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Law School Essay Exams – What to Memorize

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Law students ask, “Isn’t law school about more than just memorizing? The answer is clear: Absolutely!

But must law students memorize? The answer is just as clear: Absolutely!

Some professors erroneously tell students that “law school is not about memorization.” I say “erroneously” because law school IS about memorization… and so much more. But for the moment, let’s just focus on grades – and for most courses, that means focusing on exams.

In order to write a high-scoring essay exam answer, a student needs to employ many skills and strategies. Cogent presentation, high level analysis, sophisticated legal reasoning… yes, these are critical capabilities when it comes to earning “A” grades.

But one cannot earn an “A”… or a “B”… without being able to spot the issues that the professor expects to see analyzed. In order to find issues, one must “know” the law. In the deeper sense, to “know” the law is to understand its background, variations, nuances, subtleties, and so on. And, yes, that sense of knowing is very important. But in the fundamental sense, to “know” the law (in the context of exam-answering) is to be able to write a rule statement without actively thinking; to “know it by heart.”

Before walking in to a Torts final exam, a student committed to earning the best grade he or she is capable of earning ought to have learned “by heart” at least each of the following:

  • As to each tort, a statement of every “rule” – meaning a sentence or more that includes every element that must be proven to result in a determination that the tort has been committed.

  • As to each affirmative defense, a statement of every “rule” – meaning a sentence or more that includes every element that must be proven to result in a determination that the defense is viable.

  • A definition of every element, including “tests” to determine if that element can be proven.

A schematic template for constructing an essay is, essentially, included within these three categories. Here’s a partial example:

  • To prove negligence, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty to all foreseeable plaintiffs, that the defendant breached this duty by not acting in accord with the standard of care, and that this breach caused the injury to plaintiff.

  • Duty. A plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed a duty to all foreseeable plaintiffs, that the defendant breached this duty by not acting in accord with the standard of care, and that this breach caused the injury to plaintiff.

  • Standard of care. The standard of care is the degree of prudence and caution required of an individual who is under a duty of care.

  • Breach of duty. A breach issue can be looked at from (at least) two different angles…

  • Balancing test. Liability turns on whether the burden of adequate precautions is less than the probability of harm multiplied by the gravity of the resulting injury. B
  • Negligence per se. The three essential criteria include: that plaintiff is a member of the class intended to be protected by the statute, that the type of injury which occurred is the type the statute was enacted to guard against, and the violation was not excused.

But a student need not memorize these 214 words. This works:

  • Negligence – duty, breach, standard of care, cause, damage.

  • Breach – balance, per se. (…and so on…)

Should a student “memorize by rote”? Ideally, no. It’s unnecessary if a student has adequately prepared for each class, produced a personal course summary (outline), and answered dozens of short-answer (and longer) practice questions. The repetitive use of the fundamental rules to resolve tough problems embeds the elements into the memory for most. But not all. That’s why memory tools are important to many law students. (More about that later.)

Another helpful item to add to the bullet-point list above (what to memorize) is this: a list of every issue studied. This provides an excellent checklist for the student to quickly run through during the pre-writing stage of composing the essay answer. How much rote memorization does this entail? Not much. (For an example of a Criminal Law checklist, go to this link, then scroll down to Criminal Law, Checklist.)

Students must remember that the “memorization” part – the learning by heart part – is only a small part of what must be done to score high on exams. But if a student is not able to run through the elements of each intentional tort (for example) quickly, without pausing to try to recall specifics, issues will be missed. Don’t let that happen!

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How Do You Produce Original Articles?

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By now, you understand the importance of originality in article writing. As a student, you’ve probably been informed of the consequences of plagiarism and how it is wrong to copy off of others without giving credit to the original author. But original article writing is different where you should refrain from using material already present in another article. This is so that your viewpoints can come across as authentic and so that you can establish credibility as an author. But how can you develop original viewpoints and information?

#1: Look For Inspirations, Both From Your Personal Life And Professional Life

Often the best viewpoints are those that are inspired by your own life experiences, whether they be personal or professional. To give a good example, I wrote an article about how heart and soul are important in a business’s success. My inspiration for that article came from helping my sister put together candy lei’s for my nephew’s birthday party. As I was putting the lei’s together, I felt a fullness inside my soul. That became my inspiration for writing about why success is more than just about sales and production.

Inspirations come from many places. You might look at a current article and want to expand on a certain point that someone touched on earlier. Something may happen to you that gives you something to write about. Sometimes, it may just come to you in the middle of the night. What is important is that you find that inspiration because it will help you produce original articles.

#2: Even If You Use An Already Taken Viewpoint, Your Explanation Of It Can Be Original

Often times, it’s not the viewpoints, but the explanation itself that may be of intrigue to the reader. For example, if you are writing about different aspects of search engine optimization, and you are writing about not buying backlinks, you could do more than offer a simple explanation of why this practice doesn’t work. You could tell a story about someone you know who was caught doing this or take some time and talk about what has happened to those who were caught. Even if it well accepted among the SEO community that purchasing backlinks is bad practice, readers would be intrigued to hear your story since it is your personal story about someone who did this practice and/or was caught for it.

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How Do You Leverage Customer Service?

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Excellent customer service is a fundamental aspect of the daily operations of any company that wants to grow. Today, dissatisfied customers can use social media to vent their frustrations about a poor customer service experience.

A satisfied client will return and they’ll refer your business to family, friends and strangers alike. So it’s the duty of customer support agents to offer a positive customer experience.

An effective customer service system provides multiple channels for consumers to contact your business and get their needs met. Understanding your client base will help you know which of the following customer service channels you can leverage to create customer loyalty and grow your business.

1. Self-Service Knowledge Base

Some clients are comfortable getting their queries answered by searching through a self-service knowledge base. These clients want to have easy access to information and a quick answer to their questions. Having a well-organized knowledge base with rich descriptions, images, videos, and instructions makes sure they get their answers immediately. This channel is good for your company because it doesn’t need a lot of investment.

A knowledge base helps customers to access general information, but it may lack information that addresses unique situations. Keep information up to date as the business policies and procedures evolve. Regardless of these concerns, a well-conceived knowledge base makes sure your customer support staff have time to address customer concerns which the knowledge base can’t handle.

2. Social Media Support

Today, most businesses have a social media presence. And customers nowadays use a business’s social media account to get the product- and service-related information, to ask questions, and to complain. These accounts need a committed social media manager to address your customer’s concerns.

Customers use social media to complain about poor experiences they’ve had with a product or service. But you can turn this into a positive for both your business and your customers by addressing their issues with diplomacy and honesty. This will help them see you care about them and you’re willing to resolve their issues.

3. Live Chat Support

Live chat is the best choice for customers who want to speak to a person to resolve their issues; this is good for those clients who don’t want to use email. Based on your live chat hours of operation, a client can get immediate support even while they’re in the middle of making a purchase.

Research shows that 73% of clients who use live chat are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the experience. So this is an effective way to increase your sales.

For this system to work well, your live chat agents must have excellent communication skills and they should be able to handle multiple inquiries during peak periods. Also, you must provide your customers with an alternative channel when live chat isn’t available.

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How Do You Know If You’re Doing The RIGHT Thing?

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Each of us, at some – point, wonders, if/ what, we are doing, and seek, is, actually, the RIGHT thing! This, usually, requires, a willingness, to give oneself, a check – up, from the neck – up, and examine, our motives/ motivations, and reasoning/ rationale, in an objective, introspective manner, and a truly, open – mind! Most people want to believe, they are doing so, but, it is normal, to, at – times, question our motives, and actions/ behavior! If/ when, we feel, confident, in our perspectives, etc. we become, more comfortable, and ready, willing, and able, to expand those, self – imposed, limitations, of our personal comfort zone! With, that in mind, this article will attempt to, briefly, consider, examine, review, and discuss, using the mnemonic approach, what this means and represents, and why it matters!

1. Truthful; timely; time – tested: It never pays, or benefits you, to lie, to yourself! We benefit, when/ if, we proceed, in a truthful, realistic way, and are willing to recognize, both, our personal strengths, and weaknesses! One must learn to use areas of strength, while being ready, and willing, to address, every area of weakness, and/ or, potential weaknesses! Procrastination, is, almost, always, our enemy, so it is important to proceed, using, well – considered, timely actions, etc! The best scenario is, when, this approach, aligns, with taking advantage of time – tested, knowledge, experience, and expertise, to be, both, ready, and able, to gain the necessary degree of wisdom and judgment!

2. Humane; head/ heart; healing; honest: We benefit, when we are honest, with ourselves! We must, consistently, pursue, humane treatment, of ourselves, as we would consider, the way, we should treat others! It takes using the finest aspects of, both, our emotional, and logical components, to proceed, in a head/ heart balance! When, our priority, is, to maximize, our personal healing, and health, we benefit, significantly!

3. Integrity; insights; implications; ideas; imagination; innovate: Try, not to, lie – to – yourself, and maintain absolute integrity, even, when, another path, may be simpler! The insights, you gain, have significant implications, in, how, you proceed! It takes quality, relevant ideas, combined with a meaningful, well – considered, imagination, to make us feel, confident, when we innovate, as needed!

4. Needs; nerve: Know your needs, goals, perceptions, priorities, and personal reasons/ rationale, and, then, have the nerve, to take the actions, which provide you, with the finest options, and opportunities!

5. Good/ great; generate goodwill; growth: The better, you develop, your personal growth, and seek better – than good (but, demand, great/ excellence), the more, you will feel, good, about your decision – making abilities, and talents, and proceed, with finer, personal, goodwill!

If, you know, and feel comfortable, you will do the RIGHT thing, your life, will, generally, be less stressful, etc! Are you up to the tasks?

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