« Five by Five - Sugar, Mr. Poon? | Main | Five by Five - Jeremy Blachman »

November 25, 2004



Nobody will read this, as I'm woefully late in responding (what else is new?) but I would answer Sam the Actuary.

It is true that when we actually practice law, we'll have to look things up all the time. What is not true, however, is that we will have available for every single legal problem an outline created by another lawyer that lays out exactly what we need to know to solve the problem.

I just took an open-note exam today, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that something like half of the class (me included)was working off of the same outline (or off of "their" outline that only consisted of the Source Outline plus some additional comments of their own.)

People can get passing grades, good grades, exceptional grades just by flipping to the correct page of a welldone outline from a previous semester, and there is nothing that will control for this except getting the damn things out of the exam room.


I completely agree on taking away wireless access in class. Right now I am trying to study for finals, I am 1L, and as I'm looking through my notes they get progressively worse as the semester went on because I was wasting my time reading "Sugar Mr. Poon?" and the author's "Wings and Vodka" blog. Now some of that responsibility lies on my shoulders and I am fully aware of that, but I look around during class, and maybe a quarter of the students are actually paying attention.


I disagree on point 4--open-book exams. I am an actuary; for us, the qualification process is entirely based on exams, all of which are closed-book. (Imagine taking an exam like the bar 8 times--that's our basic qualification process). The commonest complaint is that the exams over-emphasize memorization. Most of the material that is memorized for exams is promptly forgotten, and looked up whenever it's used. Yes, that means you know it very thoroughly--but it's a huge waste of time and mental energy to spend thousands of hours memorizing information that ends up being forgotten anyway.

When you're a lawyer, you had better look everything important up; why not start in law school?

Mr. Poon

"I end up spending the class period watching someone else . . . read "Sugar, Mr. Poon?". And that's just not good for anyone."

On that, you and my high school guidance counselor agree.

Great post.

The comments to this entry are closed.