Undergraduate School: University of Kansas
Undergraduate Major: Finance and Spanish
Hometown: Shawnee, KS
Status: Full-Time Day
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
12/18/12 - Wow! What a surreal feeling it is to be done with law school. It went by so quickly that I am stunned it is over. But, when I read my very first blog entry and I think back to the start of this journey, it feels as though it was ages ago. I changed that much in two and a half years predominately thanks to law school. They tell you it will change you and you do feel it very quickly after you begin. But goodness, I am almost unsure of who the young woman that started law school was anymore. I am proud of the changes that law school made in me.
I do not really think any of the changes are negative. I am more confident but slower to respond before really taking all available information into consideration. I am more focused, more detailed, more careful, and more aware. I truly appreciate and relate to others who work hard and push towards their dreams while keeping their morals and ethics intact. With all of this reflection, I have never been more sure that I chose the correct profession for myself. I really appreciated blogging and being able to record my journey at Texas Wesleyan Law. Thank you for those who read. Thank you for everyone that ever helped me in any way during this chapter of my life. I look forward to a successful future in this profession!
12/12/12 - This is it! Graduation day is here! I had 17 family members all travel to Texas to celebrate this day with me. I feel immensely blessed and thankful for so many things right now. I have parents who have always showed me I could go anywhere I wanted to go. They instilled in me a work ethic that pushed me through this journey. I am so thankful for my law school friends that were always there through each moment supporting me in ways no one else outside this journey could do. My entire family tells me they are proud of me and how much of an achievement this is. My aunt has even said she is thankful her daughters (my cousins) have someone like me to look up to.
It seems silly now, but I seriously thought I would not enjoy this day because I have not yet reached my goal of being a licensed attorney. I still have the biggest exam of my life ahead of me. But, for this weekend, with all of these positive, loving, caring moments around me I feel nothing but blessed, excited, relieved, and so darn ready to walk across that stage with a huge grin on my face and my family cheering like crazy for me. Bar prep will not even enter my thoughts until next week.
11/28/12 - This is my last round of law school finals. I want to finish strong and keep my GPA competitive. However, it is quite simply more difficult to focus on finals with graduation festivities, Bar preparation, Christmas, job search, and a good friend's bachelorette party all requiring some of my attention and a lot of my excitement and nervousness. I am trying my best to be efficient and focused, but even after 6 rounds of finals it is tough to accomplish.
The truth is that I feel an enormous desire to just get through all of it. I have moments where I want to skip all of December and wake up in January where I am focused on Bar prep. Although, I cannot wait to graduate, I pray I am able to actually take in the moment of accomplishing a goal. That is an issue with this process that many do not understand. It is hard to celebrate graduation when you know the degree is just a step closer, but nowhere near the end. It is a strange feeling to end this chapter of school but know that you cannot breathe a sigh of relief until you receive your Bar results and a job offer. Anyway, it is one step closer and I will try very hard to take in the moment of graduation from law school!
11/14/12 - Today is a good day! I received my cap and gown today and a gift from the school that included a package with a clear pencil bag full of “approved items” that I may take into the actual Bar Exam. Pulling out that clear plastic bag with pencils, pens, a pencil sharpener, a package of Kleenex, and an eraser gave me a flashback to when I was walking in to take the LSAT back in Lawrence, Kansas during the last semester of undergrad.
I suppose this memory is also easily accessible because I have a friend preparing to take his LSAT December 1st. To help him out I sent him an email with information regarding the process for applying to law school. I attached my personal statement from my law school application to give him an example. This act completed my full circle emotional journey today from past to present because I decided to read the personal statement that I wrote, what seems like, ages ago when I still had my youth and naiveté of the actual practice of law (law school has not completely stolen my youth but I am sure a future wrinkle will appear due to these years).
Reading that two page summary of myself and why I chose law made me remember how excited and determined I was to become an attorney. It also highlights how much I have changed but that my desires and the core of who I am have remained the same. I suppose it was an accidental great idea because reading that personal statement supplied some fuel I definitely need to push through this final semester. As my future co-counsel beside me has calculated, I have 19 hours and 15 minutes left before I am forever done with law school classes!
10/31/12 - Bar results are being received today by all those who took the exam in late July. I am anxious to hear how many of my friends did and feel for them with how long they had to wait for results. I truly believe the waiting period will be the hardest part of all law school. Not knowing if you can move on and start to actually practice law for months has to be rough. I can't believe in 6 months it will be me checking online to see if I passed!
Finding this first job will definitely be the hardest. For those considering law school, be sure to keep in mind the legal market is just not what it used to be. I have no idea where I will end up working or how I will get there. I just know I will make it and I will be okay.
I had lunch with the two attorneys and the paralegal I worked with last year. I thought to myself, “I can't wait to be where they are. Stable and planted into a career.” But, until then, I will of course attempt to enjoy the journey. Soon enough my school schedule with summer and winter breaks will be replaced with a full time job! Best wishes to all those who receive your scores today!!
10/17/12 - We all write about tips for law school. Many of them are great, but I feel we neglect to really explain the biggest tip of all.
As in life, law school is more easily conquered by groups rather than individuals.
When you get out into the real world, you realize that attorneys hardly ever work on an issue completely by themselves. They use memos, law reviews, and other previously written material to help them solve a current issue. They bounce ideas off their co-counsel, partners at the firm, or attorneys in other practices with different areas of expertise. If they write something, several other people read their work. Anyone from the support staff to the partner of the firm may give input on a written product before it is released. This practice does vary with the importance of the document, the experience of the attorney, and the level of care the attorney may have for the particular issue. Of course, this practice is not limited to written work. All attorneys use others for help in almost all the work they do.
So why, would you think that in law school, when you are just beginning to understand a minute portion of different areas of the law, you should challenge yourself to write or study the law by yourself? To truly play the law school game you need to enter in with a strategy. Find the people you can count on and go through it together. This may be counterintuitive – sure, law school is competitive. If I get an A in the class, someone just got a C. But, if you have your team, you will all be stronger together than those playing as individuals.
I am absolutely NOT suggesting to break any honor codes or to cheat in any way. If a professor says you cannot work with others on an assignment, definitely follow that rule. But on particular assignments, professors encourage us to work together to understanding the material. Play by the rules, just play smart under those rules.
I believe I have done this throughout law school, but looking back, I could have played even smarter than I did. Most of us are intelligent enough and we have some pride or ego that gets in the way. We want to say that we did something all by ourselves. But, let’s face it, if you try to do that after law school, you will not get very far. Both during law school and in the future as an attorney, focus and learn how to play smart.
10/3/12 - I had a strange experience last week that I felt was worth mentioning. I walked into the Student Lounge to warm up my lunch, I looked around to see who I knew, and realized I was alone in a sea of unfamiliar faces!
This was odd because generally walking into a common area during lunch will put you squarely into the center of the social law school scene where you always end up running into people you know. It hit me that the room was mostly full of 1L’s. I gathered this based on the conversations I could hear around the room. The 1L’s are still constantly talking about law school related topics even at lunch, and generally showing the limitations associated with their lack of second and third year law school courses during those debates between friends. By 3L year, you don’t want to talk about law during lunch.
As a 1L, you are in the same classes with the same people the whole year. So you meet people and form groups very quickly. You have the same schedules, so you never feel alone or out of your group. Your second year is probably the time where you know the most people. You still have very similar schedules with people from your year. Also, you met some of the 3L’s the year before and meet some of the 1L’s throughout the year. By your 3L year, however, schedules diverge some and your class sizes tend to get smaller. You may know some 2L’s, but your interaction with the 1L’s is almost non-existent.
Because you have been here for 3 years, you decide not to attend as many events and become more focused on graduating and getting on with the next phase. It wasn’t until I walked into the lunch room and felt a bit out of place that I realized I have begun to exit this school. I consciously knew this, but I hadn’t felt it yet. Part of me is a bit sad that this phase is ending, simply because I have become quite comfortable here at this school. I see the same friends every day and know the ins and outs of life as a law student. The other part of me is ready to move on. I hope to keep in regular contact with many of the friends I have met while attending Texas Wesleyan School of Law and look forward to seeing where we all will end up!
9/19/12 - Earlier this week I attended a social for the Dallas Women's Lawyers Association. First off, I enjoy attending mixers and events like this. You meet people in your profession, hear names of firms, learn professional social etiquette, and occasionally pick up information related to careers in law as well. This social was about style and fashion in the legal profession. I will admit that I haven't always been in love with fashion. But, I've always appreciated and been attracted to anything aesthetically pleasing. I have always loved art, interior design, and decor. So in college, I began to transfer that interest to style and fashion. I'm sure every male reading this has checked out by now, but if you are still with me, believe me this blog goes for you as well.
The legal profession is dominated by hard working, intelligent minds. Unless you have proven otherwise, most potential clients and potential employers will expect that you, as an attorney, possess these qualities before they even meet you. But why not help potential clients and employers feel even better about paying you very good money? Appearance and personality are by far the next two categories that help bolster a legal career. I am not saying your clothes will make you successful. I'm saying they give a strong first impression and facilitate the image that you have what it takes to be successful. If your intelligence, work ethic, and attitude are not up to par with your wardrobe, you will not be able to fool your employer, client, or other attorneys.
But, professional, stylish, and well-tailored clothes do support that you are confident, you are organized, you are prepared, and you are always pushing for the next level. It is not the number one area on which to focus, but it is important to give at least some time and thought to how you, as a future attorney, present yourself to your clients and the legal community. Law school is a great time to begin figuring out your professional style if you have not previously had to dress professionally regularly. Best advice: observe attorneys you meet during school. Notice which ones stand out to you and why. Also, start to build your professional attire early. It isn't cheap, and believe me, you will need more than two suits. Finally, find a tailor and a dry cleaner. I feel the number one way to look sloppy is to be wrinkled or wear clothes that do not fit properly. There is no harm in making sure your appearance matches your intelligence.
9/6/12 – “Anxious” is the word that currently describes me the most. I am ready to be done with law school, study for and take the bar, and start working. 3L-itis has fully taken over. I know I will get through this semester and learn what I need to learn. I have appreciated and enjoyed law school, but I am happy to be finishing this portion of my legal career journey very soon. So with this anticipated anxiousness comes another feeling I should have expected but, frankly, did not.
Nervousness has hit me hard as well. What will I do when I graduate? What will make me happy, fulfilled, and pleased in my job? Can I find something that achieves those desires in the short run or do I need to take whatever I can get for now? In what city do I want to put down my professional roots? What about 10 years from now, do I still want to be practicing law and, if so, how and where? There are a lot of questions that come with school quickly wrapping up. The concept that, yes Steph, there are no more loans coming your way after the bar loan. That is it. After that, it's up to me. There will be no more lump sum checks 3 times a year to rely on and look forward to.
This transition may be a little less daunting for me because I did work full time after undergrad for almost two years. I have fended for myself and I did make it just fine. But still, the same feelings I had at the end of undergrad are returning. Additionally, I have better knowledge of the obstacles I could face. I do strongly believe I am more equipped now than I was at 22 but the stakes feel higher than they did just four or five years ago.
I am confident in myself. I know the best way to combat nervousness is always with preparedness. Pushing myself to find time to job search and plan out how the next 6-12 months will go is crucial to ensuring I end up where I want to be. I suppose the nervousness should and will keep the anxiousness at bay. So actually I should be thankful for the nervousness because, after all, I do need some time and incentive to get my ducks in a row!
8/29/12 - Word to the wise: Before entering law school, make sure that you get at least 2 official copies of your birth certificate and 4-5 passport pictures taken. You will need these items for your Intent to Study Law Application (photo and birth certificate), MPRE Exam (photo), Application for the Bar Exam (photo), and the Bar Exam (photo). I suggest one extra of each item just in case something else pops up where they are needed.
As you can tell, I just finished the application for the February 2013 Bar Exam. It is exciting but still daunting. This semester is busy and it feels a lot like the work load from my 1L year. Maybe I just had it easy 2L year. Most of my professors 2L year had either an on-call system (where you knew what day you would be required to answer questions) or they simply took volunteers. Now, this semester, when I am overloaded with 17 hours to graduate, most of my professors randomly call student names. This means that you feel the need to be completely prepared every day for every part of the assigned reading. Now, most often, you are not called on, but still the thought of appearing unprepared pushes me to keep up with all of the reading. I am not an unprepared person and do not intend to look as such, ever.
I think both 1L and 2L year I easily saw the areas I could temporarily slack in until I had the time to catch up. This year there doesn't appear to be anywhere to slack. Additionally, my friends keep getting married and the Business Law Organization is picking up steam. So far this semester has started out a little rough. However, I am determined and anxious to graduate in December, and I am well aware that I can handle this amount of work. Thankfully, when you get to your last year of law school, you are very knowledgeable as to how to prepare for class and have a successful semester. Hopefully by the next time I write, I will have hit my groove won’t need to vent about a lack of time.
7/25/12 - Law school flies by! I continually feel like I am running out of time. The summer has hit warp speed. I am working full time at my externship with the Attorney General’s office and finishing my seminar paper I discussed in my previous blog. The paper is due next week, and then I finish my externship the following Friday. I have one week to get myself prepared for fall classes to start, then I fly home to KC on August 17th for my grandpa’s 80th birthday. I return to Dallas that Sunday night and then begin fall classes on Monday! I suppose life can be hectic like this for everyone. But, I must admit, time really has gone faster while in law school.
The externship has been a great learning experience and I am thankful to have it. I am much more of a real-world, practical skills type of person so I enjoy being able to focus on and apply these. I am very appreciative of the opportunity to learn and fortunate to add this on my resume and potential list of future references. I work hard and do the best I can because I would be upset at myself if I slacked.
But, let’s face reality, I have worked at least 40 hours a week for almost two months and I won’t see a dime for it, during a time period where I am quite uncertain how all my bills will continued to be paid. I guess it is just part of the struggle to be able to call yourself an attorney.
The externship will actually give me 3 hours of class credit, but there are limitations with that decision. While you work for free and get lots of experience, you actually owe the extra tuition for the 3 credit hours. Honestly, I think many law students end up taking an externship credit simply to receive student loan money during the summer and pay the bills.
I truly feel a firm or job should be able to pay your tuition for the class credit as I saw in undergrad business school, but currently that is not the tradition for law schools (and legal employers). You may not receive any pay in order to receive class credit. Additionally, there are hour requirements and class components that can add up to more than the time you typically spend on a regular class. To receive 3 credit hours for an externship in the summer, I must work 180 hours minimum, turn in 5 journals, attend an intro and conclusion class, and participate in a weekly online discussion.
Many opportunities to gain legal work experience will be unpaid, so doing an externship for class credit can be a great option if you need the hours and extra loan money to live on. But, if I ever have my own practice, law students will be paid something to show I appreciate how hard they are trying to add value to my practice. So for those entering law schools, just be prepared to accept the tradition of working very hard, not for money, but for lots of lots of wisdom and potential help with future opportunities.
6/27/12 - Yes! I am writing this blog from the newly self-assembled Ikea desk! So far I like the new apartment and living downtown. I am finally back focusing on summer school. This summer I am taking a seminar course called Jurisprudence. This class fulfills the rigorous writing requirement needed to graduate. Each student must write at least 20 pages (not including footnotes) on a legal topic of their choice. Generally this is a time to pick an area of the law that is new, changing, or in conflict. The paper is persuasive and you pick a side to argue and develop. Some try to get this paper published in law review journals.
There are lots of different seminar classes, all with different topics, so you can try to write about something you want to learn more about. It is also a great writing sample you can use for job applications once you are done. I could never get into the seminars that really looked like what I am interested in but Jurisprudence was a great alternative option. In this class you have a ton of flexibility in topic choice because you are discussing the philosophy behind the law.
I have chosen to do a topic in antitrust law because I felt I needed to know some of this area before starting my job at the Attorney General’s office in the Consumer Protection Division on Monday. The issue I have with my topic is that I am teaching myself a lot of antitrust law in order to write this paper because I have never studied these laws before. If you are short on time, I suggest picking a topic on which you have already had a class.
I am also taking Marital Property this summer which is a half online and half in-person class time. I really like that idea. The online components include a lecture with slides and a recording of the professor talking through them. After each lecture you take a quiz. The regular class side is pretty standard law school class style. But, for me, it is great not having to drive out to Fort Worth twice a week for the entire summer session. I also like the quizzes because I am immediately tested on the information I just listened to during the lectures. I hope they continue to have more classes with this option. Summer is flying by and I am almost looking forward to my last semester of school where things will slow down some. Summer school is intense and goes so quickly! Finals are in less than 2 weeks!
5/30/12 - So I'm right in the middle of moving apartments! Moving is so time consuming. My summer school classes are temporarily being set aside until I am somewhat settled. I am a bit nervous about moving in with a new roommate. It is always hard to know how someone will deal with a law student's schedule when they have never experienced it, especially with Bar prep being next January and February for me.
But hopefully this arrangement will work out. It was near impossible to find a one bedroom in Dallas that I could afford alone on student loans. A roommate is the best option for me and my budget during school.
A word of advice for future students: make sure you have a very large desk and designated school area set up! I messed up by purchasing a small computer desk that I felt fit in my apartment better. The whole last 2 years I barely sat at it! Law books are big and many times you use more than one at once. I feel best at a large table I can spread my work out on. So in my new apartment I made sure to really focus and create a work area for me. So excited for that part!! I even have a great view of reunion tower from my desk!
Next time I will talk about my summer classes. Hopefully I will be all moved in writing my blog from my new, much larger, desk instead of from my iPhone!
5/9/12 - Whoop Whoop!!!!! That sums up how I feel right now. I am DONE with spring semester of 2012. It was by far my hardest semester for finals. I am not exactly sure why, but it was. I am proud to say I did buckle down and push through. I hope my hard work will pay off when I get all of my grades back.
I heard a 3L talking yesterday and it sparked this blog idea. Basically, he was questioning his whole life one week before he was supposed to be graduating. He was wondering if he even wanted to practice law or use this law degree. He honestly sounded as though he heavily regretted law school and all the pain and frustration it had caused him. Now this could possibly be simply an overstressed 3L exaggerating his woes to entertain other law students.
But regardless, I was stunned. Yes, law school can definitely get under your skin. It’s a beast that controls your life and finances for several solid years. However, I have never doubted this decision. Never questioned whether or not I want to be here. I have no idea where my career will take me. There is of course a chance I will end up doing something other than law at some point in my life. But, I know I definitely want to practice law. I want to use the skills I have learned. No matter what I end up doing with my life, I am thankful I will have this knowledge, these friends, these experiences, and, soon enough, that beautifully framed J.D. degree on my wall.
If you are uncertain if you want this, give yourself more time to figure that out prior to entering. I could not imagine being one week from my graduation and feeling so lost and unhappy about the last three years of my life. Sure, I could have completely misunderstood this 3L I had never met before. But, I promise you will never hear such regret out of my mouth. I will simply be elated to graduate.
4/25/12 - Yep, it is “dead week”. I always try to make sure I have very little planned besides studying during dead week and yet, somehow, things always seem to come up. You think to yourself that a full week without classes will allow for so much study time! But, then you realize the week flies by and realistically you just can’t study every day, all day for a week straight.
So far I feel I have been very productive. Of course, I do wish I was further ahead than I am. I think everyone feels that way. I told myself that I have only 14 days left until I am done with the semester. I know I can be efficient, productive, and focused for 14 straight days. Right? Ugh, the number sounds larger every time I say it, so I am going to stop. LOL.
I have factored in time to relax during these 2 weeks. But, those relaxation times have to be very controlled and end when they are supposed to. They tend to become less relaxing the more restrictions you place on them. Also, you feel guilty during them. I know I need that time, I want that time, but still my mind drifts off to the outlines I need to touch up and all the material left to be firmly placed in my head.
I guess for those of you who are future students, this blog wasn’t extremely advice driven, it was more venting. So, hmmm, my advice: You will be stressed during finals, but that is okay. Do what you need to do during the semester to manage the stress that finals will inevitable place on you. It is best if you don’t have to work or have other plans during this time. Put everyone and everything on hold for a couple of weeks if possible. Finally, think about how you want to smile when you get your grades back, not cry (that should help you focus).
4/18/12 - The stress of the end of the semester has hit me. I feel as though I am in an hourglass and the sand is beginning to swallow me up. I know I will get through it, I am just aware that the next few weeks will be rough!
On a different note, I have to move this June because my roommate is getting married and moving to Chicago! Moving is always a process, unfortunately it is even a bigger process when you are in law school. I specifically incorporated moving into my summer plans to ensure I am able to settle myself properly before getting too busy. I didn’t want to wait to look after finals because I feared that could cause a time issue and I might pick a place in haste. I knew I would feel stressed with school, so I tried to resolve my apartment issue prior to dead week so I could focus on my finals. The decision was tough. It is never easy to decide where to live or who with. But it is even harder while in school because you have additional factors to consider such as: study space, location, quietness for sleep, and a roommate that can understand and accommodate the life of a student.
A roommate is almost a must in school. It is hard to find a good apartment (especially in Dallas) that fits a fixed federal loan student budget. I have the option to live with a good friend from law school or a girl not in law school. The girl not in law school has an awesome apartment for a steal of a price. My decision is not final, but I am leaning towards the lay person with the great apartment. It feels very bad telling the girl from law school that I think I would like to take my other option. She would understand better what I am going through in school. However, I am concerned that since our schedules align so well this next year, it might be overkill to live with her too. All in all, I am not sure which choice is correct. I definitely don’t want to hurt a friendship I have made in school. But I know I have to do what will make me happy. The one thing I do know about myself, is that I need a place I come home to and smile when I walk in the door because I feel happy to be home. I hope I make the right choice!
4/4/12 - March Madness must be addressed. I am a Jayhawk, I will always be a Jayhawk. I am proud of my team for making it as far as they did this year. I knew we had the talent but I was concerned for the chemistry, mental stability, and experience of my basketball team. I put a lot of time and effort into watching every game during the tournament. School, workouts, budget…well they all temporarily kind of got put on hold as KANSAS kept on trucking this year. However, as many learn in law school, sacrifices must be made. Many people were shocked when I had the opportunity to go to New Orleans to watch them in the final four and I chose to stay here to get work done and compete in a negotiation competition. That same weekend, I felt like the most busted KU fan as I cheered all by myself in my apartment Saturday night after the win against Ohio State with law books all around me.
Anyway, I suppose it is just the life of a law student. You will miss some things you really want to make a memory out of. But just know it is a temporary place. I’m not going to dwell on not being in New Orleans to party on Bourbon Street when they made it to the finals. It wasn’t their year to take it all, anyway. BUT the best part about being a Jayhawk that many other people don’t understand is I know with absolute certainty (which you are never supposed to say as a lawyer… but this is me as a fan!) is that KANSAS will make it to the final four and WIN the National Championship sometime again in my life time. I saw and experienced it in Lawrence, Kansas in 2008 and … well I plan to be in a place where I am able to fly to wherever they are to see them do it again in the future. Rock Chalk!
3/21/12 - Spring has sprung!! Coming back from break it really hit me that there just isn't very much time left in this semester. Yep, it is now crunch time. If you waited any longer, you would be sorry come finals time. So instead of enjoying the nice Texas weather right before it gets too hot to be outside, I will begin to see more of the coffee houses and maybe even some dungeon time in the library. Don't get me wrong, I will go running outside and read law books on my balcony, but mostly, it is that time of the semester when your neck starts to hurt regularly from having you nose in books or staring at a laptop for far too long in one day, every day.
That being said I am super excited to enroll for fall classes. I will be graduating in this December now. I had a professor recently tell us not to rush and enjoy the journey. He said it took him until he was 40 to realize the importance of just enjoying where you are in life. I hate to admit it, but I'm the young whippersnapper that hasn't quite learned to enjoy the journey. I really think the constant feeling of knowing I am not supporting myself is a main reason why I pushed to get through. I feel like I am in a holding pattern in law school. I am unable to make many future decisions or plan for many things until I finish this step. Personally, I have enjoyed law school, but now I am ready to move on. Getting into more and more debt is a stress I will gladly give up, even if it means being a real adult and working full time with no spring breaks.
2/29/12 - It has been a rough week. We all know what happens when you don't stay on top of things - you fall behind. Well, that is what happened to me starting last weekend and continuing throughout last week. I should have put a stop to it right as I felt it happening. But, NOPE, I kind of pretended like it wasn't happening. Then, as I pushed myself to get back on track this weekend, it really hit me how much I had to do. That's the thing about getting behind in law school - it takes a whole lot of effort to get back on track. If you let yourself get too behind, the remainder of your semester will feel chaotic, stressful, and probably not end as successfully as you hoped.
So every day this week has just felt longer than normal and I feel it. I am tired. Also, there are all the side effects of getting behind. You lose your work out time and your chill time. So both your body and mind feel off. You drink coffee later at night to read more, so all the sudden you can't go to sleep at 1 AM even though you KNOW you are tired.
Of course, the moral to this story is…can you guess?? Just don't get behind! If you do get behind, make the decision to stop it sooner rather than later. I am proud of myself for putting in the work this week to get back to where I want to be. As long as I keep this up for the weekend, I should be back on schedule and smiling much more often!
2/15/12 - What happened to me? Never did I figure that such an important quality that majority of attorneys must have (and that I used to naturally possess) would end up disappearing in me upon entering law school! Sure I worried about grasping the material, keeping up with the workload, my grammatical skills, and even my passion for the profession. But THIS, this was never a "weakness" for me, never something I figured I would need to focus on.
I can officially admit - I get nervous while public speaking, specifically when it regards the law or legal profession.
Oh, if you only knew how good I used to be, how much I used to look forward to public speaking in undergrad! Then you would understand what a mystery this is to me. In the past, I honestly did not understand people who spoke of this fear. Then last year, I did the 1L Mock Trial competition. My legs shook, my palms got sweaty, and for some reason I found it hard to breathe and speak clearly. It was the first time I actually experienced being nervous while speaking in front of people. Ever since then, the nervousness keeps reoccurring.
Maybe it is because, now that I am older and wiser, I care more. I think majority of my youth can be summed up as “pushing boundaries and figuring out things on my own” (not that I was ever too out-of-line). I was never too worried about perception. Now, goodness, I don't want to be the attorney who misspoke or came across in an unintended manner. You want to sound like you are confident and you know your stuff 100% of the time. Maybe this pressure of perception has caused me to back track on my public speaking skills.
Anyway, the point is, don't be surprised if law school brings out new challenges for you. You might be good in things you doubted yourself on. Other areas in which you assumed you would be a natural in may require more work than you would ever dream of.
I am not actually scared to push myself into public speaking situations. This is great, because at least I am making myself practice. But as to figuring out how not to have those pesky natural physical reactions such as shaky legs and a trembling voice, well I still need to figure that out. I am confident with time I will AGAIN master speaking in front of large crowds, until then, I will wear steady shoes.
2/1/12 - I want to start off by saying that this semester is going SOOOOO much better than last semester. I am not sure what exactly it was about last semester that made it dreary, maybe that I didn't get a break between summer school and fall semester. My schedule was rough and involved a lot of driving by working and taking a night class 2 days a week. Overall, I just felt blah last semester. My focus was sketchy in more than one area of my life.
But this semester is a total 180! I am done with both work and school by 4:15 PM every day. I take the train 4 days a week if I want to. This provides 2 hours of reading time each day. I have lunches Monday and Wednesday to work on things as well. I am working out very consistently, cooking more, spending less, getting to bed on time, and just overall feel like I successfully handle each day. Now, do not get me wrong. I am still very busy. I am still working and taking 15 hours of school, so each day is full from the time I wake up until I lay down. I just feel so much more at ease, while at the same time feeling extremely focused and driven this semester.
So I guess the moral of this story is to really think about your schedule and your breaks. Running around and not being home at ALL for 2 days a week really killed my motivation during the other 2 lighter days. I was just lazier on those days - I was exhausted from the long days. I am amazed that so many students work all day, every day, and do night school all through law school. I respect their dedication. I just know that I didn't get as much out of last semester as I should have, and that my personal life felt much more chaotic. My grades ended up just fine, I didn't get sick or gain a bunch of weight, and I made it through with the money I had. But goodness, I know if I was more focused and motivated, those three areas would have excelled instead of just barely making it through. I am looking forward to this semester and keeping this feeling going all the way through!
1/18/12 - The iPad Experience:
For those of you thinking about purchasing an iPad or a similar tablet to help you cut down on how many books you have to lug around, I felt giving you some insights on my personal experience thus far may be helpful.
Programs I Find Most Helpful:
• Documents To Go -You are able to open all MS Office docs your professor posts. You can edit and create documents with this as well.
• iAnnotate - PDF's are a breeze to organize, highlight, annotate, and flip through on this program. Great for cases from Lexis and Westlaw as well.
• Notebook - This was the most expensive of my App purchases, but so far it is working well. It is similar to MS OneNote. It works with Dropbox and allows you to organize all class notes into folders. It did, however, take me almost a week of messing around and reading instructions before I felt very comfortable with it.
Other Random Tips:
• Learn the tricks of the iPad early. For instance, the multitasking gestures are a life saver during class if you want to flip between apps and notes.
• Get a keyboard if you seriously want to take notes. I found my case with a built-in key board at Brookstone. It's awesome, I am very happy with it.
Overall: I am enjoying less books and a smaller device. Not to mention, it's cool. LOL.
For the classes in which I have my textbook on the iPad, I do find myself occasionally taking quick handwritten notes to later type up. Generally, I want to look and flip through the text of the book during parts of the class. Also, the time it took to get used to the iPad was longer than I expected. But I was a PC, not Mac user prior to this.
All in all, I love it! If you are considering this option, feel free to email me ANY questions you may have.
1/11/12 - This week has been rough trying to get back into the swing of things. Hopefully, with a 3-day weekend I will become prepared and organized enough to handle this semester. So, I thought of something that may be a helpful blog topic: Textbooks.
After several semesters, I have figured out that generally buying textbooks off Amazon.com or other credible online sources works best for me. Yes, you have to order them early to make sure they are delivered in time. Also, it is definitely important to make sure you are ordering the right books. But I have found by ordering online that I generally save a lot of money. One downside of purchasing your books online is that you are unable to see how much highlighting and note-taking has been scribbled throughout the book. For some, this is a huge negative aspect of online purchasing. For me, I just use a different color to highlight and I am rarely bothered by this. Money in my pocket trumps crazy highlighters.
I have also learned that almost all codes can be found online today. Some code books are annotated and have comments that greatly add to your learning in the course. Other classes, the code is all you really need. I have got into the habit of ONLY purchasing code books if I plan to keep the code or searching through all the online code is too time consuming.
Finally, iPad's are taking over. I myself got one for Christmas and I love it. Having the iPad makes obtaining, sharing, and viewing law school materials that much easier without even lugging around tons of books!
Finally, I sell my books. As soon as possible, I find the highest bidder (usually online) and off they go. Some like the look of their school books on a shelf. But realistically, you won't open them after the class. Studying for the Bar will be mostly out of bar prep books and the outlines you have already created. If you need a case, you can always look it up on Lexis or Westlaw. Study aids and such are something you might elect to keep. But the money you get from selling your books can always go towards purchasing textbooks for the next semester.
Those are a few of the tips majority of law students pick up on during the journey. I think I will talk about the iPad experience next blog. Happy 2012!
12/14/11 - Winter break is a tricky, sly, and slippery thing. You work your butt off during finals, giving your books pretty much all your attention. Finally, you make it through, sit down, and relish in the fact that you have a month long break ahead of you. Just as that excitement and joy are finally sinking in, you realize that time is flying by and you have a whole lot going on during “break.” It is a time to catch up with family and friends. So you will travel, attend holiday parties, and try your best to do everything you can (after all, you have no reading to do).
Generally, break is used to put back together all that fell apart during the semester, and especially during finals. Things like cleaning your place, getting your car’s oil changed, sitting down to actually figure out your finances, etc. Anyway, I hope to find some actual break time in all of this, but I will say that I don’t believe I will get bored at all.
Since I was done so early with my finals, I went home to KC to surprise Dad for his birthday. That was wonderful! He was definitely surprised when I popped out to yell, “Happy Birthday!” This week I am back in Dallas working. I head back to KC on Sunday to be with my family over the holidays. I will return to work the first week of January and then POOF, back to school.
Happy Holidays everyone!
11/22/11 - Oh goodness, yes… yes, I forgot to write this blog on time. This is what happens when it is finals time! Anyway, I have decided to take all of my finals in one week this year, we shall see if this is crazy.
I am staying in Dallas the whole Thanksgiving break to study. It is my first important holiday away from my family. I am a bit sad about this but my friend gave me a turkey to cook. Hopefully I am successful with it but, hey, if I mess up NO ONE will be there to notice so it’s perfect practice!
Ok, seriously back to studying. I hope to have a great, wonderful, and fully-planned out blog next time!!! Happy Holidays!
11/9/11 - Yesterday I had a conversation with my law school bestie, Ms. Stark, about women attorneys. We both have heard stories regarding woman in the legal profession who might not be considered the most pleasant and delightful feminine spectacles of our gender. Hearing tales of female attorneys with cutthroat, cold demeanors made me think how I don’t want to be viewed as that type of attorney.
Ironically, we were discussing gender discrimination in Constitutional Law. I asked a question as to whether the old language found in cases of discrimination to females would even hold up today, considering I feel I have every right a man has. My professor responded by saying that basically, I do not. There still exist many glass ceilings, and if I haven’t felt them yet, I will one day. She begged me to keep my “I can do anything a man can do” attitude regarding my future career.
In a profession that was traditionally dominated by men, I can understand a woman trying her best to appear strong in a room full of males. Apparently, the gender ratio is now 50:50 in law schools, but less than a 1/3 of those women attorneys go on to practice in firms. When you look at lawyers who are partners and managerial type positions, the number is even smaller. So how do you keep your femininity but be taken seriously?
I believe this is something I will be working on for some time to come. Unfortunately, I don’t have the room to fully convey my thoughts on this issue in one blog, so my next blog will continue on with this subject. I will say this - I always want to be able to wear leopard print shoes and have long hair, but I also will find away to hang with the boys.
10/26/11 - I finally decided that as long as everything goes as planned, I will be taking the Bar early in February 2013. This was a major decision for me, and I felt it might be helpful to write about how I came to my conclusion.
First, I took 5 hours last summer, so I am already ahead. After speaking to attorneys and students, I learned the biggest advantage to taking February Bar is that you to hit the job market earlier than the average student. Also, you can actually enjoy graduation!!
The downside is that you can only have 4 credit hours left to take your final spring semester in order to take the Bar in February. So, summer school is a must. During my last semester I will be taking 2 interest-based classes while studying for and taking the Bar. Additionally, you give up your entire Christmas break to study like crazy.
The determining factor for me was money. As long as I take 5+ hours this summer, I will be able to receive federal loans for both tuition and living expenses. For my last semester (only 2 classes), the same will apply. I must save money during this year and summer so I will have extra to live on during my last semester. The fewer hours you take, the less money you are able to receive for living expenses. By taking 5 hours my last semester, my loans are still deferred and the grace period doesn’t start until May. That is a life saver, because I don’t think I will be ready to start paying back loans any sooner than 6 months after I graduate in May 2013. Finally, there are Bar course loans and other ways to help save money for them.
So it is doable, you just have to start planning sooner than later to do it. I am excited to know that this time next year, I will be gearing up to study for the Bar!
10/12/11 - Over halfway done with the semester! Whoo hooo! It’s going by quickly, although I don’t feel it is as fast as last year (the very first semester of law school). I had a Constitutional Law 24-hour take home exam last week. I am no faster at these than I was last year. Throughout the semester, I knew the midterm was coming. I had the same professor last semester for Civil Procedure, so I knew how to outline to prepare for the exam. But, I still spent about 12 hours on it. Maybe the final product I produced was better than last year’s? Hopefully I am improving in content if not time. I was sad to realize that all that work was for only half my grade. At least the material covered thus far will not be on the final. Less to study later on, I suppose.
We are all getting prepared to enroll for the spring semester. I am determined not to have another evening class. With working during the day this semester, I thought I would be okay with the night class, but honestly I feel I have to drag myself there every Tuesday and Thursday. I even like the subject and the professor! My brain just doesn’t enjoy paying attention past dinner time. Scheduling is tough in law school. There are just not that many options on class times, and the required courses and bar tested courses are the important ones you must fit in. Hopefully I will find a schedule that excites me!
9/28/11 - “Scrappy”: Merriam-Webster.com defines this word to mean “consisting of scrap” or “quarrelsome.” I am not using it in either of those contexts. I am using the last (although in my opinion most popular) definition of the word, “having an aggressive and determined spirit.” Think Scrappy (Cornelius) Doo, the nerves of steel puppy nephew of Scooby Doo. I also enjoy Urban Dictionary’s definition of the term, although I will let you check that out on your own.
Anyway, I have heard the term be lovingly used to describe Texas Wesleyan Law students and alumni. As I think of myself and my peers, I realize this word must fit you if you choose to attend this school. Although I feel the education I am receiving is top notch, the bottom line is that we aren’t the big name, prestigious-reputation school. We have more non-traditional students and we are very young in the law school world. Now maybe in another decade or two, this will all be different. But for now, my resume might occasionally get put in the “underdog” pile at the large firms.
But as we all know, the underdogs have more incentive to push themselves. They adapt and become smarter, more creative, and never go into any situation with a sense of entitlement. They don’t give up and a loss only fuels their fire. I believe that during these hard economic times, it will be the scrappy who survive. Now as any underdog story goes, success will only come through hard work and intense focus. But yes, I am Rocky Balboa, or the New York Giants in 2007, or Butler against Kansas in 2010, or … Scrappy Cornelius Doo. I should not be underestimated. Besides, everyone loves an underdog story anyway.
9/14/11 – Last night on the phone with my mama, I was rambling on about all that is going on and I blurted out, “I feel like school is just in my way.” Granted, this was a spur of the moment, subconscious comment that I didn’t know I even felt prior to saying it. As I learned playing on my high school golf team, patience is not a strong natural characteristic of mine. I have had to force myself to chill out and enjoy the moment more than most people with only 25 years of life to look back on.
I am not sure what it is. Maybe it is because I operate by setting a goal, reaching that goal, and immediately setting a new one. Sometimes, when I know I can achieve the goal at hand, I start to focus on the next one before the current one is 100% complete. That is where I am at. I can do law school and I know I can pass the bar when it is time. So maybe I have started thinking and planning my career already. Goodness, I realize how much work I have left to even be allowed to call myself an attorney. But I guess I am excited and, well, ready to get law school done with. LOL, 3L-itis as a brand new 2L. Not good.
I do appreciate the exposure to the different areas of the law and the scholarly view on its evolution that school provides. The next two years will drastically add to my working knowledge of law. I guess I just need to chill out yet again. I need to enjoy law school. I realize that I can occasionally allow myself to focus on the next phase, but no matter what, I need to get through the one at hand first.
Oh good news: I PASSED THE MPRE! So one box is checked on being able to add “Esquire” after my name (** I just want to be “able” to use that title, I’m not saying I would actually adopt the aristocratic designation).
8/31/11 - While having a conversation with a fellow blogger, I was challenged to write about dating while in law school. It is a tricky subject to put on a blog for all to read, but I accepted. During your first year of law school, you are repeatedly told how important it is to make time for your relationship with your significant other, how much it can add to your success in law school. However, you are not advised how to be single in law school.
All in all, it can be tough. I have become much more selective and I cherish my “me” time. Rarely do I want to use my free time to go have dinner with a guy I barely know in the hope that there might be more to him than meets the eye. It might sound as though I am jaded or pessimistic about love, but the truth is, I just don’t have the time or energy to waste. Granted, if I meet a guy who intrigues me and seems to have it together, then SURE I would be willing to fit in a date. But let’s just say I have become much more comfortable with flat out saying, “No thanks.” For me, it is easier to rely on friends I have known for a while when I would like to get away from law school.
So how does this pan out in the future? Well, I am not sure. Honestly, I would love to get into a relationship. The stability, financial support, and constant +1 for all of the events comprised of mostly couples (this seems to be the norm in law school) are all things I would enjoy. But with law school and the beginning of my law career ahead of me, I don’t plan to spend much time in search of it. If I meet him, great, and if not, I will be ok. Did I ever think I would get to a point I would feel that way? No. I always saw myself married young like most of my family.
I want to be successful, not just with my career but with my personal life as well. I am just fine with doing my own thing until the right one comes along. Right now, my “thing” is law school.
**Disclaimer: Of course you can date while in law school. This is my personal experience with it.
8/17/11 - Back to school….thanks to summer school, I don’t really feel like I ever left. I think I will miss the days of 1L year where my schedule started nicely around 10 AM and always ended before 3:30 PM. This semester, I am working 15 hours a week and taking a night class. Tuesdays and Thursdays are very long days. I leave my apartment around 7:30 AM and don’t get back home until close to 9 PM. The rest of the week is much more manageable. I knew my schedule would be like this for months, but of course, it is always different when you actually start to do it. I am sure I will get used to it and it will get easier. I plan to knock out more reading on the weekends than I did my 1L year.
That said, what else is different this year? Well, it’s fun to see the wide-eyed looks of the 1L’s piling out of their large classes. They remind me of how far I have already come. I am not even sure I remember exactly how I was before law school. I swear, it changes your way of thinking that much. Anyway, it was no big deal to start this semester. I know where I’m at, where I’m going, and how to get there. It feels pretty good.
On-Campus Interviews (OCI) are quickly approaching, as 2Ls and 3Ls begin the search for summer 2012 jobs. I have applied for four. I always thought there would be a lot of firms interviewing, but there were only 12 on the website, and I only qualified for maybe 5 of those. I’m not sure, maybe there will be more throughout this semester. Regardless, I think I have my work cut out for me to find an associate job for next summer that has the potential to turn into a job after law school. Networking is always the way to go. I plan to keep this in mind throughout this semester. Next time, I will talk about choosing my classes and planning my course schedule.
8/10/11 - Busy, busy, busy! It’s the last week before school starts back up. I am finishing up the paper and projects I have for the Negotiation class I took at the end of July. Also, last Friday I took the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE), the ethics exam all law students must take and pass to practice law. I really hope I passed, because that’s something I DON’T want to do again. I was pleased with my grade in the Professional Responsibility class (which prepares you for the MPRE). That should mean I know the material, but those are tricky questions. I studied and felt like I gave it a valid shot. Don’t take the P.R. class or the MPRE lightly! I am thankful that I took it early and in the summer. This way, either I pass and I can focus on other things, OR I didn’t pass, but have plenty of time to retake it.
I‘m also starting a Business Law Organization with a 3L named John. It seems that in the past, the Texas Wesleyan Law name has been more associated with public interest law. I’m hoping with more students going into business law, and now the addition of the BLO, the school will start to build a stronger reputation for producing attorneys in the business area as well. I know there are quite a few alumni who have already begun this trend. I just hope the BLO will further the Texas Wesleyan name in a way that forces others to see that this school really does help foster all types of successful legal careers. If anyone is interested in this new organization PLEASE don’t hesitate to email me! You will be hearing more throughout the year. Until next time, enjoy what is left of summer!
7/27/11 - I just finished my second final of the summer! I took Professional Responsibility the first half of the summer and then a week long class on interviewing, negotiation, and collaborative law. The class was fabulous! There were a lot of hands-on exercises that forced us to practice our negotiation styles and tactics. Considering that somewhere around 95% of all claims are settled prior to trial, the class is a great focus on what most attorneys do the majority of their careers. I was pleasantly surprised at how excited and interested I was in the course.
Without ever thinking about it before hand, I learned that I do cherish collaborative problem solving and coming up with an agreement that benefits both parties. The cut-throat “win all or lose all” mentality of trial is not a naturally occurring instinct within me. I am competitive, but when something doesn’t feel fair I am deeply affected by it. This class gave me insight as to what types of careers will suit me best. I will be good at fostering and maintaining business relationships through mutual benefit negotiations. I need work on being more competitive and assertive in those instances where a future relationship isn’t a priority. I highly suggest this class or something similar to EVERYONE who goes through law school. It was very refreshing to experience a class that specifically focuses on strengthening skills you will absolutely use, all the time, no matter what your future career path is.
A caution I would like to add, however, is that a week-long 3 credit hour course is no joke. Although the content overall was easier to learn than your average law school class, the amount of reading, assignments, class time, and preparation time wore me out! I also had to take a full week off work and devote an entire Saturday to this class. Just some things to think about when you decide to do a week-long class.
7/6/11 – Ugh, I’m sick to my stomach. I played around online with a financial calculator and learned that if I want to pay off my student debt within 10 years after graduating, I will pay about $1,200 a month. Ten years of over a grand gone, poof! Every single month. Most lawyers I have talked with have accepted they will be paying off student loans for the rest of their lives. For the faint of heart, or the not fully committed, law school is no place for you.
I read advice stating that you shouldn’t take out a total of more than what you expect your starting salary to be. Great…with the economy, I know the big starting salary positions are not as abundant as law students dream of.
Currently, I try to take every precaution to keep my debt as low as possible. I’m not living above my means and I constantly check my budget. But, then again, I could live more tightly than I do. The most difficult part is trying to be disciplined in both your budget and your school. You get busy, you grab anything edible and sometimes school takes it out of you and all you want is a pedicure or dinner out with friends. I’ve never thought of myself as spoiled but I must be. I’m reading a novel called The Poisonwood Bible, which is about a missionary family in the heart of the Congo subsiding on barely anything at all. I have 100 times more luxuries than they do, even if I can’t afford a decent haircut. I believe I will need to hold on to that thought for some time to come. I am fortunate to be here, fortunate for the opportunities ahead, and determined not to allow my student debt control my future life.
6/22/11 - As the hot days melt into one another, I realize my time to check off my summer to-do list is incinerating as fast as prairie grass struck by lightning during a drought. Grades are back and, wouldn’t you know, I have the exact same GPA as last semester! My goal was to move up a bit, but I am proud of the grades, and of the effort and knowledge I obtained this semester.
My job is going great! I’m realizing law school doesn’t prepare you much for your job. Your thinking and vocab are altered from school to facilitate learning your job responsibilities. But, overall, no one cares about Pennoyer v. Neff (every law student knows this case). This is to say, a lot of the energy put on my law school classes seems not very applicable for my future career direction. I’m not negative on law school - It is very important to go through the trenches to force your thinking to shift into legal mode. Also, being exposed to so many areas of the law is a great aspect of school. There is just no other way to learn what you will need to know for a career besides getting started in it.
I know I want to work in business law, so I only applied to jobs where I would get exposure to this area. I’m so glad I did that. Some of my responsibilities at work include: contract drafting and review, research, discovery for litigation, and any other miscellaneous things that make their way to the in-house legal department. I love observing the negotiations and the interaction between the in-house group and the rest of the organization or outside attorneys. Every day, I learn something new and push my mind to think beyond my task at hand. As a legal clerk, you will always have to do some medial tasks, but it is during those tasks where I have the time to think about how it all fits together, where I want to head, and how to get there. I am very thankful for where I am at.
6/3/11 - Sigh…summer time. I feel very happy and blessed at the moment. It’s a wonderful feeling to be done with the first year of law school. An even better feeling was receiving the job offer I had been hoping for. Finally having a full week at home with my family, seeing my little brother’s college graduation, and getting an additional week off to relax here in Dallas has just put me straight into bliss. While I was home, I went to listen to an entrepreneur speak at a large law firm in Kansas City. I talked to an attorney only two years out of school. I also met a young entrepreneur who definitely inspired me to think outside the box. Law school takes a lot out of you; sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. All of these things combined brought some perspective back to me, as I think I had become somewhat lost in my law books.
This summer, I’m taking the professional responsibility class on Monday and Wednesday nights during June and a week long course at the end of July on negotiation and collaborative law. These classes keep me fresh but don’t overwork me. Finally, I’m a legal clerk for in-house counsel at a health company. I’m loving it! I will devote an entire blog to the job later. I work part time and it’s paid (not very high wage, but a paid legal job is so hard to come by as a 1L)! All in all, I am happy how my summer plans have fallen into place.
5/11/11 - I am about to start my LAST final in 10 min. It’s a 26 hour take home Civil Procedure final. Do not let that fool you, take home finals are ridiculously hard, and the expectation of the quality of the final is much higher. You end up working about 15 out of the 26 hours on them usually. Personally, I wish this one was in-class. I feel I have an advantage on in-class essays because I write and work through issues quickly and I’m more efficient under pressure. People who can write well but require more time to develop their responses typically do wonderfully on take home finals.
On a take home, I actually think giving me more time allows me to rework the issues TOO much and maybe that hurts me. Anyway, take home finals can level the playing field a bit but when it comes down to it, you either put the work in throughout the semester or you didn’t. That fact will show on your exam no matter how many notes and book references you check. Since my blog is due by tonight I figured I needed to write this now or I’d forget. I am ready to push myself, work hard, and get this test done and turned in! As the last final of the semester, I’m tired and in need of a law school break! Let’s go!
This is my last blog of the school year. I should be writing a couple summer blogs to update everyone on how the semester really went and what I am up to this summer. Always feel free to e-mail ANY questions you may have. THANK YOU ALL for reading!
4/27/11 - I had my second interview today for a position that I ‘m very interested in. I should hear back by next week, so hopefully I will have good news to blog about. The interview was a series of tasks that are common in the position. They included a legal research question, drafting a cover letter, and finally editing and critiquing a contract. I enjoyed all of the tasks. It’s always a good feeling to have confirmation that I did select a good career path for myself. Those three small tasks during the interview made me very excited to think I may have the opportunity with this position to begin to gel my hard work in law school with the real-world profession I am pursuing. It definitely would be a nice mental boost during finals to receive a job offer.
Speaking of finals … it is crunch time. It is scary how fast dead week is going. I only have four days before I take my first final. I’m feeling focused and determined, but at the same time teetering on the edge of stressed out. Stress actually subtracts focus for me so I have to be creative. I am pushing myself at times knowing that I have a few built in breaks for the weekend to relax. A pedicure, movie night, and church will all be welcomed time away from my law books and outlines. I keep reminding myself that finals are just a short time period then I have the summer to enjoy!
4/20/11 - It is the last week of full classes! It’s great to be so close to being done with the first year of law school. Unlike last semester, I am not at all nervous or scared of these finals. I am just ready to focus on preparing for them and then to take them. I understand more of what is expected from me and how I learn best.
The only obstacle during preparation for these finals is that I am still searching for a summer position. There actually were a lot of positions more geared for what I want to do that were posted as late as the second week of April. I applied to five just last night. I have a second interview next week. With no classes, scheduling interviews is easier. But, with finals looming over my head, any time taken away from studying feels like crucial time lost. Regardless, a summer job is important and I will do my best to balance between studying and interviewing. I will be thankful for any interview opportunities I receive.
For now, I am doing my best to get all of my outlines up-to-date before the dead week starts. That way, I will be ready to begin reviewing, writing out hypos, and practicing problems. My study group has decided on a schedule and, all in all, I feel a lot more prepared for finals this semester. Unfortunately, I’m sure everyone feels the same so I know I have my work cut out for me.
4/13/11 - Trial brief has been turned in! It feels great because now we are able to focus on preparing for finals. We also registered for classes last week. It was an interesting experience. As a 1L, you register last, so of course it is very difficult to get the exact schedule you want. It was much different than undergrad for me. In undergrad, there were always so many classes and times to choose from because I went to a very large university. Here, the law school is smaller, so planning your course schedule requires more effort and compromise. For instance, some classes are not offered at all certain semesters. Other times they only offer a night class. Finally, there is typically only one, maybe two sections of each course. Conflicting times of two classes you both want can cause a kink in your schedule.
However, even with all of the obstacles, I ended up getting a class schedule I am happy with. Tuesday and Thursdays will be night classes while Monday and Wednesday are day classes. I do not have class on Friday. One of the most helpful resources while trying to figure out my future course schedule was fellow classmates, especially upperclassman. They can tell you all about professors, class choices, and the process to enroll. Professors are helpful too. It is exciting to be almost done with my first year of law school, and even more exciting to think about starting the fall semester!
4/6/11 - At the beginning of law school, everyone tells you that the people you see in class every day will end up your professional colleagues in the near future. With that in mind, it’s important to realize your reputation in law school follows you into your career. First semester was generally about first impressions. A few stick out for either obvious positive or negative reasons, but overall everyone tends to appear decent.
Second semester has given us more opportunities to formulate stronger views on classmates. The reality is that these people will possibly be working with you or be the opposing counsel. So any unethical moves during class projects, outrageous class comments, personal drama, or continual unpreparedness becomes a mental note in the minds of your classmates.
I like to give someone the benefit of the doubt. We are all learning new material and mistakes happen. But for the people that start making negative impressions on a regular basis, I really do wonder what might happen to them later on. A vast majority of my section is filled with people I would love to work with, people I do trust and respect. But unfortunately, there are a few that will most likely help promote all the lawyer jokes the rest of us try to constantly defend and prove wrong. My advice is, don’t let that be you. Respect is a very hard thing to earn back if past decisions made have caused you to lose it.
3/30/11 - Today is my birthday! My study group was really nice and brought fancy cupcakes for me today at school. This wonderful act of kindness made me want to reiterate how helpful study groups can be! Besides the obvious perks of having a forum in which to discuss class materials and help prepare for finals, my study group is a true rock in my law school journey. In addition to our basic course material, we constantly discuss and keep each other up-to-date on schedules, advice we have heard, job searching, course planning, professor comments, supplements, and, of course, tidbits of our personal lives or law school gossip. Every assignment, grade, application response, or try out, we are all there giving each other support and encouragement. It is these additional areas that truly make my study group a full support system that helps me toward achieving my goals.
Some people don’t find study groups helpful and prefer to study alone. That is fine. We all have different routes to success. I just happen to be a huge proponent of MY study group. Don’t get me wrong, my friends outside my study group are all wonderful and I am happy to have them around as well. I just know I am very fortunate to have a regular and continuous support group. I mean after all, getting fancy cupcakes with mounds of fluffy frosting dashed with edible glitter on your birthday; well you can’t beat that with a baseball bat!
3/23/11 - Now that Spring Break is over, I can taste summer! Spring Break was wonderful, although not as productive with school as I hoped. I did get a lot done overall. Filing my taxes was extremely important because it helped my budget for the remainder of the school year, and allowed me to complete my FAFSA for next year. It doesn’t look like I will have the wonderful internship I hoped, so I decided the best way to spend the summer would be to volunteer at a law firm during the days, work at night, and take two courses.
Volunteering during the day will complete my pro bono hours and add legal experience to my resume. I need to work at night, probably waitressing, simply to make money. I elected to take the required two hour credit course Professional Responsibility in June, partly because I have been told the work load for this class is not as heavy as others tend to be during the summer sessions.
I need five credit hours to receive additional money for summer school, so I decided to also participate in the Santa Fe program. The course is less than two weeks long and focuses on an interest of mine, art and entertainment law. I am happy with my plan B option. It is productive, yet less stressful, but still beneficial for the future. Now that my plans seem to be finalized, I am ready to put full focus on ending this semester successfully!
3/9/11 - Last week I had the pleasure of having dinner with a Texas Wesleyan alum that I had previously met at a Dallas Young Lawyers Association mixer. It was informal but extremely beneficial. Her current position is in the direction I hope to head. I asked her both career and law school questions. No matter how hard the Texas Wesleyan faculty and staff tries to help prepare us students to make informed decisions regarding our law school journey, I still find current and past students extremely valuable to talk to. Don’t get me wrong, the school does a wonderful job of making all the information available. They have helpful seminars and required meetings to make sure the student body understands all of their options. Additionally, faculty and staff are always available to answer questions you may have. But, overall, I have learned the most by talking to current and past students.
I was extremely appreciative that she took the time out of her schedule to speak with me. She gave me some new insights and tips that I had not previously heard. It also allowed me some time to take a step back and look at the big picture. With the workload of this semester it is easy to get down on yourself. The dinner mentally made me excited about law and the future again. Otherwise, I am just trying to finish out this last week and be grateful to have Spring Break to get caught up in both life and school!
3/2/11 - I am not sure how I would make it through this semester without Spring Break starting at the end of next week. I believe this is the most “at capacity” I have felt during all of law school. I am focused, determined, and trying to keep up with everything, but there is just so much going on. The trial brief assignment (the first one we have ever had) comes out tomorrow. I am still job searching and networking. Class registration for summer and next year are both fast approaching. It takes some energy to figure out what classes you want to take, not to mention if you are able to take them when you want. Finally, and by no means not the least of importance, I am trying to keep up with classes and outlines.
I hear some people talk about trips they are taking during Spring Break. It sounds lovely, and yes, technically I’m sure they can take them and still be fine for the semester. Personally however, I am so thankful I have that time to get my outlines up-to-date, my class schedule ready for registration, some significant head way made on my trial brief, and hopefully more time to solidify my summer plans.
I do plan to have some free time during the break. Fun is important and healthy, after all! I just plan to have that free time around Dallas and Fort Worth. Basically, if Spring Break was not just around the corner, I might be losing it.
2/23/11 - Everyone has addressed class rankings, so I thought I’d give my quick personal view. I understand the basics of how they are determined, but I am not quite sure how ties are dealt with. Some people received the same grades but their actual numbers are a bit different. With the rankings being so close, it is hard to know exactly where you fall. At first glance, I was content with my ranking. A bit higher than I wanted, but I knew I was somewhat hesitant to completely go for my goal last semester. My ranking does give me the confidence I can achieve my goal, but I did have the realization that my exact ranking is not entirely under my control. There are so many of us so close to one another. With that said, I do have a goal and I intend to push towards it.
In the end, all I can do is do my best and see where I end up. Regardless, I hope to understand and retain what I am learning and challenge myself to truly learn how to think and become a successful attorney. I feel that I did begin to achieve that last semester. Your class rank is a great personal gauge of where you fall, a nice number on your resume to show others how you did, and a way to set a specific personal goal, but it is not a complete determinate for how much you soaked up from the previous semester.
2/16/11 - Memo three has been turned in! **sigh of relief** Classes are currently way off track due to all of the snow days. I had established a great routine prior to the missed days, but after being sick and staying home multiple days, I am definitely off my schedule. I am now trying to get back into a normal routine and it is very challenging. Hopefully, by next week I will feel 100% focused back on this semester.
Luckily, this week happens to be a quiet one – the memo was just turned in. Most of us are hoping to use it to catch up on outlines and our understanding of the material covered so far. Also, it is a great week to do additional searching and networking for summer opportunities. The reality is that everyone in law school wants a great summer opportunity and there are just not enough to go around. There are other options, such as sending targeted letters to firms that are not marketing a summer internship, or literally walking into smaller firms to see if they might have a need for you. These other options are, of course, more of a shot in the dark. The earlier I start putting myself out there, the more chances I might have to figure out what I will do over the summer. I hope to get an internship, but if not, I will have to make money at a job at night while volunteering for legal experience during the day.
2/9/11 - Today is our fifth snow day, and the first one during which I feel good. I got the flu last week and it knocked me on my butt. It was so hard lying in bed for four days straight! Not only did I feel miserable physically, but mentally, I was a mess. I could not help but think about how far ahead everyone else was getting with their schoolwork while I lost day after day. Luckily, our memo due date was pushed back, and overall there wasn’t a better time for me to get sick, because I did not miss any class. It was still hard to deal with. I keep reminding myself there is nothing I can do but put in extra work these upcoming weeks to get back on track.
For that reason, I was ecstatic for this snow day, only to use it to work on the memo. We will have to make up some classes due to all these snow days, maybe even some during the “dead week” we are supposed to have right before finals. That is actually okay with me; the random break was nice.
Words of optimism: This memo does feel easier to write than the last two. Hopefully, that is because I am getting better at doing these! I also feel pretty confident I can research any issue that comes my way. Of course, I still need to improve on time and the effectiveness of my research.
Back to writing the memo!
2/2/11 - Snow day!!! This is great because I am sick. I really needed time at home to rest. Of course, it would be better if I could push ahead in school, but I just don’t have enough energy to do as much as I want to do. Hopefully, I will get better soon and get back on track.
A fellow train rider told me that I should explain what a memo is. Basically, a memo is an interoffice document typically written by associates to upper level attorneys. A client’s situation is researched and the facts, issues, and legal authority (precedent cases or statutes) are identified. An objective, clear and concise, but complete, document is written. Generally, it is filed in the office for future reference. These memos can help determine if a client’s potential case is strong or weak.
The two memos first semester focused on learning legal writing. So, helpful cases and statutes were given out with the assignment. This third memo, due next week, is not the same because we have to do the research. It is extremely helpful and exciting to learn. However, most of us still feel we need work on learning how to write. Learning how to research does add a lot of time and stress.
Of course, we all realize we must get used to doing research. Soon we will be able to sit down and write a full memo in a day! Until then, we all will be struggling through.
1/26/11 - As promised, I wanted to explain some of the changes I plan to make personally, as well as the changes my study group has decided on, in order to improve the second semester.
• Review my class notes more frequently (quickly before each class and more in depth at the end of each week while adding to my outlines).
• Talk to professors outside of class more often (to ask questions and verify my notes).
• For class preparation, focus less on the facts of the case and more on law and analysis (knowing the basic facts are important, but my briefs were top loaded with facts instead of analysis).
• To keep from getting behind during the week, I will read more on the weekend.
• Instead of only discussing one class each week, we will discuss 3-4 classes each Friday afternoon (we found that doing only one subject a week meant we had five weeks before we returned to that subject. This was too much time in between).
• Set agendas and time limits for our meetings (Last semester our meetings were not as efficient as they could have been).
Hopefully, these updates will help ensure a successful end to the first year of law school. Classes have picked up pace and our first unaided research assignment has been assigned. On the next blog, I will go into detail on what exactly a “memo” is and why this one is so stressful.
1/19/11 - I am just going to be honest; this semester is already way harder than first semester. It is only the start of week two and I feel like I am constantly pushing myself to stay focused and keep up with the work. Part of this is my determination to improve, so I am being more diligent. Another part consists of the added energy required to job search and apply for summer internships. The third and largest part is simply the work load has increased. We have one more credit hour this semester compared to last. That doesn’t seem like it would make a big difference, but, and I think most of my peers would agree, I definitely feel that addition. Also, there was no easement into the course work. It was come back, dive in, and swim as fast as you can all the way until the end of spring.
With all that said, I know this semester will go just as fast as the last one. It is full commitment just until May. I know I can make it. Also, I can at least apply the confidence I obtained from last semester. We all are more comfortable in the law school environment. That definitely is necessary for the second semester. My study group has met and revamped our strategy. I think it will work great for this semester. My next blog will be about the study group and personal changes I am making for the semester.
1/12/11 - It’s great to be back! Don’t get me wrong, winter break was wonderful. I spent time with my family and took a vacation to Cancun, Mexico. The free time was definitely appreciated. But, after a week of relishing my days sans studying and intense reading, I actually started to feel discombobulated.
It feels good to get back to a routine and to be productive each day. I missed all of my classmates and the mutual understanding we all have of each other during this journey. Although my family and friends are extremely supportive, when they asked about my semester it was extremely difficult to explain it, and even harder not to bore them to death. The reality is that no one understands unless they have been through this and almost everyone you talk to isn’t as excited about law as you are. They probably don’t much care what you are learning. For this reason, being around all of my peers again reminds me I’m not alone and it’s great to talk about the semester we just finished, as well as the one ahead of us.
As for my grades, the hard work did pay off. Not as much as I hoped, but I definitely feel proud of what I accomplished. The best part for me in viewing my grades is that I feel confident I can achieve my goals. Because the grades were a slightly below my ultimate goal, they also provide me with incentive to work harder. I learned so much first semester. I am excited to keep doing the things I learned that work and to change the few things that I know could be improved. I will be sure to write a blog specifically on the changes I plan to implement. Anyway, I’m ready and energized to dominate this semester!
12/15/10 - This first week, I keep waking up thinking I am late. I find myself watching TV on the couch and feeling anxious, as though I have something I should be doing. It’s a very weird feeling to go from constant pressure weighing down on you to this short period of complete easiness.
I did, in complete type-A personality style, create a to-do list to complete during break. Some of my list includes organizing my apartment, updating my resume, meeting with Career Services, going to appointments, and a few other major things. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to focus on one to-do list instead of the multiple lists I generally have.
The other goal of this break is to actually enjoy myself. So sprinkled in between all of the must- accomplish activities, I have been having longer workouts, going to yoga class, painting, reading a book (non-law related), sleeping in, hanging out with friends, and just plain relaxing!
I go back to Kansas City on Sunday. I wanted a week off here in Dallas to accomplish my list and feel at ease when I head back to the family. I will have just over a week home for Christmas. Then I am coming back to Dallas for a few days and then… I am off to CANCUN! My family decided to have the trip to Cancun as our Christmas. So that will be another six days with my family. I am very excited for some beach time!!
The only downside I have noticed about break is that randomly I am hit with this anxious feeling. I wonder if I put enough work in this semester. I pray my grades are at least close to my goal. I get nervous that maybe I did worse than I think. I’ve been told that grades won’t be back until January. At those moments I just remember there is nothing I can do now except enjoy my break and come back next semester willing, prepared, and determined to work even harder now that I somewhat know what I am doing in law school.
12/8/10 - I cannot believe it!!! ONE FINAL TO GO!! My last final is Legislation & Regulation at 9 AM tomorrow morning. Then…I am on break! I was pretty anxious about finals. The thought of “my whole grade rests basically on one test!” is new and scary. It felt, at first, as though the whole semester didn’t matter. How prepared I was for each class, my participation, and my engagement in class felt diminished because I am only really rewarded for the final. As I have learned, that wasn’t at all true. Studying was overall…dare I say it…fun! Because I prepared for each class, tried to keep up as best I could with outlining throughout the semester, participated in class, and stayed engaged as often as my brain would allow, studying was a time where it all came together for me.
I was also apprehensive about my focus. Three full weeks is a long time to stay so committed to studying. I learned that there are three weeks worth of time so that you can allow yourself a break. Without the breaks, I think the majority of us would explode or something. Anyway, I am hesitant to write too much considering I really have no idea how I truly did this semester until I get my grades back. It will be great to gauge if I gave enough effort or not. Regardless, I learned a lot this first semester and plan to try even harder and do better next semester.
11/23/10 - Class is done for the first semester!! It was hard to focus in class during the last week because it felt like class was interrupting my time to prepare for finals. I know that sounds bad but it is true. Of course, I still prepared and went to class, but because it was so close to the end, the anxious feeling of studying for finals made class seem long and boring.
My section had a kickball game against the faculty on Friday. It was a ton of fun! I think everyone needed to get outside, run around, and attempt to kick the mess out of a kickball. For the first time this semester, I realized how close everyone in my section has become. Just to explain, there are two daytime sections and one nighttime section. Torts, Contracts, and Property contain all of the students in the section, but LARW and Legislation and Regulation are subsections of the entire section.
Even though there are so many different types of people in my section, we all share this new life of law school. That common bond is extremely strong, so my section now feels like a family. This aspect of law school is nice. Most people start out knowing absolutely no one, and by the end, everyone has added a ton of new good friends (as well as future professional contacts) to their lives. I am thankful there are so many great people who help make this time a bit easier. Time to go study!
11/17/10 - I only have one word to describe what I am right now...TIRED. Memo 2 is turned in and it is the last week of classes. Everything is coming together and time is flying by.
I did experience my first significant conflict between my personal life and law school this week. Yes, it happened to be the night before the memo was due. Perfect timing, right? I was actually surprised at how quickly I was able to separate the personal issue from my law school work. I just told myself, my personal life can wait, Memo 2 can’t. With that mindset, I sat down and finished the paper. I have decided that mindset will have to last until finals are over.
The conflict did bring to my attention that I am operating in a much more fragile state than I would like to admit. Everyone handles stress differently. I am typically calm and I don’t stress easily. When my personal life conflict happened, I realized that it quickly tipped the scales and I briefly felt overwhelmed. Luckily, I know law school is my top priority. My determination took over and I felt focused once again. That’s wonderful considering it is only three weeks until finals!
What is also wonderful is that my family (mama, dad, and little brother) have decided to drive down to Dallas from Kansas City for Thanksgiving! I can’t wait to see them for the two days they will be here!
11/10/10 - Nineteen days until my first final! The weeks are flying by and class is actually starting to feel like it is interrupting my study time. I know that sounds horrible. But with Memo 2 due in less than a week and exams approaching faster than I expected, I want the time to study and write on the memo.
This crunch time has also become more intense because recently there have been more networking opportunities. Last Friday, I attended a women’s luncheon for Tarrant County. This week I went to a mixer hosted by the Women’s Law Students’ Association. Also, all 1L’s attended a presentation by Career Services. The presentation explained their services and some things we should be doing on our own. The information presented sparked me to take about two hours to focus on career exploration and networking preparation. It was actually a great productive break from studying, and made me step back to think of the big picture. For the area of law I would like to enter, I know that networking is extremely important. Although it is difficult to balance between school work and networking, I know both are crucial elements I must learn to juggle.
Luckily my Contracts class was canceled on Friday. I have done better with Memo 2 by not procrastinating. I plan to finish the memo on Friday and use the extra time this weekend to get ahead for my final week of class!
11/3/10 - I already feel how law is changing me. Professors, higher level students, and practicing attorneys will all tell you that you will never think the same after law school. I’ve also been told that very soon I won’t even like Law and Order anymore because I will be able to tell when the writers of the show take dramatic creative liberties with the law and the judicial system.
I feel it most when I am around anyone who is not in law school. I say things like “precedent” and “reckless.” I break down sentences and give meaning to each word a person says so I do not frustrate the rule against surplusage. I now make a distinction between the words “fewer” and “less.” I hesitate to use the word “which” because I still don’t quite understand it. When I walk around a grocery store, I wonder if the store has performed their due care to ensure grapes have not rolled on the ground long enough to create a foreseeable risk posed by the store’s mode of operation.
Yes, it has become that bad and this list could go on for days. The main point is that this is not just three years training for a job. This is a profession, a chosen lifestyle. You do lose part of who you were simply because you must in order to become who you want to be, a lawyer.
10/27/10 - It’s hard to describe where we’re at in this semester. I feel comfortable with areas I was completely at a loss about not even two months ago. A growing sense of accomplishment, yardage gained, and a pinch of confidence keep my passion for this choice I made alive. At the same time, however, I know I ain’t really done a darn thing yet…
Finals are creeping up faster than any of us would like. We want the material to end so we don’t have to keep cramming information in brains that feel at capacity. At the same time, we never want finals to get here because that means we have to be ready to prove we have mastered the content at hand.
Currently, I am doing my best to keep up with my class preparation, outlines, memo, studying, practice exams, workouts, and the rest of my non-law school life. My academic TA made a good point today about something I started doing without realizing it: I am shifting the allocation of my time. More weight is now given to the memo, outlining, reviewing, and practicing for exams. Of course preparation for class is still a priority. I have just become more efficient about knowing how to prepare.
I am still very happy and excited to be blessed with the opportunity of law school. I want to do everything I can now, so that in January I can feel a true sense of accomplishment when I view my first law school grades!
10/20/10 - 8 helpful hints for future or current Texas Wesleyan Law students (no particular order):
1.) If you pay attention to all of the emails and posters, you can basically find free lunch, dinner, or dessert in law school every day! Added bonus, you get to hear lots of interesting people speak.
2.) Molly the Trolley: Is wonderful! Leave your car parked at the school and take the trolley to Sundance square to go out to eat. Usually we go in groups on Fridays after class.
3.) The Sheraton: Texas Wesleyan students get 20% off at the restaurant and the coffee café in the hotel next door to the school. There is a spa over there too, in case you need a massage.
4.) Printing: figure out how to print early, not right before an assignment is due. You can print from your laptop anywhere in the school.
5.) Professors really do want you to come to their office and talk to them. You should take them up on that.
6.) The IT department is great. They can help with any computer problems you might encounter. Use them!
7.) The Water Gardens are really pretty. Great place to visit when you need to bring peace back to your mind.
*8.) If you ever begin to question why you chose law school, go in an empty mock courtroom and just pick a seat (whichever one you feel suits you best). If you are following a passion, you will immediately remember why you are here.
10/13/10 - Ahhh!!! This week was so busy that I forgot to write my blog! We had our first graded memo due on Tuesday, and then turned right around and had our 2nd Torts midterm on Wednesday. I made it home today around 4:30pm and fell asleep. I woke up an hour later and started to piece back together my “other” life, the one that still exists outside of law school. In the middle of cleaning, bill paying, and laundry, it hit me! My blog was due an hour ago!
So, I stopped doing dishes long enough to write out how I’m feeling. I worked hard, really hard. But even with all that hard work, I didn’t make it through this tough week like I hoped. I wasn’t done with my memo until I had to submit it online on Tuesday morning (literally three minutes before the due time). I had to miss class and I still feel guilty about that. With the memo taking more time than I thought, I didn’t have as much study time for Torts. Overall, I feel as though both my memo and Torts essay went well but only time and teacher comments will tell.
I learned so much this past week about myself: my study habits, test taking methods, physical and mental limits. I also learned a lot about my peers. I feel it was an awesome way to prepare for the remainder of the semester and definitely for finals.
10/6/10 - I’m in the library…by myself…for the first time this semester. For me, it means it’s time to get down to business. Most people study in this library regularly. I, on the other hand, have never liked libraries. When my roommate is gone I study in my apartment, with no TV, either on the couch, in bed, or at my small writing desk. Most of the time, I prefer to study in public places like Starbucks, my apartment’s club house, or even the hotel lobby at the Sheraton right by the law school. I just don’t like the daunting feeling of being in a quiet library. It feels too serious for me.
This stretch of law school, however, is not the same as it has been. I’m coming in early and leaving late every day and I’m still feeling overwhelmed. It’s evident to me that if I can make it through October without losing too much ground, then I have a significantly better chance of being ready to prepare for finals. I made a conscious decision on Sunday night – for the next few weeks, I have no choice but to buckle down and get the work done. The make it or break it, full on 100% focus time has begun. This library will be seeing much more of me whether I like it or not.
**Side note: The Texas Wesleyan Law Library is wonderful. My phobia regarding libraries is general and not specific to this library.
9/29/10 - With the Texas heat beginning to subside, the State Fair frying everything in sight, and Starbucks bringing back their pumpkin spice latte (YUM!), it’s evident that October is almost here. What that means for law school is that we’re half way through our first semester. As quickly as the first half went, I expect that finals are just around the corner. During my last study group, we took a minute to plan out the month of October. I was amazed at how helpful this was. With all we have going on, believe me, it’s easy to forget to write something in your planner.
By meeting with my group I also had verification that I didn’t mess up any dates (also easy to do with five classes that all have constantly changing schedules). The most important advantage was how I instantly developed a big picture of where we are in the semester. I feel more confident because my group now has a strategy going into this crazy month. We have memo 1 final draft due, midterm 2 for Torts, Tort practice exam, memo 2 part 1, and the Property practice exam all in October. Since the final exam is the main grade for a majority of your classes, these practice exams should be taken seriously. Hopefully, staying on top of my classes and having a planned out approach will keep me from screaming and running for the hills during this crunch time month!
9/22/10 - To TRE, or not to TRE?
Train people, as we are lovingly referred to, are students who ride the Trinity Rail Express between Dallas and Fort Worth. I knew I would be living in downtown Dallas and that traffic here can make you contemplate pulling your hair out. So I looked for apartments close to a train station. I drove the first couple weeks of school and then started taking the train. With both options fully tested, I wanted to share my thoughts.
By car is typically faster (20-30 minutes), and has the convenience of leaving when you want. I also enjoyed blasting my favorite music and singing on the way in to wake me up. An aspect that was not conducive to my budget or my nutritional goals was that I stopped for breakfast, snacks, or dinner frequently. Also, filling up my tank seemed constant.
The train from Dallas takes about 40-45 minutes and I still get to class over an hour early. There’s a bit of a wait after class, but luckily the train is always sitting at the T&P station so it’s nice to board early for extra study time. Studying on the train is wonderful and I don’t get motion sickness. The newer cars have free Wi-Fi, lots of work tables, and outlets. Downsides include rainy days, occasional “interesting” people, and no ability to oversleep.
Unfortunately, I have a word count to follow so please email me with any questions. Overall, I definitely recommend the train!
9/15/10 - Last night, I attended a presentation on human trafficking presented by the Women Law Students Association. The lecture stressed that sex trafficking does not make up the majority of their human trafficking cases. Labor trafficking is actually the most prevalent. The National Criminal Justice Reference Service estimates that every year 17,500 individuals are brought into the U.S. to be enslaved in either a labor or commercial sex situation. The presenters emphasized that Texas handles a large portion of the incidents that occur nationally.
Overall, I gained an awareness of a prevalent problem that is affecting our local communities. The speakers also incorporated some law into their presentation, which was helpful to us law students. If you are interested in more information, you can visit: http://www.fortworthpd.com/Divisions/human-trafficking.aspx.
Ok, so the point of the above was to demonstrate how attending at least a few of the never ending seminars available to law students can help supplement the normal material we learn in class. As a 1L, I feel that it is very easy to get wrapped up in the work and put blinders on for the rest of the world and community. I decided to try not to do this. My thought process is that I don’t have the ability to be very involved in any one organization during this first year. So, I hope to hear a wide array of topics from different organizations, so that I can better choose which ones I want to focus on the next two years. Plus, free food!
9/8/10 - Not to be a Negative Nancy, but I wanted to expand on a recurring feeling I’ve been having this past week. It makes you unable to fall asleep, wakes you up before your alarm goes off, and creeps into any fun activity you attempt to partake in. When your schedule gets off track due to uncontrollable events, it finds its way to the forefront of your thoughts. This ever expanding and constant nagging emotion is guilt.
With memo one assignment out, midterm one for Torts this Wednesday, and the knowledge that outlining should be fully underway, I suppose it’s only inevitable that the power that “guilt” possesses has increased. Every moment you aren’t finding your productive focus, you feel horrible about it. Life’s little hiccups definitely don’t help the issue.
I planned on getting more done this Labor Day weekend than I actually did. Maybe my expectations were too great. I do have to remember law school reading is not average speed; it’s more like sloth speed. To fully get the material, you have to be extremely detailed and bring in a lot of extra outside effort. I just hope the due diligence will pay off later.
On a final positive note, I did enjoy this long weekend by getting three workouts in, going to a BBQ/pool party, and I will be going to a high school football game tonight. I am also fully determined to have a productive week!
9/1/10 - I think I am currently in the calm before the storm. I am comfortable with completing the assigned readings and preparing for class. My routine is in place and my days, although busy, still have some “me” time in them. I even have a break today, because our morning Property class was canceled. It’s a perfect opportunity to push ahead and start focusing on reviewing what I have learned so far. I know this feeling won’t last. We will be receiving our first memo assignment this week and the first midterm is next week (so soon!). My never ending optimism tells me I can use this time to stay ahead throughout the semester. The logical side, however, thinks I might want to cherish these moments because they won’t occur again until December. Either way, I plan to use this week and Labor Day weekend to really begin engraining the material into my brain.
On a personal note, football season is going into full force and I am going to make it a point to watch at least the second half of two of my favorite games each week. I will probably be around friends during those games so I am accomplishing two things at once. Law school really does make you value your time. I am extremely excited for the pigskin season and plan to attend several live games (Cowboys and local high school match ups). So, GO EAGLES, JAYHAWKS, COWBOYS…and Chiefs (it’s my hometown!)!!
8/25/10 - I am so excited to be a blogger! First, I wanted to share a bit about myself. I was born and raised in a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas. After graduating from the University of Kansas (Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!) in December 2008, I moved to Dallas for a job offer. The combination of big city life, opportunities, and hospitable people drew me to the Metroplex. Also, it was a goal to head south away from the snow. Currently, I live in downtown Dallas with my roommate, a teacher in the Dallas school district. I plan to start commuting by train in September, so look forward to stories on that.
With almost two weeks of school under my belt, I am beginning to notice that some strategies are working for me, although I still have a great deal to figure out. I am trying my best to establish a routine and stick to my agendas. Arriving between 8-8:30 a.m. each morning really helps me feel prepared for class. I have started organizing my days to the hour, and I actually really like it. At first I felt it might be too rigid, but it definitely helps to achieve my goals for the week. Today I joined a study group with two fellow students. We decided to meet once a week. I think the group will be a great support system and aid us in keeping on top of our progress throughout the semester. More insight to come, back to reading!
8/20/10 - Orientation and the first day of class went significantly better than the scenarios my anxious mind produced. Excitement consumed me the first night of orientation, realizing the next stage of my professional life was finally beginning. As I looked around the lecture hall, I was comforted to know I was in a place where I fit in. With similar desires, dreams, and determination filling the air, I felt my own drive to succeed rising even higher than it began.
The prelude to classes went quickly and before I knew it, I was driving home Saturday afternoon thinking of all I needed to accomplish. By Saturday night I felt more at ease knowing I had sifted through all of the materials given at orientation, and I had organized my new law school life. Sunday was spent preparing for the inevitable, the start of class.
Even with all of the warnings regarding the work load, I still underestimated the time needed to prepare for Monday. I missed out on some sleep but found time before each class to finish preparing and ease my nervousness. The professors were entertaining and actually very nice. The horror stories I’ve been told and dutifully prepared to encounter did not make an appearance. Overall, I felt orientation focused my energy into how to succeed in law school. The first day of classes showed me I can do this, but I have an immense amount of work to accomplish and constant time to manage.