November 1, 2015

Truths and Myths About Law School


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.  

Related: What's in my law school backpack and My highlighting system


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.

Related: 5 places to study besides the library and How to have the perfect library session 

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. 

Related: 8 reasons to get a pet in law school 

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.

Related: How to balance working part-time in law school 

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. 

Related: What to wear to law school class

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.

Related: Putting the law school curve into perspective

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. 



October 24, 2015

Lessons of Law School

Advice from women lawyers for future women attorneys. How many cases you'll read in law school. How to make friends with students from other sections | brazenandbrunette.com

Women's Law Association

We had our and 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 classes that prepared you for the motions and memos that you'll have to write and mock trial/moot court that prepares 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 prejudiced against you such as confusing you as a court reporter or opposing council trying to personally attack and intimidate you. They how mentioned how unsure of yourself you'll fell until you win your first 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.

Related: How to manage your time in law school 

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

Law school admissions timeline. What to do your freshman year of college to prepare for law school. What to do your sophomore year of college to prepare for law school. What to do your junior year of college to prepare for law school. What to do your senior year of college to prepare for law school. What year of college do you apply to law school? Do you take the LSAT before applying to law school? Law school application timeline through college. How to plan for law school as a freshman in college. How to plan for law school as a sophomore in college. How to plan for law school as a junior in college. How to plan for law school as a senior in college | 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

Consider joining a Pre-Law organization to meet other people interested in law and for opportunities to find out if law school is right for you and what law school is about.

Talk to your advisor about your goals to law school so you can be taking some classes for future law students.


Start looking for opportunities to volunteer and do some community service to build your resumé. 

Continue to look for ways to be involved on campus.
See if your school has a pre-law advisor that can help you prepare for law school.

Start looking for 3-5 possible professors to write you a rec letter.
Related: How to choose a recommender

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. 

Look for legal volunteer opportunities to give you experience.


Junior year

Meet with your pre-law advisor and make sure you're ready to apply for law school.

Research potential law schools that are in the state that you want to practice in.

Register for the required Credential Assembly Service ($125) and decide when and where to take it.
Related: Why you should take the LSAT in the summer

Research and choose an LSAT prep course.

Reach out to your rec writers and give them a due date at least a month before you actually need them submitted.
Related: How to ask for a rec letter

Look into getting an internship at a law firm, courthouse, anything to give you experience in the legal field.

Visit law schools you're interested in and decide which law schools you want to apply to.

Write a personal statement rough draft.

Register for the Law School Admissions Test ($140), study for it, and take it.
Related: What I wish I knew about the LSAT before taking it


Look for legal jobs to give you more experience and build your resumé for 1L jobs.
Related: How to find a legal internship 

Senior year

Retake the LSAT if you have to
Related: How to decide whether to retake the LSAT

Keep your grades up and finish strong.

Check the deadlines for law school applications.

Make sure all of your rec letters are being sent in.

Visit career services at your school to have your law school resumé 
edited.

Have an English professor or someone from your school's writing center edit your personal statement.

Apply to law schools, choose which one you're going to go to, notify schools of your acceptance or denial of their admissions offer.
Related: What to do if you get waitlisted for a law school 

Start looking for scholarships and research student loan options.
Related: How to find law school scholarships

Send your law school your final transcript.

Get ready for law school!
Related: 7 things to do before law school and 5 ways to spend the summer before law school


let's be friends!



 

October 13, 2015

Getting Called On in Law School

What to expect for a law school Socratic Method, what is the Socratic Method, what is a cold call in law school, law school cold call tips/ law school Socratic method tips | 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

What to Expect on Your First 1L Legal Memo



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

3 Law School Tips


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 three main places I go to are Quimbee (subscription required), OneL Briefs (free), Oyez (free) 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). 

Related: How I Use Quimbee

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. 

Related: How I take notes in law school 


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

Over 40 law school blogs to read right now to help you concur the LSAT, tackle your law school applications, and be prepared as a 1L. law school blogs. law student blogs. prelaw blogs. | brazenandbrunette.com

In my search for other 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.


Related: Law School Vlog Roundup


*update 8/18
blogs listed in gray have been inactive for at least 6 months
but still have good info*

Justifiably Blonde
check out her guest post here 

La Petite Avocate

Lady Lawyer

Lattes and Gavels

Law and Lattes

Law and Lattes
(different blog, same name)

Law Bitches

Law School Brief

LawGirl

Law School and Me
(this blogger is in her 30s for any non-traditional students)

Law School Outlines Blog
check out my guest feature here

Law School Roundup

Law School Ruined Me

Latinas Uprising

LawToya Talks

Lawyerella

Legally Asian

Legally Blonde & Broke
check out her guest post here

Legally Brunette

Legally Bound

Legally Challenged

Legally Complicated

Legally Foreign

Legally Katie

Legally Lani

Legally Southern

Legally Speaking

Legally Texan

Life in Law and Coffee

Lily Like

Lipsticks and Lattes

Live, Laugh, Law School

Lively in the Law

Journey to J.D.

Juris Blonde

Moore Awaits

Pearl Esq.

Petite Thoughts
check out her guest post here

Politics and Pearls

Road to JD

Some Reasonable Doubt

Taking On Law School

TBI Labyrinth

Tea Studies Law

Telling Twenty

The 1L/2L/3L Life

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! 




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