Spring Break Destinations

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

As we submit our memo drafts, attend OCI interviews and try to stay afloat with our extra classes, it is easy to forget that Spring Break is just around the corner. Look no further than your favorite 1L class for travel inspiration.

Pick your favorite 1L course to discover your spring break destination!

Torts

If you enjoyed torts, travel to Phoenix, Arizona for the Cactus league or Tampa, Florida for the Grapefruit league. Both destinations will keep you warm and let you work on your tan this Spring Break. Just be aware of those warnings from torts class and keep a look out for flying hot dogs and bats! If you are not a baseball fan, consider a trip to your favorite amusement park or take a cross country railroad journey. Just be prepared for falling packages!

Property

If property is your favorite class, you are going to New York. That’s right folks, one of the cases we have all read, Pierson v. Post, took place in the “wasteland” that is modernly known as the Hamptons. Treat yourself and indulge in the lavish lifestyle for the week. Alternatively, if you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, check out properties for rent in Costa Rica or Hawaii!

Constitutional Law

Philadelphia awaits! Sure, it may not be your typical Spring Break destination, but you are not the typical spring breaker. Surround yourself with history with visits to Constitutional Hall and the Liberty Bell. Run up the “Rocky” stairs, and decide if Pat’s or Geno’s wins the war when it comes to Philly cheese steaks.

Criminal Procedure or Criminal Law

Some schools teach criminal procedure as a 1L course; others have criminal law. No matter which subject you have, if this is your favorite class, your spring break destination is San Francisco! Of course, you should visit Alcatraz and experience all of the other fabulous sites this great city has to offer. Plus, you 100% deserve a trip to wine country, too.

Contract Law

Sign on the dotted line and book yourself a cruise to the Bahamas. You’ll be surrounded by contracts, at every turn and activity on a cruise, but you are well prepared for all of that fine print! When I posed this question to my professor, he mentioned the contracts related to space tourism would be fascinating, but I think that trip might have to wait until after graduation.

Civil Procedure

Good ole common law. If you’re looking for an international getaway, Hong Kong, England, New Zealand, and Australia (just to name a few) all follow common law and would be exciting spring break destinations. If you’d like to stay stateside, consider Washington D.C., visit the Supreme Court and more. As a bonus, if your spring break is in late March or early April, you will be able to experience the Cherry Blossom festival.

What other destinations pair up nicely with our 1L classes? Let me know on Twitter or Instagram @The1LLife.

3 Ways to Help Prioritize Sleep, The Secret To Higher Quality Work

GUEST BLOG Harrison Thorne,
Graduate of UCLA Law

As a 1L, I really prioritized sleep. I’d get in bed at a certain time, no matter what.

As a 2L, I did not prioritize sleep. I got distracted doing various things, and before I realized, I would only catch five to six hours, tops.

Comparing my day-to-day operations from 1L to 2L year, I can definitively say that I noticed a huge difference. Well rested, I was more alert, focused better and was much more efficient. Conversely, when I was chronically tired, the opposite was true.

My advice, looking back, is to rededicate yourself to sleeping. I did. What worked for me 1L year and what I started implementing again was simple when I followed these three steps:

Fotolia_74211266_Subscription_Monthly_MStep 1: Watching television before bed is a bad idea. Sometimes I would take in a show before bed (I’m not perfect), but when I read for pleasure before turning off the lights, I found it much easier to fall asleep.

Step 2: I enjoyed some “sleepy time” tea before bed. It really helped relax my body as well as my mind.

Step 3: I liked to do some form of meditation before turning in. I really think that is a game-changer for me and would recommend it to anyone.

These three steps were pretty consistent in helping me get to sleep faster, sleep deeper and sleep more hours.

With all this in mind, there’s one thing I’d like to point that seems extra productive initially but ultimately counterintuitive to being able to perform at your best. A lot of people in law school would talk about how to get less sleep – usually in order to get more done or have more workable hours. However, after some of my own experimentation, I learned without a doubt that it’s actually better to miss out on an extra hour or two of work, if the work you do is of a higher quality (because of the extra sleep).

3 Steps to Create a Shell Outline

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

One of the major things I decided to implement much earlier this semester was outlining earlier and reviewing it frequently. I struggled with this last semester and by midterms I discovered what I should have done!

The answer for me was creating a “shell” outline. Though, I learned about this in my BARBRI Law Preview class, I didn’t think this was going to work for me. I was I wrong! Using this method, last year, right before midterms was so helpful. I committed to making sure that I did it this semester before I hit week 4. The followers of @The1LLife were interested in the process so here it is. How you create a shell outline in 3 pretty easy steps.

First, let me explain that a “shell outline” is an outline that combines the casebook table of contents (which are usually organized by topic and cases) and your professor’s outline. The goal of a “shell outline” is to have each case and major topic that covers from the beginning to the end of the course. Yes, I am talking about creating an outline now that will go to the end of the class.

So instead of creating an outline as you go, with a “shell outline” you fill it in as you go. The advantage of this is that everything is well organized. You don’t have to think about what to call each area, as it is already done for you. Since you are just filling in the details as you go, it makes it much easier to keep your notes organized. If you use the headings feature you can create an attack and concise outline at the same time, but we will talk about using the heading feature at a different time.

Now is the perfect time to create your shell outline and fill it in! Here is how to get started:

Step 1 – Gather the Required Materials

To do this, you will need your professors course outline and your casebook table of contents. I have most of my books in a digital format, so this is easy for me to copy and paste from. If you do not have digital versions, never fear. You simply need to go to the publisher of your textbook and look for the index, they often supply this on the student resources page. If you can’t find it there, you can just google it. For Aspen published book, you will usually find this on the companion website. Here is the master list: http://www.aspenlawschool.com/

Shell Outline

Step 2 – Merge the Documents

The next step is to merge your professors outline and the casebook table of contents together. I prefer to have the table of contents from the casebook to be the “base” of the outline. I will usually copy and paste this either from the digital casebook or from the index pdf into a google doc or word doc. Then copy and paste the headers from the professors course outline. This will provide you a document that has all of the major headers from the textbook and your professor, plus all of the cases. This will take some time, but as you go through the professor’s outline, you can delete cases you will skip and sections of the casebook you will not cover.

Step 3 – Begin Filling in the Shell Outline

Voila! The shell outline has not been created through the end of the semester! Now the final step is to start filling in your notes from the previous weeks. For cases, be sure to note the Rule, Determinative Facts and any other information your professor likes you to know. Once you have caught the outline up, you can use this shell outline to take notes the rest of the semester. 

If you follow this method, you will have an outline that has every major case, organized by topic in a way that matches the structure your professor intended. You can also organize the outline using various headings, so you can also create an attack outline as you go. 

If you have any questions about this you can reach me @The1LLife on Twitter and Instagram

Healthy fear as the great motivator for final exam success

GUEST BLOG Harrison Thorne, Esq.
UCLA School of Law, Class of 2016
Associate Attorney at Vedder Price

I usually became a nervous wreck around finals. My nerves were a mix of fearing the final exam and comparing myself to others.

Fearing a test is good. Healthy fear will motivate.

However, what is not good is measuring your knowledge against others.

I found that most people gave off an air of knowing everything about every course. My classmates would talk about how they had various topics “down cold” or how they “know that subject like the bank of my hand,” etc. In response, I became extremely nervous. My thinking turned into a checklist of concerns and doubt:

  • Everybody knows everything
  • I don’t know everything
  • Classes are graded on a curve
  • I know less than everybody else
  • I will fail

My saving grace was that, as time passed and finals neared, I worked hard and disconnected from that defeatist mindset. I actively pushed those thoughts down when they came up. And they came up a lot! What I found was that I was not as “dumb” as I thought and I could write a decent law school exam. I also found that the people who felt as I did tended to psych themselves out and under-perform.

My advice to my past self or anyone else about to take their first set of final exams is as follows:

  • Acknowledge the fear. Exams are scary. Especially the first time around. There is no point in denying that fact.
  • Use that fear. Fear can be a great motivator.
  • Come up with an “attack plan.” Get a calendar or download an app and set up a daily to-do list to keep track of what needs to get done.
  • Get it done. Now that finals are coming up, this is the time to put your head down and grind out work.
  • Never, ever, ever compare yourself to others. In fact, it’s probably best to avoid other law students as much as possible at this point. There will be a desire to ask other students what they’re doing, how they’re outlining, what practice exams they have taken. DO NOT do this. Focus on your well thought out and designed attack plan.
  • Use Tools. While everybody else is nervously Googling study aids, thumbing through E+E’s or checking out secondary sources, use no-nonsense tools like BARBRI 1L Mastery and 1L Mastery Pro.

 As an example, here’s a glimpse of how I planned one of my final exam prep days:

6:00: wake up1:30-3:00: Study
6:15-7:30: gym3:30-5:00: Class
7:30-8:15: shower/breakfast/
check emails
5:30-7:00: Study
8:15-10:30: Study7:00-7:30: Dinner
10:30-11:00: zone out, check emails, whatever7:30-9:30: Study
11:00-1:00: Study9:30-10:00:
Pleasure Reading
(never give this up!)
1:00-1:30: Lunch

 

Tools for “Mastery” of Your 1L outlines

October means crunch time.

As you flip the calendar, take note of the time between now and finals week. In about six weeks, you’ll need to have reached your highest level of learning, memorization and organization. That’s not a simple task.

Enter the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package.

If you haven’t already, it time to begin your outlines. (So how do you go about outlining, you ask?) This is where 1L Mastery helps tremendously. Starting to outline is like writers block. You stare at a blank Word document for 20 minutes. Literally. When you sign up for 1L Mastery, however, you get instant access to ready-to-use first-year course outlines — great examples that show you how to organize your own materials and even fill in a few blanks (substantive gaps) you may have missed in class or from your readings. Writers block conquered.

 

And the practice questions.

1L Mastery also has multiple-choice black letter law practice questions for every 1L subject. You can gauge your understanding of a topic without setting aside hours to complete. It’s an ideal way to supplement the other types of learning and it can help identify areas where you may need to spend more time. Just finished “offer and acceptance” in Contracts? Take a few practice hypotheticals to help identify when a contract has been formed.

The more hypotheticals you practice, the better prepared you will be when the final exam comes. Those first semester grades are so critical. You need all the material you can to succeed and stand out among your peers. Having access to the plethora of exam questions in the 1L Mastery Package is one its biggest advantages.

You’ve already completed a third of your first semester of law school. It’s zooming by. And things speed up even more. Feel comfortable knowing you have 1L Mastery outlines, practice questions (and video lectures) to back up your learning.

How can you stand out in your law school class? Be a “1L Master.”

Great 1L outlines: It’s about the process

It’s that one thing that looms around every corner of law school.

Maybe you did it some during undergrad, but never quite like this before. It is the bane of your law school existence, yet at the same time, the most crucial piece of exam preparation.

Outlines.

The first month of school consisted of scavenging the right 2L’s and 3L’s for the best outlines out there. Making sure to find those who did very well in your courses – and with your specific professors – is important.

But outlining is about more than just the end result. It’s about the process. Moving your class notes, supplements and handouts to a refined and organized study aid helps you put that critical information to memory. If you just grab from your peers or copy and paste from online sources, you won’t be putting that material in words familiar to you that truly help you understand the rules of law.

Another thing about the “process” … it’s a very long process. It’s time to start outlining (it’s mid-October already). Many schools will have a writing assignment due just before Thanksgiving Break that will require nearly all of your outside time and effort. It’s crucial to be up-to-date with your outlining as soon as (make that, BEFORE) you are given the assignment. This allows you to push aside your other classes, crush that writing memo, then get back to outlining in time to be finished before reading day.

That’s a lot of information. And potentially, a lot of additional stress. But that’s what it takes to get those 1L grades that matter so much.

Tips for Having a Productive Law School Study Group

Law School STUDY GROUP

GUEST BLOG Stephanie Baldwin,
1L at University of Arizona

I was on the fence about joining a law school study group before school started. I can be very social, but I did not want the social aspect of a study group to cause a reduction of valuable study time. I also knew that success on exams comes from issue spotting, and having different perspectives would offer me an opportunity to learn different ways to spot issues I might overlook. A law school study group seemed like a perfect solution to this issue. Plus it is a built-in support system for the challenging first year.

Luckily for me, my study group seemed to create itself. In our legal writing class, we were already assigned a micro group of 4 for group assignments in that class. We were a great fit, so it made sense to work on other classes together. We had two more people ask to study with us, and our group was set.

While 6 people is a bit large for a study group, it seems to work for us. We started meeting the 3rd week of school, which was a brilliant suggestion by one of our members. Even though we weren’t sure what we wanted to do, we quickly formed some rules and guidelines.

We are still new to the process but here are the guidelines that have helped us stay on track:

Have a Specific Start and End Time

Our study session begins right at 6 and ends at 8 pm. This is important because it keeps us focused. If we want to socialize, we show up early or stay after. Having a set time period helps us stay on track, be respectful of each other’s time, and keeps the small talk to a minimum.

law school study group

Establish Goals for Each Session

This may vary week to week for your law school study group, or you may have different goals throughout the semester. Our group started with a general review of basic concepts. As midterms are quickly approaching, we have placed a greater focus on outlines. Eventually, as finals approach, we will work on hypotheticals together.

Understand Expectations

We have a set schedule for what we will be discussing each week. We used our midterm schedule to help set our plan. We started with Contracts, tackled Civ Pro last week, worked on Torts this week and will be reviewing outlines next week. Each week, one person is the designated leader. They present the big takeaways from each case and highlight important issues for the class. The other members of the group are expected to ask questions, and anyone in the group can answer. Using this method has helped us quickly identify problem areas, and if we are not able to explain a concept well, we go back to the basics until we are all solid. If we are still in doubt, we designate someone to go to office hours on behalf of the group.

Hold Each Other Accountable

This applies not only to doing the prep work for each session but also during each session. If one person disagrees with the group, we each have an obligation to speak up. This helps avoid “group think” and challenges each person to back up their claims.

So far I feel like we have all benefited from our group and I am really looking forward to next week. What suggestions do you have for a successful study group? If you implement any of these in your own group, let me know over at the @1LLife on Twitter or Instagram.

Is a Dual Degree Right for you?

JD/MBA

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

Considering a dual degree? Recently I found myself exploring study abroad programs that with one extra semester of law school, provide you with an LLM degree. Similarly, a number of my 1L friends applied to and were accepted into the JD/MBA program. To see if a dual degree program is right for you, take the quiz below! 

  1. What best describes your geographical career preference?
    1. Major American cities
    2. Asia
    3. European Union
    4. Smaller American markets
    5. Other International
  2. What best describes your career interest?
    1. Large law firm
    2. Boutique Firm
    3. In house counsel /or/ government
    4. Medium – Small law firm
    5. Public Interest
  3. What best describes your ideal practice area?
    1. Corporate
    2. Intellectual Property
    3. Finance
    4. General Litigation
    5. Human Rights /or/ international
  4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
    1. Partner in a big law firm
    2. Head in house legal counsel
    3. CEO
    4. Professor
    5. Advocating within the public interest sphere

Scoring yourself:

  • Mostly A’s and/or C’s: A dual JD/MBA degree may benefit you in the long run. Working in the corporate world, or as in-house counsel generally requires specialized knowledge of the business world, which an MBA can provide you. Plus the business specific networking offered through MBA programs will go far in terms of securing you a clientele later on in your career.
  • Mostly B’s: Consider pursuing a specialized LLM degree in your particular field, but be sure to weigh your options. A targeted LLM can help you stand out within a boutique firm, or in the intellectual property world. This is especially useful if your undergraduate concentration doesn’t match your desired practice area.
  • Mostly D’s and/or E’s: It’s questionable whether a full dual degree program is right for you. Smaller markets, and more general practice area firms may not require or seek out the additional expertise that a dual degree offers you. Instead, consider whether a targeted certificate program fits your interests.

A social life in law school? You gotta prioritize and plan.

Trying to go to law and simultaneously live a normal life is like trying to ride a bike with no hands … underwater … while juggling. Sure, that may seem a little over-dramatic, but it rings true with so many first-year students. You may be having a hard time managing your time. You may want to have some fun on the weekends with family and friends and that usually leads to some struggle to complete homework before class. How do you stay on top of homework in an attempt to still have a social life? Is it possible? Here’s some insight on the matter:

tumblrHomework > Social Life. During the first semester of law school, a lot of students treat it like college. Everything else came before homework. In law school, it’s the exact opposite. Homework is too important. You must prioritize it. Your 1L grades, when you get to those final exams, carry too much weight. Flipping your priorities can be quite the adjustment but you need to do it. At every opportunity, really. Focus on homework as soon as you get home from school, during breaks in your schedule (see more on this in the next bullet) and even on the weekends. Get the work done, then see what time’s left for the fun. Doing this will lower your stress out and you’ll able to have a life. Kind of.

Do homework during the breaks in your schedule. If you have breaks in your schedule during the day, stay at school and do homework. This is the best way to stay on top of your reading for the next class. You may even be able to get ahead. Sure, lunch or coffee with classmates will tempt you — big time. But staying put in the library to do reading will have a major impact on effectively managing the workload and stress.

Plan, plan, plan. Would you really like to go to the gym this week? You can do it. You just have to plan for it. Do you need to take a trip to the grocery store? Yes, you guessed it. Plan for it. Want to go out for dinner or a movie? Plan, plan, plan. You can’t really do any of these things on the fly. Once you are able to get a handle on your homework situation for the week, plan out the rest of your schedule. If you have a plan to finish your homework by a certain time so that you can go to the gym later, you will be more likely to accomplish both. When you don’t have a plan, especially to keep you accountable on school assignments, you may find yourself watching TV or online shopping instead of doing homework. Then there’s less or no time for the gym, groceries or dinner with friends. Create a plan daily and stick to it.

Make the time to have fun. If you’re planning your day, you’re in more control of what you do and when. So you can make time for some fun. It’s not against any law school rules. For example, you may like to keep it simple with trivia game/pizza night with friends every Monday. Just remember it all goes back to focusing on homework first, getting it done and having some sense of a normal life still. Homework is important. A social life is important, too. It’s possible when you prioritize and plan.

Make school easier, less expensive — without the trial-and-error.

When entering law school, many students don’t know what to expect. They haven’t been able to attain relevant advice and aren’t sure of the ways, if any, law school varies from undergraduate. Most students plan to dive in — and hope to succeed — using trial-and-error. That’s not really the wisest approach. Here are several more proven ways to help make law school life much easier.

STARTING FAST AND GETTING AHEAD.

First year law school grades are by far the most crucial. A high GPA is a requisite for big firm jobs and many law reviews and journals. If you fail to do well your first year or even just your first semester, it is incredibly difficult to bring up your GPA.

There’s always the opportunity to catch on faster and get ahead for what’s coming next, what to do and how to do it. At any point during 1L year, you can still take BARBRI Law Preview to better position yourself for success. In just a week, it teaches proven academic strategies and how to take law school exams. It also gives an overview of 1L classes and offers personal service and support throughout law school. Essentially, to use a metaphor, students who use Law Preview are typically the first out of the gate, while other students are still learning to run.

SAVING MONEY ON SUPPLEMENTS.

Many students will wait until the last minute to enroll in or think about a bar review course. But keep in mind all that you’ll be getting: BARBRI offers a laundry list of study aids and resources. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of first-year students who spent an extraordinary amount of money on supplements. You don’t need to do that. Simply enroll in BARBRI and sign up for the 1L Mastery Package (free for a limited time) to start using highly-effective study tools — ready-to-use outlines for all first-year classes, on-demand video lectures for all 1L subjects, plus essay and multiple-choice practice questions. Download the BARBRI Mobile App, too, for added convenience and flexibility in how and where you want to study.

MAKING SURE YOU GRASP THE MATERIAL.

In school, there are always a few professors with whom you might not mesh well. In those situations, you’ll often feel that you don’t fully comprehend the material after lecture and must teach yourself the information. BARBRI professors delivering online video lectures (with 1L Mastery) offer a third alternative. Chances are that if a professor at your school does not fit your learning style for a particular subject, a BARBRI professor will.

STAYING ON TRACK EVERY YEAR.

BARBRI doesn’t just offer material for your 1L year. We also have all the same resources for many of your 2L and 3L classes, such as Evidence, Constitutional Law, and Criminal Procedure. Additionally, BARBRI has a free MPRE Review course to help students pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) that’s required by almost every state and jurisdiction.

Getting a head start on law school by using Law Preview and then using BARBRI’s materials can help you lower your stress and financial expense, get you on the right track immediately and help you stay ahead of the curve throughout your law school career.