You Never Forget Your First Oral Argument…

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law


Image from the ABA for Law Students

First, we had research projects, then memos, and finally we’ve reached the oral argument stage of our law school careers. For most, this is a stressful time, especially for those who do not like to speak in front of others. Even if you have a lot of public speaking experience, it is not uncommon to be nervous, but our professor has reassured us that the nerves can actually be helpful. Here are some tips I’ve learned as I prepare for my first graded oral argument.

Handle the Nerves

A 2L told me if I wasn’t nervous before my oral argument “I wasn’t doing it right.” It was also reassuring to have our professor share that even experienced attorneys, with decades of experience, still get nervous before an oral argument. The “good part” of nerves is that they keep us on our toes. The “bad part” is, if not managed, they may impact our performance. Great…

The best advice I can give is to find a coping mechanism for your nerves. Some people like to visualize their performance, and others wear a favorite clothing item or hold something in their hand. For me, it’s applying pressure to my pinky finger. I know it sounds weird, but I acted as a kid, and this was a trick an experienced actor showed me. It’s easy to conceal, and I can’t even explain why it works, but it does. It is a small thing that helps me overcome my nerves and helps me focus.

The point is, you just need to discover what works for you. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it helps you to stay focused and calm. The ABA also has a great article for students here about managing your nerves.

Make A List of Questions

Make a list of questions you might be asked during your oral argument. You may have done this in class, but if you haven’t, I found it REALLY helpful! To make your own list, think of 3 questions you want to be asked, 3 questions you assume you will be asked, and 3 questions you hope you don’t get asked. You can then use these question to practice your oral argument and shore up any weaknesses you might have.

Find the Organization Method that Works for You.

There are a lot of different methods to use during your oral argument to help you stay organized, and they usually involve some type of folder system. Some recommend multiple folders, others a single folder system. In my class, we watched this video from UMKC about how to use a single folder with notecards. I liked this method, and it is what I will be using.

Practice! Present Your Argument To Someone

As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. You can present to yourself by recording your argument and reviewing it. I also recommend practicing in front of other people. Consider working with someone familiar with all of the facts. Since they know the material, they might not pull punches and ask tough questions. The other option you have is to work with your opponent. Some people might think this is crazy and unrealistic, and it might be off limits at your schools. At mine, it is encouraged, as it will challenge the way we look at our arguments and allow us to improve our memos before we submit them.

Best of luck with your oral arguments! Let me know how they went over @The1LLife on Twitter and Instagram.

The Transition From 2L to Rising 3L: Setting Up Final Year Success

The end of 2L year is right around the corner. True to form, it’s been B-U-S-Y. You’ve worked your tail off. You’re more than ready to call yourself a 3L student. But it’s important to finish strong on upcoming 2L final exams, and then you can look ahead. Here are some things to do before fall semester begins, which can set you up for easier sailing through 3L year.

MARCH & APRIL | SPRING FINAL EXAMS PREP

Stay focused on spring finals. BARBRI 2L/3L Mastery can help you with challenging subjects – Evidence, Taxation, Corporations, Wills, Trusts, Secured Transactions, Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Law and Family Law. Access to 2L/3L Mastery is one reason you might want to commit to bar review early. Find out more reasons here.

APRIL | COURSE REGISTRATION

Consider registering for 3L courses that will help prepare you for your state bar exam. Check out this list. Just remember to meet all the requirements for graduation. Be sure to get with your advisor to make absolutely sure you complete (and have completed) the right courses.

APRIL | JUDICIAL CLERKSHIPS

If you want to go after a judicial clerkship, you’ll need to ask professors to write you a letter of recommendation. Don’t be shy and don’t wait. Most judicial clerk applications require three letters of recommendation and at least two should be written by a law professor. Try to meet with each professor personally to let them know enough about you to write a great letter.

APRIL | EXTERNSHIPS & CLINICS

Keep building valuable practical experience. Check with your school for externship or clinical opportunities available. Think about what you’d like to do and during which semester of 3L year. Start by thinking about the kind of law you want to practice and then research the options. Be aware, too, of any special student licensing or course requirements.

MAY | CHARACTER & FITNESS APPLICATION

Start now, if you can. Many states/jurisdictions require you to submit a character and fitness application before you take the bar exam, and some allow it afterward. You can save yourself hundreds of dollars by completing this portion of your bar application early, but you need to know the state in which you are taking the bar to begin the process. It’s also extensive and time-consuming – you’ll need to gather details about your academic, work, financial, any criminal history … maybe even provide fingerprints. Getting started as early as possible is key.

Be mindful, too, that the character and fitness application is just one of the many requirements you need to have ready to take the bar exam. Follow our 3L Bar Admissions Checklist to stay organized and ahead of the game.

MAY | LAW PREVIEW JOB NETWORK

Get noticed. Whether or not you’ve landed a job offer by now, keep your name circulating through our Law Preview Job Network website. Put your resume in front of legal recruiters, as well as our BigLaw and AMLaw 200 partners, who actively scour the site to connect with law students. Take a few minutes to create a free profile.

JUNE | MPRE REGISTRATION & DEADLINES

If you didn’t take (or pass) the MPRE during 2L year, your next chance is in August. Pay attention to the “regular” and “late” registration deadlines, which usually fall within the second and third weeks of June. Registering by the regular deadline date will save you a little money, too.

JULY | ANOTHER ROUND OF OCI

No job offer yet? You’re still in the game. There are both private and public sector employers out there that participate in OCIs with the intent to hire 3L students. These firms may not have extended as many offers to summer associates as expected or have an increased capacity to hire.

JULY | BAR EXAM RESEARCH

Your legal career may not begin as a straight line to a single destination. It could potentially lead to prospects in more than one state/jurisdiction. It’s smart to familiarize yourself with the bar exam for all of them. You can start by downloading our comprehensive BARBRI Bar Exam Digest. Know the deadlines and fees, subjects tested, scoring, reciprocity and local content knowledge required, for example. Find out if you’ll be taking the Uniform Bar Exam and what the UBE means to your job search and career marketability.

Remember you can always reach out for guidance from your BARBRI Director of Legal Education, who is still with you every step of the way.

My Alternative Spring Break Experience

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

I’ve always seen Spring Break as a beacon of light in my dark, grim world of school.

Ever since the first spring break I can remember, the weeklong break has been both a desire and a necessity.

This year, I spent my Spring Break doing something that I’d never done. I opted to participate in my school’s Alternative Spring Break program and I can honestly say that I enjoyed the experience.

My school’s Alternative Spring Break program takes 4 out of the 5 days of Spring Break and provides area legal services through multiple tracks. This year, there was a range of tracks, including Health Law, Elder Law, and Voting Right Restoration. I initially signed up for Health Law, as that is my preferred legal area.

Instead, I was assigned to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Education. For me, this was uncharted territory, something I’d NEVER dealt with before.

I spent the first 2 days getting an in-depth overview of domestic-violence-related legal issues. We spent hours going through the Violence Against Women’s Act, Child Custody laws, and Orders of Protection. We visited the court and saw how Courts handled the order of protection process. Quite Frankly, it was a lot of information.

After going through the training, we spent time creating brochures that outlined the legal rights of Domestic Violence victims and orchestrating presentations expounding on the related legal rights. We even included a mock trial video so that pro se litigants would know what to expect when requesting orders of protection.

Ultimately, I left the week with the knowledge of a new legal area. I felt as though I’d been a part of something that could truly help domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. Initially, felt a bit “down” that I was using my LAST Spring Break to provide “free labor.” I walked away knowing that my work had the potential to really help someone and that made the experience worthwhile.

5 Ways to Tackle the Pro Bono Requirement

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

Depending on what law school you’re at or state bar you plan to take, you might be required to complete some base amount of pro bono. Don’t leave fulfilling your requirement to the last minute, start thinking about how you can begin to tackle some of those hours with these five tips!

  1. Start Early: If you’re a 1L then begin thinking about pro bono now; obviously there’s no pressure to complete a certain amount of hours, but every hour you do complete with help you in 2L and 3L. As. 2L you should be aiming to fulfill close to half, if not more, of your hours before the end of the year.
  2. Consider Course Options: Often clinic and externship registration provides students with the option to trade credit hours for pro bono hours. If you’ve met the minimum credit hour requirement this can be an easy way to fulfill a chunk of your hours.
  3. Leadership Opportunities: If there’s a pro bono group you’re especially interested in considering applying for a board position. Most schools and state bar examinations allow student leaders to count their leader hours!
  4. Weekend Opportunities: If you plan on staying local during holidays and/or long weekends reach out to student groups or your public interest office to see if there are any weekend opportunities. Often these will run for 2-3 consecutive days, meaning you can fulfill anywhere between 15-20 hours!
  5. Summer Options: Many students are under the false impression that pro bono can only be fulfilled during the school year. However, provided you are not receiving compensation or course credit, and the work is being done under attorney supervision, you can fulfill hours over the summer.

How to handle Memo Feedback

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona Law

If you were like me, you thought writing the memo this semester would seem more natural. After all, we already have one memo under our belt, and we have completed a semester worth of legal writing. However, I was wrong, and I was not alone in my thinking. Since most of us are starting to receive our memo feedback I wanted to share some tips that I have learned along the way.

First… Breathe in and breathe out…

I get it; it can be stressful to read a critique from the professor or your writing fellow about your memo. I think my professor said it best when she said: “feedback can be so hard on the memos because writing is so personal”. She is right. We spent countless hours on research, writing, and editing to reach the word limit, and now it feels like we find out if it was “worth it”, is our memo “good”. Breathe in breathe out… The critical thing to remember at this point is that your memo is just a first draft. No one (except maybe you) expected it to be perfect. Remember the goal of the feedback is to help you improve your writing.

Give yourself enough time to read the feedback before your meeting

There seem to be two different types of people when it comes to reviewing memo feedback. Some eagerly open it while others wait to open it until the very last minute to see their feedback. I am not saying you have to open it the second you receive it, but you can use the feedback more productively the earlier you review it.

Be sure to read all of your feedback with an open mind

It can be daunting to open the document with your memo feedback. Forge forward and read all the comments. One of my classmates also stressed the importance of reading the feedback with an open mind. They suggested reading the feedback in a way that you just assume that what you did was wrong. This will help you be more receptive to the feedback, rather than trying to defend your point of view. Also, instead of trying to tackle all of the feedback at once, start small and take it one comment at a time. For each comment make some notes. The notes could be a question, a tip to yourself, or taking the time to answer the questions posed in the feedback. Keep going until you finished. Then review all of the comments together to see any overreaching themes for areas of improvement.

Create a list of questions for the professor

After you have reviewed and made comments to the feedback, create a list of questions to ask your professor. This will help you be more organized during your feedback meeting and allow you to prioritize the issues you are not sure how to resolve.

 

If there are issues with structure (CREAC/IRAC), make an outline

You likely created an outline while you were writing your memo, but if your professor has provided a critique about the flow of your memo, make a brief outline of your memos structure with proposed changes. Plan to take this new outline into the meeting to help you gain clarity, and it might provide insight to the overall structure the professor is looking for in the memo.

Finally, seek additional help when needed.

Asking for help can be difficult, “but do not let the fear of striking out stop you from playing the game.” Take advantage of office hours, use the writing center, and ask for help from your assigned writing fellow. They are all eager to help you navigate the writing process. Remember at the end of the day the purpose of writing the memo is to help us improve our legal writing abilities, and the more help you seek, the better your writing will be.

What other tips do you have for handling feedback from your memo? Let me know over @The1LLife on Twitter and Instagram!

WHY SHOULD I ENROLL IN BARBRI BAR REVIEW MY 2L YEAR (OR EVEN EARLIER)?

Why would I enroll in, and potentially commit to, a bar review course months (or years!) before I plan on actually studying for the bar exam? This is an individual decision, but there are plenty of very good reasons you might consider enrolling as a 2L (or even earlier).

While you’ll utilize the majority of your BARBRI Bar Review course later, there are components that you can access earlier than others…some even immediately.

2L / 3L Mastery is one of the components you can use immediately. We hear often from students who tell us they wish they would’ve known about 2L / 3L Mastery much earlier.

It covers subjects that most students find very challenging during their 2L or 3L year: Evidence, Taxation, Corporations, Wills, Trusts, Secured Transactions, Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Law & Family Law.

For each subject, you get online, on-demand lectures by renowned experts who focus on efficiently teaching you critical rules and elements. Lectures are divided into easily accessible topics so it’s easy to watch and review the sections that supplement what you’re learning in class. Efficient outlines are also included for each subject as well as multiple choice practice questions that track back to each lecture topic so you can apply and assess what you have learned.

In addition to 2L / 3L Mastery, when you purchase and commit to BARBRI Bar Review earlier, you get first access to Early Start Bar Review and the LawMaster Study Keys app, which are typically available in September prior to your bar exam. These are critical as early bar studies (even just a little) statistically increases your chances of passing your exam the first time.

You’ll also get first notifications on book availability (typically in March prior to the July exam and September prior to the February exam) and course location options so you can reserve your space if you’re selecting to watch lectures in a classroom setting.

You can save a lot of money and pay over time

Some people still think that the longer they wait, the better bar review deal they’ll get. Over the past several years, this has not proven to be true. In fact, the people who commit early lock in the best price and protect themselves against future price adjustments.

At BARBRI, we’re committed to providing those who commit to us the very best price. That’s why, if you commit to one price and that price decreases before your bar review course starts, we’ll give you the better price.

Also, the earlier you commit, the more time you have to spread out a custom installment payment plan or to finance your tuition.

With a BARBRI custom installment plan, just pay the minimum required down payment at enrollment then split up the remainder of your tuition into custom payments. No credit check is required and no interest is applied. You can select the months you pay and how much you pay each month. Your total tuition just needs to be paid in full per the payment deadlines prior to the beginning of your BARBRI Bar Review course.

If you have a social security number and want to consider course financing, many BARBRI Bar Review tuition types allow you to “Finance with Affirm” during or after enrollment.  The rate (0-30% APR) and term options (3, 6, 12, 18, 24 or 36 months) you’re offered is based on the tuition type you are choosing and on a credit check. You will begin making payments immediately to Affirm, but the entire balance of your tuition does not need to be paid prior to your course starting or ending. Learn More about Financing with Affirm.

With both the BARBRI Custom Installment Plan and the Finance with Affirm options, you get access to all of the resources mentioned above when they are available.

What if I plan on billing my employer in the future but I’m not sure yet. Should I still enroll?

Unless you know for sure that a firm is paying directly for your course, securing the lowest rate tuition and just paying the minimum balance due is the best way to ensure you pay the lowest possible tuition.

If your firm ends up giving you a stipend for bar review (vs paying BARBRI directly), then you’ll have more stipend money left after paying for bar review. If your firm ends up paying BARBRI directly, we’ll help you get that setup and transferred and you won’t have to pay any more. Best of all, you’ll get access to all of the resources mentioned above.

What if I’m going into public interest and I want a chance to apply for the BARBRI Public Interest scholarship in the future. Should I still enroll?

If you plan on going into Public Interest, you should definitely secure the lowest rate tuition as soon as possible. This will ensure at a minimum that your tuition doesn’t increase and guarantee that you receive priority consideration when a BARBRI Public Interest Scholarship program opens for your class.

If you are selected, the scholarship award will simply be applied to your existing tuition. In the event you are not selected for a scholarship, you will be able to cancel your enrollment and have no further obligation.

All of us at BARBRI look forward to helping you succeed in law school and, ultimately, Own The Bar.

5 Facts All Graduating Law Students Should Know About BARBRI

By Matt Mundo,
BARBRI Director of Legal Education

In my job as a Director of Legal Education for BARBRI, I get the pleasure of working with thousands of law students each year.

My job, every day, is to help students achieve the dreams for which they have worked so hard by succeeding in law school and on the bar exam.

Recently, I spoke with some students who had received some misinformation as part of their bar preparation research, so it prompted me to put into writing “5 THINGS ALL GRADUATING LAW STUDENTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BARBRI”.

As the nation’s #1 bar review course, there are so many things to talk about so often some of these features are overlooked; however, with the bar exam being the only thing between you and the career of your dreams, we want to ensure you have all of the information so you can choose the very best partner for your needs on this life changing exam.

FACT 1: BARBRI does not charge extra to grade extra essays.

During bar study, your goal is to write the best bar exam essays possible, as fast as possible. BARBRI knows from experience that a purely “unlimited” essay grading system does not provide the best results. Think about it. Writing and submitting dozens of essays a week for grading simply reinforces bad habits rather than correcting them.  Unlimited graded essays leads to spending a lot of time on many poor essays.

BARBRI has a better answer. It starts with Essay Architect, our exclusive powerful online platform that takes you through a series of steps to learn to critically read bar exam questions, enhance the speed of your essay writing and construct strong, winning answers. Then we assign a carefully selected series of specific essays for grading as well as many more essays for practice and self-grading.

And, if after all of that, you want additional essays graded, you can simply work with a BARBRI Director, like me, to get personal, 1:1 help, all free of charge!

FACT 2: You can do 100% of the BARBRI course online… but we won’t force you.

Actually, BARBRI Bar Review offers you the best possible learning experience by blending online, mobile and in-class study options. Each day you can choose whether to view the lectures on your computer, use the BARBRI Mobile App on-the-go or attend a bar review classroom location to watch a lecture in a structured environment with fellow students.

No matter which option you choose, you get the same great lectures. BARBRI lets you mix and match what works best for you – go to a classroom setting for your most challenging subjects, revisit specific topics and subtopics online afterward or speed through your best subjects online only at 1.5x speed.

It’s your time, your preference and your choice as to what works best for you to reinforce and recall the material you need to know to Own the Bar.

FACT 3: BARBRI is the only bar preparation course that will truly allow you to see where you sit on the bar exam curve

If you look at the MBE National Score Distribution from the National Conference of Bar Examiners, you will see the score distribution of the 2015 scaled scores. Results of the MBE fall in a pattern that look like a bell curve. This is why you often hear of people who fail the bar exam by just a few points. A large number of examinees are clustered right around the top of the curve – right around the score you need to pass the bar exam.

During the BARBRI course, you’ll have the chance to sit down and do a full simulated multistate bar exam. The simulated MBE has exam-like questions and we treat it just like the bar so you’ll know exactly how it feels to survive the multistate bar exam.

We also take your results and provide you your percentile ranking, by subject, so you know exactly where you are sitting on the curve in comparison to every other BARBRI student and where you need to focus your efforts between that time and the actual bar exam.

Since the vast majority of students sitting for the bar exam choose to partner with BARBRI, this will be your best predictor of bar exam success by far.

FACT 4: BARBRI makes it easy to take lecture notes by hand or on a laptop.

In order to provide the structure necessary to be organized as well as the flexibility that best fits your learning style, BARBRI provides lecture handouts in hardcopy AND as fillable PDF’s each day.

If you prefer to hand write your notes, then the pre-printed handout volume is there for you. If you prefer to use your laptop, download the fillable PDF’s so that you can type as much as you’d like for each blank, highlight text and use “sticky notes” for the occasional sidebar that you want to make a note of during class.

FACT 5:  BARBRI’s Personal Study Plan organizes your study time from Day 1 straight through to the day of your bar exam.

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The BARBRI lectures conclude two weeks prior to your exam but your Personal Study Plan does not. Once you’ve been taught all of the law that you need, your Personal Study Plan continues with homework, personal assignments, and practice exams to make sure that you are applying the law and memorizing the material during those critical final weeks and that you are focused on your personal areas of opportunity.

And, of course, my BARBRI Director of Legal Education peers and I will be there to support you right up to and during the exam. BARBRI’s study schedule and practice exams are the result of a dedicated academic team combined with the experience of training over 1.3M attorneys for the bar exam.

When it comes to your bar preparation and this critical decision, we want you to have all of the facts. Thousands of students have already chosen to prepare with BARBRI in 2017 – we can’t wait to welcome you to that group and help you Own the Bar.

About BARBRI Bar Review:

BARBRI pioneered bar exam preparation 50 years ago and our gold standard reputation continues to attract the overwhelming majority of law school students each year. BARBRI has helped more than 1.3 million students pass the bar – more than all other courses combined.

BARBRI focuses on you the entire way, using innovative new learning technologies that personalize your bar study. Add to all this our elite faculty of highly-respected law professors and top legal minds that know the law and especially how to teach it for you to Own The Bar.

Also, with the BARBRI Guarantee, if you take a BARBRI Bar Review course for the first time for a particular state and you do not sit for or do not pass that state’s bar exam, you may repeat the same course online once for the same state, the next time a course is offered, without paying additional tuition.

We have the longest history of pass rate success, going back 80-plus bar exams. No other bar prep program comes close.

Enroll now

9 Tips To Keep Your Over-Stressed, Over-Worked “Lizard Brain” At Bay

When law school graduation arrives, it’s time to relax … right? Not so fast. Not when the bar exam is on the not-so-distant horizon. One last hurdle to becoming a licensed lawyer, your ultimate personal and professional goal.

WE’RE ONLY HUMAN … WITH A “LIZARD BRAIN”

There’s so much pressure surrounding the bar exam. Passing means everything – mostly the opportunity to actually practice law and make a decent living doing it. Before that becomes your reality, you have to deal with the major stress of preparing for the bar exam. You are now on a deadline because the bar exam is happening on time, as scheduled, whether you are ready or not. You fear failure, which is totally normal. All this causes chronic sympathetic nervous system arousal – in other words, “lizard brain.” It’s a fight-flight-freeze survival mode that goes way back to our prehistoric days as Paleolithic humans.

YOU KNOW WHY, NOW THE SYMPTOMS

It’s likely that you may already have experienced chronic stress during law school. According to the Mayo Clinic, “lizard brain” symptoms include headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, increased illness, upset stomach, chest pain, sleep disturbances, anxiety, lack of motivation or focus, irritability, restlessness, depression, angry outbursts and social withdrawal.

IT WANTS TO DRIVE YOUR BUS

Considering the laundry list of symptoms, your body expends quite a bit, if not all, its energy to keep you going. It’s survival, literally. And that level of energy consumption doesn’t leave much for anything else, especially when you need to be able to memorize black letter law, take practice exams or simply remain upright during lectures. The lizard is driving your bus with the pedal to the metal. As you might imagine, a frazzled lizard driving a bus can be detrimental to everyone and everything nearby, including the bus itself (that’s you).

9 TIPS FOR TAKING BACK CONTROL

  1. Be Grateful. Every day, find time to reflect on 3-5 things you appreciate. Lawyers tend to be world-class pessimists. Remembering things that really matter can help you focus on the positive and, in turn, improve your overall physical health and much-needed energy levels.
  2. Make time for family and friends. Stay connected with the important people in your life. Your support system will help you feel less alone, or isolated, and keep your outlook positive.
  3. Smile. Research has shown that the simple act of smiling can slow your heart rate and reduce stress. Smiling more may even help alleviate depression.
  4. Meditate. Take a few minutes each day. Be still and focus on your breathing. Research has shown that meditation can help prevent mind-wandering, increase focus, reduce stress, improve sleep and strengthen the immune system. Om … Om … Om …
  5. Plan the day. Map out time for studying, eating, sleeping, fun activities and exercise, for example. You’ll feel prepared and ready, less anxiety, greater control and, ultimately, get the most important things completed. It will save you time, too.
  6. Eat, sleep, play. Smart food choices, enough sleep (seven hours minimum) and exercises that you enjoy (could be a nice walk outside or dancing at home, when nobody’s watching) are important to your health.
  7. Be your own cheerleader. We’re often quite critical of ourselves. Become aware of your self-talk, challenge it and replace it with a positive mantra. Research shows that people with a positive outlook can fight off colds, handle stress better and – bonus! – even live longer.
  8. Laugh. Laughter has shown to lower cortisol in your bloodstream, relax your muscles and improve your overall well-being.
  9. Eat 1.4 oz. of chocolate: Doing this every day for two weeks can actually lower your stress hormones. How much is 1.4 ounces of chocolate exactly? Google it and you’ll see there are many choices and brands you may like.

Keeping it Real: What 1Ls said they wish they knew day one

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin, 1L at the University of Arizona

Last week I wrote about the path to 1L, and I asked current law students to share their experiences about what they wish they had known or could have told themselves before starting their 1L. Here are the top responses.

I wish I knew that:

Law School can make you feel stupid and brilliant all within a single class hour.

Agree! This can be very true when a cold call goes wrong, or when you walk into class thinking you fully understood an issue and realize you were wrong. Trust me; everyone has been there. But there are also those moments often within the same class hour, where it all clicks and that feels amazing!

Even if I do my best, I still might end up with a B or B+

I think this is the element that can be shocking for most 1Ls. We are all smart and capable which is why we were admitted to law school. We were likely top of our class, but the thing is, so were most of our classmates and now we are on a curve.

The curve can wreck even the best-laid plans, plus remember that the final was a snapshot and does not reflect your total understanding of the subject matter. Above all, remember that grades do not define you. After we graduate it’s our knowledge base that matters not a grade in a single class.

I could have saved my soul by picking another career path…

When I shared this comment, my DMs lit up with a flood of questions. Most people asked if it was REALLY that bad and if I was ok. So many came in that I changed the Instagram story to clarify that it was a submitted comment to the question, but it is worth sharing.

Many people struggle in law school. It can be anything from trying to overcome imposter syndrome to having a hard time dealing with the workload or just the shock “of seeing behind the curtain” as to what lawyers do. The reality is that not everyone in law school likes going to law school. If you are going to school to advocate for a particular cause, it can be a challenge to see how some doctrinal classes will help you accomplish this.

For the people that feel this way, my advice is to make the most of your summer externship. This will give you a better look at what your future career will be like, and if you do not enjoy the work, then it might be time, to be honest about your current career path. A few 2Ls also told me that once you start picking your classes, it helps a ton because you are taking the classes that interest you.

My wish? I wish I had known that learning the law is not enough.

In undergrad and grad school, as long as you learn the topic, you will likely do well in your classes. At law school though, learning is not enough. Professors assume that you have learned the law, so on finals, they are testing to see if you have mastered it. There is a distinct difference there that I didn’t really understand until I was taking practice exams. For me this was crucial, and I have changed the way I am studying this semester because of it.

Are you a current law student and want to add to the list? Let me know over @The1LLife on Twitter or Instagram!

Law Students Dress Up

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

Barristers Ball, Law Prom, and a wide range of formal events such as Law Review Banquet, are fast approaching on many of our calendars. How do you differentiate between the dress code on these formal events? And more importantly, where do you find outfits that match the dress code without breaking the bank?!

In a previous article, Law School Attire Un-Coded I broke down dress codes ranging from casual to black tie. For the purposes of today’s article, I’ll skip straight to the more formal end of the dress code range.

Cocktail

The most casual of the formal events, and likely the most commonly encountered as well. Unbeknownst to many, dress codes are broken down into two categories, (1) cocktail, and (2) cocktail formal.

  • Cocktail:
    • Men: should opt for a full suit in a neutral color. Dress shoes are must and of course, the belt should match the shoe color. Cuff links and ties are optional.
    • WomenKnee length to mid-calf length dresses in neutral colors or calm patterns are always safe options, though suits are of course permissible. Heels, flats, or loafers are appropriate footwear, while a clutch and complimentary jewelry are optional but recommended.
  • Cocktail Formal
    • Men: full suits are again a must, though you should feel free to expand beyond neutral colored suits into patterns and textiles. Dress shoes and statement loafers are common, as are flashy ties, cufflinks, and other accessory pieces.
    • Women: knee-length dresses can be traded in for more fashion-forward midi to maxi dresses (think short bridesmaid dress, fashion-forward pantsuits or jumpers). Again clutches are appropriate, as are heels or statement loafers. Jewelry is generally worn, and makeup and hair can be more done up.

Black Tie

  • Men: Typically black tie attire requires a black tuxedo, tuxedo shoes, bow tie, and cuff links.
  • Women: Long gowns with heels, clutches, and complimentary jewelry are generally the preferred outfit choice for black tie events. Dresses should be hemmed tailored.

White Tie

  • Men: For the most formal of formal events, men should wear a tailcoat, white tuxedo shirt, waistcoat, and a white bowtie with tuxedo shoes and pants.
  • Women: Similar to black tie, women should wear a floor length formal gown with heels and a clutch, often paired with elbow length gloves.

Shopping Tips

Tuxedo and tails rentals are common for men and can be found at most local Men’s Warehouse, or similar, stores in your local shopping district. For online tuxedo rentals, The Black Tux, and Menguin come highly recommended!

Formal gowns are slightly harder to find than your average tuxedo. Of course, you can head to your local bridal or prom store, but be sure to give yourself 2-3 months for ordering and fitting time. If you’re more pressed for time (or cash) try websites such as Hello Molly. If you don’t want to take up precious closet space, turn to Rent the Runway for a quick rental option.