Saturday, January 06, 2018

Things I learned my First Semester of Law School

Hello, my lovely readers! I am back from my first semester of law school. I thought I was going to be able to blog, work, and go to law school at the same time but as you can tell that was obviously a FAIL. I also thought that I was going to blog over winter break, well you can see that did not go as planned either. Anyways, I am back and learned how to manage my time better. My first semester of law school was an experience for sure. I learned a lot about myself, my work/ study habits, and of course about the law. These are a few things that I learned along the way.

1. Outline Early. This is so essential to your success on your exams. I highly suggest outlining early, not only will it help you on your exams at the end of the semester, but it will also help you reiterate and understand the information taught in class by the professor. I started outlining close to the end of the semester and some of my confusion during the course was because I did not see the big picture that I could have only understood by outlining. If I had started earlier, I would not have been so confused. Also, it is very stressful to outline and memorize/study information under a time constraint so the earlier you start, the better.

2. Do NOT compare yourself to others. I know this is easier said than done but this is something that needs to be done for your success and mental health. Comparing yourself to your peers will only cause a lot of stress, anxiety, and it is just nothing but trouble. I struggled with this a lot my first semester and I can say that it caused me more stress than good. Just focus on yourself and being the best student you can be.

3. Make Friends and Be nice. This is a no-brainer but some people go into law school thinking that this is graduate school and this is a competition (the dreaded curve does this) but if you think about it you are going into a profession that is based on networking. Everyone in their career is going to need help someday so just be kind and respectful because if you don't it might come back to bite you in the butt. You ever heard the saying it's not about what you know, it's about who you know. Well, that is very true, especially in a small town or state. I go to law school in the state of Maryland. Here, there are only two law schools you could choose from and they are both in the same city. Networking and making friends may help you get that summer internship/ externship or that post-graduation job you've always wanted, you never know. So, make friends and be nice.

4. Experiment. For the first semester of law school, even through the first year, it is okay to experiment and find what works well for you reading, learning, and studying wise. What works for one person to learn and retain information, might not work for you and what worked your for in undergrad might not work in law school. Learn to experiment and let things go that do not work. Also, be flexible and open-minded to new ideas and approaches. That is the only way you will find something that works for you.

5. It will not always click for you in the beginning, or even in the middle, but it will. Law school is a process. They are breaking down the way that you are used to thinking and rewiring your brain to start thinking like a lawyer. This process takes time. You have been through 18+ years of schooling learning and thinking in one way. Law school is a completely different experience and it is okay if it is confusing and frustrating at first, just keep trying. It will click eventually, I promise. Trust the process, it works!

6. GRADES. GRADES. GRADES. If you did well this semester, that is wonderful! You found what worked for you and you should stick to it. If you did not do as well as you planned, I would just say use your grades as motivation to do better. Reflect over what you did this semester and see where improvements can be made. Do not be discouraged!!  You got through your first semester of law school. You survived!! For me, my first semester grades did not turn out as well as I would have hoped, granted I had a lot going on but I do not want to use that as an excuse for my grades. I know I could have done better and will do better, this semester coming up which starts on Monday (help me!)

7. Everything will be OKAY! Do not doubt yourself. You made it this far, you took the LSAT, you got into law school, and you just finished your first semester. You are already on the journey. Do not give up on yourself. The road is long and hard but it will all be worth it!!

As Always... Thanks for reaading!

Friday, August 25, 2017

First Week Impressions

Close your eyes and imagine the best version of yourself possible. That is who you really are, let go of any part of you that does not believe it. -C. Assaad

I am officially a 1L! This week was the first week of classes and to be honest with you, it was rough! I knew that being an evening division student was going to be difficult but I didn't think it was going to be this tough. Let me tell you, waking up at 7:00 am every morning and then working an 8 hour shift day - where you are dealing with difficult legal issues, clients, etc., then turn around and go to class for 2-3 hours at night is difficult but I am not discouraged. I have learned quickly that time management is EVERYTHING. My schedule for the first week went like this:

Work 9:00-5:00 pm
Torts 6:30-8:30 pm

Work 9:00-5:00pm
Con Law 6:30-7:55pm
LAW (legal analysis and writing) 8:05-9:30 pm

Work 9:00-5:00 pm 
Torts 6:30-8:30 pm

Work 9:00-5:00 pm
LAW 6:30-8:30 pm

As an evening division student, you only have classes Monday- Thursday, see My Law School Schedule, which is awesome because no one likes Friday classes. I was grateful that I only had one late day this week but I will not be that fortunate the rest of the semester. During this week, I had so little time to read before another class or had time to myself after work. I realize that I am going to have to do all my readings on the weekend, take extensive notes, and then review them in my little break before class and after class. Now about my actual classes....

Throughout my first week, I literally felt like this:

Do not mind all the mean stares of the fish in the background. Yes, law school is competitive and sometimes the students can be snarky but in my experience so far, the students in my section are pretty nice.

During class, I was so confused and didn't know what was going on. I read the readings that were assigned before hand but I don't think I was reading the cases correctly to get all the information out of it that the teacher wanted us to get. After class discussions, I would go back and reread the case and it made much more sense to me. I hope that this feeling of confusion will go away after I have read a few cases and understand what is being asked of me to comprehend from the case.

I am still a little nervous about classes because we were cold called on, luckily I was not one of those students. The students in my class that got called on were doing great like they prepared themselves for this all summer. I, on the other hand, thought to myself, if I got called on right now and my torts professor asked me that question, I would embarrass myself because I did not know the answer. I did participate by raising my hand for the easier questions so maybe that is why my professors didn't cold call on me. Hopefully, now that I have experienced a week of classes and I know the type of questions my professor is going to ask I will read more efficiently.

To combat this confusion problem, I have decided to meet with a few students out of my section every week to go  over what we did in class. I think this is a good idea because being able to talk to other students about the material is soo helpful. Getting a different point of view on the case is important. You guys can bounce ideas off of each other, help each other understand different topics, and motivate each other. After all two or more heads are better than one.

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed your week and it was not as crazy as mine! If you are in Law school, let me know how your first week went! If you have any tips or advice for me, feel free to contact me or drop them in the comment section below!

- Cindy 


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Law School Orientation

Hey, fellow readers!! I am back with another post, this time about my law school orientation. It has been an exciting week! Since, I am a part-time evening student our orientation lasted 3 days, Wednesday-Friday. Some bloggers choose to split up their orientation day posts but I am just gonna group mine into one post!

Check-In/ Welcome
So, as I stated above our orientation started in the middle of the week, on a Wednesday and all three days were mandatory. We had to meet in the lobby of the law school where we checked in and got name tags, our orientation schedule, and a cute little bag with the law school name on it. After that, we got a tour of the law school and an in depth tour of the library. Then, we had to go to little seminars on different topics.

What to expect? 
The whole week consisted of lots of icebreakers with your section, meeting your peer advisors, talks on diversity and inclusion, title IX, plagiarism, work ethic, professionalism, and that the start of your career starts now. As a typical student, I spent the time listening and trying to retain information but really I was trying to quiet my stomach because I was starving and trying to not to fall sleep from working an 8-hour shift. I know that sounds really bad but it is the truth and I am just reporting on my experiences. I will get it together during the school year by bringing snacks and trying to go to sleep earlier. 

What to wear? 
A week before orientation we got an email explaining that orientation was mandatory and that there was a dress code. We had to wear business casual wear all week which is self-explanatory. You are meeting your peers and potential mentors and want to make a really good impression! Below are pictures of the outfits I wore throughout the week! I got all of my outfits from TJ Maxx for really cheap, I would recommend them for cheap business attire. The first day, I wore a long sleeve shirt and black dress pants.  That was a mistake because it was so hot and I assumed that the classrooms were going to be air-conditioned so I switched up and wore dresses the last two days.

Day 1: Calvin Klein shirt and black dress pants 

Day 2: Tacera Dress

Day 3: Saint Tropez West Dress

School ID
Before orientation, we had to take a picture and send it to the school so that we can get our ID's printed. We could either pick it up on the first day of orientation or elect to pick it up beforehand. I elected to pick it up beforehand because our school ID also works the parking garage. I bought a commuter parking plan and I didn't want to pay for parking again. Also, I was just really excited to get my ID and couldn't wait until orientation. 

Mock Class
When we got the email that spelled out the orientation dates and the dress code, there was an attachment of a case we had to read for orientation. I immediately thought, homework already!! Our torts professor assigned us a case to read and brief to teach us how to read a case (stay tuned for that post). Anywho, I read and briefed the case as asked and I was nervous about it because I wasn't sure if I did it right or if it was how the professor wanted it. When we got into our class, he went over the case and it turns out that I did okay! The questions he was asking in class about the case, I got down on my brief. I was so proud of myself. So little tip, have a little confidence in yourself! 

Orientation was overall a really good experience for me and it made me a little less nervous to go to law school, which starts tomorrow! I am excited to start this new adventure!! Law School, here I come!

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