Getting To Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams

Getting To Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams

Richard Michael Fischl

Language: English

Pages: 348

ISBN: 0890897603

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Professors Fischl and Paul explain law school exams in ways no one has before, all with an eye toward improving the reader's performance. The book begins by describing the difference between educational cultures that praise students for 'right answers,' and the law school culture that rewards nuanced analysis of ambiguous situations in which more than one approach may be correct. Enormous care is devoted to explaining precisely how and why legal analysis frequently produces such perplexing situations.

But the authors don't stop with mere description. Instead, Getting to Maybe teaches how to excel on law school exams by showing the reader how legal analysis can be brought to bear on examination problems. The book contains hints on studying and preparation that go well beyond conventional advice. The authors also illustrate how to argue both sides of a legal issue without appearing wishy-washy or indecisive. Above all, the book explains why exam questions may generate feelings of uncertainty or doubt about correct legal outcomes and how the student can turn these feelings to his or her advantage.

In sum, although the authors believe that no exam guide can substitute for a firm grasp of substantive material, readers who devote the necessary time to learning the law will find this book an invaluable guide to translating learning into better exam performance.

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to the President: “Dear Mr. President: We believe Mario Cuomo is eminently qualified to serve as Chief Justice. We will not, however, vote for his confirmation. It is our sincere belief that the time has come to have a woman as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. We will not vote for a man to fill that post. We urge you to withdraw the nomination.” President Gore refuses to treat the Senators’ letter as the final word. He makes an impassioned plea to the public and the Senate that

Such ambiguity is at the core of law school exams, and virtually every practicing lawyer to whom we have spoken has applauded the idea of figuring out what makes something an “issue.” Issue recognition, they tell us, is crucial to subsequent success at the bar. To put Part I to work for our readers, however, we needed to go well beyond merely describing what an issue looks like. We want students to develop study habits that actually fit the skill of spotting issues expected on the typical exam.

parties to the buyer/seller transaction.) Multiple rationales. The final pattern here precisely parallels the case of “competing purposes” we discussed in the previous chapter. Cases can often be interpreted as based on several rationales, and these may point in different directions and even conflict with each other. The rule requiring disclosure by sellers could stem from the court’s desire to ensure that the party in the best position to have information about defects should be required to

on the facts we’ve examined thus far: Paul Patron offers Arlene Artiste $10,000 to paint a portrait of the Patron family. Artiste explains that her other commitments make it impossible for her to promise a completed work by a particular date, and Patron responds, “I don’t want your commitment. I just want the portrait.” After Artiste spends numerous hours doing preliminary sketches—but before she has put brush to canvas and begun the actual portrait—Patron advises her that he has changed his

the coal company. But a more conservative judge might come out the other way.” Ironically, in the end the two approaches leave the student in much the same sorry fix. The rulebook devotee may see the ambiguities on the exam, but he ignores them because he thinks the law requires an answer and he doesn’t have one; the loose cannon cannot even spot the ambiguities, for she has ignored the rules because they only lead to . . . ambiguities. But like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, they’ve each had the

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