Monday, April 30, 2018

School’s (Almost) Out for Summer!

I cannot believe how quickly this year has gone by! It truly seems like I started writing this blog a couple weeks ago, not months and months ago.

I am almost sad that the year is basically over, but I am ready to start picking my own classes and start learning on the job! First year law students are not allowed to work during the year, so the summer after 1L is the first opportunity we get to start applying our newfound knowledge towards a real law job.

This summer I will be working full-time as a law clerk for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. I will be primarily working with the Misdemeanor Unit, but I will also have the opportunity to assist other units as needed. I will be doing legal research, case intake, and assisting in arraignment hearings. I will be in court at least one day each week and have the opportunity to observe different argument styles and motions. I am looking forward to exploring my interest in prosecution and putting my criminal law and civil procedure courses to good use!

I would not have gotten this position without the help of Loyola. My criminal law professor inspired me to apply and sparked my interest in the position, and having Loyola Law School on my resume made me stand out. My interviewers raved about the other Loyola students that they had hired and about what great trial lawyers come out of Loyola. The reputation of LLS is not bound by the lines of Los Angeles County, and I know that it helped put me over-the-top in my interview.

I will also be remotely doing part-time research for Professor Jessica Levinson as a research assistant this summer. The research will be for her weekly radio and television appearances and I am really excited to have the opportunity to explore and research different areas of the law! Without Loyola, I never would have had the opportunity to learn from Professor Levinson or had this chance to continue developing my research skills. I am so grateful for the first year that I have had in law school and this Loyola community. I cannot wait to be back next year and do it all again!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Welcome To My Life

For those of you reading my blog posts for the first time, I am a second year student at Loyola —- aka I’m a “2L.” This year could not possibly be any more different from last year (1L.) Last year, I never had to worry about the work-life balance or endure Friday classes. However, during the fall semester of my 2L year, I was really struggling if I’m being honest. I was working 20 hours a week and going to class full time. The thing I found most challenging was on Mondays and Wednesdays when days seemed to never end. I had a 1 hour and 45 minute commute in the morning to work, worked from 9:00 AM - 6:30 PM, 30 minute commute from work to school, and then class from 8:10 PM - 10:10 PM. I have never felt so drained as I did last semester.

With that being said, I made a conscious decision to not overextend myself this semester. For the most part, I have been spending this semester focused on my classes, extracurricular commitments, seeking out summer employment, and doing occasional remote work for a firm. I also have carved out time for myself — finally making time to go to the gym and spending more time on my hobbies. In other words, I am really trying to make 2018 the year where I can honestly apply the cliche, “New Year, New Me.” All in all, this semester has been my favorite since I started law school. Most of my courses are centered around the area of law I want to practice which makes doing the readings a lot less brutal. Although I am often stressed and complaining (a little too often), I am honestly really sad that I only have one more year left at Loyola. I’m definitely going to soak up as much as I can and enjoy every minute during my final year.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

My Law School Life

My typical law school day looks quite a bit different than it did a year ago. For starters, I am only on campus two days per week, and the rest of the week I’m working at a law office. It reminds of my senior year in high school, when I got out of school at lunch. But instead of hanging out with my friends all afternoon or playing drums, my “free hours” now consist of legal work and raising kids.

My typical law school day begins the night before my class days, when I do my homework for the next day. That is usually just reading the assigned texts but could include writing or watching something as well. In the morning, I am usually awakened by my four-year-old daughter who now just comes into our bedroom and demands breakfast around 7am. I feed everyone, see my wife off to work (with our daughter in tow) and then head to class.

Since I’ve condensed my classes to just two days per week, those class days are long. I use the breaks in between classes to do coursework and catch up on other things. When classes are done, I drive home and sometimes catch a quick nap before my wife and daughter return. When they get home, my daughter wants to invariably play games or rough-house with me. We play for a bit and then I make dinner. After she goes to sleep, I will usually hang out with my wife and then play guitar and listen to music before I go to sleep. My off-campus days are much the same except that I go to work instead of school. Either way, my days are pretty full but not oppressively so. Even with a hectic schedule, I still manage to find some extra time to go to the movies, see friends, and keep up (somewhat) with my musical skills.

Monday, April 23, 2018

My Law School Life

There really isn’t time to do much else in law school besides study. That’s not the worst thing in the world if you’re like me and you don’t mind spending lots of time reading. It also helps if you think legal concepts are interesting – which I think they genuinely are. Learning law is like acquiring a little toolkit to help people solve their problems. It’s actually kind of a rush when you figure out that something you learned in school can be applied very concretely in the real world.

A typical day for me consists of at least 5 or 6 hours of studying, in addition to time I spend in class. Weekends aren’t really that different — usually I try to max out at about 8 hours each weekend day.

Life is rarely the same week to week, either. A few weeks ago, we turned in our final graded memorandum, then we had a midterm exam. Just last week, we all completed oral arguments — a fun but admittedly stressful experience, and one that, at the very least, disrupted the flow of what would have been an otherwise “normal” week. (The best part about oral arguments, by the way, are the guest judges — mine was an appellate lawyer who asked extremely hard questions and swore a lot.)

But I still try to go for a run every day, and I try to at least to read something — a bit of a book, a couple of newspaper articles — that aren’t assigned for school. And when my brain can’t handle looking at another word, I’ll watch an old episode of something mindless like Seinfeld.

If there’s a single thing I learned about time management my first semester, it’s the importance of a full night’s sleep. Showing up to class on four or five hours of sleep is basically like not showing up at all — you won’t be able to listen and you’ll be too unfocused to take good notes. It’s harder to read and retain information when you’re sleepy, too. If there’s one thing I never miss — even if I’m drowning in assignments — it’s making sure I get my seven hours.

Friday, April 20, 2018

A Day In the Life of a Law Student

I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep up with hobbies outside of school while in law school. In fact, keeping up with my hobbies has helped me push through my most difficult moments in law school.

That being said, each day I make it a point to take at least an hour for myself. For me, exercising and going for a walk outside with my dogs are two things that need to get done. I am always surrounded by people at work and school, so I really value time alone to clear my head and I really enjoy exercising, so I make it a point to do some form of exercise each day. I also find that I spend a lot of time inside preparing for classes or when I’m tutoring, so I prioritize a daily walk outside (of course, if the weather permits, which it usually does since I’m in LA) because it helps me to ground myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Also, it makes my dogs happy… and who doesn’t love happy pups?

My days never look the same because I work as a tutor by appointment. This is something I’m working on because routine is really important for law school and for my own sanity because my schedule can get hectic. I try to go to the gym every morning, come home, check e-mails, make breakfast, walk my dogs, and either do my homework or head to a student. Evening students have class every night Monday-Thursday, so I sometimes just head to campus and work from there if I can.

Throughout the day, I also go on Instagram and research different things that I want to cook for my food blog. Some days I carve out a few hours just to create things because it’s a nice way to step back from everything I’m required to do and just do something for myself. Taking the time to do these things for myself has made a world of difference for my ability to handle the day-to-day pressures from work, school, professional commitments, and family commitments more than anything else.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Day in the Life of a 1L Student: Spring Semester Edition

Hello friends! Happy Spring! For us 1L students, spring semester offers a whole slew of different opportunities, experiences, duties and challenges. So let’s get started!

A typical day starts with an early morning drive to campus. Yes, driving from San Gabriel Valley means there’s a lot of traffic and a lot of one-on-one time with my car. Although it is a lengthy commute, it is a good time for me to collect my thoughts, catch up on current events, and just relax and listen to music before I have to sit for my lectures. So that’s definitely a positive!

 When I get to school, I head over to Sonia’s to fill up on coffee, water, and snacks before class starts, and then I kick into full gear brushing up on last night’s reading, taking notes, and preparing myself in case I get cold-called. This semester my schedule consists of three yearlong courses (Property, Civil Procedure, and Legal Writing) and two semester-long courses (Contracts and elective). After the first semester, students have a pretty good understanding of the school day flow; so although at times it can seem overwhelming, we pretty much know by now that everything is both doable and manageable. I think the only major difference between this semester and last is that there is a greater emphasis on applying for jobs and attending network events to establish meaningful connections.

Also, as I make my way through the day, I make sure to stop every once in a while and admire how pretty and colorful Loyola is in the springtime.

After class, I try to head home as soon as possible so as to avoid the afternoon rush hour. When I get home, I make sure to take a bit of a break from law school. Most of the time this consists of playing with my dog and taking her for a walk. Other times, I determine how to relax based on how the day has gone. If the day has been especially rough or tiresome, I indulge in a nap. If I have too much energy or anxiety, I head over to the gym and take care of my physical wellness. If I just need to separate myself from my work and have fun for the night, I head over to Disneyland. Despite all the readings and responsibilities that law schools entails, I think it’s very important to take breaks, care for oneself, and remember that there’s life and people outside of the law school bubble. And when I feel better and refreshed from taking the break, I hit the books and get started on homework for the following day.

Until next time friends!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Update On My Daily Activity

Managing the huge commitment that comes with beginning law school has become much easier as time has gone on. With only 1.5 months left in my tenure as a 1L, I feel like I have finally gotten a good and healthy rhythm down.

The first thing that I realized based on finishing the first semester is that making time for myself during the week is just as (if not more) important than studying. Law school is challenging and consuming, but it should not strangle you.

Therefore, I slightly changed my fall semester routine when the spring semester started to make sure that I do not burn out. I still wake up extremely early to make it from Westwood to DTLA before 8 AM (with time to get coffee, of course). I will definitely be moving closer to Loyola for the second year! I still go to all of my classes unless I am sick, and I still spend the majority of my day studying. However, I am much more fluid in my schedule.

Sometimes I study at Loyola, sometimes I study at home depending on my mood. I no longer fear getting stuck in traffic if I do not leave campus at a certain time because it just gives me more time in the car to blast Journey and Def Leppard. If I do not feel like studying right away when I get home, I don’t. I take a break, do something fun, and then study a little later.

Basically, I have realized that if I am not in the right mood while studying, I do not retain the information in the same way. Flexibility has changed my life during the second semester, and I have way more time to enjoy doing activities outside of studying. All in all, a win-win. And I will definitely be applying this same approach next year!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Law School: One Big Networking Opportunity

I feel like in every career, there is always an expectation that networking plays a role in landing a job. If I had a nickel for every time anyone in my life had told me, “It’s all about who you know”, I would not have any reason to be concerned about paying off my law school loans. I have heard that phrase over and over again for my entire life from people over a wide array of careers. What I have come to realize since beginning school at Loyola is that networking is VITAL to law school. It is not just something people say when they are complaining about not getting a specific job they want. (You know what I am talking about. You ask Johnny So-And-So if he got that job he interviewed for and he responds, “Nope. They only give out jobs to their friends and family. No one else has a chance.”)

Instead, it is a reality of getting a legal job. You HAVE to build your network. Honestly, I feel like many legal internships are pretty difficult to get, however, having a contact who either works for your dream company/firm or who knows someone there could be the difference between an email from a prospective employer beginning, “Congratulations” or one saying, “Unfortunately.” Trust me, I get it. Networking is scary. It feels uncomfortable, awkward, and unusual. I will be the first person to tell you how difficult it is to learn how to network. However, it is a skill that you are going to need to acquire. I have secured all of my jobs since beginning at Loyola through one avenue — networking. I cannot even begin to preach the importance it is to step outside your comfort zone, to talk to that professor, go to that networking event, reach out to your career development counselor, etc. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but as soon as you begin reaping the rewards of having mentors and contacts, you will be thankful that you did.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Networking and Career Development Services Opportunities

Loyola offers a ton of opportunities for students to learn about the practice of specific areas of law. Every school week is jam packed with panels, lunches, guest speakers and networking events geared toward keeping students mindful of their impending careers and the various opportunities out there.

I have attended the government and public interest fairs on campus, participated in OCI, and have attended various career-focused panel lunches. All of these events have been valuable for me, even if just to confirm that I was not interested in a particular area of practice. In fact, through a personal connection I was able to invite a guest speaker to come to campus and speak about his experiences as general counsel for a popular apparel brand. The talk was thoroughly engaging and cemented my interest in one day becoming in-house general counsel for a large organization.

The Career Development office takes great care to put on events focusing on all the different career options available to law school grads. Of course, OCI is the gold standard for getting into “Big Law,” but there are numerous events set up for students to explore public interest work, small firms, government work and more. Even if you’re interested in working as a solo practitioner, there are panels featuring successful solo attorneys. The bottom line is, no matter what career you intend to pursue, Loyola and the Career Development office has the experience and connections to help get you started.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Continuing My Legal Education Off Campus

The one thing I have looked forward to most since starting law school is finally getting off campus. Not that I don’t like digging into legal concepts – as I’ve said before, it’s actually a pretty fun exercise to learn about the concepts that drive the law, especially if you’re into subjects like philosophy or history.

But I came to Loyola specifically to be a public interest attorney, and I’m chomping at the bit to get started. Two years ago, I was working as a full-time freelance writer, supplementing my income with my side hustles. In the morning, I’d drive past the courthouse downtown and see people dressed up in suits; I envied how many of them had a career using their intellect to make positive changes in the city. In the evening – in between working at a family portrait studio in Silver Lake and cranking out articles about the L.A. music scene – I’d run laps around the park by my house and plot and scheme about how I, too, could contribute to the city in the same way. I registered for the LSAT, bought a practice book, and never looked back. Now, every class, every seminar, every final exam gets me closer to what I imagined on those evening runs.

This summer, I’ll be externing at the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and in the fall I’ll be externing in the chambers of a Federal District Court judge. I’m nervous and excited – I don’t know what the experiences will be like, and I’m sure there will be steep learning curves and plenty of entry-level awkwardness. At the same time, though, I know that even the work I contribute in my short tenures at those offices will contribute something to the work they do. And I’ll be a step closer to working every day to serve the city I call home.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Networking and Career Development Services Opportunities

Loyola gives students plenty of opportunities to network and explore areas of law that students are interested in practicing. I know that there are slightly more opportunities geared at 1Ls (first year day students) than 1Es (first year evening students), but I still feel like I’ve had ample opportunities to get my feet wet.

I’m very interested in public interest law, so I attended the public interest fair on campus and ultimately held a short internship with the Los Angeles LGBT Center as a result. I think it was a great experience to see what line of work I want to go into. 1Es generally do not need to visit the Career Development Office, but I have made an appointment with my counselor and it went really well! My counselor was able to answer all of the questions I had about internships, volunteer positions, and what the trajectory looks like for an evening student in terms of gaining experience in my area of interest.

From what I understand, there will be more opportunities available in my second year, so I’m definitely looking forward to that!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Networking and Career Development Services Opportunities

Criminal law. Immigration law. International law. Health law. Animal law. Entertainment law. Tax law. The list goes on and on. There are so many different areas and specialties in the law and seemingly only three years to figure out what to do, which track to take, and how to do it. What is one to do?!

Fortunately, being a student at Loyola provides countless opportunities to learn more about the different areas of the law that one may be interested in practicing, may have never even considered practicing, or may have never even heard of!

For example, Loyola holds what’s known as the Dean’s Den series, in which Dean Waterstone has conversations with different faculty members about their background, work, and specialty. It’s a great way to learn more about that area of the law you may be learning about in class or even the specialty you’re considering. Even better, it’s a great way to learn more about your professors, which could be the gateway to networking with them, having more in-depth conversations about the area of law that you both have interest in or passion for, and learning about potential research or work opportunities with them that someone like you could do!

Another opportunity is through the various panels, workshops, socials, and meetings held by on-campus clubs. For example, I am part of the Entertainment and Sports Law Society (ESLS), and I particularly enjoy when they hold panels with alumni and friends of Loyola that serve in all different positions and capacities within the entertainment industry. Last semester, ESLS held a panel with members from the different legal departments of the Walt Disney Company, and they discussed multiple topics such as what they do on a daily basis, how they got to where they were, and how to succeed in the profession. I for one originally came to Loyola with significant interest in immigration law, but since attending the various ESLS panels and presentations, my interest in entertainment law, specifically the transactional side, has been piqued.

Thus, it’s okay to know exactly what you want when you start law school, be torn, or have absolutely no idea! Loyola provides several events, such as the ones aforementioned and others including On-Campus Interviews (OCI), Brown Bag Lunches, and Spring Law Reception, to help students learn more about the different areas of the law and the various work and volunteer opportunities that are accepting applications. Moreover, there are academic and practical opportunities such the clinics, practicum, and concentrations that allow students to get a more in-depth look into an area of the law and really explore their interests.

So go into law school with an open heart and an open mind! You never know what you might find yourself interested in and doing!

Until next time friends!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Networking for a Non-Networker

I consider myself a social being. I was involved in tons of extra-curricular activities as an undergrad as a member of a multiple social clubs. However, I have found that professional networking is much harder for me than I thought it would be. I do not have as much confidence approaching a stranger as a law student as I did as an undergraduate club leader.

Ultimately, I think that it comes down to age and comfort. I do not have as much confidence as a first year law student competing with third years as I did when I was a senior undergrad competing with younger peers. At the start of the year, each time I would go into a networking event, I was plagued with the fear of “not being good enough.”

Today, I am still not as comfortable as I hope to soon be, but I have gained more confidence. Not only have I been in school longer and learned much more about the law, I have also had the opportunity to interact with far more law professionals than I imagined. As a member of the Consumer Law Society on campus, I have sat in on several lunchtime lectures by guest alumni and learned about their paths and experiences. I have had the opportunity to meet alumni at different fairs on campus and been invited to panels on different areas on the law. Basically, I have had the opportunity to get over my feelings of timidness: I have had real time opportunities to realize that my fears are unfounded.

Every single Loyola alum that I have met has been welcoming and helpful. I have never been made to feel like I was a burden or inexperienced. I still have some fear, but it is a feeling that I know I will soon get over. The Career Development Office requires 1L students to attend at least two networking events by the end of the year in order to facilitate this comfort, and it has truly helped me.

Being a social person and being an effective networker are not necessarily the same thing, and I am glad that I have had organizations and departments on campus to help me through the transition. I know that my interactions with Loyola alums helped me secure my job for this summer, but will also help me make connections for the future.