Tuesday, June 21, 2005

More law school book reviews

So I finished two books last night. The first was Law School without Fear, which I've mentioned here and here. Honestly, I loved the book until about the last 50 pages, which were so tediously boring and nothing that any prelaw student actually needs to read. So my final word on this one is, read it if you can get it from your library or for less than $5 online.

The second book is Slaying the Law School Dragon. This book was kind of a mixed bag for me. I love all of the cases the author uses as examples of common law. There are some really old ones that illustrate the point the author is making quite well while also being memorable. He has a different method for reading cases and retaining information than just writing up a brief. I'm not sure if it will work in school or not for me. He says to get your case books as soon as possible before school starts, get the companion book to the cases and copy the rule for each case at the top of the case in the case book. Then when you read, read it quickly about 5 or 6 times. By the 6th time, the really important stuff will be jumping out at you. Then draw a stick diagram at the top of the case illustrating the facts, so you can remember at a glance what the case was about. No need to write up a typical law school brief.

I tried that method with the cases he uses in his book, and surprisingly, it worked pretty well. But I'm still a bit skeptical. A few cases in a book that I milled around in for a few weeks is quite different than a zillion cases in several classes all at the same time. Still, it's worth trying. So the first 2 weeks of classes, I'm going to pick just one class to do this in and give it a shot. If it works, I'll adopt it in the other classes, if not, hopefully writing the briefs won't take too long.

The book also has intro chapters to civ pro, criminal law, property and torts... I think. Or was one constitutional law? Hmm... it's really early and I don't have the book at hand. In any case, the author does a great job explaining what these classes are likely to cover, some more memorable cases, and some vocabulary. I liked it.

The last quarter of the book was meh. His sections on briefing were really about writing a proper appellate brief, which I'm sure will be useful in my future, my distant future. And then he talked about types of law practice and getting started in your own practice, which was OK, but more anecdotal than anything else, and I was fresh out of anecdote patience.

The last part of this book I really loved. But it takes an odd type to get excited over it. He includes a list of recommended law review articles by topic of law. Why so special, the dates, my friends. He's got articles in there that date back to the 30s. In any case, in my geekiness, when I get to law school city, I plan to visit the law library and have a couple of good reads because some of those articles sound really interesting. Conversely, if you are only interested in current articles, you won't like his list. I'm pretty sure there is nothing more current than 1975, which well, stretches the use of the word "current" quite a bit.

So, all in all. A good read. I feel more calm about school. Oh, he had a great suggestion for vocabulary, but you'll have to read the book to get it :) I would get if from your library or pay up to $8 online for it.

My next review will be of either American Legal Systems or Law School Confidential. Law school city public library has LSC and I'm curious about it since I've read the great debates on it over at law school discussion.


The Humanity Critic said...

Just passing through, I'm digging the blog by the way..

CM said...

I'm guessing LSC won't be very useful at this point; you probably know most of what it has to say about law school. I read it about a year ago and found it helpful for a basic introduction, but now I don't think I'd get much out of it.

Joey said...

Thanks chickenmagazine for the info. I was just planning on skimming the table of contents and reading only pertinent chapters. I've heard the author has yet another way of outlining/briefing. I want to get exposed to several ideas. That might give me some ideas to come up with my own method.

Zuska said...

FYI - I *never* briefed a case after the first week of classes. Never. And I was able to participate meaningfully in class, and perform as required when called on. Be calm. It won't be that bad!!!

Nick said...

Thanks for the review of those books. I'll check them out today, in fact.

Looks like we're in the same situation, pre-law students looking for a good overview of our coming experience for the next three years.

Your blog has been bookmarked!