October 8, 2018

How to Ask a Professor for a Law School Application Recommendation Letter

How to ask for law school letters of recommendation. When to ask for law school letters of recommendation. How to ask a professor for a recommendation letter. How to ask for a recommendation letter for law school. Mistakes to avoid when asking for law school recommendaiton letters. When to ask for a law school rec letter as a freshman. When to ask for a law school rec letter as a sophomore. When to ask for a law school rec letter as a junior. When to ask for a law school rec letter as a senior. How to choose a professor to write a rec letter for you. How to ask a professor to write a rec letter for you. What goes in a law school rec letter. Is a recommendation letter required for law school? Do law schools require letters of recommendation? law school advice. law school tips. | brazenandbrunette.com

Hellooooo! To all you 0L's out there, application time is coming up! I have actually had to ask for application rec letters twice since I had to get some for when I originally applied and then again when I transferred and I know they can be a pain, but you have to do them for your application. Today I'm walking you through a step-by-step process of how to get a great rec letter.

Related: Law school admissions timeline


Freshman - Junior year

Ideally you'll start on this sooner rather than later because it just makes it easier on yourself. I wouldn't really worry too much about this your freshman year because you're still adjusting from high school and usually end up taking lots of basics your first year of college, but if the opportunity presents itself definitely take it! If you're like me and like to overthink and have a game plan, here's what I would do. Obviously you want to be aiming for B's and A's in all of your college classes because you're going to want a good GPA when you apply to law school so step one would be the obvious of plan on doing great in all of your classes. 

About once a month, visit your professors office hours so he/she can get to know you. A head's up email to them is always polite but you definitely can just drop by during their office hours. If you have class or our busy during their office hours, you can instead email them and set up a time. This is a great time to make sure you're fully caught up and understanding what's going on in class to help you get those good grades, but it doesn't have to be a full-on study session. A quick 10-minute drop by just to ask a question or get clarification is enough to get a rapport going with your professor. During these office hour times, it is great to casually mention something like how you especially want to do good in their class because you hope to go to law school or somehow find a way to plug in law school.

As the semester progresses, you might notice that some professors are just not a perfect fit for you that probably wouldn't be your best bet to ask for a rec letter, and that's okay. Hopefully you'll find at least one professor who you really click with, are doing great in their class, and you think they would have the time eventually to write you a fabulous rec letter. At the end of the semester you could sign up to take another one of their classes so you can continue on building this relationship (if it works with your schedule) or if you don't think you'll be seeing them in class again then you can go ahead and ask them if in a year or two they'd be willing to write you a letter.

Keep repeating every semester until you graduate! Number 1 this will help you have great grades because you're putting in more-than-average effort into this class. And number 2 it's always great to have a stash of available professors for rec letters! Some may be willing to now but then get busy or move before you need them (or even say no) so it's best to have more than you need. Plus you can always use these recommenders for things like scholarships or program applications too!


Senior year

If you waited until the last minute to ask for rec letters, don't worry you're not totally screwed!  Sit down with a copy of your transcript and look back on what classes you did the best in. Remember that law school is a graduate school so ideally your rec letter will sing your praises as a law student, and someone can't exactly do that if you barely got a C in their class. Then go through this list and think back to your relationship with your professors and pick the top 6 (remember it's always better to have more for backups) that you really got along with and schedule a time to come visit their office hours. Some people to look at our professors from classes where you participated in a lot (for me these tended to be smaller classes) or people who were a faculty advisor for something that you were involved in.

One important thing for finding a recommender no matter what year of college you ask for it— choose the person not the class! I mean obviously if you did well in business law or any college class that was taught by a lawyer then they will really be able to know if you're law school material or not and talk on that. But seriously, if you got along way better with your Anthropology professor than you did with your PoliSci professor, pick the Anthropology one! Law schools won't weight one professor over another just because of what class it was. They're looking for some reassurance that you're a great learner who will be able to survive a studious workload, and they don't really care which professor is saying so. 

Anyways, stop by as soon as possible for a little reunion. Since some professors have literally hundreds of students each semester, you're probably going to have to remind them of who you are. Remind them what class you took with them and in what year, and what grade you got. It would be helpful if you had a graded paper or test by them to bring with you to help jog their memory or at least show how you performed in their class so they don't feel like you want them to make up parts of their letter. Ask them if they'd be okay with writing a letter and then schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss the rec letter if you're running out of time or go in to your request right then and there.

Asking for the rec letter

First off, make an appointment with your professor for when you ask them to write a rec letter for you. I think it's much more polite and professional to ask for a rec in person rather than in email. Do this ideally at least a month before you need the letter because you don't want to be cut-off halfway because they already had plans with another student or professor. Take this time to make sure that they understand 1) that they're writing this rec letter for law school; 2) why you want to go to law school; 3) why you want them in particular to write a letter for you; 4) how they will have to go to LSAC and upload their rec letter; and 5) a due date 2 weeks before you actually want to have the letter in (because they get busy).

On the day you go to ask your professor with a rec letter, make sure you bring a copy of your law school application resumé with you! It'll help your recommender know even more about you and why you would make a great law student so they can mention some of that in their letter. This can be longer than your law school resumé if you have even more involvement, accomplishments, or anything else that you think might be helpful for them to think about as they're writing your rec letter. Oh, and definitely make sure you have your GPA on it because at first I didn't have that but then had a professor ask for it.


If you have good grades and feel comfortable showing these to your professor, it's okay to print off a copy of your transcript. This way you can talk to your professor and point out some of your other strong areas. So if in my example above you're asking your Anthropology professor to write a rec letter but all your work in that class was multiple choice quizzes and tests, you could point out if you've been getting good grades in writing classes so that they know you're also a good writer. They might not end up needing/using this information, but it's nice to have a little packet all ready for them to make it easier on them to write a great and compelling letter for you.

Last tips

One tip I have for all law school applicants is choose quality over status! I know this post has been all about professors, but really you can ask a wider variety of people for rec letters. But I have heard over and over again about how political figures in your community or who you have interned for tend to have a rec letter template that is completely generic and used for you and the 3 people who also asked for a rec letter that same day. And partners at a big law firm that you interned for over the summer are usually just as busy and sometimes have a member of their staff write something about you for them, which again will probably a little generic. If this person did not get to personally know you, don't waste your time. The ideal rec letter would be enough that it could convince the ad com committee that they just have to admit you to their school. Sure, they probably won't based off only this one letter, but it definitely won't help.

Don't procrastinate and stay on top of your due dates! Remember that these people have full-time jobs and most likely a family, too. They're busy and have papers to grade, conferences to attend... you get the point. You want to be able to give them enough time to write the rec letter because it's just really rude to ask them to do you a favor, but then be demanding that they set aside their entire life to do you this favor right now since you waited until the last minute. If you haven't heard back from them for a few weeks after you asked, you might want to send a follow-up email reminding them of your highlight points and due dates. Basically enough information that they could quickly type something out on their phone right then before they go to bed.

Do as much work for them as possible! After you leave their office, go to LSAC and register them as a recommender (here's how to do that). Fill out as much as you can and have it all ready for them just in case they decided to upload your letter that day. You probably still can't navigate around LSAC that easily, so imagine how confusing and frustrating it would be for someone who has maybe never even heard of LSAC. Remember that you're the one asking them for the favor, so try to make to make it as easy as possible for them so they don't end up regretting it. Especially because you never know if you'll need them to write you another rec letter in the future.



let's be friends!

   

October 1, 2018

How Working Out Helped My Law School Anxiety and Depression

7 ways exercise helped with my law school anxiety and my law school depression during my first year of law school. How to handle law school depression and anxiety. How do you cope with law school depression. How exercise helped with my depression. Ways to handle law school depression. What to do if you feel depressed in law school. My struggle with depression in law school. How to deal with law school stress. How to deal with law school anxiety. Exercise for stress and anxiety | brazenandbrunette.com

Well hi there! Okay so... pretty deep post, I know. I always care about how my fellow law students are doing both academically and emotionally, but around October I always become a bleeding heart for y'all, and especially for the 1L's. This is because for me, October was really when I started to feel like I was sinking more than I was swimming, all the stressors of law school finally caught up to me, and TBH it was hard for me. I've heard between 25%-33% of first year law students feel depressed so today I'm sharing what helped me.

Related: Why I almost dropped out of law school and How to get over a mid-semester burnout

Obviously to each their own and what works for one person might not work for another, but maybe after hearing how working out helped me mentally you'll be able to find your own thing that has the same benefits. I should forewarn you though that I don't get a runner's high nor ever claim that a workout flew by because I was having so much fun. The reality is that while I'm working out I truly don't enjoy myself and instead count down until it's over. I actually stressed out over still being stressed while I was working out and kept worrying that if I wasn't able to "clear my held" during a run or while doing yoga, that there was no hope for me. Here's how I found out it helped me anyways.

For another law student's take, check out this post by Caffeine and Case Briefs


It got me in to a routine

When I was feeling depressed my 1L year, I slowly shut out the world and stopped doing anything. Seriously, my life was just school, come home and read for school, and then just nothing. I'd just lay in bed for an entire weekend and not do anything because I had no motivation to participate in life. 

But once I started working out, I had to add this to my daily to-do's and it started to get me back in to a routine. Instead of just school and then nothing, I had school and working out. It doesn't sound like much, but just having something to take away from how much "nothing" time I had really helped. Instead of thinking okay now that class is over I guess I'll go get in bed and stare at the wall I was thinking okay now that class is over I need to go change for my workout. Just this little thing helped me get back in to my pre-law school, normal routine.

It made me sleep

The absolute worst night of my 1L year was when I went to bed at 10pm when my bedtime alarm went off, and I just laid there listening to my sleep noise app for the entire hour and a half and realized that I was still awake at 11:30 even though my body felt tired. So I sat there and just thought because my mind was wide awake and the next time I checked the clock it was 2am. This continued as I tried every suggestion that Google had to help me fall asleep until I finally passed out sometime after 6am. I had a 9am class the next morning and it was literally hell. Those 2 hours of sleep were the worst I ever got, but it was very common for me at that time to just never get a good night's rest because I was just so unhappy and unconnected from the world.

After I started working out, my body became sore and needed sleep to rest and recover my muscles. This made me exhausted in a different way than how feeling depressed made me exhausted and I finally started to actually fall asleep without hours of effort and would sleep soundly the whole night and actually wake up feeling normal. This started to make such a huge difference in me because I no longer felt like a shell of a person just going through the motions but actually felt like a normal person again.


It gave me an appetite

Usually I'm a stress eater so it was totally foreign to me when I suddenly had no appetite at all and was having to force myself to choke down buttered toast just to make the hungry headaches go away. It was actually scary for me because I've never had an eating problem and was afraid that this was going to spiral into something that I couldn't control like the people you see on Dr. Phil. Plus there was the obvious effect of not fueling my body so I just felt drained all the time and was starting to not be able to even focus in class.

But oh boy, I did a good hour-long workout and for the first time in weeks I was starving! Before the loss of appetite I had been falling back on junk food and it felt revitalizing to eat some real, nutritious food for once. By the end of my first week of working out I was starting to eat like a normal human again and it felt like I was getting back to myself.

It corrected my bad habits

You've probably heard plenty of times that lawyers have a high tendency to be alcoholics, and I can totally see why. It's super common to have some drinks after you bomb a cold-call or a test and that's what all 1L's seem to do together, which is fine in moderation. But when it stops being fine is if you start to drink every single day or start to get drunk constantly instead of just having a drink. 

Working out turned out to be a solution to that. One kinda tipsy workout made me learn to never drink the same day I'm working out and one hungover workout made me learn to limit my drinks the night before I workout. Both times were absolutely terrible and nauseating, but they were good tools to help me remember what are and aren't normal (and healthy) drinking patterns. Now I'm still not a person who has a bad day and wants to go straight to the gym to workout my frustrations, but at least now I'm the person who is like okay I'm stopping because I've already had one drink and I don't want to throw up during tomorrow's workout. I realize how ridiculous this sounds but I'm also grateful that I already learned this lesson and found a solution that worked for me before it ended up ruining my career.

It helped with the everyday tasks

One weird thing about feeling depressed is that the repetitive everyday tasks just really upset me. I would either feel so physically and mentally exhausted that I couldn't even entertain the idea of washing the dishes or I would just cry thinking what's the point of washing and putting up dishes if I'm just going to have to get them down and dirty them up again?? And this didn't just apply to dishes— laundry, washing my hair, shaving, picking up around my apartment all just made me feel like what's the point?? 

But a 3-mile run will make your clothes and body sweaty and my new appetite made me dirty up dishes again, so I had to get back to normal cleaning duties. Like I mentioned above, this helped me get back in to my normal pre-law school routines. It also made me self-conscious about how I was presenting myself and it's amazing how shaving and actually doing your hair can make you feel like your old self again. This is also why now I firmly believe in the saying a cluttered house is a cluttered mind.


It gave me confidence

A nice side-effect of working out frequently is that you start to tone up. Class wasn't so bad when my shorts went from being a little too tight and uncomfortable while I was sitting at my desk to being a little looser and more comfortable. I felt better going to events when I wore a dress that I used to look fine in suddenly made me look damn good. 

I wasn't necessarily body-conscious before, but having baby abs show up definitely made me feel good about myself! And then this confidence started spilling over into how I felt about myself at school and it helped break me out of this negative mindset that I had been in for way too long. 

It helped me live out Legally Blonde

Exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins make you happy. Happy people just handle law school stress better than truly unhappy people. All jokes aside, it really did help me get out of all the ruts I found myself in when I was having severe anxiety and feeling depressed from law school. If you're starting to feel like you're in a law school rut, I encourage you to try out exercising for everyday for a few weeks and see if it helps! Even if it just helps you feel like a 4 instead of a 3 on a given day, that's still an improvement. 


And if you're reading how I was feeling and realizing that you've been feeling the same way, please try to talk to someone. Whether it's your pet, your bestie at another school, your classmate, or your school counselor, I promise you it really does help to have someone that you don't have to say "fine" when you're asked about law school. In fact, it feels kinda freeing to be able to message/talk to them and be like this is just a really shitty week and talk to them until you forget what you're upset about. If you don't feel like you have someone like this, you can always just anonymously reach out to me by using the Questions and Suggestions box at the bottom right :) 

For all you on the struggle bus rn, hang in there!

September 24, 2018

What I Wish I Knew Before Taking the LSAT

5 things I wish I knew about the LSAT before I took the LSAT. LSAT advice and tips for law school. What to know about the LSAT before LSAT prep. 5 important things to know before the LSAT. Make sure you know this before taking the LSAT. Don't register for the LSAT until you know this. 5 things to consider before taking the LSAT. What is the LSAT? How do you study for the LSAT. Taking the LSAT to get in to law school. What to know about the LSAT for law school. law school tips. law school advice. law school blog. law student blog | brazenandbrunette.com

Hi friends! Sorry I've been gone for a hot second but that's life. Speaking of which, as a programming note, I've decided that at least for now I'm only going to put up a new post on Mondays instead of M/W/F. Just because I don't want to be posting for the sake of posts and end up making this blog oversaturated with too many posts that a 0L wouldn't have time to read before starting law school. Plus, now that school has started obviously y'all are busy busy so I'm assuming that no one will view this as an absolute tragedy.

Anyways, back to the purpose of today's post. I know a good majority of y'all have recently taken the LSAT and either have your scores back already or are currently waiting on that, and another good chunk of y'all are gearing up for an upcoming LSAT. I always get asked about LSAT advice so let me just forewarn you that while I consider this some of my honest advice about the LSAT, don't get too hyped thinking that I'm going to magically make logic games easy for you in this post. Now that I've actually graduated from law school and taken the Bar, I've had some time to reflect back on the LSAT.  So grab some wine (I'm one step ahead of you), because I have some truths about the LSAT that I think need to be told. 


Don't underestimate the LSAT

I truly love Legally Blonde and will probably never get tired of the movie, but the one thing it get's wrong (besides alcohol being allowed so casually at a sorority house) is the LSAT. Elle studies for a few weeks and brings her grade up to a 179. Let me tell you right now that a 179 is dang near impossible to get. Heck, even the guy who created LawSchooli.com even brags about getting a 172, which is also really hard to get. I mean really even in the 160 range is a struggle for almost everyone. I don't say this to be a Debbie Downer, but to prepare any of you who haven't taken the LSAT yet (if you have, don't stop reading yet because the rest of this post is for you too). I say this because I underestimated the LSAT and got a rude wake up call. It takes more studying than just squeezing in time in the evenings and weekends. 

Oh, and don't fall into the whole "I'm sure I'll do better on the real test than I have been on practice tests because it'll be go-time that day" mentality. Truth is, you've probably put a ton of weight on this test which will add some test anxiety and from literally everyone I've ever talked to about the LSAT has told me that it was harder than their practice tests, even the old official LSATs they've taken. I don't want to stress you out more than you already are, but I do think it's my job to help you go in to this thing with realistic goals in mind.




The LSAT isn't that important

I'll admit that I do agree that the LSAT/GPA combo is what gets you through some major "cuts" with the admissions committees. And it does make sense when people mention how it takes 4 years to earn a GPA but only 4 hours to earn an LSAT score, so it makes sense to push really hard for something there at the end. But that's all it is. 

I see so much emphasis and unnecessary stress put on it. Remember, all the LSAT does is help you get in to law school. That's it. I've never seen so many companies offering services for things like helping you get your GPA up for law school admissions, helping you find and request rec letters, or helping you brainstorm, draft, and edit your personal statement like there are for the LSAT. Sure, having a good score really can help seal the deal on getting you in to your dream score and save you thousands of dollars through a scholarship, but after that it's all you to keep up the good study habits and keep earning great scores for the next 3 years. 

Here is an interesting article on the importance of not overthinking or overstudying the LSAT.

The LSAT doesn't predict law school

Okay, yes, there is a correlation between high LSAT scores and law school graduation rates and Bar passage rates so it does show some insight, but not all. I think of the LSAT as a way to test your dedication to studying something you've never even heard of before and trying to figure it out for yourself, which is a lot like what you have to do when you hear the term res judicata for the first time and can't remember how that's different from collateral estoppel (if you don't know what I'm talking about yet just trust that you will soon). 

But remember, the LSAT is not what you learn in law school. Instead questions like "which of the following is most likely the principal's argument for changing the school's dress code" or "which student received the most books and how many books did he/she receive," you get questions like "explain all relevant legal facts presented in the following story." There are literally no laws to learn for the LSAT and literally all you learn in law school are laws (surprise!), so it's just not a fair prediction. 

Look I'll just say this, I personally know people who scored really well on the LSAT and did average in law school, people who scored average on the LSAT and did really well in law school, and obviously the people who did great in both because they're just really, really, really good looking smart. Why all the different outcomes? Because LSAT ≠ law school.

No one cares what you scored*

*Obviously the Dean of Admissions is interested in this and yes, during orientation and the first few weeks of law school it's common for 1L's to brag about their score or use it as a measuring stick ("the girl next to me got a 165 so I bet she'll get the A in our class"). 

But by the second semester of 1L and for the rest of law school, you'll have a much more accurate measuring stick, grades and rank. I mean, getting a 172 means nothing if you never learned the difference between intentional and negligent torts, got half the questions wrong on your final, and are sitting at a C- in torts.

Literally I have never heard of 2Ls or 3Ls talking about their own or classmate's scores because that's just not important anymore. Oh, and your professors won't know nor care what you scored and no hiring lawyer really gives a damn either. So if you got an amazing score, don't waste too much time bragging and if you got a terrible score, don't waste too much time being embarrassed. All that score does is help you get in to law school. And like I just mentioned above, by week 3 of law school it won't matter what you scored at all.

You can still be a great lawyer with a low LSAT

First off, I'd like to use my personal story as an option for those of you who just can't seem to get your score up. LSAT companies will tell you that you have to get a great LSAT or your dream school is out of the question. Not necessarily true. Sure maybe you won't get to go there your first year but a do-able workaround is to work hard your first year and then transfer and graduate from your dream school. I understand this isn't necessarily feasible for absolutely everyone, but it definitely is a legitimate option.
Second, LSAT companies will tell your only two options are get a great LSAT score and go to a high ranked school with a scholarship so you can graduate debt-free with a $100k/year starting offer, or just not go to law school at all. Yes, you probably will have to take on debt if you don't get a 180, and yeah you might not get accepted into a school that is known for it's grads getting high-paying jobs right off the bat, but that's okay! Everyone (even the LSAT companies) will tell you not to go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer and don't go to law school just to be rich, but then the LSAT companies tell you that if you can't be rich by 30 don't even bother going to law school/it'd be a waste of time and money.

My favorite rebuttal to this is a story I heard my 2L year at Tech about a lawyer who graduated from my 1L school St. Mary's (here's a story on him). He barely got in to a lower-ranked law school, graduated at the bottom of his class, took several attempts to even pass the Bar and even then it was only by 1 point, but guess what. Now he's a successful prosecutor doing what he loves! Isn't that the end goal?? You don't have to end up with the big fancy office and money like Harvey Spectre in Suits to be "successful." 

It's all about perspective

Okay I'm going to get off my soap box now, but I really do wish I would've known and thought about these things before I took the LSAT. If anything, I just wish I would've put it in to perspective and acknowledged how hard it is but also how it shouldn't be put on this pedestal. If you're studying for the LSAT, my biggest advice is pay attention to what does and doesn't work for you. Figuring this out won't only help you get a great LSAT score, but it will lead to you getting a better law school GPA and eventually when you have to take the BAR.



let's be friends!



September 12, 2018

Why You Should Make Friends in Law School

Why you should make friends in law school. The benefits of friends in law school. How to make friends in law school. Why it's important to make friends in law school. Making friends your 1L year. Socializing in law school. How to make law school fun. Should you be friends with your law school classmates? law school tips. law school advice. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

Happy humpday everyone! Today I wanted to talk about a message for all the baby 1L's out there: don't try to go at law school alone. 

When I first started law school I didn't put too much emphasis on finding friends. I mean, I already had my high school friends plus my college friends so really how many more people did I need in my life? But the reality is that law school friends are totally different than non-law friends. The truth is, your non-law friends just won't get it. Even the pre-law friends can only empathize so much because they haven't actually gone through the rigors that is law school. Your law school friends will totally understand what you're complaining about, can help explain a concept that you're not understanding, and can give you peace of mind when they tell you that they also haven't got a call back about that journal/team/job yet so you're not alone. 

A big misconception about law school is that it's every man for himself. People will wrongly think, oh if I give my neighbor my notes from yesterday, then I'm helping her get ahead of me and am screwing myself over. This can't be more wrong! Look, the girl next to you is either going to get a better grade than you or not all on her own. You helping her out one day isn't going to make or break you. 

Remember, basically your entire grade comes down to the final. Do you really think helping out a classmate here and there is somehow going to make their answers on their final that much better than yours? If y'all really were that close on the curve, then there's a very big chance that because of the curve you're going to both end up with the exact same grade. So why bother wasting your time being rude? 

Related: Putting the law school curve into perspective

Storytime from my 1L year... we had a research assignment for my writing class so my entire small writing section were all in the library at once, doing the same assignment at once. Since everyone was waiting to use the same books I decided to just work from the last question up so I wouldn't be there all night. About halfway through I was again working on the same questions as the rest of my classmates. So when one of my classmates asked me where to find an answer, I gave them the book I had just used. A few minutes later I asked the same person if they knew what one of the questions was asking about, and they told me that I should just work on the assignment myself! Guess what happened? I had some strong feelings about that person and one day when I happened to be sitting beside them and they were having trouble with a case, I opted not to help even though I could.

The moral of all this? You're not invincible and you'll learn that you're going to need help in law school at some point. Don't think of it as you against everyone, think of it as y'all against law school. These people are your teammates and can help you in countless ways throughout law school. And beyond! You'll hear so many lawyers talking about how they've gone out of their way to help an old law school friend get a job, but also some people are in the position I was in during class and can help you but choose not to because you've burned them before. 

I'm not saying you have to go and befriend the whole school, but do make an effort to be nice. And constantly seek out people to add to your little study group. These are the times where truly, the more the merrier! This isn't like Survivor or The Bachelor where there can only be one person at the end. Sure, there's only one valedictorian, but there's plenty of people in the top 10, 20, 50%. If you try to cut everyone down you're going to be extremely lonely and I promise you're just making law school harder than it has to be. 

Related: How to find a law school study group

As far as cliques go, try to rise above them. One of the things that shocks 1Ls the most is how law school feels like high school all over again. I've seen several cliques who basically have Mean Girls-level rules in law school and it's ridiculous! Don't get too tied down and insist on it being you few til death do you part. These kinds of cliques can be just as isolating and therefore counterproductive as if you cut out everyone else from your life yourself. Try to keep some fluidity in your friend group and it'll help y'all survive all 3 years. 

I know I sound just like my mom right now, but go in with an open mind! A lot of people have totally different in-class and out-of-class personas so just because you wouldn't exactly want to sit by them every day right in the middle of the front row doesn't mean that y'all couldn't get along during breaks when you're venting about your days. 

September 10, 2018

Finding Meetups & Study Groups in Your 1L Year of Law School

Hi friends! I'm super excited today because I'm back with another guest post!! I was so excited to find out that TestMax wanted to collaborate on today's post because I've been following their Twitter all of law school and think they're such a cool company! In case you're not super familiar with them, TestMax provides comprehensive test prep courses (mobile and web) for LSAT, Bar Exam, and most recently, a product called the 1L to help students get through their first year of law school. As you'll see below, TestMax really knows law school and have great resources for 0Ls and 1Ls. Today, they're helping you get your study group up and running!

How to start a law school study group. Should you join a law school study group? The benefits of a study group in law school. How to find a law school meetup group. Why you should go to a law school meetup. What is a law school meetup. law school advice. law school tips. 1L tips. 1L study tips. | brazenandbrunette.com

Getting through your 1L year can seem incredibly daunting. You're adjusting to a new, rigorous program and are probably working harder and longer than you ever have before.

To balance this out, it can help to find study partners or groups to break up the work, help each other out, and make your law school experience more manageable. Another benefit to these groups is the networking factor. The law school students of today are the associates, partners, and network of the future in the field of law.

Here is a look at different online and tradition methods to make your 1L year a little less of a solo journey:

Student Organizations and Clubs

Possibly the most obvious place to being searching for a group setting of fellow law students is a list of your law school organizations. The positives here are that many clubs may not expect 1L students to take on too much responsibly. So, this could be a way to meet others, learn from them, and set yourself up for a leadership position as your progress through law school without over-committing yourself in your first year.

Organizations exist for eeeeeverything imaginable. There are clubs for different ethnic backgrounds, spiritual backgrounds, social justice interests, etc. At the University of Virginia, there's even a student organization called Mindfulness in Law which aims to use a mindful approach to improving legal work and relationships.

Check with your school and do some digging to see what's available. You may find some really interesting clubs to partake in!

Online Law School Forums

Online forums provide a great opportunity to start or join a conversation with other 1L students (or students of any year) when you want to discuss experiences with others in the same boat. These can be questions you want answers to, advise you seek, opinions you're collecting, dealing with stress, etc. Even though this is a little bit more old school, online forums, such as Top Law School's TLS Forums, let you reach out to and connect with other law students you may otherwise never come across or have contact with. This can give you greater reach and accessibility to different resources and ideas. These kinds of forums have made the world a VERY small place, in many ways.

The downside to these forums is that, as anyone can join most of them, you may not have ways to truly vet all the contributors. It's always important to use your best judgment and to not accept things on blind faith.

Meetup Websites

Technology to the rescue once again! These days, there are so many websites dedicated to organizing group meet ups. You can start the listing yourself (just remember the extra responsibilities that come with this!) or find one and join in.

Some are done virtually, giving you the flexibility to not worry about it being local, while others let you list by physical location, allowing you to find others in the area. One of the most popular of these sites is Meetup.com, which boasts hundreds of meet ups each minute in locations across the globe. Here, you can find or create opportunities to build study groups, meet with people to discuss specific interests or topics, etc. In our most recent search, there was a current lack of 1L-specific study groups already listed, but consider that the opportunity to create a dream group exactly as you'd like. For quick reference, take a look at the Law School groups here: Law School Groups.

Other options are seeking out meet ups through event websites, like Eventbrite, where you can not only get your knowledge on, but also find other students to connect with. There's also sites geared more towards casual local hangouts, like CitySocializer, in case you want a hang out that's not law school centric.

Online Study Groups

Along with the above options, you can find different sites that encourage and facilitate online study groups. These are a bit few and far between, but you can consider something like GoConqr and see if it works for you! Again, remember that you need to use your best judgment when working with strangers (and soon to be study buddies) online, to make sure you're working with motivated, focus students.

The journey through law school is challenging, and adapting during your 1L year is crucial to your overall success. Don't allow yourself to become over-committed or feel isolated in your experience. There are tons of people just like you looking for meet ups, study groups, and forums on a local, notional, and even global level. With so much connective capability, you can certainly find the right fit for you. The benefits are emotional, educational, and network-enhancing!

September 7, 2018

How to Choose a Pre-Law Major

Dreaming of going to law school? Here's how to pick a major for law school. The best pre-law majors. What major is required for law school. What major helps you get in to law school. Degree requirements for law school. Choosing a major for law school. Best college major for pre-law. Which major to choose for law school. Popular pre law majors. law school advice. law school tips. law school blog. law student blogger. | brazenandbrunette.com

Hello, hello everyone! Today's post is for those of y'all who are still in college and are starting to think about going to law school. A lot of future law students aren't quite sure what to major in, so I thought now would be a great time for this post since the school year has just started as it's not to late to change your major. 

Related: Should you go to law school?

The good news for you is that unlike most other post-grad paths, there's no official major required to get in to law school! I remember way back when I was pre-med when my guidance counselor handed me a list of requirements to get in to med school and there were so many biology classes, chem classes, and other science-heavy classes that I had to take to apply to med school. But with law school, not only is any particular major required, there's no one class that is required! 

The bad news is that this leaves you with limitless opportunities to choose a "pre law" major, and sometimes that can be overwhelming. Here's just a few things you can consider when choosing the right major for you.

Choose a relatively easy major

While engineering students are statistically the top-scorerers on the LSAT, don't just choose the hardest major out there. First off, it's hard for an ad comm committee to weight all the different majors so don't just pick a major to sound impressive or smart. Ad comms pay way more attention to your GPA and a solid GPA can be the difference between being waitlisted or accepted in the first round, and for sure comes in to play when scholarships are being awarded. 


You'll also want a major that's light enough to give you time to be involved on campus so you can build up your resume and will later allow you the flexibility to study for the LSAT. Most importantly, don't kill yourself for 4 years if you don't have to. Choose a major that you are actually interested in and it will be so much easier for you than trying to stick it out in a major that you think you should have. However, don't just choose the absolute easiest major you can find because remember, if you end up not liking law school then this will be your fallback plan.


Choose a major that can challenge you 

Okay this is the exact opposite of what I just said, but hear me out. A too-easy major will set you up for failure. Not only are the "easy" majors known for getting low LSAT scores, they also don't prepare you for how to research for and write a 25-page paper and sound intelligent or how to read 150 pages in one night. So while you don't want to pick the hardest major, also don't pick the easiest option either or else you probably won't be as prepared for law school as you should be.

Like I mentioned, ideally you're going to want to improve on your reading, writing, and researching skills. You'll also want something that will help you improve your analytical skills, because that's the main part of being a lawyer. But just overall, look for a major that will better you. If you go to college for 4 years and you haven't improved much from when you graduated law school, you're going to start off behind your classmates who have been learning how to face challenging classes.


Choose a major that interests you

This is my most important piece of advice when choosing a pre-law major! Don't just pick a major because you think you should pick it because I'm betting you'll regret it. Remember what I've already mentioned how you'll do better in a major that you like because you'll want to put more effort in. Also, don't forget that almost every interview you go to for the first few years of your legal journey will ask you why you picked your major. "I'm passionate about X" is a much better answer than "I heard X would get me in to law school." 

It also wouldn't be a terrible idea to use your major as a preview of what kind of lawyer you want to be. If you're dead set in being a lawyer like Law & Order SVU, maybe taking a criminal justice class or two will help you decide if this is what you expected it to be. A business class could help you determine whether being an in-house counselor is for you or not. Remember there's no ideal pre-law major, so have fun deciding what to do for 4 years.


Stereotypical pre-law majors

First off, just know that a great majority of schools don't even have a "pre law" major, so don't automatically have that as your plan since it's likely not even offered at your school. Even if it is offered, don't just assume that you have to pick that major. What if your senior year you tour law schools and realize that law school is definitely not for you? What are you going to do after graduation if you're a pre-law major who isn't going to law school?? 

Another cliché of a pre-law major is political science. Trust me, polisci was one of my minors because I wanted to go to law school and for the most part it was more of a waste than a help. See polisci classes tend to lean pretty heavily on the legislative side or (shocker!) politics; yet law school classes tend to lean pretty heavily on the judicial side. So there's actually not as much overlap as you'd anticipate. Unless you would like a future in political campaigns or being on the legislature, it's probably not the best use of your time.

Philosophy actually isn't a terrible pre-law major. I also minored in pre-law which required me to take several philosophy classes, and I think they helped. Philosophy gets you to think big picture and be okay with gray spaces and no right answers, which is what a lot of law school is. And logic, a philosophy/math class, actually helps you with what's on the LSAT. But if you pick this major, just don't be that one annoying kid in class who tries to get too philosophical with your law school professor and be a total douche.

English/Foreign languages isn't too bad, in my opinion either. Getting used to doing a lot of reading and properly putting a sentence together is basically what your 1L year is all about, so this actually does set you up for success. I was a Spanish major and I felt it helped me because sometimes your casebook might as well be in a foreign language because you have no clue what half the words mean and have to spend so much time reading slowly and looking up words. 

History is another pretty decent major because again you are doing a lot of reading and writing and, just like law school, there's a lot of little details like dates and places to remember. And while most of history is pretty exciting, it can get a little boring sometimes. Law school cases are usually exciting but sometimes you have to bribe yourself to get through the readings.

STEM majors are becoming super popular pre-law majors because they help you stand out from the English/philosophy and polisci majors, they almost always score really high on the LSAT, and a STEM background opens up some money-making doors in specialized, technical legal fields. Just make sure you're up for this because STEM majors are notoriously hard and you don't want to pick this for the wrong reasons and end up struggling for 4 years just to end up with a meh GPA.

Criminal justice is one major that I've seen warnings over and over again to not major in. This major tends to score the lowest on the LSAT, on average, and tend to have lower acceptance rates. I think it's because it's preparing you for a different area of the law so you're not getting prepared how you need to be. Don't think you have to be in criminal justice if you want to be a prosecutor or public defender. You're better off choosing a different major and then getting first-hand experience by volunteering or interning with a judge.

Personally if I could do it all over again, I wish I would've been a business or HR major because a lot of it applies to being a lawyer! Most people have a goal of being a partner in a law firm, which means you'll be involved in running a business. Some people have a goal of opening their own firm, which means you'll have to start your own business. And a lot of people have a goal of working for a company, which means your job is to keep the business going. There's just been some instances where I wish I would've known a little more about business/HR matters and I think it's a good fallback major.

If you have an idea of what kind of law you're interested in practicing in, my school has an interactive page where you choose that area of law and it suggests relevant majors. It also has a list of what schools have programs for that kind of law with links to them so you can do some more research on choosing a law school. Here's the link for that.

Related: How to choose a law school

Remember that you can also minor in something that will help you on your path to law school! You know how there's contrasting colors? Try to choose contrasting majors and minors so you're a well-rounded applicant. If you want to be an English major improving on your reading/writing skills, try minoring in something like STEM  hat will have you improving on your analytical skills; if you're a economics major, try to take an communications class. Feel free to mix and match to get the right combo for you of good grades yet preparing you for your future.

Lastly, try to take some business writing classes! I took 2 in undergrad so I already knew how to write a professional memo. Sure it wasn't exactly a legal memo and I did have to learn a few things, but starting off my 1L year in my legal writing class I was already ahead of most of my classmates because I already knew the fundamentals. This meant that I wasn't stressing out trying to re-learn how to write a fake email and instead could focus on other classes. And in my opinion, legal writing is one of the easiest classes to prepare for before law school.

I'd love to know what y'all majored/minored in and whether you think that helped you get in or do well in law school! Let me know in the comments below :) 


let's be friends!

  

September 5, 2018

Should You Have a Job While in Law School?

Should you have a job while in law school? Deciding whether to work part time in law school. How to decide if you can work during law school. Should you work during law school? Working part time in law school. How to balance work and law school. How to make time for a job in law school. Can you work while going to law school? Can you have a job while going to law school. How to decide if you should work during law school. How to have a job as a law student. Work-life balance in law school. Working part time while you study law. Part time job, full time law student. Pros and cons of working during law school. | brazenandbrunette.com

There are only 2 types of law students -- those who take out student loans to pay for law school and those who don't. Sadly I had to be in the former group. So, the goal with taking out student loans for law school is to take out as little as possible so that you have a smaller principal earning less interest and therefore overall will have to pay back less. To put it in to perspective how much you'll actually have to take out, let me explain that I went to the same school for undergrad and (most of) law school and that my law school tuition was just about double that of undergrad! 

There's lots of ways of taking out as little as possible ways to cut down on how much you have to rely on borrowing to survive, and one way is through working while you're a law student. Today I'm breaking down why you should and shouldn't have a job while in law school.

Related: How to make side money in law school


Working as a 1L

If you're a 1L, I highly recommend you don't try to work during the semester! You're already going to have plenty to keep you busy when you're not in class. This means that in the evenings and weekends, you're going to be either reading or taking a break from reading. The obvious worries are that if you work during your 1L year, you're going to end up neglecting your readings or neglecting yourself, and both could be disastrous. 

If you neglect your reading/studying, then there's a good chance you're not going to do so hot on your finals. This could mean long term not being able to get a good job because your GPA is so low or even short term failing out of law school altogether, in which case now you still have those loans to pay off but now no law degree to help pay for them. 

If you neglect yourself, you're making it highly likely that you're going to burn out. I've experienced and seen lots of burnouts during my 3 years of law school and the consequences range from getting bad grades to fully dropping out because you just can't handle it anymore. Plus, remember that most of your classmates are not going to be working and will have more time to study than you, which could really affect your grade and rank because of the curve.

Related: A typical law student daily schedule

If you're a 1L who still financially needs to work, I have some suggestions. Instead of trying to work a part-time job on the side and do law school, try to do either or. This means that if you're on Christmas or summer break, you can take up some seasonal work (preferably legal related) to help get you some cash. 

Alternatively, if you need more income than just this coming in, maybe consider doing law school part time instead. A lot of schools are offering law school classes that are part time and in the evenings only. This way you're not over committing yourself to too many things and aren't also overworking yourself. 

If night classes/part-time law student isn't for you but you absolutely need a job during the semester, it can be done. Even though it's not ideal, I actually did know a few people in my section who had side jobs and were still full-time students. 

First off, you absolutely need a flexible job with a good boss. There will be days when your legal writing brief or outlines have to get done and you'll need a job that will accommodate your schedule. Ideally, you can find a legal job so not only are you getting relevant experience, but your boss will be very understanding of your school commitments. Another option is to do a side hustle like drive for Uber/Lyft or make deliveries for Amazon/Postmates. Secondly, you're going to get organized like hell. Take your week and schedule out when you'll be in class, when you're committed to working, and when you will study.

Related: How to time balance in law school


Working as a 2L/3L

If you're a 2L or a 3L with a busy schedule balancing a full class schedule plus some extracurriculars, you're just not going to have the time or energy to do law school plus a job. If you don't have 10-20 free hours in your week (the most common part time job work load), then you probably don't have the free time to hold down a job and meet your law school commitments. Also, if you've never worked while going to school, then maybe law school isn't the place to try this out.

As a 2L/3L, you'll have a lot more control over your class schedule. This means that you can take less hours so that you have the time to work a part time job. I scheduled all my classes for in the mornings and working in the afternoons, but you just as easily could load up classes on Tuesday/Thursday and work all day Friday-Monday and use Wednesdays to get ahead on readings. 

Talk with your friends and your career office to see if there's any openings available. You can work at a firm, for a judge, for a professor, for your school's library/admissions office/etc., LSAT tutoring, or anywhere that will be flexible with your schedule but still help you get your next job. Just remember that taking on a job is also taking on added stress, so be prepared and watch how your semester plays out so you don't over-commit and over-work yourself. 

Deciding to work in law school can put more on your already full plate, but it has a lot of advantages. You get to earn income (and therefore require less loans) and hopefully can build up your resume. Even if you end up not scoring a legal job, you can use this to show potential employers your work ethic and time management skills. Personally for me, I'm glad I worked during my 3L year and for financial reasons wish I would've started earlier.


If you've worked in law school, I'd love to see a comment with how you did it and if you thought it was worth it or not. Also, feel free to drop any tips you think my help a fellow law student with deciding on working while in law school or just tips in general on how to make it work!


let's be friends!