Well, the school year is winding down and coming to an end pretty soon. My Criminal Law final turned out all right. I made a few mistakes and one absolutely ridiculous spelling error, but I feel pretty good about the test overall. I have a Contracts exam next Thursday evening, and that’ll be it for my first year in law school.
Likewise, this diary entry will be my last. My 1L experience has been stressful, sleepless, enlightening, bittersweet, challenging, unexpectedly easy, random, unbelievably difficult, so mind-numbing at times it felt like each case I read was a further twist of a clamp tightening around my skull further and tighter until that point before mental implosion where everything is just buzzing bzz bzz bzz, and, of course, it’s been a ton of fun. Going part-time, I’ve been able to juggle school and still keep my day job, and I think I still have my sanity, too. I hope my diatribes have been helpful to any readers. I know the diary has been a good way for me to rant (sorry if I’ve been a downer!). And hey, if in the next year or three, you see me in the library snoring away or in the computer lab furiously trying to complete a paper ten minutes before the deadline, just tap me on the shoulder and say "Hi."
I think I'm much better prepared for finals this semester. Well, let me clarify: I'm better prepared to study and cram this weekend for my Criminal Law final on Monday. For one thing, I'm part of a great little study group this time around. We've already met up a couple of times to run through some hypos. I've also pieced together a pretty in-depth outline. I used one I received from a 2L as a base and lifted additional information from other outlines I found on the net. And last week, I went to the bookstore and bought the criminal law hornbook.
Of course, when I got to the register, the cashier looked at the hornbook and said, "Isn't it a bit late to be getting this? You're not going to be able to read it all." Admittedly, she's probably correct. I've yet to even skim the table of contents. But, come on, we all live in pockets of self-delusion in order to maintain a little sanity, right? So what if I want to drop 30 bones on a book I'm just going to use to rest my head and nap on? The psychological reassurance I get in making that proactive academic investment is worth, by itself, like $2.50 (yes, I overpaid for psychological reassurance!). And so what if I intend to spend every waking minute of this weekend in the library, even though most of that time will almost certainly be spent playing solitaire and solving the Yahoo crossword puzzle? And so what if I insist on telling my friends that my favorite shirt is colombian blue when, in the eyes of any random person from any corner of the world, it is obviously baby blue? None of it matters because in my own private, magical reality I will walk into class on Monday, refreshed from a full night's sleep and so prepared I could walk out and try the Duke lacrosse case, and completely own the exam.
O-M-G. It's finally over. I turned in my trial motion last week, fresh off the printing press. . But yeah, it's done. The words (well, letters) "omg omg omg omg" run rampant and randomly through my head, sounding very much like a hopped-up, little Valley girl. Can you tell I'm relieved? I am. We've still got finals to go, but it feels like the most grueling obstacle of the semester is now behind me.
And this past Monday for Legal Writing, each student had to do an oral argument before a mock court. I did all right, I suppose, but Cicero I am not. As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I'm not too fond of the whole public speaking thing. I'm actually kind of interested in going into litigation of some kind, though. We'll see! I think I'd make a pretty good litigator if I can just master the art of public speaking...oh, and if I can learn the proper rules of procedure, write better motions, cut my hair, and, like, know the law and stuff.
With only a few more weeks to go before finals, everyone's trying to figure out what they'll be doing this summer. Because I work full-time, I don't have the luxury of enjoying an extended vacation or doing a full-time internship. Instead, I'm going to take one summer class, most likely Payment Systems (though I may go with Sales and Leases). I'll also be doing a part-time internship with the EEOC in Dallas. It's going to be a lot of fun. But to satiate my appetite for some real fun, I intend to set aside time this summer to work on something exciting. What, you ask? Well, if you're thinking it involves a ton of lager and a throng of beautiful girls, all gathered around me, hopping and cheering wildly as I dismantle the high score in Dance Dance Revolution, then you would be absolutely correct in guessing my dream fantasy. But in reality, I plan on helping a co-worker friend fix up his boat. When finished with all the hard work, we'll be hitting the lake non-stop!
One of the coolest things about Texas Wesleyan is the accessibility of the school administration. And I'm not just saying that to brown-nose my way into getting a scholarship offer either, although that would be nice--a scholarship, that is. Scholarship. Erm, yeah, so when the fall class SCHedules were initially intrOduced to us evening 1Ls, we noticed thAt one of ouR required classeS was scHeduled in a tIme slot that would Preclude us from adding any additional classes for that night. So some of us (students) e-mailed the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs to suggest changing the class to a different time. Amazingly, she took our suggestion, which, by the way, was not conditioned in any manner with the hopes of getting a scholarship, and sent out the official, adjusted schedule the next day. I only ever get involved with administrative matters concerning things like transcripts and, um, scholarships, so I'm pleasantly surprised to know that the administration does take serious consideration of our interests (scholarship).
Our criminal law professor assigns the class into small groups to present fact
scenarios for each chapter we cover. I’ve done a few presentations during undergrad, and I’ve always been a nervous wreck. You wouldn’t have guessed it by reading this diary, but I normally come across more intelligently and confident through the written word than orally. (Sadly, this has been true for the two Internet dates I’ve gone on as well.) So on Monday, our group had to present a scenario on defense of habitation and prevention of escape. I may have done like 18 push-ups before going to school that day, but not because I wanted to get in front of the class and wow my peers with how ripped I am. I mean, I may have wowed a few, I don’t know. But the push-ups were really just a way to burn up some energy in order to calm my nerves.
The presentation started out rather embarrassingly. We couldn’t figure out how to work PowerPoint. About 75 percent of the students use laptops in class. I’m not one of them. We had to conscript a couple of technical gurus (thanks guys!) to come help us figure it out. Yeah, I work with fighter aircraft, but, gee, PowerPoint, that stuff goes right over my head. All in all, though, our presentation went pretty smoothly (props to my group members), and I’m relieved it’s over with.
Spring break! For me, unfortunately, it’s just another work week. That’s one of the drawbacks of being a full-time worker. I won’t be going to any far-off, adventurous wonderland, but I will, hopefully, catch up on my sleep. I drifted through this past week like a zombie, groggy and exhausted. Having to wake up for work at 5 a.m. every morning sucks! Admittedly, I chose to come in that early when I first moved up to Fort Worth, figuring I get to leave work early and accomplish a bunch of errands. As it turns out, I don’t have that many errands to do.
So for the past few days, at work and in class, all I could think about was sleep. When I could sleep. Where I could sleep. How long I could sleep. Taking five-minute power-naps in the company bathroom stalls is not all it’s cut out to be, trust me. And at school, I kept thinking about all the dark, unused classrooms that I could just crash in. So tempting! In Contracts, our professor occasionally goes off on these long tangents, spending fifteen minutes drawing schematics and maps and stuff on the board to help illustrate like two words in a case. These were perfect opportunities to zone out and let my eyes glaze over. But I cannot wait to get a good, full night of sleep. This is going to be the best spring break ever.
I hosted two friends from Houston at my apartment this past weekend. I stocked up my fridge with beer, and I drove those dudes everywhere, despite the torrential rain. We went to downtown, to the cultural district, and even out to Grand Prairie and Dallas. So how did my buds repay me? By hijacking my computer, downloading content of a questionable nature, and replacing my Avril Lavigne desktop wallpaper with a picture of a riced-out Civic hatchback. Not cool. These friends of mine? No longer invited!
And on Wednesday, I drove a co-worker to the plant while her car was being worked on. She got into my car, and before I've even backed out of the driveway, she had proceeded to claim my radio as if it were her own. She was happily flipping through my stations in a manner not at all consistent with normal vehicular etiquette. This co-worker? No longer invited!
In the past few weeks, we have written a research memo and a settlement letter, on top of some heavy reading. And yet our professor sends us an e-mail assigning additional material to read for this week's class. Not cool. Our professor? No longer invited! I'm kidding, of course. I love my professors. But I do dread receiving e-mails from them! I'm contemplating putting up an Out-of-Office auto-reply that says, "Sorry, this student has reached his mental capacity and cannot accept anymore assignments. He will be able to function again after spring break."
In college, I used to spend an inordinate amount of time at my then girlfriend’s apartment. Oddly, her bedroom ceiling was covered in its entirety with a galaxy-full of stickers – glow-in-the-dark stickers – shaped like stars and planets, crescent moons and spirals. At night, the stickers shone hypnotically green on the ceiling, magically transporting me beyond Earth and amongst the star-freckled blackness of space, this adolescent planetarium. I was enthralled. But no matter how unique and wonderful it was to drift asleep beneath that ceiling sky, I knew that the experience was synthetic, a replica.
At times, I kind of feel the same way about being an evening part-time student. Don’t get me wrong. I’m having fun, and, in a twisted way, I enjoy the challenge of balancing work, school, and a life. Sometimes, though, like when I come across these flyers advertising summer internships or speaker events from noon to 1 p.m., I can’t help but wonder if I’m missing out on the "real" law school experience. My full-time job, formerly a means to an end, now seems more and more like an impediment. This is, of course, all in my head. The school goes out of its way to accommodate the part-timer’s schedule, and I have no complaints. Just something I’ve thought about when I shut my eyes and gazed at those stars, like dust.
Apparently, like half the class skipped Contracts Wednesday night to work on our research memos. The professor was not at all pleased. He grilled us pretty good for it yesterday. Okay, I admit it. I was amongst those missing from class. But I have a good excuse: I was really, really behind on my memo.
It was a classic case of biting off more than I could chew. I definitely over-researched. I must've printed out at least fifty cases, a dozen law review articles, and several statutes. I don't know what the heck I was thinking. After accumulating this behemoth stack of Westlaw and LexisNexis printouts, I went home prepared to learn everything about family leave and wrongful discharge. I read one case, and then fell asleep. When I finally woke up, I was really, really behind on my memo.
I should've known better because I have a history of going overboard. Eight years ago, for Valentine's Day I asked out four different girls. Fortunately (I think), three of them rejected me. I don't know what the heck I was thinking, considering I had like $12 to my name. (Sorry, I just wanted to bring up that story to remind me of the golden days as a young buck, contrasted with this year, when I spent a lonely Valentine's night snoring and drooling all over a bunch of cases 80 percent of which I never even read.)
Our big spring research memo is due in about a week, and I’m forced to do what I’ve dreaded the most since entering law school: spend all weekend researching and writing! Just last night I passed up an offer by my friend and his indie band to partake in an evening of abandonment and corruption with a bevy of half-drunken UNT girls. Sure, I was exhausted from a full day of work and classes and realized the sheer volume of research that awaited me in the law library. But after declining my friend’s invitation, I sat statue-like in my car and was very sad.
Last night was indeed a low point to an overall disappointing week. First, on Tuesday my realtor informed me the condo I wanted had been taken off the market. Then, at work, my supervisor caught me bidding on ebay for a new receiver. But my biggest disappointment occurred when I discovered that my shiny, promotional LexisNexis pen was, in actuality, a piece of junk. I was devastated. Dear LexisNexis, you control like 50 percent of the legal research market and can probably erase my existence if you willed it, but please stop giving out crappy pens. Thank you.
In the past couple of weeks, the school has made a serious push on us 1Ls to start thinking about the bar exam and to consider gaining law-related work experience. I definitely understand where they're coming from. Our future success is going to reflect directly (through the numbers) and indirectly (from the dissemination of wide-eyed interns throughout an unsuspecting legal community) upon the law school. But I'm not sure if I'm "there" yet--mentally, that is, especially concerning the bar. I mean, it's more than three years away! I'm being short-sighted, of course, but come on, I can't even figure out what I want to do tonight: watch "Reba" on the WB or watch "Friday Night Smackdown!" (It doesn't help that both are equally good.)
We're reminded to think of the ubiquitous "big picture"...so much so that I now hate that phrase. Hearing the words "big picture" now stirs in me feelings of uncontrollable rage, akin to how I react in the corporate world upon hearing "outside the box". These overused expressions make me want to punch little children in the teeth.
I've received several e-mails asking about what my schedule is like as a part-timer, and how I fit in the requisite study time outside of class. So here's a sneak peek into the weekly goings-on of my boring life:
Monday: Get out of work at 3:30 p.m., in law library by 4:15 to read assigned case (usually at the tables to the right, so say Hi!), Criminal Law from 6:30-7:45 p.m., Legal Research & Writing from 8:00-9:15 p.m., at home and asleep by 10:30 p.m.(yes, that early...so sad).
Tuesday: Hit the gym for a light workout at 4 p.m.; no class; goof off the rest of the night, maybe read for an hour, repair Bluebook.
Wednesday: In law library by 4:15 p.m., Contracts from 6:30-7:45 p.m., Criminal Law from 8:00-9:15 p.m., at home and asleep by 10:30 p.m. (yes, that early...so sad).
Thursday: In law library by 4:15 p.m., Academic Support class from 5:30-6:20 p.m., Legal Research & Writing from 6:30-7:45 p.m., Contracts from 8:00-9:15 p.m., at home and asleep by 10:30 p.m.(yes, that early...so sad).
Friday: Hit the gym at 4 p.m.; no class; at night, prowl downtown Fort Worth bars as the Predator.
Saturday: Bring casebooks to a coffee shop, attempt to study, discuss Hobbes and Keynesian economics with random patrons, listen to Tegan and Sara; at night, prowl Deep Ellum as the Predator.
Sunday: Light workout in the morning; watch some sports; clean apartment; study, study, study; do dreaded online citation exercises using Bluebook; attack Bluebook; throw Bluebook against wall; asleep by 10:30 p.m. (yes, that early...so sad).
I remember back in elementary school when we received progress reports every six weeks. My grades were never spectacular, but always above average enough so that my parents would shrug and go, "eh, whatever." If my sisters and I ever received a poor grade, our mom would drag us by the ear to kowtow before two mildewy black-and-white photos of our great grandparents. We would have to beg forgiveness for disgracing our ancestors and callously disregarding all that our parents had given us (namely, life and five bones a week for snacks). And if our grades were especially atrocious, our mom would lay down the law and smack us on the palms with--get this--a huge chopstick. You can't get anymore fresh-off-the-boat Asian than that. Actually, you can because after the smacking, we'd be condemned to study for hours inside the un-air-conditioned garage, which was filled with jars of homemade, fermenting kim chee.
As my first semester grades trickled in the past couple of weeks, I couldn't help but revisit these fond memories. I'm being facetious, of course, but I do sometimes miss that very real, very physical consequence of academic underperformance. Now left to my own devices (more or less), I've had to translate that parental discipline into a discplined approach to studying. It's been tough going, no doubt. But when I saw my grades, I had to smile just a little, knowing that I would've avoided the chopstick treatment. Sure, I could've done better, and I plan to. But as I stood there staring at the posted grades, the first words that came to mind were, "eh, whatever."
I had an absolute blast over the holiday break. That energy has carried into the new year, and I am pumped to begin the spring term. I’ve analyzed the many mistakes I committed in the fall. I’ve made the necessary half-time adjustments and arrived at an entirely new game plan for this year.
For instance, last semester I thought I could just coast through law school on my boyish good looks and winning charm. But apparently, we have this thing called blind grading. Each student is assigned an exam number to ensure that professors grade fairly and anonymously. So instead of relying on my professors’ biases, I’m now going to actually learn the material. Really.
I know, I know. I said I’d study hard last semester too. So why will things be different in 2006? For one thing, I’ve bribed myself. If I do better this year, I’m going to purchase a nice new car, a bimmer maybe. Second, I’ve started drinking hot tea. This marks me as a more responsible adult. And finally, of course, my Longhorns won the national championship, and that just makes the universe right.
You know that miserable feeling you get after having bombed a final that counts for 100 percent of your grade? That feeling of numbness, resignation, and futility? Well, I don’t know if I bombed my Torts final or not, but I definitely got that feeling. I didn’t even finish all the questions due to time constraints. I felt so bad after my performance that I just wanted to go home and cry myself to sleep. I even failed to do that, despite putting on the most emo-tastic music. Instead, I laid there in bed, tearless and motionless, running the exam questions through my mind over and over like a TIVO'd nightmare. After a weekend full of studying and then a four-hour final, I somehow could not fall asleep. In that hazy, near-delirious purgatory between cognition and sleep, I sort of dreamt about the sweet justice in suing my Torts professor for intentional infliction of emotional distress. I giggled gleefully at the potential irony. But then I jolted awake and back to reality--a reality that would preclude me from winning a lawsuit because of my utter suckage in Torts. I got up, went to the fridge, and grabbed a Shiner. With little rest and a Contracts final still to go, I had to keep my spirits up somehow. Happy Holidays!
Despite all my efforts to change, I’ve come to the realization that I’m an habitual procrastinator. The great philosopher and sailor Popeye once declared, "I yam what I yam, and that’s all I yam." Unfortunately, what I am is a student far behind in his preparation for finals. I have my Torts final on Monday. I feel pretty comfortable with the material, but I can’t seem to sit down and memorize all the rules, elements, and exceptions. I get on my computer to type up my outline, and like all of a sudden, I’m losing at solitaire. It’s really frustrating, too, because solitaire is so freakin’ easy.
I need to get myself pumped up to study. I really do. I’ve secluded myself in my apartment. I won’t turn on the TV, and I won’t entertain any non-school-related calls. I’m currently listening to motivational music like the Rocky theme song and the Queen anthem "We Will Rock You." But I’m going to soon shut it all off and concentrate on studying. On the top of my notebook, I’ve scribbled some truly inspiring words by cultural icon Mike Tyson: "My power is discombobulatingly devastating. It’s ludicrous these mortals even attempt to enter my realm." Except I’ve crossed out "power" and replaced it with "knowledge of Torts." I’m normally not very competitive by nature, but sometimes you just have to bust out the fighting words, you know?
So instead of outlining, I’m sitting at my computer fiddling with Google Earth. I’m using the free version because I’m, well, kind of cheap (c’mon, ladies, you know you dig a guy who can save). I’m not sure why, but I’ve zoomed in on the law school building. In about two weeks, I’ll be sitting in the lecture hall in that square building taking my first law school final exam. On other sections of my Google Earth map, I’ve placed thumbtack markers in certain spots that are especially meaningful to me in the past, such as my childhood home in Houston, the UT tower, Memorial Park where Jeni hugged me like the stars were gonna blink out, and, of course, the location of my favorite Hooters. I’ve kind of mapped out my path thus far in life, sorta.
The free version’s satellite map happens to be a few years outdated. So the law school I’m viewing is the one I hadn’t even thought of applying to, the one I hadn’t yet thrown my Wendy’s drink at in frustration the other week (yeah, the Biggie-sized one too!). I guess I’m just a little amazed how I would end up there, in that school, learning about the law. And post-law school, what other buildings and landmarks will I thumbtack? It’s fun to conjecture, but I really don’t know where I’ll make my history, where my legal education will lead me. All I know is that this first semester as a 1L has marked a major shift in my life’s path, and for that, I’m going to place a thumbtack on Texas Wesleyan School of Law...as soon as I locate my second favorite Hooters, that is.
The last couple of weeks have dragged, creeping along in a petty pace. I, like many of my classmates, am ready for the semester's end. Strange as it sounds, I am anxious for that period of intense, sleep-deprived cramming for finals. Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all prepared to take the finals (far from it), but I am ready.
For me, writing the second memo was a draining experience. I challenged and pressured myself to improve upon my first memo score. Each word I wrote, printed, was laced with an intensity I hadn't tasted in years. Each page I completed, turned, captured and fueled the intensity I placed into the previous page. The writing process itself, the analyzing and structuring and editing, instilled the memo with burgeoning potential energy, so that when I typed the twelfth and final page, I had a written work, kinetic and climatic. I didn't know if it was any good, but I knew I did my best.
The meaning of "apprehension" finally became clear as I waited for my grade. Thankfully, I ended up with an improved score. I'm definitely glad my hard work paid off. But after the climatic second memo, I am in dire need of a denouement. Instead, we have a few more weeks of classes, still, a third memo to write, and then the looming finals. Joy.
While reading for Contracts last Sunday, I received a call from my mom. She asked what I was doing, and I told her I was studying. Then, she inquired why she could hear the TV on in the background and what sounded like sports. I informed her that my TV was in fact on, I was in fact watching the Cowboys game, but that I was also studying. Not pleased, she wondered (rhetorically, of course) if I thought I was some sort of slacker genius.
In my mother's strict household, the general rule was that a child studying was not liable for negligent laziness. However, some exceptions to this rule exist. My mother has held on several occasions that a child studying can still be held accountable for laziness if: (1) the subject of study was not approved by Mom; (2) the child failed to exercise reasonable care in eliminating distractions; or (3) the act of studying was a "ruse" to conceal past acts of negligent laziness.
My mom clearly believed my current study habits met the second and third elements of negligent laziness. In analyzing laziness, though, she should consider the totality of the circumstances, especially the child’s age. Plus, I reminded her, I am no longer living in her house, which is outside my jurisdiction, and her opinion, however wise, is no longer binding authority.
My unarguable and compelling reasoning was, unfortunately, met with stern silence. I have a feeling I won’t be getting any pie this Thanksgiving.
After spending the bulk of last weekend working on our second legal memo, I am near my wit's end with school. The relentless stream of information has worn me down and made me...grouchy.
The late Elliott Smith wrote a great little song called "Everything Reminds Me of Her." The song is a tragic, fatalistic parable of loss. Regrettably, I can now relate well with it because I have my own song entitled "Everything Reminds Me of Law School," which is also a tragic, fatalistic parable of loss...and irrationality.
Case in point: A co-worker buddy and I were taking a nice reprieve from work and pleasantly chatting about the Astros (another tragedy). We were discussing the team's improbable run when, and I quote, my buddy says, "Their success was not at all foreseeable." I froze. The word "foreseeability" immediately flashed, in a blood-red color, through my mind. My previously chipper demeanor vanished. My jaw tightened. And perspiration began forming on my brow as other negligence-related key words darted through my head: proximate cause, but-for, directness, reasonably prudent person, egg-shell skull test. My mind, as if of its own volition, started systematically defining each concept. I couldn't stop. It took every ounce of strength to restrain from bashing my head into a wall. My vision, blurry and burning with shock or rage, narrowed as I regarded this co-worker who had triggered my mental distress. Clueless, he continued talking, and I forced a weak smile just hoping the violently pumping vein in my temple would not burst. I may have briefly blacked-out. I don't know. It was horrible. I now hate that guy.
We received our legal memo back this past week, and the grade was our first in law school. I'm not ready to disclose my grade to the public (by public, I mean the three or four of you who happen upon this diary), but let's just say I have a lot of work to do this weekend (a lot) as I write my second memo. I've been following my hometown Houston Astros, who finally made it to the World Series! The 'Stros started the season slowly but finished strong. So after my slow start in law school, I've resolved to follow in the Astros' footsteps and finish this fall semester in spectacular fashion, confetti in the wind and all. I'll be eyeing the World Series in terms of grades, but first I need to claim the Wild Card. For me, that means writing an excellent second memo. Cheer for me in the bottom of the 7th?
What sort of person makes a successful law student? Does the superior student possess inherent qualities? Or can he/she be made? Is it possible, or likely even, to fashion a successful student? To forever form an identity of success? Or will all the training, the education, fall apart at the seams as time passes, to expose the true person, naked and vulnerable? The super-student, so I've been impressed, is diligent, analytical, critical, patient, confident, and, of course, intelligent. Like the strictly imposed structure of our legal memos, the super-student is a paradigm. The memo requires specific components, such as an issue prediction and rule application, written in a specific order. Similarly, the super-student paradigm consists of close reading, case briefing, class participation, 3:1 study-to-classroom time allocation, outlining, memorization, and taking practice exams. We have been taught both paradigms: the first, to improve our legal writing; the latter, to succeed in law school. Yet in the depths of my mind (which isn't very deep, trust me), I can't help but wonder if all the schooling in the world can truly mold me, anyone, into a good lawyer. Or will I, when confronted for the first time by a stern judge or disapproving senior partner, revert to the child of my formative years, stripped of any educational garments and bereft of a needed paradigm?
On another note, we're halfway done with the first semester of law school!
The first week of October has passed, and I've finally turned the A/C off in my
apartment! The cool weather is perfect for a relaxing weekend inside. The thought of just chilling — of roasting up a juicy chicken in the oven, watching Fred and Ginger dance and banter in "Swing Time" (now on DVD!), and cuddling on the couch under a layer of blankets with that special someone — is pleasantly surreal. f course, in my case, I'll actually be ordering pizza, watching the Red River shootout, and cuddling, not with a hot date, but with my Contracts casebook. I'm going to explore and ravish every inch of that Contracts book. Its binding will never be the same again.
I am, unfortunately, that behind in my reading. The good news, though, is that I'm
much more comfortable reading cases now. I've picked up the legal jargon and, for the most part, can identify the core issues. As I read, I'm trying not to get too bogged down in the details and particulars of each case. These specifics are important to the case itself and important if I had to write a memo. But I really only want to get how the court's reasoning illustrates the main points we're discussing in class. For long and convoluted cases, I sometimes have to remind myself what the chapter and section titles are so that I don't lose track of the big picture.
Hopefully, reading the cases this way will allow me to get the most out of the material without spending all weekend on it. There's a lot of Fred and Gi—-I mean, football, I want to watch.
I was appointed historian of APILSA this past week. That's right, I decided to join a student organization. As a full-time worker and part-time student, my time is very limited, but I figured I could fit in one club. The main factor in this decision was my burning desire to finally "represent". All my life, I have been a pathetic representer. In my gang-infested high school, I couldn't even correctly throw out gang signs. The thugs spurned me, and I ended up in law school. I used to work at a Vietnamese restaurant as a waiter, and sometimes I'd have to ask the customers how to pronounce words on the menu. In college, I joined a business students association, but only because a girl I liked had joined first (we lasted one date) and because the club's intramural basketball team was far superior to the aerospace engineering team. While other members talked about i-banking at Goldman Sachs and private equity, I would just nod along in confusion and eat my pizza. I am now determined to turn this trend around and truly represent. Texas Wesleyan Law part-time evening male 1Ls of Asian descent who attended UT-Austin can now rest assured that our unique qualities - our perspectives, history, culture, and winning personalities - are all well-represented by, of course, me. You're welcome.
Things have picked up for me at work, and I hope the new stress won’t impact my studies. We have deadlines to meet at the end of every month. I also learned this week that I’ll be transferring to the F/A-22 program. I’m definitely excited about the opportunity. I’ve been hoping for a change of pace, and I’m looking forward to working on a new fighter — or, as we prefer to call it, a defense system.
By attending law school, I’ve obviously resolved to make a career change. It wasn’t an easy decision by any means. I calculated numerous financial models and analyzed the costs and benefits of switching to law. Ideally, of course, the career change won’t be a one-for-one trade-off. I’m hoping my work experience will give me that "bump" when I begin my law career. However, I wouldn’t necessarily be adverse to creatively using a J.D. to transition within the company. I like to keep my options open. But all of that will be a few more years down the road. I’ll need to graduate and pass the bar first! I should also probably start doing my class outlines.
The work load has picked up considerably now that we've finished our fourth week of school. In Legal Analysis & Writing, we've started our first Memo, and the citation exercises have been really helpful. It's good to know you're learning stuff that will directly apply to legal practice. The class I'm having the most difficult time with is Contracts. Oddly, we've had the least to read there; the Contracts cases, however, are written so obtusely that I've often felt compelled to refer to the commercial briefs. Our professor does an excellent job of somehow taking all that confusing language and simplifying it into a concise, one-sentence blurb. It's like Contracts for Dummies, and I'm the Dummy who has to re-read every other sentence just to locate the nouns and verbs. Uh oh, feelings of inadequacy surfacing again...
Don't worry, though, I'm having a blast in my Torts class. The Torts cases are presented more like modern-day, semi-tragic Aesop's fables. There's an interesting story that surrounds every legal issue, and these stories are things that happen to regular people. Assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence - awesome stuff! Learning these concepts and their definitions, limits, and connotations has kind of awakened me to the many torts that occur in the real world, everyday. I can't believe how many times I've been tort'd against in the past (no need to dwell on the torts I've committed). I definitely dig the material. Each new concept I learn is a higher step of enlightenment, leading up to that ultimate nirvana where I walk the earth in sagely robes, witnessing endless transgressions, pointing at people and screaming, "Tortfeasor! Tortfeasor!" In a way, I feel like I'm undergoing a transformation by studying law, kind of like how Teen Wolf discovered his unique identity. Teen Wolf, of course, harnessed his superior athletic abilities to lead his basketball team to victory, but not before learning that he had to believe, deep-down, in himself. I'm not sure how that last part relates to my experience, but I just love Teen Wolf.
Despite the long Labor Day weekend, I started this third week of classes exhausted, irritable, and, of course, unprepared. I was not called on in class, thank goodness. Otherwise, I would've really let the professor have it! My Torts professor will randomly call on a student for every case we discuss. In Contracts, the professor will occasionally call on us (and make us stand!), but he'll mostly lecture. I did read the assigned cases, so I wasn't totally clueless. Still, being well prepared with written case briefs will not only help me avoid embarrassment in front of my peers, but also enable me to better synthesize the material for finals.
To that end, I've decided to cut all of my fun and leisure time by half. Drastic? Perhaps. Necessary? Indeed. I normally go out--to bars, music gigs, exhibits, movies, sporting events, whatever--three times a week. I will now only hit the town 1.5 times a week. Even with clubbing, a favorite past-time. I'd go to a night club at least once a week, have 4 shots, dance 2 hours, hit on 10 women, and pick up 0 of them. From now on, however, I'll get to a club, down 2 shots, dance for an hour, hit on 5 women, and pick up 0 of them. Crazy amounts of time will be saved for school work.
The all-mighty first-year GPA is driving me to extremes obviously, but I think it's worth it. Sure, I'm in law school to learn how to practice law and all that fun stuff. Ultimately, though, where I'll practice law and the type of legal work I'll do are largely dependent on my class rank. I fully understand this, and, as detailed above, I'm willing to make the sacrifices.
I've only been in class two weeks, but I've already figured out the hardest thing about law school: sorting through all of the advice. Brief your cases. Case briefing is a waste of time. Use commercial outlines. Join a study group. Only join a study group if you need help. Participate in extracurriculars. Get a laptop. Don't pop the collar on your polos. Ever. Canned briefs are good. Canned briefs are evil! Study just for the final. Drugs are bad. Unless it's adderall. It's still bad! The list goes on and on.
Some advice is common sense, but many contradict others. And some, such as my mom's suggestion I cut my hair, is clearly terrible advice. Just terrible. I guess we have to determine what will work for us and what won't. I have a feeling this first semester will be a series of trials and errors, an experiment of sorts for one. I tried reviewing my notes for an hour every night after I got out of class; a technique I was informed would help with remembering the material. Unfortunately, I've been late to work three days in the past week (I made up the time, boss. I swear!). Obviously, I have to scratch this after-class reading and find a better method of studying.
I'm heading down to Houston this Labor Day weekend to visit my family and friends. I'll definitely put in time to study and do homework, but it's nice to have a long weekend and get my mind off of school. I'll see if they need my services at the Astrodome, or the food bank. When Tuesday rolls around, I'll be back in Fort Worth and hopefully refreshed for another week of classes.
Classes started this week (actually, I had one class last Thursday but it was mislabeled on the calendar as "Orientation"), and to be honest, I enjoyed them. As a part-time evening student and full-time engineer/writer at Lockheed Martin, I had no idea what to expect from law school. Really. My primary sources of information came from an ex-paralegal acquaintance with a seething, near-psychotic hatred of attorneys and a couple of pre-law internet forums. Surfing the forums was an excellent waste of company time, but provided little information beyond anecdotal advice. As for the ex-paralegal, let's just say I've now been instilled with an awkward sense of guilt and self-loathing. Yet here I am, a 1L.
So far, so good. The workload is indeed daunting. The cases we've had to read thus far are often dense and rarely straightforward. Professors call on us even when we're purposely avoiding eye contact. Law books are expensive. You've got to be prepared. Lack of sleep becomes a requisite. The girls would rather study than get hit on. And I've lost half a pound. All in one week.
So far, so good. No, really, it's not so bad. Both the school administration and professors seem to understand this transition and acclimation period. This first week, despite the information flood, has gone smoothly for me. The learning curve is clearly designed to help law students build a foundation for not only the legal material, but also how to grasp it.
Okay, I swear this'll be my last positive diary entry. I'm a negative person, a masochist practically, which will no doubt help me mentally prepare for the hellish weeks to come. I can't wait.