Getting to Maybe 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
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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.
I gave up using commercial aids for one crucial reason: they distracted me from getting inside the head of the professor and really grasping the nature of the topic. People who try to take artificial shortcuts like using a commercial aid will never excel. If their intellect cannot naturally expedite the studying process, how could a quick summary give someone that special, incisive grasp of a topic? In such a case one would be better off doing all the assigned tasks properly and methodically. Disagree with me at your peril!
To be fair, after reading this book, I was able to provide some clever answers in class during my first month at school. After that, I was so involved and interested in the assigned materials, I long surpassed what this book could offer.
I found this book to be excellent, informative, well written, and even at parts entertaining. Although meant as a guide for law students to use to prepare for the strenuous exams that are associated with each course they will take in law school, the book provides much, much more, and hence my belief that it can profitably be read by a far larger readership than its ostensible audience. One of the key elements stressed throughout, and exemplified by numerous enlightening examples, is that there usually is no one correct answer to any given legal question. Arguments can be made on at least two sides of any matter based upon, for example, a "plain reading" of the text of a relevant law and the reasonably understandable intent of those who made the law (e.g., a legislature). The authors bring out clearly such sources of legal precedent as laws, government regulations, individual case law decisions by judges, common law, government policy, and specific codes (e.g., the Uniform Commercial Code, or UCC) and show how differing results to a case can readily come about based upon arguments using the different sources to bolster respective cases.
In reality, although by minimal definition a book designed, as said above, to prepare for the taking of law school tests, the book actually also is a good guideline on how to think (not necessarily what to think) about many larger issues in society, including politics and policy issues of all sorts.
Finally, the first two thirds of the book discuss ways to think about the wide range of questions that can be posed to aspiring lawyers and introduces the reader to understanding such distinctions as "forks in the law" and "forks in the facts" (a quite useful distinction to keep in mind). The final part of the book provides solid test taking strategies that are applicable to a wide range of academic testing (e.g., answer the question the professor actually asked and avoid wasting time or effort on ancillary matters not really germane to helping to resolve the issue.) Although some of these may seem obvious once read, the tips are the type of thing that, under pressure of exams, many students often forget to apply.
In sum, I highly recommend this book to those interested in life in the modern world.
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