What I'm Reading to Prep for Law School


Fact-finding--"The process of taking evidence to determine the truth about a disputed point.”
-Black's Law Dictionary

As I have been impatiently awaiting the orientation schedule of events and my own class schedule for the semester (I have no idea how I’m going to last the three months to hear back about my bar results!), I have been binge reading.  I’ve always been a big reader, starting way back when I used to beg my mom to read me another bedtime story.  My love of reading still prevails; however, during college, I never had time to just read for myself.  So while I’ve been reading a lot of books just for fun, I’ve also been reading various law school preparation books.  They all say they’re the go-to source to learn about how to do law school.  Here’s my take on these law school prep books.

Planet Law School II-Atticus Falcon

An anonymous lawyer, under the pen name Atticus Finch, describes his gripes with the law school powers that be and provides an occasional nugget of advice in Planet Law School II.  However, he does provide some insightful advice about how to prepare for class and law school in general.  One of the things I really liked about his book was his intro to what topics are covered in each course and his discussion of how to prep for law school.  While he suggests learning all of the material prior to starting law school (which I think is a little bit of an overkill), I think his suggestion to purchase the Examples and Explanations books and skimming over them briefly could make it easier to recognize the concepts each course focuses on.  Some of the advice seems somewhat unhelpful, such as not taking any notes in class and not participating at all in class.  Law school is a completely different ballgame than undergrad but I’m not sure changing my learning tactics that much may be a little too much change for me.  Some of the material in the book is probably not necessary and Finch seems a little pessimistic about law school in general but overall, it has some helpful material scattered throughout.  This book is out of print but used copies are all over Amazon.com.

Open Book-Barry Friedman and John Goldberg
I received a copy of this book from Ms. JD  in exchange for my honest feedback for the authors.  I really enjoyed reading this book as it was light and didn’t take long to read.  The authors first delved into the largest setback for most law students: how to connect what is discussed in classes and what is tested on exams.  They emphasize the need to really understand what the hypotheticals are trying to get you to do; they help to understand how to analyze the issue-spotter questions on exams.  The second section of the book goes into an in-depth analysis of the classic IRAC method of answering questions on exams.  The third section goes into how to prep for exams, both inside the classroom (notetaking) and outside (outlining and practice exams).  The authors also provided something most other books don’t have; examples of outlines, exam questions, and answers to those questions.  Overall, I’d say this book provides a good description of how to really approach every class and all of the assignments.

Getting to Maybe-Richard Michael Fischl and Jeremy Paul

This book is one of the classic law school preparation books I think everyone is reading.  Probably because it’s an easy read and brings up good points to know about exams and how to prep for them.  The first third of the book focuses on what the authors call “forks.”  This part of the book gets a little tedious as they discuss every type of fork possible:  forks in the law, forks in the facts, twin forks.  Some parts of this section would be more helpful once in law school so while I thought it was a good idea to read this before starting school, I’m most likely going to go over this section again once school starts.  In the second part of the book, the authors critique the ever popular IRAC method of approaching exams.  While their criticisms are valid, I think what they really did was just break down the application section and show how an answer is not so black and white.  Their final section encompasses FAQs about how to take notes, take exams, etc.  They also provide a small chapter with sample exam questions and answers.

Reading Like a Lawyer-Ruth Ann McKinney

So I haven’t gotten to reading this book yet, but hopefully I’ll be able to read it before law school begins.  I’ll update once I can fully review this book.

Reading these books has made me more anxious for the start of law school, definitely not helped by the lack of information about scheduling!  After I put some of the tips found in these books in place, I can reevaluate the helpfulness of the books and will definitely update once I find out.  What did you read to prep and did you find it useful or just another money maker taking advantage of future attorneys?
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  6. I am starting law school this fall and just bought Reading Like a Lawyer after seeing it recommended by a few bloggers! I;m so thankful for all the blogs to read this summer or else I would go stir crazy waiting to start classes.


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