Breaking Down Clerkships

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
2L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Post-graduation clerkships are tough to get but professionally rewarding … meaning lots of law students apply for them! For those of you considering it, 2L is the ideal time to apply! But before you send out endless applications, let’s review the types available to you because they’re not all the same!

Federal Clerkships (aka the Ivy league of clerkships)

Part of what makes these clerkships so prestigious is the limited availability of clerk positions. If you can navigate the competitive application process and land yourself one of these clerkships you’ll resume will thank you.

As a federal clerk, you’re guaranteed to have a hectic caseload filled with interesting, and more importantly, well-publicized cases. Furthermore, the judge(s) you’ll work under have stellar reputations, meaning one good reference letter can go far in helping you secure your dream job.

Note: Non-US citizens, unfortunately, cannot clerk within the federal courts.

State Clerkships

While state clerkships aren’t as prestigious as the abovementioned federal ones, they still offer an amazing experience, and often still qualify you for post-competition entry bonuses within most big law firms. Another bonus of proceeding down the state clerkship path? There are more positions available, meaning you have a better shot at getting accepted in the state you most desire!

Note: Some states accept international student clerkship applications!

Specialty and/or International Clerkships

Some states and courts hire specialty clerks for specific departments (i.e. tax). These positions are generally extremely limited. So, if you’re interested you should contact your school career planning office early to determine whether any such positions are currently available.

For dual-citizens or international students, you can also apply for clerkships outside of the US. While such positions may not carry the same prestige that clerking for the US Supreme Court, they can still benefit your career; especially if you’re uncertain whether you’ll want to stay in the US indefinitely after graduation.

Importantly, not everyone immediately starts out by clerking in the Supreme Court. If you know you want the career benefits of a federal clerkship, you can begin with a state clerkship and work your way up through the rings. Not only will this give you the benefit of added networking and experience, but you’ll also become more familiar with the court system and what it takes to stand out as a federal clerkship applicant.

Picking Your 1L Elective

1L Elective

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin,
1L at
University of Arizona

At most schools, the ability to choose our first 1L elective course is just around the corner.

While it is exciting to finally have a 1L elective course choice; it can be a bit overwhelming. At my school, we will have to make this decision within in the next few weeks. I spoke to professors, the registrar, and with a few 2L & 3Ls to help me decide. Based upon our conversations, there seem to be five main pathways to determine which elective to add to your second semester of law school.

Test the Waters

1L Elective

We all have aspirations of what we would like to do after law school. Perhaps you came to your law school for their environmental law program. Maybe you are confident you want to be an immigration attorney. The 1L elective can be a great time to “test the water” to see if you are on the right career path. If you take an introductory topic course now, you can either affirm your commitment to your chosen path or self-select out if you decide it is not for you.

Tackle Prerequisites

This approach takes a little bit more planning and research but can have a huge payoff. You may have a requirement for a clinic, or you already know you want to pursue a specific JD certificate. Using the 1L elective to satisfy this requirement can save you time, and may provide you with an advantage to be selected for that clinic, or be attractive to employers since you’ve demonstrated a commitment to your chosen path.

Base it On The Professor

Who do you want to spend your time with for a semester? This is where speaking with 2L and 3Ls can provide valuable insight. Perhaps there is a professor that only teaches a course once every few years that is highly recommended and beloved by all of their previous students. If you are lucky enough to have the class offered during your 1L, do you pass up that opportunity?

Be Open To New Possibilities

Perhaps you have never had an interest in Family Law, but there is it on your 1L elective list. Don’t be too quick to dismiss it. Now might be the perfect time to experiment with different areas of the law. Who knows, maybe you’ll love the subject and have a new career path.

Skip It All Together

This may not be an option at your school, but some people have recommended that unless taking a 1L elective is mandatory, you might want to skip it. This may seem like an attractive move, especially if you’ve found the course load challenging in the Fall semester, but be wary of graduation and other enrollment requirements. Plus, if you want to take the February Bar, this is likely not an option.

I also highly recommend speaking with your registrar to find out how often classes are offered. At our school, for example, one of the electives is offered every semester, while another is available only in the Spring.

What did I decide to do? I am taking Business Organizations. This is a required course for three of the JD Certificates I am considering pursuing and a prerequisite for a few other. Plus many 2L and 3Ls recommended the professor and it will be on the bar exam. How did you decide on your 1L elective? Let me know @The1lLife on Twitter or Instagram!

Exams are coming. KEEP PUSHING!

exams are coming

Guest Blog by Courtney Boykin ,
3L at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

Guys! It’s the end of October. Exams are Coming!

WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

exams are coming

Exams are coming! They are right around the corner. This week’s blog is a quick reminder that if you’re struggling in an area or you’re having difficulties grasping a particular subject, GET HELP. Whether it’s meeting with your professor or finding other materials, now is the time to reach out for help.

If your semester is anything like mine, then you’ve covered a lot of material over the past few months. As such, this is also a good time to start compiling your study materials. If you like outlines, start editing your outlines. If you like overview-style notes, start getting those together. Did you already take midterms? Then, review them and make sure your notes/outlines account for the information you struggled with on your midterm.

Time is winding down, but we know that, for us, that just means it’s time to go into turbo-drive.

Keep pushing.

Winter break is around the corner!!

Ten ways 2L Differs from 1L

2L differs from 1L

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
2L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Nothing can get worse than 1L right?

I’m not so sure, because 2L differs from 1L. While 2L certainly has its benefits, and I’m apt to say it is marginally better, I also feel more pressed for time – which I didn’t think was physically possible. Maybe it’s not that 1L is worse, or 2L is better, but that they are simply different, and as such, have different impacts.

So here it is … my short list of how 2L differs from 1L:

1. Unlike 1L, where there are countless blogs, books, and student opinions available, hardly anyone talks (or writes) about 2L… meaning you’re on your own in terms of preparing yourself.

2. Re-enter the social life. In 1L you’re expected to live in the library so you really only need to juggle class time/assignments with studying. Conversely, in 2L you’re supposed to branch out, attend events, network, etc., while still maintaining your grades and classroom presence.

3. Case briefing? Unless you’re in all doctrinal classes, you’ve probably forgotten what case briefing is, or at least don’t need to case brief for every single class as you did in 1L.

4. Course selection, aka the holy grail of not being a 1L. Gone are the days of forced enrollment in classes that may, or may not interest you.

5. The whole ‘clerkship’ thing. You may have talked about clerking as a 1L, especially during your summer job hunt, but 2L is the time when you actually have to apply for, and decide whether you want to pursue a post-graduation clerkship. No pressure though!

2L differs from 1L

6. A marginally better diet(maybe). In 1L you almost forced into attending a large variety of Lexis and/or research training lunches, as well as other school mandated events where the food of choice is generally pizza. In 2L you no longer need to attend those events so you can avoid pizza if you want to. Plus, in my experience, most 2L targeted events have a healthy food selection.

7. Journals …we love them for the resume boost, but man are they a lot of work. I think every 2L on a journal has at one point during an edit questioned: “why did I think being on a journal was a good idea?”

8. Navigating classes with new people, a struggle not encountered by the average 1L since the section structuring ensures you’ll have class with the same people for the entire year. While meeting new people is great, there’s also something comforting about getting cold called in front of people you already know which is gone in 2L.

9. You may have been a 1L rep of a student organization, but as a 2L you’re probably now the treasurer or hold some other board member position that grants you more involvement and influence, but requires more accountability, time, and effort.

10. And while I could go on, the most notable difference about 2L is that you enter with a sense of security because you survived 1L– whether that sense of security is realistic or not, we’ll have to wait and see!

Do you have more to add to the list of why 2L differs from 1L? Share them with me on Instagram or Twitter: @The2Llife

Got Highlighters?

Got highlighters? I do. I rented or purchased all of my texts books used. So, I know firsthand there are MANY different ways to highlight a textbook.

While most people have settled into their highlighting system, the midpoint of the semester might be a great time to make some adjustments, especially as we review our midterm results and deal with converting our notes to outlines.

The Multicolored Book Brief System

Oddly, not a single one of my books actually was fully book briefed using the multi-color system you hear so much about. However, one of my friends has this process down to a science. Here you can see how judiciously she uses her highlighting system. She color codes it consistently and is able to synthesize the information quickly. In my opinion, it is a work of art and works very well for her.

The Single Highlighter Method

I have two books that followed this method. One of them is so insanely highlighted that it genuinely looks like a kindergartener just went wild. Each case is highlighted in bright orange or dark blue, with margin notes in the same vibrant color. This is pretty much the only way I would recommend NOT to highlight. It has rendered the book practically unusable. The one saving grace seems to be that the previous owner decided to abandon this method later in the book, and there are 0 highlights in the back half of the book.

On the other hand, one of the books I bought from a 2L is the shining example of how single color highlighting scheme paired with, and note margin taking can create the perfect book brief and outlining guide. The book is so amazing that on a day I had somehow missed a case we were assigned to read, I was able to easily survive a cold call.

The Who Needs A Highlighter Method

My legal writing textbook is just underlined in blue pen. No notes anywhere, just a LOT of underlining. It seems like it was the way they kept track of what they were reading. It served no other purpose.

While at first, I didn’t see how that method was useful, I seem to find myself gravitating towards using a similar approach in my casebooks and supplements. I often use color pens to underline important points in my textbooks and then make a note in the margin using the same pen color. For me, this allows me to engage with the text more than if I were to highlight it.

The Electronic Casebook Method

I also have the electronic versions of all of my textbooks, which provides a ton of benefits. Not only do I have my textbooks with me anywhere the internet is available, but they all have the ability to highlight within them. I have the option to create a colorful book brief or use a single color method; it just depends on how I set it up. The significant part about this is the highlights automatically organize themselves into notes, a case brief, and an outline that I can print out or refer to during class as need. I then also can type notes that get color-coded and added to the highlighted section in the margin.

How do you highlight your casebook? Let me know over @The1LLife on Twitter!

5 Reasons To Get Excited About BARBRI MBE Immersion

BLOG By Mike Sims, BARBRI President

MBE Immersion, included in your BARBRI Bar Review course, is one of the first things you will complete before you start your substantive lectures (with the exception of our friends studying for Louisiana). While we understand that you may not feel as excited as we do about studying for the bar exam, here are 5 reasons to get excited (or at least feel good) about BARBRI MBE Immersion:

1. Mean MBE scores are still some of the lowest they have been in 10 years.
As you’ve likely heard, students struggle with the MBE portion of the bar exam. BARBRI MBE Immersion helps.

2. MBE Immersion is built upon an evidence-based approach to improve law student performance on the MBE portion of the bar exam.
The deep-dive, online experience is designed to accelerate the pace you learn the law and, in turn, successfully answer MBE bar exam questions.

3. MBE Immersion starts with BARBRI’s Systematic Problem Solving approach to MBE questions.
You’ll learn secrets from MBE experts and have the chance to put those skills to work with a specially selected set of MBE questions.

4. It introduces you to the most frequently tested topics. 
MBE Immersion takes you subject-by subject through each of the MBE topics and is the best way to start acquiring, applying and assessing your MBE knowledge.

5. It provides you with a mental framework for the large amount of law you need to master for the MBE. 
Nothing replaces that work that you have to personally put into studying for the bar exam, but it, along with every part of BARBRI Bar Review, is designed to help you maximize every second of study time so you can study smarter, not harder.

Sign In to your BARBRI Bar Review account mid-December for winter takers or mid-May for summer takers and you’ll see the MBE Immersion assignment in your BARBRI Personal Study Plan. All of us at BARBRI look forward to helping you Own The Bar and to seeing your name on the pass list.

Law School Midterms: Preparation Tips

Law School Midterms

Guest Blog by Courtney Boykin
3L at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

Law school midterms are upon and while they’re just miniature exams and rarely count as much as final exams, they’re still very important.

Beyond the fact that they count for a particular percentage of our grades, they also give us an opportunity to assess our comprehension and progress in the course.

Last week I had my law school midterms and I figured now would be a great time to share how I prepare.

Compile Your Notes

Law School Midterms

I handwrite most of my notes. So before any group or professor review session, I type my notes. I try to just type high-level rules and not necessarily hypos. This isn’t an elaborate outline… just my notes.

Group Sessions

When it comes to group study sessions, most people either love them or hate them.  I’m somewhere in between. For me, it sort of depends on the topic. If I feel as though I have a grasp of the subject, I’ll study in a group. If not, then I tend to study by myself. Here, as with anything else, you have to know what works for you. Figure it out and do that.

Review Sessions

Most of my professors have review sessions before major quizzes or tests. I know some students don’t attend these sessions, but, personally, these are THE best opportunities to get an overview before the test or quiz. Additionally, these sessions are particularly helpful if you come with questions. At the same time, I’ve attended sessions when I didn’t have any questions and just sat and listened to other students’ questions (although sometimes this can cause confusion). Again, find out what works for you and do THAT!

Planning for a Law School Clinic

law school clinic

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
2L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

For upper-level law students, law school clinic experience is available … if you can secure one of the limited spots.

While many law students feel most comfortable in the confines of their doctrinal classes, law school clinics offer a more hands-on approach to learning. Many employers value and appreciate it. However, before jumping on the ‘clinical bandwagon’, there are a number of factors to consider when determining whether and/or which clinic is right for you.

law school clinic

  1. Time constraints

    Most law school clinics require a HUGE time commitment. It is unlike class where you can (occasionally) skip readings, or show up underprepared. In a clinic, you have a client on the other end expecting, and relying on, your best work and effort. Semester filled with pro bono hours, board meetings, and/or other intensive courses, such as mock trial? Then, push enrolling in a clinic to a semester where your schedule is more open.

  2. Credit Considerations 

    Most law school clinics are offered at a higher credit hour level than the average course. While this is great for satisfying the minimum semester credits, you also need to be careful when registering for courses. You don’t want to exceed the maximum allowable credit hours. Similarly, consider when courses are offered. If this is the semester where multiple required or wanted, courses are being offered, and you’re unsure whether they will be available in the following semester, consider whether it is possible to: (A) take those courses, and (B) commit to a clinic, or (D) whether you should defer enrolling in a clinic.

  3. Employment Considerations 

    So you’ve decided that you have time and scheduling availability for a clinic … now you need to decide what clinic is right for you. One way to narrow your focus is the consider what area of law you are most likely to practice. Find a clinic which compliments that interest. Note: if you have not secured post-graduation employment yet, consider whether enrolling in a particular clinic will stand out to potential employers. Finally, drawing on the abovementioned, when selecting your law school clinic, consider the time commitment expectations and credit hours allotted for that specific clinic.

As someone enrolled in a clinic, I advocate for the benefits that clinical experience offers. However, clinic enrollment is not something to take lightly, you are accountable in a way that differs from doctrinal and seminar courses, so you need to be certain that you are able to adequately balance the workload of a clinic with your other school and social requirements before enrolling. However, if you feel that you can manage the workload, I can almost guarantee that the experience will be an enriching one, both academically, and professionally.

A Procrastinator’s Guide to Surviving 1L

procrastinator

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin,
1L at University of Arizona

Procrastination… what Psychology Today calls a serious problem… I call inspiration. I am a procrastinator that thrives under the pressure of a looming deadline. “Diamonds are made under pressure” or “You underestimate my power” are my go-to comebacks when someone questions my procrastination tendencies. So at first, I was comforted to discover that many of my fellow 1L classmates share my procrastinating tendencies.

Like many advanced procrastinators, I do not procrastinate out of laziness. Rather, time and again, I have found my best ideas often come in the final moments before a deadline. To be clear, I never miss a deadline but have I submitted an assignment due at 11:59 pm at 11:58 pm after adding a page worth of edits to a paper I finished the day before?  Absolutely.

Although I have become accustomed to my methods, I knew this was not going to be ideal in law school, especially with so many tasks that have unchecked deadlines like outlining and hypos. So what does a procrastinator, like myself do, when there is no looming deadline to spur me into action? I effectively create them of course! If you find yourself in a similar position, I hope these three tactics work for you too!

1 – Establish Deadlines With Others (Mentors/Study Group/Fellows)

procrastinator

Real deadlines are the key to my success. Merely setting a goal doesn’t cut it, it must be an actual deadline. Arranging meetings with others has allowed me to stay on task, and still thrive creatively under a set deadline. My school has 2L Fellows assigned to most of my classes, and they all host office hours. I set a deadline to meet with them before a project is due to get feedback (as permitted by our honor code). This new deadline forces me to complete the assignment in its entirety, so I have something to discuss or review during these meetings. We also have a writing center, that can assist students with a variety of assignments and provide advice when needed. I am sure you have at least one of these at your school too, and you can use these meetings to override actual assignment deadlines to motivate you into action.

2 – Be Creative with Your Schedule

You might remember my blog about setting up my schedule with built-in reminders and alerts for all of my deadlines. Because I set this up the first week school and often moved UP deadlines, I have to adhere to all of the deadlines in my calendar, because at this point, I do not have time to go back and check the syllabi. So this means I find myself completing tasks early, even when I procrastinate on starting them. This extra time, them allows me to revisit the assignment and add any additional points right before its due, without risking submitting something subpar.

3 – Let Progressive Learning Spur You into Action

Let be real; procrastination hampers progressive learning in law school. It doesn’t matter how creative I become in the last minute if I don’t have the proper foundation to make my argument. Law school is all about progressive learning. All of the tasks build upon each other, and we cannot effectively move onto the next topic if we are still catching up on the old one. I know that if I wait to the last minute, I’m always going to be playing catch-up rather than building upon my recently learned knowledge. Thinking of my assignments, in a progressive manner has helped me to turn the corner on my procrastination ways. Essentially, progressive learning is the panic monster that motivates me into action.

I am still a procrastinator. These tools have allowed me to retain that spark I have right before a deadline. I also stay ahead of actual deadlines. What tips and tools have you used to help stay on task?

Tools for “Mastery” of Your 1L outlines

October means crunch time.

As you flip the calendar, take note of the time between now and finals week. In about six weeks, you’ll need to have reached your highest level of learning, memorization and organization. That’s not a simple task.

Enter the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package.

If you haven’t already, it time to begin your outlines. (So how do you go about outlining, you ask?) This is where 1L Mastery helps tremendously. Starting to outline is like writers block. You stare at a blank Word document for 20 minutes. Literally. When you sign up for 1L Mastery, however, you get instant access to ready-to-use first-year course outlines — great examples that show you how to organize your own materials and even fill in a few blanks (substantive gaps) you may have missed in class or from your readings. Writers block conquered.

 

And the practice questions.

1L Mastery also has multiple-choice black letter law practice questions for every 1L subject. You can gauge your understanding of a topic without setting aside hours to complete. It’s an ideal way to supplement the other types of learning and it can help identify areas where you may need to spend more time. Just finished “offer and acceptance” in Contracts? Take a few practice hypotheticals to help identify when a contract has been formed.

The more hypotheticals you practice, the better prepared you will be when the final exam comes. Those first semester grades are so critical. You need all the material you can to succeed and stand out among your peers. Having access to the plethora of exam questions in the 1L Mastery Package is one its biggest advantages.

You’ve already completed a third of your first semester of law school. It’s zooming by. And things speed up even more. Feel comfortable knowing you have 1L Mastery outlines, practice questions (and video lectures) to back up your learning.

How can you stand out in your law school class? Be a “1L Master.”