Welcome to my Law blog specifically intended as an aid to law students. I will post comments and white papers, from time to time, and I am happy to carry on conversations with students who are in need of help in law school.

I am most conservative and appropriate in my approach so if you comment and/or have questions to ask, please do so with an equal degree of appropriateness.

I am a Professor of Law at Concord Law School, an Internet Law School located in Los Angeles, though I live, teach and otherwise work out of Lakewood, Colorado, resting up against the foothills just west of Denver.





I have no set schedule of posting, but I hope you will check in from time to time.


Monday, September 13, 2010

19 - Confusion About Succeeding in Law School – The Legend of Ron

19 - Confusion About Succeeding in Law School – The Legend of Ron

I think there is continuing confusion regarding succeeding in law school. See if the following helps:

Law school is hard. When my students ask me the famous Ed McMahon question to the late, Johnny Carson, “How hard is it?” I respond that it is dern hard.

When I went to law school, one of my best friends was a guy by the name of Ron. Ron was the smartest person I knew at the time and he was certainly the smartest person in all three sections with which I started at Pepperdine University School of Law. This guy was a former Jesuit (Catholic Seminary) candidate, but had dropped out to pursue law. He was raised in Catholic schools and took the full benefit of the rigors of the parochial school. Catholic schools were famous for being academically demanding. They read, read, read and memorized, memorized, memorized. Much was required of students, academically. To make things worse, for students like me, was that Ron had a photographic memory. I remember at the end of the first semester of my first year, I was sitting around with a group of students and we were discussing some particular legal issue. There were various positions taken with the gusto that only a first-year law student wanted to express and no one was backing down. Until –

Until Ron quietly stated that he remembered a case that was on point. Some of us thought to ourselves, “Yeah, right,” but Ron knew the name of the case as well as the holding of the case. That’s not so bad, you are probably saying, but listen to this: This was a case we had read for the first week of class! That’s not so bad, you are probably saying, but listen to this: Ron remembered the PAGE NUMBER of the case from our case book!


I knew right then and there, I couldn’t compete with that. Now, I was an extremely competitive person; the type of competitiveness that comes from being one of five kids in a family; and the type of competitiveness that comes from years of competitive sports. But I instantaneously knew I could not compete with Ron. I was impressed as well as devastated. Ron went on to become the editor of the Law Review. Me? It took me a year and half to catch on in law school.

In my last year in law school, I was given a project by one of the attorneys I worked for. I had to write an extensive paper on a particular and unique legal issue. Having no clue, I went to Ron and asked if he had any thoughts. He politely refrained from saying, “DUH,” quoted me THE case AND the CITATION and took me to the library and pulled the book off the shelf!

The point is that not everyone is a person like Ron. Law school is hard and it is supposed to be hard. Here’s my advice: Get over yourself and “Suck it up, cupcake!” You don’t have to be like Ron. What you have to be is dedicated. You have to succeed – pass.

But, I did. And so can you.

Let’s take the next few posts to figure out how to succeed; how to pass.

Professor Holden
© 2010. Douglas S. Holden. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Hey Professor just wanted to add my thanks to you for continuing this blog. It is most helpful and enlightening, the stresses of trying to stay organized with the immense amount of information in the first year are amazing. Again, Thank you!

  2. Thanks for your comment - and for reading the blog!

  3. Do you make any money with this blog? I usually click the ads to help you out.

  4. Well, I can't quite figure out how to register like I am supposed to do! I need to take the time to do that! Thanks for your efforts. I'm not allowed to encourage readers to do that, but I'm sure the sponsors appreciate it.

  5. I am a working mom, full time job, and trying to go to law school at the same time. I have been over worked, over read, and exhausted up to now. Any guide or idea to what study implements can help me in the study process? And they said having a child was hard and educating one was difficult until I got into law school.

  6. Hello Anonymous.

    When I was in law school, I was married (I still am! To the same person!), had two early grade school-age children, had to work and was active in a local church. So I know what you are talking about. Fortunately, my wife was supportive. I had supportive friends. It was a difficult, difficult time. As I look back on it, it was a wonderful time and a rewarding time. Now, I often look back and think about it - even dream about it. I would do it again, without hesitation.

    I knew, as hard as it was, this was where I was supposed to be. The years - more than thirty of them - bear that out.

    I think the same will be the case for you. I know that doesn't help for the moment, but I just wanted you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    As far as other aids go (I'm assuming you are a Concord student), I think that many of them are over-rated, time consuming and expensive. I don't recommend any of them to my students because I think Concord offers pretty much everything a IL student would need.

    OTOH, you might be able to find some that will aid you in outlining a particular course, but the substantive law can be gleaned from your casebook and your hornbook as well as anything else. Personally, from the table of contents of those books, I believe that anyone can put together a great outline.

    I know you need to maximize your time usage, but there just isn't any substitute for doing your reading and attending classes. Remember that you must "read with a purpose." Look at the table of contents and see what the reading is all about. Then read to understand that.

    Even if you find a study aid, you will still have to read. Most every student gravitates toward the path of least resistance. There will be a huge tendency to read in one of the study aid books almost to the exclusion of the CB and HB. That will be quicker, but in my experience, it is not the most beneficial. The choice is yours, of course. I used some of them in law school, but I also found that I had to do the reading the CB and HB also.

    If you find something that you like AND helps you on exams, let me know and we can talk about it.

    I know it is hard, but keep your eyes on the prize.

    I am assuming that you are my student. If so, contact me through the CLS email system and we can talk more. If you are a CLS student, but not my student, contact your professor and let him/her know where you need help. If you still want to work with me, I can't do that without the permission from your professor. I know all of the CLS professors and I think they are great and will be eager to help you. If you are not a Concord student, let me know and we can talk to see if there is something I can do for you. I don't want to step on your professor at all, so you might consider asking your professor for help or advice on working with me.

    I want to encourage you in your efforts. Have confidence in yourself. You may have to back off or limit yourself in a few areas to make this work, but I know you can do it. I did. I know there is something special about a mother and I know that working moms have much more pressure than guys like me, but I have confidence in you.

    Never give up. Just make adjustments and fight through it.

    Wishing you the best,