Looking Back on the Semester and Getting Grades

Amidst adjusting to my new job, I just received my grades for the spring semester. It’s crazy to think I started the blog at the start of the semester and was able to write about my first day of class, the COVID-19 pandemic, all the way to the very last exam.

In that time, I’ve done so much for the blog: I’ve read 15 books (15 more than last year!), began learning calligraphy, revisited music production, and have completely organized most of my life!

So needless to say, not only did I want good grades for personal gain, I also wanted them to work towards achieving for the blog. With Project 1 being dedicated to trying to CALI a law class (getting the highest grade), I felt determined to work towards it.

In light of the grade changes following the school closing for the semester, our classes became pass/fail. I’m excited to say I passed them all! I can’t say I was particularly nervous, but there’s always that one voice in the back of your head that whispers “what if?”

My school also implemented an honors pass which means the top 30% of the class received an honors pass instead of a pass. It doesn’t affect your GPA, but for those that demand competition, it’s what we got.

I received an honors pass in my legal writing class, which means there’s a chance I CALIed in it. If it didn’t, I made it to the top of the class, which honestly is enough for me. I did bet during the last week of class that I had a chance in legal writing. While I’m not going to bet that I got it, we should find out who did in the next few weeks. So who knows, maybe I did complete Project 1?

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I Started a New Job!

Hello! Apologies for the radio silence lately, but I come bearing good news: I started a new job!

I’m extremely grateful the summer position I was given was not cancelled due to the pandemic. Many of my classmates had their opportunities cancelled and of course, with the current economic conditions I expected mine to follow suit.

Usually law firms hire several students each summer. My firm hires a few in anticipation of them collaborating and working together. While there are other students working with me, they all started before me and are in the classes above mine. When paired with the fact that this is my first legal position, I am a bit overwhelmed.

That being said, I’m very excited to be starting this position. I’m working for a great company in the heart of the city and everything feels like an early 2000s Devil Wears Prada-esque movie. Except all the people I work with are lovely.

My days consist of taking the train downtown, walking through the city to my skyscraper, going through the gorgeous marble lobby, and heading to my office. I seriously couldn’t ask for a better gig.

Sheraton Palace Hotel, Lobby, Architecture

In the midst of it all, I’ve failed to update my blog. As it’s still the first week, I’m still transitioning. I’ve been so tired when I get home, I don’t really have many project updates. However, I hope to find some sort of normalcy soon.

Thank you for bearing with me as I get used to my new routine. I promise, I’ll still have plenty of project updates this summer! I’m looking forward to sharing this next chapter with you all!

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The Importance of Being Competitive with Yourself

Hello again! I know I’ve been gone for a while – which is a little ironic seeing as my last few posts included gems like What I Learned from Blogging Every Day and Four Reasons Why Taking a Break Can Boost Your Productivity.

The Writing Competition

I’ve been away working on my law journal writing competition. What started as a three-week chance to earn a spot on a law journal at my school turned into one of the most stressful experiences in recent memory. Something kicked into high gear and I just wanted to compete. As someone who is usually low stress and hardly ever feels competitive, this was a strange shift. One I definitely wasn’t prepared for.

Now, I’m not allowed to talk about the specifics of the competition, but what I can say is that it was hard. The topic, in my opinion, was very difficult. I spent two of the three weeks just trying to understand the material, not a single word written.

Finding the Competitive Spirit

Something happened while I was competing and every ounce of my body just wanted to win. So much so, that I (safely) went home to stay with my parents – abandoning my boyfriend who was also competing – just to completely focus. I kicked all other distractions out of my life, including this blog.

It was a roller coaster of emotions, but I got through it. In the end, I turned in what I thought was a really strong effort. But honestly, even if I don’t make it, I’ve found peace. I forgot that while I make an effort to better myself in my personal life, I’m often complacent in my academic life. Being the best in the class has never been important to me (that’s why I started a project trying to do it, I wanted to see if I could motivate myself to compete). I’m excited that I’ve found that drive to compete.

Maybe it’s a byproduct of this blog – because since starting this journey I’ve just wanted more for myself. Not handouts, but I wanted to earn every bit of satisfaction. Finding competition has been one of the most fulfilling experiences and I’m really glad these weeks of mental burnout and suffering are over. I’m even more glad I came out on top.

The Validation

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, this morning I received my grades for the motion I wrote. It was the only other thing I slaved over, and I slaved over it because it was a part of my project. The grade came back and I was way above the average. Pushing hard and competing against yourself does pay off.

Do you compete against yourself? Do you find this practice healthy? I’d love to hear any and all thoughts down below!

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What Competition Looks Like in Law School

Hello again! I’m finally back to give you my stream-of-consciousness thoughts now that Reading Week is over!

As many of you know, I’ve just finished my first year of law school! While I’m thrilled that this mess of a semester is over, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for myself and most of my classmates. We now enter into a three-week battle royale writing competition.

Designed specifically to make sure you’re exhausted after finals, the journal write-on competition is a competition where we compete for spots on our school’s journals to get our work published. Journals are a really big deal for law students because it’s an opportunity to show off and invest time diving deep into topics we’re interested in.

The biggest journal that every law school has is called Law Review. Law Review is a massive deal. Remember in high school when you had honors societies and clubs of the brightest minds around? Now instead take all those students and replace them with incredibly talented law students. That’s Law Review.

Law Review is a big deal because it opens doors. It can land you an interview with a dream law firm all because they know you’re disciplined enough to make Law Review – some job postings even require the candidate to be a part of Law Review. Not only that, but once your work is published, others will read it. If it’s really good, they’ll even cite it.

But that’s a common thread for all journals, not just Law Review. Journals are our opportunities to contribute to legal discourse and even shape history. So they’re a really big deal to students.

But who gets on Law Review? Law Reviews usually pick its candidates in two ways: grade-on and write-on. Grade-on is reserved for the top of the class, those people get offered a spot automatically. For those of us that don’t make grade-on, we can compete in the write-on. If we get an offer, we won’t know whether our spot was offered as a grade-on or a write-on.

The write-on is used for all journals, not just Law Review. While I can’t get into any details, it requires us to write a paper based on sources given to us (and nothing else – this is called a “closed-universe” paper) and also work on legal citations. Once we submit, we’ll see if we get offers from journals.

As you might have guessed, I’m currently working on the write-on competition. It’s overwhelming but I’ve been on pure adrenaline. Every once in a while it’s fun to be competitive. Anyway, for fear of saying too much, I’ll end it here. As always, thanks for listening!

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Genericide: The Death of a Trademark

I thought we could talk about something a little fun today as I do my last minute preparations for my property final tomorrow. So let’s talk about genericide.

Genericide is the epitome of too much of a good thing. It’s marked by when a trademark becomes so popular that it becomes a term for anything generally of the same kind. Kind of a wonky definition, so let me give some examples.

What do you call “flavored and colored water frozen on a stick?” Well, that’s a popsicle, of course. But it may or may not be a POPSICLE®. Popsicle is trademarked by Unilever and not a generic word for these treats. Using Popsicle to market your product isn’t great move, it’s kind of like saying: “Come to our bulk store that’s exactly like Costco!” Sounds not so great, huh?

Popsicle® | Popsicle® Firecracker® Multi-Pack

Let’s tackle some more examples, shall we?

No, that’s not a frisbee, that’s a flying disk. It was originally made by a company named Wham-O.
Lip balm, not Chapstick.
Bubble wrap was the name coined by the Sealed Air Corporation for the little air-sealed plastic packaging spheres.
You didn’t really think this was a Q-tip, did you?

So is it a good thing when brands reach this level of notoriety?

Not really, no. It starts messing with their ability to use their trademark. If a court rules that it’s a generic term all companies that make that product can use your name. That’s disastrous for a company.

Some brands adamantly fight against genericide to the point where they can maintain their trademark. Google, for example, has managing to maintain it’s trademark despite everyone using the term google as a verb.

Other brands are not so lucky. In Haughton Elevator Co. v. Seeberger, Charles Seeberger, the man who may or may not have brought you the term escalator, assigned the trademark to the Otis Elevator Company. Another escalator company sued, claiming it was a generic term and won.

But get this – the court discovered that Seeberger had used the word escalator in a generic way himself by writing patents that used the word escalator to describe the products. Whoops.

And that is why we call those moving stairs escalators.

I challenge you to look around the house and at products at the store. You’ll be shocked at how many cases of genericide lie right in front of you. The little words you don’t even think about represented strong brands that may or may not have survived their linguistic deaths. It’s a bit crazy to think about – might need to take an aspirin.

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Revisiting Project 1 in Light of Grading Changes

My school administration finally changed our grading policy. We knew it was coming and they dropped a bomb. All first years (including me) are now graded on a pass/fail grading system. If you’re in the top 30% of the class, your pass will become an honors pass. But it doesn’t touch your GPA.

I don’t feel great about this change because it takes away my ability to improve my GPA – not that it’s bad, but I certainly thought I was on track to do better. I understand that the world is crazy and we need to be mindful of students who are really hindered by a sudden change or sudden illness and that we can’t anticipate what the world might look like at the end of the month.

That being said, the upperclass students have a different grading system than us: they will be graded as normal (A/B/C) but after these grades come out they can choose however many they’d like to be pass/fail. Just like us, pass/fail doesn’t touch their GPA.

I don’t particularly like the differentiation between classes and I’d rather schoolwide uniformity, but I digress.

I’m not really sure what this means for my classes and how much work I want to put in. I’m also not sure if I’m in a position to CALI in my other classes so I don’t know what helps me achieve my goals.

Additionally, as of right now it’s unclear if getting a CALI is even possible right now. Since our school is a bit prestigious, I’d imagine it’s still a possibility.

That being said, the class where I thought I had the best shot was my legal writing class. Our big paper (the one on music copyright) was due today. I’ve spent the past few weeks really cranking out the argument since I’m pretty sure my side was the losing side. But given how much time I had already spent, I figured I should still gun for the CALI.

I honestly put more time into that paper than I did all the other ones this entire year combined. Since the factors of fair use overlap, I spent a lot of time trying to delineate my arguments and finding a structure that was most effective. I actually wrote notecards out of my arguments, my opponent’s counterarguments, and any fact I could find. Then I took all of them and laid them out on my floor for a few hours to try and find that order.

And damn it, I did it.

Well, kind of.

I hit a massive road block in the writing. I had these beautiful arguments in my head, but I couldn’t put them into words. I spent so long working on individual sentences that up until last night I only had about half my paper written.

It was a mad rush to get it done – but I didn’t cut corners. I made sure I polished everything. It was a late night and an even earlier morning, but I turned in a pretty good paper. There were two sections I felt were a little weak, but I felt much more confident in the rest. I’m not sure it’s enough to get the highest grade in the class, but I’d hope I were in the top five.

I just pray I didn’t have any typos. I didn’t have a chance to reread my paper once I finished.

I got my opponent’s paper shortly after and it reassured me that I had done well. Not that his was bad, I just anticipated all of his arguments.

So, we’ll chalk this up to a victory?

The Halfway Point and Other Winter Blues Observations

Project 1: CALI a Law School Class

Happy midterm week! At the midway point of the semester, I am swamped with work. In the next week and a half I have 3 papers due – which seeing as I only have 5 papers due this entire semester is a bit overwhelming.

Nevertheless, I want to take this opportunity to guess which classes I think I can do the best in. I did this on my first day of class and at the very least it’s a good mental exercise. So allow me to rate my classes in order of least likely to be able to CALI in to most likely.

  • International Law: It’s a pass/fail elective that doesn’t affect my GPA. Technically, it doesn’t even count. That being said, my final paper is due next week (it’s a half semester class) so I can’t cross it off my list just yet.

  • Legislation and Regulation: It’s not that I can’t CALI in this class. It’s just that the expectations are very unclear so it’s a guess as to whether or not what I’m doing is right. My professor uses his own methods which means I can’t even google concepts because what he says goes. We had a midterm on Monday and he went over a potential answer yesterday. The entire class was fighting him over his answers and I sat there in silence. I had the same answers as him. I can’t be too cocky just yet though. I haven’t gotten the midterm back yet.

  • Civil Procedure: Civil procedure is tough, but it’s worth it. Of all my classes, I put the most effort into this one. While I know I can learn all of this material I currently don’t have an outline of everything we’ve learned. I go day-by-day instead of pulling all the concepts together into one big outline. Until I do that, I don’t have a chance at anything. Although since it’s a memorization class, I do think there’s still a chance.

    It’s important to note here that we do multiple choice questions on our phone almost every class. These questions count for 20% of our overall grade. I think I’m doing alright, but if everyone around me is doing better than alright I’m not in a great position to CALI.

  • Property: I really love property. My professor is incredibly entertaining – bordering on a complete nihilist as he rambles on about how at the end of the day, no one really owns anything. He simply drops some profound thoughts that can definitely keep you awake at night if you’re not careful. That being said, he’s also very clear on what key points of the law are and I feel pretty confident I can nail this class.

    Also, we have take-home pass/fail midterm this week which is one of my papers. It’s set up exactly like our final – one really long essay question. After I do that, this ranking could change.

  • Legal Writing: I know it wasn’t in my initial guesses on the first day of the semester, but that’s because I didn’t have the class that day. But I have mentioned this class before. Remember my motion to dismiss? Anyway, I’m pretty sure I stand the best chance in this class. I really nailed the last paper and all of my homeworks have had the highest grade. I’m most definitely at the top of the class right now.

    Legal writing is my only class where we turn in assignments throughout the semester, so I need to keep my momentum going. I hope if I do that, other people might slack off a bit and I can sneak ahead. I have a small paper due on Friday, but a massive one due at the end of March, so I’ll probably have good hard push this upcoming month.

Did you notice that I feel comfortable in all of my classes? I’m a little too complacent right now. I want to propose a secondary part to this project: getting a 4.0. Why not reach for the stars?

The reason I also want to work towards this is because, quite frankly, I don’t do a lot of work. I sleep most evenings and skim my readings. I know if I spent the time living out a Legally Blonde studying montage I can get the 4.0. It might sound arrogant, but I know I can do better.

So with that, let’s raise the stakes: a perfect GPA.

Taking the Red Pill and Entering the Legal Simulation?

The first half of this week has been a bumpy ride. I got pretty sick and stayed home from some classes on Monday and yesterday (Tuesday) I had my first job interview and a legal simulation.

Let me explain.

My first legal interview ever was yesterday. It was with a firm I really liked. Normally, I nail interviews because I can make people laugh. But lawyers are a different breed. I left completely uncertain about whether or not I was what they were looking for.

I talked to a mentor of mine about it and she told me that she had already sent my resume to the firm and spoken to them about me. I’m truly blessed to have someone so strongly in my corner. She has influence in the community and for her to have done that on her own is so sweet and thoughtful.

Regardless of whether I get the job, she connected me with someone who has the exact background as me (school and major). I have a chemical engineering degree and up to this point I’ve never met another ChemE who became a lawyer. On top of that, how lucky am I? I know I’ll be a-okay and find a job no matter what.

So having done the roller coaster that is job interviews, I was mentally exhausted for what came later in the day: a simulation.

For my legal writing class I had to negotiate a settlement with another student. Litigation is something I’m not interested in at all and I really wasn’t looking forward to it – seeing as I’m very pro-conflict avoidance. Since it was a fake case too, I wasn’t exactly attached to my client. Sparing the boring details, I prepared harder than I expected – I think because I was feeling a little Project 1 pressure (as of right now, I feel like I’m most likely to CALI my legal writing class).

But I made a fatal flaw in the negotiation that lost me a LOT of leverage. While I negotiated a good deal for my client, I had a chance at a great deal and I missed it. Luckily, these simulations aren’t really for a grade – but if you do really well, you get extra credit. In the world of law school, every point you miss is another point someone else got.

Speaking of legal writing though, we got our motions back today. I had written about it here earlier, but even a week and some change later I was still feeling okay about it.

I crushed it.

I was well above the average of 66%. My 81% felt good. I’ve also been nailing the homework, so I’m definitely at the top of the class right now. Just like my job search, I’m on a bit of a roller coaster with this class. That’s how life is, right? A continual series of highs and lows.

But how would I know? I took the blue pill.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About a 12(b)(6) Motion

Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about Project 1 yet. This morning I had a paper due, so I’ve spent the past few days locked up working on it.

Not surprisingly, it was for my legal writing class. I wrote a FRCP 12(b)(6) motion, which is a motion to dismiss a case. Basically, it’s a Level 0 tutorial on writing legal documents to give to a judge. If you want to get more technical, it’s when a party fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

So basically if someone sues you for something that’s not a law, your lawyer would write one of these real quick and if it gets granted, there’s no case.

I won’t go much further than that, but I’ve been feeling the pressure on it all week. Last semester, I just barely missed an A because of one single paper. In order to put myself in a good position for Project 1, I knew I had to work harder.

But I found putting more pressure on myself to perform wasn’t the most effective way to write. My perfectionist mind got in my own way and it took forever to get words onto the page.

It got bad enough that this morning I was up at 6 – on a day I had no classes! – to finish my motion before the deadline at noon. I finished just fine, and actually early, but I was still disappointed in myself for leaving it to the eleventh hour (quite literally).

Anyway, I was happy with how the paper turned out and I’m pretty good at determining writing grades by how I feel after I submit. So I’m hopeful I did well. Also, it’s worth a very small percent of my grade so even in a worst case scenario I haven’t blown it.

Following my quasi-success, I tried something new – I bought a textbook supplement for Civil Procedure. I thought it’d be helpful so I’m sparing no expense at completing Project 1. I spent the afternoon catching up with Civ Pro and am feeling optimistic about memorizing my rules.

Anyway, this weekend I’ll be working hard at some projects, so expect some updates. Here’s to a productive project weekend!