Friday, August 03, 2018

All About 1L year

I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Good Morning Readers! Long time no see is an understatement, to say the least. Being an evening law student is incredibly difficult with working full-time and going to classes, you have to have perfect time management that being said I also had to prioritize and unfortunately Legally Foreign fell on the back-burner of priorities. However, it is summer time and I am finished taking summer classes, I do have a little more time on my hands and I can start blogging again!! YAYYY!

During my first year of law school, I can definitely say I have never worked so hard for a degree in my life. It seemed like in undergrad, I would do just enough to pass my class and get that A but now I have to spend a lot of time preparing and making sure I understand the material and still not getting the grades that I want. All the reading, time management, tears, studying, cold calls, long hours I put in this past year has been both stressful but also rewarding. Yes, law school is hard but it is also MANAGABLE. Law school is hard because you have alot less free time and you actually have to do the work and put in the hours to get the grades you want. I still manage to do my crafting hobbies and go out with friends when I get a second to breathe.

My first year was a few highs and a lot of lows. Everything was new and exciting the first semester, trying to find new friends, navigate through law school, trying to get good grades, trying to beat the dreaded curve... I joined the Black Law Student Association (BLSA) (Look out for a post on BLSA) and became the 1L representative and although the position was easy to manage because it was low commitment it was still another thing on top of what I was already doing. During the fall semester, I had to learn to adjust to all the reading, the new way law school forces you to think, the stress of getting good grades, and also my grandfather who I am very close with had a stroke. I started to go off the deep end a little bit worrying about my grandfather's stroke and missing a week on classes to go to Florida to go see him. This was his third stroke and I was afraid that he was not going to fight through it this time. I am happy to report that he is doing better but we did have a scare.  I got through the study period (S H O U T O U T to my friends who are also in my study group) and got through my first set of finals which, were stressful. During one of my finals, my computer crashed and I had to run out mid- exam to tech support to try to salvage what was left of my exam. Unfortunately, my grade suffered because of it. I was crushed because I felt like a failure. I worked so hard all semester and because of a computer failure, I was stuck with a bad grade. In undergrad, I was used to getting straight A's but law school is a completely different ball game.

Second Semester, I came back refreshed and ready to GRIND it out. I was taking 4 classes and I was learning that a lot of the areas of law overlap and what you learn in other classes (if you paid attention) prove to be helpful later on. I was doing all of my reading and going to class then my uncle who I was close with was killed. Yes, you read that right! I felt like my life was over. I had just saw him a few weeks before and now he was gone. That was a HUGE set back as I had to take time to go back to my home to deal with everything that was going on. I fell into a depressive state and really did not want to do anything but stay home. I could not understand what would possess someone to kill another human being. This was a very hard time for me to learn to forgive, let go, and move on. Nothing ever happens like that in our small home town and if it does we weren't to aware of it because it wasn't happening to us. I was so overwhelmed.

I thought about dropping out (look forward to a post on this) and/or switching to full- time so that I could finish faster and move back to my family (look forward to this in another post). I felt so much guilt for not being home. When my uncle passed, I was not there. When my brother got his braces, I was not there. When he started his first day of high school. When my sister had graduated out of her summer camp. I miss being able to share special moments with my family. It is so hard but I digress.

After coming back from my uncle's funeral and getting back into the swing of classes, my fellow section mates welcomed me back and were so supportive. It made me realize that we are a little family. Even though we are competing with each other for grades, or we disagree with one another, and we might not all like each other all the time..... We are all going through this law school journey together.

Looking forward, I still work, still go to law school, am the secretary and historian for BLSA, and am a notetaker for two of classes this upcoming semester....... How am I going to do it all?

If there is anything I learning about law school is to take it one day at a time and you will get through it by taking it one day at a time.

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 


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