LEEWS $250,000 CHALLENGE TO (ALL) LAW SCHOOLS,
(ALL) LAW PROFESSORS AND ADMINSTRATORS (DEANS!)
250 is roughly the total number of American law schools, both ABA-accredited (over 200) and not.
LEEWS challenges all of them, all of their professors, deans, administrators to a contest. Loser donates $1,000 to a worthy school activity or fund.
NOTE: This will be a first come, first served deal, as LEEWS founder/instructor, Wentworth Miller, will only be able to coach a limited number of LEEWS "teams." Get going forming a challenge team at your school!
(Literally form a study group with four other classmates [see free course opportunity below]; announce to your dean and/or professors that you would like to participate in the LEEWS challenge and be the "LEEWS team" [see below]; invite dean/professors to select a "School team." It will be fun. A campus activity gets $1,000. Let's get it on!)
Law school/professor/dean/administrator chooses five 1Ls to be the school/professor/dean/administrator team ("School Team"). Five classmates, also chosen by school/professor/dean/administrator, OR self-selected (organize a group now!) will be the “LEEWS Team.”
Team whose members score higher on final exams (get higher grades) wins.
Sponsor of loser team donates $1,000 to a school activity or fund designated by members of winning team. Plus lots of fun as teams trash talk one another, classmates choose up sides and follow the progress, law school teaching methodology comes under scrutiny, possibly by national press, and the big contest – final exams – ensues (in December or April/May.
Free course opportunity:
A student who initiates and organizes a contest – i.e., prompts school/professor/dean/administrator or 1Ls to participate and form a School Team; and assists in forming the LEEWS Team (of which he or she may or may not be a member) – gets a free course. (Either the audio program or/and sit in on the live two-day session conducted by Mr. Miller, LEEWS founder.) All other LEEWS Team members must pay the 3-6 group rate. (Currently $120, including LEEWS Primer. Sorry!) However, others may join the group, possibly lowering the rate to $110. (See terms below for more information.)
School/professor/administrator can choose any five 1Ls for School Team. However, all must be from the same section or take the same classes as LEEWS Team members. (Choose those deemed "smartest," "legal geniuses," "most likely to be great lawyers," etc. Any five! And/or invite five to step forward and defend the honor of ... traditional, non-LEEWS preparation? [Conventional briefing, extensive class note taking, etc.] Give the school team a name – "_____ (Harvard, Yale, U. Phoenix, ...) Legal Eagles," "_____ Best and Brightest," whatever.
Coach them as desired. Offer every resource. (But not LEEWS!) Bring in the school academic support staff and/or editors of law review. Bring in BAR-BRI, the authors of Getting to Maybe, whom or whatever. Instruct them in "IRAC" and all (non LEEWS!) study/exam-writing wisdom available. Have them write practice exams. Heck, show them the final exams in advance! Seriously. (Or, assuming School Team to be brilliant, motivated, and "can't miss," merely leave members to their own devices.)
HOWEVER, THEY CANNOT DO LEEWS!
At the same time school/professor/administrator chooses five class/section mates of School Team to be the LEEWS Team. Any five! (E.g., students deemed bored, sleepy, at risk and admitted by the skin of their teeth, least likely to make it as lawyers, the bottom of the 1L barrel.)
(As it is unlikely that a law school/professor/administrator will deign [stoop?] to engage this challenge without prodding, much less choose a team, especially the LEEWS Team, YOU [SOME STUDENT] LIKELY MUST TAKE THE INITIATIVE! [And get the free course.] You/he/she must form a LEEWS team and invite others [self-anointed hotshots?] to form a School Team. In truth your school/professors/dean/administrators need not give their imprimatur to this enterprise. However, someone must be willing to donate the $1,000 should the School Team lose. Perhaps fellow students will want to contribute to the School Team fund. ??)
Apart from someone instrumental in organizing a contest and teams (see above), those organizing into or anointed the LEEWS Team must pay for a live LEEWS session. Yes. Sorry. (3-6 group rate, currently $120, which includes the LEEWS manual – "Primer.") Perhaps (very likely) school/professor/dean/administrator will subsidize this payment. (Ask!) Or fellow students/backers will subsidize your fee. Perhaps pay all for their champions – “LEEWSers,” “LEEWites.”
Mr. Miller, LEEWS founder/instructor, will personally come and instruct the LEEWS Team in a two-day session at the school. (LEEWS Team must arrange for a small venue – a room – that can be used on consecutive days for five hours.) Afterward, that team must perform prescribed LEEWS follow-up exercises as a group. (LEEWS Team forms a study group.) They will meet at least once a week. One member of the LEEWS Team will be a liaison to Mr. Miller, who will monitor efforts and offer advice/suggestions throughout the term.
We'll see which team comes out on top, grade wise, following finals.
In the event of illness or other event/happenstance that causes a member of either team to be unable to study or prepare for and take a final exam, the team sponsor (or the team) may either 1) elect to go with a lesser number of team members, to a minimum of three (3), in which event the opposing team must also reduce to the same number, OR substitute to maintain full team strength.
Why LEEWS is confident of victory:
In the free downloadable book Gaming Emperor Law School (and elsewhere on this site) is the following telling quote from a University of Georgia law professor to a first year torts class circa 2006:
"If 100 points are possible on my final exam, I'm expecting scores in the range of 25 to 35."
This pessimistic outlook and the low-bar performance level it reflects is hardly atypical in American law schools. Indeed, it is the norm. Even "A" exams (35, 45, 65 points out of 100?) are generally far from excellent or masterful. Grade curves mandate that some few receive A's. (Typically fewer than ten percent.) "A" exams are usually merely somewhat less incompetent than those of fellow students.
In this regard it may be noted that prior to 2008, when Harvard Law School (HLS) still awarded letter grades, despite the circumstance that virtually all HLS students enter having received A's and A+'s their entire scholastic lives, the grade of A+ was reserved for only two per class in a typical first year section of 80. Often only one A+ was awarded, often none. Despite presumably brilliant instruction of brilliant students by brilliant professors, it was anticipated that very very few would exhibit mastery on problematic essay hypothetical-type exercises.
In short, almost all law students struggle mightily on exams, particularly in first year. The typical grade of B minus to B+ awarded most exams (certainly at top-ranked schools) is a gift for which much-relieved-to-have-passed students are grateful. Tsk!
In all law schools the reason given for the seeming (obvious?) failure to provide instruction enabling mastery of exams by more students, or indeed any students, is that mastery of law exams, especially the problematic essay-type exam, despite intelligence and hard work, is possible for only a very few with a "gift for the law," some sort of "innate aptitude" or "genius," often called "The Right Stuff." (One either has this mysterious, elusive [fictitious!] quality, or one doesn't. Intelligence and hard work? ... Not a deciding factor.)
Nonsense! As discussed more completely elsewhere at this website, the reason for the universal incompetence of law students in addressing exams is the utter failure of case method instruction (reading/briefing law cases) to transition academic thinkers/learners (virtually all law students) to something even close to practicing lawyer respecting thinking/learning.
The book Gaming Emperor Law School, referenced above (free download!) discusses the academic roots and orientation of American law schools, case method instruction and what is wrong with it, and much much more. (Including what is wrong with conventional case briefing and the LEEWS 2-4 line alternative.) The major theme is how the misfit between law school instruction and exams can be taken advantage of, and rather easily.
First year exams, mimicking bar essay exams, are exercises in unraveling and analyzing complex, confusing fact patterns "as a lawyer," typically under severe time pressure. In this regard even smart, hard-working law students at Yale, Harvard, Stanford remain confused, intimidated, clueless.
Enter LEEWS, the only instruction that successfully achieves the difficult transition from academic thinker/learner to something approaching a practicing lawyer in thinking and learning. (Finally "lawyerlike analysis" is understood and can be implemented.) Add to this innovative, unique, proven effective (30+ years!) systems for dissecting essays into components revealing even issues the (typical non-lawyer) professor/exam author is unaware of, presenting "lawyerlike" analysis of such issues in concise paragraphs, day-to-day, week-to-week preparation pointing not to class participation, but to all-important exam performance (there is a difference, but the latter solves the former), and more ...
Mastery of law exams and resulting "A" grades (often the top grade in the class) is not only possible, but probable.
Clearly, if even a 35 or 45 out of 100 earns an A, there is vast room for improved performance on law exams. Properly instructed, even average students can easily best those presumed smarter.
Mastery of problematic law essay exams is precisely the seeming insoluble problem that the LEEWS science has solved. 65, 85, 110 points out of a possible 100? ... We at LEEWS are not surprised to hear of something like the following being said to our grads by professors:
"I cannot post your grade. It is too far above the class norm and would upset other students."
Short version of precisely how and why the LEEWS Team will prevail:
The LEEWS Team will no longer approach study and exams as academic thinkers/learners, but as facsimiles of practicing lawyers. The LEEWS Team will understand what, exactly, "think/analyze as a lawyer" means and how to apply this new skill to both study and exams. The LEEWS Team will be armed with proven effective (30+ years!) systems for 1) systematically, methodically, efficiently identifying "issues" lurking in complex fact patterns (professors' confusing "hypotheticals"); 2) presenting analysis of such issues in concise paragraphs; 3) day-by-day, week-by-week study preparation that is efficient – e.g., 2-4 line case briefing; 30-50 page, exam-focused course outlining – and geared not to class participation (although that is more than taken care of), but to the only thing that counts grade wise in law school – the final exam.
This in contrast to academically oriented/thinking classmates, however smart and diligent, who will fall short of coming off the exam page as facsimiles of competent practicing lawyers, properly knowledgeable in the subject matter of the course.
All other (conventional, IRAC-centered) law essay exam taking/study instruction utterly fails to enable avoiding confusion, intimidation, floundering, when faced with a series of essay exercises and the task of perform “as a lawyer.”
Long (more explanatory) version:
As suggested by the foregoing, the race respecting grades in law school is not to the swiftest or smartest. It is not to the hardest working or, as many suppose, the student "with a gift or genius for the law," an inner, somewhat mystical, unexplainable, "it's there or it's not" aptitude for "getting it," meaning somehow being able to divine and deliver what the professor wants – whatever that is.
Who will do well on law school exams is not at all unpredictable, as many in law school contend. ("The professor just kicks the exams down the stairs. Where they land determines ..." was a popular, cynical theory when exams were written longhand in "bluebooks.")
Rather, rare "A" grades are awarded to the student who comes off the exam page 1) demonstrating knowledge of relevant law (revealed by identifying "issues" lurking in complex fact patterns created by professors, called "hypotheticals" or [mistakenly] "questions"), and 2) demonstrating ability to apply that knowledge to the morass of facts created by the professor "as a lawyer," in the process called "lawyerlike analysis."
In short, all professors want to see a lawyer knowledgeable in their subject matter, giving appropriate emphasis to their particular concerns, coming off the exam page. They know "good lawyering" when they see it. (Not because they themselves necessarily are good lawyers. Indeed, professors at top-ranked schools in particular often have little practical experience as lawyers. [Less than two years for hires in recent years, which includes the obligatory year of clerking for a judge.] However, at the shoulder of their judges they have watched able practitioners at work.)
It is very rare that a law professor sees anything approaching "good lawyering" coming off an exam page. Because – shocking to (again) relate, but all too true – LAW SCHOOL AND UNIVERSAL "CASE METHOD" INSTRUCTION DOES AN ABYSMAL JOB TRAINING LAWYERS!
Sitting in yet another classroom – same as in college, same as in graduate school – blah blahing about (tedious, boring) appellate legal cases (in which facts are never contested) fails to transition academic thinkers/learners (virtually all entering law students, however smart and motivated) to the nitpicking, client-goal-focused, apply-elements-of-legal-precepts-to-nuanced-facts thought process of the legal practitioner.
Indeed, the words "lawyer" and "attorney" are almost never heard in law school classrooms. (!!)
Law essay exams, featured in first year at all law schools (because students must be prepared to pass bar exams that feature such exercises), are eminently practical exercises in performing "as a lawyer." The instruction often says, "Imagine you are a lawyer for party X," "Imagine you are a judge writing an opinion."
The smartest, most hard working law students at Yale, Harvard, and Stanford remain relatively clueless at the end of first term respecting how to address complex essays under time pressure "as lawyers."
Is some sort of "genius for the law" required to master an exam featuring such exercises (as so many suppose)? It is hoped that the discussion above at least begins to belie what amounts to an excuse for the failure of law schools to adequately prepare students not just for exams, but, as so many others including judges, lawyers, and recent law graduates lament, the profession itself.
Once again the answer is revealed in the quote of the UGA professor to his first year torts class:
"If 100 points are possible on my final exam, I'm expecting scores in the range of 25-35."
Yes! 35 points competes for an A in curved grading that requires that some few students get A's.
Those few who earn A's in law school are usually smart and hard working. However, they are hardly geniuses of the law. Rather, owing typically to education and training prior to law school that brings their thought process somewhat closer to that of a practicing lawyer – engineers, math and hard science majors, Talmudic scholars, philosophers – some few students are merely somewhat less incompetent in addressing law essay exams than their classmates.
Once again the very good news in law school is that the bar in terms of performance on exams is not high. Most law students, however smart and diligent, write really poor exams. (Pathetic really.) Those exhibiting comparatively less incompetence than classmates – 35, 45, 55 points out of 100 (an F on most exams) – get the few solid A's. (At the few schools whose grading curve requires 20-30 percent A's – e.g., UPenn Law, UTexas Law – professors fulfill the requirement with A-'s – the new B+.)
LEEWS instruction will transition anyone capable of completing college and gaining admission to law school from academic thinker/learner to at least a facsimile of a practicing lawyer in thinking/learning. Add systems described above in the short version of why the LEEWS Team will win, and the result is a student able to address any law exam with reasonable competence, if not masterful skill.
Add follow-up practice of LEEWS approaches and skills, and the LEEWS Team – lawyer facsimiles armed with proven effective systems – will go into exams confident and able to take control. Indeed, although nervous (of course), LEEWS Team members will be eager to show what they can do.
LEEWS Team members will score far higher than 35 out of 100. (65. 75, 85? Some professors have said to LEEWS grads: "Your score is too far above the curve. I cannot post it, as it would upset students unduly." Lawyer armed with proven approaches versus clueless academic!)
The LEEWS Team will not only best the School Team. It will do so with surprising ease.
We're $250,000 sure!