: Texas State University - San Marcos
: Communication Studies
: Dallas, TX
: Full-Time Day
- This has been one of the craziest years of my life. My personal life has brought more challenges and tragedies than I’ve experienced in any other 12 month period to date. Yet what stands out among all of it is that this … being at THIS law school … has been amazing. I have loved it in every moment, and it was one of the best decisions of my life. I remember being so excited to get started, but being logical by nature, naturally assumed that the “new” would wear off eventually and decided to just ride the high as long as possible. I’m still riding … thank you to the admissions team and to everyone who reads this for allowing me to share my wonderful experiences … it was truly a gift to me. Please feel free to continue to contact me over the summer with any questions, comments, or anything else … I could talk about this experience as long as you let me.
5/14/09 - Finals...finals…finals…so nice I had to say it thrice! If you can sense any sarcasm there, you’ve gotten to know me well over the year. Honestly though, these two weeks have felt like a lifetime. I think part of it is that I miss my comrades. I’m not really one for study groups, so I’ve really been in seclusion a LOT. Even my study partner, Lisa, and I didn’t study as much together this time, due mostly to my work schedule.
The first two exams (civil procedure and criminal law) went well…now of course with the grading curve, I don’t know exactly what that means until I know how everyone else did, too. Nonetheless, I didn’t leave the test pulling my hair out. Contracts was a bit tougher, but I was also highly distracted during that exam by the continued struggles going on with my mom, etc. in my “real life.” So we’ll see how that one goes. Property…she is truly a good professor—I already knew this, but studying for her final reminds me. More than any other class, I feel like I have to REALLY know this stuff in order to even stay afloat on this exam. And that’s great…and exhausting…especially since it’s the last exam.
As usual I continued to walk directly out of the school after each exam and engaged in as little “exam banter” as possible—though I did have a little after the first two (mostly because I missed human interaction). We’ll be writing recap blogs in our next entry so for now…I’m off to be finals-free. Wish me fun!!
4/29/09 - Ahh the smell of fresh coffee in the morning….and afternoon…and mid-afternoon…and at night. Yep, finals time is upon us. I am studying for my civil procedure exam as I take a break to write this. I have to say, I highly recommend the method of dividing the outline into “testable chunks”—didn’t do that last semester per se, but I am doing it now, and I feel so much less overwhelmed by the amount of material…at least in this course.
I tried out for the ADR traveling team (Alternative Dispute Resolution) by participating in the negotiations competition last week. I loved it—I felt very comfortable in that role. And…I found out today that I made the team! So that should be very fun and an excellent learning experience, considering that settlement and negotiation skills are critical - so few cases actually make it to court.
It was a good week leading into finals. I also found out that I was appointed to a position on the Regional BLSA (Black Law Student Association) executive board. I’ll be the regional director of membership. So, I am really honored to be able to get Texas Wesleyan’s name out there and represent our BLSA chapter at the regional level. I am increasingly seeking out opportunities to promote this law school—I truly do love it.
Finals are as such: Tuesday, 4/28 was my last class day. Civil procedure final on Monday 5/4, criminal law on Thursday 5/7, contracts on Monday 5/11 and property on Thursday 5/14. Then a day and a half off, then summer school starts for me (yes, on a Saturday, I’m taking a clinic).
Good luck everyone!
4/22/09 - Here you go Brandy…(no, law school hasn’t made me totally nuts yet—I’m not talking to myself—I have a loyal follower out there named Brandy who has been on me to talk about how the oral arguments went).
I was characteristically calm leading up to the oral arguments. I was hoping for a lot of questions. After all the time I spent writing that brief, there shouldn’t have been many questions I couldn’t answer or access on the spot. Without lots of questions from the judge, you’re left to seven minutes of a prepared outline of the most persuasive aspects of your client’s case. But, something about the question/answer scenario excited me….most likely the challenge of not knowing what was coming and having to think on my feet. Unfortunately Professor Burge was losing his voice that day so I did stick mostly to my outline.
I became a bit nervous when I stepped up to the podium, which surprised me somewhat. I did public speaking and debate competitively in high school and was a communications major in college—taking courses such as advanced public speaking. It went well all in all—his feedback to me was more positive than the feedback I gave myself when it was over so that’s good. One of the biggest things I learned though is that I have to get back out there—start speaking in public more often again. I hadn’t done it in a long time but I truly surprised myself by being nervous—that used to be my element.
4/15/09 - Have I mentioned yet that I am constantly amazed by the faculty and staff at this place?! I’ll try not to gush too much, but two quick things:
First, I had another professor go out of their way to check in on me. Professor Fountaine (whom I am sad to admit I had never really had a conversation with prior to this) sent me a personal message saying she had heard about my mom, expressing her care and concern. Wow. And in the words of Forrest, “that’s all I have to say about that.”
Second, I forgot my lunch the other day, so I had to buy lunch in the bookstore. I purchased a sandwich, and I didn’t like it. So I went back in and bought something else and casually told the staff why I was back (only because I didn’t want them to think I was eating another entire meal so soon). Even after my insistence that it was unnecessary, they refunded me for the sandwich I didn’t like, only charging me the difference between it and the new item I picked out. They insisted that it was the right thing to do and that since this is law school, they get to do the right thing. Thanks Vicki and the bookstore staff…again…for being awesome!
I have my oral argument tomorrow based on the case we did for our trial brief. This should be fun—I’ll tell you all about it next week (unless something more interesting happens).
Finals are quickly approaching and for some reason, I’m looking forward to it—I think it’s because I’m ready to put all of this stuff that’s in my head down on paper…my brain can only take so much. We have reached the 1000 pages in our books—in property, page 1006…whoa.
4/8/09 - Only in law school would this scenario play out:
Brandy A. (seeing fellow student “FG” taking a swig of the Pepto he keeps in his locker): Hey, you OK man?
FG: Yeah, just this trial brief. All the coffee in my body is killing my stomach.
BA: Me too…it’s bad news.
FG: You want a hit? (referring to the Pepto)
BA: No, I better not…I am actually still working on my coffee.
…an hour later…
BA (seeing FG back at his locker): I’m so glad you’re back here. I was just in a makeup class thinking I should have taken you up on your offer.
FG: Want some?
BA: Yes please. (proceeds to drink Pepto from the bottle).
FG: We should probably just start using it as the creamer in the coffee.
BA: Kill two birds with one stone…love it.
…”extras” walk by, observing, yet thinking nothing abnormal about what they are witnessing.
Trial brief is turned in (and now for my encore presentation of “She’s Out of My Life”…). That was tough. I actually enjoyed writing it—far more than the memos that preceded it. But with everything that’s going on in my life, it was really tough to crank this out. But it’s out…wish me luck!
I had a professor actually stay after class (after hearing about the situation with my mother) and offer his compassion, understanding and willingness to work with me if I needed some flexibility in getting my work turned in. This just doesn’t happen everywhere folks! (Have I mentioned that I love Professor Burge? And on that note, I will offer a sincere, if somewhat begrudging, congratulations to Lisa’s legal writing Professor Sobol for winning LARW Professor of the Year…they would not allow a tie and my guy DID win last year so…)
4/1/09 - Where shall I begin?
BLSA hosted the first Mr. Wesleyan pageant last week. It was a parody of beauty pageants featuring eight of our finest male students as the contestants. It was absolutely great -- I highly recommend this event for next year!
Yesterday I dragged Lisa by her toenails to give blood in the Moot Court room. She had never donated before - she’s a bit afraid of pain and needles I suppose. Nonetheless, after a mild guilt trip, she came on down and we went through the process together … well, all except the actual giving blood part. After all of that, in the final step before actually donating, they took a sample and determined I was too anemic to donate - so she had to go it alone … ahh, the irony. But I sat there with her and told her stories of sugarplum fairies and gumdrops and she was ok. I am proud of you Lisa!
And … I’ve been waiting to blog about this all week. My property professor … I just don’t have the proper words for the absolute ray of sunshine that she is. Yep, I said it … property … and ray of sunshine … in the same sentence. I’m a people person … interested in the law as it relates to people and how they interact (civil rights, criminal, family) … not “stuff” (contracts, property, etc). Professor Carpenter actually makes me rethink this a bit … or at least expands the possibilities. If someone can specialize in the laws of property and be as energetic, sunshiney, funny and wonderful as she is, then I can’t possibly turn a blind eye to the field. I absolutely adore her - if you get the chance to take a class with her, you must. That is my advice for the week.
3/25/09 - Throughout the semester, I’ve been contacted by several prospects for advice on law school. Now that it’s time for applications and decision letters, I have become quite a hot commodity! I want to give a blanket disclaimer though, in regards to a common theme. Although the law school has been gracious enough to let me share my experience with you each week, they have not yet put me on the staff or given me any iota of power in terms of deciding who gets in or who doesn’t. So…please understand that I am HAPPY to help with any/all questions that you have (and I get them in broad ranging categories), but I cannot give you any indication as to whether your combination of LSAT/GPA will get you in, or whether your personal statement is going to do the trick. I LOVE the questions and the comments…keep them coming…I just wanted to be honest with everyone about that part.
I am still dealing with some pretty extreme issues in my personal life…and I am still getting continued support from my fellow students (thank you Lauren for looking me in my eyes, asking how I was, and waiting to hear the answer…AND you read my blog even though you’re already “in”…you love me, don’t you?) I am also getting support from my professors (thank you Professors Carpenter and Burge for going out of your way to remember and check on me). I know this section is aimed more towards people who are already here than those who are thinking of coming…but if you’re looking for a place to call “home”, I think you deserve to know how much care and support you will receive at the school of your choice. I remain infinitely grateful and amazed by this school of mine…
3/11/09 - When it rains, it pours. There is never a good time for things in life to be extra stressful and involve extra worry and physical/mental/emotional energy…but least of all, I have discovered, your first year of law school. My mother is in the hospital…and has been for more than two weeks. I won’t write much this time, because at this point I’m working with my back against the wall.
But I will say that once again, my choice in where to invest my time, money and energy has been reaffirmed as everyone has been so supportive and uplifting. I have missed some classes, missed some deadlines and overall been a little distant (and I missed a great treat that one of my classmates and friends was so kind to bring me—thank you Crystaleeann!) So thank you to everyone who has worked with me, been patient with me and not taken my distance personally.
Law school can sometimes feel like a vacuum—the be all, end all. But every once in a while, real life sneaks up on you and reminds you that it’s still there and needs your attention, too. Choose wisely all my “Daniel-Sons” out there…you will need a place not only that your life can support, but that can also support your real life.
3/4/09 - This has been a busy week …
WLSA and BLSA put on a joint event for Black History Month and as a member of the executive boards of both, I got lead duties for that. Professor Gillmer came and spoke with us about his research on the experiences of free blacks in the 1800s in Texas. It was great and definitely made me want to help him with his research.
This past weekend I went on my first recruiting trip with the office of admissions. The event was the Minority Pre-Law Symposium, hosted at St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio, TX. It brought together the nine Texas law schools as well as practicing attorneys and judges. I had a great time - I can say again that I could make a career out of guiding prospective students to this law school … it’s such a nice feeling to be able to tell others, genuinely, what a great place this is and why. I was on a panel and participated in a law school fair, so I had the experiences both of speaking to a large group about general things, and speaking one-on-one with people about their own situations. I loved it … and Emily Snider, from admissions, is hilarious - just for the record ... the ladies in that office continue to show me why we have such great people in this school - we have great people recruiting them!
My shout-out this week is to the IT department (namely Barry Simpson). They don’t get nearly enough credit but they are a department that can either make your life so much smoother or so much more difficult. IT follows suit with the rest of the faculty and staff and just makes this such a pleasant experience in every way. Thanks IT!
2/25/09 - I FOUND IT!!
Today I found the actual practical application of the logic games section on the LSAT. For those who have already had the “pleasure” (or those who, like myself, had the unbelievable misfortune of getting it as the experimental section and therefore having it TWICE), there’s good news…it matters in law school, and therefore in law practice!!!
[pause for victory dance!]
And for those who haven’t yet had the “pleasure” (I continue to put this in quotes for obvious reasons), congratulations - you now have something the rest of us did not have … something to hold on to as you study/take that portion of the test - a real answer as to why you’re being tortured in such a cruel and unusual fashion.
[go ahead…you all can have a celebratory dance too!]
Property. This was the class that made it all become clear. Today we had to figure out who got what/when/where/why/how based upon real elements of property statutes - situations that looked eerily similar to: “A,B,C,D,E, and F are all going to perform eight different dance recitals wearing three different leotard colors. A & C hate each other and would never wear the same color. F is a smoker and therefore could not possibly perform more than one dance. A is an overachiever and will perform no less than three dances. Who does what/when/where … and in what color?” At least that’s how I remember those questions from the LSAT.
I clearly have an unusual appreciation for this. When the professor said that one of the twists to this problem was going to make our heads hurt, the people on either side of me said, in unison, “too late.” But me ... once I saw the method behind the madness, I was loving this stuff!
2/18/09 - What a week! Baby’s sick … Memo’s due … two of the student organizations I’m a board member for are having events in the next week or so, and I’ve got to book rooms, speakers, get food, etc … Memo’s due …Valentine’s Day (err, weekend) … Memo’s due …This was the week that my “balanced life” was put to the test. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that I keep a pretty busy (but upbeat and lively) schedule. And I almost always love every minute of it…ALMOST. This week was the first time that I stopped, looked around at my sick child laying on the couch, my memo cases spread all over my living room, and the bags under my eyes in the mirror, and thought, “are you NUTS to even attempt all of this?!”
Didn’t last long … I got over the feeling of being overwhelmed by taking out a piece of paper, writing down what needed to be done and by when and put some organization to the chaos in my head…and all was well. Turned in the Memo today (while singing, “She’s out of my life …”) and am already feeling back to normal.
As always (by now you all know my attitude for gratitude) I have to thank those who have been so supportive of me during my mental break from the land of the living … thank you to my wife, my study partner (Happy Birthday Lisa!) and to my professors for their understanding.
P.S. One additional note to last week’s blog regarding Texas Wesleyan being as rigorous academically as other schools (if not more so in some ways) … professors must adhere to a strict grade curve here - meaning that they cannot award grades averaging above a certain level. Basically this translates to us having to work extremely hard to earn high grades. This is not meant to frighten, only to share again that although it’s fun, the academic standards are high … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
2/11/09 - If you have to work as a full-time law student, I strongly suggest you begin your search now for a part-time employer who is going to be understanding and amenable to that fact. I cannot tell you what a relief it is to have an employer who not only allows - but encourages - me to study at my desk whenever we are not busy.
I am known at the office for just sitting quietly (for the most part) at my desk and plugging away at a casebook while everyone else socializes all around me during “down time.” My boss comes by to check in on me every once in a while - not to make sure that I’m doing my “job,” but to see how my memo is going … or what I’m learning in criminal law.
This morning she called me at the office from Loop 820 - stuck in traffic - and said that she knew I had criminal law first this morning - she wanted me to find out for her what the repercussions would be of her impending road rage offense. She knew which class I had first this morning. I work in the office for a couple of hours each morning before class and sometimes go back to the office after class. The fact that my boss knows when I have certain classes, when my memo is due and what it’s about, speaks volumes. Again, if you must work as a full-timer, I highly recommend you choose very wisely - and that may mean starting your search now.
2/4/09 - Yesterday we had a speaker at the law school who was exonerated after 26 years in prison for a crime he did not commit … thanks to the Innocence Project. Today there is a general meeting for the Wesleyan Innocence Project - don’t think for one second I won’t be there. I was interested in joining this group before I even got here - in fact, it was a part of why I wanted to come (in addition to the reasons I’ve mentioned before).
I think I’ve figured out why everyone around here is so awesome. Law school is tough. And just because I rave about this particular law school and am having a great time, doesn’t mean it’s not just as tough here as anywhere else … in the classroom. And that makes sense … just because this particular school wants us all to feel supported and happy, doesn’t mean they don’t also challenge us to the maximum in order to be sure that we are always able to compete with anyone from any other school … and we can. It’s just as rigorous here. And I think that’s why everyone is so laid back and willing to go above and beyond to help in all the other little (and big) ways. I think the mindset is that we’re working so hard in the classroom, they see no reason to give us additional stresses when it comes things like financial aid, bookstore, career services, IT, etc. So they make all of those experiences much less stressful…and that’s what allows us to walk around with smiles. Just my thoughts … this isn’t in the mission statement or anything per se, but I do think I’m onto something …
1/28/09 - We had ice days this week … and I’ve never been so glad to have them. As a native Texan, I’ve grown accustomed to getting at least one of these per year, but for some reason it didn’t occur to me this year until it was upon me. What a sweet surprise. I finally feel completely on track and even a bit ahead (I had been sick at the beginning of the semester and never really felt on track).
So far, having a 2-year-old in my household, heart, and life while being in law school is going well. Honestly, it was the being sick that really caused a disruption. So far I can say that as long as I have real structure and time management, it can be done ... not easily, but certainly. I am lucky though, I have all the support in the world and I don’t think I could ask for much more.
This semester the only class that is different than last semester is criminal law (substituted for torts). I absolutely love it. And the professor’s area of scholarship is one which I am very interested in as well, so I plan to really pick his brain about that. Another awesome professor, another awesome connection to my future …
1/21/09 - We are officially back in the swing of things. Grade-mania seems to have subsided for the most part, thank goodness. It was an interesting experience to come back after such a long break to so much immediate anxiety and relative panic. I participated in a student panel during an admissions information session this week. For those who attended and told me they read this, it was very nice to meet you (shout out to my tour group, I hope I was an adequate guide). I have to say that this was my first event of this kind (well on this side of the table), and I loved it. I truly could sit and talk to people about how awesome this place is for a living - I guess that’s the life of the admissions team.
Career services put on a seminar this week about summer job opportunities for 1Ls. It was very informative and I have to say, I don’t think that office gets enough credit. They work really hard, are extremely friendly, and truly want us to utilize them to the fullest extent. I have personally met with Ms. Key for resume help - it was so useful, and she made it incredibly easy for me. They don’t get a lot of kudos, but they are such a great resource to really set us up for success. I plan to make my presence felt in their office more and more as time goes on. I’ll continue to post on how that goes, as I know some of you out there are like me - very focused on the end-product … the job … even from the outset.
1/14/09 - And we’re back … I had a great break. I worked a lot, but it was still relaxing from the perspective that when I got home from work, I was “free” - no reading hanging over my head. That being said, I missed school and I’m glad to be back. This journey continues to be analogous to a love affair, as I can confirm that absence does make the heart grow fonder. I am happy to be back in my element - it was strange to go a month without seeing faces that I see ALL day long, five days out of every week. But I had fun spending real time with my family … including our newest addition, a beautiful 2-year-old little girl. So … for you prospective students, I can now answer questions about what it’s like to be a law student with a young child.
Our contracts professor gave us a little speech at the end of last semester where he basically advised us to really re-think coming back in the spring if we have not enjoyed the first semester … not if it was hard, because it was, but if we didn’t like it. His reasoning was that if we don’t like law school, we won’t like law practice. I thought about that frequently over the break…but from the opposite perspective. If law practice is like law school, as he says, I have signed myself up for quite an enjoyable life career-wise.
**Another faculty/staff shout-out to Sherry Zimmerman in the business office who went out of her way to help me out. I can’t say enough about the personnel here … but I’m at my word limit so I guess, technically, I already have said enough. Welcome back!
12/17/08 - It’s over … and yet it’s only just begun. Spending my first semester as a full-time student who worked right up to the maximum allowable hours in outside employment was certainly a challenge, but I want everyone to know that it’s doable. If you are someone who needs to work those 20 hours a week to support your family or household and you’re worried that you won’t be able to do that and go to school, I want to assure you that here, it’s possible. I can’t say that’s true at every law school, as I’ve heard from some of my colleagues at other schools that it is not. But the support system here allows for it, so don’t be afraid to give it a try. I was even able to join the executive board of two student organizations as an officer during this first semester. It is all doable here, you just have to balance, be willing to communicate your needs, and keep your eyes open for those who are willing to help you - they’re all around. I thought I’d end my last blog of the semester with a top five for the first semester (in no particular order) …
1. The admissions staff and the comfort I feel going in and asking them anything or venting about anything. At most institutions, admissions believes their jobs stop when they get you in the door, then the focus goes on to the next group of recruits. This could be no further from the truth here. I take them out of their lane all the time - they are my go-to ladies for any and everything, and they always help me with a genuine smile. Dean Hurst proves that great leaders make for great teams. You ladies are wonderful!
2. Lisa, my study partner. We spent an incredible amount of time together during exams, and nearly depleted Chick-Fil-A of their supply, and I think it will prove to be time well spent. I can’t stress enough what a difference the right study buddy can make. Choose wisely - I did.
3. Professor Burge and my legal writing class. I have said a mouthful over the semester, so suffice it to say, he rocks!
4. The book store and the amazingness (remember - my blog, my right to make up words) they showed me on the first day of class. If you missed that story, it’s worth going back to my first entry to read. It truly the set the tone for the rest of the semester.
5. Last, but no way is she least, my mentor Kim Henry. She has a LOT on her own plate as she navigates this law school thing like a pro, but she always makes time for me - checking on me before and after each exam, taking me under her wing all semester, and going above and beyond for me in so many ways. I can’t thank you enough.
**And the biggest and most special thank you goes to my love and my biggest supporter. Her understanding, patience, and support have made all of the rest of this possible for me. Marriage can have one of two effects on a law student, depending on who you’ve got in your corner … again choose wisely, I did**
This has been a great semester … it’s been hard and I wouldn’t want to have to do it over again, but I’m certainly looking forward to continuing full speed ahead. I don’t ever want to give the impression that this thing is easy. My enthusiasm and words of adoration are not intended to be construed that way. I simply want to impart that although this is one of the most intense things I’ve ever done, with a support system like the one at Texas Wesleyan, it can certainly be done with success - and yes, enjoyment too.
12/3/08 – Well folks, I feel we’ve been through enough together this semester for me to be honest with you … I am FAR too distracted by exams to be funny (not that I necessarily was before) or verbose. However, I do still want to take the time to give an update on what it’s been like so far. As of now (when I’m writing, not when you’re reading), I have taken only my civil procedure exam. Just as I suspected, there were crowds of my fellow classmates gathered in the hallways talking about it afterwards. I tucked Lisa (my study partner) inside my jacket pocket (she’s small, see “Lisa Waters, 1L blogger”) and we got the heck out of there before any of it could accidentally seep into our consciousness. I don’t know why people do it to themselves - you hear someone say they got a different answer than you did, then you torture yourself over Christmas break! But hey, to each her/his own.
There is nothing to suggest that my way is the right way. But for me, I had to put civ pro out of my mind immediately and move on - we have broken up, or at least we’re “taking a break” - and I have moved on to a new love … contracts. Speaking of which, it’s calling me. And if I don’t answer, you all might be reading “The Life of a FORMER 1L” … and we don’t want that, do we? Wish me luck!
11/19/08 - Where to begin? This week has been so full of activity that it’s going to be tough to narrow it down. I think it would give the best look at the “Life of this 1L” to just tell you everything that’s been going on, instead of choosing a few stand-outs and going into great detail.
Memo 2 was due on Tuesday … for those who were reading back when Memo 1 was due and remember how hard it was for me to let it go, I would like to inform you that I am officially over that nonsense. I could NOT wait to hand this one over to my professor so it can be HIS headache for the next month or so.
I’d like to say hello to Joshua, who is a prospective law student. He had written to both Lisa and I for advice and questions about law school after reading the blogs, and he is really following through. He came up and sat through our Civil Procedure class with us last week. It was very nice to meet you in person, Joshua, and good luck!
Today we had a fundraiser called “Soup Kitchen” where we pay $5 and we could eat various soups donated/cooked by the law school community. I’d like to say publicly that whoever made the baked potato soup should receive the highest commendation. I love this place … we had one of the staff members playing the sax while we ate, and a Contracts professor singing popular-songs-turned-Contracts-songs (think Weird Al-style … but with far more class and intelligence). It’s been a great week - my study partner and I are now officially in full study mode and loving every minute of it. It’s good to be a law student
11/12/08 - Now the stress begins to truly settle in. It’s crunch-time and I’m ready. I feel very excited and eager. Someone commented to me this week that I have such a good attitude regarding finals and the stresses that come along with them. If that’s true, I don’t think it’s because I’m overly confident (because believe me…well, just believe me). I think it’s just because I realize that the truth is, at the end of the day, our attitude about all of this is really all we’ve got — all that’s real and true. No matter what mumbo jumbo self-torture you do in your head, the result will be what it will be. Nine times out of ten you’re not going to perform exactly as you thought you would.
You may hype yourself up and get a lower grade, or you may talk down to/about yourself and do better than you thought. All any of us can do is what we can do. And some will do all of that…and some will do less. But to walk around in a state of panic, frenzy and self-doubt is simply a mind game … one that any and all players are destined to lose. I am not a loser. I don’t play games I have no chance of winning, (hence the reason I came to law school — the discipline where you CAN win absolutely anything you get into … now, whether you WILL win is another story entirely). Anyway, to all my fellow 1Ls, we’re all in this together … we have been given all the same information, read the same cases, and will take the same exams. Now it’s all about preparation and that’s well within our control. So breathe … study … and breathe again. Do what you can — because realistically, what else can you do??
11/5/08 – Ahh, it’s tough to be a law student in the midst of a political season such as this. It’s tougher still when you receive memo one back only hours before the first Presidential election that you’ve ever truly been passionate about. Doubt sets in—should you go to that Watch Party at the Hilton hosted by the political party of your choice, or should you go home and mull the memo over immediately and ad nauseum??
This is where even the best of law school buddies can disagree. While my study partner forged ahead with school work, I felt that this moment in history was just too important for me, based on my own life, to not experience fully. It is precisely this lack of dedication to a good old-fashioned fight that is going to lead to her demise in the Battle-O’-Professors.
Of course I’m kidding (about her lack of dedication, not about her demise). But for those of you who are wondering if I still stand behind Professor Burge, even after getting memo one back, the answer is an enthusiastic, “YES I DO!” It is difficult to describe the feeling that accompanies knowing that someone is willing to challenge you, and to guide you in GREAT detail as to how to get where they are trying to take you. He minced no words, gave no handouts, and accepted no excuses (not that I dare try to give him any). The grade was fine, but he and I both know that I can do better. Because I believe in myself, and because I trust the method to his “madness” (my term of endearment for ALL of the comments ALL over my pages), I am excited about turning in memo two in a way that no sane 1L should be.
10/29/08 - This week is a time to give thanks. I know that the “official” holiday for that is not here yet, but I don’t think we write any more blogs for the rest of the semester after that anyway, so now seems as good a time as any.
This is the point in the semester when the going gets pretty tough. You realize that you actually DO still have four other classes to tend to as you fight the urge to devote all of your time and energy into your memo. You realize that the reduction to five to six hours of sleep per night might actually be starting to catch up to you. But you also realize that there are people who are really making this process so much easier and more enjoyable than it could be under other circumstances. Obviously the “you” in question here, is actually me. But hopefully at this point in your law school career next year or whenever you begin, it will truly be you.
But for me, here’s what I am thankful for:
1) My study partner, who is truly the right fit for me. She is an awesome person, a great student, she looks out for me and has my back, and I have hers. What more could I ask for?
2) Professors who amaze me everyday with their humanity and down-to-earth-ness (it’s my blog, I can make up phrases is if I want to).
3) People in my personal life who believe in me passionately and don’t have a problem telling me so.
4) A mentor who continues to inspire me to do big things now, and to be a great mentor to someone else in the future.
At a time when things seem as though they couldn’t be more hectic, I just wanted to let you all know that I appreciate you and that I appreciate this wonderful gift called law school.
10/22/08 – It’s a good sign in law school when you are having a Battle-O’-Professors with a friend and fellow law student. I am involved in one of these now, as I am engaged in the Battle Royale with my friend Lisa (you all may know her, she’s a blogger too) over who has the bestlLegal writing (LW) professor ever. Now, I think we would both concede that “best EVER” is a bit presumptive on both our parts, since the professor that each of us has is the only one we’ve ever had.
But...technicalities aside, we are each extremely pleased with our LW professors—pleased enough to duke it out verbally (hopefully it won’t get physical—though it might be more interesting than our pictures would lead you to believe…I’m much bigger, but she played football so she’s no chump!). But for now, we are just both standing by our guy and waxing poetic about how awesome he is. Each of us has declared our intention to do whatever it takes to become our prof’s T.A. next year. I am sure that if we’re successful at this, it will only perpetuate our friendly rivalry. Each of us actually used the term “happy” in describing how we feel when going to that class.
So, don’t be afraid…it doesn’t have to be as bad as some make it out to be. I got an email from a prospective future student about whether or not he should even apply to law school, since he has fear of the LW component. My advice to him…and to everyone else reading is that while it’s tough, if you’re lucky enough to get someone like my (or Lisa’s….argh) LW professor, it will actually be an enjoyable experience…No worries.
10/15/08 – What a week…the second part of Memo 1 was due, I started a new part-time job, my in-laws made a last-minute trip into town, and I have been sick. These are the times when I really remember that I am in law school. The impact of these things all happening at once is completely different now than it would have been in the past. I’ll be honest—the most stressful part of all was missing class because I was sick. I don’t mind admitting that I missed plenty of classes in undergrad. In fact, it was there that my professors began suggesting law school to me, as they would find themselves begrudgingly (but with a smile) giving me my “true” grade in their course, rather than the reduced grade for excessive absences. This is where my persuasive skills were honed.
But missing class in law school is something altogether different. Only three words could adequately describe it…I HATE IT. Remember, this is a lot like love…so I miss it when I’m away…and I worry that while I’m gone someone else will swoop in and gain ground on what I’m working so hard to build with it. But like all relationships, we have nothing without trust. So I will trust that when I return next week, we can work through this little rough spot and put the spark back in our relationship. I will do my part…and with hard work and open communication, I know we can get back to the way we were.
P.S. A special thank you to my BLSA mentor, Kimberly Henry — she has been absolutely great already, and I look forward to continuing to follow her footsteps while creating my own pattern.
10/8/08 – They say you can’t miss what you don’t have…or at least what you don’t know you have. I have begun to suspect a conspiracy. All of the 1L classes (at least the daytime classes) are upstairs on the second floor in the interior classrooms. No windows in the classrooms, no windows in the hallways. Coincidence? I think not.
Last Thursday there was so much goodness outside…sunny…80 degrees…birds chirping…not a cloud in the sky…or so I’ve heard. And it makes me think that the folks who run this place know more than just the law, they know a thing or two about us law students as well. It’s not a good idea to miss class—the days in undergrad of skipping classes every time it’s nice/raining/something good is on “Maury” are behind us. But if I had to be honest, I’d venture a guess that with stress levels where they are at this point in the semester, if we’d known that that beautiful day was going on around us, some—not all—of us would have stepped outside, at least for a little while, to see what it was all about. But few, if any, did. Why? We had no idea—we can’t see the outside! Coincidence? I think not.
Memo 1, Part 1….got it back today. Did I cry? No. Will I be consulting an attorney to see if I can sue for slander? No. Do I still have a lot of work to do before I am any good at this? Absolutely. Thank you Professor Burge for reading us the comments on your first law school memo—it made us feel like we’re not lost causes, and there may be hope for us yet. (By the way, sir, this is my free-spirit writing here on the blog so please don’t hold my over-use of dashes and ellipses against me…)
10/1/08 – I had the opportunity to speak with a couple of my fellow students regarding this blog. Though none of you would know the difference if I took credit for today’s topic, I will give it to the ladies to whom it is due. When asked what they would like to see on here, or what they thought would be helpful, laptop use was brought up.
I came into law school with the conviction that I would NOT use my laptop to take notes, and instead use it only to type notes after class and on weekends. And that lasted…all of two days.
I thought at the time that by using my laptop, I would fall into the trap of becoming a “court reporter” and typing everything the professor said. I’m not sure why the idea of the laptop somehow made me feel like the note-taking abilities that I brought to the table were null and void, but it is not true. The laptop is a beautiful thing in law school. It allows you to be very organized, to go in and add things in the perfect spots (as profs do jump around at times), and to color code/bold/italicize, etc. Besides, there is just not enough time in the day to take the notes in every class by hand and then go back, type them all up, organize, etc. It works for some…recall, this is my opinion, but by looking around every classroom, I can see that it is shared by most.
“What if I am easily distracted?”—get some focus before you get here. “What if I transcribe everything that is said?”—don’t. Take the time before you get here to handle any issues you might have so that you can be a responsible laptop user—that is my (and some of my fellow students’) advice for the week.
9/24/08 – Ahh, the joys of piecing together a study group. It is officially that time. After waiting until we had our feet wet, knew which way was up, and figured out who’s who, the study group buzz has begun. Mine is a four-member tribe that sometimes looks more like an exercise in who can be the most sarcastic and politically incorrect than what it actually is—a group of dedicated students who take this very seriously, yet still know how to relax, relate, and release when necessary.
I’ve been told that the right study group can really make the difference in first-year grades. A lawyer/mentor of mine told me that her study group in law school, consisting of five students, ranked in the top of their class—in sequential order! It’s tough to know this early in the game who the “great ones” are—as those whose voices are heard the most and the loudest in class are no true barometer for those who will succeed the most in the end. Instead, you just have to choose who you mesh well with and who takes it seriously. At this point, I think that’s what’s most important—we don’t all have to “get it” just yet in order for me to feel like I chose the right group, we all have to want to put in the work that it takes to get there.
On another note, I’m going to have ask a professor what the criteria are for establishing residence or domicile—between classes, study group, and my job at the law library, I believe I’ve likely met them and officially live at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. I’d like to request some nice return-address labels to commemorate this.
9/17/08 – Our first memo was due this week. After spending so much time on it, I have to say it was tough to let go of. It felt the way I imagine parents feel when they drop their child off for kindergarten the very first time…you don’t want to let them go, but you know it’s for the best. The anxiety was palpable for most of the week leading up to Tuesday (when we turned in the memos), but I was still amazed at how many people came in talking about the Cowboys v. Eagles game on Monday night (myself included). This is probably not the proper forum to discuss how AWESOME that game was…so I won’t comment on how AWESOME that game was.
But the memo…I have a feeling that won’t be quite so awesome. I’ve heard the horror stories and I’ve seen my professors’ prior comments on other people’s papers with my own eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I feel confident that I put forth my best effort, I would have it no other way. But even still, I’m not fooling myself with thoughts that I will get my paper back with proclamations that I am the next “Great One” in the realm of legal writing.
I want to thank those who have been writing me with questions and comments. I enjoy the opportunity to help out, as little as my help may be. I have gotten the comments, “I’m sorry to bother you”, and “I know you’re really busy but…” Please don’t hesitate to ask me law school questions. I did not get here alone, and certainly do not expect you to. Ask away....and have a great weekend!
9/10/08 – In the summer before I started law school, I began toying with the idea of doing open-mic standup comedy as a side hobby, just to keep myself laughing (even if I don’t turn out to be good enough to make others laugh). When talking with my family about it, we laughed at the thought of a lawyer who moonlights as a standup comic. But, after almost a full month here, maybe it’s not such a crazy idea after all. I believe that at least three of the five professors that I have could be moonlighting at the Hyena or FunnyBone as we speak.
One professor is just so full of energy and excitement; she turns what could potentially be a boring subject for me into a very lively event each class period. Whether she is making fun of herself over a recent trip-gone-bad or reminiscing about her previous jobs, she makes us laugh every day. Because she is a rather petite woman, the very mention of her days with the WWF (yes Wrestling, not Wildlife) are guaranteed to get a chuckle each and every time. Another professor keeps us entertained with the latest discoveries made by his 9 year-old son regarding girls, and the one professor that we were all afraid of at first (not because she is mean or deserves it, but because she has such a “grand” presence about her), is probably the funniest of all.
For those who read these blogs, I’m sure that the last thing you expect to hear is that this is fun, but I promise you that it is. And judging by the laughter in all of my classes every day, I’m not alone in that notion.
9/3/08 - Labor Day Weekend…I am amazed at how many of us came back on Tuesday saying how much we really needed that long weekend already! I will say that the extended weekend did feel oddly refreshing, even if after only two weeks of law school. Because I took some sound advice about treating law school like a full-time job, I was able to go out of town for the weekend without feeling so guilty that I could not enjoy myself.
While 1Ls here do not have regularly scheduled classes on Fridays, I get up and come to school on Friday mornings just as I would during the rest of the week. You will be amazed at how much you can get done in that full day. Enough in fact, that you can actually take a full weekend to yourself (and your family) every once in a while. Along with the Fridays, the other piece to the puzzle is getting up and coming to school at a set time each day. Classes for me do not start until 10 and 10:30, but I arrive no later than 8:30, and stay until 5 or 5:30 at least…full-time job. This is not to say that I have all the right answers, it’s to say that I asked some of the right questions, and got this advice as a result. It is proving already to be a great way to approach the time-demands of law school and I give it a preliminary “two thumbs up.”
Thank you to Kim (last year’s 1L blogger), and my T.A. Zach for driving this point home - it was some of the best advice I have received to date.
8/27/08 – Week 2…and I think I’m in love. This is hard, extremely time-consuming, I think about it all the time, and I miss it when I’m away from it. Doesn’t that sound a lot like love? Everyday I wake up and am amazed that this is what I get to go and do all day.
My only cause for concern at this point is that, although there are over 700 students in the school, and many faculty and staff, I feel like I am in a vacuum - only seeing my wife (which is a great thing!), and these same 99 faces every single day. I forget that the other people in this school exist. I would like to know what else is going on outside the world of the 99 and myself. For this reason, I am looking forward to the point when I feel comfortable and confident enough in my studies to get involved in some student organizations. Those opportunities are plentiful and I think that’s something this school does very well. And that makes me feel much better in my vacuum - knowing that there are opportunities to find out who else walks through these halls while I am in Room 201 with my section literally all day. Section 2 is awesome, don’t get me wrong—I feel an odd loyalty already and think we’d go to war together if need be.
Bottom line: This is a great place to be…and I think I’m in love. (Shout out to my T.A., Zach Burt, who I’m confident is going to lead us to victory!).
8/20/08 – Hello everyone. After only three days here, I have a story to tell about this law school that I’ve been dying to share. For me, this puts in a nutshell all of the reasons that I chose to attend this particular school, and why I know it was the right decision.
On Monday (the first day of school), my bag was bursting at the seams so I was sure I had everything I needed and more. However, it was not long after my arrival at the school that I realized I had forgotten my Contracts book at home. I decided that instead of getting all worked up, I would just go to the bookstore and purchase another Contracts book, use it for class, and return it for a refund at the end of the day. I went to the bookstore and told the staff my situation and what I intended to do (just to be sure that I could get the refund—can’t get stuck with an extra book, they don’t come cheap!). The bookstore staff, seeing that I was in a hurry, and understanding the emotions that might accompany the situation of a 1L forgetting a textbook on the first day of classes, was AMAZING. They allowed me to simply “borrow” the book with a promise to bring it back after class. Mind you, this was the book STORE, not the library. One is not typically permitted to borrow something from a store. But it was obvious that they just wanted me to succeed and to not have an extra anxiety. Thank you to the staff of the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law bookstore. You have solidified what I already knew—that I made the right choice!!