Undergraduate School: University of Texas at Austin
Undergraduate Major: History
Hometown: Fort Worth, TX
Status: Part-Time Evening
4/24/13 - Classes are OVER! The relief of freedom is coupled with the anxiety of finals. Although, this semester the task of finals seems much less daunting than last semester. I think learning how to take a law school exam is the most stressful part of law school. I specify “law school exam” because they are so inherently different from any test I have ever taken before. Our exams are time pressured. Every one of our professors has told us that they’ve written a test that a student needs X amount of time to perfectly answer, and the actual time you have to complete the test is about ½ of X.
There is an adrenaline rush when taking a law school final that I can’t quite put into words. That rush is followed by an exuberance unlike any other when the test is over. And for me personally, the end of a law school exam is much like running a race. I’m exhausted, and whether I did good, bad or otherwise, I’m amazed that I’ve finished.
For those of you who have already taken your LSAT, you know that time is your enemy. Most people, given an unlimited amount of time, could ace the LSAT. The same is true of your law school finals. The information is in your head, but you have to quickly find a way to coherently get it all on the page while striking a balance between leaving pertinent information out of your answer and doing a complete “information dump.”
I have a tendency to do the “information dump.” That is where you get an essay, and in answering the one question your professor asks, you also write a short novel on your entire subject knowledge. I’m sure someone who has to read 80 tests does not want to read 80 textbooks on the subject.
Off I go to practice quickly and succinctly answering questions, and trying my very best not to write a casebook on Contract Law. Wish me luck!
4/17/13 - Do you ever find yourself in the midst of a moment with the full knowledge that it is one of those moments you will regard as a cherished memory one day?
I remember the first moment I clearly thought “this mental image is something I will cherish for all of my days.” It was the first time I stepped out of my car to go to freshman orientation at UT on my 18th birthday. There were many such moments that first year at UT.
I’m having another one of those moments now. This one a bit longer than a flash of a minute. Right now, I am looking down the barrel at my last four days of classes in my first year of law school. When I find myself in these moments, I take a pause and try to press it all together in one fabulous mental collage.
I think our brains do us a great favor by romanticizing memories. I already can’t truly recall the immense pressure I felt right before my trial brief was due two weeks ago. I know it happened, but I can’t get myself to engage in that feeling again. I can, however, remember the moment we were sworn in as law students.
That was the moment I had achieved one of my big life goals. Law school is not for the faint of heart. It is a great ambition and a huge undertaking. As I look back on this first year and forward to the next, I am overflowing with bittersweet emotions. I am incredibly grateful that I will never be a 1L again, yet I wouldn’t trade this past school year for anything.
I’ve learned a lot about myself this year. And I am convinced that I came to Texas Wesleyan at just the right time. As a class (the evening class of 1L’s) we have all learned each other’s quirks. And I feel like we have shared an experience and now a bond that no one else will ever truly understand.
Off I go, teary eyed, yet smiling from ear to ear, to my last four classes with this amazing group of people.
4/10/13 - Relief is washing over me in massive waves. In one week I had: my trial brief (which I find to be the most arduous writing assignment ever), oral argument, and last, but certainly not least, a minor hospitalization. Very minor. Lots of pain, but no big deal medically.
Trial brief. Oh my goodness. The moment I hit the submit button, I started jumping up and down and screaming. I was that excited to have it finished. My whole family and I were jumping up and down and cheering in our living room. I had no idea how I had done on it. I still don’t know how I did. I didn’t care then, and I don’t now. All that matters is that it’s behind me. That, in itself, is a huge accomplishment.
The oral argument. For someone who loves meeting new people and talking to anyone at any time, I sure do hate public speaking. I get the whole nervous system working: shakes, trembling voice, sweating. The moment I stand up to speak to a group is rarely a smooth moment for me. And by rarely I mean never. I am on the board for the Student Bar Association, and I regularly make announcements in class to about 70 people. I get nervous even doing that. So, it goes without saying that standing up and publicly arguing a complicated matter was enough to send me into a tizzy. It went well, though. I think.
Now we are in that last stretch of the semester. The major paper is done, and we are cruising through classes everyone working on their outlines and getting ready for finals. Finals don’t bother me very much though. I’m actually quite comfortable with tests, especially at this point. After finals comes the almighty, wonderful summer break. Ahhhh. Well, for a week anyway. I’ve enlisted myself in summer classes. And to answer your obvious question: yes, I am crazy. Completely.
4/3/13 - Trial Brief. Less than 24 hours (from when I’m writing this) and it will be over. I have a love-hate relationship with this part of the writing process. I work best under pressure, and at the same time I feel pressure very heavily. My husband has become so accustomed to my process of writing these legal papers that he too has started getting into the habit of an excited countdown until I finally release the paper.
I am a perfectionist. And here is the catch: there is no such thing as a perfect paper. Even the “A” papers our writing professors give us as examples have marks all over them. That’s good though. Really good, actually. It shows passion on the part of the professors.
While they are quick to help and readily available, every professor I have had here has demanded excellence. That is fantastic because the whole point of being here is to gain a special training. So, while it drives the perfectionist in me absolutely bonkers that there will always be room for improvement, I am truly grateful for professors who are striving to create amazing lawyers.
In addition to the affirmation that the markings on my papers will guide me to be a better legal writer, and a better lawyer generally, the competitor in me eats this up. I accept the constant coaching as a challenge. I am by nature a desperately competitive person, so I love a good challenge.
That being said, part of what I love about a good challenge is the euphoria of accomplishing a difficult task. And this trial brief is certainly a difficult task to conquer. I find myself drifting off to sleep rewriting sentences in my head and (on many more than one occasion) leaping from my bed to quickly get a sentence on paper when I really feel like I have generated a brilliant thought. That being said, I am going to get back to this trial brief. And tomorrow night, when this is all said and done, and the brief is behind me, I will do what I always do the night I turn in a big paper. Have a glass of champagne to celebrate my accomplishment and pass out for 14 hours from sheer exhaustion.
3/27/13 - Okay, let’s call it. I’m officially insane. I decided to go ahead with the summer classes. I know! What in the world is wrong with me? A lot actually, but it would be hard to describe my exact form of insanity in a blog. Perhaps a novel would suffice; but even that would be one long book.
So, summer school. Yes. I am so excited. For many reasons. If I’m being perfectly honest, the main reason is the prospect of graduating early. I mean the end game here is a J.D., so why not get it a few months earlier?
The only person crazier than me is my husband who was extremely excited for me to get the opportunity to pack two more classes in this year. He’s amazing. He definitely is taking one for the team here. We have two small children, and he is always super dad. But when I’m in school, he’s like all of the super heroes rolled into one. I guess that would make him Super Bat Captain America Spider Wolverine Dad. Or something like that.
Not only did we sign ourselves up for summer school, but we did it in the midst of the Trial Brief Madness. (Imagine dramatic scary movie music here). These writing assignments are no joke. Luckily I have been through the tortuous legal writing process enough times now that I know there is the most amazing feeing waiting for me on the other side of that trial brief. I cannot put into words the relief and high on life feeling that washes over me at 10:01 AM on the morning that these papers are due. Mine have all been due at 10 AM.
No matter how hard I prepare, how many revisions I make, I always find one thing that I absolutely must change and have found myself submitting a final final draft around 9:55 AM. 10:01 AM has power because good, bad or otherwise, that paper is gone, done, over, FINISHED. So, as I bury my head in the library tonight trying to perfectly persuade my imaginary judge with the best trial brief anyone has ever seen, I will be fantasizing about 10:01 AM Wednesday morning.
3/20/13 - Aaaaahhhh. Yes, that was my Spring Break sigh. I did nothing. And it was fabulous! I was ready to come back, though. It never ceases to amaze me how much I love coming to school. I still get excited every day to come. I do have to remind myself of that excitement sometimes.
I do love it here. But when I am up still reading when I would rather be sleeping, I have to remind myself of how very, very much I love it. While I absolutely love school, I will not pretend for one second that it is easy. Not even a little bit. But it’s not impossible either.
Law school is a challenge. Every day. Sometimes when I stop to actually appreciate all I have been through in these short first few months, I am shocked to realize how much I have learned. I have made it a point now to stop and smell the law school roses every couple of weeks.
By “smell the law school roses,” I mean that I stop and assess how much knowledge I have acquired already. It reinforces my drive to press on. And, admittedly, I give myself a pat on the back when I take a moment to appreciate the bountiful fruit of my tireless efforts. Speaking of tireless efforts, off I go to conduct research for my next big assignment!
2/27/13 - At the beginning of law school I made myself many promises. One of those was that I would not ever, ever ever do summer school. Well, now it’s time to register for summer school, and the temptation is calling me.
On the one hand, if I did summer school every summer, then I would get out a year earlier. Also, I still get a month off between summer session and fall session. On top of that, as much as I welcomed the winter break, I was ready to come back in January. One month of winter break was simultaneously enough, and all too short.
With two days until summer registration I remain undecided. One more month to work on my tan sure does seem nice. Sadly, the thing I am most worried about is actually that I will miss school if I stay away for the full summer break.
I must be a glutton for punishment. No matter how much reading and how many long nights law school throws at me, I can’t get enough. I find myself hungry for more. I don’t want to leave for three months. I love this torture. I love my friends here. It amuses me that in undergrad I practically had to be dragged by the collar into class, and now in law school I nearly am skipping in like an eager kindergartener.
I still remain undecided as to whether I will be by the pool from May to June or buried under my beloved pile of books. I will know for sure by next week. It really might come down to a coin toss, which, let’s be honest, is the most mature way to make mature adult decisions about planning my law school career.
2/13/13 - Anyone who has been to school will attest to the fact that the professor of a course makes all the difference. I loved my professors the first semester. I was convinced it couldn’t be the same again.
And it’s not the same. But the professors we have this semester are just as incredible as the ones we had last semester. They are all fascinating people who are passionate about the law, and clearly love teaching. You can see it in every single one of them. I am never nervous to walk into any professor’s office in this school, because every time I have I have been met with a brilliant mind sitting on the other side of the desk. And no matter how ridiculous or simplistic my questions have been, they have always been welcomed.
One professor in particular who I am completely fascinated by is Professor Spurlock. He inspires me to be a stronger student, and a better person in general. That man has done more with his life than most could hope to accomplish in three lifetimes. Seriously, you should look him up. He is a Vietnam War vet, a judge, has served in the Texas legislature, and worked to help Mongolia form an effective democratic justice system. He has done much more than that, too!
Yet, I get to sit and learn from this remarkable man. I get to talk to him in candid conversation. It blows my mind. If you ever have the fortune to share a conversation with Professor Spurlock, you will find yourself laughing, your soul warmed from the experience, and your mind enlightened by his wisdom.
2/6/13 - We turned in our third memo this week. This time was different in many ways. First off, rather than preparing my memo based on when it was due, I started researching that puppy the day we got the assignment. Second of all, the panic didn’t set in until the day of the memo. Lastly, the panic wasn’t as intense because I knew how amazing it would feel to have it completed.
And that euphoria that comes with completing one of those memos is something special. Rhetoric was one of my areas of focus in undergrad, and I absolutely love research. So, when I found out we had to take writing the first few semesters, I was pumped.
Writing comes easily to me. It’s the simplest thing to transfer my thoughts onto paper. Yeah, well, legal writing is a completely different story. There is nothing about it that came naturally to me. I think I am starting to get it. If nothing else, I can see a marked improvement in every paper I write.
The tough thing for me now is to not write everything in the legal writing format. I can barely send a text message without first putting it in “CREAC” form (Conclusion, Rule, Explanation of the rule, Application of the rule to facts, Conclusion). It’s funny to me because it has taken me so long to understand CREAC. It feels as though I am repeating myself. I spent years learning to not be repetitive in my writing. My husband has to remind me quite often to turn off my legal brain and just be a normal person. Ha! Not gonna happen.
1/30/13 - Whew! Finally, I am all caught up. I know last semester I wrote that you would get tons of advice about law school. Much (if not most) will be unsolicited. I also hugely advocated then, and even more so now, the power of a good study group.
Now, allow me to deliver another piece of (unsolicited) advice. Do not get behind. Holy moly. Law school is quite an undertaking in itself. But trying to play catch up while trying to manage the normal day-to-day of school/work/family is a whole new ballgame.
Luckily, I am on a first name basis with many a barista at Starbucks. That’s not so much a brag as much as a confession. That being said, pretty much everyone who knows me has recently asked if I still like law school. Granted most of these people saw the haggard mess I was during finals.
I’m a very straight forward person. My answer has been a vehement, “I love it!” I do. I feel as though I’ve really found my place here. Part of that is my inner nerd being unchained, and part of that is that I really love Texas Wesleyan specifically.
Okay, I will put my pom-poms down and quit cheerleading for my school. I’m thankful that I love the study of law and the school I chose. I spend a great deal of time here, so it’s nice that it feels like home. Wait, didn’t I just say I’d put my pom-poms down? Yeah, that was kind of a trick. They are as ever affixed to my hands as exclamation points are ever affixed to the end of almost every sentence that comes out of my mouth.
1/23/13 – What’s worse than being so sick you are confined to bed for five days? Being that sick at the beginning of the semester. Oh my goodness. I missed almost a full week of classes. Being behind in law school is awful. Terrible.
Luckily, my professors were extremely kind. And/or they just wanted me to keep my germs to myself. I definitely did not escape any of my responsibilities, but all three of my profs were very understanding about my absence. When I finally made my glorious return, they were also understanding of my inability to speak in class. I was without a voice for over a week!
Believe you me, there are definitely people in my life who were probably grateful for the phenomenon of my silence. Seeing me be silent is like Haley’s Comet. If it happens in your lifetime, you should get a look and appreciate it, because it is likely to never happen again as long as I live.
My kiddos thought it was great. They got away with so much. I was too tired to reprimand them and as much as it hurt to talk, I wasn’t going to nag them unless there was a possibility of serious injury. But I am back now. The first two days I had my voice I talked more than I have probably talked in a month. Heck, I was talking in my sleep. I suppose it’s a good thing I love to talk and write as much as I do (which is a lot). Our writing professor told us this week, “lawyers make money two ways: talking and writing.” I was born to do this!
1/16/13 - I am yet again amazed by how spoiled we are with the faculty here at Texas Wesleyan Law. It appears to me that this place is just an endless treasure trove of amazing faculty members. Like last semester, my three professors are all extremely different from one another, and I am thrilled about each one of them. The icing on the cake? All three are University of Texas grads.
In case I have not yet made my bias abundantly clear, I went to UT for undergrad, and I am a fiercely loyal/obsessive longhorn. I love all things UT. OK, I will put my orange blood aside and try to stay focused on the topic at hand - semester 2 of law school.
At the outset, I think this semester will be easier than the first in some ways and harder in others. Personally, I now have certified proof (my grades) that I can actually do this law school thing. I know what it takes to successfully complete a semester in law school. Check. That’s one less thing to worry about this semester. I think half of the difficulty and shock of coming to law school is just that: coming to law school. It’s a whole new world.
I think this semester will be harder because the professors have upped the ante. There is no more “lost little 1L”. You have had your semester to flounder and now we all know you can do it. The class pace is already quicker and the readings more dense than I remember last semester being. Of course I had a month of Dora the Explorer and mani/pedis to forget the pain of last semester.
Maybe this semester isn’t any harder and faster than last semester. Maybe I am just lucky enough to have forgotten exactly how hard last fall was.
1/9/13 - I thought for sure I would settle down and have a restful break. Apparently I have learned nothing about myself in the 28.5 years I have spent on this earth. I do not have the capacity to sit still. On those first couple of would-be-school nights, I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Before I knew it, I had settled into the routine of freedom. And I managed to have a very busy Christmas break. A quick rundown: lots of family, 3 Christmases, husband’s birthday, two sick kids, hospitalized baby (who is healthy as a horse now), a trip to Sea World, a remodeled room, and a partridge in a pear tree.
When the time came to go back to school, I was once again confused. I had to sit down and make a plan. I don’t do that. I’m not a planner by any stretch of the imagination. I had to try to prepare myself for the rigorous obligations I would face once class restarted. Leaving my sweet babies Monday to come to class was much harder than I expected.
But then I got here and saw my law school family. As I saw all the familiar faces and we swapped stories of our adventures in freedom, I realized how much I truly cherish these people. It certainly made the return to the school routine much, much easier. I was once again reminded of something I learned in the first week of law school. We are all in this together.
12/19/12 - I ran into a friend at the store and she asked me if I will actually settle down over the winter break. Those first couple of days I did settle down. I don’t think I got out of my robe for at least the first 3 days after my final.
Then my energy was back. God help my family. I guess I forgot what a hyperactive person I am. That probably wouldn’t shock many people to learn that a woman with two children and a full-time job attending law school part time is a bit on the hyper side. All of my absurd amounts of energy had been spread across school, work, and my family for the past few months. Now school is out of the equation, so there is tons of energy to spare.
Luckily for everyone who has to deal with me, we got our syllabus for one of our spring semester classes. There is a paper due on the first day of class. That translates into something that will keep me from bouncing off the walls like a three-year old who snuck 6 extra pieces of cake at a party.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a blessed 2013!
12/12/12 - Whew! It’s over! It’s finished! YAY! I can’t believe how quickly this semester has gone.
At the beginning I was just trying to figure out what in the world I was doing. Then, sometime around mid-October I started compiling this mental list of all the fabulous things I would do over Christmas break. Everything from taking my family to Austin for the Trail of Lights to meandering through a bookstore for hours just playfully browsing to finally painting my dining room that’s been half painted for months now. I’d bet the list is about 4 pages long.
I have been dreaming of this day for two months - the day when the library would be a distant memory (at least for a little while). I now have the time to do that long, long list of fabulous things I wanted to do. However, now that the break is here, the 4 page list has been whittled down to one word. Sleep.
I wish you all a restful and peaceful holiday season.
11/28/12 - As glad as I am that this will all soon be over, I’m also a little bit sad about the break. Law school has ruled my life for three months now. Three grueling, glorious months. I have spent most of my waking moments with my classmates and teachers here. And though it has only been three months, I have grown deeply attached to these people and this routine.
Yes, I know you are probably thinking “Stockholm Syndrome.” And maybe that is the case. I have fallen in love with my captor (law school). As I mentioned before I swore to myself and my family that I would not read anything legal over the winter break. Between you and me, I have been stock piling interesting cases that I am curious about but haven’t had time to read yet. I just went back and read that last sentence. I really have become a full blown law geek. I guess I should throw in some shopping and manicures over the break to make sure I don’t totally lose myself.
11/20/12 - Today is my last day of LARW 1 (Legal Writing). I am beyond elated to have 1 out 3 classes down. After we turned in our final memo last week my husband asked me how I thought I did. I told him that quite frankly, at that point, I did not care. All I cared about was that it was over. I refuse to read that memo after I turned it in, because I will then obsess over it the whole winter break. I did my best and it’s done. The end.
I will miss my Legal Writing professor. She has so kindly guided us through the beginning steps into the terrible world of legal writing. Some of my classmates don’t mind the class so much, but it is the hardest one for me personally.
Back to Professor Pierce - not sure if I’m allowed to use specific names - she’s amazing. The best. I think I have been spoiled by having her as one of my first law school professors. I actually think I’ve been spoiled with all three professors we had this semester. They are phenomenal. Each of them present rigorous challenges in their respective fields. Yet, they each are willing to patiently guide us fledgling 1L’s.
In other news, I get to be with family for Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to be around that big table laughing and hearing the kids squeal with delight at each other. Also there’s a little game on this Thursday, and my entire life (law school included) will come to a halt for a few glorious hours while I watch my Horns beat up on TCU. HOOK EM! And Happy Thanksgiving.
11/14/12 - Our final memo is due this week. This one constitutes half of our grade in Legal Writing. I am at once tense and relieved. Turning in these memos is like giving birth. There is this huge build up, anticipation, preparation, anxiety. And then, like a flash, it’s over. It was painful, but it’s over. Also like giving birth, when I first faced the prospect of writing this memo, I thought, “I can’t do that.” Now I feel as though I have some new superpower and I can do anything.
More importantly, now that the memo is out of the way, I can hone in on outlines for Torts and Criminal Law. I’m genuinely not sure what I will do with myself in December. I’ve only been in law school for a semester, but I cannot remember a time when I didn’t have five million things flying at me. I welcome the break.
I bet by the end of the break I will be ready for more school. It’s kind of like how we Texans always like to complain about the weather. In August, you have to worry about melting when walking from your car to your front door. Yet in January, if there is so much as a hint of ice everything shuts down ,and gosh, you wish it were just a little warmer.
Such is life in law school. I am bombarded with an impossibly endless to-do list, yet I fear the boredom of the winter break. I guess these are good problems to have though.
11/7/12 - It seems to me that the further I get into law school, the more sense it all makes to me. I can tell I am really beginning to catch on to how the questions are asked and sort through the jumble of words to pick out the ones I am supposed to see. Unfortunately, it also seems that the more my brain acclimates to law school, the less capable I am of doing everything else.
I feel like a zombie at this point. Most of my energy goes to law school, and whatever is left over (which isn’t much) gets scattered into all the other things in my life. Luckily, my family has a good sense of humor, so rather than worry when I have tried more than once to walk out of my house without my pants on, they lovingly laugh.
Law school is a strange animal. Somehow the more I pour myself into it, the more I love it. I am not usually keen on doing more of a difficult thing, but with school I can’t get enough. I dream about cases and tests. I’ve talked before about the obsession, and for me, this obsession deepens every day.
At the same time, I know exactly how many days I have until I can stop reading (33). And I have vowed to abstain from reading anything more intellectually dense than a gossip magazine over Christmas break. I bet it will be less than a week before I hear about some intriguing case, end up succumbing to my law geek pangs and read the whole court transcript.
10/31/12 - I am certainly feeling the anxiety this week. We turned in our first portion of our second memo. Our second memo is also our final writing assignment, and it seems to me like a charging mammoth. In addition to that everyone keeps saying the “F” word. For all first year law students the “F” word is “finals.” There are only a few weeks left of class, which is a concept I can’t wrap my head around.
I’ve done the reading and I’ve taken the midterms and practice tests. Yet, the monster that I face in December – finals - seems like an unruly, unfathomable beast. I’ve been diligent, and I’ve seen on the practice tests that what everyone says is true: if you go to class, read the cases, make a good outline and study it, you’ll be fine.
But I have this irrational fear that I will show up for a Criminal Law final and get tested on something completely different than the concepts I have mastered. I actually had a nightmare that one of my professors posed an essay question about some random economic theory.
Side note - Economics was my weakest class in undergrad, by far.
My logical brain knows that if I really buckle down and tackle my readings and outlines I will be fine. However, my illogical panicking brain is much louder than my logical brain.
And my illogical panicking brain thinks maybe I should prepare an essay on the economic ramifications of everyone cashing their Beanie Babies in at once. I would prepare this essay in my abundance of spare time. In the meantime, I’m just trying to live the remainder of this first semester day by day and say “finals” as rarely as possible.
10/24/12 - I had heard about study groups in law school before I came to Texas Wesleyan. I had heard how imperative it is to gather a good study group, and that study groups quickly become close.
But when our Criminal Law professor announced that we had to assemble ourselves into study groups of 4-5 people, my first thought was, “I’d really rather not, thanks.”
This is probably surprising to people who know me well. I am like a golden retriever; I’ll pretty much play with anyone. I love people and I love being surrounded by people, until it’s time to get work done. Then I just want to be left alone. At least that’s how I’ve always been in my professional life and academic life…until now.
I love my study group. I got to thinking this week that I cannot believe I’ve only known them for a couple months. I feel as if I’ve known these guys for a lifetime. I am not quick to trust, yet I trust them implicitly. Your study group quickly becomes your law school family, and often you see them more than your actualfamily.
My group amazes me every time we get together. They are each brilliant and I consider myself lucky to be with them. The funny thing about us is that we rarely agree on legal issues, which actually makes our collaborative analysis stronger. In fact, when we have all four agreed (which I think has happened twice), we joked that we must be wrong. And we were.
There are many pieces of advice people will give you about law school. Allow me to reinforce the constant endorsement you will hear about study groups. I cannot imagine my life without my little group. I truly admire, respect, and care for each of them deeply.
10/17/12 - I pulled my first law school all-nighter Monday night. Wow, I’m only 28, but an all-nighter now is much different than it was at 23. When I was in undergrad I used to do a few days of all-nighters in a row. It wasn’t my favorite, but I could do it.
Five years later, I barely survived one all-nighter. Of course, I also have a full time job and two kids to contend with in addition to school now. What’s also different about staying up all night to finish a paper this week than it was 5 years ago is that I wasn’t doing it this time because I waited until the last minute. Quite the opposite.
I started my memo a couple weeks ago and have been working slow and steady on it since then. When I was cleaning it up Monday night to turn in Tuesday morning, I just kept finding things I wanted to change. Most of the changes I made weren’t correcting something in my memo. Rather, most of them were making it just a little better.
Just a little better kept compounding and building and getting bigger until it was 6 AM and I had to e-submit my paper in as it was because I needed to get in the shower to get to work. I am still amazed at how much I am learning. There seems to be an endless flow of information, and I am loving it.
Law school is also bringing out every obsessive tendency I’ve managed to keep at bay before now. Although, I don’t think law school has made me any crazier than I was before. It’s just made me too tired to hide my crazy.
10/10/12 - Law school thus far has felt like being a passenger on a bus. I bought a ticket and agreed to ride, but I am not driving this thing; it is driving me. This week, that bus has begun to feel like a freight train. I saw a sign yesterday for a Torts practice final this weekend.
I thought, “That’s a little early!” Then I realized, no it’s not. My first law school final is less than 2 months away. And judging by how much more work everything else has been in law school than it was in undergrad, I’m going to need every second of that 2 months to prepare. And I will be at the school bright and shiny Saturday morning for that practice test. Well, probably neither bright nor shiny, but I will be there.
I’m definitely in a rut after getting our first memos back. I thought for sure I got an “A+”. My grade wasn’t abysmal, but I won’t exactly be throwing myself a “Law Student of the Year” parade anytime soon. I was surprised by how hard the disappointment hit me. I’m so used to school coming easily to me. In some ways I feel that I am in a groove with law school, and in others it is still a complete shock to my system.
I still love law school, and I have not had a “what am I doing here?!?!” moment. I know that I am where I belong, and I am extremely grateful to be here. I have, however, told everyone I know that I never want to hear them complain about attorney fees. Whatever your attorney is charging you, rest assured, they have probably earned it. (I want to say definitely earned, but my law student brain won't allow me to use the word definitely).
10/3/12 - Obsession. That is the word du jour. I am completely obsessed with law school. Part of the problem is that I am totally consumed by it at this present moment. More than that though, is how pervasive law school is. I see it invading every area of my life.
I have lost all capability to process any information that is not directly related to one of my classes. I’ve always been a forgetful person, but my forgetfulness has reached new heights. I have forgotten basic functions. I went to boil pasta one day this week and actually stood there staring at my stove trying to remember what the first step was. Oh yeah! Get the pot out.
So, while I can barely dress myself these days, I see the law in everything. It has to be annoying to everyone around me. My husband asked a basic question this week, completely not related to law school whatsoever, in any way, shape or form. Yet I managed to bring it around and explain to him why the liability would be different depending on if we’re talking about criminal law or tort law. The response was something like, “I didn’t ask about my liability. I just wanted to know where the speed limit changes from 40 to 45.” That will teach him! You NEVER ask a lawyer a simple question. There is no such thing as a simple question anymore.
Not only do I try to apply the law to everything, I keep accidentally speaking like we are trained to speak in class. My sister asked what nail polish to buy. I said, “Well, obviously this shade is better for fall. Sorry, I shouldn’t say obviously. I don’t know where you’re planning on travelling and how fashion trends may vary from region to region.” My sister rolled her eyes and told me to stop “lawyering her.” Then she laughed at me. I’m hoping this obsessive propensity to “lawyer” every situation goes away after law school, although, I’m pretty sure it’s a permanent affliction. My condolences to anyone who has to try talk to me…
9/26/12 – In undergrad, when I merely showed up and read (scanned the material), I made great grades. Law school is a different animal. Approaching law school the same laid back way I approached undergrad is like thinking I can satiate a lion with a saucer of Fancy Feast. Either mistake is going to result in me getting eaten.
The mid-semester blues are sinking in. I am wholly, completely exhausted. I have this tremendously dichotomous feeling of being fascinated by every morsel of information flying at me, and the fear of trying to figure out just how I’m going to make it to week 14 when I’m on empty at week 6. I told myself that I would handle it better - I wasn’t going to let the law school beast eat me. Somehow, I was going to be the first student in the over 100 years of American law school to never completely stress out.
The good news to all of you coming to law school is that record is still up for grabs. I’m still enjoying law school. But I’m finally surrendering to the reality that I have to be in the library. Every. Single. Weekend. Every one.
When I first scheduled all of my study time, there were two things I didn’t understand.
1. No matter what kind of speed reader you think you are, in law school you’re not. It takes FOREVER to read everything. The material is dense and the format foreign. I am getting accustomed to reading the legal format. Slowly, but surely.
2. To truly be prepared for how you will get grilled in class, or even be prepared to follow the conversation in the room around you, you have to read things more than once.
Off I go to read and re-read and re-read and well, you get it. The good news is that Thursday evening eventually comes, and in my life, it comes with wine.
9/19/12 - Whew! I got called on to brief a case in class for the first time in Torts this week. When you brief a case, you state the facts of the case (who was doing what), the legal issue, and the law that was used. Our Torts professor has a deck of index cards on which we have all written our names. To pick a victim, er um, student to brief the case, our professor randomly draws a card from the deck of index cards. Whoever’s card he draws is the lucky winner that presents the case to the class. Then your professor asks you about 5 million questions you hadn't thought of when you read the case.
In addition to surviving that first draw, I completed my first test and my first paper this last week. And I'm still breathing. I have never been this tired in my life, but I'm breathing.
Now, we wait. Wait for that grade, that validation. Like any brand new experience, law school seems to have many "firsts." Your first friend, first class, first paper, first test, the first time you get called on, and the greatest fear - the first time a professor catches you unprepared.
The great fear was finally realized for one of my classmates this week. This poor individual came unprepared to class and got busted. I felt so bad for my fellow fledgling 1L. Our professor made an example of this student. I can say with a great deal of certainty that no one will show up unprepared again. Ever. I neither faulted my professor nor my fellow student for how everything happened.
The student was called on to explain a case to the class, and declared in front of the whole class that he hadn't gotten to that case yet. Our professor took a deep sigh and proceeded to calmly explain to us the importance of being prepared now and, more importantly, in our careers. When an attorney shows up unprepared, he explained, people can lose things. Sometimes it's a lawsuit, sometimes it's their freedom.
Then came the part where he drove the lesson home. My professor looked at the unprepared student and said, "Buckle up. The next class is your show." The whole room audibly gasped. We all saw that coming. What we didn't see coming was when professor made the student pick the next victim to brief a case.
Everyone in the room felt bad for this poor guy. It could have been any of us. We all discussed it at length after class and the following day. Every one of us has at one point missed a case in our readings or, not finished the reading before class, and entered the room with a deep breath, a prayer and a highlighter (to highlight the case as quickly as humanly possible before your prof gets to it).
I was impressed how our professor handled the situation, too. He was stern and made his point, but he was also respectful of the student.
On that note I am going to go brief the heck out of some Tort cases!
9/12/12 - It's all fun and games until someone throws a test at you. My first midterm is today. I have been told to study as much as I can throughout the semester and sleep the night before all exams so my brain is fresh. I have been diligently reading, briefing and studying every case that has been presented to me.
On that side of things I feel that I've done almost as much as I can. But sleep the night before my first law school test?! Are you kidding me?! I was pacing like a crazy person all night last night. My neighbors probably think I'm on drugs. I don't even have the time or energy to be bothered by that thought at this point. I have managed to isolate this one class - Torts (coincidentally my favorite class).
I guess I forgot that my Criminal Law and Legal Writing professors were going to want me to do something for their classes too. Whoops! They seemed less than surprised that most of the section had let those other two classes slide while honing in on Torts. That's not to say they are giving us a free pass; I'm just saying they seem familiar with a room full of 1L's completely befuddled by the prospect of their first law school exam.
Here's what makes all of this so incredibly ridiculous for me: this test is only 10% of our grade. I think it's designed more as a favor so we get a chance to do a practice test before the real deal in December. You know, the one test that determines how much knowledge you've managed to acquire and actually keep in your head for 3.5 months.
So what's silly about me losing sleep over the 10% test is not even the fact that it's worth so little. It's the fact that I am not worried about the grade so much as I am the competition. I am naturally a competitive person. I would take interest in anything if there is a competition involved. And then I would win.
I sometimes make extremely not competitive things competitive. "Oooh, I see that mom over there is bagging her own groceries. I will bag my own groceries and slide my credit card with my mouth." This may or may not have actually happened. OK. It happened. I really am THAT competitive. But, I am not mean or aggressive in my competitive spirit. It's all fun to me.
9/6/12 - Dare I say it? I've found my groove! I think I have found a study schedule that isn't overly oppressive, AND keeps me a little ahead of my reading schedule. Every now and then I even get the treat of sitting down while eating and NOT reading anything.
Okay, that civilized meal part isn't true. I'm pretty much always reading something, the only exception being when I'm driving or sleeping. Of course, when I'm sleeping I dream about briefing the unending slew of cases. I've even noticed that I have started to dissect every single situation in my life and try to apply one of the very few legal rules I know at this point. I came home one day and actually told my husband, "Don't touch anyone at any time whether you know them or not, on purpose or by accident. You'd be surprised how easy it is to sue people! Someone at a fast food chain won a lawsuit because someone else threw a burger in her direction and some mayonnaise splattered on her pant leg! The world is one GIANT LAWSUIT!"
Being a 1L has now turned me into the legal version of Chicken Little: "The lawsuits are falling! The lawsuits are falling!" Much to my relief on a personal level, I do still see my family, and I still get to indulge in my guilty pleasure, The Real Housewives. Don't judge me. Okay, judge away. I know you can't help it and I don't blame you one little bit.
8/24/12 - I came into law school because I work in a field that I love - oil and gas title - and I had a hunger for more knowledge. Law school has surprised me in many ways. The biggest surprise is how much I absolutely love it. I have read more in the past week and a half than I ever thought I would.
But! I was also surprised at how accomplished I felt afterwards. I have already learned so much in my first week of law school. Most importantly I've learned to read everything. Everything! Carefully. I've learned that a study group is invaluable. Class is not as scary as I thought it was going to be. I was shocked to learn that my professors are not out to get me. They actually want to teach me the law. They are all extremely fascinating people who are passionate about imparting their knowledge on to the next generation of lawyers. Having said that, I wouldn't be caught dead unprepared.
Lastly, I learned to not be scared to be wrong in front of my whole class. I think that is the most common fear in new law students, the humiliation of being the one person who gets it wrong. Well, almost everyone has gotten the chance to be wrong. Publicly. It’s not as bad as I'd imagined. It is actually pretty humorous most of the time. We are all in this together. There's great comfort in that.