Thursday, December 10, 2015

Study Groups

The truth is I’ve never participated in a study group. For whatever reason, I’ve always been a solitary studier. I am sure there are benefits to group studying, but I’ve never gravitated toward the practice.

Let me just say this: there is plenty of peer feedback “in the air” as a 1L. Your section is a very large study group. You’re in classes every day with the same people…studying!

If you pay attention to what your classmates are asking, you will find many of your own questions answered. If you participate heavily in class discussions, you’ll be very engaged on the topics covered in class, and you may save yourself time later on by only needing to lightly revisit those topics. If you’re wondering what will be on the test, focus on what your professor is focusing on. As the semester wears on, I’m sure this engagement in class will reap rewards that are similar to studying in groups.

I have found it necessary at times to discuss things in depth with other students. In those situations, I’ve found it effective to reach out to others that I trust and admire academically. Everyone in class has various strengths, as do you. Trust your strengths first, then fill in the gaps with advice from trustworthy classmates who have skills you may not have. The point is, engaging with classmates can take forms other than traditional study groups.

One thing is absolutely certain about being a 1L, you need a plan of how to study. Whether that plan is to meet everyday with your friends to discuss the reading, or to read alone, or to swap notes via email, there’s no real “right way” to do it. I’ve definitely never felt any need to conform to a certain style of studying, or that there’s a sense that anyone is doing it “right” and anyone else is “wrong.” Loyola definitely fosters an individual sense of achievement that is refreshing. You can excel here being a complete loner or a social butterfly. If you’re rigorous, thorough, and put in the hours, you can figure out your own way to be a successful 1L.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Study Groups

I am lucky to have two friends in each class I am currently enrolled in. We don’t always have study groups during the year. Throughout the semester we can email each other for notes if one of us missed a class. We might also attend office hours together. Everyone tends to be very busy and we are all on different schedules. Things change once exam season begins.

Around this time, we lean on each other more than ever. We round up together to either outline, compare outlines, or go over material together. I prefer to meet with my friends after I have completed outlining and have a strong understanding of the material. Sometimes we meet in the library and other times at a coffee shop. This makes time with my study group more efficient. It also helps to pick people you genuinely enjoy being around.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Study Groups

Before talking about study groups, I want to say that generally I’m not a fan of study groups because that’s not the best way for me to personally study. I usually study alone, going through the material over and over again to myself. Because my notes are often abbreviated or simply illegible due to my use of cursive (yeah I use cursive), it forces me to reason from scratch practically each time and fill in the missing gaps. By the time exams come, starting from a blank page is no longer intimidating. However, I went to a few study groups and understand their merits.

The first study group I went to was earlier in the year. We recapped the cases and their rules one by one. It was quite a big crowd of really bright folks. However, this also meant that I sat their passively and ultimately ended up agreeing with everyone’s reasoning. Whenever I retreated into my mind to use my own usual study techniques, I ended up unconsciously tuning everyone out. I ultimately stopped attending simply because I didn’t feel like I was contributing at all, plus it wasn’t the way I studied anyways.

I recently attended another study group as finals looms. It was helpful but not necessarily for review reasons. Being at home can be distracting. Celtics games are going on (Yup, Celtics fan here. LARRY LEGEND BABY!), and I can easily get lost in my imagination when I’m listening to music. With finals ahead, it’s the time to outline. Physically being in a room with other students reviewing the material I’m trying to outline made it incredibly easy for me to focus on the task. Since we’re near the end of the semester, it’s also very apparent how study groups help other students. Those who are genuine confused on topics can get clarification from their peers. One friend of mine apparently learns best when he has to explain the material to others. Everyone benefits.

This is the ultimate cop out and clichéd answer (I’m sure pointing out how clichéd I am is inherently clichéd [Oh snap I’m going really Meta here], but I’m going to do it anyways), but study in the manner that best suits you. Nevertheless, it does not hurt to try studying in a group. You might reap some unforeseeable benefits. Even if that means preventing you from distracted from watching the Boston Celtics going 75-7 and winning the NBA championship (we’re 5-4 at the time I’m writing this post, but ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!).

P.S. If any of you find a study group that includes Jeff Britta Pierce Troy Abed Shirley and Annie, join them and you’ll have the time of your lives. Six Seasons and a Movie!

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Importance of Study Groups

One of the tips most people in law school give you during your first year is to form a study group early on in the semester. Study groups are great tools to review for exams—you can do practice questions together, go over difficult topics, or just make sure you have the correct information in your outline. I personally really liked going to study groups during my first year. It’s definitely very important to choose a group you feel comfortable with and a group that will actually get work done. I chose my three closest friends in my section and we met a couple times throughout the year, with more frequent study sessions during reading week and finals. We would go over outlines, do some review problems and compile a list of any questions we had so we could go to office hours for our professors and remember the subjects we didn’t quite understand. One of the things I most liked about study groups, especially during the first semester, was going over our outlines together. It gave me a sense of security knowing I had all the information I needed to do well on the test and that I had been taking good notes and paying attention in class.

However, while study groups worked for me, I know some people who never studied with other students and still did well. It depends on how you best learn, whether that is in a group setting or by yourself. I do suggest, though, that you try out a study group once during the first year. There is a reason most people recommend study groups—they’re a great way to form a closer bond with fellow students and get to know more of your class. While exam season can be really stressful and tough, it’s reassuring to know that everyone is in the same boat and that winter break will soon be here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Humans Thrive in Groups

For most of human history, our ancestors roamed in groups of hunter-gatherers. Those groups were physically limited to members of the tribe. But 10,000 years ago, the laws of human interaction changed. After the Agricultural Revolution, organizations—like businesses, governments, churches, and schools—emerged as groups acting with a common cause. They reaped the rewards of cooperation, and thrived.

Then, the laws of human interaction changed during the Industrial Revolution. Meta-groups—like corporations and nations—emerged from the collective activities of millions of people, many who have never met.

Today, the laws of human interaction are changing once again. We are experiencing exponential growth in inter-connectedness; for example, one billion people use Facebook everyday.[1] But we are increasingly isolated behind television, computer, and smart-phone screens. Theoretically, people can now live in complete isolation—socializing, shopping, and working entirely online—like an Orwellian dystopia.

As an introvert, in law school, I spend a lot of time by myself. Although I don’t study in groups, I depend on the support of my friends and family. Without them, I would not be flourishing at the level I am, nor working as hard as I can. They make me happy, and happiness is motivating.

These are some things I would recommend to any law student:

1. Establish a group chat with your peers. We have one where we answer each other’s questions, share jokes, and coordinate hang-outs. We even have our headquarters in the library.

2. Spend a lot of time on campus—even solo study time—and attend all possibly interesting events.

3. Be with your classmates: between class, in class, and after class. Don’t isolate yourself behind a computer screen.

4. If confronted with a choice to socialize or not, err on the side of socialization. Invest in your best relationships.

Remember, nothing can replace human interaction, not even philosophy. Even Thoreau entertained guests at Walden.[2] And Aristotle said no one could want complete isolation, except beasts and gods.[3] Some laws of human interaction never changed: we are still as dependent upon others for happiness, as we are for survival.

Humans are primarily social creatures, and we thrive in groups.

[1] Facebook, Company Info.

[2] Spark Notes, Walden, Visitors.

[3] Aristotle, Politics, Book 1, Section II.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Importance of Peers

At the beginning of law school study groups will seem like a huge deal. People will be scoping each other out to see who the “brightest” in the class are and whom they could possibly study with. I quickly realized that everyone was “bright” and that the preference to join a study group or not is truly an individual one. Quite frankly, I know that I do not do my best work in study groups. For me, I choose to only utilize larger study groups when reviewing for a midterm or final. It can help to feed off of other students by having in depth conversations about the material. Besides for these main purposes, I choose to work alone or with one other person. I tend to get work done faster and I can focus better on my own. As easy as it may be to say that you’re going to discipline yourself, study groups can too easily lend themselves to a whole lot of chit-chat and small talk about the daily struggles of law school, life, food, parties, family, and whatever else you can talk about to avoid looking at the assignment right in front of you. However, I’ve met other students who constantly work in large groups and they seem to be doing quite well.

It is important to have a great support system while being in law school. Whether that consists of family, friends, or a significant other. To be honest, I was shocked to have found such a great group of close-knit friends here in law school. Before entering, I knew I would have acquaintances, but because of the competitive nature of law school I never expected to find “true” friends. So far I’ve been lucky to really get to know and become pretty close with a small handful of girls at school. Even outside of them, I’ve gotten to talk with and get to know the majority of the people in my section. This, to my surprise, has made the ride much much easier!

Monday, November 16, 2015


My Summer

A little bit about me, I graduated from Loyola Marymount University in December of 2014. This was perfect because it gave me a convenient 8 month break before having to start law school. I majored in English and minored in theater. While my desire to go into law partly played into my choice of major, I primarily chose these areas because I genuinely enjoy reading, writing, and acting. 

Before school, I spent the summer reading the most awesome romantic fantasy series ever. A little background, I am what people call a nerd. Reading is a joy. I love the Song of Ice and Fire series, commonly known as Game of Thrones. If any of you know anything about Game of Thrones, it paints a world that is quite heartbreaking and depressing. I still love it, but I needed something in my literary life other than the suffering of my favorite characters (one of them being Theon Greyjoy). Yes, he’s one of my favorites. He’s third to be exact. Regardless, I came across the Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier in a local used bookstore. Throughout the six books (I’m confused as to why it’s called a trilogy too), I followed six Irish princesses through four generations of their family struggle against evil stepmothers and fairy kings. This literary journey was briefly interrupted by a journey to Vegas with my family where the 24 hour buffets I treated myself to will probably have dire ramifications on the next four generations of my family. With the “dread” of law school looming, it was so nice finding comfort and peace within a fantasy world of magic and love. By August, I finished reading and the illusion started to fade. However, the end of the magic perfectly coincided with the birth of the real.

Being from Redondo Beach, I’ve always heard that Loyola Law has an incredibly friendly student community. Like any new student, I dreaded the possibility that my peers were going to be malicious and cutthroat. I was so glad to find out what I heard about Loyola’s community was indeed true. We had to do this research assignment, which can be incredibly confusing for us 1Ls. I finished the assignment with my classmate earlier this morning. We were about what the correct answer was for a particular problem. We decided to stick with our respective guts. Right when I got home that day, I got a text from him: “Kevin, we were wrong about that one for research. The difference one. Look at 10.02. The only difference that I found is that….if the trademark is registered or not. That’s what we need….FIX IT NOW…No problem. Looking out for as many people as I can.” To have someone frantically text you a correction about an assignment, which honestly I was being quite stubborn, really made me glad that I have folks like these as classmate. Although no longer in the fantastical world of Sevenwaters, I am equally optimistic that now I am a part of this even better Loyola community.


Going to law school was not always in the cards for me. Back in high school, I thought I wanted to become a pharmacist…and then I took a chemistry class and realized I would not make it through pharmacy school. I started thinking about my other interests and found that I really enjoyed reading and writing. Once I entered college, I felt secure in my choice to major in political science, as all of my classes revolved around reading and writing papers. It was around this time that I also started thinking about law school, especially because my university (UC Berkeley) had an amazing law school (Boalt). I decided to take initiative and applied to several internships for the summer, landing one at a small civil and family law firm. My summer experience at the small firm was fantastic, as I was given the opportunity to research and even write a little. The lawyer I worked for also allowed me to sit in on his client meetings and essentially gave me the responsibility of handling the family law sector of the firm. That experience definitely helped cement my interest in law school.

Unlike most other people, I went straight from undergrad to law school. I have been lucky enough to travel with my family since I was little so I didn’t feel the need to take a year to see the world. After graduating from Berkeley in three years, I knew I wanted to jump straight into the next adventure of law school. And I don’t ever regret my decision—I think the decision to take time off depends on the person and the difficulty of his or her undergraduate career.

Even though law school can be hectic and busy, I still make time to do the things I love. I make sure to go visit my family at least every 2 weeks and I try to bake every so often to relieve stress. Baking is one of my favorite hobbies and I love trying out new recipes for my classmates to taste. I also enjoy going out to new areas of LA and exploring the different types of food in the city. So I suggest that everyone take study breaks, especially since they are perfect for going to a new coffee shop!


Law school is interesting because you meet people from all different walks of life. No matter how dissimilar we are, we all share one common denominator, which is the fact that our lives have somehow led us to pursue this crazy thing called a law degree. I was out of school for no longer than two months before starting law school. Before law school I worked two jobs, one as a lead student mentor at my undergraduate institution and the other was in retail. I especially enjoyed the role I played at my undergrad because it was always so rewarding to guide fresh, new students in the right direction and help them avoid all the stupid mistakes that I made during my initial years as an undergraduate student. There, I discovered how interested I was in motivational speaking and uplifting others.

Aside from that, people who know me know that I am HUGE on health and wellness. For me this includes eating clean (or as clean as possible), getting the right amount of physical activity, and whatever else comes along with making myself feel strong and confident from the inside out. I think most people can agree that we tend to perform much better in our daily lives when we are healthy, confident, and feeling great. It’s easy to think that all you have time to do in law school is study, or feel guilty when you try to do anything other than study, but it is extremely important to make time for and to take very good care of yourself.

Here, at Loyola, I plan on focusing in on Entertainment law, which encompasses a lot of different facets but I plan to focus more in the arena of television and production.


Tis’ My Art

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American invests 2.2 hours in leisure reading per week, yet consumes 2.8 hours of television per day.[1] I’m literally the opposite. I watch 60 Minutes, but I prefer to read the Times.

Granted, I have a small reading addiction. I’ve dabbled in geopolitics, economics, quantum physics, and self-help books. My tiny library includes Aristotle and Nietzsche. I’ve experimented with ancient materialism, modern conservatism, and post-modern tribalism.

Before law school, I’d end a book per week… except for 500+ page treatises. As a writer, I’ve written (from my armchair) about psychology, sociology, theology, philosophy, economics, espionage, science, and anthropology. I also pen—very metaphysical—poetry. Tailoring ideas, omitting words, parsing paragraphs, and shaping sentences tis’ my art.

My goal is to (1) read, speak, and understand Legalese fluently, (2) translate it into English, and (3) change the world with my words.

In other words, to (1) extern, clerk, and practice law, (2) write for the court as a Judge, then as a Justice, and (3) to write a book worth reading.

My book will explore the lead-role that feelings play in our thoughts and actions. I believe emotion is the “man behind the curtain.” Not reason. Understanding this liberated me from involuntary ignorance. Nevertheless, I’ve got a lot more to learn before I start teaching.

If you like my style, bookmark this blog (Ctrl+D) or email me at Thank you for reading!

Top shelf of my library.

Books In my library I want to read.

[1] Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics News Release, American Time Use Survey — 2014 Results, p. 23.


Hello! My name is Steve Riley, and I am a happy 1L at Loyola Law School.

My educational and professional background is in music. Once upon a time, in the age of the first-generation iPod, I attended Berklee College of Music. In the years since then I’ve been in the music business, first as a distribution manager for a record label, then as a freelance musician. I initially felt that the “business” side of music would be the ticket, but once I started getting paid jobs as a drummer I never looked back.

Using the little I knew about marketing and e-commerce, I made my niche as an “online studio musician.” I marketed myself as a drummer with my own recording studio, and I got lots of work recording “drum tracks” for producers and bands. I would get drum-less songs sent to me, I would record drums onto my computer, then send them back to the client so they could mix them into the final product. In addition to this, I toured a bit in bands and played in at least a dozen musical theater productions.

My previous office
But as they often do, priorities changed. I found myself wanting to take on more responsibilities as a professional. Being a drummer had dominated the past two decades, and I was yearning to start over with a new pursuit. The idea of studying law was always something in the back of my mind and as time went on, it began to shove its way into the front. Pretty soon this idea was a reasonable reality, and now here I am!

I do as much as I can outside of law school. I still play gigs on Saturdays at The Grove in L.A., and pick up other gigs when I can. Oh yeah, and I have a 1 ½-year old daughter that I’m raising. So that takes a lot of my free time. My wife and I have our hands full with her but she’s super fun and laughing with her is a great stress reliever. Sometimes I’ll sneak off late at night to see an alternative comedy show or a concert, but most nights I spend wrangling a toddler, briefing cases and reading, reading, reading!

Halloween 2014 with my daughter, Deanndra


2(L)ate toTurn Back

I skip down the stairs at Union Station and slide through the train doors before they quickly close behind me. I’m headed to the Stanley Mosk Courthouse. Every Monday starts like this one. I watch the morning calendar, then walk to my supervisor’s office. I am handed two motions due by Wednesday. I play it cool. I scribble down her instructions verbatim then enter the empty jury room to begin writing. I am worried, but remind myself how lucky I am to have this opportunity. This is privilege.

My name is Stephanie. I am a make-up enthusiast, puppy owner, and current 2L. Before coming to Loyola, I spent most of my time working retail. Throughout undergrad I held two part-time jobs and an internship. I have always wanted to attend law school. I wanted to protect people and in my eyes that is exactly what law does.

So here I am, in my second year, attempting to balance a full schedule. My life is held together by my pink day planner and assortment of colorful highlighters. In my free time, I enjoy catching up with friends and attending networking events. I am constantly learning, growing, and changing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My Finals Survival Checklist

            This title was recommended to all of us bloggers as a topic that would be appropriate for this time of the year, and it may well be because a checklist is one of the most valuable documents a law student can create in preparing for a final exam. 


            Let me preface: finals are a bit terrifying.  In your first year, most classes like Property, Torts, Contracts, and Civil Procedure are 5 units and they are required to have a mid-term exam, which counts for somewhere between 15-25% of your final grade.  It’s meant to give you an idea of how you’re doing and where you might need to improve your understanding of the material or hone your exam-taking skills.  But that still leaves 75-85% of your grade to the final exam.  With subsequent courses, the final exam is often 100% of your grade.  And grades matter in law school.  They really matter.  Employers select interviewees based on grades.  Big Law partners mention Order of the Coif on their webpage 30 years after graduation.  So you want to do the best you can on your finals.


            One of the best techniques for doing well on a final exam is to create a checklist.  I did this for Contracts my first year, and it made all the difference.  A typical law school exam will have a fact pattern, a little story where the characters have legal problems with each other, and it’s your job to “IRAC”:  spot the Issues, state the Rule, Apply the rule, and come to a Conclusion.  (IRAC is an acronym you’ll hear tossed around all the time in law school.)  When reading through a fact pattern, I like to make notes as soon as I spot an issue or possible issue – sometimes it’s a red herring.   Some issues jump out right away and it’s easy to dive into those and begin your analysis.  But inevitably, there are other issues that are not so obvious, and that’s when it’s good to have a checklist.  Generally speaking, the professors are going to test you on all the material they covered during the course of the semester or the year.  A 5 unit class will have about 70 hours of lecture.  That is going to be A LOT of material, so having a checklist can be really useful. 

In the contracts final, as soon as the exam started, I used the scratch paper provided and wrote my 25-point checklist.  It was basically a list of all the topics we had covered.  It only took a minute to write it, but then I could go through my analysis and make sure I had covered every element on that list.  And there were a few issues I wouldn’t have spotted without the checklist.  As the adage goes, you find what you’re looking for.  And having a checklist is a very good way to make sure you find the things that will lead you to a better grade.

My Finals Survival Checklist

There is law school and there are finals, and they are two very different experiences. A tour guide at Loyola told me this before I started law school and I could not agree more. The entire campus environment shifts during finals. Emails stop, hours of operation change, and an aura of seriousness looms over the campus. It is easy to be overwhelmed with anxiety over the ominous curve and often only having one test to show that you have learned everything from the class. Thankfully, as I am preparing for my fourth semester of law school finals, I have picked up some dos and don'ts that alleviate some of the stress.

·      You know more than you think you do – With so many classes and topics dancing around your head, it is easy to feel as if you have not quite mastered anything. However, while outlining and studying, things the professor said and things you read magically start to come back to you like a dream in a Disney movie. I cannot quite explain why, but they really do.

·      Take care of yourself, eat right, exercise and sleep every night – Sounds cliché, but when you feel as if everything in on the line it is easy to start making small sacrifices to your health. For most students, finals period includes a week and a half of reading period and one to three weeks of exams. With almost a month dedicated to finals, it really is much more like a marathon, than the sprint of undergraduate exams; and sugar crashes and sore throats do not make for optimal information retention.

·      Environment is everything – Everyone studies differently and it is important to figure out where you study best. Some people study in the library, while others like local cafes, and still others like to study at home. I am a bit of a nomad studier, personally. I study as long as I can in one place and then a change in scenery keeps me from getting antsy. I have also realized that when I am studying independently, I am a stickler for noise. I invested in some good earplugs my first semester, and during finals they are never out of arms reach.

·      Don't overlook the important of knowing the logistics – Law school exams can make you feel like you are taking the SAT . . . every single time. There are assigned rooms, strict rules about what you can bring in, when you can and cannot take food and bathroom breaks, and specific rules for the particular exam from your professor. In particular, it is important to make sure you have the updated software and know where you are supposed to go for the exam. It is very easy to get thrown off your game when you walk into the wrong room for your final because you assumed you were with the same group of testers you were with for a previous exam or when you did not update to the latest software so you have to take the exam by hand unexpectedly . . . not that I personally know anything about those embarrassing situations J

My Finals Survival Checklist

With finals rapidly approaching, it is time to implement my 4-step end of semester routine. 

Step 1. Schedule time off.  As an evening student, the tension between work and academic priorities peaks during exam season.  I ask for time off strategically, such as the day before and the day of an exam, as well days during reading period.  Fortunately, this year I am able to take a few weeks off between my year-round position and my summer position, allowing me to focus wholly on my studies.

Step 2. Outline.  Professors teach material over the course of four months (or more for year-long classes).  It is impossible to remember every detail from every class, which is why law students typically outline their courses before finals.  Outlining is a way to review, organize, and shorten material on paper before exams.  This ensures material is fresh in your mind.


Step 3. Memorize.  I create a long outline that has notes and details covered in class; then I create a short outline that I memorize nearly verbatim.  The short outline lays out a structure for me to use when responding to exam questions and helps me remember important points from my long outline. 


Step 4. Practice.  Many professors have previous exams available for students.  Even if they don't, they often make sample exams available or recommend supplements with practice questions.  Practice is essential for me to be able to complete an exam efficiently and thoroughly.  Since many exams are designed so that a well-prepared student needs the entire allotted time, there is little room for trial by error, reorganization of answers, or excessive time spent remembering the rule.

While I generally follow these rules, sometimes I adapt them based on the exam format and time constraints for studying.  So when I am asked how I prepare for finals, my answer, like my answer to most law-related questions, is that "it depends."   

My Finals Survival Checklist

  1. Coffee—and lots of it!  When I’m feeling a little over-loaded with coffee, I sometimes switch to green tea.
  2. A quiet area as free from distractions as possible. 
  3. Lots of blank flash cards and comfortable pens (your hands might feel numb after writing hundreds of rules and cases on flash cards).
  4. Highlighters—zero in on those important rules and terms.
  5. Outlines—your own and those of others who’ve already taken the class, if those outlines are available.  It’s beneficial to compare/contrast.
  6. Snacks.  You might forget to eat otherwise.
  7. Some funny law school memes online to remind yourself that you are not alone in the struggle and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
  8. Understanding friends/family.  You might not see them for a while, and they should be able to handle that. 
  9. Dogs.  They are excellent de-stressers.  Nothing like a good, furry hug and game of fetch to break the monotony and make you feel like a human again. 
  10. The occasional break, whether it’s to hit the gym, go for a walk, or get a massage. 
  11. No matter how tempting it is—RESIST THE URGE TO STUDY IN BED.  It will not work.  And, no, you will not resume studying at 4AM if you fall asleep at 2AM.
  12. Having said #11, GET SLEEP!  Finals are a marathon, not a sprint.  It’s one thing to stay up all night finishing a memo or law brief, if you can spend the next day snoozing after you’ve turned the paper in.  But, for a 4-hour final exam, you cannot be dozing off.  You need to be on your A-game, and that’s not possible unless you’re well-rested.
  13. Make plans to attend the post-finals bar review, or make plans to go on vacation after your last final (if all else fails, there’s always Disneyland).  Then, tuck that idea away and do not re-explore it until your last final is over.
  14. Remember to get your vitamin D.  Sometimes I take my flashcards out to the backyard and study outside on a lounge chair.  Makes studying so much less unpleasant.
  15. After a particularly draining day, run a bath.  Soak.  Re-charge.  Get back to work.   

My Final Exams Survival Checklist

Final exams are coming in just a couple weeks.  Now that it’s my 4th semester of exams, I’ve narrowed down what I study. 


1. My list of cases for the entire course, with the notes I took on each one as to “standout facts”, “the takeaway”, and “nuances of the case” which include interesting ideas that were set forth in the court’s opinion.  I use this to memorize the case names and facts as best I can so I can think of them immediately.  


2. My stack of printouts of every case’s “pro” case brief that I found on line to read through each one in case I missed anything by reading the actual cases or from taking notes in class. 


3. My “List” list…this is where I write down every kind of rule and element to each rule, again to memorize it completely, with quick references to which cases they apply.


4. My Acronym Page.  This is the page where I write down the first letter of every single case, term, and element of rules I’ve memorized.  I create some crazy acronym so that when I sit down on the exam, the first thing I do in the first 5 minutes of that exam is to write it down so I have a quick reference list to use AT the exam…this way I don’t forget a rule or a case.  


5. My lucky ear plugs.  I’ve used the same ear plugs since my first exam in law school and will continue to use them until I graduate.  I know it’s gross but I feel they bring me good luck.  


6.  My quick before-exam prayer with my eyes closed, “God please let me get at least a B+ on this exam.  I’ve studied really really hard.  PLEASE GOD? (eyes squinting harder) Thanks much. (relax eyes)  Amen.”  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Best Part of this Semester

By Diane, 2E

As the 2014-2015 Evening Student Bar Association (“ESBA”) President, I’ve been offered opportunities that have colored and enriched my law school experience.  I’ve been invited to leadership brunches and luncheons, in addition to a number of Q & A panels that I’ve been asked to participate in or moderate.  I’ve also been asked to partake in the interview process for a potential new faculty hire.  Overall, being a part of the ESBA is a great opportunity to meet professors, alumni, and fellow students.

Just last week, the ESBA held an evening alumni mixer.  Four alumni from the LLS evening program came to share their experiences and offer students their words of wisdom.  Amazing finger foods and drinks were served at the same time.
I remember sitting in the audience last year at a similar event and feeling impressed by the passion the alumni had for Loyola Law School.  Needless to say, it felt great knowing that I had networked enough within the span of a year to invite an alumni friend to participate in the panel this year and to be on “the other side” as the panel moderator this time around.

Being an active member of the ESBA is truly rewarding—but like anything, it is what you make it.  I’ve chosen to make the most of the opportunities LLS has given me.  As a result, I have come to know many of the wonderful professors and staff on campus as well as the alumni who are passionate about sharing their experiences with new generations of lawyers-in-the-making.

The Best Part of this Semester

By Reichen, 2E

The best part of this semester happened for me at exactly half way through it.  I clerk at the law firm of Girardi-Keese, which is very close to school, and it has an Aviation Law department.  As a prior pilot, I’m very lucky to be managing all of the firm's aviation cases that most often revolve around airline and aircraft safety issues.

Just recently, as in yesterday, I was asked to write an amendment to a complaint we earlier submitted on one of our cases.  The issues that arose from a leave to amend granted by the federal judge in the case were, literally, issues I had learned about in Civil Procedure just the 3 days before.  It sounds crazy, but I knew how to solve the issues proposed by the judge in the memo and discuss them intelligently with my supervising attorney because I had learned how the issues play out by learning them in class over the prior three days.  Talk about serendipity.

Civil Procedure as a class is definitely one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced while at Loyola.  There is so much to memorize and learn in a short period of time, so it can be frustrating when you have to read the same thing over and over for a few days before you understand it.  When this happened at my firm, I realized I knew more than I thought I did, and being able to apply it made it that much more understandable.  To top it off, I brought the issue to Professor Vairo (my Civ Pro professor) and she offered to help me make sense of what I was working on outside of class.  It’s nice to know that I have a working level of knowledge in law already and to have faculty supporting me through it all to help me do my best, and to do the best for the firm and our client.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Best Part of this Semester

By Brittney, 2L

The best part of this semester has been the opportunity to extern at the California Attorney General’s Office in the Health Quality Enforcement section. Loyola allows you to extern during the school year in place of the class. For every 52 hours per semester, you are able to earn one pass/fail class credit. I already knew I wanted to get practical experience during the school year, so it is really great to be able to receive credits to replace a class, as opposed to trying to stretch myself thin and extern in addition to a full class load.

I first heard about the opportunity at the Government Fair hosted on campus. I was indifferent towards the idea of government work and had never heard of the Health Quality Enforcement section, but I already knew I was interested in health law. As soon as I started talking to the representative who at the fair and reading the overview of the internship, I knew it was a great opportunity that I was very interested in. Thankfully they offered me the internship and it turned out to be the perfect fit.

The Health Quality Enforcement section primarily prosecutes disciplinary proceedings against physicians and other health care licensees on behalf of various medical boards, including the Medical Board of California. This occurs when a medical professional has been found by the board to engaged in unprofessional conduct or other violations of their professional obligations. Needless to say, everyday is interesting and reminds me of a TV show.

It has also been great exposure to litigation. I learn something new every single day. By my second week there I began to draft petitions and declarations. It is a really great feeling to know that whatever I do next, whether it be government or not, I am a little more prepared and confident.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Best Part of this Semester

By Hayden, 2E

Let me give a little context.  As evening students, we’re required to take certain classes at certain times.  As we get further into the four-year program, we’re allowed more flexibility to choose our curriculum.  In planning this semester’s courses, I had two competing principles in mind.  One was to take a lighter load so that I would have plenty of time to study for final exams – there’s a prevalent school of thought that employers only look at your GPA, regardless of what you studied.  The other principle was to study things that really interested me, without strategizing about grades.  I ended up going with the second option, and I’m glad I did.  Although I have friends who planned their courses almost entirely around being able to get good grades (and their plans paid off with lucrative jobs), for me it was important to achieve certain personal goals about what I wanted to learn in law school.  Also, I figured it would be easier to get good grades in the classes that I really wanted to take, because my interest in the material would get me through the necessary drudge-work.  And I believe that no matter how much you love something, whether it’s a class or a job, there will always be some aspects that are drudgery.  That was true for me even when I was making my living as an actor, which was mostly ridiculously fun.

My “fun” course this semester is the International Commercial Arbitration Moot Court.  We’re learning about bodies of international laws and protocols as we get experience prepping a case for arbitration.  Professor Aaron Ghirardelli is guiding us as we comb through a folder of arbitration pleadings and exhibits to search for relevant facts and issues to make a compelling argument for the claimant.  We’re researching international arbitration cases, domestic cases, and scholarly commentary to support our claim in a memorandum.  Soon, we’ll flip to the other side and write a memorandum for the respondent.  At the end of the semester, we’ll argue both sides before JAMS arbitrators at their downtown location.  JAMS is an acronym for “Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services.”  According to the website, “JAMS a distinguished global panel of retired judges and attorneys with uncompromising objectivity who are capable of resolving the most complex disputes where the parties appear to be unyielding.”  According to Professor Ghirardelli, our arbitrators will be brilliant legal minds who have taken a real interest in working with law students.

What a great opportunity to argue before real arbitrators! This is exactly what we’ll do if we work in the field of international commercial arbitration, so it’s good practical experience.  I’m enjoying working with so many international students in the course.  It’s fun writing a persuasive brief, finding the right balance between professional etiquette and vigorous advocacy.  And I’m looking forward to getting on my feet and arguing my case before JAMS.  I even have a romantic vision of drafting memoranda in my Paris office, taking a moment to enjoy my spectacular view of the Tour Eiffel.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

This course is one of the many opportunities available to hone your lawyering skills and develop practical skills.  I recommend it wholeheartedly.

The Best Part of this Semester

By Yungmoon, 3E

During my first year, I recall seeing groups of high school students on campus.  Since our campus is a law school only campus, naturally I was curious as to why they were there.  I found out that they are participants in our Young Lawyers Program, where local high school students come to Loyola's campus to prepare for a full mock trial.  

This January, I finally had the availability to participate in Young Lawyers.  The students come to campus once a week for twelve weeks, and the program will culminate in a trial that they will present before an actual judge.  Every week, they complete homework assignments, like writing opening and closing statements, developing themes, and learning objections.  Parents, friends, and the community attend the final trial to support the students and give them an opportunity to show off all their hard work.  

Besides giving the students a chance to learn more about trial advocacy as high school students, the program also provides a mentoring aspect.  We are broken up into smaller teams, where we work with the same students every week, developing relationships and providing one on one feedback.

I recently heard that there is a 1L student currently at Loyola who was a past program participant.  With the continued efforts of our wonderful faculty, volunteering practitioners, and students, hopefully she is just the start.

The Best Part of this Semester

By Marlee, 2L

My favorite part of the semester is my private placement externship.  I am externing at a civil litigation law firm that specializes in business litigation and personal injuries. I am lucky enough to shadow a few attorneys and have had the opportunity to see some really cool things [cool to a law student, not as cool to a seasoned attorney]. My day usually consists of different attorneys stopping by my desk to ask me to go to court with them, sit in on a deposition, help with trial preparation, or observe a new client interview.

My externship is my favorite part of the semester because I feel like I am getting the opportunity to see a day in the life of a lawyer. I have taken a mediation class, I am currently enrolled in the civil litigation practicum, and I am learning about client interviews and interactions in ethical lawyering. However, having the opportunity to sit in on an actual mediation this semester, watch an attorney prepare his client for a deposition and observe attorneys deal with [sometimes difficult] client interactions, has been a whole different type of learning that is hard to compare to in-class learning.

No law student can deny that law school can be so rewarding, but sometimes it can be overwhelming. While I’ve had moments where I feel motivated about my future profession and excited to become a lawyer, I have also had moments [usually mid-finals] where I question my ability to practice law or wonder if I chose the right path.  I love my externship because it helps confirm that lawyering is doable. Of course lawyering may be overwhelming at times, but I’ve loved observing how rewarding it can be as well.  The externship has allowed me to see that being a lawyer is much like being a student of law school. Not simply in curriculum, but rather the unforeseen obstacles, important deadlines and sometimes quite literally mounds of work. However, what is missed in law school practice is the biggest reward of being an attorney, which is participating in the betterment of other people’s lives.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Winter Break—Getting Over “Mom Guilt” and Catching Up with Life Outside Law School

As a working mother in law school, I’m often asked, “How do you do it all?” The truth is, sometimes I think I suck at it.  I’m not going to lie—I experience “mom guilt” and wish I could spend more time with my 5-year-old son.  There is a silver lining, though.

Law school drives home the reality that my son’s childhood years are fleeting, and that his time as my baby is limited and constricted.  If I don’t take advantage of my time with him now, he’ll be off to college before I know it and wincing at the thought of his ole’ mama planting a wet one on his cheek.
Prior to law school, though, this reality seemed so distant.  I would always have tomorrow to do that fun activity with him; there would always be next month to visit Disneyland together.  Law school changed that.  It created a sense of urgency—one that I had not previously felt—and I’m grateful for it.

So, when my winter break rolled around, I meticulously planned each week to accommodate family activities.  Not a day was wasted (although I did fantasize about a day of doing absolutely nothing but watching Netflix in pajamas).  Family activities weren’t the only ones on the agenda, as I was able to catch up with my life outside of law school in general.

Here’s a brief recap of my winter break:

Trimmed the Christmas tree.
Attended work-related holiday parties.
Took my son to Disneyland.

Fostered a former street dog from Romania until she got adopted.

Took my son to Legoland (our first time there).
Caught up with non-law school friends whom I hadn’t seen in quite some time.
My cousin and her kids came to visit me for a week.
Took my family to Costa Rica and we snorkeled, swam, relaxed, zip-lined, and trekked through the rainforest.

Celebrated my 31st birthday with a limo, champagne, and 7 fabulously fun friends in West Hollywood.

It doesn’t look that intimidating in list form, but there is no way I would have been ambitious enough to fit all of those activities within the span of a few weeks had I not felt a distinct sense of urgency to utilize every moment of my break from law school to pop back into the lives of those I care about.  And, boy, were epic memories made!  My son thought I was fun and cool again.  My friends remembered why they were friends with me.  My dogs wondered why I was crazy enough to let a peculiar 3rd dog sleep in my bed (just kidding—they all got along swimmingly).

So, while law school does cause me to take a break from the things I love to do and, at times, to retreat from the people I love to be around, it also teaches me how to do what a fictional English teacher, John Keating, once said:  “Carpe diem, seize the day...make your lives extraordinary.”

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Back to School

By Reichen, 2E

It’s time to get back to school.  I’m looking forward to this semester because at the end of it I’ll be half way done with the evening program.  Time really is flying.

I spent the break getting more done at work than usual, skiing, and just enjoying not having any reading.  Just enough time to recharge my batteries for another semester.  See you at the library!

How I Spent my Winter Break

By Marlee, 2L

This winter break I ventured up to Portland, Oregon to visit my boyfriend and his family. My trip was filled with tons of food, wine tasting, and snowy adventures. We rang in the New Year by taking a trip to Mount Hood for some skiing. Little did my boyfriend know I had little to no (much closer to the no spectrum) experience with snow or skiing. Living in southern California my whole life and being raised in a family who really doesn’t enjoy cold weather has left me little opportunity to experience snowy activities.

After spending an hour waiting in lines to get ski gear, we finally made it to the mountain. My fears came true when my boyfriend decided I should nix a ski lesson and learn by trial and error. Luckily, I seemed to master the bunny slopes quickly. I started to pick up on my boyfriend’s hidden motives- he was on a mission to test my ski abilities and kept challenging me with a tougher part of the mountain. Unfortunately, “Cascade” was my downfall.  “Cascade” turned my skiing into sledding and I worked my way down the mountain primarily on my stomach.

Other than my trip to Portland, my winter break consisted of family time, sleeping in, catching up on shows, and constant relaxation. The holiday season is undeniably my favorite time of year so I am always a little sad to welcome in January, but I can tell 2015 is going to be a great year!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ode to the Simple Pleasures

By Brittney, 2D

Winter break is one of the lesser-mentioned pleasures of law school. It is a glorious month with no assignments or obligations between fall and spring semester. Some of my classmates are taking vacations to interesting places like Peru and London; while others are heading to their respective home states to catch up with loved ones. I am spending this winter break here in Los Angeles paying tribute to life’s simple pleasures that tend to take a backseat during the semester.

Everyday I get to wake up the sun shining through my windows. I get to attend my favorite aerobic instructor’s classes and even arrive early enough to get my favorite spot. I have been taking full advantage of Amazon Prime Instant Video and finally figured out how to get the sound to come out of my TV instead of my computer. Hobbies that had become mere talking points on a resume, become hobbies once more.

My selfish indulgences are pleasantly interrupted by the holiday’s reunion of friends and family. The priceless conversations with family will give me the laughter and warmth I need to fuel my spring. One little brother asks me skeptically why I’m not studying like I was during Thanksgiving. Another little brother attempts to analogize the high stress and workload of high school with law school. And let’s not forget the reassurances…reassuring my mother that I’m eating well, reassuring my grandfather that I’m exercising regularly, reassuring my great grandmother that I’m saying my prayers daily, and reassuring my uncle that I will have a job after I graduate.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that it is also nice to have some free time to work on some things for school. As much law school and becoming an attorney is the last thing on my mind after my last final, a few days of down time gives me time to remember how close I am to achieving my dreams. This prompts some final edits on my writing sample, additional (never-ending) fine-tuning of my resume and the ambition of getting a head start on my note for law review.

Now, back to some guilt-free TV watching.

How I Spent Winter Break

By Hayden, 2E

Because I like writing, I wanted to have one class with a paper instead of an exam this semester.  Professor Jessica Levinson’s seminar “Money and Politics” really appealed to me both because I’m interested in politics and because I liked her dry sense of humor when she spoke to our class last year.  The class was great  - it forced me to question my own assumptions about campaign finance and look deeper into the unexpected repercussions of certain policies.  For example, I was an advocate of absolute transparency and disclosure for all political contributions, because it seemed reasonable to know who is funding any given candidate or ballot measure.  But now I also see the other side of the argument – that a donor might feel strongly about a candidate or issue, but might want to keep that opinion and the donation that expresses it private.  After all, when we go into the voting booth, we vote with privacy, and that’s a given.  People would be horrified if they thought their voting record would be listed in a database on the web somewhere.  So why should it be that way for their political donations?

The Money and Politics paper was due on the last day of exams, which is typical for a class with a paper.  This turned out to be a double-edged sword. Yes, I had extra time to work on the paper after the other final exams, but I was in the library until the bitter end of the final exam period, while everybody else was already kicking back.  Fortunately, I enjoy researching and writing, so 12 hours everyday in the library is…well, if not an unbridled joy, it’s at least something I usually find very engaging.

Winter Break itself was good!  You have to have a break.  You work your tail off during the semester, and doubly so during finals, so you need some time to relax and gear up for the next round.  I have family in Colorado and we always spend Christmas there.  It’s beautiful and cold and snowy and we always get our White Christmas fix.  Plus, it’s really nice to have family to help take care of our three-year-old boy.  

We start back on January 12th and I’m getting started on the reading now.  It will be another challenging semester!

Spread the 3E Cheer

By Yungmoon, 3E

During my 1E and 2E holiday breaks, I was able to lounge in my bunny slippers and spend a few blissful weeks where my biggest issue was figuring out what I would be eating for dinner.  The holiday break of my 3E year, however, is turning out to be a different story.

The Scott Moot Court Honors Board sends students to represent Loyola at three different competitions.  This year, I will be representing Loyola at the ABA Moot Court Competition.  While I am tremendously excited to be participating, our team's brief is due January 5.  Thus, much of my holiday break will be spent researching, writing, and perfecting our brief.

While this may not sound like much of a break, preparing this brief is actually quite different from school.  For starters, this is the first time I am preparing a brief with a team.  We are able to bounce ideas off of each other and give thoughtful feedback.  Our brief will be scored as a team, with no differentiation for us as individuals.  It is a very unique experience that lays a strong foundation for our work as actual attorneys, where we will collaborate and create briefs as a team for our clients.  Additionally, we receive feedback from our coaches that has a different focus from feedback we typically receive in class.  Finally, this is an opportunity for us to represent Loyola in a nationwide competition.  Every member of our competition team went through the tryout process last Spring in the hopes of making the team and having the chance to represent our school.

Although we are still working hard over break, it's a different kind of work, both in terms of the substance and the joint effort it requires.  Luckily for me, my team doesn't mind if I wear my bunny slippers to practice.