#barpreplife: Online vs. Live Classes, and My (Tentative) Schedule

GUEST BLOG by Harrison Thorne,
Graduate of  UCLA Law

I signed up for BARBRI’s live lecture, and planned on going to the lectures every day.

However, after some introspection, I realized that I do my best work first thing in the morning. I like to wake up around 6:00, take my dog out, shower, and get to work. I could be listening to the lecture by approximately 6:45 am every day, and finish it up around 9:45-10:00. This is more appealing for me than waiting until 9:00 to begin the live lecture.

There are downsides to not attending the live lectures, though.

These include: being at home too much, not being accountable to anybody, not interacting with people, and not mixing up study environment. However, I believe that for me, the benefits of starting early and at my own pace outweigh these negatives. Nonetheless, everything is conjecture at this point, as I have yet to study for the Bar Exam. If online lectures do not work out, I will go to the live lectures. I believe the key is to (a) know yourself and what works, and (b) remain adaptable and willing to change when things are not working.

My tentative schedule will include lots of study time, but also daily free time. At least in the beginning, I believe it will be important to maintain the activities I enjoy. I likely worked 40-70 hours per week in law school, but I was driving to and from school, meeting professors, walking around campus, etc. The Bar, on the other hand, will entail studying in one room all summer. There are far fewer “changes” of scenery to help with boredom.  Thus, I believe it will be important to have something to look forward to daily.  Therefore, I will include fun activities at the end of my day, every day.


  • 6:00: wake up
  • 6:45: begin lecture
  • 10:00: finish lecture
  • 10:00-11:30: study
  • 11:30-12:30: lunch break (eat, walk dog, etc)
  • 12:30-5:30/6:00: study
  • 6:00-10:00: free time

Saturday & Sunday:

  • Same, but I will either begin studying 1.5 hours later, or end 1.5 hours earlier

I plan on stopping work by no later than 6:00 pm every day. That way, I have time to go to the gym, hang out with my friends/family/girlfriend, go to movies, and anything else I might want to do. I will revise this schedule as needed, but I believe that this is enough time, daily, to learn what I need to learn.

#barpreplife: Preparing to Prepare for the Bar Exam

GUEST BLOG by Harrison Thorne,
Graduate of  UCLA Law

Before taking the Bar Exam, I want to make sure my house is in order.

To do so, I am making sure that all of my tasks are completed, my house is clean, and that I have a plan for taking care of my dog.  Luckily, I have an amazing girlfriend to help out along the way, but nonetheless, I want to get everything done ahead of time, so I can dedicate all my energy to the Bar.

Here is a checklist I came up with for myself, but most of these things can be modified for you.

  1. Make sure my computer is working
  2. Get a printer, load up on paper
  3. Make sure finances are taken care of
  4. Make a Schedule
    1. I have created a schedule with daily “free-time” tasks, including time with friends and family, gym, etc. I will modify if needed, but I wanted to schedule these things in.
  5. Let my family know I will be less reachable – especially during the day
  6. Get my car maintenance done (oil change)
  7. Stock up on non-perishable groceries
  8. Have fun the week before the Bar Prep course begins

I believe that a bit of prep now will save a lot of time and stress once Barbri’s prep course begins.  I’m going to knock all these items off my list, and then have some downtime, before diving headfirst into Bar Prep!


GUEST BLOG by Dani Gies,
1L at UCLA School of Law

NARROWING YOUR LIS[Z]T, PART II (Hungarian Rhapsody No.2)

This is a continuation of my last post, trying to help 0Ls decide which law school to attend!

  1. Programs: I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but if you know what type of law you want to go in to, look for law schools with that program. I’m not talking about one sentence on their webpage that says they’re committed to Public Interest. I’m talking about a demonstrated commitment to the area of the law you want to practice. Ask the students you talked to because you read my last post what the school’s actual commitment is. Follow the law school on Twitter. I only applied to four schools and after I nixed one of them because of location (i.e., not in California), I started comparing their Twitter feeds. While all three schools purported to place a heavy emphasis on Public Interest Law, one of them never tweeted about it, only tweeting big law and intellectual property-related material. That told me a lot about the programming they were hosting and what they valued when showing their wares.
  2. After Graduation: I want to stay in Los Angeles and practice law here when I graduate. As such, every connection I make is a potential employer or resource, which makes the value of my networking feel much greater. It also makes learning the California Civil Code in some classes way more useful. However, I have some classmates who came to UCLA knowing that they are going to return to another state. For most of them, it was for the programs UCLA offers that aren’t available at the schools in the state where they want to practice. I don’t have advice on which one is better, except to suggest that you take it into account when making your decision.
  3. Other Priorities: Do you want to get a dual degree? What about taking other classes offered outside of the law school? Do you want to leave the door open to moving later, and thus care more about going to a “national” school as opposed to one that’s known regionally? Are there particular faculty members you want to work with? Do you want to study abroad? The more nuanced the item on your list, harder you may need to look for it. Law schools can differ greatly in their offerings, so don’t just assume that every school will have what you want.

If you have any more questions, please tweet me @The1Llife! I would be happy to talk to you about your decision. Congratulations, and good luck!

#barpreplife: One Point

GUEST BLOG by Gianna Venticinque,
Graduate of Northern Illinois College of Law

“ these are not matters of life and death.
Keep that in perspective.
If you had to, you would simply take the exam again.
Unlike so many other settings, here you get do-overs.”

—Professor Paula Franzese

Happy Spring (sort of)! I hope you’ve all had a great few months and got to relax a little after the bar – I know I did.

Let’s talk about what really grinds my gears: studying for the bar for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, only to miss passing by ONE POINT. You need a 266? Well Gianna, here’s a 265. Annoying, right? You have no idea. Honestly, I would have rather missed it by 50 points. At least then I could have figured out what I did wrong and had a chance to change my study habits. But no, I did everything right and just missed the mark.

Initially, I was upset, but now I’m just mad. I immediately let everyone know I didn’t pass so I didn’t have to get asked about it 900 times a day. Almost everyone was equally as mad as I was about it. But I knew this was a possibility and I prepared myself for it, I just never thought it would be over one point.

I want to congratulate everyone who did pass – you did it! I wish you all the best with your careers and beyond. It’s a huge accomplishment and you should celebrate – if you haven’t already!

I also really want to encourage all those who didn’t pass to get back on the horse and try again. You know you can do it and now that you know what it’s like you’ll be that much more prepared to kill it in July. Be proud of yourself for making it this far and don’t give up.

I want to thank BARBRI for allowing me the opportunity to be your @barpreplife Blogger for Winter 2016. I had a blast. 🙂

Until next time,

(Update from BARBRI:  Gianna will be blogging about preparing to retake the bar exam, this July.  When we invited her to share her experiences, this is what she said, “That sounds amazing and I would absolutely be interested in doing that!! I really enjoyed blogging and I think it would be good for people who also did not pass to know they’re not alone. Thank you so much. I’m beyond excited for this opportunity.” )

#The3Llife: Lessons I Have Learned in Law School

GUEST BLOG by Harrison Thorne,
3L at UCLA Law

After three years of law school, I have learned a few things.

Each semester has brought out a new set of lessons, and I am extremely grateful for all the experiences I have had—the good and the bad!  From my current perspective, I wish I would have done things differently. Granted, hindsight is 20/20.  But, here are a few things I wish I knew.

1L: Do what works for you.  Everybody will constantly tell you how to approach reading cases, how to outline, what supplements (if any) you should buy, etc. The most important thing is to figure out, within reason, what works for you. Another important thing is to take it easy and not compare yourself to others. Without doubt, you will see people who appear to have their life together and be working harder than you, and you will feel that you are falling short. First, who knows what they are going through. Second, get to work and stop the comparison.  It won’t help you.  Finally, grades are more important than clubs, activities, and bar associations. It is great to become a part of your community, but really, at the end of the day, grades are priority 1.

2L: Focus on your longer-term goals. If you want to work in a law firm, focus on OCI. But, don’t let things end there. In addition to the interviews you get through your school’s OCI program, you should also reach out to firms and their recruiters on your own. If you want to do public interest work, reach out to your school’s public interest contacts, etc. This is the point at which it is important to lock down a job. Grades are really important, but diverting some attention towards job-search is fine.

3L: Focus on networking, extracurricular activities, and finishing strong. Everybody talks about senioritis and checking out. Don’t be one of those people. It is okay to spend more time on extracurricular activities in place of studying, but don’t get too out of balance.  It is really important to keep grades up—especially if you haven’t yet found a job. On that note, don’t panic if you don’t have a job. Keep reaching out to your school’s career services office, firms, and everybody in between. Don’t lose hope, and don’t wait until after the Bar to start your search.

Things I would do differently: I generally loved my law school experience. I got to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of my school’s Entertainment Law Review, work in two courts (state court and bankruptcy court), compete in a bankruptcy competition, serve as an advisor to the Dean, and work with great professors. However, given another shot, I would spend more time becoming a member of the community. I rarely went to events, and missed out on some great events with amazing speakers. I focused more on studies than anything else, and, while fine, I now wish I would have been more involved at school. There’s a balance, and I feel too far towards “doing my own thing.”

What’s Next: The semester is wrapping up, and things are coming to an end. I am studying for finals, editing a final paper for a class, teaching my last class (I am part of my school’s Street Law program, in which I teach a class of 9th graders weekly), and finalizing my journal for Entertainment Law Review. After my last final, I will attend my graduation, then have a few days off before I begin bar prep with Barbri.

I am actually quite excited for bar prep. I know it sounds “weird,” but I think about bar prep like this: during law school, so many things are constantly pulling my attention. I have to respond to emails, meet with teachers, go to class, work on the journal, etc. During bar prep, I have ONE task: study for the bar. I plan on putting my phone on airplane mode and getting in the zone. And nothing else. I will work from around 6 or 7 in the morning until 5 to 7 at night, then take some time for myself. But, otherwise, my focus during the day will be exclusively geared towards studying for the Bar.

After the Bar Exam, I am going on a vacation with my amazing girlfriend, then taking a bit more time off before starting work. I can’t wait to see what bar prep is like, and, hopefully, to pass the Bar!


GUEST BLOG by Dani Gies,
1L at UCLA School of Law


With finals rapidly approaching, I’m going to deflect by focusing on admissions and planning for law school.  For all the 0Ls out there, this is for you.

Hopefully you’ve been admitted to some schools and now you’re deciding where to go. Here are some quick tips to help focus your decision:

  1. Location: Does location matter to you? If it does, don’t be afraid to admit it. I felt like carrying about location was shallow until I realized that enduring four years of brutal winter and six months a year without sunshine and Seasonal Affect Disorder made it totally reasonable for me to want to go to school in California. Also, after spending four years away from my family and missing four years of weddings, births, and funerals, I wanted to be back in on the family action. I couldn’t be happier that I made location a major factor in my application process. Remember, you’re paying a lot of money to go through a really tough experience—you might as well like where you are while you do it.
  2. Money: Speaking of spending a lot of money, try not to. Bragging about yourself is tough for most of us, but if it’s between being humble and being in more debt, choose more brag and less debt. Let schools know about the scholarships you’ve been offered from other schools if they’re competitive, and let them know if money is holding you back from attending. I was forthcoming about both, and the schools I worked with were very understanding and willing to work with me. If you’re interested in public interest, be sure to ask detailed questions about their Public Interest Loan Forgiveness programs, if they have one. If you’re interested in PI and they don’t have a PILF program, I suggest you reconsider.
  3. People: If you can (and you should be able to), speak with current students. Admissions officers are a great resource for the statistics and wide-view perspective, but the students are in the trenches daily. You’ll even be in classes with some of them in the future. Every student I spoke to gave me very honest feedback, and it was crucial to my decision-making. The one question I asked every student was, “If you were sick the week before finals and missed class, how would your classmates react?” If the answer was anything other than “give me their notes and be supportive,” I knew it was a community I didn’t want to be a part of. My classmates at UCLA Law are so supportive, and that is exactly the type of law school community I was looking for.

Please tweet me any questions you may have @The1Llife! More tips coming your way in the next post!

#The3Llife: Legal Writing

GUEST BLOG by Harrison Thorne,
3L at UCLA Law

After three years in law school, two judicial externships, and a summer associate position at a big firm, I have done plenty of legal writing.  I will admit that this type of writing is not my strong-suit.  However, I have gotten pretty good at it.  Here’s how:

  1. Know what you’re talking about
    A lot of people incorrectly assume they know what they are talking about when writing legal papers.  It is very, very easy to make a mistake—especially when you cite a case without Shepardizing first, or rely on laws that have since been repealed or amended.  Make sure to do your homework before stating anything with authority.  And make sure to check your facts.
  1. Plan before writing
    Many people sit down and start writing, only to find out five pages in that their arguments don’t accurately jive with the law, or that they aren’t actually making an argument.  Planning is an art.  Don’t get so caught up in planning that you forget to actually write.
  1. Write early
    Make sure to write early enough so that you have a few days to review and edit.  Unless you are superhuman, you will not be able to proofread or edit your work the day you type it out.  You need to give yourself at least 24 hours before retuning to your paper.  Alternatively, you could have a friend review your work.  However, civilians (people not in law school and not practicing attorneys) might not understand what you are saying, and might find the style awkward.  My friends always focus on the mechanical nature of my legal writing over the substance.  I used to spend lots of time trying to explain the structure and its appropriateness.  Now, I don’t give my papers to friends.
  1. Speak with your professors/bosses/colleagues
    The person grading your paper (or reading the brief you will file in court, etc) is typically available to discuss your work.  If a professor is willing to give his or her feedback on something that he or she will grade, why would you not ask their advice?

#The2Llife: Where The Going Gets Tough

GUEST BLOG by Lauren Rose,
2L at University of Detroit Mercy

*Cue the horror movie music*  Finals are almost here.

This is where the going gets tough.  The entire semester leads up to the end, the final exam, the finale. Now is the time to buckle down and start hitting the books. Here are a few of my tips for final exams.

  1. Ask for outlines. It is so beneficial to ask other students for outlines. Ask students who took the class before you for a copy of their outline. Your school may even have copies of outlines in an outline bank. As always, make sure to edit the outline with updated cases and class notes!
  2. Review BARBRI videos. I cannot stress this enough for your main courses. Barbri finds a way to condense an entire semester worth of information into short, informational videos. During 1L year, these videos were a lifesaver.  I am currently watching the evidence video and it has been very helpful.
  3. Review commercial supplements. If you’re in need of more information, check out a commercial supplement. These books break down the subject into incredible detail. I find it helpful to look at supplements when I am unclear about a topic or want to learn more about it.
  4. Find what works for you. I like to write things down. I study by writing, rewriting, and rewriting my outlines 17,000 times. I also make flashcards to memorize big topics. However, I know a lot of people do not like to write things down. Figure out something that works for you and stick to it!

Good luck on finals! Do you have any tips or tricks for law school finals? Tweet me @The2LLife!

#The3Llife: Planning Ahead for Finals

GUEST BLOG by Harrison Thorne,
3L at UCLA Law

Finals are around the corner.

Many law students will begin spending longer hours in the library. Panic will ensue. Instead of joining the masses, here are my suggestions:

  1. Prioritize what matters.
    Reading for classes is very important. However, late in the game, finals prep is more important. If you have not begun outlining, then I would suggest allocating your time that way instead of meticulously reading every page and underlining/highlighting key phrases. Think about it—how many times have you gone back and looked at what you highlight?! Instead of reading, consider getting a Quimbee account and reading well-written case briefs.
  2. Collect past outlines.
    Many schools have outline databases. If your school does not, reach out to former students, or search for outlines on an online outline-bank (they’re out there).
  3. Meet with teachers.
    This cannot be emphasized enough. Teachers are the people writing and grading the test. If you speak with them about any and everything you don’t understand, you will be ahead of the game.
  4. Take practice tests.
    Many students wait until they feel sufficiently prepared before even considering practice tests. This is a mistake. Do not take practice tests before you have done any preparation, but do not wait until the day before the test, either.
  5. Stay calm.
    A lot of law students turn into piles of anxiety during “finals season.”  Do not do this.  Worrying excessive does not change your test date or help you study. In fact, worrying causes decreased memory retention, and ruins your life! A bit of healthy fear is fine, but do not freak out.  And do not look at what other people are doing. Do your own thing, work hard, and let the results fall where they fall.

#The1Llife: Keep Your Head Up

GUEST BLOG by Dani Gies,
1L at UCLA School of Law

KEEP YOUR HEAD UP (Shout Out to Andy Grammar)

Here at UCLA Law, 1Ls have the final graded memo due this week and Spring Break is next week. I’ve noticed that a lot of my classmates are dragging, as am I. I heard a lot about how hard law school was going to be before I came here. While I love it and am so glad I chose to come to law school, and UCLA in particular, it is definitely the most difficult venture I have ever undertaken.

One of the most difficult characteristics of law school is balancing the rest of your life with it. I’ve written several posts now about how to balance life and law school, but I’m not doing very well at it right now. In light of my great-uncle’s passing, I have become despondent and, frankly, apathetic to everything. This makes attending law school pretty difficult.

This post is for everyone who is struggling at this point in the semester.

I feel you. I am unabashed about wrestling with depression and anxiety. I dealt with them prior to coming to law school, but both are far more exacerbated now. With multiple family members being diagnosed with cancer and other illnesses, including my mother (who underwent surgery) and my great-uncle (who passed away) and other family issues, the personal issues in my life have tested me greatly this 1L year. I’m not sure how I’m going to get to Spring Break, let alone the end of the semester. But I’m leaning heavily on my friends to try to get there. One thing I’m trying to do is learning to ask for help. My professors and the administration have been tremendously supportive of me, and I am grateful for that. If you’re having difficulties outside of school that are affecting your schoolwork, I definitely suggest you speak to your Dean of Students or other administrative figure that can help by providing accommodations.

I’m terribly headstrong and prideful. I do not like asking for help. But I am finding myself in a position this semester that I must. I hope that if you are finding this semester to be more difficult than normal, that you too seek assistance from people to make it easier for you. If you want to talk, you may reach me at gies2018@lawnet.ucla.edu.