Tuesday’s post on practice exams generated some questions over at the Volokh Conspiracy to which we think we can usefully respond.
First, we should have made clear that no student’s exam answer will be posted on the Open Book website without the informed and express consent of the student. Interestingly, when we approached our own (former) students for permission and explained what we are doing, they were quite positive. Their uniform response — which might help counter the image of law students as cutthroat or jaded — was enthusiasm at the chance to help other students learn from their experiences.
Second, as we mentioned in the initial post, we agree entirely that getting individualized feedback from one’s own professors is the first-best option. Indeed, borrowing from Star Trek, we state early in the book a law school version of “The Prime Directive” — for his or her class, what the prof says goes. We don’t mean this cynically. We mean merely to emphasize that different profs teaching the same class legitimately emphasize different aspects of the subject and reward somewhat different things in exam answers. The issue we have tried to tackle is what to do in the absence of the first-best.
We continue to believe that studying should be all about practice, practice, practice — especially practice with feedback. There are different ways to do this; we flag them in the book. If your Torts prof doesn’t have practice exams, see if you can find past exams from another Torts professor at your school. If your Contracts prof posts old exams but no model answers, go over your answer with colleagues who have taken the same practice exam.
No appellate litigator worth her salt goes into an argument without having been ‘mooted.’ That’s because experienced lawyers understand the importance of practice. This is another respect in which law school mirrors and teaches practice. 90% of the practice of law is practice — i.e., careful preparation.