Sorry about the delay.....I'll post a reply to the meaningful questions that I think I can answer. And to snarky remarks that I would like to flame.
Thanks for the advice. This is awesome. Also, I know you mentioned hornbooks are really only necessary at a T6 or so, and you said briefing is largely a waste of time. What supplements do you use? The E&E's? What pre-made briefs do you use?
First caveat: I should have been much clearer about the hornbook thing. My expectation is that the vast, vast majority of people are struggling with the content in class to the extent that simply knowing it cold and being able to write an exam are sufficient. You don't have to make the leaps to the edge of the doctrine, you just have to execute a simple plan. I wasn't smart enough or qualified enough to get into a T6, but I'd imagine the competition there is harder. You shouldn't base your decision on what to do at a T6 school on me: I've never been. I used a couple of the E&Es. Torts helped me. I wasn't impressed with the others, but I know others who liked them. I used no other supplements: lots of them just help you learn stuff that won't get you any points, in my opinion. My advice would be to start with E&Es. If they help, then maybe look for other stuff. You'll really just have to see for yourself.
Also, the how to essay on this site talks a bit about outlining. Do you start outlining from the very beginning of the semester, and then work on practice tests towards the exam? Or what's your strategy like?
First month of first semester, just stay on the reading and get used to law school. After that, move forward with outlining unit by unit (that will make sense once you're actually in law school). I kind of straddled the fence on this and did some outlining early and a lot of it late. That was some slacking that I regret.
Wouldn't things actually be easier at a T6 since, by and large, grades don't really matter?
Yeah, they would be. But I expect you'd have to go above and beyond if good grades matter to you for other reasons. I don't have the luxury of attending a school where grades don't matter, though. Ben's right: I'm speculating here and you'd be better served to talk to someone who actually went T6.
1) Pre 1L prep: Should we do nothing? Skim/Read E&E etc.?
2) Any advice on taking notes in class? How did you figure out the prof's preferences?
3) When did you start outlining, looking at practice exams? How long were your outlines? Any special techniques you used?
4) You seem to be discouraging study groups...did you go solo? Or were you able to find "above-median" types?
5) How did you structure your exam answers to maximize points?
6) Sounds like you figured out some day-to-day short cuts that allowed you a great deal of free time while still getting great grades. What did your daily/weekly routine look like at the beginning/middle/end of the semester?
7) Did you find the advice of 2Ls and 3Ls useful? Especially as a 1L seems to me I won't know whose advice to trust because it's hard to know who's actually doing well.
1) Do nothing. If you do anything, skim the E&Es. But it's seriously not necessary. If you're planning on working twelve hours a day during the year, then start gunning now. But why not just take an extra couple hours a day and work the E&Es during the first month of classes? Get your sleep.
2) You just listen to the prof and highlight arguments that they find particularly persuasive. If they tell you that they want a certain type of argument on the exam, then be sure to know that.
3) Outlines should be a maximum of 20 pages in my opinion. You should know the content of it pretty cold going into the exam. If you do better a different way, go to town. I saw a lot of hundred page outlines and I saw a lot of stressed out page flipping.
4) Solo all the way. I learn better on my own. If study groups work for you, then go ahead. But constantly evaluate what you're doing and don't change your own methods unless you're very confident in the merits of the change. Don't get on the study group assembly line where you spend an hour bitching, an hour comparing grades, and two hours compiling the most expansive outline possible.
5) Clarity is the key. If the question lends itself easily to a particular organization, then do that. If not, then pick a solid structure that's clear, have headings that are easy to follow, and be clear in your arguments. Particular structure isn't usually a big deal in my experience. Some profs may well vary.
6) Daily: go to class sometimes, be sure to set aside time to stay ahead on the reading, be sure to block out time for outlining. I read pretty fast and don't need to spend a lot of time. I don't know that my schedule would be very helpful because a lot of people see it differently. If you still want to know more, PM me and we'll talk nitty gritty.
7) I did not solicit much advice. My 2L writing advisor for legal writing was very helpful to me for that class. Be careful about taking what I say as the holy gospel: I'm just a dude on the internet. Easy to be a big man on the web.