March 30, 2016

Questions About Law School

I have one friend who is a Junior and considering going to law school and one friend who has just applied for law school. They both asked me a lot of questions, so I figured that if they were wondering then someone else out there might have the same question! As always, if you have any more questions feel free to comment below or use the email feature on the right side to ask me anything! 



how boring is law school | brazenandbrunette.blogspot.com

Law school is surprisingly not that boring. Most of the cases have a very interesting story behind them and are pretty amusing. It also helps that you're reading about something that you're interested in. Classes can get a little boring when you don't have these entertaining cases but then you move on to a more interesting subject after a few classes.

how hard are law school tests | brazenandbrunette.com

Studying for finals is actually easier because you've been reading all semester so all you have to do is review instead of relearn concepts. But in some ways it's harder because the questions make you think but you don't have time to think. This is especially true for an issue spotter, which is basically just a mini story that you have to read and figure out what rules from class apply to this situation. They're also somewhat harder because the final is 100% so you don't know how you're doing in a class until the next semester when you get your grades.


do you feel overwhelmed in law school | brazenandbrunette.com


Law school is a big step up from undergrad because there is no way that you can not read or skip class and still survive. And when you go to class, you can't be on Facebook or texting either. That being sad, law school truly isn't as bad as you worry. You just have to read every night, and that's totally manageable


Don't worry that you have to spend hours overanalyzing everything the book mentions or writing down every word your professor says! Just put in some effort and you'll notice that you're actually learning a lot.


when to study for the LSAT | brazenandbrunette.com

A lawyer came to my Pre-Law fraternity and gave us some advice about this. He said it's better to study during the summer so that you can focus just on the LSAT and make sure that score is as high as you can get it and also it keeps your GPA up since you're not spreading yourself too thin. My biggest regret is that I took the course online. It's very easy to not pay attention when you're not there in person, and this is one thing that you don't want to mess up on.


how to study for the LSAT | brazenandbrunette.com


I personally took a Kaplan class to study for the LSAT. Every now and then you'll hear a person say that these classes are a waste of your time and money because you can just buy the book and do it on your own. Most people can't just teach themselves concepts like this and really master how to do it correctly. I really encourage people to actually take a class. Yes, it costs about $1000 and takes a few months, but it can really make a difference. And this is important because one or two points on your LSAT might make or break your acceptance chances. Prepare for the LSAT as if you have a 2.0 GPA and your acceptance relies on it! 


update: I'm now in a Facebook group for Panhellenic law students and here's a recent poll they did that I thought I'd share. 

how to study for the LSAT | brazenandbrunette.com



GPA and getting into law school | brazenandbrunette.com


One thing that I didn't realize during my undergrad is that any grade replacement you do might boost your undergrad GPA, but for your LSAC GPA both grades will actually appear. That means that if you replace a D with a B, your LSAC GPA will have both factored in. The higher grade obviously helps, but not as much as a replacement. Try in your classes as if you can only make a 130 on your LSAT and that your GPA depends on you getting in!



what are my chances of getting into law school | brazenandbrunette.com
  • Login to lsac.org
  • Click the Apply tab
  • On the bottom left under My Applications, click on Search for Schools
  • Click Search Official Guide
  • Enter in your raw GPA and LSAT score and click Search Now
It will give you your percentage of being accepted to every accredited law school based on your grades and score. Then you can also see how much you need to raise your grades or scores to increase your changes of getting into a particular school!

is where you go to law school that important | brazenandbrunette.com

For big firms yes, for little firms, not as much. Big firms will go to the major schools and offer jobs to their top 20%. For smaller firms it really helps that there's alumni there so the bigger schools have a bigger alumni base. 


study abroad and getting into law school | brazenandbrunette.com


Studying abroad in no way gave me a leg up, but it did give me something interesting to throw into my personal statement and add to my transcript. But it is in no way necessary and don't feel like you have to do it!

LSAC says it wouldn't recommend you sending in a copy of your transcript because you didn't achieve enough hours to substantiate actually receiving a transcript from abroad. But some schools ask that you send them all. It will probably depend on how many hours you took. A few classes probably won't be enough that a transcript is required, but if you were ever a full time student you'll probably need one. If you're ever unsure, you can ask your specific law school.



junior college and getting accepted into law school | brazenandbrunette.com

Definitely don't think that not going to a major university will hurt your chances of getting into law school! Admissions only looks at your grades and doesn't say oh well Student A got a 3.0 from Harvard and Student B got a 4.0 from a community college, so we'll let in Student A since Harvard was harder. And if you took any summer classes or anything at a JuCo, you might not have to send in a transcript if it was only a few hours.


how much do law school books cost | brazenandbrunette.com

Books are pretty expensive in law school. However, almost all of my classes were year long instead of semester long, so one book lasts two semesters. And you can get a used book that has some highlighting already done for you. I definitely recommend not renting a book. My first semester I rented a book and ended up paying fines because I highlighted too much. Also, because most of your books have to last you two semesters, you're going to want the same book both times.

what classes should I take in  law school | brazenandbrunette.com

All 1Ls take the same classes. And your school will divide you into sections, and you and your section will all have the exact same schedule. You don't have to sign up for anything and are automatically enrolled in every basic class. But if you drop by a professor's office hours, they're probably give you a good recommendation for a professor of a class that you're interested in for next year.


school supplies for law school | brazenandbrunette.com



Fitted Pant Suit
    I've already used mine for when I volunteered to help my professor's contracts convention, moot court, and an interview. Make sure that you buy from the same brand instead of mixing and matching pieces, because black can be a hard color to match. Getting it tailored sounds expensive but that $30 really makes you look like you have your life together. 

Backpack
    I personally would recommend an old-fashioned backpack, just make sure it's roomy enough to fit your laptop and a few 800 page books. An oversized purse just isn't as easy to carry. I've seen people with carry-on type briefcases and rolling backpacks, but I don't really think those are any easier to lug around your books.


Light Laptop
   You're going to have some hefty books to lug around, so the extra weight of a laptop will just add to this. I'm in LOVE with my MacBook Air because of how light it is!

Highlighters
     I never used highlighters in undergrad, and now I use a TON of them. Even if you don't think you'll use them, go ahead and buy a pack that has a pretty large variety of colors. Same goes for colored pens. Trust me, you will find reasons to use them!

Printer and Paper
    I got a wireless printer and I LOVE IT! You never know what you're going to have to print out at 2 AM, so trust me that this is a good investment.

Updated Wardrobe
    I had to stand up and discuss a case wearing an oversized sorority shirt and from that day on I always made sure that I was dressed nicely for class. It doesn't have to be business casual, but I'd advise that you look put together.

Study Space
    When you have around 80 pages to read each night, you're going to want to have a few really good study spaces set up. I read at my little desk, on my couch, and at the library most often. 

(here's a post with more detailed school supplies)

how much is law school | brazenandbrunette.com

If you applied for a FASFA, you will get a basic $10,000 loan per semester. I also got a loan through Sallie Mae to cover the additional costs. Major banks and credit card companies will give you better rates on loans if you already use them, so you might consider that. You also should see if your parents will co-sign your loan so that you can get a lower interest rate. Right now I'm saving a little money each month to pay back on my loans to try to keep my principal as low as possible. 

March 27, 2016

Writing An Appellate Brief

writing an appellate brief for law school | brazenandbrunette.com

For my LRW class this semester, we had to write an appellate brief over the same topic as our memos from last semester. What was nice about that was that I had already done some research and had a good start. But that doesn't mean that this assignment was necessarily easier. It was basically the only thing we did in LRW this semester and the week before it was due, a LOT of people started skipping classes to work on it.


The Brief

This brief was hypothetically for a case that had gone to the District Court, been appealed to the Appellate Court, and had certiorari granted by the US Supreme Court. We had to read a hypothetical 38 page court record for this case and summarize it, find between 14-18 relevant cases to cite, and then write our best arguments. My arguments in all ended up being around 10 pages long.

Most of what we went over in class was the best way to make the summary of the record be in our favor. This included little things like downplaying facts that didn't help our client and reiterating the ones that did. My professor also taught us about keeping our client in the reader's mind by consistently using his name while always referring to the other party simply as Petitioner to depersonalize him. 

My professor had our briefs be their strongest by having us organize them in a way that supported our client while systematically destroying our opponent. My layout was paragraph about a case that I wanted to use followed by another paragraph of legal analysis of applying the law from that case to my client's case. I arranged my arguments to put my strongest argument first, then told my cases so that each argument related on the last, then I addressed my opponent's strongest cases, and finally summarized what all of the cases together meant for my client. 

Researching

This assignment was 100% of my grade and all that I did for LRW this semester, so it was a big project. It was very research heavy and I ended up getting a folder to put everything in. Being able to flip through and highlight in the record was pretty convenient and then I was able to use the pockets in the front and back to keep up with all of the rough drafts that my professor gave me and any cases that I printed out. 

Legal research is a painstaking process. I spent over 6 hours one Sunday on Lexis just reading case after case trying to get really good rules of law that I could use in my case. This is because once you find a case that has a really good rule, you can either follow the cases cited within this case as a lead or Shepardize your case and check the cases that cite this case to see if they've got anything good. You basically end up going in circles and it can be hard to keep track of which cases cite which and the order of when they cases were decided and also which courts were deciding these cases. 

What's nice about Lexis is that when you find a great line in a case, you can highlight it and save the case in a folder. I had a folder for cases that supported my client and cases that my opponent might use. Since you can add notes about your highlights, I could click on my client's folder and see all of the cases that I wanted to use for him with little summaries about what I had highlighted. Also, when you highlight something it will give you the citation for that quote. Write that down and now you don't have to worry about figuring out what page of the case your own or any other annoying things that you have to put in your citation!

Not only are you doing this wild goose chase just trying to find cases that support your argument, but you also have to think of what your opponent's best arguments are. You have to find a few of the cases that you know they are going to use and either figure out a way to make them distinct from your case or see if maybe a rule from their case could actually support your argument. I only spent maybe an hour or two on this, but reading all of these cases is still pretty burdensome.

Writing

As for writing the brief itself, that wasn't too bad because I made myself an outline first and just wrote according to my outline. The easiest thing to do is come up with sub-arguments and use these as a theme when you're writing and keep reiterating this theme throughout your arguments to really make them seem strong. So my outline was:
  • Argument for Court's 1st Question
    • Argument I
      • Sub-argument A
      • Sub-argument B
      • Sub-argument C
    • Argument II
      • A
      • B
      • C
  • Argument for 2nd Question
    • Argument I
      • A
      • B
      • C
    • Argument II
      • A
      • B
      • C
  • Conclusion
    • Summary of 1st argument 
    • Summary of 2nd argument

I also printed a numbered list of all of the cases that I wanted to use before and labeled each one for the arguments that I wanted to use it for so that I didn't forget to use a case. I put each case number in my outline so that before I started writing I knew when each case was going to be brought up and in which paragraphs for which arguments. My case list looked like this:
  1. Case name
    • argument and sub-argument when I wanted to use it (ex. II B)
    • rule from the case that I wanted to apply
    • what level the court was (district, appellate, Supreme Court)
This made writing the brief really easy because I didn't have to pull up the actual case to talk about it; instead I could just look at my case list and know exactly what I wanted to say about each case. This also turned out to be really helpful when I had to make my Table of Authorities. 

Final Thoughts

The hardest part was just the amount of time it took to prepare to even begin writing. I think the students who skipped class to work on this kinda got their priorities mixed up because law school classes are not the kind where you can skip and be okay. I still haven't gotten my paper back yet, but I'm now done with LRW so that's one last class I have to stress about :) I've heard that a good number of students are using their briefs as writing samples to try to get on different law journals, so it's definitely worth it to try to write one really killer paper. Overall, this brief was a bitch and now I see why lawyers are willing to pay paralegals to do most of this grunt work but it wasn't the worst thing that I've had to do! 


March 20, 2016

Midterms

law school midterms | brazenandbrunette.com


Not for a Grade (mostly)



My school requires all of my professors to give a midterm as a check up to see that the class isn't struggling. My Contracts professor gave an easy, 10-question online quiz. My Civ Pro professor gave us a dumbed down version of his multiple choice/short essay final. My Torts professor gave us an old full version of his final. Aaaand my Property professor made his midterm over future interests that was 10% of our final grade. 

Because 3/4 of these classes only had the final as the only grade in the class, it can be stressful. I mean, 100% of your grade comes from one test. That is a part of a marathon of tests. And the whole time you never know if the curve will push you down or pull you up. I think this is single-handedly the most stressful part of law school because it's such a big unknown.


A Few Things

If you're unsure about how intense a test will be, look to Rate My Professor for advice from past students. Luckily, a lot of students had discussed the test style for my professors so I knew what to study for and expect.

At this point you should definitely be working on your own outline Every person that's ever given me advice has stressed not to waste money on a commercial outline. Both my professors and other students have said that either the outlines will make you waste time learning things that aren't on your test or will over-simplify so you don't study all of the information you would have if you studied your own. 

(here's a post on how to get started on outlines)

The best way to make an outline is basically just summarize your notes. The number one thing to remember when taking notes is to first listen and then write down. Write your notes as if you're explaining them to someone else and don't just copy word for word what your professor says.

Even if Quimbee isn't within your budget, they do offer a free week trial. There are videos within cases and addition videos with supplemental quizzes for each class. If your midterms are more influential towards your grade, you might consider using your free week now. If you like it, then you can just buy it for a month or two to help with finals. Of course, you could also wait until finals to use your free trial.

Also, I discovered something fantastic!!! They give outlines that you can use to fill any gaps that you're struggling with in your own. My favorite part is that they break your classes down by book so you can be sure that what you're filling in only what's necessary for your class. But if your book isn't listed and your school gives you a subscription to Lexis Nexis, they have outlines too. They're pretty long, but it definitely won't leave anything out.

The Results

I did pretty great in Contracts, but no surprise because I think everything in that class in interesting.

My Civ Pro professor gave me a ":/" because I kept forgetting to refer to the federal rules that I was using to come up with my answers. 

My Torts grade ended up being spot-on for how my final grade was (more of that later). Apparently this specific professor was known for giving confusing tests and the curve ends up helping out a lot. 


As for my Property graded midterm.......not so hot. This ended up giving me some anxiety because I kept thinking that if I wasn't stellar on the midterm then I'd fall on my face during the final. But I was just forgetting that this subject was so hard that my professor purposefully removed it from the final so that we wouldn't struggle trying to learn it.

March 17, 2016

I'm baaaack

Hey, What's Up, Hello

So last semester I meant to blog though Midterms, my Legal Research and Writing Memo, and Finals. Unfortunately everything crept up at once and I was majorly overwhelmed and honestly even forgot about Brazen until this week when all of my friends who are Seniors in undergrad started getting accepted into law schools and my Junior friends started thinking seriously about pursuing law schools. In the past two weeks random friends have been coming out of the woodwork like crazy with tons of questions. 

And then I remembered this! I knew if my friends had questions and concerns, then someone else out there in the world probably has the same, and maybe you don't know anyone to ask. Or maybe you're like me and want a million opinions before making a decision. 


It also made me feel like a badass when I saw that my law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta, had repinned one of my blog posts! So maybe a few of you are here because you fell for that clickbait :) 


Now that I just finished my LRW brief, I'm going to have a smidgen of extra time to keep this updated. But spoiler alert: I ended up not attempting to transfer back to my alma mater so I won't have any insight on that. Expect me to be posting on Sundays again and keep commenting/emailing me if you have anything you want to talk about! 


Oh, and my new favorite thing to wear to class are dresses. T-shirt dresses, piko dresses, and maxis are prefect because they're comfortable but still look put together.


Spring Semester Update

This is my course load for this semester:

Continuing
     -Contracts
     -Torts
     -Property
     -LRW
These were all 3 hours last semester, but are 2 hours now 
(except LRW)

No longer taking Civil Procedure

New Classes
     -Criminal Law
     -Constitutional Law
(these are 4 hour classes)

Oh and 3 months into my second semester of Torts and I STILL haven't been called on once in there ever!

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