Monday, May 22, 2006

Ten Commandments for Easy Livin', Part 1

We often get suggestions for posts, and they almost always fall into one of three categories. First, something we have already done. For example, “You guys should do a people you meet on the guy who still acts like he’s in his frat”; Second, something really clich├ęd and obvious. For example, “You guys should do a post on how much law school is like high school”; or third, something that is just plain dumb. For example, “You guys should do a post ranking which firms send the hottest associates to conduct OCIs.” But recently a reader suggested an actual good idea for a post: “I just finished my first year. What advice do you have to help me make my second and third years and painless as possible?” So without further ado, here is part one of our Ten Commandments for Easy Livin’

I. Thou shall chooseth thy professors with care. The best professor can make the most boring topic seem somewhat interesting, and a bad professor can make even the biggest sounding blow-off classes a nightmare. When picking courses, look for who is teaching a class before you look at what the class is. Information about the reputations of professors should be common knowledge at your school, and if you don’t know, ask someone. People think there are upper-level courses that you have to take for the bar. The only class you really have to take is Evidence. For anything else, let Bar-Bri teach it to you. You are going to be better off taking something challenging, like Bankruptcy, with a cool prof who is so burned out that he doesn’t care anymore, than taking a cake class, like Sports and Entertainment Law with some gung-ho asshole who doesn’t understand that people are only sitting in his classroom because the think it will be easy.

II. Thou shall not maketh thy own outlines. My philosophy on outlines is the same as my philosophy on clothes; Sure, while I probably could make my own if I wanted, I’d just as soon let someone else do it. Other people make better ones than I can, so why waste my time. The key is not to sound like a mooch, unless you are mooching off of other moochers. Also, many schools have an outline bank from past years floating around. Try and get your hands on that. Professors rarely deviate their courses from one year to the next, so if you can match both the class and the prof, you are three-quarters of the way done. Also, commercial outlines will suffice when a student-made one cannot be located.

III. Thou shall not taketh classes on Friday. This one is a no-brainer. Schools should only hold Friday classes for 1Ls, and give their upper level students a permanent three day weekend. Alas, this is not the case, but with careful planning, you can eliminate Fridays from your schedule. If you cannot avoid Friday classes, there is no harm in saving your absences for that day. Also, if possible, avoiding Monday classes is also beneficial.

IV. Thou shall not taketh classes that begin before 11am.
In reality, this one is hard to pull off, but if you can, you will not regret it. Think about it; this is probably your last chance to sleep in on a regular basis for 40 or so years, and by then you won’t be able to sleep past 5:45. When looking at a class that starts early, you have to weigh the cost of taking it (sleep) against the benefit you receive from taking the class (enlightenment on topics such as Commercial Paper or Remedies). Let me give you a hint: Sleep should win. If you can’t do this every day, try to do it on Monday. Nothing takes the sting out of the Monday blues by sleeping late and having your first class start at three.

V. Thou shall choosesth as many pass/fail classes as possible. Pass/fail classes are the best kind of classes. In general, there probably won’t be an exam or a paper, and if there is, it will be easy, and they don’t affect your GPA. Classes that are designed to be pass/fail are often more hands on and interesting, like negotiation classes or trial practice classes. However, don’t forget the First Commandment, because there may be some professors of pass/fail classes out there who don’t understand that no one ever fails. The only effort required to pass is usually your presence. That being said, make sure you put enough effort in to earn that “P", or you'll be that guy who managed to fail a pass/fail class.

Part 2 coming later this week.