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Q: ANY TIPS ON HOW TO MANAGE MY TIME? MARTHA SIEGEL: Definitely! Use your calendar, whether it’s an electronic or paper version and “calendar in” regular study times. Then, keep your appointments. Give your study-time appointments the same deference that you would give any other appointment — a meeting with your boss or a long-held doctor’s appointment. If your car broke down, and you had a meeting with your boss, you’d take a taxi — but you’d be there! Do not find excuses or put them off. Keep these appointments as if they might determine your success in your studies — because they will. CANDACE PERSON: It’s important to have a study schedule and stick to it. If it isn’t scheduled, it often doesn’t receive the priority and attention that it deserves. As best you can, schedule the most difficult studying during the times that you are most alert. Get used to getting less sleep than you might normally get. Be sure to also work in relaxation and family time, even though it may not be as much time as you may have previously had. � Have family discussions and prepare family members for this change in your schedule. Q: HOW CAN I HELP MYSELF STAY MOTIVATED WHEN I’M STUDYING “ALONE” AND PERHAPS ATTENDING ONLINE CLASSES “ALONE”? SIEGEL: Studies show that you should study no more than one to 1-1/2 hours without a break. Set that as your standard — and reward yourself. Take a walk (a short one), listen to some music, or flip on the TV — whatever works to relieve stress. I knew a student who relieved stress by taking baths. By the time his exams came, he himself reported that he “looked like a prune!” But he didn’t melt — and he ended the year at the very top of his class. Whatever you do, watch the caffeine. Too much can make you wired and interfere with your concentration. A short nap works better — but be sure to set an alarm when you lie down. PERSON: Interact as much as possible with other students and the professors. Participate in school and other related listserv options. Attend chat sessions regularly with your professor and classmates. Another option is to form a study group with other online students in your class by using a listserv, instant messaging, conference calls, or even meeting in person periodically. These mechanisms can sometimes provide you with more interaction than you might have in a regular, fixed-facility environment. Q: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE ABOUT HOW TO BEST READ A CASE? SIEGEL: Never read a case unless you know why you are reading it — and how it fits into the “big picture.” You can figure this out by looking at your syllabus, the table of contents of your casebook, or by reading a hornbook first. You will not retain the material well unless you know in what pigeonhole it belongs! So, you need to figure out the context first. STEVE BRACCI: Students “brief” cases to not only learn the law, but to also develop certain essential skills, like factual analysis. You will be taught to identify and differentiate the relevant facts from the irrelevant ones, to spot the key issue or issues before the court, and to ascertain the ruling of the court, along with their reasoning for reaching that conclusion. PERSON: Cases are sometimes written differently. However, generally, I suggest quickly reading the first few paragraphs that tell what the case is about and what the issues are. Then go to the end of the case and read the court’s conclusions. At this point, you should go back and skim the case for overall meaning. Then read it more thoroughly to understand the court’s analysis. Once you get an overview and glean the context of a case, it’s much easier to read and understand it thoroughly. Q: I’M LOOKING FOR ADVICE ON HOW TO STRUCTURE A LAW SCHOOL ESSAY. SIEGEL: Answer the question asked. Outline first, or make a list of “issue-clusters” (names of identified issues with quick notes about which material facts apply). Hit the most important issues first, in case your time falls short and you need to be brief or outline at the end. Better to have a complete answer on the critical issues. Structure your answer in this order: answer question. State the rule (meaning: define it). Apply the facts to the rule. Break out the elements. Apply the facts to the elements. Return to your original answer and briefly sum up and repeat it. Don’t waffle — but it is okay to use the word “probably” or the phrase “most likely.” BRACCI: The traditional methodology for approaching a law school essay remains the best system for structuring an answer. Students have long been taught to follow an IRAC formula when organizing their response to an essay. The “I” stands for the “Issue,” the question that is open to factual debate. The “R” stands for “Rule” — the applicable law which should be applied to answer the issue/question. The “A” stands for “Analysis” — a discussion of the facts that need to be considered on both sides of the issue before a decision can be made. Lastly, the “C” stands for “Conclusion” — the logical end to your factual debate. A typical law school essay will have from four to seven discussable points. For each point, a student should strive to use IRAC to properly organize his or her discussion of that point. PERSON: The IRAC method of analysis provides the structure for the legal analysis of the essay that most law school professors are looking for. Force yourself NOT to reach a conclusion until you have thoroughly, legally analyzed the scenario given. Q: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “THINK LIKE A LAWYER?” SIEGEL: Thinking like a lawyer is a state of highly focused, professional skepticism. This is not to be confused with empty aggression or mere combativeness. Rather, it is a state of mind that tests everything it reads or hears and, if the material is found to be weak, it is rejected or distinguished. Thinking like a lawyer can never be passive. It requires active engagement in, and with, the material — the substance and the procedures of the law. BRACCI: Law students hear this term continuously throughout law school, but many never fully understand what it means. Simply put, “thinking like a lawyer” means breaking free from a conclusion-oriented approach. Since so much of the law is dependent on an interpretation of facts, a definite conclusion cannot always be determined. In a courtroom, no one knows the result of a lawsuit until the jury makes their determination as to how facts are to be interpreted. Therefore, a lawyer must develop the skill to recognize arguments on both sides of an issue. “Thinking like a lawyer” means that you possess the ability to make plausible arguments on both sides of an issue. PERSON: “Thinking like a lawyer” involves in-depth analysis of issues, using the applicable laws and facts. Q: WHERE CAN I TURN IF I’M STUCK ON A CONCEPT FOR JUST PLAIN LOST? SIEGEL: Do not hesitate to ask your professors before you build an edifice on top of confusion or a mistake. Look for the answers in a hornbook. Work with a study group or a study buddy. If nothing else, multiple minds will do a better job of defining the problem — and that will increase your chances of finding the answer. PERSON: Hornbooks are valuable tools to help understand concepts. Q: WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON STUDY GROUPS, AND HOW CAN I GO ABOUT FORMING ONE? SIEGEL: No more than five, but at least three, people. Look more for the same level of serious commitment than native intelligence. You want a group in which you feel comfortable — that is, a group that matches your level of commitment, however weak or intensive, as well as your available time to devote to it. Some students benefit from interaction with different kinds of study styles. Others do not. You’ll need to figure out whether you prefer a group of oral learners, written learners, or some combination. Failure to attend to these kinds of differences, however, can doom a group and cause it to fall apart. BRACCI: Study groups are, for most students, an essential part of the law school experience. While some students do find it more productive to study alone, most benefit from the interaction and debate that develops as students discuss the principles they are trying to learn. Concord maintains discussion boards where a student can reach out to his or her classmates and form study groups. Q: I’VE HEARD SO MUCH ABOUT THE SOCRATIC METHOD — HOW DOES THAT FUNCTION AT CONCORD? BRACCI: The Socratic method is an effective teaching tool, and it is integrated into the Concord curriculum. At the weekly, professor-led chats, students are questioned about their study of the law. Certain cases or concepts are identified as topics for a particular chat, and students are asked to be prepared to participate in a discussion of these topics. Then the professor, in the course of the chat, will pose certain questions to the students on those topics. Student answers are then posted and discussed as part of the learning process. Martha Siegel is Dean of Students and Professor of Law, Steve Bracci is Professor of Law, and Candace Person is Director of the Health Law Program and Professor of Law at Concord Law School. Concord Law School is the nation’s only fully online law school, providing a J.D. and Executive J.D.� for students worldwide who are interested in pursuing a law degree, but cannot attend a fixed-facility law school. Concord’s curriculum corresponds to that of most leading, ABA-accredited law schools. Concord Law School is at www.concordlawschool.com.

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