Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How to Have a Successful 1L Year



Although my 1L year was quite the adventure, I'd have to say that it was a successful year overall. I
made friends, got good grades, and overall enjoyed the time that I spent in law school. However, looking back there are things that I wish I would've done, and things I definitely could've done better. As always, it's important that I share what I've learned with all of you. So here is my short guide on how to have a successful 1L year.


STUDY HARD

Firstly, make sure you put your academics at the forefront of your priority list. I got told over and over again that grades are the only thing that matters 1L year. While that does have slight merit to it, I contend that this is an absolute and utter lie. While I do think that schoolwork should be the main focus for first-year law students, this does not mean that it should be the only priority. 

That being said, make sure that you study hard. This may seem absolutely obvious, but it is an essential part of being successful. Law school is essentially a full-time job, and thus expect to spend that much time on it. 

CREATE A ROUTINE

Like I said, law school is a full-time job. Thus, you settle into a routine, as if it were any 8-to-5 job. I'm not saying that you have to follow any particular time frame - there are a variety of law school study schedules that people follow. Whatever schedule you choose, just make sure that it works for you. Sometimes things in law school get rather difficult, and a routine makes it easier to go into autopilot and still get things done. Not to mention, the environment of law school is extremely stressful, and it's nice to be able to rely on a routine every now and then.

MAKE FRIENDS


Again, this may seem rather obvious. But some law schools are rather intensive and competitive, and people tend to look out for themselves rather than make friends. Other times, you may not feel like you have time to make friends, or you may not want to get attached to people that you'll leave in three years. To be honest, I spent the first semester actively rejecting friendship with my classmates (aside from my wonderful roommates, who are two of the best friends I have ever had). Second semester, I made it a mission - with the advice of my therapist - to make some close friends. It made law school a lot more enjoyaa ble, and my quality of life improved.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH


I recently read a statistic that 30% of law students have some level of depression. While I don't know how accurate this statistic is, but I completely and totally believe it. Law school takes a toll on your mental health - I openly admit that I struggled with depression and anxiety this year.  However, I learned how to take care of my mental health and I ultimately got much mroe successful as I did. Self-care is one of the best ways to be successful in law school. Whether you take the time to get professional counseling, simply set aside an hour a week to treat yourself, or medicate for existing mental illnesses - make sure to priortize your mental health to have a successful 1L year.

TAKE A VACATION

Finally! A fun way to be sucessful. The semesters in the law school can get long while you are studying, and before you know it, it's December and you never left the libary. Get out every now and then, whether it's a day trip to a nearby city, or a week at the beach for spring break. Sometimes the best way to focus on school is to take a bit of time away and come back. I didn't do this nearly enough 1L year and I am actively trying to fix that for next year. I booked a trip to Disney World in the fall, Thanksgiving in the Rocky Mountains with my family, and a couple of ideas for fun trips during the spring. You'll thank me for this one. 

KEEP YOUR EYES FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE

Law school can be terrible. They call it he1L for a reason. But remember, in the end it will all be worth it when you get handed that Juris Doctor. So just keep your eyes focused on the future, remember the reason why you came to law school in the first place, and think about all the goals that you have for yourself. 

Before you know it, you'll also be finishing your 1L year and thinking back on what a huge success it was!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Essential Apps For Law Students


One of the blessings and curses of living life in 2017 is the availability of technology. I love the fact that at any moment, I can pull a tiny device out of my pocket and connect with people across the world. At some points, technology can be a bit distracting. But let's be real, we couldn't survive without it. The most prominent technological device for most milennials is the smart phone. I don't even want to know how many hours a day I spend looking at my iPhone. And as we all know, there's an app for everything! Being a law student, I found some apps that are absolutely essential to my daily life!

(all apps are linked to make things easier for you - you're welcome)


MY STUDY LIFE

I have talked so many times about how making a study schedule is extremely important. But sometimes, a study schedule can be a lot to remember. I have a gigantic planner that I keep in my backpack, but sometimes that's hard to manage when I'm on the go. My Study Life is a digital planner that is absolutely essential to my sanity! It allows you to put in your class schedule, and keep track of different tasks and exams you have. This is perfect for when you're grabbing drinks with your friends and someone asks "Hey, what do we have to read for criminal law tomorrow?" You might not have your planner - but with My Study Life, the answer is right in your phone. 

SPOTIFY

So by now almost everyone knows about Spotify. But I needed to put it on this list, because I SWEAR I would not have made it through my first year of law school without it. Every day in the libary, I have my headphones in and I'm listening to one of Spotify's "Focus" playlists while I study. I'm the type of person that needs to have background noise, needs to drown out the noise of other law students, and these playlists are perfect for studying because they're usually soft, simple tracks that don't distract me. Plus, as a student you get Spotify Premium for only $4.99/month, which is no ads, all the music you want to listen to, and unlimited downloads. Talk about amazing!


VENMO

In the world of credit and debit cards, nobody carries cash anymore. Which is fine, until you're out for dinner or drinks with your friends and the restaurant won't split your bill for you. Then nobody has cash to reimburse whoever puts it on their card, and things get messy. So how do you transfer money to your friends? Venmo! It lets you easily send money back and forth, and is totally safe and secure. My roommates and I use it to pay each other for our bills, my friends and I all use it when we go out to eat, and our school even uses it for event tickets! I highly recommend it!


theSkimm

I love keeping up with current events! The problem is, in law school, my time is very limited. I don't have an hour to spend on the New York Times website every day, or to watch the news every evening. Luckily, I don't have to. I get a summary of the news in my email inbox every, single, weekday. If you want the news, but in a condensed form, I suggest you try theSkimm. Each morning, it will send you a quick-read, need-to-know summary of the news, that helps you stay informed without having to try. Seriously - I can read this on my elevator ride up to the floor of my office each day. Check it out!


QUIZLET

Ever wonder how you're ever going to remember all of those cases you're supposed to know for exams? Flashcards are the way to go. But don't want to make all of those flashcards? Quizlet is your solution. I've used this website for years, but now I have the app and it is absolutely amazing. Perfect for a quick review in line at Starbucks, study sessions with your friends, or just regular old studying. 

CANVAS (Or whatever online platform your school uses)


Technology has made education about a million times better, and every school has a site like Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, or Angel. These are great for communication, turning in assignments, accessing class materials, or looking at the class calendar. And to make things even better - most of these have an app! I use the app to takes quizzes often, check the calendar, or access notifications when I'm on the go. Although I still prefer the computer version, it's nice to have mobile access. 

COUNTDOWN

Sometimes it feels like the semester drags on and on in law school, and like all you have to look forward to is yet another day stuck in the law library. But if you plan out vacations, fun events like Barrister's Ball, spring break, or even the end of the semester - use the countdown app so you always know how many days you have left! Sometimes that countdown can be what gets you through the semester and an app to make the math easy on yourself is absolutely amazing. 



These are just a few of my favorite apps for law school, but there are so many more that I use. Let me know if you have any great app recommendations, and I might do another post with more!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

6 Things You Should Be Doing the Summer Before Law School



For incoming law students, it's about two months before you start your career as a future lawyer and embark on all the pain, joy, and wonder that is law school. When I was sitting in your shoes, just a year ago, I had no idea what I should be doing. Do I try to read about law school? Should I buy textbooks and get ahead? Should I just wait for it come? I had no idea what I should be doing. Now that I've made it through a year of law school myself, I only think it would be fair to share some things that I think would be useful for incoming 1Ls. So here are 6 things you should be doing the summer before law school.

1. RELAX

Listen, out of all the things that you should be doing the summer before law school, this is the most important one. Law school is hard. You'll spend more hours than you can imagine in the library. The curriculum will be hard. And the days will pass by faster than you know. So make sure to spend some time relaxing, doing absolutely nothing this summer. Chill by the pool. Lay in bed and watch Netflix. Hang out with friends. Just make sure that you feel relaxed and refreshed.

2. READ

In law school, the majority of your days will be spent reading. And reading. And reading some more. Thus, it might seem counterproductive to read all summer as well. But you might as well get used to the amount of reading you have to do. You don't have to read textbooks. Or law school prep books. Or blogs about law school (although I welcome here whenever you do). But do some reading. The summer before law school I spent the summer re-reading the entire Harry Potter series. It was fun. Juvenile even. But it helped me getting in the habit of reading again, and I was so grateful for that. It made 50-page reading assignments seem like nothing.


3. BUDGET

Law school is expensive. I have a full scholarship to my school, and somehow it still feels like I am just throwing money away. One thing you should try to do before starting law school is set a budget. The last thing that you want to worry about when you have a Civil Procedure reading to do and your first legal writing memo to finish is money. So set yourself up for success and set a budget. Now, I know budgeting can be hard - after all, it's a lot of math and most of us went to law school to avoid math. So I wrote a post all about it. Go check it out!

4. SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY

About two weeks before law school, my school sent out and email that gave a list of things our families should prepare for and do when sending off a person to law school. One of the items on the list was "Adjust your communication expectations." I, along with all my friends, consistently laughed at this. Turns out - it was necessary. Time flys by in law school, and it's hard to communicate with people as often as you might've once. So spend time with your friends and family this summer, while you'ves till got the time.

5. BUY A SUIT

In law school, you'll need a suit. Job interviews, networking events, moot court, and many more occasions will require you to be in proper courtroom attire. Because suit shopping can take time, and finding the perfect fit is hard. This is why it's probably best to find a good suit before you start law school, rather than waiting until you need one.

6. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

Last, but not least, make sure you take care of yourself. You want to be in your best health when you go to law school, both physically and mentally. Spend the summer before law school taking care of yourself and getting your mind and body ready for the challenges that await you. Law school is hard, so you need to make sure that you are your best self. Therefore, get in a habit and take care of yourself now, so you can make a habit to continue through law school.


Before you know it, the fall semester will be here. Enjoy your time before going to law school, and get ready for an adventure in the fall!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

1L Year in Review



Hello, hello to all my favorite law students, law school hopefuls, casual blog readers, or new friends stumbling across this page for the first time. It's been about six weeks since I've posted, but I took a little break to take finals, study, move for my summer internship, and reflect back on the first year of law school. But now I'm back, ready to get back to posting, and excited for everything the blogging world has in store for me. So without any further nonsense, I want to take some time to reflect back on 1L year and my experience as a whole.

It's crazy to think that at this time last year I had just finished my undergraduate degree. I had a brand new Bachelor of Science in Political science (an attorney I work with recently commented that this only qualifies me to work at Starbucks) and I was planning to move halfway across the country to start on my law school adventure. Like many incoming law students, I was excited, a little nervous, and unsure what to expect. I browsed blog after blog, scrolled through online forums, read all the books I could, and tried just a little bit to relax before I started on my new adventure. And before I knew it, it was August and I was a 1L!

Moving to law school was such a terrifying thought - after all, I was going to be 1,000 miles away from anyone I knew, embarking on the most difficult challenge in my academic career thus far, and trying to keep my head above water. So of course, life threw some extra challenges my way, just to make sure that I really wanted to do this whole "law school" thing. For example, my apartment wasn't ready until a week after classes started - meaning I was effectively homeless for a week. I couldn't do laundry, or sleep in my own bed, or even cook through my first days at orientation.

And orientation was a challenge of it's own. Although it was good to meet my classmates, explore the school, and get accustomed to all my school had to offer, the presentations from everyone terrified me. It was two days of hearing how rigorous the curriculum is, how so many students abuse drugs and alcohol, and how the search for our post-grad jobs would start right away. Talk about pressure! But after orientation and looking for a quiet moment, my roommate and I went to Starbucks to do our readings for the first day of classes. About an hour into our study session, I looked up at my roommate, and we had an epiphany together.

"We CAN do this," I said to her.

After a rough couple of days from moving and orientation, we had been feeling so discouraged. But in that moment, between the two of us, we finally felt like we might be able to make it through the year.

"Yes we can!" she said to me. And then we went back to studying.

Turns out, both of us were right. Before we knew it, we had settled into a routine of school and classes, with a few extracurriculars here and there. Of course, having an actual apartment helped with the whole routine thing. I was able to wake up around 6:00 every day, eat breakfast, get ready, then head to school around 8:00 A.M. Then, after a full day of classes with studying in between, I headed home around 5:00 P.M., made dinner, and then hung out with my roommates, went to a club event, or just relaxed a little bit. The semester flew by before I knew it.

Of course, this semester wasn't without it's challenges. There was a good amount of homesickness. I had a friend pass away in October, and had to travel back to my hometown for a funeral. A classmate of ours tragically took his own life due to the pressures of law school. And I watched my friendships and relationships change. But despite all of that, I made it through.

My first law school finals were an experience in their own. I discovered that finals were actually my favorite part of the year. Studying throughout the semester helped so that during finals, I got to relax, say goodbye to my friends for the semester break, and earn great grades. And then finals were over, and I made it through my first semester of law school! There might not be a better feeling in this world - but I'm sure law school graduation will beat it eventually.

Second semester started off rough. I was diagnosed with stomach ulcers, an anxiety disorder, and depression. My car got totaled in a massive accident due to a freak snowstorm.  But the friends I made in the first semester, comfort with my surroundings at school, and a strong will helped me get trhough all of that. By April, I was happy again, and the girl that was having a hard time was just a part of my past.

Before I knew it, 1L year was coming to a close. After feeling homesick all year long, that started to disappear as the year came to a close. I didn't want to leave my friends, my school, or this new town that was my home. Despite all of the challenges, I love law school. And as my last final wrapped up, I jumped in my car and drove back to my hometown with tears in my eyes. I wasn't sad, I was just going to miss it.

But lucky for me, I get to go back next year. I'm sure it will be another year full of challenges. I'm sure there are days where I'll feel discouraged, and sad, and like I don't know what the hell I'm doing. But after I made it through this year, I feel like I can do anything. Law school is where I'm supposed to be. This is what I was meant to do. And I'm so happy I get to share it with all of you.



Oh... and this is what 1/3 of a lawyer looks like.
 
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