Self-Care During Finals

Take Care of Yourself During Law School Finals

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

Finals have arrived *insert panicked screams here* Likely, you’re reading this during your school’s reading period, or you might already be into your first weeks of finals. Last year I wrote about self-care tips to help you prepare for finals. All of these recommendations still apply, but here are some self-care tips you can use as you study during finals and as you sit for your exams.

Give yourself permission to take a break

Research has shown that taking a short break every 50-90 minutes will actually increase your productivity. How long should these breaks be? 15-17 minutes seems to be the recommended consensus. During these breaks, you should do anything but work. Eliminate screen time (put away those phones), get up, and move.  The goal is to distract yourself and stop concentrating. By giving your brain a short break, it will actually be able to retain more information and be better prepared for finals. If you are not sure what to do, Mackenzie from the The3LLife wrote something great this week that features a variety of short self-care breaks… basically things you can do in 1, 5, 15, and 60 minutes. Longer breaks can also be helpful, but if you only take 15 minutes… maybe use those breaks to meal prep!

During a final → Take a minute before you begin just to breathe

Remind yourself that you’ve got this. Before you start your exam, take a moment to breathe in for 4 seconds… hold it for 7 seconds and breathe out for 8 seconds.  This helps calm your nerves and allow you to concentrate on the question at hand. This is also a good thing to do as you move between final exam essay questions or each turn of the page for multiple-choice tests.

Meal prep

Meal prepping during your study breaks can be a form of self-care. You can use one study break to prep the food and the next break to cook. You can also take some time this weekend to meal prep for the rest of the week. Create some healthy meals to feed your brain or cook some comfort food. Your choice! Last week Mackenzie posted some great multiple-choice and quick recipes that take 15 min or less to prepare!

If you’re like me, and cooking isn’t really your thing (other than what I learned to cook during spring break as part of my self-care routine, head to the store and grab enough food to last you for finals. For me, I am going to head to Trader Joes to stock up on some easy to cook already prepared meals!

During a final → Don’t forget snacks!

Be sure to pick up some blueberry’s, almonds, or walnuts to snack on during your finals. During a 3-hour final, your brain begins to run out of fuel, so it is smart to have a small snack pack to have available during your final.

Take time to laugh

Legally Blonde's ElleLet’s be honest, finals are miserable, stressful, and unpredictable. Taking time to have a good laugh breaks the tension and can be an excellent form of self-care, according to Mayo Clinic. Laughter provides both short-term and long-term benefits. Not only can it relieve stress, but laughter also helps with oxygen intake and allows your brain to release endorphins…

Plus…. Laughter also helps to improve your immune system, improves your mood, and can relieve pain. One of my favorite ways to get a good, quick laugh is to read the posts on the Law School Memes for Edgy T14 facebook page… Yes… this brings in screen time… but… it is important to have balance, AND we need our phones to reach out to friends…

Meet Up with your friends

Take time to surround yourself with people. Studying for finals can be extremely solitary, and it is important to be around people too! Your law school friends also know what you’re going through. Sure it can be helpful to study with others, but take a moment to just check in with each other too. Enjoy a coffee break or meal together. Perhaps meeting up at the gym for a quick game of pick up or yoga is more your speed, but check in with your friends! You will all benefit from the break!

Take advantage of any programs your school offers during finals

Some schools bring in puppies, others host yoga classes, or cook breakfast for their students. Whatever it is, take the time to attend one of these events. It will help you see that you’re not alone and is a great way to use school resources for self-care!

Best of luck with finals! You’ve got this! Let me know what you like to do for self-care during finals week over @The2LLife on Instagram or Twitter!

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.

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?

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!

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.

Character and Fitness is coming…

character and fitness

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

Yes… we are only 2Ls but believe it or not we should start thinking about the character and fitness portion of our bar applications. The Character and Fitness (C & F) portion of the bar application varies state by state, so you will want to check out the rules for the state you want to apply to for a better understanding of the process. Most states will have an example application you can look at, and you should take advantage of this. You might even be able to start your application now and work on it over the next year, updating it as needed.

Why should we be thinking about this now? Because the C & F application and process can be cumbersome, as it requires A LOT of information and preparing for the bar exam is already stressful enough! Do you really want to be tracking all of this down when you could be studying for the Bar exam? Likely not. Reading through the application now might also save you major headaches in the future, especially if you have had any issues in the past. Here are some easy things you can do in your 2L to help relieve some of the pressure you will be feeling in 3L when you start to fill out your C & F application.

First… where have you lived?

You will likely need every address you have ever lived at. If you have moved around a lot, are an older student, veteran, military spouse, or left all of your worldly belongings and backed packed around the world after college graduation, this could be an unexpected challenge. In Arizona, we need to report every address for the last 10 years or since we were 21, whichever is shorter.  A professor gave me a great tip and said to look at your past addresses on Amazon. You will have more than likely ordered something from there to every place you have ever lived, so this could be one way to help find your addresses. If you’re not a fan of Amazon, I am sure there is some other delivery site you’ve used frequently that will have this information for you. You can also start tracking your addresses now, just in case you move frequently during law school. This is important, especially if you live in another town for a clerkship.

Next, where have you worked?

You will likely need to list every placed you have ever worked. Yes, even for those employers you worked at for only a few weeks. You will likely need the address, phone number, and a contact name. Again, this could be relatively simple or a huge issue, depending on how many employers you’ve had. Here, your law school application will likely be helpful. If you do not have a copy, take some time this weekend and log into LSAC.org and print one off. It might also be useful to log onto websites like LinkedIn or Monster.com to find old resumes or job applications. This will likely take more time than you think. If you do it now, your 3L self will thank you.

Finally, what’s on your credit report?

It is easy to get your credit report, and it’s free to do so. To be honest, this is something you should be doing every year anyway. It’s good to get into the habit of doing it. Why do you need this? Because in addition to a background check, your state bar examiners will also request a copy of your credit report. By requesting your report now, you will be made aware of any issues on your report and will have plenty of time to deal with them before you submit your C & F application. You are entitled to 1 free credit report a year, from each of the 3 credit reporting agencies. Here is a fun tip I learned from my mom→ DO NOT request all three credit reports at the same time. Spread it out over the year requesting one every 3-4 months. For example, request one in December, a different one in April and the final one in August and then start again in December. If you see anything negative on your credit report, be sure to take steps to try to correct whatever it is.

While it may seem silly to be worried about this as a 2L, taking these simple steps now, will be beneficial come this time next year!

If you found this Character and Fitness blog helpful or have any other tips to prepare for the C & F application, let me know over at the @The2LLife on Instagram and Twitter.

Fall Break = Self-care Time

Self Care

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

When I was a 1L, Fall break was a relief. I had just taken 3 midterms, and was exhausted like the rest of my fellow 1Ls! After I darted off to Vegas for a friend’s wedding, then traveled to the east coast for a baby shower. I remember also having to work on my memo because a first draft was due when we got back to school. While it was fun to see my friends, I didn’t really get a “break.”

This year, I am on fall break right now, and I took a completely different approach. I stayed home. Boring, I know, but it was what I needed. I also had a few summer and spring employment events to attend, so staying home was ideal, so I didn’t miss those.  But to be honest, I still would have stayed home!

Last year was too much between traveling, airport delays, and schoolwork for me to really relax, and since today is World Mental Health Day (October 10), I wanted to share my Fall break self-care tips.

Check-in with yourself!

No seriously. This seems like something obvious to do, but it’s surprising how often we ignore what is going around us or put things off that should be a personal priority. Ask yourself, what do I need right now at this moment? Today? This week? For me, school-related issues always come to mind first, then work, then family and friends, and then last, me. But fall break is a great time to put your needs first.

For example, before the semester started, I had started making plans for fall break, but then I remembered what I felt like last year, and I told everyone I would have to see what the midterms schedule would look like. Then as I thought about it more, I realized I would need some serious downtime.  Even though it would have been a ton of fun to visit Florida with friends, I would have been exhausted. I put “me” first, and while my friends were disappointed not to have me join them, they were 100% supportive. They even included me in their adventures through Facetime and Snapchat. It was fun to watch their adventures… from my couch!

Catch Up With Non-Law School Friends

I wasn’t completely self-sequestered during fall break. I also took the time to reach out to my non-law school friends to meet up for brunch, breakfast, and happy hours. During the school year, I find myself playing phone tag with many of my friends, so I made it a priority to connect with them this week, even if it was just by phone. It is always good to have a reminder of your “previous” life. Fall break is the perfect time to reconnect!

Take Time To Breathe!

Take Time to Breathe!

During each day, this could be something as simple as using the “Breathe” app on your apple watch, or if you don’t have a similar watch, just do the 4 – 7 – 8 breathing method. This is when you inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and then breathe out for 8 seconds. Doing this helps lower your stress levels and can help you focus. Making a point to do this each day during fall break, can help make this become a habit, and can help during those stressful days at school. Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic about how breath can help you de-stress!

Change your Scenery

For some, fall break can be the perfect time to getaway. I loved watching my law school friends adventures in Hollywood, Sedona, Hong Kong, Paris, and New York… again from my couch. A change of scenery doesn’t mean you have to go far. It’s a great time to go for a hike, a day trip, or even a great drive. For me, I love driving, I love stargazing, and this week there were two meteor showers.  I could have taken a trip to Sedona or Flagstaff or even back down to Tucson, but I know of this perfect little place in Phoenix that has great views of the night sky. I drove there one night to catch the showers. It was perfect, and 100% relaxing!

Stars at night in Arizona

Start New Habits

Fall break is also a great time to put some new habits into place. I hate cooking. There I said it. However, this Fall break, I made it a goal to learn how to cook 3 new things that would be easy to make while I was down at school. It was simple, but this week gave me some time to experiment, and it was fun finding recipes I liked that I could master.

I think the big thing is that self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and all of these things can be done during the school week. Fall break just provides a wonderful opportunity to focus on self-care!

What are your favorite self-care tips? Let me know over @The2LLife on Twitter or Instagram.

FOMO: Knowing When To Say No

Fomo

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

FOMO Law Student Style

I think, as law students, we can suffer from a unique form of FOMO(osa)… the fear of missing out (on school-related activities). Unlike in the past where our FOMO might have been about social events, now, at least for me it has a focus on law school-related events, with a special emphasis on those special “gold star” law school opportunities like journal, moot & trial court, clinics, and similar activities.

We know that these activities are important for our resume building, in fact sometimes essential, depending on the sector we want to work in after graduation. Plus, we know how difficult it can be to earn these special “gold star” opportunities. For this reason, I think it can be unthinkable to turn down any of these opportunities. But sometimes we need to, and this is one of those moments for me.

As I talked to some of my fellow 2Ls, we talked about how difficult it was to navigate these decisions and how it could feel like a huge mistake if we didn’t say yes to every opportunity presented. The truth is, sometimes we need to say no. Here are some tips to help you navigate these experiences.

First, Be Honest With Yourself

Here, I was pretty sure I needed to say no. Not because I couldn’t take on the challenge, but just because it would be too much. But, as a first-generation student, I did not want to say “no” without realizing what I was saying no to. Does that make sense?

To be honest, this was a big step for me. I think it is hard to admit when you do not know something, which is why seeking advice is important. Then beyond that, you have to be really honest with yourself about when you can and cannot take on more in a very objective way.

I did not know the “ranking” or importance of my competing activities, so it was essential that I reached out for help, to make sure I did not make a naive misstep.

Fomo

Next, Reach Out to Those Who Have Been There Before

If you are struggling and are not sure which opportunities to say yes to or decline, turn to your trusted allies. I am a first-generation law student, so there is no one in my family I can turn to for law school advice. Beyond that, I do not even have any family friends who are lawyers. So, for me, this is why creating relationships at my school and within my legal community have been essential, and likely why I blog about it so much.

As soon as I was offered this opportunity, I was immediately torn. I want to do it, I knew the prestige attached to the activity. But the sacrifice and potential impact on my other activities would have been substantial. While I am usually a person who is always willing to rise to the occasion, this time, I realized that this might be something I couldn’t problem-solve my way out of.

I reached out to two professors, my bar association mentor, and my career advisor (who is an alumnus who had experience with what I was contemplating). I sent them a detailed letter about the pros and cons and asked for their advice. All of them were happy to respond and provided phenomenal advice. They also all commented that they could tell I already knew the answer. Which was to decline.

Saying No

Saying No, May Open Other Opportunities

It is SO easy to become overextended in 2L, plus for me, I think saying “no” is hard in general. Add in the fact that you know you may be turning down an amazing opportunity. Or something you are really interested in, it makes saying “no” even harder.

I think that it is also difficult to recognize that as a law student, we do have limits. But I think learning to say “no” is a part of our professional development and something we have to learn. It’s great to participate in activities, but we have to understand the “cost” of participation. I recognize that saying no to this opportunity at school will have its costs. But I also know by saying no, I am opening up the possibility of other doors that could lead to permanent things outside of school. Plus… there is always 3L and I think that can be easy to forget! As one of my wise professors said: “give each opportunity its own full moment!”

Have you had a similar FOMO struggle? Let me know over @The2LLife.

Advocating for the Use of Supplements

Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona

Last year, I wrote about the different type of supplements that are available to law students. This year I want to talk about how you can use them effectively. Last week the 1LLife wrote a great article about one of the supplements I have previously talked about, the 1L Mastery Package. Like many other 1Ls nationwide who watched Professor Freer (who presents Civil Procedure in the 1L Mastery series), I must give credit for him contributing to my understanding of the subject. My only regret is I didn’t watch him sooner, as it would have helped me with class so much! My professor was amazing, but I always felt a little behind because I was trying to both learn and understand her takeaways at the same time, and I could have used supplements to have avoided that, which leads to my first tip…

Use of Supplements Before You start the Topic in Class.

One of the arguments against supplements is that they are different from what or how the professor might teach. This can be true, however, having a different perspective can be helpful, and the black letter law or rule itself rarely changes from how each professor discusses it. My greatest regret is not watching the 1L Mastery series as classes were going (rather than before finals), as I felt it would have made me better prepared for class.

This year I am using the 2L/3L Mastery series in addition to my textbook to help me better understand my subjects, including Evidence. I am lucky enough to be taught my Professor Mauet, who very likely wrote your evidence book. He is regarded as one of the national experts on the topic and is an amazing professor, but I am still watching the BARBRI videos before class. I am doing this because it allows me to have a good grasp of the material before he presents the topic. It allows class to almost be like a review session, and I focus exclusively on HOW he presents that material rather than WHAT he is presenting. In other words, I can take my general understanding, and tailor it to the way he wants me to understand the subject or rule.

The Reading Portion

The same can be said for reading the portion of the supplement that is relevant to class before going to that lecture. Just like the videos, a written supplement will help to clarify what you have read from the textbook, allow you to focus on what matters, and then listen differently in class. I think that was a big thing that I didn’t grasp well in my first semester, I was listening to learn rather than listening to understand what my professor wanted me to take away from the lecture. Grasping this in second semester is a big reason why my grades improved.

Use the Supplement to improve your outline.

Some supplements include outlines or have recommended checklists. Modify these and create your own based upon how your professor teaches. Again, this is something I did not figure out until my second semester of 1L. Something I underutilized during my finals was the use of an “attack” outline. In many cases, this is a checklist to help you hit all of the bullet points on your essays. Using an example from a supplement, really helped me understand how to create these for my classes.

Do not let myths about using supplements get into your head

One of the best students I know actually recommended this topic for a blog because of all of the negative things he has heard said about the use of supplements. Namely, that only “bad” students need to use supplements. I can tell you that is simply not true. Most of the top students I spoke to recommended supplements to me last year, and they said they were “key” to their understanding. I think it is important to remember that they are just supplements, in other words, they can help you understand, but just supplement your efforts. You still need to go to class and engage with your professor, but supplements can elevate your understanding of a topic and help you excel in class.

What are some of your favorite supplements? Let me know over at the @The2LLife on Instagram or Twitter.

Studies Show BARBRI Students Score More Points On The Bar Exam For A Similar Amount Of Effort

The bar exam is arguably the most important and most difficult test of your life. Nobody wants to fail. Everybody wants to walk in to the exam with the confidence that they are going to pass, the first time. BARBRI students are best equipped to perform at the highest levels on exam day.

In all of the studies conducted by our BARBRI team of data scientists, at schools across the United States, it was clear. For similar course completion rates, BARBRI students achieved a higher average score on the bar exam than students using other bar prep courses.

It’s a significant differential. For example, in one study, the non-BARBRI student group cleared the pass line by six points on average. The BARBRI students scored 31 points above the passing mark. That’s 5x the cushion for a similar amount of effort.

On a test where most people who fail do so by just a few points, how thin a margin is worth the risk?

BETTER PREPARATION, MORE POINTS FOR SIMILAR EFFORT

Our in-house data scientists have analyzed four years of BARBRI student data and continue to work closely with law schools nationwide. Among the tens of thousands of data points gathered, they spotted an eye-opening pattern: BARBRI students scored more points on the bar exam compared to non-BARBRI students for a similar amount of study effort.

This means you do study smarter, not harder, with BARBRI. In fact, all activities assigned to you during BARBRI Bar Review, through the powerful ISAAC engine that runs the course, are positively correlated to increased points on the bar exam and, ultimately, bar passage. To  read more about that, click here.

BARBRI students are better prepared among all bar takers and walk into exam day with far greater confidence to pass the bar.

THE TRUE BARBRI ADVANTAGE, IT’S OBVIOUS

Here is a closer look at one study we conducted in summer 2018. First, we see that a greater percentage of assignments completed, within any bar prep course, will generally correlate to a higher average bar exam score. It’s pretty obvious.

In the chart below, all the blue dots are BARBRI students and the dotted line represents the relationship between bar review course completion and final bar exam score. The dotted line slopes upward, which means the higher percentage of BARBRI course completion, the better students do on the bar exam. Simple enough.

When we look at the group of bar takers who did not study with BARBRI, we see a similar upward trajectory.

When we combine both BARBRI and non-BARBRI student scores within the graph, it reveals the true BARBRI advantage – BARBRI students score more points for the same amount of effort and percentage of the course completed as non-BARBRI students.

CONFIDENCE IN THE (HUGE) CUSHION

Now think about the bar exam curve. Generally, when you hear of someone failing the bar, many do so by 10 or fewer points. Wouldn’t you rather go in with the confidence of knowing you’re going to get the most points possible and give yourself the best chance possible?

Another reason why the majority of graduating law students, every year, go with BARBRI to Own The Bar.