August 16, 2017

Using iPads in Law School

Laptop vs. iPad for law school: can you use an iPad for law school? Here's why I think you can use an iPad for law school and the iPad accessories for law school! Plus, how to get $300 off an iPad Pro AND get a pair of Beats Free! I also weigh in on iPad Pro vs. Microsoft Surface, and whether you can use a Microsoft Surface for law school. |

As a reiteration from last week— I love emails from y'all! Bare minimum they make me feel better about myself because even if I didn't get around to doing the dishes and I still have some readings to do, I can be like yeah well at least I helped a reader today and then I can count that as a productive day! Today's post is another answer to a reader's question about my thoughts on using iPads in law school.

iPad Pros and Cons

That's an iPad Pro pun, in case you didn't get that haha. Anyways, it's becoming a thing for people to use an iPad Pro in place of a laptop. In fact, my 1L year I remember a girl got started using one when we came back after Christmas break, and there was a guy in my family law class who did this too last year. 

One of the prelaw students that worked with me this summer has one and he let me play around on it so I could write this post. His was super helpful at work and I'm sure it's just as handy in class. I have an iPad Air and a lot of times will just bring that to class, so you don't necessarily need the big 12.9 inches. But either iPad is still cheaper than a MacBook. iPads are great because they're super light and compact, which is what you need because the last thing you want is anything adding any more weight in your backpack. And they can do a split screen just like a laptop so you can easily have a copy of your professors' slides pulled up on one side with your notes pulled up on the other. And if you get the Apple Pencil, then you can also draw any diagrams that your professor has used and have that in your notes. Another big plus is that if your school's wifi is every super slow, you can always just switch it over to LTE so you're not waiting. 

I will give you one big warning that you need to consider before buying an iPad for school. As far as I know, every law school uses Exam Soft for tests. Yeah that's right, in law school you can write your essays in a standard blue book or you can type them. Exam Soft is a program where you can download your test and only can enter the test during the time of your final, it shuts down everything else on your computer so you can't leave the app, and it will email your essays to your professor at the end. I personally prefer this method because I type faster than I write and I'm always running out of time for finals. But you need to know that Exam Soft is not available for an iPad. Ok, well technically iPads are compatible with Exam Soft, but your school would have to make an iPad-compatible test for that and I've never seen one do that so it's functionally not available. That means you'll either need to keep your old laptop and use that just for tests or borrow one from the library or hand write. Before you make the decision to get an iPad for law school, make sure you've got your back up plan set!

A note on eBooks

I've never used them for casebooks (which are basically textbooks). 1. I highly doubt you'll find them. 2. Most law professors don't allow any electronics in their classroom. 3. Sometimes they're actually more than a hard copy because you're paying the charge for them to digitalize it and rarely are ebooks available to be rented so you have to buy the full new price and can't later sell it. So I would only get a casebook on my iPad 1st if I had my syllabus and knew that my professor would allow this, and then 2nd weigh the literal costs and benefits of carrying a book versus having an eBook. 

But if in the end you decide it makes the most sense to get an eBook, I think it'd be perfectly fine. You should still be able to highlight and add notes on an eBook. 

But some books that I have gotten on my iPad were little books that I was required for class. This summer I took a nanotechnology law class and we had to read a fictional book that had to do with nanotechnology and then we had to represent a character from the book in a lawsuit. That book I did get on my iPad just because it was easier. I liked being able to search the whole book for a word I was looking for when I couldn't remember what page it was on and having all of my notes in one place. For another class we had to read this like 150 page book by a lawyer and that was another one that I just got on my iPad because we didn't have to bring it to class, we just had to know about it for when we took quizzes on it. 

How to make an iPad work for class 

If I were you, I'd get some accessories for your iPad. In college, I could get by with taking notes using the little keyboard on the screen because I had the app Swift Key. But in law school, that just won't cut it because professors go over a lot more material a lot faster so you need a real keyboard to keep up. I would for sure say that you'll want to get the Apple Smart Keyboard for your iPad so you have enough room to type (but off brands work too). 

Another thing you'll need is the Apple Pencil or a stylus. A lot of professors draw diagrams or illustrations on the board so that you can understand the concept better and it'll help if you'll be able to copy these down into your notes. Another great use for if is if you're a visual learner, you can draw out spider maps or flowcharts in your notes.

Probably the most important this is to always make sure that your iPad has power! One time in undergrad my iPad died mid class so I got out my phone to continue taking my notes on Evernote and my professor called me out for texting in class and I'm pretty sure he wasn't satisfied with my explanation on what I was doing. For sure always bring an iPad charger with you! But one thing that I've learned over the past two years is that the outlets that are built in to the desks don't always work. So if all of the outlets around you don't work, your iPad will definitely die if you don't bring a battery pack. I got this battery pack for study abroad because it holds a really long charge and is powerful enough to handle recharging an iPad.

Also, I would really download Evernote if I were you. This way, you can switch between taking your notes on your iPad and laptop and they'll sync automatically. 

What about Microsoft Surface?

I am an Apple fan because their shit lasts. I got my first MacBook my junior year in high school and it worked perfectly until I asked for the MacBook Air before my junior year of college because I wanted something lighter. I got my first iPad my freshman year of college and I kept it until my senior year of college when I got the iPad Air because again I just wanted something lighter. I gave my original iPad to my dad and he still uses it! Here's a great post about why another law school blogger switched from a PC to a Mac for law school

But to be honest, you totally can use a Surface just as well as an iPad for law school. My best friend has a surface and I actually wrote this post on it because my laptop died and I didn't have a charger. Keep in mind, though, that you need to make sure it's compatible with Exam Soft's PC requirements. If you were looking at a Surface solely for price, I hear ya, but just FYI as a student you qualify for Apple Education Pricing so they have iPads for up to $300 off plus they come with a free pair of Beats so maybe for law school it's worth the investment.


August 14, 2017

How to Turn Your Bed into a Study Space

Whether you're in a dorm, a small apartment, or just prefer to stay in bed, here's 5 things you need to turn your bed into a study space. Here's how to comfortably study in bed |

Hi and welcome back to my ramblings :) After my post about redoing a study space, I got to thinking about how not all apartments come with desks. My 1L year I technically had a desk but it was in a little corner and I ended up spending most of my time studying in bed. So today I figured I'd write a little post with some ideas for those of you who either have no desk or who prefer to study in bed— this one's for you! 

Lap desk

This is the first thing you'll for sure need! I got one of these pillow lap desks for my high school graduation and I still use it all the time! You can use it while in bed or even on the coach to hold your laptop and it's great because it'll keep your laptop from burning your thighs. This is actually better for your laptop too because it allows it to ventilate which keeps it from dying on you. 

But if you know for sure you just need something for your bed, then this adjustable lap desk would really be better. It'll keep your laptop from falling off your lap and is a lot bigger so it can hold more stuff. And then also on the weekends it can double as a little tray for breakfast in bed :) 

Book stand

I mention this all the time because my life has truly been revolutionized since I got one! If your lap desk is big enough, you can use it to prop up your book beside your laptop. And if your lap desk isn't big enough for this then no worries because you can just set it up on your night stand and look over at it. Just a warning it doesn't really work on super soft surfaces so if you just try to set it up on your bed, it's going to keep falling over. This is the book stand I have and I personally prefer how it folds because not only does it mean it fits perfectly in my backpack but also I can adjust the arms to be wider for super thick books or bring them in for smaller books and then it's a one size fits all.

Reading pillow 

This reading pillow is one of the first things that I bought for myself once I started studying in bed all the time. It's way better than just piling up a bunch of pillows because eventually those will start falling apart so you'll be constantly stopping to fix them. Plus, I really like having the little arm rests for when I'm typing. And for lazy days bingewatching in bed, this is absolutely perfect. I also got a bedside caddy in college that I keep my remotes in by my bed when I'm watching TV, but it's also really great to store all your 50 pens and highlighters so you aren't accidentally coloring on your sheets.

Swivel USB outlet

I actually got this outlet for study abroad because I thought it'd be easier to just run one plug through the adapter. Turns out I was wrong about that, but I've definitely got a lot of use out of it back here. It's great because it swivels so you can turn it horizontally and have room to plug in your laptop and phone and iPad and lamp. The swivel part really is more handy than you'd expect. 

Plus it actually has two USB ports on top of it so I have my phone charger in one and my watch charger in the other and still have 4 empty outlets! This is really handy because one of the worst things when you're all set up in bed and then have to go move your night stand to unplug your lamp just so your laptop and phone won't both die at the same time.


This lamp is actually something that I originally included in that study space redo post, but it really works just as well here. The worst part about studying in bed is when you get so comfy that you just slowly start to fall asleep while trying to study. What you want is a lamp that can be bright when you need to keep yourself awake (cool white mode) but then can dim down for when you're not studying and don't want something waking you up right as you're going to sleep (warm yellow mode). Extra helpful if you get an echo dot so that you if you do start to fall asleep, you won't have to sit up to turn off your lamp.

And that's all I need! Comment below and let me know if you have anything that you love to have with you when you're studying in bed!!

August 11, 2017

Law School Legal Analysis: CREAC vs. IRAC

Wondering what's the difference between IRAC and CREAC? Wondering what is a CREAC for law school? I have your answer here! |

My whole 1L year, I heard nothing but IRAC so that's what I did. It's how I briefed my cases and how I tackled my essay responses on my finals and it worked just fine for me. But then my 2L year I had a professor explain to us at the beginning of the year that he preferred CREAC so that's what we practiced all semester so we'd be ready for his final. He went to Syracuse and apparently the New York Bar prefers CREAC and that's where he got this from. So head's up NY students— this post will be helpful! 

Related: An example of IRAC

Basically what CREAC is Conclusion, Rule, Explanation of rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. The best way to explain how to use CREAC is to just show you an example. Just like with IRAC, you can use this method for both briefing cases to be prepared for class and for answering essay questions on your tests. FYI, what I'm going to do is a very watered down and simple answer just because no one wants to read a full on answer (they usually can take up a few pages). 

Related: How to tackle practice essays


Paul sues Dan, saying that Dan was negligent. Paul works for Dan as a painter and one day Paul fell off of the ladder. Paul claims Dan knew that the ladder was in bad shape and about to break at any moment, but still let Paul use it. Is Dan liable to Paul?


Because Dan had a duty to Paul, Dan breached his duty to Paul, Dan's breach of duty caused Paul's harm, and Paul has actual damages from the harm, Dan is liable for his negligence against Paul.


Usually the R and E can be combined into one paragraph. 

To be held liable for negligence, a party must have breached his duty. 

Explanation of rule

There are four elements to negligence: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages (and then explain what each of these are).


Pro tip: spend the majority of your time on the analysis! It's where most of your points will come from so try to make it your longest section.

Dan employed Paul, and Paul was within the scope of his employment when he fell, so Dan had a duty as Paul's employer to warn Paul of dangers that he knew about. Dan had commented to his secretary the day before Paul's accident that he had noticed that the ladder had some cracks in the side and some screws loose, but he was too lazy to replace it. When Dan knew that the ladder was faulty but still allowed Paul to use it while painting houses, Dan breached his duty to Paul to warn Paul of any danger that he knew about on the job. Paul's accident was a result of Dan's negligence; if Dan had warned Paul, no one would have been hurt. Paul did nothing wrong here and was only hurt because of Dan's failure to warn. Paul has a $8,000 hospital bill from his broken leg that resulted from falling off the ladder. Because all four of the elements of negligence have been met here, Dan was negligent.


Dan had a duty to Paul, which he breached when he let Paul use a ladder that he knew wasn't in working condition. Because Dan breached his duty to Paul and therefore was the cause of Paul's injury, he was negligent and is liable for Paul's harm.

Other tips

In your CREAC, the Conclusions are the least important and can be the shortest. Just make sure that your Conclusion isn't half-empty. A lot of people will lose points because they'll just have a conclusion that says Dan is liable. A good tip to keep you from falling into this trap is use the word because. Using because will help make sure that you're giving a complete answer. 

When it comes to the Rule and Explanation part, write as much as you can remember about the rule. Are there elements or factors to consider? Write those. Is there a majority and a minority rule? Add that. Same for if there is a common law rule and a statutory rule. Or if there's a traditional rule and a modern rule. Sometimes there's even an English rule and an American rule. Another common thing that almost all rules have are exceptions, so make sure you mention those as well.

For the analysis, make sure that every single thing you put in the R and E part are talked about here again. If there's three exceptions but none of them apply, don't just skip these! That's how you can end up losing points to your classmates. A simple sentence or two reiterating that there are exceptions and quickly explaining why each don't apply here can get you major points! Another thing, you might notice that I used a lot of names and not a lot of pronouns. This is because you want to make it super clear to your professor who you're talking about. If I had accidentally somehow made it seem like Paul was the one who had a duty to Dan, this obviously would've been wrong and could've been counted against me. In a final, you'll most likely be strapped for time. A lot of professors understand this so they're totally okay with you using P for Paul or D for Dan if you just start out by saying Paul (P) so that they can know your code. You can even use it for more than just names and say negligence (neg) the first time and neg every other time after that.

If your fact pattern is more complex, then your CREAC will be a little different. If it's 3 different employees all suing Dan for 3 different reasons, then each one of these cases will get its own CREAC. But if Dan did multiple things that made him liable to Paul, besides just not warning him about the faulty ladder, then you also could do C (for overall), REA (for first bad thing Dan did), REA (for second bad thing Dan did), REA (for third bad thing Dan did), C (for all 3). 

You don't always have to make each letter a separate paragraph. So don't worry about squishing a rule, explanation, and analysis all together in one paragraph. If it helps your reader (professor) follow your arguments better, this is totally okay! Good luck out there my little 1L's!!

August 9, 2017

Winc Wine Subscription Review

Winc wine subscription review. How I get 4 bottles of wine delivered each month. Why Winc wine Wednesdays are the perfect broke date night |

Ahh y'all! This is one of my favorite posts so far! If you follow me on snapchat, then you've probably noticed that every Wednesday me and Ryan split a bottle of wine and have a fancy dinner together. And now that I have an Insta for the blog, you'll probably be seeing even more of this lol. The reason for all of this is that I subscribe to Winc!

Winc wine subscription review. How I get 4 bottles of wine delivered each month. Why Winc wine Wednesdays are the perfect broke date night | brazenandbrunette.coW

Background story 

I'm obsessed with TheSkimm and read it every day religiously. One day they were offering a special for readers on your first Winc order (see why you should be getting these emails!) so I was like hmmm. In case you didn't know, I'm a big wine drinker and tbh a lot of times the only way I can make myself finish a reading is that I'll bribe myself with a glass when I'm done. But I was a sorority girl so usually the only wine I drink is Barefoot Mascato. I get a little self-conscious when I go out to restaurants and they have wines that I've never heard of and I'm too scared to order the wrong wine and waste like $10 on a glass of something I don't like. I decided to at least check it out because really anything with wine in it kinda gets my attention. 

What Winc is

What I liked the most about their site is that the very first thing you do is take a quiz. As a picky eater (so I guess drinker too) I have very strong feelings about what I do and don't like. Having this taste-test quiz made me a little more confident that I wasn't paying just to give away a bottle of wine that I didn't like. 

The next thing that I was a fan of is that it lets you choose your ratio of red to white wines. I prefer white wines so I chose 4 white and 0 red. What's nice is that as I get a little more adventurous, I can go back and slowly switch it up 1 or 2 bottles of red a month.

When I saw that I would be getting 4 bottles each month for $30 (after my first discounted month), I was pretty much sold. It helped that shipping is free too! I want to adventure out and learn about more wines and this is about how much I spent anyways so I was like sure why not. They have the option for you to "pause" your month's order which really helped me because if I'm ever broke (or maybe when I'm gone for next semester) I can pause it when I need it.

What I love is that you can either have them send you just 4 recommended bottles based on your quiz results, or you can even go in and browse their selection and choose any wines that you for sure want that month and they'll surprise you with the rest. And then after you try your wines, you rate each one so their recommendations will just keep getting better and better.

What I got

I can't tell y'all how excited I was to get that shipping notification! The day before I'd been grocery shopping and almost threw in a bottle of my go-to wine and then remembered nope I'm expanding my wines from now on so I had been patiently waiting. I did get a text warning me that someone over 21 will have to sign for the package. Normally this wouldn't be a problem because I'm 24, but my apartment accepts my packages for me so I was originally worried that only under-21 people would be working that day and couldn't sign and I'd be at work and obviously couldn't sign. I didn't want my wines to get sent back so I just went onto the FedEx app and re-routed my package to wait at my closest FedEx location so I could just come in and sign it.

It comes in this cute little box with a handle on it so you can easily carry it. I was super excited to open the box and honestly I was pretty tempted to open all four bottles at once and make a little flight. It even came with this cute little book called Winc Journal that showcased all of their wines and gave you some information about each wine. So here's what I got for July!

Winc wine review |

Another great thing that it has is a food pairing for each wine. Winc is actually great about this and about a week before I got my wine, they sent me an email with wine pairings just for my wines. This is one of my favorite parts about Winc because you're not just getting wines, you're getting a full fancy night. Me and Ryan already had a plan to try a new recipe each week and this completely took care of everything. I love, love, love that these are recipes that I've never had before and I feel so adventurous trying new things (this is a BIG deal for a picky eater). Another super great bonus is that all of the food we've made so far is fresh and healthy! Really, it feels like I'm getting a food subscription box for free with Winc.

Winc wine review |

Week one - Pacificana Chardonnay 

Ok so in the food-pairings email that I got, for some reason this wine wasn't on the list. I'm sure it was just a snaffoo, but it didn't bother me at all (I later realized that the recipe was also in the Winc Journal so here's what it was). I got the wines before Ryan moved in and wanted to wait on him to cook the dinners, so I figured this was the perfect one for me to start with. 

Winc wine subscription review. How I get 4 bottles of wine delivered each month. Why Winc wine Wednesdays are the perfect broke date night |

I jumped feet first with this wine going from the super sweet moscato to the drier (adultier) chardonnay. Not going to lie, I felt like an über suburban mom with my chard. I didn't have a coffee table yet when I drank this wine, so I just sat on my floor sipping it while reading a case for my summer class and then afterwards decided to take it in for a bubble bath. Honestly, a bubble bath and wine go so perfectly together that this wine really took me to my happy place.

Week two - Wonderful White Blend

By this week, Ryan had moved in so I let him go through the food pairings for the remaining three wines and he chose this one because it went with pasta and he loves pasta so pasta it was! This was an Asian pasta and growing up in the Texas panhandle, I'm not used to Asian food that goes beyond fried rice. Speaking of which, this recipe took us to 3 different stores to find all of the ingredients, so I definitely recommend that you don't wait until last minute to go grocery shopping for this.

But the recipe was surprisingly easy to make! I thought it was a little spicy (I'm a wimp when it comes to spiciness) so the wine actually really helped cool down my mouth. The recipe made so much that even after we finished our plates, we still had enough leftovers for another full meal. We ended up having it a few nights later and I just heated up some sesame seed oil in a pan and stir-fried it to reheat it and then added a little more soy sauce so it'd taste fresh. And it was just as good the second time! But by this time we didn't have any wine left.

Winc wine review |

We each only had a glass of the wine during supper (the food was that good) and then afterwards enjoyed the rest while relaxing and watching TV. It really was the perfect stay-in date night!

You can get the recipe here. This was Ryan's favorite meal that we've had so far!

Week three - Summer Water Rosé

Since Ryan picked the last meal, I got to pick this one. Honestly he wasn't too thrilled about it and kept complaining about the girly drink and how little the salad looked. Yep I chose the salad because it looked so fresh and I'm trying to eat healthy so this sounded exactly what I wanted. We ended up using lima beans instead of fava beans and some manchego cheese that I already had in my fridge. Another alteration that I made was that I just cut up the asparagus vertically like you do with hotdogs again and again because I didn't have a mandolin, and I thought it worked out just fine.

While we were making this salad, Ryan saw that it was essentially 3 vegetables all sliced up and said, "Yeah I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up making myself some mac and cheese to fill me up." But he didn't! It's soo strange because honestly you make it and you're like lolololol this is not a meal but it was surprisingly filling!

Winc wine review |

And the wine went perfectly with it, too! Honestly the whole meal was so summery and cute that I was really tempted to just pack everything in a picnic basket and speed to the nearest park! But I didn't make Ryan wait any longer because he'd already been super patient about waiting while I had a little photo shoot with our supper (I think this was the moment he regretted moving in with a blogger lol). 

You can get the recipe here. It was my favorite meal this month!

Week four - Brethren of the Road Riesling 

I saved the best for last because I already knew that I would like the riesling (it's what I get when they're out of moscato) and I wanted to make myself try new things before I got to this bottle. The recipe for this one was kinda perfect to be the last one of the month because it was one part Asian, one part salad, so I thought it was like a cute little summary of everything we'd had so far! 

This recipe was pretty easy to make because we actually had almost all of the ingredients already (the ingredients from the Asian pasta helped). This made it one of my favorite meals this month, budget-wise because it was really cheap for such a nice meal. The Asian salad really got me excited because for the first time in my life I tried radishes and learned that I like them! The sauce that goes on this stuff is amazing and this was definitely another win.

Winc wine review |

As for the wine, I knew I'd love it so I was pretty wine happy during supper. It was a beautiful summer evening that night so after I had my mini photo shoot we ate at the little table on my patio. And after we ate it was just perfect to sit out there and relax, chat, and sip. Seriously, if you're in a relationship, Winc nights are the perfect date nights! Also, check out the mint plant that we bought for one of our recipes! It makes the apartment smell so great and is super handy to have for cooking or making mojitos!

You can get the recipe herebut really I think you need the wine to get the full experience! 

Final thoughts

As you can tell, I'm now a Winc addict. It sounded expensive until I realized that I was already spending about that much on wine anyways, but with Winc you don't just get bottles of wine, you get the whole experience! I love that I'm trying foods I've never heard of and learning about all different kinds of wines that I probably wouldn't have ventured out to try if I was at a restaurant. The built-in date nights are also a big plus! They also have the Winc app that's perfect because you can go in there and see what wines you're getting or choose your own, see when the next shipment date is, track your shipment, and review the wines that you've tried. An extra bonus is that for every 10 wines you rate, you get $10 off your next order!

Even if you're not really into making all these meals, Winc is still a great investment. I drink a lot of wine because let's be honest, law school can get stressful at times. So it's nice to get a "you deserve this" box every month! And if you sign up using my link, you can get your first box for $22, which is cheaper than their normal first box special (see box below). If any of y'all out there end up subscribing to Winc, first of all you're welcome, and secondly comment below and let me know what your favorite wines are! This first box I just let them send me 4 recommendations, but I'm not opposed to going in and choosing some reader-recommended wines. Cheers!

August 7, 2017

Get Your Sh*t Together for a New Semester

Well hello, again! In just a few weeks I will be starting my very last first day of school EVER!! (for those of you who don't know, I'll be doing work for school credit my last semester, read about that here). So now would be a very good time for me (and you!) to get our shit together before school starts. A great little helper for this is the Get Your Shit Together Planner

Look over your syllabus

Double check what classes you're in, when they meet, where they meet, and who is your professor and put this all in your planner. My school changed the room for one of my classes over the summer before my 1L year but changed it the last week, which I didn't know because I didn't double check online before the first day. Writing it down will also help you with your first-day-of-law-school nerves when you start to get times and classes mixed up. 

7 ways to get your shit together for a new semester |

Another thing to put in your planner is anything major from your syllabus. Make sure you know the dates for your finals and any due dates for midterms or big papers that are due. I have used these academic stickers for the past two years and love them because I can request that the colors match my planner. While you're being productive, it might not be a bad idea to go ahead and find your book requirements and order those so you're not waiting for books to come in even after class starts.

Related: Law School Books: Buying New v. Buying Old v. Renting

Color coordinate

Now that you actually remember what classes you're going to, pick a color for each class to keep your planner organized. This way when I saw random page numbers written down, I could just remember what class sounded like the color and then know what I was supposed to be reading for each class. This works best if you also make sure that any notebooks or folders match the colors as close as possible. My 1L year I did purple for property, turquoise for torts, khaki (brown) for contracts, pink for civil procedure, crimson (red) for criminal law, cyan (blue) for constitutional law, and light blue for legal research and writing. 

Clean out your inbox

Go through all those junk emails and get rid of what you don't need. I use to unsubscribe from basically all email lists except theSkimm because I still need my little news briefings. You need to get out of the habit of ignoring a full inbox because you're about to be getting lots of emails about reading assignment changes, hopefully some "class is canceled," and eventually emails about OCIs. 

Speaking of OCIs, pay attention to these dates! There are deadlines for mock interviews, deadlines to have your resumé and information uploaded, and deadlines for bidding on an interview. Put these in your planner ASAP so they won't slip your mind. I have these reminder stickers that are great because they're attention-grabbing and you can fill it in with what's due that day so you for sure can't miss it.

Make a schedule

In your planner, block out at least three hours to read. Add another hour to workout. Of course you'll need to block out school time, but then...everything you haven't blocked out is free time 😃 Two reasons for this— one, if you don't block out time to study then you'll procrastinate hard and two, you will thank yourself later for preserving time just to relax. And I know it can be hard to motivate yourself to use some of your precious free time to workout, but keeping that in your schedule will really help you burn off some steam when school starts to feel overwhelming.

Clean and organize your house

I am a firm believer that coming home to a dirty house is just an added stress trigger that you really won't need in law school because the readings themselves will do enough triggering for that. I am also a firm believer that after 3 hours of reading law after law after law, suddenly hand-scrubbing the grout sounds like more fun than reading. Don't stress yourself out more than necessary, don't give yourself an excuse to procrastinate and go ahead and clean while you have the time and energy.

Make a budget

TBH, this was not something that I wasn't very good at my 1L year but I'm getting better. Make a page in your planner to keep up with your expenses and your balance. Yes I know you're probably thinking ew that's what my mom does but honestly it really helps. Having to write down everything you spend your money on will show you all of the pointless crap you're wasting money on. And having to see your account dwindle will help you think twice about whether you actually need something or not. Putting these bills reminder stickers in your planner will also help you avoid wasting money paying late fees just because you forgot that a bill was due. 

Surround yourself with happy thoughts

I'm not going to lie, there will be several times in the first two months of law school where you'll feel like all you do in life is read and outline yet will also feel like you're not doing enough. You'll for sure have one of those find a happy place! find a happy place! moments. The trick to keeping these little speed bumps from turning into full on meltdowns is to be your own little cheerleader. I do this by keeping motivational quotes on the wall above my desk, writing motivational quotes on sticky notes and hiding them in random places in my book, and using these motivational stickers like crazy in my planner.

The GYST Planner

Paige from GYST on Etsy recently sent me this planner and it's been a great help as I wrap up summer classes and get ready for the Fall semester. For those of you who are trying not to spend too much on school supplies, this planner is only $25! Plus with the code GETMOREGYSTON3 you get 15% off any order over $9 and this counts for the planner and stickers so it's a really cheap option. What keeps it so cheap is that the only add ons that you can do are either a planner cover or stickers

The cover that it comes with is a really thick, laminated plastic and is super durable, so you don't have to get an extra cover. Really the point of the extra cover is to just pop over the standard cover to make it personal. Here's the cover that I got and I thought the watercolor feathers was really cool.

GYST planner review + coupon code |

One of the very first pages is a year-at-a-glance page, which is one of my most important pages. Instead of writing down birthdays, I use these pages to keep track of my absences for each class all in one place. This is important for law school because usually your grade will be docked if you miss more than like 5 classes. And since I miss so few classes, this page works out great for this purpose even though there's not a lot of lines.

GYST planner review + coupon code |

Each month starts with a month-at-a-glance page. I left this one blank to take pictures of but to be honest I know that I won't be needing these pages too much. Most of the classes that I take only have one grade the whole semester, which is the final, so I don't really need to write that much here. Mostly all that will get put here are my graduation countdown stickers and later this semester finals stickers.

GYST planner review + coupon code |

The weekly part of the planner is really what I go for. These are set up in a morning-afternoon-evening layout, which is what I've had for the past two years because it essentially breaks up my day into class, studying, and down time. Not only that, but it has a spot for your accomplishments, focus items, daily water intake, daily fruits and veggies intake, daily active minutes, savings (it starts at $1 a week and ends at $52 so that equals $1378 of savings in a year! I think this is such a smart idea), a countdown (lol I'm always counting down for something), three daily to-dos, and a reminder box. It gets a lot in it!

GYST planner review + coupon code |

I'm in summer school right now so this has actually been really handy because I'm crazy busy. I keep track of my work schedule, my work outfits, my workouts, dinner plans, plus all of the million little things that I have to do for my two online classes.

GYST planner review + coupon code |

At the end of every month, it has a page for you to take a little timeout and reflect on the past month. I love that it has a spot for the previous month's highlights, your goals for the next month, and action steps to achieve those goals. It also has a spot for happy thoughts which I think is really important because I swear if you don't take a step back from the wow this is getting kinda hard right now you'll feel overwhelmed, so this can really help you keep some perspective. The last part that's handy is it has a notes section which is really great for taking notes during a meeting that your school has or for that time you forget your notebook in a laptop-banned class.

GYST planner review + coupon code |

Because it doesn't have any added sections, it's a lot thinner than a Plum Paper or Erin Condren planner. Instead of adding a section for working out you can use these weightloss stickers, instead of a bills tracker section you can use these bill tracker stickers, and instead of a to-do section you can use these to-do stickers. Honestly after trying out so many stickers I kind of like this idea better because you're not having to flip back and forth through sections.

Other stickers that I got were these graduation countdown stickers for the light at the end of the tunnel, these vacation planner stickers for weekend getaways, dinner night stickers for meal planning, football game stickers to keep up with gamedays, and this watercolor sticker set which has just about every sticker you could ever need. What I did was get matte finish for the vacation, football, and watercolor stickers since I'll be writing on them and glossy finish for the graduation and dinner night stickers since they won't be written on. I made a little blogger blunder and got too excited to use these stickers that I didn't take a picture of them to show y'all before I added them to my planner, but you can check out what all you get with them in my unboxing video.

August 4, 2017

Law School Books: Buying New v. Buying Old v. Renting

Want to know when you need to buy new law school books, when you should buy used law school books, and when you need to rent law school books? Here's what I suggest |

Guys I say this all the time because it's true... I really do love it when y'all email me! True story I am very invested in y'all's law school success so I take it very seriously trying to help y'all out. I hope you never think twice about emailing me a question because so far I've had an answer to every question (if I don't know I'll find it for ya!) and sometimes even the answer will turn into a blog post. So today I'm offering my thoughts on the low down when it comes to books. 

TL;DR- rent if you think you won't need to write in your book, buy used when you can.

Buying new

The biggest incentive to buy a new book is that no one has ruined it. I don't use "ruined" lightly here. In law school, it's just the thing that you highlight, underline, and write in the margins of your books. If you get a new book, you get a blank canvas. 

If it bothers you to deal with other peoples' writing, then this might be the way to go, but honestly new law books are expensive and you easily will be spending over $1,000 on this. But the good news is that you can always just sell your book on Amazon and it will be worth more than selling a used book because it will probably be in better condition and not marked up too much.

But there are some things that I really suggest you buy new to keep and that's guides. Some guides that I've kept are abridged statute books. You might need the full statute book with commentary for class (more on that later), but if you don't then these are so cheap that you might as well just buy them. For example, this past summer I brought my book from Civ Pro and was looking up FRCPs for a motion for summary judgment that I was having to draft for a class (this is what I'm talking about).You'll use your BlueBook at some point in every year while you're in law school, especially if you're on a journal, so it's worth the buy (here's a great post on how to use a Bluebook). And if you're in Texas, go ahead and get the GreenBook too.

Buying used

If you're on the fence, I would play it safe (and cheap) and get a used book first and if you don't like having a used book, then next semester you can switch to new.  The thing to be careful about is don't go too cheap because generally the cheaper, the worse the writing is. I know this might sound like nbd, but last year I got a book that was really cheap but clearly had multiple owners in the past and the idiots were highlighting on top of each other so literally some parts were highlighted in yellow and purple because they each had their own color system for highlighting.

But if you choose carefully, then you might end up with the just-right amount of highlighting. I got a book last year that someone had put their color system on the inside cover (very handy) and so then I could just read through the case and already know like oh hey there's the rule right there and it made things a lot easier and faster. I always prefer to buy used from Amazon because I get free shipping as a student and I can choose between buying used-like-new or used-acceptable. 


Renting is another great option because it's so cheap! But remember what I said— cheap comes at a cost. While some places will allow you a little writing in the books, a lot of places are picky and if you write/highlight in the books then you'll be forced to buy it back at new price (even if you didn't get it new). The worst part is the amount of writing/highlighting they'll allow is up to the discretion of whoever happens to be in charge of accepting your book that day. I had a friend rent a casebook and then a week into the semester decided she just wanted full rein on marking up her book and just went to town on it and when she tried to buy it back from them, she ended up paying more than what a new book cost because they charged her fees for having to get a new book!

I don't personally recommend renting casebooks, but that doesn't mean I'm anti-renting. What I do suggest you look into renting are statute books. I always just rent mine because these books are updated constantly due to new case laws or legislation being passed so most likely by the time you're practicing, a section or two in your book is outdated. I always just reason with myself that I'll have more money when I'm an actual lawyer to buy this. Plus, it's kinda pointless to have the family law statute book when you want to be a personal injury lawyer. Pro tip: if your professor allows you to bring your statute book in to your final, you can just use removable tabs to mark the big pages and just underline the main parts of the statute in pencil. Buy a jumbo eraser at the end of the semester and then you should be good to go!

Another thing that I always rent is supplements (here's a post explaining what a supplement is). If you get an E&E or Crunch Time to help you study last minute, then just rent it and you can return it after the semester because you'll never need it again. One warning that I learned the hard way is go ahead and rent it now because by time midterms/finals come around, they're going to be scarce and extra-expensive. I always love to rent through Chegg because they send you little freebies with your order and I've never had a problem with them requiring the books be due before finals (law school finals tend to be more spread out and finish later than undergrad finals so this can be a problem when renting from a local bookstore). 



If your school pays for you to use WestLaw (you'll sign up for it at orientation), there's no need to buy or rent Black's Law Dictionary!

  • Go to Westlaw
  • 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 legal dictionary always available to you
And if you need the UCC for Contracts (and later Commercial Law/Secured Transactions), you can get that here for free, too! My Commercial professor would let us use our laptops in class and I would just have this pulled up. Then when it came time for our open-book final, I just went to our law library and checked out the hardcopy to bring in to my final.

Hope this helps! If you're still nervous about getting ready for your first day of law school, then check out my posts 21 must-have supplies for law school and 7 things to do before law school. Oh and obviously email me if you still have any questions!!

Want to know when you need to buy new law school books, when you should buy used law school books, and when you need to rent law school books? Here's what I suggest |