Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Barbri first impressions

So DS started Barbri on Monday and, to borrow from Max Power, Wow. Just wow. DS is exhausted. After only two days of lecture and study. This doesn't bode well for the rest of the summer. And he hasn't even read the required Conviser mini-review for evidence that will be required tomorrow--although he will tonight.

DS knew studying for the bar would be tough, and require long hours. But what is really making him tired is working everyday of the week (or the first three days, so far). Sure, this is what's required of a big-law attorney, and he'll have no problem doing that when the time comes. But, coming off a semester in which he went to class only three days a week, and paid attention less than that, anything that requires more than 3 hours a day of attention is hard to come by. Sure, he just got off a week's vacation. But Barbri is hard, time-consuming work.

DS is interested in what other Boalties thought of their first-course instructors. For torts he had GW's Roger Schechter, who was funny, straight-forward, and a pleasure to listen to. Really, Schechter got as good a round of applause at today's end as any professor DS had at Boalt. And they were well deserved. How you can make Palsgraf funny is beyond DS, but Schechter pulled it off.

Other impressions of bar review and professors?

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Blogger Isaac Zaur said...

New Yorkers had USC's Charles Whitebread for Crim and Crim Pro. Very funny, likeable presentation. I was dreading the fact that it was going to be on video, but in truth that doesn't make much difference. I agree with DS that this whole process is going to be a lot of work. Fortunately, Bar/Bri's very own bizzaro legal troubles are always there to entertain us.

5/23/2007 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At Berkeley AM we had/have Therese Maynard for real property. She has been funny and (thankfully) concise (though a bit repetitive).
Why are you talking about yourself in the third person though DS??? Its weird.

5/23/2007 11:10 PM  
Blogger Tom Fletcher said...

The life of an independent studier:

1. Try to finish leftover paper from the semester.

2. Work for the school to pay da bills.

3. Scurry. Worry. Need to start actual studying.

4. Conclude: Not a fan of this thread. It makes my bones sweat.

5/23/2007 11:15 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Why are you talking about yourself in the third person though DS??? Its weird.

Watch some Simpsons. Every semester or so someone makes this comment.

5/24/2007 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Word. Just effing, word, DS. I'm tired. Damn tired. I did PMBR the first week, just to get my feet wet, which may or may not have been a good idea.

Schechter was awesome. But the problem with Bar/Bri isn't just the hours and working every day--it's that the work is damn boring. Memorizing black letter law sucks.

5/24/2007 8:15 AM  
Blogger matt said...

I'm glad that the first line of this posts not only begins with the word "so," but also contains the maddeningly overplayed phrase "Wow. Just Wow." Because that means I don't have to read the rest of the post.

5/24/2007 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOVED Whitebread. Why can't we get people who can actually make Crim Law make sense to teach at Boalt? In the three years I've spent at Boalt, I've not heard a positive comment about a single one of our Crim Law professors.

5/24/2007 12:31 PM  
Blogger MRP said...

12:31, I (and everyone else I know who has taken him) really like Sklansky for crim law. Unfortunately, he will be away this fall.

5/24/2007 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Sklansky was great - I have absolutely no interest in criminal law, but he made it very interesting and easy to understand. There's no way he'll be here for much longer. Oh well...

5/24/2007 9:51 PM  
Blogger Disco Stu said...

So, some recent Boalt grads are in NY studying for that bar and others love Sklansky. Wow. Just wow.

Seriously though, didn't Sklansky just come here from UCLA or USC? He probably isn't going to start at two new schools within three years.

A fellow bar studier asked this morning why the Bar isn't broken up into sections and given after specific law school courses. This is a great suggestion. Shouldn't the point of a torts class be to teach you enough torts to pass the bar? Why not have as the end-of-year torts exam, the torts section of the multi-state bar? If you pass that, you are exempt from taking it again once you graduate. You'll still have to take and pass any state-specific law you need to know, however.

Top law schools might not like this since it will encourage students to attend schools where bar-torts is taught and top professors will not be able to engage their whims about what would be interesting to teach instead of what they need to teach. In other words, all torts classes would be the same since the goal will be the same. This could be a valid criticism (see k-12 education's uproars at standardized tests--which, by the way, are justified). But since students have to learn what torts the MBE wants us to learn, why not test us on it just after we've learned it, instead of three years later?

Sure, some professors teach to the bar already (Sklansky's evidence class comes to mind), but not enough. And, it could be argued that students at top schools are smart enough to study and pass the bar on their own so they don't need to learn about it in law school, and instead have the luxury of taking "temptatious, delectable" classes not taught at lower-ranked law schools. DS would probably have agreed with that argument when he was in law school, but now that he has to pass the bar, it's not resonating as much.

5/24/2007 10:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked Westen for crim a lot, though I doubt he "taught to the bar."

5/24/2007 11:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disco Stu, on what are you basing your judgment that Sklansky "probably isn't going to start at two new schools within three years"? My guess is you have no knowledge of either (1) what Sklansky is thinking or (2) how customary it is for legal academics to make several lateral moves within a period of just a few years. But I could be wrong.

Also, did anyone else read the library email about the library being closed all weekend? That is really convenient for people studying for the bar.

5/24/2007 11:53 PM  
Blogger Disco Stu said...

He spent a decade at UCLA. He's been here for two years. It's doubtful he's going to jump to Harvard. True, DS has absolutely no idea how common it is for professors to take numerous tenor-track positions in a short time. But professors do visit all the time. Sklansky graduated from Harvard law. He probably just wants to go back for a semester or two.

Anyway, only 1Ls should be pissed about this. He's the one good Boalt Crim professor, and he won't be around this year. Those planning to take Evidence should just take it with Swift.

5/25/2007 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DS, how did you decide that Murphy is no good as a crim law professor? Or Harris? Or Westen? I've heard good things about all three.

5/25/2007 8:01 AM  
Blogger Disco Stu said...

True, DS forgot about Murphy. She is supposed to be great--so incoming 1Ls, hope you get Murphy and be pissed Sklansky is not around.

As for Westin, never had him, so there's no first-hand experience. But, DS didn't hear good things from those students that did. As for Harris, ugh. What a boring class. One would think that crim law would be way more interesting than Torts, but DS thought Sugarman's Torts was head and shoulders above Harris's crim. Harris was just not that engaging a teacher, especially for an engaging topic. Look at teaching evals if you don't agree (Harris, Crim Law, Fall '04, Instructor stimulated student interest and thought = 3.69/5; Weston's Fall '05 number is 3.82/5; Sugarman, Torts, Fall '04, Instructor stimulated student interest and thought = 4.71/5; Neither Murphy nor Sklansky has any numbers up yet on Crim).

5/25/2007 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's too early to say that Murphy is a good crim professor. She has energy and a presence and knows how to lead fine Donahue-style policy discussions, but her ability to actually teach the underlying law and its nuances (the way that Sklansky, Bundy, and Swift do) is lacking. But she has plenty of time to improve her technique.

5/25/2007 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't have Skalansky, Swift, or Bundy for anything, so I can't compare, but had Murphy for Crim Pro last semester. She was much better than MANY of the other professors I had over 3 years. I really liked her. She's really good at leading discussion, clear in her lectures, and interested in current issues, not old case law.

5/25/2007 8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed Harris' crim law class. It might have been shorter on substance than other 1st year classes, but I just think this is the nature of Crim Law. Plus, Harris' critical race approach to the subject packed an emotional wallop that made the subject really resonate for me. More than any other class I've had at Boalt, it made me angry, but in a good, energized sort of way.

5/25/2007 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, Westen...where to begin? First, he retired from teaching (or so he told us in the fall), so no one ever gets to experience his brilliance (in a classroom) again.

Westen's class was an experience. Some loved him, some...didn't. I eventually understood what he was talking about after about 2 months and really enjoyed his class. But Westen definitely did not teach to the Bar. Westen taught to Westen.

5/26/2007 1:06 PM  
Anonymous SS said...

I'm doing the Cal audio course. The first subject is contracts -- hmm, I'm thinking that the Statute of Frauds is something we probably should have covered in Contracts. The instructor was Epstein and I believe he's the Berkeley AM lecturer, too. He's pretty entertaining, but I've got nothing to compare it to.

I'm looking forward to Crim & Crim Pro. I had Sklansky for Crim Pro and I will be amazed if his class didn't cover almost all of what we had to know. It was the best class at Boalt -- I'm sure it was all relevant and yet he didn't appear to sacrifice anything in terms of policy and scholarly interest.

As far as the academic market goes... both the "I'm just visting" market and the "I'm looking for a move" market are quite active in law. So Sklansky visitng elsewhere could mean either. I'm unfamiliar with Sklansky's scholarship, but it would surprise me if it wasn't top rate. I think he'll be a hard one for Boalt to keep if he lacks any local connections or if he has any reasons to want to be elsewhere. I think he is that good.

5/28/2007 10:18 PM  
Blogger sheela said...

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9/14/2009 6:12 AM  

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