How I Use 1L Mastery to Survive the Day-to-Day

Mara Masters, 1L at Emory Law

Hi! My name is Mara and now that Stephanie has graduated to the 2L life, I am taking over here at the 1L Life.

If you’re reading this, that probably means you are either my mom (Hi mom!) or that you have made it through the first few weeks of Law School! Congratulations! Ignore the nagging feeling that you understand less about the law than when you started and remind yourself of everything you’ve accomplished. Now remind yourself again. Law school is hard, but you can crush it.

If you still feel weighed down by how little you understand about the law, don’t worry. I get it. That’s one of the reasons I love the BARBRI 1L Mastery Package. Another reason is that just like every other student at Emory Law, immediately after I was sworn into the profession, I also swore undying loyalty to Professor Freer. I have no problems with this, because I am the weirdo who actually loves Civ Pro.

1L Mastery Package is for the start of the semester just as much as for the end.

Jokes aside though, here are some ways I use it in my day-to-day work:

  • To illuminate the overarching concepts that I can’t piece together from the case readings.

I am a global thinker to a fault.

You know the adage, “don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees?” My problem is more like I am standing in a forest and can’t tell that what is in front of me is a tree because I don’t realize that I am in a forest.

For better or worse, we learn the law through inductive processes. That’s extra difficult when you are learning dense material that often seems to defy logic. I often find myself standing right in front of Promissory Estoppel and can’t tell that I am in Contracts. When this happens, I open up my 1L Outlines Book, and instantaneously have the immediate context for every concept. This helps me understand complex topics immensely more than re-reading cases does.

1L Notes
(Photo of study notes: My actual, hand-written notes on Consideration. Not pictured: the vat of coffee just outside the frame)

It also helps me refresh previous concepts. Can’t remember how personal jurisdiction works? No worries. I can go watch that lecture from Professor Freer on the BARBRI website and then take a follow-up quiz to make sure I understand it. (Side note: at Emory, we refer to Professor Freer’s lectures as “The Freer Tapes” as though they are top-secret FBI documents).

  • To define terms succinctly.

Do you remember when you were in elementary school and had to practice using context clues to define unfamiliar words? I often feel like that when reading casebooks. Legal jargon is dense, ya’ll. Sometimes using context clues doesn’t work and looking up terms online is more confusing than just going about my life in ignorance.

Dog reading
(Photo of Charley- I swear I did not bribe him with treats to wear those glasses in front of a BARBRI outline book. I found him like this. Swear.)

And sometimes I go online to look something up and come back to my textbook 40 minutes later with a new pair of boots from L.L.Bean and zero terms defined. That is neither here nor there. The point is that the 1L Outlines Book does a pretty excellent job at defining complex words simply enough that my elementary-school brain can handle it.

  • I’m thinking toward the endgame.

Good 1L Outlines are beefy.

I have held some in my hands that weigh literal pounds. They are intimidating – “A problem for future-Mara,” as I sometimes say. But by exposing myself regularly to very well constructed outlines, I am “photographing two birds with one exposure” (thank you Professor George Shepherd) – I am learning the material I need to learn and teaching myself the language of the outline at the same time!

  • Charley Likes It.

If you’re still not sure about whether 1L Mastery might be helpful to you, give it a try. It’s free for a limited time. Have any questions about how I use it or why I love Civ Pro? Reach out! You can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @the1Llife!

Go commercial? Ask upperclassmen? Create your own?

Outlines. Outlines. Outlines.

It’s all everyone seems to be talking about … but what exactly is a law school outline? Place the emphasis here on “law school” because how you approached your outlines during undergrad won’t compare as to what you’re about to embark on this first semester of law school. As a baseline, your law school outlines are essentially study guides for each of your 1L courses. There are a couple of ways to get started.

  • You can invest in ready-to-use commercial outlines. For example, you get free 1L outlines when you sign up for the BARBRI’s free 1L Mastery study tools. These outlines will, at the very least, help spring board your own process and help fill in the substantive gaps from what you’ve read in textbooks and casebooks and heard from your professors in class.
  • You can also ask 2L and 3L students to pass them down to you. Law school is known for being competitive and your effort to lobby upperclassmen may not work — but you might get lucky. Finally, there’s the art of doing it all on your own. Blank slate, roll up your sleeves and put in the time.

Whatever works best for you, do that. Not necessarily just one way or another. Cover all your options. For example, get your hands on a commercial outline and then see if an upperclassmen will share their old outline for the same course. Now you can work with both to build your own robust outline for the final exam.

Additional, important tips to remember.

  • Try to make your own outlines first. While commercial outlines and upperclassman outlines are helpful, they should be used primarily as supplements while making your own. And by creating your own outline, you are able to review the material while working it into a format that makes sense for you. If you’re stuck on something, then simply refer to the commercial outline. This goes back to filling in any substantive gaps.
  • Don’t procrastinate. It’s definitely easier said than done. Even if you are only able to tackle one section of your outline at a time, it’s better than waiting until the last minute.
  • Ask for help. No, your professor will probably not review your outline with you. However, they will probably answer specific questions. If you start early, you can go see your professor during office hours to discuss and clarify any material before the madness of final exams begins.
  • Use resources available to you. You might consider signing up for the free BARBRI 1L Mastery study tools, which come with online, on-demand video lectures for all 1L courses. This is another extremely helpful way to supplement your class notes. Also, check out the books in your law school’s library. There are bound to be some type of supplemental materials available to you there, as well.

#The1Llife: Interview Season is Upon Us

GUEST BLOG By Lauren Rose, 
1L at the University of Detroit Mercy

Interview season is upon us.

Across the country, 1Ls are suiting up and preparing themselves to interview and score a summer job. Many 1L students may have already found a position. Some may be finishing up the interview processing and narrowing down options. Others are still interviewing and applying to jobs. Applying for internships, or externships, a paid position, or whatever, is a process. I will be finishing up my interviews next week — woohoo! Here are a few things that I would recommend to other 1Ls about the process.

  1. Go to your law school’s career office. First of all, why wouldn’t you take advantage of this resource?! You pay for it, you might as well use it! Second of all, these people are experienced in reading resumes and cover letters. They will also help prepare you for interviews. Also, they may have some other great resources that you can use. Last week, I had a phone interview. I went to the career office and asked if they had any recommendations for a quiet place to conduct the interview. To my surprise, the office has rooms that they allow students to use for interviews! I was so happy to find out that my school had a quiet room for me to use. It was incredibly convenient and I was able to conduct the interview in a quiet room with a desk.
  2. Look professional. Law school is expensive. Casebooks are expensive. Literally everything for these next three years will be expensive. While I find shopping fun, I don’t always find shopping for professional clothes fun. If you’re worried about spending the money on a professional outfit, check out department store sales and look online for coupons. Also, some retailers offer great deals and may even offer student discounts on full price items with your Student ID! I really think that a nice suit or nice outfit sets you apart in the interviewing process. It shows that you actually care about the interview and about yourself. If you’re not sure what to wear to an interview, ask some upperclassmen or an advisor at the career office.
  3. Research the place you are interviewing at. This is a great talking point for you during interviews! Do a quick Google search on the firm, organization, or department that you are interviewing at. The interviewers are usually pretty impressed if you can tell them something about the company or something about what the company recently did. Believe me, having knowledge about the company will set you apart!
  4. Be up to date on current events. Sometimes, I feel like I’m living in a law school bubble. However, it is important to figure out what is going on in the world before you go to an interview. You should know what is going on in the city of the place you are interviewing at. You should also probably know something about current events. This will be an easy conversation starter while you’re waiting for the interview to start, or after the interview if there is a lull period.

I know that many 1Ls may have already found a summer position. If you are still interviewing, good luck! Have confidence in yourself that you will rock your interview. You can do it! How are your interviews going? Did you already find a summer position? Tweet me @The1LLife!