: Ebenezer Bible College and Seminary
: Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines
: Part-Time Day
5/20/09 - 4 p.m. – At Home
Since this is my final entry, I want to take the opportunity to thank you - I appreciate the fact that you have followed my blogging this year. I hope that I was able to give you a glimpse of the experience of attending law school and, specifically, the law school and life experiences of a part-time law student. At the beginning of my blog, I shared with you two major challenges that I faced as a first-year student of law: 1) how to think like a lawyer, and 2) how to think like an “American” lawyer.
Well, after a year of law school, I am confident that I have started to think like a lawyer. Have I started to think like an “American lawyer?” I believe that I have.
Regardless, I am not worried anymore because I am confident that my heritage can contribute and be an asset to me as a “Fil-Am” lawyer, which I hope to be in the future.
With that said, being a student here at Texas Wesleyan School of Law has been a wonderful experience. Why? I know that I have said it before, but this school really cares about its students –both as students and as people. Texas Wesleyan is the best.
Salamat at Maligayang Bakasyon! (Thank you and Happy Break!)
4/29/09 - 4:21 PM – At Home
I thought last week was my second-to-the-last blog, but I was informed otherwise, so THIS is my next-to-last blog. Anyway, as you probably know, next week is the first week of finals, and as a “good student” I am continuing -- not just starting-- my reviews. The good thing about being a part-time student is that I have more time to review for finals than the full-time classmates.
Nevertheless, if you are planning to enroll as a part-time student, let me share one negative aspect. As a part-time student, during the first year of law school I only have torts, contracts, criminal law and LARW, compared to the torts, property, civil procedure, contracts, criminal law and LARW that full-time students take. That may sound like a light academic load (it is not), but it has its downside.
As you may remember from my previous writings, in LARW we were required to write memorandums and a trial brief. With memorandums, the writing itself was a struggle for me. This difficulty was heightened by the fact that I had not taken civil procedure, which was very important to the assignment to write a motion for summary judgment. Our LARW professor gave us a handout with a short explanation of a summary judgment, specific to the state of Texas.
Unfortunately, that short explanation was not enough to answer the questions that I encountered as I was writing my trial brief. Consequently, I spent a large portion of my time trying to figure out what a summary judgment is. Honestly, I believe that taking civil procedure would have been a great help, although other students disagree with me.
Anyway, I made it through and completed my motion on time. I suppose that this experience will prepare me for the "real world" where issues that are new to me will appear all the time. Be that as it may, this is something that you should consider when deciding whether to apply for the full-time or part-time program. For me, the positives have outweighed this and other minor difficulties. See you next week!
4/22/09 - 4:45 PM – On Board TRE
I am almost at the end of my journey as a first year law student. Next Tuesday will be the last day of regular classes. This means that this is my second-to-the-last blog, and because I am going to dedicate my last blog to my final exams, I will take this chance to thank you for reading my blog. I hope that by sharing my personal life and my student life I have shed some light on what it is really like to be a law student. I hope that my blog aids you in your decision to pursue your dream to be a lawyer. If I have done that part, then I have achieved the purpose of writing my blogs.
If, after reading my blog, you are still determined to pursue your dream to be a lawyer, let me share with you the secret of my success, which is really no secret at all. I owe my success to God, my husband, my family, my school and hard work. You probably remember me sharing with you the importance of God in all aspects of my life and the support I received from my husband and family. Because I do not believe that I adequately shared with you the details of the support that I received here at Texas Wesleyan School of Law, I will share a bit of that assistance with you today.
When I enrolled last August, I knew little about the culture and the law of this country. As you can read from my blogs, my journey was not a smooth one. To make matters worse, law school is difficult! Faced with these challenges I was quite afraid of failure. Yet, the folks here at Texas Wesleyan School of Law have been here for me every day. They have readily been available with personnel and programs to assist each person through their individual journeys as students of the law and as hopeful lawyers. Though this year has been difficult, Texas Wesleyan has done its part to ensure that I am a success, and I highly recommend attending law school with me here in Fort Worth, Texas at Texas Wesleyan School of Law.
Again, thank you for joining me on my journey. Perhaps we will meet again here at the law school or on the World Wide Web.
4/15/09 - 11:50 AM – At School
I have come a long way in my legal research and writing class. My latest experience was the oral argument, where I was a civil defense attorney arguing for my client. WOW!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009, I stood before Judge Kelly (Prof. Kelly) of the 100th Judicial District of Landry County. I argued that my client, Moe’s Tavern, was entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law.
When the judge called my name, I stood up, walked to the podium, placed my black folder on the podium and started to shake heavily as I opened my folder. It was one of those times where my height was an advantage for me; that is, because I am not very tall, I felt like I could kind of hide and take refuge behind the podium. Refuge or not, the race was on.
I began my “conversational speech” argument by greeting the judge and introducing myself. I had just finished presenting my two grounds for my argument when the judge asked the first question. I answered the question the best I could, and then I continued my argument. Not too much longer, the judge asked me another question. Every time the judge asked me a question, which he did quite frequently, it seemed that I lost my composure and my train of thought. Nevertheless, I had to keep going. I would pause, try to regain my composure, think about the question, answer the question the best that I could and then continue with my argument. I do not know how many times this cycle happened but that 10 minutes of oral argument was the longest 10 minutes of my life!
By going through a mock oral argument I learned that in order to survive such an ordeal --before a professor "judge" or a real judge -- I have to know my case, which means knowing the facts, the statutes, the case law (both good and bad) and the arguments that I make on behalf of my client. This is so much more than I knew last August when I started law school, and I really believe that I have come a long way. Indeed, throughout this year I have stumbled and fallen and scraped my mental “knees and elbows," but that is a small price to pay for the lessons that I have learned.
4/8/09 - 2:43 PM – At School
I never thought that these last few weeks would be this busy. It all started with the trial brief that was due last Thursday, then our oral argument this Tuesday.
I know oral argument preparation is difficult for all students, but it is more difficult and challenging for me. Therefore, I will not write a long blog for now, so I can focus on my trial brief, but I promise to tell you in some details about my ordeal this coming Wednesday.
4/1/09 - 4:55 PM – At Home
Writing is challenging. If English is your second language, like it is for me, writing is even more challenging. This is why I dread my writing assignments in legal research and writing, the hardest course I have taken this year. In fact, I spend more time on this course than the other two courses combined.
Anyway, I am not writing this blog to complain. Just the opposite - I want to share with you the priceless treasures I have discovered in legal research and writing.
Last semester I was “assigned” the role of a legal research assistant who was to write a memorandum to a partner at a law firm. I am glad that I was not a real legal research assistant, because I would have lost my job! Frankly, my memorandum was terrible and a less than compassionate partner would have put me out of my misery. Though my memorandum was a mess, the experience was one of many of the steps I will take to be a better writer and a lawyer.
Another example occurred last January when my role was that of a federal prosecutor who had to decide whether to charge someone with a federal offense. I know that I did not learn all of what goes on in the “charging” process, but what I learned was helpful in thinking about future career choices.
In our current task, the professor has assigned us the role of defense attorney in a civil suit. This role gives me the opportunity to apply the knowledge that I gained in Torts and to see what it is like to be a civil lawyer.
As you can see, while legal research and writing is quite difficult, it has sharpened my writing skills and allowed me to look at law through the eyes of many types of lawyers. This has helped me decide what kind of law I would like to practice in the future.
3/25/09 - 4:43 PM – On Board TRE
Spring break was a new experience for me. Although I did not observe it the “traditional” way, I still had a good break. Spring break allowed me to catch up with my readings and outlines. Additionally, it gave me enough time to read and understand my writing assignment. As a student, I welcomed and enjoyed the weeklong break, which also allowed me to recuperate from the physical and emotional stress of being a law school student.
It seems, however, that all good things come with a price – the price for the enjoyment of spring break is the minor difficulty of getting back into my student routine, which includes this blog entry. So if my blog seems a bit short this week, please excuse me.
Well, no time for complaining or self-pity. I have an important paper that is due soon, my outlines must be up-to-date, and I have to prepare for finals. Ah, then the school year is over. summer break, here I come!
3/11/09 - 4:45 PM – On Board TRE
What is My Story?
Since the beginning of this semester, I have been worried and anxious about applying for a law-related job. I figured that, as a part time student, completing only torts, contracts, criminal law and a year of legal research and writing would not be enough to get a job in the legal field.
An additional source of anxiety is my educational background and work history, which are both in the field of religion. This background might be useful in the future, but I do not know how it will be helpful in the field of immigration law, which is my area of interest.
After this week, however, I am happy to discover that I was wrong. I found out that most, if not all, first-year law students are in the same boat.
How did I become so enlightened? The credit goes to Professor Snyder - though he is my professor for contracts, he took the time in class to share his personal experiences as a law student and as a lawyer in searching for law-related jobs. As part of that discussion, he also advised us on choices of future courses of study in relation to our plans for future employment.
Now, thanks to Professor Snyder and career services, I am not as anxious about my future as I was before. I look forward to possibly volunteering with an immigration clinic this summer.
3/4/09 - 9:04 a.m. – At Home
Spring Break and Law School
At the beginning of this semester, I went through my school calendar to see when spring break would occur. I was hoping to have some time off from schoolwork, just relax, and renew my “strength.” Unfortunately, law school is not like undergraduate school: no break in spring break!
As they say, no rest for the weary - so this 1L will be working on the latest writing assignment from our legal research and writing professor. Mind you, I am not complaining ... the project appears to be interesting and, as usual, difficult. It is a mixture of torts and civil procedure (as a part-time student I have not taken civil procedure so that alone will make this a challenging project). It gives us lots of practice researching the law and rules of civil procedure.
Though it will be a challenge to complete the project by its due date of April 9, 2009, and it will probably use up most of my spring break, I will definitely try to make time for my family, which you know from my previous entries to my blog is very important to me. Beyond the latest writing project and my family, I will also try to catch up with reading assignments and course outlines. Whew! You really have to enjoy law school and really want to be a lawyer to put in all of this effort and more, and I do. (“I do,” ha! ha!, it is just like getting married!)
2/25/09 - 4:44 PM – On Board TRE
When Common Sense is Uncommon
In my first blog, I said that my greatest challenge in law school was to learn how to think like an American lawyer. Until last week, I never really grasped just how challenging that would be.
What happened last week? I learned that most, if not all drivers in this country have run a red light. Apparently, this is common knowledge. When one of my professors asked whether drivers who run a red light should suffer punishment, my answer was “yes.” If that was not bad enough, the second question was “Have you ever run a red light?” and my answer was “no.” I was confused when I received the professor’s “I don’t believe you” look. I wanted to explain my answer, but before I opened my mouth, the professor asked me if I have a driver’s license. My answer was “no.” I guess my final answer explained my first answer.
I came from a country where you generally only find traffic lights in major intersections in major cities, and I did not live in a major city. Where there are traffic lights, running a red light usually results in an accident and sometimes even death. Believe me, if you run a red light at the intersection of Roxas Boulevard and Padre Burgos in Manila, you will hit someone or someone will hit you! With that in mind (and because I do not drive), I do think running a red light warrants punishment.
After those questions, my mind started to wander and I could not concentrate in class. I asked myself, if culture-based common sense plays an important role in law, then how can I, someone who seems to lack this pertinent information, be a good student and lawyer? Can I quickly gain this cultural knowledge that others here have gained over their whole lives? Would I have a better understanding of the law if I possessed this kind of culture-based common sense?
I do not know the answer to these questions, but I am going to keep studying the law and trying to acquire the cultural knowledge that is important to the law and to life in this country.
2/18/09 - 2:30 PM – At School
This past Feb. 14 was my first Valentine’s Day as a law student. Before law school, I had no idea how a law student would celebrate Valentine’s Day. One would think that a law student would celebrate the holiday just like everyone else, but not everyone else has a memorandum due five days after Valentine’s Day!
I assumed I would be spending my Valentine’s Day with my computer. However, that would go against my principle: family first. Therefore, with a bit of anxiety, I left my computer for a short while so that I could enjoy a lunch date with my husband at an Indian restaurant. Happily, it was very romantic and spicy.
As I sit here, my paper is due tomorrow, and I am still working on it, but I know that I will have it done on time. Even though it was a bit stressful to take the time away from studying, I learned that even busy law students can enjoy at least a part of the same holidays as everyone else.
2/11/09 - 4:43 PM – On Board TRE
“Just put a period on it, Honey” Part 2
Frankly, I do not have anything to share with you this week. “Did Ms. Kavanagh commit a criminal violation of the Endangered Species Act when she killed the wolf?” “Does Ms. Kavanagh have a valid claim for self-defense under the Endangered Species Act?” “Does Ms. Kavanagh have a valid claim for defense of her dog under the Endangered Species Act?” These three questions have been haunting me for the last two weeks, and unfortunately, I cannot set these questions aside to write my blog. Therefore, I will rest “my case” this week, but I promise to write something interesting next week. Thank you.
2/4/09 - 4:45 PM – On Board TRE
Last year, when I was a stranger to the world of legal research, “just put a period on it” seemed to be an excellent suggestion or commandment to a lawyer who was unable to quit researching and start writing.
As you know, my husband is a lawyer - a very dedicated one. He is one of those lawyers who refuses to be satisfied with “good enough.” This is particularly true when it comes to the reliability of the cases and materials that he includes in his writings and presentations. Because of this “peculiarity,” he spends what seemed like an enormous amount of time researching before he begins to write. He also regularly double-checks the validity of the relied upon authority, and every time a new relevant case pops up, he quits writing and returns to his research. I used to tell him, “just put a period on it, Honey!”
Now, I am not a stranger to research. In theology, which is my educational background, the primary authority is fixed - the Bible is the word and God has not added “new precedent.” Thus, I never experienced the anxiety of the possibility that my primary authority would be distinguished or overruled.
I find that legal research is very different. The law is constantly evolving, so there is no certainty that your primary authority will be “on point” or even “good law” when you hand in your paper. Thus, you have to check and recheck your authority, to ensure that it has not “evolved” and that it remains good law until you turn in your paper. Therefore, as I write my paper for legal research, I find myself in the same place where my husband has been, and I realize that “just put a period on it” is easier said than done.
1/28/09 - 7:35 PM – At Home
I received an e-mail this week with a very interesting question: “Is attending law school worth the time and effort?" I used to ask myself the same question, but not anymore. Law school is definitely worth everything that it "costs."
The truth is, law school is difficult. And if you do not enjoy being glued to your desk for hours studying the law, then law school is the last place you want to be. So my advice is that anyone who is considering entering law school should spend time learning more about themselves. Decide if you can sacrifice money, pride, interpersonal and intrapersonal time, and other "things" that are important to each person. By doing this, you will avoid experiencing the self-doubt that I have shared with everyone in my blogs!
Personally, though I have made my share of sacrifices, my love for studying law and the support I received from my husband, my family, and my school are the reasons why I am still in law school. As I said in my last blog, for me, law school is not just about learning the law, it is also about learning more about myself. In fact, I consider myself very fortunate to be a law student. Considering my educational background, it is a rare opportunity to be given this chance. I am humbled that Texas Wesleyan not only gave me a chance to be a law student, but also believed enough in me to give me the chance to be a lawyer. And my prayer is that at the end of this school year, I will show myself to have been a good steward of that trust. With hard earned but cautious confidence, I can say that law school is worth “it” to me.
1/21/09 - 4:45 PM - On board TRE
It is hard to believe that Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th President of the United States of America. Because I had never seen an election in this country, and because elections in this country are much different from those in my home country, it was with great interest that I followed the recent primary and presidential elections. I was particularly interested in Obama’s campaign and his “story.” It is clear that Obama is a determined person, and that determination is one of the “powers” of his success.
Why does this interest me? Obama’s lifelong determination to succeed and become president encouraged me to continue what I started in law school. On many levels, Obama’s life was more difficult than mine - if he can succeed as he has in his life, certainly I can succeed in law school! Knowing that “now is the time” helps me fulfill my dreams of being a lawyer, regardless of how difficult the journey will be in the future. Determination to complete law school will help me become a better person and lawyer.
In the end, law school is not just about learning law, it is also about learning more about me. Today, some of you are unhappy with your grades. I encourage you to go on. “Now is the time” to fulfill your dreams of being a lawyer and a better person - but not necessarily in that order! With determination, you too can succeed!
1/14/09 - On board TRE to Dallas
Why am I in law school? This question has haunted me for the last four months. Sure, I want to be a lawyer and you have to go to law school in order to become a lawyer. Yet, the answer goes much deeper than that.
From undergraduate to graduate school, my motivation was to learn - I strived to gather all the knowledge that was before me. Gathering knowledge and gaining new experiences was why I was going to school. The quest for knowledge was also the motivation for learning and the reason why I was successful.
Unfortunately, for my first semester of law school, the quest and the motivation changed shortly after I entered law school. It was not long before I was “knocked off track,” and I was frantically pursuing GOOD GRADES. Do not get me wrong, good grades are very important. For some people, good grades might be just the “carrot” that they need to endure the “sticks” of loneliness, frustration, embarrassment, anxiety, sleeplessness, and other forms of external and internal “punishments.” For me, a “carrot” in the form of a good grade is just not enough to help me endure those “sticks.” As a result, I struggled with my motivation, and that was the reason why I was so unhappy last semester. Anyway, I am glad I made it through my first semester.
The good news is that, over the holiday break, I reconsidered my goals and I am determined to focus on gaining knowledge and experiences instead of focusing on grades. I cannot promise that I will be the best student at the end of this semester but I can promise one thing: I will finish this semester as a happy and satisfied law student. Besides, I believe that if one focuses on gaining knowledge, good grades will follow! In the end, perhaps I was asking the wrong question. Instead of asking “why am I in law school?” I should have asked, “What do I want to from the process of attending law school?”
Going back to my series, N now stands for “never give-up” even if you started in a wrong foot.
12/17/08 - At Home
“E” is for Emotional Health. I believe that every law student would agree with me that, in order to be successful in law school, you must have good emotional health.
Looking back, my first semester in law school was very stressful and difficult. When I started law school, I believed that my English speaking and writing skills were good. After a short while, however, I came face-to-face with the disadvantages of having English as a second language. I became apprehensive and began to dread the thought of going to school. The students, faculty, and staff were very helpful in making me and all of the other first-year students feel at home, but it was not enough to ease my emotional problem. In fact, I was on the brink of quitting.
Fortunately, I have a supportive family who believed in me and stood by me as I went through those difficult times. Slowly, with their help, I started to find the courage and confidence to continue my journey in law school. I have come to recognize that I may not be able to achieve what my schoolmates will, but I will do my best to achieve what I want to achieve –to be a good law student, and hopefully a good lawyer.
So when it was time to study for finals, I was excited. I worked very hard to prepare myself. And when I took my examinations, I had peace of mind. I did not panic; in fact, I enjoyed my finals, even when there were questions I didn’t know the answers to. After my last examination, I called my husband and told him that I completed my first semester of law school. He asked me about my feelings regarding the results, and I jokingly told him that I was happy and satisfied with my answers, though not sure that my professors would agree with all of them.
If I was not emotionally healthy, I do not believe that I would have come this far. And even if I did, I know that my finals would have been a disaster. But I made it to the last day of my first semester in law school - and the best part of my day was the congratulatory card and dozen pink roses that greeted me when I got home.
12/3/08 – 9.30 p.m. - At Home
This week, my focus is on the letter "D." "D" stands for "devotion."
My first law school examination is tomorrow, so I have been devoting a great deal of time to studying for the examination. Indeed, you may remember that I previously said that I was expecting a category 3 storm called "Examination." In order to survive this storm, I have been quite devoted to my outlines, study guides, treatises, and other material. I have also "drilled" quite a lot in order to get a good idea about how to take a law school examination. There are no two ways about it, it takes a lot of preparation and devotion to keep reading and reading and reading and reading and ... well, you get the picture. I hope that my devotion to my classes and my studies results in something a lot better than a grade of "D" on my examinations!
Though I have been very devoted to my studies, I am also devoted to my family. Counter to the advice of the teacher's assistant, I took a bit of time off to celebrate Thanksgiving with my husband. We skipped the traditional Thanksgiving meal and had a great time eating at an Indian restaurant. Though we filled ourselves with curry, rice, chicken, vegetables, and other great foods, we saved room for the pumpkin pie that we had at home.
With my hectic schedule and the stress associated with everyday life and law school, it is very easy to lose focus on my devotion to God. Thanksgiving Day gave me the chance to reflect on all the blessings that God has given me this year. I am thankful for many things, and even though the examinations are very stressful, I am still thankful to God for giving me an opportunity to study law.
11/19/08 – 5:40 p.m. – Student Lounge and 6:20 p.m. – At Home
This week will be “U” that stands for “unlearn.”
For the last two weeks I was very busy writing my second memorandum for my LARW course. When I received the question for this memorandum, I read through it carefully and tried to understand the issue. After reading the question several times, I was confident that I understood it well enough to start writing.
Before submitting the final paper each student was required to submit a draft addressing the “question presented,” “statement of facts,” and “brief answers.” I thought that I understood the question, so I focused my attention and wrote my draft.
Well, I was wrong. When I began writing the discussion portion of my draft, I discovered that I was not so certain. The cases that I read for my legal authorities did not provide the answers for my questions. So I panicked, which is exactly what happened with my first memorandum. Just like the first memorandum, I ended up rewriting my draft the night before it was due. At least this time, I had almost a week to rewrite some portions of my draft. As to my final memorandum, I am glad to report a happy ending. I completed my paper early enough the day before it was due so that I was able to get a good night’s sleep and turn my paper in on time.
Going back to the word “unlearn,” I believe that to be a good law student I have to be willing to unlearn so I can learn. This is especially true with my second memorandum. If I had refused to “unlearn” what I thought was correct and stick to my faulty original thinking, then my second memorandum would have been a disaster.
Sometimes backward is forward.
11/12/08 – 5:47 p.m. - At Home
TIME! In order to be a good law student, one must develop the important skill of time management. Before law school, I used to think of myself as someone who possessed this skill, but now I am not so sure. These last few weeks I seem to find myself running out of time. Writing this blog is a perfect example. We bloggers are required to submit our entries every Wednesday at 6 p.m., and here it is 5:47 p.m., and I am just getting started. Next week I will do better (famous last words!).
On a different subject, I would also like to share with you two things that amazed me last week. The first was the presidential election. As you may or may not remember, I am fairly new to this country. Thus, I was amazed to see how smooth the election went and how fast the ballot counting was administered. In less than six hours of counting, a new president was unquestionably declared (yes, I know this is not always the case). Where I am from, politicians purchase votes, election offices “suspiciously” catch fire, people murder each other over votes, people double vote (“flying voters”), dead people vote, and ... well, you get the picture. I hope that someday soon my country will have the same equipment as this country, and a clean, honest and peaceful election.
The second amazing event that I experienced last week was the LARW student conference program. Because I was anxious about visiting with my professor, I think that I resented the idea. Why? I do not know. It might be cultural, because where I am from, one-on-one meetings with professors rarely occur. Thus, even though Texas Wesleyan Law has an open-door policy, I cannot bring myself to take advantage of that helpful opportunity. Nevertheless, when it was my turn to visit the professor, I anxiously went to his office armed with questions about my second memorandum. Remembering the experience, I am quite glad that I participated in the program. After all, I now have a better understanding of how to write a legal memorandum, and I feel somewhat more comfortable with the law school’s open-door policy. So to Professor Kelly, “Thank you.”
11/5/08 – 7:34 p.m. – At Home
Today, like all first-year students, I am stressed out about getting ready for finals, and with finishing my memorandum, which is due soon. Because of this stress, which is an “S” word, I have asked my spouse, another “S” word, to briefly write about being the husband of a law school student:
“Hello to everyone reading this “blog.” I am the husband of Virsie Morris. She has asked me to briefly write about my experience as the spouse of a law school student. With that said, I state the obvious: Everyone’s experiences are different.
Frankly, for me, it has not been too bad. I can say that because we do not have small children at home, I am a low maintenance person, and, most importantly, I am a lawyer - so I know how time consuming law school is, and do not expect to be “first” all of the time. Nevertheless, in order to ensure that Virsie can focus on her schooling and be a success, I help a lot more around the house with our two dogs and other areas of our life.
I also know and am not angry that Virsie does not have as much “personal” time to spend with me. Be that as it may, when I get bummed about how Virsie’s education interferes with going to the movies, to dinner, or anything else, I remember how hard I worked in law school, and how hard work can make the difference between being a mediocre law school student and lawyer, and being a great and successful law school student and lawyer. Virsie does not resent the long hours that I sometimes have to spend defending someone’s freedom and I do not resent the long hours that she sometimes has to spend studying to be a great and successful law school student and, someday, lawyer.”
10/29/08 – 7:03 p.m. – At Home
With less than five weeks left in school, my schedules are getting “wild.” On top of my weekly readings and case briefings, I now have a memorandum to write, a series of practice tests to take, and outlines to update. Aside from the school-related schedule, I also have my family schedule that is often conflicting. That is why I say “wild schedules.” But do not get me wrong. I mean “wild” in a positive way.
For example, my second memorandum is taking most of my time, but I am enjoying it more than my first memorandum. The first one was overwhelming because, well . . . , it was my first! Now, I have a better understanding about how to process the facts, synthesize the law, and apply the facts to the law.
Then come the practice tests. They were and are very stressful and emotionally draining, but they help me see my weaknesses and point me in the direction towards success. Thus, though the results frustrate me, I try to take them positively so I will not get discouraged.
Finally, my family schedule. I set aside half of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for school work and the other half for my family. Unfortunately, my overlapping schedules and “extras” do not always allow me to follow this plan. For example, last Friday my husband was giving a presentation in Wichita Falls, Texas, and I went with him. Then, on Sunday, we were invited to a greyhound get-together. These extra activities might have taken some of my study time, but I never had any regrets. I love being with my husband and my two dogs, and the time I spent with them is worth it. Besides, I was able to catch up on my school work at a different time.
In conclusion, my schedules are “wild” but I love them because they help me become a better person and law student.
10/22/08 – 8:45 p.m. – At Home
Last week, I talked about “L” and this week, I am going to share with you the “A.”
“A” stands for “Attitude.” Specifically, positive “Attitude.” As someone who has been a law student for ten weeks, I feel as though I am under a great deal of stress. In fact, stress has become an integral part of my life. Why? I want to be a good student, which means meeting deadlines for papers, briefing cases, keeping up with my outlines, and other important law school responsibilities.
With all of these responsibility-driven stressors, I am cautious not to let myself have a negative attitude, which could easily run over into my personal life. Though it would be easy to think negatively, I try to remember that my law school responsibilities – deadlines, case briefing, standing up and speaking in class, future employment, student loans, and many other “facts”– are just different forms of responsibilities that I will face as a lawyer – deadlines, office expenses, briefs, motions, reputation, retirement, living expenses, etc.
With that in mind, I try to address the stress of law school the same way that I expect to address the responsibilities of being a lawyer: I work hard, I meet my deadlines, I participate, and I stay focused. Just as important is that I try to make time for myself, my family, and my God. School is very important, and being a lawyer is very important. Yet, my sanity is also very important! In the end, a positive “Attitude” is important for all aspects of my present and future life.
10/15/08 – 9:51 PM – At Home
Last week, I shared with you my answer to the question: “What does it mean to be a law student?”
For “L,” I said that “laziness has no place in law school.” That is very true for me today. As you know, law school and the Socratic Method usually go hand-in-hand. When I enrolled in law school, I braced myself for this teaching style, and vowed that I would be prepared to face the Socratic Method whenever I crossed paths with it. I have tried to be ready for the inevitable day of our meeting, but I have not been tested – until today.
Today, a professor called my name. With apprehension, I stood and “faced” the Socratic Method for the first time. What was it like? Well, it was not as terrorizing as I expected. There may be a lot of reasons why I made it through this “terror,” but the best explanation that I can think of is that I was prepared for class. For better or worse – I believe for the better – hard work and preparation “armed” me for battle. In the end, I am glad that I finally faced the dreaded Socratic Method. The encounter proved that laziness has no place in law school.
10/8/08 – 1:25 PM – At Home
What does it mean to be a law student? Different law students will give you different answers. This week, I will share with you my answer:
L – “Laziness” has no place in law school.
A - Positive “Attitude” towards studying is very important.
W - Anticipate “Wild” schedules so you won’t panic.
S - Willingness to “Sacrifice” your recreation time for schoolwork.
T - Know how to divide your “Time” wisely among your schoolwork, your family and yourself.
U - Readiness to “Unlearn” old ideas and learn new ideas. Common sense and law do not usually go together, so do not linger with an "it does not make any sense" attitude. Often, law just does not make any sense to me.
D - Do not forget your “Devotion” to your family in the midst of your hectic schedule.
E – “Encourage” each other not to give up.
N - Do not “Neglect” your course outline and case briefs - you will want to have them when your professor calls your name.
T - Watch your health because it is a “Terrible” time to be sick.
S - Do not forget to “Smile,” so you only gain knowledge when you are in law school, not wrinkles.
10/1/08 – 8:06 p.m. – At Home
The first semester is halfway over and final examinations are near, which means that it is already time to prepare for finals. My professor for torts recently provided a sample question, and it was due this week. The professor instructed us to treat the question as if it was a question in our final examination, which means we had to complete the question within 45 minutes. Being a law student, or any kind of student for that matter, means being honest and not cheating and following the instructions carefully. Thus, I prepared for the test and did not look at the question until I was ready to meet the challenge. No cheating!
Well, Sunday evening was Test Day. As I set my clock, I could hear my heartbeat and I was scared. When I read the question, my mind started to recite the rules that I memorized earlier, but I became confused. So I took a short break before continuing. The bad news was that I ran out of time. The good news is that I learned that I need to not panic and that I need to take more practice tests.
9/24/08 – 7:43 p.m. – At home
After being in the “world of case law” for six weeks, I have started to understand just how difficult it is to be a lawyer. Going through the different cases in my torts and contracts classes, I found some cases where the opinions defy common sense. Additionally, I am torn between what the opinions say and what I believe to be morally right. I do not know if other students have the same dilemma as I do, so I will share my experiences with you.
A few weeks ago, my torts professor mentioned a case about a man who attempted to break into a house through the roof. Unfortunately for him, the roof was bad and he fell and was injured. I was surprised to hear my professor say that the burglar had the nerve to sue the homeowner, and I was even more surprised to learn that he won the lawsuit. I could not believe it, so I asked my husband about this clear contradiction between (A) common sense, personal responsibility, and morality and (B) the law. Lo and behold, I was hearing it right. He confirmed that there are such cases and that the law will often contradict common sense. Additionally, he forewarned me about the occasional contradiction between (A) legal ethics and professional responsibility and (B) morality. Oh no!
Well, I have never heard of a thief suing a homeowner for injuries suffered while burglarizing someone’s home, and for me, his intent to burglarize the home stripped him of his right to complain about the homeowner’s property. Yet, if I “think like a lawyer” instead of using my common sense, I can see that the reviewing court determined that the homeowner must have had a duty to keep his or her property safe, even from burglars!
I am still amazed about this case, but it helped me realize that to be a good lawyer I have to learn to be objective, study the law, and remember that “morally” right is not always “legally” right.
9/17/08 – 4:45 PM – On board TRE
I will be brief today. I can offer excuses, but the truth is that I am not in any mood to write you a long letter today. I received some bothering news from my parents in the Philippines and I am worried about them.
Anyway, I would like to share with you the result of the comprehensive eye examination that I had last Saturday. You will be pleased to know that my vision is perfect: 20-20. The optometrist, however, encouraged me to use reading glasses because reading books and a computer screen can be very strenuous to my eyes, especially the amount of reading that I have to do in law school. He said that many of his patients who were in law school started out with perfect vision and graduated with eye glasses.
Personally, I do not like wearing eyeglasses. Although, wearing eyeglasses makes me look more like a “scholar” (LOL), they can be very annoying. But, convenience is never an excuse to compromise my health; thus, I started wearing my reading glasses last Sunday.
If you have friends in law school, please advise them that it is not too late to have an eye examination. Who knows, it might even save their vision.
9/10/08 – 8:26 p.m. – At Home
Three weeks ago, my ship, “Learning,” navigated through narrow channels called “cases,” and on the shorelines of these channels were lighthouses called “the issue is whether,” that guided me to my destination of “understanding the law.”
Now, my ship has entered a much broader channel where the shore cannot easily be seen and lighthouses are no longer visible. Nevertheless, sometimes the weather is clear and I can see glimpses of the guiding light, but oftentimes, without the lighthouse or a sextant, I have to rely on the sun (facts), moon (black letter law), and stars (treatises) to guide me to my destination.
Occasionally, I ask myself if this is what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life. Why? Sailing on this ship is no vacation cruise, it is very lonely and it is hard work. Although I visit with other people once in awhile, if I want to be a success, I still have to go back to my ship and guide it to my destination.
If there is a storm, then it can be scary. I have already experienced a “category one” called “assignment” and I made it through. Now I am facing a “category two” called “memo” and to make things worse, there is forecast for a “category three” or worse called “exam.” So I am writing a survival manual called “outline” to help me survive “exam.”
Regardless of how difficult my life is and how scary the journey is, I am enjoying both my life and the journey. That is, Learning takes me to new lands where the experiences are breathtaking and each day has a wonderful sunrise and sunset. I would not trade them for the world.
Learning is my home now, and I am glad that I am here.
9/3/08 – School Lobby
I went to bed at 11:00 last night and my dogs woke me up at 5:30 this morning. I took the train from Dallas at 8:30 and it is now 4:30 in the afternoon and I am still here. I would normally be on the train home by now, but this afternoon is special: my husband is picking me up. This morning, he went to Wichita Falls, Texas for a court appearance and he decided to pick me up on his way home. With my busy school schedule, an opportunity to be with my husband without my books is very hard to pass. In the meantime, I am using my “spare time” to write to you.
King Solomon said that there is a time for everything. A few months ago was my time to rest, now it is time to study. Nevertheless, even though I am busy with my class work, I know that it is important that I “make” time for my family (my husband and two greyhounds). After all, what good is success in school and failure in my personal life? The balance between the two is not easy, but it is worth the effort.
8/27/08 – 5:20 p.m.
I am not a fan of the color red. Red does not go well with my complexion. I like brown, blue, black, pink and white. When it comes to assignments, red is not a good sign. So when our first assignment was returned I was anxious.
If you are thinking that it was filled with red marks, you are wrong. In fact, there was no red in it, not even a period. Are you surprised? I bet you are.
Well, the reason I did not have any red on my paper is not because I am a good writer, but because we have a very understanding professor. Instead of using red, he used blue. So my paper was marked with blue, one of my favorite colors. Blue also makes the corrections easier to read.
Why am I sharing these thoughts with you? As you may remember, I am a Filipina and I was a teacher. As a Filipina and former teacher, I believe learning should be enjoyable. And my LARW professor is very creative in making our learning enjoyable, which, thankfully, I can also say is true of my other two professors.
Indeed, law school is difficult and challenging, but it is not “red.”
8/20/08 – 4:48 p.m. - On board TRE to Dallas.
The first day of school is over and I am still alive! AMAZING!
I went to class this morning with butterflies in my stomach. Who would not be scared? Just imagine, Socratic method + random questioning + standing in a big class + question after question + a cold room = ... I do not even want to think about it.
To make matters worse, when the Torts professor entered the room there was silence. It was like everything just stopped. Then, the professor smiled. That smile was like cold water on a warm day, very refreshing. I do not know about the rest of the class, but that is exactly how I felt. Growing up in a country that emphasized relationships more than anything else, a smile is very important. Anyway, I had a wonderful time. I can honestly say that I enjoyed my first day of law school. Overwhelming? Yes, but very beneficial.
Learning law is hard. Learning how to think like a lawyer is harder. Learning how to think like an “American” lawyer is the hardest for me. Can I make it? Yes I can, with the school's help, hard work, emotional support from my husband and lots of prayers.