Attorney Issac Mamaysky discusses his book, how to navigate the challenges of law school, and what it takes to rise above.
Lawyer 2 Lawyer
Isaac Mamaysky is a partner with the Potomac Law Group, where he provides strategic business, employment law,...
J. Craig Williams is admitted to practice law in Iowa, California, Massachusetts, and Washington. Before attending law...
As you may recall, we’re running a new series we call The Life of a Lawyer, Start to Finish, where we explore the experience of becoming and being an attorney, from applying to law schools through retirement and everything in between. On our last episode in this series, we discussed How to Get Into Law School with the Deans of Admissions from both Harvard & Yale Law.
In this episode, we move on to the next step and discuss “How to Succeed in Law School”, and we’re pleased to be joined by someone who wrote the book on how to do just that! Host Craig Williams is joined by attorney Isaac Mamaysky, author of Letter to a One L Friend: A Little Guide to Seeing the Big Picture and Succeeding in Law School, which helps students navigate the challenges of law school.
Special thanks to our sponsor, Posh Virtual Receptionists.
Letter to a One L Friend: A Little Guide to Seeing the Big Picture and Succeeding in Law School
J. Craig Williams: Before we begin today’s show, we want to thank our sponsor, Posh Virtual Receptionists.
Male 2: When your first semester 1L, you don’t quite understand this process yet. You will soon enough, but you don’t yet. And if you write down everything your professor says, it maximizes the likelihood that you haven’t missed an important point because you’ll still in this things because people talk fast and you’re taking notes while someone else is speaking. Things will be missed. But if your goal is to write down everything, then you’re going to start with a really strong foundation.
Intro: Welcome to the award-winning podcast Lawyer 2 Lawyer with J. Craig Williams, bringing you the latest legal news and observations with the leading experts in the legal profession. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.
J. Craig Williams: Welcome to Lawyer 2 Lawyer on the Legal Talk Network. I’m Craig Williams coming to you from Southern California. I write a blog named ‘May It Please the Court’ and have two books out titled ‘How to Get Sued and ‘The Sled’. As you may recall, we’ve been running a new series this year called ‘The Life of a Lawyer Start to Finish’ where we explore the experience of becoming and being an attorney from applying to law schools through retirement and everything in between. on our last episode in this series, we discussed how to get into law school with the Dean of Admissions from both Harvard and Yale Law School. It’s a fantastic episode and I commend it to you to listen to before this one.
But on today’s episode, we’re going to move on to the next step and discuss how to succeed in law school and we’re pleased to be joined by someone who wrote the book on how to do just that. Our guest today is Isaac Mamaysky, he’s a partner in the Potomac Law Group and provides strategic business, employment law, and compliance guidance to management teams, in-house attorneys and human resource professionals across Industries. A graduate of Boston University School of Law. Isaac wrote the book ‘Letter to a One L Friend: A Little Guide to Seeing the Big Picture and Succeeding in Law School’. It’s available from Carolina Academic Press in 2019, when it was written and it helped students navigate the challenges of law school. Welcome to the show, Isaac.
Isaac Mamaysky: Thank you so much. It’s really an honor and a pleasure to be here.
J. Craig Williams: Really happy to have you. Before we get started, I want to just talk about a bit of jargon. Everybody that’s been in law school knows what a 1L and a 2L and a 3L is, but can you kind of give us the background of the title for your book?
Isaac Mamaysky: Yeah. Sure. So, obviously a 1L is a first-year law student. When I was a third-year law student, a really good friend of mine from college decided that he wanted to attend law school. And my experience in law school is I found that the first year was really trial by fire. Like, I hadn’t prepared. I came straight from undergrad and my mentality was — I did well in undergrad, so I’ll do well in law school. Like I work hard. I study a lot, law school, I’ll apply the same skills I applied in college. Once I actually got the law school, I realized that this requires a unique method of analysis, a completely different skillset than the one I used in college and P.S., I was an undergraduate philosophy major. So, I did a ton of writing, a ton of analysis of arguments and I kind of thought that this would apply to school, but in some ways it did, but in many other ways it didn’t.
So, I found that the first year was incredibly challenging and especially the first semester of law school, I really found myself in over my head. And during that time, I had wished that I had done some work prior to law school to prepare for the experience. And when I was a third-year – and this good friend of mine was starting as a 1L, as a first-year law student. I figured, “you know what, I’m going to write him a letter and I’m going to give him all the advice that I wish I had known when I was first starting law school.” And that’s where the name of the book came about and I didn’t finish it all while I was in law school. I wrote this letter in law school and then over the years, I sort of added to the book and elaborated
and obviously published it just a few years ago and about 11 years after I graduated from law school.
J. Craig Williams: Well, it really makes me curious to find out how your friend did after reading your letter.
Isaac Mamaysky: He did well, he did well and I think it was less of a painful experience for him than it was for me.
J. Craig Williams: Yeah, as a lawyer myself, I liked in the first year of law school is trying to drink from a fire hose. It really just comes at you, full force. How did you handle that when you came in? And as I recall, it’s been 35 years for me. But, you get to stack up casebooks, there’s no pictures in them, they were four-inches thick a piece, you get five or six hours a day in class and you’re expected to read hundreds of pages at night to prepare for the next class. How are those challenges? How did you handle them?
Isaac Mamaysky: Well, so here’s how I handled them. In the first semester of law school, I mean, I think drinking from a fire hose is such a great way to put it. It’s really just trial by fires, what it felt like. So, in that semester, I just did anything I could to keep my head above water. But over the course of the semester, I began to understand what is required of a student to do well in law school. And then, as it happens, this guy named Wentworth Miller, he started this this business. It’s called, ‘LEEW’. So he’s a graduate of Yale law, school, really smart guy. His entire career, as far as I know, he’s been doing this and LEEW stands for Legal Essay Exam-Writing Workshop, or something. I forgot the exact details of the acronym.
But basically, it’s a class in how to do well in law school. So, towards the end of my first semester, many of these sort of big picture ideas about how to succeed began to become clear to me. Although at that point, it was too late to apply them for first semester, but I certainly had some ideas for how to apply them for second semester. Towards the end of that semester, these flyers appeared all over my law school, that Wentworth Miller was coming to Boston, then come join this class by Wentworth Miller about how to do well in law school. And by the way, Wentworth Miller is still teaching this class and I’ve mentored so many law students over the years. And I always recommend to them, “look, read books,” right? Like read my book, read other books, attend Wentworth Miller’s class. There are now other classes just like this that pre-law students can take about how to do well in law school.
So anyway, I went to Wentworth Miller’s class and it just blew my mind. Like the things he was saying just rang so true and I realized I should have been doing these things from day one of law school, but I just didn’t know. Nobody told me. I just assumed that my undergraduate experience would translate into law school and I would apply the same method of analysis in law school and I just didn’t realize how different it was.
J. Craig Williams: And it really – yeah, it really is different. When did you learn IRAC?
Isaac Mamaysky: During the first week of law school.
J. Craig Williams: Yeah and that’s kind of the basic outline issue rule, analysis, conclusion when you brief a case, but what did you draw from Wentworth’s classes that you didn’t get in your first semester?
Isaac Mamaysky: Well, so here’s the key and this is a key theme in my book and it’s a key theme of his class. In any law school class, you end up reading hundreds of pages over the course of the semester. You end up sitting through hours and hours of class. And you need to be able to walk into a final exam and apply all this knowledge. That is simply impossible to do unless you have a 20-page outline of this entire class. And that 20 pages needs to reflect all the essential themes from a semester’s worth of reading, hundreds of pages per class. A semester’s worth of class, hours and hours of class. You really need to focus on the big picture.
And multiple attorneys told me before law school, “Oh, focus on the big picture and make sure you’re focused on the big picture and make sure you see the forest from the trees”, but I didn’t know what that meant. Like, I kind of understood the concept, but I didn’t know how to operationalize it. I didn’t know how to actually do that. And the whole point of my book is to teach law students how to see the big picture and how to focus on the forest rather than the trees.
J. Craig Williams: What were the elements that you used to be able to focus on the big picture? Did you have a study group? Did you guys assign within the study group’s particular classes to outline?
Isaac Mamaysky: So, I was in a number of study groups and at some point, I concluded and I am firmly of this belief that study groups are often the blind leading the blind. And especially for first-year law students, first semester law students, you have no idea who’s going to do well, who is not going to do well. The students who talked a lot in class are often not necessarily the ones who end up – they often become very quiet after first semester grades come out. I’ll put it that way.
J. Craig Williams: Gunners.
Isaac Mamaysky: Exactly. And so, I don’t like study groups. The way I did it is my book explains an outlining process. It explains first of all how to read cases and distill them down to the essential points. It explains this idea that when you walk into a final exam, each case that you’ve read all semester and, each case, it might be a 15-page case. You need to distill that case down to three sentences in your outline to understand what legal proposition it stands for and then you need to understand how that legal proposition fits in to the big picture of the class And the only way that I know how to do that is not through study groups, which again, people have different views. My view is the study groups are simply a waste of time in law school. Maybe they weren’t in undergrad. I just think they’re a waste of time.
I think the best use of law students’ time is to take the massive information from their case readings, take the massive information. They gather from their class and just convert that into brief summaries of each case and very brief summaries of the class notes. And I think the fundamental challenge of law school is taking 20 pages of reading and an hour of class, which is the typical combination per class. So, before every class you have about 20 pages of reading and an hour of actual class related to that reading. You take all of that and turn it into a one-paragraph summary of the key points.
And then you’re going to walk into your final exam with a 20-page outline of the class. And the final step in this process, once you have that 20-page outline, its turning the 20 pages into a one-page outline. And the idea is that your 20-page outline has all the substantive content you need to tackle that final exam and your 1-page outline provides the big picture of the class, the forest from the trees, so you understand exactly how the different pieces connect. That I think with those two tools, you will do well in any law school final exam. And how to get there, that’s what the book is all about.
J. Craig Williams: And it’s interesting. My experience with study groups was almost exactly the opposite. I groomed throughout law school with two guys who ended up being at the top of their class and graduating with honors and we had two or three other people in our study group. We had the same study group through law school. We kicked a couple people a lot of times and brought one or two other people in. Our outlines for the classes were in the range of 100 to 150 pages and we distilled them down like you did down to about 20 pages. We also took the opportunity to send each one of our study group members, who was preparing the outline for that particular class to the professor and right before the final exam. So, the student – or me and my classmates got some significant, I thought Insight from the professor about what was going to be covered on the examination because of course, the professor just wrote exam and is thinking about it.
So, that was a little trick that we used to get some additional headway in some of the classes. But there are – and I remember and I went to the University of Iowa College of Law and I had a distinct recollection that there are a lot of people like you who did not believe in study groups. But for me, it worked out really well. I have a question in preparing the outlines that you talked about. Also, I’d like you to talk a bit about the differences between undergraduate classes with midterms and quizzes and the law school finals. And how that’s so different?
Isaac Mamaysky: Sure. So, and by the way, just one note on study groups. Look, everybody learns differently. I think that’s another really important point. So, just because they didn’t work for me and I mean, I have so many friends who were rock stars in law school who did rely on study groups, right? So, I’m only speaking about my own experience with them, but I have no doubt that for many students, they would be very helpful.
J. Craig Williams: Did you use Gilbert’s at all or any of the cribs?
Isaac Mamaysky: You know, I did not use commercial outlines or I should rephrase that. I did use commercial outlines in my first semester of law school and I thought it was a mistake. The reason it’s a mistake is twofold. First of all, much like yourself, I would have 150-page outline at the end of each class, right? My job to my mind was converting that 150 pages into a 20-page outline and then into a 1-page outline. And that 20-page outline has all the essential points, right? In each line of the 20-page outline is packed with meaning because I spent so much time, cutting down the 150 pages to understand what the essential points were and then you delete a line and then you say, “No, I need to put that back. It’s important.”. Then you delete some other line and you sort of really wrestle with the content and while wrestling with it, you end up learning the content really well.
The challenge with commercial outlines, and again, I know plenty of students who use them. I personally found the following very challenging. The commercial outline, do all the hard work for you. That process of cutting down the 150 pages into 20 and wrestling with each sentence and deciding what to cut and what to keep, that is the studying process. Commercial outline, someone else has done that. So, when you just read that final product, which is a one-sentence simple explanation, it lacks all the meaning that your outline has because you’ve wrestled with the content. So, that’s my take on the commercial outlines.
J. Craig Williams: If there’s one thing in this interview that people listen to, that is significantly the most important advice, I think you could give. I completely agree with that assessment that you have to struggle through outlining the individual cases as you read them each day in the IRAC.
You have to outline what’s going on in the class. Combine it into a big outline at the end and distill it down to 1 page, 20 pages. The way that we used commercial outlines in our study group is at the time that we bought our books at the beginning of the semester, we bought the companion commercial outline and taped it shut. And then only until after our final one-page outline was done, did we crack open the commercial outline. Because at that point during when you’re getting ready for finals, you can’t find the commercial outlines because everybody’s running to buy them from the bookstore and probably easier now because, that’s obviously all online. But in our circumstance, we would use the commercial outline to double-check the distillation of the outline that we prepared. But you are exactly right. You cannot. That is the (Unintelligible) I think of going to law school is the distillation from that huge outline into the single-page outline. That is such a fantastic recommendation.
Isaac Mamaysky: And by the way, first of all, I couldn’t agree more with your use of the commercial outline. That at the end of the process. Sure and I even have that in my book by the way. I say commercial outlines don’t work, except they have this one limited purpose which you just explained. That once you’re done, once you’ve gone through this process, once you’ve agonized over the content, you’ve cut 150 pages down to 20 pages, down to 1 page, right? Every line is packed with meaning. If you need to confirm some subtlety, some nuance, sure turn to a commercial outline. But I can make an even better recommendation, go talk to your professor.
What I found happen multiple times in law school. The first time it happened, I thought it was a fluke, but it happened multiple times after that. See, when professors write final exams, they are looking for the subtleties, the nuances. They’re not asking the easy questions because everyone would do well and it wouldn’t work for the curve because professors have a challenge of figuring out who’s going to grade high and who’s going to grade low. That’s not an easy job because all the law students are smart. So, they have to look for the subtleties in the reading, the open questions that a court never answer, right? And those tend to be the types of things where while outlining, you stumble on some text that you took notes on in class, you took notes on from the reading and you think to yourself, “This makes no sense.”. Right? Like the court didn’t make complete sense when they said this and the professor explained it like the court explained it, but it still doesn’t make sense to me. And at that point, you have one of two options.
Number one, you can turn to a commercial outline, see what it says. Number two, you can go to your professor. You can say, “Hey professor, can you explain XYZ?”. And what happened to me multiple times during law school is I went to my professor. I said, “Can you explain XYZ?”. And then when I opened the final exam, literally one of the questions on the final exam was please explain XYZ. Because when the professor read XYZ, the professor was also confused by it and the professor thought, “Ah, this is a great thing that’s going to distinguish the top students from not the top students.”. And again, it’s not going to happen in every class. It might happen three times over the course of three years of law school. But for those three times, it’s an absolute homerun because you’re going to have your professor’s answer in your outline.
J. Craig Williams: Exactly right. And I’ll go so far as to say that if you use a commercial outline, before you finished your final outline, you’ve destroyed your legal education.
Isaac Mamaysky: 100%, I totally agree.
J. Craig Williams: Well, I think at this time, we’re going to take a quick break to hear a word from our sponsor. We’ll be right back.
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J. Craig Williams: And welcome back to Lawyer 2 Lawyer on the Legal Talk Network. I’m joined by Isaac Mamaysky. He’s a lawyer and author of ‘Letter to a One L Friend: A Little Guide to Seeing the Big Picture and Succeeding in Law School’. Well, Isaac, before the break, we’ve been talking a lot about outlines and how to prepare for the final exam. Let’s take the next step after – because we dove pretty hard into that. How do you take effective notes in class? What is it that you’re supposed to draw from the professor?
Isaac Mamaysky: Oh, that’s such a good question, it’s such a good question. And one thing that I think has fundamentally changed in the law school student experience is that starting right around the time when I was in law school. So, I graduated from law school in 2008.
Just before I started, students stopped taking notes on paper and they started taking notes on their laptops during class. This creates a major opportunity and also a major risk. The major opportunity is when you take notes on your laptop, you can write down everything your professor says. The risk is when you have your laptop in front of you, it’s really easy to start reading the news or going to some social media site, instead of focusing on class. Your job during class is to avoid all distractions, to no checking email. No, nothing. The only thing you’re doing during class is taking the gold that your professor is giving you which is going to answer so many final exam questions and is going to tell you how your professor thinks about that particular area of law and to take that information and to put it into your notes.
After class, so just to back up for one moment, to answer your question. I think what you need to do is take notes in every single thing your professor says, especially when you’re a 1L and you don’t know what’s relevant and what’s not relevant. You don’t know what the key points are. You don’t know what the themes are because you’ve never done this before. Write down everything. After class, take a few minutes and go through your reading notes, distill them, cut them down, make sense of them, in light of everything your professor said during class and go through your class notes. Take out the irrelevant points, condense the notes, make sense of them. And in that way, after each class, you spend a few minutes as part of your outlining process to study for final exams, sort of consolidating your book notes and your class notes and making sense of the massive class notes that you took during class.
What I would avoid doing, especially as a first semester 1L is trying to pick and choose what to write down and what not to write down. Because again, when you’re a first semester 1L, you don’t quite understand this process yet. You will soon enough, but you don’t yet. And if you write down everything your professor says, it maximizes the likelihood that you haven’t missed an important point. Because you’ll still miss things, because people talk fast, you’re taking notes while someone else is speaking. Things will be missed. But if your goal is to write down everything, then you’re going to start with a really strong foundation, rather than trying to cherry-pick the key points which again, you don’t know yet. By the time you’re a 2L, a 3L. you’ve taken a bunch of classes, you sort of get what you need to walk into a final exam with, then, you can start cherry-picking. You can only write down the key points, I wouldn’t do that as a 1L.
J. Craig Williams: Would you recommend that people take as law students take notes on a computer or on paper?
Isaac Mamaysky: No question on a computer. And again, they have to battle the potential distraction of going online during class. That’s a massive mistake. One wrote about in my book is had a classmate who used to watch cartoons on silent during classes. I mean, to my mind that’s insane. You need to focus and take notes. If the only way you’re going to do that is on paper, then by all means, get rid of your computer and just use paper, knowing that you won’t be able to write as much of the content. And it’ll be harder to outline because your outline is going to be computer-based. So, you’ll have to transfer the paper info to a computer. So, I certainly prefer computer. It just goes hand-in-hand with this idea that you can’t be distracted. You must focus on every word your professor is saying.
J. Craig Williams: And let’s take that and draw it back to the big picture. The focus in law school. Because I had classmates in law school who were married, who were having babies, who had outside jobs, research assistance for professors in later years. But what kind of focus do you need in law school? Can you go out and party at night like you did in undergrad and can you go away on the weekends on little vacations or do you really have to devote a thousand percent of your time to law school?
Isaac Mamaysky: Look, I think that if you can and not everybody can, if you can, you need to devote a thousand percent of your time to law school. Law school, it’s a time to take on debt, right? Which is not advice I would give another context, but it’s a time to take on debt. Don’t take that part-time job, take on a bigger student loan. Don’t go away on weekends, right? Like, once you get in a groove, sure, one night a week. Go out with friends, have a couple drinks. But in general, it’s not like college. It’s not –there’s no like huge party scene. Look, I don’t want to overstate the case. I made some amazing friends in law school. We went to plenty of parties and we went out and all that stuff, but it’s just not like college. It is so much harder. It takes so much more work and I recommend to law students, you should enter the experience in the mindset of “I am here to learn. I am here to study,” right? And partying and weekend adventures and all that, its secondary to my primary task of succeeding in law school.
The one thing I would recommend two older law students. There are plenty of – look, I’m a law professor now. I teach in an LLM Program. In my LLM Program, all the students are working professionals. Now, granted LLMs are different than JDs. They’re geared towards working professionals. But if somebody is in a life position where they have kids and they’re married and they have to work, I get that and that’s great. And more power to you for deciding to go to law school. What a great decision. I recommend looking into the part-time programs. There are some excellent part-time programs out there, right? The most notable is probably Georgetown’s. They give you more time. They give you more flexibility to work. But if you’re doing a full-time JD program and you’re working, I just think it’s incredibly challenging and if you need to work, then more power to you. Do what you need to do, just explore a part-time program. You’ll end up at the same JD. You’ll just have a little more time to get there.
J. Craig Williams: Right. Well, speaking about partying, at least in my experience at Iowa, we would take Wednesday nights and go down to a bar called ‘The Airliner’ and a bunch of law students would get together, order a couple of pitchers and some pizza. But the only thing we ever talked about was our classes.
Isaac Mamaysky: Well, I certainly had a very similar experience.
J. Craig Williams: Yeah, let’s talk about what happens after your first year of law school and the summer experience. How do you get a job as a summer clerk?
Isaac Mamaysky: Sure. So, can we talk about – if we could back up from that question for one moment.
J. Craig Williams: Sure.
Isaac Mamaysky: I would love to discuss that question. When you started asking, what should you think about after your first year of law school, right? Of course, you have to think about your summer job. My mind went somewhere else. And I think it’s such an important point that I want to mention it. As a 1L, all of your classes are assigned to you by the law school. You don’t have choice in what classes you take, all 1Ls for the most part across law schools are taking the same classes. Once you are a 2L, once you are 3L, you can choose what classes you take. Most law schools, they have large, big room curved classes, the kind we take throughout 1L-year and they have smaller classes called seminars that are not on a curve. Many law schools., this is purely hypothetical, but they say, “Oh, if there are less than 15 students in the class, no curve needed” or less than 25 students, whatever it is.
So, there are all these seminar options in second of third year of law school where the professors are not bound to the curve. So, when professors are bound to the curve, it means some students do well, others don’t and most are grouped in the middle and the professors have minimum flexibility in what those grade distributions look like. In 2L and 3L year, when you can pick your own classes, it is such an amazing opportunity to first of all, take classes that speak to your interest and second of all not to load up on these incredibly challenging curved classes. It can do wonders for law students’ GPAs when they have the right mix of curved classes to seminars. And I had friends in law school and students who have mentored over the years where they’ve taken the approach that, “I’m just going to take all the hardest classes I can, to learn as much as I can.”. And I get where they’re coming from.
But the problem is that approach can really take your GPA. If 2L and 3L-year, you’re taking all curved courses in areas like bankruptcy and tax and other sort of complex areas which are often more complex than your first year classes. I don’t recommend that. So, I think the class selection process following your first year is incredibly important to balance substantive knowledge with classes that will maximize your GPA and enable you to be a competitive job applicant.
J. Craig Williams: One of the seminar classes that was held in our law school was on the new biology and that group of 15 students, drafted a set of model laws to deal with sexual reproduction and all of that related stuff, that it was just a fantastically interesting class. I completely agree with what you’re saying.
Isaac Mamaysky: The other thing is there are different types of seminars, right? Like some seminars are called Philosophy of Law, which looks a bit fluffy on a resume. Whereas, other or on the transcript, I should say, other seminars were called insurance law, which nobody would bat an eye at. That’s a critical area of law. So, I think another piece of this is it’s important to take seminars. Some, you can take purely because they just speak to your interest and you really want to take the class. But others, you can gain real substantive, important knowledge that you will use throughout your legal career that will look excellent on your transcript. You can take that in seminar form rather than as a curved class.
J. Craig Williams: Right. Let’s talk a little bit about mental health and physical health. I mean, we’re talking about the voting of thousand percent of your time to law school. There’s number of my classmates who ended up in the hospital. How about you?
Isaac Mamaysky: Yes, that’s right. And I have a whole chapter in my book, about taking care of your mental and physical health. And to my mind, the one non-negotiable aspect of law school is go to the gym, right? Or do whatever it is that you do that takes care of your health, that takes care of your body, takes care of your mental health, these things to my mind go hand-in-hand. So, when I say that you need to give law school a thousand percent, right? Let me describe two different law students to you. One of them is very I’m in the second is a bit less common. The very common law student – in college, they were quite active. They worked out. They went out with friends. They get to law school. they say, “I’m giving it my all and I’m not wasting time in the gym or whatever else”. They end up eating fast food. They end up not working out, spending all their time studying. Then they get so stressed that once or twice a week, they go out. Get completely wasted, drink too much, wake up hungover, which makes it even harder to understand the material, which made them stressed in the first place, right?
That’s one kind of law student. It’s a very common kind of law student, and those law students look and feel very different. Those 3Ls, than they did as 1Ls. And law school is a very challenging, stressful experience for everyone, but especially for those students. By contrast, the other kind of law student is the law student where no matter how much work they have, they always make time for the gym every day. They always make time for yoga every day. They make time to eat healthy food. They make time to take care of themselves. They make time to sleep eight hours a night, right? Even though it takes time away from studying. What I find is that when we take care of ourselves, when we sleep eight hours a night, when we exercise, when we eat healthy foods, even though we might spend a little less time studying, we are so much more productive and the time we spend is so much better spent than the alternative of the students who were partying and under-sleeping and eating junk food and they just feel bad. And the time they spent studying is less productive. So, I think it’s critical to take care of yourself during law school. And to take care of your mental health during law school, which I think is just directly tied to physical health and nutrition and fitness.
J. Craig Williams: Excellent advice. And I would strongly recommend having a bottle of water next to you to drink all the time because that’s a key part of that physical and mental health. Isaac, we had just about reached the end of our programs. So, it’s time to wrap up and get your final thoughts. I’d like to tell us about your book where you can get it and some parting words of wisdom for current law students.
Isaac Mamaysky: Sure. Well, thank you so much. So, my book is available on Amazon. Students can find it there. My parting words of wisdom are prior to law. school starting, students have a unique opportunity to prepare for the experience. Most students don’t. Most students simply go to law school. They assume that the skills they have from undergrad will work in law school and to some extent that’s true, and to a large extent it’s not. But, pre-law students who know they’re going to law school, they have this tremendous opportunity to use the months before law school to read books about how to do well in law school. To take classes. Check out Wentworth Miller. Just Google Wentworth Miller. His class, LEEWS will come up. Check out LEEWS.
There are other classes that teach these same law school skills. There are other books. Don’t just read mine, right? Hear what other people had to say. As we discussing earlier. People learn in different ways. Some people like study groups, others don’t. Read other perspectives. But the time before law school, use that time as an opportunity to prepare for law school. And fundamentally what happens is when law school starts, you have a bunch of students who were top students in undergrad, who had very similar GPAs, have very similar LSAT scores and they’re all going into law school, planning to rely on the same skills that got them through undergrad and through the LSAT to do well in law school. So often, the students who rise to the top of the class are the students who studied how to do law school before they got to law school. The students who read books and took classes before they even set foot in law school, to understand what they need to do to do well. And if students do that, they are going to succeed in law school, will not feel like trial by fire. And the students who don’t do that, they might still succeed, but they’re going to have a very tough time during that first semester in that first year, that they can entirely avoid by doing a little prep work before law school starts.
J. Craig Williams: Well, great. That’s a fantastic set of recommendations. I’ll add one thing to it. Quite unlike undergraduate school where you show up to class the first day and the professor hands out the syllabus and they talk a little bit about what’s going on and then you go home. Law school is entirely different. The first class that you show up to, you already have the professor’s syllabus. You’ve already read the assignment for that day and you are prepared to go hit the ground running. Was that how it was for you, Isaac?
Isaac Mamaysky: Absolutely. That’s the key thing with law school. There’s no ramp up. There is no gentle guidance from the professor’s. There is, if you go to their office however is they’ll help you. But it’s like law school starts and you’re just going, it’s like a train moving 100 miles an hour. And it’s very hard to stop. It’s very hard to turn. You just go. And that’s why if you’re prepared and you’re ready to do that, you’re in such a better position than those who are not prepared and not ready to do that from day one.
J. Craig Williams: Fantastic. Well, as we wrap up today, I’d like to thank our guest, Isaac Mamaysky for joining us. It’s been a pleasure having you on the show and don’t forget to get his book, ‘Letter to a One L Friend’. Thanks, Isaac.
Isaac Mamaysky: Thank you so much. It was really a pleasure. A pleasure to be here.
J. Craig Williams: Well, you’ve heard some of my thoughts during this session about how to succeed in law school as Isaac pointed out, everybody learns differently. It’s a fantastic experience and it is so important to go through in order to be able to develop your skills as a lawyer in a long run. You got to dedicate the time and the focus and the energy and the effort, a thousand percent to law school in order to achieve that in the end. You will allow yourself to get distracted, you’re going to find that you lose out and you’re not going to be the lawyer that you could be. Law school changes the way that you think from undergraduate school and there’s a common joke among lawyers that there is a reasonable person in every single lawsuit. And that’s the standard that the judge uses to be able to determine what people would do. What would a reasonable person do in this situation?
But in law school, the joke is you are no longer a reasonable person. You are nothing but cynical and you learn how to think differently and that different style of thinking is much more critical and I think much more broad in the process when we talked about – when Isaac and I talked about distilling your outline down from 150 pages down to 1, is that exact process. That’s where you learn to think differently than you did in undergraduate school and for that matter in life. It changes you and you’ll need to be prepared for that change because part of your relationships with other people is affected by what you learned in law school and the way that you think.
Remember that there are two lawyers. There’s a lawyer that went to law school and there’s a lawyer that has a relationship with family members. And the best thing to deal with when you’re having a relationship with family members as you go through your life as a lawyer is to take off that lawyer boss cool hat and be a person. I think, one of the hardest things that you get after law school, but we’ll cover that in some upcoming episodes. Well, if you’ve like what you heard today, please rate us on Apple Podcast. Your favorite podcasting app. You can also visit us at thelegaltalknetwork.com or you can sign up for our newsletter. I’m Craig Williams. Thanks for listening. Please join us next time for another great legal topic. Remember, when you want legal, think Lawyer 2 Lawyer.
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|Published:||March 4, 2022|
|Podcast:||Lawyer 2 Lawyer|
|Category:||Law School & Young Lawyers , Legal Education|
Lawyer 2 Lawyer
Lawyer 2 Lawyer is a legal affairs podcast covering contemporary and relevant issues in the news with a legal perspective.