Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Studying in Law School

Before coming to Loyola, I was told by several people that I would need to find a study group. You know that scene in Legally Blonde when Elle is trying to find a study group? That is what I envisioned.

In reality, study groups are just groups of classmates getting together and bouncing questions and hypotheticals off of each other. You do not have to bring muffins to bribe others (though it probably would make finding a study group exceptionally easy) and there is no “right” size for a study group, it can be two people or eight people. The truth about study groups is that they are really helpful if you like to study with other people, but they are not necessary to succeed in law school.

Personally, I study far more efficiently by myself. I get distracted easily when other people are around because I like to talk socially more than I like to talk about the cases that we just read. In all of my classes we have in-depth discussions about the material, so I never feel as though I am missing out on hearing the ideas and opinions of my peers, all of which are really helpful in shaping my own thoughts on the different subjects.

I am a firm believer that you should study the way that works best for you, not the way that everyone tells you is the “normal” way to study. I know several people that are thriving with their study groups, and I know several people that are thriving through self-study. No matter what road you decide is best, your peers will be ready to support you in class discussions, study groups, and a lot more. I have mentioned this before, and it really is true: the students here want to see others thrive, not tear them down, and in turn it creates a collaborative, helpful campus environment!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Take A Walk In My (Slightly Worn-In) Shoes

“Stressful.” That is my go-to answer every single time someone asks me, “Well, hey. How’s law school going?” Trust me, I get asked this question AT LEAST five times a week by family, friends, and coworkers. Balancing a work and school life is tough. For me personally, I have never had a week when I thought to myself, “You know what? Law school is such a breeze.” My week is jammed pack with a twenty hour work week and a full-time school schedule. I will not lie to you…there are days where I just do not want to go to class. 99.9% of the time, I get that feeling on Monday/Wednesday nights when I get off work at 6:30PM and have to drive from Beverly Hills to Loyola for an 8-10PM class. On those days, I have to remind myself that I NEED to be there because going to class is crucial if I want to earn a good grade. Once I concur that feeling and am actually in class with my friends, I instantly feel happy that I’m there and can engage in class discussion. Keep in mind that it is inevitable that you will face those same days…when you feel burnt out and just want to go home and sleep. When that happens, just remind yourself of all the reasons that going to class is in your best interest and focus on the fact that your friends will be there (and will likely be just as exhausted as you are.)

While my default mental state may be stressed out-of-my-mind, I honestly feel like the best decision that I have ever made was applying to law school. Many of the experiences and relationships that I cherish the most now-a-days have resulted from being a Loyola student. Every day, when I feel like everything is piling up and I just need a break from reality, I have a long list of classmates that I know I can hit up (and who are also looking for a brief moment to escape the grind.) The fact is…law school is only three years. Then, we are sent out into the “real world” as lawyers. We have to make the best of these years - make long-lasting relationships, network, and soak up as much knowledge as you possibly can.

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Day in the Life of a 3L Law Student

My typical law school day begins around 7am when my wife and three-year-old daughter get up to start their day. My classes don’t start until later, but I’ve got to help the others get out the door on time since my wife drops my daughter off to preschool on her way to work. After they’ve gone, I usually start reading for my first class if I hadn’t already done so. This typically takes about an hour or so. Once I’m all read up and showered, I head off to campus.

Once on campus, I go to class, eat lunch (preferably at some sort of panel or event, but certainly not every day) and do some more reading and studying. After classes are done for the day, I typically go home or stick around campus for an hour or two of work, depending on what’s due. Because I tend to front-load the first part of the day with reading/studying, I am freer in the later part of the day. In the late afternoon, I typically go to the gym or the store or do whatever “life thing” needs to be done. Around 6:30 pm, everyone is back home and it’s time to hang with the family. I’ll typically cook dinner, play games with my daughter, give her a bath and get her ready for bed. Once my daughter falls asleep, my wife and I hang out and chat or watch TV together until we hit the hay around 11:30 pm.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Beautiful Kind of Perspective

My Saturdays are filled mostly with studying these days. That’s how it was this past Saturday, too. My Criminal Law professor assigned a practice midterm (sounds fun, I know), so I spent about 6 hours, starting in the morning, doing some last-minute studying. Then, I spent 3 hours taking the test. I capped it all off by starting — but, alas, not even finishing — my reading for the same class, to prepare for Monday. By the time I walked out of the law library — the best place in town to while away an entire Saturday, of course — I was more than a little dazed. The sun had been down for several hours.

I put my books in my locker and caught a Lyft to Hollywood Forever Cemetery for their annual Dia de los Muertos Festival.

I got to the festival — which celebrated its 18th year this year — well after it started. The roads through the cemetery were lined with vendors, as well as with altars, which families had set up for their loved ones. I picked my way through the face painted crowd and found my friends waiting for Colombian rock band Aterciopelados, the final band of the night, to start playing.

After 12 hours of studying, it was a best kind of release. We sipped beers and felt the air, the first cool night of the year. Around us, a celebration of life and of the lives of family members who’ve passed on to the other side. It was a beautiful kind of perspective – a reminder that even when you’re buried in books, it’s important to get out and live a little.

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Day In the Life of A 1L Evening Student

As a student in the evening program that works part-time, my days surely look very different from your typical law student. Before starting law school, I scaled down how many hours I work each week to free up some time to study and also to keep up hobbies of mine. I knew from the beginning that I wasn’t willing to forego my exercise routine, experimental cooking, and time with my family.

Typically, I start each day by going to the gym around 5 am and I tutor my first student at 9 am. Sometimes I have other students after that and some days I don’t. During the week, I come home and experiment a little bit with cooking in the middle of the day and work on my food blog, but then I make my way to campus usually some time between 2 and 4 pm to study, handle anything that I need to on campus, and review my notes for class. I do most of my reading for class over the weekend so that during the week I’m not so pressed for time to study and I’ve noticed that it really helps! I have class Monday-Thursday at 6 pm, but I don’t work after class most days. This is a luxury that I have that many other evening students do not because they work full time and utilizing that time after class to study is often critical for them. I make it a point to wind down after class instead and prioritize sleep since I wake up so early. I have found that a lot of law students push themselves to do more work and review more and, in the process, don’t sleep enough. It may seem counterintuitive, but this extra studying might actually be hurting them if it consistently gets in the way of them getting proper sleep. So, I have made the conscious decision not to fall into that trap if I can avoid it.

The only way that I’ve been able to sustain this lifestyle is by careful planning and time management. Without this, I wouldn’t be able to balance law school, work, and my hobbies and, if I didn’t do that efficiently, all areas of my life would suffer. I definitely think there’s a method to my madness because I’ve done well in my classes thus far, I just have to hope I can keep it up!

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Day in the Life of a 1L Student: November 1, 2017

5:40 a.m.: My alarm clock rings, and I hit snooze for the first time. When you’re in law school, you squeeze sleep out of every minute.

5:50 a.m.: My alarm clock rings a second time, and it’s time to get up and get the day started.

6:15 a.m.: I grab my breakfast, my books, and I’m out the door and headed for the train station. Today, I opt to take the metro into the city because a) Class gets out at 3:10 p.m., b) Afternoon traffic out of the city is awful, and c) It’s game 7 of the World Series so everyone is out on the roads trying to get around the city to cheer on the Dodgers. When I don’t take the metro, I hop into my Beetle and make the 1+ hour commute into Downtown LA listening to my favorite morning radio show.

7:45 a.m.: After two trains and a shuttle ride, I make it to campus. After dropping my books off in the Hall of the 70s, I head over to Sonia’s to pick up a coffee. Drinking coffee is like drinking water for law students especially as the semester nears its end.

8:20 a.m.: Civil Procedure class begins. It’s time to put away cell phones and laptops and crack open textbooks and laptops. You may ask why, and the reason is different professors have different classroom policies. For this particular class, our co-professors prefer an old-school, non-technology policy to eliminate any and all distractions.

8:20 a.m. – 11:55 a.m.: I have Civil Procedure and Property classes back to back on Wednesday mornings. Honestly, Wednesday is always the toughest day of the week due to my two toughest classes: Civil Procedure due to amount of detail in the subject matter, and Property due to the number of rules and exceptions in stating the title to property. But nonetheless, I take everyday as I get it and try my best to get the work done and try to understand the material.

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.: Lunch time! The best part about long days are club meetings. And the best part about club meetings is food (and of course, listening to and learning about today’s subject matter)! Today, the Entertainment and Sports Law Society is holding a panel with Loyola alumni who work in television. They discuss their experiences, the paths they took to achieve their goals, and advice they would give us, the next generation of Loyola lawyers. One of the coolest things about Loyola is the community of alumni who come back and try to put forward for the next generation.

1:10 – 2:00 p.m.: It’s back in the classroom for legal research. Today is our last legal research class for the semester. I can’t believe we started this class back in August, and now we’re done for 2017! Like most of this year, everything is just going by so quickly! Today, our professor lets us out early so we can complete our fall practicum at home. As you can probably guess, law students live for days like this. It means we can head home early and get an extra hour to rest or catch up on work.

2:00 p.m. - 3:20 p.m.: A shuttle and two rides, and I’m back in my hometown of Azusa.


3:30 p.m. – Until I go to bed (about 12:00 a.m.): When I get home, the rest of my day is split between doing homework and taking care of my dog. On a regular basis, I make sure to give myself personal time to stretch, take a break, and relax for a bit. Some days, this break time is spent at the gym. Other days, it’s spent watching makeup tutorials on YouTube or going on rides at Disneyland. Most often, it’s spent talking to my loved ones. Today, my break time is spent watching the Los Angeles Dodgers play in game 7 of the World Series. No matter what it is I do, I’ve learned the importance of finding balance between work and play.

So there you have it, that is a day in the life of the average 1L student. Until next time friends!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A Typical Day

6:00 AM: My alarm goes off for the first time.

6:20 AM: My alarm goes off for the fifth time. I finally get out of bed and head straight for the coffee machine.

7:00-7:10 AM: I leave my apartment in Westwood to drive to Loyola. I HAVE to leave the house by 7:10 at the absolute latest or I will hit terrible traffic and will not make it to class on time. I normally eat breakfast in the car and then get a second coffee at Sonia’s as soon as I get to Loyola.

8:00 AM: My first class of the day! If it is Monday or Wednesday, I have Criminal Law with Professor Levenson, and if it is Tuesday or Thursday, I have Torts Law with Professor Hayden.

12:00 PM: By this time on Mondays and Wednesdays I am finished with classes (Property Law with Professor Petherbridge after Criminal Law) and normally drive back home to Westwood in order to avoid afternoon traffic. At least once a week, however, I stay on campus from 12 PM to 1 PM to attend a speaking engagement from one of the many law professionals that the clubs at Loyola bring in. The speakers are always law professionals in the LA area that share how they have gotten to where they are and give advice on how to navigate the job market and the legal field. Plus, there is ALWAYS free food at these events, which makes it even more enjoyable.

1:10 PM: If it is a Tuesday or a Thursday, I do not go home and instead stay on-campus after Civil Procedure with Professor Dudovitz because I have Legal Research or Legal Writing with Professor Burch or Professor Riordan. If it is a day I go home early, I normally take a break. I eat lunch and almost always take a nap (I really support napping).

3:10 PM: On Tuesdays and Thursdays, this is when I head back home. I am normally unable to nap on these days (and if I can, it is a very short one) but I still take a quick break and grab a snack.

4:00 PM: Study time! By now, depending on the day, I am either just starting to study or I have been studying for around an hour. I like to review whatever I learned in class that day first and then start on the reading for the next day. Depending on the material, this can take an hour or four hours per assignment, it just depends on the length and the subject. I eat dinner somewhere during all of this reading and normally take a break to talk to my roommates or check social media before diving back in.

9:00 PM: I am ALMOST always done reading and reviewing by this time of night if I have been diligent in my studies. This doesn’t always happen though, so sometimes I find myself studying right up until I go to bed. If I do finish, I get the last few hours of the night for myself and will choose to watch a movie, read a book, or catch-up on my DVR.

12:00 AM: I am rarely not in bed by midnight—even with a nap—and I go to sleep, ready to do it all over again!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Where Are They Now: The 2L Edition

Last year, everyone told me to just “make it through 1L year and everything will be easier.” I will admit that I do not have to spend as much time on my classes as I did last year, however, I do find 2L year very challenging. I have found balancing work, school, and my extracurricular activities to be a little stressful at times, but I have faith that it will all pay off in the end. The best part of this year is that I already have a strong relationship with classmates who I can turn to for de-stressing and for study groups. Additionally, I have found that I have carved out more time this year for life outside of law school. I make more time for myself this year with going to concerts, relaxing, and constantly reminding myself that it is okay to not be hovered over my books 24/7. All in all, this year is not quite what I expected but it is flying by. It has been a reminder that law school will be over before I know it so I need to cherish all the moments I have with friends and to seize as many networking opportunities as I can. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Fall Semester Update

Being a 3L, my classes and coursework are pretty much dialed in for this final Fall semester. With a couple years’ experience, you tend to know what the coursework will be like, what the exams will be like, and how to juggle your outside interests within the framework of being a full-time student.

What’s different as a 3L is your focus isn’t so much on grades, it’s about preparing for the bar exam and your post-school career. At certain times, I did not want to focus on these things so much and just concentrate on school, but it became clear that I needed to. Regarding bar exam prep, it was important to me to pick my 3L classes in a way that doubled as bar prep. Taking the “hard” bar exam courses during school seemed like the right thing to do to save aggravation later. Then I had to shop around and pick a bar prep course, all of which are very expensive and require tons of post-graduation studying.

As for focusing on my long-term career goals, I’m doing what I can to beef up my resume in this last school year. That means keeping my grades up, doing as much practical work as I can, and filling out my resume. I have never worked as a traditional law clerk, so I sought out a part-time law clerk job to fill that experience gap.

Overall, the 3L lifestyle is relatively easy in terms of classes, homework and exam preparation. But the change in focus may be unusually difficult and require some more time and energy than one might expect.