#The2Llife: Year in Review

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

A lot has happened over this past year.

I transferred to UCLA Law. I became a managing editor of a secondary journal. I also became an articles editor of another journal. I then became the Editor-in-Chief of that journal. I took difficult courses, including business bankruptcy and evidence. I excelled in bankruptcy, and competed in a moot court type bankruptcy competition, and externed part time for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

But most importantly, I learned a lot. I learned that hard work is absolutely essential.

I learned that working around the clock is sometimes unavoidable. I learned that when a deadline is approaching, sometimes an “all-nighter” is necessary. I learned that when I want something, I have to be willing to do whatever it takes to reach the goal.

But I also learned that working hard is not necessarily the same as working smart.

For instance, there is no point in reinventing the wheel when it comes to creating outlines or learning complex material. Many schools have some form of outline bank. Or, students from past classes will give their old outlines to students who politely ask. Why spend hours trying to figure out how the pieces of a topic fit together when you could create your outline using somebody else’s as a guideline? I cannot imagine how much time I saved using past course outlines and BARBRI outlines to create a master outline for myself. And, in turn, I will pass my outlines onto anybody who asks.

I also learned that keeping up with hobbies, interests, family, and friends is absolutely essential.

I am lucky enough to have a very supportive network of friends, a great family, and an amazing girlfriend. I also like to read (I just read all three books by Gillian Flynn—the author of Gone Girl, and I’m about to start a more serious book by the economist John Meynard Keynes!). And when I feel antsy, I go to the gym. Maintaining these interests and relationships has allowed me to stay sane, and, paradoxically, work harder. Many students think that if they “waste” time pursuing anything other than studying, they will fall behind. That’s not the case.

If I could do the year over, I would change a few things, though. I would have been more focused on prioritizing and scheduling. Sometimes I spend too much time on a reading assignment and have to make up other assignments by eating into my personal time. I would have gotten more sleep. A lot of nights when I am ready to go to bed I innocently check what is on television and end up staying awake until 2am. I would have networked more. I definitely did my share, but there is never too much.

Overall, however, I am beyond thrilled with the past year. I went from a nervous 1L, to a strong student at a top law school. I developed strong connections with peers and professors. I secured a top leadership position on a law journal. And most importantly, I had fun while remaining true to who I really am.

If anybody reading this article has questions about anything I have said throughout the past year, or just wants to discuss some things, please feel free to reach out to me. My email is harrisonthorne1@gmail.com. Thanks for reading, and I will be back next year!!!

#The3Llife: Graduating Law School

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

When I began writing this post, the first theme that came to mind was the tried and true mantra of, “We made it!”

It seems simple enough. Short. Punctual. Fits comfortably inside of air quotes. But in its simplicity, so much is lost. “We made it” is better suited for times where, despite the journey’s perils and pitfalls, you ultimately arrive at a place you had always expected to be; an anticipated conclusion. Yet, sitting here, thinking back over the past thousand and six days of law school, I can’t say I could have predicted any of this.

257704-funny-lawyer-jokeMy fellow 3L’s and I have sacrificed sleep, weekends, liquidity, holidays, and countless Shark Weeks to rewire the way in which we observe and understand the world around us. We have willingly paid a premium to subject ourselves to thousands of hours worth of academic hunger games. Why? Well, in hopes of joining the ranks of the most despised and unappreciated professions in the world. I kid you not, a Google search for “lawyer jokes” comes back with nearly six million results. To put that in perspective, the number of results for “clown jokes” is less than two million. So why did we do it? If we are so smart, why did we choose this path? In the words of Tupac, “The only thing that comes to a sleeping man is dreams.”

Law school has been an awakening experience. The world we live in exists as an aggregate emulsion of conflicting wants, desires, decisions, and choices. To maintain a balance, we elect officials, create governments, and, ultimately, encode our cultural DNA into a system of laws. Law, it turns out, is the source code of society; its language. For as long as there is free will and thought, there will be discrepancies in what is believed to be “fair” and “just.” We have been trained to identify harms and issues and articulate them in ways that, if successful, will invoke the inhibited sovereignty, power, and authority of the United States government to enforce or defend our sense of truth. And while many evils throughout history have been defeated by the physical, brute force of soldiers and social movements, it is ultimately the legal architects who create the barriers that keep the monsters at bay.

After sharing a three-year prologue, we graduates have arrived where each of our individual stories begin and we are free to write whatever story we want with our remaining pages. We survived law school so that we may live better lives — and now we may begin living better lives. This degree is a means to much greater ends. It is a permission slip to pursue my dreams, wherever they made lead…

…after bar prep.

#The2Llife: Best Way to Outline (IMHO)

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

With the semester wrapping up, many students are beginning to outline, or refining past outlines.

The importance of outlining is probably clear at this point—a good outline will be useful during the exam (provided open note exams), and creating it will help reinforce concepts as well as show what you may not know or understand.

However, it can be tough to “know” how to create an outline. After a long semester, most students have reading notes (i.e., case briefs), class notes, and a handful of problems or handouts. How do you turn all these random pages into a workable outline?

My method, which I feel works effectively, is simple. I print out everything I have. I then obtain an outline from a former student in that class, and print it out. Next, I download BARBRI’s outline on the black-letter law. With all these resources in hand, I am ready to go.

AppleLaptopWhen using a BARBRI or former student’s outline, I primarily look for structure. Most classes teach things in a logical flow. However, it can be hard to understand how all the concepts fit together. For instance, in torts, you might learn about negligence per se, then move on to doctrine of chances, then next to but for cause. Seeing an already-existing outline will help you understand how these concepts and doctrines work together, and where they fit in. Using this refined flow will help you create an attack outline or a “steps of analysis” chart.

I like to create my headings and get the flow of the course by looking at the former student and BARBRI outlines. But then I fill in the blanks with my class and reading notes. If there is a concept I don’t fully understand, I reread, talk to my professor, or discuss with another student.

After I have my outline in working condition, I move on to practice problems or past exams.