Undergraduate school: Texas A&M University
Undergraduate major: Mechanical Engineering (B.S. and M.S.)
Hometown: North Richland Hills, TX
Status: Evening student
With the completion of the oral arguments and citation exam, Legal Writing II is over. One class down, two to go! There was a brief celebration Thursday night, but now it is time to get serious again.
I think my oral argument went well. I was the first one up to the podium, so I had no idea what to expect. I nervously read my statement, answered a few questions about my legal authority, made my closing, and sat down. My critiques included not fully answering one of the questions I was asked and also reading too much instead of memorizing my opening and closing statements. However, if I learned anything from the experience, it is that I need to get much more exposure to a courtroom environment. I have never even been inside a real courtroom, which I guess is a good thing. But as a result, all of my knowledge about how things work stems from bad movies and TV shows. I need some real world grounding in the legal process.
The citation exam also went well. I took advantage of the Electronic Blue Book for the first time. EBB is a computer program that allows you type and submit your exam securely from a laptop computer. It is amazing and absolutely justifies the cost of a cheap laptop for law school. I know there will still be bugs to work out, and I do not want to jinx my other two upcoming exams, but EBB is the greatest thing ever for those of us that have poor handwriting. The ability to make corrections on the fly is great. And there is no page limit or line constraint. It really helps in composing and organizing a more complete answer. I will definitely be using it for both the Criminal Law and the Contracts II final exams.
This weekend will be spent converting my handwritten class notes to a typed outline that I can easily use during the test.
I also hope to attend the Aggie Muster ceremony in Fort Worth. I would like to be in College Station for Muster this year, but I do not think my schedule will allow it. I know the Aggies will do their usual great job in honoring the fellow students and alumni that were lost this year. However, with the horrible event that occurred at Virginia Tech this past week, our annual memorial for fallen college students has a weighted meaning. I would like to be in Reed Arena to participate in the student body’s effort to honor the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting. But I will settle for the Fort Worth ceremony as an opportunity to pay my respects.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims’ families and friends.
Good luck to everyone with your exam preparations. Do not forget to register for classes next week. I expect to see everyone back next year.
The best way that I can describe this week is simply that it feels like I am getting a gasp of air before I am held below water again.
The trial brief has been submitted, but I have yet to defend my argument in "court." To complete the assignment, we must give a short oral argument for one of the two issues, either the possible violation of the statute of limitations or the conversion claim. We drew randomly to determine whether to present the defendant's motion for summary judgment or to argue against this motion as the plaintiff's attorney. I drew the statute of limitations issue for the defendant. On the surface it seems simple, but I am still nervous about presenting an argument to the "court”, even though it is just in front of half of the class and our professor.
Other than that, the semester will be wrapping up soon. Classes will end in two more weeks and then it will be a sprint to prepare for finals. I can see the light, but I know that it will be a rough four weeks. I am in pure survival mode right now. Work is consuming more and more time every week. I have taken no vacation time from work this semester and only one sick day. That is opposed to the five days I took off from work last semester to catch up with school. I cannot justify slacking off on either responsibility. It has been a struggle. I am looking forward to the summer, when I will be taking only one class and hopefully working fewer hours without mandatory overtime.
I hope that everyone else is surviving as well. I know our classes have shrunk in size over the past few weeks, but hang in there. I will admit that quitting has crossed my mind a few times. However, I am in no frame of mind to make huge decisions like that. It seems like such a great idea to drop out now, and improve my quality of life. But I will hold that thought for a later time when I can more reasonably evaluate the benefits of staying in the program and obtaining this degree.
Stay focused. We are on the home stretch of year one.
This is a short entry because, as I type this, I have one week to complete the trial brief. I thoroughly understand the issues of the problem, but I am just not comfortable with my progress. So I have cancelled all of my plans for the weekend and will not emerge until I am satisfied that my client will win his summary judgment. Even though I still don’t like the guy.
Spring break was great, but the taste of a few days of being a normal person really drained my motivation to work myself to death. I was spoiled by an entire week where I didn’t spend fifteen hours a day away from home at work or in class. I had too much fun with my friends and family. I caught up on sleep, and basically enjoyed a simpler life. I need to find my focus again or I will never make it through this second semester.
The stress is building, but I believe that all I have to do is make it through this next week successfully, and the following three years will be a piece of cake. This probably will not be the last time that I make that claim.
Good luck to all on finishing the brief. And enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend, if you are lucky enough to take some time off of work. I will return after Easter with a report on my completion of the trial brief and the oral arguments following that brief.
I hope that everyone had a good spring break. Mine was fairly relaxing. I put in quite a few hours at work, but I was able to gain some ground and catch up there. I also made it around to see most of my friends and family. My brother came to town and it was good to see him. He has not been in Fort Worth since Christmas.
I did manage to squeeze in some real spring break fun. I went out to Dallas for the Snow Patrol and Toadies concerts. Both were amazing shows. I had a great time, let loose, drank a little, and somehow lost a toenail in the mosh pit at the Toadies show. I was wearing shoes, but someone stomped on my foot really hard. Minor injuries aside, all in all, I would say it was a good vacation.
I also used the free time to work on the legal writing trial brief project. I just have one thing to say about this: I do not like my client. I can say that because he is not a real person. I do not know if this was intentional by the organizers of the project, or if this is just my own perspective, but, in my view, he is not a good person. I guess I need to explain a little.
The fictional premise of the assignment is that we represent a man who has just inherited the entire estate of his recently deceased sister. Around nine years ago, she signed a will leaving all of her worldly possessions to her brother. Since that time, she met a man and they were engaged to be married, but she never updated her will. Then, two years ago, before the wedding could occur, she died in an airplane accident. Her brother inherited everything and her fiancé requested his engagement ring and portrait be returned. Our client, the brother, refused to return these items and a lawsuit ensued. So, that is why I think our client is a jerk. A decent man would return the poor fiancé's engagement ring and painting. But that is just my opinion.
However, our client does have a case. With the right argument, he will most likely win and continue to possess his sister’s heirlooms. And even though I stand to profit (by grade) from his legal victory, I feel that he should do the right thing and return the gifts.
I guess the lesson here is to show that we can argue a case that is legally justifiable, but morally questionable. The law will prevail when it interpreted correctly. It is our professional discretion that will guide us from case to case and client to client. We ultimately have the choice of who to represent and what to fight for. Personally, I would hope that this type of dispute could be resolved through mediation, and would not require the threat of going to court. However, the assignment is to persuade the local judge to grant our client summary judgment. So to make the grade, I will do the best job I can to get our client his summary judgment. However, in real life, I might have to take this guy aside and try to talk some sense into him.
As a lawyer I am sure I will face similar decisions. My choice of clients, employment, and actions will be based on my morals, ethics and beliefs. It is both exciting and scary to think that one day someone’s future might dependent on my ability to advocate for their cause or claim.
I am planning to take the Professional Responsibility class offered this summer. I hope that it provides some guidance for these types of issues. For now, I will continue to do my homework assignments as given. I will continue to do my jobs as assigned. But I will definitely continue to consider the consequences and outcome of each step I take towards the future.
Good luck working on your trial brief.
Well, Spring Break is upon us and I am definitely ready for the time off. I am really enjoying this first year of law school. The subjects are interesting, the assignments are challenging, and the lectures are fun. But it has been difficult to keep up lately. Work and school consume the majority of my time. I have allowed myself to become overwhelmed and overextended these past few weeks. So, a few nights off will do me good.
I am sure that I am not the only one who feels this way. I hope everyone has a great vacation. Get some rest, get caught up, and be ready to tackle finals. There are only five weeks of class remaining in the semester.
If anyone needs me, I will be taking a nap.
Short post this week. I am exhausted and Spring Break cannot get here soon enough. I only have one lecture in each class until the “vacation” begins. Then, I can catch up on my sleep, update my outlines and begin my next legal research project.
But, like I said before the Christmas Break, even though there are no classes to attend, for some reason, I am still expected to show up at my day job. They don’t seem to understand the concept of Spring Break. I might suggest they observe it as an official holiday, but then they would probably politely suggest that I use my vacation or personal days to coincide with this break.
It is just too bad that I used up all of my days off work to study for my exams. So instead of heading to the beach or the ski slopes, I will be working extra overtime in an attempt to catch up at work. It’s a vicious cycle.
I guess that does not sound like an ideal vacation, but I am truly looking forward to it. The key thing is that I will catch up on my sleep and also make time to see my family, some friends, and hopefully catch a few concerts.
Everyone hang in there. The semester is half way over.
This was a fairly low key week. No memo, no exam, no adventures of being locked in the library, no catastrophe at work, and no family or friend emergencies. It was nice. I just went to work and school. And as a bonus for the week, we have an extra day of class on Friday to make up for that snow day a while back.
In legal writing, we studied the history of the Texas court systems, statutes, and constitution. In contracts, we navigated into non-compete agreements and prenuptial agreements; both of which are contracts that everyone should expect to see or consider at one point in life. In Criminal Law, we began to classify the act of taking a human life into subcategories of first degree, second degree, voluntary manslaughter, and involuntary manslaughter. The lines that are drawn between these categories invoke strong feelings, good debate, and very interesting class discussions.
I still find myself failing to participate in class. I am overly concerned with getting everything into my notes, so I usually let other people talk while I write everything the professor says in response to those comments. I am way more concerned about what the professor thinks about peoples’ comments versus what the people are actually saying. It is the slight corrections from the professor that steer the class in the direction of what will be tested on the final exam.
I hate to admit spending all of class worried about a single three-hour test, but it is our only grade. I do not know if my wait-and-see approach is the best way to learn the law, but I do know that all of the final exam answers are not in the books or the supplements. It is important to attend every class and absorb everything that is said. There are certain aspects of how a professor teaches that find their way into the questions that we will face at the end of the semester.
My first week in the new house was good. My drive to work is great and I am getting along with my new roommates. They keep the fridge stocked, pay the bills on time, and have bigger TVs than I have ever owned. I consider it an upgrade. Living alone for the past two years has been boring and expensive. Now, my rent is cheap and there is always stuff going on. They threw a Mardi Gras party Tuesday night. It has been a while since I came home from school and had a party to look forward to.
I know that there will be distractions with this new arrangement, but I was just as easily distracted when living by myself. I wish I could claim to have better discipline, but it does not take long for me to lose my focus, drop my casebook, and pick up my guitar or cellphone or check to see what is on TV. That is why I do most of my studying and writing at the library or at coffee shops. I have recognized this weakness, and as long as I stay in the public, I remain productive and avoid interruption.
Well, we have one more week of peace before they drop the trial brief project on us. Enjoy the vacation.
Well, now that the spring research memo is complete and submitted, it is time to get started on those class outlines. I said that I would not put those off this semester, so this is the weekend to live up to that claim. I have an extra step in converting my notes to an outline because I hand write all of my class notes and case summaries. However, the repetition of typing what I have already written helps me learn and retain the material.
Our legal writing class took an interesting turn this week. We have shifted our focus from neutral legal analysis to persuasive writing. The tone in our writing will shift significantly as we begin to write convincingly for one side of an argument. We discussed the difference between zealous advocacy and timid representation. An attorney must analyze facts, but we learned in class that there are varying degrees in the presentation of those facts. A change in the selection and order of words can dramatically alter the way the reader interprets certain facts. It was fascinating to see how mere word selection could alter ones perception so easily. To me, this is where law school gets fun. I am not very argumentative, but I look forward to studying methods that will improve my skills to convince and persuade. These are good abilities to have.
It was nice to slow down for a weekend and focus on other things. I had time to move most of my things out of my apartment. I am now living closer to where I work and will be paying much less in rent. Transitions like that are not easy at a time like this, but with my lease ending near finals week, this was the best time to make the move.
I hope that everyone did well on the spring research memo. I think these things will get easier as we go along. Get some rest, and get caught up because I think this time is just the calm before the storm. The trial brief deadline and oral arguments will be here in no time. And then it will be finals week. No worries.
I took the advice of Academic Support and reviewed both of my exams from last year one-on-one with my professors. I know that we are all really busy, but I would suggest finding at least ten minutes to go by your professor’s office and take a look at the exam.
It has been a good experience to convert that letter grade to an understanding of what I did correctly and incorrectly. I now know some of the mistakes that I should avoid in the future. I also know what I did that earned the bulk of my points. It is difficult to write about everything you learned in an entire semester in only three short hours, so knowing these strategies will come in handy in my future classes.
To address the cliff-hanger from last week, my second chance in Criminal Law went well, I think. The professor agreed with my answers, and I did not get stumped too badly. Public speaking is still difficult for me, even though I now know most of the people in my class. I guess there is always room for improvement. Also, it seems that I will have to work on projecting my voice so that I do not have to repeat my answers next time. Apparently, my assigned seat is not the best spot in the room to be heard by all.
This week, I was introduced to a new obstacle that can arise when working full-time and going to school at nights: mandatory overtime. We are in a rush to meet schedule on a project at work. So now I must find ten more hours in the week to focus on my job instead of school and other things. It will be difficult, but I can manage. I try hard to not be an exception at the office or in the classroom. I believe that I do not deserve special treatment for voluntarily putting myself in this situation. So I will put my time in just like everyone else on my team. This is just going to require some very good planning and multitasking, but I think I am up for it.
I hope that everyone is almost done with the memo. Good luck. Get rest and stay healthy. It is too early in the semester to get stressed and burned out (I say that just as much to myself as I do to everyone reading this).
I was called on to answer a question in Criminal Law this week. I made the mistake of making eye contact with the professor one too many times. I know better. I usually keep my head down and keep writing even when I have nothing left to write. I was prepared, though. I had done the reading, including the footnotes, worked all the questions, and checked out the statutes in the appendix.
When the professor called on me, I had just finished my fourth large coffee-like drink for the day, and I was chasing it with a Diet Coke. I drink so much caffeine these days that my corpse will be twitching for centuries. Needless to say, my answer was kind of a blur.
My mouth was working a lot faster than my brain, and I delivered an energetic misinterpretation of the law. I made one of two mistakes: either I overlooked something significant in the reading, or I fell into a trap that the professor planned. She made a quick example of me, turning everyone's attention to a specific statute that I had left out of my analysis. It was not a really big deal, but the harshness of an incorrect answer is always amplified when the spotlight is on you. However, embarrassment is not a substantial class activity to earn the participation points, and I have not escaped the attention of the professor. She has guaranteed me a chance to redeem myself on Monday.
I figure that the class probably learned more from listening to her make an example of my analysis than if I had given a perfectly correct answer. I know that I tend to zone out when there is no conflict in the discussion. So, I hope that my moderate humiliation was at least beneficial to the rest of the class.
The rest of the week has been all about the Spring Research Memo. We only have ten days to finish. I can look forward to a few late nights of researching and writing, but I am sure that I will have some company in the library.
I will be a no show at a few Super Bowl parties this weekend, including the one being held at my house. A minor sacrifice. It is going to be harder to refrain from watching the A&M/UT basketball game on Monday night. I will cope by keeping the ESPN ticker open while working on the memo. The live game is just too distracting.
If anyone is keeping track, we are already one-third of the way through our second semester of law school. And we are half of the way to spring break. So, hang in there.
The spring semester has always been harder for me, academically. I always sprint to the finish at the end of the fall and then play or work too hard on my month off. Every year, I return to school in the spring and struggle to achieve the work ethic I had in the previous semester. It is a vicious cycle that I should have figured out by now, but here I am again, straining to regain my focus after the break.
So, against my better judgment, I escaped to College Station this weekend to watch the Aggie men's basketball team defeat Oklahoma State. It was a good game and a good night. I saw some friends, enjoyed the game, and then went out to Northgate afterwards. For those of you not familiar with College Station, Northgate is the strip of bars that are walking distance from basically any point on campus. It is truly one of my favorite places in the world. It is just a great social atmosphere; that is, if you enjoy live music and beer. It was a good final weekend of fun before the semester gets too hectic.
But seriously, playtime is over. I plan to devote this weekend to the Spring Research Memo. It is a very interesting topic that I am looking forward to researching. The fact scenario given to us, at least the quick version, involves a woman that was convicted of assault and possibly domestic violence when she chunked an Xbox controller (among other things) at her boyfriend during a dispute. Many years later, she is applying for a federal law enforcement position that would require her to carry a firearm. The questions of law are whether her act was truly a domestic violence crime, whether that crime is an offense that would bar the federal government from issuing her a firearm, and whether she can have the crime expunged from her record. I am looking forward to learning about these topics. Not to degrade the people I associate with, but expungement is something my friends are already asking me about. They think their buddy in law school can get rid of tickets for them. My answer, of course, is already: "you can't afford me." Also, it happens to be illegal, unethical, and a bad career move to give out legal advice after only one semester of law school.
I have received many emails asking how it is possible to work full time and go to school at nights. I have attempted to address this before, and personally, I feel like I have it a lot easier than a lot of my classmates. I can only describe the challenge to those on the outside in my own perspective. The truth is that it is difficult to do well at both a full-time career and school; but it is not impossible. Some responsibilities take a backburner. The simple things like doing laundry, paying bills, cleaning house, and eating well are put off for days at a time. Normal issues in life like car trouble, changing apartments, or illness become potentially disastrous to work and school. But those things are inevitable, so you just push through it. A part-time student in their first year of law school must adapt to a balancing act that is different for each individual. I am not saying that it is a heroic feat to work full-time and go to law school, but it is definitely a commitment to self improvement that should be respected. Every one in the program is forced to sacrifice something on some level. I have the luxuries of being single, childless, and young. I can pull an all-nighter and disturb no one. I can let my personal responsibilities slide for a week without much detriment. I commend those in my class that have families and careers. I also want to brag on my classmates that have a high level of responsibility at their job, those that own their own businesses, and those that have chosen to survive on less pay in order to go back to school. They are much more qualified to discuss the difficulties of being a part-time first year law student than I am. I hope that does not scare anyone away, but I would definitely recommend talking to students currently in the program, faculty and staff members of the university, and also practicing lawyers before making the commitment to pursue law school, whether full or part-time. Do not be put off by this, but take it as a warning to be well informed before jumping into such an ambitious venture.
I hope everyone is getting a good start on the memo and are keeping their outlines up-to-date. We all learned some valuable lessons about briefing and outlining last semester. Let us not allow those same mistakes catch up to us this soon in the semester.
It has not been a very busy school week. Classes were out for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday and cancelled on Wednesday due to the winter weather conditions. However, I slid into work every morning this week. My ten minute commute became a forty-five minute crawl, but it was not too bad. I enjoyed the snow, and it is a rare treat to host a real winter in Fort Worth. I hope that everyone stayed safe and enjoyed our day of Texas snow.
The evening section finally received grades this week. That is, however, after the scariest typo or computer glitch that I have heard of in my two decades of schooling. On Monday night, the online transcripts were apparently listing an "F" for any grade that had not yet been entered into the system. Luckily, I did not log on until later that morning, after the mistake had been corrected. But judging from the chatter on Tuesday, a lot of people did see the temporary "F" for a few moments of panic. Some people said that, after seeing that, their real grade was not so bad. Kind of funny, but I am glad that I did not have to experience that shock. Honestly, I was so confused about law school grading that I might have believed it.
Overall, I am satisfied with my grades for last semester. My only real problem is that now that I have them, I do not know what they mean. The letter grades in law school do not represent a specific percentage of knowledge learned or assignments completed. The grades are more of a statistical representation of how well I did on my finals relative to the rest of the class. I have no indication from this grade point average of what my strong points or weak points are. This is a very new way for me to look at my assignments, tests, and fellow classmates. We will have the opportunity to discuss our final exams and memo grades in one-on-one conferences with the professors in the coming weeks. I hope to receive feedback and address any important concerns before it is too late to correct.
Also, I have noticed that the daytime bloggers and some of my classmates are looking into internships or are already working for law firms in some capacity. I guess this is where I diverge from a traditional 1L student. I have every intention to continue working as an engineer for the duration of this degree program. My goal is to have five years of professional engineering experience at the point of obtaining my J.D. I am still working out the details of my career development and the transition that will occur as I graduate and prepare for the BAR exam. If anyone has any suggestions or potential opportunities for an engineer/lawyer, please feel free to send me an email. Now that I have one semester completed, it is my goal to begin working to resolve the uncertainties in my career plan. Four years seems like a long time, but I feel like am already behind.
Good luck preparing for the Spring Memo. It seems like a pretty interesting problem. I am sure that I will have much more to say about it in the weeks to come.
Welcome back for another challenging semester. When I finished my final blog of 2006, I had just completed the Torts exam and was facing the Contracts final. It went well, I think. I hope. It has been a month, and I have still not received grades. I would like to say that I am not anxious after a month long wait, but I still check the web site way too frequently. It is sad, but I will admit to checking my grades using my cell phone.
Regardless of how the results turn out, it is time to move on. I need to get my gameface on for what is coming. I am enrolled in three classes (nine hours) this semester which include Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing II, Contracts II, and Criminal Law. Now that we have the basics in Contracts, we are moving on to more complex issues and cases. LARW will be interesting with open ended research projects and the addition of persuasive writing and our first oral argument. The first two nights of Criminal Law were very fascinating. We have already hit topics such as murder, cannibalism, rape, and kidnapping. It is going to be a challenging semester, but I am looking forward to it.
As for my vacation…well, it was really just a vacation from school. As a part-time evening student, I no longer have the luxury of the academic calendar. I went into work almost every day over the break in an attempt to get caught up before the start of this semester.
But there were some perks for working over the break. I was fortunate enough to witness the first and second flight of the F-35 Lightning II. For those not involved in the aerospace industry, that is the new stealth fighter jet that Lockheed-Martin, my employer, is currently designing and testing. I did not contribute to that specific plane, but I have been involved in all subsequent designs. It was a cool event to be a part of. There is a lot of pride that goes into that project.
I did manage to have some fun over the break. I went to College Station for one weekend to visit some friends that I had not seen in a while. I had a great Christmas and New Year’s with my family and friends. I caught up on some DVD’s, went to a couple movies and played some video games (Guitar Hero on the PS2 is so addicting).
Again, I would like to welcome everyone back. We have a clean slate going into this semester. So let us put the past behind us, learn from our mistakes, and do the best we can in this second semester of law school. We have some interesting classes, great professors, and a good group of fellow students. I look forward to working with everyone again this semester, and I wish you all the best of luck.
Well, I have officially been subjected to a law school final exam. Our Torts final on Monday night was definitely an experience. I am not going to go as far as claim that I survived it yet, because I will not know my grade for at least a month. And because the grading is relative to the enforced class average of 2.60, I have no gauge for what my grade will be. A grade of 50 percent on the exam could be an A in the class, or a 90 percent grade could be a C. We just have to wait until January to find out.
The exam was four hours long and consisted of 30 multiple choice questions, eight short answer essays, and one long essay that were designed to encompass the entire three months of lectures and over 700 pages of reading. Closed book. No sweat.
I felt pretty good about my submission; however, I did feel some frustration in what appeared on the test and what was omitted. I know it is difficult to get everything we studied on one test, but I walked out feeling like I had focused some of my study efforts on the wrong subjects. I did not get to use some of the elements of law that I had memorized, while the subjects I thought were less important seemed to show up a disproportionate amount on the test.
However, I must continue to remind myself that this is all preparation for the bar exam. The monster at the end of the J.D., where anything goes, and you better know it all, regardless of a specific fact's magnitude of importance in the overall spectrum of the law. It is not my place to pick and choose which law is important or worth memorizing. What interests me is not relevant at this point in time.
So overall, the Torts final was very enlightening, and I think that I have a better grasp of how to tackle the upcoming Contracts final. I would like to thank the Academic Support department for their help in preparing us for this first round of finals. And I wish everyone luck on Monday night’s Contracts exam.
This is my last entry for the semester. I get a three week break from school and will return during the second week of January. What will I do with my time off? I hope to enroll in an online legal writing course designed for incoming students, because I feel like I could use the practice. I also plan to work some extra hours at my day job so that I meet my end of the year productivity goals. My spare time will be spent with my family, friends, and hopefully a couple weekends of extreme recreation. I need to catch up on the normal stuff like car maintenance, house cleaning, and finances. These are difficult things to make time for as a single guy who works full-time and goes to school nearly full-time. I am looking forward to a few weeks of semi-normalcy.
Finally, if you have emailed me a question or comment, and I have not responded yet, I promise that I will get to everyone's questions over the holiday. I sincerely apologize for the delay.
Everyone have a safe and fun break. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.
It has been an eventful two weeks since I last wrote. With the submission of the second memo and completion of the citation examination, our legal writing course is finished for the semester.
Now, there are only two finals between us and a little relaxation.
This is a completely new experience for me. I never had a single class in undergraduate or graduate school that based our entire grade on the final exam. I also only took a handful of essay tests during my entire academic career. It is a little unnerving for me to approach a four hour Torts essay test this coming Monday and then follow it up with a three hour Contracts essay test the next Monday.
So I will do that best I can, and leave it at that.
My Thanksgiving holiday was really good. I got to spend time with my family and friends that I have not seen in a few months. I slept and ate too much and studied very little. Best of all, Texas A&M defeated the Longhorns in football for the first time since I have been an Aggie. I am still kicking myself for turning down tickets to the game in favor of studying for Torts. Hopefully that decision will pay off in the following weeks.
I would like to wish everyone luck on their finals this week. Good luck studying and try to stay healthy.
Last week was apparently not exciting enough.
On Saturday, after the contracts practice exam, I went to Burleson to play basketball with some friends. It was a good break and a way to blow off some steam. On the drive back, I was complaining to my friend about how much work I had left to do and how very unmotivated I felt.
I complained about falling behind at work and in school...how everyone around me seemed to be more orgainized and more on top of things than me. I was basically just whining about how everything in my life had become so overwhelming.
As we approached some highway construction heading northbound on I-35, a car in the far right lane swerved into the truck that was next to me, and in the process of avoiding a wreck, the truck swerved across the line, halfway into my lane. I cut the wheel to avoid the truck, but my tires squealed and my car slid toward the concrete wall median. I steered to correct, but only manage to divert the sliding vehicle back in the direction of the other vehicles. I cut the wheel again and gained control of the vehicle just before crossing the dividing line into the other lane.
The truck driver gestured at the car that originally cut him off, but my friend and I were too shocked to be mad. We were just thankful not to be on the bottom layer of a 20 car pileup on I-35. Had my life been one second ahead of schedule that day, things would have been a lot different. Losing control of my vehicle in dense traffic on I-35 was just not part of my weekend plan.
I got home with even less focus to do homework than before. There was no reading or memo work to be done. So I grabbed my mp3 player and headed for the river jogging trail. I was going to take advantage of the last hour of daylight and attempt to regain my focus. The randomized song list on my mp3 player finished playing the last five seconds of whatever techno or rap song I was listening to during my last workout. The next song was perfect; a smooth instrumental cut from Explosions in the Sky (a great band from Austin).
As I jogged down the trail, everything seemed to be in sync with the rhythm and mood of the song. The kids playing with their dog, the old couple walking together, the joggers and bicyclists. I diverted from the paved trail and went down to run right next to the river.
Everything was so peaceful. The bubbles in the water and the breeze blowing the grass all seemed to be in rhythm to the music. As the sun began to set on the river, it really struck me how much life I was surrounded by and how lucky I was to be breathing right that second.
I thought about my family, my friends, my job, and where my life was heading. I realized that I have become extremely detached. Spending ten hours a day in an office cubilcle at work and the rest of my waking time studying and attending class really closes one's scope on reality. It is kind of sad that it took a near tragic accident and an hour of running aimlessly to put things into perspective. But everything happens for a reason.
So here is my advice. As you enter this final stretch of the semester, please be careful. When things become overwhelming, take a deep breath and remember what or who you are doing this for. Do not neglect the special people in your life. Make a quick phone call at the very least. School is important, but the world around us has not come to a complete stop until the day we graduate.
Please do not spend all of Thanksgiving studying. Spend time with family or friends. Make time for real conversations that do not pertain to work, school, or other stress. Find out what is going on in other peoples' lives. Pinpoint what you are truly thankful for this year and share it with others. Just enjoy the holiday.
I apologize for the long post this week, but I just wanted to put that out there.
Good luck to everyone on finishing up Memo 2. And good luck in your preparation for finals. Also, do not forget to tune in to watch Texas A&M defeat t.u. this coming Friday. Whoop!
I do not know if I am going to post over the holiday, but please check back, because I will be posting about all the final exam excitement in the weeks the to come.
This week began like a normal week. Saturday I worked on Memo 2, and Sunday I made good progress on my outline for contracts. Then, Sunday night there was a bad thunderstorm. I was in my apartment, briefing cases for Torts and talking on the phone with a friend. At around 11:30 p.m., the storm suddenly grew louder and there was a large flash of lightning right outside of my window. The lights flickered, and my laptop powered off. Alarms started going off all over the place. My bedroom was ringing like there was a fire and the outdoor alarms were twice as loud. In a panic, I told my friend on the phone that I would call her back, and I ran outside to see what had happened. According to the fire department, my apartment building was hit by lightening. It shorted out some systems and they were unable to shut the alarm off for over an hour. I lost my laptop to the strike, but luckily had my course data backed up. I only lost a few minutes of work.
However, all of the excitement set me two hours behind in my studies and my sleep. It also left me without a home computer, which leads to the second wildest part of the week. Having no home PC, I stayed on campus late Monday and Tuesday night. On Tuesday, I was frantically trying to finish my citation homework before the library closed at midnight. I was the only one still in the computer lab in the back of the library. I submitted the final answer at 11:58 p.m. and printed out a backup copy of my work. I looked out into the stacks and realized that the room was dark. The lights were off. I walked through the empty rows of books, and no one was at the desk. When I got to the exit, I realized that there was a chain on the door. I started to worry a little. I did not want to be the guy who had to call the police to get out of the library. I pushed on the doors and realized that the chain was not synched tight. I threw my backpack into the lobby and squeezed between the doors.
So I learned two very important lessons this week. I will no longer rely on a surge protector while using my laptop during a lightning storm, and I will never stay in the library past 11:45 p.m.
All of that aside, it was a fairly good week. My Memo 1 grade was a pleasant surprise and I think I am off to a good start on Memo 2.
Work has been hectic and more demanding lately, but I am keeping up. My company offers really good vacation and personal time benefits that I am utilizing for the best possible time management.
As for final exam preparations, I will take a practice test for Contracts this weekend and start to determine the areas that I need to focus on to prepare for that course final. It is wild to believe that the first semester of law school will be over in exactly one month.
I hope everyone is hanging in there. Have a great weekend.
I would like to thank the SBA for the free food and beer on Thursday night. They reserved the back room of 8.0’s for the final organized social of the semester. There were some spirited conversations about work, life and school. It was a good way to end the week. It is just too bad the Mavericks did not win.
Some students received their Memo 1 grades last night. My section has to wait until Monday, but we joked that it just gives us one more stress-free weekend before grades start to matter. We have been warned to not freak out and to not get mad because the grading will be severe. We have been so thoroughly prepped for disaster, that I guess anything better than an F will be a relief. I have stressed on myself that the next one will be better. So it is my goal to have a working draft of Memo 2 by the end of the weekend.
I am becoming more and more unsocial as the semester progresses. But, it really is amazing what a couple hours of socializing will do to improve productivity. It is very easy to get bogged down and overwhelmed at this point in the semester. So, at the very least, I plan to go out with some friends to watch the A&M v. OU game.
I hope everyone had some kind of Halloween fun this weekend. Get some rest and work hard. This semester is ending fast.
This week was fairly relaxed at school. We wrapped up Memo 1 and were given the facts, cases, and statutes for Memo 2. The new case will require the analysis of a contract’s legitimacy and the terms of warranty for a faulty fire alarm system. We are on the defensive side of the claim, instead of the offensive stance that we took in Memo 1. It has only been assigned for a few days, but I feel like I am already behind.
The Torts and Contracts classes have both picked up in speed. We are covering cases and material faster as the end of the semester approaches. I really hope that I can keep up as the reading assignments get longer.
This week I realized that I have another challenge to overcome if I am to succeed in law school. That is my crippling fear of public speaking. I have always been a good student and test taker. My grades and presence on paper has carried me into many opportunities. I only recently worked to develop better personal communication skills in the process of interviewing for jobs. However, I am still unable to stand in front of a large crowd with confidence. I never talk during class, even when I feel like I know the answer or have a valid question. I froze on an easy question the one time that I have been called on in Torts.
This fear hit me hard this week because I had to give a speech to promote a high school career and technology project that I volunteer for. I was so worried about the presentation that I made myself ill. This inability to speak with confidence and clarity will not get me very far in client relations and litigation. So I have decided to take a more active role in developing my public speaking skills. Improvement will only happen in small steps, but I need to take every opportunity to practice. So this week, I may actually try raising my hand in class.
I hope that everyone has started working hard on Memo 2. November 20th is coming fast.
The Saturday Morning in Court program was really interesting. I gained a lot of insight into federal court proceedings and a judge’s perception of legal arguments and jury decisions. It was a good demonstration of the litigation process and court room arguments. I especially enjoyed the session on courtroom etiquette.
However, spending the day in Dallas was not conducive to my completion of Memo 1. I officially submitted the file around 4:30 p.m. on Monday. I think it was good but could have been better. However, time was up, so I just had to let it go.
I am going to take it easy this weekend. Due to a slight miscommunication, I am ahead on my reading, so I will be able to devote some time to updating my outlines. I will also be sitting for a Torts practice exam this Saturday and I have some work to do for preparation of my next memo. But after all that, I am going to have a few hours of stress free fun.
So my Saturday is going to include a birthday party for my grandfather and a trip out to Arlington for the guitar show. Every October, they fill the Arlington Convention Center with instruments ranging from the very first Fenders all the way to the most experimental use of technologies that exist today. It is a lot of fun to see and play so many cool guitars.
I have been invited to a bunch of Halloween costume parties. I do not have time to get a costume, so I may just show up as an overworked law student. I could walk around with my Torts case book and berate everybody for the intentional and negligent acts they are committing at the party. That should go over well. I will work on figuring out a better costume in my spare time.
I hope everyone has a good weekend. Rest up because Memo 2 drops Sunday night.
This will be a short entry. I still have a lot of work to do on my first memo. The final draft of this memo will be the first grade of my law school experience.
Here is a quick overview of how the grades work this semester. The final grades in my Torts and Contracts classes are based on only the final exams. So the entire semester rests on one night of essays for each of those classes. In Legal Analysis/Research/Writing, there is a little more room for error. Memo 1 is worth 25 percent, Memo 2 is worth 50 percent and the remaining 25 percent is based on our class participation and work with citations. So this one document that is due Monday is worth 25 percent of my final grade in LARW. I am slightly stressed out about it.
I was lucky enough to get a seat in the Saturday Morning in Court: Practice in Federal District Court seminar to be held at the Cityplace Conference Center in Dallas. Judge David Hittner, Magistrate Judge Jeff Kaplan, Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson and Court staff will be presenting an overview discussion of the federal civil trial process. I will let you know how that goes next week.
I did join an organization this week. I paid membership dues to the Tarrant County Bar Association and also to four of their specific disciplines of law. I hope that I can make it to some of the events.
Good luck to everyone on the memo.
A lot of people have asked me how I like law school so far. The truth is that I still do not know if what I am doing everyday is actually the real thing yet. I consider this first semester a period of major transition in my life. It is a reorganization effort that requires impeccable time management, personal improvement, and intelligent decision making. I am not quite there yet. I feel like I have done a decent job in maintaining my personal relationships while still keeping up with class work and my job. My friends and family seem to understand that I am busy. Our outings have a stricter time limit than before, but they do still occur.
I have, however, neglected some aspects of my life. The two most important to me are personal fitness and organizational involvement.
I have taken major steps over the last few years to eat better, sleep more and work out regularly. However, that lifestyle has become very hard to continue now that I am in night school. After the first couple of weeks of school, the amount of weekly physical activity had slipped because of obvious time constraints, but my diet was still good. Now, after a few more weeks, I am eating more cafeteria meals, fast food, and junk from the vending machines. I have substituted hours of sleep with gallons of coffee. I do not like this trend. So I am going to hit the grocery store this weekend to develop a better system for my daily meals.
One of the biggest disadvantages for the evening students who also work is the lack of time to be a part of the university’s extracurricular activities. The school supports many great organizations that offer community and social involvement. I would love to be involved in the Aggie Club, the Law fraternities, and the Wesleyan Democrats and Republicans (yes, both). I hope to consider one or two of these organizations as a 2L, but I am unable to devote any time to them this year.
Good luck to everyone on the second part of the first memo.
We received the corrections on our first memo this week in our Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing class. Mine needs some work, but that is to be expected. I would be a little worried if I already knew how to write a perfect legal memo after just the first month of law school. So I guess now is when I start getting my money’s worth.
I am glad that it is almost the weekend. This was the first week since school started that I did not have enough time for everything. In the previous weeks, when school became overwhelming, I was able to free time by rearranging my work or personal life. However, this was the first week that the combination of commitments required more than my allotted twenty-four hours in a given day. I have recognized some time management and commitment issues, and it is my goal to implement some important changes this week. After I get some sleep.
This has been a crazy week. Austin City Limits was amazing. If I write what I really thought about it, I will fill ten pages, so I will just say that I saw terrific performances by Muse, The Raconteurs, Matisyahu, The Shins, Explosions in the Sky, Willie Nelson, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. And leave it at that. This was the fifth year of the music festival, and I will definitely be back next year.
I got back to Fort Worth on Sunday night around 12:30 a.m. I took a vacation day from work on Monday to rest, catch up on my reading and finish my first memo. However, I will refrain from commenting on my success on that memo until I get the revised copy back. After our class discussions on writing clarity this week, I realize that I still have plenty of room to improve.
I would like to commend this university on the method they use to condition the first year students. Each week is designed to be slightly harder than the last. I look back on my first week and realize that the work load was easy compared to what I have to do for next week. However, it all still seems possible and within reason. It is definitely not a stress-free learning curve, but it is realistic. They will have us performing at a level we never thought possible in December, and probably even more so by May. I guess this is boot camp for the brain.
I hope everyone had a good forth week of class. We have made it a full month! My writing professor reminded our section that we were more than 25 percent done with our first semester.
I have been working hard this week to get ahead so that I could justify my escape to Austin. This is the weekend of the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival. I have been looking forward to this for a while. I actually purchased my 3-day festival pass and booked a hotel room before I ever took my LSAT. So that should indicate where my misguided priorities lie. Do not worry. I will get my work done. I already plan to pack my memo and case briefs so that I can work between sets. My friends will get to see what a nerd law school has made me. Then again, they will probably just recognize it as a preexisting condition. Next week I will have a review of the festival. If anyone else is going, shoot me an email.
Let me just say that, so far, I love this. Law school is a blast. I show up most nights exhausted from studying and working, but I keep coming back for more. The challenge is refreshing and the subjects are interesting. It has definitely been a worthwhile and rewarding experience up to this point. All three weeks.
I had a really short week. Between Labor Day weekend, and a walk in Torts on Thursday, I only had to attend classes two nights and work three days. The break was nice, but it will come back to haunt me in two weeks when I have to work five days and go to school for five nights to make it all up.
We received the information and available cases for our first memo this week. I am really excited about this. I do not know how much I can disclose, but the basic situation involves emotional distress caused by a roller coaster accident. Since my motivation to be an engineer stems from a childhood dream of designing roller coasters, and part of my reasoning to go to law school involves the idea of defending engineers and their designs, I am really looking forward to this assignment. The work will require no knowledge of roller coasters or amusement park operation, but at least it's a story that will keep my interest.
I hope everyone enjoyed their short week and were able to get some rest, because it is a long time until Thanksgiving. Have a great weekend!
Week two went a lot smoother. I caught up on my reading and was not as scared of being called on in each class. Which was good, because this was the week that each of my professors decided to stop being polite and make examples out of unprepared students. All three of them found a victim to pick on. And I would just like to commend those victims right now because, even though I had read those cases, some of those questions were difficult. It showed we have to be prepared for every contingency, and I am not sure that anyone in the room could claim that they were 100 percent ready to answer the line of questions each professor conceived. All three professors proved that they could stump both prepared and unprepared students alike. There should be no worries about being their first victim of the semester. We will all get our turn.
For those who have asked how I manage to work full time and go to school, I still do not have a good answer. It is only week two. My typical day this week consisted of waking up around 6 a.m., getting to work no later than 7 a.m., working until 4:30 p.m., going straight to school, and studying for about an hour or more until class at 6:30 p.m. After class, I studied until about 11 p.m. and then crashed. I did a good job of getting my reading done during the weekend, but I did forget some details throughout the week; so good notes and briefs are a must when reading that far in advance. I am really glad that we have a long holiday weekend and that I have a short work week. I plan to use the break to become more organized before the semester gets too hectic.
Last week I gave a pretty dry background, so here is a random fact about myself: I am a music freak. Asking me about my favorite band/CD/song never results in a simple answer; and it changes constantly. I own quite a few musical instruments, but only claim to play bass guitar. So if your band needs a bass player, I just might have about five free minutes this week to fill in somewhere. This addiction to music also requires that I always have my iPod with me. Do not take it as an insult if I have my headphones on, it just means that I don’t want to talk to you…I’m kidding. I have discovered that music is a wonderful relief from stress. It’s something that started in college, and carried over to the work place. Now here I am in law school, where my headphones are still my best escape from all of the pressures surrounding me. So please don’t take offense, just give me a second to pause the music.
Congratulations to everyone in my class on their second week of law school. I hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend. Get some rest.
Before I describe my first week of law school, let me introduce myself. As indicated in my background information, I grew up near Fort Worth in Watauga and North Richland Hills. I moved down to College Station to study mechanical engineering at Texas A&M. After finishing my master's degree, I returned to Fort Worth to begin my career at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
I became interested in pursuing law during graduate school. I began to realize how much I enjoyed discussions about the usage and protection of certain technology, how our politics drive our scientific endeavourers, and the perception the general public has about technological issues of the future. I was having more fun using my engineering background to understand arguments about policy than I ever did designing structures or doing calculus. So I decided to pursue law in an attempt to apply my technical skills in a more social environment. People have asked if my goal is to work in intellectual property law, but I am not sure what I want to focus on yet.
My first week of law school was great, aside from a scheduling error on my part that almost had me missing the first night of orientation. The classes have been interesting and the presentation style of each professor really forces the students to stay involved. There was some initial grilling over the assigned reading, and a slight panic of being lost in the discussion, but this style of lecture is a nice change from the dry technical lectures I'm accustomed to.
I am looking forward to the challenges of the upcoming year. Each passing day has made me more confident in this decision to go to law school. I'd like to wish all of my fellow classmates good luck. We will get through this together. If you see me around the building, say hello and let me know your background and interest in the law. If you are a prospective student, do not hesitate to contact me. I'll try to respond as quickly as possible.