#The3Llife: What Type of Law Do You Want to Practice?

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

This past week I registered for my spring semester classes.

So far, throughout internships and classwork I’ve been focusing on intellectual property law and while I find it interesting, I’m not sure I want to continue down that path after law school. As I see job postings for first-year associates and take more diverse electives, I’m realizing that I may be interested in a lot more than I had thought.

That’s why I struggled with my spring schedule. There are so many areas of law I’d like to explore and only one semester left to do it. I’ve spent so much time worrying about not having a niche or a specialty, that I feel I may have missed out on some opportunities.

As I tried to determine what to take, something my law school professor told me popped into my head. He said that when anyone asks him what he does for work he says he’s an attorney and goes out of his way to avoid labeling himself as a “corporate attorney.” When I asked him why, he told me that he didn’t want people thinking he was only interested in corporate law, despite that fact that he’s done a lot of work in that area. He always wanted to keep his options open and welcome opportunities that may be outside his comfort zone.

I think the point of his story is important to remember, especially in the law school environment where we are constantly asked what type of law we want to practice. It’s okay to have a broad focus or no focus at all.

In an effort to keep an open mind and explore new things, I registered for law school classes that were completely outside my comfort zone. This spring, I’ll be putting intellectual property on pause to learn about international law, in-house work, and asset management/ financial advising. I even registered for Quinnipiac’s externship program and am excited to be placed at a firm where I can be challenged! While I may end up sticking with intellectual property law, I’m not going to rule out the other options, and who knows, maybe I’ll find my future career in something unexpected!

#The3Llife: Tips from Future Employers

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

As graduation is approaching I’ve been thinking a lot about job hunting and making a good impression on potential future employers.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person thinking about this, so I talked to current and past supervisors to see what they look for during the hiring process.

Resume matters

What you put on your resume says a lot about you and will be a big factor in whether or not you get an interview. Make sure to tailor your resume to the position you are applying to so your future employer can see how your experiences relate to the job. At this point in your career, your resume should never exceed one page and it should be in a clean, easy to read format. And PLEASE proofread! Employers will notice if your resume has typos, grammar errors, etc.

Apply, apply, apply

If you come across a job that you don’t think you’re totally qualified for, apply anyways! Many times, job postings are a “wish list.” Employers would love to find someone that checks off all the boxes, but that doesn’t usually happen. If you are open-minded, enthusiastic about the job, and eager to learn, many employers will be willing to train you.

Be prepared

When you go in for an interview make sure to bring business cards, copies of your resume, and anything else you submitted for your application. Don’t assume that just because you sent it the employer will have it on hand. My current boss noted that he was impressed that at the end of the interview I had business cards to exchange. It made me stand out from the other candidates and appear very professional and put-together.

Personality is key

Interviews are nerve-wracking, but you can’t let that show. Employers are impressed with candidates who appear confident, friendly, and enthusiastic. Take a couple of deep breaths before you go in and make sure to speak clearly and slowly. Interviews are about more than your skills since the employer is already familiar with your resume. They’re using the interview to see your personality, your communications skills, and whether or not you’ll fit in with the team.

#The1Llife: Saving Money in Law School

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way, 
1L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

We pay A LOT to go to law school so it only makes sense that we should take advantage of any, and all, free services included within that enormous fee. Though your school will likely highlight some of these freebies, others are more hidden … so here are some tips!

Retail

When shopping make sure to always ask if the store offers a student discount. Most do and they range from 10% – 20% for stores like Banana Republic!

Transportation

Amtrak, local trains, and even aircraft providers offer student discounts, so be sure to consult websites, or call to make sure you’re getting the best deal. This is especially import for your local transportation, as train costs add up!

Amazon/Spotify/Apple Music

Unbeknownst to many, popular apps and sites such as Amazon, Spotify and apple music have student pricing. For instance, students get a free 6-month Amazon Prime membership, and after the trial period we pay half the price of a normal membership. Spotify and Apple Music similarly offer stellar deals on monthly memberships, around $5/month!

Entertainment

Your university is home to everything from gyms to museums! Instead of outsourcing for a monthly gym membership or paying for trips to museums at your local museum or theatre, check with your on-campus options to see if your student ID gets you in for free, or at least for a discount. If you decide that your university doesn’t have what you’re looking for, again check for reduced student rates, they can save you a lot – seriously, I got an annual $20 student membership to the Fine Arts Museum in Philadelphia when memberships normally range between $40 and $250.

Health Services

It’s here where your tuition money can really pay off. Counselling appointments and visits to the doctor are expensive, but often necessary. Thanks to your tuition however, these services are usually free, or price-reduced if sought on-campus. For instance, my law school has complimentary counselling through the university counselling centre, weekly drop-in sessions in our building, and through an external organization (who doesn’t report to the bar). Another fun fact is that while many health insurance plans will charge a fee to visit a hospital or clinic, you can avoid paying those fees if you make use of your on-campus health clinic!

Food

Gone are the days when our parents foot the grocery bill. Aside from being expensive, sometimes you just don’t have the time or energy to properly prepare a lunch or snacks to bring with you to school – or maybe you simply don’t have room in your already overflowing backpack. Praise the numerous student organizations and on-campus events that offer free food. If I wanted to, I swear I could snag a free lunch daily, and often those lunches include snacks (like bags of chips or granola bars) which you can take and save for later if you’re so inclined.

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#The1Llife: A TRIBUTE TO MY BROTHER AND MY LAW SCHOOL

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
1L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

This past week was the hardest week of law school, in fact, it was the hardest week of my life.

Makenzie and her brother Brandon Way.

I lost my brother, he was only two years older than me, he was my best friend, and he was too young and too good to be taken this soon.

I remember a year ago, applying to law schools and explaining the ranking system to him – I wanted to attend a “top 10.” Back then the most important thing seemed to be getting the highest number on the chart. Funnily enough, when the time came to choose schools I selected not the highest school I got into, but a lower one that I found was a better fit for me personally. At the time, I couldn’t explain it because, like most law students, the appeal of saying I went to the higher ranked school was strong.

Now, a year later I can explain it, and I’m here to emphasize how important it is for you to choose the school that fits. More importantly, choose the school that is going to support you, because you will need that support in a variety of ways throughout your three years. Whether that support is in the classroom, during office hours, from the student body, or from the dean, what matters is that you have it.

Some schools will support you academically, but will fail to go above and beyond for you personally. My school, Penn Law, prides itself on ‘collegiality,’ and until this week I was unsure what, in reality, that meant. I now know that collegiality means having the dean offer not just to record the classes you’re going to miss, but giving you her personal cell phone number to call “in case you just need someone to talk to, or even if you just need someone to sit with you at 2am.” Collegiality is new friends sending a condolence gift all the way to Canada. It is classmates, whose names I didn’t even know, sending me notes because they noticed I was missing from class. And, it is upperclassmen reaching out to offer outlines, and a shoulder to cry on regardless of whether I actually knew them or not. Finally, it is professors not only excusing me from class and telling me to forget about that assignment, but offering up their personal time to support me both academically for the time I had missed, and emotionally.

In summary, choose the school that is going to go above and beyond for you, because while I hope none of you face a tragedy like mine, each of you will face hardships over the course of your three years, and it is your school, and the community it fosters that will determine whether you thrive or whether you just slide by.

#The3Llife: Keeping Stress Under Control

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

Full Disclosure: I barely had time to write this post.

Between classes, clubs, homework, and things ramping up at my part-time job, I’ve been feeling stretched a bit thin. Why am I writing about this? Because I have a feeling I’m not alone.

As law students, we’re usually insanely busy, it’s part of the job description. When you attend orientation on your first day of law school they warn you about the time commitment you’re about to make. But just because you know it’s coming, that doesn’t make it any easier to handle.

I’d like to think that over the past couple of years I’ve become pretty adept at juggling all my activities. I’ll be the first to admit it isn’t always easy, but I have discovered a few tips and tricks to avoid losing your mind.

Organization is key

We all think we have great memories, but the truth is, if you don’t write it down you probably won’t remember it. Whether it’s a to-do list on a Post-It Note, a daily planner, or an app on your phone, you need to find some way to keep track of your commitments. My friends and family tease me for writing EVERYTHING I need to do in my planner. From basics like “do laundry” to more important tasks, like conference calls, meetings with professors, and dinner plans, it all goes in my planner. I know that if I don’t write it down, I might not do it.

It’s not just okay to say “no”… it’s necessary

I’m the type of person who wants to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. I’m a “yes” person. While that’s a quality I love about myself, I also need to keep it in check. The truth is, when I take on too much I’m not able to do a good job and I’m not enjoying what I’m doing. It’s essential to evaluate the opportunities and activities in front of you and be really thoughtful about the different options and how they benefit you.

It’s also okay to bribe yourself

There, I admit it. I bribe myself. When I feel my motivation waning I try to come up with little incentives to keep me going. If I’m struggling getting through my reading, I’ll treat myself to some Netflix time when I finish. If my to-do list seems monstrous, I divide it into sections and give myself a little treat or a short break when I finish each section.

Take a break

Taking a break might seem counterintuitive to getting everything done, but sometimes it’s exactly what you need. Taking some time to get dinner with a friend or go for a run will help you relax and refresh your mind. You’ll likely find that when you come back to do your work you’ll be more focused and motivated.

What are your tips and tricks for handling stress? Share them with me on Twitter @the3llife!

#The1LLife: How to Make Move-in-Day a Success

GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
1L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Oh move day, don’t we all cherish the day when we get to battle traffic in an oversized cube that we call a U-Haul, fill our quota for yearly weight lifting by unpacking said cube, and then best of all, spend days shuffling through the clutter that we call our belongings?

While I can’t literally lighten your load, I can give you some tips for how to make your move to law school as seamless as can be.

Step One. Order Your Vehicle

If you’re local, and have a larger vehicle, you may squeeze by with multiple trips back and forth to unpack your belongings; if you’re like me and travelling out of state, you’ll have to go the moving truck route.

  • First and foremost, book your rental early. I for one looked at truck rentals early, then put it off until the prices had nearly tripled and I was very limited in my selection of size, pickup location, and brand – thank you mom for finding and booking the truck while I had an anxiety attack in the corner.
  • Second, know your options. Different companies have different perks, U-haul has smaller truck sizes with limited included mileage while Budget has unlimited miles – on that note, know how many miles you’ll need because trust me when I say 40 cents per mile adds up quick.
  • Third, do not leave moving until the week of orientation. Unlike undergrad orientation which is a fun, two events a day, sort of thing; law school orientation is mandatory, it is (at least in my case) an 8-5 conference, and it is tiring … plus you have school work to do before the first day of class.

Step Two. Start Packing

Packing is the bane of my existence, every time I do it I question how in the world I’ve accumulated so much, excuse my language, crap. BUT because I hate packing so much I have developed a fairly cohesive packing methodology.

  • To save you a trip to the packing supply store, use clothing and towels to wrap breakable items in.
  • Utilize your local grocery store for boxes, personally I find the egg boxes to be the best because they’re a medium size so it prevents you from cramming them so full that you can’t lift them in the end.
  • Sharpies are your friends. By this I mean label your boxes – say where they’re going so you don’t get stuck opening 12 boxes of clothes before you finally find your dishes.
  • Pack an overnight bag. When I arrived, I was so tired I just wanted to crash immediately so I was beyond happy that I had a duffle bag with fresh sheets for my mattress, oatmeal for a quick snack, PJ’s, my bathroom supplies, and a towel.

Step Three. Know Your Route

A quick shout out to my father for doing all the work here. Apparently mapping your route involves more than just a Google Map search … I know it was a surprise to me too. Through my father I’ve learned that while Google Maps plots out the ‘quickest routes’ it does not consider that you are driving a moving truck, therefore it will try to take you through downtown NYC at rush hour and through toll bridges that due to height restrictions, you are not allowed to pass through. Furthermore, Google Maps does not consider when the best time to leave is, for that you’ll need to look at traffic times in the cities you’ll be driving through.

Step Four. Be Prepared on the Day of

The day has arrived, you’ve scheduled your moving vehicle, your Uber is on the way to take you to the pickup location, now you’re finished, right? Wrong.

  • I learned really quick that rental companies do not do the work for you – you’ll need to have your confirmation codes on hand, and you’ll need to buy a lock for the rental truck because they don’t supply one.
  • Also have your GPS on hand when you arrive. Personally, I took an Uber to get my U-Haul, I had climbed into the truck, driven all the way to the end of the parking lot before I realized that I had no idea how to get back to my apartment (thank goodness for iPhone).

Step Five. Unwind

I say this while knowing full well it makes me a hypocrite, but do not stress about moving day. Yes, I personally cried a handful of times, but looking back on it I didn’t need to. Sure, I paid more than I had wanted to for my truck rental, but hey I got a truck that fit all my stuff and got me to my location so it is what it is. Yes, I left moving day to the last minute (because of circumstances beyond my control), but in the end I made it to my apartment, and was unpacked before orientation began thanks to my dad who assisted with all the heavy lifting and furniture assembly

Remember, you have family friends, and potentially a roommate or two, that you can call on to help you drive your rental truck, unload your boxes, and unpack your things. If none of those people are available you should also remember that you are now part of a law school community, meaning there are countless people who will understand your struggle and be willing to lend a hand.

On a final note, remember to thank everyone who helps you, even your parents, because in reality they probably had better things to do. To avoid being a hypocrite yet again, I would like to thank my parents and extended family, for dropping everything to help me get to school, my friends in Boston for helping me get myself on the road, and my wonderful roommate for really just being amazing and having everything under control while I was in my state of panic.

Waiting For Your Bar Exam Results

By Mike Sims,
BARBRI President

With the bar exam behind us, barpreppers across the country are discovering that while it was unpleasant to study for the bar, and exhausting to take the bar, now the truly difficult part has begun – waiting for results from the bar.

It’s almost impossible not to replay essay questions in your mind or to second guess your answer choice on a difficult MBE question. It’s even harder to quiet the voice in your head that keeps asking, “But what if I failed?” The good news is that if you are experiencing any of the stresses, you’re not alone and it’s completely normal.

After every exam I receive panicked emails and phone calls about the exam. I hear stories about essay questions that tested completely unknown rules of law. I have students tell me the MBE questions on the exam looked nothing like the questions they had seen in practice before the exam. In my experience the more someone is worried after the exam, the better they end up scoring on the exam.

On the essays, remember this one simple truth: If you did not know a rule of law, odds are no one else did either since the majority of students prepare with BARBRI. For the MBE, the practice questions you worked and the BARBRI simulated MBE that you took have helped hundreds of thousands of successful bar exam takers. That said, the one thing we can’t simulate in BARBRI is the pressure of the real exam. Think about it. How many times in practice did you skip over or guess on a hard practice MBE question, figuring you’d just learn it from the answer? On the real exam, you don’t have that luxury, but you do have the pressure of feeling like you need to get every question correct. You don’t. In fact, historically the average exam taker misses 70-80 questions and still passes the exam!

There’s no question waiting for results can be stressful. Between now and results day, do your best to relax, enjoy the rest of your summer and remember that the odds are VERY strongly in your favor.

California Supreme Court Clarifies Rules

Gary Masellis,
BARBRI Western Regional Vice President

California Supreme Court clarifies rules regarding power to set passing score on the bar examination.

According to a recent media advisory from the California court system, the Supreme Court has amended the California Rules of Court to make it clear that only the court has the authority to set the minimum passing score on the California Bar Exam. Why is this important? Because the California Committee of Bar Examiners has historically set the minimum passing score or “cut score” on the state bar examination.

The ABA Journal reports:

According to California courts spokesman Cathal Conneely “the high court has always had these powers, which are part of the court’s inherent power to admit people to the practice of law in California. Thus, he says, this clarifies rather than changes the rules. “The new rules are meant to ensure that all committee-adopted admissions rules and procedures will be submitted to the court for review and approval.”

Declining California bar exam pass rates have continued to raise questions about the minimum passing score. California has the second highest minimum passing score in the nation, prompting the State Bar to review its exam and grading system and investigate potential causes.  In February of this year, after receiving a letter from 20 ABA-accredited law school deans in California requesting that the cut score be lowered, the Supreme Court directed the State Bar to report its findings and recommendations as soon as practicable, no later than December 1, 2017.

According to a series of recent tweets by California State Bar Trustee Joanna Mendoza, it appears the State Bar may conclude its investigation next month and report its findings to the Supreme Court by September.

The next step after the State Bar reports its findings: The high court will determine whether the minimum passing score should be lowered, and if so, whether a new lower score should be retroactively applied to the July 2017 California bar exam. So, stay tuned.

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#BarPrepLife: Creatures of Habit

This was a good experience because, much like what I expect to happen during the bar exam, I was working near strangers in a room that I had never been in before.

When it comes to studying for the bar, it is clear that “bar-preppers” are creatures of habit.

The library, the local coffee shop, the kitchen table; everyone has their favorite study spot.  I recently received some advice from a lawyer about the need to switch environments when it comes to studying for the bar exam.

The lawyer told me that it is a good idea to change your study spot every so often in order to get used to working in a new environment in an attempt to adapt to the unfamiliar location of the bar exam.  For many students, the bar exam is administered in a place that is completely new and foreign.  In Michigan, the July bar exam takes place at the Michigan State University basketball arena, also known as the Breslin Center.  As I have never studied, nor taken a huge exam, in a basketball arena, I decided to take this advice to heart and study in a new environment.

Throughout bar prep, I have been studying at my law school.  This is unfamiliar for me because I have always studied at home for law school exams. At first, it took a while to get acquainted with the new space. Overall, it was a good experience because I was able to test myself by studying in an unfamiliar environment with distractions that are different than what I am accustomed to.

In an attempt to really try out this method of studying in a completely new environment, I went to the public library.  This was a good experience because, much like what I expect to happen during the bar exam, I was working near strangers in a room that I had never been in before.  It took me some time to get used to being in such an unfamiliar space, but I am glad that I am using my study time to discover by strengths and weaknesses so that when it comes time to taking the bar exam, I will be ready to perform.

Throughout bar prep, I plan on studying in different environments every so often in order to mentally prepare myself for the unfamiliar setting of the bar exam.  I think that this strategy will help me to #OwnTheBar.

Thoughts on studying in a new setting during bar prep? Tweet me or Instagram me @BarPrepLife!

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Blog by Everett Chambers,
Vice President of Institutional Programs

INCORRECT ANSWERS ARE INVALUABLE OPPORTUNITIES.

In sports, those athletes who can recognize where and how they are falling short in execution, and then focus relentlessly to build upon the necessary skills, most often rise to an elite level of performance. Like the old saying says, “practice makes perfect.” Yet what happens when you practice the same way without adapting your approach to learn from your mistakes? Well, in the case of a U.S. bar exam, you could fall short of passing.

It’s human nature to study for an exam with the goal of correctly answering as many practice questions as possible. A high percentage correct affirms your grasp of the material. Step back from that mindset for a moment and reverse it – look to embrace the practice questions you got incorrect instead. These moments are not judgments on you. Rather, they are opportunities to dig deep into learning what you don’t know.

Unless you have a photographic memory, you aren’t likely to quickly recall all of the rules and elements tested on a U.S. state bar exam. And you probably haven’t previously studied all of the subjects tested on the bar exam. Working practice questions and learning from the explanatory answers, regardless of whether you got the questions right or wrong, will help build a solid foundation of knowledge.

If you are not confident in one area, don’t hesitate to begin answering practice questions from that area. Sometimes you can learn as much or more from the explanatory answers as you would from a lecture. Therefore, start answering practice questions as soon as possible, and be persistent in taking the time to focus on any problem areas. Study this way, repeat this approach and you’ll increase your scores on the bar exam.

About BARBRI International

If you are interested in expanding your career options globally, you may be eligible to sit for a U.S. Bar Exam and become a U.S. attorney. In today’s increasingly globalized world, demand continues to grow for those who understand the workings and complexities of the law of more than one jurisdiction.

BARBRI International will prepare you to pass the U.S. Bar Exam and provide flexible and supported learning, tailored to non-U.S. educated law graduates. BARBRI is a leader in legal education and the #1 bar exam preparation program for 50 years.

For additional information on Open Days, program locations and pricing, please visit barbri-international.com.