Sunday, May 29, 2016

Law School Summer Reading

My law school reading is about to start!

A quick update amidst the chaos that is life - I got my first law school reading assignments today.

Okay, sort of. They sent out some "recommended" summer readings. So really, these aren't assignments, but I'm definitely going to treat them like they are. After all, if I start slacking off now, before school starts, I can't imagine it would get any better when school is actually in session and my assignments matter more. So I'm going to read them and take notes and study them like I would for any actual class.

The first assignment we got was pretty much an entire textbook on the U.S. Legal System. From what I've seen of the book, it basically looks like a summary of the "Intro to Law" class I took during undergrad, so it shouldn't be too challenging. The second assignment was a 50 page manual on how to write a case brief. I took a couple of law classes in college, so I've had some practice with this. However, I think this will be a good resource to understand how to write them more, and it will be a valuable resource to have while I'm in school.

They sent these assignments to us online, so basically I had almost 300 pages to read on some PDFs. I'm one of those people who likes to have a physical copy of what I'm reading, and could never get behind the whole "E-Book" idea. Although I do have my own printer, I'll really didn't want to go through all the hassle and the supplies to print the documents out. So I decided to try something a little different.

I've used FedEx office a few times before to get documents printed, and I decided to turn to them for this print job. I decided for now I was just going to print out the U.S. Legal System textbook, and I would worry about the case-briefing manual later. To get the book printed on standard white paper, it would only be about $20, which I decided was definitely worth it. A few extra dollars, and I got the book covered and bound so it would be a little bit more put-together. Overall, I'm very happy with the results. This is a great option for anyone who has long reading assignments and wants to get them printed. 

I'm definitely ready to get started reading this. I've been bored out of my mind without school so far this summer. This also makes me feel a bit more like a law student. I'll try to keep you guys updated on my process with this reading.

Reading Reccomendations

So if you're heading to law school in the fall, you might be wondering, "What should I read this summer to prepare for law school?" Although this isn't an extensive list by any means, here are a few recommendations to get you started:
  • Whatever your school assigns. This might be an obvious one, but even if they give you "optional" reading like mine did - go ahead and do it. They wouldn't give it to you unless they wanted you to know the material.
  • Your textbooks, if you have them. No, I'm not saying go read all 1,200 pages of your torts textbook and learn the class material. But read the first chapter or so of your textbooks if you can. Partially because this will likely be an assignment due the first day, but also because it will help you get used to legal reading and what you'll have to do each day.
  • 1L of a Ride by Andrew J. McClurg. I didn't read this personally, but it has been highly recommended by my peers and professors. It's a great way to get a general idea on some tips to becoming the best law student you can be.
  • The news - especially regarding the Supreme Court or the legal system in your area. Some professors don't care, but other professors LOVE current events. So it's not a bad idea to know what's going on in the world around you
  • Law school blogs, of ccourse! By now I've written a bunch of posts about starting law school, what life as a law student is like, and everything in-between. Check out the rest of my blog!
- Bailey

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Guide To LSAC

LSAC, LSAT, CRS, CAS, what does all of this mean?!?



So now that I've briefly explained the LSAT (like I said, look for upcoming posts that go more in-depth on the wonders and horrors of the LSAT), I realized that I haven't explained the driving force behind the test - LSAC. 

Another long acronym, which stands for the Law School Admission Council, is basically your one-stop shop for law school applications. If you decide to apply to law school, you will need to become very familiar with LSAC. So if you have a few minutes, hop over to the LSAC website and register for an account - you'll need it if you plan on taking the LSAT, if you apply to law school, and it's a great tool for learning about law schools. 

To go through the basics of LSAC, I'm going to take you on a small tour of what LSAC is and has to offer, and make it as simple as possible.

LSAC: Like I said above, LSAC is the Law School Admission Council and is the host organization for all things related to law school applications. It's where you register for the LSAT, apply for law schools, gather your letters of recommendation, etc. During the law school application process, this will be one of the most visited websites. And for anyone taking the LSAT, it has quite a bit of information about the test so check it out!

LSAT: Law School Admission Test - I wrote all about it yesterday in its own post - so check it out!

CRS: This is the Candidate Referral Service and is a great way to find out about law schools if you want to learn more about schools that are available. When you register for the CRS, you are signing up to let law schools recruit you. Now, if you can think back to the crazy amount of college brochures and emails you got when you were applying for undergrad schools in high school - prepare for that again! I constantly got law school brochures, so many emails each day, but it was a great way to find out about schools and opportunities. And, if you already have taken the LSAT, schools may be able to see what range you scored in and will let you know about possible scholarship opportunities. So this is a big deal. 

CAS: The Credential Assembly Service, better known as CAS, is the most convenient part of applying to law school. Basically, what CAS does is simplifies the application process by being your home base for sending in transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc. You send everything to CAS one time, and they distribute it to schools for you. Unfortunately, it is a little expensive ($175), but it is worth it. I promise.

Overall, those are the basic parts of LSAC you need to know about. Their website is super helpful and answers a lot of questions, so make sure to check it out. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me!

See you tomorrow,
- Bailey.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The LSAT

Every law student's favorite horror story...


So today I'm going to talk about a very, very, very important piece of the law school admission process - the LSAT. For those of you who don't know, LSAT stands for the Law School Admission Test, and it is basically the ACT/SAT of law school. But more important. And a lot scarier.

The LSAT for me is a horrible, awful, no good memory and I hated every second of it. However, it's a very important part of preparing to apply for law school, and you should take it very seriously. The test is really hard, and quite expensive, costing $180 for the test alone. Thus, I would only recommend the LSAT for people who are serious about attending law school. I remember when I was taking it, there was a herd of girls in all discussing how they were taking it because "Well I've always thought maybe I wanted to go to law school so I decided to just see what happens!" I remember being appalled at how casually they were taking a test that was, for me, one of the most important evaluations in my life. 

What is the LSAT actually like? Well, for those of you who have watched Legally Blonde a few too many times (myself included), forget everything Elle Woods taught you about this awful test. I, for one, am angry to this day that the movie portrayed someone who studied for a few weeks or so getting a 179 on her first attempt at the LSAT. People that want scores that high generally take at least an entire year to study, and usually dedicate a lot of money and time to learning how to take the test.

Since we're discussing scoring, LSAT scores range from a 120 to a 180. A 180 is a perfect score, but depending on the test you may still be able to miss a question and get a 180. The median for Yale is a score of 173 for anyone wanting a reference. That's missing about 7 questions out of 100ish. If you want to know what a "good" LSAT score is, it depends on the school you want to get into. Pick a school, then look at that school's median and make that number your goal. If you're looking to get a good scholarship, shoot for the school's 75th percentile LSAT score. All of these scores are required to be reported by the ABA, and you can usually find them on a law school's website.

The actual test of the LSAT consists of 5 sections and a writing section. The five sections include 2 "logical reasoning" sections, 1 reading comprehension section, and 1 "analytical reasoning" section which is better known as the logic games section. There is also 1 experimental section that does not count toward your score, and can be any of the other three types. You won't know which section this is when you take the test, which is unfortunate. You will be able to figure out which type of section was experimental. For instance, if you have two logic games sections (I'm so sorry), one of those will be the experimental and one will be scored.

The test lasts around 4 or 5 hours, and it is a really long day. Testing centers and the LSAT have super strict rules about the LSAT and what you can bring. For example, you have to bring everything in a clear zippered bag, and you can pretty much only bring pencils, a water bottle, a watch, and your ID. I remember making a joke that taking the LSAT was like going to prison and kindergarten at the same time. You keep all of your possessions in a clear zippered bag, and they are really strict about what you can have, like prison. But you're allowed to bring snacks, tissues, and a juice box, so it's also basically kindergarten. Your admission ticket will have the full list of what you need and what you can and cannot bring.

As I've said before, the test is really rather difficult. It's a test that doesn't quiz what you know, but instead it analyzes the way you think. For the most part you can't learn the information, but you can practice the type of thinking it requires. The best way to prepare for the LSAT, in my opinion, is to practice as much as you can.

People that take the LSAT without preparing should never attend law school.

There's always a group of students that take the LSAT bragging about how they didn't study, and they're usually the same students who look pale and sickly after the test. It's hard. You need to prepare. The best way to prepare depends on what type of student you are. Some people take a course, some study with an online program, and others, like me, choose to self-study. I used a variety of LSAT books to prepare. I highly recommend the Powerscore LSAT Bibles. Anyone who uses these swears by them. I also recommend taking as many official practice tests as you have time for. I bought like three books and used all of the tests. For online courses, I've heard great things about 7Sage, and I recommend at least taking advantage of their free parts of the course. Also, some universities have logical reasoning classes in their philosophy departments, which is another great way to prepare (and earn credit in college!).

Overall, it's very important to take the LSAT seriously and make sure you put a ton of effort into studying. In the future, I plan on posting more in-depth about specific aspects of the LSAT, so if you have any questions, please comment I and I will address them then.

See you guys tomorrow,
- Bailey.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Where should I apply to law school?

Hey, everyone!


So as a pre-law student, I was always asked, "Where are you planning on going to law school?" And the truth is, for the majority of my undergraduate experience - I had absolutely no idea. For me, this was absolutely terrifying. I like to carefully plan each and every aspect of my life, so I know not only what I'm doing today and tomorrow, but also a year from now. Unfortunately, knowing my future was not that simple when it came to law school decisions.

When I started thinking about law school and comparing and contrasting different schools, I didn't know very much about how to pick a school. As far as law schools went, it seems like my knowledge was as good as everyone else's. For example, I knew Harvard is good, I heard good things about the law school in same city as my university, and that was about it. Really, though. That was the scope of my knowledge. 

So starting second semester of my junior year, I began to take this decision a bit more seriously, and decided to learn what makes a law school good, as well as decide what exactly I was looking for in a law school personally. Here are some of the things you should consider when deciding which schools to apply to, as well as how important each of these aspects are to you:

  • Location: Do you want to stay close to home? Move far away? Have you always dreamed of moving to the big city of New York, or would you prefer a smaller university town in Texas? How far are you willing to move? Could you see yourself living there for 3+ years?
  • Cost: Fun fact - all law schools are expensive. But some are cheaper than others, and some offer better scholarships. Does this matter to you? Or are you willing to bury yourself in massive debt?
  • Rank/School Prestige: Are you looking to brag about graduating from an Ivy League school? Do you want to go to a school with a massive alumni association? Is there a school that is highly respected in your hometown? Or do you not care, because everyone graduates with the same degree?
  • Availability of a certain academic program: Are you passionate about tax law? Have you always dreamed about being a criminal defense lawyer? Do you want to go into space law? (BTW - yes, that's a thing) Or, again, do you not care because everyone graduates with the same degree?
These are just some of the aspects to consider, but it's a good way to get yourself thinking about schools and what you want in a law school. Then, it's time to discover what law schools you actually want to apply to.

One great thing about searching for law schools, is that there are only 200 law schools in the United States that are accredited by the American Bar Association. This makes it pretty easy to search through all of them. If location is your thing, the link above lists the law schools by state. If you care about cost, go to the individual law school's website, and find the "tuition and fees" link somewhere there. Law school websites are also a great place to find out about which academic programs each school has.

And of course, there's ranking. Some people will argue that this is the most important thing to consider. While I do think rank carries some weight, I don't necessarily think rank is the most important. After all, in real life, do you think that your future employer has the entire U.S. News and World Report Law School rankings memorized? The answer is no - they know that Yale is good, small, no-name law schools are probably not as good, and everything else is in between. It matters what you get out of your law school, not how they rank among the other 200. 

However, if rank is your thing, here is the official list everyone goes by. I would say look at it, know where the schools you're considering rank, but don't make too big of a deal about it. 

One thing that is super important when applying to law schools is your academic ability. Your grade point average and score on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) will determine your ability to get into any given school. From what I've been told, your LSAT score determines your fate by about 70%, and the other 20% is a combination of GPA, personal statement, resume, etc. So knowing your LSAT score and GPA is a good way to try and figure out which schools to apply to. The two things can balance each other out as well. For instance, if you have a GPA below a school's 25th percentile, but an LSAT above the median, you may still have a chance of getting in. 

One tool that I used that combined all of these different factors when searching for law schools is this website. It lets you sort by GPA, LSAT, rank, location, program availability, etc. I spent hours on this site, as well as websites for each individual law school.

Overall, it's an overwhelming decision. For me, I ended up applying to 6 law schools in 5 states, with their rankings ranging about 50 spots on the USNWR rankings, all with fluctuating price tags and different program strengths. But there were things about each individual school that appealed to me. One had one of the top programs in tax law and was ranked pretty high, another was ranked lower but it was in an awesome city. Another school is newer and lower ranked, but very highly respected throughout the nation. And so on and so forth.

My best advice - DO YOUR RESEARCH. Know everything about the schools you do apply to, or the ones you even consider. Know a bunch about schools you don't apply to. Knowledge is power. But also, trust yourself that you will make the right decision for you, and you will be good to go.

Until tomorrow, bye, friends!
- Bailey.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Blogging Topics for the week of May 16th

Hey, everyone!

So until now, I've been unsure of what I'm going to post about on here and it's kind of been pretty random. And considering I'm just starting the blog and I have approximately 9 total views so far - it hasn't really mattered. However, I want the blog to eventually start taking more of a direction. So I'm going to try something this week and blog about a certain topic every single day this week, and see how it goes. 

The topic of the week is: APPLYING TO LAW SCHOOL

Because I've gone through this process very recently, I'm going to write a little bit every single day about the application process to law school and what it's like. Obviously, this is a very broad and generalized topic. However, if I like this format of blogging, I'll go more in depth on certain things like the LSAT, personal statements, letters of recommendation, etc. in future weeks.

I'm looking forward to a fun week!

Bye, friends!
- Bailey.

Friday, May 13, 2016

1 Week Post-Undergrad

Hey there, friends!

I don't really have much to say today, other than the fact that I officially graduated college ONE WEEK AGO. Although technically final grades aren't all in, and they still haven't mailed me my degree, so I don't know what to say about that.

Also, it's one week into summer vacation, and I'm already pretty bored. I just don't know what to do when I'm not writing papers or have the weight of 1000 textbooks I have to read on my back. I know that I should be enjoying this time off - after all, law school will be the hardest I've ever worked in school and that's only about 3 months away. But still... I am so bored at home.

Yesterday I began to sort through all my possessions and reorganize my stuff in preparation for moving. Nothing motivates you to clear out things you don't need like having to move everything you own across the country. This will be a long process though, so I'm taking it one step at a time.

As far as law school preparations go, if anyone has any suggestions for they summer, I would LOVE to hear them. Whether you have book recommendations, things I should read/do, or general advice - please let me know!

Well, I'll continue my boredom now.

- Bailey

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Why are law school deposits so expensive? *** UPDATED 01/17 ***

Day two of blogging and I'm already getting into the ugly topics - money.

If you expect me to answer the question that is asked in the title of this blog, I would like to let you know that you are wasting your time reading this. Because I have no freakin' idea why law school deposits are so expensive. Although I understand the necessity of law school deposits, I am definitely not a fan.

You see, after the rush of acceptance letters and scholarship offers, you only have a few months to make a permanent decision. It seems that the deadline to commit to most schools falls somewhere within the first few weeks of April. When a decision is reached, one must usually fill out a form or two and send the first of many checks to the chosen university. For my school, I had to submit one $750 deposit by April 15th, and then a second one of the same amount by June 10th. Yep, it costs $1500 to officially decide which law school to go to.

From what I've heard, my school has some of the most expensive deposits around. Talking to some of my friends from undergrad that are attending various law schools, their deposits ranged from $250-500. And although I know that I won't be paying tuition thanks to the generous scholarship assistance at my school, it's still no fun knowing that I'm paying some of the more expensive fees. Some of my friends that are attending law schools have told me they put down deposits at multiple schools while they are deciding, which is absolutely insane to me. But, if you are really torn between schools and your deposits are some of the lesser dollar amounts, then I suppose it may be worth it.

I already submitted my first deposit when I made the decision to attend my school. I've spent the last few months saving for the next one. I decided I wasn't going to submit my second deposit until final grades were in for undergrad, assuring that I had graduated. Although now that it's that time, I'm still not thrilled that my savings account is about to take a hit.

Not only do I have to pay this deposit soon, but other expenses are adding up as well. Last night my car got attacked by a hailstorm, so I have to pay to fix that. I'm going to Washington D.C. this summer, and I have yet to purchase my plane ticket. Looks like I'm going to have to be really careful with money, since I want to shove a lot of money into savings and pay for what I need to this summer.

Can't wait to be broke for the next three years. Yay, law school!
- Bailey

UPDATE (January 5th, 2017)

So, over six months latere and I have a little bit more information on this topic for you. Obviously, the fact that law school deposits are so expensive is a little bit of drag - even still. Broke college students don't just have $1,500 to drop! However, I have a little bit more information as to where this money actually goes.

So this totally makes sense, and I cannot believe that I didn't realize this before - but your deposit is a deposit on your tuition! Duh. So the money that you give a law school the spring before you attend will be applied to your tuition in the fall. This generally just means that it is is money you won't have to pay later - which is totally awesome!

Another bonus for me on this topic was that I actually received a full-tuition scholarship to law school. This means that I don't have to pay tuition. You might be wondering, "But, Bailey. If you don't pay tuition, where did your tuition deposit go?" The answer: back in my bank account. That's right, I got the entire $1,500 back in August, which I used to buy textbooks and buy things for my new apartment.

Generally, this means that the tutition deposit wasn't as bad as thought. Still not the most fun thing in the world - but it was more practical than I had originally thought. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

So, I'm going to law school: An Introduction

Hey, there!

It's my third official day of not using my college degree, and I'm already bored out of my mind. So what's a girl going to do? Well, she's going to start a blog.

Last fall I started my senior year of college with hopes and dreams of eventually going to law school. A busy fall semester ensued, filled with building my resume, gathering letters of recommendation, taking the dreaded LSAT, and filling out my law school applications. Then came the spring semester, waiting for acceptance letters and scholarship offers. And as the semester dwindled to the end, I had accepted a full-tuition scholarship at my second-choice law school. So last weekend, I got to walk across the stage as my name was called (with the wrong pronunciation, of course) and grab my degree, knowing that I could be confident in my future.

It's the beginning of May, and I have three months left before I start law school in August. I plan on relaxing this summer, preparing for the fall, and getting ready to start the next chapter of my life. I've decided to start a blog to keep me entertained and document my experiences - so let's see where this takes us!

A little about me to start out:

My name is Bailey. I'm 20 years old. I work part-time as a host in a restaurant currently; although I'll be quitting to move to attend law school in the fall. I have my B.S. in Political Science. I love the color green, coffee, cats, and everything Disney. I'm serious and hard-working, but I think I have an excellent sense of humor as well. Trashy reality TV is my favorite way to relax, and a horror movie and dinner out is my ideal way to hang out with friends. I had two internships in college: one was all fun and games at Walt Disney World, and the other was dry, boring, and awful as an advertising sales representative. Want to know more? Just ask me.


Until next time,
Bailey
 
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