Professors Fischl and Paul explain law school exams in ways no one
has before, all with an eye toward improving the reader’s performance.
The book begins by describing the difference between educational
cultures that praise students for “right answers,” and the law school
culture that rewards nuanced analysis of ambiguous situations in which
more than one approach may be correct. Enormous care is devoted to
explaining precisely how and why legal analysis frequently produces such
But the authors don’t stop with mere description. Instead, Getting to Maybe
teaches how to excel on law school exams by showing the reader how
legal analysis can be brought to bear on examination problems. The book
contains hints on studying and preparation that go well beyond
conventional advice. The authors also illustrate how to argue both sides
of a legal issue without appearing wishy-washy or indecisive. Above
all, the book explains why exam questions may generate feelings of
uncertainty or doubt about correct legal outcomes and how the student
can turn these feelings to his or her advantage.
In sum, although the authors believe that no exam guide can
substitute for a firm grasp of substantive material, readers who devote
the necessary time to learning the law will find this book an invaluable
guide to translating learning into better exam performance.
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Each September, a new crop of students enter Harvard Law School to begin an intense, often grueling, sometimes harrowing year of introduction to the law. Turow's group of One Ls are fresh, bright, ambitious, and more than a little daunting. Even more impressive are the faculty: Perini, the dazzling, combative professor of contracts, who presents himself as the students' antagonist in their struggle to master his subject; Zechman, the reserved professor of torts who seems so indecisive the students fear he cannot teach; and Nicky Morris, a young, appealing man who stressed the humanistic aspects of law.
Will the One Ls survive? Will they excel? Will they make the Law Review, the outward and visible sign of success in this ultra-conservative microcosm? With remarkable insight into both his fellows and himself, Turow leads us through the ups and downs, the small triumphs and tragedies of the year, in an absorbing and throught-provoking narrative that teaches the reader not only about law school and the law but about the human beings who make them what they are.
In the new afterword for this edition of One L, the author looks back on law school from the perspective of ten years' work as a lawyer and offers some suggestions for reforming legal education.