Top critical review
100 people found this helpful
Expensive and Not Helpful
on November 12, 2005
I read this book early in the fall of my 1L year. At the time, I thought that the book was useful and that reading it would give me an edge over my classmates. In retrospect, the book did not give me any edge and reading the book was a waste of time.
The book does give you confidence. It leads you to think that you will be able to take apart a legal exam, reduce it to its essentials, and reason in a manner that your professors will appreciate. I guess it might be worth your reading if you need a shot of self-confidence.
But I do not think that the book will make much of a difference in how anyone does on law school exams. The authors' main point is to look for ambiguities (or "forks"). When you see something on your exam that looks ambiguous, try to explore all the ambiguities. In other words, argue in the alternative--i.e., point out that if X is said to occur, then Y results, whereas if A is said to occur, then B results. Let your professors know that you can see the little things that might produce completely different legal results.
This method is great as a theory. However, it is difficult to apply the method in an actual test setting. I remember that my first exam during my 1L year was in criminal law. I was given a long fact pattern, and I tried to apply the "Getting to Maybe" method. One problem I found was that I was pushed for time. It was not possible to discuss all the ambiguities in the amount of time allowed. The method the book suggested was just not possible in the context of my three-hour bluebook exam. There was no way I could explore all the ambiguities on the exam the way the authors suggest.
Another problem I have with the book is that it is not really giving you any special advice. Reduced to a sentence, the authors are just telling you not to be conclusory with your answers--in other words, show that certain items in the fact pattern could be argued multiple ways. This is hardly novel law school exam advice worth $22.00!
I have read reviews by people who claim that this book helped them make law review or whatever. I also know many people who have read this book and have gotten below average law school grades. I do not think that this book will make a difference in how anyone does in law school. If you are one of those people who has to read everything, because you don't want your classmates to have read something you haven't read, then by all means read this. If, on the other hand, you are concerned about using your time effectively, then you are probably better off working on your outlines or reviewing your lecture notes rather than wasting your time reading this book.