Exciting News Alert!

I’ve been keeping a secret.

Last week, during Reading Week, I was given the opportunity to complete one of my biggest legal goals: making Law Review.

Law Review is a journal that most law schools have where students draft legal articles for publication. Getting accepted to Law Review is a really prestigious honor. These articles are seen by alum, potential employers, and even judges. I could be cited in a real court case or even be given job opportunities I didn’t have before.

I’ve brought it up briefly here on the blog, but not extensively (so I didn’t look like a fool if I didn’t make it!). While there are other journals at the school, almost every school has a Law Review. There’s literally a button on the journal application process that says “If I make Law Review, withdraw my application from the other journals.” If that’s not favoritism, I don’t know what is.

There are two paths to making Law Review: being the top of your class or winning a write-on competition. Seeing as I was not the top of my class, I was left with competing.

I wrote a post about what it was like to compete – and the high levels of stress I’m not used to. You can read that here.

As I say in that post, I thought I made a strong effort. I wasn’t sure it was enough to get me on Law Review since my classmates are all hyper competitive.

But I did it.

I also want to thank all of you that read this blog. As I wrote in the competition post:

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. 

My desire to achieve is partly due to those who have supported my journey. Without all of you cheering me on, I wouldn’t have felt accountable. Before my blogging (quasi-)career, I felt like if I couldn’t accomplish something it didn’t matter since no one was watching. Now there are a few eyes I feel I have to make proud.

I sincerely hope that each one of you reading this one day feels that satisfaction I felt from making Law Review. If you ever need someone in your camp, I’m there. Tell me, what are your goals? How are you actively pursuing them? Let’s talk about our next chapters together.

P.S: My boyfriend will also be writing on a journal! He is currently choosing between several offers. Power couple?

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But Wait, What Happens to Standardized Testing?

The education system is currently in a rapid state of flux. COVID-19 has served as a catalyst for massive changes to schools and universities – for better or worse. In the midst of reopening decisions, students are forced to make big decisions about standardized testing. With each type of test having a different policy, they may or may not be able to even take it. And the ones that are still scheduled… will it even happen?

While it’s certainly not the most pressing issue in the world around us, I thought it’d be interesting to discuss the status of standardized testing because really, it serves as a metaphor for the response to COVID-19 in the United States: inconsistency.

As a law student myself, I’m not out of the woods yet. I’ve got two tests left to go: the Bar Exam and the Patent Bar.

The Bar Exam (generally)

The Bar is the most gruesome test of our careers, passing means we can practice law in that state, but failing means we’ve got to wait 6 months before we can try again. It’s also a curved exam, which means only so many of you will pass. The Bar is a brutal experience.

Each state has their own Bar Exam, but many states have adopted the Universal Bar Exam (UBE) in recent years, which standardizes the experience. Though many states have individual requirements and state-specific portions.

To take the Bar, you apply as a candidate. The application process lasts about a year and a half. During this time, you take an exam on professional responsibility, get hammered with character and fitness evaluations, and shell out thousands of dollars. To put it simply, it’s a big deal.

Man, Men, Hand, Person, People, Male, Portrait, Human

States are all over the place on what to do with the July Bar. While some states have offered diploma privilege – an exception where having a law degree is enough to be admitted to the Bar, bypassing the exam entirely. Other states have pushed back the Bar to September/October. From these, some have gone fully online and those that are still trying for an in-person exam, haven’t announced the testing center.

All in all, I’m glad I’m not taking the Bar this year. What is the most stressful time in a law students life is amplified by uncertainty to the highest degree. Watching classmates deal with this is devastating. Their careers are on the line. Most have large amounts of debt and no savings, so the thought of not being able to work at a law firm for months is understandably stressful with the current job market.

The Patent Bar

The Patent Bar is an exam for any person looking to work alongside the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This includes patent attorneys. To qualify for the Patent Bar, you need a bachelor’s degree in engineering/science. Since I do, I qualify for it now. I can take it whenever I want. My only restriction is that once I sign up, I have three months to go to a testing center and take the exam.

There is no generally accepted time to take the Patent Bar. Some students take it while in law school, others once they graduate. Personally, I want to make sure I’m in a good spot for job hunts next summer, so it was something I wanted to do this summer.

The material covers the 29 chapter joy that is the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) – which you get on the test. Though when you realize that you have to answer 100 questions in 6 hours, you realize that you don’t have much time to look through the MPEP.

I’ve been hesitant to start studying because if it’s about memorization, I want to be able to take the test as soon as I’m ready. With testing centers pretty much closed, it doesn’t seem smart to start going through the weeds.

Flashcards, Cards, Paper

Last weekend, thinking I was smart, I made a set of flashcards on the table of contents. It’s several hundred cards of sections and subsections because I thought it would familiarize me with the manual. I use it a bit for work too, so it seemed practical. After three years of not being updated, the MPEP was updated THE DAY AFTER I made the cards. So now I have to go through all of my cards to make sure the chapters and sub-chapters still match. Just my luck.

Everything is such a mess. I can’t possibly predict what standardized testing will look for me or any other student. I’m thankful I’m not a student that requires a test this summer. To all of my fellow students out there, has this year affected your studies? Tell me your stories and we can all stress together. I promise you’re not the only one panicking.

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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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The Last Week of Classes – Preparing for Law School Finals During Quarantine

I can’t believe it’s the last week of classes of my first year of law school!

No really, I can’t believe it. It just dawned on me yesterday when I finished my legal writing class. I’ve had the same professor for both semesters, so it really sank in when he gave the end-of-the-year speech.

With exams around the corner, we still don’t really know much about them. The only information we have is that they will be open-book and open-notes. How long we’ll have for each exam is still very much up in the air. It’s a little nerve-wracking. My study habits definitely differ if I have a 3-hour exam versus a 24-hour exam. Basically, it’s the difference between memorization (you don’t have time to look at your notes during a 3-hour exam) and going more into detail (in a longer exam, you can write more, so you’d want to include much more detail).

Regardless, with my first exam a mere two weeks away (read also: yikes!) I am certainly not ready. Allow me to explain how I plan to get through finals:

  • Legal Writing: This class is finished when I turn in a quick contract tomorrow. It’s one I drafted last semester and just need to edit. I got a very high grade on it the first time around, so it’s a very minor assignment.

  • Property: Property is a classic issue-spotting exam. Issue-spotters are where a professor gives you a long hypothetical situation – like 5 pages of content kind of long – and you just throw everything you can at it. To combat these kinds of tests, you need to remember every topic. The way I did my issue-spotters last semester is I made an outline and memorized the table of contents. When I got my exam, I spent the first 15 minutes writing the entire table of contents on a scrap piece of paper. It paid off.

    If I’m under a time constraint, I’ll need to memorize that table of contents again. If I’m not under a time constraint, I won’t have to. To try and find a healthy balance, next week my boyfriend and I will tackle sample exams every day of the week to familiarize ourselves with common fact patterns (Law School Hack: Professors can only come up with so many outlandish situations dealing exactly with what you learned. Getting your hands on as many practice exams as you can is key!)

  • Civil Procedure: My method right now is to type up all my notes. My professor wasn’t always super clear about what information connects, so once I have everything typed up I’ll try and make sense of it. I also want to create guides on all the different rules we covered and the cases we went over (sometimes cases make rules, it’s called common law).

    I bought a supplement earlier this semester, so I plan on reading through that to add to my outline. I’m also a school representative for Barbri, a bar exam prep service – yes, the one Kim Kardashian uses – and they give first-years free access to their first year materials which includes a lot of civil procedure stuff, so I’ll be sure to dig around there as well.

  • Legislation and Regulation: Ah, leg reg. My professor is currently theorizing his own rules to this class, so it’s been really difficult to follow. Usually, you can turn to the internet or someone else’s outlines, but not for this class. The older students all reassure you by saying on the last day everything clicks. That’s tomorrow, and well, I have low expectations.

    I think my plan is to really re-read the cases. He said his exam hypos are slightly different versions of cases we read for class (and there’s only like 20 we read all semester), so I want to really dive into those and create some long case briefs.

    Other than that, no plan. At least I’m not alone though.

So there you have it – I have no idea what’s going to happen from here. But I do know I’ll overcome it. Who knows, maybe I’ll even pull an honors pass.

Will I be finishing Project 1 any time soon? Probably not. Unless my legal writing class pulls through for the CALI, it looks like this one’s going to go into next semester.

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?

Online Classes – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I’ve officially finished my first week of online classes! If you can even say that, that is. School was cancelled on Monday and Tuesday due to the online switch, I didn’t have any classes on Wednesday besides pre-recorded lectures, and I don’t have classes on Fridays. So that left today, Thursday, and honestly it was an out-of-body experience.

The Good

Waking up 15 minutes before class, putting on a shirt, and waving a hand over your head to make sure you get rid of that nasty fly-away-just-out-of-bed hairdo – now that’s something I could get used to. No one knows that you haven’t brushed your teeth yet, I promise.

The Bad

There’s something about a Zoom call that makes you more aware of zoning out. I mean, don’t get me wrong, these lectures are brutal. Every distraction in your house is right in your eyesight. But your professor can’t see you watch Netflix on your laptop. Hell, they can’t even hear it since you’re on mute. But trust me, you feel guilty. You’re more self-aware. You can see your posture – woah, how long have you been slouching like that? – and just like that you missed the last 5 minutes of the lecture.

Paying attention is impossible.

The Ugly

Oh boy, there were some technical problems. And here’s the funniest thing: it had nothing to do with the Zoom platform itself. It was the professors not knowing how to work anything, putting slides that were too small on the screen, and the occasional student who didn’t put themselves on mute. It was purely human error.

But perhaps the best representation of this was my Leg Reg class in which the professor didn’t have his computer audio on. He wasn’t able to hear us ask questions and, even with the IT guy right next to him, took 20 minutes to rectify the problem. Since we were all able to hear each other, several students began talking about changes to the grading system and our school’s thoughts on a pass/fail semester. Some other students were swearing at how long it took to fix. There were some trying to tell the professor what was wrong on the chat. He didn’t check it once.

All of that being said, the administration is still thinking about making more changes to our semester (like the pass/fail system). This lack of consistency is beginning to drive me nuts.

A more than healthy dose of sarcasm aside, please stay safe and may your heart be full during these difficult times.

Yours from a distance,

806 Days Left – An Update

Happy Leap Day! It’s strange to think that by the next leap day this project will be finished.

Anyway, this week I’ve really been focused on getting little things done. Because of that, no project warrants a full update, but certainly there’s stuff to tell you.

Project 1: CALI a Law Class

As you may be aware, this week I decided to up the ante and work towards a 4.0. While I may not have had Rocky montage-levels of studying, I’ve felt a change. I’m more focused on getting my work done in the present (read also: do my readings before class and prepare the material). It’s been a lot of work during the week, but I do feel everything slowly beginning to come together.

I still have two papers to write for this week, so I expect some late nights. But after is spring break, so I anticipate an opportunity to catch up.

Project 2: Get Organized

This has been my big project. I’m most definitely focusing the most time on it because, well honestly, I want to get it done to work on more exciting things. I’m picking at things bit by bit and my goal is to be done with this project by the end of the month. Ambitious, I know, but that’s what I hoping.

Here’s what I’ve gotten done since my last update:

  • Snapchat Memories: I just finished college, so I have a lot of memories. I’ve been trudging through them and have currently deleted 1,021 photos. This is just on a first pass-through, I’m not even watching any of the videos. Mostly I’m in shock that I have this many photos saved on Snapchat. This is content that I’m not really looking at, but if it were on my computer sorted in files I would be. I’ll export the remaining files. There’s just a lot of moments I didn’t realized were captured. As a very nostalgic person, this is a lot of emotional work.
  • Sorting Through Clothing: I’m like 90% of the way there. I have a few more items to try on and decide about, but I’ve really worked hard on this one. I even had my boyfriend give me some (at times, brutal) advice on outfits – don’t worry, he had whiskey so he was a happy helper. I’ve gotten rid of quite a lot and I’m not sure what to do with it, so I do need to make a decision on that.
  • Computer Bookmarks: It really shouldn’t be surprising that that’s a mess for me, seeing as how my brain is focused on a million things at once. Going through my bookmarks is both fun and a little bit like the Reddit 50/50 page. Last night I was organizing them and ended up on the Wikipedia page for The Turk – which if you don’t know was a chess-playing automaton hoax from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The “machine” beat both Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon Bonaparte.
Project 3: Make a Cover Album

Learning FL Studio is difficult. Thankfully Alex knows how to use it, so I’ve been using him for help. With a bit of struggling, I’ve managed to make a semi-reasonably cover beat of Mayores by Becky G. I can fine tune it a bit more, but once I get the cover right, I’ll start adding my flare. I think I want to change up the chorus – maybe a fuller sound?

Project 4: Read 100 Classic Books

I’ve been slowly making progress on Atlas Shrugged. It’s pretty dense and I haven’t had much motivation to pick it up. To make matters worse, my boyfriend has continually told me how important this book is to him and how he so badly hopes I enjoy it. It’s a little bit of pressure. Anyway, I’ve been missing writing book reports, so I might pick up some smaller books in the interim. Keep an eye out for that.

Monthly Match-Ups

We all dropped the ball on this one. Alex and I haven’t been doing much studying and I don’t think Abbey’s done with the test. That being said, the show must go on, so we’ll still be taking the test. Maybe music theory will make another appearance in upcoming months so we can do it justice.

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!