Undergraduate School: Montana State University at Billings
Undergraduate Major: Business Communications
Hometown: Fort Worth, TX
Status: Full-Time Day
4/24/13 - Yesterday was our last day of classes. Today we are in full-on study mode. Our Contracts final is next Monday, and our Civil Procedure final is next Friday. Our Property final is a take-home exam that must be completed in any twenty-four-hour period during the two weeks of finals. Our Contracts final is all multiple choice—the first final we’ve had that is structured that way. A multiple choice exam initially sounds better than an essay exam, but the more I think about it, the more I realize one giant advantage to an essay exam. A multiple choice exam is binary—either you get the answer right, or you don’t. But with an essay exam, you have the opportunity to earn points even if you don’t completely understand a concept or have it mastered. I would prefer to sit down and take a multiple choice exam, but I think I may have a better shot at a decent grade with an essay exam. We’ll see how it turns out.
The Civil Procedure final seems like it will be a beast. Last year’s exam was twenty-two pages long, and was comprised of ten short-answer questions, twenty-five multiple choice questions, and seven essay questions. I expect this year’s exam to be similar in length and complexity. Our professor has stressed that one of the most difficult parts of her exam is managing your time wisely so that you actually finish the entire exam. I am significantly more stressed out over the Civ Pro exam than my other two finals.
I guess you won’t hear from us again until finals are over. Wish me luck—I think I’m going to need it!
4/17/13 - The craziness continues. I’m currently writing this blog about an hour past our deadline. I hate being late with things, and its poor etiquette, but it does happen. My friends and I studied before school and at lunch for tomorrow’s citation exam. And, a few of us left class early this afternoon to attend some mock “prove-ups” at a local court (more on that later). I went straight from court to an art exposition for my three-year-old, and I just got home a few minutes ago. Moral of the story - I should have written my blog post before today.
The mock “prove-ups” we watched today were in the courtroom of Justice Berger, of the 322nd District Court. I’m not sure if I have every detail correct, but my understanding is that the students from our school’s law clinic were practicing some courtroom procedures, asking questions, and watching actual attorneys go through some of the same procedures. As 1Ls, my friends and I were simply there to watch.
Justice Berger was very friendly. She had pizza and drinks in the break room area for us. The courtroom was much fancier than I expected, and I thought the architectural details were nice. We watched the following proceedings: Contempt, Emancipation, Change of Name, Protective Order, Adoption, Termination and Adoption, Annulment, and Divorce actions. Justice Berger liked to play songs relating to the action at hand- I have no idea if that happens in real court, but I doubt it. It did provide us with a healthy dose of entertainment. Thanks to all involved for letting us come watch today’s proceedings!
4/10/13 - I had to present my summary judgment oral argument for my Legal Writing class today. I was totally stressed out while preparing for this. I didn’t sleep well for several nights in a row, and thought for sure I was going to crash and burn in some way. Well, I finished, and I’m still alive. It actually turned out much better than I expected, but I’m glad it’s over. Only half the class was able to present today, so the other half gets to worry about things until Monday. I was in the first pairing today, so I breathed my sigh of relief early in the process.
Lately, this semester, school has been a series of major linear tasks. Tonight, I am switching gears again to a Property assignment that is due tomorrow morning. With the complexity of some of the things we’ve been doing it’s been easier to work on them one at a time, consecutively, than to try to do a little here, little there, on all of them concurrently. I realize that is a luxury we will not always have, but for now it is working, so I’m sticking with it.
The 1Ls registered for our fall classes this week. I was able to get all five classes I wanted. In addition to Constitutional Law (a lockstep course), I will be taking, Copyrights, Business Associations, Professional Responsibility, and Oil & Gas. It will be a busy semester! Hopefully all will go well and I won’t hate the schedule I’ve put together. You are not only planning your daily schedule when signing up for classes, you are also setting your finals schedule (because finals dates/times are available when you register). I will have four finals in four days, and then one take-home final. Doable? I sure hope so.
4/3/13 - I have some good news! If you’ve been worried since last week that the trial brief may have killed me—it didn’t. I’m still alive and well, I think. I’m actually taking a break from editing that monster to write my blog post for the week. Our trial briefs are due tomorrow (Wednesday) morning, and then we’ll have about a five-minute breather until the next crisis hits.
We had a really cool “event” at school today. The Second Court of Appeals of Texas held real, live oral arguments in our lecture hall. I guess the school and one of the judges picked out a date that worked for everyone, and then the judges checked out their docket for that day. Then, they called the lawyers who were scheduled and told them they would be presenting their oral arguments at the law school instead of the courthouse. The lawyers had to present their real-life arguments in front of video cameras and about 150 law students and faculty.
It was extremely interesting to see the different styles, skills, and apparent preparation levels of the different attorneys. We heard one civil case and one criminal case and they couldn’t have been more different in topic areas. That was great because we got to see wide-ranging facts from only two cases. When I first heard about today’s event, I assumed everything would be fake, except real judges and lawyers would come to present it all. So, what made it even more special was that everything was 100% real, and these arguments were affecting people’s lives.
3/27/13 - If you never hear from me again, it's because this trial brief killed me. In our Legal Writing class we are writing a trial brief for summary judgment in a premises liability case. I feel like I'm about two weeks behind on this assignment, and it is due this coming Wednesday. I'm not satisfied that I completely understand one aspect I'm supposed to be discussing, and I don't know if I have enough relevant cases for each aspect of the case. I should be deep into the writing/editing phase by now, but I'm still struggling with properly converting my legal conclusions into words. Many of my classmates are also wrestling with the same problems, so I don't feel like I'm abnormally lost.
Spring Break was great! The only problem was that it had to end. I didn't get nearly as much accomplished as I would have liked, but I certainly had a good time with family. We were able to rest and relax to help prepare for this final push to the end of the semester.
I still don't have definite summer plans. I signed up for two summer classes as a fallback plan, but one of those classes was already cancelled. Thanks to family, I have two opportunities that look like possibilities for the summer. Neither would keep me in Texas and I don't have anything concrete on either one, yet. Hopefully I'll have more information soon. I received a response back from one internship I applied for that they chose someone else, so at least I know that one is no longer a possibility.
3/6/13 - I am a day late with my blog this week. Unfortunately, it seems like I’ve been about a day behind in all aspects of my life every day for the last week. I am hoping that Spring Break will help me catch back up in all of the areas where I’ve been falling behind. I should probably stay home and study over the break, but I am going to pack up all of my books and other materials and take them along on our family trip. I don’t want my wife and kids to have an entire week of fun without me. We are headed to my wife’s parents’ house and they have WiFi in their house (for the first time in the ten years that I’ve known them), so I can actually work on the internet while we’re there!
Last Friday’s undergraduate Moot Court competition was interesting. I didn’t feel like we received the best instruction about how to properly judge the competition, but we did the best job we could. I was really impressed by some of the competitors. I felt like several of them did a much better job in their oral arguments than I could have (even with some law school under my belt). I hope they continue learning and progressing, and plan to go to law school in the future.
This semester is flying by so quickly. We’ve already started taking practice exams for this semester’s finals. When we come back from Spring Break it will be a mad dash to the finish, and then on to summer... whatever that might be. Hopefully I will know sooner rather than later what my summer will look like.
2/27/13 - Days like today make me wish I was a lawyer. I am still dealing with my insurance company regarding an accident from a few weeks ago where an uninsured driver ran into my vehicle and pushed me into another vehicle. I can research the law and the remedies available to me, but I sometimes wonder if I'm missing something in this whole mess. A demand letter from a law student probably doesn't mean much to an insurance company. I would like to believe that a demand letter from an actual lawyer would pull more weight. Regardless, I will be happy to have my own vehicle back soon (I hope).
This is an unusual week at school. Two of my classes were cancelled this week, and neither was due to weather. It seems like a really light week for reading now. I'm hoping to force myself to use the extra time to work on class outlines, or something else useful in preparing for finals. I have some family duties that will help to fill in the time too.
We are required to have 30 completed hours of pro bono legal work by the time we graduate from school. I am getting my first pro bono hours this Friday, helping to judge an undergraduate Moot Court competition at the school. It sounded like something fun, and you get pro bono hours for helping out - bonus! I need to read through all of the cases and other material they provided to the judges, so I will be well prepared for the competition to ask informed questions.
2/20/13 - I don't feel like I have anything terribly exciting to report this week. I haven't heard back on the internships I applied for, but at least one of them hasn't even closed yet. There are a couple others that I may apply for this weekend.
We had a lunch meeting/presentation this week regarding planning our course of study for the rest of law school. There are many choices to consider. The school offers several "certificates," or core areas of concentration. Getting one of these certificates involves taking several courses, all related to this area of concentration. Getting a certificate isn't required, but it can be helpful in gaining employment in a specific area of law. The only real problem is that I need to decide soon which, if any, certificate I may want to get because I need to have a plan in place in order to get all the courses on my schedule.
I don't have too many assignments to work on this weekend. That is good because last weekend I tried to pack in too many things and I didn't have as much study time as I would have liked. I did get to do one thing last weekend that I thought was exciting- I went to a presentation where George W. Bush was the guest speaker. He was really funny and had many insightful things to say. Regardless of your political affiliation, I think it's awesome to see a current or former President in person.
2/13/13 - Class rankings finally came out this morning. I’m not at the top, but I’m not at the bottom either. I need to work hard this semester to keep myself in academic scholarship contention. I don’t know if this process will change in the future, but the scholarships handed out at the time I received mine are based on our class ranking at the end of each spring semester (for the following year). So, no one gains or loses an academically-based scholarship until after the spring semester. The class ranking we just received puts us on notice of where we fall, and lets us know how hard we should be working to maintain or improve our position.
I am still looking at all possible internship opportunities for this summer. I’ve found some I’m absolutely not interested in, and others that sound great. I was up late last night finishing cover letters, writing samples, and my resume. I’m hopeful that I at least get an interview from some of the internships I’m excited about. A few of the application periods close soon, so maybe I will know if I’m in the running or not.
My son and I were rear-ended last week while I was taking him to preschool. Neither of us were injured, and our vehicle is still drivable, but I hate dealing with extra problems while attending school. The guy who hit us apparently has no insurance, and he catapulted us into the Porsche in front of us. We’ll see how this all turns out.
2/6/13 - This morning all the 1Ls turned in another memo. I'm glad that one is out of the way, but we have no time to rest. We received our next Legal Writing assignment today, and we have a writing assignment due for our Property class too. About a third of our class was MIA for Civil Procedure yesterday, presumably because they were working on their memos. Our professor was not a happy camper. This morning, my Legal Writing professor reminded us that professors don't like it when you skip one class to prepare for another...
I foresee that I will be reading and writing all weekend. In addition to the papers I need to be working on, there is the normal reading and preparation for the coming week, and I need to work on a writing sample for an internship I'd like to apply for. I spoke with my Legal Writing professor about the writing sample and he was extremely helpful and supportive. He suggested which of my prior memos I might use, and what I should add or take out to fit what the selection committee may be looking for.
My three-year-old son and I went to a Monster Truck show this past weekend. He loves watching monster trucks on TV, and he had a blast. I went to a few shows with my dad when I was a kid, so it was fun to do the same with my son. Even though I'm perpetually busy with school, it's nice to find time to do some things with my family.
1/30/13 - A couple of classmates and I had a nice lunch outing today. We went to Reata, a restaurant in downtown Fort Worth, and saw a presentation by the EPA's Deputy Director of Compliance Assurance and Enforcement for this region. As law students, we also got a free lunch. That was an added bonus. The presentation was interesting, but the number one thing I took away from the presentation is that the EPA does not have enough staff to enforce all of the rules and regulations that people expect them to. They have to work on the biggest issues, or those things getting the most current attention, and everything else is put on the back burner.
I have a smoldering cold right now and I wish it could make up its mind. Either go into full-blown cold mode, or go away. I have a substantial portion of my memo left to write and edit this weekend, so I hope the cold decides to disappear. If not, I'll be working on the memo with a cold, since it has to be finished regardless of how I feel.
My wife is trying to help me network for a good summer internship. She works with a number of people who are good legal networking resources, and she belongs to some groups with several people who are lawyers. I'm not in as many "inside" circles as she is right now, but I plan on attending more events and activities to meet additional people who may be able to help me locate internships. I've also started using our school's Career Services office, and those folks seem helpful.
1/23/13 - Due to the holiday, we just had a four-day weekend. It is funny how no matter how long your weekend is you always say, "If I could just have one more day." Sometimes it feels like a long weekend really only gives you an extra day to procrastinate. The nice weather we've been having also makes it difficult to want to stay inside reading or writing.
This morning we turned in our first memo of the semester for Legal Writing. It was an email-style memo, which we hadn't done before. The topic wasn't terrible to research and the actual writing of the memo didn't seem too bad either. In a couple weeks we have our first major memo due on this topic. I want to get a substantial portion of that assignment finished this weekend.
My study group is talking about starting to meet soon. I know that other study groups have already started meeting. We don't want to wait until the end of the semester to start cramming all the information in like we did last semester. We don't have any midterms this semester, so there won't be any feedback at all in some of the classes until the final. That's good and bad. You don't have to study for a midterm, but you also can't wait until the very end of class to learn everything because you won't have time.
1/16/13 - You'll remember from previous weeks how badly I wanted to get my grades back. Now that I have them all, I'm thinking I could have waited longer. The anticipation was killing me, but after seeing all my grades I have this sort of "ho-hum" feeling. My grades were above average, but not by much. I expected to do better, and hopefully I can improve my GPA this semester. My family and friends have been very supportive, reminding me that I haven't been in a classroom for fourteen years and telling me that I'm actually doing quite well.
I'm enjoying my second semester classes so far. I have even more reading to keep up with this semester. We also have many assignments due in the next couple of weeks, so schedule prioritization is crucial right now. I find myself thinking about the reading or assignments for one class while trying to complete the reading or assignments for another class. It's hard to put one topic completely aside and focus 100% on something else.
On the topic of keeping things separate, my Legal Writing professor talked to us about creating research journals so you can keep track of exactly what you have researched and where you searched. He said that as a practicing attorney you may have ten, twenty, or more ongoing research projects at any given time. When you are dividing your time between projects it is easy to lose track of exactly where you are on each one. A detailed research journal is vital because clients shouldn't pay you to complete the same research twice. We are supposed to start using a journal for our next assignment in our writing class, so it will be an interesting concept to try it out.
1/9/13 - I was finally able to relax over the break. Unfortunately, the relaxing didn't last long before it was time to start reading for the spring semester. I had an enjoyable break and I had some fun with my wife and kids. I didn't get nearly as many projects completed around the house as I (or my wife) would have liked, but I did get some things accomplished.
In our Academic Support meeting this week, they told us that the professors took into account that we were new to law school and we didn't know what to fully expect last semester. They said we shouldn’t expect any of our other semesters to be that easy or to be graded that leniently. Thanks for the pep-talk, Phillip and Tim!
Seriously though, I think they are trying to make sure we understand that things don't suddenly turn easy, and that you must continue studying. They made it a point to let us know that first semester grades have a way of making some people step up their game, so you might have to work that much harder to maintain or achieve a grade you are happy with.
I only have grades for two of my four classes from last semester. I have heard the process of entering the grades in the proper system(s) can be slow, so even though the professors may have submitted our grades, the grades haven't been "released." I am fairly happy with the two grades I have received, but I've definitely left myself room to work harder this semester. I hope to have my other grades back soon.
12/18/12 - Don't laugh, but I'm having a difficult time adjusting to this holiday break. I constantly feel like I'm supposed to be reading or studying something. I even pulled out materials for next semester and started perusing them. In only a few months, school became such a big part of my life (remember, I had been out of the classroom for 14 years), that right now it feels like something is missing. My daughter will be out of school starting tomorrow and my son will begin his preschool holiday break soon. I have a feeling that having them at home all day will help keep my mind off school.
I know that grades aren't likely to post anytime soon, but I've been checking the website periodically just in case. I don't envy the hundreds of essay pages that my professors are wading through right now. Most of the professors are probably used to it by now and they probably get faster each year, but I doubt grading essays is their favorite part of the holiday season.
You won't hear from the bloggers again until next year. So, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (or whatever holiday(s) you may celebrate). I've got to get the kids ready so we can look at Christmas lights tonight. Bye!
12/12/12 - Finals are over and I'm still alive! My friends and I planned for the worst, hoped for the best, and I think we ended up with something in the middle. Personally, I worried that finals would be considerably harder and more stressful than they were. I'm definitely thankful for that.
After making these comments, I just hope I'm not blindsided by a terrible grade in one of my classes. It sounds like we might not have all of our grades back until after the spring semester has started. I'm going to try to enjoy Christmas and not worry too much about anything school-related for a few weeks. I'd like to read something for pleasure and not write a case brief every five pages.
My parents came down to help us out during finals. They stepped in as kid-runners, dinner-cookers, and the like. That allowed me to do almost nothing except study and allowed my wife to get some Christmas preparations completed after work each day. They were a big help and we'll miss them when they head back home. We are having "Christmas" tonight so they can watch the grandkids open the presents they bought. I'm sure our three-year-old will want to know why we're not opening all the gifts and I wouldn't be surprised if he tries to keep the unwrapping going. We'll have to keep a close eye on the presents under the tree to make sure nothing goes astray in the coming days.
11/28/12 - Thanksgiving is over. Classes are finished. Finals are closing in quickly on the horizon, and I'm starting to get nervous. I was able to join my family for a long Thanksgiving weekend and still study, so that was good. I bought Torts flash cards so my wife could quiz me on our 1,000 mile car ride home. She would try to answer the questions along with me and she became so excited whenever she could answer a question correctly. It was nice for her to see how crazy torts are sometimes and how the logical and correct answers can often be far apart.
My study group will continue to meet almost every day from now through our last final. The group is beneficial to me, and I hope everyone else feels the same. I've definitely learned to write a better essay thanks to my study group. Time will tell if I can apply these new skills, ideas, and knowledge when it comes to writing cohesive and coherent essays on my finals.
You won't hear from me again until finals are finished. But a break from blogging doesn't translate to a break from school, so I need to get back to studying now.
11/20/12 - Memos are finished. The only thing we can do now is worry about them. While studying for tomorrow’s citation exam, I realized I made a couple of glaring errors on a few of my memo citations. The bad thing is that my professor is sure to catch the mistakes. The good thing is that the citations are only worth a small portion of the overall memo grade. I definitely won’t make the same mistakes again.
My study group is great. The only real problem is that we all get along very well, so we tend to want to talk for too long about irrelevant topics. We came up with a study schedule for now through finals, so that should help. One benefit to studying in a group is that each person can purchase one or two study resources, and then everyone can share them. Otherwise, you can end up spending lots of additional money buying all of the resources yourself, and most law students don’t have an overabundance of cash.
My house has been too quiet without screaming kids running around the last few days. It’s been nice to study (and sleep) without interruption, but I miss my family. Just a few more days and we will all be together for Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for family, friends, good health, and the opportunity to attend law school. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and be careful if you venture out for any Black Friday mayhem!
11/14/12 - The semester is winding down. We had our last Criminal Law class today, and our final memo is due tomorrow morning. Only a couple of classes remain, and then it will be Thanksgiving. My family is leaving town without me this Friday because I want to attend my classes next week. I will fly out super early on Thanksgiving to join them, and then we'll drive home together. I'm actually concerned about taking a few days away from studying because I don't want to lose focus. I will definitely pack course materials and study when I can, and I will probably have my wife drive part of the way home so that I can study in the car.
I do find it important to maintain a connection with my family and give myself things to take my mind off school for short periods of time. I would go crazy if I didn't watch a little TV or go out on "date nights" with my wife.
Our TA’s told us today that we shouldn't make any drastic changes in our lives at finals time. They said it isn't a good time to stop exercising if you're used to doing it, or to start chugging energy drinks if you've never had one before. I've heard other people say that now isn't a good time to buy a dog or break up a relationship. I think that's sage advice. But I intend to keep a few distractions (like TV) in my schedule, because I think they are healthy for me.
11/6/12 - I took my last practice exam for finals today. I guess that means finals are still drawing closer. For 1Ls, there is a practice exam for each class that has a final. My practice exams have all been essays. The professors generally provide an "answer" to their essay so you can compare what you wrote to what they were expecting. Additionally, we can meet with our Academic Support TA’s so they can give us feedback and suggestions regarding our essays. Some professors provide bonus points to incentivize students into taking the practice exams, while other professors dock points from students who don't take the practice exam.
Taking the practice exams has been helpful (for me), and I'm sure that's why they're pushed so heavily by the school. I am grateful for how much they do to help students succeed. We are given numerous opportunities to help prepare ourselves for milestones, and it's important to take advantage of those opportunities.
If I had to guess, almost every single 1L will be working on his or her final memo for Legal Writing this coming weekend. I wish I was finished, but I'm not. I'll be working on it this weekend, too. I think there will be a number of "get-togethers" after we turn in our memos, but before we dig in and buckle down to prepare for finals.
10/31/12 - I'm glad I've finished my midterms, and I'm also glad that my midterms didn't finish me. My grades have been somewhat of a roller coaster ride; some ups, some downs, a few loops, but mostly lots of looking ahead. I always seem to leave myself plenty of room for improvement, but I'm really not doing terribly overall.
Finals are looming and they really aren't that far away. We are switching gears from midterm prep to finals prep. For me, one of the biggest changes will be studying for essay and short-answer exams in addition to multiple-choice exams. I've locked into a good study group, so that is making me feel somewhat better about this whole process. My group is planning to help each other bulk up our essay-writing skills. We are of the mindset that we want to help each other improve, because taking and giving writing feedback will benefit us personally.
I'm happy that my LARW class was cancelled for tomorrow because it will allow me more time with my family for trick-or-treating tonight. I will still go to school early tomorrow, but I can use that cancelled class time to prepare for my afternoon class. We've known this class was going to be cancelled, but I hadn't put two and two together on the timing. Thanks, Professor Murphy!
I can't believe it will have been November for a full week before our next post. Happy Halloween!
10/24/12 - Right now, the only good thing I can say about my Criminal Law midterm is that it’s over. I have no idea how I scored on it. There were several questions for which I thought I understood the material being tested, but the wording of the question made it difficult to know if I was choosing the right answers. Hopefully, we will get our grades on that midterm next week.
Today, I went to lunch with a few classmates to celebrate one of their 21st birthdays. When I think about how young some of my classmates are it makes me feel old and delayed in my pursuit of a law degree. That’s okay, though. Until recently, I wasn’t really in a proper position to make all of this work. Yes, it would have been nice for the stars to line up when I was younger, but I’m just happy and fortunate that they lined up at all. I’m very grateful to be a law student even if I am above the average age here.
On Tuesday, we received all of the details for our final memo in our Legal Writing class. The topic (fraternity hazing) seems interesting. I’m positive it will seem less interesting by the time I’m finished writing the memo. However, I’m glad we’re not writing about boring or abstract topics. On that note, I need to head to the Law Library to print the eleven cases related to the memo. If we use the printers provided to the school by the legal research companies like LexisNexis and Westlaw, we don’t have to pay for the copies.
10/17/12 - We got the results of our Torts midterm last week, and I finally received a grade that I was really happy with. I was very pleasantly surprised, and I hope that I continue understanding the content in Torts that well through the rest of the semester.
On the other hand, I have my Criminal Law midterm on Friday, and I’m not feeling so good about that material. I just finished studying with a study group, and I’m sitting in a review session now, so I am doing things to help prepare for the midterm. Unfortunately I don’t understand the material nearly as well as Torts. My study group is going to pound this again tomorrow, and I’m going to go over as much as I can on my own at home. I really want to do well on the exam, but I’m not optimistic.
We turned in our Legal Writing Memo yesterday. I feel okay—not great—about mine. I put quite a bit of effort into the paper, but I can’t be sure that will translate into a good grade. A lot of it comes down to how well my peers did on their papers. When we are graded against each other, it doesn’t necessarily matter how good or bad your paper is. What matters is how good or bad your paper is compared to everyone else's paper. I might have results on that next time. Stay tuned...
10/10/12 - I took my Legislation and Regulation midterm two weeks ago, and we just received our scores a few minutes ago. My grade was only slightly above average. It definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for, but after looking at the grade distribution it could have been much worse. I didn’t really do anything wrong with what I included in my essay, but I left some pieces out which cost me points. It was a great learning tool because this midterm is only worth 5% of our overall grade in the class.
We are all working feverishly on our LARW Memos that are due next Tuesday. I am almost finished with my analysis of the cases and I will begin putting thoughts on paper soon. This morning I heard that at least one person is completely finished with her paper. I wish I was that far along, as it would be great to have extra time to edit, reflect on, and fine-tune my paper.
I am sitting in the library now. I come here almost every day after my afternoon class. It gives me a few hours to work on schoolwork before I have to pick my son up from preschool. I’m glad my schedule works this way, because if I went straight home after class I think I would get too easily distracted and not spend the extra time studying. I’ll admit, however, that even in the library I’m not always 100% productive.
10/3/12 - Our professors have continually reminded us this week that Torts isn't our only class. We have our Torts midterm this Friday, and we are apparently being oblivious to anything except Torts outlines and Torts practice multiple-choice questions. I understand the material fairly well (I think), but I'm still going through practice questions. Every time we find a question where the answer stumps us or the logic doesn't mirror what we learned in class, we end up passing the question around and then someone inevitably goes to ask our professor to guide us through it.
I have seen lots of camaraderie while studying for this midterm. I haven't seen any of the cutthroat behavior you hear about in some law schools. We have been sharing ideas, outlines, books, practice questions, and time with each other to help make sure everyone has a good chance at succeeding on the exam.
I wish I didn't value sleep so much. Law school, and life in general, would be so much easier if I didn't need/want a reasonable amount of sleep every night. There just aren't enough hours in each day to spread between home/family, school, and sleep time. Most days I feel like I have to sacrifice somewhere to make everything fit inside the 24-hour grid. It's a balancing act, really, but often it's hard to know if you're balancing things appropriately. You cannot completely ignore any single aspect of your life for long without the possibility of associated short or long-term detriment.
9/26/12 - We got our first memos back yesterday. Our professor put a “grade” on them, even though they weren’t really graded. This helps you see how you did compared to what you might have been expecting. My grade wasn’t as good as I would have liked, but I can definitely work with it. Let’s just say that I left myself some room for improvement. We get the second part of our memo assignment next week, and then we’ll have about two weeks to complete everything and turn it in for a real grade.
On Monday, I had my first midterm in my Legislation & Regulation class. The midterm consisted of one essay question and we had one hour to complete it. We were given all of the information (and even the fact pattern) beforehand. You had to know the steps (that we have learned so far) of statutory interpretation in order to complete the essay, but our professor even provided us with the steps ahead of time. All you needed to do was apply her steps to the fact pattern and put it in a cohesive essay. I didn’t think it was too bad, but I reserve the right to change my opinion once I receive my grade.
I am struggling to understand all the concepts and “contradictions to the norm” in my Criminal Law class. I am considering compiling all of my questions and frustrations and going to see my professor during office hours. The professors seem very approachable and I need to be taking advantage of that.
9/19/12 - It became evident this week that life doesn't stop while you're attending law school. You have to take things as they come and deal with them the best way you know how. I've been fighting a sinus infection for almost two weeks now. A second round of antibiotics seems to be doing the trick and I'm finally improving.
I've been getting headaches almost every day in class and my wife was attributing it to all of the extra reading. I went to an eye doctor on Friday, and apparently I have developed my forty-year-old eyes a few years early. The doctor recommended I get bifocals. I'm trying reading glasses first, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to end up in bifocals soon.
My grandmother passed away late last week and the funeral is in Montana on Friday morning. I did not want to miss class if at all possible, so I'm headed straight to the airport after my Torts class on Thursday. I will arrive in Montana at about 11:15 PM, so unless one of my flights is cancelled or delayed I should be fine. I'm thankful that we don't have class on Fridays... without that, I don't know how I would have made this work.
I guess what I'm saying is that these types of things come up for everyone at some point. You need to learn how to deal with them while maintaining good study habits. Don't let distractions paralyze you. Keep some focus on what you need to accomplish at school.
9/12/12 - I was preparing for my Monday classes this past Sunday and I finished up around 9:20 PM - or so I thought. While putting the correct books in my backpack for my Monday classes, I glanced at my course schedule.
Uh oh! The classes I just finished preparing for weren’t until Tuesday. I had my class days flip-flopped in my head. You would think that going into the fourth week of classes I would have my class schedules memorized. I’m just going to blame it on the Monday holiday last week throwing me off.
Luckily, I had already completed almost everything I needed to for the classes I was actually going to have on Monday. I only had to tie up a few loose ends and read a few more items. So, I’ve learned that I need to keep better track of everything that is going on. There are too many things happening in the way of activities, meetings, and due dates to try to remember everything in my head.
Speaking of due dates, we have our first big memo due in our Legal Writing (LARW) class next Tuesday. I read through everything, including the instructions, cases, grading criteria, etc., but I have not put anything on paper yet. I’d like to have the paper mostly written by Friday so I have plenty of time to edit and reflect on what I’ve written before I have to turn it in. Wish me luck!
9/6/12 - Either the pace is accelerating, or I'm slowing down (maybe both). It is taking more and more effort to stay ahead and be completely ready for the next day's classes. I am now wishing I hadn't decided to take it easy for two of the four days during this past holiday weekend. I should have used my time more wisely and used the extra day for some additional studying. I WILL do better going forward.
My wife has been doing a great job keeping up with everything around the house so I can have time to study. She's been doing 99% of the kid duties, laundry, dishes, meals, errands, etc. This is in addition to working full-time as our sole income provider. I left my job this summer so I could completely focus on school. I am trying to help where and when I can, but my wife has been amazing so far. Thanks, Honey!
Several of my classmates and I have shared our thoughts about our professors up to this point. Overall, everyone I've talked to is impressed with the quality and professionalism of the faculty. Personally, I feel that I am spending a great deal of money on this degree, and I expect to be offered a substantial return on my educational investment. I have not been disappointed. We are only in our third week and, in my opinion, I've learned quite a bit so far.
8/24/12 - It's nice to be taking a break this evening to write something besides a case brief. Two weeks ago, I didn't know the first thing about briefing a case. Now, reading cases and writing briefs seems to constitute the largest portion of my day.
We are in our second week now, and I am really enjoying law school so far. Yes, it has been demanding and challenging already, but it has also been a great experience. It's been over 14 years since I've been in a classroom. I like interacting with fellow students and the law school faculty.
One thing I'm struggling with right now is how I want to take notes in class. The last time I sat in live lectures EVERYONE took notes on paper. Now my classes have a mixture of students taking notes on either paper, laptops, or iPads/tablets. I have tried taking notes all three ways, and I haven't figured out which I like best.
If I had unlimited table space I'd probably have my laptop, paper, and iPad all going at the same time. Unfortunately, I have table neighbors who need space, too. Speaking of table neighbors... to my friends in my LARW class: I promise to figure out where my assigned seat is by next week. Thanks for being nice and not yelling at me for sitting in your seat!