Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Humans Thrive in Groups

For most of human history, our ancestors roamed in groups of hunter-gatherers. Those groups were physically limited to members of the tribe. But 10,000 years ago, the laws of human interaction changed. After the Agricultural Revolution, organizations—like businesses, governments, churches, and schools—emerged as groups acting with a common cause. They reaped the rewards of cooperation, and thrived.

Then, the laws of human interaction changed during the Industrial Revolution. Meta-groups—like corporations and nations—emerged from the collective activities of millions of people, many who have never met.

Today, the laws of human interaction are changing once again. We are experiencing exponential growth in inter-connectedness; for example, one billion people use Facebook everyday.[1] But we are increasingly isolated behind television, computer, and smart-phone screens. Theoretically, people can now live in complete isolation—socializing, shopping, and working entirely online—like an Orwellian dystopia.

As an introvert, in law school, I spend a lot of time by myself. Although I don’t study in groups, I depend on the support of my friends and family. Without them, I would not be flourishing at the level I am, nor working as hard as I can. They make me happy, and happiness is motivating.

These are some things I would recommend to any law student:

1. Establish a group chat with your peers. We have one where we answer each other’s questions, share jokes, and coordinate hang-outs. We even have our headquarters in the library.

2. Spend a lot of time on campus—even solo study time—and attend all possibly interesting events.

3. Be with your classmates: between class, in class, and after class. Don’t isolate yourself behind a computer screen.

4. If confronted with a choice to socialize or not, err on the side of socialization. Invest in your best relationships.

Remember, nothing can replace human interaction, not even philosophy. Even Thoreau entertained guests at Walden.[2] And Aristotle said no one could want complete isolation, except beasts and gods.[3] Some laws of human interaction never changed: we are still as dependent upon others for happiness, as we are for survival.

Humans are primarily social creatures, and we thrive in groups.

[1] Facebook, Company Info.

[2] Spark Notes, Walden, Visitors.

[3] Aristotle, Politics, Book 1, Section II.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Importance of Peers

At the beginning of law school study groups will seem like a huge deal. People will be scoping each other out to see who the “brightest” in the class are and whom they could possibly study with. I quickly realized that everyone was “bright” and that the preference to join a study group or not is truly an individual one. Quite frankly, I know that I do not do my best work in study groups. For me, I choose to only utilize larger study groups when reviewing for a midterm or final. It can help to feed off of other students by having in depth conversations about the material. Besides for these main purposes, I choose to work alone or with one other person. I tend to get work done faster and I can focus better on my own. As easy as it may be to say that you’re going to discipline yourself, study groups can too easily lend themselves to a whole lot of chit-chat and small talk about the daily struggles of law school, life, food, parties, family, and whatever else you can talk about to avoid looking at the assignment right in front of you. However, I’ve met other students who constantly work in large groups and they seem to be doing quite well.

It is important to have a great support system while being in law school. Whether that consists of family, friends, or a significant other. To be honest, I was shocked to have found such a great group of close-knit friends here in law school. Before entering, I knew I would have acquaintances, but because of the competitive nature of law school I never expected to find “true” friends. So far I’ve been lucky to really get to know and become pretty close with a small handful of girls at school. Even outside of them, I’ve gotten to talk with and get to know the majority of the people in my section. This, to my surprise, has made the ride much much easier!

Monday, November 16, 2015


My Summer

A little bit about me, I graduated from Loyola Marymount University in December of 2014. This was perfect because it gave me a convenient 8 month break before having to start law school. I majored in English and minored in theater. While my desire to go into law partly played into my choice of major, I primarily chose these areas because I genuinely enjoy reading, writing, and acting. 

Before school, I spent the summer reading the most awesome romantic fantasy series ever. A little background, I am what people call a nerd. Reading is a joy. I love the Song of Ice and Fire series, commonly known as Game of Thrones. If any of you know anything about Game of Thrones, it paints a world that is quite heartbreaking and depressing. I still love it, but I needed something in my literary life other than the suffering of my favorite characters (one of them being Theon Greyjoy). Yes, he’s one of my favorites. He’s third to be exact. Regardless, I came across the Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier in a local used bookstore. Throughout the six books (I’m confused as to why it’s called a trilogy too), I followed six Irish princesses through four generations of their family struggle against evil stepmothers and fairy kings. This literary journey was briefly interrupted by a journey to Vegas with my family where the 24 hour buffets I treated myself to will probably have dire ramifications on the next four generations of my family. With the “dread” of law school looming, it was so nice finding comfort and peace within a fantasy world of magic and love. By August, I finished reading and the illusion started to fade. However, the end of the magic perfectly coincided with the birth of the real.

Being from Redondo Beach, I’ve always heard that Loyola Law has an incredibly friendly student community. Like any new student, I dreaded the possibility that my peers were going to be malicious and cutthroat. I was so glad to find out what I heard about Loyola’s community was indeed true. We had to do this research assignment, which can be incredibly confusing for us 1Ls. I finished the assignment with my classmate earlier this morning. We were about what the correct answer was for a particular problem. We decided to stick with our respective guts. Right when I got home that day, I got a text from him: “Kevin, we were wrong about that one for research. The difference one. Look at 10.02. The only difference that I found is that….if the trademark is registered or not. That’s what we need….FIX IT NOW…No problem. Looking out for as many people as I can.” To have someone frantically text you a correction about an assignment, which honestly I was being quite stubborn, really made me glad that I have folks like these as classmate. Although no longer in the fantastical world of Sevenwaters, I am equally optimistic that now I am a part of this even better Loyola community.


Going to law school was not always in the cards for me. Back in high school, I thought I wanted to become a pharmacist…and then I took a chemistry class and realized I would not make it through pharmacy school. I started thinking about my other interests and found that I really enjoyed reading and writing. Once I entered college, I felt secure in my choice to major in political science, as all of my classes revolved around reading and writing papers. It was around this time that I also started thinking about law school, especially because my university (UC Berkeley) had an amazing law school (Boalt). I decided to take initiative and applied to several internships for the summer, landing one at a small civil and family law firm. My summer experience at the small firm was fantastic, as I was given the opportunity to research and even write a little. The lawyer I worked for also allowed me to sit in on his client meetings and essentially gave me the responsibility of handling the family law sector of the firm. That experience definitely helped cement my interest in law school.

Unlike most other people, I went straight from undergrad to law school. I have been lucky enough to travel with my family since I was little so I didn’t feel the need to take a year to see the world. After graduating from Berkeley in three years, I knew I wanted to jump straight into the next adventure of law school. And I don’t ever regret my decision—I think the decision to take time off depends on the person and the difficulty of his or her undergraduate career.

Even though law school can be hectic and busy, I still make time to do the things I love. I make sure to go visit my family at least every 2 weeks and I try to bake every so often to relieve stress. Baking is one of my favorite hobbies and I love trying out new recipes for my classmates to taste. I also enjoy going out to new areas of LA and exploring the different types of food in the city. So I suggest that everyone take study breaks, especially since they are perfect for going to a new coffee shop!


Law school is interesting because you meet people from all different walks of life. No matter how dissimilar we are, we all share one common denominator, which is the fact that our lives have somehow led us to pursue this crazy thing called a law degree. I was out of school for no longer than two months before starting law school. Before law school I worked two jobs, one as a lead student mentor at my undergraduate institution and the other was in retail. I especially enjoyed the role I played at my undergrad because it was always so rewarding to guide fresh, new students in the right direction and help them avoid all the stupid mistakes that I made during my initial years as an undergraduate student. There, I discovered how interested I was in motivational speaking and uplifting others.

Aside from that, people who know me know that I am HUGE on health and wellness. For me this includes eating clean (or as clean as possible), getting the right amount of physical activity, and whatever else comes along with making myself feel strong and confident from the inside out. I think most people can agree that we tend to perform much better in our daily lives when we are healthy, confident, and feeling great. It’s easy to think that all you have time to do in law school is study, or feel guilty when you try to do anything other than study, but it is extremely important to make time for and to take very good care of yourself.

Here, at Loyola, I plan on focusing in on Entertainment law, which encompasses a lot of different facets but I plan to focus more in the arena of television and production.


Tis’ My Art

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American invests 2.2 hours in leisure reading per week, yet consumes 2.8 hours of television per day.[1] I’m literally the opposite. I watch 60 Minutes, but I prefer to read the Times.

Granted, I have a small reading addiction. I’ve dabbled in geopolitics, economics, quantum physics, and self-help books. My tiny library includes Aristotle and Nietzsche. I’ve experimented with ancient materialism, modern conservatism, and post-modern tribalism.

Before law school, I’d end a book per week… except for 500+ page treatises. As a writer, I’ve written (from my armchair) about psychology, sociology, theology, philosophy, economics, espionage, science, and anthropology. I also pen—very metaphysical—poetry. Tailoring ideas, omitting words, parsing paragraphs, and shaping sentences tis’ my art.

My goal is to (1) read, speak, and understand Legalese fluently, (2) translate it into English, and (3) change the world with my words.

In other words, to (1) extern, clerk, and practice law, (2) write for the court as a Judge, then as a Justice, and (3) to write a book worth reading.

My book will explore the lead-role that feelings play in our thoughts and actions. I believe emotion is the “man behind the curtain.” Not reason. Understanding this liberated me from involuntary ignorance. Nevertheless, I’ve got a lot more to learn before I start teaching.

If you like my style, bookmark this blog (Ctrl+D) or email me at Thank you for reading!

Top shelf of my library.

Books In my library I want to read.

[1] Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics News Release, American Time Use Survey — 2014 Results, p. 23.


Hello! My name is Steve Riley, and I am a happy 1L at Loyola Law School.

My educational and professional background is in music. Once upon a time, in the age of the first-generation iPod, I attended Berklee College of Music. In the years since then I’ve been in the music business, first as a distribution manager for a record label, then as a freelance musician. I initially felt that the “business” side of music would be the ticket, but once I started getting paid jobs as a drummer I never looked back.

Using the little I knew about marketing and e-commerce, I made my niche as an “online studio musician.” I marketed myself as a drummer with my own recording studio, and I got lots of work recording “drum tracks” for producers and bands. I would get drum-less songs sent to me, I would record drums onto my computer, then send them back to the client so they could mix them into the final product. In addition to this, I toured a bit in bands and played in at least a dozen musical theater productions.

My previous office
But as they often do, priorities changed. I found myself wanting to take on more responsibilities as a professional. Being a drummer had dominated the past two decades, and I was yearning to start over with a new pursuit. The idea of studying law was always something in the back of my mind and as time went on, it began to shove its way into the front. Pretty soon this idea was a reasonable reality, and now here I am!

I do as much as I can outside of law school. I still play gigs on Saturdays at The Grove in L.A., and pick up other gigs when I can. Oh yeah, and I have a 1 ½-year old daughter that I’m raising. So that takes a lot of my free time. My wife and I have our hands full with her but she’s super fun and laughing with her is a great stress reliever. Sometimes I’ll sneak off late at night to see an alternative comedy show or a concert, but most nights I spend wrangling a toddler, briefing cases and reading, reading, reading!

Halloween 2014 with my daughter, Deanndra