Friday, February 22, 2019

And We're Back!

I’m officially halfway done with law school and it is an odd feeling: I can’t decide if I am happy or sad about it. On the one hand, I want to start practically applying my lawyering skills on a full-time basis. On the other hand, I love Loyola and my friends here and I cannot imagine not seeing them all on a daily basis in just 1.5 years.

So how did I make it to this halfway point? I passed my exams! Woohoo! Not that I wasn’t expecting to do just that, but you never know, it is law school. It is always hard preparing for law school exams because every professor is different, but over the last few semesters I have developed a studying plan that has worked perfectly so far: I listen to all of the class recordings in a row while making my outline for the class. I discovered that it is a good way of putting everything together once you have all of the information. Also, I almost always hear something that my professor said early on in the class that at the time I didn’t think was entirely important, but now at the end of the class, I realize it is critical. So luckily for me, I felt pretty prepared for my exams, and I think that confidence helped me perform to the best of my abilities.

Now, after drinking copious amounts of coffee, completely destroying my sleep schedule, and taking my exams, I did end up doing some fun things over the break. (And who said law school isn’t fun? We have breaks!) I spent the holidays with my family, went to Mammoth Mountain with friends, spent the New Year in San Diego, and ended up back in Los Angeles to spend some time with my Byrne Team prepping for our upcoming competition at the end of February. Now, it is literally the very beginning of the semester and I already have eight things on my to-do list. Wish me luck. Until next time!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Fall Semester Update

Attending law school is an experience much different from any situation I have found myself in before.

Every law student will tell you that the course loud is heavy, the curriculum is tough, the reading is dense, and the outlining is tedious. That is all true. Law school is hard, but I knew law school was going to be hard.

What really sets law school apart is the people. I go to class everyday with an extremely diverse group of individuals, from all backgrounds, all walks of life, and all ages. I have friends 10 years older than me and believe it or not, I have friends three years younger than me (a 19-year-old law student; I am just as impressed as you are). This creates an excellent learning environment. My classmates are well versed in a plethora of areas. Many of them worked for a number of years before law school, others traveled, or pursued additional graduate school degrees. Their experiences make my learning a unique place. We all have something to learn from each other.

I did not have many expectations coming into law school, other than wanting a law degree. While, I still have a way to go in my law school experience, the people are what have surprised me the most. Not only did I not expect to get along so well with my classmates, but I never imagined my professors would be so helpful and QUALIFIED. Seriously, the professors at Loyola are ROCKSTARS. They teach, and work, and write law reviews, and publish books, and still find the time to sit with us in extended office hours, detailing how we can succeed in their course. The people, that is what makes law school so different.

While law school is a long road, these past three months feel like they have flown by. The amount of information I have absorbed is formidable, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be here. Of course, there are times my eyes feel like they may fall out of my head from reading for so long, and sometimes I lose my mind trying to fully understand the rule against perpetuities (property law) but extending one’s mind is always an advantage that we should not take for granted.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The End of the Beginning: 1L Fall Finals

Three months into law school and the work is piling up. We have completed midterms and Graded I (our first memo). More importantly, we have received our first grades. Now we are working hard to finish Graded II (our second memo) and preparing resumes and writing samples to submit for summer employment applications. We are also setting strategies and study schedules for finals. The stress is palpable.

The summer employment options for a 1L are still a bit of a mystery to me. Most 1L positions are unpaid and few firms offer positions for first-year students; 1Ls simply don’t know enough yet. Most students are eyeing judicial externships. They are prestigious and very competitive placements in judges’ chambers. My understanding is, however, that they are more appropriate for people interested in litigation rather than transactional work. I’ve spoken with my career advisor as well as second- and third-year students about other opportunities. I have another career advising appointment next week so hopefully, I’ll soon have a more comprehensive game plan to take on the summer.

Regarding my academics, I’ve spent most of my time in the library up to this point. I hate to say but I prefer to study alone and then review in a group though I expect that will change soon. As finals approach quickly, I regret that I haven’t availed myself of professors’ office hours more aggressively but I’m quickly rectifying that mistake. Past exams are available in the library and our professors have made their additional exams available online. I’ve tried my hand at a couple of midterm essays for my first final – Contracts. My priority right now is to refine my outlines, which are essentially road maps to spot issues and answer exam questions in each class. Between office hours, outlines, and practice exams, the workload has definitely started to shift toward review. We’ll all soon see if our plans and work pay off.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Fall Semester Update

Fall semester is ending and the craziest thing is that sometimes I felt that the time was not passing at all, but now looking back I have the feeling that the semester just flew! It seems like yesterday that I was walking – so afraid – to the first day of orientation.

Although I had been to law school before, in my country, here I felt I was starting all over again - and I really was. But during those three months, I relived many feelings that I had during my law school in Brazil: fear of failing the tests, anxiety waiting for the notes, tiredness after reading countless pages, feeling sleepy all the time because you do not even remember how many hours you are sleeping a day…. But now, at the end of the semester, I'm also reliving the feelings of: relief because I have gotten here, and gratitude for all the opportunities that Loyola allowed me to live during this semester.

Despite the obstacles that appear along the way from time to time, I can say that there is nothing that I did not like about law school, because even the difficulties teach us something, and we can grow from that. And what I liked the most was, without a doubt, the fact that I feel at home in Loyola – and this feeling is not easy to find, but when we find it, it's the best thing to feel.

I believe that my biggest challenge so far has been to organize my time so that I can do everything I have to do. This is a difficulty that I always had and here I realized that it was time to finally overcome it, so I took the time to write down everything I needed to do and from that I set up a schedule, and I forced myself every day to comply with it.

At the end of the day, you realize that without willpower, nothing gets off the ground and comes true, and that's something I always keep in mind to stay strong on this long road that is law school.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Fall Semester Update

Time flies when you’re having fun, right? While law school isn’t the particular kind of “fun” that most people are referring to, it’s hard to believe it’s been more than three months since the beginning of Fall semester.

Transferring to a new school, I didn’t really know what to expect. I considered myself a friendly and outgoing person and was confident that I’d acclimate in no time. While I have slowly been able to immerse myself into everything Loyola has to offer over the past few months, I definitely was forced to step out of my comfort zone. Looking back, my experiences this past semester have closely resembled 1L life in quite a few ways: meeting people, getting to know the campus, and learning how things are done at a new school. Thankfully, however, some things about law school are the same wherever you go.

While law school curricula doesn’t seem to vary all that much, one of the most interesting things that I immediately noticed about Loyola was the enormous amount of extracurricular and experiential opportunities. From clinics to law reviews, there seems to be something for everyone. In fact, there were so many more choices it was hard for me to pick just a few. I ultimately settled on DSBA and Law Review, but plan on exploring other opportunities in upcoming semesters.

That leads me to my next point: Loyola’s committed alumni network and the job opportunities that come with that network. Even though I did not plan on working my first semester at a new school, it was hard to resist checking the Symplicity job board every few days. Eventually I got a great opportunity to work at a small firm in Hollywood and decided to take the position. I have been able to gain tons of experience and put my in-class learning to good use. Without the connections that Loyola has created within the community, I would have never been able to get my current job.

I hope everyone has had as great a first semester at I did here at Loyola. Good luck with finals and I’ll see you all in the Spring!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Fall Update

The fall semester of my second year of law school is definitely dramatically different from my other semesters. For one, I’ve consolidated all of my classes onto two days so that I can free up some time to work and have more flexibility in my schedule. I usually end up on campus at least 3 days each week, but it’s definitely nice to have the option to only be here two days on weeks when I’m busy!

I’ve also made it a point to spend less time stressing and more time doing. This has freed up a lot of time for me to pursue other things — like actually reading for fun! I read at least 30 minutes each night during the week of a book of my choosing. During my first year of law school, I accumulated a long list of books I wanted to read but felt I didn’t have the time to. With proper time management and less self-induced stress, I’ve been able to chip away at that list which is actually pretty cool! This is just one of the many ways I’ve found greater balance in law school. Another way I find balance is by exercising. I workout everyday and also go on walks outside throughout the day to clear my mind. With these tools, I’ve had a great fall semester thus far.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Three Months In....

I have now been a law student for three months and honestly, time has just flown by. We are just three weeks away from exams. I am hyperventilating a little.

The last three months have been challenging and enjoyable. I have amazing professors who have made the learning process fun. I was pleasantly surprised to discover law school is much kinder than Hollywood depicts. Cold-calling is scary but at the same time there is a sense of support and shared doom that reduces the fear and shame around the room.

My biggest challenge has been learning the precise language of the law. Many people say learning the law is like learning a new language. As someone who learned English in my teens, I have to say this is absolutely true. During the first weeks of school, I just stared at pages for a long time, dictionary in hand sporadically recognizing a few words, and trying to make sense of what was happening. With time, words and concepts are starting to make sense. At this point, I am just trying to make sure they fully make sense by the time exams roll around.

I can also see the new language of law starting to seep into my everyday life. My use of the phrase “per se” has increased to a level that only other law students would be able to appreciate.

Notwithstanding the challenges of law school, I am really enjoying the Loyola community. After being in a large school, I love being in a place where students, staff and professors know each other, and you are not just another face in the crowd. I particularly appreciate that from day one everyone at Loyola, from current students to long-time alumni, have offered themselves as resources and mentors.

The main downside: I wish I had more time and energy to explore Los Angeles. I did not realize the thought of finding parking in the city combined with my sheer exhaustion would eliminate my resolve to explore.

Well, that is all for me for the rest of this semester, I will see you all at the end of the tunnel known as law school exams!