Friday, March 12, 2021

Building Relationships With Faculty

Have you ever heard anyone tell you they hated a subject and when you asked them why, they say it was because they did not like the teacher? That was me after a bad middle school math teacher. Being able to teach is a completely different skill set than understanding the subject, in my opinion. And arguably, the stakes for finding a good teacher are never higher in your academic career than in law school.

We’ve all seen the scary law professors who kick students out of class for not reading the pre-assigned material (Legally Blonde), who demand feats of knowledge (Paper Chase), and others that make us question whether law school professors are here to help us or to be so tough on us that nothing in our professional careers seem too bad. Luckily at Loyola, none of those stereotypes are really true. I truly believe that my law school experience has been positively impacted in a major way by the professors. They are pillars of our community and sometimes it feels surreal we’re learning from such impressive people.

Many professors contribute to the “Loyola Community,” which is always referencing the caring, professional, and helpful nature of our campus culture. Don’t start thinking our professors make law school easier than other professors would, because they definitely still challenge you in class and increase your tolerance for reading late into the night, but they do approach their students with the understanding that we’re all trying our best.


My law school professors are much more accessible than my undergraduate professors. They have office hours, will meet with you outside of office hours, give you their phone numbers, and tell you to reach out to them even after the semester is over. They truly want you to have access to their help. They want to be accessible because they understand we are grappling with difficult and sometimes counterintuitive material – they had to grapple with it as students too.

Many people in my 1L section even loved our professors so much, they’ll take an upper division class specifically because of the professor teaching it. I am also 100% guilty of this. Maybe that seems hard to understand now, but once you get to Loyola you will completely understand. This may sound biased, but I’m pretty sure we have some of the best professors out there.

See you in the next one,

Kelsey


Monday, March 8, 2021

The Importance of Study Groups

My first year of law school was thankfully in person as the pandemic was a possibility few of us even considered. Accordingly, being in person the dynamic between students and staff was drastically different than the new normal we know now. Immediately upon stepping through the doors of the law school, I was connected with individuals that I was able to have intellectual debate with. The student body comprised of individuals from all walks of life such that the intellectual diversity was refreshing and an environment which I had little experience in. I quickly formed a group with individuals from my cohort, with this group I was able to talk about both legal issues and personal issues. Quickly, we all became each other’s best friends and supported one another through thick and thin. I formed a study group with two of the people in my group of 5 because they had the exact same classes as myself while the other two had a different torts class.

This study group was integral to my success during my first year as we would push each other to study and clarify points to ensure we had a good grasp of the subject. However, I did not limit myself to that exclusive group. Rather, in my quest to understand the material better, I held study sessions for any person who wanted to attend. The capacity to teach others shows proficiency. Law school and law as a field of study requires collaborative skills, most of the proceedings in the field are team based, whether it be attorney to attorney or attorney to paralegal. While it may not be the best idea to lean on a classmate to get through law school, having a support system both academically and socially will make the experience evermore pleasant.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Building Relationships with Faculty

What I found pleasantly surprising about Loyola was how easy it is to communicate with your professors. My professors have often ended lectures encouraging students to reach out if they have any concerns. In fact, during my first semester at Loyola, the professors regularly stuck around for 15 minutes after class to answer everyone’s questions. Never were we made to feel like our questions were an inconvenience.

Moreover, my professors have all been incredibly quick at responding to emails (and I would imagine communication via email is probably at an all-time high this year). For example, I emailed my Spring 2021 professors two days before the winter break was scheduled to begin to ask for a list of textbooks required for their courses. Admittedly, I left the sending of the email a bit late, and I was worried that I might have to wait until after winter break to receive a reply. It turns out that my worries were unwarranted, as I received a reply from all three professors on the same day I sent my email.

When it comes to non-email communications, my professors have been accommodating as well. As an LLM student attending the program from outside the United States, I am in a time zone nine hours ahead of Los Angeles, and I assumed that I might have to stay up late to schedule a meeting during office hours. Luckily, professors have made it clear that, should their office hours be at an inconvenient time, we need only reach out so that a mutually convenient one can be found.

Not only are Loyola’s professors readily available to answer questions and address concerns, but they actively encourage students to ask these questions and raise their concerns. In this way, Loyola has cultivated an environment where reaching out is easy, and approaching faculty is not at all daunting.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Building Relationships With Faculty

Welcome back Jury of Peers!

This week, I’ll dive into my favorite tips and tricks on getting to know your professors and building relationships with the Loyola faculty.

For starters, it is very important to begin cultivating close relationships with your professors and advisors, as these individuals have an immense amount of experience and wisdom when it comes to the world of law. Not only can they offer you knowledge and expertise about the law school experience or entering the legal field, they also want to see you grow and succeed. In that capacity, they’re truly your biggest supporters and cheerleaders.

When looking to build a relationship with your professor, my advice is to take advantage of office hours and private meetings. Office hours are great for general questions about the material, or simply introducing yourself. In my experience, professors notice when you come to their office hours, something that may benefit you in the long run. However, I tend to get to know faculty better when I’m speaking with them one-on-one. Private meetings are great to get to know the professor on a personal level, and it’s a space where you can talk more about their professional career rather than the class material. I’ve even reached out to a few professors who teach classes in areas of law I’m interested in, but haven’t had the opportunity to take. The more information you can gain about certain areas of law the better.

Apart from professors, seeking out relationships with other Loyola faculty is equally beneficial. Your advisors, for example, want nothing more than to help you succeed. The more your advisors get to know you, the better capable they are at providing you with opportunities that suit your interests and professional goals. Also, it’s almost too easy to build relationships with your advisors, as Loyola has various drop-in hours where you can speak with faculty and get your questions answered quickly. So far, I’ve also found that the faculty at Loyola are not only accessible, but very responsive to your needs/ questions. Law school is already stressful, so it’s nice to not have to worry about communicating with faculty!

That’s all for this week, thank you for the read!

Until next time,

Madison

Friday, February 26, 2021

Relief or More Madness?

At the end of an academic semester, there is a collective sigh exhausted by the majority of the students and staff. They are grateful that they could make it through another semester in one piece. I am the same. After turning in my last assignment, an essay, 3 months in the making, completed its journey with the click of the “send” button. Yet, when I was pondering attending law school, many of the posts circulating the internet told a grim story about law school exams. The prevailing sentiment seemed to be that of dread, law school exams were to be the most difficult obstacle to being a practicing attorney. Yet, how was it really? I tend to find most exams easy. This is due to the fact that I control my stress extremely well and virtually do not have any ninety percent of the time. Thus, I am always able to think with a clear mind. However, this time around the semester was completely remote, including the test. These circumstances added to the pressure of performing well, especially since I learn best with in person instruction. Hence, this semester was different, I did not feel masterful in the subjects I had signed up for and did not feel as though I put forth my best work in taking the exams. Of course, I tried my best and the staff put forth their best effort to teach the students. In the end, my grades were good and put me in a good spot. Yet, the lasting impact is known and 2020 will surely live on in our memories. For better or worse.

Following finals, the winter break seemed like a time to unwind and relax. A time to take our mind off the law or any other endeavor which we undertake. Yet, the difficulties presented by the pandemic still needed to be considered.

Being a healthcare employee, along with my family members and friends, and having constant contact with those infected with Covid-19, all those concerns seemed trivial for those around me. Our festivities were put on pause to stay on the safe side. Not surprisingly, I was among the first to receive the vaccine and thus could breathe a sigh of relief. Although we are not out of danger, we are one step closer to normalcy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Electives, Concentrations, Classes, Oh My!

Welcome back Jury of Peers! This week we’re talking the lifeblood of law school: classes. During your 1L year, you don’t get to pick any classes yourself – sorry 1L’s – but it’s a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because you have no control over your schedule but it’s also a blessing because picking classes is SO stressful for me, in a good way!


 I have such a hard time picking classes simply because there are so many courses that look interesting. Basically, outside of Constitutional Law, Ethical Lawyering, and Evidence, you have no more required classes. Even your writing requirement can be filled in lots of different ways. So, you have lots of choices which means you’ve got to be the one who makes all the difficult decisions.

This year I decided I wanted to take courses in the Entertainment law, Corporate law, Criminal law, and International Law. I gravitated toward the first two because those are my primary interests for fields post-graduation. The latter two are classes I wanted to take as Bar Prep and because I was interested in the topic, respectively. I truly liked / am liking all the classes I have.

The nice thing about elective courses is they all build on the concepts you learned in your 1L courses. And they all bleed together. Which is why the courses you take 1L are the courses the school picks for you, because you would miss a lot deferring any of those classes until later in your law school education.

In addition to picking electives, you can choose to do a concentration (think of it like a major) but you don’t have to. One of the advantages if you choose to concentrate in an area is that you can get a separate GPA of all your concentration required courses which can be helpful when applying to jobs in the future.

I went into law school wanting to concentrate in Entertainment Law but after I found so many classes I was interested in that I would have to give up to make time for concentration specific classes, I decided against it. I figured I can give myself a “makeshift” concentration that has more entertainment classes than other things, but I have the freedom to take any class I want.

My advice, come into law school with whatever notion you have of the kind of law you think you might want to practice, but let yourself be open to exploring other things if inspiration strikes you. Law school is kind of a “choose your own adventure” so you can always change directions if you want to – that’s certainly what I did. Older students and faculty are always great to consult with about these dilemmas because we’ve all gone through it!

See you in the next one,

Kelsey

Monday, February 22, 2021

Choosing Electives

In your second year at Loyola, you have to take Constitutional Law, Evidence, and Ethical Lawyering. Those classes total 11 credits, which leaves you with about 18 credits of your choice (about 9 a semester).

So how to choose what to take?

Part of what drew me to Loyola was the dual degree J.D. / Tax L.L.M. program, that allowed me to finish law school in the normal 3 years with an added L.L.M. in taxation. The program requires 12 credits of class in the summer after your first year, and an additional 12 credits of tax courses in your 2L and 3L years. To keep on track, I decided to take 4 units of tax classes every semester. That led me to choose Tax Policy Colloquium and Advanced Federal Tax Research in the Fall, and both Tax Law Practice and Tax Practice and Procedure in the Spring. My fall classes were excellent. Tax Policy gave me the opportunity to meet with and critique the work of leading tax theorists, and Tax Research honed my memo writing skills in a national tax memo competition. I cannot recommend those classes enough.

That left me with about 10 credits of available classes for the whole year. I knew I was interested in business courses, all of which require Business Associations (4 credits), so I signed up for that right away. Coming from the creative world, I was also interested in what Entertainment Law (3 credits) had to offer. Last, I signed up for Financing the Business Startup (3 credits) just because it seemed fun. It’s only the second week of class…but so far I love it.

I have two pieces of advice. First, take classes with your GPA in mind. This will matter so much more than you could guess. I promise you. Be defensive with your grades. Second, take classes for fun. I promised myself that I would take at least one class every semester just because it seemed cool, to help balance out the stress of law school. Law school is a long three years. Make sure to have little rewards for yourself.