Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fall Semester Update

It’s crazy to think that this time last year I was scoping out potential law schools and starting (and if I’m being completely honest, procrastinating on) the application process. What’s even crazier is that now I’m two months into being a law student! It seems like for the longest time I had been anticipating law school and getting back into the groove of being a student, and now I’m here: two months into school with about a full month of classes left to go before finals and before I’m done with my first semester of law school! It’s honestly so mind-blowing and scary to think just how fast time flies…

Presently, I’m anticipating my first grades as a law student. We recently took our first midterm for torts and submitted our first graded assignment for legal writing class. One of the things I haven’t completely wrapped my head around just yet is the grading process. Loyola, like most law schools, grades on the curve. If you’re like me, a humanities and social sciences student, grading on the curve will be just as foreign of a concept to you. At UCSB, I was very much used to an A being an A, a B being a B, and so forth. Here, that’s not completely the case. Our grade for each assignment or exam is graded on a curve with a specific formula. That grade is then combined with any other assignments, exams, and points and then calculated with yet another specific formula that distributes a spot on the curve to each student. It’s complicated, scary, intimidating, and nerve-racking, but I’d like to think that I gave both tasks my best effort. So fingers crossed that all goes well!

I’m two months in, so how exactly am I faring in law school? Well, I told my friends a couple of weeks ago that I likened law school to being in the ocean. It’s vast, deep, intense, seemingly endless, and can be overwhelming. Currently, I feel like I still have my head above the water. School has been exactly what I imagined: late nights, lots of hard work, drinking plenty of coffee, attempting difficult problem sets, memorizing rules, and briefing cases. But finally understanding the concept is so satisfying, and that “Aha! Eureka!” moment is such a beautiful thing. So now, I’m just looking forward to ending the semester as strong as possible so I can start the new year off on a good note.

Stay tuned! There’s more to this adventure, and the best is yet to come!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Fall Semester Update

This week is the tenth of my law school career and I honestly do not know where the semester has gone. Midterms have come and gone, coffees have been consumed, and five packs of highlighters have been depleted.

So far I have not received any of my midterm scores (probably why I feel so carefree), but first-year day students have received our first writing assignment scores. I was pleasantly surprised by my score and have to give credit to Professor Riordan, who was not only very accommodating of all of my section’s questions, but was also very clear on what was expected. That is one of the things that I enjoy most about law school: the professors are ABUNDANTLY clear about what is necessary for each assignment. In my opinion, the more straightforward, the better, and my professors are very straightforward.

Overall, law school has been what I expected: it is a lot of time and work. You cannot coast through law school, and if someone has told you that you can, they are lying or didn’t coast as well as they say they did. But honestly, the work is completely worth it when a professor gives you positive feedback and acknowledges the effort that you have put in, or when you are rewarded with a good grade.

By far the most surprising thing about law school has been the fact that I still have a life! I like to complain to my friends and family that I do not, but that is only because in comparison to the life I had before, I definitely have less time. Instead of watching multiple Netflix episodes a day, I normally can only watch one, and I often find myself ordering-in food rather than going-out to eat so that I can eat and study at the same time. Little things have changed, but I still have a relatively similar life to the one I had before school started. I will let you know if that changes in five weeks, aka the beginning of reading week.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Truth or Truth

When I started as a first-generation law student, I was hearing horror stories from everyone. Today, I am going to debunk two of the ones that kept me up at night riddled with anxiety. First, everywhere I turned people were telling me, “The first thing you need to do is find a study group as soon as possible. You cannot survive without a study group.” As a Los Angeles transplant, I did not know anyone when I started at Loyola so the thought that my grades might be dependent on my ability to make several friends incredibly fast was a little scary. Although I was fortunate enough to make great friends and actually did have a study group for two of my courses, I survived without study partners for all of my other classes. Study groups are great if you learn material better with a group of peers, but (a) they are not the best study method for everyone and (b) if you are not in one, it will not ruin your chances of earning a high grade.

Secondly, when I was not nervous about finding a study group, I was concerned that I had no time for a “release” from school. “Say goodbye to free time, time with friends, and a social life.” I cannot begin to tell you how many times I heard that and worried that I would not have time for family, Disneyland, and Netflix. (Obviously, I have my priorities in order.) Additionally, when was I going to have time to hang out with this hypothetical study group if my whole life was going to be outlining and reading? However, throughout the year, I realized this also was not 100% accurate. Sure, there is A LOT of reading and studying, but that does not mean you have to completely forego your life outside of school. In fact, I would argue that everyone needs a little time for release and to separate themselves from all the stress. Long story short, not everything people tell you about law school can be taken as being automatically accurate. To use the extremely overused phrase, “Keep Calm and..” enjoy the next few years. It will be over before you know it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Debunk A Law School Myth

In some ways, I am glad I read a book about transitioning into the law school lifestyle before I started as a 1L. In other ways, not so much. The book I read was dedicated to preparing incoming students for the massive life change they were about to experience. It detailed all the ways that law school life was going to be different than your old life: the way you study, the way you socialize, the amount you sleep. One thing was abundantly clear throughout the book – being a law student will probably damage your personal relationships. I have not found that to be true at all.

Sure, there may be some adjustments to a new social life when entering law school. You may have less time for your old friends, family. But the idea that this will actually damage your personal, intimate relationships is much exaggerated. I told my wife to be aware for this impending storm as I began law school. Truth is, the storm never came. Law school does not require 18 hours of your day. If you plan your days reasonably well, you will have free time to spend with loved ones. And as with any new commitment, like a new job or a move out of town, you might see some relationships lose their former luster after a while. But law school isn’t really the insidious cause of this; these changes are the result of the natural and regular transitions we go through when we attempt big things.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Debunk A Law School Myth

Your mental image of a first-year law student's typical Friday night might look something like this:

That’s a pretty accurate representation of my night this past Friday. I spent almost the entirety of this past weekend studying for the midterm in my Torts class, my first big hurdle in law school.

But that picture is definitely not an accurate representation of my typical Friday night. In fact, the myth that law students don’t have lives — that they spend every waking moment buried in books — isn’t true at all.

Taking time to do the non-law school things you enjoy is actually pretty essential to making sure you don’t have a meltdown while you’re here. I got that advice from more than one professor during orientation, and I took it to heart.

This past weekend, even with the study marathon, was a pretty good example. Over the past year or so, I’ve gotten involved in planning small music events in L.A. It’s satisfying and thrilling to create an experience for other people. Since June, I've been helping plan a big show at a local venue featuring a legendary German synthesizer player named Roedelius and a pair of wonderful artists from Japan, composer Aki Tsuyuko and painter Ippei Matsui. (I know, kind of obscure.)

Then, when I got my midterm schedule a few weeks ago, I found out my Torts midterm was scheduled for October 9th — the day after the show I was working on. What could I do? The show had already been in the words for months.

Like anything in law school, you make it work. All things considered, I still spent around 25 hours studying for my Torts exam between Friday and Sunday. (Some students, I know, studied even more.) But at 5 on Sunday, I set aside my Torts notes and headed to the venue. 

The show itself was stressful; some of the equipment from Japan didn’t work with the venue’s setup, which sent me on a last-minute trip to Best Buy for a 50-foot cable. But the show itself went beautifully; the artists radiated pure wonder and benevolence. After the show, Roedelius himself, who is 82 years old, walked around the venue barefoot (!) and introduced himself to fans. I think it was just what I needed to balance myself a little.

The next morning I slept in a little, went for a jog, and then studied for a couple hours before heading to school. I won’t lie — the test was stressful. Law school isn’t easier than people tell you, and it might actually be harder. Things you thought you knew how to do, like read and write, can suddenly seem foreign.

But the myth that law school students don’t have lives isn’t true. It’s just that the lives we do have are kind of crazy. The key, for me anyway, is to take all opportunities you can to do adventurous things — without forgetting to give yourself some rest along the way.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Debunking A Law School Myth

Before I started law school, I was flooded with horror stories about what I should expect on the day-to-day. What horrified me the most out of everything I heard wasn’t cold calling or the law school exam, but that my classes would be immensely, arguably unbelievably, competitive. I heard from countless people that my classmates would be waiting to watch me fail. I was told stories about students refusing to share their notes, for instance, with people who had missed class because they were sick just because they didn’t want to give their classmates any sort of perceived advantage.

It’s true, the curve is scary and you are competing with those around you. However, in the short time I’ve been a law student, I’ve learned that the environment isn’t as cutthroat as I was told it would be. In fact, my classmates are always looking out for one another. The curve doesn’t keep us from helping each other when we need it. As an evening student, I’ve also noticed that my classmates are very understanding. We’re all working at least part time jobs and some of my classmates have families to take care of on top of their work and school commitments and everyone in my class is sympathetic to that. We’re sympathetic if someone has fallen behind on an assignment, didn’t have time to review before class, or doesn’t understand a concept. I’ve seen my classmates come together time and time again to try to help others who might otherwise fall behind and not be able to catch up.

For me, this is the biggest and most important myth about law school that I’m happy to debunk. Law school isn’t the scary, competitive, lonely place that I was told it would be. Instead, my section is a welcoming, understanding, and supportive community.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Debunking A Law School Myth

HELP! GET ME OUT OF HERE! Everyone is out to get me! Everyone wants to see me crash and burn! Everyone wants to see me fail so they can get ahead!

I think we can all agree that when we initially thought of law school, we thought of an ultra competitive environment where everyone was out to get each other in order to get to the top. We’ve all cringed at depictions of law school life in film and television that portrayed students as overly ambitious, vicious, and willing to do anything and everything in their power to get to the top. And no, these depictions didn’t stop at just the students for we’ve also seen media representations of harsh, intimidating, and merciless law school professors who ask the most difficult and unanswerable questions, expose their students’ weaknesses, and pick on them endlessly.

Thankfully, I’d like to say that this is all a myth. I’ve been a student at Loyola for several weeks now, and I can honestly say that I have not encountered any of the meanness we’ve all seen in movies and television or witnessed the ultra-competitiveness that we may have heard other hardened law school students and attorneys say.

It’s true that law school students aspire to do well, but honestly, that’s not a surprise because law school, as I’m sure everyone has told you, is a big investment and time commitment. In my time here, I’ve been a witness to a community of students trying to do their personal best while also trying to help one another. I’ve seen this in the way that everyone in legal research class collaborates on in-class assignments to make sure everyone gets full credit. I’ve seen this in the way people sit outside before the start of lecture to go over ambiguities and material from the night before. I’ve seen this in the way that people share outlines and notes when someone has been sick for a couple of days. I’ve also met caring faculty and staff who genuinely want to see their students thrive. The professors I’ve encountered this semester have been understanding of the fact that we’re all still trying to adjust to this life and career path we’ve chosen. They’ve been willing to meet with us to get to know us, encourage us, and help us in whatever way they can.

So fret not! The myth that everyone is out to get each other is just that, a myth!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Myth: People Are CUT-THROAT

Before starting law school, I heard about how cut-throat all of my peers would be. I was told so many horror stories about students giving each other the wrong answers on purpose and how people were so competitive that they would do literally anything to get ahead (I literally mean anything). I have asked a couple of my friends and they've all said they also heard several terrible stories before coming to law school.

Luckily, I am here to tell you that this is purely a myth at Loyola. When someone gets cold-called in class and clearly does not know the answer, people are there to help them out with a whispered hint. Someone is always around to answer questions (correctly, I might add) and people are always willing to study together and bounce ideas off each other. I just had my first midterm on Monday and when it was finished, there was collective relief that we had survived and joy that we had all made it through the first half of Property Law. We are competing for grades (the classes are curved and people who want to be lawyers generally like to win), but no one is out to get you or ruin your chances. If we all succeed, Loyola succeeds, and if Loyola succeeds, our degrees continue to help us get jobs (which is really the goal).

So do not worry if you have heard stories about people removing library materials or one of the many cut-throat law school rumors. People are far more focused on bettering themselves rather than tearing others down. It is a lot easier to get ahead by studying than by becoming a master saboteur!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Summer Time

During this past summer, there was gorgeous weather, plenty of concerts, flocks of people going to beaches and Disneyland, but I missed the majority of that as I spent the summer indoors working for a talent agency. As I began working there on Monday after finals concluded on the previous Thursday, I did not really have a “break” from the stress of the school year. I worked full-time until early-August at which point I finally celebrated making it through 1L year with a one week trip to Hawaii. When I came back from the trip, I had one more week of freedom until 2L year began.

With all of that being said, as my dream has always been to work in the entertainment industry, I have zero complaints. I was able to dive right in, attend events as a VIP guest, speak with “movers and shakers”, and get an inside look at the music industry. It was an incredible learning experience which helped shape my new understanding of what working within the industry actually means. While I cannot honestly say that I missed outlining, reading cases / statutes, and the wonderful gut-wrenching feeling that accompanies the Socratic method, I am glad to be back at school with my classmates and making new memories as a proud Loyola Law student.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

My Last Law School Summer

My summer was an interesting, productive one, with some fun thrown in there right near the end. I started the summer working as a summer associate for a big employment law firm in Downtown L.A. The office was on the 63rd floor of the tallest building currently silhouetting Downtown’s skyline – complete with marble countertops, mildly abstract art pieces, a fridge full of Le Croix flavored sparkling waters, and all the other accoutrements of corporate law firms. My work at the firm largely comprised of research projects for various lawsuits that the firm was defending. The research in and of itself allowed me to familiarize myself with the basics of employment law while assisting the associates and partners with tough and exceedingly narrow questions of law. The work was exciting at times and very educational.

Early in the summer, I represented one of my Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic clients at the California Court of Appeal. The experience was invigorating as well as nerve-wracking. Luckily, with being employed full-time, I didn’t have the opportunity to get too nervous about the oral argument that I was to deliver. The time crunch allowed me to hyper-focused on the work and ignore any developing fears about the prospect of arguing alone in front of a panel of judges. Ultimately, the process went smoothly, I argued the case competently, and a couple months later we found out that we prevailed on the matter. Our client’s sentence was vacated with a remand to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing.

Like my past clinical work, the experience was extremely gratifying in a number of ways. I highly encourage anyone reading this to look into clinical work at Loyola; the programs are amazing and present extraordinarily unique opportunities to students.

I rounded out the summer with a brief but satisfying trip to Prague and Amsterdam with my wife. What a joy that was. We also found out the day before the trip that she is pregnant with our second child. This new one will be due right around spring semester finals in 2018. Yikes!

Monday, October 30, 2017

My Summer Before the Start of Law School

In the summer in Los Angeles, electricity runs through the pavement. It pulls surfers to the beach, couples to the gardens of Griffith Observatory, families to the picnic grills and cool grass at Hollenbeck Park. I felt it this summer. On a few bright Sunday mornings, I brought crates of records to a rooftop restaurant to spin for the brunch crowd. I sweated through long, late shifts at the bar where I worked, then watched my friends make music in shifty, cobbled-together spaces. I visited Vicente Pedraza, the man who once ran the influential cumbia sonidera label Discos Barba Azul, at his Santee Alley stall. And Arshia Haq, who, visited Pakistan and came back to L.A. with her own deeply spiritual recordings of Sufi music. (Both allowed me to share their stories in L.A. Weekly.) I brought some of my favorite musicians together in the basement of a restaurant in Chinatown for one transcendent night of music. We stood in the back alley between sets, across from the restaurant cooks taking their breaks, smoking their cigarettes, and talked about our plans.

The news this summer was dire. We watched young people gather under a banner of hate in Charlottesville, then listened with dismay as our president validated them. Closer to home, L.A.’s neighborhoods boiled over with anxiety about displacement and gentrification. Our city’s homelessness crisis seemed worse than ever. It became clear that DACA, the federal program that allows those who entered the U.S. as children to go to school and work without fear of deportation, was the President’s latest target, with 100,000 of our Angeleno neighbors in the crosshairs. The freedom of a Los Angeles summer is intoxicating, but I start school at Loyola with profound excitement — the feeling that I’ll gain an education that will help me do my part to make this city even more just, more equal, more electric.

Friday, October 27, 2017

My Summer Before the Start of Law School

Unlike many of my peers, this summer was tumultuous for me in many ways. I didn’t spend my summer on vacation with my family or even relaxing and leisurely preparing to enter law school. Instead, my summer was spent working and trying to make my way off of the waitlist and into the Loyola Law School Class of 2020 or, alternatively, 2021. The whole experience sounds pretty miserable on the surface, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Although law school waitlist is a notoriously difficult place to be, I learned a lot about myself in the process. Namely, I learned that I’m much stronger than I thought I was.

Throughout the summer, I made it a point to seek opportunities to push myself out of my comfort zone. I may not have known where I would be in the fall, but I knew that I’d need to develop an essential set of skills to excel once I made it there. I was working full time as a tutor for students with learning disabilities, but I knew I wanted more. I had always been hesitant to take on new opportunities by myself, so I knew that I needed to face this fear head on. So, I started volunteering with Neighborhood Legal Services in their employment law clinic. This was an incredibly rewarding and eye-opening experience because it taught me so much about what it meant to help others navigate the complexities of the law. Although it was difficult for me to find the time to volunteer, I knew that my difficulties paled in comparison to many of those that I helped. I continued to pursue this endeavor in all aspects of my life – actively searching for and seizing opportunities that were presented to me instead of waiting for them to come to me.

All in all, what could’ve been a very difficult summer to me, turned into one of the greatest periods of personal and professional growth that I’ve ever experienced.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Onto the Next Adventure

This summer was different. No, it did not include traveling to somewhere foreign and exotic. It did not involve an exciting music festival. It did not involve a grand exciting thing. Rather, this summer marked the end of one adventure and the start of another.

On the morning of July 21, 2017, I woke up thinking, “Today is the day.” It was the last day at the boutique law firm that I had worked at for the last two years since graduating from UCSB. It had been two years of hard work and eye-opening experiences. It had been two years learning to work with clients and collaborate with legal and medical professionals. It had been two years of working for my boss and truly learning from her what it meant to be an ethical, hard-working, and compassionate attorney. It had been two years of learning that a career in the legal field was one that I wanted to pursue and that it was a community that I wanted to be a part of. More than anything (and honestly, as cliché as it sounds), it was two years of really cultivating my interests, dreaming, and growing. It was the end of the adventure of navigating through the ins and outs of professionalism and stepping foot into the legal world.

On the afternoon of July 21, 2017, I walked out of my office with a hint of hesitation and reservation. Coming to this office and sitting at my desk had become my routine and my daily expectation. I was so used to picking up the phone to check-in on the clients I had gotten to know over the course of my employment, meeting with my boss to touch base on projects and issues, and chatting with my co-workers and neighbors upon passing. Was I really going to give up what was comfortable, safe, and normal only be thrust into the intimidating and high stakes world that is law school?

After all the goodbyes had been said, I sat in my car for a while staring at the building. I grew up here. I faced challenges like dealing with frustrated clients, receiving and accepting constructive criticisms, learning the procedures of Workers’ Comp, studying for the torturous LSAT, and even anticipating my decision letter from Loyola. I had also faced triumphs during my tenure here like buying my first car, getting my first acceptance letter, and waving goodbye to my LSAT textbooks. As strange as it sounds, the building with all the little offices, businesses, and people inside had become a community that I had relied on for the last two years of my growth and development.

But I realized that it was time to turn the page on this chapter. I had learned everything I needed to prepare me for my next adventure, and I was ready for all that law school would present. So I pulled out of the parking lot on that day with the end of my first legal position in my rear view mirror and the promise of a new adventure at Loyola before me. Onto the next adventure.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Summer of Food

My life belongs to food.

Okay, that is (a bit) dramatic, but I will admit that food is one of my constant priorities (and I am sure a lot of you reading can say the same)! For that reason, my summer before 1L can be classified as the “Summer of Food.” I visited Austin, TX, Grant’s Pass, OR, Cabo San Lucas, Las Vegas, NV, and several cities up and down CA, but I consider it visiting brisket, tacos, farmer’s markets, fresh seafood, and some of the best brunch food in the world!

I really made it a point to spend these meals with my family and friends. I am from the Sacramento area, so while moving to LA meant amazing food and a stellar law school, it also meant leaving some of the most important people in my life (even more important than food) up north. I spent happy hours with my mom after work, ate car show vendor food with my dad, enjoyed some of the best Vegas restaurants for my Aunt’s wedding, and visited my undergrad city of Santa Barbara for meals next to the ocean with friends.

My life now belongs to Loyola (sorry, food), but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way because I am confident that I used my summer as a time to relax and enjoy time with loved ones while eating some of the best food that even LA can’t provide (I truly don’t know if anything can beat brisket in Texas). Now I am relaxed and ready for the demands of 1L, but more importantly (kidding, kind of), all of the food that Los Angeles has to offer!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Here We Go Again

Hi all! To the 1Ls out there: Welcome to Loyola and the beginning of your legal career! To those of us returning, we know the drill by now…outlines, readings, and A LOT of coffee. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Holly and I’m currently a 2L who aspires to work in entertainment law. I spent the summer interning at a talent agency in the music department and am continuing my time there this fall in the tv/film department.

For any of you terrified by 1L horror stories, you are going to make it! You are going to make amazing friends, networking connections, and you are about to have one unforgettable year. If I were in your shoes again, here is the advice I would give my 1L self. First, get to know your professors as much as you possibly can. Do not be afraid to go to office hours and if you’re nervous, grab someone to come with you. Second, meet your classmates. It is super easy to let your studies and worries get the most of you during your first year, but don’t forget to make time to get to know the people in your section. I know people have been constantly hammering the importance of “study groups” in your head. Truthfully, everyone learns differently and you should do what is best for you. I personally am usually an independent studier, however, there were a couple of courses that I (thankfully) had a study group for. Either way, get to know your section mates - you will be glad you did.

Third, get involved with organizations on campus. I’m personally on the board of the Immigration Law Society, Business Law Society, and the Entertainment and Sports Law Society - each of these organizations (and many more) have amazing networking opportunities and events on/off campus that you all should come out to! Fourth, look into getting a mentor. Law school can be very intimidating. There’s a lot going on with deadlines, outlines, exams, worrying about externships, etc. Mentors can help ease a little bit of that stress because they’ve been in the exact same spot you are now. Finally, breathe. Taking care of your physical and mental health is the most important thing during school. Find time to destress. Personally, I recommend netflix/hulu.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Introduction - Steve Riley

Hi Jury of Peers readers! My name is Steve and I am a 3L at Loyola Law School. This is my third year contributing to this blog, which I am told makes me the first blogger to go 3 for 3!

My pre-law background is in music. I went to college for music, I worked for a few years at a boutique record label right out of college, then I spent about 7 years playing drums professionally – working typically as a recording musician and in musical theater productions. I made the transition to law school after my daughter was born and I began to lose passion for the musician lifestyle. That being said, music and the arts are still extremely important to me. I go to concerts and movies regularly, play guitar every day, and still occasionally work freelance music jobs.

My law school experience for the past two years and a few months has been largely a great one. I enjoy the intellectual rigor of being a law student and think it brings out the best in me. I enjoy reading cases, drafting arguments and taking each new step (and there are many) as it comes. I will be graduating in May 2018 and will be expecting my second daughter in late March 2018. I’m sure this will make finals and bar preparation all the more challenging, but I’m sure it will also inspire me to close out my law school career on a high note. Enjoy the blogs! We’ve got a very interesting batch of bloggers this year.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Introduction - Chris Kissel

Not too long after I turned 22, I decided to go to law school.

That was seven years ago.

Back then, I had just graduated from Seattle University with a degree in English, and all I knew was I wanted to write. I had worked as the news editor at the school paper, interned at the local alt-weekly, wrote papers about American economic history, and blogged about politics. I thought I was off to a good start.

But I had also fallen in love with Seattle, and I felt certain I wanted to be a part of the city in a meaningful way. I knew a couple of lawyers, and I figured law school was the way to do that. If nothing else, it would give me plenty to write about.

In the intervening seven years, I learned that things rarely turn out the way you plan.

Seven years ago, I was working at a book store in Seattle and plotting my future. One night after work, I got a text from a friend who told me he could get me a job in New York City. One week later, I was on an airplane. Who could pass up a writing gig in the cultural capital of the world?

Things went from there. I made an adventure out of my 20s. I ended up working in radio in New York for a few years. As part of the job, I spent much of my time in cities like Shreveport, Yakima, and Utica teaching radio DJs how to blog. Later, I learned how to DJ myself, and gigged around the city; I worked as a bike messenger; I worked in bars; I played in a band. I got back to writing, which will always be important to me — it's the way I find my bearings in the world — and when I moved to L.A. a couple years ago, I got to know the city by freelance writing about the local music scene.

L.A. reminds me of everything I loved about Seattle. It's a big, complicated, strange city, a city of shiny dreams and stubborn struggles; of Hollywood studios and working class neighborhoods; of Kendrick Lamar and Raymond Chandler; of cumbia blasting from backyard parties and experimental music emanating from warehouse art spaces.

As I became absorbed in this city I was reminded of my original desire to be a useful part of something bigger than myself. I don’t regret a single weird minute of my ‘20s. But I couldn’t be more ready for what’s next.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Introduction - Breanna Khorrami

Hi! My name is Breanna. I graduated with a B.A. in Gender Studies from UCLA in 2015 and am currently a first year in the evening program at Loyola! After I graduated from college, I worked as a tutor for students with learning disabilities full time for about two years. In that time, I also started and operated my own tutoring business, worked as an editor for a political news blog, worked part-time at a local private high school, volunteered with a few different organizations, and even started my own food blog. Because I’m an evening student and am only taking classes part-time, I’ve been able to continue tutoring and operating my food blog and also get more involved in on-campus groups at Loyola. In the short time that I’ve been a student here, I’ve found my involvement in on-campus groups to be one of the most interesting and rewarding aspects of my student experience and I’m excited to see what the rest of the school year holds!

However, my interests aren’t limited to what’s on campus… which is a little hard to believe since I feel like I almost never leave! When I’m not studying, in class, or working, I also like to cook, run, hike, read, and (to my wallet’s dismay) shop… a little too much. Making time to do all of these things while working and going to school has been a little difficult so far, but getting a routine down has made a world of difference.

In any event, law school has been a great experience so far and I’m feeling really optimistic about the rest of the year!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Introduction - Nicole Dela Rosa

Hello there! If you’ve made your way onto this blog, you must be one step closer to making one of the biggest decisions for your education, career, and life. So welcome!

So who am I? Well, my name is Nicole, and I am a 1L day student here at Loyola. I am currently a blogger for the Jury of Peers and my section’s representative for the Immigration Law Society in addition to participating in other organizations.

Before coming here, I worked as a legal assistant for two years at a law firm in the Inland Empire that specialized in Workers’ Compensation, Personal Injury, and Trusts and Estates. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard work, and there was definitely a learning curve as it was my first legal position. But I truly miss working for my boss, who was such an amazing mentor (Shout out to her, if she’s reading this). I also miss the clients that I spent so much time working with and getting to know. Before that, I went to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I double-majored in English and Global Studies. Go Gauchos! I graduated in 2015, a year early, which helped me figure out what I wanted to do for the next chapter of my life. Thus, all of this has led me to where I am now!

So it’s been about 7 weeks into my first semester here, and so far, it’s been good. I know, shocking right? I think everyone, myself included, has this image of law school as a black hole that sucks you in and takes over your life, and you have no time for anything else but school, reading (A LOT), and stressing out about getting cold-called. While most of that is true, I’ve learned in the last couple of weeks that normal life is still possible (or at least, as normal of a life as possible for a law student) if you try to balance, surround yourself with positive people, and do things that make you happy. For me, that includes yelping restaurants and trying new food, cheering on the Los Angeles Dodgers, overusing my Disneyland annual pass, and spending time with my dog and the people who matter most to me.

So sit back, relax, and join me here as I make my way through my crazy whirlwind of an adventure that is 1L year!

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Little Bit about Me - Jordan Avey

The phrase “So tell me a little bit about yourself” has always given me minor heart palpitations. What kind of personality do I have? Are those actually my interests? What have I even accomplished? I live with myself 24 hours a day, yet get thrown into a panic as if I don't even know my last name (did you read that as Carrie Underwood?). So, although I’ll have second-guessed this introduction of myself 32 times by the time I am finished writing, I will try my best to “tell you a little bit about myself” without giving up.

I graduated in December of 2016 from my undergraduate university with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in English and History (anything scientific gives me more heart palpitations than introductions, so just know you are my inspiration if you are surviving or have survived a B.S.) and was heavily involved in my sorority. While an undergraduate, I completed a legislative internship in a Congressional office in D.C., which, although an amazing experience, showed me that a career path in politics was not completely for me. After I graduated, I worked for the public school district in my hometown of Elk Grove, CA for the 8 months before law school started.

Although I have a background in both education and politics, as a law student I have found that I am most interested in Consumer Law. This may change (I am only a 1L), but I do believe that I will ultimately end up in the field of litigation even though my Criminal Law class is incredibly compelling. Something I have already realized about law school is that even if you are focused on one area of law, all of the areas are so engaging and expansive that it is hard not to be interested in all of the fields.

On the non-legal side of my life (which still exists, though barely), I enjoy spending my time reading, watching television, clothes shopping, and trying new foods. All of those interests seem so unoriginal, I wish I could tell you that I am a certified sky-diver, but I’ll give an accurate representation of myself. I cannot survive without 2-4 cups of coffee a day, I hate caramel, I will not choose between being a cat-person or a dog-person, and I highly recommend naps.

Most importantly, I am so excited that I will have the opportunity to share little pieces of my life here! I think that it is incredibly important to know what you are getting yourself into when you commit to law school, so I will try my best to accurately illuminate the details of law school life over the next year.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Summertime's Right Around the Corner

Summer cannot come fast enough. First of all, summer means that final exams are over and, unless you are taking summer courses, no exams for a couple of months. The first week of summer break is pretty much dedicated to the write-on competition for law review. For those of you that are unsure what law review actually is and its importance, do not fret! As a first-generation law student, I honestly had no idea what the importance of law review was. Basically, law review is a student organization that provides the opportunity to publish articles on a variety of legal issues. Loyola is pretty unique because it has three separate law reviews accepting applicants. Although it’s very competitive to be accepted, it looks prestigious on a resume and helps you stand out to employers.

After the competition, I will be getting my start in the entertainment industry. For anyone who knows me at all, you would know that I have wanted to work in entertainment since before I can remember. Beginning this semester, I am finally going to be able to live out that dream. I will be working as an intern for Paradigm Talent Agency.

As for myself, I have no doubt that being a J.D. student at Loyola is one of the main reasons that I have been able to secure summer employment for a company which I have respected for the better part of my life. As a law school with one of the most prestigious entertainment concentrations in the country, Loyola has opened the door for networking opportunities. For example, I made a connection during a casual conversation in which I discussed being a 1L student at Loyola. Through the networking process, this connection led to the introduction to someone with strong connections within the industry. If I had never discussed being a Loyola student, this networking opportunity would have never arisen. For all of you considering Loyola for your law school education, I would just like to leave you with one final thought. At Loyola, professors care, students actually learn, and the networking opportunities you will be exposed to could change your entire life.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Summer 2017

This summer I will be working as a summer associate at the law firm of Littler Mendelson in Century City, CA. They’re an international firm with almost 1300 attorneys that specializes in Labor and Employment Law. They’re currently ranked #1 in that field according to I am extremely excited to begin this chapter of my law school life, which seems to blur the line between a “job” and “education.” Surely there will be much to be learned during the course of the summer, but I have been assured that I will be given plenty of “work” to do as well. Whatever is the balance between work and education, I will do my best to make the most of the experience.

Even though I would like to work as a research assistant this summer, there just won’t be enough time. I have been interested in doing such work, but I’m afraid that it will have to wait until next school year.

Loyola was instrumental in helping me secure a summer associate position with a big law firm. I participated in OCI during the summer which set me up to interview and ultimately get the job offer with Littler. I interviewed with about 20 different firms at OCI (on-campus interviews), and had a few call backs. None of those call backs ended with a job offer, but they did assure me that I was “close enough” to keep pursuing Big Law jobs. Graham Sherr, Loyola’s Assistant Dean for Employer Engagement contacted me shortly after OCI to ask if I wanted to interview with an additional firm, Littler Mendelson. I wasn’t sure that it would work out because I didn’t have any background in employment law, but I put my best foot forward anyway. If it weren’t for Graham thinking of me and having confidence in my ability to get the offer, I would have never interviewed and who knows what my situation would be right now. But luckily for me, Graham did an extremely good job of matching me to an employer who ended up valuing my skills and background enough to offer me the job.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Summer '17

Actually, a few hours before writing this post, I had just confirmed my summer plans. This summer I will be working as a volunteer law clerk for the Riverside County Public Defender’s Office. I’m really excited to see hands on what attorneys do in the field, and for the ability to put everything that I’ve learned and crammed into my head this past year to use, besides reciting it out on a piece of paper, haha. I’ve mentioned many times in previous posts that after graduating I would love to go into governmental work/public interest, and I can’t wait to be able to experience what my future could potentially hold.

Loyola played a huge part in helping me get my summer job, in that the career development center helps to facilitate many interest/involvement fairs that let you meet future employers, network, as well as schedule interviews, which is how I had gotten this job in the first place. It was so helpful having the career development center, as well as the public interest office be a foundation and support system in finding employment, in that I’m pretty sure I would still be struggling to find a job right now if it wasn’t for them.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Working Pro Bono

As all of my past blogs have pointed out, Loyola is unique. Today, I want to discuss Loyola’s commitment to supporting careers in public interest law. To motivate students to dive straight into the public interest field, Loyola requires all students to complete 40 hours of pro bono work. In all honesty, Loyola’s pro bono requirement was one of the many reasons why I felt like Loyola would be a good fit for me. Even though I plan to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, I am extremely excited to complete my pro bono work over the next couple of years. It will give me an opportunity to get experience in a field that I am passionate about, but may never have another chance to fully pursue given my chosen career trajectory.

At this point, I have not given much thought to what avenue I want to take to complete my hours, but I do have a couple of ideas. I believe that working in immigration law or child advocacy can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Hopefully, by this time next year, I will have completed some (or all) of my pro bono hours and will be able to share an in-depth look into the world of public interest law. In the meantime, I look forward to figuring out exactly how I want to use my pro bono hours to explore the public interest field.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

My "Pro Bono Requirement" Experience

I have completed my pro bono requirement through my work with the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic (JIFS). Within the clinic, my work was focused on servicing the needs of my real-life clients in their various stages of litigation. For one of my clients, my time has been working on issues relating to her innocence petition and preparing to file a very large brief with the court hopefully by the end of the semester. For another client, I spent most of the previous semester working to get him resentenced from “life without parole” to a parole-eligible sentence. In January of this year, we were successful at doing just that. With my final client, my work has focused on getting his case re-heard by the California Court of Appeal. Through a brief filed with the California Supreme Court, we were successful at getting his case remanded back to the appellate level for further review. Hopefully we will be in court arguing on his behalf before the end of the summer.

Overall, these experiences have been immensely valuable. Working on cases like these have drastically improved my legal writing skills and have prepared me to litigate on my own and with partners going forward. I learned how important it is to prepare your materials early, to get feedback, and the importance of working on multiple drafts until your work is as perfect as it can be. I also learned the value in collaboration in the legal world. People will always bring different skills and strengths to the table, and knowing how to leverage those strengths is key to personal success. Collaboration has also taught me how to put forward my best work and to be open to constructive feedback. There’s no use in spending your law school years defending your flaws and inexperience. It’s perfectly reasonable that you need these years to hone your craft, and your student partners and professors understand that. It’s good to put yourself out there and do “real work” early on because by the time you’re at a law firm earning a salary, you probably want to have those first few kinks worked out.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Pro Bono Requirement

One of the things that first attracted me to Loyola was the fact that they were the first ABA accredited law school in California, and one of the only schools that I had visited that had a mandatory pro bono requirement. Having been an intern at a legal services office, this appealed to me, since I took part and witnessed first-hand the low-income clients the office had taken in, and how important it was for them to be able to go to legal services for their legal needs.

However, being a first-year law student, I am unable to complete my pro bono year until the completion of my 1L year. Although throughout the course of the year, I have given a lot of thought as to how I would like to complete this requirement. I had recently accepted a summer externship, and had met with my career counselor seeking various options for me to not only work as a law clerk during the break, but also put in some volunteer time to make a dent in the hours that I have to complete.

Since I had mentioned in a previous post that I was interested in going into public interest or government after the completion of my degree, I am potentially looking into clinics that involve work in civil or criminal litigation, as well as well entertainment, since that is a possible route I was thinking of going down as well.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

You Stay Classy, Loyola

Full disclosure: I watched one of my favorite movies, Anchorman, recently for the first time in a while so the following blog may contain several references to it. When you start law school, people are going to hammer the importance of networking into you. If you’re anything like me, you might find yourself wondering why it’s such a huge deal. Like Ron Burgundy, “I wanna say something. I’m gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don’t, send it right back.” Knowing how to network is one of the most pivotal skills to help you land a job. Don’t get me wrong, it can be intimidating to put yourself out there. I met with my career counselor early last semester to discuss my own concerns about effective networking. She gave me some pointers and helped me be more confident about the process of making connections. Using her tips, I was able to make some new contacts and I have been very fortunate to secure a position with a company which I have admired for years.

I also took advantage of Loyola’s mock interview program last month to learn about areas for improvement. Mock interviews can be incredibly helpful to prepare yourself and build your confidence for the real thing. As Brian Fantana would say, “They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time.” In all seriousness, my interviewer, H.P., was candid and helpful in showing me some things to work on prior to my real interviews. Additionally, while I’m typing this, Loyola is hosting the Spring Law Firm Reception where students can mingle with prospective employers and participate in mini interviews for summer positions. “Don’t act like you’re not impressed”—Ron Burgundy. One of the best things about Loyola is how the school’s career development team goes above and beyond to help provide opportunities for students to meet with employers. Even before finding summer employment, I felt confident knowing that career development services were available if I needed their help.

Life in law school can be craynar (a combination of crazy and gnarly). Shout-out to my classmates C.B. and C.B. for introducing me to this word. So, if you find yourself like Ron Burgundy in a “glass case of emotion,” turn to your career counselors. They will ease any fears you may have, give you some tips on how to improve your candidacy, and can share any details about workshops or seminars that may help with your career path.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Networking and Career Development Opportunities

Loyola definitely offers its students a vast array of opportunities to network and learn more about legal practice areas. Each week, there are several different panels, events, lectures and workshops covering a broad selection of topics. Whether you’re interested in entertainment law, summer internships, civil rights or nearly any other law topic, there is sure to be an upcoming event tailored to your interests.

I have personally attended numerous lunchtime panels and events. I have become fond of faculty workshops where visiting academics come to present their research and answer questions/critiques about the papers that they’re writing. It’s fun and interesting to watch our professors ask very tough questions and wage intellectual battle with each other over the presented topics. Panel discussions are also great because you can get a broad overview of a different topic. I recently attended a panel about “law and technology” which was fascinating for a variety of unexpected reasons. I don’t always make a point to technically “network” at these type of functions, but I do tend to ask questions and introduce myself to people who I find particularly interesting. The great thing about networking in law school is that practicing attorneys all went through this process and are they feel a sort of kinship with current law students.

The Career Development Center also offers a lot of valuable events and opportunities for students. They’re always there to help with building your resume, interview preparation, general advice and a seemingly endless array of services. They also put on employer-engagement events and those often lead directly to interviews and jobs for Loyola students. I have always felt free to take advantage of the CDC and they’re happy and willing to help out in any way they can.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Networking and Career Development Services Opportunities

One of things I found most helpful during my short time here was the amount of ways I can network and be able to develop my career right from the start. Many student organizations have lunch time speakers and panels, as well as workshops and networking opportunities with guests from various organizations, agencies, and industries coming to speak to students regarding their particular field of work. I’m glad to say that I have attended quite of number of these, due to the interest that I have in various fields such as the public sector, in-house counsel, and the like. Attending these discussions during my break is a great way to learn more about life post-law school, as well as get a free lunch ;)

A lot of the programming put on by the Office of Career Development was especially helpful, most particularly the Public Interest Fair that was hosted at UCLA. I had spent an entire day interviewing with various employers in the government/public sector, which was really convenient since all my interviews were in once place, at one time. I also had the chance to speak with various other organizations and agencies at the fair that had set up booths for students who are interested and looking for more information regarding their area of work. The Career Development office, as well as my counselor, has been extremely helpful in helping me not only find an externship for the summer, but helping me make important decisions regarding my future in law.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Externship and Clinical Experience at Loyola

I have completed a judicial externship and have also participated in two clinics as a 2L. I think experiential learning is perhaps the most valuable opportunity given to Loyola Law students and puts Loyola in a different class than other schools.

I did a judicial externship in the summer between my 1L and 2L years. I applied all across the board to every federal judge in Los Angeles and ended up with an offer from a federal magistrate judge. The experience was great for me. Judges and their clerks have a lot going on, and they could use help when they can get it. I was completely open to doing whatever work was thrown my way. My judge and her clerks responded by giving me a lot of projects. While I worked on matters that would tend to be low on the priority list for a judge or career clerk, as a learning law student I was glad to have the opportunity to make my mark on those projects. I was able to greatly improve my persuasive writing and my judge was extremely generous with her time and gave me a lot of personal feedback. I came away from that experience a much better writer and more confident to move forward into my remaining law school years.

The clinics offered at Loyola are a great way to learn, grow, and impact peoples’ lives in a positive way. In my work with the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic (JIFS), I’ve been able to write briefs on behalf of our clients, respond to their needs, and to represent them in court. It’s been a lot of work but I can’t recommend joining a clinic enough. There’s something about working with real stakes and legitimate deadlines that will drastically improve your legal mind. In my experience, you’ll find yourself well supported by experienced attorneys, but at the end of the day, you need to own your work product and represent your client’s position competently and with vigor. Gaining that experience while still in school is so incredibly valuable and will end up looking great to employers when the job hunt is on.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Summer Externship Plans

There’s so much more to law school than just obtaining your law degree. It’s amazing how many things you can get involved in here at Loyola, for the benefit of your education and your future career. This summer I plan on externing in the public interest sector, and it is one of the things I am looking towards working for after I graduate. I am excited to look into what my potential future career will consist of.

The Career Development Center helped me essentially with finding a job for the summer, which at the beginning of the year, I didn’t even know where to begin with that endeavor. My career counselor helped clean up my resume, cover letter, and explained to me the process of applying and what potential externships I could look towards concerning my interests.

I have not yet selected a concentration, but I am considering various options. Many of the 2Ls and 3Ls I’ve sought advice from suggested that I take up one, because it can be beneficial in the long run towards my career, since it would highlight and add emphasis to that specific subject of law.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

And the Winner is: Loyola Law School

First things first, can we talk about the Oscars this past Sunday?!? It was easily the most memorable thing I have ever seen on an awards show. I don’t know about you guys but for me, it was so uncomfortable to watch, but at the same time, I could not force myself to look away. Although I felt bad for the La La Land team, I was thrilled to see that Moonlight was rewarded for being such a beautiful and honest movie. Okay, we can move on now.

If you do not know me, the one thing you would probably figure out within fifteen minutes of our first conversation is that…I eat, live, and breath the entertainment industry. My love for the field is at the core of my very being. I know, I know—I can be a little dramatic sometimes. In all seriousness, since I was just a child, I knew that there was only one industry that I could ever be fully satisfied with. And that, my friends, was how my lifelong passion for the entertainment industry was born.

For this reason, when I was trying to decide where I would spend the next three years of my life, it was either going to be Los Angeles or Manhattan. I knew that I definitely only wanted to attend a law school with a strong entertainment law concentration. As it happens, Loyola has consistently been among the top of entertainment law programs in the entire country. Thankfully, I was smart enough to apply to Loyola and blessed enough to be accepted. I guess you could say that things worked out because along the way, I have gained some amazing friends and been privy to some pretty incredible opportunities, many of which the Entertainment and Sports Law Society organized.

Although I am stoked to take some entertainment law courses next year, for now, I am trying to navigate through my core classes and excited to learn more about my 1L elective—international law with Professor Glazier. The process for picking your elective is pretty straightforward. Each student ranks their preferences for the courses, and the Registrar's Office makes every effort to make sure you get placed in one of your top three choices.  I was incredibly lucky to have been placed in my first choice and have already learned a lot, including that you can pay a small fee and become a Baroness or Countess of Sealand…To be honest, I’m still contemplating whether to become Countess Holly or Baroness Holly. Thoughts? I chose international law because I feel like it is incredibly important to know what’s going on not just in America, but all around us. Additionally, I think learning about international law is even more important given the current day and age.

Anyways, I have to get back to studying for my Contracts midterm, so wish me luck you guys. I want to leave you with one takeaway: Let there be no confusion here—in my eyes, there is only one winner for best law school and it’s Loyola.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What I Appreciate Most About Loyola

One of the things I appreciate most about Loyola is the faculty, and their dedication to their students. I have had numerous interactions with my professors during class time and office hours, and I have noticed that every time I speak to them regarding a question about class, to a specific topic I am having difficulty in, they are more than willing to go the extra mile to make sure I have a stronger understanding of the subject, and that I am prepared to handle these issues in the future when I am practicing.

Loyola prepares its students to be more than ready after graduation to able to apply the concepts that are learned in the classroom to real world situations that are likely to come up when working as an attorney. And it’s not just from the faculty—the career center is always helpful and available when I need to speak to them regarding potential externships, as well as interview help and resume/cover letter building.

My experience thus far has helped me gain a better understanding of the law, and that I am not just learning what the law is, but also how to apply it, and the various rationales for its implementation and the reasons why we have it. Being here has helped to reinforce why I wanted to study law and become an attorney.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Loving the Balance at Loyola Law School

What I love about Loyola is that there is always a balance on display when you’re here. I see people lounging in the sun during the afternoons, talking and laughing. On that same day I will also see people intensely studying in the library, surrounded by books, print-outs and empty coffee cups. I can attend fun Loyola events at bars and clubs which are thrown purely for the fun of it. I can also attend a lecture or panel where the topics could not be more serious. I hear people talking intensely about some litigation issue out of one ear, and here people gossiping about their social life out of the other ear.

There are young people here, older people here, and there doesn’t seem to be a disconnect. There are people from all walks of life all gathered into one place achieving their own goals while helping each other out. People celebrate their diversity here while also enjoying their existence in a place where ethnicity, age, race, social status don’t matter so much.

The environment at Loyola is balanced, equalized and normalized in a way that the outside world wishes itself to be. As someone who is a bit older than average, I sincerely hope that the younger students (and incoming younger students) appreciate this sort of environment as much as I do. There are not many places where intellectual honesty is valued as much as, say, the sort of car you drive or whether you look amazing in your Instagram photo. I think Loyola keeps the older feeling younger, and the younger feeling more mature. We can all learn something valuable from each other, and that is what makes Loyola a great place to be.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I Love Loyola and So Will You

Valentine’s Day just came and went this week. For those of us who had Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” on blast all day, I say, ‘Good Riddance’ until 2018. Honestly, it really seems like 2017 is flying by, and my first-year classes at Loyola are probably the reason why. This semester, many of my classmates (and myself) are overwhelmed because we are having to balance job searches with classes. I thought last semester was rough, but this semester makes it look like child’s play. Don’t get me wrong; I would not trade a minute of it.

Quite frankly, I am happy at Loyola. There is something about going to law school in downtown Los Angeles. As a kid growing up in rural Alabama, I was always passionate about the entertainment industry. Naturally, like Billy Joel with New York, I was in a Los Angeles “State of Mind.” Side-bar: If you have never heard Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind”, do yourself a favor and listen to it immediately. He’s nicknamed the “Piano Man” for a reason, you guys. Back to our Loyola discussion: The thing I love most about Loyola is the people. Both the faculty and the students here really do, in my opinion, make Loyola an incredibly unique and inspiring place.

I have been very fortunate during my time here to meet some incredibly genuine, smart, and helpful people that I am proud to call “friends.” Whether we are in the library hunting for a study room to prep for Contracts or we are grabbing a quick bite/Diet Coke at Sonia’s after Civ Pro, I know that I can count on them for help with schoolwork or just to help me escape the stress of Memo-writing. The people really do make the experience. As someone who is prone to being introverted when in a new atmosphere, believe me when I say that your law school friends will play such huge roles in your life.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Building Relationships with Faculty

For me personally, I haven’t yet had too much of the opportunity to build a close relationship with a faculty member. However, this does not mean that I don’t want to in the future. In my short time here at Loyola, I’ve met many faculty members—most of them my own professors—that I would love to get to know outside of the classroom setting and learn things about them, such as their reason for pursuing law, what attracted them about the field they are currently in, and what steps I can take to get to where I want to end up after law school.

However, I have gotten to know some professors a little bit through office hours when I have questions regarding class material. I feel that this is a good way to connect to professors because there is open, face to face communication, rather than exchanging emails that can be quite distant and impersonal.

The faculty themselves are readily available when it comes to asking questions in class and in office hours. Faculty members are also quick to respond via email, which I find is super helpful, as I am not always on campus to be able to go upstairs in the Burns Building and drop by. Also, it’s very easy to run into a faculty member at Sonia’s, and the professors I’ve encountered are always engaging and often strike up conversations with me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Be as Dedicated as Hufflepuff, and as Ambitious as a Slytherin

Before starting law school, I heard about the importance of building relationships with professors. As a first-generation law student, I am learning as I go and the idea of going to office hours seemed a little intimidating; I didn’t know what to expect. A word to the wise: Office Hours are CRUCIAL to being successful. The truth is that law school is difficult, some topics seem foreign to many student\s, and exams require students to actually have an in-depth understanding of the material. There is absolutely no way to “fake” your way through a law school exam. Fortunately, I was blessed with a “dynamic duo” of legal research and writing professors. Shout out to Professor Bensinger and Professor Der!

Professor Bensinger, my writing professor, truly cares about her students and wants to see them succeed. On my first writing assignment, I was underwhelmed by my grade. I did not do poorly, but I did not perform as well as I had hoped. Full disclosure: I only met with Professor Bensinger once before this assignment was due. Because I have always done well in writing courses before law school, I thought I knew exactly what to do. Cut to the second writing assignment: I was determined to gain a higher grade this time around. I met with Bensinger a few times and sent her emails. Each time, she was gracious and incredibly helpful. When I saw my grade this time, I was thrilled.

Bensinger played a huge role in helping me feel more comfortable about the legal writing style and what was expected to earn a high grade. When you think about it, it just makes sense. Why would you not want to hear firsthand what is expected for a paper/exam from the person grading it? Each professor is different and will be looking for specific things in your answers. By going to office hours, you are better prepared and can then let the “A”s come rolling in.

My research professor, Professor Der, makes herself readily available to students via office hours and emails. Obviously, legal research is an unavoidable necessity in the life of a practicing attorney. Although you might think it is incredibly boring, Der helps get students interested. One of our assignments was a hypothetical about helping Hermione research a problem for Harry Potter. Side-note: I’m a Gryffindor. If you email her a question, Professor Der will typically respond within 24 hours. She really wants students to do well and will do her best to make them comfortable with an assignment. The takeaway here is simple: Be as dedicated as a Hufflepuff when getting to know your professors and as ambitious as a Slytherin to take the knowledge they have given you to get those “A”s!!! And also…Professor Bensinger and Professor Der are awesome.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Building Relationships with Faculty

I have found the clinical programs at Loyola to be a fantastic way to build relationships with faculty. In the Juvenile Innocence and Fair Sentencing Clinic (JIFS) and Employment Rights Clinic, I have been able to work closely with professors on real-world legal issues. In my clinics, I am not only encouraged to interface with faculty, I’m required to. In JIFS, I meet regularly with professors Sean Kennedy and Christopher Hawthorne and adjunct professors Efty Sharony and Susan Harbert. In Employment Rights, I work right alongside adjunct professor Cornelia Dai, who is also a partner at a plaintiff-side employment law firm.

My clinical professors have been nothing short of outstanding to work with. I feel completely comfortable discussing nearly any issue with them. I can come to them for pointed legal advice, for tips on dealing with clients, or for overall career/school advice. There has never been a moment when I’ve felt a chasm between myself and my clinical professors, and I feel that’s the common vibe throughout Loyola’s clinical programs – Loyola has clearly fostered and encouraged that sort of environment.

Besides my clinical work, I have also felt at ease in dealing with my regular professors. Some may seem more approachable than others, but I would never be concerned that they don’t care or aren’t interested in my progress. Emails are always returned, questions always answered, and concerns are always addressed. Beyond addressing class-related issues, I have noticed that most, if not all, professors genuinely care about their students’ lives and will help them with issues even outside of their course. I genuinely feel that relationships with my professors now will last throughout my professional career.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Typical Day for a 1L: "It Depends"

Honestly, I sat down to write this post and had no clue what I was going to say, but here goes nothing. Life as a first-year law student has its ups and downs. I was lucky to be placed in the afternoon section, which basically just means that I can sleep in or catch up on any reading that I put off the night before. I can (unfortunately) speak from experience in saying that when you are sitting in class where your teacher is huge on the Socratic method and you haven’t even read the cases, you will be hardcore stressing for the entire class. Always try and stay ahead of your readings, guys. It will save your sanity later on down the road. When in doubt, just use every lawyer’s favorite answer to almost any question: “It depends.”

Moving on to the more exciting part of the law school experience: the social element. As a new-to-California student, being immersed at last semester’s orientation where it seemed like everyone went to the same four schools in SoCal, I felt a little “on the outside.” If that happens to you, don’t panic. When classes begin and you get to know some of your classmates, you will meet both like-minded people as well as those with whom you don’t really see eye-to-eye on certain things. That’s the beauty of Loyola in my opinion: Diverse views, a mix of personalities and backgrounds, and people all looking toward one goal: getting out…I mean graduation. The friends you make in law school will be the ones you turn to with the things that really matter…like talking about what Corrine from The Bachelor did in this week’s episode. In reality, these will also be the people who will help you when you don’t understand something or give you their notes when you miss class. Basically, these people will each be the Dwight Schrute to your Michael Scott, the Leslie Knope to your Ann Perkins…I think you get the point.

You will also run into some gunners in your classes…it’s inevitable. For those of you who don’t know what a gunner is, please pause here and look up “The Gunner Song” by Harvard Medical School. In my opinion, the best thing you can do is focus on your studies and hang out with friends…but if you decide you want to place a significant amount of focus on trying to outscore them on exams, live your life (and know that I’m silently rooting for you). At Loyola, I have been given the opportunity to hear guest lectures given by people who are currently dominating their fields including Laura Wasser, Thomas Girardi, and actress Ali Sweeney with her team (lawyer, agent, manager, and publicist). I also just want to quickly note that it’s important to not give up the hobbies that are important to you. If you like to play the piano or go to live concerts, like myself, make time for that. Studying is vital for law school, but, at the same time, don’t lose who you are while in school.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Day in the Life of Me -- Full- Time Law Student Trying To Be a Part-Time Human Being

Law school takes up most ALL of your time. I’m in the afternoon section, meaning that classes for me do not start until late morning/afternoon. However, this does NOT mean I get to sleep in, if anything, I have to wake up just as early as my friends in the morning section so that I can get work done before class.

I usually spend 4/5 hours in class a day, and in between that time (beforehand and after) I read and do work in the library. I usually bring food from home and eat lunch with friends from my section as a break, and/or go grab coffee off campus as another break. If I stay on schedule, I usually am able to get home around 7 or 8 PM, that way I avoid traffic on my way back. At home I either make dinner or order in, and this constitutes yet another break in a seemingly endless day for me, after which I either unwind by watching TV or listening to music, or, if I haven’t finished enough work yet, do more readings.

The best part about the current situation I’m in is that it gets to start all over again in the morning. 😊

For the most part, I have not had to put a majority of my life outside of law school on a temporary pause—my friends, family, and hobbies are what keep me sane when school becomes too hectic, or when I need a break from all the stress and pressure. Every once in a while it’s nice to place a focus on my hobbies and interests instead; it reminds me that there is more to life than the books.

In the beginning, I’ll admit it was kind of hard trying to figure out how to maintain a balance between my responsibilities and my interests outside of that, but I learned that I have to be diligent with my work—there is no such thing as “free time” when you’re in law school, and I’ve learned to utilize this by making sure I stay on top of my readings, and when I am, I try to read ahead, so that way I can have more flexibility with my schedule when needed/wanted.

Monday, February 13, 2017

How I Spent My Winter Break

School is back in session…You know what that means. Winter break is over. I will pause here to give you a moment to silently excuse yourself to go cry in your favorite corner of the library. In all seriousness, I was very thankful for the pretty lengthy break. During the momentary escape from the Socratic method, I was able to spend some time with family, friends, and my pillow. Honestly, I think that I probably averaged between 8-10 hours of sleep each night and it was glorious.

As a fairly recent LA transplant, I found it pretty relaxing to escape the city for a few days and return to small town life in Alabama. While there, I saw some old friends that I have not seen in years and celebrated the holidays with loved ones. On a more personal note, my brother proposed to his girlfriend. Thankfully, she accepted and I should have a new sister-in-law soon! Although spending a little while in my home town was great, I could not be happier to be back in California where the sun is (usually) shining, the beaches are always beautiful, and there is always something to do.

Here’s to 2017. May this year be full of new friendships, summer externship offers, and better grades for all!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

My "2L" Law Student Life

So far there hasn’t been much of a “typical day” as a law student. Sure, there is always something to read or some writing assignment to follow up on, but for me, there has never been a settled routine. My classes and clinics require a little or a lot of my time depending on what’s due and if there’s a major assignment in the works. Right now, for instance, I’m enjoying a rather light week; but last semester I had a couple months where everything seemed to be due all at once. Now that I think about it, the first semester of my second year was by far the hardest I’ve worked in law school. And while my workload seems light at the moment, next week that will surely change.

As you may know if you’ve read my other blog entries, I played music for a living before coming to law school. Now, playing music is just a very fun and engaging hobby for me. But I do wish that I had more time to really dedicate to it. I’ve been thinking about joining a band or doing some recording projects, but those require weeks and months of preparation and rehearsing and I fear that I would end up having to ditch those projects for law school issues. When other musicians are counting on you, it’s not acceptable to leave a project half-finished or to cancel rehearsals. So I feel it’s best for me not to commit to something when I can’t dedicate the proper time to it.

It’s not too much of a problem for me, though. My family and social life is busy and thriving, and I play music whenever I can and it satiates me. Balancing life and law school is not hard if you make the balance a priority. I’ve found that if I start my projects early and spend most of my campus time studying or writing, I still have time for everything else. The downside is that I don’t have a thriving social life on campus, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

My 2017 Winter Break

Final exams this year definitely felt quit different than final exams as a 1L. I had only two closed-book, traditional final exams. The other classes I took had take-home writing assignments instead of exam. This meant that the traditional, “sit in the library trying to absorb an entire subject in 8 days” style of studying was partially replaced by endless hours spent fine-tuning large writing projects. I do find the traditional way of studying somewhat uncomfortable, so I was happy to mix it up. But finals season nonetheless can take its toll, so I was naturally glad to be done with them.

For my winter break, I was able to spend some time relaxing in the snow, thanks to heavy storms in the San Bernardino mountains. I took my daughter sledding for the first time and made some snowmen (which was particularly exciting for her because her favorite movie is Frozen), so it was very fun.

After a few days of this, though, it was back to work. My work in the Juvenile Innocence & Fair Sentencing Clinic was reaching a critical point as one of my clients had a January court appearance. My clinic partner and I spent many days preparing a lengthy memorandum in defense of our client. We compiled declarations, expert reports, and other exhibits. We also spent a few days preparing our in-court presentation, which included open and closing statements, two expert witnesses and a lay witness. Our court date was on January 18, and it went extremely well. Our hard work seems to have paid off and the judge will have his ultimate decision on the issue in a few days after writing this.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My (Short-lived) Winter Break

Law school exams are no joke. During the course of the reading period, I averaged around 4 hours of sleep each night, and my days were spent forming a love-hate, yet unbreakable bond/relationship with a certain library by the name of William M. Rains. However, all the sleepless, stress-induced nights, fueled by gallons of coffee and supported by the silent heroes of the night (a.k.a. Postmates, Grub Hub, and UberEats) were worth it, having been able to enter all of my exams with some form of mustered up confidence that you can only get by studying your soul away. Having already taken a midterm for my Torts class, I had some sort of expectation regarding exams—by the time I had taken my Property midterm on the second to the last day of the examination period, I had a better grasp on what it takes to survive being tested here at school.

Thankfully, a well-deserved month long winter break awaited me; the first half of my break was spent with family preparing for the Christmas season, attending church services and holiday parties, and visiting with friends that I had not seen since the school year began. As the second half approached, I lounged around my home back in Walnut, appreciating each moment of free time I had through binge-watching Netflix, playing with my dogs, and aimlessly going about my day without any kind of stress or panic in the back of my mind regarding school. However, I did use part of my break to work on my resume and cover letters in preparation for the upcoming job hunt for summer externships, which you should stay tuned for that because it is a work in progress, let me tell you.