Getting to Maybe
How to Excel on Law School Exams
508 pp $45.00
Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams has been the best-selling book on law exams since its original publication in 1999. It appears on summer reading lists at countless law schools, and professors often recommend it in first-year courses. What sets it apart from its competitors is its frank recognition that law exams test legal reasoning and that legal reasoning cannot be reduced to any simple "check the boxes" template. Yet law students give it high marks because it avoids abstruse lectures and instead offers a clear, readable, and often humorous guide to how lawyers and judges deploy legal reasoning in real-world disputes and how law professors test such disputes—and the reasoning required to resolve them—on law exams.
It's therefore the best resource available for helping students successfully make the transition from undergraduate studies—where exams frequently call for "right answers"—to law school, where exams reward students for "getting to maybe" and mobilizing persuasive arguments on multiple sides of legal problems. Responding to reader feedback, the authors offer a much-anticipated second edition with new material focusing on exam preparation; drafting successful exam answers while avoiding common mistakes; and tackling multiple-choice questions.
This is the best book I have ever seen on how law students should approach exams. It is stunningly insightful and will be useful for every type of law school exam. But the book is much more than just test taking tips; it really is a wonderful guide for students on how to approach their courses in law school. Every law student will benefit from reading this book.
— Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
This book is the definitive answer to that age-old 1L refrain. . . "I knew the law so much better than my study partner, so why did she get an A while I got a B?" An antidote to law professors who students claim 'hide the ball,' this book throws that ball right into their lap in easy-to-follow prose, which is equal parts humor, serious advice, and relatable examples drawn from common human experience and typical 1L hypotheticals. There are hundreds of guides to success in law school, but if I could recommend only one, this one wins by a landslide!
— Nina Farber Director, Academic Success Programs, Boston College Law School
There are many guides to success in law school, but Getting to Maybe is in a class by itself. Patient, friendly, and superbly clear and accessible, it teaches how to master law school exam-writing by an abundance of helpful examples from standard first-year subjects. Its secret formula is that—unlike many commercial outlines—its authors have a sure and sophisticated grasp of the structures of legal reasoning and of lawyers' techniques for analyzing and arguing their way through ambiguity.
— Robert W. Gordon, Professor (Emeritus), Stanford and Yale Law Schools
It is not enough to work hard in law school, you must work smart. Getting to Maybe tells you how to do exactly that. This comprehensive book is packed with practical wisdom and expert advice to guide you through every step of your law school journey. I highly recommend this exceptional book!
— Ashley E. Heidemann, Esq. Founder and CEO, JD Advising, Inc.
Jeremy Paul and Michael Fischl have incorporated decades of teaching experience in Getting to Maybe, a sparkling roadmap through the complexities of law school test-taking. For too long, most law students, flailing among thickets of dense knowledge, dark ambiguity, and leatherbound tomes heavy as cinder blocks, were advised to treat final exams like a game of Lincoln Logs: The mission was to pick out relevant issues from a dispersed cacophony of scattergrams and then to snap each issue together with "the" right rule. Rejecting such formulaic reductionism, Paul and Fischl provide a manual to excel through strategic thinking, lively metaphor, and comprehensive problem-solving. With rich hypothetical problems and nuanced model answers, readers are shepherded through the habits of layered critical analysis—inspired to think, in other words, and not just "like a lawyer." Getting to Maybe is an indispensable guide, showing readers not simply how to pass tests but how to succeed at the highest levels—in law school, in legal practice, and ultimately in those tests of civic advocacy yet to be imagined in our rapidly changing, ethically challenged, and paradox-filled world.
— Patricia J. Williams, University Distinguished Professor of Law and Humanities, Northeastern University
. . . a welcome addition to summer pre-course reading lists for North American law schools welcoming their new cohort of 1L students.
— Ben Waters, The Law Teacher (UK)