Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Importance of Study Groups

Hello again!

With law school being so exhausting (the reading never ends!), it is so important to have friends and colleagues that you can study together with. Sometimes people prefer to study by themselves, but I think that eventually you get tired of that and you need someone to share learning and to learn from that person too! It makes things easier and sometimes funnier! I do not have a study group – at least we do not call a study group – but I have all my LLM colleagues that are always there for me when I need help. Since we are "in the same boat", it is not hard to find one asking for help and guidance from another one. And that is how we keep going towards our goal: to graduate in Spring 2019!

I probably already talked about that here because that is one of the greatest things in Loyola Law School – at least for me -, but it is awesome how supportive everyone at the campus is! And this applies to literally everyone: classmates, professors, and all the LLS staff. I find this amazing because it helps us to not give up and keep going even when we think we are not doing great.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Importance of Study Groups

“Everyone is your competition,” they said. Coming into law school, this was the kind of information I was receiving about my peers. On top of that, as a transfer student I was already concerned about making friends, getting involved, and finding my place within the Loyola community. After all, everyone knows that 1L is the year everybody bonds and develops their “circle.” At Loyola, however, I found such stereotypes to be so far from the truth. Instead I found a supportive, collaborative, and welcoming student body.

It is rather well established that going through law school is no easy feat. The heavy workload, demanding nature, and long hours of studying make law school unlike any other professional degree. With that said, it’s important to have a support system in place during law school. Personally, my support system is made up largely of my peers. Whether I’m feeling overwhelmed by my crazy schedule that week or am having trouble with an assignment, I know that there is always someone just a phone call away who can empathize with what I’m going through and therefore give me the best advice.

As expected, I found that this support system became particularly important during final exams. Study groups have always been helpful in explaining concepts I may have not fully understood or looking at an issue from a different perspective. Each person in the study group always brings something different to the table and my study group has essentially become an open forum for the discussion of ideas. We get frustrated together, work through problems together, and have “aha” moments together. Today I consider my peers some of my best friends. We’ve been through it all and law school would not be the same without then.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Importance of Study Groups

Having a strong community has been an absolute must for me in law school! I have been so lucky to be surrounded by such intelligent, compassionate, and supportive people in my classes. During the first year of law school, this was incredibly important, I think, for all of us. We were able to look to each other for guidance and support as we were all learning what worked best for each of us, individually.

Despite being surrounded by such an amazing group of people, forming study groups has always been a challenge. In my cohort, people travel from all over Los Angeles (and even outside of it), work full time jobs, have kids, and the like. Often, coordinating so many complex schedules becomes impossible. However, I still manage to study with my peers virtually. Everyone is always friendly and happy to talk through and answer questions via e-mail or text. There have been times that we have also used FaceTime to study together when we can’t be in the same place.

I can’t speak for the entire student body, but I am always grateful for how collaborative and supportive evening students are.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Collaboration In Law School - Finding Your People

When I started law school, I had no idea what to expect when it came to the social and academic environment. On one hand, movies usually show a hyper-competitive environment and during orientation we were told about the dreaded curve. On the other hand, at admitted student’s day, I had met some great, intelligent people, who did not seem ready to go for each other’s throats. Once I started law school, I started to see that while everyone is competitive and extremely intelligent, we all wish to see each other succeed, and we understand that to succeed we must collaborate in learning.

People have very different strategies when it comes to study groups. Study groups are one of those things where you have to try a few ways before you realize what works for you. For me, it was about finding a couple people with study habits similar to mine. I tend to prefer smaller groups, as it is easier to focus. Generally, study groups are useful in helping me figure out what I don’t know, and they help me practice my reasoning. By having to explain what I know- or I think I know-, I am better able to grasp the material. Even when we are not debating or studying for a class, I enjoy working alongside my study group. Sharing a space with my friends helps me with accountability and it provides me with quick feedback when I have a quick question about my own work.

Ultimately, what I have learned about study groups is that you have to shop around to figure out what works for you and you have to be honest with yourself when you are in a situation that is not working.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Importance of Study Groups

Law school has a reputation for being difficult. It is absolutely true that it can be difficult. Sometimes, it can be extraordinarily difficult. But it can also be exhilarating, exciting, and occasionally overwhelming. But it is never easy. It is a place where success is contingent on putting in the work. Talent can only take you so far. Intelligence can only take you so far. A good memory can only take you so far. At the end of the day, or the end of the course, what takes you over the finish line is dedication and hours of study. Endless. Hours. Of. Study.

Being able to rely on the people around you is important because studying in law school is a group endeavor. Your classmates are facing the same challenges that you are. The advantage of group studying comes from the fact that they notice things you have missed, and vice versa. Many of them are able to grasp areas of the curriculum that confuse you, so they can help you shore up your weak points. In areas in which you have a better understanding, explaining it to others helps not only to deepen your own understanding of the material, but also helps you to determine which areas your own understanding is incomplete.

Before I came to Loyola, I had always studied on my own, so study groups were a relatively new thing to me. The exams are strictly timed, which makes bridging the gap between knowing the material and demonstrating that knowledge a challenging endeavor. In addition to simply discussing the material with classmates, I felt that the time I did spend in study groups was best spent writing essays and comparing answers within the group. Many of the sample essay prompts don’t come with sample answers, so it can be difficult to gauge if your answer is complete or even on the right track.

My fellow students at Loyola are extremely supportive and very helpful. Everyone realizes that the success of others adds to their own success. That means that everyone has a strong incentive to learn as much as they can from their fellow students. This cooperation within the student body is crucial to our success, and at Loyola people work together to succeed and I think it shows.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

What I’ve Learned About Doing Homework and Studying in Law School

When you first start law school, it’s so easy to get caught up in existential questions like:

  • “Who am I?”
  • “Why am I in law school?”
  • “How do I study?”
  • “What is legal research? How do I use Lexis Nexis? Westlaw? Should I have a preference?”
  • “What is the rule of perpetuities?”
  • “What is blue-booking? Is that when you forget to read your book and do your homework?”
  • “How will I do well?”
  • “Will I get cold-called today? How do I avoid getting cold-called today?”
  • “How can I get everything done when there’s not enough time in the day?”
  • “When do I get to go to sleep?”
  • “Why did I get myself into this?”
  • “What is the meaning of life?”
  • And the list goes on and on….
The one good thing about law school is it actually does get better. You learn things that help you get through your daily challenges and methods to deal with your daily stressors. You also (hopefully) will learn how to balance your time, and you (hopefully) will find that everything can be done with a little bit of planning.

One thing you really learn about and hone in on throughout your time in law school is your study style and preference. In all honesty, when I first started law school, I was overwhelmed. I had spent the nearly two-year gap between my undergraduate studies and law school working in a law office and enjoying not having to go to class on a daily basis, write papers, and study (well I guess I did for the LSAT, but like many rules in evidence, that’s an exception). During this time, I was focused on getting real life practical and legal experiences that I believed would prepare me for law school. So when I started law school, it was almost like culture shock trying to find my place and get into the swing of doing the “school-thing” again. As silly or trivial as it sounds, I had to learn how to read, study, and prepare for law school classes. Loyola offered mini crash courses with tips and tricks on how to take notes, write memos, do research, and take exams. To do well, I learned that I needed to take these tips and adapted them to suit my own study style and preference.

Today, my homework prep consists of the following:

  • I sit down the night before class and go on TWEN or to my syllabus and check what I have assigned for the next day.
  • I then look up the assigned cases on Lexis Nexis and read the brief synopsis of each case before reading each full case in my textbook. I’ve found that doing this helps me prepare for the case and determine what the focus is going to be.
  • While I’m reading, I use different highlighters and pens to color-code the facts, procedure, issues, holding, rule, reasoning, dissent, etc. (I actually learned this color-coding method from some of my Loyola professors during 1L and incorporated it into my study routine.). I’ll take little notes in the margins of the text to summarize what I’ve just read i.e. the holding or the rule of the case.
  • After reading the case, I write up a case brief for the particular case in Google Drive document I have running for the class. This helps me get a better grasp on the case, and I end up feeling so much better about getting cold-called in class.
  • If I don’t have time to take separate notes, I rely on my color-coding and just make sure to take extra notes in the margin of my book so I can jog my memory in class or in case I get cold-called.
  • Note: I adapt this procedure even further to match the requirements/difficulty of each class, the professor’s teaching style, etc.
My one tip for all of you about to start law school is to be open to trying different methods of note-taking, doing homework, preparing for class in order to find what really works for you. There’s really no right or wrong answer. As I’ve so often learned and you’ll surely learn while in law school, the answer is “It depends.” It depends on you: how you think, how you process information, how you study, etc. Despite all the tips and tricks you’ll learn and all the advice you’ll get from professors, 2Ls, 3Ls, and attorneys about how to study and prepare for class, you know yourself the best, and you know what you need to do to be efficient and successful in your endeavors. So trust yourself! You’ve got this!

Until next time friends!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Study Groups: Yay or Nay?

For me, they are a “nay”. For you, they might be a “yay”. It honestly depends on the person, but more than that, it depends on the way you most effectively study. If you get off-topic easily (like me), a study group is probably not the best idea. If you learn best by bouncing ideas off of others, then a study group is one of the best tools law school has to offer. If you determine that you need a study group, you will have no problem finding one.

That is one of the best parts of Loyola: people are incredibly supportive. While I don’t lean on my peers for studying purposes, I HEAVILY lean on them for my emotional/mental well being. Law school is stressful and the other people that are going through it as well? They get it. It is nice to know that you aren’t alone when you are struggling to understand a concept or you just don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done.

And that doesn’t change the further you get into law school, if anything it starts to get more stressful. Once you get the hang of the whole “law school game” in 1L, suddenly you are expected to get a job or an externship or an internship. And then you are invited to join a trial team or a moot court team. And then you are able to work in a clinic. But, you still have to take all of those classes that you were taking as a 1L, and you still have to get those pro bono hours done. How can you balance all of that and still have time to stay sane? Well, when you are able to talk to others and realize how they are getting everything done, you start to realize that it isn’t as daunting as it seems. So even if you decide study groups are not for you for studying, you might find that they are essential for support. And if so: use them.