July 29, 2016

Blogging Tips

Okay now, back to my mini series about blogging. I love that so many of y'all are starting your own blogs! My hope is that we create this big law school resources network and then not another person doesn't go to law school because they think they couldn't make it. I love that there's this potential to get all different sides of the law school story and incoming 1Ls can have lots of advice to help them along the way. 

Now that I've told you why you should blog, here's some tips on how to blog.

blogging tips | brazenandbrunette.com

Make a blog

First you'll have to pick a platform. Before I made a blog, I read all kinds of pins about how to start a blog and most suggested WordPress. However, I personally prefer Blogger for just a personal blog. Blogger is much simpler to teach yourself to use, and is wayyy cheaper and easier to maintain in regards to hosting your site, because WordPress has you find your own host (I've read that these can cost over $10 a month) and Blogger lets you use Google which only costs $12 a year (or for free if you're not bothered by ".blogspot" in your URL). 

I think the reason why so many big-time bloggers suggest WordPress, or even write about why they switched from Blogger to WP, is that WP is more like a website site. They need this official-type site because usually their blog is their business so they need to have all the bells and whistles that WP allows. So unless you plan on selling an eBook on your site or having like millions of viewers, Blogger will probably be just fine for you. 

Pick a name

The obvious step 2. I suggest start thinking of what you want to name your blog as soon as you start thinking you even want a blog, because it can be the hardest part. You want to get it right the first time or else you'll have to essentially rebrand yourself later on if you change it. 

I preferred not to limit myself to any niche by not having anything law or law school related in my name. This is just because who knows what I'll be blogging about in 3 years (if I still am), so I wanted to keep my options open. That's not to say that I haven't regretted 'Brazen and Brunette' at least once, when my guy friend saw that name in a tab and thought it was a porn site.... yeah, sorry if anyone's ever thought that's what you were doing too if you had this open in a tab! 

But one thing I did like is that my name is relatively short. This is just because you'll end up writing out your full website name over and over again and it really starts to annoy you. TBH, that's part of why I decided to buy my domain name, just so I could shorten how much I was having to type. I also like that it's an alliteration, just because I think it's catchy. 

Speaking of length, keep in mind that it's better to have a few, longer words than lots of shorter words. This is because when someone is trying to read your URL it can be confusing, kinda like you had to question whether it was Pet Smart or Pets Mart. Another final tip on a name is make sure it's one that's spelled easy, just so that people can't find your website because they keep misspelling a hard word.

Read other blogs

Definitely. I can't recommend getting on Bloglovin' and looking around enough! Not even law school blogs, either. I follow fashion blogs to get inspiration for how to write in a fun tone and also to interact with readers. I follow blogging blogs to see how I can improve my blogging skills. I even follow college blogs for topic ideas.

If you want to be a successful blogger, it will help to learn from the best. And you'll get so many answers to little questions that you didn't event know you had. Like I hadn't even realized that I could monetize my blog until I saw one blogger post an earnings report and I learned all about affiliate programs

But on the flip side of this, also critique other blogs. Not to be mean, but there's been several times when I've come across a blog and thought it was too confusing, difficult, or unorganized so I left and never went back. If there's anything about any blog that you don't like, make sure that you solve that problem in your own blog! 

An example: I once went to a blog and really liked the post on the homepage so I decided that I wanted to read all of the like 20 posts in order. But this was on WP so the layout had me scroll all the way to the bottom to get to the Previous Posts button. Then it would open up to the month I clicked on but it was in reverse chronological order, so again I had to scroll all the way down to get to the first day of the month. Then I had to slowly inch my way up the page and then start all over again once I finished a month. And that's the story of why my previous blog posts are one of the first things you see on my page and I only put two posts per page!

Create a email address

I'm SO GLAD that I decided to make brazenandbrunette@gmail.com instead of using my personal email address!! (although sometimes if I reply off my phone you might get an email from my personal account just because it's the default it replies with) 

Reason 1 why you should do this: obvious privacy issues that accompany putting your personal email address to be available to the entire world 

Reason 2: in the event that your blog starts getting spam, your personal account won't be the one flooded with emails

Reason 3: there will be a time when your blog picks up and readers will start emailing you quite often, and it will help keep your life organized

Pick a theme

If you want readers to come to your blog, I suggest you make it pretty. I love how my theme is light, airy, and welcoming. Start thinking of your favorite colors that you want to incorporate. You might also look around to find some font inspiration that you'd like to have something like for your blog.

Trying to figure out the premade Blogger templates was actually really confusing and it ended up being a mess. Then I tried using a free template that I found off Pinterest and it was okay, but the free options are very limited so you'll probably end up settling like I did. Buying a theme sounds outrageous and expensive, but I spent less than $10 on mine.

To be honest I could've only spent $5 because I first bought this theme, but then I couldn't get it to work and so I mistakenly thought that I had only bought the social media buttons. Turns out, I just wasn't following the directions correctly because they were for a PC and I was on a Mac so I didn't download everything. Then I found my current theme for only $3 and I wish this lady would open her shop back up because she had lots of different options. Seriously though, if you want a good-looking site, go to Etsy.com and I promise the investment is worth it to look like you have your blogging act together.

Create your about me page

I actually didn't do this until I decided to stop being an anon, but I regret not having one sooner. I actually got emails from people who thought they just weren't seeing the page and I had to awkwardly be like oh yeah I'm hiding from the world. You can do your About Me page however you want, but I got inspiration from this blog. I also took tips from this post on how to make my page. Just make sure to keep it sincere and don't feel like you have to make it like a LinkedIn about me page.

Create posts

First off, make a goal to post about 1-2 a week. I say at least this number because you need to be posting new content or else someone might come to your page, think you never post on it, and then move on and forget about it. I say kinda no more than twice a week at first because it keeps you from writing a post just to write one. For blogging, quality over quantity will get you readers.

The readers will come really slow at first, so don't be discouraged! I read this post and it mentioned how your readers will drastically go up after your 50th post. But remember not to just write 50 fluff posts! I was guilty of this at the beginning and it's no surprise that those posts have my lowest reads. 

One bad habit that's easy to fall in to is treating a blog as a diary. Yes this is a place to share your experience, but you have to give your readers something too. My most successful example of this was my post about my experience with Moot Court. It could've just been a post about how my day was, but instead I decided to share the advice my judges gave me after our rounds. The more helpful you can be, the more your readers will appreciate you!

And don't forget that every single one of your posts needs a picture!! Not only do they make your posts look better, they also mean that your post can go on to Pinterest. I use Canva.com and either their Social Media or Pinterest Graphic templates. Make sure that your pictures are pretty but more importantly easy to read. And add your website name somewhere on every picture just in case anyone tries to steal it. 

For your pictures, I suggest that you take them yourself. Sure they're not as polished and professional as stock photos. And yes they do take effort to think of, style, photograph, and edit. But in the end they're your photos. The reason why I say this is because it's kinda awk when someone else has the exact same photo as you but for a different post, like these four that I saw all on the same day on Pinterest. 

blogging tips | brazenandbrunette.com


But who knows, maybe I'll find a place with good quality, cheap photos that I don't think are going to be overused and I'll switch over to stock photos? I'm still new to this too! Whatever you end up using, make sure you do this to each photo after you add it to your post, it'll help when people pin your picture. 

SEO

Search Engine Optimization is another thing that you'll see a lot of when you start reading posts about blogging tips. Basically what this means is that you need to be using buzzwords so that if someone Googles "law school whatever," your site will be up there because Google read those exact keywords on your posts. 

This is why I stopped doing clever post titles like "WTFinancial Aid" and now am much straight forward like "The Best Highlighters for Law School." Just because it's much more likely that someone will search for that exact phrase so I want Google to catch them and steer them here :)

That's also why if you drank for every time you read the words law school in one of my posts, you'd be pretty drunk. Ultimately it'd be great if someone Google'd for anything law school related and my blog popped up there in the result. 

When I first learned about SEO I was really bad in it and for my Search Description that Blogger lets you put for each post I would go really heavy and just list anything law school related that I could think of. It seriously just would be like law student; 1L; first year law student; law school; law school tips; law school advice... you get the picture. But then I found out that that's what spammers actually do to trick Google so now it purposefully skips over anything like that, so it was really hurting more than helping my blog.

Keep this in mind when you're making titles, writing posts, creating search descriptions, adding words to photo, or describing a pin. You want it to be straight forward and to the point so that search bars and potential readers know exactly what your post is about.

6 Tools I use to Blog


Pinterest

1. Create a Pinterest board just for your blog posts
3. Every single time you make a post, you pin that shit to your blog board
4. In a few days, repin this picture onto another one of your boards that's relevant to what your post is about
5. Add your website to your profile (in your profile settings) and use their analytics to see what your readers respond best to
6. (optional) Create 2 secret boards: 1 for post ideas, 1 for photo ideas, and keep brainstorming

Why should you put so much effort into Pinterest?? Because it's how your blog grows!!

blogging tips | brazenandbrunette.com

Canva

Gave you the low down above. I actually just found out that Canva has an app too, so you can create graphics and photos for your posts on your iPad. Take notice to any viral pins on Pinterest and try to get some inspiration from them in either their photo, fonts, or wording. Just keep in mind that Pinterest is to pin pictures, and not just words. so try to get a good combo of both.

Also, I just use either my iPhone or iPad for taking pictures, so don't think you need a fancy DSLR camera or anything. And the editing in the regular camera app works just fine to enhance your pictures. I do suggest to try to get as much natural lighting as possible, or even move a lamp by where you're taking a picture (this is the lamp I use). 

blogging tips | brazenandbrunette.com


Google Analytics

This is the same idea as Pinterest Analytics, but alllll about your blog. Also you should connect this with your blog because when you're trying to brand your blog, companies might ask for your stats. 

It can show you all kinds of stuff, like how many individuals have visited your blog, how many visitors are returning, how long they stay on your site, how long they stay on a post, how many leave your site immediately... It gets really intense.

blogging tips | brazenandbrunette.com

Email

I already mentioned that I think you should get a separate email address just for your blog, but I wanted to go over why email is important to a blog. My favorite email to get are post suggestions/requests. Like did you that a reader was actually the one who came up with this post idea? And I got the idea to write this post after having a conversation with a reader. Even this very post is a result of several readers' comments and emails! 

Another reason why email is important is that sometimes people will have a question that needs a more in-depth answer than your post, so it's important that you have a way that they can get a personalized response. A good blogger cares about their readers and will make sure they can have that one-on-one time with any reader that wants it. 

Btw if you use the Questions and Suggestions box on the bottom of the right side, it's a super easy way to email me in one step instead of having to go through your mail app.

Evernote

I could explain it to you, but I think it's easier to show you... 

blogging tips | brazenandbrunette.com

Planner

I recently added a Blogging section to my planner, and it's helped so much! I can write outlines of my post ideas as I think of them in Evernote, but I plan out everything else in my planner. I brainstorm post ideas, I schedule what days I'll post what, I keep track of income and expenses for my blog, chart engagement growth. It helps me stick to my goal schedule of S/W/F posts. 


PS - sorry there's a lot of links to other blog's How To posts, but it's just easier and this post has to end eventually.


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July 27, 2016

I'm transferring!!

Wow so much to celebrate in the past week! Yesterday I finally got the news that I've been hoping to hear for over a year—that I've been accepted to my dream school.




Being as obsessed with blogging as I am, one of my first thoughts was ooh this will make a good blog post haha. I'm pathetic. The whole process turned out to be easier than I expected, but definitely made me cry stress tears along the way.


i'm transferring | brazenandbrunette.com


Choosing to transfer

I always wanted to transfer after I found out that there just wasn't a spot for me to be moved off the waitlist. The quote that I always kept in the back of my mind was sometimes a No is really just a Not Now. The main reasons why I wanted to transfer is that my new school is cheaper, closer to my friends and family, and truthfully is a higher ranked school

I thought about applying after my first semester but talked myself out of it because 1) I didn't know if you even can, and 2) if I had another good semester then I'd have some solid grades to support my application. Luckily, back in May I got a letter from the Dean of Admissions inviting me to apply to transfer. I'm assuming that this is a something they do for the waitlisted people because we are more on the Maybe list than the No list. 

The hard part is that my school didn't release our grades until late June and our ranks until Mid-July so I wasted a few weeks seeing if I was even eligible to transfer. I read somewhere that supposedly some schools do this to make it harder for people to transfer out because of deadlines. 

But as soon as I got my grades back and was happy with them, I called the Dean of Admissions to personally let him know that I was interested, and explained that I had been waiting for my grades before applying. He reassured me that I wasn't late in the process and informed me that they make transfer decisions fairly quickly because they review and decide your file as soon as it comes in because they know that we have to move and whatnot if we transfer. 


GPA/Rank

Obviously this is the most important thing that you need to have down if you want to transfer. Your goal should be at least to be in the top half of your class rank if you want to transfer. As a general rule, the bigger the difference in ranks between your two schools, the higher you should aim for. 

Being in the top half of my class wasn't as hard as it sounds because I just tried my best in every class and ended up with my lowest grade each semester being only one C+ (thanks curve). Having the goal of transferring already when I began my 1L year was a great motivator for me because I knew that I had my 2L and 3L years to get the grades for a job, but only this first year to get to transfer.

LSAT

The great news about transferring is that your LSAT is not as big of a factor as the first go around. When I mentioned that I was considering transferring to one of my professors, he told me this and it really gave me hope.  My professor explained that this is because schools don't have to count transfer student's LSAT in what they release, so your meh score won't hurt their reputation. 

Now I'm not saying that a 120 will get you in, but if your score was borderline the first time you might still get in. This is because they still consider it to see if you're capable of doing well on finals and the bar, because these scores do affect their reputation.

Rec Letters

Going to a professor asking for a rec letter to transfer is awkward, not going to lie. I felt like I was indirectly telling them that I didn't like them or thought that I was too good for them, which was definitely not how I wanted to come off. Luckily though, they understood that it's common for people who do well their first year to try to use that to their advantage to move up the law school ladder. 

What really helped was that law school forces you to participate in class so your professors will actually have something to say about your class performance. Another thing that helps is that the classes are smaller and you have some professors for 9 months so they really get to know you. I just scheduled an appointment with them to go over my final and then at the end brought up about how I was considering transferring and asked if they would write a letter for me. 

One thing to definitely bring with you is a school résumé with your class rank and GPA so that they know your strong points to address. And make sure that you give your professors a deadline of when you want it in before your personal deadline because they will most likely have to submit it through LSAC and wait for that to be added to your file, which takes time. 

Personal Statement 

The first go around, I wasn't all that confident in my personal statement. My theme was basically "why I want to go to law school," and I felt like SpongeBob trying to write about what he learned in boating school. When I started to write a new one, I instantly started to have a theme of "why I want to transfer" and it ended up sounding very forced. 

(here's a whole post about personal statement advice)

Finally I decided that I hated it and wanted to start all over, and for some reason I just sat down and started writing it like I was writing a blog post, and it sounded much more like me. Once I treated the admissions committee like y'all, the words started flowing and I came up with a new theme. I took this girl's advice and used this as an opportunity to explain how I've grown this past year. 

To be honest it was tempting to mention Brazen and Brunette as an example of what I've accomplished since last applying, but I finally decided against it because I didn't know if this would make them take me less seriously since I didn't know if they'd actually come check this out or not. 

Application

Luckily LSAC saves all of your application responses for 5 years, so the application part was easy peasy. Just make sure that when you go to fill it out, you choose a transfer application instead of a regular one. Oh and of course make sure you update your information so they have a current email and mailing address for you since you've probably moved since last time. 

Another thing to remember for your application is that you'll have to send in a new transcript from your current law school. I had to email them to get them to add my law school because at first my only options were high school or undergrad. Speaking of undergrad, if you were accepted into law school before your final grades from undergrad were posted, make sure you get an updated transcript from your undergrad sent in. It took about 4 business days for my school to mail off the transcript, and another business week for LSAC to add these to my file, so get this done ASAP.

Letter of Good Standing

This was something that I didn't even know I needed until the school emailed me telling me that it was missing from my file. I'm assuming that this means that you have no holds, have paid all of your tuition, and are still a student at your current school. I had to visit Dean of Student Records to get this. At least at my school, before I could even get this letter I had to speak with our Assistant Dean for Law Student Affairs and be approved. 

All this involved was scheduling a meeting with him to explain why I wanted to transfer and my thoughts on the school. I made sure to request that my class rank be included in this letter because my transferring school required it and I wasn't sure if it was already included on my transcript. The hardest part of this was that I was transferring at prime vacation time so it did take over a week to get all of this done. 

Acceptance

Since all my application was waiting on was this letter of good standing, I went ahead and asked that a copy of the letter be emailed to the admissions people at my transferring school. Apparently Tech had already reviewed my application and all but accepted me because within 20 minutes of this being emailed out I got an acceptance email!! 

I was sitting in court waiting for a trial to come back from recess when I got it. I quickly emailed them back accepting the offer and then ran outside to cry, scream, jump, and call my mom to tell her the good news. But being a mom, she was all about business after congratulating me. So now on my to do list is: withdraw from my current school, write thank you letters to the professors that wrote rec letters, decline my job offer for this fall, let my current landlord know that I'm moving out and when, getting a new apartment at my new school, registering for transfer orientation, registering for classes, send paperwork to my new school, pack and move. Oh and did I mention that I have like two weeks to do all this?! 

July 24, 2016

BLOGIVERSARY!!!

Yesterday I did something completely ridiculous. I went out and bought a cupcake. I bought some champagne. I crafted a candle. And I celebrated my blog turning one.


blogiversary | brazenandbrunette.com

I'm so excited y'all! A year ago I got pissed off at the lack of law-school-focused blogs, so I decided to make one myself. At the time, I didn't think that more than 10 randos would even read my blog, and for a moment there I accidentally abandoned it. But here we are a year later and I'm so proud of what Brazen and Brunette has become! I've loved getting to message and comment with so many readers and am extremely grateful for this opportunity. 


Blog Changes


So a lot has changed over the past year, and I wanted to spend this post as a timeout from law school and just give you guys a little update on what's been happening with Brazen and Brunette. The major change was that I completely redesigned my theme. If you were around here back in the beginning, you may remember that it was this God awful orange and green theme, that I had found for free on Pinterest. I grew tired of it very quickly and now I'm very happy with how my blog looks because it's definitely me. 

Another major change I've made is that I stopped being anonymous. Originally, I wanted to be an anon blogger because I wanted to feel free to share my honest opinions without worrying that it could somehow get me in trouble or negatively reflect on myself. Eventually I realized that I didn't have anything to say that was that bad and it was too much work to try to keep myself a secret. I also didn't like being an anon because I felt as if I wasn't able to share my life with you because I was redacting myself. I also began to feel like being an anon was less Gossip Girl and more Catfish. 

After going public, I decided to get serious about blogging and made a Facebook page and Bloglovin' account because I know not everyone wants to come here to check Pinterest new posts every day. PS -- if you're ever curious, here's my personal Pinterest page that isn't all about law school. I also tried out having a Twitter page just for blog posts, but I never got on there, so if you'd like you can just follow my personal Twitter page and you'll get a much quicker response (and probably see a few drunk tweets). 


Blog Report

I'm also happy to announce that my blog has really started to grow, and I'm so excited!

blogiversary | brazenandbrunette.com


It's crazy to me that some of my posts actually have a few thousand views! I'm also really excited that people from around the globe have actually stumbled upon my blog! One thing that I'm proud of is that my blog really started to grow even back when I was an anon and wasn't even active on it. I'm also proud that I reached the 10k mark within a year of blogging, because I'm so new to all this and literally knew nothing at first. Side note: I'm not quite sure why the graph and the stats on the right don't show the same numbers, and I'm also not sure which one is correct.

Overall, I'm happy happy happy with the way Brazen and Brunette is going. But one thing that I'd really appreciate from y'all is if you'd go here and "endorse" what you want to see more of!

Goal for 2017: Reach 30k views a month

Income Report

Another thing that I'm excited about is that I'm slowly starting to make money off my blog. I know you hate ads, and I do too on other sites, but a girl's gotta pay off loans somehow and I'm not making any money interning

I just added Google ads to my blog this week, but it's earned $1 already. I know this is pathetically low, but it's still money that I've made just because you guys happened to click on an ad on my page. I'm hoping that this time next year I can laugh at the fact that I had only made a buck.

I've also became an Amazon affiliate member this summer, and have made about $25 from that. That comes from any item you buy on Amazon if my site referred you or signing up for free trials such as Amazon Prime student, Amazon Kindle, and Amazon Prime Video.

I'm not sharing these numbers to come off as bragging, but simply so that I can be honest with y'all about referral fees that I collect when you visit a website or sign up for something that I've recommended. 

Goal for 2017: Reach $75 a month

Of course, I've also spent my own money on my blog. I finally decided to commit to paying $12 a year to drop ".blogspot" from my website, which I feel like helped it become a little more like a serious blog. And I spend about $10 getting a blog theme off Etsy (the shop that I got mine from is currently closed but here's another shop that I love). 

Right now I'm also contemplating promoting my blog on Facebook, Pinterest, or through Google, so that could be another expense later on. 

blogiversary | brazenandbrunette.com

Unfortunately for law students, having a successful blog isn't exactly something that could boost our résumé and help us get a job like a PR, computer science, or English major. But blogging can still be a great thing to start up in law school. 

One highlight of it is that it can be a great way to memorialize your short three years in law school. I loved being able to look back at this past year and remember how clueless I used to be and watching myself figure things out along the way. Part of this is because blogging makes you pay closer attention to what's going on in your every day. When I was going through a something new, I didn't just passively experience it, but rather tried my hardest to remember everything that was going on so I could write about it and explain it to y'all. 

Another perk of blogging in law school is that it's a place to receive some validation. Every time I get an email or comment with someone telling me they love my blog, I get giddy inside and tbh sometimes I'll screenshot a little of what you say and send it to my friends to brag. I also really love it when someone gets in touch with me and lets me know that one of my posts helped them have a little less worry or feel prepared for some aspect of law school. It really does give me this feel-good feeling to help y'all similar to what I get when I'm volunteering. 

Probably the way that this blog has helped me the most in law school was that it was an anchor for me. When law school got boring, I had this to be excited about. When I felt like giving up, I remembered that I had to keep going so that I could have something to write about. When I felt like I wasn't good enough, I'd receive a kind email or comment reminding me that law school is where I belong. 

And if I had time to get good grades, run this blog, and still binge watch on Netflix, then you can too! I get so excited when one of my readers lets me know that they're starting a blog or planning to, so I'm planning on my next few posts being about my tips and advice for y'all. Because I seriously think that the world could use a whole lot more law school bloggers out there!! It's ridiculous that there's hundreds of very successful college bloggers out there, but law school bloggers are much harder to find. Seriously though, I think everyone should consider blogging through law school

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July 17, 2016

How I Take Notes

how I take notes | brazenandbrunette.com

So with all this orientation talk, I thought I should write about one thing they talked about in orientation that I completely disagreed with, and that's how to take notes. People from academic support basically spent like 3 hours telling us how to take notes. What I didn't like is that they suggested we take pre-class notes in one color of pen and in-class notes in another color to see what we were missing from our pre-class notes. I get where they're coming from, but this just ended up making a mess in my notes and did more to confuse me than help me. What I suggest you do for your notes isn't to copy someone else's system but to be honest with yourself about how you study and only use their ideas if it fits in with your writing style. I know that everyone takes notes differently, so I'm sharing with y'all my personal method of taking notes just to give you another opinion to consider. For another opinion, check out Caffeine and Case Briefs!


Why I prefer typing

The academic support people also mentioned about how there's been studies that show that you're more likely to remember something if you write it down rather than type, but I still prefer to type. The main reason why I prefer to type is that sometimes professors or classmates talk fast, and typing is way faster for me than hand writing (also why I prefer to type my essays on finals). It really bothers me to have holes in my notes so it's just easier this way. 

And because I can type faster, that means I spend less time typing and more time listening (because sometimes it's hard to listen to one topic while still trying to type about another). I think the best way to take notes is to first listen to your professor, and then summarize what he just said in a way that will be helpful to you when you go back over them later. 

Another pro in the typing column is that you can edit it and it will still look clean and easy to read. Often my professors would take a few minutes every class to review what we went over last class, and if I left something out of my notes, then I could easily go back in and add it and it'll look like it was there all along, instead of just having it written on the side with an arrow drawn to it like in handwritten notes.

So yeah idgaf about statistics telling me to hand write my notes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

how I take notes | brazenandbrunette.com

How I type my notes

I've said it before, but really Evernote is superior to Word. If you have a Mac, there's an app in the MacApp store so you can get it on your computer, and it syncs with your phone and iPad (idk if you can do this on a different brand of computer because I don't have one, so comment below if it works for yours). Unfortunately, they've recently announced that you can only use it on two devices for free so I'm kinda pissed at them that I'm not going to be able to use it on my phone anymore. 

Anywhoo, what I do is make a notebook for each class. I never delete these because you never know when someone might need your notes and you can share these through email. 

how I take notes | brazenandbrunette.com

For each notebook, I make one "note" for each chapter. In undergrad I would just make a new note for every day, but this got confusing on the days when we would finish a chapter and start on a new one in the same class. Now, I just start each day where we left off and if we begin a new chapter then I'll just make a new note. This is so much easier later when I'm reviewing my notes.

how I take notes | brazenandbrunette.com

I really liked how my property professor would put up a slide when we were starting a new chapter that basically gave us an outline of that chapter. This was really helpful when I was making my own outlines. I'm a big fan of bullet points because they force me to write concise notes instead of full sentences—this makes sure that I only get what I really need and I'm not wasting my time with the little stuff. You might also see on the bottom left that there's some drawings, and that's another thing I really like about Evernote is that I could draw out exactly what my professor was drawing by using my iPad and a stylus, so that was super helpful. Usually if a professor has posted the slides online, I would do a split screen on my computer with Evernote on one side and the slides right beside it. 

Usually each note has a section for a summary, a section for vocab, a section for the rules that come from the cases (also referred to as "black letter law"), and sometimes a section for anything that I've highlighted in my text book. I like to make these little subheadings that are bolded just like what I do on here, so that I can quickly find what I need.

Handwritten notes

I've had a few of my professors explicitly say no electronics allowed in the classroom at all. I get this because it's common for people to pop on over to Facebook or whatever in the middle of class. My argument to this is that it's not much better than when you're zoned out just doodling in your notes because if you don't want to pay attention, then you'll find a way to do it with or without a computer. 

But, alas, sometimes I was forced to take notes like a pioneer so I might as well share what I've learned there too. Or, ya know, if you're one of those people who prefer to write then I guess I should offer my advice to you too lol. 

The number one best thing I discovered this past year is CURSIVE! Like I've already said, people talk fast and it's better for your brain if you spend more time listening and less time writing. I started off taking my notes the normal way, but one day was just too damn lazy to pick up my pen and that's when I realized how much faster you can take notes when you don't have to raise your hand from the paper after every letter. I'll admit, if you're like me and haven't written in cursive since you learned in 3rd grade, your writing might be a little hard to read at first. Just make sure that it's not too sloppy that you can't go back and read it.

how I take notes | brazenandbrunette.com

For some reason, my handwritten notes ended up being a lot more bare boned than my typed notes. All they would be is the name of the case, the page in my book it was on, what section of the book it was under, and what the rule of the case was. Very basic. Usually what'd happen would be that I'd make a note in my book or highlight something that my professor said, write down what page I did this on in my notes, and then I could just go back and look at it later rather than taking up time and space to write it in my notes.

Even though I had to hand-write these, I still took the time to type them up in Evernote later. I guess technically this probably did help me study when I had to rewrite everything, but it still was a pain in the ass and took a while so idk how beneficial it actually was to me.

how I take notes | brazenandbrunette.com

Another thing I'll say about taking notes is that as pretentious as legal pads may seem, I really grew to love them because without that big metal ring of traditional notebooks, my hand had more room to write all the way to the edge. However, the down side of legal pads is that I had to keep up with more than one for my different classes, so if I didn't have one I definitely would've just got one multi-subject notebook so that I would only have to remember to pack one thing in my backpack. 

I also found that ballpoint pens are the best for taking notes because they glide so smoothy for when you're taking rushed notes. I'd suggest maybe going ahead and buying 2 packs because my first semester was the first time in my life that I actually used up all of the ink in a pen before losing it. And I was only taking handwritten notes in 2 classes! 

Final thoughts

I know this was another long, rambling, over-detailed note. I just think it'll help you feel more prepared for that first day of class when you've seen how someone else actually took notes during class, and not the BS people say they did but didn't actually do because it was too time consuming. And remember, that just because someone is taking way more notes than you, doesn't mean that they're a better student than you are!

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July 15, 2016

Keeping Your Confidence

keeping your confidence | brazenandbrunette.com

This is a post that's near and dear to my heart, because my first semester was rough emotionally. I don't say this to scare you, because it shouldn't. I've talked before about how, for the most part, law school isn't that bad. One way I guess I could describe it is when you have a hard work out for the first time in forever. You don't think you can do it. Your mind keeps trying to give you every reason to quit. People on the outside give you this "poor you" look. It's not fun. But afterwards, you look back on it and realize that it wasn't too terrible and that you can do it all over again the next day. Like that saying It Seems Impossible Until It's Done


Accept the fear of the unknown

The worst part going in to law school is that all you hear are the horror stories and the "get out while you still can" jokes, and nothing can really help you be prepared. It's stressful at first because you never know if what you're doing is correct or even good enough. TBH, this gets a little better after the first few weeks once you get into the flow of class, but really doesn't go away until after your first finals when you've gone over your test. Then you'll know exactly where you stand in comparison to your classmates, what professors expect, and what you need to do to improve. 

I wish there was something more than just "take it day by day" that I could say that would make you feel better, but there's not. BUT, you can take solace in knowing that everyone else in your section class is also brand new to this law school game and equally as clueless.


Remember that you're new to this

So if someone around you uses a legal phrase or mentions a judge and you're just sitting there like Ha ha ha yeah mhmm I know exactly what you mean ha ha ha... that's ok! You're not any behind these people, they're just overachieving. When I got to law school I didn't even really know the difference between a trial court and appellate court, or even what case law is. 


This is law school, a place where you're presumed to come in knowing nothing and to learn about the law. Think back to Kindergarten -- if you showed up not fully knowing your ABC's or the names of all the colors then that was totally ok because that's what you were there to learn. 


Stop comparing yourself

Without sounding harsh, there's always going to be someone better than you. That's a fact of life. The great thing about law school is when you see someone who you think OMG they are so good at this mess up on something that feels so common sense to you. Sounds bitchy, but really it's just a little validation that you're not the stupidest person in the room (it's a common feeling).

The biggest thing I want to stress (and don't know how to do this without seeming bitchy, so sorry), is that just because someone acts like they have everything together in class does not mean that they are any better than you. This sounds very guidance counselor cheesy, but not everyone learns the same. You could be just as smart as the eager beavers in class, but when you start comparing how they dress/behave/participate, you'll start to think that they're ahead of you and it can wreck your confidence.


Give up on perfectionism 

I feel like law school tends to be packed full with Type A perfectionists who have always been the best. I mean you didn't get in to law school by barely scraping by in undergrad. The problem is that law school is basically rigged to where your best is never good enough thanks to the curve. At the beginning this sounds really scary like oooh you're probably going to be a C student and can make you freak out. 

First, have solace in the fact that it is statistically as hard to fail as it is to get an A, so at least you shouldn't flunk out. Second, just accept the fact that a B or even a C in law school is nothing to be embarrassed about. Your goal should just be to survive the first semester, and then the second semester to improve your grades a little in each class (so like a C+ to a B-). If you're too focused on being the top of your class then you're going to miss this important step on improving yourself!


Stay focused on your goals

Don't stress yourself out by pressuring yourself, but do set goals and work to achieve them. Don't think of law school as one big competition of you against everyone else, but think of it as you trying to better yourself—similar to when you decide to eat better in order to be healthier, but not because you are trying to be the healthiest person at your school. 

Final thoughts

Don't worry about the obvious hard parts because that will just work you into a frenzy. But when they do come, just try to ride out the waves and remember that every other person in your section also feels the same way. Don't doubt yourself!! You got to law school all on your own—with nothing but that pretty little brain of yours! Don't take that away from yourself.
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