Friday, May 11, 2018

Summertime's Calling Me

To be honest, I am actually really excited about this upcoming summer. My last final is on May 15th and only a couple of days later, I will be in Ireland for a study abroad program through Fordham Law School. While the program consists of a few weeks, it will be centered around International Intellectual Property — an area which is of particular interest to me. At the end of the course, I will be jetting back to Los Angeles. Work wise, I will be continuing my remote work for an entertainment law firm and will also be a full-time intern at one of the most well-known Hollywood guilds. If you know me at all, you will know that I could not possibly plan a more perfect combination of my last summer plans than a happy marriage between studying abroad and interning in entertainment law.

When I was trying to decide what to do this summer, I knew I needed to make the most of it. After all, this is very likely to be the last summer break that I will ever have — a rather disheartening fact. Based on the plans that I have set in place, I feel like that mission was accomplished.

Monday, May 7, 2018

How I'm Planning to Spend My First Law School Summer

I’m writing this blog post on April 4, 2018 – exactly 50 years to the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated as he stood at a motel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. Fifty years after his death, the social ill he fought most in his lifetime – the persistent scourge of racial segregation – is still very much alive in our country.

This summer, I’m externing at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which enforces California’s anti-discrimination laws in employment and housing. In particular, discrimination in housing continues on as a barrier to full racial integration of our communities. This injustice has quantifiable effects on our cities, including Los Angeles. Many of the worst problems cities face – pollution, poverty, violence – are more prevalent in communities that are more segregated.

I’m not under any kind of delusion that my three months of intern work at the DFEH will have much, if any, measurable effect on the current work being done there. And, of course, making even a small dent in the vast problem of segregation is a life’s work. But I couldn’t be more excited to be dedicating my summer, and maybe more down the road, to chipping away at the issue.

Even more, I’m excited to learn about the work that goes into enforcing anti-discrimination laws, and to meet attorneys who fight for fairer, more integrated communities on a daily basis. I doubt Dr. King would be satisfied or even particularly encouraged by the progress we’ve made in fighting segregation since he was killed. But I want to honor his memory, and the ideals he fought for, by pushing that fight along any way I can.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Summer Plans

I had initially planned to do a lot of things this first summer of law school. A lot of people talk about this summer as being very definitive and I was certainly feeling the pressure. However, I’ve decided instead of lighten up a little bit and enjoy my summer.

As an evening student, I am required to take some summer courses in order to complete my classes on either the four-year or three-and-a-half-year plan. I don’t have to take every summer, but I like the idea of focusing on one class for a few months, so I plan to take Constitutional Law. Additionally, I’m going to continue working part-time as a tutor and possibly work on my pro bono hours! I’ve been volunteering with Neighborhood Legal Services since before I started law school and am in the application process now for an externship. I’m hopeful that I’ll get it and be able to, not only put a dent in those pro bono hours, but also gain valuable experience. Externships provide a unique opportunity to figure out if you like different areas of law and also experience what life is like for attorneys working in those fields. This summer, however, I’m just looking to figure out what it is that I enjoy doing and hopefully help some people in the process.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Summer Plans

It’s hard to believe that it’s nearing the end of the semester already! What’s even harder for me to believe is that I’m nearing the end of my first year of law school! This time last year I was finalizing my decision to come to Loyola and getting ready to leave my job, and now I’m here! It just goes to show that time flies so fast…

With the end of the semester coming up, it’s time to start thinking of and figuring out what to do for the summer. The advice I’ve received from the faculty of Loyola’s Summer Institute program is to try and find a position that will not only let me gain more experience in the field but also learn something about an area of the law that I may or may not have thought of or considered before. It’s honestly mind-blowing to be in this position again because the last time I was on the hunt for a job I was trying to figure out if law school was for me, and now here I am trying to find experiences that will help me figure out what career path I should take! While I haven’t solidified my plans and secured a position yet, I plan to work or volunteer this summer to broaden my understanding of the legal world, gain invaluable experience, enhance my skill set, and network with other lawyers and professionals.

On a lighter note, this summer I also plan to catch up with all my family, friends, and sleep! It’s not a lie to say that law school has been a lot of work, early mornings/late nights, and countless pages of reading and writing; so I think after a year of pushing myself to do my best and get out of my comfort zone I deserve a little break from the memos, homework assignments, and case briefs before I have to jump back into school mode.

I am hopeful that summer will provide me with the opportunities to learn outside the classroom and gain some practical experience while also have time to get some rest, relax, and recharge before the school year starts up again. (Fingers crossed!)

Well friends, it’s been delightful sharing my thoughts with you this past year. Thank you for reading and following along on my journey through 1L year.

Until next time! Have a lovely summer!

Monday, April 30, 2018

School’s (Almost) Out for Summer!

I cannot believe how quickly this year has gone by! It truly seems like I started writing this blog a couple weeks ago, not months and months ago.

I am almost sad that the year is basically over, but I am ready to start picking my own classes and start learning on the job! First year law students are not allowed to work during the year, so the summer after 1L is the first opportunity we get to start applying our newfound knowledge towards a real law job.

This summer I will be working full-time as a law clerk for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. I will be primarily working with the Misdemeanor Unit, but I will also have the opportunity to assist other units as needed. I will be doing legal research, case intake, and assisting in arraignment hearings. I will be in court at least one day each week and have the opportunity to observe different argument styles and motions. I am looking forward to exploring my interest in prosecution and putting my criminal law and civil procedure courses to good use!

I would not have gotten this position without the help of Loyola. My criminal law professor inspired me to apply and sparked my interest in the position, and having Loyola Law School on my resume made me stand out. My interviewers raved about the other Loyola students that they had hired and about what great trial lawyers come out of Loyola. The reputation of LLS is not bound by the lines of Los Angeles County, and I know that it helped put me over-the-top in my interview.

I will also be remotely doing part-time research for Professor Jessica Levinson as a research assistant this summer. The research will be for her weekly radio and television appearances and I am really excited to have the opportunity to explore and research different areas of the law! Without Loyola, I never would have had the opportunity to learn from Professor Levinson or had this chance to continue developing my research skills. I am so grateful for the first year that I have had in law school and this Loyola community. I cannot wait to be back next year and do it all again!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Welcome To My Life

For those of you reading my blog posts for the first time, I am a second year student at Loyola —- aka I’m a “2L.” This year could not possibly be any more different from last year (1L.) Last year, I never had to worry about the work-life balance or endure Friday classes. However, during the fall semester of my 2L year, I was really struggling if I’m being honest. I was working 20 hours a week and going to class full time. The thing I found most challenging was on Mondays and Wednesdays when days seemed to never end. I had a 1 hour and 45 minute commute in the morning to work, worked from 9:00 AM - 6:30 PM, 30 minute commute from work to school, and then class from 8:10 PM - 10:10 PM. I have never felt so drained as I did last semester.

With that being said, I made a conscious decision to not overextend myself this semester. For the most part, I have been spending this semester focused on my classes, extracurricular commitments, seeking out summer employment, and doing occasional remote work for a firm. I also have carved out time for myself — finally making time to go to the gym and spending more time on my hobbies. In other words, I am really trying to make 2018 the year where I can honestly apply the cliche, “New Year, New Me.” All in all, this semester has been my favorite since I started law school. Most of my courses are centered around the area of law I want to practice which makes doing the readings a lot less brutal. Although I am often stressed and complaining (a little too often), I am honestly really sad that I only have one more year left at Loyola. I’m definitely going to soak up as much as I can and enjoy every minute during my final year.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

My Law School Life

My typical law school day looks quite a bit different than it did a year ago. For starters, I am only on campus two days per week, and the rest of the week I’m working at a law office. It reminds of my senior year in high school, when I got out of school at lunch. But instead of hanging out with my friends all afternoon or playing drums, my “free hours” now consist of legal work and raising kids.

My typical law school day begins the night before my class days, when I do my homework for the next day. That is usually just reading the assigned texts but could include writing or watching something as well. In the morning, I am usually awakened by my four-year-old daughter who now just comes into our bedroom and demands breakfast around 7am. I feed everyone, see my wife off to work (with our daughter in tow) and then head to class.

Since I’ve condensed my classes to just two days per week, those class days are long. I use the breaks in between classes to do coursework and catch up on other things. When classes are done, I drive home and sometimes catch a quick nap before my wife and daughter return. When they get home, my daughter wants to invariably play games or rough-house with me. We play for a bit and then I make dinner. After she goes to sleep, I will usually hang out with my wife and then play guitar and listen to music before I go to sleep. My off-campus days are much the same except that I go to work instead of school. Either way, my days are pretty full but not oppressively so. Even with a hectic schedule, I still manage to find some extra time to go to the movies, see friends, and keep up (somewhat) with my musical skills.

Monday, April 23, 2018

My Law School Life

There really isn’t time to do much else in law school besides study. That’s not the worst thing in the world if you’re like me and you don’t mind spending lots of time reading. It also helps if you think legal concepts are interesting – which I think they genuinely are. Learning law is like acquiring a little toolkit to help people solve their problems. It’s actually kind of a rush when you figure out that something you learned in school can be applied very concretely in the real world.

A typical day for me consists of at least 5 or 6 hours of studying, in addition to time I spend in class. Weekends aren’t really that different — usually I try to max out at about 8 hours each weekend day.

Life is rarely the same week to week, either. A few weeks ago, we turned in our final graded memorandum, then we had a midterm exam. Just last week, we all completed oral arguments — a fun but admittedly stressful experience, and one that, at the very least, disrupted the flow of what would have been an otherwise “normal” week. (The best part about oral arguments, by the way, are the guest judges — mine was an appellate lawyer who asked extremely hard questions and swore a lot.)

But I still try to go for a run every day, and I try to at least to read something — a bit of a book, a couple of newspaper articles — that aren’t assigned for school. And when my brain can’t handle looking at another word, I’ll watch an old episode of something mindless like Seinfeld.

If there’s a single thing I learned about time management my first semester, it’s the importance of a full night’s sleep. Showing up to class on four or five hours of sleep is basically like not showing up at all — you won’t be able to listen and you’ll be too unfocused to take good notes. It’s harder to read and retain information when you’re sleepy, too. If there’s one thing I never miss — even if I’m drowning in assignments — it’s making sure I get my seven hours.

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Day In the Life of a Law Student

I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep up with hobbies outside of school while in law school. In fact, keeping up with my hobbies has helped me push through my most difficult moments in law school.

That being said, each day I make it a point to take at least an hour for myself. For me, exercising and going for a walk outside with my dogs are two things that need to get done. I am always surrounded by people at work and school, so I really value time alone to clear my head and I really enjoy exercising, so I make it a point to do some form of exercise each day. I also find that I spend a lot of time inside preparing for classes or when I’m tutoring, so I prioritize a daily walk outside (of course, if the weather permits, which it usually does since I’m in LA) because it helps me to ground myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Also, it makes my dogs happy… and who doesn’t love happy pups?

My days never look the same because I work as a tutor by appointment. This is something I’m working on because routine is really important for law school and for my own sanity because my schedule can get hectic. I try to go to the gym every morning, come home, check e-mails, make breakfast, walk my dogs, and either do my homework or head to a student. Evening students have class every night Monday-Thursday, so I sometimes just head to campus and work from there if I can.

Throughout the day, I also go on Instagram and research different things that I want to cook for my food blog. Some days I carve out a few hours just to create things because it’s a nice way to step back from everything I’m required to do and just do something for myself. Taking the time to do these things for myself has made a world of difference for my ability to handle the day-to-day pressures from work, school, professional commitments, and family commitments more than anything else.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Day in the Life of a 1L Student: Spring Semester Edition

Hello friends! Happy Spring! For us 1L students, spring semester offers a whole slew of different opportunities, experiences, duties and challenges. So let’s get started!

A typical day starts with an early morning drive to campus. Yes, driving from San Gabriel Valley means there’s a lot of traffic and a lot of one-on-one time with my car. Although it is a lengthy commute, it is a good time for me to collect my thoughts, catch up on current events, and just relax and listen to music before I have to sit for my lectures. So that’s definitely a positive!

 When I get to school, I head over to Sonia’s to fill up on coffee, water, and snacks before class starts, and then I kick into full gear brushing up on last night’s reading, taking notes, and preparing myself in case I get cold-called. This semester my schedule consists of three yearlong courses (Property, Civil Procedure, and Legal Writing) and two semester-long courses (Contracts and elective). After the first semester, students have a pretty good understanding of the school day flow; so although at times it can seem overwhelming, we pretty much know by now that everything is both doable and manageable. I think the only major difference between this semester and last is that there is a greater emphasis on applying for jobs and attending network events to establish meaningful connections.

Also, as I make my way through the day, I make sure to stop every once in a while and admire how pretty and colorful Loyola is in the springtime.

After class, I try to head home as soon as possible so as to avoid the afternoon rush hour. When I get home, I make sure to take a bit of a break from law school. Most of the time this consists of playing with my dog and taking her for a walk. Other times, I determine how to relax based on how the day has gone. If the day has been especially rough or tiresome, I indulge in a nap. If I have too much energy or anxiety, I head over to the gym and take care of my physical wellness. If I just need to separate myself from my work and have fun for the night, I head over to Disneyland. Despite all the readings and responsibilities that law schools entails, I think it’s very important to take breaks, care for oneself, and remember that there’s life and people outside of the law school bubble. And when I feel better and refreshed from taking the break, I hit the books and get started on homework for the following day.

Until next time friends!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Update On My Daily Activity

Managing the huge commitment that comes with beginning law school has become much easier as time has gone on. With only 1.5 months left in my tenure as a 1L, I feel like I have finally gotten a good and healthy rhythm down.

The first thing that I realized based on finishing the first semester is that making time for myself during the week is just as (if not more) important than studying. Law school is challenging and consuming, but it should not strangle you.

Therefore, I slightly changed my fall semester routine when the spring semester started to make sure that I do not burn out. I still wake up extremely early to make it from Westwood to DTLA before 8 AM (with time to get coffee, of course). I will definitely be moving closer to Loyola for the second year! I still go to all of my classes unless I am sick, and I still spend the majority of my day studying. However, I am much more fluid in my schedule.

Sometimes I study at Loyola, sometimes I study at home depending on my mood. I no longer fear getting stuck in traffic if I do not leave campus at a certain time because it just gives me more time in the car to blast Journey and Def Leppard. If I do not feel like studying right away when I get home, I don’t. I take a break, do something fun, and then study a little later.

Basically, I have realized that if I am not in the right mood while studying, I do not retain the information in the same way. Flexibility has changed my life during the second semester, and I have way more time to enjoy doing activities outside of studying. All in all, a win-win. And I will definitely be applying this same approach next year!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Law School: One Big Networking Opportunity

I feel like in every career, there is always an expectation that networking plays a role in landing a job. If I had a nickel for every time anyone in my life had told me, “It’s all about who you know”, I would not have any reason to be concerned about paying off my law school loans. I have heard that phrase over and over again for my entire life from people over a wide array of careers. What I have come to realize since beginning school at Loyola is that networking is VITAL to law school. It is not just something people say when they are complaining about not getting a specific job they want. (You know what I am talking about. You ask Johnny So-And-So if he got that job he interviewed for and he responds, “Nope. They only give out jobs to their friends and family. No one else has a chance.”)

Instead, it is a reality of getting a legal job. You HAVE to build your network. Honestly, I feel like many legal internships are pretty difficult to get, however, having a contact who either works for your dream company/firm or who knows someone there could be the difference between an email from a prospective employer beginning, “Congratulations” or one saying, “Unfortunately.” Trust me, I get it. Networking is scary. It feels uncomfortable, awkward, and unusual. I will be the first person to tell you how difficult it is to learn how to network. However, it is a skill that you are going to need to acquire. I have secured all of my jobs since beginning at Loyola through one avenue — networking. I cannot even begin to preach the importance it is to step outside your comfort zone, to talk to that professor, go to that networking event, reach out to your career development counselor, etc. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but as soon as you begin reaping the rewards of having mentors and contacts, you will be thankful that you did.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Networking and Career Development Services Opportunities

Loyola offers a ton of opportunities for students to learn about the practice of specific areas of law. Every school week is jam packed with panels, lunches, guest speakers and networking events geared toward keeping students mindful of their impending careers and the various opportunities out there.

I have attended the government and public interest fairs on campus, participated in OCI, and have attended various career-focused panel lunches. All of these events have been valuable for me, even if just to confirm that I was not interested in a particular area of practice. In fact, through a personal connection I was able to invite a guest speaker to come to campus and speak about his experiences as general counsel for a popular apparel brand. The talk was thoroughly engaging and cemented my interest in one day becoming in-house general counsel for a large organization.

The Career Development office takes great care to put on events focusing on all the different career options available to law school grads. Of course, OCI is the gold standard for getting into “Big Law,” but there are numerous events set up for students to explore public interest work, small firms, government work and more. Even if you’re interested in working as a solo practitioner, there are panels featuring successful solo attorneys. The bottom line is, no matter what career you intend to pursue, Loyola and the Career Development office has the experience and connections to help get you started.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Continuing My Legal Education Off Campus

The one thing I have looked forward to most since starting law school is finally getting off campus. Not that I don’t like digging into legal concepts – as I’ve said before, it’s actually a pretty fun exercise to learn about the concepts that drive the law, especially if you’re into subjects like philosophy or history.

But I came to Loyola specifically to be a public interest attorney, and I’m chomping at the bit to get started. Two years ago, I was working as a full-time freelance writer, supplementing my income with my side hustles. In the morning, I’d drive past the courthouse downtown and see people dressed up in suits; I envied how many of them had a career using their intellect to make positive changes in the city. In the evening – in between working at a family portrait studio in Silver Lake and cranking out articles about the L.A. music scene – I’d run laps around the park by my house and plot and scheme about how I, too, could contribute to the city in the same way. I registered for the LSAT, bought a practice book, and never looked back. Now, every class, every seminar, every final exam gets me closer to what I imagined on those evening runs.

This summer, I’ll be externing at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and in the fall I’ll be externing in the chambers of a Federal District Court judge. I’m nervous and excited – I don’t know what the experiences will be like, and I’m sure there will be steep learning curves and plenty of entry-level awkwardness. At the same time, though, I know that even the work I contribute in my short tenures at those offices will contribute something to the work they do. And I’ll be a step closer to working every day to serve the city I call home.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Networking and Career Development Services Opportunities

Loyola gives students plenty of opportunities to network and explore areas of law that students are interested in practicing. I know that there are slightly more opportunities geared at 1Ls (first year day students) than 1Es (first year evening students), but I still feel like I’ve had ample opportunities to get my feet wet.

I’m very interested in public interest law, so I attended the public interest fair on campus and ultimately held a short internship with the Los Angeles LGBT Center as a result. I think it was a great experience to see what line of work I want to go into. 1Es generally do not need to visit the Career Development Office, but I have made an appointment with my counselor and it went really well! My counselor was able to answer all of the questions I had about internships, volunteer positions, and what the trajectory looks like for an evening student in terms of gaining experience in my area of interest.

From what I understand, there will be more opportunities available in my second year, so I’m definitely looking forward to that!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Networking and Career Development Services Opportunities

Criminal law. Immigration law. International law. Health law. Animal law. Entertainment law. Tax law. The list goes on and on. There are so many different areas and specialties in the law and seemingly only three years to figure out what to do, which track to take, and how to do it. What is one to do?!

Fortunately, being a student at Loyola provides countless opportunities to learn more about the different areas of the law that one may be interested in practicing, may have never even considered practicing, or may have never even heard of!

For example, Loyola holds what’s known as the Dean’s Den series, in which Dean Waterstone has conversations with different faculty members about their background, work, and specialty. It’s a great way to learn more about that area of the law you may be learning about in class or even the specialty you’re considering. Even better, it’s a great way to learn more about your professors, which could be the gateway to networking with them, having more in-depth conversations about the area of law that you both have interest in or passion for, and learning about potential research or work opportunities with them that someone like you could do!

Another opportunity is through the various panels, workshops, socials, and meetings held by on-campus clubs. For example, I am part of the Entertainment and Sports Law Society (ESLS), and I particularly enjoy when they hold panels with alumni and friends of Loyola that serve in all different positions and capacities within the entertainment industry. Last semester, ESLS held a panel with members from the different legal departments of the Walt Disney Company, and they discussed multiple topics such as what they do on a daily basis, how they got to where they were, and how to succeed in the profession. I for one originally came to Loyola with significant interest in immigration law, but since attending the various ESLS panels and presentations, my interest in entertainment law, specifically the transactional side, has been piqued.

Thus, it’s okay to know exactly what you want when you start law school, be torn, or have absolutely no idea! Loyola provides several events, such as the ones aforementioned and others including On-Campus Interviews (OCI), Brown Bag Lunches, and Spring Law Reception, to help students learn more about the different areas of the law and the various work and volunteer opportunities that are accepting applications. Moreover, there are academic and practical opportunities such the clinics, practicum, and concentrations that allow students to get a more in-depth look into an area of the law and really explore their interests.

So go into law school with an open heart and an open mind! You never know what you might find yourself interested in and doing!

Until next time friends!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Networking for a Non-Networker

I consider myself a social being. I was involved in tons of extra-curricular activities as an undergrad as a member of a multiple social clubs. However, I have found that professional networking is much harder for me than I thought it would be. I do not have as much confidence approaching a stranger as a law student as I did as an undergraduate club leader.

Ultimately, I think that it comes down to age and comfort. I do not have as much confidence as a first year law student competing with third years as I did when I was a senior undergrad competing with younger peers. At the start of the year, each time I would go into a networking event, I was plagued with the fear of “not being good enough.”

Today, I am still not as comfortable as I hope to soon be, but I have gained more confidence. Not only have I been in school longer and learned much more about the law, I have also had the opportunity to interact with far more law professionals than I imagined. As a member of the Consumer Law Society on campus, I have sat in on several lunchtime lectures by guest alumni and learned about their paths and experiences. I have had the opportunity to meet alumni at different fairs on campus and been invited to panels on different areas on the law. Basically, I have had the opportunity to get over my feelings of timidness: I have had real time opportunities to realize that my fears are unfounded.

Every single Loyola alum that I have met has been welcoming and helpful. I have never been made to feel like I was a burden or inexperienced. I still have some fear, but it is a feeling that I know I will soon get over. The Career Development Office requires 1L students to attend at least two networking events by the end of the year in order to facilitate this comfort, and it has truly helped me.

Being a social person and being an effective networker are not necessarily the same thing, and I am glad that I have had organizations and departments on campus to help me through the transition. I know that my interactions with Loyola alums helped me secure my job for this summer, but will also help me make connections for the future.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Summer Is Coming -- Isn't That Supposed to Be A Good Thing?

If you are anything at all like me, you have probably experienced the stress fest that I like to refer to as making summer plans. There are so many thoughts that run through my head — Should I study abroad or take summer classes? Should I apply to be a research assistant or try to get an externship? If I want an externship, where should I apply and should I aim for unpaid or paid? There are so many things to consider and it can be very overwhelming. I would try and tell you the “key” to not letting yourself get too stressed out about it, but I have not actually figured out how to do that quite yet. The only advice that I can offer you right now is that even if the thing you initially wanted to do this summer does not work out, that does NOT mean that you don’t have options. You could always do your pro-bono hours, apply to smaller firms, or look at some of the many other opportunities available.

My plans involve studying abroad for part of the summer and then interning for the remainder of the summer. What is currently terrifying me is the fact that this summer is the last one before my 3L year of law school. It is all coming to an end and this means that next summer, I will not be stressing about summer planning…No sir…Instead, I will be stressing over passing the bar exam and figuring out post-graduation career prospects. Even with that being said, I love it. I love knowing that by this time next year, I will be gearing up to take the most important exam of my life….the exam that will finally allow me to be a licensed attorney. Until then, I plan to make the most out of this summer and you should keep the door open for any opportunities that come your way.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Applying for My 1st Year Summer Judicial Externship

During the summer after my 1L year, I did a judicial externship at the District Court in Downtown L.A. Loyola helped me in finalizing my resume, preparing for interviews and deciding where to apply. But when the time came to apply, the process was very old-fashioned and involved mailing out a couple dozen packets to judges’ chambers. That process was fairly time-consuming, so I would recommend that a prospective extern allocate adequate time to get it all done before applications are due.

Once my packets were out, the process was simple. I got a phone call from a judge’s clerk to come in for an interview; a few days later I showed up, interviewed and got the position. The experience there was an invaluable legal education, and I often think about the things I learned there in my day-to-day legal life. The only downside is that the environment can be very dry and routine. But the work is rigorous and extremely interesting, and I think any serious law student should consider a judicial externship at some point during law school.

Regarding concentrations, I have not chosen one. My legal education has skewed toward criminal law, but I didn’t want to follow a specific track with prescribed classes. However, I think they’re perfectly suited for students who have specific career paths in mind and students should put serious thought into their concentration options.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Learning Outside of the Classroom By Attending Extracurricular Events, Panels and the Dean's Book Club Discussion

On campus, career development and personal development go hand in hand

I started attending extracurricular events pretty much the first day I landed at Loyola. I was anxious to be part of a community of lawyers and future-lawyers. When, about three weeks after school started, I got an all-campus invite to an evening panel featuring Loyola professors, I marked my calendar.

I’m constantly in awe of the intelligence and experience of my professors. But what really resonated at that panel, which centered on a discussion about institutional discrimination in the American criminal justice system, was how important their work is to the community. In particular, I listened as my criminal law professor Priscilla Ocen and Loyola professor Kathleen Kim discussed the overlapping injustices faced by those subject to our penal system, whether they’re stuck indefinitely in a municipal jail or doing forced labor at an immigration detention center. It reminded me, only a few weeks after I started law school, that intellectual inquiry in the field of law can make a significant impact on real people’s lives.

Several months later, I attended another panel that begged reflection about a lawyer’s role in the community. The panel hosted four Los Angeles Superior Court judges, each of whom talked about the work they each did to reach the bench. It was such an inspiring conversation, not least because it showed what a successful career dedicated to public interest can look like. One judge in particular, Roberto Longoria, is a Loyola graduate and had spent 14 years as a public defender. It was interesting to hear how he had continued the public service career he had begun as a passionate advocate by holding a position based on impartiality. Public service comes in many colors, I think, and part of entering the legal field is figuring out where you personally can make the greatest impact.

Finally, one of the events I have enjoyed the most at Loyola was the Dean’s Book Club – a book discussion hosted in February by Dean Waterstone about Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. There was little practical networking, or even much talk about law school per se – instead, it was a vigorous conversation about America’s deepest-rooted sins, and how we can address them via artistic expression, public policy, and, yes, legal work. It was a nice reminder that inside and outside the legal profession, one of the most important considerations is to stay thoughtful and critical about how and why the world operates the way it does.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Involvement in Student Government as a First Year Evening Student Bar Association Representative

Being involved in the Evening Student Bar Association (ESBA) has been one of the most interesting aspects of my law school experience thus far. Before starting law school, I didn’t even know what the Student Bar Association was – let alone the fact that Loyola has one for day students and another for evening students. I got involved with the ESBA after the current president came to speak to my class for us to decide who would be the 1E class representatives. I volunteered to give a speech about why I would be a good candidate, knowing that many of my peers would not have the time to take on another commitment, however minimal. After a few of us gave speeches, the class cast their votes and I managed to get the position, along with another one of my classmates.

There isn’t too much of a commitment to be a part of the ESBA, but it has provided me with the opportunity to get to know other students and also help my class in ways that I couldn’t before. My primary responsibility as a class rep is to advocate for my class to faculty and administration. I like that my classmates feel comfortable coming to me with their problems and I feel strongly about helping them solve them! Additionally, I feel like this role is especially important with evening students because we have unique needs that aren’t necessarily always at the forefront of the minds of our professors or those in administrative offices. In my position, I can bring our issues to their attention and see that they are resolved.

Class reps are also responsible for doing fun things for our class. This year, the other rep and I have organized a few events to bring our class together – like a study session and pizza between classes. It’s nice to facilitate that kind of camaraderie among our class because many of us might otherwise just come and go at school since we’re so busy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Selecting Your First Year Elective Course

It goes without saying that starting law school can be overwhelming. It seems like you just finished worrying about the LSAT, filling out applications, anticipating letters of responses, and making that decision to accept, but once again, there are a million things to think of and consider like “Where do I live,” “How will I survive with all the work,” “Should I keep my job,” “Will I ever see my family, friends, or the sun ever again.” But one thing you don’t have to worry about is selecting classes for your first semester. At Loyola, 1Ls have a set schedule. This means you get your assigned class schedule at some point during the summer and show up on the first day of school feeling prepared with your reading done and excited that your legal education is commencing!

As a Loyola 1L, your first semester schedule will consist of five classes that are geared to help you adjust to law school and give you the skills and tools to succeed in future classes. Such classes may include Contracts, Property, Torts, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure, and Legal Writing/Research. Some of these classes end up being yearlong courses, while some of them are just for the semester.

Second semester is where things get fun and interesting. Around October, following midterms, 1L students are given the opportunity to rank elective classes based on their interest. This means that in addition to your yearlong courses and semester-long class, you have the opportunity to explore your interests as well as consider areas of law you may have not really considered before. This year, the 1L elective courses included immigration law, international law, income taxation law, administrative law, innovation law, and privacy torts. Once you rank your courses in October, that’s all you have to really worry about or do. The Registrar will once again create your second semester schedule, assign you to an elective, and notify you before school starts in January.

So take a breather friends! In your 1L year, there aren’t any worries, competitions, or deadlines with regards to getting your schedule, which I’m sure you were more than used to in undergrad!

Until next time friends!

Monday, March 19, 2018

My Future Externship

I recently accepted a position for this upcoming summer and it has encouraged me to start thinking about the future. Currently, I know what courses I have to take to receive my J.D., but now I have started exploring what classes I want to take and what experiences I want to have before I graduate. One experience that I was unaware of until recently—and that I now know I desperately want to have—is the Hobbs/Poehls District Attorney Practicum.

The Hobbs/Poehls Practicum is a year-long experience that starts with one semester of Trial Advocacy, and then a second semester working in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office as a certified law clerk. You have the opportunity to conduct actual felony preliminary hearings, misdemeanor jury trials and juvenile adjudications YOURSELF, as a law student. Real trial experience on a real case: I had literally never heard of something so appealing.

The trial advocacy course before the externship prepares you for the experience so that you can actually win your motion. You earn units during both semesters and you come out with an experience that is hard to find anywhere else. Although this practicum is extremely competitive, I have set a goal to be a participant (though I need to take Evidence first). I was already interested in Trial Advocacy, but combined with an externship at the DA’s office: it is almost too good to be true.

Friday, March 16, 2018

I Love LLS

Many of the people reading this blog are probably either incoming students or prospective students wondering one question: Why Loyola? I cannot speak for the entire student body, but I will do my best to explain (in the simplest way possible) some of the many reasons that I am thankful I wound up at LLS in the great city of Los Angeles.
  • Library - As surprising as it may sound, I am actually really thankful for the LLS Library. It brings people together, especially during 1L year because it becomes like a second home…a haven, if you will.
  • Office Hours - It really is a blessing that Loyola’s professors are so open to engaging with their students. In my experience, all of the professors that I have encountered have made a real effort to make themselves available to their students through open office hours and/or email. 
  • You - Assuming you join us over here at LLS, you will become one of the reasons that I love LLS — the students. Truthfully, the people here are probably the number one reason why I love Loyola as much as I do. 
  • On Campus Events - Much like the city of LA, Loyola is “hustling and bustling.” There is ALWAYS something going on somewhere on campus. There is a ton of clubs and organizations on campus that host events regularly (and often provide free food.) I feel confident saying that there is bound to be something that sparks your interest.
  • Law - You read that right….the law. I came to law school for one reason — to become the best lawyer that I can possibly be. I feel like Loyola’s Bar Passage Rate speaks for itself about the quality education that you will receive as a student here. If you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best. 
  • Atmosphere - Finally, even among the craziness and anxiety that is inevitably attached to law school, there is something almost comforting about the atmosphere here at LLS. You become very attached and proud to be able to tell people that you go to Loyola Law School.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I Love Loyola

For me, there is a lot to love about Loyola. It’s a place where your individual hopes and passions can shine through. There’s no one way to be a successful student here. Some students focus heavily on academics and their pursuits are honored by the guiding hands of the faculty and programming offered by the school. Other students focus on the human connections they make while in school. Those students are treated to social events, networking opportunities, and too many clubs and societies to mention.

Another thing that I love about Loyola is the holistic nature of the campus which is singularly focused on helping students succeed. Not only is the faculty there to guide and challenge students’ legal minds, but the staff is also an incredible resource for students. As a Loyolan, you have ready access to a wide variety of legal professionals in the form of librarians, career counselors, advisors who can help you on nearly a moment’s notice. Beyond that, the support staff and administrators serve the students in numerous ways that you didn’t know you needed. Overall, Loyola is comprised of a lot of different parts that all seem powered by the same engine. There is a great sense of community and common purpose at Loyola, but any number of ways to achieve your law school goals.

Monday, March 12, 2018

What I Love About Loyola

Some of my favorite aspects of Loyola are the same things that brought me here in the first place. Others are things I discovered that I honestly wouldn’t have expected.

If I had to pinpoint one thing that drew me to Loyola, it was really the school’s impressive clinics. Among the offerings, there’s an immigration clinic that actually handles a long list of cases and is directly involved with other organizations in the city – not something that I saw happening at the immigration clinics at other law schools. And, of course, there’s the Loyola Project for the Innocent, which has literally made headlines around the world.

What I assumed, and what has been confirmed by my experience here, is that the strength of these clinics indicated that Loyola – again, unlike some other local law schools – is deeply involved in the city of Los Angeles. It’s true, and it’s probably the thing I love the most about this school. As I’ve attended law fairs, made connections in the city, and gotten involved in volunteering with local organizations, I’ve seen how enmeshed this school and its graduates actually are with the city.

That, of course, extends to the school’s physical location on the fringes of the Pico-Union neighborhood, just a few blocks from downtown. I was already in love with living in this city long before I started going to school here. Studying so close to the heartbeat of the city has allowed me to stay involved in music, see lots of music shows, and continue to – at least intermittently – do some freelance writing about the culture scene. I don’t think I could have done that anywhere else.

The one thing I wasn’t expecting, however, is what a great student community there is at Loyola. On every campus tour at any given law school you’ll hear that the kids at this particular school aren’t like the others – they don’t tear pages out of library books or try to steal your laptop when you aren’t looking, or whatever. I’ve only ever attended one law school, but I can say definitively that the student body here strikes a crazy balance between being dedicated to academics while also being extremely supportive of each other. I can’t imagine the community being better anywhere. And if there’s anything I particularly love about Loyola, it’s that dynamic – creating a community inside campus, while staying deeply in tune with the community outside.

Friday, March 9, 2018

I Love Loyola

There are a lot of things I appreciate about Loyola. However, I think that the thing that I appreciate most is the small, close-knit community that actually isn’t so small at all. Loyola’s network extends pretty far, especially in the Los Angeles area, and I think that’s incredibly valuable when looking into the differences that Loyola can make for one’s career. There are tons of opportunities just waiting for you to seize them. So long as you make the most of what’s presented to you, it’s easy to find ways to get your feet wet in many different areas of law and figure out exactly what’s right for you. If you already know what area you want to practice in, I think it’s even easier to dive head first into experiences that will help you be a more competitive candidate when you start beginning your job search later on.

Beyond that, I’m also grateful for the community that I’m surrounded with in my classes. My classmates are all fantastic, intelligent, and inspirational, and I’d say that my professors are as well. All of them collectively shape my experience at Loyola and, at least I believe, provide me with the perspective necessary to tackle many different situations once I’m out in the world whether it be through an externship or as a practicing attorney. I think that the community at Loyola is unique in that there are so many people from different walks of life. I find that this is particularly true of evening students, many of whom have established careers and have been out of undergrad or a graduate program for several years. This contributes to the value of my education because I’m building connections with people in many different areas that I can look to long after graduation.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Loyola: An LA Love Story

Los Angeles, it’s the city of angels, the city of stars, and the city of dreams. It’s where I grew up, lived, had adventures, and now go to school. In fact, one of the things I love most about Loyola is its location in the heart of Downtown LA. I know, I know, at this point, you’ve probably been bombarded with advice about how location, location, location matters when it comes to law school… But hear me out!

Being the closest law school distance wise to the Los Angeles city center has its perks. But perhaps there is no greater perk than that of endless inspiration. Going to school at Loyola means being in the middle of a city that inspires you to thrive, aspire, and dream. From the shining skyscrapers to the alleys adorned with colorful murals to the courts of justice and the houses of administration, there is much to inspire and be inspired by. There are countless opportunities to work in and around the city, sit in on court proceedings, and learn from lawyers and other legal professionals. There is just something so wonderful about being a part of a school community and network that works with and for the city just on the other side of the 110.

And lastly, let’s not forget the views! Whether you’re sitting in Robinson Courtroom or standing atop the parking structure, the city is always in your sight! In fact, one of my favorite things is sitting at a table on the fourth floor of the Burns building whether it’s to do homework or just think. In the midst of a busy schedule with memos, classes, and outlines, it’s nice to have a place that I can count on for a moment of peace.

Since going to Loyola, my appreciation and love for Los Angeles have grown, and in turn, Loyola has become one of my favorite places in the city.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Always Inspired

If you have read any of my other blog posts, I have made it pretty clear that I really like Loyola. The people, the classes, the professors, the campus, the city: I’m a fan.

However, what truly made me fall in love with this campus was the inspiration that it has given me from day one. I have always wanted to go to law school, but you never know if a decision is right until you make it. When the time finally came to apply and accept admission, I still did not know for sure that this was the right path for me (I was 99% sure, but 1% of law school tuition is still a lot of risk). But now, seven months later, I know that there literally is no other career path for me.

I have never felt so comfortable learning material or enjoyed learning as much as I do here and I am inspired every single day that I am on campus. Professor Laurie Levenson was my Criminal Law professor last semester. She made me, the WORST morning-person in possibly the entire world, excited to start school at 8 AM. She inspired me to apply to several internships in District Attorney Offices throughout California for this upcoming summer. Me, the girl that came into law school telling anyone that would listen that I would NEVER go into criminal law—defense or prosecution—and that it was civil law for me, all the way. Her class inspired me to open my eyes to a new area of law, and for that I am so grateful.

Law school is difficult: it is so demanding and time consuming. Without the daily dose of inspiration that I receive on campus, I am not sure that it would always seem worth it. That is why I love Loyola. When I need to be reminded of why I go through so many highlighters, cups of coffee, and sleepless nights, I just go to my next class and remember that everyone else is in the same boat, and that our professors all went through it as well.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Loyola Faculty - Your New Best Friends

Remember back in undergrad when you MAY have been close with one or two of your professors? Remember when for the rest of your professors, you only saw them during class? Well, to quote the great Bob Dylan, “The Times, They are A-Changin’.” In law school, your professors have been in your shoes. They know the art of networking, the importance of fostering relationships, and tapping into any resource at your disposal. You might think that you have no interest in building relationships with professors who work in an area of practice that you aren’t particularly interested in. There’s two problems with that line of thinking.

First of all, many law students start school picturing themselves working in one area and then graduate with a job on a completely different track. With that being said, you never want to “write off” a particular area. Secondly, every law professor went to law school. What am I getting at there? It’s simple…every professor went to law school with other law students and every professor has taught other law students besides you. It would be a very safe bet to say that your professor would probably have connections in different areas of the law than just the one that they teach. To cut to the chase - get to know your professors. Ask them for advice, tell them about what you hope for your future, and do not be afraid to ask them if they know anyone that you can network with.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Building Relationships With Faculty

In the context of clinical work, my clinical professors seem to occupy dual roles as both advisors and colleagues. I have relished those relationships for a number of reasons. Working alongside extremely talented and experienced attorneys in their areas of expertise has been hugely beneficial for someone who is learning about the practice of law. And when trust between clinical professors and a student grows, opportunities for student contribution grow too. This trust can lead to a myriad of wonderful opportunities to appear in court, write briefs and motions, meet with clients, develop legal strategies and more.

Regarding non-clinical faculty, I have always found them very supportive and willing to help their students in any way they can. I have met with professors for help on classroom topics, tips on law school survival, and even for career advice. I think it’s possible for every student at Loyola to develop meaningful relationships with their professors. While developing those relationships requires some proactivity on the student’s part, I have no doubt any student who reaches out to a professor will not be disappointed by the response.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Forging Meaningful Relationships with Professors

It’s easy to be in awe of your professors from the very first day of law school. After all, you know nothing; they occupy a level of expertise you’d be lucky to attain years after you graduate. And that expertise sort of emanates from them like an aura. Whether it’s a torts, criminal law, or civil procedure class – sometimes you feel lucky just to be in the same room with them.

Of course, professors are not only the sharpest of legal minds and diligent teachers but also well-connected in the legal community. Add that up and you’ve got at least three reasons to try to get a little face-to-face time with them.

All that considered, I never really forged a relationship with my professors until this semester. And that’s for the reasons you’d expect – I was one of 70 other students lining up at my professor’s door; I didn’t have anything to say to them that was more interesting than anyone else did; most of all, I was busy enough trying to keep up with my readings without trying to make small talk with someone who has exponentially more knowledge as me.

But when I finally did develop a kind of mentor-mentee relationship with a professor, it worked because it was a teacher who could actually give me very specific advice I could use. As far as my own law school trajectory, I’m thinking more and more about the intersection of public interest and housing law. After all, housing – including such prodigious issues as homelessness and sustainable development – is probably the most pressing problem we face in Los Angeles right now. When I realized there was a professor on campus who I could talk to very specifically about that path, I found a person who was willing to not only be a sounding board, but also who would could help me shape my next two-and-a-half years at Loyola.

And that’s the key, I suppose, to really finding a mentor among the faculty at Loyola – or, I would assume, any other law school. Seek out the professors who’ve done exactly what you want to do, and don’t be afraid to follow their lead.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Building Relationships with Faculty

My experience so far with faculty members at Loyola has truly exceeded my expectations. Every professor that I have had thus far has gone above and beyond to make themselves accessible to students and really get to know them in the process. Because of this, I have been able to develop relationships with a few faculty members and feel like it has been a great way to learn about the course material in more detail, but also about what it’s like to be a practicing attorney. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to interact with too many faculty members because I’m an evening student, each professor that I’ve had so far has taken the time to help me figure out issues I’m having in the present and also try to determine what I want to do in the future. This has been really important to me because I don’t have a clear goal for what I want to do and these experiences help shape my future.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Building Relationships with Faculty

Henry Adams once said, “Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops.” In my opinion, I think there is no truer statement to describe the professors and staff at Loyola. Whether it is in the classroom enthusiastically teaching, or in office hours patiently explaining concepts, or in emails and conversations discussing where we are in our academic and professional timelines, the faculty and staff here are some of the most patient, understanding, and helpful. I know, I know, it must seem like an exaggerated… but it’s so true! I’ve witnessed and experienced it myself!

Here at Loyola, professors have an open door policy, which means anyone can come to their office hours whether it’s to get clarification on that hypothetical question that was gone over in class, seek life or career advice, or even just to chat about what’s going on in the world or in one’s life. By doing this, they make us feel welcome and comfortable. And if students can’t make it to office hours because of other time commitments, professors are readily accessible via email. Because I have a pretty lengthy commute, I too am often unable to stay for office hours, so I have definitely taken advantage of the email policy that most of my professors have.

Beyond the scope of lectures, readings, and exams, professors have also extended their hand to students when it comes to giving career advice and even connecting present students to legal professionals in an attempt to help secure that coveted summer job. Loyola’s professors really go above and beyond to make sure that students thrive in their interests, passions, and dreams.

Lastly, Loyola’s professors inspire. The faculty is so diverse experience-wise, that every day, every lecture, and every conversation holds an opportunity to be inspired, influenced, and encouraged. Through their words, they encourage us not just to be better students but also bigger dreamers. And honestly, that’s one of the things I appreciate most about Loyola’s faculty and staff. They’re not just here to teach us so we can boost the school’s bar passage rate. Rather, they’re here to lend their experiences, stories, and wisdom to make sure we succeed on the bar but also in our aspirations and careers.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Faculty Help

Something that has surprised me about law school is the behavior of the faculty. While my professors in undergrad had office hours and would respond to emails, I never felt that they were truly accessible. But here, my professors have gone above and beyond to offer guidance and access.

My professors have given out their personal cell phone numbers in case of an emergency question, responded to emails within the hour, offered to help find summer jobs, and are always available for appointments and office hours. Not one of them has ever made me feel like one of my questions was unintelligent, or that I was wasting their time.

While I do not currently have a mentor professor, I know that I will not have any trouble finding one. Everyone is so helpful and I know that all I have to do is ask to receive any guidance that I could possibly need. I appreciate the fact that not only am I learning from professors and professionals that I respect, but also people that I respect. Their kindness is admirable and they all have great senses of humor, which makes lectures far more interesting. Having such awesome people to learn from is something that I will not ever take for granted again! It makes all the difference in not only understanding the material, but also enjoying the material.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Clinics...Clinics...Clinics - Memorize That Word

Howdy, all! I’m sure by now you have probably heard the word “clinic” about a hundred times. The reason for that is because law school clinics give students a pretty awesome opportunity to work in the “real world” while still in school. I know what you might be thinking… “Who has time to apply for a clinic when you’re already hustling and bustling your way through classes, extracurriculars, and possibly work?” Here’s some good news - clinics not only make your resume legitimately stand out to employers, but many of them can satisfy your pro-bono hours requirement and be used for credit units.

There are several clinic options covering various areas of law at Loyola. Even if you do not see yourself working in immigration law as a career, you may find that participating in the Immigrant Justice Clinic is one of the most rewarding experiences you have in law school. Although I am not personally in a clinic, many of my close friends are. One is actually part of the Project For The Innocent and she gets real joy from knowing that her work could possibly lead to an innocent person being released from prison. Another close friend participates in the International Human Rights Clinic which has opened her eyes, more than she ever thought possible, to this area of the law. So basically, what I’m getting at is to never rule out applying to a clinic, even if it might not be in the area of the law that you want to work in after graduation. Think of it this way - even if you don’t see it as a career, Loyola provides you with an opportunity to expose yourself to different things and experiences so take advantage of that if you have the chance.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Pro Bono Work

Pro bono work is very important to me and I am proud to say that I’ve participated in Loyola’s clinics since my 2L year. For me, clinical work was one of the main things that excited me about the prospect of going to law school. I remember reading through Loyola’s brochures before I had decided to enroll and seeing excerpts about the Project for the Innocent, Immigrant Justice Clinic and various others and thinking “I cannot wait to get involved with this.”

I think that the benefit of participating in clinical work cannot be overstated. First, it gives students an opportunity to do real, necessary work on behalf of people who have few other options. We all know that it is extremely expensive to hire a lawyer, and it is vitally important that law students help ease this burden where they’re able. This help not only gives much-needed assistance to people in the community, it also binds the student to the community in a meaningful way and sets them on a more civic-minded path even if they choose not to pursue public interest work in their career. Second, the work is great for students’ resumes and can help them identify fields of practice that will interest them in their ensuing careers. Through the clinic work you may discover that you love all aspects of litigation, or appellate writing, or client counseling – or, you may discover what you don’t like so much. Either way, Loyola’s clinics are designed to give students a wide breadth of experiences which can only be beneficial to students in the short and long term.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Learning Outside of the Classroom

One of the main reasons I decided to attend Loyola was our school’s impressive lineup of clinics. As someone with a pretty vague idea of what I actually want to do as a lawyer, the idea of getting out into the real world and experiencing the practice of law before I actually take the bar is really appealing.

As a first-year student, I haven’t had the opportunity to join a clinic yet. I have, however, had the opportunity to get the kind of pro bono experience that’s available to pretty much any human citizen of the United States – even those who aren’t law students.

Two times a month, I volunteer with legal clinics that are geared toward helping underserved populations in the Los Angeles area. On the third Wednesday of the month, I assist at a clinic in Skid Row, where attorneys help the homeless get tickets for minor violations dismissed – tickets for things like riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. On the last Saturday of the month, I volunteer at a clinic in Long Beach that helps residents remove (or “expunge”) criminal convictions from their records for free.

This is technically pro bono work – as in, the kind of work people do purely for the greater good – but I have selfish reasons for doing it, too. It gets me out into the underserved L.A. communities in which I hope to work after graduation. I get to make connections with lawyers who have the kind of jobs I want. And it gives me the kind of personal understanding of the endemic issues that perpetuate the cycle of poverty in our city.

For instance, at the expungement clinic this past Saturday, I helped a woman who had been convicted of a drug-related felony while she had been desperate and living in poverty. Thirty years later, and with zero convictions in between, she is still struggling to find work because the same conviction keeps showing on her background checks.

If you’re reading this and you’re thinking about applying to law school, or you’ve already applied and you’re waiting to hear back, my advice is to get out in your respective city and get involved in these kinds of projects. (Whether or not you want to pursue public interest law.) You don’t have to be a lawyer or even a law student to do it. And you’ll gain a much more vivid picture of the world you’re living in, and the small but significant things you can do to make it a little better.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Pro Bono Work

Pro bono work is important to me because I feel like it is the foundation of the legal profession. A lot of people come to law school because they want to “help people” without knowing what it truly takes to achieve that. In my experience, these very same people end up pursuing careers where, of course, to some capacity they “help people,” but certainly not in the way that they expected which is often social-justice-oriented. So, I feel like it’s important to preserve the spirit of wanting to “help people” through pro bono work. Because I’m a first year evening student, I don’t yet have the opportunity to begin chipping away at my pro bono requirement, but I have done some volunteer work with Neighborhood Legal Services in their Workers’ Rights Clinic and, even though I’m not interested in working in that field, it’s been a great experience and I look forward to doing similar work when I’m able to begin working on my pro bono hours. For me, this work has been integral to remembering why I came to law school, which can easily be lost amidst the stress of reading and exams. Knowing that I can give a few hours of my time and make a difference in someone else’s life is very, very powerful.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Pro Bono Work

Like most post-graduates, I had no idea what I was going to do next when I graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2015.  I had graduated early but had absolutely no plans for what I was going to do during my gap year.  One thing I was sure about was my interest in the law.  I knew that law school was in my game plan, however, I was still some time away from starting law school let alone studying for the LSAT, actually taking the exam, and applying to schools. 
            Having gone straight through the education system, I decided it would be important to my development to take a break to sort through my options and determine what my next move would be. I decided that the only way to know if my interest in the law was strong enough to pursue a career would be to get hands-on experience in the legal field.  So for the next two years, I worked as a legal assistant at a law firm and learned what it meant to be legal professional and a member of such a vast community. 
            Working at a boutique law firm definitely had its perks.  First, it allowed me to develop a working relationship with my boss and learn from her example.  Second, it allowed me to work and interact with clients on a daily basis.  Much of my time at work was spent talking to clients, discussing the particular details of their cases, listening to their issues, and ultimately trying to resolve them whether by contacting opposing counsel or directly filing for a hearing with the court. 
            These two years of hands-on interactive work really solidified my decision to go to law school and become a lawyer.  Thus, when considering law schools, one of the most important factors for me was the opportunity for hands-on, interactive work.  In fact, one of the reasons I chose Loyola was their emphasis on experiential learning through their various legal clinics (i.e. Immigrant Justice Clinic or Project for the Innocent) and their pro-bono requirement.  The fact that they put such an emphasis on giving back to the community while at the same time giving students a hands-on opportunity to learn and explore their interests was a selling point for me.    Fast forward one year later, and I’m in the middle of my 1L year and looking to start applying and participating in these unique experiences.  I can’t wait to get started!

            Until next time friends!

Monday, February 5, 2018

I am SO Pro Pro Bono

I decided to attend law school for several reasons, but one of the main reasons was to help people in the future. There are only so many jobs in the world that allow a person to do work that they love while simultaneously helping other people.

While evaluating different law schools, Loyola stood out to me in this regard. They did not just talk the social justice talk, they walked the walk as well. As students, we are required to complete 40 hours of pro bono legal work before our 3L spring semester. You can work in one of the Loyola clinics serving the Los Angeles community, or secure a field placement with a public interest organization.

The clinics stood out to me from the beginning, specifically Loyola’s Project for the Innocent clinic. Not only has the clinic been incredibly successful—three exonerations in the last year—but it fully encompasses the ideal work of an attorney. Attorneys working to not only help others, but to help others who have been wronged in possibly the worst way by our legal system. No one should ever be convicted of something they have not done, but the opposite is the undeniable reality of our legal system. The Project for the Innocent helps right these wrongs, and I want to be one of the students at Loyola who helps in any way I can.

As a 1L, I have not had the opportunity to work in one of the clinics, but I know for a fact that I will be applying during my 2L and 3L years. Even if I am unable to work with the Project for the Innocent, I will work with one of the MANY other clinics, which range from Consumer Bankruptcy to Fashion Law. Nothing beats learning on your feet, and nothing beats helping someone in need when you have the resources.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Exams and a Much Needed Break!

Another semester of law school came to an end in December 2017 which meant one thing - the soul-crushing pressure of final exams. Thankfully, I survived another exam period and am now officially half-way done with law school. The phrase “time flies” has never been truer than the last year and a half of my life. It seems like only yesterday that I was a terrified 1L trying to find a seat in my very first law school class.

After exams, I did my best to really celebrate the end of another stressful semester. I rang in the new year with the John Mayer / Dave Chappelle show at The Forum which was an incredible way to start 2018. Other than that, I spent break watching a LOT of television (probably too much if I’m being honest) and taking a mini trip back to Alabama to visit friends and family. The biggest surprise to me over the break was how different I felt being back in Alabama - where I had spent the majority of my life. I visited friends who I grew up with and are now settling down and starting families. My best friend had a baby girl on December 21st and it was so surreal being able to hold her child. It was surreal just realizing that this person whom I had known for 14 years now has her own family. It was also eye-opening to see how different Alabama feels after living in California for a few years. Anyway, overall, it was a relaxing winter break and I have high hopes for 2018!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My Winter Break

My exams this past semester were a little extra challenging because they were not spaced out in an advantageous way. Essentially, I had a lot of time to prepare for my first exam but very little time to prepare for my second two. It made the process a little more stressful than past semesters, but things turned out fine. As a 3L, exams are a bit more of a routine than the shock to the system they are when first starting law school.

Winter break was fun and restful at times, but there was also a lot of work to be done. Spending Christmas with my daughter at 3 years old was a real treat--and a real responsibility for me and my wife. She loves the holiday season and we made sure that it was very special for her. Besides the holidays off, I spent a lot of time working at my current firm as a law clerk. I really appreciate my experiences and opportunities there so I made an effort to work more hours during the break than I had during the semester.

As a family man, the holidays can be a lot of work and having my daughter’s preschool closed down made for a lot of quality family time. But the days roll on and the holidays are now firmly in the rear-view mirror. Now, I just have one short semester to go, so I hope to make it count!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Gathering inspiration over a long winter break

The first three weeks of December were like being inside a tunnel. I did little else but study for exams. The process was the same for each one: digging into old notes, finishing an outline of the entire class, writing flashcards, talking about the cases and rules with my friends. I repeated this process four times, once for each exam. Each one came with its own little ramp-up of stress. If there’s a maximum number of legal rules a brain can hold, I bumped up against that ceiling. It felt like the longest month of my entire life, and by the time I took my last test – my Property mid-term – I was completely exhausted, and sick with a sinus infection to boot.

The tests themselves, by the way, were kind of fun. Answering an essay question is like fixing a bicycle or baking a cake – if you know which tools to use, and how each cog or ingredient fits with the others, there’s a thrill in running through the routine. My exams weren’t all easy (my grades bore that out) but they really weren’t miserable, either.

And then, three weeks after entering into the tunnel, I drove out into the sunlight. The day after finals were over, I felt like the whole world was laid out in front of me. For a couple of days, I spent my time reading novels and driving around the city to eat lunch at places I’d never tried.

The rest of the summer unfolded similarly. My girlfriend and I flew to North Carolina, then Colorado to see our families. After that, we drove from Colorado to Los Angeles. Along the way, we stopped in little towns, ate risky food, and even poked through one weird roadside attraction featuring a menagerie of papier-mâché dinosaurs and, somewhat disturbingly, a nearly-neglected ostrich petting zoo. At Petrified Forest National Park, we were stunned by the expanse of the desert – a place where apparently there was once, millions of years ago, a forest as dense as you might find in rural Pennsylvania. The desert seemed to roll on forever; a mile from the freeway, the world as we knew it was absent, and possibilities seemed infinite.

I had that feeling again the weekend before school started, when I drove down to Baja California with a couple of friends. We drove to a village just off the highway near Rosarito, where fisherman cooked their catch on the beach for visitors like us. Looking out at the slate-grey ocean, 20 miles from chaotic Tijuana, I felt calm and centered.

I did one other thing over break that made me anxious to get back to school. I’ve been reading Bearing the Cross by David Garrow, a book about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the SCLC, the civil rights organization King once led. It’s not always the most exciting book – it’s mostly about the intense amount of work that went into organizing and strategizing the civil rights movement. But it’s inspiring. In 1956, during the Montgomery bus boycott, desegregation in the South seemed like an unattainable dream to all but a few. Over the course of the following years, a combination of grueling logistical work, political maneuvering, and deft messaging made it a reality. And so I’m coming into this school year centered, inspired, and motivated to pick up even more tools – to bump up that ceiling just a little higher.

Friday, January 26, 2018

My Winter Break

My exams for first semester did not necessarily go as planned. However, in a way, I knew that they wouldn’t and, as a result, accepted early on that the first semester of law school would be my way to learn what methods of studying work best for me through trial and error. Unfortunately, my exam preparation involved a lot of error. I spent way too much time studying for one midterm, when another final really could’ve used my attention more simply because there was more information. I also wish I would’ve started earlier, but getting started on Thanksgiving break was tough. In any event, these are certainly lessons that I will take with me into next semester. Adjusting to law school is difficult because exam styles are so different from the exams I saw in undergrad, but I feel like I was warned many times that this would happen and, ultimately, I’d still be okay in the long run.

Once break started, though, I totally wasn’t expecting to miss school…. And I did. I did some fun things with friends and family, took some time to relax, and then I was ready to get back to the grind pretty early on. It’s funny -- it’s almost like I went from eating, sleeping, and breathing coursework and being upset about it, but then not knowing what to do with myself once I didn’t have that to occupy my time. It’s been an interesting experience, for sure, but I’m excited to see what semester two of my first year has in store.

Monday, January 22, 2018

My Winter Break

A MUCH needed break

They were not kidding about law school finals. Wow. Intense.

I will not lie and say that I enjoyed them, but it was nice to finally get a feel for what a law school final actually entails. Plus, there is really no better feeling than when you walk out of the last one.

To celebrate the end of my almost month long seclusion (finals last WAY longer than they did in undergrad), I enjoyed my break by doing absolutely NOTHING that had to do with torts or memorandums or procedure or anything else law school related. I spent the holidays at home with my family, slept in until 10 AM (actually crazy for a girl with 8 AM classes everyday), and enjoyed some winter weather. I do not want to complain about the fact that LA is currently 75 degrees, but it was nice to wear a jacket and some rain boots again. Nostalgia for seasons: it gets me every single time.

The best part of my break (besides sleeping in) was visiting Houston with a group of friends from college. It was so nice to see everyone without feeling like I should be studying.

The worst part of break was going to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and watching my Oklahoma Sooners lose. They finally came to Los Angeles only for me to watch them lose in person, in double-overtime. It is fine though (it really is not, it is the definition of heartbreaking), still a lifelong fan. Boomer.

I have been back for a couple days now and it is back to outlining, reading, and feeling guilty when I take a break. Would not want to have it any other way—maybe. Cheers!

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!