Staying Healthy in Law School

Healthy in Law School

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

Is it possible to stay healthy in law school? I recently overheard a conversation among students in a class about maintaining proper health in law school. We typically have these required meetings throughout the lunch hour and often times the school funds lunch since we are required to attend these sessions. I’m not sure what happens at your school, but at my school, for contractual purposes, the food tends to be pizza. Now, full disclaimer, I’m not a huge fan of pizza, but by the time you attend your 3rd or 4th Meeting with pizza, even a pizza connoisseur would get a little tired of it.

Healthy in Law School

Most students typically complain about the pizza lunches but recently I’ve heard from students whose health could literally falter due to the inhumane amounts of pizza. These health issues for students range from severe food allergies to diabetes.

It sort of posed the question: How do you stay healthy during law school?

Now, I’m by no means a health expert, but I figured I’d at least offer my aspirational list (the things I try to do).

Healthy in Law School

  1. Exercise (Easier said than done, I know. I tend to be better at this in the Spring, but I try year-round.)
  2. Consciously eat (Law School makes us super busy, but I try to avoid frivolous eating. You have to make your meals count. It’s not about eating 3 square meals a day, but at the very least I try to be aware of what I’m eating.)
  3. Take a break (I am a full-fledged supporter of self-care. If you need a day…TAKE IT.)
  4. Drink water (My first semester of law school I noticed I wasn’t drinking enough water. I would typically opt for a Diet Coke or a diet Mountain Dew, but I quickly realized that’s not the best approach. Enjoy your sodas, but make sure you give your body what it REALLY wants…water!)
  5. Community accountability (My family tends to be my accountability partners. When I have been eating poorly, not getting enough sleep, or things of that sort, they check me on it. Accountability is key!)

How are you staying healthy in law school? Share your tips with me and other law school students on Twitter and Instagram: @The3Llife.

How to Satisfy your Upper Level Writing Requirement

Writing Requirement

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

Most law schools require upper-level students to satisfy a senior writing requirement before graduation. Generally, these writing submissions hover around the 25-30 page range, require rigorous research and editing, and are completed under a faculty supervisor. It’s no surprise then that for many 2L and 3L law students the upper-level writing requirement seems daunting.

Part of what is stressful about the writing requirement is figuring out (a) what you’re going to write on, and (b) how you’re going to fit writing a 30-page paper into your otherwise full semester. I’ve compiled a list outlining a number of possible ways that you may satisfy your upper-level writing requirement. Also, this list shows the potential pros and cons of each.

Comment or Journal Note

Pro:

 If you’re a member of law review, or another law school journal, submitting a comment may be a requirement of your journal membership. If that’s the case then you can essentially kill two birds with one stone. Request that your comment or note serve as your upper-level writing requirement as well.

Con:

 According to what journal you’re on, the range of acceptable topics for your comment or note may not align with your interests. In that case, if a comment is not required as part of your journal membership, you may want to consider whether you want to spend the time writing about an issue that is not of special interest to you – after all, 30 pages is not a quick project.

Seminar Courses

Pro:

 If you’re selective when choosing your seminar course(s) you can likely find one that requires a lengthy paper in lieu of a final exam. Many of these term papers can be used to satisfy your upper-level writing requirement. Bonus: you don’t need to spend the time seeking out a faculty advisor since your course professor already fills that role!

Con:

 Often times seminar courses have fewer credit hours then doctrinal courses, meaning you may have to stack courses to fulfill the required minimum semester credit hours. If that is, in fact, the case for you, your semester schedule may not grant you the necessary time to complete a quality lengthy paper. Furthermore, unlike a journal comment which is not completed for credit, seminar term papers predict your course grade.

On Your Own Time

Pro:

 Completing your upper-level writing requirement on your own provides you with a lot of flexibility in terms of selecting your faculty advisor, setting the completion timeline, choosing a topic, and determining your research strategy.

Con: 

If you opt to complete your upper-level writing requirement outside of more formal academic programs, you, of course, miss out on the chance to get course credit or immediate publication in a journal.

Independent Study

(Independent studies are essentially self-directed courses in which students research and write lengthy papers on a narrow topic. Another is where students work with a professor to craft a course on a specialty area of law)

Pro:

 Need a good alternative to completing the upper-level writing requirement on your own time? Find a faculty member interested in your topic. Then, request that they not only supervise your writing but also agree to oversee an independent study on the topic. Not only do independent studies look impressive on a transcript; you also get the chance to work closely with a professor (presumably) of interest to you. Plus, since this is a formal course you, of course, get credit hours!

Con:

 Unlike the ‘on your own time’ option, professors will expect a lot more out of you in terms of scheduling, research efforts, and even detail in editing when they know you are getting course credit, and the added benefit of an independent study on your transcript.

Research Assistant Project

Pro:

 If a professor you are working for, or interested in working for, has a project available (or a series of projects) you can request that your contribution on the project go towards satisfying your upper-level writing requirement. In many instances, you will receive some form of academic mention when the project publishes.  Even if you don’t, research projects are still a great resume booster.

Con:

 Research assistants generally get paid for their work; a blessing as a student. However, as general practice law schools require students to complete research projects without pay when seeking to satisfy their upper-level writing requirements.

Hopefully, the above-mentioned options provide some insight on how you can manage your upper-level writing requirement. As a final note of caution, however, make sure you confirm with your university that a particular avenue is acceptable before you expend too much time and energy on it!

1L Supplements to the Rescue!

1L Supplements

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin,
1L at
University of Arizona

Congratulations, Now for 1L Supplements!

We are well past the midpoint of the first semester as 1Ls and finals are just around the corner. Some of you might be like me, and you’ve recently received the results of your midterms, and you need some extra support, or perhaps you realize that finals are less than 4 weeks away and you feel like you want to maximize your understanding to be well prepared. 1L supplements might be just the thing you’re looking for! I spoke to many 2Ls and Law Librarians to see which supplements they recommended to help stay on track and get ahead.

Examples & Explanations Series. (E&Es)

One of the 1L supplements that everyone highly recommended was the Examples and Explanations Series, commonly referred to as E&Es. Since being introduced to the series, the E&E: The Law of Torts, Contracts and Civil Procedure have quickly become integrated into my study plan. They are great for extra clarification, plus I have found that the hypos provided closely resembled what we were asked on our midterms, especially for Civil Procedure. You can purchase these, or often find them in your law library on reserve.

BARBRI 1L Mastery Package & Outlines

Hopefully, you signed up for the 1L Mastery Package when it was free. You might have done this at your orientation, and if you’re not sure, stop by and see a rep who’s tabling and they can tell you. Yes, this is BARBRI blog, BUT the material here is fantastic, especially if you prefer to learn by listening vs. reading. You can access everything on the website, but I prefer to use the app. In addition to the helpful videos, you can also choose to download and listen to the audio version and take it with you!

On the app, you can also find questions to help you study, and pdfs of the 1L outlines. The outlines are great to check against your own, to see if you missed any key concepts. Pro tip: if you see something worded differently in the BARBRI outline that seems to conflict with your Professor, use your Professors methodology. You can also use the BARBRI outlines to help get clarification from your professor about key concepts too. I did this and realized I had misunderstood a statement about a key concept. Without the BARBRI outline, I would have had the wrong information on my personal outline.

1L Supplements

Short and Happy Guides

Want another suggestion for 1L supplements? While not as comprehensive as they E&Es, if you need a quick review of your topic the Short and Happy Guides are perfect for this purpose. I have found the Civil Procedure guide to be helpful. I use it to review what I’ve already learned. Also, before class, I use it to be able to process what my professor is discussing. It allows me focus on her key preferences and application of the concepts.

Hornbooks

On the complete opposite spectrum of the Short and Happy Series, we have Hornbooks. These are long and extremely comprehensive summaries of the law for a particular area of the law. While you might not want (or need to) read the entire hornbook (some appear to be as big as casebooks AND as expensive) you might find a chapter on a specific topic helpful. Again, your law school library will likely have these on hand to help you out and save you a few hundred dollars.

What 1L supplements are you using to help succeed during your 1L? Let me know over @The1LLife on twitter!

Why Do People Fail the Bar Exam? 3 Ways to Increase Chances of Passing the Bar

Mike Sims, BARBRI President

One of the questions I’m asked most frequently is, “Why do people fail the bar exam?” Let’s rephrase that question and focus on three fundamental truths that reduce bar exam stress and, more importantly, increase the likelihood of passing the bar exam.

Truth #1: You Want to Study Broad, Not Deep

In law school, students who know the most about a subject are the students who get the highest grades on final exams. Deep, thorough understanding of the subject is the goal of every top law student. Not so on the bar exam.

To pass the bar, you don’t have to be great in any one area. You need to know just enough, in enough areas, to land on the passing side of the bar exam curve. A good bar exam study strategy is to build a base of knowledge that is wide and shallow rather than narrow and deep. And remember, just because something CAN be tested on the exam doesn’t mean it’s likely to actually be tested on the exam.

Truth #2: Scoring High on the MBE is Not About Avoiding Tricks and Traps

We’ve helped students pass the MBE since it was first administered in 1972 and, once upon a time, the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) had a well-deserved reputation as a tricky test. There were questions that required leaps of logic through double conditional hoops. Today, the MBE is much fairer and more straightforward.

We suggest that you treat each MBE question like an essay question – albeit a short one with the answers already provided – and use a systematic approach to solve the problem. Here is BARBRI’s recommended systematic approach to MBE problem solving.

Truth #3:  You Need to Measure What Matters When Practicing MBE Questions

Everyone knows that the bar exam is pass/fail. Yet few truly consider the implications that has on their approach to preparing for the exam.

Most people are pre-conditioned to define success in terms of grades and percentage correct  – “I got a 9 out of 10 or a 90 percent on a test.” Achieving an “A” is irrelevant on the bar exam. Thinking that way can actually be a distraction and hindrance to an effective bar exam study strategy. Again, the key to passing is doing well enough, in enough areas – broad, general knowledge.

How do you know if you’re doing well enough in enough areas while you’re studying? The key is to measure and watch how many you are getting correct compared to everyone else preparing to take the same exam – or your percentile rank. In other words, you want to measure where you are on the score distribution or curve. Learn more about the bar exam curve here.

BARBRI is the Best Partner to Own The Bar

BARBRI invented bar review more than 50 years ago and we continue to re-invent and innovate the tools and approach most effective for passing success. Learn more about how BARBRI Bar Review works.

What’s the Best Approach to MBE Questions?

Roger Meslar,
BARBRI Sr. Director of MBE Testing and Assessments

During the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), you’ll answer 200 multiple-choice questions over a total 6-hour timeframe – 100 questions in the 3-hour morning session and 100 in the 3-hour afternoon session. This means that you’ll have an average of 1.8 minutes to answer each MBE question. Getting through these questions quickly enough on the exam requires a repeatable methodology or approach.

At BARBRI, we have found that the best method is to treat each MBE question like an essay question – albeit a short one with the answers already provided – and use the following approach.

BARBRI’S Systematic Approach to MBE Problem Solving:

  • First, cover the answer choices and read the call of the question so you can determine the subject being tested and the issue you are tasked to answer – without being distracted by the answer choices.
  • If the call of the question isn’t specific enough, read the sentence above the call for more guidance and, if necessary, quickly scan the answer choices for subject-specific buzzwords.
  • Next, read the facts in light of the issue being tested. Use the facts –and the law associated with the facts–to mentally formulate your own answer to the question. (You’re still not looking at the answer choices.)
  • Lastly, carefully read the answer choices provided to find the one that best fits the answer you arrived at using the steps above.

This systematic approach ensures that you focus on the actual problem to solve and reduces the risk of being distracted by details that may ultimately be irrelevant to the call of the question.

Additionally, coming to your own conclusion first and then matching the best answer provided will increase your confidence in that answer, allowing you to move more quickly through each question.

Should I Skip Hard Questions and Come Back?

Some people think it might be better to skip the difficult questions and come back to them at the end. We advise you not to hold hard questions. At the end, you’re tired and your critical thinking skills are at their lowest.

Go ahead and tackle them head-on. Use the systematic approach, make your best guess and then mark the question in your test booklet. If you have some time left at the end, you can give it another look.

When you come across questions that require way too much time to figure out, use those to actually make up time. Take one minute to go through the question, make your best guess and move on. Typically, the correct answer will be an option that is familiar to you. More often than not, completely unfamiliar or obscure answers choices are incorrect. Read more about that here.

BARBRI is Here to Help You Own The Bar

BARBRI’s MBE success learning path, combined with knowing where you are on the bar exam curve before you sit for the actual MBE exam, are core to helping you study smarter, not harder, and are just a couple of the many reasons BARBRI continues to be the most successful bar review course. We look forward to being your partner. Learn more about how BARBRI Bar Review works.

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!

HOW MANY MBE PRACTICE QUESTIONS DO I GET WITH BARBRI? ARE THEY REAL RELEASED QUESTIONS?

MBE PRACTICE QUESTIONS

By Mike Sims, BARBRI President

The short answer is that you’ll have access to over 2,000 MBE practice questions throughout your BARBRI Bar Review course. Working practice questions is very important. Now add a big asterisk because, as with many things, it’s not just the quantity that matters. The methodology and approach is critical to your MBE success.

The specific questions you answer, the order in which you answer them and the way you approach each question is so important that we have another entire blog dedicated to this topic if you’d like to geek out.

When it comes to real released MBE questions, BARBRI has released questions – but we don’t recommend that you focus on them.

Since only about 80 questions per subject have been released in the past 10 years, they don’t provide a good representation of the questions that are most likely to actually appear on a future exam.

Also, questions that have been released by the examiners will not appear in any future MBE. That’s why they were released.

If you ever see offers to work “thousands” of real, released MBE questions, we advise you not to waste your precious time or money.

Those questions are no longer used on the exam, are not representative of what is actually tested on a future exam and are likely very old. Focusing primarily on “real” released MBE questions is one way some bar preppers misuse limited study time.

BARBRI is the only course that has helped students pass the MBE since its inception in 1972, and we’ve learned that, even though a topic CAN be tested, it doesn’t mean that it is likely to actually be tested. Some topics are tested all of the time and others not as often.

BARBRI’s MBE success learning path, which is driven by an engine we call ISAAC, and built into assignments presented in your Personal Study Plan (PSP), accelerates your learning by incrementally building your knowledge and skills and maximizes your study time by focusing questions on areas of the law that you’ll most likely see on the exam. The MBE practice questions that you’ll work in BARBRI Bar Review have been developed by BARBRI subject matter experts and have been approved by experts in those subjects.

BARBRI’s MBE success learning path, combined with knowing where you are on the bar exam curve before you sit the actual MBE exam, are core to helping you study smarter, not harder and are just a couple of the reasons BARBRI continues to be the #1, most successful bar review course.

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