Wednesday, September 26, 2018

5 Weeks Through Law School

I'm five weeks through law school! It's hard to believe its been over a month, school is going so fast. 

The first month of law school was like jumping into a cold pool in the middle of winter, it's a shock to your system and you have to fight all urges to get out. I'm not saying that you'll want to drop out, but it will be tempting to slack on the reading. In all honesty, it can feel like there's no possible way to get everything done, but this proves to be untrue because you find a way to do everything. 

The first two weeks were a lot easier for me. I even was thinking, "What's all this complaining about?" 

The next two weeks I realized what all the complaining was about. The reading got harder AND longer, assignments were given in Legal Writing, and I was attending club meetings to try and get involved. 

This past week and this week (the start of week 6) have been by far the hardest weeks thus far. I have a paper due on Friday that is 30% of my grade and a midterm for one of my core classes. I also have two essays due this week for another core class and a research assignment on top of the paper due in Legal Writing. It can feel overwhelming and if any of you are reading this in law school, just remember to breathe. You'll find that you can complete all the tasks so long as you just work hard...

That's the trick, you have to work hard. A lot of people have been complaining about the reading load from the start of the semester and some have been clearly unprepared for class when they're cold called. If you start to slack off in the beginning, everything you have to do will feel like an avalanche so it's important to just keep up with all the tasks. I personally will work 10 hour days so that I can take at least one day off during the weekend. On calmer weeks, I take both Saturday and Sunday off, but if the week is busy I try to use Sunday to get ahead in my reading for the week. 

I've gone to two of the three "bar reviews," which is just where everyone in the program meets at a bar on a Friday. I highly suggest going to them because it's a great way to take a break and get to know your classmates in a nonacademic setting. Just remember these will be your future colleagues and possible connections so don't conduct yourself like it's a bachelorette party! 

I also joined an intramural softball team, which plays other law students every Thursday. Our team is SO bad, I'm talking losing 1 to 25. But, playing is still a lot of fun and we always get together for a beer before the game. Doing things like this is just another good way to become friends with people in your year, but it's also a good way to meet 2Ls and 3Ls. 

Everyone has been relatively nice in my section. It doesn't seem overly cutthroat, but we haven't had midterms yet. For Legal Writing, the professor said that the difference between students' grades are normally only a few points. So, in that class I think people are more likely to not help others or even talk about their assignment. For my core classes, people seem to genuinely be fine helping others...we'll see if that is still the trend after the midterm.

I'll let you all know how my midterm goes! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

1.5 Weeks Through Law School

It's currently 5 am and I'm writing this as my printer is printing literally almost a hundred pages. I can now definitely conclude that law school requires a minimum of 2 hours of studying per 1 hour in class. So since I'm taking 15 units, take comes out to be about 45 hours spent either at law school or studying law. Do I read cases a little slow compared to an experienced law student? Yes. Do I try to take very detailed notes when I do the reading so I have less work come finals time? Yes. Does it take me a moment to think about hypotheticals and even longer to explain my thoughts? Yes.

You could spend less time working on your reading than I do, but I'm trying to learn everything as it comes so I'm not as overwhelmed come finals. Some people don't take this approach and they have more of a life than I do, but who knows how well they know the material? Also, since I'm a 1L baby I figure it will take a few weeks before I'm comfortable reading faster; hopefully my study time can only decrease! It's interesting because you can get away with putting in a lot less hours, but I just don't feel sufficiently prepared when I go to class. As of now, it takes me about 2 hours to finish the reading I have for one class for just one day of that class. Put hypothetical essays on top of that and legal writing assignments, and you got yourself a full work week!

I've had a few issues regarding making a study schedule that works and am trying an early morning schedule this week (lol). If it works out well I'll let you all know what I did.

On to the more fun things about law school! The people at my school all seem genuinely nice and it didn't take very long to fall into a niche with a group of girls in my section. We all regularly study together and no one seems overly competitive (at least not yet). Some people stick to themselves and just study all day long, but I wanted to make friends so I made sure to "put myself out there." Last Friday, we all went to Bar Review, which is just where everyone goes to a bar and drinks. It was really fun! A group of 1Ls all got together before going to the Bar and had a mini party. I don't normally like to go out, but I highly recommend going to events your first few weeks to make friends and get more comfortable with you cohort.

I'll let you all know how this week goes!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

First Day of Law School!

My first day of law school!

I'm actually writing this post three days after my first day as this is the first time I've had time to sit at my computer and do something that wasn't studying. Well, that isn't exactly true...At night I leave about two hours to myself to do something that isn't schoolwork, but then I definitely don't want to be writing more on my computer.

Anyways, my first day consisted of two classes, torts and criminal law. Torts was in the morning and lasted for two hours. The professor handed out a seating chart so where we sat that day was where we'll be sitting for the rest of the semester. Keep that in mind when you chose where to sit the first day! I got to class thirty minutes early and thought I was going to be one of the first people in class, but over half of the class was already there! Luckily, a girl from my orientation saved me a seat and so I still got a good spot. Because the professor didn't have the seating chart back until almost the end of class (it had to be passed around to the whole class), she didn't cold-call at all. The next class she knew our names so she did cold-call though. Honestly, the cold-calls aren't that bad. It's scary when your name is called, but the professor guides you through it and everyone else is so relieved they weren't the one called on they don't even process who is speaking.

After torts I had a huge gap in my schedule so I used the time to do my reading for the classes I had the next day. Then, I had criminal law that night. My criminal law class was much less exciting than I thought it would be (What?! It's not like How to Get Away with Murder?!). The professor didn't cold call the first day because they didn't have the seating chart until near the end of class.

Maybe because of orientation and all the "fake classes" we had to take, but it didn't feel like my first day. Instead, I felt like I had been in law school for at least a week.

One thing to note, it's true that law school throws you into the thick of things immediately. For my first day I had over 100 pages to read! So my advice is just to take things as they come and stay on top of your reading. Already a few people were complaining about the work load, but if you just make a schedule and work efficiently it's totally doable.

For the first day, people were wearing a large range of different clothing styles. Some were in workout leggings (only about two girls), some were in skinny jeans and a cute top, and others were business casual. I chose to wear a dress that was loose-fitted with cute shoes and I think Iblended in well with everyone else.

This Friday is Bar Review, which just consists of drinking with the 2L and 3L classes so I'll let you know how that goes!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Orientation Day Two and Day Three

My second day of orientation started off at 8 am and continued until 5 pm that day. It began with coffee and chatting with our class for the first hour. Then, we were divided into our section (A, B, or C). My law school has about 150 entering students so each section was broken up into about 50 students; you take the exact same classes with your section the entire first year.

Once we were divided into sections, we attended a "fake class" where they went over a case we had read the night before. The professor's were nice and didn't cold-call, but they said that would change come next week.

After class, we had lunch and then went to a bunch of talks put on by various student organizations. After that, we took a campus tour and went home for the night.

The next day, we had morning coffee before another "fake class." Then, we had a class on law school note taking strategies (most of it was pretty self explanatory like do the readings). After the note taking class, we had a talk on Title 9 and on implicit biases.

My section seems to be nice and I quickly bonded with another girl, but other than that orientation is not that exciting. One thing to note, don't worry too much about what to wear. I wore skinny jeans with a tailored top and cute shoes one day and a dress with a cardigan the next day. I was definitely looking "smart casual" or "snappy casual," but others took a more casual appearance. With that said, I do recommend looking put together because you're meeting important people and starting off your reputation as a lawyer, I'm just saying you don't have to stress too much about clothes!

I'm so ready for my real classes to start and I'll let you all know how they go!

Orientation Day 1

My first day of orientation started off in the evening and only lasted for about 3 hours, which mostly just included waiting to have pictures taken and then taking an oath.

I was pretty nervous to show up not knowing anyone, but since everyone was in the same boat they were all willing to talk to anyone. My cohort seems to be a pretty fun and nice group although it's hard to tell in the beginning.

Most of the first day of orientation was pretty lackluster so there's not much to report there except for one thing: The dress code was business formal, not business casual!!!! They had changed the dress code specifications on an email sent after the first few, but luckily I noticed the night before so I could find a new outfit. I ended up wearing a dark burgundy dress with a white suit jacket and low, tan heels. The dress was comparable in fit/length/style to this dress, but a different color.

What was everyone else wearing? Well, the men were all wearing a suit and tie, the suit either being black, navy, or grey in color. The women were either were a skirt suit, a pant suit, a dress like mine, or a business skirt/slacks with a tailored business shirt. A few of the girls were wearing slacks and a normal tank-top, but they were by far the least professional looking. Almost all the women were wearing navy or black. Because of this my white suit jacket stood out, but I still blended with the business professional look. I wanted to be able to differentiate myself in the class photo, which is why I wore something that still fit the look without being an exact replica of everyone around me. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Syllabi in Law School

Just a few more days until orientation and roughly 11 more days until the actual start of classes! Most of the syllabi have already been posted for all my classes and let me tell you, law school is no joke.

For Civil Procedure the professor only allows 3 absences, which isn't that big of a deal...But he counts being a minute late or being unprepared if cold-called as an absence!! I'm super nervous about cold-calls and what if I don't know the answer?! On the flip side, the professor will raise your grade one sign (A- to an A) if you participate fully and give noteworthy discussions. Also, there's a no computer policy so it might be time to break out my cursive to write fast enough.

My Torts class seems a little more relaxed than Civil Procedure. The professor gives attendance points, which of course only necessitates showing up. Since I haven't missed a class since sophomore year in college, I love those types of free points.

Interestingly enough, my Criminal Law class does not seem to have a syllabus. It appears like each week reading assignments will be given out and that's it. Also odd, the class doesn't include a casebook. Instead, the main book is just what most students use as a supplementary maybe the class is very theoretical?

Both my legal writing class and advocacy practicum seem very discussion focused, with attendance mandatory for every session. Other than that, it's hard to grasp what the class will be like based off their respective syllabi.

I'll let you know how the classes actually are!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

My Color Coding System

My orientation is less than a week away and there's already so much reading assigned! Because I'm a super type A personality, I wanted to develop a note taking/color coding strategy for the start of school. I'm planning on sticking to this strategy for at least the first month of school, but I'll revise it as necessary. Hopefully I can eventually cut out handwriting case briefs and instead do book briefing using this, but I'll let you all know what works and what doesn't work for me!

Here is my color coding system:


Words defined: pretty self explanatory. Add a sticky note with definition if word not known.
Expounding Rule(s): General legal principle court used to resolve issues
Holding: The conclusion, what the court's answer is to the issue.
Example of other cases: Concurrence or dissent, examples of other cases that agreed/disagreed
Issues debated: Issue court is deciding
Facts about parties/case: What happened in case (X was hit by Y)

Underlining (underlining with the color the text is):

Plaintiff's argument. Box plaintiff's name in same color
Defendant's argument. Box defendant's name in same color
Procedural History: Facts related to procedure, events leading up to case coming to court (X sued, Y later appealed)
Latin words: Write their meaning on sticky note if unknown
Rationale: Why court reached decision/how it applied existing law.
Disposition: Court agree or disagree with lower court?

So, obviously I'm going to be marking up my books quite a bit, but I'm hoping this system will allow me to switch to only book briefing once I'm more comfortable with the texts/law school itself. If I do switch to book briefing I'll let you all know how it goes! For now, you can read how I plan to brief cases here!