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Law School Advice You Can Count On

by Otto Stockmeyer, Professor Emeritus, Thomas M. Cooley Law School

When I tell students how to succeed in law school, I have the data to back up the advice.

First, I tell students to never miss class. Using courses taught at Cooley and two other law schools, I have compared class attendance and grades and found a strong positive correlation. On average, almost half a grade level separated those Cooley students with perfect attendance (2.54) from those who “maxed out” their allotted absences (2.13). See “Better Grades @ No Extra Cost.”

Next, I say to brief every case and not rely on “canned” briefs. The wisdom of this advice was confirmed when I looked at a sampling of Casenote Legal Briefs in my subject, Contracts. They turned out to be inadequate, unreliable, and dead-bang wrong on occasion. For details, see “My Encounter with Canned Briefs.”

I also encourage students to visit TWEN often.  My TWENsites offer course discussion forums, links to CALI lessons, and multiple-choice review quizzes. On average, those students who received Honors level grades (B or above) accessed my Contracts TWEN site with much greater frequency than those students whose grades put them on academic probation (below C). The results are detailed in “Link Between Course Website Use and Law School Grades Confirmed.”

And in researching the effect of class size on student grades, I found that as class size increases, student performance declines. See “The Effect of Class Size on Student Performance.” This is most likely because smaller classes offer students more opportunities to recite.

So when I tell students to attend every class, write their own briefs, use TWEN regularly, and rejoice when called on, it is advice they can rely on to perform at their best. I’ve done studies that prove it.