Barbara Jean Pitre
Undergraduate School: Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge
Undergraduate Major: Business Administration
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA
Status: Full-Time Day
1/23/13 - This has been an extremely difficult week. On Wednesday, January 23, I had two citation exercises due, an e-mail memo with a research log, and the regular reading assignments, along with this blog. I try to find a way to insert humor in my blog, but I am not feeling humorous at this moment. Somehow I have to figure out how to do one of my citation assignments by midnight on Wednesday! It seems very complicated and complex. I wanted to get it in earlier, but I just reached a point that my brain was so tired it would not cooperate with my will to get it done. Hopefully, my brain will be more cooperative after a few hours of sleep!
WestLawNext and LexisAdvanced are supposed to be simple. Just click here, limit here, jump here, etc. I have clicked, limited, and jumped and am still uncomfortable with the information I come up with. Oh, for the days of bound books in the library! I still don’t trust the computer, but who has time to “hit the stacks”?
Additionally, I struggle with reading vertically. Consequently, I have to print a hard copy of everything I find on the computer to determine whether it is useful or not. I am using paper and ink like mad!
My eyes are beginning to glaze over now and my invitation to the “mattress ball” is burning a hole in my pocket. I guess I had better sign off before I doze off!
1/16/13 – Well, the dreaded final grades are in! This definitely was the “training” semester for me. I ran at the back of the pack, but I at least made it to the finish line! I feel much more able to enter the second semester “marathon” and hope to finish in a better position. I had so much help from my classmates. They continued to bolster me up and cheer me on to the finish line. I am sure they were as tired doing what they did as I was trying to stumble ahead.
This semester I started off so well and was so caught up with reading and typing my class notes. Then….I was behind again! It is amazing how that happens. Fortunately, we have a day off on MLK Day and that will give me extra time to catch up.
I need to go talk to my professors about my final exams to get pointers to help me improve. Hopefully, this semester’s “marathon race” ends better. My Academic Support team is willing to go with me to talk to my professors so they can address my needs directly. It is a great service that the school provides in order to help students who are struggling. I feel like the “Little Engine that Could” – I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! With the great support I have, I think I will!
1/9/13 - Ah! The New Year has come; the new semester has begun; and I am back in the swing of things. Somehow, this semester seems less stressful. I don’t know if it is because I have had 4-5 months to “train” for the law school marathon and am better prepared to endure the race, or it is because I had a wonderful rest, a wonderful vacation, and spent fun times with friends. Moreover, I now have a better understanding of what is expected. I have an inkling of what it’s about. The veil of mystery has been lifted!
Unfortunately, the amount of reading still takes a lot of time, but I am getting better at reading at an “academic pace” rather than a “leisure pace.” I also think the books this semester have bigger print! I know they have less complex sentences. I can at least find the subject and predicate! Last semester, some of the sentences were a paragraph long and the subject and predicate had loads of places to “hide” among the verbiage. I spent a lot of time parsing sentences to decipher the information.
I am really looking forward to this semester. I have a different attitude – excitement rather than terror! When I look back at what we all accomplished, I am very impressed. Law school is hard, different, and an enormous challenge. No wonder lawyers can charge so much. Their knowledge is unique and society needs their expertise. Believe me, they deserve every penny!
12/18/12 - By the time you read this I will be on a ship, cruising the Rhine River from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I had to write this blog ahead of time since we are leaving before this blog is due!
On December 15th, we fly out of DFW Airport to Heathrow Airport in London, England. During the flight, I will be reading about Contracts and Property. I’m saving Civil Procedure for later! From Heathrow, we fly to Basel and board the ship. The next day we head down the Rhine to Breisach and the Black Forest. Then we sail to Strasbourg, France and from there to Heidelberg, Germany then to Koblenz, Cologne, Kinderdijk, and finally Amsterdam.
At each port along the way there is a Christmas Market. I’m bringing an extra suitcase and plan to do all my Christmas shopping along the way since I had no time during exams. Of course, at night on the ship, I will surely go over the Contracts and Property books to “train” for the next marathon (oops! semester).
As you can see, law school gets in your blood and you think about it all the time. I’m looking forward to the new subjects. It was very difficult keeping civil torts separate from criminal actions. I tended to entwine the two. Hopefully, my Contracts and Property classes will be enough different to occupy different sections of my mind. I will try to discern the difference on my trip.
Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or plain old chilling and relaxing time during the break. We’ll see you at the start of the next marathon!
12/12/12 - Whew! Exams are finally over! It took me a day to recover and another day to turn my house back into a house, not a catastrophic mess dedicated to law school! I had paper scattered everywhere, books strewn around, study aids covering almost every piece of furniture, and more highlighters than Big Lots ever thought of carrying!
Law school exams are intense affairs. We met every day at the library for at least six or seven hours drilling each other on Torts, Legislation and Regulation, and Criminal Law. After these sessions were over, I didn’t know whether to laugh from delight or cry from fear. I don’t know when the grades will be in, but I’m going to dive into Christmas as though everything worked out okay and try not to think about the possible consequences of it not working out.
Law school has been very difficult for me. I was out of the “school practice.” It was like I woke up one morning and said, “I think I will go run a marathon today!” Like a marathon, school takes training and practice and building up to it. I had to learn how to do it “on the run” so to speak. Twenty years of idleness has been hard to overcome. I think I will do things much differently next semester – lest running amok and more staying in my lane.
It has been an altogether rewarding experience. The faculty, staff, and students have all been great, and I am glad I did it!
11/28/12 - Well, it is “Dead Week” at ye ole law school. I’m not sure why they call it “Dead Week”. The campus is alive with students studying and scrambling for study rooms. I guess all our classes could be considered “dead,” since they are not meeting until the dreaded exam day. Perhaps the best reason to call it “Dead Week” is that the students are all bleary-eyed from studying and tend to look like the walking dead!
None of us 1Ls know what to expect. The midterm was an amuse-bouche, so to speak, and the real meal is the final. The amuse-bouche’s purpose is to amuse the mouth and get one pleasantly ready for the real thing. Unfortunately, I was not amused by the midterms and the end result was a dry mouth and terror in my heart for the coming final. Part of my problem is that I tend to entwine criminal law and torts and the result is neither. However, I do end up with a tortured mens rea!
After listening to 2Ls and their warning that probably we won’t know if we passed until we begin the next semester, it makes things even scarier. It would be so…o…o embarrassing if we show up for classes on one day and disappear for the rest of the semester!
With a lot of prayer and even more studying I am hoping that I am not in that position. However, if I am, my blogging career is over!
11/20/12 - Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. My house is the “Thanksgiving House” and we usually have 20 to 25 people attending. After dinner, the guys usually watch football and the gals go shopping! This year it will be a little different. We will still have 20-25 people, but this gal will not be one of the shoppers – nor will this gal be a football watcher. This gal will be a studier!
Final exams are coming up and we have been warned that it is essential for us to use every moment for studying. Every night I drift off to sleep thinking about torts and crimes and the Chevron Doctrine.
Speaking of the Chevron Doctrine, I had to read the information out loud like a child learning to read or a parent putting together a child’s Christmas present. Only Part A was not going in Slot C! I got so confused! I am anxiously awaiting our class discussion on the case and perhaps I will glean some sort of understanding.
Being a 1L is like being “born again.” Not in the religious sense, unless you consider “baptism by fire” religious! It’s being born again as a lawyer – one who thinks, breathes, and remembers the law. I am still in the birth canal, so to speak, but am looking forward to the time I can emerge. Evidently, final exams constitute the birthing and the end result is successfully passing the first semester in law school!
11/14/12 - Ah, “The Memo”! The word sends shutters through the 1L population and causes an above average absence record in the classes this week. Everyone is so involved with writing Memo 2 that there is little time for anything else. This is a significant part of our Legal Analysis and Research Writing class, and although we have not been inveigled or transported, we are definitely being held captive by our computers!
I have become intimate with the people in the 10 cases we used and more than intimate with the victim and persecutor in the memo. They seem so real that I think I should add them to my Thanksgiving Dinner list. That is, those who are not in prison!
This has been an extremely difficult process for me. I feel like my brain has been twisted in a different direction and it is objecting! I have written in many styles over the years, but this is unique. I guess it is what they talk about when they say they are going to teach us to “think like a lawyer”. I am not there yet. Every night I pull up my memo and work on re-writing. In fact, I have re-written it so many times that now I am not sure which version is which. I have started titling the re-writes: almost there, penultimate, final, omega, omega 2, etc. After each new version, I am sure that it is “it.” Then I read it again and….I guess I had better get back to omega 3! So much for blogging!
11/7/12 - One of my law professors recommended that it would be good for us students to take some tests to determine our subconscious biases. These tests are from a Harvard long-term project, The Full Potential Initiative, and are called the “Project Implicit” tests. They are so interesting that I took quite a few of them and discovered some things about myself I did not know.
I took the “Four-Category Race Brief Implicit Association Test (BIAT)” and found out that I have more positive preferences for Hispanic people than I do White people, Asian people, or Black people. Although there was no significant variation in my preferences, the Hispanic people were closer to the top of the more positive Implicit Preference scale. I was surprised. I was not aware that I had any particular preference.
After searching the site, I found another group of tests. The data suggested that I had little to no automatic preference between African Americans and European Americans and little to no automatic preference between Straight People and Gay People. When I completed the Gender-Science Study and the results indicated that I had a strong association of Male with Science and Female with Liberal Arts, I was surprised again. Since I was a former math and science teacher, I have always thought that in the sciences, women were equally capable as men.
Overall, it was a very interesting experience uncovering unknown biases and affirming others. As an attorney, it is extremely important to be able to represent all clients fairly. Biases could interfere with that representation.
I recommend trying the tests. You can Google “Project Implicit” and discover if you have any hidden biases, especially if you’re thinking about practicing law!
10/31/12 – “Think like a lawyer!” That is the mantra of law school. Not such an easy task when you have been thinking like an educator for 50 years! I decided that before I could think like a lawyer, I needed to be able to read what lawyers write. Another not so easy task! Cases go back to merry old England, when barristers wore wigs and robes and wrote in a unique style and spoke words that have fortunately faded from use.
As I was reading in my Torts casebook, I came across a word that I had never laid eyes on before. I consider myself “well read” and have a decent vocabulary. My reading interests vary from mystery novels, to science fiction, to biography, to learning theory, and to psychology. I have been exposed to many words. However, never had I seen the word mulct. When I looked it up, I realized that I had been “mulcted” three times in the last couple of months!
My husband has a penchant for photo ops, especially at certain traffic intersections! Unfortunately, the car he drives is in my name, and as a result, I am the one that gets mulcted! Can you imagine getting mulcted and not even knowing it?
I may not think like a lawyer yet, but I am getting the vocabulary down. I feel like a baby learning to communicate. First comes words, then phrases, then rational thoughts. I’m just on the words right now, but I am working on it!
10/24/12 - 1L’s have turned the corner in the first semester and crested the hill! Unfortunately, they don’t know what lies around that corner, and the only way to continue on the hill is down!
As for me, I have finally reached the point where I realized that I need a life outside of studying the law. Now, instead of hitting the books seven to eight hours per day outside of my classes, I am taking a six hour break every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It is amazing what it has done for my attitude! I have gotten together with friends, watched television, and even paid bills. I rented some movies and have found out what “The Hunger Games” are about! I can talk about a plethora of newsy items that one picks up when one reads the newspaper or watches the news on television. I even can go back to doing the Sunday New York Times Crossword Puzzle, which my family plans to bury with me when the time comes!
Law school is so intense and different that it intimidates one at first. The reading demands, the time it takes to write the briefs, the worry about freezing up if called on in class, and the realization that one may not make it past the first semester are all factors that contribute to that ole bogeyman, STRESS. When you finally realize that letting STRESS be in control is a bad idea, you can re-group and get back that control! I did!
10/17/12 - Well, I’ve been IRACed, CRACed, REed, RAed, endured one midterm exam (and have two more to go), electronically submitted Memo 1, and learned how to determine the readability level of a Word document! Before the midterm, I pulled a few midnighters. Notice, I did not say “all nighters” since staying up to the witching hour is an accomplishment in itself. After the midterm, I spent most of the weekend curled up in a fetal position. After submitting Memo 1, I found I could redo, redo, and redo and still not be satisfied. Law school is gradually morphing my easy-going persona into someone I’m not sure I recognize.
Fortunately, I have a great support system at both school and home. No one should do this alone! I am in awe of my classmates who have children with their plethora of activities. They have to do everything I’m doing and schlep kids, shop for groceries, cook, and do all the other tasks required of managing a family. I say kudos to them!
My grandson read my last blog and has tagged me with the moniker “vanilla ninja.” He continues to be amused by my lack of techno-savvy and has no problem telling everyone. Needless to say, I have abandoned Dragon for the time being. It “burned” me! I will attempt it again over Christmas break.
It is now time to get back to reading, briefing, and studying. The cycle is endless! For your information, the Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level of this blog is 7.0. It should not tax your brain to read it!
10/10/12 - As I noted in the last blog, I have purchased Dragon, NaturallySpeaking to help me with my typing. It is a speech recognition software that lets you, “Create Documents, Surf the Web, and More – All By Voice.” It seemed so simple! I “trained” my Dragon to my voice and started practicing. No matter how clearly I spoke, how slowly I spoke, how hard I tried to enunciate each word, it did not work out. I have included my original paragraph for this blog below:
“Well it is time for midterm exam. I studied and studied. Not doing well with its whole vanilla ninja. Spent a lot of time working on this papers has closed my so right off something so far. That is I am totally immersed in criminal law by active/us is to study. Step one man's radios is that makes sense out of what I've step. Unfortunately my mens rea gets sidetracked. “
If you are able to make sense of the gibberish above, law is not your field! You need to go into linguistics or cryptanalysis or crystal ball gazing! I spoke it and cannot fathom what I was trying to write. Short of hiring Cesar Milan, until I get my Dragon in a “calm, submissive state,” I will just have to input the information in the old fashioned way.
What I think I wanted to impart was that midterm exams are scheduled for the next three Fridays, and my brain is spinning with Criminal Law, Legislation and Regulation, and Torts -- not to mention the Legal Analysis and Research Writing memo that is also due! Law School is not for the faint of heart!
10/3/12 - Midterms are coming up. It is definitely a scary time! We had a “practice” essay in Criminal Law and I knew more than I thought I did…but less than I needed to know! The big picture is slowly beginning to appear. Right now it is shadows and outlines, but something is on the canvas!
My husband installed “Dragon” on my computer, thinking it would help with the typing. As soon as the “dragon” learns my speech pattern I should be okay. However, right now my tinge of Cajun confuses it and I get the strangest sentences. I plan to work on “training my dragon” this weekend and maybe it will turn out to be helpful after all.
This has also been the week of “the Bar.” All the companies that offer support materials that prepare you for taking the Bar are at school with lots of goodies and very thick review books for 1Ls. I now have exchanged my regular rolling briefcase for an actual rolling suitcase. In fact, I saw one student with a backpack and a suitcase! Don’t know what I’ll do if I have to carry much more. I am way past the backpack stage!
Well, back to my studies -- just keeping up with the text reading is a chore. I bought all these supplemental books and don’t have time to read them! However, I did get to practice some Cali lessons. I finally figured that out and found them useful. Each week is a new experience for me. It “ain’t easy for an old dog to learn new tricks”!
9/26/12 - Well, this is the last blog of September! The weeks fly by whether I’m having fun or not! On Mondays, Professor Pham always asks us who had fun over the weekend. I am amazed at the variety of fun activities everyone seems to be having. People are going to destination weddings, weekend trips to local hot spots, planning weddings, and seemingly have time to work in their class readings and supplementals.
I, on the other hand, have not been one of those students having fun! I still haven’t figured out how to work it in! However, this Thursday a friend is having a birthday and there will be a surprise party this Wednesday. I am madly working to catch up/get ahead so that I can go have fun, too. I’m looking forward to raising my hand on Monday and proclaiming that I had fun!
Along with the fun thing is the outline thing. Everyone is comparing, refining, and editing outlines. I am still reading! In order for me to do an outline I need to see the big picture loud and clear before I can deal with the details. I am still discovering that picture and right now it is almost a blank canvas!
As you can see, law school is still a mystery to me. Yes, it is very different from anything else I have ever done and requires a supreme effort to complete all that is expected. Somehow I have to get to the supplemental readings and practice problems or else!
9/19/12 - A friend of mine who reads these blogs suggested that I write one about the people who have helped me get through these first weeks of struggle. I am embarrassed that I did not think of this on my own. Two people really have made it possible for me to get through law school: my husband and my daughter-in-law.
My husband has waited on me hand and foot, encouraged me when I was ready to give up, and generally kept me afloat with his humor when I was drowning. His laugh is infectious and he finds joy and laughter in the simplest things. When I am madly reading, studying, or working on the computer, I can hear him chortling while watching television. I get vicarious enjoyment from his happy abandon!
The other paddler of my boat has been my daughter-in-law. She is fantastic – strong, smart, and “with it.” As an alien in the techno-universe, I have been overwhelmed by the computer, software, and the ins and outs of what magic they can do. I am constantly getting in trouble, without knowing how to get out of it, and becoming extremely frustrated in the process. She is always “on call.” If I am too dense to understand via the telephone, she comes in person. She is my concierge computer guru!
I am sure I am not unique. So many of my classmates have families or significant others and I know they are being buoyed up, too. This is a tribute to all the “crew” members out there, rowing like crazy for us!
9/12/12 - Another week down and the clouds are beginning to clear. In my Legislation and Regulation class, I pretty much understand the difference between intentionalism, textualism, and purposivism, but I still can’t pronounce them! The Torts class is creating emotional distress, although I doubt it is intentional! At least now I know the difference between battery and assault, which had me mightily confused at first. The Criminal Law class deals with interesting cases that provoke lively class discussions. I am in awe of my classmates’ incredible understanding of the issues and can picture them in court mesmerizing a jury! The LARW class is trying to teach me to cite and write like a lawyer. I am definitely a slow learner!
It never occurred to me that I would still be trying to adjust going into my fourth week of law school. I keep telling myself that I am just getting my feet wet and should not feel so behind the eight ball. However, you know and I know that wet feet can lead to fungi, colds, and all sorts of related afflictions!
Fortunately, I am bonding with my computer. Unfortunately, I am still having time management issues. All I seem to do is read and study and it seems to be taking much longer than it should, based on what I hear others talking about. First chance I get, I am stopping at the Sunflower Shoppe to stock up on ginko biloba and await my brain transformation!
9/6/12 - Aah! Two weeks of law school under my belt! It has gotten better. I’m reading faster, beginning to understand what’s important, and managing to get the work done within a reasonable time (that being about 50 hours a week). If I can get it down to 45 hours, I could have a little free time to splurge.
Still cannot stay up past 9:30 at night. My eyes refuse to obey my brain and they quit working! This is an improvement, though. They were shutting down at 8:30, but I agreed to pay them overtime and they stayed open an extra hour. Maybe if I promise them time and a half they will stay open until ten!
All of the classes are interesting; all of the professors are interesting; and surprise of all surprises, the professors are kind and not at all like the sadists you read about in books or see in films. Additionally, you have two great people who have been there before (your Academic Support team) and who have lots of information to share about how to make it through.
Although the proof is in the pudding (EXAMS), I am beginning to think I can do it. My 20 year liaison with “fluffy” books has been difficult to abandon to a new liaison with stringent law texts, but I am working on it.
My family and friends think I have lost my mind to tackle this, and they may be right. In fact at this point, I’m not sure where my mind is!
8/24/12 - If anyone had told me a few years ago that I would be a student again after 20 years, I would have taken their temperature, put them to bed, filled them with chicken soup, and called the concierge psychiatrist to do a rescue session! Yet, here I am a 1L, clearly the oldest neophyte in my classes.
The first week was grim. I couldn’t seem to wrap my brain around what was going on. When I sat in Orientation and they told me this would be like nothing I did before, I just chuckled. How could it be so different? This would be my fifth degree. Surely, I had seen and experienced it all.
Well, they were right! Law school is like nothing I have experienced before! We were assigned homework for Orientation. Duh, Orientation should mean an adjustment to one’s surroundings. No adjustment time in law school; just hit the road running in the right direction! Unfortunately, I ran in circles for a while. The first week I actually felt dizzy with everything that was buzzing in my head. After years of reading “bon-bon literature,” I had to re-train my brain to read substance (and a lot of it!).
Now that a week has passed and I am into the second week, I am beginning to think that I might not drown after all. My organization skills have definitely changed and my typical random thinking process is gradually shifting. Moreover, I am slowly becoming one with my computer!