December 31, 2018

Top Blog Posts of 2018

Happy NYE everyone!! The one thing I really miss about being a student is the extra long Christmas/NYE break that you get. I'm working a half day on NYE but at least have the first off so Ryan and I are doing a little staycation in a nearby town (it's so cute so I'll post where we go on my Instagram stories). 

Anyways, I can't believe it's been a full year since I did my Top Blog Posts of 2017! This has been a whirlwind of a year and I'm so grateful for what 2018 brought me. This year I spent a semester interning as corporate counsel, graduated law school, passed the Bar exam, became a licensed attorney, and got a job!! It has been a long, long journey to get here but I am so blessed to finally be where I knew I was supposed to be all along. I'm getting sentimental so I'll stop, but I truly do what to thank all of y'all for coming back week after week, following along with my road-to-lawyer story, and sharing yours with me. Honestly, this blog will forever be my favorite part about law school and I have y'all to thank for that!! Okay so now here's a recap of the top 10 posts that y'all loved this year....

To summarize this post, look for a backpack that is sturdy, spacious, and strong. It's funny because I spent 3 years of my life rolling my eyes at people who used the briefcase-on-wheels as their backpack but guess what Christmas present I got really excited for?? Yep.... a briefcase on wheels. But I still stand by my opinion that these are better for carrying a huge case file into a hearing than taking with you to class every day.

Not much has changed between what I bring into work every day now as an actual lawyer and what I brought in as an intern. I definitely don't have time to bring a Kindle and read anymore because my lunches are spent either watching daytime court TV shows with my coworkers and being grateful that our clients aren't like that and actually doing work for my clients because lunch time is when a lot of them have the free time to communicate with me. I originally intended to use my first big-girl paycheck to buy a new purse as a present to myself for this past year, but student loans happened first so instead I'm putting away a little each month.

One of my most-worn work tops is included in this post! This post is actually one of my favorites from this year because it features affordable pieces that a broke law student can afford to help get her lawyer wardrobe going. We've all been there when you have your first interview or 1L competition where you need some professional clothes, but your bank account is saying "bitch, please." If you missed this post, I promise you it'll be worth it to go check it out.

This is advice that I received in 2018 that I still try to live by every single day because it really is super important. As we're starting out our law career, we're establishing a reputation that will follow us for the rest of our career, and you only get one chance to make a first impression. I take this to heart because I want to be respected in the legal community. If you'e a 3L, I highly recommend that you consider what you want your personal brand to be.  

Hopefully you don't need this post, but this is actually really perfect timing to reshare this. If you do need this post, just remember that plenty of successful lawyers were on academic probation at some point and you really can turn your GPA around. But even if you have anything less than a 4.0, this post has some tricks I picked up on how to slowly climb your way up the GPA ladder. 

If you're a pre-law reader, please please please go read this! All the time I'm asked for LSAT advice and while this isn't the advice you wanted, it's the advice you didn't realize you needed. I promise I have plans to do another LSAT related post, but for now read this and send it to your other pre-law friends because it's probably something y'all hadn't thought about yet. 

If last semester started to be a big overwhelming for you, then this post is for you!! I'm a firm believer that the right lists can keep your life on track. I still use every single one of these lists every single day and I swear they help me stay on top of my clients, my apartment, and my budget. I realized that five is probably overkill, but maybe pick just one and make it your 2019 goal to use it daily. You can thank me next December!

This is actually a two-in-one post with the first half giving you some basic tips on how to do your makeup that doesn't scream I'm a millennial!! but still is your style and the second half is some great ways that I organize my makeup. I stayed in a little studio apartment during my internship and finally figured out how to make the most of a small space.

Moment of sadness because I just realized that I will literally never get to graduate again. Followed by a moment of guilt because I just realized that I never blogged about my law school graduation, so I guess that's a post for 2019. Funny story about what I wore to graduation, another one of my classmates wore the exact same dress in the same color and everything! I wasn't annoyed in the slightest because 1) no one would see our dresses anyways and 2) someone wearing my dress just reaffirmed my decision that it was a perfect dress to graduate in lol. 

I have one law school graduation to attend in 2019 and I'm already starting to shop around for what I'm going to wear. What I love about this post is that it's similar to #3 on this list and everything is from.... Amazon! It seems like there's always another graduation to go to for one of your friends or family members. And who else remembers the scene from the Lizzie McGuire movie where Kate screams out "Lizze McGuire you are an outfit repeater!" at graduation?? Still to this day I won't rewear an outfit to two graduation ceremonies lol. So if you're like me and need a bunch of cute outfits for this spring, this post has lots of affordable options.

And we're done! Thank you guys for making these posts your top 10 most read posts! Like I've mentioned already today, I have lots of post ideas that I'm working on for 2019, but the most read posts are the ones that y'all requested because you know what you want to read. So please if you have anything you want to see, go ahead and comment on this post or use the "questions and suggestions" box on the bottom right to email me an idea.

December 10, 2018

Preparing for Law School While in High School

How to prepare for law school while still in high school. What to do in high school to prepare for law school. 7 Things High School Students Can Do To Prepare For Law School. 7 tips for Preparing for law school early. Prepare for law school as a high schooler. Prepare for law school as a teenager. law school application tips. law school application advice. law school blog. law student blogger |

Lately I've been getting emails from high school juniors/seniors who are already setting up their 5 year plans which includes law school as the end goal. Good for you! I really can't stand the people who tell teenagers "oh you'll probably change you mind about being a lawyer.'' Sure, there's a chance that you might end up realizing that law school is for you, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared in case *gasp* you actually do end up applying to law school. So pause the How to Get Away With Murder or the Law & Order because I'm going to show you things you can do that will actually help you, right now, as a high schooler to prepare for law school.

Take AP (or any advanced) research/writing classes

A very, very important part of law school (and being a lawyer) is researching and writing. If you want to be successful in law school and eventually get a high paying lawyer job, you're going to need to be excellent in research and writing. By starting in high school, you'll be ready to take on researching or formal/business writing classes each semester in college. Then by the time you get to law school you'll have a really strong foundation to build upon. Look for classes that have you learning how to use a research database and have a persuasive writing aspect listed in the syllabus. Your 1L self will be so grateful if you show up on day 1 already knowing the basic components of how to write a memo.

Related: College majors that are helpful for law school

Get help with test taking skills

The great thing about high school is that a lot have a testing counselor available for you for free. Even if you have a 4.0 GPA, it's still worth it to go here. College is harder than high school so if you are already improving how this skill now, you'll be setting yourself up to get great grades in college (which are necessary to get into law school). Always strive to be improving yourself academically.

While we're on the subject, get really really good at standardized tests. I thought the ACT and SAT weren't fun, but they also didn't seem like this huge challenge to me. The LSAT is much harder than the ACT/SAT, costs way more, and LSAT prep takes a lot of money and time. Take advantage of any free standardized testing help that your school offers. Even if it's not free, it's still probably a lot cheaper than standardized testing help you can find after high school. Oh and remember that you'll have one last standardized test- the Bar. And if you don't pass this one, you don't become a lawyer. 

Be involved

Not only will this help your college applications go smoother, it will prepare you for law school. You need to learn prioritizing and time management skills now so that you'll already know how to get good grades while having a busy schedule before you get to college and then eventually law school. Your 1L year will have you so busy at times you don't seem to have a moment to yourself. This can be very overwhelming if you're not used to it and has been the downfall for more than one 1L. 

A lot of people try to join debate teams or mock trial teams at their high school because they think it's necessary to be a law school contender, but it just isn't. If you're interested in that then definitely go for it, but don't waste your time doing something you're not interested in just because you think it'll help. It's better to do something you're passionate about and form hobbies than to sign up for something just because you think you should.

Shadow as many lawyers as possible 

Judges, practicing attorneys, non-practicing attorneys, criminal, civil, private, government. There's so many different areas of the law and the best thing you do is exposure yourself to as many legal fields as possible before law school, starting now. Hopefully you have a family friend or distant relative or even just that one person who graduated in the same grade with your older sister years ago who you don't really know but somehow are Facebook friends, reach out to these people and I'm pretty sure they'd be flattered to let you shadow them for a day. If you don't know anyone, just Google for lawyers in your city and start cold emailing them explaining that you're in high school interested in becoming a lawyer and want to learn more about it. 

Pay attention to questions you've started getting ever since you started talking about going to law school: what made you want to be a lawyer? what kind of law are you interested in? why law school? Ask these questions to those you shadow! This will help you realize your own answers to these questions you'll be getting a lot and will give you sample answers of how to explain yourself and your goals. Other questions to ask them: what they do/don't like about being a lawyer, why they got in to their particular area of the law, how law school/being a lawyer is different than what they expected, what do they wish they would've known before law school, etc. Knowing this can maybe help you decide what kind of law you're interested in and can help you make sure that you're making an informed decision regarding your future career.

Take notes about what kind of law you're shadowing and things that stand out to you. This will help you later on when you try to talk about your legal interests and goals in your personal statement. And learn the magic word of the legal profession— networking. Meeting tons of lawyers will help you when you want to try to find a summer job while in high school and college, a clerking job while in law school, and a post-graduation job. Speaking of...

Get a job

If you can, try to find a legal job. This can be legal assistant, legal secretary, or even a receptionist at a law firm. This exposure and experience will help you so much during the next 7 years when you need a legal job. However, I know a paid legal job can be hard to find if you only have a high school diploma (or not even that yet). Now is a great time to suck it up and take an unpaid internship (or offer to help out in an office for free) because you still live at home with your parents so concerns like rent or groceries aren't really on your radar yet. Taking these unpaid internships now might help you out later when you do have bills and need a paid internship.

Alternatively, just take any old high school job. Getting a paycheck is really nice so you can go to the movies or mall with your friends, but it's better to be boring responsible and save up as much as you can. Having a few thousand dollars saved up from years of working while in high school will really help out future you. This can mean you'll end up taking out less student loans for college (or if you get help with college, less student loans for law school). Remember tuition for law school is about double that of college, and all together someone's going to have to pay for 7 years of schooling. This is how many law school grads end up with $100-200k in student loan debt.


This is another thing that will look good on your college applications and also will really help you out. When people come to lawyers, usually they're at the lowest point in their lives— whether it be because they've been arrested, their house is getting foreclosed on, the need a divorce, their personal company is going bankrupt, they've been severally injured... the list goes on and on. You have to be compassionate to be a lawyer (despite what TV might tell you) but you also have to be strong for those who come to you at their worst. Almost anywhere you volunteer, you're going to build these skills.

Want a good place to start volunteering? Google [your city] legal aid center or [your city] free legal help. Then call those places, let them know you're in high school and interested in the law, and ask how you can help. It might just be handing out intake forms to a crowded waiting room, but this kind of volunteering will expose you to the real challenges that lawyers face every day. Then when it's your turn to be a lawyer, you'll be ready to spring in to action helping people in ways that you've been watching other lawyers do for years.

Make college choices wisely

Remember how I was talking about the crazy amount of debt that most law grads are in? I could have a lambo for the amount I've paid for schools! The best way to minimize your post-law school debt is to have little to no college debt. How do you do that? Work really, really hard on getting scholarships for college. Do this by having the highest grades possible, being close to your teachers for scholarship recommendation letters, and applying for every scholarship you can find. Even if your parents are going to pay for all of your college, the more you save them in college tuition the more they'll have still in that college fund leftover to pay for your law school. 

Also, put some thought into the colleges you'll be applying for. Don't go to a college that you don't think you can succeed at. Remember, the closer to a 4.0 college GPA you have, the easier literally everything about the law school application process will be for you. Law schools don't really care where you went to college so they'd be much more likely to admit someone who got a 4.0 from a Division II state school than a 2.9 from a prestigious private school. And if your parents can't pay for your college, consider going to a cheaper college so you'll have less debt. Because remember, law schools don't care where you got your college degree from so it's a smarter move financially to go to a cheaper state school and also load up on summer classes from a community college.

I guess to sum up this post, the way to prepare for law school while still in high school is to just start being intentional about the choices you're making. Yeah you have 8 years from freshman year of high school until your first year of law school and this may sound a long ways off, but by planning ahead you can make things a little easier down the road. Once you're a senior and you're getting ready to go to college, come back to this blog and I'll help you with Phase 2 of Operation Go To Law School. Lastly, enjoy high school and don't try to grow up too fast because you have your whole life to be an adult!

let's be friends!

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 |

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)
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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. 


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?


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. 


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 |

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

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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:

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!