#barpreplife: One Point

GUEST BLOG by Gianna Venticinque,
Graduate of Northern Illinois College of Law

“ these are not matters of life and death.
Keep that in perspective.
If you had to, you would simply take the exam again.
Unlike so many other settings, here you get do-overs.”

—Professor Paula Franzese

Happy Spring (sort of)! I hope you’ve all had a great few months and got to relax a little after the bar – I know I did.

Let’s talk about what really grinds my gears: studying for the bar for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, only to miss passing by ONE POINT. You need a 266? Well Gianna, here’s a 265. Annoying, right? You have no idea. Honestly, I would have rather missed it by 50 points. At least then I could have figured out what I did wrong and had a chance to change my study habits. But no, I did everything right and just missed the mark.

Initially, I was upset, but now I’m just mad. I immediately let everyone know I didn’t pass so I didn’t have to get asked about it 900 times a day. Almost everyone was equally as mad as I was about it. But I knew this was a possibility and I prepared myself for it, I just never thought it would be over one point.

I want to congratulate everyone who did pass – you did it! I wish you all the best with your careers and beyond. It’s a huge accomplishment and you should celebrate – if you haven’t already!

I also really want to encourage all those who didn’t pass to get back on the horse and try again. You know you can do it and now that you know what it’s like you’ll be that much more prepared to kill it in July. Be proud of yourself for making it this far and don’t give up.

I want to thank BARBRI for allowing me the opportunity to be your @barpreplife Blogger for Winter 2016. I had a blast. 🙂

Until next time,
G

(Update from BARBRI:  Gianna will be blogging about preparing to retake the bar exam, this July.  When we invited her to share her experiences, this is what she said, “That sounds amazing and I would absolutely be interested in doing that!! I really enjoyed blogging and I think it would be good for people who also did not pass to know they’re not alone. Thank you so much. I’m beyond excited for this opportunity.” )

#The3Llife: Lessons I Have Learned in Law School

GUEST BLOG by Harrison Thorne,
3L at UCLA Law

After three years of law school, I have learned a few things.

Each semester has brought out a new set of lessons, and I am extremely grateful for all the experiences I have had—the good and the bad!  From my current perspective, I wish I would have done things differently. Granted, hindsight is 20/20.  But, here are a few things I wish I knew.

1L: Do what works for you.  Everybody will constantly tell you how to approach reading cases, how to outline, what supplements (if any) you should buy, etc. The most important thing is to figure out, within reason, what works for you. Another important thing is to take it easy and not compare yourself to others. Without doubt, you will see people who appear to have their life together and be working harder than you, and you will feel that you are falling short. First, who knows what they are going through. Second, get to work and stop the comparison.  It won’t help you.  Finally, grades are more important than clubs, activities, and bar associations. It is great to become a part of your community, but really, at the end of the day, grades are priority 1.

2L: Focus on your longer-term goals. If you want to work in a law firm, focus on OCI. But, don’t let things end there. In addition to the interviews you get through your school’s OCI program, you should also reach out to firms and their recruiters on your own. If you want to do public interest work, reach out to your school’s public interest contacts, etc. This is the point at which it is important to lock down a job. Grades are really important, but diverting some attention towards job-search is fine.

3L: Focus on networking, extracurricular activities, and finishing strong. Everybody talks about senioritis and checking out. Don’t be one of those people. It is okay to spend more time on extracurricular activities in place of studying, but don’t get too out of balance.  It is really important to keep grades up—especially if you haven’t yet found a job. On that note, don’t panic if you don’t have a job. Keep reaching out to your school’s career services office, firms, and everybody in between. Don’t lose hope, and don’t wait until after the Bar to start your search.

Things I would do differently: I generally loved my law school experience. I got to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of my school’s Entertainment Law Review, work in two courts (state court and bankruptcy court), compete in a bankruptcy competition, serve as an advisor to the Dean, and work with great professors. However, given another shot, I would spend more time becoming a member of the community. I rarely went to events, and missed out on some great events with amazing speakers. I focused more on studies than anything else, and, while fine, I now wish I would have been more involved at school. There’s a balance, and I feel too far towards “doing my own thing.”

What’s Next: The semester is wrapping up, and things are coming to an end. I am studying for finals, editing a final paper for a class, teaching my last class (I am part of my school’s Street Law program, in which I teach a class of 9th graders weekly), and finalizing my journal for Entertainment Law Review. After my last final, I will attend my graduation, then have a few days off before I begin bar prep with Barbri.

I am actually quite excited for bar prep. I know it sounds “weird,” but I think about bar prep like this: during law school, so many things are constantly pulling my attention. I have to respond to emails, meet with teachers, go to class, work on the journal, etc. During bar prep, I have ONE task: study for the bar. I plan on putting my phone on airplane mode and getting in the zone. And nothing else. I will work from around 6 or 7 in the morning until 5 to 7 at night, then take some time for myself. But, otherwise, my focus during the day will be exclusively geared towards studying for the Bar.

After the Bar Exam, I am going on a vacation with my amazing girlfriend, then taking a bit more time off before starting work. I can’t wait to see what bar prep is like, and, hopefully, to pass the Bar!

#The1Llife: NARROWING YOUR LIS[Z]T

GUEST BLOG by Dani Gies,
1L at UCLA School of Law

NARROWING YOUR LIS[Z]T, PART I (Liebestraum No.3)

With finals rapidly approaching, I’m going to deflect by focusing on admissions and planning for law school.  For all the 0Ls out there, this is for you.

Hopefully you’ve been admitted to some schools and now you’re deciding where to go. Here are some quick tips to help focus your decision:

  1. Location: Does location matter to you? If it does, don’t be afraid to admit it. I felt like carrying about location was shallow until I realized that enduring four years of brutal winter and six months a year without sunshine and Seasonal Affect Disorder made it totally reasonable for me to want to go to school in California. Also, after spending four years away from my family and missing four years of weddings, births, and funerals, I wanted to be back in on the family action. I couldn’t be happier that I made location a major factor in my application process. Remember, you’re paying a lot of money to go through a really tough experience—you might as well like where you are while you do it.
  2. Money: Speaking of spending a lot of money, try not to. Bragging about yourself is tough for most of us, but if it’s between being humble and being in more debt, choose more brag and less debt. Let schools know about the scholarships you’ve been offered from other schools if they’re competitive, and let them know if money is holding you back from attending. I was forthcoming about both, and the schools I worked with were very understanding and willing to work with me. If you’re interested in public interest, be sure to ask detailed questions about their Public Interest Loan Forgiveness programs, if they have one. If you’re interested in PI and they don’t have a PILF program, I suggest you reconsider.
  3. People: If you can (and you should be able to), speak with current students. Admissions officers are a great resource for the statistics and wide-view perspective, but the students are in the trenches daily. You’ll even be in classes with some of them in the future. Every student I spoke to gave me very honest feedback, and it was crucial to my decision-making. The one question I asked every student was, “If you were sick the week before finals and missed class, how would your classmates react?” If the answer was anything other than “give me their notes and be supportive,” I knew it was a community I didn’t want to be a part of. My classmates at UCLA Law are so supportive, and that is exactly the type of law school community I was looking for.

Please tweet me any questions you may have @The1Llife! More tips coming your way in the next post!

#The3Llife: Legal Writing

GUEST BLOG by Harrison Thorne,
3L at UCLA Law

After three years in law school, two judicial externships, and a summer associate position at a big firm, I have done plenty of legal writing.  I will admit that this type of writing is not my strong-suit.  However, I have gotten pretty good at it.  Here’s how:

  1. Know what you’re talking about
    A lot of people incorrectly assume they know what they are talking about when writing legal papers.  It is very, very easy to make a mistake—especially when you cite a case without Shepardizing first, or rely on laws that have since been repealed or amended.  Make sure to do your homework before stating anything with authority.  And make sure to check your facts.
  1. Plan before writing
    Many people sit down and start writing, only to find out five pages in that their arguments don’t accurately jive with the law, or that they aren’t actually making an argument.  Planning is an art.  Don’t get so caught up in planning that you forget to actually write.
  1. Write early
    Make sure to write early enough so that you have a few days to review and edit.  Unless you are superhuman, you will not be able to proofread or edit your work the day you type it out.  You need to give yourself at least 24 hours before retuning to your paper.  Alternatively, you could have a friend review your work.  However, civilians (people not in law school and not practicing attorneys) might not understand what you are saying, and might find the style awkward.  My friends always focus on the mechanical nature of my legal writing over the substance.  I used to spend lots of time trying to explain the structure and its appropriateness.  Now, I don’t give my papers to friends.
  1. Speak with your professors/bosses/colleagues
    The person grading your paper (or reading the brief you will file in court, etc) is typically available to discuss your work.  If a professor is willing to give his or her feedback on something that he or she will grade, why would you not ask their advice?

#The2Llife: Where The Going Gets Tough

GUEST BLOG by Lauren Rose,
2L at University of Detroit Mercy

*Cue the horror movie music*  Finals are almost here.

This is where the going gets tough.  The entire semester leads up to the end, the final exam, the finale. Now is the time to buckle down and start hitting the books. Here are a few of my tips for final exams.

  1. Ask for outlines. It is so beneficial to ask other students for outlines. Ask students who took the class before you for a copy of their outline. Your school may even have copies of outlines in an outline bank. As always, make sure to edit the outline with updated cases and class notes!
  2. Review BARBRI videos. I cannot stress this enough for your main courses. Barbri finds a way to condense an entire semester worth of information into short, informational videos. During 1L year, these videos were a lifesaver.  I am currently watching the evidence video and it has been very helpful.
  3. Review commercial supplements. If you’re in need of more information, check out a commercial supplement. These books break down the subject into incredible detail. I find it helpful to look at supplements when I am unclear about a topic or want to learn more about it.
  4. Find what works for you. I like to write things down. I study by writing, rewriting, and rewriting my outlines 17,000 times. I also make flashcards to memorize big topics. However, I know a lot of people do not like to write things down. Figure out something that works for you and stick to it!

Good luck on finals! Do you have any tips or tricks for law school finals? Tweet me @The2LLife!