November 26, 2018

How to Make a Resumé That Will Land a Law Job

Tips for your legal resumé. What to put on a resumé for a summer associate, law clerk, or first-year associate position. Law clerk resumé tips. Summer associate resumé example. First year associate resumé sample. Working for law resumé. Skills and verbs for legal resumé. Law school resume advice and samples. 1L resume. 2L resume. 3L resume. Law grad resume. law school advice. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

This is the story of a girl, who had finals coming up but also was stressing about her summer clerking applications. Haha sorry I had to, but really I fell y'all that this time of the year is stressful AF. But that's why I'm here :) So before my externship my 3L year ended, I met with our company's corporate recruiter and learned a lot, which I'm here to share with you! Today I'm passing on what I learned about resumé tips that you can use whether you're applying for a pre-law legal job, a 1L/2L summer clerking position, or a post-grad real-girl job. So let's talk about resumés!

Related: Law school application/transfer resumé advice 

On the left is my resumé before I worked with our recruiter. It's not bad because I'd worked with career services to get it to this point, but if you look at the one of the right which the recruiter helped me do, you'll notice it's a lot better. (side note, if you're wondering why my ODR job isn't on my old resumé, it accidentally got deleted a long time ago and this is an old resumé so I didn't bother to fix it lol)
How to Make a Resumé That Will Land a Law Job. Tips for your legal resumé. What to put on a resumé for a summer associate, law clerk, or first-year associate position. Law clerk resumé tips. Summer associate resumé example. First year associate resumé sample. Working for law resumé. Skills and verbs for legal resumé. Law school resume advice and samples. 1L resume. 2L resume. 3L resume. Law grad resume. law school advice. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.comHow to Make a Resumé That Will Land a Law Job. Tips for your legal resumé. What to put on a resumé for a summer associate, law clerk, or first-year associate position. Law clerk resumé tips. Summer associate resumé example. First year associate resumé sample. Working for law resumé. Skills and verbs for legal resumé. Law school resume advice and samples. 1L resume. 2L resume. 3L resume. Law grad resume. law school advice. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com


Bullet points

Both resumés have bullet points, but my "after" resumé utilizes them much more! The first bullet point describes the area in which I have experience, and the lower bullet point describes more in detail what experience I have in that area. This helps whoever is reviewing your resumé because they get a lot of relevant information quickly. The recruiter was very honest with me and explained that he does not read every detail in a resumé. In fact, he doesn't even finish the bullet points often. So a practically full sentence won't give them as much info as a quick take-away. For example, if you had 30 seconds to look over my resumé, you'd know I have experience in contract, real estate, employment, insurance, litigation, research, and drafting. Whereas before, in 30 seconds all you'd know is that I have experience in the verbs I used. 

Verbs are still good so your career services isn't wrong! It's just that everyone has similar experience so that shouldn't be what you lead with. Save the verbs for the second half of the bullet point and use the first to grab their attention and show them how you are a perfect fit for the job because your first set of bullet points describe exactly the type of law they want to hire you for. 

As personal proof, I am now a workers' comp lawyer. It's easy to see that my boss scanned over the contract/real estate/employment bullets and that the insurance bullet caught his eye and made him pause because workers' comp is a niche of insurance. And boom what do you know just so happened to be listed under that bullet. I realize most of y'all won't have such a variety of experience because in-house really is unique, but you can see in my previous jobs I was still able to break down the type of work I did. 

Experience

Wording can be a hardest thing to come up with because you can remember that you had a job, but can't remember what all you did for that job. Here's a pro tip: steal working for job postings that you're applying (or applied) for! That's literally where I got all of the wording for my Interstate internship is that I just stole what they had listed as the duties of the job in the posting for their summer internship position. Just get on LinkedIn or LawCrossing and search for [X law] associate position and steal their wording. This is extra helpful for you because again, you want your resumé to mirror their job posting so that you look like their ideal candidate. 

In the future, it helps to keep a running list of the work you're doing. I did this for my last two jobs in two ways— 1) about every week or so I would just add a bullet point to my resumé, and 2) I kept a conflicts log. For the bullet points, I would just write down stuff like worked on X project, did Y to help Z and eventually had like 50 bullet points for my job that I could group together and condense. If want to keep your resumé pretty, you can either do this in a separate word document or even do it on your LinkedIn section and just not include names. As for a conflicts log, you really should have one. Here is the template that I use, and I keep mine on Google Drive so that I can update it on my work computer but still access it from my personal computer after I leave my job or just if I'm working on my resumé on a weekend. After my internship, I was able to go back and be like oh yeah I forgot I worked on X project involving Y person/company. Just trust me, you will forget most of what you do right after you do it since you're doing so much, so just keep track of it, k?

Education

You'll notice that my education section went from top of the page to almost last of the page. Why? Because if you're applying to a summer internship position, people are going to assume you're in school and if you're applying to a post-Bar job, they'll assume you've graduated. So in the balancing test between experience and education, your job is going to prefer experience first (because remember they don't read the whole thing on the first take). I also didn't list the years I graduated because I found out that most people who have been out of law school for a while drop the year and I didn't want this to age me and scream that I just graduated and am totally inexperienced in life.

If this is your first legal job and you don't have any relevant experience, then yeah definitely put your education first. How you can fill this up is by putting your GPA, rank (only if it's top 50% or better), scholarships you've earned, relevant classes you've taken, your involvement, etc. I'd go to career services to help you fill this up the best way possible. But really you do a lot in law school so it's easy to find things to add to this. For example, at my school all 1L's had to participate in a moot court. It was mandatory and I didn't make it past the first round but you bet I threw it in there when I was looking for jobs because at least it's something relevant. 


Achievements

For this section, I combined my "activities and interests" section with my "involvement" section because I was running out of room. If you don't have a ton of experience or education bragging points to talk about, this is a trick to take up more space so you don't have a half-empty page (although 3/4 full is still okay so don't feel like you need to add too much fluff). Here's the trick here— put something relatable and interesting! 

At first I was nervous to sound like a millennial by saying that I have a blog, but at each interview I've had since putting it there it has been brought up! It's great because they just ask in general what I blog about and I get to talk about how I started the blog (shows personal growth), how I help y'all (shows I'm caring), and how I managed it while in law school (shows time-management skills). But the best part is that it breaks up the interview from the standard what law school did you go to and what did you do and makes you stick out in your mind so that later they can be like yeah I liked that girl who had the blog thing. Remember that you're going up against a group of people whose resumés look identical to yours, so you have to find a way for them to remember you. 

Here's the thing... if you say you love to cook but actually don't and they ask you about it, you'll won't have that much to say. If you don't currently have any hobbies, it's fine to say "teaching myself to cook" and then make a commitment to try out a new recipe each week or say "training for a 5K" and then sign up for a 5K and start running. If you don't have a hobby by now, I really can't encourage you enough to try to find one because it is so helpful to have a distraction from law school sometimes. But a word of caution: don't lie here! I put watching football not because I thought oh a guy will probably be interviewing me and guys like football so I'll throw this in here. I actually do love watching my college play football and when one of my interviewers told me she went to OU (which is in the Big 12), we were able to talk about times when our schools have played each other. If I had lied, that would've been super obvious when she brought it up!

Lastly, this is a selfish reason of why you should be doing pro bono! I actually got my job at the ODR office because the work I had been doing for my pro bono was exactly in line with the work I ended up doing! During the interview, I was able to chat with my boss about stories of things I've done and then he started to be like oh well I've actually been thinking about doing X project for a few years now and since you've done this before maybe now is the perfect time to start on it. That is the exactly what you want in an interview— for the employer to be thinking of how they can use you and how you already fit the position they're looking to fill!


Last tips

Use tables to make everything even and symmetrical on your resumé. Just remove the gridlines when you're done and everything is all nice and neat. This is actually a lot easier than trying to always tab something out when instead you can just put it in a little table box and adjust it to be either left-aligned or right-aligned.

Long lines break up information better. You'll notice that my after resumé looks a lot easier on the eyes because the lines under each of my headings goes all the way across. Remember, you want to make it ridiculously easy for your employer to find information. So if they're just concerned about my grades, they can quickly find it because I've made the headings pop out even more for their convenience. Again, you can easily do this by using the tables to your advantage and leaving a gridline on top of your next section. 

If you're running out of room, try to make your contact information all fit on one line; if you need to fill up space, break up contact information. And again, remember you can add your involvement in a separate section to add information. Oh and after you graduate, change your email to your personal email because you never know how long you'll have access to your school email after graduation and also a school email address screams that you just graduated.

Save your resumé as a PDF. This helps you so that when your interviewer opens up your resumé they don't see the little boxes denoting the edge of your resumé. In my case it helped because my information just kept always being two lines over a page-long, I didn't want a 2-page resumé with just two lines on the second page, I didn't have two lines that I was willing to cut, and I couldn't make the font size smaller while keeping it readable. So I had to use the narrow margins setting. In a PDF, the margins were saved so whoever opened it always saw it how I wanted it to, but in a word document, my resumé would open to their last-used margins which would be normal and make the spacing totally off. Plus, it just looks more professional as a PDF. I always have two copies saved, a word document that I can keep editing as I go and a PDF that is the actual resumé I send off.

Okay that's about all the typing my fingers can handle, and probably all the reading that your eyes can handle! So the end :) If you've received a helpful resumé tip from career services, a co-worker, mentor, or anyone else, I'd love to hear about it! 


let's be friends!



November 19, 2018

My First Week as a Lawyer

What to expect your first week as a practicing lawyer and what to expect when starting a new job at a law firm. Advice for first year associates. First day at law firm. What does a first year associate do. First law job. First year as a lawyer. What my first week as a baby lawyer was like and what it's like to work as a lawyer. How many hours a week does a lawyer work? Is being a lawyer like being in law school? Is being a lawyer harder than law school? What it's like to be a practicing attorney. How to prepare for your first day at a law firm. What to do with your first legal client. lawyer blog. first year associate blog | brazenandbrunette.com

Hello everyone! In case you missed it, I am now a licensed, practicing attorney!! Honestly it is such a sigh of relief to be able to say that. Law school graduation was great (post about that coming soon!), but I wouldn't allow myself to celebrate just yet. Even after I took the Bar, we all went out that night but that was all the celebration I allowed myself. Because all this summer, I knew that I truly hadn't accomplished my goals. I didn't let myself exhale that sigh of relief until everything was signed, sealed, and delivered. So now after literal months of holding it all in, I can finally say I'm an attorney!! It's just a good feeling to be filling out some mundane forms and get to put "lawyer" as my occupation instead of "student."

Okay enough rambling about that haha. I just haven't done a "diary" blog post in a while and life lately feels like a big enough event for me to live-blog about it. It figure it'll be fun for me to have in a decade to look back on, and nice for y'all to have to look forward to. Maybe this is a good time for y'all to be reading this post because I know finals are looming around, so take this as a reminder of the light at the end of the tunnel. It's a very long tunnel, but I promise it's worth it.

Related: How to establish your personal brand at your firm

My first impressions of being a lawyer

So my first day at the firm wasn't too off from what you'd expect. If you've seen Suits, a lot of my first day was like Mikes first day... meeting my coworkers, learning who helps me and who I'm to help, and learning how the firm operates. Basically, the first few hours of my day were pretty typical and not that exciting. But one thing that I've experienced at this job and my externship is that the best way for you to learn, is to do. AKA baptism by fire. 

Starting at a law firm is kinda a lot like starting law school. It's scary because you are suddenly very convinced that you're an absolute idiot, that you're destined to screw things up royally, and that someone really messed up when they let you in. But it's also very exciting because you're like holy shit I'm a lawyer (or law student)!! I'm here! I'm doing it!! I hope everyone who's ever talked shit on me sees my life event in their Facebook timeline so they know I'm actually doing something with my life haha. Basically yeah, a lot of conflicting emotions.

The good news is that my first day as a lawyer was much easier than my first day as a law student (so there's hope for you!!). Most lawyers hated the socratic method and they let that die after law school, so while your co-workers and boss might ask you questions to see what you're retaining, they're much more straight forward. I still get nervous when someone quizzes me on something, even if it's an easy question, because, just like law school, you put this pressure on yourself to not mess up. 

One hard thing about starting law school is that everyone around you is brand new to this too, so if you ask them questions, it's the blind leading the blind. Or worse, people make law school a competition so even if they know the answer, they won't help you. As a lawyer, you'll be surrounded by people who have been doing this for years so they can actually help you. And even better, it's in their best interest that they help you. Because if you screw up, it makes the whole firm look bad, and if the firm looks bad, then they look bad. I mean, obviously there's the chance that there will be other fresh-faced lawyers hired along with you or a petty coworker who doesn't want to help you, but overall you should have more people to turn to who can actually help you. 

And let's just get this out of the way- no, I don't work 9-5. I work 7:30-6 actually. And I have a work laptop at home for catching up on the weekends or evenings. That sounds like a lot, but for me the day actually really flies by because I'm so busy all day. And the working from home isn't necessarily mandatory, just like reviewing your outlines in October isn't necessarily mandatory. It's mostly just to help you in the long run because you're staying on top of your to-do list. And at least right now if I do work from home, it's just a quick little thing to get ready for the next day, so don't be too intimidated yet. It is a big adjustment because while I always felt busy in law school, it was my schedule. So if I truly wanted to say fuck this reading I'm going to go take a nap because I slept terribly last night, I could. But at a job, it's no longer your schedule. It's just another adjustment, like how you had to go from practically doing no work in college to working your ass off in law school. 

My first clients as a lawyer

On day one I got my first client and honestly I did not know what to do with this client. This particular case was passed down to me from another attorney because it was pretty low-profile and essentially I couldn't mess it up. That was relieving for me to hear because the entire time my first day I just kept hoping that I wouldn't be completely incompetent and make the partner question why he hired me. What everyone says is right, as a baby lawyer you really do know nothing.

Here's a quick list of a few things to do once you get a new client:

  1. Review their file. Figure out everything that has gone on up until today. Take notes on what you've learned so you can reference them later because you never know how long you'll have this client. Think of it like the facts part of your case brief. This might be billable hours so check with your firm about this.
  2. Call and introduce yourself to them. Give them your contact information and ask if they have any updates on their case. Again, make sure you know if this is billable or not because firms don't like it if you do something that qualifies as billable but you don't bill for it.
Billable hours is still something I'm getting used to because it's a weird concept for me. Like I definitely bill more per hour than I make per hour. But also, I work more in a day than I bill for. So even with a high billable rate, you still might not make your firm that much money in the beginning because most of your day is just learning how to function instead of doing billable hours. You also have to learn what is/isn't billable and how long do you bill for something. Just this week I called and tried to do step #2 above and they were like hey I'm driving can you just send me this in an email and so I had to find out, do I bill for the call or the email or both?? 

Back to the client... there's a lot more steps but I feel like after this it could really change depending on the kind of law you practice and how your firm operates. The easiest way to find the rest of the steps is just to ask the friendliest looking person what do you do once you get a new client??? This is exactly what I did and now I have a little checklist saved to my computer of 9 steps to do and in what order and what is/isn't billed for.

This is something I did at my last job and suggest that you do, too. I literally am writing a "how to be a lawyer at this firm" instruction manual to myself. Then when I forget what I'm supposed to do, I can reference this instead of bothering someone and solve my own problems. I also like it because it trains me to get in the habit of doing things the right way and making sure I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing and not leaving out a step on my checklist. And eventually when a new lawyer joins our firm down the line, I can just send him/her my little guide and help them out!

The hardest part of being a new lawyer

So far, the hardest part of my journey of being a new lawyer is just not knowing what's going on in a lot of situations. For example, this is my first ever real job so when I was told to pick out a new chair for my office, I didn't know what price range of chairs I should be looking at. Or I signed up for TSA pre-check since we travel a lot for my job, and didn't even think about how that would be something my firm would reimburse me for. 

Another struggle I've had is when people pop in to my office offering to answer any questions I might have, and I don't have any questions because at this point I'm so new I don't even know what I don't know yet. But then I get frustrated because I know it doesn't look good if I'm not asking questions and I'm not learning anything by not asking questions. However, I'm not allowing myself to stress out too much because I know within the next few months as I start to figure out what I'm doing, I'll have a lot more questions for my co-workers.

I'll be honest, it is hard finding a balance between I need to figure out how to do this on my own because I'm a grown-ass adult with a law license and it just took me 2 hours to find a word document that would've taken me 5 minutes if I've asked someone so I just wasted 1/4th of my day looking for a document... A very important lesson I learned at my last job is to try to do things on your own, but pay attention to how much time you're doing this and put a limit on yourself. It's better to try to do something on your own before you ask someone, but remember things are trickier with billable hours. So if you did waste 2 hours looking for a document, either you're going to have to bill your client for that and they're going to be pissed and think you're just running the bill up on them, or you're not going to bill your client and your boss is going to be pissed that you were wasting your time and therefor costing the firm billable hours.

Oh, this brings me to another point that I know you're all dying to know... No, your first job isn't going to expect you to know what you're doing. I mean obviously they expect you to be competent and learn quickly, but they knew when they hired you that you just graduated from law school and likely haven't even been licensed for long. I've had some great advice about how to approach your first law job: it doesn't matter if you make a million mistakes so long as you don't make the same mistake twice. So when you start to feel embarrassed because you have to keep asking for help on something, just remind yourself of that. I understand not wanting to be an annoying burden, so one thing I try to do is rotate through who I ask questions so that each person only gets like my every 10th question instead of every single question.
let's be friends!

November 5, 2018

Visiting Law School Professors Office Hours

How to prepare for visiting your law school professor's office how's, why you should visit your law professor's office hours, what to do when visiting your professor's office hours after your law school midterms, why you should visit office hours to prepare for your law school finals, what to do at law school office hours, and how visiting office hours can help you in law school. law school exam help. law school studying tips. law school finals advice. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

Well, well, well. If it isn't finals, sneaking up right after you thought you were safe from midterms. Sucks, right? Yeah, in case you haven't noticed, "this sucks" is a general theme of law school and like you've probably noticed, it won't get easier from here but you're just going to get used to it now. If you're stressing about the idea of finals looming in, take this moment to take a breath and calm down but then resist the urge to run away from your responsibilities and finish this post. For my sake at least so I don't feel like a loser who makes blog posts that no one reads lol :) 

Anyways, let's talk about midterms real quick (and not the elections haha). Let me first acknowledge that most of you did worse than you were expecting. That's okay! It's rare to do well on your first law school test, and it's even rarer that anyone actually thought they did well and also happened to do well on it. It's just part of the fun, self-esteeming boosting method of law school 🙃 

So, when I was a 1L the ABA was just starting to recommend midterms because as you might've heard in the news, law school performances are all over the place and the ABA thought it might be nice for schools to realize that all of their students are struggling hard core before they're one final grade. I know midterms suck, but be grateful for them!!! Yeah you probably did bad. Remember how I failed one of mine? It's better to find out you were failing before the big test than in January when you find out you're on academic probation! This is a scrimmage game to help you see where you're killing it and where to improve. How do you know these things? Well, my friend, please refer to the title of this post!

Related: The time I almost dropped out of law school


Call ahead

Not literally, but do give your professor a heads up. It's not a great plan to just show up willy nilly at office hours expecting to get anything out of it. First off, there's a whole class full of people with the same intentions as you. You're not going to get to talk with your professors about their personal suggestions on how you could be an A student if there's 10 other people in their office trying to do the same. Second off, professors have a life and job outside of office hours so you don't want to be rushed trying to review the answer key before your professor kicks you out because he has another class in 10 minutes.

This is a very critical step in beating law school, so don't rush through this. Email your prof ahead of time and schedule a time to meet with them. You're an important ray of sunshine and you deserve a full hour (or however much they schedule it for) and deserve their full, undivided attention. I know that some professors will just be like just stop on by during office hours and if that's the case then fine, but don't just assume that and at least first try to get the solo VIP treatment that you deserve.


No matter the grade, GO

Luckily for the purposes of this blog, I've been through it all— from surprising myself with better-than-expected grades to embarrassing myself with WTFFFFF went wrong grades. Even if you got an A+ you still need to hop off your high horse and go see the professor about your test. Why? Because they is always room for improvement in the legal field. That's why it's called practicing law. Be a learner, not a knower! Trust me, even the top scorer from a T14 school has tons of room for improvement because you are far from being a qualified attorney. 

On the flip side, yep it's embarrassing as hell to participate in class and put forth all your effort and get a disappointing grade. Lick your wounds because I know it hurts. But, my dear, that is the way of the law. Every single person in this profession has thought they killed a cold call, exam, motion, trial, and ended up looking like an idiot. Anyone who says otherwise is a damn liar. So have a little comfort knowing you're not the only one who has messed up and take it from me that you can turn this semester around. Your mission (that you have no option of "should you choose to accept" because it's your future on the line, nbd) is to figure out your strengths to keep those up for next time, and figure out your weaknesses to strengthen up for next time.


Approach it with a game plan

Don't just come in and expect your professor to do all the work. Remember, this is law school so the hand holding pretty much ended at orientation. Take a notebook with you and find out these answers while you're there:

Essays
What was a model answer? Either from last year's final or a sample of one of your classmates of what they like to see.
Where was I the weakest at? Most 1Ls have a problem of stating a conclusion without backing it up (using "because" in their analysis). But some have a problem of missing the issue completely so their whole response is off. Some have problems articulating their arguments. And sometimes you just flat out didn't know the rule. 
What is one of my strengths? Find out the best one or two things you did on that paper, and learn how to improve them. This can help you go from getting 2 points on the conclusion to 3 points and all these 1 extra points can help you when it comes to the curve. Remember, no matter how great you are there's still room for improvement!

Multiple Choice
What areas of the law am I missing the most? (example, for Torts I somehow forgot that intentional torts existed and answered all of my questions based off negligence)
What type of questions am I missing the most? (do you know the rule but are missing the issue, spotting the issue but missing the rule, getting confused in the facts, missing double negatives in answers)
Are there any old tests I can review? What supplements do you recommend?
Why am I missing these questions? This is more for you to consider because a professor probably won't know. (were you rushing through it and will need to work on timing, are you misapplying rules because you don't know them well, are there similar rules that you're getting confused) 

Related: How to prepare for different law school test questions

Shoot your shot

This will not work for most professors, but like the heading says, shoot your shot. Come in with your outline (or schedule this later for time concerns) and ask your professor to look over it. Are you being too broad with the concepts and missing points by leaving out the details? Are you too hyper-focused on minute details that you're slowing yourself down? Don't ask them to edit your outline for you, but just ask if they think you're adequately studying the material.


This can actually be a major help for you if your professor is willing to do this. If you're zoomed too much out or in and they can help you with this, then you can improve your studying for the final. If your professor isn't up for this, try to have them steer you in the right direction for help, like to a tutor. And if you don't get this, still reach out to an upperclassmen who did reasonably well in this class with this professor and knows what they're looking for. Making your own outline is super helpful when studying, but also nerve-wrecking because you never know if you're doing enough or too much, and this is how you find out that answer. Remember, you never get what you don't ask for! 

Be professional nice

Hi do I sound like your mom yet? But for real, take this piece of advice seriously. I've felt and seen everything from walking in all hot because you just aced the test to wanting to cry because you're sucking it up to wanted to yell because you just can't believe you did that poorly. Resist all these urges. Go out with your classmates for drinks and get your emotions out before you even email your professor about your test.

This person in front of you has a lot of power, but it's easy to forget that. If you want a job next summer or a scholarship next semester, the person you're going to right now might be just the person to help you out through a little thing called a rec letter. And if you show up prepared and work with them on improving yourself, then maybe you'll be in a prime position to take them semester after semester and go from getting a B to a B+ to an A- and wow hello good GPA. Beyond that, remember that your professors are still remembers of the legal community and likely have a million lawyer friends (because no one else will put up with our lame law jokes) and can recommend you for a job or hook you up with a mentor later on. Basically, just remember to be strategic with your moves in law school because you're building up your reputation and career opportunities right meow.


Look, I know that visiting professor's office hours seems like one of those things that everyone says to do but you don't actually do it... but DO IT!! It's one of those things that feels like it'll be really awkward and embarrassing at first but then once you do it, you're sooo glad you did! Oh and once you go, make it a personal mission to go again at least once more and no later than 2 weeks before the final.

What's the most helpful question you've asked (or wish you would've asked) during office hours? And how often do you actually go to office hours? Let me and all your fellow law students know in the comments! 


let's be friends!



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!