Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Law School Reminds Me of High School

It was about the third day of law school when I had a major revelation. Although I was struggling emotionally with the transition into law school, something about the whole experience was vaguely familiar and comforting. I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly what it was, though. At least, not until I rolled into the building at 8:00 A.M. one morning, threw my lunch box in the fridge, and stopped off at my locker to grab my books and supplies for my first class. That's when I figured out where I had done this entire routine before - high school.

Yes, I said it, folks. Law school is exactly like high school, except there are more tears and more debt. You might be thinking that I am drawing crazy comparisons here, but I assure you that I am not. So without further ado, here is my list of reasons why law school is like high school:

  • You stay in the same building all day. Obviously, most of us went to a high school that was in one, giant building. The same is true for law school. It's not like college where you might have one class in the science building, another in the arts building, another in the honors building, etc. You are stuck in the same building all day, every day. Because of this, make sure you pick a law school where you like the building because it is where you will spend all of your time.
  • Class Size. So this clearly depends on where you go to law school, but most law schools have overall class sizes are similar to high school. For example, my high school graduating class was 129 people. My J.D. class is 154 people. I go to a very moderately-sized law schools, but most are not bigger than a typical high school.
  • Lockers. Ah, yes - lockers. The one thing about high school that I never realized I missed. At most law schools, students are given lockers in the building to keep their books, supplies, whatever. This is so amazing, because law school textbooks are extraordinarily heavy. Not only that, but I have a couple of snacks stashed in my locker for emergencies, as well as an extra sweatshirt for freezing classrooms, pens, and a water bottle. 
  • Spending all day at school. In undergrad, I would go to class for a few hours then return to my apartment for a nap or food, and maybe head back to school again in the afternoon for a few hours. In law school, they recommend that you treat it like a 9-to-5 job, where you go to school for class and study before, after, and in-between classes in the law school, and then go home and leave it all behind. This is much more similar to my 8-to-4 high school schedule than my sporadic undergrad schedule.
  • Drama, "Cliques", and Friend Groups. This one is a bit more negative than the rest, but it seems like all of the high school drama comes back a little bit in law school because it is such a small group of people that spends all of their time together. There are definitely established friend cliques and drama between them already. Although I feel as though I have managed to stay out of the drama, it is always there.
Those are some of the main reasons that law school reminds me of high school. Although you might have a different opinion, it is hard to deny some of the similarities. In some ways, this is kind of nice. However, it's definitely something that I will have to get used to again, as I was so accustomed to my undergraduate lifestyle. 

What do you guys think? Is law school like high school?

- Bailey

Saturday, August 27, 2016

What The First Two Weeks of Law School Are Like

So I know that I just posted about orientation and my first day of law school a few days ago, but those posts were delayed as I have been a bit busy adjusting to life in a new state, town, and school. But as of today, I have made it through two weeks of law school. In some ways, it feels like I have been here for only two hours - everything is so new and I am constantly reacting to all the new sights, sounds, and experiences. At the same time, it feels like I have been doing this for two months already. In a couple of my classes, we are already 100 pages deep into our case books, I have a study schedule figured out, and I am starting to feel settled in my new school. It has definitely been a whirlwind.

Help! I cannot control my emotions!

I am usually someone who is very emotionally stable. I tend to not react to things, and like to pride myself on remaining calm, cool, and collected at all times. That is, until I got to law school. The one thing that does tend to compromise my emotions is stress - and law school is extremely stressful. The first week of law school, I cried *every* *single* *day*. 

No joke. I cried during the main assembly at orientation (nobody saw, thank goodness), I cried driving home from orientation day two, I started crying in the library after my first class, when I got home after the second day, and I started uncontrollably sobbing in my car in the middle of the third day of classes. There were a few minor breakdowns between those episodes as well. These breakdowns were hard for me, because I hate being emotional and vulnerable. However, they were good for me as well. My body needed to release some stress. Sometimes, you just gotta cry.

My last breakdown was so intense, that my mom panicked and bought me a plane ticket to visit home in October to give me something to look forward to. This helped boost my emotions so much, knowing that in only six weeks I get to go see my friends and family. If you are having a hard time emotionally, I recommend giving yourself an anticipated award for mid-semester in order to help motivate you. Whether it be a trip, like mine, or the promise to buy something you really like, or even letting yourself go to Starbucks at the end of the week - it's okay to give yourself some motivation!

You Will Read A LOT

This may seem like "duh" thing to say. Everyone knows you read a lot in law school. But this will start from your very first class. I had to read sixty pages for torts on my first day. And not only is that a lot of pages, but law school reading takes so much longer. I texted one of my friends a few days ago that I only had 18 pages of reading left, so I would probably be done in about an hour and a half. She asked me why in the world it would take me so long to read only 18 pages... *sigh* that's what law school reading is like.

Break it down into 20 minute intervals, and take 5 minute breaks in-between. Or study for hours on end and then let yourself do nothing for an hour or two. Whatever works for you. But just know, it will be a lot, but this is your job now.

Suddenly, socializing seems too hard

After a long day at law school, there is always a group of your classmates getting ready to head to the bars. And then there are the rest of us, who want to go straight home, change into sweatpants, and watch Netflix. Socializing seems like it would be entirely too much work at this point. However, I moved over 1,000 miles away for law school, and I do not know anybody in my new town. So I have tried to force myself to socialize a little bit. I went to a happy hour event where I met with some of my classmates and 2Ls and 3Ls. I've taken breaks from studying to sit in the lounge and hang out with people instead of reading. My roommates and I have gone out to dinner. Although socializing seems hard, it is also very important to try and make friends and adjust to your new school, so do not forget to have a little fun.

You are one step closer to being Elle Woods!

Okay, so this one is a little bit more sentimental than the rest. But over these first two weeks of law school, I have gotten to a point where I have realized that I can do this and that I am one step closer to being the lawyer that I came here to be. Although I am still in the early stages, I am starting to get a handle on this whole law school thing. I'll be a pro in no time! 

Hope everyone else is having an excellent start of the semester and I can't wait to share more experiences with you!

- Bailey.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The First Day of Law School

I always imagined my first day of law school, I would run into school happy, prepared, and ready to start my career as a lawyer-to-be. Instead, I rolled in already tired, scared, and a little unsure about what I was doing. And as I sat down in my 8:00 A.M. lecture, it seemed that my classmates felt the exact same way.

The first day of law school is intimidating. And hard. And stressful. And it might make you cry. I'm not saying this to scare you; I just do not want to sugar coat it. The first day of law school is also incredible, a huge accomplishment, and a lot of fun. It is both terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. At least, that was my experience.

In the week before law school, all of my professors posted assignments on the online course management system for the first day of classes. That is one thing to be aware of and make sure you check for before starting law school. Unlike my entire undergraduate experience, there is no syllabus week in law school. Three out of my five professors spent a few minutes on the syllabus, but none spent more than fifteen minutes on it before diving directly into the material. Law school starts on day one, so do not be the student that comes in unprepared and unaware that you were supposed to have read three torts cases for the day.

On my first day, I came in with all of my assignments read and notes taken on each one, anticipating an immediate quiz on the material. As many of you probably know, law school professors use the Socratic method to teach. This means that they will call on random people however they please when asking questions to the class. My torts professor came in, dropped his book on the lectern, and called on a random kid in the first row asking, "What is a tort?" This type of thing was common in every single class. This was part of the reason the day was so stressful.

Between classes, I spent a few hours in the library doing my reading for the next day. I figure it is better to stay ahead on assignments and not get behind from the very first week. So I grabbed a coffee from the school cafe and read up on criminal law and started an assignment for legal writing. And then when my classes were over at 4:30, I went back to the library to study some more. By 5:30 I finished my assignments for the next day and was ready to go home.

So that was my first day. It's not like it was anything exciting, but it was an intimidating day. But about halfway through my first class, I realized that everything I was feeling was totally normal. Everyone else is starting their first day of law school as well. We are all terrified of being humiliated by our professors. And all of us had read for hours the night before. I realized, it's okay if you don't have it all figured out yet. It's your first day, nobody expects you to be an expert. They just expect you to try.

The first day of law school is also incredibly amazing. It's the moment you had been envisioning every since you took signed up for the LSAT, applied for law school, or enrolled in the school of your dreams. So between feeling tired, scared, and overwhelmed, take a deep breath, and realize that you did it. You're here.

That was my first day of law school. Now I am a week in, and it's gotten easier and better every single day. But more about that later...

- Bailey

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Law School Orientation

Hello, everyone! I told you guys I would be back soon - and here I am! These last 10 days have been absolutely insane. I moved halfway across the country, made it through two days of orientation, moved into my new apartment after staying for a week in an Airbnb in my new town, and completed a full week of law school. I apologize for not taking more time to blog during this past week. However, I am back and ready to hang out with you guys and tell you all about it. So without further ado... all about law school orientation!

My school had a two-day orientation. Each school varies on the length of their orientation programs. I have seen orientations lasting from a single day, to an entire week. Wherever you go to school, it is pretty likely that your orientation will be mandatory. You start you character and fitness file for the eventual bar exam you will take on the first day of school, so they will make note of whether you show up or not. So make sure that you are at orientation, because not showing up could compromise your eventual intentions of practicing law.

Orientation Schedule

This will quite obviously depend on your school, but every orientation seems to have a little bit of the same type of activities. The first thing we did was about three hours of administrative tasks: sign-in, receive database passwords, get our student IDs, check out lockers, take professional photos, buy textbooks, etc. Following that, we had a big "Welcome to law school!" assembly in the auditorium where we heard from various administrators about how excited they were for the upcoming year. Then we had a luncheon (bless free food), followed by more information sessions in the afternoon about getting involved and taking advantages of all of the opportunities and services that come with law school. Following that, we had a mixer with all of our 1L class, professors, and law school staff. I wanted to meet some of my professors, but frankly I was too tired and too scared to introduce myself, so I grabbed some free food and then left.

The second day of orientation started with several information sessions. We heard from career services, the financial aid office, student life, etc. We also had the women's basketball coach from the university come and tell us how to get involved outside of the classroom too, in order to keep ourselves sane. Another lunch happened, and then we listened to a presentation advising us not to get involved with drugs or fall into alcoholism, because apparently that is a common occurrence with law students. Lastly, we took a class photo and then had a class barbecue. This ended in the early afternoon hours, because class started the next day - and we had homework to do!

Orientation Attire

I know one of the biggest questions that incoming students have about orientation is "What should I wear?" Again, this is going to depend on your school. My school specified business casual dress code, but some schools require business professional or even have completely casual dress codes. If your school doesn't specify, a safe bet is always business casual. This means usually nice slacks or a skirt, and a shirt you would wear under a suit jacket. Ladies, business dresses are also appropriate - but make sure it isn't a sun dress. 

The first day I wanted to err on the professional side of business casual, so I chose grey slacks, a white oxford-style shirt, and a navy blazer. 

I looked very polished and professional, but it was also extremely hot for August. With the blazer, I was more dressed up than most of my classmates, but not so much that I looked out of place. The second day I got my outfit right. I wore a bright blue blouse, and black skinny suit pants.

Overall, this outfit was extremely comfortable, looked polished, and overall was a great choice. 

Here are my tips for orientation attire:
  • Wear something you wouldn't be embarrassed to be photographed in. Throughout orientation, I took three photos. Remember that.
  • Wear something comfortable! I had to walk to the main student union on my university's campus - which was 20 minutes in the August heat each way. Ladies, go ahead and wear flats. Wear something you can walk in for a mile, or sit in for five hours. Somehow, you'll do both.
  • If you're unsure, stick to neutral colors. Black, white, grey, and navy are always good choices to blend in if you're afraid of looking too dressed up or down.
  • Don't worry too much about it - it's everyone else's first day too!

Things to Remember During Orientation

Orientation, for me, was an extremely stressful experience. Not only was it my first two days living in an entirely new city, but I was jumping headfirst into law school. It was two days of people constantly saying how hard the next year was going to be, giving me a million pieces of information, and trying to wrap my brain around everything that was happening. So here is my advice to you during orientation:
  • Take a deep breath. No, seriously. This is stressful, but it's only the beginning. Relax and tell yourself it is all going to be okay. You don't need to start off the semester in panic mode. You've got this.
  • Introduce yourself - a lot! You're about to spend three years with the same people every single day. Get to know people, get your name out there, and say hi to your classmates.
  • Drink lots of water. You're going to get tired - so you'll automatically reach for the coffee or Red Bull. But drink water too - hydrating properly will help you stay healthy.
  • Call your friends, family, or other person you can unload to. I called my mom crying both days after orientation, but I felt so much better after. You need someone you are comfortable with to talk things through.
  • Smile. You've made it. You're in law school. You did it.

That's my experience during orientation. I'm sure you have a million questions, so leave them in the comments or feel free to email me at caffeineandcasebriefs@gmail.com

Stay tuned for more updates about starting law school soon!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Where To Live In Law School

Law school is a time of immense life changes. Not only are you starting on what is inevitably the hardest academic challenge of your life, but there are many other changes that come with it. For many students, including myself, going to law school means moving. Some people just move to a new residence, others move to a new city, others move to a new state, some people even move to a new country. For me, I am moving across the country to a new state, about 1,100 miles from my entire family and all of my friends.

Knowing that I was moving, I began to weigh my options for living arrangements as soon as I picked my law school. Did I want to rent an apartment? A house? Live on-campus? Private student housing? There are so many options. Depending on where your law school is, there might be more or less options.

On-Campus Housing

Bigger universities tend to have options for graduate student housing in on-campus apartments or some type of dorms. It is less likely to find this type of housing at a smaller university. I have even seen a few universities with law student housing, but this seems less common. Benefits of university housing is usually proximity to campus, easy payment using financial aid, and living in a community with other students. The downside is usually the cost - on-campus housing tends to be much more expensive. Along with that, you will always be on campus. For me, I need to get a break and leave every now and then for my sanity.

Private Student Housing

This is actually the option that I chose for law school. These types of communities are found at bigger universities usually, with a large undergraduate and graduate population. These are usually apartments that have private bedrooms, with shared bathrooms and living spaces with 1 to 3 other roommates. The nice thing about these is usually most utilities are paid for in your rent, they are typically furnished, and offer promising student amenities. My community has a gym, computer lab with free printing, pool, volleyball courts, and several other perks. The downside to these are the cost. I am paying $600 a month for one bedroom in a three bedroom apartment. However, for me, the convenience is worth the cost. Because I am moving from so far away, this apartment is nice due to the fact that it is already furnished and set-up specifically for students.

Renting An Apartment

This is likely the most common option for law students. Obviously, apartment communities are pretty numerous in most cities, and there are several options in any price range. They are usually pretty affordable and allow for a lot of freedom for law students. With apartments, you do need to remember that there are additional costs because of utilities, furnishing the apartment, and commuting costs to and from campus. However, an apartment is typically the ideal set-up for a law student.

Renting A House

Honestly, there is probably very little that is different from renting an apartment to renting a house. There may or may not be more or less houses available to rent depending on the area you are attending law school. Renting a house is often a good solution for people that want to have several people live together but still retain more space. This can often be more affordable than an apartment if you have more students that want to live together.

and lastly,

Should you get a roommate?

This is one thing a lot of law students ask each other. Personally, I did not want a roommate at first because I thought living alone would be easier while I was in school. However, the fact that I am moving away from everyone I know meant that I was in this alone - and I didn't know if I wanted to live alone too. I decided to get a roommate or two in order to make my living situation more affordable and so that I would be able to get to know someone better when I moved far away. In the end, I decided to have two roommates that I found using our law student class Facebook page.

I have only been able to get to know my roommates via texting and messaging on Facebook, but overall I am excited about living with them. It is making my move a lot easier, because we are splitting the amount of things we need to bring. It is also nice because I have go-to people to ask questions about school, moving, and other concerns. 

When it comes to choosing whether or not to have a roommate, pick whatever is right for you. If you have typically had bad roommates, you may just want to live alone. If you like always having people around and want to cut costs, pick a roommate. And if whatever you decide doesn't work for you, then you have two more years of school to figure it out!

Hope everyone chooses right!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Writing A Personal Statement For Law School

Amidst my preparations to start my 1L year in a little over a week, I keep reflecting back on the application process that I went through in the last year, and wondering how I made it through alive. Applying for law schools is no easy process, and one of the most daunting tasks one has to complete in order to apply is writing a personal statement. In theory, this seems easy enough. However, it proved to be the most challenging part of my application process.

A personal statement is essentially your one or two page chance to write down all the reasons you should be admitted to law school and basically beg for admission. No pressure. And to make this process even more difficult, each and every law school has different requirements for their personal statements. Some want a true personal statement, where you talk about yourself and why your unique qualities make you a good law school candidate. Other schools want an academic statement, where you talk about your schooling and experiences that led you to apply to law school. Occasionally, schools will give you specific essay questions, others will completely leave the statement up to you. I have even heard of a few schools letting you make a video essay instead of writing one. (Side note: if any of you apply to a school with a video essay and recreate Elle Woods' video from Legally Blonde, you are my hero)

So with all of these different options, how do you go about writing a personal statement? The truth is, you aren't going to write just one statement, you will write a few different versions of one. Here's a step-by-step guide to writing a personal statement:

Compile a list of requirements from schools you are applying to

Think about which schools you are likely going to complete applications to, and find all of their requirements. I found most of this information on each law school's website, but some also have this information hidden inside of their application on the LSAC website. To make it easier to keep all of this information straight, I copy and pasted all of the instructions into a Word document to keep it all together. That way, I basically had a master instruction sheet for writing my statements. And then I could see where the requirements were similar and differed. For the most part, schools wanted the statements to either up to 2, 3, or 4 pages and consist of the reasons why I would make a good law student.

Write your first draft

This draft is all about getting your ideas out, so don't worry about perfectly following instructions from each school. My first draft was poorly written and way too long, but it helped me figure out what I wanted to put in my statement. As far as the content of your statement goes, do not simply rewrite your resume. They will have a copy of that too. Tell a story, explain hardships, talk about your unique qualities, etc. Everybody that applies to law school is extremely smart and highly qualified, make your statement stand out. 

After you've written your first draft, start your editing process. Cut out what you don't need, shorten some things for clarity, and see if you have any gaps in your information. Polish it up a little bit and get it ready to read.

Get advice from a professor or friend

The next thing you want to do, after editing, is have someone else look at your statement. For this, I enlisted the help of my honors adviser who is and English professor. I chose her because she frequently helps people with graduate school applications and is skilled in the writing field. This was the best thing I did when crafting my personal statement, but it was also the hardest. After my first meeting with my professor, I left crying because she basically read my statement out loud, and told me why I needed to completely rewrite the entire thing. This was awful because I had already spent hours working on it and to completely restart absolutely crushed me, but I set out to do it.

Write a new first draft

Alright, so some of you may not have to do this. But, because not many people have written these types of statements before, there is a strong possibility that you might. So start the process again with advice from whoever you sought out, and craft a new, better personal statement. And then start the editing process all over again.

Edit, clarify, edit, edit, edit.

That right, do a lot of editing. I think I wrote 7 or 8 drafts of my basic personal statement before I was done. I sent each and every draft to my professor that was helping me for proofreading and suggestions. Every time, I changed and clarified things throughout the entire paper. Slowly, you'll see each draft get better and better. My adviser told me that when you want to stop sending in the paper for editing because you love it as is, and eventually I got to that point and knew I was done.

Customize for each school

I had a basic draft that was around 2 page that contained the essential information. Then depending on the school, I expanded the draft where needed. There was a space at the end for me to type a tidbit about why I would be a good fit for the specific school I was sending the statement. If the school allowed the statement to be longer, I expanded on some of my experiences. If they asked specific questions, I made a paragraph or so to answer them. This way, each statement I sent in was unique, but contained the same, basic ideas.

Edit, just one more time

Remember, this is your one chance to beg for admission in your own words. Make it perfect. After I turned my statement in, I found one, small error. It was so embarrassing. Don't have that moment.

Send it in!

And the waiting process begins.

So that's the general process I used to craft my own personal statements. Overall,  I feel like I became an expert on the process. It's not fun, but it is so necessary to take the proper amount of time and write a really great statement. If any of you are looking for an example, feel free to email me ( caffeineandcasebriefs@gmail.com ), and I will gladly send you a copy of the statement that I wrote.

Good luck!
- Bailey.

Monday, August 8, 2016

4 Reasons Why I Am Nervous For Law School

Law school officially starts in a week! So with all of the excitement, there are obviously some last minute jitters that I have as well. This is a huge life change and there is a lot that is about to happen. In order to make myself feel better, I've decided to blog about my worries. So without further ado, here is my list of 4 things I am nervous for in law school:

1. Moving

This is the biggest "duh" item on this list, but of course I am nervous to move across the country. Not only will I be 1,000 miles away from my friends and family, but it will also be entirely new. How will I like living in my new apartment community? Will I like my roommates? Where is the best place to buy bagels in my new city? These are the important questions that I ask myself.

2. Being Young

I don't know if I have mentioned my age on my blog before, but I am only 21 years old. A very new 21 - I turned 21 a month ago today. Most law students are a little older than me. Among my peers, I have always been young because I started kindergarten when I was barely 5 years old. Recently, I graduated in 3 years instead of the normal 4, so therefore I am about 2 years younger than all of my law school peers. So that will be an interesting experience.

3. Not Having A Job

This is another weird one, but I have had at least a part time job since I was 14 years old. The last two years I have been working even more, having a couple full-time internships and then working 30-40 hours per week at my part-time job when I wasn't interning. However, the ABA and most law schools themselves discourage working while you are in law school, especially during your first year. So today starts my first day of unemployment, and it is weird. I like how balancing work and school forces me to be focused, prioritize, and be eternally busy. This sounds hectic, but I am worried about that change.

4. The Schoolwork, Obviously

Lastly, I am nervous about actually getting through law school. Everyone keeps saying this is different than any school I have done before. This means harder work, more intense studying, and probably a lot of tears. I am up to the challenge, but it makes me nervous nonetheless.

Despite any of these fears, I am excited for the challenge that law school will bring. What are things you are nervous about for law school?


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Adulting, An Attempt

Adulting. It's hard. It's necessary. And we all pretend we can figure it out.

I am sure you are familiar with that victorious feeling you get when you successfully cook something for dinner other than macaroni (bonus points if it involves a vegetable), don't screw up the laundry, or manage to make a bank transaction without having to call your mom. These feelings are still somewhat new to me as well. But every day I try my hardest to be a better adult, whether it is trying to maintain a healthy sleep schedule or donating my old Lion King shirt so that people don't confuse me with the herds of eighth graders that seem to be everywhere.

For me, every little attempt at being a better adult counts. If you're looking for a few ways that you can improve your adulting game, here are some quick ideas you can try today to become a better adult:

Make Your Bed
Seriously, this is an excellent way to trick yourself into thinking you have your life together. I started making my bed every morning about 6 months ago. Since then, I have been better about keeping my bedroom clean, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule (aka not going back to bed at 9:00 AM), and keeping on top of my to-do lists. Having a made bed discourages you from crawling back under the covers and wasting the day away. Try it, make your bed.

Wash Your Face Every Night
I was blessed with clear skin throughout middle school and high school, when I got to college I started getting regular breakouts all over my face. While these breakouts seem to be mostly hormonal, some of it has to do with makeup and oil buildup on my face. Washing my face every night seems to help with the breakouts a little bit, that way all the gunk doesn't sit on my face until I shower in the morning. Also, I hear it's what adults do.

Find Your Favorite Vegetable
Listen, I know that your college schedule and lack of funds for a proper budget makes it difficult to eat well, but lay off the ramen noodles and pizza. Discover at least one vegetable that you love, and learn how to prepare it a few different ways. That way, if you're eating like crap, you have at least one dish that you love and don't feel about eating. For me, my vegetable is broccoli. I could eat it every day - and sometimes it feels like I do.

Go Through Your Closet and Donate Clothes You Don't Wear
When I was in high school and had my first job, I bought a ton of clothes with my paychecks all of the time. To be honest, that's where I spent most of my excess money in undergrad as well. My closet was overflowing with things I no longer wear. So I started going through my closet about once every three months, pulling clothes that I don't wear anymore out, and throwing them in donation bins. This de-cluttering makes me feel more organized, got rid of all of my clothes that don't fit, and is a great way to help others in need. This also frees up space to get a more adult wardrobe. I basically traded Mickey Mouse t-shirts for button-downs and blazers.

Update Your Resume
A lot of the young professionals that I know tell me that they update their resume once every six months. When you're young and new at adulting, there's a lot in your life that changes frequently. Take ten minutes, look over your resume, and make sure it's up to date. If you don't have a resume, consider writing one. You'll need it.

Clean Out Your Car
Nothing says teenager like a car full of empty water bottles, Target receipts, and random articles of clothing. I hate cleaning out my car as much as everyone else, but I love driving it without a bunch of stuff in it. One great way to do this is to clean out all of the clutter on the inside, and then go get your oil change at one of the car places that vacuums your car for you. That way, you get bonus points for staying on top of your vehicle maintenance.

Call Your Parents
This may seem a little backwards. After all, isn't adulting supposed to help you not need your parents as much? For the most part, yes. But one part of being an adult is prioritizing what is important and making time for those mean the most. So call your mom, let her know you are doing fine, and tell her you love her. She's probably worried about you anyway.

Trying to be an adult in this world is crazy difficult. But at least we can all figure it out together. What's your number one thing that makes you feel like an adult?

- Bailey.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Law School Textbooks

Many of you know that last week I made a post about finally getting my 1L class schedule. Along with that class schedule, I got my list of textbooks I need to buy for my first semester. Buying my school books is something that I always tend to look forward to for some reason, except for the price, of course. I enjoy the challenge of finding the best deal and getting ready for the semester. However, I have a feeling that buying law school books will be exponentially less fun.

My book list includes 7 required books, 1 optional but recommended book, and a clicker to be used for class participation. I selected them all on my university bookstore website, hit "Add To Cart", and waited to see the final total. Needless to say, I wasn't thrilled when I saw my order summary:

$1000 for one semester of textbooks? I knew law school books were going to be expensive, but not that expensive. However, I've heard it only gets worse. I told one of my friends who is a recent graduate from law school about my book list, and she told me her most expensive semester was $1,400. So I have that to look forward to.

However, I have the breakdown of exactly what this list consists of, and luckily I will be able to make it a little bit cheaper. So here's what that all means:

Required Books

So obviously, I am required to buy certain books for each class. The three main law school subject courses (Civil Procedure, Tortswh, and Criminal Law) all have massive coursebooks that are about $200 each. They are those fancy-looking red and black books you see on the shelves of really important people.  Civil Procedure also has a supplemental book required for about $75.So that's where the bulk of the textbook cost comes from. I am also required to buy a manual written by my law school faculty for legal writing, which is about $115, along with the law school Bluebook, which is about $40. My research class has the cheapest book, at $75. Also required was a clicker for class participation, which is not really a book but it is a $50 expense I have to pay so I am including it anyway.

Recommended Books

This semester, I only have one book that is recommended instead of required. It's an "Examples and Explanations" book for Civil Procedure. Like many law students, I wondered if I should purchase this book or not. Asking around among some of my older law school friends and as a recommendation from one of my professors, I have been told to wait and see if I want or need additional explanations to help me understand my class material. If I need more information, buy a cheap, used copy of the book. If not, save myself the cash. 

Buy or rent? 

All throughout undergrad, I usually purchased most of my books. I rented them for any science or math classes, because I knew for sure that I would never want to keep them. The rest I bought. I wondered if this is the strategy I should take for law school. In my mind, I should keep the books because they relate to my future career. But asking around, many law students have recommended only renting books. You can keep the valuable information in your class outlines, and get rid of the bulky books. To me, this is good news because it will save me money.

New or used?

A lot of people buy used books to help save money. I have always liked having new books. It is the same way in law school, pick whichever you want. The only difference in law school is that there is usually a lot more highlighting/margin writing, and I wouldn't want my book marked up that much. Therefore, I am still going to get new books for law school. But if you are not picky at all, save some cash with used books.

Buying from the bookstore

Buying textbooks from the bookstore goes against everything I have ever known. Amazon and Chegg were my best friends in undergrad. However, for my first semester of law school at least, I am buying my books directly from my university's bookstore. Most of my books were less than $10 in price difference from Amazon, so it really made little different where I would buy them if purchased new. However, Amazon and Chegg do not allow you to choose new or used books when renting, and I wanted new books. Therefore, I will be renting books new from the bookstore at my university.

Luckily, by renting textbooks, I am able to decrease the cost of my books to about $760. This is much better than the original $1000 I had anticipated. At least I know I will be forced to read each and every word of these books, so that will make them worth it. 

To those of you also buying textbooks, good luck!

- Bailey.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

4 Ways I'm Preparing My Computer For Law School

So I'm still in that crazy last few weeks before I head to law school, and I am doing as much as possible to prepare for my upcoming 1L year. Between buying school supplies, packing my belongings to move, trying to spend time with friends and family, and everything else I have to do, I am also trying to get my computer ready for the new school year.

Everyone that I know that has gone to law school recommends having a computer for law school To me, this seems pretty obvious - I would have gone crazy without my laptop in undergrad. I bought a new laptop for my last year of undergrad, and if anyone is looking for a laptop suggested, I am very pleased with the one I have. I purchased an HP Spectre x360, and it is an incredible student computer. It is lightweight, thin, bends into a tablet, and the battery lasts up to twelve hours. The battery was the biggest selling point for me - I commuted an hour to school in undergrad, so I often stayed there from about 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and not having to carry around a bulky laptop charger was such a blessing.

I want to make sure that my laptop is in good condition before I head to law school and rely on it more than I already do now, so here are 4 ways I am preparing my computer for law school:

1. System Updates

You know how sometimes, when you turn on your computer, it prompts you to update and then you press "Remind Me Later" every day for approximately eleven years? Well I decided to stop putting off those updates and actually update my computer. Who knows if this actually helps my computer run better - it's just one less button I have to press every time I restart my computer.

2. Software Updates/Downloads

Like most students, I rely on Microsoft Office for my schoolwork. The last license I had for Microsoft Office was from my undergrad university. While it was still working on my computer, I decided to update the software and download the newest version from my law school. This way, I can avoid the license expiring in the middle of studying for law school. Also check to see if your school requires any specific software that you need to download and get that taken care of now.

3. Setting Up My New School Email

A new university comes with a new email address. I set up my new email with Outlook on my computer and in the Mail app on my phone. Some of my professors are already emailing using this address, so it's nice to have it readily available on my computer instead of logging into the online portal every time.

*** BONUS: Also take the time to unsubscribe from all of the spam you get in your other inboxes. Like, I love getting emailed about good deals every now and then, but most of the time my inbox is clogged with junk mail.

4. Organizing Files, Purging Old Documents, and Freeing Up Memory

The most tedious thing that I am doing to get my computer ready is going through all of the files on my computer. I am sorting through my documents, photos, videos, etc. and getting rid of any of the irrelevant ones, organizing the so everything is easy to find and use, and freeing up memory space for all the new law school documents I will inevitably have. If you're coming straight from undergrad like me, this is probably extremely necessary. Trust me, you do not need that paper you wrote on Ebola sophomore year on your laptop anymore. Any documents that you are attached to, but don't want them floating around, upload to Google Drive, Dropbox, or some other online storage platform.

These things should all help make sure that my computer is law school ready for the semester starting in two weeks. I am also doing fun things, like updating my social media profiles, changing my desktop background, and of course, blogging. I am so glad I will be technologically ready for law school in less than two weeks!

- Bailey.

Monday, August 1, 2016

What I'm Doing Two Weeks Before Law School

Guys, in two weeks I will be at orientation and I will be an official law student. Can you believe it? I mean, I am sure you can because that is probably what you expected by clicking on my blog - but for me it seems absolutely unreal. Law school was a crazy pipe dream that I had when I panicked and changed my major during my freshman year of college, but now as I get closer every day, it is becoming my reality and I cannot believe it.

So with the big day approaching, here is what I am doing to prepare for the impending doom/excitement/new life situation:

1. Law School Summer Reading

I got a couple of summer recommended reading assignments this summer, and I am still trudging my way through it. It's long, but I am getting through it, and luckily it's mostly review.

2. Packing

This is kind of a "duh" item on my list, but I have to pack up my belongings and move them 1,200 miles away. Because packing sucks and I hate it, I have been trying to do a few boxes a week for the last few weeks. It's no fun, but it's necessary.

3. Getting My Car Fixed

Speaking of that 1,200 mile road trip coming up, I am trying to make sure my car is up to the task. I had some hail damage a few months back, so I am getting all of that fixed this week. Next week, it will be time for an oil change and tire rotation as final car preparation.

4. Spending Time With Friends/Family

Since I am moving so far away, I am trying to spend as much time as possible with everyone from home. Although this is going to get sad soon, because I am going to have to say a lot of goodbyes. This is the most bittersweet item on my list of things to do for sure.

5. Working

Law school is going to be expensive. Although my $11/hour hosting job at a restaurant will not even make a dent in the cost of my legal education, I figure every little bit helps. Plus, I work with my best friends, so it sort of doubles as item #4

6. Trying Not to Panic, Double Checking I Have Everything Ready, and Answering A Lot of Questions

My life is about to change dramatically. It is going to be intense, but I am excited. I am also really nervous. All I can do right now is make sure I have everything in order, like all of my paperwork filled out, lease agreement filed, school supplies purchased, etc. That, and answering the question "Are you excited?" at least 6 times per day.

If you're about to head to law school, I bet you are doing some of the same things I am. An adventure is about to begin. According to friends that I have that are already in law school, my life is about to become hell. We'll see what happens.

- Bailey.