Thursday, December 8, 2016

Last Fall Finals -- Ever!

One of the challenges you may face in law school is figuring out what study method works best you. Do you prefer flash cards? Do you prefer a group setting? Do you learn better alone?

I used to worry about how other people study. I learned quickly commercial outlines didn’t work for me, neither did study groups. I know that I learn best alone. During exam season it’s just me, my textbooks, lecture notes, markers, highlighters, giant post its and my coffee. I prioritize my studying based on the order of my finals, and comfort with the course. I am a visual learner. As I review the material, I take handwritten notes in an outline form. After I’ve finished, I have to see how everything connects. I like using big poster sized post-its. I simplify concepts and write rules and exceptions. Visually seeing how everything connects, in addition to rewriting the rules and exceptions, helps me memorize and understand the law.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I usually reconnect with my classmates after I’ve done most of the heavy lifting for exam season. However, exam season is draining and can induce anxiety. I check in with my Loyola friends throughout exam season, we motivate each other and lean on one another when needed. Here at Loyola, I think most people do study in groups. We have private rooms in the library and when I pass them around this time of year, they are usually filled with groups of three or four. In fact, study groups usually form early on and people stick with their groups throughout the school year. After finals are done, we come together and usually celebrate at LA Live.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Study Groups

While I see the value in participating in study groups, it has never been my preferred method of studying.  I find that my study process that either stops and starts frequently, or launches like a rocket and ends only when there’s no more fuel.  In that context, I feel like my study habits aren’t very conducive to group study sessions.  When I’m having trouble focusing, it’s usually due to other projects or assignments crowding their way into my headspace.  When that happens, I find it best to disengage from what I initially began studying to address the other matter.  That doesn’t go over so well in a group environment.  And when my focus is clear and laser-like, my thought process is best left unexplained.  At that point I just “follow the muse” and do not question my progress until hours later.  In those moments, I probably won’t speak a word to anyone for the entire duration of the study session; conversing only seems to throw me off what I’m doing. 

That being said, I find that it is helpful to bounce my ideas off peers.  I’ll often have a chat window open and exchange ideas and best practices with my peers if we’re working on the same things.  That can be a huge time saver, and it also serves as a valuable echo-chamber where you can hear if your ideas are great, or need serious work.  But I think whether or not you’re studying in a group, it’s important to have a keen focus on your current task.  If a group helps facilitate that focus, then that’s great.  If not, there’s no harm in going it alone. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Importance of Study Groups

Right off the bat, I know that my time in law school would not have been the same if it were not for the friendships that I have made during my short time here. My friends have pushed me into becoming a better student, and helping me gain the confidence that I did not know I had. Throughout the rigors that law school gloriously offers, my peers have been an amazing support system—people that I can turn to and rely on, and most importantly, understand every step of the constant struggle.

I have always been an independent person, so study groups were never really appealing to me. I find that studying by myself limits distractions, and I tend to be more productive because I work at my own pace, and not at the pace of others, who may be ahead or behind with the subject.

However, that being said, I find that there are merits to studying in a group. For one thing, there is solace in knowing that one is not alone going through the ups and downs of constant stress and anxiety. And it is also helpful to study in groups because it can lead to the sharing of concepts/ideas, which can only help you learn better. By teaching or learning from your peers, it helps to reinforce your own understanding, while also reinforcing the understanding of others.

The student body and atmosphere here at Loyola have been more supportive than I thought it would be. The students that I have encountered have been genuine individuals, and eager to help or be helped when offered or asked. I think it surrounds the underlying idea that every student is here for the same reason, and that everyone you encounter is either going through or have been through the same struggles that you are. The relationships that I have made during my time here not only help to maintain my sanity, but also help me grow overall as a student.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My Summer 2016

I’ve heard through the grapevine that the summer before you start law school is the last summer that you actually get to enjoy (so I should make the most of it, haha). To be blunt, I did not take that advice lightly, as I spent the majority of my break traveling around the world, wholeheartedly earning the nickname “jetsetter” from my friends. I had the opportunity to spend three weeks in central and northern Europe, starting my journey in Copenhagen, and making my way through Berlin, Warsaw, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm.

One of the most memorable moments of that trip was exploring the countless amount of cities and finding out what each place had to offer. I wasn’t just a future 1L student, I was, in my own sense, a foreigner wanting to experience the culture (and by that, I especially mean eat ALL the food…how many people get to say that they’ve had bratwurst in Germany and meatballs in Sweden??).

Traveling the world this past summer has shown me that the world is a much bigger place than my own backyard, and that there were so many places, people, and experiences I had yet to discover. After spending a good portion of my summer outside of the country, I can comfortably settle again in my home city of Los Angeles where, let’s face it, I won’t be leaving anytime soon as long as I’m in law school. 😊

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My 2016 Summer

I spent this summer doing more law-related things than I did as a 1L. Being a 1L is largely about reading, studying, attending class, taking notes; all in search of a sort of vague academic goal. Some people want to excel and be ranked high in the class, some want to do as well as they possibly can, and some others just want to get through it in one piece. But while there is certainly a lot of “law” involved in being a 1L, it’s also an exercise in being challenged and pushed to your academic potential. 

So when I began working as an extern for Judge Suzanne Segal this summer, it felt like it was actually time to start working with the law. The theories, rules, and other “testable” materials quickly faded into the background of my legal consciousness. They were replaced with a real-world version of law – where clerks and judges and lawyers try to convince each other of things, spend long hours reading and researching, and spend even longer hours writing. Luckily for me, my judge had faith in her externs’ ability to do substantive work, so we were given projects on the first day and plenty of uninterrupted time to work on them.

Even though I was working for free (even having to pay for downtown parking every day), I never felt like the goal of my externship was to dispense free labor. I learned so much about writing and research that I still feel indebted to Judge Segal and her clerks for the time they spent editing and advising my projects. Not only that, working with clerks and judges gave me valuable insight into how courtrooms operate and what’s expected of those who walk through that door to argue a point.

Once my externship ended, I was relieved to not have to wear a suit every day, and took a week-long trip to Iceland. It was amazing. Upon returning, I went directly into the OCI process which lasted right until classes started up again. OCI was taxing and burdensome, but it is also a rite of passage for those who have high career ambitions. If you’ve ever wanted to know “where you stand” after the 1L year, OCI is certain to answer that question for you (for better and worse). Overall, the summer was eventful and full of law. I wouldn’t lie, though – it was tough and was certainly no “break.”

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Summer Sixteen

I spent my summer at the District Attorney’s office prepping preliminary hearings. I appeared on record for the first time and questioned witnesses. I also had the privilege of arguing an opposition to a motion in front of a judge. When I wasn’t in the courtroom, I was back inside my unit researching and writing motions. My experience tied together criminal procedure, evidence, and criminal law. In addition to building on previous knowledge from courses I’ve taken at Loyola, I strengthened other skills such as witness interviewing and courtroom confidence.

I spent most weekends reconnecting with friends and family. I celebrated my 25th birthday in August at a theme park. Even though I worked full time, I made sure I had time to recharge and disconnect.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Before you read any further, YES, there IS more to a law student than just school. (Even though law school takes up the majority of your time and energy.)

…BUT, with the remainder of whatever else that is left of me that I have yet to give up to my studies, I surprisingly do have interests and a life outside of that sphere, most of which are the complete opposite of academia.

I came straight to Loyola Law from undergrad, where I was involved in my sorority, and held various executive board positions. Most of my free time in undergrad was dedicated to either school, spending time with my sisters/friends, playing volleyball for the club team on campus, or spending time singing in a Christian rock band with friends from back home. I also spent a lot of time with my family and two adorable dogs, as well as exercising my claim as an avid Star Wars fanatic. 

Whenever I manage to break free from the tight grasp that is my 1L year, I try to spend as much time with these various activities as possible. I do as much as I can to retain the side of me that isn’t just a “future lawyer”, because I know that there’s more to life than just “the law” (even though it doesn’t really seem that way right now from my perspective). Don’t get me wrong—I love Loyola, and I love being a law student—but it’s nice having another world outside of the demands that school imposes. For now, it’s reading, case briefing, outlining first, everything else, later.