Thursday, February 4, 2016

Winter Break

First semester was fascinating.

Thanks to reverse selection, the people at Loyola Law School are some of the most genuine, genius human beings. The teachers are quirky and interested in social justice. The events are educational and usually provide free beer. I can’t speak for every law school (because of my small sample size) but my experience in law school has been amazing.

The reading was fascinating.

I like books with a new author for every chapter, because they diversify facts and opinions. They provide holistic frameworks for thinking about a subject. They increase my odds of reading good ideas, and insure against my risk of reading bad writers, since the articles must be brief.

That’s why I like reading case law. The judges write from all over the 20th century, and all across the United States.[1] The statutes are their tools. The lawyers are their guides. And the caselaw is their map. Every case contemplates different issues, rules, facts and conclusions, often going where no case has gone before.[2]

The teaching was fascinating.

Law professors doesn’t just teach the laws. They teach the history, psychology and philosophy of law. They teach the cause of laws, and their effects. They teach us to critique current laws, and imagine new ones. We read both good and bad law. And after a while, the types of law begin to over-lap.

The legal system is fascinating.

Entering law school, I didn’t want to be a lawyer. But now I have faith in the system. Judges are constantly enforcing justice and liberty. They stand comfortably on the foundation that precedent has established. Remember that the law reflects the morality and character of its authors, and I’m proud of American jurisprudence.

There are caveats, however. At best, our judges carefully apply the law; but at worst, the Supreme Court acts as a legislature of nine. At best, our legal and moral arguments are the same ones; but at worst, lawyers must argue that apples are oranges. At best, law is organized justice; but at worst, law is corrupt.[3]

Of course, as first year law students, we are still sheltered from real-world legal realities. But it’s nice in here.

[1] Most cases are from the 1900’s, but I’ve read cases from 1350 to 2015.
[2] The cases are usually high quality, once again because of reverse selection.
[3] Bastiat, Frédéric.The Law. (1850).

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Winter Break

At the end of the semester when exams are over, most people are ecstatic because they’re finally done, but scared and fearful because few people actually know how they did on their exams. I was extremely proud of myself for making it to the end of the marathon, but I was also disappointed because I thought I could have done more. But, this is not unusual thinking since I always tend to think I could have done more. Law school is full of perfectionists and I’m no exception. No matter how gruesome, exam period was much needed because it taught me what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong. First semester as a whole was a major learning experience.

After exams were over, of course we had to start our winter break off by having some fun that night. I didn’t do much pertaining to the law over break for the simple reason of it being called a “break.” For me, this meant that I was going to do things that I couldn’t normally do while in school. So, I went hiking and kept myself very active. I also spent some quality time with my niece and nephew, who are age 2 ½ and 9. My family and I took professional holiday photos and my oldest brother got married.

Since it had been raining extremely hard the week before school started, as we were studying, my close friend and I were able to catch a rainbow appear in the sky! We were thrilled! We took this as a good omen that our second semester was going to be even more positive and full of even more surprises.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Winter Break

Ahhhh…exams. The fabled exams of law school came and went and we’re all still here to tell the tale. My impression of my first round of law school exams was that they were impressively difficult. My professors truly fired every missile they had at us and crafted some insanely labyrinthine puzzles for us to solve. I came to law school for a good challenge, and they brought the goods. I learned some lessons about preparation: get outlines done earlier, don’t hesitate on making the flashcards (just make them and thank yourself later). Despite some missteps, I’m satisfied with my performance and hope my section-mates feel similarly.

My winter break was excessively busy. First, Christmas came at full-speed right after the last exam; and there is absolutely no similarity between being college-aged at Christmas and being a 33-year old man with a wife and toddler at Christmas. We hosted our families; which meant shopping, cooking, cleaning, wrapping gifts, decorating, and sweeping pine needles out of square inch of our floor-space.

Any free chunk of time in the days before and after Christmas I spent working on music projects that I had been hired for the three weeks off I had. In my insane hubris, I decided to freely book myself during all my “off time” with drum recording work and musical arranging work. While it was really nice to dust off some of those abilities that had lain dormant for months, I did bite off more than was reasonable to chew. Luckily, I was able to get it done with no time to spare before I was off to my last activity of the break.

The Saturday before classes began, I drove my mom, my wife and I to Berkeley, CA at 6am because my brother and his wife had just had their first child, a day ahead of schedule. So, I became an uncle as of two days before writing this! We got back home the night before my first day of classes. All of this added up to a very full and exciting winter break, if not completely exhausting! As I sit down to read my first few chapters of the new semester, I can’t help but feel like it’s a bit of a respite from the wildness of my winter break.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The 1/2 Way Mark!

I don’t think there will ever be a semester where I confidently believe exams were great. I am a worrier. Even when I am prepared, I worry. I prepared for finals earlier than usual and felt confident while taking the exams. After finals, I realized I am half way done with law school. How quickly time has escaped!

Winter break was relaxing. I spent the majority of it with family and friends. I spent a short time in Miami enjoying the summer weather. I stepped away from law school and spent my break recharging for Spring semester.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Winter Break

The exam period was the most pleasurable experience of law school. *insert pause. Alright they weren’t really the best. In fact, they were quite brutal. It wasn’t the absolute worst though. For our first year, there are two yearlong classes and two semester long classes. The semester classes had finals, but the yearlong classes had midterms. The midterms were shorter and worth only around 25% of our grade, so it took some pressure off of the exam period. Luckily, my finals were in my favorite subjects (Criminal Law and Torts [sorry property and contracts I still like you guys]), so finals were still manageable despite the toughness.

Winter break was pretty amazing. The only thing related to law that I did were summer judicial externships applications. Judges started accepting summer applications December 1st, so before finals or right after finals were the main period of applications. Applications are accepted on rolling basis, so they are often sent even before we get our official transcripts by the end of January. Transcripts can be sent in later once we received our grades. Although daunting at first, the externship department was a tremendous resource that helped guide me through the whole process.

Although I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary over winter break, it was definitely a welcome respite from the first semester of law school. I caught up with many friends who I didn’t get to hang out with during the semester. Like most people, I watched Star Wars. Although I’m not a hardcore Star Wars fan, it was still an enjoyable experience. Sorry if a bigger nerdout was expected. Christmas dinners were great. I did a White Elephant exchange with my friends, and I got an adorable glittery blue unicorn. I then did a Secret Santa exchange with my family, and got the Mistborn Trilogy of fantasy books. I made it my goal to finish by finals, and I sure did. Reading the final 500 pages in an 8 hour sitting the night before spring orientation left my hand cramped but myself so satisfied. Once again, another fantasy world extinguished and reality reentered. This semester, it is time to take on the elective Administrative Law (which is taught by my amazing Property teacher) and Civil Procedure. Welp, time to get back to the grind.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Winter Break

After long hours spent in the library studying for finals, I was very happy to go home and spend time with my family. Winter break always seems to fly by because of the holidays, but I enjoy the vacation nonetheless. Most of my break was spent sleeping and watching TV, as I’ve reached that age where my friends are all working and don’t get three weeks off to come home. I did get to catch up with a couple friends who flew into LA for Christmas though and it was nice to see old faces.

The best part of winter break by far is having my parents cook for me. I love all Persian food, but so many recipes require time that a law student like myself does not have. But my parents have mastered the art of cooking Persian dishes, so every dinner was like a little treat for me. I also got to spend quality time with my older sister (mostly at the mall) whenever she wasn’t working. I’m very close with my family, so I love hanging out with them—our family dinners basically consist of me competing with my dad to get the most laughs (I usually win :-)).

For me, winter break is a time to recharge—I definitely enjoyed the chance to turn my brain off and somewhat forget about school. However, like all good things, winter break had to end. So let the countdown to spring break begin!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Study Groups

The truth is I’ve never participated in a study group. For whatever reason, I’ve always been a solitary studier. I am sure there are benefits to group studying, but I’ve never gravitated toward the practice.

Let me just say this: there is plenty of peer feedback “in the air” as a 1L. Your section is a very large study group. You’re in classes every day with the same people…studying!

If you pay attention to what your classmates are asking, you will find many of your own questions answered. If you participate heavily in class discussions, you’ll be very engaged on the topics covered in class, and you may save yourself time later on by only needing to lightly revisit those topics. If you’re wondering what will be on the test, focus on what your professor is focusing on. As the semester wears on, I’m sure this engagement in class will reap rewards that are similar to studying in groups.

I have found it necessary at times to discuss things in depth with other students. In those situations, I’ve found it effective to reach out to others that I trust and admire academically. Everyone in class has various strengths, as do you. Trust your strengths first, then fill in the gaps with advice from trustworthy classmates who have skills you may not have. The point is, engaging with classmates can take forms other than traditional study groups.

One thing is absolutely certain about being a 1L, you need a plan of how to study. Whether that plan is to meet everyday with your friends to discuss the reading, or to read alone, or to swap notes via email, there’s no real “right way” to do it. I’ve definitely never felt any need to conform to a certain style of studying, or that there’s a sense that anyone is doing it “right” and anyone else is “wrong.” Loyola definitely fosters an individual sense of achievement that is refreshing. You can excel here being a complete loner or a social butterfly. If you’re rigorous, thorough, and put in the hours, you can figure out your own way to be a successful 1L.