Thursday, October 31, 2013

Testing the Waters

By Marlee, 1L

Uncertainty, precariousness, unpredictability, variability, inconsistency- these are a few words that make my Type-A personality cringe. Instead, I prefer certainty, consistency, and a plan. However, these words seem to sum up my life recently. While law school is new and exciting, it is far from anything certain, and the scariest part about starting anything new is uncertainty. Uncertainty about how to study, outline, or how I’ll ever train my body to wake up and function at 6:30 every morning. Looking around at my fellow type-A 1L’s I can tell I am not the only one trying to cope. However, immersing myself in Loyola activities has helped bring some stability into my life and has helped me adapt to what will be my new home for the next three years.

Tactic One: making friends with people in my section. So far my 1L life has been spent with the people in my section. Everyday from 8-12 we share the same classes, same breaks, and same library after-hours. Luckily, the best part about making friends in my section, is everyone is going through the same transition together. When I can’t figure out a topic, there is always someone to help. If I need to vent about a memo (I have re-written eight times, and still can’t figure out) there is someone to share my pain. And when I am spending hours upon hours studying, it is so nice to look around and see my classmates right there with me. Besides that I truly love the goofy individuals in my section, I really think it has been important to be able to learn and grow with the people experiencing the same challenges as I am. With that being said, while starting something new is scary, it’s much better to go through it with others.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Make Friends in Law School

By Diane, 1E

For all the extroverts and social butterflies who are afraid they will lose themselves in books once they hit law school—fear not. One thing you will hear over and over again during orientation and alumni panels is this: Students make lifetime friends in law school. 

 That’s right. You thought law school was all about cutthroat competition and ousting classmates in order to slide into a coveted “top 10%” position, right? While I won’t speak for every law school student, my experience so far hasn’t been like that at all. Do we all want to graduate? I’m sure the vast majority of us do. Do we want to graduate with lackluster grades? Probably not. But do we want to succeed at a classmate’s detriment? Nope. If anything, the competition experienced in law school pushes one to excel—not with the intention to watch others flail helplessly behind, but to keep up and be in good company. It’s what I like to call, “healthy competition.” It’s precisely this healthy competition that helps friendships in law school flourish.

Of ACS and Cupcakes

By Sarah & Mark, 3Ls

Between Turf Club and almost weekly events, even in law school many people often ask, what is ACS? When I started law school, I wondered as well. Almost three years later, I can tell you ACS has been one of the best club experiences I’ve had.

The American Constitution Society is a progressive organization dedicated to discussing the constitutional issues in a way where we critically think about how the constitution should be reflective of the needs of the people. It is the progressive counterpoint to organizations like the Federalist Society, which tend to favor “strict constructionist” or “originalism” views of the constitution.
As first year law students, my friend Mark Bolin and I didn’t have much time to think of constitutional law issues between Torts, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Civil Procedure, and all the studying. But reading Scalia decision after Scalia decision can get a little trying on a progressive’s heart. We started going to our Loyola Chapter of ACS’s events on campus, and soon became a part of the leadership in our first year. We helped the then co-presidents, Elian and Jason, host such events including: Steven Colbert’s Attorney, Trevor Potter, coming to campus to speak about the Federal Election Committee and A Supreme Court Preview, with great legal minds Erwin Chemerinsky and Laurie Levenson. Mark and I were hooked.

26 Hours a Day, 9 Days a Week...

By Marlee, 1L

Figuring out how to balance school, activities, friends, and family is a tenacious challenge. It seems as if it is impossible to fit all the activities I want to do in a mere 24 hour day, 7 day week. There are certain days where I just can’t seem to accomplish any of the goals I set out to accomplish. I find myself skipping that spin class I promised myself I would go to or canceling my lunch plans with my very pregnant sister. While I rationalize my flaking as “being too tired” or “having too much work” I have found that setting time aside to accomplish those goals outside of school is just as important as hitting the library.
Yes, law school is time consuming and requires a lot of attention, but maintaining a healthy, happy, and well-balanced life is just as important. I have noticed when I am overwhelmed it seems that piling on the readings and pulling an all-nighter seems like the appropriate solution. However, it seems as if the opposite is true. When stress levels are at a high, the antidote is simply taking a break. 

I have always found being active is a great way to relieve stress. Now, more than ever, I have realized the importance of using exercise as an anxiety relief. My new drug of choice is spin. Around six when I hit a wall and could easily fall asleep, I make sure to go to a spin class, run around my neighborhood, or go do a cheesy exercise video with my roommate. I notice that taking an hour away from reading and thinking and allowing some endorphins to flow really helps change my outlook. Knowing when it is time to put the case book down and take a break is crucial.

My nephew, the cutest kid ever
Also, taking time to see family and friends has helped rebalance me when I feel overwhelmed. After our first law school test, 1L’s had no class the Tuesday after. I had planned to spend my day reading and working on my memo. However, after snoozing my alarm until ten, I woke up and realized that my day of productivity was going in a different direction. I decided to spend the day with my sister and nephew. I knew in the back of my mind that I could do work, but I knew that I also needed to take a break. Unfortunately, I had canceled plans with my sister one too many times as I prepared for my test in the week prior. I spent the morning with her and my nephew watching Dora the Explorer and picking out pumpkins. While Dora the Explorer wasn’t exactly the kind of entertainment I had expected, my morning out was the perfect activity to transition from studying mode and back into school mode. I was home later in the afternoon and was able to focus on school refreshed and refocused.
The bottom line is, it is easy to get caught up in everyday demands, but it is important to remember life outside of law school and finding what is needed to maintain a happy, healthy, balanced life. Whether it is watching a favorite TV show, going out to lunch with a friend, taking a work out class, or taking some me-time, a break every now and then is necessary. Sometimes taking a step away from “the grind” is all you need to get re-motivated.  


Law School Lingo

By Gillian, 3L

Before I started law school, I heard all of these different terms get thrown around and I had no idea what they meant. So I thought I would devote this post to de-mystifying some of the terms you may hear before you begin your 1L year.

Case Briefs or “Briefing a Case”: Some professors may require that you “brief” every case you read before coming into class. This means writing out a short synopsis of the case, broken down into segments such as facts, procedural posture (which court we are in and how it got there), the issue, the court’s analysis, the holding, and any concurring/dissenting opinions. Case briefs are helpful in figuring out what is important to know for class, and there are many case briefs floating around online that can be helpful to look at if your head is still spinning after you first read a case. That being said, briefing is always best if you do it yourself. I like to “book brief” – meaning I don’t prepare a separate document, instead I highlight directly in my textbook, using a different color for the facts, procedural posture, issue, analysis, and holding. I have found this helpful when I get cold-called -- I know what to look for in my textbook.

Outlines: You will hear a lot about outlines and when to outline. Outlines are essentially a comprehensive study guide of everything from an entire course, written in a bullet-point style to aid in memorization prior to exams. Outlines are available online, but as I mentioned earlier, since ultimately you are responsible for the information, it is just better if you make your own.

Commercial Supplements: These are books available for purchase from companies like Emanuel Law Outlines, Gilbert Law Summaries, and Examples and Explanations. These are broad explanations tailored to each class, and can be helpful in reinforcing concepts or explaining something differently from how your professor conveyed it. These are helpful to make sure you understand things, but again, your professor will be writing your exam so it is most crucial that you understand what is covered in class.

Bar Review: This is another one that can cause some 0L confusion. Bar review has nothing to do with studying for the bar – instead it is the term for law school events at various bars or clubs throughout Los Angeles. Get it?… “Bar” review… I have no idea who coined that term, but I bet they were pretty proud of themselves.

Law school can be its own little world sometimes with its own unique language. Now you can feel a little bit more informed when people start saying things like “Oh, I have a really great contracts outline I can send you.”

Back to the Grind

By Yungmoon, 2E

The start of classes means the start of getting to see my old comrades again.  We became very close in the evening division due to our small (or shall I say... elite) class of 42 and also because we survived some very tiring nights of class together.  So, it was great to see everyone and share stories of how we spent our few months of freedom (or limited freedom for those who chose to take summer classes).

Starting 2E was a much more comfortable transition than starting 1E.  I knew how to find my classes and professors online, I knew how to find out which books I needed ahead of time, and I knew where to find assignments for the first day of class.  Beyond logistical issues, I found that I really knew what worked well for me in terms of managing my time and how to read cases.  I even found that I started taking notes in small chunks of outlines.  I hope this will make things easier when going back to outline later in the semester.  

All of that being said, the old law school adage says, "First year they scare you to death, second year they work you to death, and third year they bore you to death."  While I will have to adapt the saying since the evening program runs 3.5 - 4 years, I've found that there has definitely been more work this semester.  Especially because I have been able to continue on at The Center for Conflict Resolution ("CCR"), thanks to a very accommodating work schedule.

Here is what a typical week looks like for me:
M: 10-12pm Criminal Law, 1-5pm work, 6-9pm AppellateAdvocacy
T: 9-1 work, 2-5pm CCR, 6-7:15pm Civil Procedure
W: 10-12pm Criminal Law, 1-5pm work
Th: 9-1 work, 2-5pm CCR, 6-7:15pm Civil Procedure
F: 9-3pm work

It's a more fluid schedule than last year, and I am spending less actual hours in class.  But I also find that once meetings start to kick in for Evening Student Bar Association, I oftentimes find myself at a standstill at random points during the day, wondering where I am supposed to go next.  Luckily, one of my 2E or 1L classmates is usually there to point me in the right direction.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Why 2L Is Better Than 1L

By Jessica, 2L

Coming back to campus this year was so different from last year! Everyone always talks about how terrible 1L is and how you never go through anything worse (and by the way, side note, some of those people are a bit dramatic in my opinion. 1L is a beast but it’s not impossible and I didn’t spend a year of life miserable, but I digress), but after that it gets better. Man oh man; those people were right on the money. Here is why:

You are now free to set your schedule
Gone are the days where your life is at the mercy of the Registrar. Want all your classes done before noon so you have all your afternoons and evenings free? Do it. Want all your classes on 2 days? Do that instead. With that, say goodbye to Friday classes. Unless that’s your deal in which case, live it up! The point is it’s all up to you.

There is generally less stress
This could be further broken down because there are so many reasons for it but in the interest of time, I combined them. First, you are not taking 5 bar prep classes anymore. A lot of people have 4 classes now and 1 or 2 of them are bar prep. That means you have less work to do and thus, more free time. Second, the idea of telling your teacher that you don’t know the answer to the question they just asked you is no longer terrifying. We come here to learn the law. If everything was obvious after reading we would be overpaying and spending too much time in school. Third, since you have a year of experience behind you (some) concepts aren’t as hard to understand.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why I Love Loyola’s Campus (Or, True Life: I am Obsessed with Frank Gehry)

By Gillian, 3L

One of the most common responses I get when I tell people I go to Loyola is the following: “Oh, LMU? I love that campus! You’re so luck to be by the ocean.” I chuckle and explain that actually the law school has it’s own separate campus near Downtown LA’s Staples Center/L.A. Live, and although we are not beach-adjacent, the campus is pretty cool in its own right.

Oh, and the fact that it was designed by my favorite architect, Frank Gehry, doesn’t hurt either. (If you haven’t heard of Frank Gehry, do a Google Image Search STAT. He’s the genius behind Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, Bilbao, Spain’s Guggenheim Museum, and tons of other architectural gems around the world.)

View from the top of LLS's parking garage.
Loyola’s campus consists of one city block (between Olympic and James M. Wood streets, on Albany Street) and all of the buildings are contained on this campus. Although Loyola does not have some of the amenities of that a full-blown undergraduate university campus might, such as an on-campus gym, multiple eateries, or non-law students, the campus itself makes up for that in my opinion.

The Ritz-Carlton/J.W. Marriott
at LA Live
Frank Gehry brought his quirky point of view to Loyola, and his post-modern style permeates the campus. I love the fact that the Loyola campus has a true identity, and isn’t just some random brick building hidden in the corner of a sprawling university. Additionally, I love the fact that I can sneak in views of DTLA’s skyline as well as the Ritz-Carlton/J.W. Marriott (if you know me you know that I have somewhat of an obsession with this building as well. It is just so cool!)

One building on campus, the Burns Academic Center, which houses classrooms, faculty offices, and our cafeteria, is distinctly yellow and features zig-zagged staircases. This is definitely not your average law school building. Gehry once explained his concept for the Burns building on the Architectural Tour section of the Loyola website:
I took the stairways that would normally have been inside and spilled them onto the outside of the building with the idea that it would animate the façade and bring people out onto the front of the building, animating the building with human beings. When classes break, you see the front of the building covered with people running up and down the stairs. That complements the people walking around in the space below and gives it a lot more excitement. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

What would I have changed about my summer (before law school)?

By Brittney, 1L

When my summer officially began, I proclaimed that I would spend the summer “getting ready for law school.” At the time I took that to mean traveling, relaxing, going to the beach, practicing my hobbies, and watching every crime drama there was. I also bought Getting to Maybe, but the unfamiliar concepts required more mental energy than I was willing to exert at the time. A friend of mine in business school told me that I had to make up my mind on the type of law I wanted to practice by the time I started school. I began to research various career paths and narrowed it down significantly. While this advice turned out to be completely untrue–I’ll have to blog about the 1L rumor mill another time-it did expose me to many areas of law I never considered and I’m glad that it got me thinking about my post-law school plans.

The most memorable thing I did this summer was to drive up the coast from Los Angeles to San Jose. I had never driven that far by myself before, but I thought it would be nice to have some time to reflect, practice my photography, and catch up with some of my family in San Jose. If you’ve never made the drive up Highway 1, you should definitely put it on your bucket list. The scenic view alternates between the ocean and the mountains, with pastures and livestock in between. Along the way I stopped at Pismo Beach and was greeted by amazing frozen yogurt and quaint little shops.