Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

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Admit it -- you've been captivated by courtroom dramas, intrigued by national lawsuits, and, overall, fascinated by the opportunity a lawyer has to change the world (while still making a decent living). The ability to interpret the law and fight for justice gives the legal profession a unique prestige. With more law students than lawyers, however, it now appears that the power and romantic allure of the law has overshadowed reality. The daily life of law school students and attorneys is often misrepresented in ...
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Law School 101

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Overview

Admit it -- you've been captivated by courtroom dramas, intrigued by national lawsuits, and, overall, fascinated by the opportunity a lawyer has to change the world (while still making a decent living). The ability to interpret the law and fight for justice gives the legal profession a unique prestige. With more law students than lawyers, however, it now appears that the power and romantic allure of the law has overshadowed reality. The daily life of law school students and attorneys is often misrepresented in popular media, and more prospective attorneys enter law school uncertain of what awaits them both in the classroom and in their career. Law School 101 is an insightful, and sometimes humorous, guide to help prospective legal scholars anticipate the trials, tribulations, and exaltation of going to law school. Becoming a lawyer is often a frightening, stressful journey, in which every resource you have must be used. Law School 101 teaches you how to avoid common pitfalls, decode myths, and, finally, how to achieve your dream of becoming an amazing lawyer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572483743
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2004
  • Pages: 217
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

R. Stephanie Good, Esq., is a New York TImes bestselleing author of Aruba: The Tragic Untold Story of Natalee Holloway and Corruption in Paradise. She majored in political science at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where she graduated summa cum laude and was initiated into Phi Beta Kappa. She continued her education at Hofstra University School of Law, where she earned a Juris Doctor degree and held the distinction of being the first recipient of the prestigious David Kadane Public Interest Law Fellowship. In addition, Ms. Good returned to Hofstra Law and earned an LL.M. in International Law. She is licensed to practice law in the State of New York and in the federal courts of the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, as well.

Ms. Good has practiced law on both private and governmental levels, focusing on environmental law, criminal defense, white collar crime, corporate mergers and acquisitions, estate planning, and entertainment law. She has devoted substantial time to pro bono work. She is also a court-appointed special advocate for children in foster care. In addition, she serves as corporate counsel to SilverCreek Entertainment and has co-produced several major news segments for Extra, 20/20, 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, and Prime-Time Live in association with SilverCreek Entertainment.

Ms. Good has written several papers involving environmental law, including International Emissions Trading Schemes, Carbon Sinks As Defined in the Kyoto Protocol, and Dioxin Contamination in the Indoor Setting. She is also recognized in several law journals, including the Kentucky Law Journal and the American Political Science Review for herextensive contributions to research projects involving the confirmation process for United States Supreme Court Justices.
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Read an Excerpt

Law School: What to Expect Your First Year

Excerpted from Law School 101 by R. Stephanie Good, Attorney at Law ©2004

First Year Quarantine
In the majority of law schools, first-year students are assigned to their sections, as well as their classes. Sections are made up of groups of students who stay together in the same classes throughout the first year. In my school, there were three first-year sections, A, B, and C. Each section consisted of approximately one hundred students.

There is definitely something to be said for this system. The stress of first-year law can be overwhelming; seeing the same familiar faces each and every day can provide a sense of continuity and reassurance. You have the advantage of becoming close to your classmates. During an incredibly anxiety-ridden year when you feel extremely isolated from all that you were connected to pre-law, it is especially comforting to know that there is at least one constant in the whirlwind of law school.

Your first year schedule will consist of at least five to six yearlong courses, including a legal research and writing class, all of which will be extremely demanding. If you miss a class, you miss an important chunk of material that is difficult to make up by merely getting someone else's notes. Although it is not out of the question to use other students' notes to keep up when it comes to some classes, especially upper level courses, the first year is also a time when attendance is carefully monitored. Even if it isn't, you should attend because keeping up with class lectures and assignments is more important for you than for your professor.

It is crucial that you stay on top ofyour workload. It is also essential that you become fully accustomed with what your professor expects from you regarding class participation, exams, and papers. Understanding their requirements is the only way to achieve success, and to do this, you must be familiar with and able to adjust to their particular mode of instruction.

Besides being assigned to your section, you will also be assigned your first-year class schedule. This is nonnegotiable. You must stay with your section in each and every class.

First-year classes are meant to introduce you to all of the key concepts required to understand the legal system. The following is a brief description of what will generally be included in your first-year courses.

Civil Procedure
Civil Procedure describes how a civil lawsuit is brought and the procedural path that it takes to get through the court system. You will learn about such topics as who has standing (the right to initiate a lawsuit); which court has jurisdiction (the authority to adjudicate a particular case); what types of jurisdiction exist; the statute of limitations (at what point the time runs out to commence an action); and many other issues involving how to function in the legal system.

Tort Law
Tort Law involves civil liability for acts committed by persons or government entities. In other words, who will be held responsible for a slip and fall; a car accident; a foreign object in food; a doctor's or lawyer's malpractice; false imprisonment; and many more claims that do not fall within the criminal category. Duty, breach of that duty, harm, remedies, and defenses are also discussed, as well as the difference between an intentional act and a negligent one.

Contract Law
Contract Law analyzes what it takes to create a binding agreement, to breach it, and what remedies are available to satisfy the agreement. Discussed are the concepts of offer, acceptance, and consideration, and how they create a binding contract. To put it simply, a contract is created when one person makes a promise to do some thing in exchange for someone else's promise to do something else. Of course, this is a primitive explanation, but it gives you an idea of what a contract is.

Constitutional Law
Constitutional Law may be one of the most important classes during your law school tenure. In some schools, this is a first-year course. In others, it is taken later on. Here you will learn that the United States Constitution serves as the supreme law of the land. It is
where all of our rights and privileges as United States citizens are found. It is the document by which we challenge our government when it appears that those rights and privileges are being abridged.

It is then up to the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution in a way that allows us to fully realize and understand our rights. Since the document is subject to interpretation, there is no guarantee of a win in the Supreme Court. However, by researching prior Supreme Court decisions (precedents), we become better able to argue our cases in a reasonably capable manner and to predict the likelihood of success in front of the Court.

This course also teaches the basics of how the powers of the federal and state governments are kept separate, how the legislative, judicial and executive branches function under those powers, and why it is necessary that there are separate and distinct branches of government. Thus, if you find yourself being discriminated against due to race, religion, gender, handicap, or any one of a number of other constitutionally protected things, or if you are told that you are forbidden from speaking your mind, writing about a certain subject, participating in a specific type of event, or denied your day in court, it is the Constitution to which you will look for protection.

Criminal Law
In a few short words, a Criminal Law course teaches you how to determine what type of behavior is necessary for an act to be considered a crime; the procedural steps to take regarding what type of punishments may be administered; and what constitutional protections are afforded to protect the defendant. You will learn about the difference between committing a crime with intent or preparation and committing a crime out of emotional upset. You will also learn how a person may be guilty of committing a crime just for going along for the ride or discussing the crime with the perpetrator before it happens and not doing something to prevent it from taking place.

Property Law
Property Law tends to be somewhat more complicated in comparison to the others. Generally, the student learns about the development of property law dating back to the feudal period of England and spanning to the present day (which is good because you will finally begin to more easily understand the language). Covered are landlord/tenant disputes, personal property issues, and estate interests.

NOTE: Many students walk into this course thinking that it is all about real estate. But the famous Pierson v. Post case demonstrates otherwise. It involves chasing and catching a fox, and at what point, if ever, possession of the fox is truly achieved. There are law schools where nearly an entire semester will be spent on this case alone.

Legal Research and Writing
Legal Research and Writing is probably the most indispensable class in law school. These are the essential ingredients for getting through law school and successfully practicing law. Legal writing is the lawyer's artillery. It is through the art of communication that the lawyer makes his or her point. A well-written motion, a thought-provoking brief, a craftily-drafted contract, or a simple letter of intent can all serve as devices that make the difference between winning or losing a case and closing or killing a deal. Your pen is your sword and the more capable you are at putting pen to paper, the more successful you will be in your practice of law.

In your legal writing course, you will be guided through the steps of brief and memoranda writing, advised regarding which books and resources are the most useful for research on specific topics, taught methods to analyze those issues, and finally, you will learn how to properly weave it all together to make your point. Most legal research and writing classes culminate with the writing of a brief, and depending upon the school, a moot court argument.

During first-year law, you may find it somewhat unsettling if you are consistently criticized for your writing skills, or lack thereof, especially if you were a highly successful English student in college. But it is important to remember that there is a huge difference between creative college composition and fact-based law school writing.

At the beginning of the course, you will attempt to draft elaborate papers similar to those you wrote in college English. You will take the information given to you and weave tales around it, embellishing and crafting details to make them more interesting. You will proudly turn it in and wait for your professor's critique, feeling relieved at how easily you completed your assignment. However, you and your paper will be often be chewed up and spit out if there is even a hint of creativity in it.

Facts, facts, and more facts! That is what legal writing is all about. Your professors do not want to hear that the sharp, red-stained knife that was used to kill the tiny waif of a child was still dripping with her poor, little body's red blood. More to the point would be that the murder weapon tested positive for the victim's blood. (Creative writing does not belong in the factual world of law.)



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Table of Contents

Introduction xi
Section 1 Pre-Law
Chapter 1 Preparing for Law School 3
Do You Really Want to be An Attorney?
Law and Disorder
Motivationally Speaking
Take Inventory
Lifelines
Sense and Sensibility
Returning to School Later in Life
Chapter 2 Applying to Law School 23
Personal Essay
Letters of Recommendation
GPA
Putting it all Together
Play the Field
College Majors
School Rank
Know the Process
Transferring In
What's in a Name?
The LSAT
Summer Solstice
Section 2 First Year
Chapter 3 Welcome to Law School 37
Honor Thy Self
Re-Orientation
Avoiding First-Day Fumbles
Before Classes Begin
The Law Library
The Assignment Board
The Bookstore
First Year Quarantine
Discover Your Own Secrets for Success
Study Aids
Professors
Bar Review Courses
Socrates Who?
Chapter 4 Non Illegitimi Carborundum 59
Handling It All
Isolation, Intimidation, and Humiliation
Beer Here
Method to the Madness
Section 3 Knowing the Ropes Without Hanging Yourself
Chapter 5 Studying the Right Way 71
Habitat Habits
Researching in the 21st Century
Reading, Reading, and More Reading
Briefing Briefly
Note Taking for Novices
Recording Rhetoric
Outlining for Success
Chapter 6 Strategic Exam Taking 93
Tricks of the Trade
Passing is Not Enough
Anonymity
Using Your Laptop
Section 4 Second Year
Chapter 7 Freedom to Choose 111
Get to Know Your Professors Before You are in Their Classes
Grading Methods
Other Important Questions
Prerequisite Intent
Chapter 8 Acclimatized Amnesty 123
Clinical Programs
Moot Court
Research Assistants
Law Review
Journals
Extracurricular Activities
Studying Abroad
Section 5 Career Chase
Chapter 9 Finding the Right Job 137
Resume Writing--and Rewriting and Rerewriting
Creative Cover Letters
Informative Interviewing
Callbacks
Brush-Offs
Chapter 10 Laboring Legally 159
Public Interest Jobs
Government Agencies
Judicial Clerkships
Law Firms
In-House Corporate Counsels
Educational Endeavors
Pro Bono Law
Occupational Alternatives
Section 6 Third Year
Chapter 11 The Last Mile 171
The Bar Exam
Outside the Test
Other Stressful Stuff
Soothing Thoughts
Nonfatal Failure
Bar None
What Next?
Section 7 After School
Chapter 12 What You Really Learn in Law School 191
Objective Thinking: The Key to being a Competent Attorney
Speaking like a Lawyer
Looking at Life in Real Terms
Walking the Line
Comfort Zone
Gender Benders
Perceptive Blindness
A Final Thought
Index 211
Author Biography 218
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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 31 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2006

    Everything I needed!

    This book has everything I needed to know about law school. I am so glad I found it. I just finished my first year and I don't know how I would have gotten through without it! Thanks so much to the author for taking the time to give us a head's up in real terms about what to expect. By the way, I am in the top 10% of my class!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2006

    Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

    I don't know how anyone could get through law school without this! Thanks to a friend, I was able to check this book out before I went through the Hell that I had heard most first years go through. It's second semester now, and while it's hard, I'm definitely not stressing out like some of the other students. I know how to tackle things and I think that knowing what's coming at you ahead of time is a sure way to duck out of the way, so to speak. My parents had bought me another book last summer, but in no way did it prepare me like this one. This is a real life book written in a real life way with stories from real students and lawyers. It's not just a how-to book. It's like reading a novel, but it's so enjoyable and funny that I couldn't put it down.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2006

    Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

    This book is a great guide for anyone who is thinking about being an attorney. It answers all the questions I had before I decided to apply. I only wish it had been around when I went to law school, but I purchased it for my daughter who is starting next August. I wanted her to be sure about what she was doing and this book has everything she needs, including the true picture of what law students and lawyers face. It's a real-life book. You walk away knowing it all, unlike those of us who were blind-sided thinking it was going to be exciting and fun. It isn't! But, if I had known that up front, I would have been better prepared for what I had to face. Take it from me, this is the perfect gift for anyone studying to be or thinking about becoming an attorney! There's even a chapter in there for attorneys to read. I found that part extremely helpful.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2005

    Thank you for this book!!!!

    I am just about to finish my first year and someone told me about this book last fall. I can't stress enough what a difference it has made for me. I can't believe this isn't required reading for everyone applying to law school!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2005

    Eye-Opening & Enlightening!!!

    This book was fantastic! It answered all the questions I had about pursuing a career in law...author R. Stephanie Good writes it as it is, from Pre-Law through being an attorney. Thanks to 'Law School 101' I feel so much more confident about deciding to pursue law studies, and am looking forward to a great experience in doing so. I recommend this book to ANYONE who wants to know how to go about pursuing a career as an attorney. I know I definitely would've felt lost without reading this book first!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2004

    SAVED MY BUTT!

    Finals are in full gear now and I can honestly say that reading this book saved my butt this semester. My classmates were actually asking me for advice!!! Everyone has pointers to get you through, but this book really put it to the test and it passed! Thanks Ms. Good!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    A must read for future law students!

    I have been prepairing for law school for a while now. Reading Law School 101 has helped me better understand what I need to and not do! Iy has also reasured me that I am making the right choice in my life in going to law school!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2006

    Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

    This book was a great break from law school drudgery and it got me through my first semester. I was skeptical after hearing about other books being the same old BS, but this one is really good. Can't say enough about it! I'm way ahead of my friends! Whew!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2005

    Terrific and Entertaining!!!

    This book is great! It's not like all the others that are pretty boring and standard how-to books. It's funny and has great stories about what real law students and lawyers have gone through. It also helped me to see that I am not alone in all of my frustrations and fears. A big plus - the tips for surviving the tough classes, the long, dreaded assignments, and excruciating exams. Also helpful - job-hunting info. and tips for resumes and cover letters. But, take special note of the chapter on lawyers. It's an eye-opener!! Kudos to the author for taking the time to give us what we really needed to deal with law school and the profession!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2005

    Just what I needed!

    Told me all the ins and outs of law school and asked me to answer all I need to know about myself to decide if going into law is the right move for me. It's not! Thanks to the author for saving me years of stress trying to make my family happy. After checking out the book, they even agree with me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2004

    Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

    I just started law school and I'm so glad I read this book! It really prepared me for what I am going through and I'm having a much easier time than most of my friends. They are getting it now, too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2004

    My New Best Friend!

    In all honesty, it would be a great injustice to humanity if not every prospective lawyer read this book. I gained valuable insight into the profession of law, as well as developed a new appreciation for what I plan on getting myself into.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2004

    Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

    I had almost forgotten what law school was like until I read through this book. What an intense journey back in time! I only wish this book was around when I went. It appears that law school is the same as when I attended many years ago. I bought the book for my daughter because she is in college and about to attend, but I couldn't put it down myself. It really gives an inside look at what the law school environment is like. I also enjoyed the 'Exhibits' which contain little stories that helped me to envision a situation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2004

    Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

    I picked the book up as a gift for my son who is starting law school next semester and I skimmed through it. It was right on target, so I read it more carefully. I think the book is excellent for people who want to know what someone is going through in law school. I especially liked the last chapter. It really makes you think about life in terms of how your own way of doing things melds with your profession. Get it. You won't be sorry!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2004

    Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

    I've been looking for a book like this since I started college. I wasn't sure about what I wanted to do and thought about being an attorney, but I wanted more information than what I was finding. Law School 101 has so much information about the downside and upside of law school and what it's like to be an attorney. I feel much more comfortable about making the commitment to go now.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2004

    Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

    I read the book after a student brought it to my attention and I think it's great for kids to read while they are still planning their futures. So many of them think about becoming attorneys and this book will certainly give them the kind of guidance that only someone who has lived the experience can offer. It had many details about law school and attorneys that I was unfamiliar with. I'm going to keep a copy on my office shelf.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2006

    Really got me through!!

    I am so glad that I got this book! It has it all! I don't know how I would have gotten through my first semester without it. What a lifesaver!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2004

    Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

    Really explains what I wanted to know about law school. I thought it would be like college and now I see that it is totally different. I wouldn't have had a clue without this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2004

    Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

    This book is right on target! I can't think of anything it didn't say that I needed to know. My friends told me about it and I thought it would be just another book with tips, but it is great reading!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2004

    Law School 101: Survival Techniques from Pre-Law to Life as an Attorney

    This book is great! I am in college and considering going to law school. Finally, someone has told the truth about lawyers and law school. I see things in a completely different way now. What a mind-blower!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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