Undergraduate School: University of North Texas
Undergraduate Major: Applied Behavior Analysis
Hometown: Lewisville, TX
Status: Full-Time Day
4/24/13 - Today is my first full day of finals preparation. Yesterday, I tied up loose ends on work projects, attended my final class and review session, and sketched out a rough study schedule. Naturally, I forgot to put things like writing this blog on the schedule. Fortunately, I left enough flex time in to account for such events.
My finals this semester are nicely spaced out. Our finals are scheduled across a two week period. My first final is the second day in and my last is literally among the few in the last scheduled time slot. Between each final, I have at least several days in which prepare for the next. Though that is optimal, I don’t want to make it sound like that is quite sufficient. I have a couple of classes that I did not learn quite as well as I would have liked to across the semester. So, they will take a little extra preparation time. Given that, the next couple of weeks will be filled from morning until night with studying, save for a few necessary distractions to give my brain a break.
I am once again having conflicting feelings of panic and calm regarding my ability to prepare sufficiently for my exams. Each semester has seemed more difficult for a number of reasons, but I have managed to perform well on the exams to this point. This semester, most of my classes were more difficult and/or time consuming, while my extracurricular and work schedules were also more involved. Overall, this semester has been my most challenging and, quite frankly, I’m glad to see it come to a close. So, now I must go study to make sure it ends on a good note. To any students reading this: Good luck!
4/17/13 - There is one word that has become particularly near and dear to me since I started law school: free. Though I have always been fairly frugal, throwing myself (kicking and screaming) back into a student’s budget has presented many challenges.
Fortunately, there seems to be a fair amount of free things around here. Free pen? Why, thank you. Free page tabs? Absolutely. Free highlighter? Well, I don’t need it but…okay. Free pizza? Hmm, I have eaten free pizza for the last few days and the smell of it makes me nauseous, but, okay, don’t mind if I do. Free ice cream? WHAT?! REALLY?! YES!! Free coffee? Perfect. I love you. You are now my best friend.
So, that is the way I am living these days. If it is free, I will likely take it, especially if it meets a nutritional, or “nutritional,” need. With student loan debt and an almost non-existent income, beggars can’t afford to be choosers. Free? Yes. Then it’s for me.
Given all that, I am really ready to get back into the working world. I occasionally reflect that I should have kept my full-time job and just attended school part-time for at least the first year. In all reality though, I know my grades would be lower, I would not have been able to get involved with the organizations I have, and I likely would have missed out on knowing some of the great people I now know. So, all in all, despite the financial difficulties, going back to school full-time was my best plan.
4/3/13 - April means that it is time to start looking more seriously towards finals preparation. Once again, I find myself fretting about being prepared enough to not only pass, but excel. This semester has been particularly challenging (as you may have noticed) with my various commitments and a tough set of classes. As has been my pattern to this point though, I hope to overcome any shortcomings in the scope of my knowledge and ensure my comprehension of what I think I already know just in time for the exam. To do so though will take a little extra this semester. On top of difficult subject matters, I am in a couple of classes among the brightest people here who are also competing for the top grades in the curve. Additionally, with the MPRE, Law Review responsibilities, work, and a motion for summary judgment to write I cannot start studying until closer to the finals period. So, now a breath, a moment of reflection, and I need to begin a constructive approach to meet this goal. Over the next couple of days, I will make a study schedule, accounting for the how much time I need to spend on each subject matter and realistically how much time I have.
Realistically, this is likely the pace I will continue through much of my legal career. Fortunately, I am adapting to this pace and continue to do well. My efficiency has increased and I am much more able to identify the key areas likely to be tested so I know on what to focus. The current students and faculty are also very supportive and encouraging, and of course I still have my fantastic study group. So, onwards into the finals battle, with an eye towards completing my 2L year, leaving just one remaining to graduate.
3/27/13 - Next weekend, I will be taking the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). This is a requirement for admission to the Bar in all but three United States jurisdictions. The exam requires knowledge pertaining to the rules that regulate lawyers and judges professional decisions. The questions can address such issues as who you may do business with, what information must be in writing, and whether a judge can give money to a political party.
I am walking into this slightly blind as I have not taken our Professional Responsibility class. I chose to do so due to a forecasted busy year next year with the exams falling at bad times for my schedule. I had also heard that taking that class first was not absolutely imperative. So, over this last week I started cramming all the rules into my brain. Though many of them are common sense others are very specific, such as to whom you may reveal what information your client told you. Hopefully this week I will be able to commit enough of the rules to memory to pass the exam. Though I can take the exam again, I would at least suffer a bit of personal embarrassment knowing that I did not pass the exam—especially since I consider myself a rather ethical and professional person. So, lots of cramming!
Other than that, I’m still keeping busy. I’m still living my mostly voluntarily overcommitted life. Fortunately, I’m enjoying almost everything I am doing, or have at least come to terms with it being a means to an end (e.g., paying my bills).
3/6/13 - We are finally halfway through the semester and I am very excited about Spring Break! But first, some news: Last week, Law Review held interviews for those members who would like to be on the board next year. There were several positions that I wanted, and I was chosen for one of them—Executive Editor! I am really excited about this opportunity! My responsibilities will include arranging the Law Review write-on competition for potential incoming members next year, organizing the student rigorous writing process, and other executive board responsibilities. We, the board, are already hitting the ground running with brainstorming meetings and such. We have great board members with fantastic ideas, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish next year!
Now, about Spring Break: Though I will have to work a little, I am otherwise hoping to catch up on some much needed sleep, fun-time, and cleaning! With several big projects due over the last few weeks and this week, I have fallen behind in all of those areas. My house is a mess, I have a few projects I need to complete, and I want to catch up with friends and family. A number of OUTlaw members are also going to Austin to join Equality Texas’ Lobby Day. There, we will meet with legislators to advocate for changes to Texas laws to move the LGBT community towards equal rights. This is my first lobbying experience and I am really passionate about the subject matter so it should be a great time! And, of course, Austin is a great town that I never mind visiting. It will be a full but refreshing week!
2/20/13 - I have less than one week to finish my law review paper. It is coming along well, but there is plenty more to do. From now until Monday at midnight, any time I am not in class will be filled with citation checks, formatting, proofreading, and general clean up. Right after it is turned in I will shift my focus to a research memo for my Oil and Gas class. This is a busy time of the semester! Fortunately, Spring Break follows all these due dates and I will certainly embrace that time to relax.
It is once again hard to believe the semester is almost halfway completed! I have been pretty absorbed in various school responsibilities so time has flown by! There is a saying that 2L year they work you to death, and that has certainly proven to be true for me. However, I think it all depends on what you are involved in. For me, taking a drafting class, finishing my Law Review paper, other Law Review and OUTlaw responsibilities, and increasing my work hours all added up to a crazy semester. Some of my classmates have fewer commitments so their schedule is less hectic. Through this, I have proven to myself that I can take on a lot without losing effectiveness or my sanity. I may be tired, but this is all helping me reach my goals.
2/6/13 - In addition to our regular Law Review member citation check and submitted paper edit and review responsibilities, we are to write a paper to earn rigorous writing credit (a graduation requirement). Several student papers will also be chosen for inclusion in a future Law Review publication. So, over the last couple of semesters I have chosen my topic, immersed myself in the research, and spent a lot of time developing and writing my paper. Through this process, we have a Law Review board member that is there for support and feedback, as well as a professor of choice who oversees the project.
I have found this writing process slightly more difficult than I initially expected in several areas. First, finding a topic that I enjoyed enough to devote months of work to and was not already discussed in a thorough and thought-provoking manner proved a challenge. Then, developing my paper in a manner that makes it worth reading to the academic world is another difficulty. Lastly, the tedious review to ensure my citations are formatted correctly and the paper is written in a clear, concise, and grammatically-correct manner has been quite time-consuming and, to be honest, boring. My paper is due in a few weeks and I have a fair amount of work to finish it. Fortunately, most of the substantive material is already written in a strong draft, so most of the work will be review and finishing touches. Last weekend I finally hit the place where I am actually a bit happy with my paper! That gave me the little burst of energy I need to get it finished over the next couple of weeks. Whether or not this paper is ever seen by the outside world, I am proud of my accomplishment and cannot wait to celebrate its completion!
1/23/13 - By this point in the year, those law students who have not yet lined up a summer internship are looking more intently. A number of students are already hired for the summer through the school’s on-campus interview program. Since my legal interests didn’t completely match up with those firms and organizations that hired through that program, I started independently searching to find a better match.
I applied for two internships that strongly fit my interests. One of the internships I applied for is with a small firm in Houston. When I looked at their website, I saw that the firm mirrored one I would create should I ever need to in terms of its services so it immediately caught my attention. I interviewed with several partners over the winter break and I dare say it was the most comfortable and enjoyable interview I have ever had! You can imagine my glee when they said I could intern there this summer!
Last week, I interviewed with a not-for-profit organization that litigates and educates on issues pertaining to the rights of members of the LGBT community and individuals diagnosed with HIV. Quite frankly, I thought it would be a stretch for me to get this internship, as I am sure they got a number of talented applicants. Again, the interview went well and I am ecstatic to also get to join their team for the summer! So, I will spend the first part of the summer in the area, and the second half floating back and forth between here and Houston. It will be busy, but I am thrilled with how the summer has shaped up! They are both fantastic learning opportunities with good people. I couldn’t ask for more!
(Note: I intentionally did not include the name of the firm or organization as I did not yet get their permission to do so).
1/9/13 - Wow, our winter break seemed remarkably short! Despite steadily moving things from my “to-do” list to my “ta-da” list, I did not get as much finished as I planned. However, I did rest and play a fair amount, so no complaints. In addition, the break allowed me to catch up with some friends and family members I did not see frequently during the fall semester.
This semester brings a few new experiences:
1. I have classes five days a week.
2. I have my first evening class.
3. I am trying to increase my working hours to get some bills paid.
I fear this combination may wear me out a bit, but it is what needs to be. There were several classes I either specifically wanted to take this semester to help build my skill set prior to my summer internships or were slated to be taught by specific professors I prefer.
I am most looking forward to Education Law and Litigation Drafting. It may sound strange to look forward to a drafting class, as they tend to occupy a lot of your time with generally dry activities. However, I would like to continue to improve my writing skills, so I am looking forward to doing so. Though I did well in my first year writing courses, there are many skills I want to ensure are fine-tuned so my writing advocacy skills are maximally effective. Education law is one of my career interests, so I am particularly looking forward to that class. My experiences working in schools should provide a nice knowledge base as well as an understanding of the context in which the issues arise. My other classes this semester include Secured Transactions, Oil and Gas, Evidence, and Law Review.
12/18/12 - I love winter break! Over the last few days I have taken the time to hang out with friends, visit my mom, start cleaning my house, and BAKE! I have recently discovered a love for baking. As I slowly try to adopt closer to a vegan lifestyle, baking has been a bit of an experiment. Some recipes we have enjoyed quite a bit! Some recipes, well, my partner is nice enough to eat them anyway. Across the few weeks of studying for finals I found a lot of new recipes that I set aside to try once school was out. Now, I am excited to be able to try them and stock up my freezer with goodies for once school starts again. Other than that, my break will consist of cleaning and purging my house, spending time with family, working, and trying to finish my paper. I hope to take care of a few projects I have been putting off so they aren’t hanging over my head when I need to start studying again.
I recently hit the wall of wishing I was back in the working world and not in school. I occasionally wonder why I quit a job with decent pay and summers off. I still wonder that, but I just remind myself of the reasons I needed to do this and try to focus on those. Now that this semester is completed, I am halfway finished with law school. That gives me a little comfort and a little frustration. My time here is simultaneously flying by and meandering along. I know these next few semesters will pass more quickly than I expect. I do enjoy being in school for many reasons, so I will continue to focus on those. But for now, as much as I can, all things law school have been put out of my mind. I am going to go rest, relax, play, and enjoy the holidays as much as I can for the next few weeks. Happy holidays to you all!
12/12/12 - Finals are over! Cue sigh of relief! For some reason, though, I woke up this morning thinking about what I needed to study and that I needed to get out of bed to get started. A moment later, I remembered finals were finished. Oddly, that realization did not come as quickly as it should have. Somewhere between sleep and wake, my mind just would not let go of it. Perhaps these last few weeks of an intense study schedule put my mind and body into a routine it could not let go of very quickly or easily. Even as I sit here writing this my mind is still trying to edge over into law school related information. Soon it will slow down. Hopefully sooner rather than later, since school will be starting before we know it!
Perhaps this morning my mind was thinking of what I needed to know a little better on the finals. This semester, my finals were particularly tough. The two I have in mind required knowing A LOT of details from across the whole semester since we did not have a midterm. This was also my first experience with finals on back to back days. That created new study challenges in trying to concentrate on two finals at one time. Though I think I did at least well enough on each of the exams, there was still plenty more I could have known a little better. That is always the case though, no matter how well anyone performs. All I can say is that I gave it all I had and I tried my best. I still have some lingering uncertainties about how well I answered one of my essays, but I am putting that out of my mind. No matter how well or not well I performed, the determining factor of my grade will be how well everyone else did. So, whatever will be, will be. Overall I am content with my performance. Now, I am off to try to not think about law school!
11/28/12 - I confess that I am having difficulty this semester focusing on finals preparation like I should be. I am not entirely sure why that is but I have a few theories.
First, for some reason it still feels like finals are far away. This is a rather absurd viewpoint as finals start next week.
Second, there is a lot going on this time of year with which I would prefer to be a part. Thanksgiving break allowed me to reconnect with my family and some friends and now I just want to put aside my books and go spend more time with them. This semester has been pretty busy and I haven’t been around quite as much. I am trying to keep my eye on the finish line knowing I will have some time then. But, in reality, winter break will not really allow me that much more leisure time.
Third, I am more worn out entering this finals time than any of the past. This crazy busy semester has taken a toll on my stamina and I need to recharge. Paired with the weather cooling, I would really just like to curl up with a blanket and my pets to read (a book of choice, not about law) or nap by a cozy fire.
So, facing those challenges, I sat down to create a schedule to keep me on track for the next few weeks. I even found myself building in little reinforcers for meeting my study goals. It did help kick me into gear a bit this morning as I saw more tangible evidence of what needs to be completed in a brief amount of time. I am trying hard to stick with it so I know I will be prepared. So, now, back to studying. Wish me luck!
11/20/12 - Finals preparation is well on its way! Last year, Thanksgiving week preceded finals so we had almost all of that week to prep and study. This year, with Thanksgiving earlier, we will return for a few classes, have a few days of studying, and then enter our two week finals period. That has thrown my preparation schedule a little out of whack, but perhaps that will end up being a good thing. It should at least allow for a more relaxed Thanksgiving, since my first final will be two weeks, not four days, from that day. I am sure my mom will appreciate that! This semester has been a little more hectic and I have not seen as much of my family as I have in the past. So, a little break time with them will be good. The more I think about it, though I was initially not thrilled with returning to classes after break, perhaps this schedule will be great!
My first final is not until the Friday of the first finals week. However, my other finals are back to back the following week. Last year, our finals were more spread out so this will be my first time with this challenge. I am feeling confident though! The next few weeks will be filled with long days of reading, making outlines and flashcards, conferring with supplements, practicing application questions, and squeezing in some time to eat, sleep, and breathe. I have been fortunate to end up in a fantastic study group with a good group of friends. I firmly believe that I would not being where I am without the group. Though we would each individually still be doing well, I think we each bring our own strengths to the group to help each other develop deeper understanding of the material.
11/7/12 - There are times in law school, as in the rest of life, during which you must take mental health days. I admit, I am not good at remembering to do this proactively, so by the time I take one I REALLY need it. Last weekend, my partner and I joined my uncle in a charity “Xtreme Hike.” This constituted a day hike until daylight ends or you give in. I hoped to hike the day away--a lofty goal given my tendency towards a sedentary lifestyle these days. Somehow, I did manage to hike somewhere between 23-25 miles!
It is always nice to step away from law school and other responsibilities periodically. To me, it is especially nice to step further from many of the luxuries of civilization and just disconnect. I confess my biggest goal post-graduation besides, of course, finding work I enjoy, is to find a job that allows me some flexibility in hours and to make enough money to buy a couple kayaks. That may seem like a small goal, but it is one that is important to me. I fell in love with camping, hiking, and kayaking just before starting school. I find that the relative solitude quiets my busy mind and allows me to reset. It also keeps me connected to the non-human world and my personal environmental impact.
Unfortunately, school and other commitments have limited the amount I can get outside, but this adventure fell at a good time. Starting next week (only postponed because I have a paper to finish writing), I will transition into finals preparation. This weekend away helped put me in a calm, clear mindset that will help me enter this time with the mental stamina required to be successful. I know I need to commit to a different trek for the next month-one of studying. I suspect it will be another mostly uphill adventure with a number of challenges, but I know I will make it through--hopefully without losing my trail like I did last weekend! If I do, though, I know one of my friends will be there to get me back to where I need to be, like a hang gliding aficionado with a dog named Noodle did this weekend.
10/24/12 - It is time again to register for classes for next semester. I find this round challenging for several reasons:
First, it reminds me this semester is almost over and I have a lot to do before then!
Second, at the end of this semester I will be halfway completed with my time here at Texas Wesleyan School of Law, requiring extra attention to my class selection to ensure I stay on track for graduation.
Third, I have to actually decide which of the classes I really want and need to take this semester.
We do have required classes in addition to the first year lockstep classes and courses they recommend to help you prepare for the Bar. Any leftover space is filled with electives of choice that suit your interest area(s). Unfortunately, those latter slots are few! After reviewing the class list, I made a list of classes I would like to take. Then, I painstakingly crossed them off one by one until I got down to the few favorites that would fit. Not that I want to stay in school any longer, but it would be nice to take more of these classes.
Unfortunately, through this process I ended up with a less than optimal schedule in the spring. As a commuter (and a sleeper…), night classes are not my favorite, and I am taking my first one next semester. Late evening is not my most intellectually impressive time of day, so this may be a challenge! Fortunately, that class is one in which I am really interested, so I think it will be easier to stay focused. Taking the class will also require me to drive in (versus relying on the rail system), which is unfortunate but unavoidable.
It looks like my nice little condensed class schedule is no more. Though I may rearrange it again, right now it looks like my classes may spread widely over five days. Perhaps, though, this is just my practice for the “real world.”
10/10/12 - It’s midterm season here at Texas Wesleyan School of Law. Typically, law school grades are based on one final exam grade. However, there has been a recent push to include midterms to give people a chance to realign faulty study habits, as well as allowing our final grade to not be solely based on a single exam.
As a 1L, I could not have appreciated a midterm more! It is scary when your entire grade is based on one 3-4 hour exam. Not only that, we cover A LOT of material for that one test. Poor study habits can have a big, irreversible impact. The pressure is horrendous! As a 1L, midterms also gave me an idea of what the final exam would be like. Every little bit to keep me from floating in the sea of uncertainty helped! Performing fairly well on the exams also helped boost my confidence.
The best word to sum up how I feel about midterms as a 2L: ecstatic! Ecstatic my classes do not have any, that is! Most of my friends are studying for at least one midterm and I am not sure how I could fit that in to my busy schedule. Balancing school work, family, Law Review responsibilities, and a midterm is well beyond what I desire to do. Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury, and I do not want to treat it otherwise. I also do not like to miss class which, based on the number of absences, may be necessary to keep up. So, again, I’m ecstatic!
I know this viewpoint is likely a minority, at least with respect to keeping your grade based on one exam. I imagine everyone’s time is tight and would like to avoid the extra studying on top of a typical school and work week. Even with that in mind, the midterm is welcomed by many, especially when that material is not tested again on the final. For me, though, one exam will do.
9/26/12 - This week, the 3L’s are being fit for their graduation garb, taking graduation photos, and ordering invitations. I am excited for them as they near new adventures, a little melancholy because they won’t be here next year, and yearning to be nearing graduation myself.
At the same time, I am hearing 1L’s talk about the common 1L stressers: the amount of reading, confusion about just about everything, and memo woes. Most of them are just about nearing the point they will see the light, but still not quite seeing it. I remember those times and think about the 2L’s who tried to convince me with the same “you’ll be okay” that I try to pass on to this year’s 1L’s. I am sure I gave them the same bewildered look of disbelief some of the students have given me.
I am here nearing the halfway mark of this semester and approaching the middle point of my time in law school. 2L year has proven tough - the “work you to death” description is not too far off. Some of it is self-imposed, but much of it is not. Just when I feel a bit overwhelmed, though, something always comes along to put everything in perspective.
This time, it was attending an Exoneree Luncheon through the Texas Wesleyan Innocence Project. These individuals who spend a huge chunk of their lives in prison for a crime they did not commit amaze me. Those who have spoken at our school are much less bitter than anyone would imagine. They have a profound appreciation for freedom, choice, and the “simple things” in life we generally take for granted. Each speaker has exuded a level of appreciation and happiness we all should experience. Not only do events such as these help me put my own struggles in perspective, it also reminds me why I want to be a lawyer and the imperative role our advocacy plays. So, I’m back on track, the glass is half full, and I realize I’m on the right path again. And it’s a good place to be.
9/12/12 - Fall is a busy time for student organizations. We started with a leaders meeting to find out about procedural changes this year. Then, the school held an organization fair at which all the student groups were on hand to tell students about their mission and sign up members. Now, we are all planning meetings, socials, and speakers for the semester.
OUTlaw, the organization comprised of students who believe in equal rights for members of the LGBT community, drew a record number of members this year! I am pleased and, honestly, pleasantly surprised. It’s not that I thought that so few people shared those beliefs, I just did not imagine that more than about 25 people would join the organization. As of today, we have almost 70 registered members! I am excited about the group’s development and our events of the year.
Over the summer, the Federalist Society approached our organization about partnering for a debate regarding issues related to same-sex marriage. That partnership became a reality. By the time you read this blog, that debate will be history; hopefully the conversations on the topic will be ongoing. We expect a large crowd and are happy that this provides a forum in which to kick start some legal and social policy discussion on the topic among students.
In my admittedly biased opinion, the debate will be the best of the year! Many of us have been looking forward to this event for months. The debate will be a highly informative and thought provoking way to kick off the school year!
The timing is also quite perfect, as it falls during the same time period as Dallas’ gay pride events. Watch for more great events from our organization across the year, as we continue to take pride in ourselves, our family members, and our friends and advocate for everyone to have equal rights!
8/29/12 - The start of the new school year came with a mix of excitement and stress. This is the first year we get to choose our own classes. I am particularly excited about my Civil Rights and Employment Discrimination classes, as those are both among several areas I am considering as a career focus. Additionally, I was selected to be on Texas Wesleyan’s Law Review. I am quite proud of this fantastic accomplishment! Being one step closer to graduation is also wonderful!
However, my excitement was quickly tempered with concern about finishing everything that I need to complete each week! This year, my finances required that I pick up some part-time work. I knew that I would need to eventually and I probably waited longer than I should have. I was fortunate to pick up some research assistant work from one of my 1L professors that I can do on my own schedule. It has afforded me the luxury of flexibility but it did add more to my to-do list. Additionally, this semester Law Review takes quite a bit of time as I complete my editing and other responsibilities as well as write my own article. My actual classwork was quickly taking a back seat and that is not the way to start the semester. Oh, and at some point I should really find time to see my family!
So, I reduced the number of commitments I was trying to balance. Also, I made a daily schedule by the hour. They recommended this to us last year but I never did so, which I now somewhat regret. Though my schedule is still very tight, doing this illuminated inefficient periods as well as showed me that I will indeed get everything completed AND have free time! My schedule will also keep my class preparation on track and more organized. Seeing that in a concrete form alleviated a lot of my concern and I am feeling much better about the year. So, now I must get back to my regularly scheduled studying time. Have a great school year!
7/18/12 - My summer internship started last week and I am having a great time! I was provided the opportunity to intern for a local judge. Each day I get to observe trials, motions, and just about everything else that goes on in the courtroom and behind the scenes.
After each trial we discuss the pros and cons along with our questions. In just this short time I have learned a lot about trial preparation, rules, and strategies. It has been a great way to be introduced to the ins and outs of the courthouse and trial setting! All of this has resulted in one thing: I am itching for my turn at trial! I cannot wait to be the one fitting all the pieces together to prove a case! Though it seems fairly stressful it also seems like a lot of fun! I love a challenge and appreciate that a legal career is filled with them.
Unfortunately, I have a while to wait until I get my turn! So, over the next couple of years I will focus on developing my skills so I can be the best advocate that I can be. For now, if anyone needs me, I will be in the back of the courtroom raising my silent objections, containing my giddiness, and quieting my daydreams about the day I get my chance.
6/13/12 - For some people, law school has a way of making them feel more in control, or at least somewhat more powerful. This seems to be most at play when a loved one is wronged. Admittedly, I have discovered this effect in my life at times. Though I have generally been good at speaking my mind when and how it needs to be done, I have become more assertive over the last year. For example, my brother came down with food poisoning after eating at a restaurant and I told him I would call the restaurant and “take care of it.” One of my loved ones was in a bad work situation and I already had an imaginary lawsuit planned in my head in the event one became necessary. Overall, this is somewhat foolish as my knowledge of the law is still rather elementary, but it entertains me for a bit and makes me feel like I have better control over the situation.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of things that extend beyond my control and my comprehension -- the premature death of an acquaintance with a bright future, a loved one’s unexplained illness, and things beyond that. These sorts of events highlight the fragility of life and all the associated thoughts that go with it. Embrace today, embrace your loved ones, and embrace the fact that life is precious. Make the most of it.
5/25/12 - By this point in the summer my house should be spotless, a few things fixed, and I should have taken care of a few other responsibilities--but I have not! Instead I have taken the time to have a little fun and get reacquainted with non-law school life. So far I have started reading a book, spent time with family, experimented with new recipes (including the best vegan brownies I have ever tasted!), and my partner and I went camping. It has been great fun! Now I am slowly getting back to my responsibilities but still including plenty of fun times. This weekend we are attending a family wedding, so it will be a nice time to catch up with everyone.
I have been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to be a research assistant for a professor at school. That will help fill my summer and give me a little cash, good experience, and new knowledge. The flexibility the position offers will also allow me to continue my other pursuits to the extent I would like to without missing out on anything. In short: it's a perfect opportunity!
Grades are slowly starting to trickle in, but otherwise law school is in the back of my mind. I am taking the time this summer to get more involved in the legal community and it has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people and learn more about various areas of the law. For those of you who are new students, I recommend getting involved in local bar association activities pretty early on in your law school career. It is a good way to start making connections in the community as many of those people will be your peers, mentors, and friends for many years.
5/9/12 - Ah, another moment of quiet reflection about law school. Each time I write this blog this occurs to some degree, but this week much more so. At the time you are reading this, my 1L year is finished! The year brought many ups and downs - fortunately more of the former than latter. Despite the high level of stress across the school year, I had a fantastic time! I made good friends, shared lots of laughs, and learned many valuable skills that will set me up for success as a 2L and beyond.
Now, though, I am ready to slow down for a bit. Particularly after several grueling weeks preparing for finals, I am much in the need of a little rest and relaxation. I am looking forward to time to catch up with friends and family, do a little work on my house, and generally take it easy. I want to set myself up to enter next year rejuvenated and ready for Round 2.
At some point grades will be posted but, to be honest, they aren’t at the forefront of my mind. Over winter break I checked obsessively, but I don’t expect that this time. I know I passed. I know I put everything I had into preparation. So, what will be, will be.
Later this summer I will be a county court intern. I am excited at the opportunity to learn hands-on about the court system from the inside out! I believe it will be a valuable experience learning the roles of each individual within the system and how to maneuver through it. Until then, my schedule is still a little up in the air - perhaps a little time with a local law firm, perhaps working a bit outside of law, perhaps staying home and attending to other matters. Either way the summer will bring a bit of fun, a bit of responsibility, a goodbye to my 20’s, a hello to my 30’s, and good times all around! Take care.
4/25/12 - Someone recently asked me what law school is like. My response: it is like a rollercoaster - lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, and you occasionally lose your stomach! At the beginning of the ride, we started slowly, riding up and coasting down a few hills. Just as I thought I was getting used to the ride we start going faster, down bigger and steeper hills. Occasionally I worried that I would fly off the coaster and I questioned what I was thinking getting on this ride. At some points I would have paid my last dollar to have my two feet safely on the ground again. Fortunately, the safety devices kept me from flying too far out of my seat and that somewhat imaginary brush with mortality got my adrenaline pumping. I admit that more than once along the ride I did let my emotions get the best of me. Fortunately, almost everyone else was too focused on their own ride to notice my temporary loss of composure.
Right now we are slowly climbing up the last hill, during that agonizingly slow ascent preceding the last exhilarating plummet. I may scream all the way, down but once we come to a complete and safe stop, I know I’ll say, “Let’s do it again…but not right now. I need to find my stomach and regain my balance.” Until then, I believe I’ll go walk around a bit, maybe ride a lazy river, before returning next year to ride again.
4/18/12 - I have entered constant study mode. It is a little stressful and tiring but it is where I need to be. Both your first and second semesters in law school are critical in establishing your GPA and class rank. Over the next couple of years, it will be more difficult to improve as more classes contribute to that average. So, it is important to me to do well.
In addition, to “grade on” to Law Review at Texas Wesleyan Law you have to be in the top 10%. To “write on”, you have to be in the top 30%. If that is a route I choose to take, I want to make sure I am set up to do so. Also, students that enter with a scholarship through the law school must stay in a certain percentile of the class. As law school is expensive and watching my debt accumulate is stressful, it is important to me to stay in good standing. Lastly, a high GPA will likely open opportunities in the future that might not otherwise be accessible. Thus, I am in constant study mode. No pressure.
Fortunately, after only a few days in full study mode, I already feel more confident about my finals. Though I will need to remain in this mode for the next few weeks to ensure I do well, finals should go pretty smoothly. My panic at the moment of writing this blog is under control. That is a good feeling that I am going to try to hold onto.
4/11/12 - I confess that I am starting to panic. With one more week of classes including an exam on legal citations, then one week of studying, finals begin. This time last semester I felt I had a better grasp of the material as well as a stronger start on my finals preparation. This semester has just flown by! Though I’m not too concerned (at least in my more objective moments) that I won’t know the material thoroughly enough to perform well on the exam, it is going to be a crazy few weeks ensuring that becomes a reality. Unfortunately, I have already had to tell my girlfriend that I will be basically unavailable until my finals are complete. Between studying and a few other commitments my free time will be almost nonexistent. I will probably see more of my study group than I will see her. Luckily, she is very understanding and supportive and will be busy studying for her own exams.
This weekend, I plan to finish my outlines and put together a study schedule, including location. Over the past year, I have found my house is not the best place for me to try to study. I can’t quite keep my focus there. So, I plan to frequent local libraries, coffee shops, and any other quiet corner I can find. If anyone has ever had any plans to start a coffee delivery business, now is the time!
4/4/12 - There is a sense of tremendous relief followed by sheer exhaustion after turning in a legal writing assignment. Today I turned in my first trial brief, which I think came together pretty well. I did have a little trouble initially switching from writing an objective memo to a persuasive brief, but once I got in that mode the assignment came together. I know one day I will be accustomed to writing in a legal format but for now it takes a lot of time. Our brief is worth 40% of our grade. So, on top of the high level of precision that is required to write the brief, we add the pressure of doing well. Needless to say, there has been a fair amount of tension around the school these last few days. It fascinates me that some of my classmates literally did not start their research until two days ago. Though I was editing until the last moment, I cannot imagine the level of panic and stress they were feeling! Maybe they can write better than I can in the middle of the night.
Tonight, I am looking forward to an evening of a comparatively low amount of classwork and then some rest. This is also a time for catching up on some things that I have neglected over the last couple of weeks. Mostly, my house is a mess and really needs some attention! After taking it easy for a day or two I will need to start serious preparation for finals. This semester has flown by and I have a lot to do before I am ready for the exams!
3/28/12 - One of the things I really appreciate and enjoy is the opportunity to hear a range of speakers here at the school on a regular basis. In fact, there is someone I want to listen to at least once a week on average. This is great in that I get to learn both about the various areas of law, as well as how to be a successful student and lawyer. Last week I attended a Wildfire Law Symposium, and this week there is an Energy Symposium I am attending.
Next week, it’s my understanding that the Second Court of Appeals will hold one civil and one criminal case at our school, open to the Texas Wesleyan Law community for attendance. When I returned to school, I promised myself I would attend all I could and be as involved as much as possible. This may well prove to be my last time in school, so I want to gain all the knowledge and experience I can along the way. This has proven to be quite easy to do and, in fact, it’s easy to overdo.
Right now, I am working to ensure I don’t over commit my time so I can keep my focus on class work and not let everything else slide too much. To be honest, I am probably on the slightly overcommitted side, but I am getting slightly better about identifying reasonable limits and keeping them. Though the enjoyment, knowledge, and other benefits I gain from these opportunities is fantastic, I still need to leave time to prepare for class.
3/21/12 – Wow, Spring Break went by quickly! Fortunately, it was lovely all along the way. I had a nice time with visiting relatives, I worked around my house a bit, and my partner and I celebrated our anniversary. Its Spring Break timing was perfect!
I confess that I didn’t catch up on my outlines or research as much as planned, but I think I am still well enough on track to be okay. We are now on the downhill portion of the semester and it is a steep, busy hill. Over the next few weeks our first trial brief is due, then an oral argument, a citation exam, and finals preparation. This semester is passing quickly and I had better stay on track for its remainder. It is hard to believe we have just over a month until finals!
I have found this semester to be more challenging in several ways. It seems, though I haven’t directly compared, that we are reading a lot more this semester. I can’t really determine whether the material itself is any harder, so I don’t think that is necessarily at issue. Luckily, I will get my midterm and memo grades back tomorrow - those have been weighing on my mind. Life outside of school has seemed busier as well. Through all of it though, when I remember to step back out of the heat of the moment, I still feel good about where I am in life and that’s all I need to keep going. Oh, and coffee.
3/7/12 - Last week was our first meeting of the revived OutLaw student organization. I am very excited about the turnout and energy of the group! We pleasantly had more people than I expected and everyone brought excellent ideas to the table. I was also very pleased about the generally unsolicited staff support we received and continue to receive. I am grateful for everyone’s support, and I know that together we will build a fantastic community and organization!
With all that going on, I might have forgotten that next week is Spring Break--but of course I didn’t! Though it won’t be much of a “break” from anything but the school building, I am still looking forward to it. I hope and plan to get caught up on my outlines, as well as a brief review of a few key areas. As unfortunate as it is to spend my break with my books, I do feel it is necessary this time. Other than studying, I have family plans and hope to get my garden plot prepped. Hopefully, the garden will magically remain weed-free for the next couple months, since I will need to figure out how to squeeze that into my busy schedule.
Despite my busy plans for the week, I do hope to squeeze in a significant amount of rejuvenation time so I am adequately prepared to return to the busy end of the semester. If nothing else, I will be glad to wake up after the sunrise!
2/29/12 - Recently, my Civil Procedure class had a group assignment in which we applied what we learned about service of process as if we were actually practicing attorneys. After reading applicable sections of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and some brief additional research, we completed the assignment. The project taught us a lot about the service process and reiterated the importance of professional communication.
So, when my girlfriend and I got home last week and found a note on the door indicating that the Constable had “important papers” to deliver, I felt I had a fair grasp of what was going on. Naturally, as we run through the possibilities of the subject matter of the papers I’m thinking to myself, “Bring it on.” At this point in my law studies, I believe I have enough information to be dangerous, but probably not enough to be terribly effective, and at least not terribly efficient. I should note that I had NO intention of defending any possible suit on my own. However, I am somewhat impatiently awaiting my first courtroom experience and was ready to contribute whatever I could to the process should the need arise. Fortunately (at least to the extent we are not being sued), it turned out the Constable was delivering a subpoena for my girlfriend to testify as a witness. So, my time in the courtroom time is put off for now, and perhaps in this instance that is okay.
2/22/12 - Today we, the 1Ls, attended a meeting regarding planning our course of study over the next two years. At Texas Wesleyan Law, your first year’s classes are lockstep classes in which you are assigned to a class and time. Next year, we have one remaining lockstep class (Constitutional Law) in the fall semester, but otherwise get to choose our classes and schedule. Though we get to select our schedule from here on out, there are still some required classes that must be taken and other classes that would be to our benefit to take to prepare for the Bar.
I am very excited (though a little stressed) at the idea of planning my schedule! There is so much I want to learn while I am here and I’m a little worried I won’t be able to squeeze it all in. I also do not want to inadvertently overload a semester with particularly difficult classes. We don’t register for fall classes until late March, so I have a little time to think and rethink my plan a few times, as well as discuss my path with a professor or two in my interest area(s). I haven’t yet spent a lot of time looking at how I would like to lay out my schedule over the next few years because I am afraid I will get lost in the planning and realize a little too late in the evening that I have not started my homework. So, I’ll look forward to doing so another day.
2/15/12 - This week brings a brief break from the craziness of the last few weeks of memo writing and midterm preparation. We certainly still have typical readings for class, but the work on top of that is completed for the moment.
This break came at a good time for me. When I bought my house shortly before determining a career change was in order, I knew I would need to learn how to fix some things myself. I did not mind that at all. Normally, I find completing a new project around the house quite empowering and even, at times, entertaining.
Since law school started though, finding time to not only figure out how to fix something and then actuallyfixing it has been fairly difficult. Fortunately, I have learned to prioritize. Luckily, necessary projects have been few and spaced out, and I have put the desired but not immediately necessary projects on the back burner until I can give them the attention they need.
After pushing a bin against a door this morning because it finally moved that last millimeter too far to allow it to latch, I decided I should finally get around to fixing it. So, last night, powered in part by a few too many Girl Scout cookies, I played handywoman for a while. It was a nice break from reading the law, gave me a different sense of accomplishment than academic work, and well, then I felt I deserved another cookie!
2/8/12 - Amidst the crunch of a memo deadline and a midterm within a week of each other comes the push to find a summer legal position. While not a requirement, most of us really want to start getting legal experience and gain familiarity with lawyers and firms in our area(s) of interest. This is the time of year that 1L’s need to be on top of doing this, so I’m doing my best to squeeze it in. I have put in two applications so far, but I will keep the locations to myself for now since I am still waiting to hear back. I have my heart set on one position, but I need to keep looking for alternatives in case it doesn’t work out.
Last week was Public Interest Week here at the law school. Among the events is Equal Justice Day, during which they bring representatives from local public interest organizations to let us know about summer positions and pro bono work opportunities. While some people prefer to seek the few coveted high paying positions, they aren’t in the legal areas or situations I think I would enjoy. Public interest work is right up my alley, so I raced to Equal Justice Day. After picking up a few information packets from organizations I did not know, I enjoyed the opportunity to chat with a gentleman from one organization I would really like to be working with this summer. So, here’s hoping it works out, if not this summer then maybe next!
2/1/12 - It’s amazing what a little change in viewpoint can do for your wellbeing. I admit, I’ve only paid lip service to this idea in the past and shrugged it off as generally ineffective (at least for me). However, after last week’s decision to take steps to ease my stress, everything seems to be going more smoothly. Yes, I am still spending large amounts of time on school work. Nothing there has changed. In fact, so far this semester I think I have spent more late evenings studying than I did all of last semester! But, all in all, it’s manageable and I’m enjoying my time here.
While I was waiting at the train station this afternoon, a guy asked me what I was reading. I showed him my book for Contracts and, after clarifying that it was for law school, he said, “Good for you! Not many people are willing to do something so hard.” Had this occurred last week, I may have said to myself something less edited but to the effect of, “Yeah, it is quite hard! I can see the hesitancy.” This week though, I thought, “You know, he’s right. Good for me! This is hard but worth all the effort!” I’m proud of where I am in life and am looking forward to the opportunities a law degree will afford me in the future.
1/25/12 - As I stood at the train station this morning, noting that purchasing a pair of eco-friendly galoshes would benefit my cold, wet feet, my mind wandered to the state of the 1Ls.
Many people, including myself, seem a little stressed out. Perhaps it was the memo assignment handed to us the first day, a seemingly higher number of pages to read so far this semester, and/or the frustrations of conducting legal research that seems like it should be straight forward but takes longer than we expect. Perhaps it is just the difficulties inherent in learning new professors’ styles and expectations, as well as the foundations of new subject matter. Whatever it is, tensions are high.
After thinking about that this morning, I made a personal decision to take steps to ease my own stress. To start, a reminder to myself that this is what I’m here for and that I truly love being here. I’m paying (eventually…) a large amount of money for law school, and I want to learn as much as I can while I’m here. That will take a lot of work.
Again (mostly to myself), this is what I need and want law school to involve. That may sound crazy, but some, like Seal, might argue that, “We’re never going to survive unless we are little crazy.” So, I must get back to the craziness, so one day I will be the best damn lawyer I can be. Have a great week - I plan to!
1/18/12 - This week I started a new endeavor: getting the currently-dormant student organization called Out Law back up and running. In short, Out Law is a student organization serving the LGBT community and our straight allies in various fashions at the school. I would provide more detail, but I confess that I am still learning about the organization’s goals and I don’t want to misrepresent them. It’s my understanding (and I would like to note it may be incorrect) that interest waned last year, so the organization wasn’t continued this year, much to the chagrin of a couple of us new 1Ls who were looking forward to joining. So, after some discussion last semester, it was decided that we would try to revive Out Law in order to have it going by next year at the latest.
I’ve been pleasantly delighted that I have not to this point met with any obvious disdain at this school about being gay. Early signs of that acceptance here is in part what led me to attend Texas Wesleyan Law. Still, I wanted to build that extra sense of community by reviving Out Law. Hopefully, this will prove to be a worthy endeavor that strengthens the law school community as a whole and enhances the experiences and lives of all involved.
If any current students are reading and would like more information, send me an email. A mass email and information posters will also be posted in the near future.
1/11/12 - Here we go again! After a very nice break, school is off to a great start! My break involved a nice balance of rest, fun, and productivity. My house got a little work and TLC, my friends and family saw more of me, and I took some time to do things I enjoy. I even rode a bike for the first time since childhood, and fortunately, my not-so-thought-through decision to do so on a mountain biking trail did not end in disaster!
Now, I’ve set aside some of the lingering projects and put my nose back into law books. Classes this semester include: Civil Procedure, Contracts, Property, and a second semester of Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing. Though it is taking a few days to get back into the swing of things, it is almost back to feeling second nature. All of my professors are engaging and I look forward to their classes. Admittedly, I was concerned that the subject matter would be a little dry - leading to a long, boring semester - but so far it appears that a mix of good professor personalities, some interesting cases to read, and my eagerness to learn (a.k.a. nerdiness) will make it quite the opposite.
One tough part of the break: Obsessively checking the site with grades as the next semester approached. I’m a little surprised my left click button is still functioning! I prefer immediate feedback, so the one month delay is killer. Fortunately, our last grade should come in today or tomorrow, and then my first semester can officially come to a close in my mind - at least until I need to recall it for Bar prep!
12/14/11 - Wow, it’s been a great and crazy semester! I’ve learned a lot! Here’s a list of a few things I’ve learned besides class-related material:
1. Never read your Criminal Law book while standing alone on a Dallas street corner. Your mind ventures to dark places!
2. 90% of what an upper level student says to you about your first year is, in fact, true. The other 10% turned out to be a bit of an exaggeration, at least in my case. Perhaps some of it was some good ol’ fun with the 1L’s? Who knows!
3. Even if you win free concert tickets, it is not really a great idea to go the night before an exam - at least don’t stay the whole time!
4. Starting a tradition of breakfast out with friends before an exam is a great plan! You can do a last minute review and discover great tasting pastries (see me for a recommendation)!
5. Rest. Eat well. Have fun. Frequently take a moment to reflect on how fabulous an experience this is.
6. Freaking out is unnecessary, as whatever is bothering you is not likely to be as bad and unmanageable as you think it is!
7. As I’ve mentioned before, and quite can’t emphasize enough, while I could have done this without support, the encouragement and support of my loved ones is invaluable and will always be appreciated!
As one of my classmates says, we are now “1/6 of the way to being a lawyer.” Though I look forward to the next 5/6 of this experience, graduating, and truly earning the title of a lawyer, for now, I must now take a step back, relax, and take a little break. I plan to enjoy every minute of it, and I hope you enjoy your holidays as well!
12/7/11 - Tomorrow is my last final exam of the semester. This semester has come to a bittersweet end. I’ve enjoyed being back in school! I will always look back fondly on this first semester of law school. I’ve made great friends, learned a lot, and can pat myself on the back for getting this far. It feels odd that I won’t be at school next week, and I’m sure there are parts of being at school that my nerdy and intermittently sappy self will miss.
The flip side of that feeling is that I finally admitted to myself that I really need a break. I either didn’t realize or didn’t want to acknowledge that feeling until this point. Perhaps I couldn’t acknowledge it, because I didn’t want to lose momentum at a critical time. This realization hit me as I started a “to do” list to make sure I didn’t forget all I want to accomplish over the break. My house is a mess, many projects have been postponed until now, I miss seeing my friends and family more frequently, my fun time has been limited, and, well, I’m tired.
Though my to do list is getting longer by the day, I’ve started prioritizing the list a little differently. There are some pressing matters I need to attend to, but for the most part, I’m planning lots of time to reconnect with the people and activities that I love. It’s time to recharge so I can enter next semester with the same gusto as this one.
11/22/11 - Study. Eat. Study. Sleep. Repeat. That’s my plan for the week. I have a lot to do in order to be as prepared for exams as I would like to be! I confess, though, after a strong start this morning, I did go back to bed. I felt a couple more hours were justified though because I’ve had a feeling of illness (a.k.a. doom) for the last few days. It would be a terrible time to get sick! Hopefully, my general malaise is just an adverse reaction to the amount of Thanksgiving food I’ve already eaten this week.
Despite living on the edge of illness, I think my exam preparation is going pretty well! I’ve created what are essentially audio flashcards, so they can go where I go. This is the first time I’ve tried this, and it is making my studying more effective, efficient, and convenient! Though I feel a little anxious about my first exam, I also feel confident that I will be ready and will do well that morning!
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to note that I feel very thankful that I have the opportunity to go to law school this year and for the support of my loved ones and the school staff as well. It’s been an amazing adventure! Without everyone’s support, this wouldn’t be possible. I am very thankful to have all these people in my life and I will forever owe them a debt of gratitude!
11/16/11 - After a long week of off and on improvement, my dog is doing a good deal better. She will likely keep some residual effects of what is apparently a vestibular disorder, but fortunately, she is staying with us for now. That reprieve allowed me to turn my focus back to our last memo of the semester. Since it counts for 50% of our grade, it is a good thing I was able to regain focus! That large percentage is a little scary but I feel good about my final draft. It has taken a little bit for me to get into the groove of legal writing, but I think I’m doing pretty well. Since succinct, to-the-point style is my preferred method of communication, writing this way works well for me.
Now that my memo is completed, it’s time to shift all my focus to preparing for finals. My first final is the Monday after Thanksgiving, with the other two exams the following week. So, the next few weeks will be devoted to studying, with a brief break for some vegetarian-friendly Thanksgiving food and family time! Since my new puppy requires a lot of attention to ensure he stays out of trouble, I suspect I’ll need to do all my studying at the library for the next few weeks. Though that’s not terribly convenient, I need to take all possible steps to stay focused.
It's hard to believe we are already wrapping up our first semester of law school!
11/9/11 - Well, it's been a heck of a week. On top of the work (and fun!) that comes with a new puppy, one of our cats got sick and needed to go the vet. Then, my family's dog (who stays at my mom's) had a stroke or something that presents the same symptoms. She goes back to the vet today to figure out what, if anything, we can do for her. After getting her to the vet last night, I ran back to my house to grab a few things in order to go to my mom's for the night. When I got back in my car, it wouldn't start. After a few not-so-calming deep breaths I closed the garage, where my car can stay until I have time to deal with it. You can imagine how the evening went once I got to my mom's to help take care of the dog.
So, today I missed my first class this semester in order to take care of the dog. Fortunately, people are generally willing to share their notes and I can stop by my professor's office if I need additional information. Although missing class was not ideal, it won't be the end of the world. Now I can spend the day focusing on a non-law school priority. It's not the best timing with finals quickly approaching, but believe it or not, there is more to life than law school and it cannot always be the top priority.
11/2/11 - Attending law school generally requires that you keep a pretty tight schedule. There is a lot of work to do and you need to arrange your time accordingly. Though I have tried to plan extra time for those unexpected surprises, when they come up I am generally caught off guard.
This week, a fabulous, fantastic, super, great thing happened, which has rearranged my schedule a bit: We rescued a stray dog. We planned to get another dog one day but we were waiting until after I finish law school. But as life has a fabulous way of throwing you the unexpected, this little dog happened into our lives. He is incredibly cute and hard to resist! He fills our life with joy…and noise.
So, my study schedule is a little thrown off. But I don’t mind, since having animals around has its perks. Spending time with an animal can be a great stress reliever. Pretty quickly though I will need to get back on track, since I have a 15-page memo due in a couple weeks and finals right after that. Plus, I now need to add doggie training into the schedule and continue to monitor the adjustment of all the animals. I suspect that a little sleep will be lost from now until the end of the semester! While I wouldn’t recommend to anyone to plan on getting a dog during this period, if you just can’t resist, I completely understand!
10/26/11 - A couple weeks ago, I went out with some good friends, one of whom I hadn’t seen since school started - which, I would like to note, was not entirely the fault of my new crazy schedule. At one point in the evening, she asked something to the effect of, “So, have you met any cool people? Have we been replaced?” Replaced?!? It seemed like she was joking around, but there might have been some serious undertones. I assured her that she had not been replaced and we continued on with the evening.
That comment highlighted the difficulties of balancing the new academic and social responsibilities that come with law school on top of existing ones. I don’t want to seem as if I am “replacing” anyone with someone or something else. Right now, I know a number of people in my life probably feel like I don’t have much time for them. Not that it is any consolation, but I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job seeing everyone as often as I can. Everyone is being shorted a little of my time, but in my opinion I have not really neglected anyone. It has proven to be quite a balancing act that requires continuous adaptation, where one small change can disrupt my best laid plans. While my “fun time” has been greatly reduced and my house is a messier than it was before, everything else seems to be in relative balance.
10/19/11 - Great news! My Torts exam grade was not the disaster I feared it would be! In fact, despite my aforementioned errors, I’m happy with my grade! That was a pleasant surprise and a nice way to start the week. Next week, my section will get our Legislation and Regulation midterm grades back, our first memo grade, and hopefully our Criminal Law midterm grade as well. It will be a big week, but I’m not really worried about it. I feel pretty good about my performance on both those exams and memo. With any luck, those grades will also be good!
Now that midterms are finished, I’m focusing on maintaining my concentration on school through finals. With only a few weeks remaining (which is hard to believe!), I need to take care not to relax too much. If I’m not careful, finals will be here and I will lose valuable study time just getting organized. With finals starting right after Thanksgiving, I want to make sure I have everything in order so I can spend a fair amount of time with my family during that week. When I came to Prospective and Admitted Student events last year, students told stories of locking themselves away from family members to study on those days. Perhaps I’m being optimistic, but I think I can avoid that scenario if I plan well enough. So, I better get back to studying…
10/12/11 - I’m happy to report that I think my Legislation and Regulation midterm went well! My section’s final midterm (Criminal Law) is Friday. I’m not too worried about that one but I still have plenty of studying to do!
New thought this week: I really need to revive my job hunt. When I started learning about law school, I was advised not to work the first semester if I could avoid it. I remember appreciating, but disregarding the advice. I thought, “Who can afford to do that?” However, when the semester started, I decided that if I was going to do well, I needed to give myself a bit of time to get started. It took some time for me to adjust to the craziness that comes with starting law school, so I wanted to reduce any stress I could.
Not working helped a lot, but it also brought about a different level of stress---I’m just not comfortable relying on my savings and loans. I just paid my first set of bills from those funds and I panicked a little. So, I think I will resume my job hunt once midterms are over - at least I can bring in a little money. I’d love to find something in the legal field, but I realize my legal skills are limited at this point. So, I suspect I will have to settle for anything I can find. Beggars can’t be choosers and I’ll be happy to have an income again!
10/5/11 - As the semester passed the halfway mark, it brought about a time of reflection. Overall, despite the occasional snag, I’ve gotten in a comfortable groove with school activities. Conversely, I have found that my self-care has hit and stayed at a minimum. At some point, if not changed, that is going to take a toll on me. We are frequently reminded to take time out for ourselves and ensure we take care of our health. While I “know” this is important, it is one of those things that I tend to relearn the hard way.
So, I’ve started making efforts to change my patterns. To begin with, I'm cooking more homemade meals. I find cooking cathartic and enjoy the foods I prepare. Cooking relaxes me and gives me a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that can’t be duplicated by a box or restaurant meal.
Additionally, taking a moment to “just be” has done wonders. A friend recently convinced me to take time to discover the Water Gardens across the street from the school. What a fantastic place to breathe for a moment! Similarly, I found that taking my dog for an evening walk with a loved one is more energizing than any cup of coffee. Lastly, I have planned a short camping trip after midterms! I’m very excited to get away! I wish I could stay out longer, but even this short trip will greatly help me rejuvenate and refocus!
9/28/11 - While I am not keen on publicly admitting my mistakes and shortcomings, I’ve been asked to be forthcoming here about my law school experience. So, here goes: My first midterm did not go so well. Grades aren’t back yet, but during reflection and conversation post-exam, I realized I made a couple of stupid mistakes. There are too few opportunities for points and too much at stake to make errors like that. I’m honestly not sure what happened. My not-so-great performance on the exam doesn’t seem to have anything to do with lack of knowledge. My studying was adequate if not overkill. I thoroughly know the information I answered incorrectly. If I had it all to do over again, I don’t think I would change anything about my exam preparation. So, what happened? Simply put: I don’t know.
Regardless of the reason, I now have to move forward. The couple of mistakes I currently know I made cannot be undone, so I cannot get hung up by continuing to kick myself for making those errors. When grades are returned, I will know how I did on the rest of the exam and will be given a general idea of where I stand compared to everyone else in my section. That will likely be a hard day, but I will move forward. I will just have to be extra cognizant of my answers on the final so I can make up some of the points I didn’t earn on this midterm.
9/21/11 - This week I have my first midterm! My thoughts over the past couple weeks have cycled repeatedly from panic to confidence. Fortunately, confidence has taken a fairly strong hold. The exam is not for a few days though, so I’m sure my anxiety will increase again! To help me keep my sanity, I have, at least for the moment, lowered my expectations from “excel” to “do well,” and I think that has helped relieve some self-imposed pressure. I realize that the difference between those two may seem negligible to some people, but to me that means I’m getting sleep this week.
While prepping for the midterm, it really helped me to review and solve some hypothetical situations with a couple of classmates. Historically, I’ve avoided study groups. I’ve always found that I study more efficiently on my own, since I can concentrate on the key areas I need to review. However, this time I found that discussing the hypothetical situations really helped me gain a much deeper understanding of the concepts. It was helpful to hear others’ interpretations of the scenarios, and then compare notes when we needed to recall exactly what was discussed in class. Plus, I studied with cool people! The short periods of casual chatting were a welcome distraction from our serious efforts to prepare. I suspect I will join them many times in the future, and look forward to the great friendships that will likely continue to develop!
9/14/11 - I’ve neglected until this point, in part intentionally and in part an oversight, to tell you much about myself. I wanted to get some of the “getting started in law school” type posts in at the beginning. So, now seems like a good time to fill you in so you know a little more about me and how I got here.
Besides my abovementioned undergrad degree, I also earned a MS in Behavior Analysis from UNT and worked for a while in the “real world.” For the most part, I loved the work and it taught me a lot. After a while though, a combination of factors which I won’t delve into at the moment led me to determine it was not a field I would be able to stay in much longer. So, I decided it was a good time to head back to school.
A quick research of options in the area led me swiftly to law. I knew it was the right choice for me. Signs of my interest were evident in my past, but I hadn’t really paid much attention to them - in fact, when I shared my “new” revelation with my girlfriend, she told me I’d mentioned it on our first date! So, with her and others’ support, I took the LSAT, filled out my applications, got accepted, and here I am. And I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
9/7/11 - Well, our outside-of-class work has increased exponentially over the past week! On top of typical class prep, our first memo draft is due next week and we have two upcoming midterms. I am continuing on to the best of my ability. The best way I can think to sum up my approach to school right now is, as Dory from Finding Nemo sings, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” Without regular graded assignments (many classes determine your grade from just 1-2 exams), I am fairly unsure how I am doing. So, I just keep swimming.
On that note, I feel like I should have gotten more completed over Labor Day weekend. I did study quite a bit, but as is becoming a pattern, I don’t feel like I accomplished as much as I should have in the large amount of time I devoted to reading and reviewing. Learning how to read and brief the cases is adding extra time to each assignment and is slowing me down. Thankfully, my fluency is steadily improving!
I did, however, successfully accomplish some much needed R&R! Since the weather was GORGEOUS, my girlfriend and I decided to go on a hike. I probably should have known that once we went out to the lake we wouldn’t want to come back as quickly as planned. So, four hours after we planned to return, we finally made it home! Though that delayed getting my work completed, the breath of fresh air was a great way to recharge!
8/31/11 - Classes are going much more smoothly (sigh of relief!), but the headache of the commute has started hitting me hard. My commute averages an hour each direction and that time started to add up. On top of that, in traffic one morning, I had a panicked realization to the effect of, “Uh-oh that is MY car making that noise!”
When my car ended up in the shop a few days later, it prompted a trial ride on public transportation. I’d planned to do so earlier in order to save gas money, cut back on the wear on my car, minimize the environmental impact of my commute, and see if I could make better use of my time by studying on the train. Despite all those fabulous reasons to do so, I’d postponed the trial ride because I’d heard the commute would be pretty long. Time is a limited commodity right now and I feared the impact of extra time spent traveling.
It turns out it is only about 20 minutes longer than by car, and if I remember my headphones, I can study! Without headphones, though, I am way too distracted, and at times I am disturbed by the intimate details of others’ lives and the extent to which they are shared in public spaces. So, I plan to take advantage of the train when my schedule allows and highly recommend it to others who are not in a position to move closer to school. At worst, it’s a great opportunity for people watching!
8/24/11 - Well, my first week as a 1L is complete! The best way to sum it up is likely to be with the phrase I uttered (with some variation) to myself most often: “Oh jeez!” For example, “Oh jeez, I forgot my classroom number and my schedule is at home” or “Oh jeez, I overlooked one of the readings and class starts in an hour.” Also, each day about 2 minutes after my afternoon class starts, “Oh jeez, I really, really, REALLY need coffee.” And once, admittedly, “Oh jeez, what have I gotten myself into?”
To be so scattered is quite uncomfortable and completely uncharacteristic for me. I entered each day with enthusiasm and confidence. After hours of reading, taking notes, and reading again, I generally felt I had a comfortable grasp of the material. Then, I went to class and my confidence crashed faster than the stock market. I confess I probably panicked a bit more than necessary. My high (okay, possibly slightly unreasonable) expectations for myself may need to be tempered so I can keep my sanity and the rest of my life together. Fortunately, my enthusiasm remains securely intact. As the week reached its end, I felt I had a better grasp on what was expected and necessary in order to feel prepared for class (and beyond!) and ways to help me do so. While my organization and time management may still need some work, I currently feel much better about my abilities…