#barpreplife: Miss Money Bags

GUEST BLOG by Jennifer Varteressian,
Graduated from The University of Tulsa College of Law

Ok. So, Apparently I’m made of money.

My favorite thing that people say to me when they found out I just graduated from law school and am about to take the bar exam: “Oh you’re going to be rich!”. Cool, I’m glad that lawyers are perceived as being inordinately wealthy and that being a lawyer is a symbol of success. All I have to say is: IT HAD BETTER BE!

Sheesh, I cannot even begin to articulate how expensive becoming a lawyer is. To start with there’s going to law school which costs oh yeah about a $100,000 if you’re lucky. Chump change. And then there’s the fact that you have to survive in law school: tack on the loans! Oh-and after you graduate we are going to charge you a million dollars to take the bar exam (where you are literally hit with EVERY sort of fee known to man). Oh and it’s probably a good idea to avoid working while studying so…No income for you!

Here are some things I did not anticipate: fees to take the exam on the computer, fees for the actual exam itself, paying for a hotel, my coffee habit increasing exponentially, my cupcake/cookie/basically anything that tastes good budget shooting through the roof. And we’re supposed to have money leftover after this to take a bar trip?! Speaking of bar trip, what is that? When are you supposed to make time to plan this/have the money to swing it? Are you supposed to go before your results or afterward? That would be incredibly depressing to be sitting in Hawaii, where you are supposed to be celebrating being done with tests forever, only to discover that you’ve failed and your butt will be right back in barprep. (Having said that planning a bar trip you can’t afford is an amazing use of time for a study break -hey we can all dream right?)

Anyway, I have to get back to doing BARBRI AMP for Property, because I’m pretty sure a third grader would fare better than me at this juncture.

Ok. Rant Over. Sometimes you just have to get it out. I blame it on bargression-It’s a thing. See you all on Twitter!

Happy Studying,
J

#The3Llife: A Case for Jury Nullification

GUEST BLOG By Shaun Sanders,
3L at Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law

Jury nullification is an oddity of discussion in law school.

The combined legislative wealth of numerous cultures spanned over centuries of time has resulted in our current amalgamation of laws and the method in which they are applied. As a result, the laws we live under today are inherently a reflection of a past point in time. Consider how many laws created by generations long dead are presently applied to modern circumstances. Indeed, the general ebb and flow of legislative revision is a demonstration of the living’s attempt to rewrite rules of the dead. But how does jury nullification fit in?

I look at law, as a whole, as being a sort of robot butler… let’s call it Justice Bot. We created this servant to make our lives more enjoyable, safe, and, generally, stable. To maintain order and prevent Justice Bot from straight up murdering each and every one of us, we install 3 branches of government with numerous, staggered layers of checks and balances. And then? We let it on its way — autonomously controlling our day to day lives.

Jury nullification, to me, is the “human-check” against the machine. It’s the last point in the system where we have a bunch of living, flesh-filled human beings look at the product of our Justice Bot and say, “Good Job!” or, alternatively, “You effed it up!” More often than not, jury nullification is likely unnecessary. After all, Justice Bot is a fairly efficient, effective being.

However, every now and then, a glitch occurs and, suddenly, someone’s life gets sucked into the machine, processed appropriately, but results in a potential punishment that just doesn’t sit quite right. Despite the lack of technical error, and despite the fact that an individual accused of committing certain acts appears to have, in fact, committed those acts, it still feels like Justice Bot isn’t quite on its A-game… so we pull the plug, learn from it, and try to improve our robot as best we can.

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In other words, jury nullification enables us as living, existing citizens to correct for potential false-positives created by antiquated law. In fact, jury nullification played an important role in the United States to acquit people who were being charged under the Fugitive Slave Act. At that time, Justice Bot was programmed to punish folks who aided slaves in escaping their owners. When Justice Bot caught such an offender, it processed them accordingly. However, when it came time to sentence them, juries said, “You know what… okay, these people are guilty — but I’m okay with that.” and they kept acquitting folks until Justice Bot received a legislative firmware update.

Some people argue it is unfair for a minority of society to override Justice Bot. In a way, it is unfair. Realistically, though, it doesn’t really matter. Jury selection represents a random subsection of society within a specific jurisdiction. Sure, it is possible that in an area where 99.99% of a jurisdiction feel Law A is just and right, there may be a passionate minority who oppose it… but the probability of that minority being able to get on the juries to override Justice Bot is vast. Rather, jury nullification provides a valuable trade-off for society where we allow pockets of modern-views to undermine established, hard-coded legal theories.

In Justice Bot, We Trust.

#The2Llife: My Case-Reading Strategy

GUEST BLOG Harrison Thorne,
2L at UCLA School of Law

When I first started law school, reading cases took FOREVER!

It still takes me a while to get through reading assignments. But when I do the reading, I really try to get the most out of it.

My method is a bit different—I think—than others’.

First, I look up the section or topic that the case pertains to. For instance, if I’m reading Marbury v. Madison, I know my teacher assigned the case to show judicial review, and teach about Supremacy, etc.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 9.08.53 AMMy first step is to consult a secondary source. I love BARBRI’s outlines, as they are concise and allow me to understand the black-letter law. Sometimes I use E+Es or other secondary sources.

Next, I read a case brief. Case briefs can be found online or in various case brief books.

I then read the case. By this point, I know the facts, the background, and the black-letter law. I have found that knowing all these things before reading the case allows me to focus in on the big picture and extract the real case holding. If I just read the case without reading secondary sources and/or briefs beforehand, I find that my initial read-through is mostly a way to understand the facts, and then I have to reread it at least one more time.

While reading the case, I like to highlight important passages, etc.

After all that, I go back over the highlighted portions, and take notes. I jot down the facts, too.

After all that, I then do an “overview” of what I think is important.

When I go to class, I have a much better understanding of the case, and I supplement my notes with anything my professor emphasizes.

#barpreplife: Just Breathe

GUEST BLOG by Jennifer Varteressian,
Graduated from The University of Tulsa College of Law

Okay, let us all take a breather

If you’re anything like me you’re freaking out at this juncture. We are five weeks out from the bar exam and the MBE is literally wiping the floor with me. I wanted to take the opportunity to use this blog to hopefully ease some of your anxieties. I have been really struggling over the past few days with the MBE. I feel like I am doing so poorly in every subject and am nowhere near where I need to be. Given that I am so type A, I did a little bit of investigating. I wanted to share my findings with you all in case others were despairing as well.

First of all, remember you merely need to pass the exam. This means you need to do better than 25% of test takers. When you think about it this way, it seems to be manageable. If you trust the program and put the time in you will get there. I spoke with my DLE this morning and she informed me that in 6 out of 9 schools in Texas with students that completed 75 % or more of the BARBRI program had a 100% pass rate. That’s right-only 75 %! I like those odds.

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Also I wanted to share a little bit of information with you all about how to measure your progress in the PSP. As I’m sure you’re aware, there is a tab on the right hand side of the PSP that shows you your progress in the program so far. This progress measures your average against others for MBE questions. If you are wondering how you line up with everyone you can look here. Remember the MBE is graded on a curve so really all that matters is how you stack up to the competition. If you are not getting the scores you want check this PDF out – reading this definitely provided me with some peace of mind; especially the part at the end that says thousands of students pass with a lower score than average. Also in case you were all wondering, I asked what we should shoot for on our essays and was told we should be looking for a raw score of about 17/25.

I came home tonight from a long night of studying to find my parents throwing a dinner party (I know RUDE right?! No one is supposed to have a life if I can’t!) Anyways, my brother took me aside and said, “Jenny, do you know how many dumb ass lawyers there are in Texas?! You’re smart; you’re going to be fine”. It’s extremely easy for us to get fed up with ‘lay people’ and proclaim that they don’t understand, especially during this time. Let’s just all keep in mind that the people in our lives love us and want to see us do well, so when they say things like that try not to become infuriated! Happy studying!

Until Next Time,
J

#barpreplife: Social Isolation

GUEST BLOG by Jennifer Varteressian,
Graduated from The University of Tulsa College of Law

Social Life? I’m confused; What is that?

It has been two weeks since I’ve really started hunkering down for the bar exam, and by God they have been the SLOWEST TWO WEEKS OF MY LIFE. I have a calendar that I place big “X’s” on after each day of bar prep and I feel like I’m climbing up a never ending mountain and have made it about two inches. I have decided that it is time for me to take a step back and make sure to carve out some time for myself.

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My parents have graciously allowed me to live with them as I prepare for the bar exam and get on my feet (a blessing and a curse I assure you). Although I am incredibly grateful for their hospitality I feel sorry for them because they are having to deal with the brunt of what the bar exam is turning me into. I am like an overly caffeinated ticking time bomb ready to detonate at any moment. There was one point this week when I realized that the only conversation that I participated in outside of “Hi, I would like an Americano” was with my parents, and consisted mainly of them asking how my day was and me delivering some form of grunt. I had a come to Jesus meeting with myself today and decided that I cannot go on like this. I will converse like a normal human, I will immerse myself in environments where real, live people are present. (At least once a week 🙂 )

I think it’s very easy to get bogged down in how much material we are held responsible for, and trust me I am not downplaying it. The task that is before us is no easy feat, however, I think that it is necessary for each of us to grasp that there is no possible way for us to master EVERY single iota of material that BARBRI supplies us with. Hello, that’s why the bar exam is pass/fail! BARBRI has spent quite a few decades ensuring that EVERY single aspect of EVERY single subject that could possibly be tested on is included in our materials. It would be impossible for any of us to retain all of this information. I know, this is incredibly hard for us type A personalities to wrap our minds around, but if we don’t submit we will drive ourselves crazy come mid February. Hell, at the rate I’m going I may not understand what social graces are come next week!

Anyway be sure to take some time out for yourself and remember that we can’t possibly do it all. Trust me, your friends and family will thank you.

Until Next Time,
J

#The3Llife: Welcome Back Patient Zero Students

GUEST BLOG By Shaun Sanders,
3L at Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law

Today is my 879th day of being a law student.

83904bb600676e6b889613d24cf227163ad55c9929b2b3628ef3add64676aa65Like academic Pokémon, once my peers and I reach level 1,008 (sometime in late May), we will finally have the experience necessary to spar with the California Bar. For now, though, I find myself attempting to survive the week and a flu that has descended upon my law school… which brings me to this week’s complaint: patient-zero students.

I get it. My law school charges $46,300 per year for tuition, or, roughly, $1,900 per unit. At 15 weeks of instruction per semester, a 3-unit class will cost about $380 per day of class or, roughly, $5 per minute (or $303.60 per hour). So when a student wakes up feeling a little under the weather, whether or not they risk infecting everyone depends somewhat on their generosity. If not for frugality, another major influence on whether or not the Outbreak monkey decides to visit my campus is my school’s mandatory attendance policy. Here, students may not miss more than 3 to 5 classes (depending on units). Most save them for personal days, interviews, or post-party recovering, which further increases the probability of some sickly student basting the hallways in their fluids.

For now, I sail onward towards the white squall of crumpled tissues and Earl Grey tea bags. Further into the flemmy gusts of wind uninhibited by hands or manners. Forward towards that 1,008th day, where the skies may clear just long enough to feel the sun on my brow.

Time to max out on Vitamin-C.

#The1Llife: Back to School

GUEST BLOG By Lauren Rose,
1L at the University of Detroit Mercy

A wise man once said…
“Back to school, back to school, to prove to dad that I’m not a fool.”

89c42d8f35e1e3cee88e106dc8b071d3Well, he may not have been very wise, but Billy Madison was a pretty rad guy. For all of the 1L’s this week (or if you are like me, last week) marks the first week back to law school. First off, congratulations! We did it! Not only did we survive our first semester of law school but we also survived (yeah… this is debatable) our first round of law school of exams.

Considering that we’ve survived thus far, now is the time to reflect on all of the things that you didn’t know going into your first semester that you know now.

  1. You’ve Learned How to Brief a Case
    When I started in the fall and someone said, “brief a case,” I literally had no clue what that meant. Literally, I had no idea. Now, all 1L’s know what a case brief is and exactly how to create one! By this point in time, you’ve figured out what you need to include in your briefs and what to exclude. Having this this skill is a major advantage over last semester because at least now you know what you are doing!
  2. You’ve Learned Something About Legal Writing
    During the first semester, it is likely that every 1L learned something about legal writing. You learned how to write an essay using IRAC, or TRAC, or CREAC, or whatever. It’s likely that you also learned how to write a memo, a complaint, or maybe even an answer. Learning how to write for the legal world is a skill. This is definitely something that we should all be proud of ourselves for learning because legal writing is kind of weird.
  3. You’ve learned Something About the Law
    imagesWhile this is kind of obvious, it is still something to be proud of. Ask me for the elements of negligence. I can name them in my sleep. Even though we’re only ⅙ of the way through law school, we have learned a tremendous amount of information in a very short amount of time.
  4. You’ve Learned How to Take Exam
    Law school exams are unlike any other exams. In undergrad, I started studying a few days before the exam and usually ended up with a decent grade. In law school, I started studying a month before the exam. Each student has their own method for preparing to take an exam. Hopefully you were able to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. At the very least, the first semester final exams provided a lesson in how much work is needed to prepare for a law school exam.
  5. You’ve Learned Your Way Around
    Even though my law school is pretty small, it still took me a while to learn my way around the school. Also, I’ve learned my way around downtown Detroit, which is pretty cool. It’s likely that you have also learned a thing or two about the city your school is located in. You’ve probably found a favorite place to go with other 1Ls!

While it is likely that you have learned a whole lot more than the things listed above, it is important to remember all that you have accomplished thus far. The second semester is a time for new beginnings and reflection. To all my 1Ls, we’ve made it this far and we can definitely make it to the end of our first year!