybe by comparing all four I'm actually getting the live version (or at least the one on video).

I'm continuing to plug away at the MBE questions and have completed 299 on AdaptiBar and another 150 or so through my various books. All Torts, Evidence, and Criminal Law/Procedure with percentages hovering between 75 and 80%. The good news is I almost always choose the right answer on questions I missed if I happen to see them again. The bad news is that I keep missing the same types of questions. I'm particularly bad at the applying previous precedent questions. My logic just doesn't match the bar examiners on what is analogous and what is not. Even after reading the explanations I generally still think I'm right on those types of questions. But they are the all mighty so I must learn to think like them.

I woke up this morning reciting the elements of common law burglary. It was very disturbing. If I have to think about the bar exam while I am thinking, why can't my brain focus on the things I don't know rather than the things I do. It would be much more helpful.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Post Memorial Day Musings

My musings really have nothing to do with Memorial Day. It did qualify as the first holiday weekend in well over a decade where I have not been working and thus needed to think of why people were telling me to enjoy the long weekend. It also seemed to be the starting point for the truly serious bar study. The last of my friends who are paying BarBri for the privilege of sitting in a hotel watching videos started class today. I woke up this morning ready to go - surprisingly so since I've still been struggling in to the motivation department. Torts, Evidence, and Criminal Law are now completely reviewed and I'll finish Criminal Procedure this afternoon. I'm doing MBE questions on the covered subjects in the evenings but am planning to hold off on practice essay and performance test writing until I've finished reviewing the remaining MBE subjects. I've got a good review pattern going on now so that will probably be the middle of next week.

I generally spend the morning hours going through the BarBri in-class workbook for the subject of the day and filling in from my sets of outlines/notes or making flashcards of the causes of action/big stuff for the subjects not covered in the in-class workbook. I then listen to my audio lectures (and take notes) in the afternoon. I wanted to make flash cards for all of the subjects, but they take far too long to write or type out and I have a couple of sets of commercial flashcards that I can use for on the go review. I think Criminal Procedure is the last subject without an in-class outline and so will be the last of my homemade flashcards. Unfortunately that means there will not be a procrastination trip to by more index cards. =( Evenings are reserved for MBE questions. I'll revise the schedule a bit next week to add the essay practice, but this schedule is working for me for now.

Product Reviews:

Kimm Walton - Strategies & Tactics for the MBE
This book is fabulous. It starts with an overview of the MBE and provides general preparation strategies. There is also a section for each subject with specific tips, strategies, tricks, and 50-70 questions. It wraps up with a full practice MBE. The strategies are helpful, but it is the explanatory answers that really make the book. They are very detailed and explain why each answer choice is either (1) right or (2) not the best choice.

AdaptiBar is an online MBE preparation service. It has all previously released MBE questions and relatively brief explanatory answers for each. You can answer questions in practice mode with full statistics on both accuracy and timing or take practice tests. It is OK. The explanatory answers are not that in-depth but are usually sufficient to explain what you did right and what you did wrong. The statistics are fun. I really like just having the answer appear on the screen and not having to flip back and forth between the question section and the explanatory answer section while also making sure not to look at the answer for the next question. It is also generally easier in my house to find my computer than it is to find a pen that works (thousands of pens live here but almost all of them are dead). I do find that I recognize questions that appear in both Strategies & Tactice and on AdaptiBar and I can't decide whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. In sum, I'm very neutral on AdaptiBar. I like it but I don't support their claims you could learn everything you need for the MBE from it.

Audio Lectures
The person giving the lecture makes or breaks it. I take issue with Bob Feinberg and is constant harping on why you need PMBR, but he is a good lecturer and I got through the Torts and Criminal Law lectures easily. His colleague Steven Palmer, on the other hand, did the Evidence lecture and it made me want to gouge out my eyes. Unfortunately I have him to look forward to for Con Law as well. My MBE subjects are all PMBR audio and are well done, over all. The individual subjects and points are broken up and titles appear through GraceNotes when you play them through iTunes. My only complaint beyond the sales pitch and Steven Palmer is that the Criminal Law CD contains no Criminal Procedure. For Crim Pro I have a Sum & Subtance by Joshua Dressler that is very extensive on investigation and pre-trial procedure, but stops cold once the defendant is charged. Sum & Substance also does a good job of breaking up the topics into tracks. But still needing more information, I turned to my old friend from my first year of law school, Charles Whitebread and Law School Legends audio. Professor Whitebread cracks me up and I generally remember what he says. Unfortunately the makers of Law School Legends are TERRIBLE at tracks. For example, search and seizure is considered to be one topic and is a singe hour-long track. This makes it very difficult if you lose your place or just want to break.

BarBri Conviser Mini Review
What is there to say? It's unbelievably expensive unless you can find a used copy on eBay but is probably indispensable. Reading it is the first thing I do when taking on a new subject.

BarBri In Class Workbook
Probably fairly useless unless you either are going to the class or have notes from someone. I have a few sets of notes and outlines and I like to go through it and fill in from the notes. I'm always amazed and how different people pick up different things from the same lecture. Between them all I'm thinking I might just be getting the whole package.

PMBR Red Book
I like the outlines. I like the MBE questions and especially the fact that they are different than the official released question. The explanatory answers don't always go far enough.

PMBR Blue Book
The flow charts annoy me and I can't follow them. The questions are HARD. I decided to stay with the red book for a while as I'm just not ready for blue.

I'm going to wait on expressing my opinion on the Adachi books and my performance test workbook until I've actually used them as my thoughts from just skimming and reading the introductory chapters are not sufficient.

That's all for now! Study hard!!!