Undergraduate School: University of Texas - Arlington
Undergraduate Major: Civil/Environmental/ Structural Engineering
Hometown: Tehran, Iran
Status: Part-Time Evening
12/19/12 - So the finals (and all the sweat, tears, and blood) are over. This semester I was literally one of the very last people to leave the library. One of my exams was a take home test and I decided to “take it” the very last day. I turned it in having only 20 minutes (out of 24 hours) left to spare. As I was leaving the library, I looked around and saw no one. This was pretty sad. But I was happy to be done.
The business did not end at the end of my finals. The morning after my exams ended, I left for New York. Currently I am at a café in the Upper West Side writing this. I still do have my Journal paper, which is due next Wednesday. Now you are probably thinking, “Why go to NYC if you are not done?” Well, the tickets were almost half the price for this week. Unfortunately, I can’t control myself if I find cheap tickets. I am like a stereotypical girl at a shoe store when it comes to buying tickets. If it’s a good deal, I will get it regardless of whether I need it.
I do feel like most of us (as a class) have shifted our focus from school to future jobs. Walking around this past couple of weeks, I could clearly see how most of the 2 or 3Ls were more relaxed than the 1Ls (at least it looked that way). I think the reality has been slowly seeping into our head that our GPA and ranks are not going fluctuate as much unless we get unexpectedly low or high grades (which is statistically improbable). So most people have “chilled” out now, for the most part. Okay, that is all I have to say for this blog. See you guys in January!
11/14/12 – Well, the best and the worst time of year is upon us. It’s the best time of the year because of Thanksgiving and Christmas, and of course my birthday on December 21st. Unfortunately, my birthday has always been overshadowed by Jesus’ birthday. I don’t know why people think it is okay to give me one birthday gift. If you are reading this you need to give me two gifts: one for my birthday and the other for Christmas (I will also accept one gift if it has twice the value of a birthday gift). All my family is here in Dallas this year. I am excited to see everyone.
It is also the worst time of the year for most law students because it is so close to our finals. Ask any law student and s/he will tell you that their Thanksgiving break was consumed by outlining, reading, and in general worrying about the finals. Our first final is on December 3rd which is really, really close. Right now I am finishing my paper for the Property Journal (as it is due right after our finals). I am also planning on traveling for a bit this holiday season. I figured this is the last chance for me to travel freely. If everything goes according to plan, I will graduate next December. I will not be able to travel next Christmas because I will be pulling all-nighters for this little bitty exam we call the Bar (even the sound of that makes me scared).
This year, I will finish my exams and go to New York City for 4 days. I will then come back to Dallas for another 5 days. Then I will leave for Rome, and then Tehran, and then will stay in Amsterdam for one day before coming back to Dallas. With all that travelling in mind and my family being in the other room (as am writing this), it is very hard to concentrate on my outlining. Wish me luck on my exams!
10/31/12 - Nothing important and earth shattering has happened since last time that I blogged. Either that or the fact there is so much going on this semester, no news really stands out anymore.
I did finish one of my classes (Trademark Law) a couple of weeks ago. This was a fast-paced class that took a little more than half of the semester. Our professor was either very pregnant or had swallowed a basketball sized tiny little human. I believe she actually delivered on the day of our final. I would be worrying about my grade, but given the fact that our professor just had a baby, I think it is safe to assume that we will not be getting our grades anytime soon (I don’t blame her, I would not want to grade the finals either). I don’t really know what Texas Wesleyan Law has polluted the water with, but three of the ladies on the Property Journal and two of my classmates are pregnant at this point. Besides cramming for Trademark Law, I have been only doing one thing - researching for my paper for the Property Journal. Unfortunately I can’t talk about this, as everything is anonymous.
Overall, I do have to admit that I now understand why our school does not allow students to take more than 16 hours per semester. I also understand the policy that doesn’t allow students to work more than 20 hours while taking a full load. I have been working and taking 17 hours, and I have to admit I cannot wait to finish this semester, as it has definitely beat me down.
Every time I am frustrated or exhausted (or both), I think of my plans for this December and it makes me feel a little better. I am planning on traveling for most of the month off. I love and, most importantly, need to take a little time for myself by traveling. So far I am planning on stopping over somewhere in Europe and then traveling to the Middle East for the Christmas. I will let you guys know more when I have purchased my tickets.
10/3/12 - This semester has been a little too crazy. Over the summer I received a letter stating that I have been invited to write on the journal. Our school offers two journals: Law Review and Real Property Journal. I went through the painful “writing on” process (mainly because it was summer and I was working and taking class, so it was not a pleasant time to be writing a paper), and SOMEHOW I was able to trick everyone on the board of the Property Journal that I am a decent writer (maybe they just felt bad for me?).
Anyhow, I was accepted for the Journal and signed up. Both journals essentially consist of a group of students who research about certain areas of the law and write scholarly papers. I am a member of the Property Journal, meaning my topics are limited to property-related issues. Being a member satisfies one credit hour and the rigorous writing requirement for our school’s curriculum. Even though this is only one hour, we work A LOT for that one hour. I can confidently say that I have stressed more for this one-hour class than any other class in law school.
As junior staff, our job is mainly to check the work of authors selected for publication. This means we have to check the cites fully (and by fully I mean we need to check the structure of the cite and then check and make sure the proposition made in the paper correctly matches with the content of the cited material) check the grammar, and the structure of the paper; and this is only half of what we do. The other half of what staff members do is to write their own papers. Of course, you can’t write about obvious points of the law or subject previously discussed by a billion different legal publications - you have to find a novel issue.
Fortunately we are now done with the cite checks. Today is the last day for the grammar check and after today I can devote all my journal time to researching my own paper. I am actually pretty excited to be writing about this topic as it is close to my heart. However I can’t discuss the topic with you yet (yes, I just brought up the topic to mess you your heads).
9/19/12 - So as I mentioned before, I am taking 17 hours this semester. The maximum hours allowed for students is 16. I actually had to write a letter to the Dean of Academic Affairs and ask for an “overload”.
As we move into our 6th week of the semester, I am realizing why our faculty and staff are reluctant to allow overloads. I am exhausted. One of the 17 hours is the Property Journal. I am very glad that I was selected to be on this journal, but it is more work that I anticipated.
On top of everything else, I accepted a clerkship with the Federal Trade Commission. I was not planning on working this semester but the opportunity came along and they extended an offer. Even though these clerkships are unpaid, they are extremely valuable in terms of experience. I am already learning new things and drafting interesting documents.
The problem is that I am always late to everything. This semester I have been caught unprepared a couple of times. I am late to everything school related. Unfortunately, I am writing this blog about a week after its original deadline. I need to think long and hard and make sure I can get everything done. I will let you guys know how that is going/not going.
9/6/12 - As I have mentioned last time, this semester I am taking 17 hours of classes. The maximum we can take is 16 hours, so I had to get approval from Dean Short to take 17 hours.
This semester I am taking Evidence, Business Association, Intellectual Property, Trademark and Unfair Competition, and ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution). I was also admitted into the Property Law Journal, which is one credit hour pass/fail. To be honest, I think I have worked more for the one-hour journal than any other class so far. Just seconds ago, I turned in an assignment which was to proofread a paper. I have proofread papers before but nothing like this.
In the Journal, we have to identify the problem, then go to our Redbook and actually state the grammar rule which has been violated; and that makes it not so fun. As a part of the staff, we also have to cite check other author’s future published papers. In addition to all of that work, we get to research and write our own paper. If we are lucky, we might get chosen to be published next year. AND THEN, the students for next year get to proofread our citations and content. I haven’t really started to fully “get into it” yet, but I will let you guys know how that plan is going next time.
8/29/12 – Well, we are back. Unfortunately this summer was not really as fun as last summer. I didn’t nearly do as much as I did last year. However, “not fun” is not the same as uneventful. I was able to impress a named partner of law firm into hiring me for a summer associate offer.
It began a couple of days after I finished the spring semester. I shared an office with a first-year associate. I have to say, this was a very good experience for me. Besides the exciting cases, clients, and topics of the law, I got to sit in mediations and depositions. I even sat in on a trial and observed an associate as he did his voir dire (a process of picking the jury). If you don’t know what it is yet I’ll let your Civil Procedure professor explain all of that to you). On top of the full time job at the law firm, I took a night class focused on Oil and Gas in Texas.
Don’t think that my summer was all work and no play. I did get to travel a little bit. It was only for a week, but I got to visit my good friend who is a photojournalist in Mexico City. I do have to admit that place is different than what I expected.
For this semester I have decided to switch to the full time program. I am taking 17 hours. More on that in my next blog…
5/9/12 - Now the finals are over and we can relax a bit. Finishing the finals is both relieving and scary at the same time.
Relieving because we all can look normal again; for the past three weeks most of us have been walking around like homeless people, it’s hard to shave, shower, do laundry, put make up on, or in general care for most law students when they have million concurrent law-school-related thoughts. Most girls walk around with makeup on and their hair “done” towards the beginning of the semester, but come finals you’ll find that most girls in the library have no makeup and are wearing sweat pants, t-shirts, and hats. It was fascinating because some girls looked COMPLETELY different without their makeup (so I guess during the finals period you also learn how some girls really look like). Personally, I didn’t shave for 3 weeks so I looked like a “hobo.”
Scary because for the last three weeks of the semester, all everyone considers is finals, and then the moment that they are over, a few people will be freaking out about their grades and class rank. We part time evening students become eligible for Law Review this semester. Law Review automatically takes the top 10%, of our class, therefore overwhelming majority of students don’t have to worry about that. Additionally there are the people who are in the top 7% and they are mathematically guaranteed a spot in Law Review, so they also don’t have to worry about anything. Unfortunately a few of us are in the potential Law Review zone (top 7-15% which is close enough to be in Law Review or fall out of the top depending on how they did this semester). This group will be worrying the most about their test results. Since I am in that zone, I am pretty anxious to see how I did academically. Unfortunately it takes our professors and school administrators a while to actually grade everything and give us our rankings. This time is also scary for me because I have just passed the half way mark for my law school. Currently, I have 51 out of 90 required hours. At this pace, I will finish law school faster than my program. Now this is scary because there is no way back.
There are many reasons that we all have come to law school. Some have come to impress their friends or parents, some have come to be like their parents, some did not have any other options, some have come for money, and some came here to pursue their dreams. I am not exactly sure which category I fit in. I only know that I don’t fit in the “no other option” category. I was a practicing engineer before I even thought of doing the LSAT. I was making relatively good money, working an average of 50 hours per week, and had all the free time in the world (isn’t it crazy that now I think of a full time job as having free time ?).
I chose to come to law school mainly because of the challenge. I think, subconsciously, I am a challenge seeker. This didn’t occur to me till someone pointed it out. One of my friends basically told me that I like to pursue hard tasks and then complain about how hard it is. The more I think about this, the more I realize that she is right. I had an option to be a full time law student, quit my job, or not take summer classes and relax over the summer, but I chose not to. I guess I always had a vision of how my life would be by 30 and I wasn’t close to that, so I chose to switch to law. As I get closer to that age, I realize that maybe I am still not close enough or maybe law school was not the right choice and that’s why I am a little frightened. In the meantime, I was lucky to get a summer associate position in a law firm in Dallas, so I will be working here.
4/25/12 - So if you are a student reading this, I have to ask: What are you doing on this blog? Go study for your finals! If you are not a student, then you may proceed.
So as you have guessed we have our finals this next week, and for a few unlucky students (yours truly included), the tests will carry on the week after that as well.
It is that time of the year. Most students have this puzzled, dead in-the-eye look as they walk around. Our caffeine consumption has tripled over the past week. I do have to thank our awesome librarians for providing free coffee. It is around 11 PM right now, and I am sitting in a packed library.
Unfortunately, I can’t write much (for obvious reasons), so until next time...
4/4/12 - My carpool buddy and I often count the weird things that we see while commuting to school. I thought I would share that with all of you:
• A blue Honda that decided, without any reason or justification, take a turn on Interstate 30 directly into the median. I swear the guy was going straight and then just changed lanes, when he hit the median and then KEPT ON GOING STRAIGHT without stopping.
• A police chase: I’m driving down Interstate 30 and I see an old car going at least 90 mph. As I am complaining to my friend that “cops only stop people who go a little bit over the speed limit, while the real maniacs like this guy always get a way,” we see maybe 8 police cars in pursuit. Unfortunately, by the time I got home the chase was apparently over, so it was not on TV.
• White middle-aged dad rapping: This one is my favorite. Yesterday, we saw a typical “family man” rapping and making hand gestures similar to Tupac. This has been the weirdest thing ever - to be stopped in traffic next to a guy in a suit in a Saturn be rapping out loud.
3/21/12 - When you commute for an hour every day, you develop ways to amuse yourself. I am one of the luckier ones because I have a carpool buddy. First semester, when most of us were simply freaked out about law school, my carpool buddy and I would brief cases for each other as if we were called on by the professor. One of us would explain the case and the other would throw in questions just like the professors do in the Socratic method (by the way, I am not a big fan of Socrates because he is the reason that I have lost so much sleep, but that is besides the point).
Second semester, like most of other students, we both relaxed a bit and decided to only state the rules for the cases. Now we are in out forth semester and have relaxed quite a bit (which is not necessarily a good thing), and basically just talk about everyday things. I have found my commute to be a good venting place because I mainly complain about my job and how school has impaired my ability to have a social life.
2/29/12 - I have been thinking about my transition into the legal field. I have decided that the sooner I make this transition the better. The 60-70% salary cut from my previous job hurts a lot less when I am still a law student. This goes perfectly hand in hand with lessened expectations since I am in school. Simply put, I wouldn’t mind being an intern now, but I hate to graduate from law school and find myself interning at the age of 30. I think I will be 30 years old by the time I graduate (maybe a little younger).
I have started interning at a family law firm here in Dallas. Family law was not the reason I came to law school. In fact, I never even thought I would be doing family law. I studied engineering and worked as an associate in a consulting engineering firm. My plan remains the same. I would like to practice in the field of intellectual property. However, I like working at this law firm.
At this point of my career any experience is good experience. I am learning new things on daily basis, and the majority of what I am doing is what I learned back in our LARW class. LARW is the Legal Analysis, Research and Writing class that is a part of the lockstep curriculum (mandatory classes).
2/15/12 - This past week was a little uneventful. Don’t get me wrong, people were still called on in pretty much all of my classes, but somehow I managed to escape that by hiding behind my classmates.
I think I could write a book on how not to get called on in class. The trick is to:
1. NEVER look into the professor’s eyes;
2. Change your name to something hard/foreign-sounding: when your name is “Kamyar Maserrat,” most people don’t dare pronounce it because they already know whatever they say is going to be wrong. So they pick a name like “John,” “Jeremy,” or “Natalie.” See? Being an immigrant has its advantages sometimes - notwithstanding the fact that my reading speed is lower than my classmates and I sometimes have to pay a little visit to Mr. Dictionary;
3. Make sure you are not late to class;
4. Make sure you read, because none of the above factors/elements have actually been scientifically, statistically, or even “common sensory” proven.
So when you do get called on, you don’t want to get up and read off of an old outline you received from your buddy who is a lawyer. Why, you ask? Because it is very obvious when someone is called on and doesn’t know what is going on with the case.
2/1/12 - One of the disadvantages of being a night student is not always being able to take “lockstep” classes in their recommended order. Lockstep classes are the ones that the ABA requires every accredited law school to offer to law students. They are mandatory and are on the Bar (as far as I know).
On your first day of law school, you are assigned a section. Everyone in that section will be taking the lockstep classes together. The list consists of: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Torts, Property, Legislation & Regulation, and LARW’s (the writing and researching classes). As a full time student, you have all these classes and pretty much finish them at the end of your first year. As a night student, however, you are forced to divide them throughout your first two years. You are allowed to take some other non-lockstep classes along the way (as long as they do not have pre-requisite criteria which you cannot satisfy).
Now why do I think this is a disadvantage? Well, something occurred to me last night. There are many common philosophies and policies behind certain fundamental legal theories. These sacrosanct legal theories are the driving force for much of the common law that we are learning. If studied at the same time, these philosophies make more sense (in the context of why we do certain things a certain way).
Last night in Constitutional Law, I realized that I had misunderstood the subject matter jurisdiction last semester in Civil Procedure. As Prof. Rambo (YES, that’s her real name, and YES, I wish my last name was similar to a fictional character who single handedly killed many people in a theatrical manner) was explaining another unrelated subject, the subject matter jurisdiction finally clicked for me. Why am I telling you all this? Well, I think that is something to think about as you decide on whether to apply for a part time or full time program.
1/18/12 - Here is an embarrassing story that happened last week:
Last Friday, we had a dinner for all Bloggers and Ambassadors. I am positive that I received an email with all the details about the event. Unfortunately, I was traveling (at least that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it), and I didn’t really pay attention to the email. The thing is, last time we had a Blogger dinner, it was just us Bloggers and we basically just hung out and had fun. I mistakenly assumed that this time was going to be the same.
I WAS WRONG.
I walk in the Conference Center and I hear a bunch of people. I stroll in (needless to say, I was a little late) and I am astonished to my bones to realize that the event is more like a black-tie event. Am I dressed for the event? NOOOOOO and far from it. I was dressed in my beat up jeans and a Texas Wesleyan hoodie. As I am standing at the back of the room, Dean Hurst says (on the microphone), “Kamyar, don’t be shy, come on in.” This results in every single person turning around and seeing that I am unshaved and not dressed for the event. And BTW, just to add a little information about the event – many of the Deans and some of their significant others were there, as well as a few other faculty and staff. I just sat in my spot, did not move, and left the first chance I had.
So as you can see, I am trying to lay low and not draw too much attention to myself at least for a couple of weeks.
1/11/12 – Hi, blog readers. We are back for yet another exciting semester of fun at the place we like to call the law school (add heavy sarcasm here). Since nothing exciting has happened yet, I will talk about my break.
For the break, I decided to do the only thing that I have actually learned how to do in my life - traveling. I visited some family in Washington D.C. for a week, and then traveled to the Bay area in California for about two full weeks. San Francisco is one of my favorite places in the whole world. The weather is a little chilly all the time, the scenery is awesome, and the people are cool. I had a chance to spend NYE by the bay and saw the spectacular fireworks over the infamous Alcatraz prison. This was my fourth time visiting the Bay area, but my first time visiting inside the Alcatraz. The history of the prison is fascinating and the only thing that could top it is the story of the few who actually got away. As an engineer, I was astonished to learn how they cut through reinforced concrete with a spoon!
I know that this semester will be hard work and will bring much unwanted stress, but I have actually grown to like law school. I don’t know, maybe I have developed Stockholm syndrome (Google that If you don’t know what it is).
12/14/11 - Finals are finally over. It is crazy, but I feel like there is something more that I need to be reading and memorizing.
After exams, law students can be divided into three major categories:
1) People who are happy about how they did on the test. These people keep saying how great the test was and how they finished so early, and that’s why they left halfway through the test. They are the ones who invite you to different activities on Facebook; they try to organize group activates at bars and stuff.
2) People who are really upset. They complain about the test, conductor, time, font of the test, professor’s attitude, professor’s order of covering the material, and everything else. People in these two groups generally find out, in about a month, that there is a mandatory curve in law school, and how they did counts less than how they did relative to others.
3) People who know they have done well (relative to others), but will still say things like, “OMG, I know I’m gonna get a “C” in all my classes.” They’re not fooling anyone.
There are also people in our law school who actually give a perfect evaluation to all professors. They think, somehow pursuant to some crazy evil scheme and a diabolical conspiracy theory, that professors will recognize their evaluations and this will have a negative impact on their grade.
I just wanted to say that, besides showing borderline paranoia problems, this is a terrible thing to do. Not only they are sabotaging the whole idea of the evaluation, but also they are letting professors shape some of their curriculum toward a false sense of approval by the students. My advice to those people is to get off of their unicorn, leave Narnia, and do a fair and just evaluation of their professors. I am sure our faculty has more important things to than play CSI: Wesleyan to find out who wrote which evaluation.
11/22/11 – It is that dreaded time of the semester again, the time for procrastinators to look back and say, “Man, I wish I had studied more.” My first final is exactly a week away, and I am most definitely NOT ready for it. I don’t know whether I am too harsh of a judge on myself or I am actually not ready, but I am not feeling good about the test right now.
Especially at this moment, since I am sitting on a plane going to Washington D.C. for Thanksgiving, and then going to New York for 4 days. At the time I purchased the plane ticket, I had decided to start my examination routine a little earlier. I certainly did not end up doing that. I am traveling with 10 pounds of books, so hopefully I will be able to study a bit over there. My study partner and I are supposed to Skype over the weekend and study but, again, we shall see. It is going to be really hard to study in one of my favorite places in the world.
My first exam is Civil Procedure. Our professor has already told us that the test is going to be hard. Usually professors say the opposite – they assure us that the test won’t be tricky, yet we all walk out looking confused. I am not going to worry about this test too much, mainly because all the students are on a curve. As long as we are all in the same boat, I will be fine.
10/26/11 - So I have decided to take the train from Dallas to Fort Worth for a week as a test run. To be honest, I had never used any sort of public transportation in DFW before. I do have to say that I was greatly impressed with the quality of DART (which is basically a metro/train line). The trains are very clean, the seats are not torn up, and they arrive on time. Overall, I have to say that DART is the nicest metro I have seen in my life. It is much better than the NYC subway, DC metro, or any other metro I have used in Europe and the Middle East (I have used a lot). Although the lines are really under developed and there room for improvement, it really works well for me, since the station is 15 minutes away from my apartment.
Yesterday, I lost my ticket while on the train and an undercover DART police officer came up to me out of nowhere for a random ticket check. I looked and looked, but I just couldn't find the ticket to save my life. I still don't know what happened to that ticket. The police officer was not convinced AT ALL by my story and pulled me out of the train and wrote me a citation. It was pretty embarrassing, considering the fact that the HOMELESS person next to me started shaking his head in disapproval (even that dude wasn't convinced). But don't worry about me - I paid it with my credit card and have kept my receipt, so I can appeal and prove to them that I really did purchase a ticket. The cop didn't even let me show her my credit card receipt! Anyways, that's all I have for today.
10/12/11 - As I sit on the curb for an hour looking at my friend’s car that won’t turn on, I say to myself, “Whatever happened to my positive karma?” But in order for that to make sense, I need to take you guys back a couple of weeks:
One Sunday, I decided to go and have brunch with a friend, catch up, and what not. She has been in London for a couple of years and just came back to Dallas. As I park my car in front of her apartment, an old lady asks for my help. As it turns out, she is out of gas. Displeased and shocked that she would call me out while there were so many other people in a park across the street, I go and talk to her. Of course, I didn’t act displeased; as a matter of fact I told her I would be glad to go to a gas station, buy a container and gas it up and come back. Why? Because I am a nice idiot.
So I do exactly that. Does it work? NO because her car has other problems too. So she ever so pleasantly asked me to go and get her more gas. Do I do it? Yes. Why? Well, I think you know the answer. So after two trips to a gas station and gas all over my clothes, jumper cables, and what not (basically 45 minutes later), her car is running and she leaves for work. I missed the brunch, but at least I created good karma - or so I thought.
Now fast forward two weeks. Since I have been constantly complaining about Dallas’ lack of artistic activities to my friends, they tell me about a jazz concert in downtown Dallas. They pick me up and we are on our way to the concert as the car gets a flat tire. We stop and fix the problem, only to discover that his car won’t start. All we needed was a jump.
I counted 8 cars that decided to completely ignore us, as we yelled at them and asked them to stop and help us. One guy even stopped and said he would help, but then decided to hit the gas and leave. It took an hour and a half before someone stopped and helped us. As I was sitting on the curb, I thought to myself, “Whatever happened to my positive karma?”
9/28/11 - Over the past week, I was able to hang out with some of my old college (undergraduate) friends. I have a good friend who is a photojournalist - he basically lived with the Mexican cartel in Juarez for about 18 months, and was able to take some very nice pictures. In case you don’t know, Juarez is pretty much the headquarters for the cartel. My friend was back in Texas for a lecture at University of Texas and an interview for NPR. It was a little weird listening to my friend on a serious show on NPR. I was able to attend his show, which was very nice. The reality is that there is a war going on not that far away from where we live. More people have died in Mexico than in Afghanistan in the past year. Seeing old friends is a good way of gauging where you are in life. Seeing my photo journalist friend and his success, I couldn’t help but notice that I am not doing much with my life besides law school. I need to “diversify” a little bit.
Here is an interesting observation about law school: most law students are “failures”. Let me explain: in law school, 100% of everyone’s attention is consumed on studying, outlining, and getting a good grade, all so they can be in the top 10-20% of their class. When you objectively look at this, you realize that 80-90% of them are “failing” at this goal, though they are giving it their very best efforts.
9/14/11 - I noticed that I haven’t talked about my classes this semester. This fall, I am enrolled in four different classes. Two of them, Civil Procedure and Legislation Regulation, are “lockstep” courses (meaning mandatory for everyone to take). I am also taking Payment Systems and Texas Legal Research.
Payment Systems is a very interesting class, probably the most interesting class I have had in law school so far. This class basically deals with the different payment methods (duh…right?), i.e. what happens when someone steals a check, fraudulently forges your signature, and cashes it at one of those quick cash places. Who is responsible for the loss? Well, take this class and you will be informed of who will bear the loss and under what circumstances.
In Civil Procedure we learn about the procedural rules for civil litigation (duuhhh again. Right?) We have so far learned where would be the proper place to bring a suit. How can we bring these suits, you ask? I have no idea yet - we haven’t started that part yet. For the record, I do have to admit that when I walked into class on the first day, I thought the professor was a student. It must be nice to be an accomplished professor at such a young age. Next time, I will talk about my two other classes.
8/31/11 – The past couple of weeks have been very uneventful. Going to class, doing the reading, getting called on… I have to say the highlight of my week was getting called on and actually getting the question right. My friend and I were discussing a particular problem before class and couldn’t combine our opinions into one unified answer. I go to class, and guess what? I get called on about the same exact problem (I know, it’s amazing right? If I were 100% sure about the answer, I would have never been called on). So I get up and answer in the most unsure tone of voice you can possibly imagine, and am surprised when the professor tells me I am actually right.
I don’t know if I should be happy or sad that the highlight of my week is getting called on and actually knowing the answer. That is the life of a law student, I guess.
Hopefully next time you guys check in, I will have a more interesting story to talk about.
8/17/11 - So I am sitting in a coffee shop right now. My Civil Procedure book is open right in front of me. However, I am not really studying. I am not studying because I am not yet very motivated to study. As I open my computer up and see a very nice picture on the desktop, I can’t help but think of great experiences that I had over the summer.
I did a study abroad program in Nice, France. When that program was over, I stayed and traveled around in Europe a little bit. I made friends with some French law students who showed me lots of places that don’t attract many tourists (and that’s why it was so much fun). I pretty much traveled through the whole French Riviera, and then Paris (of course). After Paris (not the one in Texas) was Frankfurt and then Tehran. After a couple of weeks there, I visited Toronto. Finally, two months later, I came back to Dallas. Seconds after getting off of the airplane, I was dazzled by how great the weather is in Dallas (I am kidding; it was like 115 degrees when I got back).
So I calculated the distance that I traveled, and it came out to about 19,000 miles (which really surprised me, because the diameter of Earth is a little less than 8,000 miles). I slept for a good 17 hours when I got back, mainly because European beds are not that great.
All that fun, new people, food, culture, cool places, and awesome parties in Europe, and now I have to read Civ Pro :(
5/11/11 – My first year of law school is finished. This semester went by ridiculously fast. I remember at the beginning of the semester that I said to myself, “Whenever I get a chance, I will buy a notebook, transfer my notes from my book to the notebook, and keep them organized.” Well, the semester went by so fast I did not even get a chance to transfer my notes. On the test, I just used my book. Speaking of tests, I think it should be a felony to give this hard of a test. Thank God for the mandatory curve. I would be very upset if our grades were absolute. After speaking to some classmates, I realized that most people found our tests hard, so I should be okay. I am not going to stress out as much about my grades as I did last semester (see? I say that now but in about a week, I will start worrying about my grades, and more importantly, my ranking).
OK, now I am going to focus on good things and try to get my mind off those tests; I met many cool people this past year and learned many new things. I think most of our classmates who worked learned about the depth of their capabilities and did things they never thought they could. If you told me two years ago that I would go to work for eight hours, then drive one hour to school, sit in class for three, then drive back and hour, and oh, by the way, do that four times a week, I would have told you something like “No way! You are crazy.” As most students with jobs found out, that plan is indeed possible. As far as students without a job? I do not know if they have really learned anything about their capabilities. I still do not understand why they wouldn’t just go through the full time day program. (Can you tell I am bitter about how unfair it was to compete with people who have all the time in the world?)
For summer, I have decided to travel a little bit and not take any summer courses. I am sure the law school will still be here when I get back. It is only six weeks. If anyone wants to visit, I will be in Nice (the city not the adjective).
4/27/11 - We had our citation exam on Monday and it was hard. I mean, I usually do not complain about tests, but this one was harder than normal. As I was taking the test, I kept admiring the effort that it must have taken our professors to find some random cases with formats with which most of the students are unfamiliar. It is practically an ART to find these obscure unpublished cases. However, it is all good because we are all on a relative curve. In law school, you do not need to get an “A”; you just need to be better than others. In addition, the citation exam was 10% of our total grade, so I am going to put that behind me.
Our first final exam, which is 100% of our grade, is exactly seven days away. My other final is only four days after that. I have planned my time so I can hit all the major points of the book and review it with my friend. I am not in the “full panic” mode yet, but I will be soon. This semester I will not (well, I will try not to) make the same mistake as the last semester. I will come to school early so I can get a room where we can freely discuss things.
4/20/11 – Last Sunday was the Phi Delta Phi initiation dinner. I was a part of many organizations in undergrad, but none was academic or honor society in nature. I mainly did not care to join anything that had to do with academics. It is a different story now. In fact, I think I have matured more in the past year than I did in my four years of undergrad. I bet if any of my undergrad classmates heard my day schedule, they would laugh and say, “No way could that guy pull that off.”
Our exams are approaching fast. We are finished with our writing class. The only thing left is a citation exam, which is coming this Monday. Since writing is not my strongest skill, I need to do really well on this exam. I cannot wait until we are done with this semester and I can go out with my friends and have a social life again. I have not exactly planned what to do with my summer yet. My options are to do nothing (well, I still have to work full time), take summer classes here in Texas, or travel. I will most probably combine the last two and do a study abroad program. That is the one thing I never did in undergrad. I will keep you guys posted on the plan after the citation exam.
4/13/11 - Last week, I got a question from an admitted student about what I think he should do the summer before he starts law school. I personally think you need to do what I wanted to do, but did not get to do. Go on a vacation, play golf, tennis, and above all, RELAX. Many people (some in our class) thought it was a good idea to do the required reading. I know a couple of people who had read half of the book by the second week of class. That really intimidated the rest of us in the first weeks. We were just learning where the bathrooms were, and they were talking about elements of intentional tort.
My opinion on this matter is that it was a good way to show the professor that they could answer every single question, and it was a great work out for their right arm because they were raising it often. However, it only helped them regurgitate case facts. Unfortunately, it did not help them understand concepts. Moreover, it did not help them much in the “making friends” department.
Here is a fun little sequence of events to put things in perspective: this Sunday there is a Phi Delta Phi initiation dinner and only the top 30% are invited. I have not seen any of their names in the email list. I guess what I am trying to say is this - do not burn yourself out by doing too much over the summer.
4/6/11 - As we are getting closer and closer to the end of the semester, I am freaking out more and more. Last semester, by this point, I had more things under control. I still need to do my outlines and start practicing questions. This work thing is really getting in my way of studying. If you are a rich person reading this, please write me a check for my tuition so I can quit my job and concentrate on my school.
Well, we have a trial brief due in 3 days and I need to be working on that. Ciao.
3/30/11 – Yesterday, we got a chance to have “Dinner with the Deans.” This was like the movie Dinner with the Schmucks. Basically, every dean found some special/low IQ student, and whichever dean had the weirdest student would win.
Okay, I’m kidding, it was nothing like the movie.
Night students had dinner and an opportunity to interact and ask questions with different school administrators, faculty, and deans. The idea was very nice. As night students, we don’t get to interact with many people outside our own classmates and professors. After dinner, Dean White opened the room for questions and many good points and concerns were raised.
It was also good to see many of the day students show up and ask questions unrelated to night students (as if day students do not have enough time during the 40-hour span that Dean White is here every single week, they had to ask questions about daytime parking). As a night student, I have never really had a problem with parking. When we get to school, most people are gone for the day so we have plenty of parking spots in which to park.
P.S. I went into the computer lab and saw that we have new computers that run very fast. I would like to thank whoever was responsible for this great mid-semester surprise.
3/23/11 - We are back from a much-needed Spring Break. I had plans to study, brief cases, and work on my trial brief assignment during the break. Did I do any of them? No. Instead, I decided to relax. I went to Austin for the weekend and then “relaxed” a lot (by “relax,” I mean PARTY) On Sunday morning, panic set in and I did my reading, but that was about it. I just do not understand how some people are always focused and can keep their dedication level so high throughout the semester.
“Hard work pays later, procrastination pays now,” right? Well, I am kidding about that. I do not think I procrastinate, but if an opportunity for me to relax presents itself, I will take it. We are getting closer and closer to the end of our second semester, and I give myself two weeks before I go into full panic mode. Until then, I am going to only do the required reading and not anything more.
One of the things that professors drill in your head in law school is to research the answer to a question you are asked, and make sure to not hastily answer it. I have noticed this change in myself. I have been answering questions (at work) with answers like: “Depends, I need to further look into it…” As you can imagine, most people want a definitive answer, so I do not think they are very happy with my answers.
On a different note: What’s up Abigail Brown?
3/9/11 - I have been getting a few emails asking me about the difference of going part time and full time. I figured instead of answering one email I should blog about this. Unfortunately, I do not have much information on full time day students. By the time I get to school, they are usually finished with their day. I do see some of them at the happy hour at a hotel across the street when I walk in to buy coffee, but that is about it.
Last year I had to think long and hard about which program to apply to. Going full time has its advantages; you finish faster, you have more opportunities to be involved in school and extracurricular activities (most of the meetings are during the daytime), you have the ability to focus on your studies. I think the most important one is the last one.
On the other hand going part time allows you to fulfill your personal and professional goals. We have many married students in our section. Most of them talk about how they would like to spend more time with their kids and wife/husband. Taking fewer hours allows you to do exactly that. I am not one of the married ones, but I did not want to leave my job. I only have one more year (out of the five year mandatory required years of engineering experience) left to be a fully certified registered engineer and I didn’t want to give that up. In addition, once you start working and making money, you get used to certain financial stabilities. My suggestion to anyone who is trying to decide on which program to choose is to sit down, make a chart of pro/cons, and consult with the Office of Admissions. They are very helpful about these things. Also, come to one of the school-sponsored events and meet with current students.
3/2/11 - Michelle and I were sitting down in the computer lab today, which was full of first year students (we all had a couple of big projects due). I didn’t know what to write my blog about, and I think God sent me a sign. Michelle’s computer broke almost 30 seconds after I told her about this. Our computer lab is one of my least favorite places. The computers freeze a lot. We have a great IT department, but unfortunately, that great service hasn’t seeped over to our computer lab. I wish there was a way to print directly and wirelessly from laptops.
This week has not been that eventful. One of my good friends is getting married in two weeks, and that means that my friends and I (the boys) had to do our duty and show him a good time over the past weekend (in the form of taking him out on the town and sending him off into married life). Why am I saying this? Because in case any of my professors read this: please don’t call on me because I am not fully prepared this week. Hopefully, I can dodge getting called on. I will update you guys on that.
2/23/11 - I was finally able to muster up enough courage to go see Judge Spurlock (my Contracts professor) and talk about my final from last semester. I was a little worried that he would look at my test and say, “Wait a minute, there seems to be a mistake, your grade got switched with someone else. You actually made a C- (or something along that story line).”
It was actually a very positive experience (and NO, my grade did not go down due to any mistake). Judge told me what he thought about my writing and analytical thinking style. Specifically, he told me that I do not write like an engineer. That is a compliment - most engineers are not very good at writing. I just wish I could somehow transfer that to my writing class.
It is unbelievable how my perception of what I had written on the test was different from what I actually wrote. When time is limited, misspellings and grammar errors creep in your writing and are all over the place. I think I even had a paragraph-long sentence somewhere. I misspelled “because” at least ten different times. That was somewhat embarrassing.
This Monday I have an appointment with Prof. McGrath to see my final test in Torts. We will see how that one goes.
2/16/11 - Many of my friends ask me if my second semester is easier than my first one. The answer to that is NO. It’s basically the same, except we (the 1Ls) have learned to be more efficient. I brief cases, read notes and explanations, pick up the important points a lot faster than the first semester. I have to say that my writing has definitely improved. Do not get me wrong - I’m not saying I’m good, only better than before. However, the volume of work is pretty much the same (I say “pretty much” because last year one of our classes was a four-hour class and this semester we don’t have that).
Now that the new semester excitement has settled, I realize this semester is pretty much like the last one. I still carpool with the same person, study with the same people, talk to the same people in class, study the same way. In addition, I am still envious of people who do not work or have easy jobs. For the record, I am still upset about how some people have all the time in the world to prepare and yet they are included in the same curve. I have just learned to channel this envy and jealousy into studying harder. LOL
Our rankings came out last week. I did OK, but I still have room to improve. I think keeping my ranking where it is right now will be a challenge.
2/9/11 - Well, we are back at school. All the ice has melted and there is no longer any excuse not to study. In a way, this “ice break” was a blessing. I think most of us were tired and needed a mental break (or at least I did).
Our Crim Law professor has a different approach when it comes to the Socratic Method. Unlike McGrath’s method, which was calling on people at random, she assigns teams to be “on call” for that particular day. That means that if you are on call, you need to be extra prepared to discuss the cases, notes, and all the problems. I was one of the people on call last night and it was not fun. I mean, I was prepared and answered the questions, but I was nervous. I do not even know why. I usually do not have any problems talking in public, but last night I was not feeling it. She asked me to do a case, and gave me some follow up questions, and I think I did okay.
In addition, we have a “plea deal” exercise, in which we all have clients who were involved in some legal trouble and need to make a plea deal with the prosecutor. If you are my prosecutor, please go easy on my client, dude. He did not do anything bad – he was only involved in selling cocaine. That is not bad, right?
The memo is due next Monday. I have read many cases, but somehow have a feeling that I am missing something. All the upperclassmen tell me that there is no “golden case” that explains the situation, and that I should not worry so much, but it is hard not to think that some of my classmates have found better cases. Well, we will see.
2/2/11 - Wow. Ice storm. Our school got canceled for four days. I have never seen this many grownups get excited for school closing down since.... well, I have never actually seen anything like this. I have to admit, I was praying hard. I even prayed to other gods just in case one was busy listening to any of my classmates. The only not so good thing about the situation is that some parts of Dallas lost power, and I lost my cable and internet for almost two days and was not able to work on my memo.
So here is the deal - I liked Michelle's blog so much that I refuse to write one this week. Instead, I would like you guys to read her blog from 1/26/11. It’s like she got in my mind and wrote exactly what I was thinking. Michelle, if it makes you feel any better, I have not had a haircut and I desperately need it. Our partners look at me funny every time I pass by their office. Stay warm, everybody.
1/26/11 - Last semester, our memo was due around the halfway mark. This semester we have one due right after the Super bowl. I need to finish the memo before Super bowl weekend. All these people coming into town to party and have a good time; it will be hard to concentrate on the memo. In a way, we are all obligated to show them a good time (See? It’s not my fault; I am obligated to make sure everyone enjoys themselves. There is some unwritten law somewhere). I have to pass a huge countdown to Super Bowl sign on my way to classes every day.
We have learned how to research cases on databases called LexisNexis and Westlaw. These databases basically keep record of every published legal decision. I have been playing around with my new toy for the past couple of nights. It is quite fun!
Well, I have nothing exciting to talk about. I could bore you with case law or how to “keycite” but I will let you get bored when you go to law school.
1/19/11 - I had so much fun during the break that it is hard for me to get back into law school mode. I am a little worried about this semester because I know it is going to be extra hectic at work. We have a big deadline in April and I have already been told that I need to be billing more hours. Regardless of what is going on outside school, I understand that I need to put more effort into school.
I find it very interesting how our class dynamic has changed. Everybody got their grades and kind of knows how most others did; as a result, new groups are being formed and people are sitting away from certain people to be closer to certain others. People who used to talk are now not so cool anymore. I happen to think that consistency is a very important thing (but I could be wrong). I do not really belong in any study group, but I do study with some people and I am not planning to change that. Why change a working formula? Right?
Criminal law cases are crazy. Our readings have so far included a rape/murder case, a child abuse case, an unregistered machine gun case, and to top it off, our lovely book editors added a case that involved four people killing and eating a passenger on a boat. It’s one thing to see these stories in movies/Law and Order S.V.U., and completely another thing to be reading actual testimony of a person who says, “I left the house with intention of killing someone that night…”
P.S. Our rankings are not in yet. Can’t wait to see them.
1/12/11 - This week was a benchmark for old friends reuniting. Righteously embracing each other, they talked about their accomplishments during the break and how they felt about life, people, jobs, etc. Groups were reformed and dazzling intellectual conversations fired up again. The promising conversations culminated in self-propelling plans.
Of course, I am not talking about our law school; I am talking about what seems to be our generation’s biggest event: season premiere of “The Jersey Shore.” Yes, ladies and gents, unfortunately those five or six people on that show are the voice of my generation. Our parent’s generation was brimming with brilliance of Lennon’s, Dylan’s and Marley’s, and we have “Snookie,” “Situation,” and “Jwow”.
Why am I talking about this? Because over the break I heard a bunch of new expressions that I wasn’t familiar with (like “GTL”, or “TTTTTTT shirrrrrttt timeeeee”). “The Jersey Shore” symbolizes all the stuff that we, as a group of 1L’s, have missed over the past 6 months. I was actually happy to see most of my classmates. At least they talk about stuff that I can relate to and am interested in.
Oh, I almost forgot: grades came out last week. I cannot say that I am satisfied but I have to say I did better than I expected. I cannot wait to see my class rank and find out how I did relative to my classmates.
12/15/10 - So here is the update on doing nothing: it did not last that long. Last week, I got a call from my friend and classmate Shawn, telling me that a mutual friend, who is a young lawyer and has his own practice, could use our help. So this is my new gig. I go to the law office after work and do research and help out. I don’t think I can talk about the case because I am pretty sure I would get in trouble.
Unfortunately we have not had Civil Procedure class yet, and I have to look up the terms and motions and other things. I do use a VERY sophisticated and highly intelligent source called Google.
I still cannot stop thinking about the test and the stuff that I did do but should not have done, or didn’t do but should have done. I think this is going to bug me till I actually get my grades.
12/8/10 - As of last night, the madness has ended (well, kind of ended - in about a month we will go back). Now I can go back to being a normal person again. By normal, I mean a person who works eight hours a day. I can only speculate that next semester will be as challenging. The Contracts exam was not as bad as I expected, but Torts was no fun. I know it does not help, but I keep going over what answers I picked, and try to remember and discuss as many questions as possible.
I have decided to do some things differently for the next semester:
1) Do my outline as we cover the material in class;
2) SOMEHOW, develop a higher IQ. If you guys have any magic pills to do that, please send them to me because I really need them.
Tonight I am going to do nothing (which is better than doing anything). I am just going to sit on my beloved recliner and watch TV, and I will enjoy it. I actually think doing nothing is what I have been missing the most. Since school started, I have not been able to mentally relax. I was constantly worried about billable hours at work for eight hours a day, then learning in class for another three hours.
Starting tomorrow, I need to catch up on all the paperwork, chores I have been putting off, and most importantly, my family and friends that I have been ignoring. I owe them A LOT of "hanging out" time.
I have a feeling that many shots at many parties will be consumed ;)
11/23/10 – Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
I have a feeling most people I have met and made friends with this semester will not be celebrating much. I know most of us are actually happy that we have that Thursday off so we can study a little more. This Thanksgiving we will be having Contracts outline and a side of Torts. The only thing good is that we can focus on these two subjects only because our LARW (Legal Research and Writing) ended last week.
To be honest with you, I was never a big fan of the “Black Friday” anyways, so I won’t be missing that at all. I mean, I never really understood the desire of people to not spend time with their family, and to go camp in front of a Best Buy, and then rush inside as soon as the doors are opened to buy something that they never needed to begin with, for a price that was misleading in the advertisement. I went shopping on Black Friday once and spent a bunch of money on things that I have not used so far.
It must be quite an experience for the retailers as well. I mean, it’s kind of like running with the bulls in Spain. People go crazy and try to search every little inch of the store like Magellan.
Wish me luck on my finals. I can’t wait till I finish with the exams and go on vacation. Ciao!
11/17/10 - KARMA IS A B****!
So, I got caught unprepared in Torts. I do not claim to always be prepared, but I usually am. We had a memo due on Tuesday, so I glanced at Torts over the weekend and thought to myself that McGrath would not get to more than eight cases anyways, so it was okay for me to not read the whole assignment.
What do I do? I read eight cases.
Did I count right? Of course not. I actually read only six cases.
Did McGrath call on me on any of the first six cases? No, he calls me for the seventh case.
What do I do? Do I make up an excuse? Do I just try to act as if I did not hear him call my name? Do I just B.S. my way out of it and act as if I know what is going on? NO. I get up like an idiot and say: “Mmmmm I’m sorry I seemed to have miscalculated the number of cases.” That stupid response does not even make any sense.
When someone is not prepared in class and called on, McGrath makes the student pick another person to talk about the case and answer questions. So of course, I had to do that too. I picked the 5th person from the 3rd row. Guess who that was? Shannon (read the blog from 8/25/10 and you’ll see why that’s important).
So does the bad night end here you ask? NO WAY. I got a speeding ticket on my way back home from a lovely Arlington police officer. As I was getting my ticket, I thought to myself, “KARMA IS A B****.”
11/10/10 – The weather in Dallas is not usually my favorite, but every year around this time it gets absolutely awesome. I enjoy it every morning when I get up and go to work; a month from now it’s going to be too cold to enjoy.
Anyways, back to the law school; we are getting closer and closer to the end of the semester. Our first test is on November 29th, and everybody is already freaking out. The volume of the material is intimidating. Our classes will end next week and we will switch to “full panic mode” and go crazy with the books and outlines. For the record, I am already in the 75% panic mode for finals. I think I am going to take a mini vacation and finish up my outlines. Prof. Kelly set up one-on-one conferences for us to just sit and talk about our writing issues, questions, and comments. I had a chance to sit with him yesterday and ask him some specific questions about my memo. It was very, very helpful.
Oh, did I mention we got our Torts test back last night? I almost forgot because my brain is trying to repress the memory. Basically, we all did so poorly that the curve was very narrow. One person got a zero. One person got a seven. And the rest of us (eighty people) got between a one and a five. All I will tell you is that I am neither the zero (THANK GOD), nor the seven :). I want to talk more about the test, but the memory has now been repressed completely, and I don’t remember a single thing from it.
11/3/10 - Ahhhhh the joy of getting the first memo grades:
I personally think I have a disadvantage when it comes to writing. First, English is not my first language. Writing skills require years of practice and I have only been speaking English for nine years. I can write blogs, engineering estimates, letters of opinion for work, but a legal memo is a different animal to deal with.
Second, I majored in something that requires a minimal amount of writing. The main focus of engineering school is mathematics and applied science. Beside the freshman level writing class, I have never had an English class. Law school writing class exposes your weaknesses.
Third and most important, almost nobody else in my class has those two disadvantages. As I have mentioned before, everything is relative in law school. It doesn’t matter what your score is. The only thing that matters is what your score is relative to what others score.
Most of my classmates come from a liberal arts background. That’s not good for me, since they have better writing skills. On the other hand, I seem to grasp the math behind the law school curve much easier than a lot of other people. I keep explaining how it works, but people look at me like I am speaking in Japanese (or maybe Swahili).
10/27/10 - I live in Dallas, so it takes me a little more than one hour to get to school from work, and almost one hour to get back home after class. I carpool with my good friend, Shawn. We were friends before we decided to go to law school and, not coincidentally, studied for the LSAT together. Oh, and one more thing - he is also a civil engineer.
Towards the beginning of the semester, I used to hate the one hour commute, but now I think it is a blessing in disguise. Ok, maybe not a blessing in disguise, but it’s not as bad as I originally thought. Shawn and I brief and discuss cases in the car. I have to admit, for being such good friends, we barely ever agree on anything. When I say we “brief and discuss,” I mean we “argue” about the cases and legal issue.
We either do that or listen to the cases that we download from www.audiocasefiles.com. That thing is a lifesaver for people who work, don’t get a chance to study, also have long commutes. (Thank you, Antonio, for telling me about that website.) The audio case file is recorded in the most monotonic voice you have ever heard. Sometimes we just make fun of the guy who recorded those cases, which is another good way of taking you mind off of the long commute.
P.S. I have been trying to ride the TRE since school started with LIMITED results. I just don’t want to be in downtown Dallas that late at night.
10/20/10 - I am a little sick, so this week’s blog will not be as long as usual. How is it possible to get the flu even though you got a flu shot? I don’t know. If you can figure that one out, please email me and let me know.
I really wanted to skip class, but I pretty much dragged myself to school and studied anyways. You can’t afford to miss classes in law school. On the bright side, I was able to watch a lot of daytime TV - Maury, Jerry Springer, and other pointless shows that I never get to watch. I especially enjoyed commercials by the Texas Hammer, Strongarm, and other TV lawyers.
I can only HOPE that I will not be one of those lawyers asking people if they have taken xxxx drug within the past 4 years.
10/13/10 - Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I have found the cure for insomnia. I am in the process of copyrighting it now, so I guess it is ok to tell you that the cure is: MY MEMO. It is so boring that it will put any English speaking person to sleep within 3-6 minutes. Apple computers have this software that reads the text and I use it to listen to my own writings (I got this tip from a 3L. It is very helpful, btw. Maybe you can use it for your admission applications). My memo was so boring that it even put the text-to-speech lady to sleep. Anyways, I hope Prof. Kelly doesn’t read it in the car while driving or something.
Last week, as I mentioned before, we had our Torts midterm and our memo due. I took the test last night and I have to say it went much better than the first one (but we will see). I like essay tests much better, since it is possible to get partial credit even if your answer is not on the bullseye. In multiple choice tests, that’s not the case. I miss engineering tests, where everything only had one correct answer, the test was open book, and since it was mathematics, there was nothing to memorize.
10/6/10 - One thing that everybody talks about in law school is time management. They say that it is one of the most important things to do in law school. I have to disagree. I don’t think time management is as challenging as everybody says. There are two types of students in night school:
1) Part time student with full time job: You will not need time management. In this group, students are only left with Saturday and Sunday to study for the following week. You don’t need to be a brain surgeon to figure out how to manage that little time. Basically just study for 20 hours every weekend in addition to every lunch and every morning before work and you will still be behind. You can’t manage something you don’t have.
2) Part time students with no job: It seems that they have so much time that even if they are terrible at managing time, there is still enough of it left to properly prepare for all of the classes. So as you can see time management is an issue of effective use. I am sorry if I am offending anyone here but that’s the way it seems.
Here is the thing: If you work 8 hours a day and commute for an hour, you have already lost 10 hours of your week. Add 3 hours for class every night and you will not be left with much time. So basically, you have Saturday and Sunday left to study. See? Time management not needed since you have no time to manage. Why am I venting madly about this? Well, it is mainly because we have a memo and a test next week (said with steam blowing out of my nose)!
On a positive note I went to the international law organization’s meeting. The guest speaker was a young lawyer who currently practices in Singapore. Too bad this studying thing gets in my way, otherwise law school could be a fun place.
9/29/10 - Another week of reading, briefing, and learning has passed. We are officially past week 7 of law school now. I have a feeling that this is the calm that some talk about just before the storm hits. We will get our memo assignment on Thursday (which I believe is 25 percent of our grade), and those of us who have Torts with McGrath will have our second test the same week. Although there is not much going on now, there will be a lot going on next and the following week.
I got an email last week from one of you guys concerning the LSAT. I just wanted to say that the school’s Admission Office is pretty good at what they are doing. When you get in a law school, it is pretty much guaranteed that you are competitive the class (experience wise, GPA wise, and LSAT wise). Of course, not all the students have the same GPA and LSAT, or even background, but if you look at a combination of all these factors, you will probably see that we are all within the same range (except me, cuz I am just the most brilliant person you guys will ever meet…ha ha ha jk). I know a lot of you are taking the LSAT this October. Just do your best on it and don’t worry about it. I know you don’t believe me, just like I didn’t believe others when they told me this. I almost broke my mouse because I clicked on the refresh button so many times. (Dean Hurst encourages you to contact the Office of Admissions to receive a full explanation of the evaluation process.)
9/22/10 - How many hours of sleep do you get on an average night? Now think about how many hours you think a law student gets. According to a Westlaw (you will know what that is after your first week of law school) survey, 44% of law students in Texas get 5-6 hours of sleep (including me, in case you are wondering). Let me tell you something – that’s NOT enough. It’s okay to do it for a couple of nights here and there when you are cramming for your finals, but not for two consecutive months.
I don’t think I have slept well since the day school started (actually, the day orientation started). I usually get back home around 10:30 PM and don’t go to sleep until midnight. I get up around 6 AM and go to work. I find myself tired and very sleepy before our second class at 8:00-9:30 PM, and that is not good. My consumption of coffee, Monster, and Red Bull has increased drastically over the past month and a half.
My goal is to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. I will keep you guys posted on how that goes.
9/15/10 - NFL started this past weekend. Most guys (including yours truly) are pretty upset about the fact that we will be missing many of the games. I am even more upset that I missed almost all the U.S Open. I never miss an opportunity to watch tennis. I happen to think that tennis is the best sport; it combines power, speed, agility, and flexibility. It also helps that most of the players on the ladies side look like supermodels (some like Sharapova actually make more money that way than tennis. Google her and you’ll see why). I was going for the Spaniard, Rafa Nadal, but I missed the finals. He won the whole thing proving to everyone that he is worth every penny of his $500,000 signature watch that he wears while playing (that number is not a typo, btw).
Oh yeah, I forgot that I’m supposed to talk about law school. We turned in a rough draft for our first memo yesterday. For some reason, I found it really hard to write. I mean, I’d rather study Torts for 3 hours than write for 1 hour. Unfortunately, I have no other choice. Don’t get me wrong, I like writing blogs and fun things, but writing legal memos is pretty much as boring as WNBA (I am just kidding. Please don’t send me any concerned emails :P).
We are going to go over our first test with McGrath tonight. The average for the test was just above 50%, so you can only imagine how excited we all are to get our brilliant grades back (ha ha).
9/8/10 - So, we had our first test this week in Torts. Although multiple midterms are not very common, we got to experience it at least once. One problem with law school so far is that I don’t know how much I need to study. In undergrad or even grad school, I used to have a very good idea about how much I had to study in order to get my desired grade. For instance, if I studied one complete weekend, that was enough for most of my lower division classes. Upper division was usually 4-5 days. Now, I have no idea how well I need to know the material in order to do well (I emphasize “well” because it means different things to different people).
Our test was multiple choice and a bit tricky. Just like LSAT, questions are designed to find your susceptibilities and expose them. For instance, it is not enough to only know or predict the outcome of a case; you need to know how the court came about that decision. In other words you need to get the right answer by using the correct logic (just the right answer is almost never satisfactory).
Prof. McGrath told us that this test will show us if we need to study harder and I am pretty sure that I need to increase my efforts.
9/1/10 - I was supposed to give you guys some information about myself last week but I couldn’t resist talking about McGrath. I was born and raised in Iran. I lived in Tehran until I was 17 years old and then moved to the states in 2001. I went to the University of Texas Arlington and graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering. Shortly after, I started my full time job in a very respectable structural engineering firm in Dallas and am currently an associate there (if you are a senior partner and reading this, please give me a raise).
In 2006, I was admitted into a graduate program for structural engineering at Southern Methodist University as a part time evening student. Since I have always wanted to be a lawyer (especially after trying to explain technical information to some lawyers with limited results), I decided to let go of that program, study for the LSAT, and pursue a law degree.
Notice that I didn’t say a new career. I love what I do. I don’t want to become something entirely different. I want to add a J.D. to my engineering career, not the other way around. This is very important to me, and is the reason why I don’t want to leave my job. I could have been a full time student and saved myself from a lot of stress, hard work, commuting, and trying to balance work and school. Why? I have concurrent professional goals that I haven’t achieved yet.
8/25/10 - Professor McGrath has cards with our names on them. He shuffles them and then a student picks a card randomly. Whoever’s name comes out is the person who will be doing the case brief or answering the questions. Mathematically there is a 1.25% chance of being picked (assuming that he doesn’t interfere with the cards). The chances of you being picked 3 consecutive times are something like .002%. For all of you non-math majors, let me explain that this is basically the chance of you getting attacked by an alligator and a polar bear at the same time. In other words, you have a better chance of going on a date with Megan Fox.
Why am I telling you this? A girl in my class was called 3 times in a row. This goes to show you that you always need to be prepared, which to her credit she was. Shannon, if you are reading this you then need to get yourself a lotto ticket or something.
On a serious note, I am trying hard to develop a routine. I am already getting more sleep (which is great) and as a result I am more relaxed at work. I stay in the office and read during my lunch hour. I am trying to avoid studying after I get home from classes. I typically get home around 10:30 at night and as I experienced last week, it is not fun to read when you are that tired. Ok, it’s almost 6:30 and I better get to work.
8/20/10 - “They want me to read HOW MUCH? By WHEN?” is the first thing I said to the girl who was sitting next to me. Yes, folks; law school has started and I am already behind. It is very hard to catch up when you work 8 hours a day.
Orientation was very good and informative. The only problem was the fact that it started at 8:30 am. I would like to thank everyone for telling us what to expect (though it still shocked me the first day).
This semester I have three classes: Torts, Contracts and Legal Analysis, Research & Writing (LARW). All my professors seem very nice (much nicer than what pickaprof.com says). Professor Kelly did his undergrad in Civil Engineering and then chose to practice Intellectual Property Law which is exactly what I studied. Just like Professor Kelly, I would like to practice in the I.P field. There are not many lawyers/professors with an engineering or science background so I feel lucky to have one who I can relate to.
I just need to get used to this new way of reading, writing, and in general, learning. In engineering school there is hardly ever a debate over anything; your calculation is either right or wrong, there was no gray area. So far in law school everything has been a debate.
Things I found interesting (and YES I am an engineer so I am going to number them) :
1. There are girls here!!!! In engineering school we only had 3 girls in our graduating class, here we have 43%.
2. Dean Short is like 6’ 4”; I think our faculty switched names just to mess with us; I will investigate further and let you know.
3. The law school building is built like a giant square; this makes it VERY hard to get lost and yet every time I am walking around I see people looking like they are lost. How is that even possible?
4. There is 24x7x365 I.T. help. The I.T. guys at my job are pretty snobby. They fix your computer and they always have this attitude like, “Haha you don’t know what proxy server to use blah blah.” At Texas Wesleyan the I.T. guys are very nice and helpful.