Extending Your Legal Education

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

For most, three years of law school is more than enough. By the time 3L rolls around we’re ready to kick down the educational door and begin our careers – or at least start making money, instead of just spending it.

But some want – or need – more than a “simple” JD. In which case, extending your legal education requires thoughtful consideration, after all, we can’t stay in school forever … can we?

The Business Path

Commonly, those seeking jobs in business require, or benefit from a combined JD/MBA program. If you’re a 1L you can likely apply for the joint MBA program through your school and graduate on time. However, if you’re a 2L or 3L you’ll have to stick around for at least an extra year if not two.

Thankfully, many firms that push for the joint degree are open to letting law students defer job offers for a year while they complete the program; just make sure to talk to someone in recruiting early.

Explore International Qualification

Did you know that U.S. qualified attorneys are eligible to qualify as a Solicitor in England and Wales? If you completed your JD in the USA, passed a bar exam and have the dream to work abroad, you can pursue dual qualification by taking the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) and become a Solicitor in less than a year!

The English legal profession is relatively open to international lawyers seeking to qualify as a solicitor and it does not impose restrictions to admission on grounds of nationality or residence. This might be a great opportunity to internationalize your career, broaden your options, and increase your employability in the U.S. market and abroad.

Note, however, that the QLTS will be replaced by the SQE in 2021. It doesn’t mean that U.S. qualified attorneys will not be able to pursue this path. Instead, the SQE will be a harder and longer exam.

Legal Specialties

Contrary to popular belief, LL.M. programs are not just for foreigners. Select universities offer targeted LL.M. programs that allow students to specialize in specific areas of the law. The most common area in this regard is tax law.

LL.M. aside, if you’re planning to work in an area of law that draws heavily on certain advance fields (i.e. accounting; biology; chemistry; engineering; etc.), and do not already have a degree in the area, then you may want to pursue a secondary bachelor’s degree, a master’s program, or a certificate program to ensure you have the required knowledge, and to appease employers.

If you’re interested in a niche area of the law you may want to reach out to mid-level associates and partners at your firm, or contact your student employment office to see if a specialty LL.M. program or secondary degree/certificate will benefit you.

Teaching Route

Finally, if you always loved school and want to make a career out of it – i.e. want to teach – then you’ll likely need to pursue a Ph.D. and fellowship. Notably, Ph.D. programs are often completed on a part-time basis, so you may be able to continue working throughout your studies. If you plan to teach in the legal field, then some experience in practice is likely beneficial anyway.

The Law Student’s Guide to Self-Care

Open the Windows to Self Care

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

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

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

Under 60-Seconds Ideas

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

5-Minute Ideas

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

15-Minute Ideas

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

An Hour Plus Ideas

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

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.


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.


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”:


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.


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.


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.


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?

Mealtime for Law Students

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

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

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

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

The 15 Minute Chicken Stir-fry

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

The Five-Ingredient Enchilada

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

The Fifteen Minute Alfredo

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

The One Pot Beef and Broccoli

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

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

MPRE: What You Can’t Bring


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

I can’t bring that into the MPRE?

Think you have free range on what you may bring with you into the MPRE? Sadly, no.

Don't bring these items with you to the MPRE

When it comes to the actual test, there are a number of things that you are prohibited from bringing into the test, including:

  • Purses, wallets and watches

    You can bring these with you to the test center but you’ll have to store them during the actual test.

  • Electronics

    You must turn off all electronics and store them during the test.

  • Water bottles and food

    Test centers have water coolers, but you’ll have to exit the test room to access them so I recommend you hydrate beforehand.

  • Jackets, scarves and hats

    Dress in layers because jackets have to be removed and stored during the test.

  • Study materials

    You are prohibited from bringing study materials into the testing room, so leave them at home!

  • Scrap paper

    The test center will provide you will this.

Most test centers provide free lockers for students to use during the test, but you should still confirm with the test center beforehand! ←

Upon arriving at the test center you’ll have to complete the registration process (some test centers require you to print your registration materials beforehand). You’ll begin by signing in – if lockers are available, one will be assigned to you at this time.

Once your belongings are safely stored away you will be required to provide palm scans – which will be retrieved during the bar exam to confirm your identity – and a headshot. Someone will then walk you through the test process and the rules.

Before entering the testing room you’ll be assigned a computer, given a small whiteboard or scrap paper to write notes on and earplugs or noise-canceling headphones. Personally, the noise-canceling headphones were too big for me so I had to suffer through without them – I highly recommend that you bring your own wax earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to avoid that situation.

The exam itself is composed of sixty multiple-choice questions; you’re able to flick back and forth between questions and review your answers before submitting the exam. The computer also has a timer function so you don’t need to worry about looking for a clock.

After submitting the exam you’ll have to raise your hand for someone to come collect you. They’ll confirm your test has been uploaded successfully and then you’ll be free to collect your belongings and flee the test center.

Now, get on out there and crush the MPRE!

Bar Exam Options

bar exam options

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

Do you know what your bar exam options are? As 3L’s, the bar exam is an unfortunate reality that we’re going to have to face relatively soon. That means it’s time to get informed on what your options are when it comes to the bar.

Though you’ve likely already heard the buzz about prep courses, there are more bar exam options than just that one factor. So let’s walk through it together!

Bar Registration Requirements

Before you can consider writing the bar exam you need to satisfy certain requirements, varying by state, to become eligible to sit for the bar.

Generally, states require applicants to hold an accredited JD or comparable LLM degree; a passing score on the MPRE; completion of a designated number of pro-bono hours; and a passing character and fitness test.

If you anticipate having problems in any of these areas you need to meet with a counselor at your school immediately to ensure you’ll be able to write your desired bar exam.

Bar Offerings

In the United States, the bar exam is offered twice a year, once in February and once in July. The exams themselves last for between two and three days, with the format varying according to the state and exam type.

The majority of law students take the July bar exam, allowing them to begin work in the Fall. However, if working as an attorney right away is not of pressing concern to you, then you can extend your study time by registering for the February bar exam.

Notably, individuals who fail the July bar exam will generally be permitted to remain with their employer while studying for the February bar exam. Many bar prep courses also allow you to take the course for free again if you fail the bar exam. But let’s not think too much about failing, because we’re all going to pass!

Single-State vs. Multi-State Bar Exams

We title it the “bar exam” when really there are a number of different exams available to you.

The most obvious choice you’ll need to make is what state(s) you want to be qualified within. If you, and your employer, are focused on a single state, then you can register for that state’s bar exam and no others.

However, if you’re unsure where you’ll be working, or plan to set up office in two or more states, you’ll need to register for multiple state bar exams. This, of course, means you’ll need to do extra studying to learn the local laws of each state.

State Bar vs. Universal Bar Exam (UBE)

One way to cut down your study load if you’re interested in sitting for multiple state bar exams is to take advantage of the UBE.

Though the name says it’s universal, there are some states who’ve yet to adopt the UBE. You’ll need to check to see if the UBE covers the states that you’re interested in.

If you find yourself interested in the UBE then you should set a reminder to read my upcoming blog post on November 6th, where I’ll discuss the UBE in more depth.

Reciprocity & Challenging the Bar

Many states have reciprocity with each other, meaning you may be able to qualify in more states than the just the one whose bar you sat for. With the UBE reciprocity is generally immediate, provided your score meets the eligibility guidelines. Without the UBE, you often have to practice for a certain amount of time before challenging the target state’s bar exam.

This reciprocity/challenge capacity also applies towards certain foreign bar exams, like Canada’s for example.

International Bar Exams

Speaking of foreign bar exams, just because you’re studying in the United States doesn’t necessarily mean you’re planning, or able to work in the States. If this is the case for you, then you’ll need to start considering what foreign bar exams you want to, and are eligible to sit for, and what their requirements are.

As noted above, passing a United States bar and/or practicing in the United States for a period of time may qualify you to challenge certain foreign bar exams. This can be especially beneficial if you’re planning to work in the United States, but want to have a practice in your home country, or want to benefit a firm with international offices.

The Curve & Bar Prep Courses

If you’re planning to sit for the United States bar, including the UBE, then it’s important that you realize the bar is curved – let the 1L flashbacks proceed. Passing the bar exam requires both knowledge and tactic. You can’t ace every section, instead you need to focus on acing the sections you’re strongest at, and those that are worth the most, to keep yourself at, or above, the average.

With the curve factor, it’s imperative that you study hard and efficiently, which means you need to choose the best bar prep course for you. You may have been able to study for the LSAT on your own and pass, but it’s incredibly difficult to do the same with the bar exam. Nearly all law students across the country register in a prep course to maximize their chances of success.

There are a number of bar courses available, and you should carefully choose which one will be best for you – your success likely depends on it. With that said, BARBRI’s bar prep course offers a high passing rate (with 9/10 students passing the bar) and is an immensely popular choice amongst firms and law students across the country.

Unlike many prep courses, BARBRI offers a unique pass predictor. They apply a curve of sorts to predict where you’ll fall based on your practice test scores. BARBRI also uses ISAAC, a system that adjusts to you as the course develops so you can get the most out of your studying sessions. This may sound daunting, but it is useful considering the reality of the curve on the actual bar exam.

Finally, if you register for BARBRI’s prep course before November 1st you’ll not only receive access to the 2L and 3L mastery packages, but you’ll also receive a $100 Amazon gift card (use Promo Code: OCT100) if you’re paying for yourself, or a $500 Amazon gift card if your firm is footing the bill.

Payment Options

Once you’ve settled on a bar prep course, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to pay for it. Likewise, you’ll want to determine how you’re paying for all other bar exam-related expenses.

For those headed to law firms, it’s common for firms to cover both the bar prep course and bar related expenses. If you’re uncertain whether your employer offers this, reach out early to ask.

If your firm is footing the bill, you still need to find out what their process is. For instance, some firms auto-enroll you in a bar course; others allow you to choose but pay for it themselves; and still, others reimburse you for your bar course when they reimburse you for your other bar-related expenses.

If your employer doesn’t cover bar-related expenses then you’ll have to cover them yourself. If money is an issue, look into payment plans for your bar prep course, and scholarship programs that provide funding for bar prep courses. Your school likely has information on these programs.

Studying Options

With your bar course paid for and at your disposal, it’s time to consider how, and where you’re going to study. The most pressing issue at this point is likely the where.

Many students remain in their law school apartments throughout the summer so they can study near campus. Others seek the comfort of home and move back into their childhood bedrooms. Still, others decide they want to settle into their new lives and immediately move to the city where they’ll be working.

You’ll want to decide what option is best for you early so you can arrange to extend, terminate or handover your lease, and/or find accommodations elsewhere.

One thing you may want to consider when determining where you want to live is how you plan to study. For instance, if you plan to partially study in a group then you’ll want to live near your group members.

The main takeaway is that the bar exam is more than just what prep course you take. There’s a lot you need to consider to ensure you succeed.

Ultimately, what’s best for someone else may not be the best thing for you. Make sure you make your bar related choices based on your own personality and needs, and not what everyone around you is doing. After all, passing the bar is the last hurdle before we can officially call ourselves lawyers!

Legally Fantastic Halloween Costumes

Halloween Costumes

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

Fall is upon us, and you know what that means, right?


Now, you could go as your favorite superhero or TV character, admittedly that’s what I normally do. But, if you’re looking to let your inner legal nerd out, below are some ideas to get you started!

1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Why not go as the queen herself, and no I don’t mean Beyoncé!

2. Judge: RBG not doing the trick for you? You can still grab a black robe and gavel and dress up as your favorite TV judge, movie Judge, or supreme court justice (or a judge plain and simple).

3. Elle Woods from Legally Blonde: Curly blond hair and a matching skirt suit or the classic pink dress are all you need to transform into this movie character!

Ruth Bader, Legally Blond and Hamilton Costumes

4. The Founding Fathers / Hamilton: Every law student knows about the founding fathers, just as nearly every law student wants to see the famous play, Hamilton. Why not grab some fitting apparel and dress up as one of them yourself?

5. Lady Justice: If you’ve ever wanted to hold to scales of justice, now is your time! A classically simple costume.

6. A Law Firm Billboard: Put your legal writing to work and transform yourself into one of those highway-legal billboards – just make sure not to violate the rules of professional conduct.

Salt and BatteryMy Cousin Vinny Costume7. ‘Salt and Battery’: A perfect couples or friends costume for those who love a good play on words.

8. My Cousin Vinny Character(s): Also a great couples costume – or as a solo costume. After all, what’s more iconic than Vinny’s stellar courtroom performance?

9. Law Student: For those of you who don’t have the energy or motivation to dress up, this is the perfect Halloween costume for you! Throw on some wrinkled clothes – bonus points if there’s a coffee stain somewhere on the shirt – forgo undereye concealer and let those dark circles shine, stick a BARBRI highlighter in your pocket, and a coffee cup in your hand and you’re ready to go.

The Law Students Guide to Thriving at Legal Conferences

Legal Conferences

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

Legal Conferences Preparation

Last year I had the opportunity to attend a legal conference in Washington DC as a representative of my journal. It was an out-of-state conference and I wasn’t sure what to expect, or what to pack.

Since then, I’ve had the chance to attend multiple legal conferences on behalf of various student groups. With a handful of legal conferences under my belt, I’ve begun to understand how best to prepare and conduct yourself when faced with such an event.


When it comes to conduct, you should treat a legal conference much like you would treat a law firm networking event. Attendees, ranging from professionals to academics, will judge your group, journal or school based on your conduct. So much like a firm event, you need to put your best face forward. Furthermore, just like a firm networking event, it’s important to talk to a range of people throughout the conference to make a lasting impression and maximize your chances of securing relationships for your group (or yourself).

Who You Represent

Throughout the conference, you’ll want to make it clear who you’re representing (whether that be your school or a group), and subtly note that you’re available as a resource should they have any questions. That said, you don’t need to spend the entire time trying to sell yourself. There’s a thin line between self-promotion or group-promotion, and annoying the attendees around you – try not to cross it.

Be Forward

Finally, do be forward with attendees or speakers whom you find particularly enticing. It’s expected, and even complimentary, at a conference for student representatives to pull select people aside to express their group’s interest in working with them. You shouldn’t be overly pushy; rather, you need only state why it is you’re interested in them; why you believe they would be a good fit for your group; and how best to get in touch should they want to take you up on your offer.

Now that you’re ready to kill it at your next conference, see the packing lists below to make sure you’re fully prepared.

Legal Conferences
Businessman walking with his luggage

Suitcase Essentials

Assuming you’ll be heading out of the city, or the state, you’ll need to pack a small suitcase. If you know the dress code of your conference then you can alter the clothing to match that information. However, since often-times conferences have no official dress code, you’ll want to pack a range of formal and business casuals outfits.

For a three-day conference a base-line packing list should likely include the following:

One or Two Neutral Suits and Matching Dress Shirts:

  • Obviously, if the dress code says formal you’ll want to pack at least two suits. However, even if the dress code says casual, you don’t want to risk being underdressed. Bring at least one suit in case you need it, worst comes to worst you can remove the blazer, or you can wear it with your business casual outfits below when you’re feeling a little chilly.

Three Business Casual Outfits:

  • You’ll probably end up wearing these to the conference, but if not, you’ll likely want to change into them for evening social events with people you meet at the conference. Note, if you’re staying at the same hotel as the rest of the attendees you’ll also want to wear these when you’re wandering around the common areas since they really don’t need to see you in your sweatpants.
  • If you’re low on space, try to match your business casual shirts to your formal suit(s) to save yourself from having to pack three shirts as a backup in case the conference ends up being more formal.

Comfortable Dress Shoes:

  • Though conferences may seem like the perfect time to break in new shoes since you’ll be seated a fair amount, I strongly urge you not to wear something that you can’t stand/walk-in for a few hours? In between sessions, you’ll find yourself running to and from different rooms or buildings, and there will also be periods of standing when you’re expected to network. Don’t be that person asking for band-aids.

Comfortable Walking Shoes:

  • Staying on target, if you have to commute to the conference every day and don’t plan on taking an Uber, consider bringing a comfortable pair of sneakers or flats to walk to and from the conference in.
  • Bonus: if you’re athletic you’ll want to bring these anyways so you can take advantage of the hotel gym.

One Fancier Outfit:

  • Often conferences end with a “formal” event. Men can easily re-wear their black suits, while women may want to pack to a dress – though a suit is fine too!

One Spare Outfit:

  • I’m all for precise packing, but a conference is not the time to pack only three shirts. Just imagine, it’s day one, you’re eating breakfast at the hotel and BOOM you spill strawberry jam smack dab in the middle of your white shirt. Now you’re forced to wear the shirt you had planned for day two, meaning you’ll either need to re-wear a shirt, purchase a new one, or pay to wash it.

A Presentable Purse or Briefcase

  • Conferences come with a lot of handouts. You’ll want to have something more professional than your backpack to store them alongside your water bottle, wallet and other day-time necessities.

­­A Rain Jacket or Umbrella

  • I don’t care what the weather forecast is, do not go to a conference without a rain jacket or umbrella. Trust me, I was once the girl who got stuck in a torrential downpour without an umbrella on my way to an interview. Dripping hair and a see-through shirt is not a good professional look – learn from my mistakes.

Day-Bag Essentials

Whether you’re attending legal conferences on campus or three states over, you’ll want to bring a well-stocked bag to make it through the day. You know yourself best, but most conference attendees tend to pack the following:

  • Notebook and pen (preferably a presentable one)
  • Battery charger for your phone
  • Umbrella (see above)
  • Snacks – to tide you over between meal times
  • Water bottle
  • Business cards
    • If you have these then they’re a fantastic edition. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked for my card at a conference! Personally, I ordered a basic 100 pack from VistaPrint for around $6.
  • Tide To Go pen
  • Advil – because nothing’s worse than sitting through hours of speakers with a headache
  • Wallet, complete with a government photo ID and your student ID for registration

Do you have anything to add to the legal conferences’ packing list that I may have forgotten? Please share it with me on Twitter or Instagram: @The3Llife

Spending 3L Abroad

spending 3L abroad

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

Considering Spending 3L Abroad?

A few years ago you sat down and picked a law school, decided on a city to call home, and then set off on your law school journey. Maybe the city isn’t all you dreamed it would be; maybe there’s something missing from the course options at your school; maybe you just love to travel.

If any of the above describes you then it might be time to consider spending 3L abroad!

The Application Process

Generally speaking, study abroad programs are offered exclusively to 3L’s. They range from semester-long programs to full-year programs – with full-year programs often culminating in an earned LL.M., or similar executive law degree.

You’ll need to start researching study abroad options now. Applications are generally due at the end of the fall semester or in early spring, so you’ll want to ensure that you have enough time to complete the application, request necessary documents, and get written letters of recommendation.

The applications themselves will likely vary from school to school, but to give you an idea of what you can expect I’ll walk you through my application for the London School of Economics.

  1. First, I submitted an application for consideration to my home university. Within this application had to rank a few programs for consideration. I also had to provide a two-page statement of interest, my law school transcripts, my resume, a degree progress report from the registrar’s office, and a pro bono progress report.
  2. After submitting my applications I was called into my school’s international office for interviews. These interviews took place only for the programs that had limited enrollment capacities.
  3. Around February, I received my offer to formally apply to one of my ranked programs. I was given one-week to formally decide whether to continue with my application.
  4. Next, I had to complete the formal application for the London School of Economics. This application once again required my law school transcripts, resume, and a statement of interest. In addition, I had to provide two letters of recommendation, and complete an online application, and submit proof of language proficiency (this is waived if the teaching language is your first language).
  5. I received my formal offer letter from the London School of Economics approximately three weeks later. I then had to submit a study abroad worksheet to my international office outlining my study abroad plan and goals.

Preparing for the Move

Sooner than later you’re going to need to decide what to do with your current apartment. If you’re studying abroad for one semester then you can choose to sublet or terminate your lease. If you’re studying abroad for a full year you’ll likely want to terminate your lease and find something short-term for graduation.

If you’re subletting then woohoo, all you need to do is find a subletter, confirm with your landlord that you’ve followed the protocol, and move any items you don’t want to be left into your apartment home or to a small storage unit. If you’re terminating your lease, you’ll want to give to your landlord ample notice. You’ll also want to book a moving van, movers and a storage unit at least one month prior to your move date since prices will go up the closer you get. When renting a storage unit, make sure to ask about long-term discounts.

Spending 3L Abroad

After you’ve figured out housing in the USA, it’s time to find housing for your time abroad. Figure out early on if your school offers on-campus housing for visiting students, and if so, whether you’re interested in living on-campus. Keep in mind, many schools have mixed graduate and undergraduate dorms.

If you’re responsible for finding your own housing, start looking early. It may be tricky to find an apartment that’s (a) furnished, and (b) available for less than 6-12 month leases. Personally, I ended up splitting an Airbnb with a friend for our three months in London – if you didn’t know, Airbnb offers great discounts for monthly stays, and your utilities are included!

While you’re busy figuring out accommodations, don’t forget to keep track of flights. Since international flights can be expensive it’s a good idea to book early. If you’re okay with booking through a third party, you can set up price alerts on sites such as Kayak or StudentUniverse. When booking, make sure to calculate checked baggage if you need more than the allotted amount.

Research how to get from the airport at your destination to your new home abroad. In big cities like London, airports aren’t necessarily located within easy driving distance of the airport. It’s good to know whether Uber is financially feasible (or even available) and/or whether you need to book train and/or shuttle tickets in advance.

Likewise, you’ll want to research internal transportation methods since this may impact where you decide to live. For instance, in London tube fares are based on zones, with zones 4-6 being incredibly expensive.

London Taxi

Lastly, and most importantly, begin to determine whether you require a visa for your study abroad. Visa applications can take anywhere from two weeks to three months, so make sure you give yourself ample time to both apply for and receive your visa.

The Benefits and Downfalls

Before you jump feet first into the whole study abroad experience, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons. Consider what you’ll be giving up at your home university, whether that’s a position on a board, law school events, personal functions, job loss, etc. Likewise, consider what you truly have to gain from the experience, and how it will benefit you personally and professionally.

For me the pros included the following:

  • Advanced or specialized courses in areas of interest to me;
  • The opportunity to live abroad in a city that I love;
  • Increased networking opportunities;
  • An opportunity to research Ph.D. programs at UK universities;
  • Benefits to my mental health; and
  • Increased travel opportunity (also a mental health benefit).

The cons have included the following:

  • Limited courses that will assist me on the bar exam and/or in practice;
  • Confusing registration process on campus in London;
  • Increased living expenses;
  • Inability to attend multiple functions/events at home and at my home university;
  • Difficulty juggling independent studies, journal, and pro bono / social group responsibilities from abroad.

With that said, nearly one-month into my program, I can honestly say my decision to spending 3L abroad was worth it. The pros greatly outweigh the cons, especially since I have the added perk of being able to embark on cheap European weekend trips! Through my program I’ve managed to connect with so many talented people, including diplomats, practicing foreign lawyers, and academics that I otherwise would not have been exposed to. Plus, the courses I’m enrolled in here aren’t available at my home university, so academically speaking I feel motivated to learn as much as I can.

Deciding to Study Abroad: Is it right for you?

  1. Have you taken all required courses for your degree program(s)?
    a. Not even close
    b. They’ll be finished by the end of 2L
    c. Most of them, but I know the missing ones are available during 3L
  2. Does your journal require 2-years’ service?
    a. Sure does
    b. Nope, I’m free to leave!
    c. It does, but they’re flexible
  3. Have you finished your writing requirement (if required)
    a. Haven’t thought about it yet
    b. Yes /or/ it’ll be finished shortly /or/ it’s not required
    c. I’m planning to do it via independent study or through my journal
  4. Are you on track for Pro Bono?
    a. Ugh, I need so many hours
    b. I am a pro bono wiz!
    c. A few hours left, but I’m not worried!
  5. Financially, how are you doing?
    a. Law school’s expensive … need I say more
    b. I’ve got a fair amount of savings
    c. My loans cover my costs and I haven’t fully maxed them out yet

Mostly A’s: A study abroad probably likely isn’t feasible for you. If you’re dead set on doing one you’ll likely need to increase your workload during 2L. Some things you can do to increase your odds of being accepted into a study abroad program include: registering for any/all required courses available in the spring semester; registering for the spring or summer MPRE; cutting back financially or getting a part-time job; completing some major pro bono hours!

Mostly B’s: Looks like you’re in prime shape for an exchange program! Start researching your options now so you can maximize your chances of getting the program you want. To be extra safe, check in with your registrar’s office and your journal to see if there’s anything you need to resolve before applying.

Mostly C’s: Spending 3L abroad seems quite possible for you. To put yourself in the best position possible, you may want to do the following: check off a few more pro bono hours; register for any remaining required courses or papers during the spring semester; register for the fall or summer MPRE; begin financial planning for a study abroad. You may also want to meet with the registrar’s office and your journal early on to get a head start on the application process.

The Downlow on Clerkships


Makenzie Way, 3L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School

Clerkships Consideration

To clerk or not to clerk … clerkships are a popular debate amongst law students. I myself have not clerked, nor am I planning to clerk, partly because I’m an international student (blog post to come), and partly because I’m just too eager to start my law firm job.

Since I’m by no stretch of the imagination an expert on clerkships, I sought some out! No, I didn’t just swing by the career planning office and ask a few questions. Rather, I found real people, each at a different stage in their legal career, with opinions and advice that may come in handy if you’re thinking about clerking or are already headed down the clerkship path.

clerkshipsFirst up is Kirsten Valania, a 3L from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. As a 1L Kirsten served as a judicial intern at the Delaware Court of Chancery. Prior to law school she worked as a Paralegal at Gordon, Fournaris & Mammarella, and was a Marketing Assistant for the Wilmington Blue Rocks. As a 3L, Kirsten has accepted a clerkship with the Delaware Court of Chancery where she will work under a Vice Chancellor for two years. After clerking she’ll transition to firm life at Abrams & Bayliss LLP in Delaware. 

Q: What made you decide you wanted to clerk after law school?

A: I wanted to clerk after law school for two reasons: (1) I was a judicial intern for a Vice Chancellor and realized just how much there was to do and learn as a clerk that one would not be able to do or learn from the litigants’ side of the bench; and (2) just about every attorney I spoke to in Delaware suggested that I clerk.

Q: There’s no shortage of courts or judges, how did you narrow down the selection field when applying for clerkships?

A: I think I am unusual in that I only wanted to clerk in one court, the Delaware Court of Chancery, and nowhere else. Prior to law school, I was a paralegal in Wilmington doing fiduciary litigation, which means that I got pre-law school exposure to the Court of Chancery, the Delaware Superior Court, and the Delaware Supreme Court. My favorite work as a paralegal related to actions before the Court of Chancery. My preference was solidified after being a judicial intern for a Vice Chancellor in the summer after my 1L year. As far as which judges to whom I applied, it is custom to apply to all of the Vice Chancellors and Chancellor when one applies to be a Chancery clerk.

Q: Explain the application process? Is there anything you wish you knew now that would have made it easier?

A: Fortunately, the career office connected me with former clerks who accurately laid out the application process for me. As I mentioned above, a Chancery clerk applies to all seven jurists, typically. With the application, you include two to three references, a writing sample, and your transcript. After a few weeks, you are invited to schedule a number of interviews with different Vice Chancellors (or the Chancellor). These interviews are about an hour long with the judge and may also include an interview with the current clerks, a Bluebook exam, and a writing assignment. You may not get an interview with every Vice Chancellor, but you can still get an offer from one with whom you did not interview.

The Court is small and there is a lot of collaboration in the hiring process. I wish I had a better idea of the overall timeline, because the waiting can be stressful! I knew that applications were due in early February, so I started communicating with the career office and several professors from the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester and by January I had my writing sample proofread and my reference letters finalized. What was unexpected to me is that my interviews were not scheduled until March. My offer was extended in early April 2019. I had heard that the process was fast, but I don’t think I necessarily had a grasp of what “fast” is in the clerkship world. In reality, it is much faster than the process for federal clerkships!

Q: Did you get a sense that any particular area of your application was more important than the others – i.e. grades, recommendation letters, courses taken, past experience, law school ranking?

A: I got a sense that after exhibiting a clear aptitude and preference for Delaware corporate law, by courses, grades, experience, or otherwise, the next most important part of the application were references with connections to the Court. I also got the impression that the application is largely wholistic in the sense that an applicant can compensate for one part of their application with another.

Q: Since you received your clerkship offer after accepting a 2L summer job at a law firm, can you explain the process you went through with your law firm?

A: After getting my clerkship offer, I asked if I could check with my firm and immediately called to ask if they would be amenable to me clerking what would be during my second and third years as an associate. They were very supportive, so I was able to contact my Vice Chancellor and accept that same day.

Q: What are hoping to get out of your clerkship experience?

A: I am, first and foremost, hoping to get an intimate understanding of how Delaware corporate law is developed. I know it will be a very intensive two years of clerking and I will have the opportunity to be immersed in various aspects of this very niche area of law. I do truly view it as an opportunity. My firm is a boutique that only does Chancery litigation, so this will be directly applicable to my future practice. Secondly, I am hoping to become a better writer. The job certainly requires a lot of writing, which must be digestible and precise. Finally, I am hoping to develop a lasting relationship with my Vice Chancellor. I really respect and admire her; I hope to be able to have her as a professional mentor going forward.

Next is a second-year transactional associate at a law firm who prefers to remain unnamed, because privacy matters!! Prior to entering a law firm, this associate clerked for a judge at a state court of appeals.

Q: Thinking back to how you felt before beginning your clerkship, how do you think the experience matched or differed from your expectations? Would you still recommend it?

A: I was less prepared than I expected, and I think that is the case for every first-time clerk. There is no class or practice that prepares you to participate in the legal and (even more so) the operational work of a judge’s chambers. I would absolutely still recommend it, as it is the only way to see that aspect of law besides being a judge.

Q: What’s one thing you wish you’d known about clerking before applying?

A: I’m not sure anything could have better prepared me for the work and I really enjoyed the full year. My successor was surprised that our court system paid every two weeks rather than twice a month, which reduced the paycheck noticeably – check with HR about insurance and payroll to make sure you know what your finances will look like.

Q: Explain the transition from clerking to big law.

A: As a transactional attorney, there was no connection between the work. It has helped me answer a few questions in my first year of practice, and I believe I was a better legal writer and thinker thanks to the clerkship, but otherwise I was starting from ground zero at the firm, just like a first year.

Q: In what ways do you think clerking has helped you in your legal practice?

A: My writing improved significantly, and practice made me much better at breaking apart the facts, law and application in each case, and synthesizing them into a proper analysis.

Q: Regarding mentorship, describe your relationship with the judge whom you clerked for; did the mentor relationship continue after your service ended?

A: I have stayed in touch with my judge, and she helped me with my job search while I was still in chambers. Equally important, I am still communicating with fellow clerks and the interns that came through our chambers – it is a fantastic network.

Q: If you could offer a few pieces of advice for students entering clerkships, what would they be?

A: Read opinions by your judge from the past year, and if you can access the emails between your judge and prior clerks, see what edits the judge offered to their writing to align your drafts with the cambers’ standards. Expect to make big mistakes – every clerk does, and no matter how the judge responds, she knows it is part of the process. Get to know clerks in other chambers to help advise on how to handle issues around the courthouse.

clerkshipsFinally, Mark Batten is a partner in Proskauer Rose LLP’s Labor and Employment group and co-head of the Class and Collective Actions Group. He also writes and lectures on employment-related matters. Prior to joining Proskauer, Mark was a partner at Bringham McCutchen LLP and a trial attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School, Mark clerked for the Honorable Richard L. Williams in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia for one year.

Q: Let’s start with the basics: how do you feel clerking has benefited or impacted your legal career?

A: It was an invaluable experience, particularly at the start of my career, in two respects. First, every litigator’s job, until reaching a jury, is to persuade a judge. And this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see how arguments are received. Second, over the course of a year, you get to see a lot of different lawyers, with very different styles, arguing their cases to the judge and trying their cases to a jury, and you also get to study a lot of different approaches to written advocacy. Watching those different styles and seeing what is effective is extremely valuable in crafting your own style.

Q: Looking back on your own experience, can you honestly say you would recommend clerking?

A: I absolutely would recommend it, for the reasons described above. I intentionally sought a district court clerkship rather than an appellate clerkship because I wanted to be a litigator, and it seemed as though clerking at the trial court level would be the better experience. I’m sure appellate clerkships have their own value, from the experience you get at a more abstract, legal level, and because of their prestige. But I think the in-the-trenches experience was more relevant to what I now do day-to-day.

Q: Mentorship is important throughout your legal career, did your judge serve as a mentor for you? If so, explain how the relationship helped you.

A: During the clerkship, he did. He had lunch with his clerks every day at the bank cafeteria across the street, and we talked about what was going on in the cases, what arguments were working or not working, and career possibilities. My judge was also a great storyteller, and we learned a lot from that.

Q: Many law students and junior associates are concerned that accepting a clerkship will mean sacrificing or risking law firm employment. In your opinion as a partner at a law firm, how do you think clerkships impact hiring decisions?

A: My impression is that a clerkship can only add to the perceived value of an applicant, for the reasons described in response to the first question. I gather that some clerkships go on for more than a year, and I’m guessing that there are diminishing returns from those longer clerkships in the eyes of law firms, but a clerkship of a year or even two can only be beneficial, I think.

Q: Relatedly, what value do you think clerkships bring to a law firm or to your practice area specifically?

A: It brings associates with some real-world (or, more precisely, real courtroom) experience which gives them a leg up in the advocacy that is essential to a litigation practice.

Q: Are there any tips you can offer soon-to-be law clerks to help them thrive during their clerkship?

A: Spend as much time as the judge will allow in the courtroom, so you get to see the oral advocacy. When you have time, make similar visits to other courtrooms, both trial court and appellate, to see as much as you can.