University of North Texas
1/18/12 - Just being a student is a little weird. I have been working for the majority of my life. First babysitting when I was young, then my first “real” job at a men’s clothing store in Eastman when I was 16. Having a job is just a part of my life. Now I’m a student - just a student.
Not working definitely has its benefits. I have more time to study, I sleep a lot more, and I have a little time to do things that interest me. All very positive things.
But, I’m poor. I mean really, really poor. That is not fun, not fun at all. A friend and I were talking about how awful it is to be pressed for money. However, in the same conversation we talked about how awesome it is to not feel stressed about a job.
I’m sure I’ll start working again soon. I don’t exactly have a choice. I’m too old to ask my parents for money. I’ll figure something out, I always do. Right now, I’m enjoying being “just” a student. I’m trying to decide if I want to get more involved now that I have free time or if I want to use this time to get more organized. Probably get organized.
All in all, things have been rather boring in my little world. I don’t have much to tell. Maybe by the next entry things will be a little more interesting.
1/11/12 - It’s good to be back. I had a whirlwind vacation - I spent three days in London, eight days in Paris, five days in Dallas, and six days in California. I am exhausted! Paris was beautiful. I absolutely loved it. I could see myself living there. Honestly, after the craziness of last semester, I really needed to get away for a bit. Where better to disappear to than around the world? The food, the shopping, the history, the view, the art… I love Fort Worth, but Paris wooed me a bit. I’m looking into a study abroad program at the University of Paris for this summer. Hopefully I can make it happen. The money is going to be tough, but I’ll figure something out.
Now I’m getting back in the groove of school. I’m taking twelve hours this semester which is the max for the part time program. Since I’m not working at all, I might as well. Many of my full-time friends are so excited about being halfway finished with law school. I’m jealous. I wish my end was nearer, that I had crossed the halfway point. Soon enough, I suppose.
My schedule is already filling up quickly. Time to get down to business. Wish me luck!
12/14/11 - So, the semester is over. Thank heaven! It's been another roller coaster ride, but last week I got to see how amazing the end of the ride looks - I attended graduation. And let me tell you, it was pretty awesome. I was so proud watching my friend receive an award. It was inspiring. And when the class walked across the platform, all I could think was, "Oh, I can’t wait until that's me." I look forward to having my family and friends attend my graduation in a couple of years. It doesn't seem as far away now. (Oh, if any of my family reads this, please, please don't wear jeans to my graduation. I know I shouldn't have to say that but apparently some people didn't get the memo. So, family, here's your official memo: No jeans. No t-shirts. No flip flops. Sunday best, please.)
Today, I'm in London. My hotel is gorgeous and right in the heart of the city. This morning I snuck up to the roof. Unbelievable view. I'm very lucky to be here. On Saturday, I leave for Paris. I'll get to see one of my best friends from undergrad who just moved to Paris. Besides being on a flight on Christmas Day, I really can’t think of a more awesome Christmas vacation. Hopefully, I can spend New Year's in Key West. Then, the holidays will be totally and completely awesome. Okay, even without the beach, the holidays are already totally awesome. I mean, I was at Buckingham Palace last night and I'll be at the Eiffel Tower on Saturday!
Happy holidays to everyone!
11/22/11 - Funny how taking one thing off of my plate has helped to reduce so much anxiety. I feel like a new woman! An unemployed woman, but that's good for me right now. In less than a week, I've been able to de-stress, refocus, and get in some much needed study time. Now that classes are over (last one was last night), all of my energy will be spent in three areas: studying for finals, renewing friendships, and cooking for Thanksgiving.
Studying for finals this time around is way different than last year. I feel more confident in what I'll be walking into. Last year, I was completely terrified. I had no idea what to expect! I agonized over the smallest concepts. I had nightmares about forgetting something important, like my laptop. I know a lot of 1L's who are feeling the same thing right now. Now I feel better – even though I'm still concerned about not remembering what Rule 12(b)(6) is (failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted), or how long one has to file that motion (21 days in federal, but check local rules). But I know how to study for finals more effectively, and I generally know what to expect.
Most of my week will be focused on Civil Procedure (where Rule 12(b)(6) will be tested), because that's the first class in which I have an exam. Also, I'm worried about this class more than the others - the subject is a little overwhelming for me. I envy the people who understood jurisdiction right away, because I was a little lost there. I'm also worried about exams, because I missed a lot of classes this semester because of my accident. I am afraid something will have been discussed that I won't have been there to hear. I have faith that in the next week, I'll be sure I understand anything I missed. For any 1L's that read this blog, my classmates and I agree that writing out as many practice answers as you can is one of the most helpful ways to study for finals.
Renewing friendships and Thanksgiving are almost the same thing. I'm cooking for two Thanksgivings this year - one for me and a friend, and then just pie for the other. My best friend is having dinner at her house. I haven't seen her in far too long and I'm very excited about it. She's wonderful. The sad but true fact is that law school takes a lot of time, focus, and energy. Sometimes that means not seeing the people you love as often. I'm going to use this break from classes to focus a whole day on the people I love. And the food, of course.
I'm sad that I can't spend Thanksgiving with my family this year. My sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles are all at my Dad's house to surprise my Papá (grandfather) for Thanksgiving. I wanted to go, but with finals next week, I just couldn’t take the time. It's hard. I miss my family quite a bit. Maybe over Christmas break I can sneak home for a few days...
On a final note, big thanks to Dean Jeffers for inviting me to the Alumni Awards Dinner. It was a great time! I love seeing and meeting former students who are doing some amazing things. During one of the award speeches, I leaned over to my friend and whispered, "One day, I'll be accepting that award." Proud to be Texas Wesleyan!
Alright, enough blogging for tonight. Going to get dinner and get back to work. These practice questions won't get answered on their own! Happy Thanksgiving and good luck to everyone!
11/9/11 - I’m stressed. There’s no other way to put it. Except maybe that I’m very stressed. Life has been all over the place for me lately. And it’s taking its toll! I’m crankier than normal and have far less energy. With finals just around the corner, there is so much to prepare. So, I’m changing things up. I know you’re probably thinking, “Change something again?” And I don’t blame you! But, the more stressed I get, the more I feel that something’s got to give. I have to take at least one major stressor out of my life and get everything back in order.
Today, I decided to take some time off from working and live on my (meager) savings. School is, by far, my number one priority. I really enjoyed learning this new job, but it was already taking away from the brain space I need to save for classes. I’m fortunate that I can do this right now, I know not everyone can. Just like leaving my corporate job, I know this is the right decision for me. I have faith that things will work out and that I’ll get everything back on track.
It’s interesting how things go. I have been working since I was 15 years old. My first job was at a men’s clothing store in my hometown. I’ve had a few jobs since then, and I’ve always worked. I’m a little nervous about just going to school. I never thought that would be me. Oh, there was one semester in college but I was taking 18 hours at the time and just couldn’t fit a full time job in. Even though I have the time, things are different. I’m glad that I can do this and that I’m making sure my priorities are in order. But it’s going to be awful feeling “poor!”
Between now and finals is Thanksgiving. I’m very excited because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. It always has been. I love to eat and I love to cook. Like last year, I’m having dinner with a couple of fellow students so we can feast on turkey and outlines. Yum!
10/26/11 - I'm stubborn. I had the surgery and wanted everything to be all better. But no, it's still a pain in the forearm. The muscles that were cut control my pinkie and ring finger. After the surgery, I can now wiggle them. But, because I wanted to be able to type, eat, drive, LIVE, I took off the post-op splint early and that was bad. So my doc (who is awesome) made an executive decision - he put a hard cast on me. I'm now sporting a half arm cast. I can't use my arm and can only use part of my fingers. For TWO WEEKS! I'm late on everything already!
The unfortunate fact is I'm taking the MPRE next week, finals are a few weeks later, I had a competition this weekend (placed 4th, I'll take it), and I have a mediation on Friday. My doctor doesn't think my obligations are a good enough reason to ignore his orders to wear the splint, thus the need for a cast (in his opinion). I'm still negotiating the time I have to wear it...
This past weekend was my 27th birthday. I threw a party (which was kind of a bust), but my sweet Sam did take me to my first World Series game. I start a new job next week in the oil & gas industry. As usual, things are a little nuts in my world. But I'm still moving forward…
The semester is getting close to the end and I'm scared. With all the weird turmoil in my life, I'm just not feeling secure. After last year's craziness, I thought this year would go more smoothly. But it's not, I feel like things are still nutty. However, I'm still moving forward and life is still good.
I want this cast off though.
10/12/11 – Take your pick - I have an injury from:
Saving nuns from a wrecked bus
Rescuing puppies from a burning building
Fighting ninjas / pirates
...Or none of the above. Truth is, when you have an injury you want a good story, preferably a heroic one. No, not for me. I'm just a klutz. I fell. I fell when someone was taking my photo. And I hurt myself. How lame is that? Basically, I lost my balance during one of those "silly" photos and cut my arm. The cut was rather deep and severed muscles to my fingers on my right hand. Yup, I'm right handed. Not being able to use my dominant hand has been difficult to say the least.
Thankfully, I've had excellent help from my friends, but there’s still a lot going on. For example, last week I had surgery to repair the muscles that were cut. The day after my surgery was the Deans’ Dinner hosted by the Night Students Association. I'm President of the NSA and I needed to be there. Without Sarah Cary, Secretary of the NSA and President of PLAY, the dinner wouldn't have happened. She did everything to make sure it was executed to perfection. Frankly, she's my saint - she not only took care of the event all on her own (long before the accident), she took care of me at the hospital the night I cut my arm. I can't express my gratitude to this woman enough. All I did was show up. She's the kind of person you always want in your corner.
Now, the rumors have been the fun part! A school is a small town: loving, helpful, and totally in each other’s business - even if it's completely inaccurate. The stories are great! So, besides the heroic ones I made up, here are some of the other stories:
I was pushed into the glass
I'm suing the homeowner
There was a brawl over a man (which is kind of interesting...)
None of that is true. Gossip is silly. I'm doing well. I wasn’t pushed, nor do I plan to sue. We'll talk about the man... Just kidding.
Judge Kincaid has been teasing me about my one-handed typing. He seems to find it amusing. If only he knew I was hitting backspace more than anything! Let’s see how the weeks go. Time to visit Dean Jeffers to see what I need to do about finals…
9/28/11 - Texas Wesleyan Law is a family. We sometimes disagree, we challenge each other, and we grow together. We celebrate (and envy) each other’s personal and scholastic achievements. We comfort each other in times of need. Most of all, we support each other. Over and over again, I’m reminded that the people here are unique and special.
This week, my classmates reminded me again of how much we really do support each other and think of each other as family. One of our classmates has had a difficult semester in her personal life, which has made things a little more difficult for her law school life. Just as things began to improve and feel less stressful, she hit another bump in the road - her book bag, with all of her notes and books and supplies, was stolen from her car. Losing all of your notes and books in the middle of the semester is something all law students fear. The cost of the books alone is enough to meet any deductible, but the real loss is all of the hard work and information that she’s accumulated over the last 7 weeks.
As soon as we heard of the incident, everyone began working to get her back on track. She has notes from half of the class. Outlines came pouring into her inbox. And, when she got to Civil Procedure today, she had a replacement textbook for the class, a stack of notepads, a dozen pens, Post-it notes, paper clips, highlighters, USB memory sticks, and a bag to everything in. In less than a day, she may not have been made whole, but she’s got a start.
How many other places can you go and get that kind of unconditional support? I’m humbled and proud to be a part of this community, this family.
9/14/11 - I’ll ‘fess up. I was the one who challenged Stephanie to write about dating as a law student. She pretty much nailed the topic. But, as I tend to do, I’m still going to give my two cents. (Remember, this is purely from my perspective.)
Law students, like most “normal” people, crave companionship. Many students are married or have a special someone. And then there are the rest of us, the single law students. To find our own “special someone,” we follow a great American ritual. We date. Sort of.
Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out how to date. It’s not a priority. But, I have realized that dating is different as a law student. The biggest issue (and I guess it’s that way for everyone) is - who do you date? As a single law student, my options are sort of limited. Basically, I see people in three places: work, school, and limited social situations. That gives me three types of potential suitors: The Coworker, The Civilian, and The Fellow Law Student.
The Coworker is off limits. Not happening. Ever. Period. ‘Nuff said.
The Civilian is not a law student or lawyer. The Civilian doesn’t quite understand the busy schedule of law school, even if they think they do. For example, when trying to schedule a date, the exchange has gone something like this:
Civilian: “Hey, want to go on a date?”
Me: “Um, sure. That sounds okay…” (Obviously I’m very enthused.)
Civ: “How about Friday?”
Me: “No, I have class Friday and another obligation later that evening.”
Me: “Study day. Laundry day. Sleep-in-until-noon day.”
Civ: “Monday?” (Getting exasperated.)
Me: “Class. Then a meeting.”
Civ: “So, when are you free?”
Me: “I have an opening at 9:00 PM two weeks from tomorrow.”
Civ: “I’ll call you sometime.”
Alright, maybe that’s a little bit exaggerated, but not too far off. I’m just busy. I have a lot going on, and I like that! My little bit of free time is more precious to me than gold. I’m very selfish with it. Someone who hasn’t gone through what we go through doesn’t totally understand this world. They can’t quite grasp how much work, time, focus, and energy is lovingly devoted to law school. And they don’t get the dumb law school jokes. I’m not saying dating The Civilian is impossible, just different. This leaves The Fellow Law Student…
The Fellow Law Student (TFLS) is a tricky topic. On the plus side, TFLS understands what you’re going through. TFLS can be a study buddy. TFLS has a similar goal. Dating TFLS can be awesome. But, it’s your colleague. The situation is a lot like dating someone you share an office with: no matter what happens between you and TFLS, you’re going to be working together for a long, long time. Not just during law school, but also throughout our legal career. Dating TFLS could end up weird, or it could be a match made in heaven (with a prenup).
Yes, being single can be difficult for anyone, not just law students. Sometimes dating kind of sucks, sometimes it’s kind of fun. Maybe during these next couple of years I’ll meet someone that I want to keep around. But for now, I’m more than okay with being a single law student.
8/31/11 - The first year of law school was spent in a little bubble. A night student bubble, maybe. As 1L evening students, we spent all of our time together - our classes were just with each other and we didn’t run into many day students. Somehow or another, I met a lot of people from the day sections and the evening sections, maybe because I’m kind of a social person (slight understatement). Since I had friends who were “day” and friends who were “night,” I was oblivious to the less than positive perceptions the sections had about each other. I never really thought we were that different from each other. We’re all in law school because we want to be here. We all have to get through the same frustrations and challenges. We want many of the same things out of law school. We all have to pass the bar. What’s the difference?
This past week or so, I felt my little bubble pop. I’m taking a couple of classes at 3:00 PM this semester. I never thought anything of it; it’s just a class that’s not in the evening. But then I got a comment or two that really kind of bugged me, little comments that opened my eyes to the perceptions people have about evening students. The most frustrating one was from a friendly acquaintance. As I was walking down the hall to my 3:00 PM class, she said, “Oh, look at you going to a day class like you’re a real student now.” I was speechless. I always thought I was a “real” student. I was honestly shocked and disappointed.
There’s this divide between “night” and “day” students that I just don’t get. The first year, I understand that we are sort of separated from each other. However, after the first year, classes are a blend of students from different levels and backgrounds. We’re all just students trying to make it through law school. So, what’s the problem? I don’t know. I still believe that there’s really not that big of a difference between the sections (day and evening). I know that I’m a “real” student whether I’m taking a class at night or a class during the day.
8/17/11 – On Saturday, I attended part of the 1L Orientation. Oh, the memories it brought back! I remember sitting in the auditorium feeling scared, eager, thrilled. I remember looking around and wondering what brought all these people to law school, what they would be like, if I'd make any friends.
And the questions I asked upperclassmen! I met several of this year’s incoming students and they asked all the same questions, seemed curious about the different people in their sections, and admitted to their own combination of fear and excitement about being in law school. It was nice attending the Orientation and reception as a guest instead of an incoming student. I'm no seasoned veteran, but I can say I made it through the harrowing trenches of my 1L year. And thank goodness that year is done! Whew! When people say the first year is the most difficult, they are not exaggerating.
Now, I'm officially in my second year. I'm taking four classes - Civil Procedure, Legislation & Regulation, Professional Responsibility, and Advanced Alternative Dispute Resolution. With my new job and new apartment I have a lot more flexibility in my schedule (no commute!). Time is still going to be a precious commodity, but that's the case for all law students. At least with my schedule this semester, I'll be out of class and home by 8:00 PM instead of midnight or later.
Lots of great things happening in my world and I'm very, very blessed. I know it's going to be a great year!
8/10/11 - Hard to believe to summer has swept by so quickly. Tomorrow is Orientation for 1Ls. In some ways, it feels like I was just starting out myself; in other ways, Orientation was a lifetime ago. Funny what a year can do. I feel exactly the same but completely different. It's a pretty cool feeling. Best experience ever. Law school has brought me new friends, a new perspective, and a whole lot of knowledge. Monday school starts again. I'm excited about starting back... except for the cost of my books. Ouch!
For those returning, welcome back! To new 1Ls, welcome & good luck!
7/27/11 - It’s my third week at The Firm. I love it. This is such a great experience! I’m doing document review for a patent infringement suit. Basically, I spend all day reading documents from our client to find ones relevant to the suit. Part of the review is determining whether the document is privileged or not privileged, which is a little scary. There are a lot of documents (over 400,000!) and I don’t want to let something that is privileged slip through by accident. While it may sound tedious, document review is necessary and part of the job. The attorneys here are very helpful and patient with all of my questions (and my speed).The real hands on experience I’m getting is invaluable.
Also, in case you were wondering, I found a great apartment downtown. My commute has basically disappeared. School, work, and home are all within a mile of each other for the first time since college. Today was moving day and I’m officially a resident of Fort Worth!
Just a few more weeks before school starts! Hope you’re ready!
7/6/11 - Greetings from sunny San Diego! This installment comes during a much needed vacation (which I'm eager to get back to). So, here's what's going on in my world besides the beach...
As you may have gathered from my last blog, I quit my job. After 3 1/2 years, I put in my notice and left a relatively secure income for the unknown. I've always had a plan and for once I didn't. I just leapt without a net, or a bungee cord, or a parachute. Frankly, it felt like a noose had been lifted from around my neck. Good thing too, considering I jumped...
The timing, however, may not be perfect, considering I'm apartment hunting. Due to unexpected circumstances, which I'll keep to myself, I'm currently a citizen of the world with no address (my belongings are a citizen of Public Storage of Irving).
Before you start to fret, I'm doing just fine! These changes, while somewhat unexpected, are for the best. And, things are working out very, very nicely (as you may be able to gather from my current vacation status).
I have a great place to stay while I hunt for an apartment and I'm very happy about my decision to leave The Company. My unemployed life lasted only a week, less than a week really. Yesterday, a good friend hooked me up with a job in a law firm – it’s the only place I want to be spending at least 40 hours a week of my time. I start on Friday. The firm is in Fort Worth so my commute has disappeared (especially since I'm "living" in Fort Worth).
Right now, as I stare out into the Pacific, my world is looking pretty sunny. Cheers!
6/22/11 - Ah, summer break – a time for lounging in the sun and no worries… I wish. Things have been hectic, to put it mildly.
A couple of weeks ago I took a road trip to Alabama. I’m a city girl now and being in the sticks kind of freaked me out. I could swear I heard the banjos playing as I lost cell phone reception. But, it was for a good cause. My sisters and I had a surprise party for my mom’s birthday. She was completely surprised to see me there! Her happy face made the 10+ hour drive to her house completely worth it. I loved spending time with all of my siblings, too.
When I got back from the boonies, exhausted and tired of sitting, I found that my life kind of turned upside down. Long story short, I’m suddenly a resident of Funky Town (Fort Worth, for those of you not in the know). Also, after July 1, I will have ample time to find gainful employment doing something I enjoy rather than festering in a cube farm.
It’s scary, but refreshing at the same time.
While I know I have the ability to handle all this “real life” and keep up with classes (my grades came back passing, btw), trying to deal with all of this homelessness and unemployment during the school year would have been exhausting. Glad it all happened during my break. It’s the little things.
Lesson here: take time and smell the roses, and be nice to people, you never know when you’ll need a place to stay and people WILLING to help you move. I will enjoy this summer and do my best to tackle semester three with full force.
6/3/11 - Do you have any idea how boring it is to “just” work? During the school year, I was so busy that I felt a little guilty when I had a lazy evening – probably because I was skipping class and would be paying for it later. I’m still busy, just not in the same way. I work every day, but that’s it.
When the semester ended, I thought I would be able to go right back to working 10+ hour days, giving 110% of my attention to the office. Instead, I find I miss the law - learning about it, talking about it, reading cases, going to classes. I just miss being involved with what I want to do for the rest of my life. Just working at a job that’s not in the law is kind of boring. Oh well, fall will be here before we know it and the craziness will begin again!
5/11/11 - Class is officially over for the year. Somehow we finished. The last 9 months have been completely insane and I have no idea how I’m still alive. I say that because any normal person would have crashed just from the kinds of food I’ve been eating every day. Maybe I’ve developed super powers from all the chemicals in doughnuts and Diet Cokes. More likely, I’ve completely lost my marbles. I think the people who have known me from before law school until now would lean towards the crazy.
For those who finished with me, congratulations – we did it! I can honestly say this has been one of the most trying, exhausting, difficult, and BEST experiences of my life. I couldn’t have done it without the support of all of my classmates. For the entering class of 2011, trust me, you cannot do it alone. The people you sit with every day will help you succeed. My classmates challenged and inspired me, made me laugh and made me roll my eyes sometimes. No matter what, there was always a sense of camaraderie between us, a feeling of a team. In 9 months I have new friends who I couldn’t imagine life without (Matthew, Carlye, Sarah, Tiffany, Marcus, Dave, Talia… just to name a few). I couldn’t have made it through this difficult year without the support of my classmates, professors, family, and especially my friends (new and old).
Now, I am ready for the break. I’m exhausted mentally and physically, but I have three months to rest and recuperate. It’s weird though - I go home at 5:00 and I don’t have anything that I have to do. It’s amazing how “just” working a full time job feels like a vacation. Yesterday, I sat on my couch and read a book. For fun. Without any guilt!
Besides reconnecting with my couch, I have a few other things on my summer agenda. First, apartment hunting. I’m a grown up now (supposedly) and it’s time to get my own place again. I forgot how frustrating it is trying to find an apartment! I’ll be spending some time with family, which is always interesting and usually fun. Most importantly, getting back in shape! Law school didn’t do anything positive for my health. Time to fix that! Hopefully I can find my sanity and an apartment over the summer. I’ll try to kick the Diet Coke habit.
It really just hit me. My first year of law school is over.
4/27/11 - Twelve days. Twelve quick days and my first year of law school will be complete. Classes are over for the semester. All that’s left is finals. Honestly, I’m ready for the break. My summer is going to be very full of fun things and as little stress as possible. I’m looking forward to playing volleyball again, even though I’m awful. I’ll be making my annual visit back to Eastman, Georgia to see my friends and eat boiled peanuts on the front porch (yes, I’m a little bit country). I get to see my whole family this summer and I can hardly wait for the trip. And sleep! Oh, I can’t wait to start sleeping again! Thinking of the things I can do during the summer break distracts me from studying. Until May 9, I’m still in school and have to keep my focus. Wish me luck on finals!
4/20/11 - Over the past two semesters, Kamyar and I have repeatedly discussed the lack of time we have as evening students. We (along with our classmates) have often struggled to stay sane as we balanced work, school, and “regular life” during this first year. Time is the main challenge for all of us – there just isn’t enough to do everything we want. Past, current, and future evening classes will have the same difficulty.
But, in spite of that challenge, I have a request for the incoming evening class:
Get involved. Participate in school events – academic and social. I’m not saying join a bunch of organizations, or run for an office. Your classes should be your focus without a doubt. But, the little “extras” are a HUGE part of the law school experience. What you gain from attending a Student Bar Association (SBA) social hour, joining a Dean’s Dinner, volunteering for Wesleyan Innocence Project (WIP), or participating in a competition is invaluable. Of course going to law school events won’t improve your GPA, but the networking, the bonding, the information, the practical experience… they’re MasterCard worthy.
***Side note – do NOT sacrifice your GPA or your marriage to go to a happy hour; that will seriously dampen the experience.***
Get involved in the school. We don’t have a lot of time, but I promise it’s worth it.
4/13/11 - Friday is my cousin Amanda’s birthday, so this blog is dedicated to her. Amanda and I grew up very close. Our birthdays are six months apart, we look very similar (it’s often said we looked like twins), and have the same dry, quirky sense of humor. We have a bond between us, to say the least. Last night we had a very interesting exchange about school. I told her that she’d love law school and would be great at it. She said she might even enjoy it, but she’d rather choke on her own vomit (I’m quoting) than go to school any longer. All the extra work that’s involved is mind numbing. Somehow this led to an analogy from me about law school and kids and how much work is involved with both. It’s a bit random ,so just try and follow if you can. In any case, I know Amanda will be able to follow.
Going to law school is sort of like taking care of a kid. Law school keeps me up all night, takes all my money, is demanding, exhausting and makes me want to pull my hair out. But I love it. I’ll willingly and happily sacrifice my sanity to take care of law school. My weekends don’t belong to me anymore – they belong to law school. Amanda is a new mommy. Her daughter does the same thing. But she’d rather be Audrey’s mommy than anyone else. Yes, taking care of a baby is a lot harder and a lot more important (human life trumps a trial brief) but it’s just an analogy. Like I said, more than a little random, but you get the idea.
4/6/11 - Last weekend I participated in my first competitive event in law school – the ADR Negotiation Competition. Now, I’m a competitive person by nature. Type A personality and all that. I want to WIN – not tie. Negotiations are not about “winning” really. More like finding a fair resolution. In Crim Law, Professor Alkon often emphasizes how often criminal cases end in a plea bargain, and how important it is to be able to negotiate a fair deal for all parties involved. Even though criminal law isn’t where I plan to practice (no definite decision on what field I want to be in), I know it’s a valuable skill to have as an attorney. I want to get the training now, so I signed up for the competition.
I had no idea what I was getting into. It became very clear to me when I started preparing for the competition that I signed up for something I knew nothing about. All I could think was, “What am I supposed to do?” I was panicking. My friend gave me lots of advice but I still didn’t know how to plan for what was in store. I didn’t know if my strategy (and I use that word loosely) made any sense. I didn’t know how much law I should research or how aggressive I should be. On the day of the competition I couldn’t focus. I felt underprepared and a little scared. But it was too late to do more preparation and backing out never crossed my mind. If I fell on my face I’d at least know what to do next time.
I am so glad I participated. The whole experience was awesome! It was fun competing and I think I’m hooked on ADR. Of the 28 competitors, only the top 4 advanced to the semi-finals and finals. I placed 11th. In the words of my girl Samn, “That’s slightly better than average.” All in all, I’m pleased with my results.
Friday is Barrister’s Ball, also known as Law School Prom. I’m looking forward to the whole experience. Next year, though, I think it should be after the 1L trial brief is due.
3/30/11 - Lots going on and time is flying by! April is just a couple of days away, and before you know it, the semester will be over. The next few weeks are going to be wildly busy. This weekend I’m participating in the intramural negotiation competition at the school. It will be my first competitive event in law school, so I’m more than a little nervous. Hopefully, all will go well and I’ll make it to at least the semi-finals.
On Sunday, a friend is flying in, and we’ve got tickets to the Rangers game for a little R&R. Next week, everyone will be finishing up their trial brief and worrying about the end result. To make things more hectic, it’s the start of the busy season at work and everyone is putting in longer hours. I feel a little guilty for not being able to work more right now, but it’s for a good cause, right?
3/23/11 - Spring Break is over. I’d like to say I spent that time diligently researching, briefing, reading ahead, and organizing my outline. But I’d be lying. I’m not saying that I didn’t do any studying - I definitely did some reviewing over the material we’d already covered and some research and the required reading for this week. Really though, I spent most of the time relaxing and eating (two of my favorite activities, if you haven’t noticed already). The time off gave me an opportunity to clear my mind of the fog that comes when you’re always busy. When the fog had dissipated somewhat, I realized something:
Law school will make you go a little crazy.
It’s true. Pretty much any student I’ve talked to has agreed that at some point during your first year your brain just snaps and you have become a completely different person – a crazy one. Let me give you a few examples of how I’ve gone off the law school deep end:
1) I talk to myself. I’ll catch myself analyzing cases in my head, then all of a sudden I’ll have a counter argument out loud while washing the dishes. It’s like I’m the prosecutor in my head but the defense out loud. It’s a little weird.
2) I resemble Russell Crowe’s character in “A Beautiful Mind.” No, I don’t have imaginary roommates telling me to throw a desk out of the window (yet). Remember how later in the movie (once it’s revealed that he suffers from schizophrenia), Russell Crowe is in a room with papers posted over every window and wall as he tries to break Soviet codes for the government? Well, my apartment looks a little similar. I have giant post-it notes everywhere that I’ve written out a rule or a definition or a flowchart to understand how something goes. It kind of feels like I’m breaking a code.
3) In an effort to save time, I pulled a Britney. While I didn’t quite shave my head, it is very short. It looks good and it cut off about 20 minutes of my getting ready time.
Keep in mind, John Nash (the man behind the story in “A Beautiful Mind”) won a Nobel Prize and Britney Spears won a Grammy so obviously being a little crazy isn’t always a bad thing. I consider my newfound nuttiness just another part of the law school experience.
3/9/11 - One year ago I submitted my application to Texas Wesleyan School of Law. It was the end of a two year torturous process and the beginning of a six week period of waiting… and waiting… and waiting. It took me a while to actually submit the application for a couple of reasons. First, my job. Because I graduated in December, I had 8 months before the fall semester began. I needed a full time job. I started at my current company the January after graduation and I have been working here since - one of the many benefits is tuition assistance for employees. As we all know, law school is expensive, and every little bit helps. I needed to work here for a while before I was eligible.
The second (and probably more honest reason) I waited so long to send in my application was fear. Fear of rejection. I’ve wanted to become a lawyer for as long as I can remember. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s very true. Handing over my application meant handing over my future. Yeah, I know that’s a little dramatic (maybe more than a little), but the fear of receiving a letter that started with, “Thank you for your interest. Unfortunately…no” took over. Waiting seemed like the logical and grown up thing to do. Some of my friends and family were concerned I’d never actually do it.
I’d given myself a deadline: I had to apply once I became eligible for the tuition program with my company. I spent time writing and rewriting my personal statement. I retook the LSAT. I made sure I had everything that was required to complete my packet. And then I waited until the last minute to actually submit it. I clicked the button and my throat immediately caught. I had a little trouble breathing and my stomach felt hollow. There was no turning back.
Waiting for my acceptance (or otherwise) was difficult, but I felt good knowing that I had done it, knowing that I was at least trying to become a lawyer. Can’t let a little fear of rejection stand in the way, right?
Next week is Spring Break and I definitely need the break. I’m trying to plan a last minute getaway for a few days so I can just relax. Well, relax and work on my trial brief and outlines!
3/2/11 - Last week in my writing class, I had the opportunity to “play lawyer” for the first time ever. Right now, we are preparing to write our trial briefs. One of the exercises in our textbook is to prepare an argument for a client. Professor Hambleton assigned my group to represent the defendant in the case. Although we had completed the assignment before class, we didn’t know that a representative from each group would have to give an oral argument as well. We had about 20 minutes to formulate our argument and decide which cases we wanted to use as examples. My group very thoughtfully (ahem) volunteered me to speak on behalf of our client.
Now, I’m a bit of a talker. And I like to talk in front of groups. I do not have a fear of public speaking. But this was completely different from anything I’d ever done! It wasn’t a speech or something I was extremely familiar with. I wasn’t talking amongst my peers or even responding to a question from being “on call.” Most importantly, I wasn’t representing myself – I was speaking on behalf of my client who was counting on me.
Needless to say, I was a little nervous.
When I stood up to present my case, I could hear my heart beating so loudly I was certain everyone else could as well. I’d like to say that when I began speaking to the court all my nerves washed away. Far from it. But let me tell you – it was AWESOME. What a rush! Maybe I wasn’t very eloquent, and maybe my voice had the teeniest of a tremble. I truly felt like a lawyer (in training) at that moment. I had a big grin on my face for hours afterward, and even typing this I can’t help but let a little smile escape.
2/23/11 – Yesterday, my classmates and I attended a meeting that covered planning our course of study for the rest of law school and preparing for the bar exam. In the meeting, Professor Chambers spoke to us about taking the bar in a few years, and he reminded me of why I’m in law school. It’s not to cram for exams or to read a bunch of exams in order to prepare for the bar exam. No, he reminded me that we are in law school because we are learning to be lawyers.
We are learning to read and write and think and reason like lawyers, like attorneys. It’s so easy to forget that reading all of these cases isn’t just about preparing for an exam (a final exam or the bar exam). Graduating law school is required, but, in the words of Professor Chambers, “a J.D. doth not a lawyer make.” Passing the bar gives us the license to practice law, but it’s in law school that we become lawyers. I think in the stress of exams, rankings, and trying to stay up on the reading I’ve forgotten that. I’m not here just to learn facts (which are important), but to be a lawyer. I’m hoping I’ll remember that next time I start to feel overwhelmed with everything. I’m not here just to learn case facts, but I’m learning how to be a lawyer.
2/16/11 - “I am not a number.”
I have to remind myself that a number does not define me or my legal future. Rankings came out. I have been judged against all the other 1L’s, and lined up with them from #1 to #282. I’m not #1, and (thankfully) I’m not #282. But I’m not where I want to be.
Facebook is officially the message board of my generation. A post appeared Friday afternoon and every person who saw it rushed to check their email, including me. When I saw mine, my heart sank. I felt like a failure. Even though my fall semester wasn’t what I wanted it to be, I’d been putting forth a renewed effort this spring. It was a little disheartening. That number brought back everything I felt when I saw my grades. I definitely sulked for a bit, but then I was okay. I reminded myself that the fall was a learning experience and that number can change to something much more acceptable. It sucks to not be #1, or #2, but I do know that my number does not, and will not, define who I am as a law student. I’m using my ranking as motivation, as a reminder of what I need to do this semester and every other semester.
On a happier note, it’s just 4 short weeks until spring break. I think I’m going to escape to somewhere interesting and exotic, like New Jersey.
2/9/11 - For some reason, I’m struggling more this semester. I’m not sure how it happened, but I am even busier than I was in the fall. I think I have so many things going on that my brain is starting to go into hiding. I can’t focus on anything. Work is unbelievably busy. We were shut down for nearly a week, and that really hurt. I’m behind in my emails, phone calls, and general tasks (but who really wants to file?). And that’s just work!
There’s a constant hum in my brain reminding me about the research memo, my readings, and my notes. It’s a little stressful. Maybe I’m struggling because my roommate and I have had houseguests for the last few weeks. An extra person in a small apartment has been distracting. No matter the reason(s), I’ll figure them out and get back on track. I don’t like feeling behind. I took off Monday (Valentine’s Day), so hopefully I can use that vacation day to get caught up. I’m just ready for things to calm down a little. I might have to wait another 3 years for that though…
2/2/11 - I haven't had very much school this year. Last week, I missed class travelling for work. This week, the school is closed because all the highways have become ice skating rinks. My office closed, too. I'm just as excited about school closing because of weather as I was in grade school. It's so unexpected! Thankfully my apartment didn't lose power and we've been able to stay in and stay warm.
With no work and no classes, I've been able to catch up on laundry, watch a Law & Order: SVU marathon, work on my memo, sleep in, cook a nice dinner, and mostly just relax. I know we'll have to make up the days missed in class, and I know work is piling up into an insurmountable tower, but right now, I'm just enjoying not having to go anywhere. Back to the grind tomorrow. Well, maybe I'll stay home one more day just to be safe.
1/26/11 – Okay, the subject of working students versus non-working students (part time only) has come up once or twice before. It’s a bit controversial, really. Personally, I try to be diplomatic and remember that everyone’s situation is different and everyone has their own challenges.
But when I haven’t gotten a full night’s sleep in months, I’m behind on my reading, I’ve missed another deadline, I’m subsisting on Diet Cokes and a variety of vending machine food, and I desperately need a haircut but don’t have any personal time… Well, I have a hard time remembering that everyone’s situation is different.
I find it difficult to explain what it's like being a law student with a full time job. I spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week focusing and thinking about my work. My job can be very demanding and stressful, but I still enjoy it. I guess I'm wearing my corporate hat.
But, sometime before class at 6:30 PM, I have to switch my brain over to being a law student. Law school doesn’t begin and end in the classroom. Not even close. The majority of my time for school is done on the weekends or after class each night (that means after 9:00 PM when normal people are at home relaxing). There really isn’t any free time for even basic things – like haircuts and oil changes.
I guess I’m envious of my classmates who are able to focus just on school and have free time. I wish I had more flexibility with my time, but the fact is, I don’t. I can’t sleep in during the week and brief cases right before class. I don’t have time to modify the font on my outline or read cases that aren’t required. Because I am a working student, I just don’t have “extra” time. No amount of prioritizing or scheduling will change that fact. And the other option (not working) isn’t really an option.
So, cheers to my fellow working classmates – especially to Sarah who just started working full time and now knows our pain.
1/19/11 - I forgot how exhausting it is to always be busy. Like last semester, I am always on the go and always a little bit tired. I feel like I'm always late or running out of time for everything. There are only 24 hours in a day and that can be pretty frustrating, because it's just not enough time to get everything done. But that's everyone, right? To help me stay focused on what I need to get done, I put together a color coded schedule. It shows me where my time should be going certain days at certain times. I even put sleep on there! My roommate (who is studying for school as well) did something similar, so now I have a study buddy in my own home.
I saved Sunday evenings for catching up on my DVR'd shows... like The Jersey Shore.
1/12/11 - The 30 days or so since my last blog went by so quickly. Since classes were over, I had a few weeks of “just” working. I’d forgotten what that felt like! I worked late a couple of times, but every day I was eager to get home and do… well, do nothing. It was awesome. Because my company shuts down completely for the holiday season, I had a long stretch of free time ahead of me. I thought about going home for a little bit to see my family, but instead decided to do something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time – I slept. Oh, I slept a lot. At least 10 hours each night (usually more). In the morning (or whatever time I woke up) I would take my breakfast into the living room and eat while I watched TV. Then, once I was full, I would take a nap. Maybe just for 30 minutes or so, but a nap. If I had anything going on that day I would get ready and go do whatever that was. If not, I would nap again in the afternoon. I kept a steady supply of food nearby and ate to my heart’s content. All I did during my break was eat, sleep, and relax. I had almost 10 solid days of pure relaxation.
It was the best vacation ever.
And then, it was January 4 and I had to go back to work. It felt like a cruel joke. Going to the office that day really wasn’t so bad, until I remembered that grades should be coming out soon. My heart skipped a beat and my stomach was in knots. I had hardly given grades a thought during my sleep-a-thon because I knew they wouldn’t be posted until January. It was January. Immediately I checked my status online. And then again 10 minutes later. Then 5. Finally, I just left the screen up and began playing the “F5 Game.” For those who don’t know, F5 is a shortcut key for refresh. You can only tell that the button is F5 now because it’s in between F4 and F6. In my first blog I talked a little about how I felt when I was waiting to be accepted to law school. Multiply the anxiety by a million and that’s close to how I felt last week. Finally, I got a message from a classmate that let me know some grades were available. I’ll be honest, I got a little lightheaded. I mistyped my password a couple of times before I got it right. When I saw my grades I didn’t know what to think. They are good grades, but they aren’t what I want. I want to do more than that. The perfectionist in me is having a hard time accepting the grades I received, but I’ll figure it out.
School is back in session now. I am starting out this semester with a renewed focus. If possible I’m even more determined to do well. I’m getting back into the groove of working and going to school every night. Hopefully it’s like riding a bike and I’ll be back in the swing of things quickly. Round two begins!
12/15/10 - It’s been 17 weeks since orientation. So much has happened and changed in these months. Some good, some less than good. I’ve definitely changed quite a bit! My friends and family can tell a difference in me. I’m less wired. Maybe it was the lack of sleep. I look at things differently, maybe a little more objectively. I didn’t have much “me” time, so I value my free time now more than ever. My “old” friends supported me and encouraged me all through the semester. I know reading memos isn’t fun, but they did it without complaint! I have amazing new friends that I can count on (not just for school). I think my car got the worst of it all. My poor little Honda racked up about 10,000 miles since August. The commute was tough on her!
Besides the lessons taught in class, I learned a few other things. I learned that time management is crucial in law school. I know that it’s difficult to balance a full time job with part-time school, but I can more than handle it. I figured out that it’s a good idea every now and then to take a break from everything, especially when it seems like there’s no time to take a break. Most of all, I don’t over think things quite as much.
I’m proud of myself and my classmates for getting through the first semester of law school, the toughest one of all. It’s been an adventure. For me, the semester isn’t really over until I get my grades. As hard as I try, I can’t stop wondering how I did! Last night, I dreamed that grades were already posted. Surrounded by my classmates, I started at the top of the list, hoping to find my name, but it wasn’t even near there. My name was at the bottom. I’d made a 9 in contracts (which I don't think is possible) and had the worst grades in the history of law school. Thankfully, I woke up.
Waiting to know how I did in each of my classes is tough. I’m trying hard not to think about it, but it’s difficult when I have so much free time! Instead of obsessing about my grades I am going to try to relax and enjoy not having anything extra to do. I’ve started reading books for fun again. I’m getting lots of sleep, which I’ve missed. I’m writing things besides blogs and memos and case briefs. I’m looking forward to a whole week off from work and school this month.
Spring semester will bring a whole new set of challenges – but I can wait until January to face them.
12/8/10 - The semester is officially over for me. After spending the last few weeks pouring over my notes and outlines and cases, dreaming of “exam day” every night, it's all over. I've taken my all of my final exams and have finished my first semester of law school.
I've been trying to describe how I felt Monday night after finishing my last final exam of the semester.
There's no easy way to do it. I felt nauseous, frustrated, beaten down, exhilarated, relieved... everything was just swirling around in my head and I couldn't focus on anything. Some of my classmates went out to celebrate, but I chose to go home and take it all in by myself. It's kind of crazy - I was home by 10:15 and I didn't have any school work to do. Two days later, it's still a very weird feeling.
The most difficult part now will be the waiting. Grades won't come out until the spring semester begins. The wait is already worse than it was when I was applying to law school, and it's only been two days! I'm trying to focus on anything else. The problem is I keep having flashbacks to my exams. Sometimes I think of what I wrote and I cringe. Other times I'll think of something I should have written and didn't and I cringe. Hopefully the flashbacks will pass in time.
For now, I'm going to focus on work and try to have a social life again. I think it's time to have a little more fun!
11/23/10 - It’s Tuesday and I feel a little weird. I don’t have to rush out of work 30 minutes before everyone else, feeling a little guilty. I don’t have to listen to audio case files on my iPod. I don’t have to sit in rush hour traffic praying to get to school on time. Why? Because there is no class tonight. I don’t have to go to school. Instead, I’m going to go to my apartment, lock myself in my room, and bury myself in my outlines. Finals start in six days. It’s a lot of pressure, knowing that my entire grade is based on a single exam. There are no do-overs, no take backs, no extra credit. This is it.
Thankfully (or maybe unfortunately), there’s a holiday to look forward to. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. The weather’s great, there’s tons of food, and there’s no pressure to buy the perfect gift. Plus, I get an extra long weekend! I won’t be going home this year because of finals. Instead, I’m having dinner at my apartment with a girl from law school. This way we can combine a little studying with our stuffing, some torts with a torte, contracts with… okay, I’ll stop. Along with a few other dishes, I’m making the turkey. It’s my first time, so wish me luck!
This year, I’m thankful for the many, many people who helped me over the last 14 weeks through continuous support, encouragement, and love. Have a Happy Thanksgiving! See you after finals!
11/17/10 - It’s the last full week of classes. I have one final class on Monday and then the semester will be over… except for finals of course. I’m finding it hard to believe that I won’t be attending lectures for over a month. Or driving to Fort Worth every day in rush hour traffic!
Instead, I’ll be devoting those extra hours to preparing for my finals. I’ve been taught so much that I have no idea how I’ll remember it all. I’ve been working on my outlines and different study aids in preparation for finals over the last couple of weeks, but I feel like what I’ve done barely covers what I need to know. And time seems to be moving so fast! It seems like only yesterday I was at orientation learning about IRAC and CREAC. And now finals are almost here.
Thankfully, we’re pretty much done with LARW assignments. This week we turned in our final memo. My brain is still a little numb from the stress. I’ve written a lot of papers before, but none have ever stressed me quite like this memo. I don’t think I’m quite ready to relive it. Maybe I’ll blog on it next spring when I’ve recuperated.
11/10/10 - For the past couple of weeks, I have been a little concerned about my job. Like everyone else, my company has been hit hard by the recession. Things are improving, just not as quickly as originally planned. Rumors were swirling that there would be layoffs before the end of October. My department had been slower than normal during the third quarter, so I started to worry. On one hand, it would be nice to focus on school without worrying about work. On the other, I still need to eat. I tried to quit thinking about it because no matter what happened, I would figure out what I needed to do.
Last week, I was called to Human Resources. To my surprise, I was offered a promotion, not a pink slip. What a relief! I still had a job! A week later and I’m still very happy about my promotion, even though it came at such a stressful time. My new role requires more time, more energy, and has more responsibility than what I was putting in before. My company expects more out of me and I need to take care of some changes right away.
So, what’s the problem? Finals are less than two weeks away. I can feel them looming over me like a guillotine. Work and school are demanding a lot out of me right now. It’s hard, but I can handle it. I’m going to focus on school for the rest of the semester first, and then I’ll put all of my energy into work during the winter break.
It’s a new balancing act. I have to keep my priorities straight. I wanted this promotion. I want to be successful in school too. I worked hard for both and I’ll do my best at both. Since it's almost Thanksgiving, I'm very grateful that I still have a job. Don't forget to donate to your local food bank this holiday season!
11/3/10 - Years ago, when I decided I wanted to become a lawyer, I had everything planned out. I would go to college at 18, double major in English and Psychology, then graduate at 22. I’d start law school that fall, finish at 25 and have my license to practice by summer. Of course, I would be recruited by the best firms and hired at an astonishing salary. I’d work hard and quickly rise through the ranks, making partner by 30 – the youngest in the firm’s history, and the first woman. My daydreams never went past 30, but at 14, they didn’t have to, since 30 was old.
Of course, that’s not exactly how things went. I didn’t start college until I was 20. I was submitting my application to law school when I should have been graduating. I am a first year law student instead of a first year associate. I celebrated my birthday a couple of weeks ago, which makes me closer to 30 than 20, and 30 is very young! I’ll be about 30 when I graduate, years from making partner. Do I wish I had started a little earlier? Sometimes. But, honestly, I think starting law school at 25 was the right thing for me. I know I want to earn my J.D. now more than ever, and I’m willing to work harder for it now than I probably would have at 22. (Yes, I’m aware that I’m still very, very young.)
I bring this up because this week I was noticing how different each person in my section is. I thought that when I started I’d be one of the “older” students. Not even close. I’m a little younger than some but a little older than others. At Texas Wesleyan Law the student body is very diverse. The age, gender, life style, educational background, race, etc. of the student body varies enough to keep things interesting. But, we all have a drive that brought us to law school. The diverse student population adds to the learning experience because our individual perspectives are as varied as our backgrounds.
In other news, it’s November already. This year, I’m having Thanksgiving with a few people from my law school family. I have a feeling that we’ll spend part of the day preparing for our finals that start the next Monday. I think most people are just ready to get them out of the way. I’m wishing we had a few more weeks to study!
10/27/10 - Sometimes I feel like I’m driving a Toyota – no brakes! Okay, yeah, that’s a terrible joke, but it’s true! It’s a pretty awesome thing for me. I’m always busy with work or school and I love it! In the beginning, I felt a little overwhelmed. Occasionally, I still feel that way. Alright, more than occasionally, but I enjoy the challenge. A major reason why I feel great (even when overwhelmed) is because of the people here. There’s a never ending amount of support for practically any situation. Just ask! Ever since my first day, I have felt like I belong here at Texas Wesleyan Law. The whole environment just feels right.
Last night, the Night Students’ Association (there’s a group for just about anyone) held the annual Deans’ Dinner at the school. This was a great opportunity for all students to meet with the various deans of Texas Wesleyan Law and ask them questions in a less formal setting. For me, working all day and school all night, I’ve had little opportunity to get to know our faculty. I was able to talk with a few of the deans and set up appointments, something I’ve wanted to do for a while. See? Support even when I didn’t ask for it!
Lots of family time coming up! This week, my dad, aunts, and uncles are coming into town to see my papa. I’m excited about showing off the school to my dad. He’ll be the first family member to see where I’ve disappeared to. Next weekend I’m going home (Eastman) for a couple of days! Very excited about seeing my sisters and favorite cousin, even for a brief visit. See what I mean about always being busy? It’s great!
10/20/10 - In just a few short weeks, the school will close for Thanksgiving. Normally, that means turkey and football, but this year I’ll be studying for my finals. I’m not sure what to expect. The majority, if not all, of my grade for the class is based on how I do on the final. In undergrad, my grades were divided pretty evenly between exams, quizzes, papers, etc. There was always a chance to make up a bad grade. Finals in law school are a one shot deal. We have to know everything our professors have taught us during the previous 14 weeks. Trust me, it’s a lot. We had a chance this week to ask our professors what to expect on the first exams. Instead of easing my fears, I’m actually even more apprehensive! I’m trying to put together a stronger study plan for finals so I can make it work for me.
Last week, several of my classmates were really feeling the pressure of working and going to school. I really admire my classmates who have a full time job, a family, and are doing so well in school. Any time I start to think it’s rough for me to work and go to school, I remember how much more is expected of those people. I applaud you guys!
Oh, and before I forget – GO RANGERS!
10/6/10 - Confession time: I’ve been so busy with my memo and studying for the Torts midterm that somehow I forgot to write my blog! So, this week’s entry will be a bit shorter than normal.
In 45 minutes, I’ll be starting my first essay exam. I’m nervous. When I’m nervous I feel very on edge and tense. I think I hide it well, but my friends say they can see right through me. I’ve been over the cases and my notes so many times that I’m dreaming about them. At least I’m sleeping! I’m not nervous about not knowing the answer. I’m nervous that my essay responses will sound completely ridiculous and off base. In my daydreams I see Professor McGrath shaking his head as he reads my answers, wondering who let this kid into law school.
But, I know that won’t happen. One thing I’ve realized since starting Texas Wesleyan Law is that our professors want us to succeed. All of them (from the very young to the very experienced) remember what it was like to be in law school. They understand everything we’re going through and they show it. Talking with my professors makes me very aware that I go to a school that cares about the students’ success.
In other news, I’m really enjoying living with my girl friend. I wasn’t sure of what to expect since I haven’t had a roommate since before college. But, so far so good! Otherwise, I’ve been busy with school and work. Only a few short weeks left and then it’s time for finals! Eek!
10/6/10 - I love when autumn starts to settle in. In Texas, that usually comes around October when the temperature is a little less intense and football season is in full swing. October is my favorite month of the year. It’s full of good things – cooler weather, Halloween, the start of the hockey season, and my birthday for starters (I love my birthday!).
Like everything with law school, this October is a little different. Now, it is midterm and memo month. Oddly enough, our second Torts midterm is next Tuesday and Memo 1 is due next Wednesday. While I can’t prove it, I think our professors conspired to make the best month of the year the month to test our grit. But I have a plan…
I learned my lesson on procrastination. I started working on the memo almost immediately. I briefed the cases over the weekend and hope to have my rough draft complete by midweek. That should give me time to proof, edit, and perfect my first graded writing assignment and still have time to study for Torts. I feel like I have to redeem myself after that subpar submission (which was, thankfully, not for a grade).
I’m somewhat nervous about the Torts midterm. I’m having a harder time with negligence than I did with intentional torts. Luckily, I have a great study group to help me. I was never fond of study groups, but in law school these people have become invaluable. We have a plan and work together in a way that benefits us all (more on study groups next time).
I know that this week is going to be a challenge, but I’m prepared. As a matter of fact, I like a good challenge! Even though this October feels extremely full, it’s still my favorite month.
9/29/10 - The semester is almost halfway over and I have forgotten to take care of the most important thing – my health. Since day one, I have been running myself ragged balancing work, school, and life stresses (car repairs, moves, relationships, etc). I’ve been pushing myself too hard and now I am on the brink of exhaustion. You see, since I moved I have had trouble sleeping. I’ve been averaging about 3.5 hours of sleep per night on weeknights. My weekends have been completely taken over by my body’s need to sleep. On Fridays, I will go to bed and not even stir until the middle of the afternoon on Saturday. I’ll wake up, eat, and then fall asleep again for a few hours. Sunday is the same except I skip the nap and go to the library. I haven’t been giving my body the rest it really needs. As a result, my brain has been like pudding. I can’t process as quickly or as easily as I should. My body is always tired. I haven’t felt like my usual sassy self for a few weeks now. All of this because I’m not resting even a 10th of what I should be. I’m not okay with less than 100%, so I’m changing that now.
Yesterday, on the advice of a concerned friend, I did the unthinkable – I took the night off from school. I hate missing class, but I did it anyway and the night off was exactly what I needed. I went home from work, made myself a nice dinner, and went to sleep at a decent hour. Today, I can happily say it was worth missing class.
No matter what’s going on in life it’s important to take care of yourself and your health. Another lesson learned at Texas Wesleyan Law.
9/22/10 - When I started law school I got tons of advice. Everyone had something different to tell me; they all knew the best way to succeed. But now, six weeks in, only one has stuck out. In my second week, an upper classman told me, “Don’t over think it.” And in every situation that advice has worked.
The cases we are being given now are to help us understand the law and how it applies in different scenarios. The books and our profs tell us what to look for. But I was reading cases looking for problems that weren’t there. I was positive that I was missing something that everyone else could see. I had nightmares that I would stand up to discuss a case and blurt out not just a wrong answer, but an idiotic answer. So, I kept looking for something more in each case and became even more stressed out.
During that second week I told my friend how freaked out I was. All he said was, “Michelle, you’re over thinking it. Answer the question that is being asked. If you know the answer, you know it. Don’t over think it.” This was someone who had already gone through the terror of being called on for the first time and survived. It couldn’t hurt to try it.
I won’t say my concerns went away immediately but I did feel a lot better. Now, it’s my policy. If I catch myself struggling over a case or a rule I just tell myself, “don’t over think it,” and more often than not I figure it out. By following this advice I felt comfortable taking my Torts midterm and it showed in my grade – proof that it works!
So I am passing it along. If you’re struggling with a problem, don’t over think it. And you’ll be just fine.
(P.S. Thank you, D!)
9/15/10 - My Legal Analysis, Research & Writing (LARW) professor handed out the requirements for Memo 1 the Thursday before Labor Day. I tucked the handout into my notebook, planning to start after the long weekend. I didn’t think about the fact that I was moving that week. While my move was successful and relatively painless, it took a lot of hours that would normally be spent preparing for the school week, including the time I needed for my memo. Frankly, I didn’t think it would take me too terribly long to complete so I wasn’t overly concerned. I couldn’t understand why my classmates were so stressed.
Sunday rolled around and I began working on the memo. Oh. My. Goodness. With less than 2 days before the first draft was due, I felt the anxiety my peers had felt for over a week. After trying to type an intelligible sentence for more than an hour, I was more than a little frustrated with myself for not beginning this assignment the day that I received it.
Legal writing requires an entirely new way of thinking. Most new law students struggle in LARW. But I thought I was different; I didn’t think I’d have a hard time writing something as “simple” as a memo. Reality stared back at me from the screen. I am no different. I struggled from the moment I started until the second I handed it in. I know it wasn’t the best I could do and I’m still annoyed with myself for not devoting enough time to the memo.
But I learned my lesson - when I get the next memo I’ll start working on it immediately!
9/8/10 - This past week has been particularly difficult for me. I’m not one to share painful things with people and I’ve never done it in such a public way. However, I think it’s important for people to understand that while law school is a priority, it can’t become all consuming. You still have to deal with painful and stressful things that have absolutely nothing to do with school. While my difficult week may be trivial to some, it may be useful to others. In any case, it was very hard for me. That being said, here goes.
This week I am moving out of the home I shared with my fiancé for nearly three years and into an apartment with one of my girlfriends. If you guessed a break up, you’re absolutely right. Right before school started my relationship ended. When I say right before, I mean the day of orientation. With my name tag from school stuck on my shirt and my carry-on still in the entry way, my fiancé and I ended our engagement. My first year began a little differently than planned.
Even though I was crushed, I didn’t start packing immediately. Instead, I did what I had planned to do before the break up – focus on school for the first two weeks. During that time I avoided all thoughts of my relationship. Instead, I thought about Contracts and Torts. School was an excellent diversion. However, last week I started the process of moving out and my emotions invaded everything else. I felt completely overwhelmed by work, school, and my personal life. Work seemed to be particularly demanding. I had a test to prepare for in Torts along with my regular readings. And, I needed to move. I was exhausted with trying to handle everything and maintain my sanity.
Things are better this week. My midterm is over. Work has calmed down. I have a place to live and my furniture will be delivered at the end of the week. I think I was so stressed last week because too many things felt uncertain. Now that I have a plan (albeit a bit different than the plan I had before school started) I feel a lot more comfortable about the future.
On a lighter note, I suppose I need to change my Facebook status to make it "official."
9/1/10 - I knew that there were certain sacrifices I would have to make to continue working and go to school. Some were pretty straightforward and obvious (like happy hours), but other little things have kind of snuck up on me, things I didn’t even think about before but now I miss desperately. What I really miss is cooking and eating dinner at home.
I’m no gourmet chef. Nothing fancy over here (except for my cheesecake – it’s fancy and delicious!). But I like making new dishes, recreating old favorites to suit my tastes, and just trying something completely different. I enjoy shopping for the ingredients, list in hand. I like the chopping, slicing, sautéing, simmering, smelling, tasting… pretty much every element of cooking except for washing the dishes. Cooking is fun for me.
Now, I eat on the run. Sandwiches, soda, and vending machine snacks (when they work, that is) get me through the evening. While I’m grateful for the dinner people, and the food is wonderful, it’s not my cooking.
Once again, time is the culprit. Between work and school there just isn’t any time during the week to cook. But I can make time on the weekends. I plan to carve out some time on Saturday to make at least one dish to balance out the quick meals I’m having during the week. Hopefully that will help.
Speaking of time, my new routine is working nicely. I was able to complete nearly all of my reading & briefs on Sunday. It made it much easier to read the additional cases that were assigned in class. It’s been a nice week with earlier nights in bed (and more sleep).
Funny how I miss cooking but not cleaning… Hmm.
8/25/10 - Last week several people said to me, “Wow, you look tired!” Looking “tired” is just a euphemism for looking rough! My red rimmed eyes, dark shadows, and persistent yawn are all physical reminders that right now I’m adjusting to life as a law student with a full time job.
Before last Monday I had so much free time. Now, time is precious. On school days the hours are divided between work (9), school (3), and commuting (3). I wasn’t managing my time very well at first, because I was trying to do it all the night before class (when I was exhausted). Sleep was pushed to the side.
This week I’ve been working out a new schedule that will hopefully give me enough R&R time and study time. Here’s my plan:
1. 75% in ONE day – Simply put, get 75% (if possible) of my schoolwork done during one weekend day instead of cramming it into my schedule late at night.
2. 30 Minutes Early – My boss agreed to let me come in and leave work 30 minutes early. That means I miss a lot of traffic and get to the school sooner, so I’m able to re-read my notes for class. (Thanks, Boss!)
3. Fridays Off – I need some time to relax. I’m designating Friday as my day off from school and housework (unfortunately, I still have to go to the office).
I started Sunday and it’s making a difference. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Ultimately I want my life to feel balanced…and for people to quit telling me how tired I look (we all know what that really means).
8/20/10 - I’ll admit it – I checked the status of my application to Texas Wesleyan several times every day. Sometimes, I’d check… then check again minutes later. I was completely obsessed with going to law school. The day I saw the words “Decision Rendered,” I was THRILLED! I was going to law school and I could hardly wait to get to orientation.
So, where was I 45 minutes before the start of orientation? Sprinting through DFW Airport. I was returning from a business trip and, of course, my flight was delayed. I was pretty frazzled. When I got to my car, I took a deep breath, told myself to quit being such a drama mama, and relaxed. A little. Of course, I made it in plenty of time so the stress was unnecessary.
The day I’d been waiting for had arrived & so had I (finally)! As corny as it may sound, my absolute favorite part of orientation was when we took the Oath of Professionalism. It made the stress of the morning disappear. A second favorite was meeting all the other night students. There was an immediate sense of camaraderie among us. Maybe it’s that way in the daytime too, but I like to think we’re special.
Now, the first week is almost over. I’m exhausted from my job during the day and reading late into the night, but I love every second. Can’t wait to see what next week brings!