Chelsi Lake Reichenstein
Law School Graduation Year:
Current Employment Status
: Private Practice - CLR Law Firm, PLLC
9/28/12 - Man, when it rains, it pours, and it is pouring over here in my world! I do not mean rain that falls from the sky (although we desperately need it), I mean raining work – lots and lots of work. It is only Thursday and I have been to the post office five times this week to mail demand letters and other pieces of litigation involving bankruptcy. I feel like it is last September all over again. I would work countless hours last August and September attempting to get caught up and organized. Maybe this is the just the cycle? If so, I need to commit to memory that every year when school starts, work starts too.
One major disadvantage of my situation is that it is just me. So that means I prepare all of the letters, and faxes, stuff the envelopes, and go to the post office. It is all me. If it comes from my office, I prepared it, reviewed it, re-wrote it, printed it, signed it, and got it out the door somehow. I would love to have an assistant, but then I know that there are times (unlike right now) where that would be completely impractical. It is just a rough period and I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For whatever reason, this week has been an especially rough week because I feel like I cannot get ahead of the curve. While I am working on one item, another thing comes up. In my situation, if something comes up, it usually has to be addressed immediately and cannot wait. That being said, things get unintentionally forgotten. I have got to keep my head up and keep on pushing through.
Well, back to work I go. Until next time!
9/7/12 – My Mom is going through a rough spell right now. She is experiencing a lot of pain in her shoulder due to the cancer spreading. On Wednesday, she received a large dosage of radiation in attempt to relieve the pain. Hopefully, it will kick in soon and give her some relief. She still receives her weekly chemo treatment. I joke around and call it her “tequila shot.” If you are not familiar with chemo, normally a chemo treatment takes more than an hour and a half, I have even heard of some taking six hours. However, her chemo only takes about 10 minutes. In fact, it takes longer to drive to the doctors’ office and get set up for chemo than it does to do the chemo. She is staying tough and positive. She is frequently tired and sleeps a lot, but we try to grab lunch every chance we can. I am grateful to get to spend this time with her.
When I am not at lunch with my Mom, I am in the office getting some work done and getting things organized. I sent several demand letters to debtors back in mid-July. Surprisingly enough, not one of them have reached out to me and called to discuss the debt (I asked them to call to discuss the debt. The least they could do is call!). I was a little disappointed that my demand letters did not command enough attention, but at the same time, if the debtors have not been paying their obligations, why would they suddenly be interested in paying it without any legal action being taken against them? I wait for my phone ring, but it is typically just my parents or Jake calling to see how my day is going. On occasion, it will be someone from work informing that another customer has filed for bankruptcy protection. At least I will get some more much needed experience and doing some research. Have a good one!
8/24/12 – Yesterday was the first day of school for the children in our neighborhood. There were school buses picking up children, Moms and Dads doing the carpool thing, and the backpacks were full.
It made me miss school so much. Although I am grateful to have law school behind me (I think my husband may be more grateful than I am), I still miss that feeling of getting the opportunity to learn in a classroom. Without a doubt, the legal profession gives you numerous opportunities to learn something new, to the extent that Google can be a lawyer’s best friend. But there is something about sitting in that classroom setting and having a brilliant mind fill your brain with knowledge. I suppose I will have to take what I learned and simply put it into action, which I did last week.
Last week I was given the opportunity to feel particularly powerful and “lawyerly.” A situation arose where two companies behaved badly. Both parties made bad decisions that I am sure each have gotten away with in the past. Formerly, people who were wronged by these companies did not know to whom to turn. Well, that did not happen here!
I sent a snarky demand letter telling the parties what I think. I knew who to talk to, what to say, and how to say it. I was pretty proud of myself. I think that I was professional, clearly defined the issues, and explained why I was going to do if the parties did not correct their behavior. Time will tell if they agree with me or not.
7/13/12 - My one-year anniversary of being licensed came and passed on June 30, 2012. I was sworn in one year ago on July 7, 2012. In that time, I have learned that what I value most is my family. Although I take pride in my work and appreciate the payoff that comes with it, what is most important in my life is my family.
I worked extremely hard in the fall to catch up on the problems that had been left behind by our previous attorney. The late nights and early mornings have allowed me to now spend a ton of time with my Mom. Although that time mainly consists of lunches at some of our local favorites, it is time I will forever value and cherish. My Mom received a good report on June 27: the tumors in her head and on her shoulder shrunk by more than two-thirds. The radiation-chemotherapy combo did wonders. Also, more than half of the tumors in her body cavity shrunk as well. A handful grew some, but only minimally. It bought her some time and I want to take advantage of every moment that she is here. My Mom’s good news came in the midst of one of the most difficult times of our family’s life. I do not care to share the details, but to say that her news was a welcome change of pace is nothing short of the truth.
I have learned some lessons the easy way, most the hard way. I am grateful to have this year under my belt. I hope that the next year brings new challenges that strengthen my knowledge in the field of law and increase my confidence. I hope this next year also brings new additions to my beloved family, and if you ask my Mom, she really hopes so, too.
Finally, I want to go on the record that I am emotionally okay (even excited) about being an Aggie. In fact, I think it is great. The Texas A&M network is one rich in loyalty and I think this will do nothing but further the careers for our future graduates. This partnership will open the doors for future graduates for years to come and I think it will be the best for everyone involved. So, in closing, all I can say is GIG EM!
**A Note on the Letter of Intent between Texas A&M and Texas Wesleyan - Legal Disclaimer**
5/4/12 - Things are looking better in life. Mom is feeling better, staying strong. She is always tired on Tuesdays because she has both radiation and chemo on Monday. She maintains her usual good spirits and continues to fight like she has for the past eight years. Dad is feeling better, too. He can do a lot more and is getting out of the house, so my responsibilities have returned to helping out on an “as needed” basis rather than an “I need to be there every moment” basis.
That being said, I have been able to buckle down and return to practicing law. Currently, I am down to four active litigation cases. Two are full throttle, and the other two are in the settlement stages. One of the settlements should be completed by early next week because the other defendant has paid the plaintiff. In the other, I prepared a Rule 11 Agreement to settle the lawsuit, which was filed with the court earlier this week. I also filed eight proof of claims last Friday and I am starting to get more organized around my office. It is so nice to feel on top of things. I feel great and I am starting to feel in more control of my life and my law practice.
I am attending a CLE on Creditors’ Rights and Collections. I could not be more grateful that I chose to attend this CLE. Now that things are settling down, the next step is to begin to send out demand letters and attempt to collect on old debts as much as possible. Thank goodness I attended this CLE because if I had not, I would have majorly violated the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act and that is a BIG no-no. When an attorney (or anyone for that matter) sends out a demand letter to a debtor regarding a debt, there are very specific rules to abide by and I would have not known about them unless I had attended this course. Of course, I maybe would have learned about the compliance requirements, but I would have learned the hard way, and I am tired of learning the hard way. My growing pains are hopefully over. I have also learned different pointers on pursing bad debts on behalf of our business and have a great source of information at my fingertips for how to proceed. I am ready to get back to the office on Monday and start pursing these debts! But, first, I need to get through the rest of today’s CLE and the weekend.
One year ago tomorrow, I found out that I passed the Texas Bar Exam. Yesterday, many of my friends and classmates found out that they too passed the Texas Bar Exam. Congratulations to you all and welcome to the Bar!
4/13/12 - A lot has changed since you heard from me last. On March 7th, we found out that my Mom’s cancer has significantly spread throughout her body. This news brought new light to the situation and her oncologist had to develop a different plan in an attempt to treat her cancer. Currently, my Mom is on week four of six weeks of radiation treatment. Her radiation treatments are daily (I am actually writing this blog from the Texas Oncology waiting room) and will continue until the full six weeks for a total of 30 treatments. She had ten radiation treatments on her shoulder to help the pain she experienced from the cancer in her shoulder bone. I am happy to report that the goal of pain reduction for her shoulder has been a success! She also has weekly chemotherapy treatments, usually administered on Monday or Tuesday of each week. Besides fatigue (a typical side effect of the radiation), her pain has decreased and it appears that the tumor in her neck has decreased as well. All things considered, she and the rest of our family maintain our good spirits. Mom still cracks jokes and says things that only our family would understand. When you have a loved one that goes through a battle with cancer like we have, it is amazing the things in which you find humor.
We have learned this week that Mom has two new tumors on her head; one just past her hairline and one on her right temple. Three weeks ago while she was at radiation, she had a seizure. After two weeks of tests and some arguing among oncologists and neurologists, they have determined that the “two spots” (that is what we call them) have eaten through her skull and are applying pressure to her brain. This is what caused the seizures. Luckily, she immediately got on medication and has not had a seizure since the day she had one in the doctor’s office.
Things were at their worst when my Mom was originally in some much pain from the continued growth of her cancer and my Dad had a pinched nerve that rendered him helpless due to the excruciating pain. I was doing his job, my Mom’s job and mine on a daily basis to keep things a float. It was not an easy time. It was not easy on me, my family or my husband, but we have come out stronger people nonetheless and make things work. Although this is a terrible thing that our family is going through, I know it makes us stronger each and every day. We cling to one another and understand how much we love and need one another.
If this experience has taught me anything, it is that if you put things in the proper order: faith, family, career, things will work themselves out. They may not be pretty and you may not like it, but when you need a small break, little things will happen that allow you the time to take care of your family and be with the ones you love the most. I was supposed to have a hearing this upcoming Monday morning, and the opposing attorney had a conflict and needed to reschedule. The bottom line is that all of the money in the world cannot make my Mom better. The brilliance of her doctors, who I am forever grateful to, and the thoughts and prayers of friends, family and complete strangers, are the things that keep our family and my Mom strong. I take time to enjoy the moments she and I share. Her future is uncertain, but I know I enjoy spending every moment possible with her and that is better than any victory in any courtroom.
2/24/12 - What a difference a year can make. One year ago today, I completed the first day of the Texas Bar Exam. I remember exactly how I felt walking out of the Fort Worth Convention Center – confident, yet very apprehensive about being confident. It is my experience that confidence following any exam since beginning law school should make you feel assured, yet a worried feeling plagues you no matter what. I remember calling Courtney Leaverton (my wonderful study buddy for the Bar exam) and us taking a long walk around downtown Fort Worth. We walked off our anxiety and felt more comfort in each step. We enjoyed lunch at Cantina Laredo and talked about the next two dreaded days, and how grateful and lucky we were to have supportive husbands that had put up with our craziness for the past ten weeks.
Recently, I visited the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law Library to investigate how a law was written on a certain date. I had difficulty finding it online and was hoping to find it in book form, but fortunately, an old classmate of mine (thank you, Carol Longoria!) helped me find it. I ran into a few friends who were preparing for the Bar. They talked about how nervous they felt and how uncertain they were of their knowledge of everything. I always ask one thing, “Have you done what you are supposed to do?” Which means, have you completed the tasks either Barbri or Kaplan have asked you to do in preparation for the exam? If the answer is yes, then you should be fine (pending no tragic events the day before or morning of the exam). This is my advice to everyone studying now or taking it in July – do what you are told and you will be fine. If you want to go above and beyond, kudos to you. But at the end of the day, you just need a 675. And it does not matter if it a 675 or 800 - if your score is at or above a 675, you are a licensed attorney.
Today was a significant day in my life, as well. I had a hearing in Ellis County yesterday, so I was out of the office for most of the morning and all afternoon. When I arrived at my office this morning, I noticed I had received a fax. I was expecting a fax from an attorney regarding a hold harmless agreement, so I did not think much of it. I hit the play button on my answering machine and picked up the fax. Much to my shock, disbelief, and pure enjoyment, the fax was a motion for nonsuit! I was so confused I read it seven times to make and sure it really said what it said. I even called the court to confirm I was not dreaming. It is such a relief to have this particular case over with. The trial was set for this upcoming Monday, so I had many tough days ahead of me. Now, I can relax and take care of some things that matter to me. Oh what a difference a year can make…
Good luck to everyone taking the Texas Bar Exam next week! Get some sleep, study hard and go rock it!
2/3/12 - This week was a big week. I moved my office location from Dallas closer to my home in Colleyville. It was a big decision. I have been flirting with moving for some time, but now it is official. Jake and I spent several nights weighing the pros and cons, and eventually decided it would be a good move.
Throughout my short career, I have had difficulty balancing the demands of being the attorney for my family’s business and being a daughter. There are days when I would have to pick between the two. And when I had to make that choice, it was definitely not efficient. All of the weighing between the pros and cons came together today. Today proved that the move was the right choice.
This morning, I helped my Dad out by doing the title work that my Mom would normally do. However, she had to have a blood transfusion this morning, so she was unable to do that. I was able to take care of the title work, get to the office in time to inform the courts and all opposing counsel of my new contact information, and get some other work done.
Around noon, my Mom called to tell me she wanted some lunch and needed the medicine she left at home. She was at the hospital in Grapevine, so it is a short drive. I grabbed lunch, took my Mom her medicine, enjoyed lunch with her, and then headed back to the office for a productive afternoon of work. Today affirmed everything for me…I made the right choice. I got to be a lawyer and be a daughter. It was perfect.
Today was a day of peace for me. I got to be everything I want to be. I got to take care of business as a lawyer and got to help out my parents. It is very rewarding to get to help out your family the way I do – now I just get to do it better. And that is the best feeling in the world.
1/15/12 - Happy New Year! The year 2012 will be an exciting one - it looks like I will get to file four lawsuits in the upcoming weeks! It is exciting to get to be the plaintiff and initiate the action. As I write that, I feel incredibly nerdy, but I have to admit it is a little exciting for me. Three of the four lawsuits involve improper mechanic’s liens. I believe I mentioned in the past that our family owns a car title loan company. Occasionally, we will receive a notice to sell our collateral pursuant to a mechanic’s lien. That is bad for us because a mechanic’s lien is superior to our lien, despite the fact that our lien appears on the certificate of title and we loaned them money before repairs were begun.
Back in 2009, the Texas legislature changed Texas Property Code §70.006 to make it more difficult to file fake mechanic’s liens. My Dad has been in business for approximately 22 years. He said that before the enactment of the new law, for every ten mechanic’s liens they received, one would be legitimate, while the other nine would be fake. Dad and I had been discussing how I have not had any experience with mechanic’s liens. Well, that ended quickly. Within five days, we received three mechanic’s lien notices. Although it will have to be tried in court, it appears that all three do not perfectly comply with the Texas Property Code and the Texas Transportation Code. I will keep you posted.
The holidays were great. Jake and I got to spend Christmas with both sets of parents, which was really nice. We celebrated Christmas with his parents on Christmas Eve by going to the Dallas Cowboys game (which was awful for the Cowboys), but enjoyed the evening with a family dinner and gift exchange. We spent Christmas Day with my family. During our family’s traditional Chinese Gift Exchange, I got the cake ball maker. I fully intend to develop my cake ball baking skills in 2012. We attended a wedding on New Year’s Eve at the Four Seasons for one of my law school classmates and enjoyed the fireworks at midnight. On New Year’s Day, we took down all 40,000 Christmas lights and adjusted to how big our yard looked and how dark it was outside.
As I think back on the year 2011, it was a year of highs and lows. Two of the greatest accomplishments were passing the Texas Bar Exam and graduating from law school. But the lows were very painful this year. This year was the most difficult year for my Mom’s battle with cancer. There were numerous days when I was afraid she would lose her battle, but she fought back. The scariest was around the time of graduation. I cannot say enough how proud I am to call her my mom. Her resilience, perseverance and love are like nothing I have ever seen in a human being. She is always most concerned with her family, especially my Dad and me. She continues to put herself second when it comes to us, and simply will not take “no” for an answer. I am truly blessed to have a role model like her in my life. Her actions are the truest demonstration of a mother’s love, always caring for others, even when she is sick and weary. I hope I can be half the mother to my children that she has been to me. I love her more than anything and hope that the year 2012 brings a year of improved health and more joy than ever.
12/14/11 - This has been an extremely stressful week. And not so much in the legal sense – just generally. I cannot get into the details, but I can say this: it is painful to watch someone you love get let down by someone they trusted. This happened to me this week and I felt completely powerless to help in the situation. I think that every lawyer at the end of the day wants to help people, especially those they love. (Remember the final episode of Boston Legal?) But, sometimes as lawyers and as people, we are powerless to control the actions of others. All you can do is expect the worse and hope for the best.
Anyway, I want to discuss a controversial topic – non-attorney judges. This is about as controversial as I get, but I do feel pretty strongly about it. I think hands down, no questioned asked, if you are a judge on any level, you should be a licensed attorney who attended law school and practiced law. Many people are unaware of the fact that some judges, such as Justice of the Peace judges, are not actually licensed attorneys. And it has been my experience that when someone learns this, they seem puzzled and question why a judge is not required to be an attorney.
We all learned in civics, social studies, or whatever you call it that there are three branches of government: the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. The executive’s job is to see that the laws are carried out, the legislature’s job is to create laws, and the judiciary’s job is to INTERPRET the law. To me, it seems natural that interpreting something means have an educational background, practice, and skill in it. Some laws are very straight forward, while others have greater depth and meaning than merely the words on the page. How they are applied is not always natural. Law students across this country learn this in their time during law school, especially that first semester.
While attending a Justice of the Peace court today, the judge’s statements made me believe he was a little smug about the fact that he was not an attorney, but had presided on the bench for numerous years. He asked if I knew that there was no requirement that a Supreme Court Justice or a federal judge had to be an attorney. I answered I did not know that, but it’s funny that all of them attended Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and the like. He proudly responded that you do not have to be an attorney to be either. Luckily, I did not respond how I actually wanted to. If I did, I am sure I would be in a tremendous amount of trouble.
Here is the bottom line for me – the practice of law is a learned thing. I did not know that I could be trained to think a certain way. But I certainly learned that it could happen and it did. After my three years at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law, I think completely differently than I did before beginning law school in the fall of 2008. And I think it is a good, actually no, a GREAT thing. I am not saying that a person’s life experiences are not wonderful and important in shaping them, because they certainly are. But in the law school classroom, opposing ideas collide and are discussed, argued, whatever you call it. In the classroom is where lawyers learn to become advocates for themselves and upon graduation (and Bar passage) advocates for their clients. When a person seeks to become a judge, I believe the lessons learned in school and in practice formulate the necessary ingredients to be a judge and possess the tools to interpret the law.
I am certainly not saying that there are not capable judges who are not licensed attorneys presiding in courtrooms across this state and the country. All I am saying is that the field of law is a fickle, difficult thing. Law school is three grueling years of your life, followed by being a student of the law for the rest of your days. You never stop learning as a lawyer. I have learned so much in practicing these four months, but it is the tools I learned in law school to get me to where I am right now. The patience, diligence, hard work, and effort of each and every law school graduate define the field of law and I believe that those characteristics give attorneys the necessary to tools to perform the job of the judiciary – interpreting the laws.
Okay, I am off my soapbox. Merry Christmas, and I hope the New Year bestows numerous gifts upon you and your loved ones! (And for the record, as I was editing this, it may seem like I am on this soapbox because the judge did not rule in our favor. Just to be clear, the judge did rule in our favor. It was the judge’s actions in regards to being a lawyer and the fact that he himself wasn’t a lawyer that got me fired up, not that we “lost”).
11/22/11 - It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! This is my favorite time of year. The weather is turning cooler, the stores are filled with Christmas decorations, and the Reichensteins have been busy at home putting up our outside Christmas lights. We have about 50,000 lights (not a typo, completely true) and Jake prepares a light show to go with it. We have gone all out on Christmas decorations since we started dating, and each year it continues to get better.
Speaking of things getting better, the practice of law is getting better, too! Things have really slowed down. I feel much more confident in my abilities, and previously tedious tasks do not seem as difficult anymore. The biggest thing hanging over my head is my appeal I am doing. Appeals are very stressful. When it comes to appeals, I recommend that is all you do or it is something you never do. I wish I would have taken the latter route, but I am grateful that I have the opportunity to try it out.
There is something I would like to share with current law students or prospective law students. In my law school career, I wish I would have attended more Westlaw or Lexis Nexis classes to help learn more research skills. One of my friends helped teach me while he waited to get a job (which he got right after finding out he passed the bar exam). He had utilized the classes and was definitely light years ahead of me in terms of research capabilities. I think no matter what area of law in which you intend to practice, strong research skills can be a great benefit to you as an attorney. Obviously, there is not a lot I can do about it right now, but if I could do it all over, I would do it.
Well, I need to get started on my cake and brownies for Thanksgiving. I hope you all have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving, and that you are reminded of the great blessings and joys you have in your life!
11/4/11 - I was the proud person who told my study partner from my first year that she passed the Bar. She had no idea the pass list had gone up. It was nice to be the person to share the big news with a wonderful, dear friend. I am so happy - all of my close friends from law school passed the Texas Bar Exam!
While eating breakfast, Jake and I reminisced about this day six months ago - the tension, the nervousness, the doubt that flooded my body. It was a rough road, but such a great feeling when I saw my name on the list. I know many of my friends today felt that too when they saw their names on the list.
I thought about everything that has happened in the last six months. The biggest change is that I opened my own law office. As I write that sentence, I realize the bravery in that choice. Luckily, it has been a good choice so far. I am very blessed - I can make my own hours and I get to spend time with Mom when I want and need to. This year has been particularly tough, even more so than years in the past. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with her, and the chance to pursue my career as a lawyer.
Today I am working on an appellate brief. It is a daunting task - there are numerous technicalities to which you must pay attention, in addition to simply writing the best argument possible. In the weeks to come, I suppose I will find out if I fulfilled my job in this instance. On top of doing an appellate brief, I have numerous bankruptcy cases hanging over my head and am also attempting to take care of all the litigation matters. I think back to August and September, where every single day was a struggle, and I can see that it is getting easier. I am hoping by the time the 2012 comes, it will be better.
Well, back to work on my brief. Again, congratulations to everyone who passed the Texas Bar Exam and welcome to the Bar!
10/14/11 - Life has become a little more manageable lately. When I leave work in the evening, I do not feel the constant pressure I have in the past, and I am a little more self-assured in my work. Weekends have become weekends again and I am able to sleep a little better. Hopefully, it will continue to improve in the weeks and months to come.
I am a little sad because I did not come out on the winning end of my case last week. Although I did not “win” based on the judgment, I think my client will win in the long run, which I guess is the most important thing. I have three more court dates this month, so hopefully those will all be victories. I still feel very anxious going into court. Once we start talking, my nerves calm, but my heart still trembles when I hear the bailiff’s call of “All rise!”
I am now in Austin, Texas waiting to attend the Justice James A. Baker Guide to the Basics of Law Practice tomorrow morning. It is a required CLE (Continuing Legal Education) that all new lawyers must take within their first twelve months of becoming licensed. I am hoping to learn something new and see where I need to be in my practice. I am not sure what to expect, but hopefully I will see one or two familiar faces tomorrow.
Off to watch Grey’s Anatomy and enjoy a quiet evening.
9/28/11 - Life has been crazy. I have court two days next week, an inventory and appraisement due in a probate case, and a mountain of paperwork. Jake and I took a four-day vacation to Las Vegas to get some time away. We were there celebrating my birthday (which was Sunday), finishing law school, and passing the bar exam. We were just enjoying a vacation together without the strain of school. Unfortunately, every day I was there I still thought about the work that needed to be done at home. Nevertheless, we still had a wonderful time.
The next eight days will be rough. I have a lot of writing, researching, and work to do. I am ready for things to hit a plateau and become easier. Hopefully, that will happen sooner rather than later. I am anxious to see what will happen next week in court. One case involves a probate matter. My client is the executor of an estate and a person contesting the probate is alleging he was the common law spouse of the decedent. It should be interesting. I am so excited to get the opportunity to work on a common law marriage case! I wish I could talk about it more, but I cannot disclose too much. Next time, I will let you know how it goes.
Every day has been a learning experience, and I have gone through some serious growing pains. I have messed up numerous times, but nothing so drastic that it negatively affected my clients or me. Although it is painful to learn that I have messed up, I am grateful to learn firsthand so that I do not make the same mistake in the future. I guess that is all I can ask for in the end. Well, I need to get back to my work so that I can enjoy the weekend. Until next time.
9/2/11 - Life has become more stressful since I left you last. It has actually become so stressful that I broke out in hives. I know that sounds absurd, but it is true.
I took on a new probate case out of Parker County that will demand a great deal of my attention for some time. Then, this Thursday happened. I was looking through a file and realized that I had an appellate deadline coming up. The appellate deadline had passed, but there was a 15-day extension I could potentially use to push back the deadline. That deadline would be next Tuesday.
I never took any appellate procedure classes at Texas Wesleyan, so I was in the dark on this issue. I contacted my cousin who is an attorney for Jones Day. Although her work is primarily federal (she does products liability), I figured she could point me in the right direction. She recommended that I go to the law school library, find a civil appeals book with the rules, commentary, and forms, and get to writing. So that is exactly what I did.
When I headed to the law school, I knew I needed to do two things: (1) file a notice of appeal with the trial court and (2) file a motion to extend the time to file the notice of appeal with the appellate court. But I had no idea what either one should look like, not to mention any other documents that need to be filed with the notice or the motion. Once I arrived to the library and found what I hoped to be the magic book, I sat down and began to go through everything. Luckily, the notice of appeal was the most important and very simple, so I took care of that before lunch and filed it with the trial court. The difficult part lay in the motion. I sought the help of Texas Wesleyan Law’s Professor John Murphy. I explained to him the situation and told him what I had done thus far and what I planned to do. Much to my shock and excitement, I was one hundred percent correct! I felt very intelligent for the rest of the day - I figured out how to file an appeal and was reassured that I was taking the correct steps. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Murphy for his guidance and patience on Friday. Your kindness and time is much appreciated.
A note to those of you considering Texas Wesleyan Law: I never had Professor Murphy for a single class. I sent him an email and he encouraged me to call him and gladly offered to help out. I think this speaks volumes of Texas Wesleyan’s professors. It was a Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend, and he was willing to take time out of his schedule to help me out. I have no doubt that many other Texas Wesleyan Law professors would do the same, and I think that comfort is important to have once you graduate from law school. Just a thought, but I think it is something good to know about our law school.
Again, thank you Professor Murphy. Admittedly, I may need your guidance again soon!
8/10/11 - Life as a lawyer. It is frustrating, rewarding, and somewhat of an odd creature. Last time I wrote, I was heading out the door to meet with my first client. The meeting went well - I went through the documents she provided me (if you are curious, it was an alleged defamation case, but not really) and read the letter my client received from her neighbor’s attorney. I wrote a response letter to the attorney and I am so disappointed because I have not heard back! I know they received the letter because I received the Certified Mail green card, but I am so disappointed! I wanted to explore this issue more, but it looks like it will not happen. But it was fun while it lasted.
After that, I began working a lot more for my Dad’s business. I was doing all of the bankruptcy proof of claims and interacting with local bankruptcy attorneys. Lucky for me, there are limited issues to explore with bankruptcy in our business. When one of our customers files bankruptcy, it is in regards to essentially the same 10 documents that have been used in our loan contracts for 25 years. Getting used to the language and the way to word things required some work, but I feel much more confident now.
Then last Friday happened. Unfortunately, my Dad’s attorney quit. That means I not only inherited all previous bankruptcies before I got licensed, but also about 15 current cases we have pending in court! Needless to say, it has been a stressful week, good stress, but lots of it. The stress will continue for some time. Along with that, I had my first meditation on Wednesday. I am proud to say we reached an agreement and as the mediator told me, “Consider it a notch on your belt!”
I am now preparing for court this upcoming week and working on filing a Notice of Appearance in all of the cases so that I can become the attorney of record. It is a very exciting time, but also it makes me realize the great responsibility I have ahead of me. I am off to the court to file another document, until next time!
7/6/11 - Exciting news: I am officially a lawyer! I received my bar card number (that I memorized within two minutes) on Wednesday and was sworn in by Judge Lynn on Thursday. Judge Lynn is the federal bankruptcy attorney I externed for last summer. His name might be familiar to you, as he was the presiding judge for the Texas Rangers Baseball Partners bankruptcy. Judge Lynn gave a beautiful introduction on what it means to be a lawyer. The tradition, the duty, and the importance of representing my future clients to the fullest were highlighted in the most eloquent manner. I felt an empowering sense of self as I stood in his courtroom and took my oath of office. My parents, Jake and members of Judge Lynn’s staff joined me in the private ceremony. My parents and Jake beamed with pride, especially my parents. I think they are simply happy that this day has finally come. It was a special day I will remember for the rest of my life. It was an honor and a privilege to work for Judge Lynn and an even greater one to be sworn in by him. I am forever grateful to him and his kindness.
I am about to head out the door to meet with my first client that is not related to me! It is such an exciting week, but also kind of scary because I am now on my own and an actual attorney. I have an array of responsibilities and duties that I must abide by and do my absolute best this first go around. Fortunately, I think the situation is fairly straightforward and I will be able to tackle this duty with limited problems. I know I will face greater challenges down the road, but I am so excited that this is already happening! I am confident I will be bombarded with family members requesting I do small things for them in the weeks to come, and I am so excited to take the opportunity to help them out.
Out the door and onto my first client meeting!
6/3/11 - Life has been wonderful since graduation. I am enjoying the time I have with my husband and family. I get to control my life. My schoolwork no longer controls me. I feel oddly powerful getting to make my own agenda based on nothing other than weddings and working. School does not play in the mix. It is refreshing and I could not be happier.
I must admit that life without school is an odd feeling. Jake and I are making adjustments each day. When we go somewhere on the weekends, I still feel rushed to get home on Sunday night, but then I remember, “Oh yeah, I don’t have to.” That constant feeling that there is something to be done is slowly dissipating, and I welcome it each and every time. I see my friend’s Facebook posts about bar prep, or receive the occasional text message saying, “Why did we want to do this?” I am happy to provide encouragement and my outlook on how to best prepare for the bar. I think my strategy at least let me pass, so it has got to be at the minimum, a decent strategy!
I have begun working for my family’s business, primarily helping my Dad with his day-to-day activities. I will eventually work alongside the attorney we have used for years, but for now I am trying to relieve some of the workload from my dad. My mom’s health has been wavering. Her treatments at MD Anderson caused her kidneys to function poorly and her blood pressure has been through the roof. She has ceased going to Houston and is looking to begin treatment here in the Metroplex once she returns to health. I am so grateful I passed the bar exam for this reason. Mom and Dad have been under a lot of stress and needed an extra hand, and I have been there for them.
I am actually heading to jury duty today. I find it fitting that the first time in my life I am called for jury duty is following the completion of law school. I know there is not much of a chance that I will get picked, but I am excited to do be called to duty!
5/11/11 - Last Thursday around 3:15 in the afternoon, my life changed. On that day, I found out that I had passed the Texas Bar Exam. But, leading up to the moment was a little nerve racking.
That day, I needed the Internet to be working at the house. But of course, it was out and not working. On top of that, I had a bridal shower to attend that afternoon. I called Jake throughout the morning asking if the results had been posted. Each time he said no, but not to worry, because my name would be on the list. He promised. I got ready for the shower and awaited the arrival of my mother-in-law to pick me up. I had decided the night before that I should not be operating a car that day. It was in the best interest of my safety and others. We headed out to the shower and arrived promptly at 1:15 for the beginning of the shower. I called Jake one last time before going in, but he said that the results still had not been posted. I went into the bridal shower and enjoyed the luncheon with family and friends.
At the end of the lunch, our cousin and bride-to-be asked, “Well, are you going to check?” My mother-in-law took out her cell phone and began browsing on the Texas Board of Law Examiners website. I had a room full a people staring at me, waiting to hear if I had in fact passed the bar. I was praying in that moment that I had passed, because I could not think of anything more embarrassing at that moment. I was relieved when my mother-in-law began to smile, and turned her phone over, where I saw my name and exam number: “Reichenstein,Chelsi,Lake, ,2374 *”. I erupted into tears of joy. The anxiousness had built up so much and I could not hold back my emotions. It was the most amazing feeling.
Now jump ahead to tonight. I am at home with a wonderful peace. Tonight, I took the last exam I will ever take in my life. It was not my best performance, but that is not the point. The point is that it is all over. I now get to look forward to graduation on Friday and celebrating with my family and dear friends. With that being said, I want to take a moment to thank some special people in my life.
First, to all of my law school friends, especially Courtney Leaverton: I could not have survived December through February without your encouragement. I could not be more proud of your hard work and dedication. It inspired me and I cannot thank you enough for that.
To Linda Aleckner: Thank you telling me about the little secret of taking the bar exam before graduation. Thank you for everything you did for me during that week of the bar and everything since then. You are the best.
To my wonderful professors here at Texas Wesleyan School of Law: I am so grateful I chose to attend Texas Wesleyan, because I do not think I would have had the opportunity to develop the close relationships I have developed with so many of you. A special thank you goes out to Professor Terri Helge who had to put up with me for both classes this semester and dealt with me crying about the bar exam all semester. Your patience is greatly appreciated.
To my family: Your unfailing love, support and dedication have brought me to this point in my life and I am forever grateful for the sacrifices you have made for me. I am the person I am today because of you. I would like to thank my parents for showing me how to handle adversity and prevail in the toughest of situations. Mom, I know we had rough times with your health throughout my years here, but you rose to the occasion each time. We can spend time together and finally plan that mother-daughter trip. Daddy, you are the best Daddy in the world and I will always look up to you.
Finally, to my Jake: We have concluded this journey together. I could have never made it through these three years, and especially this past year, without you. You are my rock. Every day I count my blessings to have you in my life. We now can plan vacations and enjoy life together in a way we have not been able to since I have been in law school. Thank you for everything and I love you.
Congrats to all the other Texas Wesleyan students who passed the Texas Bar Exam and good luck to those taking it this summer. We will celebrate in November, when your life too will change one afternoon.
4/27/11 - I have my last law school class tonight! What a journey. It feels like only last week I began and here I am about to graduate. It is a surprisingly bittersweet feeling. I am so happy to be done and have a limited amount of work ahead of me, but also I look back at the wonderful relationships I have built during my three years at Texas Wesleyan.
I turn in my final project for Estate Plan Drafting tonight and then I have one final on Wednesday, May 11. It is nice to only have one final. I will really have to focus next week on studying and finalizing my outline. Next Thursday is likely the day the bar exam results will be released. Admittedly, I have not slept very well the last few nights because I grow more and more anxious thinking about the results coming out. I have so much self-doubt, but I continue to remind myself that there is nothing I can do at this point. I just wish I had the confidence in myself that everyone has in me!
I have my calendar planned the next few weeks for studying. I am glad that I only have one final to think about. It is certainly a welcoming feeling after the year I had last year. After I turn in my project tonight I can really buckle down on preparing for my Trusts final exam. I keep telling myself that I should do pretty well on it since it is the only final I have. More than anything, I am ready for the waiting to be over so that I can start making plans about life in general. Jake and I tried to plan a trip for our anniversary last week and realized we cannot plan it entirely until results come out. A little frustrating, but hopefully it will be worth the wait!
4/20/11 - The countdown has begun. It is approximately 15 days until I receive my bar exam results and 23 days until I graduate! I could not be more anxious than I was a few months ago when I was taking the bar exam. It is difficult to plan for life when you do not know what to plan. What I mean by that is, I know I am graduating (less some terrible disaster), but I am not sure if I passed the bar. I am stuck in this mode where I do not know what to plan. I do not want to plan anything for July because I might be taking the bar exam, and I also cannot plan anything for the summer, because I do not know if I will be working or studying. It is a very odd place to be in, and quite frankly, I am ready for it to be done. The thing I hate most in life is uncertainty. You cannot plan for uncertainty, and I prefer to plan life out. I will just have to be patient for two more weeks.
I have three more classes, including tonight’s class. It is amazing to think that my law school journey has ended. I look back at how far I have come and how much I have changed in these three short years. I am hoping my journey will end sooner than later, but only time will tell. Until then, I am preparing my final project for my Estate Plan Drafting class and preparing my outline for my one final exam. All I can hope and pray is that May 11th is the last exam I will ever take. Off to class now, until next time!
4/6/11 - Well, since I left you last I have been helping my parents with our family business and some other matters that have come our way. It takes up a lot of my time, which is really nice. Oftentimes, it is difficult to focus on my two classes, and I need to get out of that habit soon. No matter what my bar results are, good or bad, I still have to perform well in these two classes. Today in particular, I have been working hard on my third of four Estate Plan Drafting assignments. It is due this evening. I genuinely enjoy this class. We not only have the opportunity to draft documents that we could potentially create as attorneys, but our professor gives us insight into being an attorney. The advice she gives is more than just the best way to prepare the documents for our future clients. She explains how to handle uncomfortable situations we may face, what to expect as first year associates, and how to balance all of that with life.
Besides class, I am very excited about Barristers’ Ball this Friday. I am especially excited because the dress I want to wear does fit! I purchased the dress a long time ago expecting to attend a ball-like event, but never did. It has been hanging in my closet in my parent’s house forever, and now it finally gets to make its debut! The festivities should be wonderful. Jake and I will get to spend some much needed and wanted time with friends we rarely get to see because of our odd schedules, and then Saturday night, we are heading north to Texas Motor Speedway for the races. It should be a great weekend!
Back to edit my assignment one more time before submitting it to my professor.
3/23/11 – I have a lot more free time since the bar ended. I constantly receive questions about how I feel about the bar. I answer honestly, “I have no idea.” At this point, I am still expecting the worst and hoping for the best. I still have dreams about failing, although thankfully, my Mom had a dream that I passed, so I hope she is correct in this case. Either way, I am enjoying the quieter life and having more time to do things with my husband that I enjoy doing.
I began working for my Dad last week at his business, and I have been trying to figure out what to do after graduation, pending bar results. The days feel long, but in a different way than they did while preparing to take the bar exam. I feel very out of the “law school loop,” given that I am only at the building two days a week and most of my friends are busy working or taking their remaining classes. I am looking forward to the upcoming Barristers’ Ball and Crawfish Boil, and the beginning of numerous weddings my husband and I will attend this year.
School has been fine. It is difficult to focus with only four hours and the fact that I am familiar with the material. I also believe I am slightly going through the law school version of senioritis. I know I need to get back focused, and luckily I have some quiet time at work to bring my books to work and fill in the gaps of time with the necessary reading.
I promise to be more exiting and creative next time, but I am likely suffering from post-bar brain.
3/9/11 - So, you have not heard from me for a while and I apologize for that. Since I left you last, I have taken and survived the Texas Bar Exam. It was not an easy road. I had lunch with my dearest friends Monday afternoon. It was great to see them and have a wonderful support system before going to settle into my hotel. After lunch, I check into the Hilton across from the Fort Worth Convention Center. I know it seems crazy that I stayed at a hotel when I live a mere twenty-five minutes from downtown, but the peace of mind it brings cannot be valued. For you future bar examiners, I highly recommend it.
My husband arrived Monday night and we watched our usual Jay Leno and went to bed. I had a flurry of anxiousness, but I felt pretty confident about the material that would be covered on Tuesday, so I was fairly calm. I woke up Tuesday, had a great breakfast and headed to the Convention Center. There were about 1,000 other people taking the bar exam. I felt a little overwhelmed by all of this, but luckily, I had some familiar faces sitting next to me, so I was relieved. Following the MPT and Procedure and Evidence session, I felt fine. I did not think that I blew it out of the water, but I did not think I hurt myself either. I felt very in the mix. My friend and I walked around downtown following the session, releasing some steam and enjoyed a scrumptious lunch. That evening, I tried to relax, but that was not the easiest thing in the world for me to do.
Wednesday morning I woke up with a horrible feeling. I was so incredibly nervous. I really struggle with multiple choice questions, and I had 200 of them ahead of me. I sat down that morning and tried to relax my brain and feel confident. Luckily, the first one hundred were not too bad. I went to lunch with my fellow bar examiners. Thankfully, Texas Wesleyan, through the Alumni Association, provides a free lunch to Texas Wesleyan grads taking the bar exam. I enjoyed my delicious Potbelly sandwich and headed back to the bar.
The second two hundred questions were awful. I was tired and I felt completely beat down. At the conclusion of the afternoon session, I went back to my hotel room and sat on the couch and just cried. I grabbed a shower and talked on the phone with my husband. He comforted me with the fact that the essays were my stronger suit and that I could control tomorrow, I just needed to suck it up and relax. So I took his advice and grabbed some dinner and sat down to review the material just one last time.
I went to bed feeling much more in control. Thursday morning I woke up and felt as if I were going to conquer the essays. When we received our first six essays, my heart jumped for joy. The first two questions were over wills, my favorite subject! They were followed by real property and oil and gas, which I love as well. The final two were over corporations and partnerships. I felt a little shaky on some general concepts, but luckily the questions they tested I felt very comfortable with. I felt wonderful. After the morning session, I went to school with my friend to review the six subjects that would be tested that afternoon. I felt very uneasy about Consumer Law. My friend felt really confident that the essay would be about an insurance claim and the need to tie-in the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Lucky for us, she guessed right on! But, the other five essays were torturous to me. I completely botched the UCC subjects and I only felt mediocre about the two family law/community property questions. Not exactly the same feeling as I had following the morning.
Since finishing the bar, I have done a lot of sleeping, TV watching, and being pretty lazy. It has been great. I am not sure how I did. I pray that I did well enough to pass, but I am just completely thankful this is all over. Now I have graduation to look forward to, and I cannot wait!
Before I go, I want to thank all of my friends, family and professors for the tremendous support they provided me while preparing for the bar. I could not have made it without your prayers, thoughts, and good brain waves. Above all, a big thank you to my three favorite people: my Mom, my Dad and my dear husband, Jake. You are my rock and the reason why I wake up in the morning.
2/9/11 - I am tired, my brain is fried, and I am stressed beyond belief. Although I play it cool on the outside, internally, I am a web of self-destruction and negative thoughts. I constantly feel the pressure of the bar exam looming over me with my every move, but I do my best to smile and push through, because I know that it is just as hard and as bad for everyone else.
The one thing that has saved me is all of this ridiculous cold weather. Thanks to Mother Nature, our second assignment for my LARW III got pushed back one week, so I no longer have to complete that and study for the bar at the same time. I can focus on the bar now, and then prepare my assignment after relaxing that weekend. Although the weather has closed down school and stopped classes, it has not stopped time from slipping by.
I am comforted by friends who have already passed the bar, and professors who always provide unfailing support. To them, I am grateful that I might be able to get through these next two and a half weeks. Although I am trying my best to work through it all, I feel like there are never enough hours in the day, and it is both frustrating and debilitating. I will admit, this is a little bit more than I expected, but I have to keep focusing on the fact that I can do this and that I have a lot of people cheering for me. I also have a husband that I do not want to disappoint. I love him, and he has been so great, and I cannot bear the thought of doing this to him again.
That being said, back to my essays. Next time we speak, I will be done and much happier!
1/25/11 - It is t-minus one month to the Texas Bar Exam, and I am definitely starting to feel the pressure. I think at first I put too much pressure on myself - I felt as if I needed to know every miniscule detail. Then I realized that if I know the most important topics in each subject, it will be okay. Since this revelation, I now feel comfortable with sitting down and really starting to hammer out the big concepts in my notes and outlines. All of this work is not without consequence, however, as I will be getting less sleep over the next month, and my husband and dogs will wonder if I will ever be home again.
I have to take a moment to brag on my husband a little bit. He has been awesome. For example, Sunday morning I set my alarm for seven to begin studying. Naturally, I hit the snooze button when the alarm went off. Jake woke up and asked if I really needed to get up, which I replied yes, but it would be hard. He then informed me that we were going to breakfast immediately and getting our day rolling. So we headed to our favorite breakfast spot and afterward, I put in a wonderful solid day of studying. Jake has also been helpful around the house and with the dogs, which takes so much pressure off of me and makes things so much better. (Thanks sweetie, I love you!)
I, of course, am balancing regular law school classes with bar review. This weekend will be a true test because our first graded project is due next Wednesday in my Estate Plan Drafting class. Luckily, I love the subject and the class. There are only ten people in our class. Nine of us had Estate and Gift Tax together this past fall semester and the other person is one of my closest friends. Although we talk about depressing subjects, such as death and incapacity, I feel that this area of the law is that you can really help out a family when they need it the most. Our professor keeps assuring us that the conversations we have to have with our clients are difficult, but that the job in the end is very rewarding. Hopefully, this week and weekend will not be too awful with getting in studying for the bar exam and preparing my project.
That being said, I am off to review more. I have a simulated MBE test this Thursday, so I will be doing some heavy review the next few days. Until next time!
1/12/11 - Forgetfulness is the theme of my life right now. I forgot to pack my shoes in my gym bag, I forgot to bring my old UCC supplement for my friend, and I forgot to write my blog. I am not a forgetful person. I am known for being organized and taking care of business. However, since beginning bar review, my mind has been elsewhere—mainly in the mountain of bar review books in my house.
My day starts like a normal student. Class is typically from nine in the morning until one in the afternoon. I grab a quick lunch and then head up to school to study with one of my friends in the library. Although, when I say study, we are actually simply sitting next to one another, studying what we covered in our respective bar review classes. We take a break to go for a walk or talk about our husbands and how awful we feel that we are taking so much time away from them, but more than anything, we are there for moral support. These last few weeks have been hard, and it really is going to get nothing but harder, but I have a great support system and it will get better – only a few more weeks I keep telling myself.
After studying for several hours, I head home, work out, and get ready for the next day. Obviously, getting ready for the next day does not do much when I forget a basic thing like my shoes for the gym, but I do what I can. This routine is now broken up a little bit, since classes resumed this week. On Monday and Wednesday nights I have class from six to eight. I am very excited about these two classes because I share each class with at least one of my dearest friends, and both classes are taught by one of my favorite professors. I am especially excited about my Estate Planning Drafting class. It is a very practical class that takes the relevant rules we have learned in our time at Texas Wesleyan Law, and puts them to actual use, as we would as attorneys. The only unfortunate thing is that my second assignment for the class is due the week of the bar exam. That should be an interesting assignment.
Bar review and the actual bar exam extends over the first seven weeks of school. I am through the first week, which is both wonderful and terrifying, because that means the days left to study are running short. It is forty days until the Texas Bar Exam. I constantly feel anxious and I suffer from horrible self-doubt. One thing I am grateful for is that as we cover different subjects in preparation for the bar, I am so grateful to my wonderful professors who did a fantastic job of teaching me the rules of law, and for the most part, the rules have stuck. (THANK YOU!!!!) Well, that being said, off to bar review.
12/15/10 - It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…well, somewhat. I finished finals last Thursday evening. I had three finals in those last four days of exams, so needless to say, I was exhausted, stressed, overworked, and slightly cranky. Although, I am sure my husband would say that I was not slightly, but fully cranky. When I got in my car after my Estate and Gift Tax exam, all I could think was, “One more semester.” On Saturday, Jake and I attended a Christmas dinner party hosted by our cousins, and then the Cowboys game with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend on Sunday. It was a nice distraction from how tired I truly am. These last few days, I have enjoyed sleeping in until 9:00 or 9:30 AM.
Following these rounds of finals, I have never wanted more to be rid of school. The thought of preparing for and taking the Texas Bar Exam in only a few short months lingered in my head while studying. That being said, I begin bar review this coming Monday. The bar prep class I am taking has three parts. The first part is a six-day foundation course that familiarizes students with the MBE subjects. These subjects consist of the subjects we studied in our first-year and second-year classes: property, contracts, torts, criminal law, criminal procedure, evidence, and constitutional law. The MBE is the second day of the bar exam, consisting of two hundred multiple choice questions, 100 in the morning and 100 in the afternoon. After the foundation course, the main portion of the bar review course consists of all of the subjects that will be possibly tested on the bar exam, plus pointers on how to achieve success on the three portions of the bar. There is a review of the MBE subjects, as well as the subjects covered on the procedure and evidence portion of the Bar Exam and the Texas essay subjects. The final portion is a three-day workshop where we will do a simulated exam and then follow up with some last minute exam tips.
I am nervous, excited, anxious, everything imaginable. I have been really working hard for this and I am ready to tackle the ten weeks that follow. Jake and I are entering this time knowing that this will be the hardest ten weeks of our life. My inspiration to push through and do well is so that I only have to do this one time, and come May, when I walk across that stage, Jake and I can start our lives together with me NOT being a student. We have been dating for six years in February and we are certainly ready for a life where I do not have to go study.
Well, I am off to do some shopping, gift wrapping, and preparing for tonight where my sister and I will attempt to re-create my Aunt Freda’s famous homemade rolls. I hope the holidays bring you and your family many blessings and happiness!
11/23/10 - Admittedly, I am feeling a little overwhelmed right now. I have five finals, and the first is on Tuesday. Although I feel like I know the material, I do have concerns about my ability to effectively issue spot, but I have a few more days to work on that. To be honest, I should not be great at issue spotting at this point, so I probably need to give myself a break. Yesterday, I put in a solid eight hours at the local library. Personally, I am not one of those people who can study much longer than that. When I know my brain cannot take anymore, I always walk away from studying and go do something. Last night’s “do something” was watching last week’s Grey’s Anatomy. Today I am working on Federal Income Tax, my first exam. Although we did not cover as much material as in other classes, the depth of the material we did cover is very deep. I am really focused on this exam, not just because it will be difficult, but because I need a solid grade in the class as it counts toward my Estate Planning Certificate.
On top of studying, it is a little hard to focus with the holidays coming up. The season really kicks off on Thursday morning when Jake and I go run the annual Turkey Trot in Dallas. We are not too excited this year – apparently, the cold front is choosing to show up that morning. And it is not just cold temperatures and wind, but potentially rain as well. Kind of puts a damper on the day, but hopefully it stays away long enough to let us get our run in before we head off to join our families for some yummy food and family time together. While I studied over the weekend, Jake was outside putting up our Christmas lights. His newest and proudest addition to this year’s lights is 2,200 green lights on each of the two pine trees in our yard that forms a lighted-Christmas tree. Jake was not expecting to have the lights up and going this weekend, but while he worked, several neighbors told him that they were looking forward to seeing what we have in store for them this year. I guess it is good we both have deadlines! HAHA
Well, I am going to hang out with the Internal Revenue Code for a few hours. I know you are jealous, but you too can take Federal Income Tax when you come to Texas Wesleyan Law. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
11/17/10 - Madness is floating around the halls of Texas Wesleyan Law this week. It is the final full week of classes, Thanksgiving is next Thursday, then finals begin the following Monday. The 1Ls turned in their second memo yesterday and are preparing for their citation exam tomorrow, the 2Ls are stressing out about their Constitutional Law exam, and the 3Ls are wondering how badly they need to stress out—although deep down, they all are.
I have been planning what to study each day for the next two weeks, to make sure that I am adequately prepared for all of my finals. I have to make sure to pace myself so that I don’t burn out those last two days. I think that the fall semester finals are more difficult to study for than the spring and summer semesters due to the Thanksgiving holidays. I think it is especially difficult as a 1L, since there is so much uncertainty when entering the first rounds of final exams that some 1Ls (and I did too) believe that they need to stay locked up in their room all day Thursday and not see their family. I do not agree with that at all. I think that if you put the time in before and after Thanksgiving, taking that day off should not hurt you either way. Now, if you allow one day to turn into three or four, that is a whole other story.
With all that being said, I have to clear the final exam hurdles to get to a very big hurdle ahead of me: preparing for the Texas Bar Exam. Admittedly, I am more stressed out about the Bar Exam than I am my current finals. The July bar results came out about two weeks ago and I had a few friends who unfortunately did not pass the bar. This really took a toll on me. I had two bar nightmares that weekend and started thinking about how to study for the bar. Luckily, my husband was there to rescue me and remind me that I needed to get through these finals and enjoy my time off between the conclusion of finals and the beginning of bar review before I need to even think about it. He is always there for me, and I hope everyone that goes to law school, whether it be here at Texas Wesleyan Law or elsewhere, has someone in their life that can put things in perspective like he does for me.
Well, off to print outlines and notes. My Bankruptcy outline is 55 pages alone, and I still have to print off others!
11/3/10 - The cool weather says one thing to the students of Texas Wesleyan School of Law—finals are around the corner! My first final is in four weeks and this weather makes mewant to stay inside and cuddle up with the bankruptcy code. Well, I do not really want to be cuddled up with the bankruptcy code, but I am currently sitting at my desk with a cup of hot green tea and my bankruptcy materials spread out everywhere.
The changing temperature is a reminder of the holiday season around the corner, too. I am sad to think that I may not be able to go all out on my Christmas decorations like I did last year because of finals and bar prep. Hopefully, I will manage my time well enough to make it happen. Last year, I had eight Christmas trees inside my house. Yes, you read correctly, eight. On top of that, my husband and I also had over 40,000 lights outside for the neighborhood and world to enjoy. We have put up a number of Christmas lights on the roof already but will not work on it for a few weekends because Jake is going on his big hunting trip to Colorado at the end of the week.
Even though I will greatly miss him, I look forward to having more of my own time to work on school. I can stay up later and go to Starbucks when I want to study, without fear of leaving him at home waiting for me to finish studying. We have learned to really value our time together when he is not at work and I am not studying or at school, so his temporary vacation gives me a little bit more freedom than normal. I know that two days after he leaves, I will be ready for him to come back home. I do not like it when he is away, but this is something he truly loves and makes him happy.
Another distraction from school was unfortunately eliminated Monday night. Although it is sad the Rangers lost in the World Series, it is probably best for our students as a whole. The faculty, staff and students certainly caught “Red Fever” and it was a wonderful distraction. Well, that being said, I better get back to it. Congratulations to the Rangers on a wonderful season, and for those in the Metroplex, I think fall has arrived to stay for a bit—enjoy!
10/20/10 - The big talk around school right now is, of course, the Texas Rangers. All I have to say is, our professors rock. They request to be informed of any big happenings throughout the class. My Payments Systems professor started off Monday night’s class with, “Tonight is Game 3 of Payment Systems, Wednesday is Game 5 of Payment Systems.” He even promised to give the class the antlers if the Rangers got a stolen base. It is nice that the professors have an understanding and appreciation that all of Texas Wesleyan Law’s students have more than just legal doctrines and reading on our brains. I cannot emphasize enough how great our professors are, not just at teaching the law, but as people.
With that being said, there are five weeks left in the semester (although this one is half way over). I have five finals left, so each weekend will be devoted to one class. I am hoping that I can get one class done, maintain the outlining until the end of the semester in preparation for final exams. This is my plan, so we will see if it holds out. I think that my current schedule and some external factors have made this semester very difficult. The person that my semester has been very difficult on is my husband.
My husband works fifty hours a week. He also has about an hour drive to work and then back home again. On top of that, he goes straight to the gym from work and exercises between an hour and an hour and a half each night. Needless to say, we do not have a lot of time to do things together during the week. One thing that we enjoy doing is watching reruns of “The Office” and taking our dogs for walks. Taking our dogs for a walk was always something we enjoyed sharing together, especially my first two years.
This year, I have class every night at 8:00, so I do not get home until 9:45 or later. I fully understand that this is a part-time evening student’s reality, but this was never exactly part of my plan when I signed up for law school. It has taken an emotional toll on both my husband and me. That being said, I just want to say to all of the future law school students and their spouses or significant others that it is a tough three years and communication in your relationship is as essential as it has ever been. I had no idea until Monday night that my husband was hating my schedule more than I was. He said that he wishes we could take the dogs for walks again, but by the time he gets home from the gym and I get home from school, we are both clearly exhausted and ready to do nothing but sleep. But like I said, it is only five more weeks, so I think we can make it through. We just have to tough it out a little bit longer.
Well, off to read and prepare for class. GO RANGERS!
10/6/10 - Well, I must start with some great news. The day after I submitted my last blog, the doctors told my Mom that her tumors had shrunk by 26 percent since beginning her most recent treatment. It was the perfect way to begin my birthday weekend. We had plans that Sunday of celebrating all of the September birthdays in my family, but the focus definitely shifted to celebrating the wonderful news we received that Thursday.
However, since that time, reality has set in. We are halfway through the semester and I feel very overwhelmed with the work I have ahead of me. Finals are about two months away. Although that seems like a lot of time, the days simply fly by, so I need to get on it! I admittedly need to be more disciplined in my outlining. I always hate the time crunch at the end, so I need to give myself a pep talk about getting on top of things. I think that I have had so many distractions in my life that I have allowed them to consume my time and energy, but now I have a lot of ground to make up.
I have had something related to someone’s wedding, whether it be a shower, party, the actual wedding, every weekend since August 6. Yes, you read that correctly. For two months straight my husband and I have had our lives wrapped up in weddings. This past weekend was my childhood best friend’s wedding, and the wedding train concludes this weekend with my dear friend from law school—then no more weddings for a while. I am ready to not have plans on the weekend and just make my own plans. I think next weekend I would like to just lounge around the house, drink some hot tea, and enjoy the beautiful weather. And of course, squeeze in some study time. I am ready for my focus to shift - the bar exam and graduation is around the corner.
Off to class now. Have a great week!
9/22/10 - I am elated to announce that I passed the MPRE (aka the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination)! When I found out the MPRE grades had been released, I was panicked. However, when I went to open my email to check the results, I quickly became relieved when I saw my passing score. I have now completed one of the three steps to becoming a lawyer. The first is to pass the MPRE (check!), the next to receive my Juris Doctorate from Texas Wesleyan Law, and then finally to pass the Texas Bar Exam. If I am fortunate enough to pass the bar on the first attempt, I will actually know that I passed the bar before graduating.
On the MPRE, each jurisdiction has its own minimum score to pass. Texas requires a score of 85 or higher to pass the MPRE. With all of my grades for the summer in, my passing MPRE score, and next week marking the halfway point of the semester, things are starting to get exciting! In approximately ten weeks I will be finishing up final exams, Christmas shopping, and then begin bar review. It is a little overwhelming to think that the light at the end of the tunnel is nearing, but I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Although, admittedly, I think the person most excited about my graduation from law school is my husband.
Knowing that we are nearing the midway point of the semester means that I need to start preparing my outlines. We have now covered enough material in each class that I feel comfortable with what the professor expects to see on the final and how to best prepare for studying. I think the two classes that will be the most difficult to outline for are Estate and Gift Tax and Bankruptcy. As I mentioned in my last blog, Estate and Gift Tax is very difficult, but so is Bankruptcy. That is another class where I am grateful to have one of my dearest friends as a classmate to work through the reading and the problems.
Well, I am off to Bankruptcy now. Until next time.
9/8/10 - Well, if you live here in the Metroplex (or, the Metro-mess as my husband likes to call it because of all of the traffic), you have enjoyed the crazy weather patterns that Texans have grown to know and love. August was ridiculously hot and muggy, and now we are having as close to a monsoon as Texas ever sees. The heavy rain makes it difficult to wake up in the morning for the fourth week of class.
Over the weekend I went to Las Vegas for my best friend’s bachelorette party. We left first thing Saturday morning and returned Monday night. I was proud of myself because I took one of my books with me and did my reading for the week on the flight to Las Vegas, and knocked out a little bit more Sunday morning before everyone woke up. I was a true law student—I woke up early, went down to Starbucks to grab some coffee, and then settled in with my Oil and Gas book. I did have zealous hopes of maybe outlining some on the flight back home, but I needed sleep a lot more than I could possibly describe. I am glad that this weekend trip occurred during my third year rather than my first year. I think my first year I would not have been able to enjoy the weekend, but as a seasoned 3L, I can enjoy life and the moment without any guilt of not having my head in a book.
Due to the aforementioned weather, my afternoon class got cancelled, so I am currently working on Estate and Gift Tax. I am also taking Federal Income Tax, which is a breeze compared to Estate and Gift Tax. In my opinion, this is the hardest class in law school. Thankfully, I have four great friends to take it with, so it makes my Tuesday and Thursday nights a little better. In Estate and Gift the first week of class, our professor could have been speaking in German, and I would have understood him just as well. Luckily, it is becoming a little bit easier. He promises that one day the light bulb will come on and it will begin to make sense. I have had a couple of moments where I thought the light was on, but was quickly dimmed by the next problem. I know I must keep fighting through and wait for that moment. I am taking Estate and Gift Tax as a part of the Estate Planning Certificate Program, so I cannot complain too much. If it is what I want to do in my legal career, I had better learn it.
Before I go, please do not let the last paragraph discourage you from taking the class! It is an interesting class, it is just very challenging—and who does not like a good challenge? Back to outlining…
8/25/10 - I am a 3L!!! It is so nice to say that, finally! I am so excited to begin the final chapter in my law school career. Granted, my excitement is somewhat stifled by the fact that I still have plenty of work to do before obtaining the title of “Chelsi Lake, Esq.” The first two weeks have gone well. I have an interesting schedule - on Monday and Wednesday I have class at 4:30 and 8:00 in the evening, and then on Tuesday and Thursday I have class at 3:00 and then not again until 6:30 and 8:00.
Although it is not my ideal schedule, I am enjoying the opportunity to work out in the morning. I made a promise to myself that no matter what is going on in my law school life, I must make time to take care of my body, and that especially includes working out. I discovered that when I do not work out, I am very restless when I sleep. My brain is obviously tired and plenty exercised on a daily basis. This caused me to toss and turn throughout the night due to my physical inactivity. During the past two weeks I have had the best sleep in my time in law school. That being said, I will hopefully maintain my zealous efforts to continue working out while also keeping up with my studies.
Along with school, I am preparing for a very long September. Each weekend in September I have either a bridal shower or a wedding to attend. Yes, every single weekend. Followed by two weddings the first two weekends in October! With the above paragraph and the inevitable fifteen hours I am taking this semester, it will be a rough month and a half, but fun nonetheless.
To future law school students, I think it is very important that you still allow yourself to have some fun in law school. Before you begin law school, you have a family, a significant other, a pet (or pets in my case!), children, friends, all of these wonderful people who have been a part of your life. You should always remember that they have been by your side before this journey, and they will still be there and want you around. The only unfortunate thing with this is that all of my friends have decided to pack in some fun within a short period of time without consulting my schedule first. I am totally kidding. I find it easier to be busy. I think that I function better and am more productive, but I definitely will need a break come mid-October.
Well, I am off to Bankruptcy and then dinner afterward. Until next time!
8/4/10 - My focus this week has been much better than last week. I actually have been able to be productive by studying and finishing up stuff around my house! It is a very liberating feeling. I also have started working out again, so my energy is back up. I am really going to try to return to working out a lot again this fall. As a student-athlete, my day was centered around workouts and practice. I know that once school begins, I cannot allow myself any excuses to not get to the gym. There are twenty-four hours in a day and I need to use them to the best of my abilities. Hopefully I will maintain that attitude.
Today, I head to Houston with my parents. Tomorrow, I will study at MD Anderson while my Mom does her treatment. She is on her third experimental treatment through MD Anderson. On this treatment, every first, fourth, seventh week and so on, the doctors administer three different types of chemotherapy at once. The process on those days can take up to seven hours or more. During the intermittent weeks, she only receives one of the chemotherapies. She is now on the sixth week. Amazingly, she has been doing wonderfully. She has continued to feel great and has not suffered any side effects.
Interestingly, the typical side effect from this treatment is terrible mouth sores. Patients on this treatment must use a lot of caution in deciding which foods they eat and they must brush their teeth three to four times per day. Mom has been very conscientious, and I am so proud of her. I know that the words “three types of chemo at once” sounds as if she should be really sick and feeling horrible, but she has not been at all! She has been going on more walks and really taking care of herself. It is refreshing to see her battling her way through. Friday morning she will have tests to determine the effectiveness of this new treatment. Please keep praying and keep your fingers crossed that this will be the treatment that cures her!
While Mom has her tests on Friday, I have my own test – the MPRE! I feel pretty confident. I will have a lot of time tomorrow to study and I can go through the outline some more in the car on the way to Houston. After finishing the test, my parents and I are meeting my husband in Groves, Texas for my husband’s college roommate’s wedding. I played softball with the groom’s younger sister at Baylor, so it will be a great weekend to catch up and see old faces. Next week we head out to Florida for my law school friend’s wedding in Key West. I plan on reading “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I want to read a book because it will be my last chance to read a fun book for some time, and I want to read it before the movie comes out.
I am so ready for my 3L year. I cannot believe how quickly law school has flown by. I have a pretty tough fall semester coming up to help me prepare for the bar exam. It will all be worth it in the end! Off to finish packing and getting some last minute errands done before the road trip. Have a great one!
7/28/10 - In a word: exhaustion. That is all I am feeling this week. After seven weeks of summer school, a week-long minimester, and one of my dogs getting badly injured, that is where I am at. The weeks piled up and now all I have been interested in is catching up on sleep, laundry, cleaning, and reorganizing my office. Although these things are useful, they do not tend to help in other categories, such as preparing for the MPRE. During last week’s minimester, we learned the importance of the initial client interview and how to properly negotiate on behalf of your client. It was a very useful class, although at times it did get a little touchy-feely for my liking. But, it put an important perspective on something I would have never known about before entering into the legal profession.
The class concluded with a competition on Saturday where teams of two conducted a client interview and a negotiation. The client interview involved a man who came to my “partner” and me with an issue regarding his home. The fictitious story was that his house was a million dollar home that was built on a former landslide. Following a heavy rainstorm, his neighbor’s house had drastically and visibly shifted. This event alerted the people around the neighborhood that there was a problem, and they discovered that they were experiencing the same problems with doors being difficult to close, cabinetry pulling away from the wall, and other issues that one can imagine would follow from having a home built on a landslide.
In the first round of competition, my partner and I were very concerned - start to finish, our interview took only 17 minutes and we were supposed to have 25 minutes for the interview with the client and five minutes for a debriefing! However, we did get the job done and tied another team for the second best score. There was no way to determine which team should advance to the final round to face off against the top scoring team, so we had to do a coin toss against the team that tied us. We won the coin toss and came in second in the final round. We made a great showing in the final round and improved on our mistakes from the first round, mainly that we talked way too fast.
The next negotiation competition involved a highly successful businessman being hired by a university to start-up and lead a new entrepreneur program. Our job was to get him some basic things that he requested in regards to salary, retirement, and other items. Although we did not get through as many items as we wanted to, we again performed well. We came in third overall in the competition and the team we negotiated against came in first. I think we had a great day and it made the day go by faster, since we were there from 9 am until 6 pm on Saturday. My husband picked me up from school and we went to dinner and relaxed for the evening.
Tomorrow is back to the grind of preparing for the MPRE and focusing on finishing my requirements for class. Until next time!
7/14/10 - Well, it’s finals week. I have not been doing anything too exciting, just spending time in a study room at the local library by myself. I have my first final tomorrow afternoon and then my second tomorrow evening. Although having both final exams on one day leaves you feeling very exhausted, I am glad to get it all over within seven hours. I have found some wonderful stress relief in working out a little more often than normal this past week.
Last night I attended a Boot Camp Conditioning class with my husband. It was an intense hour of hard work and sweat. The workout was a welcome distraction to the monotony of going through my outlines and reviewing notes. Doing that kind of workout makes me miss being a college athlete. We were pushed mentally and physically every day. Law school more than takes care of pushing me mentally; it is the physical exertion that has been lacking and that I miss the most. Eventually, I will have time to balance work and exercise the way I want to. I look forward to that day. I have to keep in mind that in less than year, so long as I pass the bar exam, I will be able to do just that.
My husband and I are planning a little weekend get-away – we are heading to his godfather’s ranch in central Texas. It is always a wonderful place to go. It is a little more than 100 acres, and it is a great opportunity to simply relax. Sadly though, the vacation will be short lived. I begin a weeklong minimester on Monday that concludes Saturday. The class focuses on the client counseling aspect of being a lawyer, and the class is a requirement to complete the Certificate Program in Estate Planning. Instead of a final exam, I must write a paper involving a topic in interviewing or client counseling.
The following week I will be splitting time between writing my paper and preparing for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). One of our professors puts on a free review course in preparation for the MPRE, which includes a comprehensive review of the materials, an outline, and some studying tips. I was relieved when he told me that solid preparation for the MPRE requires diligent three hours per day of studying for the two weeks preceding the exam. Speaking of some intense studying…back to it! Until next time!
6/30/10 - Well, I have finished my internship since I left you last. I am indescribably grateful for the opportunity to have worked under a federal judge. It was especially a privilege and honor to work in the court during the Texas Rangers bankruptcy proceedings. If you have not heard, the case is far from over, but I did get to see the start at least. I met some wonderful people and saw some great lawyers, especially with the Texas Rangers. Being an avid sports fan, it was wonderful to see Major League Baseball’s general counsel up close. I think that was one of my favorite portions of working with the Texas Rangers bankruptcy.
With only a week passing since finishing my internship, I am glad to have more sleep and some more time to work on my paper and do outlining for my other classes. It is crazy that next Thursday is the last day of the summer session, and that I have two finals the following week. This summer has flown by, and those last days until I graduate are coming within sight. Alright, technically, it is not until next May, but something has got to keep me going! But as I said, I am definitely feeling the pressure with the conclusion of the semester around the corner, and I have to buckle down and push through these last two weeks. My seminar paper is due next Thursday and then my exams are the following Thursday.
Life is pretty great otherwise; a lot of reading, writing, editing, and outlining. I am, of course, excited about this upcoming Fourth of July holiday. Every year, my family and I go to our lake house and spend the weekend riding jet skis, taking my Dad’s boat out, and spending time with family and friends. Unfortunately, I will not be able to spend the entire weekend out there because I must stay in on Friday and Saturday to focus on school. Luckily, I will not be needing the “I can’t, I have to study” excuse much longer!
Off to class. Until next time!
6/16/10 - Wow. I have never been this busy in my life. I am working part-time at the federal bankruptcy court and taking seven hours of summer school. I knew it would be tough, but I really had no idea. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been afforded this summer through my work, so I cannot complain too much.
As many of you know, the Texas Rangers filed bankruptcy earlier this summer and the judge I work for was appointed to the case. There are numerous complex issues and I consider it a rare opportunity to be in the courtroom with Major League Baseball’s general counsel and other great attorneys from across the country. Work has been fun, tiring, and challenging, but I certainly enjoy the change of pace from the regular legal analysis we do in law school on a day-to-day basis. I have many busy weekends ahead with the end of school coming up and then preparing for the MPRE exam. Even in the fourth week of school, it has been difficult to find a proper balance between school, work, and life, but I am managing and I think I have it down now. I have not been able to work out as much I would prefer, but that will come in time. I also know my husband will be glad when this is all done and I am back to my “school only” routine. My respect has grown for our night-time students. I do not think I could muster the strength to do this for four years and I have been doing this for only four weeks. Bless you all!
I realize that I have not given an update on my Mom for some time. The doctors chose to take her off of her previous treatment. Initially everything looked like it may have been going in the right direction. However, the doctors felt that the treatment was no longer providing what she needs to get well. After several weeks off, she returned to Houston today and we will find out what the doctors have in store for her next. She has grown tired of the drive back and forth, and is ready to relax at home for the summer. I told her that I am not sure if that is the best thing for her medically, but I know emotionally it absolutely is. I have especially appreciated her being around a lot this summer because she asked how she can help me out with my busy schedule. I told her she could cook meals for me so that all I have to do is package them up and then take them to work and school. Mom is an excellent cook, so I have been eating well lately and very happy about it! Thank you all for your continued support and prayers. We need all we can get.
Well, off to class now. To all those fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day and thanks for all you do!
5/19/10 - I am refreshed and ready to begin anew after my wonderful vacation in Disney World with my husband. I finished finals last Tuesday around noon. That afternoon I went to get a facial and began to pack to go on my much awaited vacation. It was so wonderful to come home that evening and focus on something other than school. It is crazy to think that this time next year I will be a graduate of Texas Wesleyan University and that one year ago I was moving and preparing to finally marry the love of my life.
Jake and I woke up at 4:50 Wednesday morning to head to the airport. It was surprisingly easy to wake up. This was my first ever trip to Disney, an experience I have waited on since I was ten years old. When we landed in Orlando and boarded the Disney Magical Express to go to our resort, I became overwhelmed with excitement. I was done with finals, my second year of law school and celebrating our first year of marriage. What a wonderful day! We stayed at Wilderness Lodge, which was beautiful and the perfect atmosphere for us. It was set in the woods and very laid back. We had a fantastic view of the lake and could sit outside and watch the fireworks from Magic Kingdom. It was in a word, marvelous!
Another great part of my experience was that while visiting Epcot, a man approached us and inquired if we would like VIP seating to the nightly firework show. We gladly seized the opportunity. We were escorted out to the landing dock where the firework technicians were positioned and received information about how the operations of the show works and how much work the technicians put into the show! It capped off a wonderful day.
We returned Monday night and I began my internship Tuesday morning. We had an early morning Tarrant County Bankruptcy Bar breakfast in the judge’s chambers and discussed a case recently litigated in the Dallas bankruptcy court. Following breakfast, I spent the rest of the day researching the particular interpretation of statute as it pertains to a case pending in our court, which I am still working on today, and probably through tomorrow.
My second year was hard. I think even more difficult than my first year. I faced many more challenges and encountered more adversity than I believe I have in my life. This year also contained some great experiences and opportunities that I am grateful for in every way possible. Hopefully I will see some of you in the hallways of Texas Wesleyan as 1Ls. I now begin my journey as a 3L and look forward to the next big challenge that will come my way in approximately nine months – the Texas Bar Exam! Until then, have a great one!
5/5/10 - I have one word for you: drained. After having my hardest final last night at 6:30 PM followed by another tough one this morning at 9:00 AM, that is all I can say, drained. On top of that, I have another final tomorrow at 1:30 PM. Tomorrow night, I am having date night with my husband and taking the night off so that I can refresh for studying over the weekend in preparation for my last final exam on Tuesday. Jake, my husband, has been a real trooper this week. He has tried to stay up late with me and dealt with me getting up super early to do more work. It is during this time that I am most grateful for his patience and understanding.
We are both anxiously awaiting next Wednesday when we board a plane to Disney World for a few days vacation. I cannot wait for several reasons. For obvious reasons, it is a much needed vacation for the both of us. Second, I have never been to Disney World and I cannot wait to experience the happiest place on earth. Lastly, this trip is in celebration of our first year of marriage. I look at all of the 1Ls preparing to take their second of four finals tomorrow morning and reflect back on where I was this time last year. I was one final in, Jake and I were preparing to move to into our new house, and we were getting married. How the time does fly.
I am excited about the upcoming summer and looking forward to it. I am taking seven hours during the regular summer term and then I finally got into a one-week class that follows summer exams. On top of that, I have my internship with a federal bankruptcy judge, so I will be able to fulfill my pro bono hours required for graduation and participate in a wonderful learning opportunity. But tonight, it is studying and trying to focus in on my exam for tomorrow.
Back to my outline. Have a good one, and to any mothers out there (including my own wonderful mother and mother-in-law), Happy Mother’s Day!
4/21/10 - Busy, busy, busy! Finals are T-13 days away! The last week of class is this week. I am wrapping up notes, outlines, and questions before I sit down and really start diving into the material. It is amazing how fast the semester went by. In reviewing my notes from this past semester, I can vividly remember a remark a student made or a comment a professor said about the law. It only feels like last week, when in reality, it was two months ago!
My first final is the evening of May 4th, followed by one the morning of May 5th, and then the afternoon of May 6th. Oh, how the stress is mounting. It is difficult to figure out how to adequately prepare for three exams that start and finish within a seventy-two hour period. I never faced this in undergrad and law school is more difficult than undergrad, so I have a great challenge ahead of me. My current plan after I finish my final on Thursday is to go get my nails done. I think treating yourself after some hard work is always healthy. My last final exam is the following Tuesday, May 11th. The next morning, my husband and I will leave for Disney World. It is a much needed vacation for the both of us and I am personally very excited because I have never been to Disney. May 12th cannot get here quick enough!
Since I wrote you last, I have registered for the fall classes and confirmed an internship with a federal bankruptcy judge for the summer. Words cannot express my excitement for the privilege to learn under a judge and to see local lawyers in action inside the courtroom. It will be a very busy and fulfilling summer. Also, when the fall classes came out, the law school released information regarding its new Certificate Program. A Certificate Program offered through the law school is similar to getting a major in undergrad. The two current Certificate Programs are in Intellectual Property and Estate Planning. As I have mentioned before, I am interested in Estate Planning, so this is a wonderful opportunity for me and my fellow classmates.
Under the Certificate Program, there are four areas that must be completed. The first is four core classes, comprising of Wills & Estates, Trusts & Fiduciary Duties, Estate & Gift Tax, and Estate Administration. The second area is any number of elective courses, such as Guardianship, Federal Income Tax and Taxation of Business Entities. The third is a writing requirement in which students are given fact situations and are asked to draw up legal documents based on those facts, just as we would do in the real world. The final is a skills requirement. The skills requirement is fulfilled by taking a class that involves increasing a law student’s skills in interviewing and counseling clients. This is essential in any area of law, as we will one day not only serve as someone who provides legal advice, but also counsel clients in their life choices. I think this is especially important in the Estate Planning field, because this oftentimes involves helping a person prepare his or her will. Clearly, preparing a will and contemplating imminent death is not the conversation starter for most, but it is certainly an essential tool to master. If a prospective student is interested in Estate Planning or Intellectual Property, I hope this makes Texas Wesleyan go higher up your list!
Well, back to the grind. Study, study! Have a great day! =)
4/7/10 - The semester is beginning to slowly wind down. It is twenty-seven days until my first final exam! The weather has been beautiful in the Metroplex and it has become a little bit more difficult to focus. The thought of being inside a building studying is much less thrilling than sitting outside with friends, going for walks, and soaking up the sunshine. But as usual, I must push through to the end. I am beginning to plan and organize my time over the next several weeks for completing outlining and squeezing in the remaining reading assignments. Two of my classes are loading up on our necessary make-up classes these last few weeks. So on top of the normal stress at the end of the semester, these additional make-up classes add an additional seventy pages of reading per week at this point in the semester. Did I mention it has been sunny and beautiful lately?
The conclusion of the semester coincides with several upcoming Student Bar Association events. Last week we had 2L and 3L representative elections. To my delight, my classmates elected me to serve again on SBA. I look forward to being a part of SBA for my final year and hopefully we can accomplish more of our goals than we did this past year. This weekend is the Barristers’ Ball which is an annual spring event that is similar to law school prom. At Barristers’, the Upper Level Professor of the Year, Adjunct Professor of the Year, 1L Professor of the Year, and 1L Legal Writing Professor of the Year are awarded. There is a cocktail hour, dinner and dancing. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend because my husband and I have a previous commitment this weekend. The following weekend is the Crawfish Boil, an alumni event that usually occurs the same weekend as the Main Street Arts Festival in downtown Fort Worth. There is live music, games, children’s activities so that all students can have fun.
Registration for the fall semester begins next week and I am having difficulty deciding which classes to take. I have elected to take all of my required classes and several bar related classes already, and that limits the other classes I have to choose from for the fall. Knowing what I know now, I would have done my schedule completely different, but hindsight is always 20/20. I am closing in on only one year left until graduation and I could not be more excited and ready to get out and start practicing law.
Well, off to class and enjoying the spring! =)
3/24/10 - Wow, busy week this week. After coming back from Spring Break refreshed and ready to go, I find myself having a make-up class and two extra meetings that I had not originally included in my plans this week. My husband and I are also preparing to head down to Austin for the weekend for our friends’ wedding. Nonetheless, I got plenty of rest during the break and was relatively productive. I look back at the break and I know I got a lot more work done this Spring Break than my first year, plus relaxed and enjoyed some time with my family.
I got the opportunity to go down to MD Anderson with my Mom during the break. Upon arrival in Houston, we joined one of my college teammates for dinner and caught the tail end of the Houston rodeo and the Keith Urban concert. Wednesday morning, Mom and I headed up to MD Anderson for some tests. The grounds of MD Anderson are expansive. It was an amazing sight to see. It also was a poignant reminder of the numerous families that are plagued by cancer. Mom had her blood work that morning and her PET scan that afternoon. It was mostly uneventful, but I did get a little bit of outlining done and several passersby asking, “You’re in law school, aren’t you?” Glad to know that there are people out there that remember the experience.
The following day was the big day. Mom and I met with the doctor to look at the results of the previous day’s scans. As you can imagine, my Mom and I were very nervous about what the tests would reveal. Once the doctor finally entered, he pulled up two pictures of PET scans. One scan was from January and the other from the previous day. Much to our happiness, two of my Mom’s tumors had neither spread nor grown, and two had slightly shrunk. It was such a relief to be with my Mom to receive this news. This moment made the trip worth every moment. Afterward, we got a phone call from my Dad saying that his prostate biopsy results came back negative. I had a day of great news and could not have been happier.
After the doctor, Mom and I enjoyed lunch, where the conversation was instantly more easy going. It was evident that the tension had been lifted. After lunch, we went to her treatment. While waiting for her to go into treatment, a girl about my age walked in the waiting room and sat down. A few minutes later a guy came in, handed her a cup of fruit, and sat next to her. I realized that that the couple is about my husband’s age and my age, and that she was the patient. It really put life in perspective. Many times I get so caught up in law school and my husband gets very busy with work. But what is most important is the people that make you happy and moments with them define your life.
Mom and I went back into treatment. She received her normal treatment, which is administered through an IV. Her treatment normally takes an hour and a half to two hours. Due to her treatment, her body has been depleting her magnesium levels, which is important in maintaining good heart and lung function. So her treatment that day consisted of her normal treatment and an additional two hours of a magnesium supplement administered through the IV. Although we were there a long time, we did get to watch all three reruns of Grey’s Anatomy, one of our favorite things to do together. I felt lucky to go down to Houston with Mom and spend time with her. Our family wishes to express our gratitude to those of you who have been thinking and praying for my Mom. Your thoughts and prayers helped give us a day like last Thursday. =)
3/10/10 - I feel like there is a lot going on this week. It may just be a little bit of spring fever and my readiness to enjoy the sunshine, but I do have a lot on my plate as usual. My lifelong best friend got engaged over the weekend. She is a fashion designer and knows exactly how she wants her wedding to be. We met with the wedding planner yesterday over in Dallas. I laughed to myself during the meeting because her approach to her wedding and my approach to my wedding when I was planning last year are completely different. She brought pictures, magazine ads, and numerous ideas to the table. She had a ton of input and asked if the wedding planner was capable of executing her ideas. My best friend has always been very creative and able to bring to life the ideas she developed in her head. When I had my meeting with my wedding planner, I basically sat there and said, “Just make it look pretty. You do this all the time and I am only doing this once!”
We also have Student Bar Association elections coming up following Spring Break. I originally planned on running for Vice-President, but I have decided to run for 3L representative instead because I will have a heavy class load this fall so that I may take the February bar (more on that in a moment). Although Spring Break is next week, there will not be a lot of tanning or any vacations, but lots of work with no priority to go to school. I also plan on making a trip down to Houston with my Mom when she has her weekly treatment. She is concerned I will get bored at the hospital, but with all the work I have to do, I can easily fill the time. Before the break, I plan on applying for an internship this summer at the federal bankruptcy court. I meet with Career Services this Friday to go over my cover letter and resume.
As I mentioned earlier, I am taking a heavy load this fall so that I can take the February bar. A student may take the February bar if they have four hours or less to graduate their last semester of law school. Many people see it as an opportunity to get a head start on job searching. When you take the February bar, the results come back in May, usually before graduation. A student can be licensed immediately and begin practicing. Those taking the July bar wait until the first week in November. I am not necessarily concerned with getting into the job market faster than my peers. I honestly would like to have the bar past me by the time I graduate and enjoy my summer with my husband and family. Also, I did not want to wait through August, September and October to know my results while not doing anything. At least this way, I am still in school and possibly will pick up an internship opportunity. I know several students who just did what I plan on doing and they said they do not regret it for one minute. As one student put it, you have to study a lot anyway, why not do it now?
2/24/10 - Well, one of my wishes has been granted! The law school posted the summer schedule today. I was hoping to take a three-hour class and Professional Responsibility. I guess this is another wish granted, too. Professional Responsibility is a course we are required to take to graduate, that helps prepare law students for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). The MPRE is an ethics exam that all future attorneys must take before they can be licensed to practice law. You can take the exam after finishing the bar; however, you cannot get licensed unless you have successfully passed the exam. It is usually in one’s best interest to take it before taking the bar exam.
The test is offered three times a year; typically the first weekend of March, August, or November. I initially planned to take the August exam, but I was concerned that I would have a schedule conflict due to a close friend’s wedding planned on the first weekend of August. Much to my enjoyment, the exam is on Friday, rather than Saturday so I can take the exam and enjoy our friend’s wedding. It looks like I am having a great day! I am hoping also to find some kind of internship opportunity this summer. As I have mentioned, I am interested in estate planning and probate, but I am keeping an open mind for anything that may come my way. Any kind of real world experience will make me happy.
I am happy to report that my Mom is doing well. The current treatment she is on causes her to break out into a rash on her face, chest and back. The doctors say that patients that have been on this treatment who break out with a rash have yielded the best results from the medicine. My Mom says she will take having acne any day over having cancer. Her spirits have been good, as well as her energy. She is a fighter and every day I am reminded of how lucky I am to have her as an example in my life.
On a final note, good luck to my friends and anyone who is taking the February bar exam. The test began Tuesday and will continued through Thursday. One of my close friends has been really studying hard, and I know she is ready for it to be over. Good luck everyone and make Texas Wesleyan proud!
2/10/10 - There is a saying about law school that goes like this: your first year scares you to death, the second year works you to death, and the third year bores you to death. I have to agree, last semester did work me to death. It was by my own volition to take the four most challenging classes together. I do not recommend it to anyone, and in fact, I encourage current 1Ls to avoid what I did. I would even go so far as to call it a mistake. Dean Short and Dean Turner, if you are reading this, you were absolutely right. I should have listened! Since I left you last, I have emerged past the “work you to death” stage into the latter stage. Sure, the information is still interesting, and I am taking classes that help me understand what I may want to do upon graduation. I am on the downside of the three year hill, and I can honestly say that I am at that point where the end cannot get here quick enough. I pray every day that the summer and fall course schedule will be posted so that I can start planning my final year. I have two 3L friends who are taking the Bar later this month and I envy them in so many ways. They are horribly stressed, but they are graduating and will be out in the legal world very soon. I look forward to that day more and more.
The most exciting thing on my plate right now is my upcoming trip to New Orleans this weekend. One of my college teammates and dearest friends is getting married. It will be a wonderful combination of her wedding, Mardi Gras weekend, and the Saints coming off the Super Bowl victory. I could not be more excited to be going this weekend. It will be a great opportunity to have some fun with my husband and closest friends from college. A little vacation from law school is always a good idea. I think it is really important to take a step back and enjoy life with people you love. No matter what we do in our legal career, we had another life before law school began that paved the way to here, and I think it is important to return to that life occasionally, and spend it with the people you cherish most.
Well, I am off to class and get ready for the weekend! Have a great one! =)
1/27/10 - I would first like to say thank you to my classmates, professors and everyone at Texas Wesleyan who contributed to the American Red Cross through the Student Bar Association. We will have the final tally of donations tomorrow, but we are really hoping for somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000. This morning and evening we held “Donuts for Donations” where SBA provided donuts and coffee to the students and faculty for their wonderful generosity. The Haitian earthquakes make us realize and appreciate all that we have. No matter how difficult our exams or memos are, or how little sleep we get attempting to get through all of our reading assignments, we need to take a moment and reflect on how blessed we are and be thankful for these opportunities. The kindness we have bestowed upon the people of Haiti will be appreciated beyond anything we can imagine – thank you again!
On my last blog, I neglected to talk about my Mom and how she is doing. Both of her surgeries after finals went very well. She made an excellent recovery. The holidays were wonderful, as she did not have to go to numerous doctors’ appointments or make trips down to Houston. She began her second treatment program this past week. The medicine makes her joints sore, but hopefully it will be able to prevent the growth and spread of her cancer and possibly help it shrink.
School is going well. I finally looked at my grades. I have one that is a horrible disappointment and one that is the best grade of my law school career. I was pretty deflated by my poor grade, but life goes on. I am sure that I will lose a case that is particularly disappointing, but I cannot allow it to hold me back from doing well and moving on. I am focusing on the fact that this is just a small setback in the large scheme of things. My best grade however, helped me get over it a lot easier. I am enjoying my classes this semester and the schedule I have created allows me to have more time to read, sleep and hopefully begin exercising with a little bit more consistency.
Unfortunately, I have nothing else too exciting to report. I am just down in the library reading and getting ready to head into class. Have a great week and until next time! =)
1/13/10 - Back to school…Happy 2010! The holidays were great, but too short. The highlight of my holidays was that I became an aunt for the fourth time. A beautiful baby boy named Austin Taylor Lake. He looks like a seven-pound version of my brother. Jake and I spent Christmas with both of our families and for New Year’s we spent it out at Jake’s godfather’s ranch in Hamilton, Texas. I am fairly confident that the ratio of cows to people is greater in the small town, but nonetheless, it was a wonderful escape from the pace of day-to-day life.
Last week I had my mini-mester Nonprofit Organizations class. Six hours of class fours days and four hours of class the last, it was very intense, with a lot of reading. Do not be fooled – it was well worth it. I would recommend it to anyone! After five days, I completed a two-hour course and to be honest, it felt pretty great. I take the final exam for the class this coming Saturday morning. The balance of preparing for the exam as well as my regular classes that began this week is a little stressful right now, but I am managing. I plan on intensely studying in between classes tomorrow and then all day Friday.
Another new thing this semester is my first evening class – and it is at eight o’clock at night! I know any night student reading this is shrugging it off and saying “so, what is the big deal,” but it is quite a switch for me. Especially since I have a class on the same day at 8:30 in the morning, in the same room. The class is Secured Transactions, which looks into the world of debtor-creditor relationships and other similar contractual relationships. I chose to take this class now because I want to take Bankruptcy in the fall and I have heard from practicing attorneys and professors that taking Secured Transactions before taking Bankruptcy makes life a lot easier. On Monday and Wednesday I have class back-to-back in the afternoon. The crazy break on Tuesday and Thursday will be an adjustment, but it does allow me to go home, get things done and then come back to school.
I am still waiting to receive my final grade in one class. I am uncertain of how I did, but I know that I am simply happy to have last semester behind me and I am now on the downhill path toward graduating and taking the bar exam.
Off to read and some studying for my final exam on Saturday. May 2010 bring you and your loved ones much joy! Until next time! =)
12/16/09 - Wow. I am halfway through my law school career. This semester had some unexpected things, and I think this was harder than last year—all of last year. I suppose last year I made time only for school, my family and squeezed in small amounts of wedding planning. This year, I attempted to squeeze in a lot more and that pressure accumulated toward the end. I know the semester took an emotional toll on me, as well as my relationship with my husband. I know he agrees that this semester was a lot harder on us. We have been married seven months and the last four have been hard, and mainly focused on school. I think he is happier than I am that this semester is over. I think my Mom’s health situation contributed extra stress that I tried to place in the back of my mind, but at times did not do successfully. I would like to thank my parents, siblings, in-laws and friends for helping me dig through this semester. And especially Jake, my wonderful husband, for standing by me when I know sometimes it was likely the last thing he wanted to do was hear me complain about school again.
As I mentioned previously, my Mom had two surgeries following my last exam. Both were successful and she is slowly recovering and regaining strength. She had surgery last Wednesday, came home Thursday, and went Christmas shopping for a few hours with me on Friday and Saturday. She is a real trooper. Thank you again for your continued thoughts and prayers. This time of year is when our family feels the most grateful!
All and all, I have been ready for the spring semester to arrive. I am taking a one-week long class the first week of January. It should be very intense, but I am looking forward to it. The week long class is followed by an exam the following Saturday. For the actual spring semester, I am taking fourteen hours (including the mini-mester I will have sixteen hours for the spring) including four classes and the estate administration class I was hoping for. I believe I have a better balanced schedule that will allow me to utilize my time a little bit better than this past semester. This semester my classes were spread out and I thought I would enjoy that and use the time in between classes to read and outline, but to be honest, I did not use the time as well as I could/should have. Towards the end of the semester it was easy to pick up the pace, but luckily this upcoming semester, my schedule is more like it was in undergrad where I had back-to-back classes. I forgot that in undergrad I bunched all of my classes together at one time and I was more successful that way. I also went back to handwriting everything instead of typing everything. This semester taught me to return to things that made me successful. I am hoping to uphold my resolutions regarding school and my remaining semesters here at Texas Wesleyan.
I hope you all enjoy the holiday season and have a wonderful and blessed 2010!
12/2/09 - Two down, two to go! It is such a relief, but also I have to push through for two more. My exam yesterday was very difficult, but fair. It was three short answers, two essays and 30 multiple choice questions, all to be completed in three hours—well, sort of. My professor has a reputation for very tough and fair exams, but students typically do not finish them. Yesterday proved no exception.
The time allotted to “complete” the three short answers questions was forty-five minutes. As I went through them, I felt confident and was typing furiously. Then I looked up at the clock. I had just typed for an hour and fifteen minutes! I took a deep breath and adjusted my strategy. I went to the multiple choice, read the question, and developed what I believed the answer should be in my head without looking at the answers. After creating the answer, if I saw the answer, it was the one I chose and moved on to the two essays. The two essays had so many nuances and it was difficult to get to all of the issues. I did my best. It certainly was not easy. My classmates felt the same way, which gave me some peace of mind. I was sad walking out because it is one of my favorite classes.
Today’s exam was different. Once you enter law school, all multiple choice questions have one to two paragraph fact patterns and filled with a ton of detail. This exam was unlike any other exam I have taken in law school—possibly my academic career. I gave it my best and tried to fight through the questions. After the exam, several of my friends had the same expression as me: “What in the world was the professor trying to ask?” It was nuts, but it is done and I can move on to my final two exams.
My next exam is Friday night and my final one is next Tuesday. I am ready for this semester be over and start a fresh new one. Mom is having two surgeries on Wednesday, the day after I finish finals. Last year, I took my Contracts final on Thursday and then went to the hospital immediately after completing the exam and studied for my Torts exam on Monday. I am glad that this year I will be done with finals and get to spend time with Mom and Dad after her surgery. I am also grateful I will be able to help both of them out a lot by finishing finals early. She is feeling well and will start a new clinical study later this month. The medicine she was on caused an allergic reaction in the final two weeks, so we are waiting to begin a new chapter with her treatment.
Well, off to study for the last two finals. I hope you all have a great holiday season and are grateful for what you have and those who are in your life. =)
11/18/09 - So, this week has been pretty stressful. With completing my outlines, making a study schedule and preparing for the holiday season, the sleep deprivation is starting to settle in. I have been working very hard to set up quality outlines that will allow me to do my best. One thing that is different about this year’s final exams is that in two of my classes, I am allowed to bring in outside material—codebooks, outlines, class notes—for the final exam. I am especially grateful for this on my Wills and Estates exam due to the depth of coverage. The ability to bring in outlines for my other two classes would almost be more helpful, but I have to roll with the punches. At the end of the day, everyone has the same amount of time to prepare for exams, everyone’s got the same information, and everyone is in the advantageous (or disadvantageous) position of having their materials for the exam.
On some personal notes, my Mom is doing well. MD Anderson chose to take her off of her medicine temporarily because her liver enzymes were up this past week. Although the cancer did not grow nor spread, it did not shrink either. But, she feels better than ever and is ready to begin a new treatment plan that will have only better success. She will have two surgeries after I finish final exams and I will be spending a great deal of time with her during December, which I am grateful for and looking forward to.
My husband and I have been decorating the house with Christmas decorations (yes, I can hear you groaning) but I really have two valid reasons for doing this so soon. (1) If I do not do it now and have it completed before this weekend, I will want to put up Christmas decorations rather than study for finals. And trust me, I would prefer to put up the Christmas decorations. Kind of like in undergrad, when everyone’s apartments are sparkling clean because everyone prefers not to study. (2) My husband and I are really into Christmas. We have seven Christmas trees in our house and purchased 4,000 more lights for the outside of our house this Sunday. Trust me, we have plenty more work to do, but finals take precedence this week.
Well, I am off to class and finishing outlines. Have a great week and a happy Thanksgiving! May you and your family have a blessed one! =)
11/11/09 - The buzz around law school this week is registering for next semester’s classes. I really panicked over the upcoming semester with my heavy load this fall. I wanted a good balance of classes that would help prepare me for the bar while still helping me keep my sanity. Although school has been difficult this semester, I think in the long run, I will be grateful that I took all required courses this semester. I only have to take two more required classes, one of which I am officially registered for this spring, and the other I plan to take this summer. I also have to complete my rigorous writing course and third legal writing class.
My goal is to take as many bar related courses as possible during law school so that I will at least be somewhat familiar with the subject matter when preparing to take the bar. The Texas bar results came out this past week and Texas Wesleyan Law had the third highest bar passage rate in the state for the July bar at 93.29%. I pray that I will be in that group come November 2011 when my classmates and I receive our results.
To register for the Estate Administration Practicum class, I arrived to school at 6:30 this morning to ensure I was one of the first students to turn in my enrollment form. The class has limited enrollment, so instead of registering online, you must do so in person. Hopefully I can get into the class because the seats go to students with the most hours. I am interested in doing Probate, which takes you through the process of drafting a will and admitting it into probate upon the client’s death. I believe this class will help me if I am lucky enough to get an internship because I will have knowledge of the proper procedures for probate administration.
After I parked my car, I attempted to enter the building, but to no avail, so I returned to my car. I watched several other students try to get into the building but with the same result as me. I got out of my car and we all went to the front of the building, where the security guard let us sit in the main lobby until the Registrar’s office opened at seven. There I was amidst several of my classmates, laptops ready to hit “Submit” for the classes we desperately wanted. Luckily for me, I got into all of the classes I wanted but I will have to wait to see if I got into my practicum.
Off to outlining and class. Have a marvelous week! And also, thank you to all the veterans and current soldiers who serve our country! We are all so blessed to have you! =)
10/28/09 - I was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico last week for the wedding of one of my childhood friends. Although I was in a place where the sun was warm, the water beautiful, and the drinks fresh, I found myself slipping off to my room to get in a little bit of studying and some much needed rest. It was the perfect break in the middle of the semester to get me revamped for the remainder of the semester. I had no idea how exhausted I was, which was further exemplified by a five hour nap yesterday. I am surprised how tired I am this year. I did not think anything could compare to last year taking four classes and writing two massive papers per semester, but I am wrong. I do not have a writing class, which I believed would make my life so much easier, but it has been tough. I am ready to get to December, close out this semester and enjoy the holidays with my family. The four day vacation provided me with enough time to step back, get some rest and refocus. Finals here I come!
Much to my enjoyment, I made some great headway on my outlining and planning how to study for my finals during my trip. While studying on the airplane, the couple sitting next to me noticed my books and my planning materials for finals. They asked if I am a law student. I excitedly exclaimed that I am and a long conversation ensued. The wife told me she is currently an estate planning lawyer, which is the field I would like to go into. We talked about her day-to-day work and I asked her how she felt regarding the “mommy friendly” nature of the job. As much as I want to be a lawyer, I know I really would like to have a family of my own in several years. Much to my happiness, she said that it is a job that has steady pay, consistent hours, and something you do not take home with you—exactly what I want in my future life as a lawyer!
Off to class and home to outline and read. Have a fabulous week! =)
10/14/09 - Yesterday the 1Ls completed their first memorandum (memo). Congratulations to all of you first years! It is truly a notch in your law school belt. You could tell last week that the lack of sleep and the countless number of revisions were starting to catch up with them. I remember the feeling as if it were yesterday. No matter how many times you edit and re-word your memo, a horrible fear lies within you because you are uncertain what your legal writing professor wants. I always wondered if I revised my paper so many times that I essentially said the same thing I originally wrote, it just took me ten rounds to get back to where I started - kind of like what would happen if you hired two private investigators to follow one another.
My two mentees were quite stressed out with finishing their memos, so as a small award, I gave each of them a Starbucks gift card so they would go have a treat and pat themselves on the back. One of them was particularly grateful (no suggestion that the other was not), and sent me a message on Facebook regarding the last two days and turning in her memo. As I read it, I remembered how difficult it was to be a 1L, and no matter how hard I think it is now, it will never be as hard as that first year.
A great deal of my blogging has been focused on the others around me, and for good reason. I was poignantly reminded yesterday that law school is something you should never try to take on by yourself. You need support from your significant other, friends, family and the other law students in your class. Last year, not a week went by that I did not meet with my study partner and go through our notes, generating the best outlines we possibly could. This year, for whatever reason, I have been much more independent - I realize now that I am lonely in studying and in my thoughts. Your peers in law school provide wonderful clarity and great insight into different analysis of the problem in front of you. Everyone takes very different (sometimes peculiar) routes to get to the same answer, but I think it is very important to hear those different ideas, because it helps to shape how you think and furthers what you believe.
Well, it is back to hitting the books and those outlines. Until next time! =)
P.S. Mom is doing well! Nothing new to report. She is still receiving treatment and her spirits are well.
10/1/09 - Well, I guess I need to start out with some good news regarding my Mom. She began her treatment under the clinical study today and is staying at the hospital overnight so that the doctors can ensure she does not have a reaction to the drug. She receives only a single dosage today. As long as she has no reaction to the drug, she will have two doses tomorrow and Friday. We are happy that she has the opportunity to join the experimental study. The study has produced positive results for patients with slow-growing cancers in New York and England. Hopefully, that success will continue down in Houston! Our family greatly appreciates your thoughts and prayers during this time.
School…well, it has been rough lately. I oftentimes find myself wishing for (and usually finding) a distraction. I am not alone in this area. Many of my friends welcome distractions too. I suppose it is one of the many cycles we experience as a second year law student. The feeling I have right now compared to last year is indescribable. I really thought things would be different right now. I thought that I would have so much more energy to do the work and not get frustrated as I did last year with the reading, but as it goes, law school proves me wrong. I feel exhausted, especially after my Constitutional Law reading. I continuously challenge myself to formulate the case the way I think our professor wants it, but I am usually just a bit off. Luckily, she is a great and very entertaining professor, so I do not beat myself up over it too much.
Finals are just over eight weeks away, so I am beginning to focus on creating my outlines for each class that will help me memorize the necessary information as well as the ability to apply it to different fact situations. Last year, I purchased a lot of supplements and outside materials to help me study. I know they are very beneficial for many students, but I believe I need to return to the basics — notes, outline and study. Hopefully it will yield good results come December.
Have a wonderful week and hope to hear from you soon! =)
9/16/09 – I had one of the roughest mornings I have ever had since I’ve been in law school. I became light-headed and utterly sick just thinking about the day. I allowed a lot of stress to build up for really no good reason and it caused me to be sick. I did not want to make excuses for myself; everyone gets stressed out in law school. It is what you sign up for when embarking on this journey. But this week I am waiting for some good news to finally come.
Something greatly affecting me is my mother’s battle with cancer. She has acinic cell carcinoma, a very rare, slow growing cancer. Last week, my mother and my father were in Houston at MD Anderson to do some tests and create a possible treatment plan. The doctors here have struggled to find an appropriate plan for Mom. We were hoping that MD Anderson would provide us with a finite answer. When a loved one is battling cancer, uncertainty is one of the most miserable things you can face. Uncertainty has plagued our family for several months. We needed answers, even if they were not positive, we just needed something certain. Before going to Houston, my Mom was told that she would have the cancer for the rest of her life and that it would appear in different parts of her body because it is now in her blood. There was not much hope for curing this once and for all. Mom and Dad returned to Houston this Sunday and met with the oncology team Monday. We received good news. MD Anderson is currently conducting a clinical study for her cancer and her doctors believe she will greatly benefit from the medicine.
I am not telling you this to be a downer, or for you to feel sorry for my Mom or me, because you should not. Our family believes that you must always play the hand you are dealt and that there is a reason for everything. I am telling you this because I want incoming students to realize that you will face many bumps in the road during your law school journey, and that it is possible to deal with them. My husband, family and friends are the backbone of why I can keep my head above water. Always remember the people who got you to where you are. You will need them throughout your life, and especially in law school. Without them, I would not make it through the days. Especially my husband, who has an incredible ability to put things in perspective and calm my nerves when I am at my wits end. I am truly blessed to be at Texas Wesleyan Law.
Until next time, have a great one! =)
9/2/09 – Third week, and the stress is slowly mounting. I am taking three four-hour classes and a heavy three-hour class, so there is a ton of reading and preparation for class. On top of those fifteen hours, I am involved in three different organizations. Organizational involvement is one of the biggest changes among my peers and me as 2Ls. Last year, our time was primarily spent reading, preparing for class and attempting to implement the proper legal writing style. As far as we were concerned, there was not much time for anything else, especially if we wanted to spend time with our friends and family. Now, our time management takes on a different dynamic, as we try to balance life, school, and organizations. For example, today, I have two classes, two organization meetings and an event for incoming students this evening. Needless to say, it’s a busy day.
Another big concern as a 2L is finding a job. I know - I still have this entire year, one more year and then passing the bar, so what is the rush? But realistically, two years will be here before I know it. Several people have internships that set up the possibility for future employment, or have on-campus interviews. I am personally trying to get involved with different organizations that setup great networking opportunities. I am also thinking about the possibility of trying to find a part-time job next spring and summer. With my schedule, trying to keep my head above water will be tough for a bit, but once I find a routine, I feel confident I can make it. I knew when I signed up for law school it would be a rough road, so I just have to be tough.
Have a wonderful week—I promise to write about happier things next time. =)
8/26/09 – My name is Chelsi Lake. I am a 2L, residing in Colleyville with my husband. My first year was hectic, not just in the classroom, but in my life outside of law school—yes, there is one, as long as you create time for it! During my first year I got engaged, planned a wedding, had five wedding showers, moved to my current home two days after finishing finals, and then finally got married the following weekend. Yes, it was stressful. I survived due to an amazing support staff, time management, and a wonderful study partner. I loved my first year, but I am grateful that it is over.
The beginning of my second year is very different than my first. The most noticeable difference is the pressure. Do not be fooled. I still feel plenty of pressure to be successful, but things are coming much easier. My first year I experienced a lot of uncertainty while reading the case law, living in fear that a professor would call on me, and trying to distinguish from my notes what I should put in my outline in preparation for the exam. The reading makes much more sense now that I have a full year of reading case law under my belt. My professors have implemented a “panel system” instead of the Socratic method, so I now know when I will be called on. In class, I can see when and how something will be tested on the exam. I have a much stronger understanding of what is expected of me and what I need to do to accomplish the work.
I can see the difference in my classmates as well. Our conversations are no longer dominated by legal doctrines. The discussion centers around what field we would like to pursue after completing our first year and summer internships. After spending some time with my classmates, my husband commented that the pressures we all carried seem to be nonexistent in comparison to last year. I am grateful to be back among friends with whom I get to share this journey and look forward to seeing how things will continue to change.
Until next week, have a great one! =)