Friday, January 12, 2018

What Comes Next?

As I begin thinking about the future, I cannot help but compile a list of the various things that I still hope to accomplish…a law school bucket list, if you will. Although this list is HIGHLY confidential, I guess that for this one-time only, I can share it with the lot of you. But remember…this is for your eyes only.

1) Secure Placement at One of the Top Entertainment Law Firms in the US

2) Intern for a Production Company or Studio

3) Take an EPIC Bar Trip to somewhere amazing like Australia, Bora Bora, Antartica, etc

4) Pass the Bar on the First Try

5) Pass the MPRE on the First Try

6) Save Over 10,000 LEXIS Points

7) Go a Full Semester Without Skipping a Class or Reading Assignment

8) Become Fluent in Spanish

9) Do the Malibu Wine Safari

10) Go to My First LA Kings Game

11) More To Come

Well, folks, that’s all for now. Part 2 may be headed your way in the near future. Until then, keep calm and survive finals. (Yes. I did conclude this post with the overused, stereotypical, “Keep calm” phrase.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Importance of Study Groups

I do believe it’s important to lean on your peers in order to endure the challenges of law school, but I have never participated in study groups. For me, it’s just based on a personal preference. For me, solo study seems to work best.

That said, it seems self-evident studying in a wide variety of contexts is very valuable. Writing material by hand, doing practice tests, watching YouTube videos on law school subjects, etc. all seem to increase information retention throughout the exam study period. There is also value in explaining things to others throughout the study process. For me, I tend to use my wife or a friend as a sounding board for topic explanations. I will basically start explaining the law as I understand it to them, in the hopes that speaking the words out loud will further etch the information into my long-term (or at least middle-term) memory.

I think participating in study groups is a great way to use your voice and social skills to enhance your studying. For me, though, I have chosen to utilize my time in other ways that have worked for me. Overall, there are many different ways to understand complex material and retain it, and it’s important to explore many methods rather than just reading your computer screen or the pages of your textbooks.

Monday, January 8, 2018

When To Lean On Your Friends And When To Venture Out On Your Own

Making friends in law school is as crucial as you might think. On the most sort of utilitarian level, it really is necessary to have at least one other person to study with – someone you like, someone you feel comfortable with, someone you know is going to push themselves and, by proxy, you. It’s true that you can’t really understand complicated legal concepts until you can explain them to someone else. So having a study buddy is crucial in simply helping you get to the point where you really know how the law works.

Another advantage – besides, of course, the natural human benefit of making a companion out of a stranger – is that your law school friends can keep you inspired. You’ll find other students who have the same drive as you, working toward a similar goal. You can glean inspiration from them, and talk about what gave you the drive to go to law school in the first place. Recently, a Loyola friend let me borrow James Baldwin’s small book of essays, The Fire Next Time. It was just short enough to read between cases, and perfect for resetting my perspective. It’s easy to get lost in the morass of cases and doctrine when you’re in law school; your friends can help remind you what it’s all about.

But I also think, based on my experience so far, that it’s crucial to have the confidence to go out and do things on your own when the occasion arises. For the past couple of months, I’ve volunteered in Watts at a legal clinic that helps clients get old criminal charges expunged from their records. When I started going, I didn’t really tell anyone about it – I wanted to make sure it was worth the time before I dragged someone else along. But that also meant it was a solo endeavor, and showing up to volunteer with a bunch of attorneys you’ve never met before – not to mention a long queue of clients with a real need – is definitely nerve racking.

I find, though, that there’s a lot of value in going it alone every once in a while. I think it can make some experiences more concrete – it elevates the challenge a little bit, and demands that you fully engage instead of relying on your friends to help you maintain your bubble of comfort.

Of course, it’s always nice to talk to someone about the things you see and think about when you’re engaging with our very troubled legal system in a direct way. It’s good to get someone else’s perspective on the vast and intimidating challenges we face in making the American system fairer for everyone. But it’s also nice to sit in the car alone, afterwards, and think of all the things you can do to make a better impact – and ways you can help your friends get involved, too.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Importance of Study Groups

Being an evening student, I think my experience with my peers and study groups is fairly different than the experience of day students. For one, it is really difficult to coordinate between several busy professionals to find a consistent time that works for everyone. However, I find that my classmates are very committed to their studies and, whenever possible, will find ways to make it work! Because I have a more flexible schedule than many of them, I try to be as accommodating as possible because I recognize the value of study groups.

For one, study groups are incredibly helpful because they force you to articulate material that you may think you know, but have never actually tried to explain to someone else. In trying to do that, you often discover gaps in your own knowledge and sometimes your peers can even help you fill them in. Secondly, they’re great because they hold you accountable. You can’t keep procrastinating your reading or outlining because you have a meeting with a group of people that have all agreed to come prepared and ready to discuss the material.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I feel like my section is very supportive and collaborative. Everyone is in the same boat (working, going to school, family commitments, etc.) so we all sympathize with one another and try to help each other out when we can. It’s definitely not what I had expected my law school section to be like, but I’m definitely appreciative of it when I’m preparing for exams!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Importance of Study Groups

Holiday season is fast approaching, and with that so are final exams! In fact, it will be my first set of final exams as a law student! So it looks like this Thanksgiving, a turkey won’t be the only thing I’ll be prepping!

With classes winding down, it’s important for us students to start the daunting task of tying up loose ends in the various classes, working on outlines, and beginning exam preparation. Fortunately, at Loyola, we have a supportive community upon which students can lean upon each other to get through the rough patches of pulling all-nighters, finishing final papers, and trying to get through problem sets and hypotheticals. It’s definitely helpful being able to turn to your peers to discuss material gone over in class and readings and also to review concepts that were studied earlier in the semester.

I think in law school, it’s important to make the appropriate adjustments that will allow you to succeed. This means knowing the best way for you to function, organize, understand, and study. For some, studying alone is impossible, and thus, study groups are the only way to go. For others, group studying is a challenge, and solitude is key. For me, personally, I study best with a combination of both. I can focus on the challenge at hand when I put myself in the zone with just my books, notes, and other preparatory materials. But that being said I still do rely upon my friends and peers when I need a little more clarification on what a professor said in class, a little more help understanding the concepts, and a little more support and reminder that I’m not alone in trying to figure things out. In return, I make sure that I am as helpful as possible to anyone who needs assistance, clarification, or just a friend to lean on and vent to. I think when you put forward good positive energy and are helpful to one another, you help not only yourself succeed but also the community as a whole thrive.

With that being said, it’s time for me to get back to it and hit the books again! Until next time, Happy Holidays and Happy Studying!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Studying in Law School

Before coming to Loyola, I was told by several people that I would need to find a study group. You know that scene in Legally Blonde when Elle is trying to find a study group? That is what I envisioned.

In reality, study groups are just groups of classmates getting together and bouncing questions and hypotheticals off of each other. You do not have to bring muffins to bribe others (though it probably would make finding a study group exceptionally easy) and there is no “right” size for a study group, it can be two people or eight people. The truth about study groups is that they are really helpful if you like to study with other people, but they are not necessary to succeed in law school.

Personally, I study far more efficiently by myself. I get distracted easily when other people are around because I like to talk socially more than I like to talk about the cases that we just read. In all of my classes we have in-depth discussions about the material, so I never feel as though I am missing out on hearing the ideas and opinions of my peers, all of which are really helpful in shaping my own thoughts on the different subjects.

I am a firm believer that you should study the way that works best for you, not the way that everyone tells you is the “normal” way to study. I know several people that are thriving with their study groups, and I know several people that are thriving through self-study. No matter what road you decide is best, your peers will be ready to support you in class discussions, study groups, and a lot more. I have mentioned this before, and it really is true: the students here want to see others thrive, not tear them down, and in turn it creates a collaborative, helpful campus environment!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Take A Walk In My (Slightly Worn-In) Shoes

“Stressful.” That is my go-to answer every single time someone asks me, “Well, hey. How’s law school going?” Trust me, I get asked this question AT LEAST five times a week by family, friends, and coworkers. Balancing a work and school life is tough. For me personally, I have never had a week when I thought to myself, “You know what? Law school is such a breeze.” My week is jammed pack with a twenty hour work week and a full-time school schedule. I will not lie to you…there are days where I just do not want to go to class. 99.9% of the time, I get that feeling on Monday/Wednesday nights when I get off work at 6:30PM and have to drive from Beverly Hills to Loyola for an 8-10PM class. On those days, I have to remind myself that I NEED to be there because going to class is crucial if I want to earn a good grade. Once I concur that feeling and am actually in class with my friends, I instantly feel happy that I’m there and can engage in class discussion. Keep in mind that it is inevitable that you will face those same days…when you feel burnt out and just want to go home and sleep. When that happens, just remind yourself of all the reasons that going to class is in your best interest and focus on the fact that your friends will be there (and will likely be just as exhausted as you are.)

While my default mental state may be stressed out-of-my-mind, I honestly feel like the best decision that I have ever made was applying to law school. Many of the experiences and relationships that I cherish the most now-a-days have resulted from being a Loyola student. Every day, when I feel like everything is piling up and I just need a break from reality, I have a long list of classmates that I know I can hit up (and who are also looking for a brief moment to escape the grind.) The fact is…law school is only three years. Then, we are sent out into the “real world” as lawyers. We have to make the best of these years - make long-lasting relationships, network, and soak up as much knowledge as you possibly can.