Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Open Book: Friedman and Goldberg on Taking Law School Exams

Open BookThis book is a fantastic resource for anyone who has to take or give a law school exam: Open Book: Succeeding on Exams from the First Day of Law School, by Barry Friedman (NYU) and John Goldberg (Harvard).  This book isn't land-use specific, but should be of general interest to all law students and teachers.  I would say that practitioners will find it quite valuable, because one of the central points of the authors is that law school exams are (despite popular belief) highly relevant to what lawyers actually do in practice: issue-spotting, identifying the appropriate rule, and applying it to the facts to reach a conclusion. The blurb:

Wolters Kluwer Law and Business is known for its essential guides for law school success. Now Open Book: Succeeding on Exams from the First Day of Law School offers today’s law students more than simple exam preparation. The authors, both award-winning teachers with a wealth of classroom experience, reveal what professors really look for in exam answers. By linking exam-taking to the actual practice of law, they explain what it means to “think like a lawyer” in an exam setting, and how to get the most out of classes. Open Book also showcases a distinctive central pedagogy, “the pinball method of exam-taking,” and provides detailed examples and a wealth of concrete exam-taking techniques. Initial reviewers―including professors teaching core 1L classes, writing instructors and law school administrators―have been unanimous and enthusiastic in their praise. Numerous student reviewers have likewise remarked that it changed their study habits and their entire outlook on law school. With straightforward prose, memorable, and often humorous illustrations, and a unique insider’s perspective, Open Book: Succeeding on Exams from the First Day of Law School opens a clear path to law school success.

I'm proud to be part of the "Open Book Team" of professors who have contributed materials to the accompanying website.  The other two property professors are Jim Smith and Eduardo Penalver, so I'm very honored to be in such august company.  I was flattered to be asked to contribute by the authors, Profs. Friedman and Goldberg, who were both extremely popular law professors at Vanderbilt when I was a student there.  But more than that, when I read the manuscript, I felt like it encapsulated so many of the thoughts that I've had about law school exams as a student, as a  practitioner, and as a relatively junior professor.  I really do think that it's a fantastic resource for both students and teachers for thinking about law school exams and how they relate to legal practice. 

I'm guest-bloggging this week at the Open Book Blog.  My first post is about my conviction that A Law School Exam is a Legal Writing Event.  The more time I spend in this profession, the more convinced I am that good communication through writing is the coin of the realm.  This is also related to the thinking behind my recent paper on Academic Research and Writing as Best Practices in a 'Practically Grounded' Land Use Course

I sincerely think that this book does a great deal of work towards explaining why law school is relevant to practice, and why all lawyers need to be proficient written communicators--and this especially applies to land use lawyers, because of the individualized, multidisciplinary, and practical nature of our field.

Matt Festa

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/land_use/2011/11/open-book-friedman-and-goldberg-on-taking-law-school-exams.html

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