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King Hall Law School USENET FAQ Part 3 of 9

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Archive-name: ucdavis/king-hall-faq/part3
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              The King Hall Law School USENET FAQ Part 3 of 9
             Frequently Asked Questions at and about King Hall
                       (c) Copyright 1995 & 1996

                                    by

                           David F. Prenatt, Jr.
                          King Hall, 1995 Alumnus
                         U.C. Davis School of Law
                         University of California
                           Davis, CA 95616-5210

                     <mailto:NetEsq@dcn.davis.ca.us >


The King Hall Law School USENET FAQ (King Hall USENET FAQ) may be comprised
of more than one part.  If it is, please see the TABLE OF CONTENTS in Part
One for a complete list of the questions that have attempted to answer and
for other important legal information.  Caveat emptor:  I assume no
obligation to anyone through the publication of the King Hall USENET FAQ.
Furthermore, all versions of the King Hall USENET FAQ are my personal
property and are protected by applicable copyright laws.  All rights are
reserved except as follows:  I hereby give my permission to anyone who has
access to this version of the King Hall USENET FAQ to reproduce the
information contained herein for non-profit purposes, provided that proper
credit is given to me as the author of this FAQ and that I am promptly
notified of any use other than personal use.  I may revoke permission to
reproduce any version of this FAQ at any time.

- - - - -
              The King Hall Law School USENET FAQ Part 3 of 9
             Frequently Asked Questions at and about King Hall
             (c) Copyright 1995 & 1996 by David F. Prenatt, Jr.


4)  LIFE AS A LAW STUDENT AT KING HALL.

4.1)  THE FIRST YEAR OF LAW SCHOOL AT KING HALL.

     Shortly after the August 13, 1995 publication of this FAQ, a first
     year law student (One L) at King Hall asserted in a a post on the
     ucd.king-hall USENET newsgroup (<news:ucd.king-hall >) that this FAQ
     was "not terribly accurate."  I inquired via e-mail for some
     specifics, but none were forthcoming.  A second year law student (Two
     L) then criticized this FAQ as "unnecessary," and another Two L jumped
     on the bandwagon, telling One Ls to ignore this FAQ because first year
     law school experiences are personal ones (adding a gratuitous slam
     against me as an alumnus who continues to post on the ucd.king-hall
     newsgroup).  I reluctantly address these unfair characterizations at
     the request of the people who have offered their support to me via e-
     mail and in person.
          While I have been given permission to quote the students, staff,
     and faculty who have offered their personal endorsement of this FAQ, I
     respectfully decline to do so.  The merits of this FAQ will speak for
     themselves, and any inaccuracies in this FAQ will be addressed and/or
     corrected if they are brought to my attention as the FAQ maintainer
     (which was not done by the One L critic whom I mentioned above).
     However, the opinions that I express typically do *NOT* reflect
     traditional wisdom.  Rather, they reflect the truth as I see it.
          In presenting the truth as I see it, I discuss many topics in
     this FAQ that are not covered anywhere else by anyone else.  Indeed, I
     discuss topics that cannot be discussed by official spokespersons of
     King Hall and/or U.C. Davis, and many people tell me that they find
     these candid discussions useful and helpful.  Therefore, the nebulous
     assertion that this FAQ is unnecessary is difficult, maybe impossible,
     to support, and such an assertion (however sincere) does not deserve a
     substantial reply.
          The comment regarding first year law school experiences has very
     little to do with the topics covered in this FAQ, as any Two L would
     be able to tell with a casual glance at the TABLE OF CONTENTS.  Your
     first year law school experiences, as well as those from the rest of
     your life, will be your own.  No one can take that from you, not me
     and certainly not a territorial Two L who has nothing relevant to say
     yet purports to impeach the merits of this FAQ with petty character
     attacks against me.

4.1.1)  Where should I live during my first year at King Hall?

     Your best bet is to live somewhere in Davis close to the law school.
     See Section 6.1 for more information; see also the Davis USENET FAQ
     (information on how to obtain the Davis USENET FAQ is contained in
     Section 1.5).

4.1.1.1)  Should I move into the graduate dorms at U.C. Davis, Lysle Leach
          Hall?

     No, but that's just my personal opinion.  I lived at Leach Hall during
     my first year of law school, and it was the worst experience of my
     life.  However, some law students actually enjoy the camaraderie that
     they experience when they live with other law students at Leach Hall
     and/or the convenience of living on campus.  IMHO, Leach Hall was too
     small, too expensive, and a host of petty rules were enforced
     arbitrarily by the Resident Director (RD) whether or not anyone was
     actually breaking the rules.  Most of the people whom I know who have
     lived at Leach Hall feel the same way.  However, the RD (a King Hall
     reject) who was the major source of grief for the residents at Leach
     Hall has since gone on to bigger and better bureaucratic pursuits and
     has been replaced by more mature and capable personnel.

4.1.1.2)  Where else can I live during my first year at King Hall?

     You can live in one of the other on campus housing facilities for
     graduate and professional students, somewhere else in Davis, in one of
     the small communities near Davis, in the Greater Sacramento Area, in
     the San Francisco Bay Area, or anywhere else in Northern California.
     See the sections in this FAQ and other FAQs that deal with life in
     those regions; see also Section 6.4.2 for information on shuttle
     services for commuters.

4.1.1.3)  Is there any place to live on campus other than Leach Hall?

     Yes.  There are a number of on campus housing facilities for graduate
     and professional students that are well worth your money, but they go
     very fast and there is usually a long waiting list for them.  For more
     information about on campus housing at U.C. Davis, contact the Student
     Housing Office (<mailto:housing@ucdavis.edu >) at (916)752-2033.

4.1.2)  FIRST YEAR COURSES AT KING HALL.

     For a complete and current list of first year courses, readers with a
     web browser may visit the King Hall First Year Courses Page on the
     World Wide Web (<http://kinghall.ucdavis.edu/pages/first.htm >)

4.1.2.1)  What courses are offered during the first year of law school at
          King Hall?

     One Ls at King Hall start classes a week earlier than second and third
     year law students (Two Ls and Three Ls).  During this first week
     (Intro Week), King Hall offers a required credit/no credit course
     called Introduction to Law (1 unit).  No one who has taken the final
     exam in this course has ever failed (and no, you won't be the first).
     By the end of Intro Week, you will be assigned to a small class
     section for the remainder of your first year.  Your small section will
     have one class together and you will be grouped with one or two other
     small sections into one of two large sections for all of your other
     classes (the total enrollment will be approximately 165 One L
     students).
          With a few minor changes, the courses that One Ls take remain the
     same from year to year:  Contracts, Civil Procedure, Constitutional
     Law I, Criminal Law, Legal Research, Legal Writing, Real Property, and
     Torts.  Check the law school course catalog for more information on
     these courses; see also the ucd.class.law202 USENET newsgroup
     (<news:ucd.class.law202 >) for information on Contracts.  Some of the 
     courses offered during the first semester are over at the semester 
     break.  However, most courses offered during the first semester are 
     year long courses, and you will not receive final grades for these 
     courses until after the second semester.  For this reason, your 
     first semester grades are not a good indicator of your class 
     standing.  Your class standing will be determined at the end of the 
     second semester of your first year, and it will not change very much 
     after that.

4.1.2.2)  How should I prepare for my classes?

     Even though law school courses are pretty standardized, the best way
     for you to prepare for your classes depends upon who your instructor
     is for a particular course.  If your instructor for a course has
     taught that course before, find someone who has taken that course with
     that particular instructor.  These people will usually be willing to
     provide you with a course outline that they prepared and be able to
     tell you what to expect.

4.1.2.3)  Should I brief my cases to prepare for my classes?

     As a rule, no.  But please note that my opinion on this subject flies
     in the face of traditional wisdom.  Briefing cases is an important
     skill that you must learn and be able to demonstrate as a lawyer, but
     it is tedious and time consuming and it will seldom help you
     understand the law or improve your grades.  However, this is a
     personal decision.  Some people brief all of their cases in all of
     their classes during law school and do very well.  As one e-mail
     commentator noted, "practice makes perfect," so practice briefing your
     cases and find out what works best for you.

4.1.2.4)  Should I use commercial outlines and canned briefs?

     As a rule, yes.  Since most law school courses are standardized, this
     will save you quite a bit of time and trouble.  However, it is best to
     use an outline prepared by a student who has taken the same course
     from the same instructor you are taking since each instructor
     emphasizes different things.  If you do use a commercial outline or
     canned brief to prepare for class, review it beforehand to make sure
     that it's not wrong in some critical point.  This happens all of the
     time to students who rely upon commercial outlines and canned briefs,
     and it is very embarrassing for everyone.
          A number of commercial outlines are prepared by the authors of
     your textbooks (which are not-so coincidentally your instructors at
     King Hall in some cases).  In contrast, canned briefs are usually
     prepared by some unknown third party (to quote one e-mail commentator,
     "CANNED BRIEFS SUCK!").  A third option for reducing your reading is
     the "Headnotes" system that West Publishing provides.  Headnotes are a
     comprehensive cross-reference system of the law that digests and
     organizes by topic the case law found in West's Reporters.  I used
     Headnotes whenever I had trouble understanding the relevant holding in
     a case.  As I found out during Legal Writing and later in Moot Court,
     Headnotes will usually direct you to the most important and
     controlling language in a published court decision.
          I cannot overemphasize how important it is to develop your own
     personal course outlines.  While it may or may not actually have an
     impact upon your grades (depending upon the instructor), it will help
     you learn the law, which is presumably the reason that you came to law
     school in the first place.  If you form a study group, exchanging and
     editing the work of others will also help you pinpoint your own
     mistaken perceptions about the law.

4.1.2.5)  Should I use "Hornbooks" to prepare for class?

     Maybe.  If your instructor is hard to comprehend, this is an excellent
     way to bridge the gap.  Hornbooks are written by the same people who
     compile your casebooks, and hornbooks can help you understand the law
     when your casebooks are unclear.  Many Hornbooks are found in the
     reserve section of the law library at King Hall.

4.1.2.6)  Should I participate in class?

     Absolutely not, unless the instructor specifically requests that you
     do so.  Whatever you do, don't volunteer.  If you must volunteer your
     comments during class, limit your comments to once a class meeting.
     Instructors may pay lip service to class participation, but they do
     not appreciate it when it is offered too frequently.  Your teacher may
     feel that you are arguing with him or her, and you will probably
     suffer the social censure of most of your colleagues.
          If you are truly inspired to offer your comments on a regular
     basis, talk to the instructor after class.  You will usually find that
     many other students do the same thing.  Talk to these students as
     well.  No one else really cares what you have to say in class.  Most
     students come to class to listen to the teacher.  If you don't realize
     that, then you are probably the free spot in "Law School Bingo."  And
     if you don't know about Law School Bingo is, ask one of your friends.

4.1.2.7)  How important are final exams in law school?

     In most law school classes, final exams are your whole grade.  Thus,
     you should spend most of your study time practicing essay exams from
     previous final exams that are kept on reserve in the law library.  You
     do not need to know the law on a particular subject to take an essay
     exam in that subject.  In fact, you'll be surprised how much you can
     learn about the law simply by taking a practice exam.
          Taking practice exams will help you find out what you already
     know and help you focus on what you still need to learn.  Most
     professors have a predilection towards particular exam topics and base
     their grading system on an answer style that may or may not have
     anything to do with the way that they teach their classes.  The best
     way to discover what your professor emphasizes on exams is to review
     the exams that he or she keeps on file, particularly if those exams
     include the AmJur award winner's essay (i.e., the highest grade given
     on that exam).

4.1.2.7.1)  What is the format of final exams?

     Most final exams are a combination of essays and multiple choice:
     Some are completely essay or completely multiple choice; the emphasis
     is on essay exams, but you should also practice multiple choice
     questions such as those used for the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE).
     This will expose you to the nuances of the law that sometimes makes
     the difference between a C+ and an A.

4.1.2.7.2)  Can I type my essay exams?

     Yes, and you should seriously consider doing so.  You will be able to
     cover much more ground in the same amount of time as those who
     handwrite their exams and your typed exams will be much more legible
     than a handwritten exam.

4.1.2.7.3)  How do I go about typing my essay exams?

     You need to get your typewriter approved each semester and fill out a
     form requesting a typing room for each essay exam that you wish to
     type.  Contact Nicole Waterman (<mailto:ngwaterman@ucdavis.edu >) or
     Dian Francis (<mailto:dpfrancis@ucdavis.edu >) in the King Hall
     Registrar's Office in person or at (916)752-4299.

4.1.2.7.4)  Can I use a word processor on my essay exams?

     No, and your typewriter cannot have memory capability.  [Note:  You
     CAN use a word processor on the California Bar Exam.]

4.1.2.8)  How important are first year grades in law school?

     First year grades in law school are *very* important, both to law
     students and employers.  Because of this, a dark cloud settles in over
     King Hall during when first semester grades become available to One
     Ls.  Few students are spared an insult to their self-esteem.  Even
     those who eventually finish at the top of their class are confronted
     with at least one mediocre grade at the semester break in a subject
     that they thought they knew very well.
          As important as grades are in the real world, grades are not a
     reliable indicator of a law student's knowledge or ability.  Grades
     are simply an arbitrary (albeit consistent) method of ranking law
     students for the job market.  Those who finish in the top 10% of their
     class at King Hall are courted by many employers, and virtually
     everyone else must struggle long and hard to find a good job.
          I have heard many proposals for remedying the suffering and
     hardship caused by the forced grade curve at King Hall.  Some people
     have proposed changing the format and/or grading of exams or
     abolishing grades altogether.  Other people have proposed limiting the
     number of resumes students may submit to firms who conduct On Campus
     Interviews (OCI).  These solutions, however well-intentioned, do not
     address the crux of the issue:  Our society feels compelled to rank
     people's abilities by some reified "objective standard."  Since King
     Hall does not have the reputation and ranking of a Harvard or Yale,
     grades are the only way to conform with society's expectations.
          If letter grades were eliminated at King Hall, many qualified
     students would be at a distinct disadvantage when looking for work.
     And as many law firms will not consider applicants who are not in the
     top 10% of their class, many of these firms would not participate in
     OCI at King Hall.  My personal solution was to play the hand that was
     dealt to me and play it close to my chest, applying for the jobs that
     interested me and giving equivocal and misleading information to all
     who asked about my grades and class ranking (not even my mother knows
     anything more than that I graduated from law school).  No matter what
     your own class ranking is, you will save yourself and others a lot of
     grief if you use this strategy.

4.1.2.8.1)  When will I find out what my grades are?

     Your grades are supposed to be available about a month after final
     exams are over, but some of the instructors are very slow to issue
     grades.  This may cause you a hardship if you want to defer one of
     your first year courses based on your first semester grades or if you
     are trying to transfer to another law school at the end of your second
     semester.  Otherwise, your grades are not that urgent, so just be
     patient.

4.1.2.8.2)  How can I find out what my grades are?

     When your grades become available, you can find out what they are by
     calling RSVP at (916)752-RSVP.

4.1.2.8.3)  What if I think there has been a mistake in the grades that
            were issued to me?

     If you think that there has been a mistake in the grade you received
     for one of your final exams (which can and does happen), you can
     review your final exams.  They are kept on file for one year.  Contact
     Nicole Waterman (<mailto:ngwaterman@ucdavis.edu >) or Dian Francis
     (<mailto:dpfrancis@ucdavis.edu >) in the King Hall Registrar's Office
     in person or at (916)752-4299 for an appointment.
          If your grades are lower than what you expected, this is quite
     normal.  A 3.5 Grade Point Average (GPA) will probably put you in the
     top 5-10% of your class at King Hall, if not at the very top of your
     class because there of the forced curved imposed on first year courses
     by the King Hall administration.  No more than 11.7% of the grades can
     be an A- or above, and your colleagues, against whom you are competing
     for these grades, are highly motivated and highly qualified students.
     Many of them have never received a grade lower than a B in their
     entire lives.  Thus, an A+ effort may only earn you a C+ at King Hall.

4.1.2.8.4)  What is the American Jurisprudence Award?

     The American Jurisprudence Award (AmJur award) is given to those law
     students who receive the highest grade in each class section for the
     various courses offered during the first year of law school at King
     Hall (except Introduction to Law, Legal Research, and Legal Writing).
     Many second and third year courses also include an AmJur award.
     Winners of the AmJur award receive a certificate suitable for framing,
     and a notation of the award is made on their transcripts.

- - - - -

End of document:

              The King Hall Law School USENET FAQ Part 3 of 9
             Frequently Asked Questions at and about King Hall
                         (c) Copyright 1995 & 1996

                                    by

                           David F. Prenatt, Jr.
                          King Hall, 1995 Alumnus
                         U.C. Davis School of Law
                         University of California
                           Davis, CA 95616-5210

                     <mailto:NetEsq@dcn.davis.ca.us >

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