Wednesday, March 13, 2013
The title of this post is actually a Yiddish proverb. It applies to law school in multiple ways:
- Reading canned briefs or headnotes instead of the actual cases will not teach you how to analyze cases as an attorney. You need to know how to spot the issues, pull out the legally significant facts, understand the court's reasoning, and distill the legal essentials from the opinions. Then you need to synthsize everything you have read.
- Using scripts instead of taking class notes will not help you think about the law. Scripts are merely verbatim transcripts without true understanding. A court reporter can make a transcript; an attorney needs to process the law to know how to use it correctly.
- Relying on other people's outlines instead of making your own outline focuses on memorization rather than understanding. Attorneys need to be able to struggle with the law and know how it works; they need to use the law rather than parrot the law.
- Reading the model answer in a practice question book instead of writing out your own answer will short-circuit learning. You cannot learn the nuances of thinking by reading another's work. You cannot learn how to organize a tight analysis without doing it yourself.
Studying the law well takes effort. Thinking about the law is very different than memorizing the law. Understanding how to apply the law to legal problems goes beyond borrowed brains. Clients want to hire lawyers who excel at using their own brains. (Amy Jarmon)