May 29, 2016

The Best Planner for Law School + Coupon Code

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I intended to wait until closer to the new semester to talk about planners, but I just got my new one in and I'm so excited that I can't wait until the summer is almost over! Before I picked a planner for law school, I did some good ol' Pinterest research, and again wasn't quite satisfied. Almost every post I came across that was reviewing and comparing planners was by someone who was juggling a family, blogging, and a business. So, here is a planner review by a law student for law students :) I'm going to go Miss USA style and go from my least to most favorite. 

Lilly Pulitzer ($30) and Kate Spade ($36)

These are basically the same planner layouts, so I'm grouping them together for 3rd place. Typical sorority girl, I had a Lilly planner all through undergrad and loved it. I mostly used the month-at-a-glance to write out quiz dates, assignment due dates, and extracurricular activities. In the week-at-a-glance pages, you got like 8 lines each weekday and like 4 each weekend day to write out any little due dates. I actually started off my first semester with my Lilly planner, and found that it just wasn't enough writing space for me every day. 

the best planner for law school |
Kate Spade month view

the best planner for law school |
Lilly Pulitzer month view
In law school, I really don't need the big picture month pages because the only class I ever had any assignments for was LRW. Instead, I really needed a planner that had a lot of room for the day-to-day assignments, like my daily readings. That's why I rank these 3rd, because I felt like I had too many pages that I didn't really need yet also didn't have enough room to write everything down. I also am not a fan of how these are 18-month planners. I understand how it's great because these work January-December for the rest of the world and also August-May for us students, but that means that you either buy a new planner with 6 months left in your old one or have to buy a new planner and skip past the first 6 months. 

the best planner for law school |
Kate week view

the best planner for law school |
Lilly week view
However, this is just my type-A personality coming out. One of my roommates last year was in grad school for marketing/retail and had the jumbo Lilly planner and it seemed to work out just fine for her. Another one of my friends is also in grad school, but for accounting, and loves her Kate planner. She used to have a Lilly one but switched to Kate because she said they looked a little more professional by having solid, monochromatic stripes instead of neon floral or nautical motifs. Speaking of design, I don't like how you can't customize these at all—I even had to buy a monogram decal just so that I could make it a little more mine. 

Erin Condren ($50)

My other roommate last year was also in accounting grad school and she went on and on about how much she liked her Erin Condren planner better than Lilly or Kate because it divided every day into morning, afternoon, and evening so it gave her tons of space to write down everything you have to do that day. She's what convinced me to upgrade from Lilly so that I'd have more than just a few lines each day to write out what I need to do. 

the best planner for law school |
Erin Condren month view
You can customize these to have each day horizontal with a few lines for each day (like Lilly and Kate), vertical and broken down in morning/afternoon/evening, or vertical and broken down by hour. You can also choose a color theme, if you want it to last 12 or 18-month, and add your name, initials or a picture. As far as further personalization, there's basically an EC cult going on at Pinterest. Personally, these jam-packed planners full of washi tape and stickers and everything give me anxiety because, to me, a completely filled planner is just nothing but a never-ending to-do list. This is also why in my planner pictures, my days are pretty plain. 

the best planner for law school |
EC horizontal week view

the best planner for law school |
EC sectioned vertical week view

the best planner for law school |
EC hourly vertical week view
The reason why I rate EC as 2nd is because of the price. I almost was about to bite the bullet and just buy one when I realized that I couldn't monogram it. This is silly, I know, but if I'm going to pay $50 for a planner, then it better be exactly what I want. Erin Condren is actually a fellow Delta Gamma so I felt a little guilty getting a knock-off, but I searched for a cheaper alternative and found a planner that I truly love.

the best planner for law school |

Plum Paper ($31)

Plum Paper is my favorite planner for law school because it has everything I want and the base price is a lot better. This is very similar to an EC planner, but has just a little more options to personalize it. First and foremost, you can monogram it. I loved the style of my planner from last year (this is the one I got), that I almost ordered the exact same style again (but then I found in love with this for this year). I also think this is the perfect planner because it's a 12 or 18-month planner, but you can choose what month you want it to start in so you never end up wasting months. 

First off, this is just the normal planner and not the student planner. I like how those have the option to break down your day into classes, but I don't feel like this is the best set up for M/W and T/R classes or for classes that finish after a semester and are replaced with new ones. So, as for the weekly layout option, you have 4 to choose from.


the best planner for law school |

I chose the morning/afternoon/evening option because I like how it essentially clumps my day together into class time, relaxation time, and studying time. 

the best planner for law school |

Like I've said, this was the biggest deciding factor for me since I really don't use my month-at-a-view pages.

the best planner for law school |

Not only did I like these basic planner components, but I found use for every other part of this planner as well! For example, at the beginning and end of every month, you have a page just for notes. This really came in handy if I forgot my legal pad in a class that didn't allow computers or when I was in a meeting and needed a place to jot down notes where I would remember to go back and look at them later.

the best planner for law school |

It also had a page at the back for you to add some contacts. I know you're thinking that's what you have your phone for, but there's a good reason I use this. When people first find out that you're going to law school, they're going to mention some family or friend that they know that's a lawyer. When they do, you politely get that person's name, email, phone number, and maybe what type of law they work in, or where they are working now, or where they went to law school at. Then when it's time for you to start networking to find a job, you have all of these people in one place and know a little about them. Writing them down here instead of just your phone also helps prevent you from having to scroll through all of the contacts in your phone trying to remember what the name of a certain lawyer was.

the best planner for law school |

On the opposite side of this is a page for usernames and passwords. Obviously don't put any important information here, but it's a great place to store your law school information instead. For example, in mine I have my login info for Lexis, WestLaw, American Bar Association, etc. If someone has my planner and wants to log in to these, all they're going to get access to are cases that I've saved or the latest bar passage rates, so I'm not too concerned. This is handy because I always have my planner on me so if I ever forget a password I can easily look it up.

the best planner for law school |

Another great section that I use is their special dates section at the end. Because this has a place where you can write about all of the months at once, it's a great place to keep track of what days you missed what classes. I do this so that I never have to worry about my grade being docked for missing too many classes and so that I can keep myself in check on how often I skip.

the best planner for law school |

This is all what comes standard on the planner, but I did get one add-on last year. For $2, you can get a to-do list added at the back of every month. Although every day comes with 3 to-do's, and every week comes with 10, I used those for mostly chores and used the bigger ones at the back for school. Since these are broken down into 8 sections (4 on the front and 4 on the back), it was great to assign one section to each class to keep up with what I needed to do for that class each month.

the best planner for law school |

This year, I added that again and added two more sections. First I added a whole fitness tracking section that was only like $4 because I had wanted to put it in my last planner, but was worried that someone might see my daily weigh-ins and that's a little too personal for me to be sharing. However, this year I realized that people only see what page you open in class so as long as I'm not writing down my weight in class, that info will stay safe. I added this because I'm starting to focus on my health more, and hope that this will be a way to keep me accountable.

the best planner for law school |

Lastly, I added a blogging section that was like $4 because sometimes something will happen in class and I realize that I want to write about that here, and jotting it down in my notes section started to get pretty messy. I really hope some of you start blogging about law school and will end up needing this section, too!

(turns out I was right about that!)

the best planner for law school |

So, the total cost for all of this personalization was $50.75 with shipping. I know I scoffed at EC for being this much, but I feel like I'm getting exactly what I want. There's also a lot more add-ons that I contemplated getting such as extra notes pages, a checklist graph, a home planning (bills) section, and a monthly cleaning chart, but I decided that what I have is probably good enough for now. But if I end up wishing I'd had those, there's always next year. 

I can't stop spending money on my planner, lol. I bought these planner bands because I ended up missing how my Lilly Planner had a band that would save my spot in my planner. This came in a pack on 3 so I group from the front cover to the week I'm on as one section, the back of the planner to the month I'm blogging in as another section, and a couple of pages in the middle to the month I'm recording my weight on as the third section. This way I'm never flipping around trying to find the page I need.

I also went ahead and got these college planner stickers. I use these for the month-at-a-glance so the important dates (like a final, registration opening, even book buybacks) stick out from the rest of my scribbles. Because I ordered these from Etsy, I could customize these and in the notes to the seller, I just requested that she use a pink/orange/purple color scheme that matched my planner more than the original color scheme in the listing. I love these so much that I'm currently looking for more perfect stickers because I clearly have a problem.

I bought these felt-tipped pens so that I could take more colorful notes, but I also use them every day in my planner. Color-coordinating my planner by each class, pro bono hours, and organization meetings just further helps me be organized. For example, if I don't see anything written in orange for that day, then I automatically know that I don't have any assignment for my Wills class.

Final Thoughts

As you can plainly see (ha), I am not really a planner person that get's really into these. I use my planner more for function than as an accessory--its only purpose is to make sure I read what I need to read and pay my bills on time. Also, another reason why I decided to make this review so early is that when I ordered my planner, the estimated shipping time was about 3-5 days, and I noticed that it's already slipped to 5-7 days. And when I ordered mine last July, it took a full month for my planner to be made and shipped. If you're planning on getting a customized planner, I'd start looking for one now to make sure that you get it in time for orientation. 

I only reviewed these 4 because they're the only ones that I've researched/had personal experience with. If you know of another great planner for school that I missed, by all means comment and let me know! Update: Thanks for all of your suggestions! I tried them out and compare/review them in this new post!


let's be friends!

May 27, 2016

Tips for an Open-Book, Closed-Notes Law School Final

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So apparently when I said no more finals posts for a while, I really only meant 5 days. Sorry. But I was looking at those snapchats about my open book final and realized that I had a lot to say about those. Both of my Contracts finals this semester and last semester were open book so I have a pretty good system down that I wanted to share. PS -- it's hard to see my outlines in the book because I did them in pencil, which I highly suggest because sometimes you get tired and accidentally copy down lines out of order.

First off, let me just say that one thing I learned last semester is do not think that just because it's open book that you won't have to study. I pretty much did everything the same studying for this final as I did all of the other ones, but just skipped memorizing an attack outline since I was going to bring it in to my final. Like I said, in your finals you're going to be rushed for time so really you should only be using your book as something to jog your memory, not as something you'll have to go look up answers in. My professor only let us bring in a book (no notes), and anything we added to the book had to be hand written and couldn't be stapled in or anything.

The very first thing I did was go buy some tabs to separate out the chapters for me. These are the ones I used, and I really liked how big and sturdy they were. This semester, I alternated between pink for odd-numbered chapters and yellow for even-numbered chapters just so that it broke it up from having 9 tabs all of the same color. 

your guide to an open book final |

I then put a green tab on the page where my first chapter started in the table of contents. Within the table of contents, I highlighted every Restatement or UCC rule and the page number it was on, in case I had to directly quote it. I did this because sometimes these official rules are long and they would take up way too much space in my outlines. I also wrote these page numbers in my outline in my favorite purple pen so that I knew where to flip to in the book, if I needed to. Then I added an orange tab for the back section where the blank pages start, which I'll talk about more in a second.

your guide to an open book final |

My professor warned us last year to be careful when writing our outlines in the books because there's only a few blank pages in the back and we'd have to make those pages last for two semesters. Some people remedied this by writing really small, but in a stroke of genius I realized that there's a blank page right at the beginning of every chapter that I could write on. This worked out great because I can flip to the tab and there was my outline for that chapter. I feel like this saved me time because I didn't have to scan one long outline to find the chapter I needed. 

your guide to an open book final |

I also added these bright colored post-its to the page opposite of my outline with just the main points of each chapter, so if I wasn't sure which chapter something was in, I could look straight to that instead of having to skim my outline. For some chapters, the outline didn't all fit so I would just color the edge of the page orange with my highlighter and that told me to flip to the orange tab at the back for the rest of the outline (what I was talking about earlier).

Related: How to Make an Outline

your guide to an open book final |

If something was too long to put in my outline but wasn't a rule mentioned in the table of contents like with my green tab that I was talking about, I would write it out on these tabbed sticky notes and put them wherever they were mentioned in the chapter. Last semester, I just would stick a post-it in my book, but I like these better because they have a tab so that I can easily find it. 

your guide to an open book final |

The last thing I did was make an attack outline on the inside front of my book. I didn't do this last semester and it really sped things up for this test. I color coordinated the Roman numerals and letters with either pink or yellow to match the chapter tab, or orange to tell me to go directly to the back. 

your guide to an open book final |

This was might've been overkill, but I did it because I'm a type A person. I did end up staying up a little too late the night before a test because I underestimated how long it would take me (5 hours to copy an 18 page outline). Copying the outline into the book was a great review for me, but by the end my hand wasn't just cramping—it was throbbing. If I have another open book final, I'll definitely spread this out over a few days instead of treating it like a last minute thing. But overall, I was happy with the results and didn't waste as much time finding things as I did last semester. Okay, NOW I'm done with talking about finals for a while. I won't break this promise again. 

Also, check out my Finals Posts Round Up post for more tips to help with your finals!

May 25, 2016

1L in Review

1L year in review |

It's Been 1L of a Year

It's crazy that I'm already 1/3 a lawyer. Well I guess technically 1/4 because I still will have to pass the bar, but that's wayyyy off in the future and I'm channeling my inner Scarlett O'Hara and simply not thinking about that :) This year has been nothing like what I expected, but actually in a good way. Before I came here I'd heard stories of malicious students trying to sabotage you so that they can get ahead and professors who treat law school like an intellectual boot camp. I was pleasantly surprised that these were just my worst nightmares, and not actually a reality. And if I can do it, then you can too!
1L in review |

First Semester

My Property professor perfectly described that first semester of law school -- It's like you're running a race blindfolded. You have no sense of where exactly you're supposed to go, you don't know how fast you're supposed to be running, and you have no clue how the other runners are doing compared to you. It sounds stressful, but it's mostly frustrating. For every time you get the hang of something and think "hey this isn't so bad," there's another time when you just kinda look around with a dumb look on your face and think "wtf is going on??" 

My first semester, I drove myself into panic attacks because I kept comparing myself to everyone else. Don't let yourself do this! It made me miserable. Also, don't overanalyze what people mean when they say law school is so hard yada-yada. Law school is hard because you just spent 4 years being social and putting in minimum effort to get decent grades, but now you actually have to put forth effort. 

Related: Why I Almost Dropped Out of Law SchoolDealing With Self Doubt in Law School

When I tell my friends that skimming through my readings still takes me over 2 hours, they always go off about how law school is too hard and they couldn't do it. But the thing is, that they could and you can, too! You just get used to it and then it's no big deal. One of my friends is starting law school here in the fall and asked if I thought she'd be too busy to be able to take her dog with her, and I almost laughed at her because although you don't have as much spare time as you did in undergrad, you still have a good amount.

You've probably seen my post about how I was told to study from 9-5 and then have my evenings off, and that's true! If you're thinking, "lol there's no way I can do that," think of it more as breaking your day down into 8 hour increments - one for sleeping, one for studying, and one for you-time. It doesn't matter when or for how long you study at a time, as long as you just get that study time in. Remember that some of that time is for class, so you won't actually be reading for that long. I guess what I mean by study is actually mostly just class/reading cases. Really, you will have plenty of time in your days. One girl from my section made the Dean's list and she goes home a raises her kids every day after class. A few people from my section even had small part-time jobs on the side that they managed to juggle.You just have to learn how to plan out your days to be productive. I even had time to watch all 7 seasons of Californication on Netflix. That's how law school is hard, it's not like that time your algebra teacher decided to throw in letters out of nowhere kind of hard. So take comfort in that.

Second Semester

I'm sure you've heard about how the first year of law school they scare you to death, the second they work you to death, and the third they bore you to death. I'm not quite sure how true that will be these next two years, but as of right now it's a load of bull. At least for me at my school, my professors weren't the kind to do the whole "look to your left, look to your right, one of you won't be here next year." In fact, they were the OPPOSITE! After we came back for our second semester, every single professor gave us a little pep talk about how if you didn't do so stellar your first semester, don't give up and instead go visit them and see where you can improve. 
That was probably the best part about having the same professors for two semesters in a row, because I was able to go to their office hours and review my final. Most of my professors were even so kind as to show me what the A answer was from my class, so I could see how to improve. My contracts professor even showed me where I was on the curve, and I was only three people away from a B+! So close, Nikki. So close...

Another great thing about law school once you really get into it, is that your classes will overlap. We talked about warranties for property in both my Contracts and Property classes, and I was assigned to read the same case for both classes on the same day (which turned out to be a huge relief when I realized that I was done with my readings earlier than I expected). And both my Property and Torts professor talked about the same incident when we went over nuisance laws. Even with my friend who is taking business law in undergrad was talking about a case he had read and I literally screamed OMG I know exactly what case you're talking about!! I really like how everything that I learned is relevant and relates to one another.

However, there is a downside to this. In undergrad, my classes would go from Astronomy to Spanish to Persuasion, but here I leave one law class and go to another law class which is basically the same thing but with just a different theme. It can get pretty monotonous when all you do for every class is read cases, make briefs, and talk about rules. It's kinda like how for the week after Thanksgiving, every meal you eat is either turkey sandwiches, or turkey soup, or turkey pot pie. You just get tired of having the same thing every day even though it's always a little different. Eventually, you get over this because you literally have no other choice.

So yeah, overall, the second semester is a LOT better! You finally take off the blindfold of this little metaphorical race and know what you're supposed to be doing and how you compare to everyone else. And by the second semester, you know your study style and your professors and your subjects well enough to know what material you need to read thoroughly, what you can skim through, and what you can skip altogether. It cuts down on your reading time a lot and makes you more efficient overall because now you also know what needs to go in your notes and outlines and can spend more time getting that together. 

1L in review |

How I've Changed

I'm not going to lie, in undergrad there were a few classes that I would skip quite often to work on my tan or just be a couch potato. I never had perfect attendance before, but now for some classes I had perfect attendance for two semesters straight! Really, I never though that would happen, ever. And for the other classes, I missed one or maybe two classes during the whole year. The reason why I ended up with perfect attendance is because law school is really not the place where you can just get the notes from a friend and be fine. There's just so much you'll need to know, so hearing it from my professors and thinking about it as I type was crucial for me to not get lost. 

Admittedly, a few times I did plan to skip. What would happen was that I knew if I didn't go to class, I at least had to do the readings so I wouldn't get behind. But then the next morning when it was time for class, I always realized that the hard part of reading 20 pages was already done, so I might as well get my butt out of bed and sit it in a desk for 50 minutes and type down what I needed to know. That's right my friends, I can't even slack even when I want to (which is definitely a good thing though).

Related: How to Skip a Law Class Without Falling Behind

And now when I am in class, I pay attention a lot more. I think part of this has to do with the fact that my classes are no longer the kind where you just copy the slides and then sit there bored until the slides change. Thanks to the feared Socratic method, classes are more of an engaging conversation, so they're a lot more interesting and I end up paying attention. Sure sometimes I do end up messaging from my laptop, but I only do this during times I know I can zone out for a bit, like when another student is just going over the facts of the case that I already know. But I never message my friends when a professor is talking anymore, and for some classes I don't even check my messages until after it's over.

Related: What a Law Class is Like, The Difference Between College Classes and Law Classes

Mostly how I've changed is just that I've become more responsible. This turned out to be not as bad as I thought it would. For the most part this is just common sense stuff that I should've been doing anyways, like writing down in my planner what I need to do and actually doing it. Having loans also made me mature a lot. I'm trying to take it in strides and not think so much about all of these new responsibilities, because that's when I get overwhelmed. 

1L in review |

Would I Do it Again?

I'm sure you already know, but YES! I think even if you're kinda teetering on the fence about maybe considering going to law school, it's worth it. Yes it's hard, but because you're working so hard for something the reward is amazing. You should've seen how I danced around in my living room after I got a full B on my Civ Pro final. My sister looked at me funny because to her it was just a B, but to me it was a sign that I'm not totally incompetent and it turns out that all along I kind of knew what I was doing. Seriously, you will be so proud of yourself after each semester because you didn't give in to the temptations to give up and just go get a job; you rode out the storm!

PS -- if you're Panhellenic and going to/interested in law school, send me your email address because I found a great resource for you!