Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Law School Final Exams

Since professors won't tell you how to do well on your exams, I will. Because you cover so much material, you need to make an outline for each class. You can do this alone, assuming you have about an extra thousand years to kill. An easier way is for your study group to divide up the classes, with each person outlining one class. This differs from the prior approach in that it is humanly possible. You are likely, however, to open up your study group's contracts outline the night before the exam and find a sentence like this: "An offer is the manifestation of gooberness to enter into a something or other (I didn't catch what the professor said here) so made as to justify another person in understanding that [illegible] is invited and will gyre and gimble in the wabe. Or something like that." You then realize that the classmate who wrote this dropped out six weeks ago and is inaccessible by telephone, and you run around the room screaming like the lunatic that you are. So it's really better just to buy the commercial outline and forget it.

Studies have shown that the best way to learn is to have frequent exams on small amounts of material and to receive lots of feedback from the teacher. Consequently, law school does none of this. Anyone can learn under ideal conditions; law school is supposed to be an intellectual challenge. Therefore, law professors give only one exam, the FINAL EXAM OF THE LIVING DEAD, and they give absolutely no feedback before then. Actually, they give no feedback after then, either, because they don't return the exams to the students. A few students go and look at their exams after they are graded, but this is a complete waste of time, unless they just want to see again what they wrote and have a combat veteran-type flashback of the whole horrific nightmare. The professors never write any comments on the exams. That might permit you to do better next time, which would upset the class ranking.

Another reason that law professors give only one exam is that, basically, they are lazier than three-toed sloths. They teach half as many hours as other professors, are paid twice as much, and get promoted three times as fast. Then, they whine like three-year-olds because they have to grade one exam per class. I mean, this is every single semester, year in and year out. The constant grind is enough to kill a person, I tell you.

Then, memorize the outline. As you pour it in the top of your head, most of it will run out your ears. Keep scooping up the stuff that runs out your ears and pour it back into the top of your head. Eventually, a little of it will begin to stick. You should also use acronyms, or "pneumatic devices," to help you memorize. For example, the prima facie case of a tort action for negligence has several elements: an Act or omission, a Duty, a Breach, Actual cause, Proximate cause, and Damages. The first letters of these elements are A, D, B, A, P, and D. Now, think of a sentence using words beginning with those letters. For example, Ann Drop-kicked Bunnies And Pretty Duckies. See? You will never forget the elements of negligence again. You can use this technique to remember everything you learn in law school. Using this method, one student was able to reduce his entire civil procedure outline to one word, and finally, to one letter. Then he forgot the letter.

Next, get some of the professor's old exams from the library and try to answer them. As you read them, note that you don't have the foggiest idea what they are asking. You can't even tell what the subject matter of the class was. Put the exams away. This year's test will probably be easier.

Then the two-week exam period begins in earnest, and the typical student begins to feel like a nine-lived cat run over by an eighteen-wheeler. To take their minds off the crush of exams, students engage in a variety of activities, such as:

Trying to concentrate while panicking.

Having anxiety attacks while panicking.

Having diarrhea while panicking.

Panicking while panicking.

I strongly recommend that you type your exams instead of writing them. There are several advantages to typing. For instance, you can bring a "memory [*1694] typewriter," and when the exam begins you can push a button and your typewriter will reproduce your entire outline. This is very handy.

You might find it a little difficult to concentrate in the typing room, because all those typewriters pounding together sound like a herd of elephants doing an impersonation of Gregory Hines. If somebody starts typing before you have even finished reading the first paragraph, don't get upset. It probably means nothing, except that someone is a genius and how are you supposed to compete with a genius and what are you doing in law school anyway! ! Take a deep breath. Take several deep breaths. Now you are hyperventilating and are going to pass out. Cease breathing.

The sound of the typewriters is not the only reason you're having trouble concentrating. You have not slept or eaten for two days. Also, you have not changed you clothes or bathed for a week, and things are beginning to get a little bit itchy. You are wearing a hat to hide the fact that your hair looks like the La Brea tar pits.

Try to hum a tune (to yourself, so that the person next to you doesn't bash you on the head with his typewriter) to help yourself relax. Suddenly -- and you have never noticed this before -- you realize that "La Bamba" has exactly the same chord progression as "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" and "Twist and Shout." This will probably be hard to do, but let it go for now. You can think about it later -- like during your next exam. Twist a little closer to your typewriter, and try to write something quasi-intelligent. Do not shout.

If there is a power failure or your typewriter breaks, don't panic. Calmly remove the paper from the typewriter, gently pick up a pen, and scrawl across the page in ink mixed with blood: "TYPEWRITER BROKE! ! I WRITE NOW! ! " Then pass out. To avoid power and equipment failures, you might want to bring in a wheeled cart with about seventeen extra typewriters and a twelve-volt car battery. Better yet, drive a pickup truck full of typewriters into the exam room and open the hood for access to the battery. It would be thoughtful to place a drip pan under the transmission. Also, be sure that the carriage on your typewriter is working, so that you don't end up typing 2,000 letters in one very black spot. This can make your answer hard to read.

The exam questions are usually absolutely hilarious fact situations that just slay students and send them into paroxysms of helpless laughter. Law professors learn how to write these witty exams at a seminar for new professors, "How to Make Up for Your Humorless Teaching Style on the Final Exam." Try not to let the laughing get out of hand.

If your professor has stressed theory all semester and has insisted that there are no legal rules and that only an idiot would believe that there are rules,her exam will test you on the rules and the rules alone. These rules are printed in heavy black typeface in the commercial outlines, and are therefore called "black letter law." Do not confuse them with black letter theory, which will do you no good whatsoever on the exam.
You should use the "IRAC" method on the exam. "IRAC" stands for Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion. Be sure to discuss each part of the formula, except that you can skip the Conclusion, because it doesn't matter which way you come out. Also, there is no time to do the Application, because the exam is so chockful of issues that you barely have time to list them and try to state some semblance of a rule using only key words. It shouldn't really be called the "IRAC" method, but "IR" looks kind of stupid and makes it sound like law school exams test only memorization skills. Which, of course, is what they do.

Be sure to confront any ambiguities in the exam. They probably wound up in there accidently, but the professor will never admit this and will insist that they were deliberately placed there for pedagogical purposes (a phrase you will hear a lot). For example, suppose Don throws acid at Pat. (Notice that "Don" begins with a "D," as does the word "Defendant," and that "Pat" begins with "P," as does the word "Plaintiff." These professors are geniuses.) The exam doesn't tell you whether the acid made contact, a harmful or offensive "touching" (what a moronic word) with Pat. You should confront this ambiguity and write the following:

The facts don't say whether the acid touched Pat. If it did not, it was an assault. If it did, it was a battery. Of course,it was clearly a battery if it was battery acid! !

Professors just love humorous asides like this, and will probably give you several points of extra credit. n24

After the exam, do not review or "post-mortem" the exam with other students. This is very depressing especially if you can't even agree whether it was a torts exam or a contracts exam. On the other hand, if some persistent bozo absolutely insists on reviewing the exam with you, be sure to point out several issues that were not on the exam. This will cost him several days' sleep and, probably, thirty pounds.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Lemon Law Cases and Car Companies

Here's a secret tip that should be obvious. Car companies do not want to go to court on a lemon law case. The risk of going to court far outweighs the cost to settle. Here is why:

1. Defending a lemon law case is expensive for these companies. By the time a lemon law trial is completed, the car company can easily spend $20,000 defending itself from your claims. These cases are rarely completed with their own attorneys so it is really all money out of pocket to them. With that much money at risk, defending a lemon law case is already very expensive, even if they win.

2. In most cases, the lemon law lets you collect up to three times the damages that you are owed. That means that if your car originally cost $25,000, they can risk losing $75,000 due to a jury decision, plus their own attorney fees, plus the possibility of having to pay your attorney fees. Since they can replace your car at cost AND still recover some of their loss by selling your old car, it makes more sense to replace your $25,000 car with a new one that can cost them as little as $10,000. Their choices are really simple, they can risk losing $100,000 or more or settle with you at their cost for $10,000.

3. Car companies do not want to have to deal with the bad publicity from dealing with a lemon law case. Obviously, your case is likely not going to make headlines in the NY Times, but it still registers as newsworthy and could be picked up locally. Public attention to a lemon law case risks more than a loss in court for these companies. It can also represent a loss of their public image which can result in a significant loss of sales.

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Sell Life Insurance

Every day hundreds of people visit Web site or call in search of sales tips on "how to sell life insurance," especially cash-value life insurance. They want to know how to convince people to buy cash-value life insurance at a time when most people are very reluctant to spend any of their hard-earned money because of the current economy. Unfortunately, when lay it all out for them, they don't want to hear it. They still want to believe there's a quicker solution that doesn't involve taking the time to read and study. They want a simple idea that will magically attract hundreds of people to them who already want, can afford and can medically qualify for cash-value life insurance. These are the same people who will spend thousands of dollars each year on Internet leads or on a sales system that makes outrageous claims, like promising overnight success while selling from home in your underwear. I hope you are not one of those people.

The vast majority of agents out there are buying Internet or mortgage leads, sending out sales letters or term flyers, cold calling, etc., to identify those people who need life insurance. Once these agents find a prospect who needs the protection for their family, business, etc., they'll jump right in and try to convince the prospect why they should consider buying cash-value life insurance. They'll tell the prospect about how much money they'll save by purchasing cash value life insurance while they are young, and the premiums are low. They talk about the merits of owning instead of renting their life insurance. They'll explain to the prospect how they'll get all of their premiums back, with interest, so they'll be able to use that money to fund a college education for their children or have more money in retirement. And, how their money will grow tax deferred and how they can access the money tax free, without any IRS penalties. They'll try to convince the prospect that they'll need the insurance in their retirement years, and that term insurance won't be there when they need it most. All of the things these agents are telling their prospects are very true and logical reasons to own cash-value life insurance; however, in the majority of cases, the agent is indeed lucky if they are able to walk out with a term insurance sale, let alone a sale for cash-value life insurance. Why?

Then, there also are the few agents who will spend much more on an advanced cash-value life insurance selling system. Their objective is to find and attract people who want to hear more about these exciting new concepts, and to set an appointment with them. So, they send out their books and free reports, and they run ads in the newspaper offering a dinner seminar. Once they set an appointment with someone who wants to know more, they'll explain how great the concept is and how much better off they'll be financially. The concepts they are presenting are terrific, and they work. And yet, most agents are lucky if they are closing 10 percent to 20 percent of the people they are meeting with. Why?

The reason both these groups of agents are struggling with selling life insurance is they are telling the prospect how great the product is and logically explaining why they should buy it. and barely more than a hamburger special. The good thing about it being 10 bucks is barely anyone will have any say on how it’s spent because 10 dollars alone doesn’t buy you to much.

Solution: It doesn’t take much to change things. Everyone is always looking for some SBA loan, or some rich person to walk out and build a community center, or maybe some corporation to sponsor your kids trip to Six Flags. Our have the power Sell Life Insurance to do this without ever worrying about the government intruding, some outside group offering thier advice and even your local do nothing know nothing politician trying to take credit for it. Our have a lot more power than you think, just stop thinking about changing the world and just change yourself.

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