November 1, 2015

Truths and Myths About Law School

truths and myths about law school | brazenandbrunette.com


I wanted to make this for people like me who have a very limited and vague idea about what to expect in law school and who are either considering applying or have already been excreted. 


You carry around an arm full of books. 

Truth. Elle Woods was seen do doing this when she finally got serious in law school, but this has been a daily occurrence for me since day 1. In my case the law books are so huge because they contain the material for both the Fall and Spring semesters, and the professors expect us to bring to note additional items in the book. I also find brining my books with me to class because I book brief, so if a professor were to ask me a question, I usually already have the answer highlight in my book.  


All you do is study.

Truth. Although, technically it's just reading the 20 odd pages assigned per class. I'm taking notes as I go, but mostly it's just reading every day. So I guess more like you must put forth effort every day. 

Related: A Law Student's Study Schedule

You live in the library 

Myth. Because the only "homework" is to read every night, there's never a need to cram during an all nighter. While you should prepare to read for about two hours every day, that's pretty much your only assignment. And since you can read wherever you like, you can study in the library, or on your coach, or by your apartment's pool — wherever you're comfortable.

Everyone is stressed the F out 24/7

Half-truth. A lot of 1Ls are scared of the unknown, but 2Ls and especially 3Ls seem okay with life for the most part. The advice I keep getting over and over again from professors and upperclassmen is to do the readings and don't get behind, and you'll be fine. 


The Socratic method is terrible

Myth. If you read the case and know the basic questions, you'll do just fine. I suggest skimming your brief(s) really quick at the beginning of class so you have your facts straight just in case you're called on. It seems obvious, but already there has someone in my Contracts class throw in some facts of that day's Torts case. I honestly don't think it's that bad at all. 

Related: My First Experience with the Socratic Method

You don't have time for...

Be it a boyfriend/girlfriend, puppy, or even putting on makeup, I've had a lot of people ask me if they should give these things up before they go to law school. Myth. Without sounding too much like a mom, you have as much time as you make in your days. You can walk a dog when you get home from class or go on a date to get away from reading or go to bed earlier so you have time to get up and get ready. 

You can't work your 1L year

Truth. Most schools have requirement that 1Ls can't work. Even if your school doesn't or you think you can be sneaky about it, I highly recommend that you don't try to work during this year unless it's absolutely necessary. Remember that you're going to have to be reading for 4 different classes every single night and create your own study guides for these classes and writing very long and complex legal documents for your legal writing class. You'd literally have 0 free time and honestly your grades and mental stability will probably suffer.

It's all black pant suits from here

Myth. Even though this is a business professional school so overall it shifts away from the Nike shorts and oversized T's of undergrad, that doesn't mean you have to be a boring lawyer yet. I still stroll in to class with my bright and colorful Lilly Pulitzer lunch box and cup every single day. 

The curve sets you up to fail

Myth. In my experience, most professors set the curve something like this: 5 B's and higher, 25 B-'s, 35 C+'s, 5 C-'s and lower. So realistically you're probably going to get a B- or C+. I know this sounds harsh but in law school that's about the equivalent of getting an A- or B+ in college so those are super common grades. Law school does this so you push yourself to do more than the minimum effort to really earn your grades.

Helping others ruins your class ranking

Myth. It's natural to look at the curve and think that the only way to get ahead is to keep someone else out of your grade bracket. Reality check: that person can still do a much better job analyzing the law on their test than you even if you don't give them the notes from that class they missed because they were sick. If you work a little every day and do practice problems at finals crunch time, then you should be able to get a top grade regardless of how other people did. 

If you have any questions over what's true and what's not, ask below in the comments!

October 24, 2015

2 Months Down

surviving and thriving in law school | brazenandbrunette.com

Women's Law Association

We had our 2nd WLA meeting, and this time it was a panel of three women lawyers. The classes they said that helped them the most were writing intensive that prepared you for the motions and memos that you'll have to write, and mock trial/moot courts that prepare you for public speaking in the legal field. They also touched on how as a young and single female lawyer, you will have people being prejudice against you such as confusing you as a court reporter or opposing council trying to personally attack and intimidate you. They also mentioned how you unsure of yourself you'll feel until you win your first case. Their advice on balancing children and a work life was to scale back at work initially, and then don't be hard on yourself if you have to hire help to make sure that your kids get the attention they need.


Cases on cases

I loved HTGAWM before I came to law school, and I still do but I definitely feel like it's not realistic at all. My professors spend a good majority of the time going over the cases that were assigned and the main rules of law they want us to know for their tests, like in Legally Blonde when the professors were always discussing the cases with their class. And there's no way I'm believing that these guys have time to get their readings done while covering up murders. 

This got me thinking, so I counted how many cases I've had to read just in my two short months here. Granted some where only half a page, but others were several pages long. So far I've read 29 Contracts cases, 26 Civ Pro cases, 62 Torts cases, 31 Property cases, and 14 cases for LR&W. That's 162 cases so far. I still laugh at my undergrad self for sliding by barely opening the books.


Section C love

While waiting to get my fingerprints scanned for the Dec ($10 more to this stupid thing) I met a lot of people outside of my section. I haven't really been clicking with anyone in my section, and the ironic part is that when I met them they were talking about how my section wasn't that close. This was confirmed when 10 minutes later a woman from my section stood in line right behind me and when I talked about our Civ Pro professor she asked if I had him too and I was like Yeah I'm in your section.... 

Everyone I met from Section C was very friendly and they all seemed to really get along. After chatting with them while we had to wait for a whole damn hour, they went so far as to add me to their section's Facebook group because apparently they all hang out a lot. I'm glad I met them because they're really so much nicer than the people in my section and I'm glad to have more friends here. 

October 16, 2015

Law School Admissions Timeline

preparing for law school in undergrad | brazenandbrunette.com


I have a friend who just took her LSAT and all we talk about is her applications, and I realized that there's actually a lot that you need to do before applying to law schools and thought I could right some down. 

Freshman year


Sophomore year

  • contact at least 3 possible professors about writing a rec letter
  • look into the different methods of preparing for the LSAT and start saving up to pay for a class
  • attend any roundtables that visiting law schools put on at your school. even if you're not interested in that school you'll still learn a lot
  • register for the required Law School Admissions Council 


Junior year


Senior year

law school admissions timeline | brazenandbrunette.com


October 13, 2015

Getting Called On in Law School

getting called on in law school | brazenandbrunette.com

Murphy's Law

Well it finally happened, and it wasn't that bad but honestly it kinda sucked. Of all the times, I was called on when we were behind the syllabus but I wasn't. So I was asked about a case that I had read 5 days before and I couldn't remember all of the details. That was embarrassing enough. 

Then my professor asked me to explain to the class an equation for the value of a future interest that I didn't understand at all. Super embarrassing. Since I was struggling, my professor moved on to the next student and asked him about the cases that I had just read last night.

Freaking Out

Not going to lie, I went home right after class and maybe chugged a glass of wine. I started freaking out thinking that my professor would consider this when working our final grade into the curve. And this may be true, but at least I struggled and hadn't blatantly not read or had not been in class when he called on me. 

Just gotta beat 7 people to be average right? A few classes ago my professor called on a girl and she had even less of a clue than I did and I feel like none of us judged her because we've all been there. At least I know that my class isn't too competitive to be friendly. Several people were nice enough to tell me good job after class!

Final Thoughts

As time goes on and I'm not called on in my other classes, I realize that my chances are increasing even though the material is getting harder. Being called on itself wasn't that bad. It was a little stressful knowing that the whole class was focused on me and that there wouldn't be anyone to step in and save me. Professors are using this as a way to have a conversation to teach you instead of just lecturing at you, and this isn't a definitive pop quiz that you either pass or fail. 

October 6, 2015

The Worst Law Students

After six weeks in, I've noticed that there's a few students who I just am not sure are going to be here next semester. We've even had such a problem with people showing up an hour late or taking coffee breaks in the middle of class that the dean had to send out an email telling people not to do this! I take law school very seriously, but it really feels like a few students aren't doing this at all.


Thinning out

I've noticed that my 8 am class is particularly empty, especially the first hour before our break. And already we've had the awkward moment when my professor calls on someone and they're not here. I just don't get how people are ok with skipping class. I'm paranoid to miss class because even when I think I have a good grasp on a concept, I always learn something more when I go to class. This is definitely different than undergrad because just getting the notes off of someone or just reading the book really won't cut it. 


Disruptive peers

the one with the pictures- there's a woman in my class who holds up her phone and takes a picture of every damn slide that my professors put up on the screen

the one trying to impress the professor- there's a man in my class that will bring up irrelevant topics legal and just go off for several boring minutes on them 

the one with too many questions- one woman in my class raises her hand and asks no less than 5 questions per class, and a lot of these are time-wasting questions that really should be saved for after class or during office hours

the one who talks to themselves- this is like sitting by someone who talks during a movie because you can't hear what any other students are saying to the professor since this person is trying to complete a professor's sentence

the one who has no concept of raising your hand- the problem with this is that during the socratic method a professor is trying to have a conversation with one student and is directing his questions to that student, so it's very annoying when someone just blurts out their answers before the student had a chance to answer

the one who clicks- it's pretty distracting when your professor is lecturing and someone beside you is clicking on their mouse 800 times like what you do when you creep through a Facebook album



October 4, 2015

First Legal Memo

First Legal Memo in law school | brazenandbrunette.com

Research

I knew the actual writing part of this would be easy, but coming up with the information I needed to write the memo has been more time consuming than I'd like.This is even more boring than reading the cases in my books because it isn't slimmed down to just the main points so I have to read all of the non-relevant parts to find out what is relevant. Just overall time consuming. I tried shortcutting it through finding a brief online but now I know that only the major cases are briefed for you. This makes sense because theres hundreds of thousands of them, but I thought it was worth a shot. 


What goes in a memo

If you haven't had this drilled into your head yet, here are some basic components of the body of a memo. Just remember that there's more that goes into a memo than just the body, so make sure you get the style right.
make sure to make memos informative and objective, but not persuasive 

    • give the client’s issue 
    • identify the legally relevant facts of the case
    • cite properly
    • give holding
    • what will happen if our court will apply this law to our case
    • what the opposing council probably will argue 

Writing

It ended up taking me about 3 hours to do the pre-writing and writing, probably because I'm a perfectionist. As I read all three cases, I took notes over pretty much every relevant rule that each case had. Then I made a list of which rules my client should use and which rules her opponent could use. Then I made a sublist under these of rebuttals for the other side. Then I made a outline of the memo with my talking points in order. Finally I expanded my outline into the actual memo.


Final Thoughts

The hardest part was discussing both sides of four cases, because I kept having to look at what I'd already written to make sure that I wasn't contradicting myself and was being consistent. Also time consuming was making sure that I was tying in my cases in a relevant, and clear way. 

October 2, 2015

Little Tips

little tips to help law school be a little easier | brazenandbrunette.com

Here's a few more tips that I've been introduced to lately.



Black's online

If your school pays for you to use WestLaw, there's no need to buy or rent Black's Law Dictionary!
  • Go to WestlawNext
  • Under the Browse Area, All Content Section, click Secondary Sources (7th link)
  • Look to the far right for an area titled Tools & Resources 
  • Click on the first link, Black's Law Dictionary
  • Save this page as a favorite to your browser and boom —> free dictionary always available to you

Reading hard cases

My general rule is that if you go to do your reading assignment and see that a case was written prior to 1915, that case is going to suck to read. The case is usually written in legalese, sometimes in Old English, won't clearly state the issue and rule, and will be overall confusing. 

I know a lot of people say oh yeah read every case at least three times, but honestly who has time for that?? I'm all about working smarter, not harder. So if I see a case that I know is going to be a pain, I'll look it up before I read it. 

This is actually advice I got from a guy who made Dean's List his first year at law school. The two main places I go to are Quimbee (subscription required) and CaseBriefs (free) because these are the simplest cases. I'll read their brief and know what is going on before I even start reading. It saves a lot of time from reading an entire case and not knowing what the hell is going on (Pierson v. Post I'm talking about you). 

**update** get 10% off your first month of Quimbee with the code BRAZEN now through 9/30/2016 code has expired 

You can also look up cases through WestLaw or Lexis, but these are much more thorough so they're not as easy to skim through. My goal is for this to only add on less than 5 minutes to my readings. 


Improved Notes 

If you still takes notes on Microsoft Word, I highly suggest you switch over to Evernote. It's an app that works with phones, tablets, and computers and syncs between them all. All you need is the free version and you can make a notebook for every class and then notes within those.

I currently have 30 notebooks because I save my notes in case I need them later. This was super useful when my sorority Little took the exact same class I did with the same professor I had a year after me in undergrad. She was complaining about how she was failing this professor's class and I realized that I still had all of my notes and study guides that I shared with her through an email. (perfect for study groups)

It's also handy because it syncs instantly. I actually had my iPad die on me mid-class one day so I synced it with 2% battery left, and picked up right where I had left off on my phone. Having it on more than one device means that I can be working on my study guide on my laptop and have my iPad also opened up right beside it and see my daily notes so I can copy them over. Then it's really great to whip out your phone real quick before a test and skim over the study guide you had finished typing up the night before. 

Lastly, I like how you can look up something through either the entire app, a specific notebook, or a specific note. It's really handy once your classes start overlapping subjects. For example, I was typing up my property notes and came across a latin term that I had remembered looking up, but not what class it was for. One quick search later and I found it in my contracts notes, so I just copied and pasted it over in my property notes. Also, it's a much simpler design than Word so it's really easy to use. 


Final Thoughts

If you're looking for lots of law school advice in one place, then head on over to the Law School Blogging Pinterest board to find blog posts about law school tips from many different law school bloggers.

September 30, 2015

My Favorite Law School Blogs

other law school blogs | brazenandbrunette.com

In my search for law school blogs, most seemed to be either written by schools or people who had turned their blogs into professional ones but hadn't been in law school for a while. However, I did find some that were worth my time to read through and see some different perspectives on law school. I thought I'd share these because I always want like 8 different opinions on something before I make up my mind about it. 

If you're getting ready to go to law school or are already here, I encourage you to start your own blog! It's super easy, not very time consuming, and a good way to reflect and immortalize your experience here. I really believe in passing down these experiences to new generations of law students so they can see how vastly different it is from TVs and movies and how much easier it is than the rumors.

(this is a professional blog but still very resourceful) 

The Shrewd Millenial

What I Wish I Would Have Known

Whitley's Law And Order

If you have a blog, comment below or email me (brazenandbrunette@gmail.com) with a link and I promise I'll check it out! Also, feel free to comment or email with any suggestions to any law school blogs that you've found to be helpful :) I've also created a Pinterest board for law school blogging so make sure you email me so you can be added to that! 



SaveSave
SaveSave
SaveSaveSaveSave

September 29, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Law Student

managing your time in law school | brazenandbrunette.com

As a follow up to my post about how law school really isn't that bad, I thought i'd give a sample of what a typical day is like for me. (PS - you can get my planner here)


*update* see my new daily schedule in A Law Student's Study Schedule


Weekday

On Mondays and Wednesdays I go to class from 10:30-3 and on Tuesdays and Thursdays it's a little longer form 8-2. Both days I have a long lunch and I get Fridays off :) Here's my day for today: 

7
Get ready

7:30
Drive to class

8-10
Civ Pro
I get a 10 minute break at the hour so I pack breakfast to eat then

10-11:15
Property

11:30-12:30
Lunch
Always while I eat, I read The Skimm which is a daily email about what's going on in the world but simplified 
This is also where on TR I do any reading and notes for my legal research and writing class because those are usually easy readings
During MW this is where I finish my readings for Torts and brief my cases because my lunch is from 11:30-1:30

1-2
Legal Research and Writing 

2:30
I try to do a small workout as soon as I get home to give me a break from law

3-5
Read pages 140-154 for Contracts tomorrow 

5-6:30
Make, eat, clean up supper

6:30-8:30
Read pages 157-178 for Torts tomorrow

8:30-9
Shower

9-10
Relax/watch TV

11
Bed



My readings take me so long to do so little because I read 10 pages and then watch 10 minutes of Netflix, and I also get bored and take phone breaks. I also space it out where I try to do my briefs right before class so that the information is fresh on my mind by the time I get there. You'll see that I actually have a lot of free time compared to how much reading I have to do.


law school reading list | brazenandbrunette.com

Weekend

My weekends are mostly for chores— take out the trash and recycling, sweep and swiffer my entire apartment, dishes, and laundry. Again, I like to space out my readings because I can get burnt out when I try to marathon them. Right now my readings aren't too much so I take off almost all of Saturday to watch college football and drink. You gotta enjoy yourself ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ This was my last weekend:

Friday
Ready pages 123-140 for Monday's Contracts
Read pages 137-157 for Monday's Torts

Saturday
Read pages 191-206 for Tuesday's Civ Pro
Do briefs for what I read yesterday 
🏈 and 🍻

Sunday
Read pages 144-164 for Tuesday's Property
Update outline for Contracts and add highlights from book to notes
Same for Torts - because I've already read for my Tuesday classes, I save updating those notes for Monday evening

Time management

Law school has really made me mature in terms of managing my time. It's a lot easier to do a little every day instead of piling it all onto one day. I think part of what helped this is the necessity of having to read every single day. It also helps having a three-day weekend so that I really have a lot of time to get myself organized. Honestly if it weren't for my planner I'd have a hard time staying on top of this.


SaveSaveSaveSave

September 27, 2015

First Research Assignment

first law school research assignment | brazenandbrunette.com

The Assignment

This was part one of an assignment for my legal research and writing class. Our assignment was that we were given a client who had called off an engagement after her fiancé wasn't loyal, and she wanted to know if she could keep her ring. We had questions that we had to turn in such as identifying the legally relevant facts, identifying what it is that our client wants us to do, and where we could look. The first part of the assignment was strictly books only—no WestLaw or Lexis. This was a real pain because I started to do this assignment one night after I got done reading, but I realized I would have to go to the library to do this so it got postponed another day.


The Research

Even more problematic, was that my entire class all needed the exact same books so once I got to the library I sat around waiting in line for books which wasted a lot of time. The research part was frustrating since we had to do it old school. First I had to find the Descriptive Word Index of the Texas Digest. This is basically just an index for all of the cases for Texas; it's so big that it's separated alphabetically into books like an encyclopedia. So first you have to find your book, then your word, then look for any cases. It's very time consuming. 


Texas Digest

I looked up conversion, broken contract, broken engagement, engagement ring, reclamation of a gift, and finally while I was in gift I found conditional gifts and in that section I found engagement rings. Then I found a Texas case about engagement rings and had to go find that case summary in the Southwest Reporter. This is a similar system of multiple books alphabetically but you get the exact book and page number from the DCI so it's much simpler.


Shepardizing

But since this is an assignment over research, I then had to go online to Lexis and Shepardize it. This is basically where you check to make sure that this ruling hasn't been overturned by a more recent case. So then I had to use the Green Book, which is a book over how to cite Texas-specific cases, to cite the case I found and then the Blue Book, which is a general citation book, to cite two cases that had mentioned this case when they went against the ruling because these cases weren't from Texas. Originally I had thought I could get by without these books to save money, but there really was no way I could not buy them.  


ALR

Lastly I had to look up annotations in the American Law Review. This was the same research process all over again, just with a different species of books. Instead of dealing with real cases, ALRs deal with scholarly writing over cases. This was time consuming because the pages on just engagement rings went on and on with different rules and their cases and exceptions to those rules and their cases. Again I had to cite this using my Blue Book, but I'm not quite sure I did this correctly so I guess I'll see when I get my paper back to do the corrections. 


Final Thoughts

This seemed the closest to what I've been used to doing in undergrad and high school. It can feel like busywork but I understand that it's practice because this is what I'll be doing in the real world as a lawyer. Just faster because I'll have WestLaw or Lexis. My next assignment is to write up a memo using the information I've found. I'm pretty confident about this because in undergrad I ended up taking two writing classes, Professional Report Writing and Technical Writing, that were basically just how-to-write-a-memo classes. These were required as part of my legal studies minor, and I'd definitely take them if you can because they're super helpful for almost any career. 


first law school research assignment | brazenandbrunette.com

Follow