There is officially less than 12 hours until bar exam results are posted! Excuse me while I freak out!!
It’s crazy that in two short days, I’ll be done with law school classes forever. I’m so nervous about what my future holds. Finding a job, learning to be a competent representative, and moving on to my next challenge is intimidating. As scary as it is, I’m ready.
This weekend I took a break from law school. We may only be 2 weeks in, but I am SO over being in classes. Patrick and I took an adventure to DC where his mom’s family and college roommate live. DC is hands down one of my favorite cities because, let’s be honest, it’s a law students dream: The Supreme Court, the Capitol, all the important historical documents. I was so excited to finally be able to go to The Smithsonian and spend an entire day there. I loved having lunch by the Washington Monument.
My favorite part of vacations is always flying. Ever since I was little, I’ve had an obsession with flying. When I was younger, I wanted to get my pilot’s license, which was strictly forbidden by my parents. I can sit at airports for hours and watch the planes come and go. I realized on my flight home how peaceful flying can be. As part of my travels, I will ONLY take flights that take off and land at night. I will actively avoid day flights because they are boring to me. There’s something about looking down at the twinkling lights that is so peaceful and mesmerizing.
While we were flying over DC, I realized the world is huge. It’s so much bigger than I can ever imagine and there is so much more for me to see. From my little window in the sky, I can see for miles. It’s just a huge stretch of land where down below there are families going to bed, people busily working, dogs being walked. All these mundane things we never think about are going on around the world and from that little window, I can see it for miles.
I’m so excited to start classes again! Technically, I have a little longer than a week until they start but still, I’m so excited! I’m the kind of person that still gets really excited the day before classes and doesn’t sleep; I’m basically an elementary school child. This semester, I have the best schedule with minimal classes. I finally feel like my hard work for the past 5 years is paying off and I can take a semester to take classes, relax, and actually have a life!
The past few weeks have been crazy. There are so many new things happening in my life and I could not be more excited for what the future holds.
Patrick graduated college a few weeks ago with a degree in Industrial Engineering Technology. Luckily, we live in an area that has great job prospects for his degree so he’s had a few interviews and will hopefully get an offer soon.
I started summer classes a few days after graduation. I only have three classes but the credits will let me graduate in December. So far, I really like my classes though I don’t like that they are really long classes everyday. The dogs are getting smarter and mellowing out a lot. It’s really nice to not be trampled by the dogs every time I come home. We’re looking at apartments and houses to move in August when our lease is up. But, the most exciting thing is…..we’re less than a month away from the wedding!
Planning during finals is critical to getting good grades and being prepared for your finals. Now, I’m crazy and have to have things planned out in detail. A lot of students I know don’t plan out the studying specifically but instead say “ok I have X exam in 2 days. I’ll study for X exam for the next 2 days.” It’s a perfectly fine method to studying and I know a lot of students who are successful using that method. I am not one of those students.
My finals planning starts the week before finals. I create a study plan that breaks down my time into studying, relaxing, taking care of life, etc. and it’s fairly concrete. I have lots of different calendars that I use to keep my life organized and they all overlap on my google calendar. My productivity (light blue) calendar is key to planning each week, but especially during finals. I also have my non-negotiables (red), workouts (yellow), and random other things in various colors.
My calendar has a lot of red and light blue for this week. In my productivity calendar, I make sure to block out at least 2 hours for studying. For me, anything less than 2 hours isn’t enough time for me to get settled, start studying, and actually understand the material. I try to set 3 hour blocks when I can but I need my breaks, too.
I’m terrible with studying at home. I have Patrick, the dogs, Netflix…the distractions are endless. While I will study at home for a good chunk of finals, I’ll eventually run into things that need my full, undivided attention. During finals week, I make sure to schedule in plenty of time to study at school or at a local Starbucks. Luckily, I live far enough off campus they aren’t overrun by college students. It’s a nice change of venue (haha, legal jokes) too so it makes it easier to focus.
This week, I work twice and have three exams: Adoption, Immigration, and Admin law. I know going into the week that my Adoption and Admin exams are closed book and my Immigration exam is open everything, except the internet. I also have a paper due next Monday. With that information, I can start planning what I’m going to study in a general sense. Obviously, I want to study Adoption first and make sure I have a firm grasp on that subject before I move on. With Immigration, I know I need to take an hour and print everything we’ve gone over and compile my notes. For Admin, I need to focus on running through practice problems and creating an outline I can use for those practice problems. My Crim Pro paper on Monday is a 15 page maximum, so it should take me roughly 6 hours with research and writing.
With all that knowledge, I can plan out exactly what I should study when. I never plan what I study in certain blocks but I do plan overall how long I think studying will be for each class. I’m estimating 4 hours for Adoption, 3 for Immigration, and 7-8 for Admin law. Having estimations in mind help me figure out how many breaks I can take and how late I have to study each night. Now, it’s a matter of putting all this into action and studying for my finals!
Hands down the worst part about law school for me was learning all the new language I needed to know to understand what was going on. Things like motions in limine and subrogation have thrown me off my entire legal career. I still run into legal words that I have no idea what they mean and have to spend a ton of time just understanding what they mean to get what I need to learn from my classes. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of words I still don’t understand 4 semesters into law school:
1. Subrogation-I’m not even going to try. We talk about this in payment systems all the time and I still only half understand what’s going on. (Apparently, it means: assuming the legal rights of a person for whom expenses or a debt has been paid)
2. Ad Hoc-I really should understand this since we talked about it a lot in undergrad and now in admin law. (This means: “for this purpose only” in Latin)
3. Parens Patriae-I guess its: Latin for “father of his country,” the term for the doctrine that the government is the ultimate guardian of all people under a disability, especially children, whose care is only “entrusted” to their parents.
4. En Banc-It has something to do with hearing a case but I couldn’t tell you what. (French for “in the bench,” it signifies a decision by the full court of all the appeals judges in jurisdictions where there is more than one three- or four-judge panel)
So four semesters in and things that I should know as far as words go, I don’t. Luckily, there are things like Blacks Law Dictionary and Google to help figure these things out. Learning the legal lingo is just as difficult as learning a second language like Spanish or French, at least in my mind. There is a completely new set of vocabulary, cases are written in a sophisticated, educated language, and sometimes words that we no longer use are put in decisions. It’s not easy adjusting to a new language and even as a 2L I’m still learning new words. There’s nothing wrong with having to look up words until you understand what they say. Don’t be afraid of the new legal lingo you’ve thrown yourself into by going into law. It’s hard and you may not know words until you’ve used them a million times. No one expects an expert right off the bat.
Today is a day that I look around and think about how lucky I am to be where I am. Not only am I lucky enough to be in law school, I’m at a beautiful, unique school with great friends. I’m studying something I love and working toward a goal I’ve had since I was little. Even though it’s a gloomy day, I can’t imagine being anywhere else in my life.
I’ve learned a lot about myself since I started law school. One thing I’ve learned is that giving back is just as important to me as it was when I was young. I will get involved in anything I possibly can to help the community and those who need me. Seeing the legal system from an almost insider’s perspective definitely changes how I see the way things actually go. Going into law school, I expected to be changing the world or doing something good for people. The longer I’m in law school, the more I see how far from reality that is from what most lawyers actually do. Yes, all lawyers advocate for their clients and that is awesome. But at the same time, very few lawyers are able to make an actual impact on the community around them. There are pro bono but beyond that, it’s easy to lose faith in the legal world sometimes. Just like everything else, the legal world is imperfect and sometimes, those imperfections just get overwhelming and discouraging. I hope that as I get closer to the legal world and actual become a lawyer, I’ll be able to find a way to make my impact on the community around me.
I’m terrible with having the “I just don’t want to go to class feeling”. I give in about 50% of the time and skip class which is AWFUL for attendance. Seriously, please don’t do this. For this semester, I figured out a great way to make sure I go to classes.
I love spending money. I love having money in my checking account and knowing I can go out and buy what I want, when I want. Money in my savings is great in the long run but I’m an instant gratification girl when it comes to money. So here’s my bribe: if I miss a class for any non-legitimate reason (we’ll get into that), I have to put $5 into my savings with the memo line reading “You missed ______ class”.
It’s so sad to go into my savings and see my transfers say “You missed Payment Systems”, “You missed Admin Law”, etc. It’s fantastic to see the number going up but the reason, not so much. As for legitimate reasons, they are far and few between. If I’m really sick, called to court, or have a job interview, those are the only reasons I don’t have to pay. I’m called to court so rarely it’s almost never an issue, I don’t get sick all that much, and seriously, a job interview?
Now, I’m not saying don’t save money. You should be putting away a set amount as often as you are able to. I try to put away at least $50 a month, if not more. The extra $5 for missing classes is just extra money that I’m no longer allowed to spend. I absolutely do NOT transfer money out of my savings unless it’s an emergency or I’m saving for something specific so it’s just more money in the bank long term. It’s pathetic I have to bribe myself to go to class some days, but everyone has bad days and if this is the best way for me to go to class, so be it.