Final exams

Ed. note: Please welcome Above the Law’s guest conversationalist, Zach Abramowitz, of blogcasting platform ReplyAll. You can see some of his other conversations and musings here.

Spring exams are right around the corner, and for most law students, that probably means trying to figure out what went wrong first semester and how to do better this time around. Unless you’re one of the fortunate few who got all As your first semester, hopefully this conversation will give you a better road map for the upcoming exams, or at the very least, make you feel a little better about yourself.

The conversation, which is being created using a new blogging tool called ReplyAll, will develop live on Above the Law over the course of the next few days, so continue to check back as Professors Barry Friedman, John Goldberg, and I continue our discussion…

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Courtney Love

* Parties in Utah’s gay marriage case are boosting their legal backbones. Utah picked up Gene Schaerr, of Winston & Strawn, who is leaving the firm to serve as lead outside counsel. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called upon Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn to assist with Bridgegate’s fallout. Because messing with people’s commutes into New York City is that big of a deal. [Am Law Daily]

* Come next year, Yale Law School will be joining the majority of law schools located on this planet by holding its fall finals before winter break. They’ll still be studying anyway… just for fun! [Yale Daily News]

* “Being in Portland … is hard to facilitate when you are based in Eugene.” Oregon Law, sadly unable to master the fine art of teleportation, will allow students to take their 3L classes in Portland as soon as in 2015. [National Law Journal]

* Courtney Love was in court this week testifying in the first “Twibel” (Twitter + libel) trial in the nation. Oh, that’s so interesting, but what America really wants to know is what she was wearing. [Businessweek]

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Alison Monahan looks at the pros and cons of joining a study group.

If you’re in law school, you’re eventually going to have a really bad exam experience.

I’m not talking about the normal “this is pretty un-fun” experience that is every exam — but one of those really horrible, terrible, awful exams. Maybe you studied all the wrong topics, or the proctor gave out the wrong questions (happens), or you got sick, or had a meltdown, or didn’t sleep the night before, or overslept, or whatever.

But you’re eventually going to walk out going, “WTF just happened?!?”

If this is your final exam, so be it. You can wallow for the entire Winter Break if you like.

But what if you’ve got other exams to get ready for? You don’t have the luxury of wallowing, so here are a few tips to help you recover from a terrible exam experience and get ready to study again.

Read more at the ATL Career Center….

Wasn’t this thing invented by Gutenberg?

Maybe it took the snowstorm. I really felt like law students were keeping it together even in the face of impending finals. But it snowed over the weekend, and was very cold in other places, and maybe that wintery snap reminded law students and professors that finals are here and it’s time to go nuts.

This week, we’ve had our share of final exam stories, but they’ve been of the legitimate mistake or concern variety. Today… we’ve just got some weird crap that happens around campus during finals period…

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Usually, law school finals do not produce great moral dilemmas. Most of them are open book, so you are allowed to use any information you can get your hands on. And since the whole thing is graded on a curve, “cheating” in the sense of copying from somebody else doesn’t really get you anywhere. You can use any means, fair or unfair, to get ahead.

But today we have an interesting question coming out of final exams at a top law school. A student observed another student breaking the rules of the exam. The other student was clearly breaking the letter of the law of the exam administration. But was the other student really cheating?

Our tipster didn’t report the offense, and I think that was the right call. But what would you have done?

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What would it be like it Elmo wrote your law school exams?

I was starting to wonder if we might get through all of finals period without a major exam screw-up. Imagine the competence.

Don’t worry, we didn’t make it. And as Ned Ryerson might say, this first testing mishap of the season is a doozy. It’s one thing for a professor to blast his own exam by lazily reusing a question set from a prior exam. But this guy put the entire answer in with the testing materials given to his students.

That’s one way of making finals easier….

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* As a public service, here’s a very good guide about what criminal activities should NOT be talked about on Facebook. [Slate]

* It’s getting to that time of year when law students’ minds turn from finals preparation and towards the violent overthrow of the government. [McSweeney's]

* Finally, the full story on how reporter T.J. Quinn eavesdropped on Barry Bonds’s grand jury testimony without violating any laws. Go New York Daily News lawyers! [Deadspin]

* There allegedly was a female soldier prostitution ring at Fort Hood, lead by the unit’s sexual assault prevention officer. Now watch as somebody uses this to argue that women shouldn’t be in the military. [Gawker]

* Winners from Detroit’s bankruptcy filing include lawyers, don’t really include Detroit. [Am Law Daily]

* Here we go — proof that the internet is racist is coming. [Forbes]

* Rutgers-Camden Law has been fined and censured for allowing applicants to use something other than the LSAT without asking the ABA nicely if it could do so first. This is what the ABA cares about. Those are the questions they had for Rutgers. What was left off the list of ABA inquiries: Rutgers-Camden’s favorite color? [ABA Journal]

Despite my consistent exhortations that people should do as well as possible on the LSAT, I don’t think the LSAT is a particularly useful test. The LSAT, like all other standardized tests, is really an examination of past performance and learned ability to take the test. It doesn’t measure “raw” intelligence, however you want to define that term. It measures your ability to take the LSAT.

I had thought that your ability to do well on the LSAT would be predict your ability to do well on the bar exam. Again, not because of any intelligence measuring, but just because people who are good at standardized tests tend to continue to be good at standardized tests.

But perhaps I’ve been wrong. A new study suggests that LSAT performance isn’t the best indicator of future bar passage. Instead, passing the bar has a more direct correlation with your law school grades…

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Suing a school for giving you bad grades seems ludicrous. On the other hand, there’s something respectable about filing a 60-paragraph complaint in response to a law school telling you that you’ve failed Legal Writing and Civil Procedure. It’s kind of meta when you think about it.

The crux of the story is that a the law school demanded that a 3L retake CivPro II: Electric Boogaloo because he got a D the first time around. This interfered with his plans for his 3L year, so he decided to take them to court. In the process, every complaint he has about the school worked its way into the filing.

Which law school is getting sued?

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I must admit that this is a pretty cool looking law school.

I guess we live in a world where people get offended by law school exam hypotheticals. In my day, back when we had to walk to law school uphill, both ways, you spotted legal issues, not moral turpitude, in your final exams.

But we covered the Widener Law School “dean killing” law school exam extensively. Now, we’ve got a really explicit exam where the hypos involve oral sex and forced sodomy.

Which, you know, wouldn’t bother me because whether or not a sword gets plunged into somebody’s belly or his backside couldn’t make a difference to me when I’m answering an issue spotter. But I’m not constantly looking for a reason to be offended…

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