Monday, December 11, 2017

A Day In the Life of A 1L Evening Student

As a student in the evening program that works part-time, my days surely look very different from your typical law student. Before starting law school, I scaled down how many hours I work each week to free up some time to study and also to keep up hobbies of mine. I knew from the beginning that I wasn’t willing to forego my exercise routine, experimental cooking, and time with my family.

Typically, I start each day by going to the gym around 5 am and I tutor my first student at 9 am. Sometimes I have other students after that and some days I don’t. During the week, I come home and experiment a little bit with cooking in the middle of the day and work on my food blog, but then I make my way to campus usually some time between 2 and 4 pm to study, handle anything that I need to on campus, and review my notes for class. I do most of my reading for class over the weekend so that during the week I’m not so pressed for time to study and I’ve noticed that it really helps! I have class Monday-Thursday at 6 pm, but I don’t work after class most days. This is a luxury that I have that many other evening students do not because they work full time and utilizing that time after class to study is often critical for them. I make it a point to wind down after class instead and prioritize sleep since I wake up so early. I have found that a lot of law students push themselves to do more work and review more and, in the process, don’t sleep enough. It may seem counterintuitive, but this extra studying might actually be hurting them if it consistently gets in the way of them getting proper sleep. So, I have made the conscious decision not to fall into that trap if I can avoid it.

The only way that I’ve been able to sustain this lifestyle is by careful planning and time management. Without this, I wouldn’t be able to balance law school, work, and my hobbies and, if I didn’t do that efficiently, all areas of my life would suffer. I definitely think there’s a method to my madness because I’ve done well in my classes thus far, I just have to hope I can keep it up!

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Day in the Life of a 1L Student: November 1, 2017

5:40 a.m.: My alarm clock rings, and I hit snooze for the first time. When you’re in law school, you squeeze sleep out of every minute.

5:50 a.m.: My alarm clock rings a second time, and it’s time to get up and get the day started.

6:15 a.m.: I grab my breakfast, my books, and I’m out the door and headed for the train station. Today, I opt to take the metro into the city because a) Class gets out at 3:10 p.m., b) Afternoon traffic out of the city is awful, and c) It’s game 7 of the World Series so everyone is out on the roads trying to get around the city to cheer on the Dodgers. When I don’t take the metro, I hop into my Beetle and make the 1+ hour commute into Downtown LA listening to my favorite morning radio show.

7:45 a.m.: After two trains and a shuttle ride, I make it to campus. After dropping my books off in the Hall of the 70s, I head over to Sonia’s to pick up a coffee. Drinking coffee is like drinking water for law students especially as the semester nears its end.



8:20 a.m.: Civil Procedure class begins. It’s time to put away cell phones and laptops and crack open textbooks and laptops. You may ask why, and the reason is different professors have different classroom policies. For this particular class, our co-professors prefer an old-school, non-technology policy to eliminate any and all distractions.



8:20 a.m. – 11:55 a.m.: I have Civil Procedure and Property classes back to back on Wednesday mornings. Honestly, Wednesday is always the toughest day of the week due to my two toughest classes: Civil Procedure due to amount of detail in the subject matter, and Property due to the number of rules and exceptions in stating the title to property. But nonetheless, I take everyday as I get it and try my best to get the work done and try to understand the material.

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.: Lunch time! The best part about long days are club meetings. And the best part about club meetings is food (and of course, listening to and learning about today’s subject matter)! Today, the Entertainment and Sports Law Society is holding a panel with Loyola alumni who work in television. They discuss their experiences, the paths they took to achieve their goals, and advice they would give us, the next generation of Loyola lawyers. One of the coolest things about Loyola is the community of alumni who come back and try to put forward for the next generation.

1:10 – 2:00 p.m.: It’s back in the classroom for legal research. Today is our last legal research class for the semester. I can’t believe we started this class back in August, and now we’re done for 2017! Like most of this year, everything is just going by so quickly! Today, our professor lets us out early so we can complete our fall practicum at home. As you can probably guess, law students live for days like this. It means we can head home early and get an extra hour to rest or catch up on work.

2:00 p.m. - 3:20 p.m.: A shuttle and two rides, and I’m back in my hometown of Azusa.


 

3:30 p.m. – Until I go to bed (about 12:00 a.m.): When I get home, the rest of my day is split between doing homework and taking care of my dog. On a regular basis, I make sure to give myself personal time to stretch, take a break, and relax for a bit. Some days, this break time is spent at the gym. Other days, it’s spent watching makeup tutorials on YouTube or going on rides at Disneyland. Most often, it’s spent talking to my loved ones. Today, my break time is spent watching the Los Angeles Dodgers play in game 7 of the World Series. No matter what it is I do, I’ve learned the importance of finding balance between work and play.

So there you have it, that is a day in the life of the average 1L student. Until next time friends!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Typical Day

6:00 AM: My alarm goes off for the first time.

6:20 AM: My alarm goes off for the fifth time. I finally get out of bed and head straight for the coffee machine.

7:00-7:10 AM: I leave my apartment in Westwood to drive to Loyola. I HAVE to leave the house by 7:10 at the absolute latest or I will hit terrible traffic and will not make it to class on time. I normally eat breakfast in the car and then get a second coffee at Sonia’s as soon as I get to Loyola.

8:00 AM: My first class of the day! If it is Monday or Wednesday, I have Criminal Law with Professor Levenson, and if it is Tuesday or Thursday, I have Torts Law with Professor Hayden.

12:00 PM: By this time on Mondays and Wednesdays I am finished with classes (Property Law with Professor Petherbridge after Criminal Law) and normally drive back home to Westwood in order to avoid afternoon traffic. At least once a week, however, I stay on campus from 12 PM to 1 PM to attend a speaking engagement from one of the many law professionals that the clubs at Loyola bring in. The speakers are always law professionals in the LA area that share how they have gotten to where they are and give advice on how to navigate the job market and the legal field. Plus, there is ALWAYS free food at these events, which makes it even more enjoyable.

1:10 PM: If it is a Tuesday or a Thursday, I do not go home and instead stay on-campus after Civil Procedure with Professor Dudovitz because I have Legal Research or Legal Writing with Professor Burch or Professor Riordan. If it is a day I go home early, I normally take a break. I eat lunch and almost always take a nap (I really support napping).

3:10 PM: On Tuesdays and Thursdays, this is when I head back home. I am normally unable to nap on these days (and if I can, it is a very short one) but I still take a quick break and grab a snack.

4:00 PM: Study time! By now, depending on the day, I am either just starting to study or I have been studying for around an hour. I like to review whatever I learned in class that day first and then start on the reading for the next day. Depending on the material, this can take an hour or four hours per assignment, it just depends on the length and the subject. I eat dinner somewhere during all of this reading and normally take a break to talk to my roommates or check social media before diving back in.

9:00 PM: I am ALMOST always done reading and reviewing by this time of night if I have been diligent in my studies. This doesn’t always happen though, so sometimes I find myself studying right up until I go to bed. If I do finish, I get the last few hours of the night for myself and will choose to watch a movie, read a book, or catch-up on my DVR.

12:00 AM: I am rarely not in bed by midnight—even with a nap—and I go to sleep, ready to do it all over again!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Where Are They Now: The 2L Edition

Last year, everyone told me to just “make it through 1L year and everything will be easier.” I will admit that I do not have to spend as much time on my classes as I did last year, however, I do find 2L year very challenging. I have found balancing work, school, and my extracurricular activities to be a little stressful at times, but I have faith that it will all pay off in the end. The best part of this year is that I already have a strong relationship with classmates who I can turn to for de-stressing and for study groups. Additionally, I have found that I have carved out more time this year for life outside of law school. I make more time for myself this year with going to concerts, relaxing, and constantly reminding myself that it is okay to not be hovered over my books 24/7. All in all, this year is not quite what I expected but it is flying by. It has been a reminder that law school will be over before I know it so I need to cherish all the moments I have with friends and to seize as many networking opportunities as I can. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Fall Semester Update

Being a 3L, my classes and coursework are pretty much dialed in for this final Fall semester. With a couple years’ experience, you tend to know what the coursework will be like, what the exams will be like, and how to juggle your outside interests within the framework of being a full-time student.

What’s different as a 3L is your focus isn’t so much on grades, it’s about preparing for the bar exam and your post-school career. At certain times, I did not want to focus on these things so much and just concentrate on school, but it became clear that I needed to. Regarding bar exam prep, it was important to me to pick my 3L classes in a way that doubled as bar prep. Taking the “hard” bar exam courses during school seemed like the right thing to do to save aggravation later. Then I had to shop around and pick a bar prep course, all of which are very expensive and require tons of post-graduation studying.

As for focusing on my long-term career goals, I’m doing what I can to beef up my resume in this last school year. That means keeping my grades up, doing as much practical work as I can, and filling out my resume. I have never worked as a traditional law clerk, so I sought out a part-time law clerk job to fill that experience gap.

Overall, the 3L lifestyle is relatively easy in terms of classes, homework and exam preparation. But the change in focus may be unusually difficult and require some more time and energy than one might expect.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Expectations

The main thing I worried about before law school is something I think most people worry about: What if I don’t like it? What if the classes are too hard, or boring? What if I don’t make any friends? What if I find out that, after all the work it took to get here, law school isn’t for me?

I’m pleased to report that I do, in fact, like it. Law school has been as engaging as I hoped it would be. And it's already providing a window into a future I’m thoroughly stoked about.

In my last post, I mentioned my Torts midterm; Torts specifically is a class I found way more fascinating than I thought I would. It’s a class about solving real life situations — the kind of situations that you’ll certainly face at some point in your life, if you haven’t already. It involves taking abstract concepts — like, when does a relationship with another person establish a legal duty of care for the other person? — and actually bringing those concepts down to earth, finding the situation where the abstract rule can solve a real world problem. It’s so satisfying, like when you find the key fits into a lock. (It helps that my professor, Adam Zimmerman, is brilliant at helping students understand how textbook concepts play out in the real world.)

My other classes are fascinating in other ways. In Criminal Law, the injustices built into the the American system come into sharp relief; in Property, we talk about how philosophies of ownership shape the law and our everyday lives. Even in Civil Procedure, for me is the most challenging class, we’re shown the blueprint instruction manual for how regular folks go about getting justice in our Kafka-esque legal system.

If all of that sounds interesting to you, I guarantee you’ll have fun in law school.

But, of course, I didn’t just go to law school to bury myself in books. Like everyone else, I was excited to be a part of a little community of students who were chasing the same goal as me. And so, even in week 10 of law school, making new friends is a thrill, and helps put my own journey into perspective.

For instance, a couple weeks ago I helped out at the annual PILF auction, a fundraiser on campus that helps raise money for scholarships for students who want to work in the (traditionally lower-earning) field of public interest. It was awesome to see some of my classmates, who I know are studying corporate or tax law, come to support the cause. And, of course, it was a great excuse, post-Midterms, to drink some free booze and even see our professors in a non-school context, which is actually not as weird as you might think but, in fact, might give you the sense that professors are (shocker!) real people like you.

The thing I’m the most excited about, though, is that even at this early juncture I’ve found easy ways to get involved in the L.A. community. Loyola in particular is great for putting volunteer opportunities in front of students; you’d have to be willfully ignoring them to not find something.

A couple weekends ago, I drove down from my apartment in Echo Park to a community center in Watts to assist a nonprofit with client intake. The nonprofit helps folks convicted of misdemeanors and even felonies get those crimes taken off their records, which can help them get jobs and make a new life. I met with a particular client who was in dire need of employment, she said, and felt that a few blotches on her record were holding her back. We sat together at a wooden table in the midst of 15 other tables and worked through the details of some of the forms. I truly felt like I was doing a service, for her and for my community — that this small act was disproportionately powerful to someone who needed it so badly. That’s the power of the law, I thought — if you can access it, you can do everyday things that, for people who have been effectively shut out of the system, can have a profound impact. It reminded me of why I wanted to go to law school in the first place. And it confirmed that I’m in exactly the right place.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Fall Semester Update

Looking back at the last two months or so that I’ve been in law school, I’m quickly realizing that so much has changed in this short period of time.

For example, I never expected to be able to learn so many different things and, in effect, change a good bit of how I think in such a short period of time. This is because the way you learn in law school is completely unique and, of course, dramatically different from the way you learn in college. I knew this before starting, but I really didn’t fully grasp it until I was actually thrown into it. No one sits and holds your hand to teach you all of the terminology and what not (at least not for most things), but you learn by reading and researching on your own prior to coming to class and then your professor clarifies the material for you and highlights what is important. At first, this was completely jarring for me. However, I’ve grown to appreciate the process of struggling with my readings, reaching my own conclusions, and then checking in with the rest of the class. In a way, it’s rewarding whether I’m right or wrong and helps me interact with and remember the material, which is obviously the goal. Those first few weeks, though, you wouldn’t have caught me dead saying these words.

I’ve also grown to appreciate many other things – some of which are specific to Loyola. Over the short period of time that I’ve been a law student, I’ve seen faculty make themselves available to students and do their best to accommodate our busy schedules. This is of particular importance for evening students because many, if not most, of us work during the day. However, my professors and other faculty members want to help us succeed and have gone above and beyond to give students the opportunity to get help outside of class time. I’ve also grown to appreciate being on a small law campus. When I first began looking at law schools, although I really wanted to go to Loyola, I was on the fence about going to a school with a separate law campus. Coming from UCLA, I thoroughly enjoyed being on a big campus. In the past two months, though, I’ve noticed that there are many benefits to being on a small law-only campus. For example, I love that I always run into people I know when I’m on campus and that everything that’s available on campus is tailored to law students.

All in all, my law school experience thus far has been nothing but positive and I’m excited for what the rest of the semester holds!