Originally published -
After purchasing and receiving 1L of a Ride, I immediately tore through it in a couple of days. I felt the urge to immerse myself in the topic and get my playbook together for the 'regular season' (classes). I sigh in relief that this was the first primer that I read. Written by a teacher, 1L of a Ride provides a simple to read and understand guide to surviving 1L year. This last factor is paramount to why this is a great 'primer for the primers'. Andrew McClurg, the author, is an accomplished professor who is frank in his prologue about his certainty in the approach outlined in the book.
"I don't claim to have the only right answers about succeeding in law school. Be wary of anyone who does."
This passage bears great importance to anyone who hasn't learned this in a real-life context. Everybody tries to sell you on their way of doing things. From law school prep to my current area of work (AdTech) to the pizza shop down the road, we all claim that our method or product is superior. Specifically, in regards to law school prep, authors will say things contrary to your professors. They will say that case briefs are a waste of time, as is the Socratic Method. Some will even go as far as to repudiate the teachers' motives in teaching you the law. One must closely examine things on their own before becoming jaded or skeptical.
McClurg's provides fairly straightforward tips for succeeding from day one. Go to every class, brief every case, outline every course, many things that are close to common sense. Where 1L of a Ride shines in illustrating the success of students from the perspective of the professor. While he recommends many gunner mentalities such as sitting in the front of the class, committing to being participatory, he also hints at some tips to avoid getting dinged by your professor (which may leave a more lasting impression). These include things like not being afraid to disagree with the prof, after all, they don't want a bunch of students playing Simon Says on the exam. He also recommends keeping your mouth shut in the event that you are not as prepared for class as you should be.
The case briefing section of this book is fairly short, but it covers enough information to be considered comprehensive. You can tell that this is not the thing that McClurg wants the book to be about, but he is crisp. I will likely go back over this section now that I have worked through case briefing in more targeted materials.
Another section of this book that I particularly enjoyed was the chapter on legal writing. Learning about topics such as the "memo" proved quite interesting. The memo is a common project in 1L courses that is often used as the student's writing sample for internship applications. Many other books focus solely on exam preparation, and briefly skim over the 'legal writing is the most important course you will take' testimony. McClurg not only had success in school himself, he has also seen many of his students' paths to success and appreciates the things outside of exam-taking that take careers to new heights.
In summary, I would strongly recommend grabbing this book off the shelf. Aside from the content itself, this is the kind of book that you can tell is well-edited, and the author brings a refreshing optimism to a genre of doom and gloom and pessimism towards the process.