Saturday, July 22, 2017
As July comes to a close, and August draws nearer, so many of you are about to embark on the incredible journey that is law school. While it's so exciting, it's also a little bit scary and there are so many questions that you probably have about what it's going to be like. I probably had all of those same questions a year ago, and now that I'm a seasoned law school veteran, it seems to be my duty to inform future 1Ls what it's like. Orientation is the first thing you'll do in law school. It's a nice way to ease your way into law school in theory, but in reality it can be a totally nerve-racking experience. Although there's nothing I can really do to calm your nerves, I can tell you what to expect in law school orientation.
First things first, expect total information overload. You'll have information sessions about classes, how to study, student panels, meeting your professors, etc. My orientation was only two days, and I remember being totally and completely overwhelmed by all of it at the end of each day. Take a notepad and pen with you to jot down the important things. That way, you don't have to struggle to remember everything and you can just enjoy taking in the information.
Next, expect to have to introduce yourself at least one hundred times. You'll be meeting all of your future classmates, school administrators, professors, and probably some people you're never going to see again. Start practicing your handshake and saying "Hi, I'm [insert your name here]. I'm from [insert hometown here]. The reason I came to [insert your law school] is because [insert reason for coming to said school]." Because it will feel like that's all you're doing all day. You'll be meeting Claire from New Jersey who came to the school because her parents are alumni, Jeremy from Nevada who came because he likes the football team, and Marcus from Maine because he got a good scholarship. So have you're answers ready, because you're going to go over it a million times that day.
While you're going to be so excited to learn about law school, some of the things they go over might absolutely terrify you a little bit. I remember we had a presentation on addiction in law school, where an attorney told us the story of her alcoholism and painkiller addiction in law school. It's a little overwhelming to hear all of these law school horror stories before you even start. My best advice here is to not let any of these warnings get in your head. They're just telling you because they want you to be prepared, but it doesn't mean every horror story will happen to you.
Everyone will be dressed professionally - this may be the first and last time you see everyone looking nice. Most law schools inform you about your orientation dress code before it starts. Mine was business casual and I wore slacks, a button-down shirt, and a blazer. Some schools have a business professional dress code, which means you should be in a suit. Some law schools don't have a dress code, or even have a casual one. My best advice is when in doubt, go business casual. And flats. Wear flats. You might be walking all over campus and the last thing you want to start law school will is blisters all over your feet.
One of the best parts about law school orientation is that you'll make lots of friends. Chances are, the people you meet at orientation will be some of your closest friends during your first year of law school. I definitely hung out with a lot of people from orientation first semester. By second semester, I had different friends, but it was nice to meet a few people to bond with during the first few months. So don't be shy, and make lots of friends so that your first semester of law school won't be lonely.
These are just a few things to expect during law school orientation, but the truth is that each experience will be different. Any questions? Ask me in the comments below and I'd be happy to answer!
Sunday, July 16, 2017
It seems like I constantly get asked, "Bailey, what things should I read before I go to law school?" People that are asking this question are clearly on the right track for law school. After all, you're going to be reading so much in law school, you might as well get some practice now. Normally, I like to tell people to just read something fun before law school - because you're about to spend three years reading case books and won't have much time for reading books you actually want to read. However, that doesn't help people who want to get an edge up on the law school competition, and want to read things that will actually help them. Thus, I've compiled a list of things you can read for before law school to help you prepare.
1. Law School Blogs
Alright, of course I have to throw a shameless plug in here. If you're about to start your first year of law school, I've documented my first year and compiled some things that I think incoming students absolutely need to know. So check out the rest of my blog if you want some law school tips and tricks. And of course - there are so many fabulous law school bloggers out there! I made a list of some of my favorites, so definitely go check out these other amazing bloggers if you want to learn even more about law school.
This is the book literally everyone reads before going into law school. And if you're going to only read one book, make it this one. It's a good, comprehensive guide without being too scary. Plus, your classmates have probably all read it, so you might as well too. In fact, your school might have assigned you this book or recommended it to you before you start 1L year. So that's how you know you absolutely should read it.
Although it's the summer before law school and you may think taking exams is a far-off task, your first set of finals will be here before you know it. I highly recommend checking out this book that gives you tips and tricks for taking law school exams. Learning about exams now will take some of the stress off of you as the semester drags on. One of my professors actually recommended this book to me, and I was beyond glad to have it as a resource.
4. Biographies of Supreme Court Justices
You're going to be learning a lot about the United States judicial system, and the justices of the Supreme Court will soon become familiar names to you. Although this isn't necessary, some background knowledge of the justices might be nice to have and help you understand why opinions are written the way they are. Although there are so many biographies out there, here are some of my favorites:
My Own Words - by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
My Beloved World - by Sonia Sotomayor
Scalia's Court: A Legacy of Landmark Opinions and Dissents - by Antonin Scalia and Kevin A. Ring
Friday, July 7, 2017
*** UPDATE***For any of you checking out this post in 2019, I actually have written a new, updated post on must-have supplies for law school! I stand by everything in this post, but if you want to know my perspective as someone a little older and wiser who has graduated from law school, check out my new post here! Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming...
Well, it might be hard to believe it - but summer is already half gone! Now that I'm in the home stretch toward 2L year, it's time to start preparing for the upcoming school year. Ever since I was a kid, my favorite part of starting a new school year was buying new school supplies. Who doesn't love brand new pens to write with in empty notebooks that live in a clean, new backpack? It's one of the best feelings in the world. Although anyone who's going to law school has been to college before, you may be wondering what type of school supplies you need for law school. Luckily, it's pretty much the same stuff. But here are my recommendations for the best school supplies for law school!
LAPTOP - HP Spectre x360
So obviously for law school, you're going to need a laptop. In college, you could probably get away with using a computer in the lab if needed or borrowing from a friend, and getting by without having your own laptop if that was what you wanted. In law school - that's not an option. Laptops are required by most schools, and even if they weren't, you'll want one for taking your notes.
A lot of people buy MacBooks for law school which is a great choice. They're reliable, sturdy, allow you to use iMessage on your computer, and can often have the prestige of owning Apple products. Overall, this is a great option.
I prefer PCs for my computer (although when it comes to phones, give me an iPhone anyday), so I don't have a MacBook. What I do have is an HP Spectre x360 and I LOVE IT. It's super lightweight, which is so nice for carrying in my backpack. It also has a battery that lasts for twelve hours (no - I'm not kidding) which is amazing, because it means I don't have to lug my charger back and forth. I highly recommend this whole laptop.
[Note: I know these are expensive choices. But when it comes to laptops, I'm a big believer that you should invest. Besides - if you spend the money to invest in a good laptop now, it's less likely that you'll have to buy a new one halfway through your 2L year]
BACKPACK - The bigger, the better
These days I see so many school supplies blog posts talking about their backpacks, and I always laugh. They show off cute, fashionable backpacks. Which, I'm sure look amazing walking through the hallway. But law school textbooks are big. And heavy. So you need a large, sturdy backpack that won't kill your shoulders or rip under the weight of your law school textbooks. I recently bought this new backpack and I am so excited to use it during my 2L year. It's meant to be used as a travel backpack, which means it has a lot of room to carry law school books, lots of pockets to easily throw in my phone, pens, notebooks, textbooks, etc. It also has a padded laptop pouch, which is essential for law students.
PENS - Lots of them
Pilot G2 Retractable Gel Pens, and I refuse to use any other kind of pen. Seriously - I bought a giant pack to keep in my office this summer because I am so picky about my pens.
Another common favorite I see are the Staedtler fine-point pens. Every blogger raves about them, so I had to try them out. I do love these pens - and all of the fun colors they come in. But I don't necessarily like them for everyday writing, because they don't flow as easily. I do like them for filling out planners or making flashcards, so I still keep a set around.
HIGHLIGHTERS - Get even more of these than pens
I think I used an entire highlighter every week of law school. I joked that I really should keep track of how many I used and tell everyone - but I stopped counting after 15. So get a ridiculous amount of highlighters.
I remember having to get more during finals week, and one of my friends still in undergrad asked why I was buying school supplies right before the semester ended. "I'll use them all up," I told her, and she didn't believe me. A week later I gave her the dried-up highlighter, casually saying "I told you," as I dropped it in her hand. Moral of the story: buy a lot of highlighters - and you'll probably have to buy more.
I'm particular to the Sharpie brand of highlighters. Specifically, I like the fine, pocket-style highlighters and use them in bulk. However, I just bought a pack of the clear-view highlighters which several of my friends have recommended to me. This allows you to see the text you are highlighting, so you won't have any of that messiness of highlighting extra words.
STICKY NOTES AND TABS
You never know when you're going to need an assortment of post-its. I literally could not survive without these Post-It Flags. I use them from everything including tabbing books, marking important things in my notes, to organizing things like important files or flagging favorite quotes in some of the classic books I love to read. I love these so much that my friends have bought them for me for birthdays and Christmas - it's amazing. And of course, you can never go wrong having classic sticky notes around for when you need to write yourself a note, make a quick bookmark, or organize a stack of papers.
NOTEBOOKS - Go Basic
You guys know that I take reading notes on my computer and then my in-class notes by hand. So obviously I need notebooks to take notes with! I used to be so excited to get cool notebooks, but then I realized - that is totally unnecessary. My best advice is to get a bunch of basic, sturdy, college-ruled notebooks that aren't anything special. I usually get one notebook per class, all with the same color of cover, and label them for each class. This makes everything simple, easy, and totally functional for class. If you're going to take notes by hand - just get some basic notebooks.
A planner is absolutely, positively one of the most essential supplies for law school. I have to have one that has space to plan out both my days, and my month at a glance. Also, some planners don't have that much space to plan on the weekends and that is totally a deal-breaker for me. Just because I don't have class doesn't mean I cease to stop planning every second of every day. I recently found this planner, and I absolutely love it. It has so much space to plan each day, a priority list for each day, and an inspirational quote just for something extra. It is a little bulky - but totally worth it for the amount of space you have to plan all of the things!
Saturday, July 1, 2017
In a career counseling session early in my 1L year, our career services counselor told us, "Most of you will be working unpaid public interest jobs this summer."
Law students know that one of the most important things that you can do over the course of your legal education is to secure quality internships during your summers. However, a lot of these internships are public interest jobs that pay either very little or not at all. While these can be good learning opportunities, they can also be disappointing for people that want to work in law firms, corporations, or just make some money during the summer. I knew that I was a person who eventually wanted to end up in a law firm, so I figured it would be much more beneficial to try to intern in a firm.
I was lucky enoght to get a summer associate position at an incredible firm, which was essentially a dream job for my first summer. But all my friends that are working in public interest consistently ask me what it's like in a firm. By now I've become an expert at describing my job, and I love gushing about how great it is. So, I thought I would share some of the highlights of working in a firm with all of you!
- The pay is great. Most summer associate programs pay somewhere around the starting attorney salary. Depending on the market, this can be $1,000-3,500. Of course, some do more and some do less. But if you land a job in a firm, you can probably expext a decent paycheck.
- Expect to work long hours. I've heard horror stories about summer associates sleeping on cots in their firm offices and only getting a few hours of sleep per night. I got told to expect to work 50+ hours per week if I ended up in a law firm rather than public interest. Luckily for me, I've only been working around 45 hours per week, which is a pretty average full time job. But definitely expect to be working at minimum 40 hours per week, and probably more.
- You'll work on a variety projects. I work in a full service law firm, so I've done everything from writing memos about family disputes, researching property values, writing a brief for a motion to dismiss, or researching advisory matters for a small town city council. You might get a chance to work in several practice areas, which is great if you don't quite know what you want to do yet.
- They'll wine and dine you. . . a lot. At my firm, they take us out to lunch a minimum of two times per week. Probably more on an average week. We've also had firm dinners, outings to baseball games, and several happy hours. They want to spend time getting to know you, and you want to take advantage of it. This is definitely one of the most fun parts of a summer associate program.
- They might be really competitive. My firm distributes projects equally. Some tend to be more of a competition to see who can get the most work. Depending on what your drives you, a more competitve atmosphere could be appealing.
- You'll learn more than you did all school year. Doing actual work has been so much more informative than actually attending classes. This is probably typical for most internships, but overall it has been a great learning experience.
- Stock up on suits. You have to wear one every day. The downside of working in a firm is you will probably have to wear a suit most days, if not every day. Not only is the dress code more formal, but you never know when an attorney will ask you to come to a client meeting, or a trial, or who knows what kind of event. So be ready to rock the suit every day.
- You'll feel like a real attorney. Becuase you're doing real work, for real clients, billing all of your hours, and attending client meetings, depositions, and trials - you'll start to feel like a real lawyer. And it's pretty awesome.
If these things sound appealing to you, then I highly recommend checking out some summer associate programs at local law firms. Remember, these positions are highly competitive, so boost that resume, get good grades, and cross your fingers. Good luck