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.

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.

Lastly, 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.

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!