Don’t Have A Summer Job? It’s Time To Get Resourceful And Here’s How

By Chris Nikitas, Esq., BARBRI Director of Legal Education

Alright, you don’t have a summer job. It’s stressful. Whether you’re a 1L or 2L student, this is a rather scary position to be in, honestly. First thing’s first … “don’t panic.” Especially in your first year of law school. Not having a legal job during the summer isn’t an end-of-the-world scenario. I hosted bar exam trivia during my 1L summer. A prominent scholar I know taught tennis lessons. The fact is, you can make up for not having a summer job in a number of ways and here are a few ideas.

DON’T THROW IN THE TOWEL

When final exams wrap up and you still don’t have a job, do not give up. Get out there. Go to legal aid societies, public interest firms and non-profit organizations to start handing out resumes. Don’t be shy. Pass them out, whenever and to whomever you can, like they’re flyers for a local band. Even if you get an opportunity, you may be getting a late start, but you’ll still get to add a valuable line to your resume. That’s all that matters. Even if nothing comes of it, you’ll have your name circulated and show potential employers that you’re determined and driven.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NETWORKING EVENTS

One of the biggest benefits of a summer job is the networking opportunities; however, you can still network outside of a summer job. There will be networking events all summer for young lawyers and law students. Do some investigating, find a few to attend and start slinging around business cards like they’re candy. You’ll be surprised how quickly these networking moments (and just handing over a business card) can turn into possible employment leads in the future.

MAKE UP FOR IT DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR

Your school has opportunities to provide you with experience during the year: Field placements, internships and externships. Talk with your career services office to find out what they can offer you as far as placement help. You’ll get some course credit at the same time, too. Consider taking a litigation or drafting class for some realistic experience that you can add to your cover letter and resume.

SPEAK WITH YOUR PROFESSORS

One of your professors may still need research assistants or may introduce you to someone who would like some summer help. Your professors might even have more sage advice on how to find that elusive summer job.

Above all else, remember, this is not by any means the end of your law school career. Part of my 1L summer, I worked for career services during On Campus Interviews, serving as a runner between the interview rooms. I ate lunch with the attorneys and spoke with them more each day than anyone they interviewed. As a result, I left that week with a stack of business cards that turned into valuable new contacts. I was able to utilize them in the coming years. Just keep at it!

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).

All those small, yet vital, things to do during 2L finals prep

It’s November. Classes are almost over. Final exams are close now.

This semester really flew by. By now, you should have your outlines complete and study questions ready. It is obvious that you should work on memorizing the rules and how to apply them, but what else should you be doing to prepare for exams?  Here are a few suggestions.

  • Keep track of your study hours. This may sound a little crazy, but it is helpful to hold yourself accountable. There are a few ways to do this. You can write down the amount of hours you will study on a calendar. This is a good idea so that you do not schedule anything else during that time. You could also create a spreadsheet to track the amount of time you studied and to track what material you studied. By writing down the amount of hours that you studied, you are able to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment after finals are over. This may also help to create efficient study habits for other exams or even for the bar exam. This is also great practice for the future when you will be billing clients.
  • Ask questions. This is pretty self-explanatory. It is so important to ask questions while you are studying because you do not want to memorize the incorrect rule. So go to your professor’s office hours, shoot them an email or bounce questions off of your friends.
  • Find a study method that works for you. It is pertinent to determine the best study method early on in law school. You may find that studying in a large group is helpful. Or you may find that you like the complete opposite. You may like studying with one, or two, other people because it’s helpful to ask questions. However, it is incredibly easy to get distracted when studying with others, so make sure you try to stay on track.
  • Find a study area that works for you. As important as it is to find out what the best study method is, where you study is almost equally as important. Studying at your house or apartment may be convenient, but it may be full of distractions such as roommates, pets or T.V. You may like studying in the library, a coffee shop or somewhere else where you can zone in and optimize productivity. This could take some trial and error, but by this time in the semester, you should have a few options to use if your main spot is unavailable.
  • Sleep. This cannot be emphasized enough. All-nighters have a bad rap and for good reason. You will retain much more information if you have a decent night of sleep. It is so, so, so important to give your brain a rest from rules and cases.

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

 

The MPRE may have an “easy” reputation, but don’t fall for it

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. The MPRE. The pièce de résistance.

What you’re up against: 60 multiple-choice questions. Ten of them will go unscored. You have two hours to complete it all. While nowhere near as long or as demanding as the bar exam, the MPRE is definitely in a category of its own. It can be complex and tricky. All by design. It’s meant to task you with thinking like a lawyer when ethical situations aren’t so clear cut. And it’s a different exam format compared to law school. Even though it has the reputation as being “easy” and “not a big deal,” you’ll want to study. Especially if you’re a 3L student with only a few more opportunities to pass it before taking the bar.

Almost every state/jurisdiction requires that you pass the MPRE for admission to the bar, so be sure you have this requirement checked off your to-do list.

Download the free BARBRI Bar Exam Digest for all the state-by-state MPRE scoring information.

Many students opt to take the MPRE after completing their law school’s Professional Responsibility (PR) class. This is a good idea; however, do not rely solely on your PR class notes as a way to streamline your MPRE preparation. It won’t work well. The MPRE tests on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, whereas some law school courses may focus on state-specific rules of professional conduct or teach a combination (ABA and state). Plus, the hypos you encounter in PR class are likely to be quite different than the scenarios presented in the MPRE questions. To borrow a phrase, it’s “like comparing apples to oranges.”

If you can swing a few days off work or school to study for the MPRE, do it. You need to devote the time — it’s a bar admission requirement so you’ll want to take it seriously (regardless of the exam’s reputation). Consider the free BARBRI MPRE review course. Taking a legal ethics or PR class in law school won’t guarantee a passing score. The BARBRI MPRE Review covers everything about ethics, is highly organized and always current on legal ethics information. The course has a video lecture component and a ton of practice questions. In case you like to take practice exams by hand (which is not a bad idea because the test is in scantron format), there is a book that has sample exams.

Overall, the MPRE is an exam that requires knowledge of the rules and the application of the rules. Studying for one night is simply not enough. It is best to take some time off and really dive into the material. Your hard work will pay off in the long run.

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.

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.

#The3Llife: Six Steps for Spring Break Success

GUEST BLOG Katie R. Day,
Quinnipiac University School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2018

Spring break is generally thought of as being a much-needed break from the hectic law school schedule.

It’s a time to relax, maybe take a vacation, and enjoy not having class. While I do believe you should use your spring break to de-stress, I encourage you not to check out completely. There are a few things that you can do during spring break to make the end of the semester a bit easier.

Get going on those outlines

I know outlines are probably the last thing you want to think about over spring break, but trust me, you’ll be glad you did. Just taking a few hours to get organized and get started (or make some progress) will help you feel less stressed when exams come around.

Update your resume

Whether you’re a 3L looking for a post-grad job or a 1L/2L looking for a summer position, spring break is a great time to make sure your resume is up to date and ready to go when a job opens up. As the end of semester gets closer and you get busier this will be one less thing on your plate. If you’re feeling really ambitious, visit job boards and set some job alerts so you’ll get notified when new jobs are posted.

Get caught up

If you’re behind on reading or some assignments, this is the time to get back on track. You don’t want to wait until the end of the semester or you’ll end up cramming and feeling overwhelmed.

Make a plan

Take a look at what you have coming up in the next few weeks and what you’d like to accomplish before the end of the semester. Need to finish your note? Want to schedule a time to talk to career services? Have a big final paper that will be assigned soon? Make a note of these things and set aside some time in the coming weeks to work on them. By planning now, you won’t forget about something and have to rush to get it all done.

Take care of “housekeeping” tasks

No, I don’t mean laundry or cleaning, but you can certainly do that too! I’m talking about administrative things or necessities. Get your car serviced, go to the doctor, do your taxes. Those things may not be fun, but you’ll feel better once you can check them off your list.

3Ls, prep for graduation

By spring break, you’ve probably gotten emails about ordering your cap and gown, applying for a concentration, choosing the name for your diploma, etc. This is a great time to double check that these have been done. It’s also a good time to plug away at your bar application!

How will you be spending your spring break? Let me know! Tweet me at @The3LLife!

#The1Llife: Enrollment Tips!

GUEST BLOG by Jackson Long,
1L at SMU Dedman School of Law

Only one month left fellow 1Ls!

And my goodness, I cannot wait for summer. This has been one of, if not the most grueling nine-month stretches of my life. I will be elated to turn in my final exam on May 10.

Until then, of course, we have more responsibilities. There’s outlining, our oral advocacy competition associated with our writing class, and now, fall enrollment!

Many of my upper-class mentors have stressed the importance of staying on top of your scheduling for the last two years. Being confined to the same courses for the entire 1L year may have lulled you to sleep, but now is the time to make sure you have a vision to finish school.

The first important break is leaning towards either litigation or transactional law. Depending on your preference, and the strength of your preference, you should begin allocating credit hours to skew towards that particular area.

It’s also important to be very aware of required courses, general hours limits and what extra-curricular activities will earn you credit hours and which ones will eat heavily into your free time.

I started my search by preparing a list of all the courses offered over the past academic year, and which semesters they would be offered in.

This allowed me to see where certain classes would will requirements and how many credit hours each class was.

Fortunately, I will be earning externship credit and five hours from studying abroad this summer, so my required total for graduation slips even lower!

Next, I asked around for advice on when to take certain classes and with which professor to take them with. This is a pretty huge step! Find a trusted source (or five) to seek advice on the best route for class selection.

After I had narrowed down my courses, I moved to setting them on a weekly schedule. This allowed me to see what conflicts would arise (including final exam dates!) as well as show a picture of what my daily routine will be like next fall.

 

As you can see (kind of, it’s a little sloppy admittedly), I’ve front loaded my schedule and potentially have Tuesday and Thursday completely free! This will allow me to work and interview on certain days. I may even be willing to skip a Friday class to create a SUPER long weekend.

Lots to handle right now, I know! But don’t forget to put a priority on your enrollment. You’ll be happy come next August… and beyond.

#The2Llife: Planning for Spring Classes

GUEST BLOG by Dani Gies,
2L at UCLA School of Law

It may seem way too early to write a post about this, but actually, it may be late.

I planned the spring schedule I thought I wanted during the summer, when I was signing up for fall classes. Well, to be honest, I planned the rest of law school to make sure that I would be fulfilling all of the requirements for my program and specialization, as well as taking the electives I want to take. I will personally be taking Civil Rights, Constitutional Criminal Procedure, and an Immigrant Rights Policy Clinic. I was going to take Professional Responsibility, but I may decide to work or volunteer at a local nonprofit or immigration firm instead. As I’m trying to solidify my schedule, here’s what some of my classmates have said about some of the classes they’re taking:

Advanced Legal Research: You don’t get a lot of opportunities to do research outside of the first-year required course, so this is a great way to supplement your legal education with practical skills.

Business Associations: Take it, even if you’re not interested in corporate law. First of all, it’s a bar class, and second, it’s useful knowledge. 

Constitutional Criminal Procedure: Bar class. Definitely take it if you’re interested in criminal law. Focuses primarily on the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

Evidence: Another bar class. Take Evidence if you want to be certified as a law student to appear in court. (Sidenote: one of my friends is certified now, as a 2L in the fall! In California, must have completed the first year of law school and taken Civil Procedure, in addition to completing or being enrolled in Evidence.)

Professional Responsibility: This is required, so definitely take it. When you take it doesn’t really matter, but be sure you take the right amount of credits for the state you want to practice in, because different states have different requirements.

What classes would you recommend 2Ls and 3Ls take? Let me know on Twitter @The2Llife!