September 18, 2017

Law School Supplements Explained

Being a blogger is so weird sometimes. The other day I was getting into my car to go to work and I thought wow how have I never written a post about what people are talking about when they're referring to supplements? and so here we are! I'm going to cover all of the ones that I can think of, but if I miss something please comment below so that I can update this! I just want my readers to be the most in-the-know students 💁🏻


Outlines are the #1 study method in law school and because of this, everyone you meet is going to have a different opinions on outlines. So here's mine— outlines you make > outlines you get from upperclassmen > commercial outlines. Outlines are very casebook and professor specific. Outlines you make are the best because you're going to have a shitton of information to memorize for your final, so by re-reading your notes and re-writing the rules you're actually reviewing and working on memorizing the information. Outlines from upperclassmen can be helpful but only if they've had your same professor and book. If your class doesn’t use a book then the outline to that book would be full of cases that you didn’t even read and missing on a lot of cases that you are expected to know. I even have friends who have offered me their outlines because we had the same book but because they had a different professor than me, I don’t even bother because for all I know, my professor really emphasized Chapter 21 because he thought it was important but her professor only assigned 10 pages from Ch. 21 because he didn’t think it was important. That’s another big reason of why I don’t trust commercial outlines.

If you’re stressing about outlines or just want a little guidance, the best thing that you can do is join a student organization. Ask before you join what outlines they have because a good one will have an outline for almost every from a student who at least got a B. That way you know you’re getting the relevant information. My advice to you so that you don’t end up with a C- in every class is that if you do get ahold of an outline, don’t just study that! The best way to use someone else’s outline is to print it out with you (preferably double space) and then fill it out during class with any information you think should be added. That way you have less notes to take during class and can focus on listening, but then still get a lot of information in your class. And then take that filled-out outline and use that along with your other in-class notes to make your own outline. 

I know a lot of new 1Ls stress about what an outline should even look like or how to structure them, so I've uploaded my Civ Pro outline for y'all to see as an example of what you can do. Mine tend to be bare-boned and just what I want to memorize, but I know a lot of other students feel like they benefit from having full sentences and more information in theirs. Also, if you read through this after you finish your own Civ Pro class, you’ll see what I mean about how it really helps to have the same book and same professor for an accurate outline. You can view my outline example here. But if you're still stressing, Quimbee's outlines that they just came out with look like they're very straightforward and I personally do trust this company. I also know that a lot of my classmates prefer to use the Emanuel's outlines to help them.

Related: How to turn your class notes into an outline


Another thing that organizations sometimes have for upper level students is what’s referred to as a script which is basically a whole bunch of people got together and wrote down everything from that class, that you can use to follow along and build your own outline from. Those are more helpful once you’re a 2L/3L because then you can just read their 4 pages over chapter 1 instead of all 42 pages of chapter 1 and still get the main information.

I started using scripts that I was given this year and they definitely are a big help. I read them before class and then I'm prepared for questions that my professor might ask me (you never actually look forward to the Socratic method) and it allows me to be able to juggle preparing for class, working, and mediating. The one thing that I've learned since using these is don't think you won't need to take notes since you basically have what the professor's going to talk about. I still take notes just as if I didn't have the script or else it would be really hard for me to take all 220 pages of the script and turn it into an outline. Plus, it helps you pay attention in class because it can be extra tempting to zone out when you have the script right there.

Case briefs

Case briefs are another thing that are basically essential to survive in any law school class. The usefulness of these is that it forces you to pay attention as you're reading. The bad part is that they can take a really long time when you're having to stop what you're reading and write it down. I always say that for your first few months of law school, you really should be practicing your briefing skills because you will need these as an actual lawyer. But once you've practiced enough and really just need the briefs for the Socratic method, you can use commercial briefs. 

I personally recommend using Quimbee because that's what I've been using and I think their briefs are great. Quimbee will have subject-specific briefs. If their subject matches your subject, this is really helpful because it’ll cut out all the crap that you won’t need. They have all the major books and the only one they never got was because it was one that a professor from my own law school had written so they never got that. If Quimbee has your book, then you’ll be set and it’s amazing. Even if they don’t have your book, they might still have some of the cases. So like the book they didn’t have but then got was my contracts book but I would just search for the case and then sometimes they’d have it because it was in another contracts book. 

Related: Using Quimbee to help understand law school subjects

You do have to pay for Quimbee (put I seriously believe that you get what you pay for) but there's also Casebriefs (free) and Oyez (free). Oyez is just better than Casebriefs, but neither are subject-specific so you will get all the information. But both will give you the facts of the case and the issue and the holding. 

Practice problems

E&E stands for Examples and ExplanationsAll they are is practice problems and answers. The practice problems will really help you see how to best answer a question. And yes they're a "commercial supplement" but y'all my commercial law professor had us doing Bar prep questions as practice problems and I could easily tackle them because I remembered what the E&E had taught me. If you spend the majority of your time going through these practice problems, it will really help you understand your outline as your review it. When I study, I do about 50% practice problems, 30% memorizing flash cards, and 20% reviewing my outline. In my opinion, E&Es are right up there with outlines as far as what you have to be doing for finals. Another great practice problems options are the Q&A books. Either way, I strongly suggest you either buy some practice problem books or see if your library has any to rent. I'm not kidding when I say doing these practice problems will really help you prepare for the final and help with your timing. And if you're a 1L who has no clue what type of questions to expect on your final, these are pretty close to what you'll have.


Another thing that is common for people to use to study with as it gets closer to time to study for finals (which starts 6 weeks before dead day) are summaries. The reason for a summary is that you can read a quick condensed version of your class to refresh your memories. But also I know some students actually prefer to read these before class starts so that you know what you're going to learn. While I don't think this is necessary in any way, I can see how it will help calm your nerves a bit when you've already started tackling understanding the tough subjects, so it's totally up to you how extra you want to be. One of my friends had to miss about a total of 2 weeks throughout the semester because of a family illness and he used the Short and Happy books and got the exact same grade as me so even though I've never personally used a summary, apparently they can help. Another popular summaries brands are the CrunchTime books and Gilbert's Law Summaries.


Lastly (well of what I can think of) there's flashcards. I like to make flashcards on Quizlet of the rule with the elements on the back or the case name with the rule on the back. But I know that one thing that's really popular for 1Ls are commercial flashcards like Law in a Flash. Commercial flashcards usually go beyond what I put on mine and even have hypothetical questions with the answers on the back. The only downside to this is that they don't have explanations for why the answer is right quite like E&E or Q&A books do. But they're great to review with either on weekends or at the beginning of studying for finals. 

September 15, 2017

How to Write the Perfect Thank You

How to write a scholarship thank you. How to write an interview thank you. How to write a gift thank you. How to write a thank you note. How to write a thank you letter. How to write a thank you email. What to put in a thank you. |

Sorry I missed Wednesday but I'm back again friends! Today's post is all about the art of the thank you note. I'm from a small Texas town where manners are huge so I've written tons of thank you's for everything from graduation presents to buying my animal at the stock show. I know it sounds old-fashioned but you'd be surprised how much it will really mean to someone when you show a little gratitude. And if they're someone who was raised like I was, it seems very rude when you are expecting a thank you from someone and then you get nothing in return. So long story short, write a thank you! 

Personally my favorite are hand-written thank you's because they are much more personal. For those, it's really worth it to invest in some quality thank you cards and if you can, get matching self-addressed envelopes so you don't have to write your name and address over and over again. But if you have a lot of thank you's to write like with graduation gifts, it's fine to just order bulk thank you cards and then get return address labels (I promise you'll use these a LOT in life). What I always do is write out what I'm going to say on a piece of paper and then copy that word-for-word to make sure that I don't accidentally screw up and have to waste an entire card. I also highly recommend getting smear-proof pens because you don't want to give someone a sloppy thank you.

The Scholarship Thank You

If someone gives you money you better be sending them a thank you note! Don't bite the hand that feeds ya, right? Start off by addressing the full committee/organization that gave you the award, don't just thank the treasurer or whoever signed the check. If your school gave you the scholarship, you can just address it to the school president. Then go right into the thanks. Make sure you include the name of the scholarship and thank them for selecting you to receive it. Next I usually give them a quick background of who I am, what grade I am in, and what my career plans are, just so they know who it was that they're giving all this money to. After that, I usually talk about how the money will be used/make school better for me. Just something to remind them of why they were right to pick you. End it full circle by again thanking them for the scholarship and telling them how much it means to you and then sign it!

Dear Members of the Amarillo Bar Association,

I greatly appreciate you awarding me the Amarillo Bar Foundation Scholarship for the 2017-2018 school year. I was born and raised near Amarillo so receiving this scholarship felt like support from my home and encourages me to continue my legal education. I am currently a 3L and am interested in hopefully pursuing a successful career in the civil legal field. As I'm sure you're all aware of, law school is extremely expensive so I appreciate the opportunity to focus on studying rather than on taking out yet another student loan just to cover books and eventually Bar prep. Thank you again for selecting me to receive your scholarship and for supporting my dreams.


/s/ Nikki Boyd

The Interview Thank You

Ok so this is probably time-sensitive so this will actually likely be an email instead of an actual note. I like to send mine the evening after an interview once I've relaxed and then it will be one of the first things in their inbox in the morning. Since this is an email, it can be short and sweet (especially since they're probably busy and have 50 other emails to read that day). The trick to this is to be professional and business like while still being warm and personal. You don't want this to sound like something you send to everyone and just replace the name.

Obviously start off with Dear Mr./Mrs. Whoever. Then again the first thing you want to do right out of the door is thank them for taking the time to meet with you/call you/however y'all did the interview. Then hit it hard on the personal. If you two have something in common, throw in how you appreciated meeting someone you have something in common with. If you talked about anything interesting, do a follow up on how you're still thinking about it. If they cracked a joke, let them know how much you appreciate them making the situation more comfortable. Just find a way to connect with them and work it into the letter. Next, do a quick elevator pitch one last time because after all this is still a future employer. Even just a little mention about how you can fit the job description that they described during the interview can help you sell yourself one last time. Just don't make this a cover letter disguised as a thank you. And then easy-peasy end it by thanking them again and maybe even wishing them a good day. Since you've already spent the entire letter thanking them, I think the best salutation is Best or Sincerely instead of another Thank You since at some point you get redundant. And if this is an email, there's no use to do your name and then the 4 spaces because you won't be singing this.

Dear Mr. Sir (ha Holes reference),

I wanted to quickly thank you for taking the time to get to know me yesterday. Interviews can be stressful, so I am grateful for how comfortable you and Stanley made me feel while we were talking. Office has been my top choice because the work experience you offer coincides exactly with the type of law that I hope to practice. The values-based culture and focused environment of Office is what excites me the most about beginning my legal career here [we had talked about their values a lot in the interview]. After learning more about the responsibilities and requirements of working with your in-house counsel, this externship feels like a perfect fit for me. I know that this would be a job I would enjoy and learn first-hand what it takes to be successful at providing counsel for a company while maintaining positive relationships with its clients. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me and have a great Tuesday.


Nikki Boyd 

The Gift Thank You

People sleep on gift thank you's but if anyone over 30 gives you a gift, write them a thank you. This is you investing in future gifts because if you write them a thank you then they'll like you more, and if they like you then you'll get more gifts! But for real though just be polite. In the words of James Franco, this letter will be same same, but different from the others. The basic formula will be, thank them for the gift, tell them how you'll use it/how they gave such a great gift, most likely you know them so throw in something personal, and then thank them again.

Dear Boyd Family,

Thank you so much for the laundry hamper that you gave me for graduation. It seems like no matter how often I do laundry I always end up with a full hamper so I am grateful for the large and sturdy one that you picked for me! I know that I will be getting the full use out of it daily. I also wanted to thank you for taking the time to watch me walk the stage. I can't wait until Nikki graduates next year and I can be there to cheer her on as she gets her diploma. Thanks for supporting me for these past four years and always welcoming me as if I were a member of the family.


/s/ Nikki Boyd

Nikki Boyd

See guys, all it takes is 10 minutes out of your day and 1 paragraph to be a good person! Of course you can always stretch these out to even a paragraph per part of the formula if you ever need it to be closer to a page long. Just remember that the key is to make it personal! Make sure that you remind them of who you are if you think they won't remember you and make sure that you connect yourself to the adressee and whatever it is you're thanking them for. Just remember that even though it's tempting to get lazy, people can always tell if you're being insincere and they'll recognize if you say the same thing to them twice. Get in the habit of writing a thank you note for everything and boom look at you adulating. Plus, manners never go out of style!