The Law Student’s Guide to Self-Care

Open the Windows to Self Care

[ Makenzie Way, 3L at the University of Pennsylvania ]

Law school is busy, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely let yourself go. Self-care can take any form, it can take a few seconds or it can take a few days. As the driver of this thing called life, you get to decide what you have time for, but word from the wise (my grandma, not me) make sure to work it in!

After all, caring for yourself is a great way to ensure you thrive during law school – and beyond. We’re not machines, sometimes we just need a break from all things school-related.

Under 60-Seconds Ideas

  • Light a candle and breathe in the fresh scent
  • Open a window to air your apartment out
  • Drink a glass of water – hydration is key
  • Text someone who has the ability to make you smile

5-Minute Ideas

  • Apply a face mask
  • Listen to your favorite song(s)
  • Make yourself a tea, coffee or hot chocolate
  • Give yourself a foot, hand or shoulder massage – bonus points if you invest in one of those little massage devices
  • Meditate or do some focused breathing
  • Write down 10+ things you’re grateful for
  • Write down 5+ things you love about yourself
  • Have a mini dance party
  • Clean some small part of your house (i.e. sweep the floors, wipe the counters, clean the bathroom)
  • Clip and file your nails

15-Minute Ideas

  • Have a relaxing shower or bath
  • Go for a short walk
  • Stretch or do some yoga
  • Have a nap
  • Call someone who makes you happy
  • Watch a short YouTube video or scroll through social media
  • Fold your laundry and/or put it away
  • Make a snack
  • Read a chapter of a non-assigned book

An Hour Plus Ideas

  • Watch a TV show or movie
  • Go out with friends or family
  • Hit the gym
  • Splurge and get a massage or pamper yourself some other way
  • Listen to an engaging podcast
  • Read a book
  • Go to a nearby park and enjoy nature
  • Do a yoga or exercise class
  • Do your laundry and/or household chores
  • Buy groceries
  • Cook a fantastic meal or go out to your favorite restaurant
  • Go to the movie theatre or see a live play
  • Listen to music at a live concert
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter

Outlining Season Has Arrived…

The Beginning of Outlining season and Starbucks red Cups

[ Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona ]

While everyone else is excited for Starbucks Red Cups… it is a signal that law school finals are coming… this means one thing… it’s time to outline. As 2Ls, we likely have our system set, and we know what we need… but I remember last year as a 1L feeling lost, even though I knew best practices from my law preview class. When it came to outlining, there were somethings that I just did not understand how to do effectively my first semester. I learned a lot from my first experience, and I did much better during my second semester. So 1Ls this blog is for you, and maybe it can help some 2Ls as well. Here are 4 tips to help you outline effectively.

1 → DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THANKSGIVING TO OUTLINE!!!

Yes folks, if you are reading this and you haven’t started your outline, you need to. Last year, Thanksgiving was this week, so we had a nice buffer to start working on completing our outlines. My school had midterms, so many of us already had outlines that just needed to be updated. Thanksgiving was a great time to work on updating these… Or starting them… cough… So… if you haven’t started, do it this weekend!!

Don't wait to start working on your outlines

2 → Understand HOW to use your outline

When I was a 1L… I saw my outline as a security blanket rather than a tool. I put so much on my outline that it was hard to use effectively. Part of this was because I did not practice with my outline enough, but really I didn’t fully comprehend that my outline was a tool to help me memorize the material and allow me to be very familiar with it. When I did use my outline on practice tests, my practice focused on how to use my outline efficiently, rather than how to answer the questions effectively.  It sounds silly now, but It was so easy to get caught up in the process of answering, rather than mastering the material to create a good answer.

3 → Create an attack outline

This was perhaps the biggest difference between my first and second semesters. My outlines second semester all had an effective attack outline that had only the key components on them. Rather than using my big outline, I for the most part exclusively used an attack outline. The attack outline had just enough information to trigger my memory which enabled me to be able to write what I needed. An attack outline might just be a flowchart, the elements, or a bullet point of the needed cases per topic. It really is up to you, and you discover this through practice. Click here to view BARBRI’s suggested outlines.

4 → Practice with your outline

Here, practice tests can be your best friend. Most schools have a database of tests and if they do not, a quick google search will provide some examples. ALWAYS try to get practice exams from your professor. Practicing with your outline is good for a few reasons. It helps you learn the material, and this will allow you to go faster on test day. Additionally, practicing will help you decide what to have on your attack outline. Do you forget elements? Do you need a checklist to make sure you hit all of the cases? Has your professor walked you through the way they want questions answered? Practicing will help you see what you overlook and these are all great elements to include on your attack outline!

Best of luck! Remember to keep it simple, aim for understanding with a goal of mastery, and keep it simple! Do you have any recommendations for outlining? If so, let me know over @The2LLife on Instagram or Twitter.

The Productive Art Of Study Rituals

Listening to Music while studying

[ Mara Masters, 1L at Emory Law ]

I have been listening to the same album for almost every single study session for the past two years. I know this sounds boring but hear me out. I am the kind of person who struggles to transition from the outer world where life happens, and where shiny things distract me, into the inner mental world where productive studying happens. It took me almost 18 years of education to realize this, but when I finally did, my study life was revolutionized.

Here’s what it looks like:

Noise-canceling headphones

I prefer over-ear ones because, for whatever reason, having my ears covered distances me from the outer world in a kind of perplexing way. I prefer headphones, but if I don’t have them, a hoodie sometimes does the trick. (Is this weird? Anyone else like this?)

Music

My go-to study music for a very long while has been Sleeping At Last’s Atlas: Space Deluxe, the second half of which is all instrumental.

Recently though, I have branched out a little bit and started listening to Yo-Yo Ma’s Six Evolutions – Bach: Cello Suites.

And, this one is a little weird, but it has been working for me: The Monks of the Abbey of Notre Dame Gregorian Chants. I have no idea how I started with these, but they make everything feel a little magical.

Organize work surface

I lose focus pretty easily when I am studying, especially if I am tired. If I get distracted for something even as simple as finding a pen, it sometimes takes me 20 minutes to get back into focus mode. So, I lay out writing utensils, my book, and my clipboard with fresh notepaper on the table and cross my fingers that I didn’t forget anything that I might have to go hunting for later.

Set Tree

After everything is laid out and my Gregorian Chants are playing, I set a tree. (Check out this post if you have no idea what I’m talking about)!

Scents to study by

Scents

Gregorian chants are weird, but the olfactory/memory connection is definitely weirder. I have a tiny roller of essential oils that are supposedly meant to help you with focus, but really I just think they smell nice and I have been using the same one for so long that every time I smell it, I get a boost of study-adrenaline. Before that, I would chew spearmint gum a spearmint mint, which had the same effect.

Obviously this gangly, kind of unwieldy ritual isn’t always possible, but I try to implement as much of it as possible, as frequently as possible if I need to get deep work done. I’m pretty sure I listened to Atlas: Space two hundred and fifty times while I was finalizing my memo draft.

Do you have any unique study rituals? I’d love to hear about them. Reach out at @the1lLife on Twitter and Instagram!

5 Tips to Writing Top-Notch Law School Essay Exams

Tips and advice on Writing Essays

[ Juliana Del Pesco, BARBRI International Legal Manager, Americas ]

A semester of reading, briefing cases and preparing outlines all culminates in one final act: Writing law school final exams. Most law school exams call for essay-type responses as a test of your ability to analyze and resolve legal problems.

You will be required to demonstrate your grasp of the materials you studied throughout the semester, along with your ability to provide lawyer-like solutions to precise legal issues. Your class grade will be largely, if not exclusively, based on your final exam performance, so be sure you are properly prepared with these exam-writing tips.

#1 – READ AND ANALYZE THE PROBLEM CAREFULLY

Read the entire problem through once rather quickly to get a general understanding. Focus on the question you are being asked to respond to at the end of the problem. Then, read through the scenario again, slowly and carefully. This time, evaluate every word and phrase to identify all potential issues. Always keep in mind the specific question you are actually being asked to answer.

#2 – ORGANIZE YOUR THOUGHTS

Organization is critical to writing a strong essay answer. After all, if the professor cannot follow your analysis, how can they grade it fairly and appropriately?

Before you start writing, chart the issues in the manner in which you will resolve them. Again,  make sure the issues are related to the actual question you are being asked to answer. Arrange the issues in the sequence in which you would expect a court to address them (i.e., normally, jurisdictional issues first, then liability, then remedies). Capture the points you will discuss in sufficient detail to prompt you to think the problem through to a fair and practical solution.

BARBRI has developed a quick outlining system called Issue T to help students organize their thoughts for essay writing. In the Issue T, you state the rule implicated at the top, list the elements that comprise that rule on the left side of the “T”, and list all of the supporting, relevant facts on the right side of the “T”:

#3 – START WRITING ONLY WHEN YOUR ANALYSIS AND ORGANIZATION ARE COMPLETE

You may find that you devote a solid one-fourth of the time allocated to reading, analyzing the problem and organizing your answer. That’s okay. A logical organization and clear expression of ideas will strengthen your answer. This purposeful approach may even bolster an answer that’s somewhat weak.

#4 – AS YOU BEGIN TO WRITE, USE THE I-R-A-C FORMAT FOR EACH ISSUE RAISED

Issue. First, state the issue in precise legal terms (e.g., “Did the defendant’s mistake in computing his bid prevent the formation of an enforceable contract?”). Be careful to avoid generalizations or oversimplification of the issue.

Rule. Next, state the applicable law. Be sure to define the pertinent elements of a rule as well as any terms of art. Consider and discuss ALL relevant views, making certain that you express the underlying rationale behind each divergent view or rule of law.

Application. Then, apply the rules to the facts using arguments. Avoid the common error of stating a rule and then jumping straight to the conclusion.. Your professor will not infer a supporting argument for you—you must spell it out. Remember to use the Issue T you created earlier to remind you to discuss  which facts in the fact pattern support (or prevent) application of the rule. Discuss and weigh each fact given and the logical inference to be drawn from it. Be sure to include counterarguments where possible.

Conclusion. Finally, come to a straightforward conclusion on each issue. Make sure you have clearly answered the question asked, and you have not left an issue hanging. If a number of outcomes are possible, discuss the merits of each, but always select one position as your conclusion and state why. In close cases, it is generally best to select the most practical and fair conclusion. Just don’t consider yourself bound by the “general rule” or “majority view” in answering an exam unless the question clearly calls for such.

#5 – OTHER HELPFUL TIPS AND VALUABLE RESOURCES

Budget your time, but don’t be concerned if you notice that others begin writing before you do. Law professors are usually focused more on the quality rather than the length of a student’s answer. They will appreciate that you stick to the issues and emphasize what counts to provide the most succinct, yet appropriate, exam response.

Last but certainly not least, make sure your answer is legible. If your school gives you the option to handwrite or type your exams, I recommend typing your exam. Your professor won’t be impressed by the logic of an answer that cannot be easily read.

For effective 1L school resources, learn about the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package.

For more law school tips specifically for LL.M.s, download the free BARBRI LL.M. Guide.

ABOUT BARBRI

BARBRI has helped more than 1.3 million lawyers around the world pass a U.S. bar exam. The company also provides online J.D., post-J.D., and international programs for U.S. law schools and specialized ongoing training and certifications in areas such as financial crime prevention and eDiscovery.

To help LL.M. students determine which BARBRI course may be best to pass a U.S. state bar exam, check out our blog: BARBRI EXTENDED BAR PREP AND 8-WEEK BARBRI BAR REVIEW: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Brain Breaks

[ Mara Masters, 1L at Emory Law ]

Something happened to me last week that has only happened to me a couple of times before.

After many days of 10+ straight hours of deep mental work, my brain just collapsed from exhaustion. I tried to push through it. I drank more coffee. I drank so much coffee. I worked on the less intellectually-demanding tasks while I waited for my brain health gauge to replenish, but the truth was that I had overdone it. The inner-workings of my mind resembled what my house looks like on weeks that I have multiple events at school: absolute disarray. The longer I delayed taking a break, the worse the mess got and the more difficult even the simplest tasks became.

It’s a vicious and inefficient cycle, really. I work slower and less efficiently instead of taking a break, which makes me even slower and less efficient. On and on it goes until the pace is really more like standing still. The time and work would have been better off if I had just stared at the wall for thirty minutes, or better yet – watched some 30 Rock.

We’ve talked before about how learning new information and processes creates and repaves your neurological pathways. The more new information you are taking in, the more “paving” work your brain is doing. As you are paving and repaving these neural pathways, your brain is simultaneously engaged in sorting and organizing all of the new information to relate to the pre-existing information. The more you repeat those same processes and that same information, the more well-trod those pathways become, but only to a point.

Why?

Because brains, like bodies, get tired. We all know this from our primary school days, right? Eat a healthy diet to give your brain energy. Exercise regularly to give your brain energy. Get enough sleep to give your brain energy.

Here’s the law school addition to that: give your brain breaks so that it can do all of that work without turning into a puddle of mush. I am finding that this is harder work than I care to admit. Even when I am not doing school work, my brain is still in on mode – somewhere in my mind I am rehearsing the definition of proximate cause. I am afraid that if I stop rehearsing it to myself, I will lose it.

In a sense, that’s true.

But if I give my brain actual breaks, it will take the definition of proximate cause and organize it. And I might lose it for a bit. But then when I find it again, I will be able to see what folder my brain put it in and then finding it will be that much easier next time.

This is especially important with exams coming up when the temptation to cram study is very high. We study more, sleep less, and retain less.

It’s very difficult for me to take real brain breaks, but here’s what I have found that helps me: boxing, running, and cycling; listening to really loud, fun music; watching trashy sitcoms; reading an engrossing novel; going on a hike with my camera; eating really good food without any other distractions.

I’d love to hear what you do to give your brain a break! Reach out on twitter and Instagram @the1lLife!

A Summer Associate Wardrobe on a Law Student Budget

[ Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona ]

Like most of you, I worked for free this summer, and like the rest of you have been living off of my student loans for the most. Money is tight, and I think that is just a simple fact for most of us. For me, I was very lucky, and I worked for a government agency this summer that had a very casual dress code. In fact, jeans were highly encouraged. The causal environment was perfect, not just because it made it easy to dress for work, but because it was very friendly to my budget since I could just wear what I already owned.

However, this summer, I will be a summer associate at a big law firm in Phoenix, and the wardrobe demands of that job will be very different. I need to build a summer associate wardrobe without causing too much damage to my budget. Before law school, I owned zero suits. Right before school started, I was lucky enough to buy a few professional outfits from The Limited when they were liquidating their inventory, for only $14.99 apiece. But that was it. So, for tips on how to build my summer associate without breaking the bank, I turned to my friends, fellow interns, and mentors.

Here is what I learned…

First, Know What You’ll Need.

Once you know the culture of your firm, courthouse, or workplace you can start understanding the dress code you’ll be expected to adhere to. You can do this by arranging for a visit to the firm, meeting with your firm’s mentor, or reaching out to the previous summer associates. The associate class from last year, took all of us out for a happy hour to give us great tips about succeeding at the firm, and what to wear.

Next, Plan to Mix and Match

Now that you know what to shop for, make it a goal to build a wardrobe that you can mix and match easily. One of my friends recommended building a wardrobe of pieces that all complimented each other and could easily be mixed and matched. She recommended picking a color theme, and this would allow you to easily repeat clothes by simply varying the shell, jacket, or skirt. For many of you, this is likely common sense, but for those of us that are more fashionably challenged, this was an important tip.

Where to Shop

First Stop, Goodwill.

My amazing friend and fellow 2L intern at my government agency swears by Goodwill and proudly professes that she has built her entire professional wardrobe through frequent visits. She has impeccable style, and you would never know that her items were picked up from Goodwill. Her best tip is to shop right after the holidays, as that is when she has been able to pick up the highest quality suits. A few other people also recommended Goodwill, so I began to hit up my local store once a month, and have been able to pick up some great jackets and shells. However, my best score occurred this weekend! I found three brand new Anne Taylor suits that were gorgeous, but unfortunately, not in my size. However, since they were only $10, a piece I knew they would be useful to someone that size in my law school class. I posted a photo and quickly had a request to purchase them. You’d never believe it, all three fit her perfectly like they had been tailored for her!

Shop Consignment Stores

Next, try consignment stores.

This is where I personally have had the best luck when it has come to purchasing actual suits. The prices here can range dramatically, but you’re more likely to find designer suits at a store like this. However, the prices can sometimes still rival that of Goodwill. In Phoenix, we have My Sister’s Closet, and I have found great suits for as little as $20.

You can also find amazing deals on Poshmark (if you need a referral code, mine is @stepharizona). One of the jackets I bought from The Limited has turned into my “go to court outfit,” and I desperately wanted to find it again. Luckily, I was able to on Poshmark!

Don’t Forget Chains and Online stores too

Nordstrom Rack is an obvious go-to for many, but do not forget Target, Amazon and even Costco.com, who all have professional wardrobes available. You can pick up pieces for less than $20 in most cases. Just make sure you can “mix and match” with the pieces you have already found. Now is also a great time to check out the clearance racks at department stores too. The clothes you can wear to the office in the summer will now be on clearance!

Finally, consider renting.

This final tip comes from one of my friends, who is a lawyer in Los Angeles. Sure, she is no longer on a law school budget, but she has substantial loans to repay, so she tries to keep her budget similar to what had in law school. Her favorite tip was to rent your wardrobe! She said for about $100 a month she can subscribe to a clothing rental service that provides her with 3 outfits at a time. She loves this because she gets new clothes that fit her style profile, and she never has to worry about dry cleaning! She simply wears an outfit to work, changes into gym clothes before going home, and ships the outfit back that night. Usually 2 days later, she receives a new outfit. She simply keeps this cycle going, because the service has unlimited returns and you get a new outfit shipped out as soon as the old one is received. Because of the system that she has, she really only needs a few staple items of her own, like the suits she wears to court. She has found this has worked really well for her and would be cheaper than her dry cleaning bill.

So those are my tips for creating a summer associate wardrobe on a law school budget! What tips do you have? Let me know over at the @The2LLife on Instagram and Twitter!

Mealtime for Law Students

[ Makenzie Way, 3L at the University of Pennsylvania ]

It’s a known fact that law students are strapped for time. Our schedules are usually filled with school responsibilities, and when they’re not we’re normally too exhausted to take advantage of the break.

With limited time and energy to devote to non-school related activities, law students often become closely acquainted with the nearby restaurants and delivery services. Unfortunately, while eating out may be easy, but it’s not necessarily the most healthy option, and it certainly isn’t the most financially practical one.

Luckily, cooking your own meals doesn’t need to take hours (contrary to what some cooking shows seem to indicate). Personally, I love to cook so it’s never been an issue for me, but when I’m strapped for time I usually opt for one of the following recipes, because they’re quick, simple, and tasty! PS. Investing in a crockpot will save you loads of time and help you expand your efficient culinary possibilities!

The 15 Minute Chicken Stir-fry

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli, sliced
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
Instructions:
  • Pan fry your vegetables over medium heat for approximately 5-6 minutes. Once cooked remove from heat.
  • Pan fry your diced chicken and minced garlic for 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat. Add the cooked vegetables to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, honey and say sauce. Pour the mixture over the chicken and vegetables and cook for 1 minute.
  • In another bowl, mix the 2 tsps of cornstarch with 1 tbsp of cold water. Pour the mixture into the pan and let it simmer until the sauce thickens.
  • Serve on its own, or with rice.

The Five-Ingredient Enchilada

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb cooked chicken, shredded or finely chopped
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce
  • 8 regular sized soft flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded four-cheese Mexican cheese (1 bag)
Instructions:
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly grease a large casserole dish.
  • Spread ½ of the enchilada sauce along the bottom of the casserole dish.
  • Fill each tortilla with approximately ¼ cup of chicken and tbsp of cheese. Roll the tortilla’s and place them into the dish with the seam facing down.
  • Pour the other half of the enchilada sauce over the tortilla’s and sprinkle any remaining cheese on top.
  • Cover the dish in tin foil and bake for 30 minutes.

The Fifteen Minute Alfredo

Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ¾ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • Grilled chicken, diced
  • Cooked spaghetti
Instructions:
  • Add noodles to boiling water and cook until tender, stirring occasionally (pour 1 tsp of oil into the pot to avoid the noodles sticking together). At the same time, pan-fry your chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Melt butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute before whisking in the flour, half and half, and chicken broth.
  • Once the dry ingredients are absorbed, add the parmesan cheese, stirring constantly until it is fully melted and then remove from heat.
  • Combine the cooked chicken and spaghetti, and pour the sauce over top. Add salt, pepper, or parsley for extra flavor.

The One Pot Beef and Broccoli

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 3 cups white rice
  • 1 cup teriyaki sauce
Instructions:
  • Cook the beef in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. At the same time, cook the broccoli in boiling water, and cook your rice according to the instructions.
  • Once cooked, add the broccoli and rice to the pan with the beef. Pour the teriyaki sauce over the mixture and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes.

What are your go-to law school meals? Share them with us on social media, we’d love to try them out!

It’s Clinic Time

Clinic Time

 [ Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona ]

Can you believe it my fellow 2L’s, we are starting to pick our classes for the second semester of our 2L year!?! Once we start those classes, we will we halfway through our law school journey. Some of you might be even closer to crossing the finish line if you’ve completed summer school, or taken a full load of classes. While I’m not a fan of attending summer school, I am a huge fan of clinics.

Law school clinics allow students to be 38D certified (it might be some other title for your state), but it basically means that a law student can conduct “limited practice” under supervision of a licensed attorney. This attorney could be your professor or someone outside the law school. By being certified this means you can do all the things a bar-certified lawyer would do, for the most part.

All clinics are a little different, so it’s important to research all of the clinics available to you.

At most schools, it’s a competitive process. This means that you bid on the clinic you want (often by ranking them), or perhaps you might interview for the clinic to be chosen since there are limited spots. Depending on your school this could mean that you are not able to do a clinic while you were in law school. Other schools guarantee you’ll be able to participate in at least one clinic and that is how my school works.

So for all you pre-law students and 0Ls out there who are deciding on where you’re going to go to law school, make sure you look into this before you make your final decision. I know it played a role in my law school process. I knew I wanted to participate in clinics, so I picked a school that guaranteed at least one clinic, possibly even more. Some people at my school do clinics every semester in their 2L & 3L years.

There are lots of different ways to select a clinic, but here are my top 3 recommendations for picking a clinic.

First, pick a clinic in the field you want to practice

If you have an interest in family law, participating in a related clinic is a great way to find out if this is what you want to do for your career. You’ll interact with the same type of clients you will upon graduation, and the clinic gives you this experience while still being supervised and that is the key thing… it’s okay to make mistakes. Everyone knows you’re still learning and the supervising attorney is there to help catch those errors.

Family Law

Pick a clinic in a disliked or unfamiliar area.

On the flip side, you might want to pick a clinic for something you don’t think you want to practice in. This might seem like a recipe for disaster; however, you might surprise yourself and discover something you really enjoy and love. If you know you’d never want to practice in a can field, maybe skip this option, but if your doubt is just because you don’t know a lot about it, why not give it a try. A clinic offers the perfect opportunity to “dip your toe” in the practice area, with little risk.

Pick your clinic based on the skills you’ll gain.

Finally, you might want to pick a clinic, just based on the experience you’ll gain from it. And that’s the approach I took when I decided to participate in the prosecution clinic. While I did not plan on practicing criminal law when I picked this clinic as a 1L, I knew I wanted to be a litigator, and this clinic would provide a ton of litigation experience. I also knew for my criminal procedure class, that criminal law was something that I might have an interest in, so this allowed me to explore that interest. However, my primary goal was to be in court as much as possible, and this was the best clinic to meet that goal.

At my clinic, I get to prepare cases and try them in court. I prepared for six bench trials in the past two weeks. My first three trials all concluded in plea deals that were reached immediately before the trial began. Yesterday, I had my first opportunity to proceed with two cases. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that I was able to have an attorney be by my side and help guide me through the process of responding to objections, making objections, and speaking to the judge.

While there are classes that can help us do that, such as basic trial advocacy, to me is nothing like real-world experience. I learned so much and this experience will not only help me with my future cases but in my classes like evidence as well. It’s also helped me realize that pursuing a career in criminal law may be an interest as well.

So if you’re on the fence about doing a clinic or you’re not sure which one to select I hope you find these tips useful. I would love to hear about your clinic experience. Let me know, over at the @The2LLife on Instagram or Twitter.

Law School Note Taking Part II

Law School Note Taking

[ Mara Masters, 1L at Emory Law ]

Last week in the 1L Life cafe, we talked about law school note taking strategies. This week we are following that up with a rundown of my absolute favorite ever all-purpose app – Notion. (remember, it’s free for students!)

If you think this particular note-taking setup would work for you, you can click here and duplicate the template into your own workspace.

Here’s how I have it set up:

I start with a school dashboard that has my to-do list for the week along with a sub-page for each class and activity I am involved in. I update my assignments on Sundays. It sometimes takes a while but having everything right there is so much easier than flipping through the syllabus ten times because I keep forgetting my planner and also what page numbers I am supposed to read.

School Dashboard

Each class sub-page has the info for the course, every assignment thus far, and a sub-page for each week, case briefs, vocab, rules, syllabus, and of course, the BARBRI outline. I use a unicorn cover photo for every Contracts page, because contracts, like unicorns, feels mystical and elusive to me.

Contracts

The Resources pages are mostly spreadsheets, within which each entry exists as a card. I became obsessed with this system of tables a few years ago when I started using Airtable. I am hooked. I use the provided emojis to give myself a little memory jog about the contents of cases without even having to click on them.

Ever-Time Roofing Corp V. Green

Contracts BriefsAs you can see by the sparseness of emojis, I have been a little behind on filling out my Contracts case brief chart. That’s okay, though, because I have a three-step process for interacting with cases. I take hand-written notes, so I do a very short (usually 3-4 bullet points) handwritten brief of each case. Right before class, I transfer my hand-written notes over to my weekly notes document, which refreshes me on the facts. Then, at the end of the week, when I am tidying everything up and making note of what I need to review, I transfer my in-line case notes into my table.

At this point, you are probably pretty impressed by my perfectly refined system but you should know that even though I have successfully tested this system to ensure it works well for me, there has yet to be a single week where I complete the whole process for all of my classes. There have definitely been weeks where I didn’t complete it for a single class. Also, I am fairly certain the case brief up there in that Ever-title Roofing case is actually from Lexis.

Contracts Final Plan

One last little note.

I just started mapping out my Finals plan, which only a little bit terrifying, of course. I have not gotten very far but included it here as well.

2Ls and 3Ls, I beg you for your sage exam-prep advice! If you try out the template, I’d love to know what works or doesn’t work for you. If your law school note taking system is better (or less complex) than mine, let me know! Reach out on Instagram and Twitter @the1lLife.

BARBRI: I Passed The Ohio Bar Exam

Yay! I passed the Bar Exam!

[ GUEST BLOG by Sara Valentine, Graduate of Capital University Law ]

Will Farrell ExclaimingHey, BARBRI! I passed the Ohio Bar Exam!

I am so thankful to my mom, my friends, and my support group for getting me to this point. I would especially like to thank Capital University Law School for providing me with a stellar education that allowed me to work fulltime while attending evening classes for law school. The evening program at Capital Law took four long, hard years. It was all worth it for this moment and this day.

Robert Downey Wiping Brow

However, I owe a lot of my happiness today to BARBRI. I still remember how overwhelmed I was starting up that first class. The process this summer was nothing less than grueling, but I am so thankful that I can look back and say that all of my hard work paid off. I stuck to BARBRI’s program, I focused on areas where I was struggling, and I walked into the Ohio Bar Exam confidently. What a relief to be celebrating today. I want to congratulate everyone who got good news this morning and those who have received good news as results have been rolling in.  I am thrilled for you all!

For those of you who did not meet with success, I know it is a very tough time.  Please try to focus on the fact that what you are attempting is something most people never even have the guts to try.  You should feel proud of yourself for making it this far and be confident that ultimately you will absolutely pass this exam.  BARBRI is in your corner all the way.  BARBRI has representatives who can do their best to help you figure out what worked for you, what didn’t, and how to change the result next time around.

Celebratory scene from the Office

For those of you who did pass, did you know that BARBRI is here for you even after you’ve become a licensed attorney?

You’re going to be getting BARBRI’s post-bar email about QLTS and BARBRI’s Attorney’s Course. If you’re interested in practicing abroad, BARBRI has a prep option for the QLTS exam. If you’re interested, you can find out more about the exam and what BARBRI offers by clicking here.

Do you need to take the bar exam in another state?

BARBRI is still here for you! The BARBRI Attorney’s Course is a streamlined, online course designed to save you time. The BARBRI Attorney’s Course bypasses some basic bar exam test-taking skills that are critical for first time takers, it gets your quickly to the most highly tested areas of the exam overall and within each subject, and it pinpoints your topic and subtopic weaknesses so you can spend time working the areas of law that will most benefit your exam score. You can find out more about the BARBRI Attorney’s Course by clicking here.

I know that the idea of taking another bar exam is what nightmares are made of. However, getting licensed in other states or abroad is only going to benefit you in the long run. You’re going to set yourself apart by being able to hit the ground running in states where firms only have a few attorneys practicing or no attorneys at all. Although doing this all over again isn’t necessarily appealing, especially so soon after the July bar exam, you will be able to set yourself up for long-term success if you are able to get licensed in more states.

Thank you all for taking the time to read my blogs and keep up with my social media accounts over the summer and through the fall. It has been my pleasure. Good luck to you all!

Leo Dicaprio raising a toast

All my best,
Sara Valentine