Legal News

I’m going to skip over the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, not because they aren’t important, but because I don’t know a single person who hasn’t heard of this tragedy. With the constant developments and change in international relations, a simple post in “Legal News” could not effectively capture what has been happening.

-Tennessee passes “fetal assault” law

-Supreme Court to hear Texas abortion case in upcoming term

-German court sentences Holocaust denier

-Judge orders embryos of divorced couple be destroyed

-Texas executes man for starting fire that killed three children

Advertisements

How to: Schedule Bar Prep

Bar prep is crazy. It’s constant work and preparation for what will be the biggest exam of your life. Planning bar prep is critical to doing well on the bar and making sure you practice everything you need to know to set yourself up for success. Now, I don’t know about other states’ bar exams but for Ohio there are three days: MBE, Essays, and MPT. That means, I need to practice multiple choice, short essays, and legal writing. But, planning out how to get the most out of my days and learn all I need to was particularly difficult. Here’s what I came up with: Bar prep schedule 11. Every day, I have a Barbri lecture starting at 9am. Obviously that was the first thing to get put in my calendar because to me, the lectures are non-negotiable. I honestly believe that without lectures, I absolutely will fail the bar.

2. After putting the lectures on my calendar, I focused on making sure my time was divided between essays and MBE questions. For each topic on the Ohio essays, I made sure to schedule 4 untimed essays and 1 timed essay. For every MBE topic, I have at least 30 MBE questions on just that topic. I made sure that I’m writing the essays and doing the multiple choice questions within 3 days after I listen to the lecture.

3. Because I’m going to Ireland, I’m missing the first three days of bar prep (NO regret on that, btw). In addition to all the other work I’m doing, I have to schedule in makeup lectures to cover the topics I’m missing. Scheduling those as early as possible helps me stay on track with what I’m supposed to be learning.

4. Once I had all the items I needed to get done laid out, I made sure to schedule them in a way that gives me breaks. I plan to do a lot of bar prep at school, coffee shops, and as a last resort, at home. I’ll need breaks to go get food or coffee, use the bathroom, and chat with my friends. Even though bar prep is stressful and it’s tempting to work non-stop then take a long break, I know I don’t study the best that way. It’s easier for me to focus on something if I know that I’m getting lunch with someone after my lecture or I can go get coffee after my essay.

5. Finally, I scheduled in my other non-negotiables. I HAVE to go to to gym. It’s relaxing for me and gives me a nice break from the day to day work that I do. By scheduling the gym before I “start my day” I can feel good about being productive already and it sets me up to be productive the rest of the day. I also know that I have a husband and dogs that are going to hate me during bar prep. Every few weeks, I scheduled in one day a week that I take a break. In this case, Thursday after 3:30 all bar prep stops, no exceptions. Patrick and I will go to dinner, take the dogs to the dog park, etc.

Now, as for after vendor classes end, I have NO idea what to do. Thankfully, I have an awesome bar passage professor that can help me set a schedule for what I should be doing during that time so I can be as successful as possible.

How have you set up your bar prep schedule?

Legal news

Death of Illinois police officer ruled a carefully staged suicide 

-SCOTUS grants stay of execution for Missouri inmate

-Illinois Supreme Court voids Phillip Morris $10billion verdict

-UK Judge warns increased student loan debt limits judiciary diversity

-Ohio rejects legalization of marijuana

And because Bindi Irwin is amazing and this made me so angry:

-Bindi Irwin’s Dancing with the Stars contract issues

Law school isolation

Law school is a very isolating experience. When I first joined my sorority (or rather Fraternity) I was told that from the outside looking in, you can’t understand it; from the inside looking out you, can’t explain it. Law school is exactly like this. I briefly touched on this during my bar prep survival post but it seems to extend far beyond what I thought it did. People outside law school can’t understand obsessing over exams,  being overwhelmed by loan debt, and job searching. It’s just not possible.

I’ve recently realized how isolating law school is when I started studying for the bar. For me, bar prep nightmares have already started and I’m constantly stressed out. Naturally, I lean on my family and friends when I’m stressed and no one outside my law school friends seem to grasp how important it is. When I talked to Patrick about everything, his only response is to not worry because I succeed at everything that I put my mind to. Ok, so that’s mostly valid but the bar is like nothing I’ve ever done before and if the past round of results showed me, no one is immune from failing.

Even outside the bar, non-law students have a hard time understanding exactly what you have to do to be successful as a law student and future lawyer. I constantly try to make notes about judges or attorneys, network when I can, do well on exams, etc. It’s constant work and I never take time for just myself. Somehow, this blows peoples’ mind. But when you talk to other law students, they understand completely.

Law school to non-law students is just another year of school, not a completely different way of learning. How have you dealt with the isolation of law school?

Disservice to yourself

Now that my time in law school is coming to a close, I’m starting to realize I made one huge mistake. I’m the kind of student who gets nothing out of lectures and get bored easily. I hate sitting in classes and doing busywork. I’m the worst law student ever, basically. Now, being almost done with school, I can see how my laziness and inability to stay on top of my work has been a huge disservice to myself.

Think about it, you’ve made the conscious decision to go to law school. You’ve decided you want to be a lawyer. Instead of taking classes seriously, reading what you’re assigned, and networking your butt off, you’ve done literally anything else. Not to mention you’re in serious debt from getting a law degree so not getting a decent paying job is not an option. By not staying on top of everything, I cram for exams, stress out WAY too much, and probably don’t do the best I can do in my classes.

Now, good grades and being the perfect student isn’t the most important thing in the world. It’s definitely something to shoot for and is really helpful finding a job, but you have to have a life too. But by not doing your due diligence to law school, you’re completely selling yourself short. You can get that biglaw job if you apply yourself. You can CALI a class if you do your best. Just the fact that your in law school is evidence you are destine for great things. Law school is an investment in yourself and by not doing what needs to get done, you’re wasting that investment.

If there was one thing I could change about my law school career, I would see this opportunity as a chance to better myself, learn everything I can, and use it as a stepping stone to greatness.

What one thing would you change about your law school career?

Bar prep is upon us

bar exam

That’s a scary thought. In only a few short months, I will be taking the biggest exam of my life and hopefully I’ll finally reach my goal of being an attorney. I got an email from my vendor course (I went with Barbri) about the “early start” program and decided the more prep I have over a long period of time, the better I’ll be in the end. So, my calendar is crammed with bar prep stuff for the next four months now.

My father in law has a saying that he loves to tell his kids “plan your work, work your plan”. As someone who has things planned all the time, this saying has always stuck with me. It really applies to bar prep too. There are a lot of things you can do to make bar prep time easier and less stressful for everyone involved. Now, I can’t say all of these will be super helpful because I haven’t gone through bar prep yet but this is what I’ve done so far:

1.Notify your family 

Explain to your family what bar prep is really like so they can understand why you won’t be available as much. I sat down with Patrick a few weeks ago and laid out exactly what the bar covered, why it was so difficult, and how high stakes the bar really is. We have a shared calendar where I put all my bar prep lectures, practice tests, etc. I set up my office away from the house and told him to use the front door during bar prep so I wouldn’t be disturbed.

Really, this goes beyond just people who live with you though. I talk to my friends and family ALL the time. While my friends easily understand that they won’t hear from me and it’s temporary, my family doesn’t always get that. Over Thanksgiving my mom and stepdad will be visiting. I plan on sitting down with them with my bar prep calendar and explaining that I won’t be available as much. I hope to schedule at least a few calls to them a week so they know I haven’t succumb to bar prep stress. Then, over Christmas, I’ll give my extended family the “don’t bother me, I’m living but super busy” talk and explaining just how bad bar prep can get.

2. Plan the nitty gritty 

I have two dogs. I have a household. I have a husband. Even though I’ll be super busy, those things still need to be tended to. I can’t leave my dogs crated all day and I can’t leave them outside all day in the winter. I can’t ignore everything around my house. I definitely can’t ignore my husband all the time. So, just like I am doing with the phone calls home, I am making a plan on when I can set aside time to take care of things. I have date nights scheduled and drinks with friends. I have Phi Mu alumnae events and trips to the dog park. I’ve planned dinners that can be frozen to make cooking easier. It seems ridiculous to plan these things out but knowing when things are going to occur and having an end date on when you get to take a break has always made me feel more relaxed about the situation.

3. Get help! 

Good gracious, I cannot stress this enough. You cannot do it all alone! I’m very fortunate to have my amazing husband who will help take care of the house and the dogs but even with him, there’s always work to be done. Luckily, we’ve been using a doggy daycare twice a week for about a year now and the dogs are gone all day and sleep all night. We have a lawn service we’re using right now (since we don’t actually own a lawn mower) that I would rely on if we need a cut and don’t have time. I’m in search of a dog walker for the non-daycare days and a maid service for when we just get too overwhelmed. Seriously, these services exist for a reason. It’s hard for law students to get over their pride and accept help but sometimes, you just gotta suck it up.

4. Set a budget

Patrick and I have a monthly budget that gets done every month. That’s not the type of budget I mean. During bar prep, you’ll want coffee, junk food, days out, whatever. Set a specific budget for that and only that so you don’t have to stress about “big picture” money and can focus on keeping yourself healthy. For example, I have a $1000 coffee budget since I will most likely be spending a large chunk of time at Starbucks and I cannot function without coffee. I have a small shopping budget for stress relief trips to Target. In the grand scheme of things, as long as the bills are getting paid, I don’t have to worry about what’s in the bank as long as I stay in that budget.

5. Commiserate

Find someone else taking the bar and set a plan. Do you want to listen to lectures together? Sit in the same room? Get together for a drink once a week? Figure out how you can use other students and friends to just vent. The bar exam is something that non-law students have a hard time understanding. Make sure you take time to vent about your stress and just live for a bit. If you have no one to commiserate with, I’m ALWAYS available!

What other ways are you prepping for bar prep?

How to: Make effective To Do lists

Courtesy of dumblittleman.com

Courtesy of dumblittleman.com

I love my to do lists. They help me stay organized an stay on top of the massive amount of work I have to do for school and in my personal life. Having things written down allows me to “be where my feet are” instead of being scatterbrained and overwhelmed. There are a few ways to make to do lists and it really comes down to what you’re hoping to get out of a to do list.

The basics 

-Be specific!

Putting something like “clean kitchen” on a to do list doesn’t actually tell you anything. Cleaning the kitchen is a huge task and it’s hard to break down in chunks later. Instead, write “do dishes”, “take out the trash”, etc. This way, you can see exactly what task needs to be done.

-Break it down!

I always have tons of laundry to do and I’m very specific about how it gets done. I can easily put “Laundry” on a to do list but in my mind, it doesn’t give me direct enough tasks and an order to how to get the laundry done. Instead, write “wash darks” or “wash sheets and towels”. If you don’t need to get that specific, then don’t! Laundry is a perfectly fine task to have on your list if you don’t want it done in any specific order.

-Write it down!

Patrick is pro at not writing things down and saying he has a to do list. Hint: he actually doesn’t. Take a piece of paper and pen and write the list down. Don’t put it in your phone! It’s so easy to get distracted on your phone or forget a list is even there. Instead, just make a hand written list.

My favorite: a running to do list 

I started a running to do list about a month ago. Sit down and write every single task you have to do. As you think of things, add them to the list. As you finish things, mark them off. It’s very rare your list will ever get completely done but it lets you write something down and forget about it for the time being. Each week, I go through and transfer my list to a new piece of paper so I don’t have a book of lists, just one single sheet with everything I need to do on it. I like having the day I wrote things down on the list so I can prioritize what has been sitting on my list for days instead of just since yesterday.

The daily to do list 

A daily to do list is great if you don’t like to make too many plans or feel overwhelmed about the week. My father-in-law uses this system and has been very successful with it. Each morning, sit down and make a list of all the tasks that are non-negotiable for the day. Ex: Reading for classes tomorrow, walking to dog. Then add to the list everything you would like to get accomplished that day. Ex: Fixing the bathroom scale. Work on things that are on the non-negotiable list first then move on to the things you’d like to get done list.

The agenda list 

An agenda list is perfect for people who like to have whole days planned out but can’t or don’t want to plan more than a day in advance. For an agenda to do list, start with the things you have to do. Ex: classes, meetings. Space them out on a piece of paper so you can assign tasks to do between them if you have time. Then, go through and figure out what needs to get done during the day. Assign those tasks between the things you have to do. I used an agenda list when I had multiple classes a day so I could see what I needed to get accomplished and how my time needed to be used. Because an agenda list is difficult to visualize, here’s an example:

Small Business Planning

Peanut butter collection

MPRE lecture

Wills and Trusts

Lunch

Business planning reading

Walk the dogs

Wills reading

Dinner

With to do lists, it’s all about what works best for you and what you want to accomplish. An effective to do list is going to depend on your learning style, self discipline, and personal preference. Play around with these styles or come up with your own. What tips do you have for making to do lists?