Friday, March 29, 2019

A School of Open Doors

When I was in undergrad at UCSB, I would always be apprehensive or nervous about going to office hours and meeting with my professor or teaching assistant (TA). Meeting with professors or TAs after hours usually meant one of two things: 1) you weren’t doing well in class and needed to ask for extra credit opportunities, and 2) you were forced to go as part of your class requirements. Looking back now, I regret getting sucked into that mentality, not taking advantage of those opportunities to interact with my professors and TAs, and not developing connections and relationships with them. But in all honesty, in undergrad, office hours and meeting with professors weren’t really encouraged unless it was a requirement for the class.

Flash forward to the present, and one of the best things about Loyola is its open-door policy. This means that every professor makes him or herself accessible to meet and talk with students in person, email, or other method. You’re not required to meet with your professor to pass your class and you’re not made to feel silly, stupid, or like you’re failing your class when you attend office hours. At Loyola, there’s no shame in going to office hours. Rather, it’s strongly encouraged to go to office hours to: 1) address any questions regarding lecture, an assignment, or the final, 2) ask for help regarding your internship, externship, and employment search, 3) figure and plan out what courses you’re going to take in the next semester or year, or 4) just talk about life and get advice regarding how to achieve your goals.

At Loyola, our faculty is passionate about their field and the work they do AND about ensuring that we have the tools and knowledge to develop our passions, pursue our interests, and achieve our goals.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Building Relationships with Faculty

Despite only being at Loyola for one semester, I can already tell that our school attracts only the highest caliber of professors and faculty. From the career counselors to the doctrinal professors, the faculty at Loyola are world class. As a transfer student, the faculty at the registrar’s office and the career development office have been particularly helpful for me.

I vividly remember getting selected for my first OCI interview and being both happy and scared at the same time. Naturally I was happy that I got the interview, but I couldn’t help being nervous about what was to come. The next day I met with my career counselor and she gave me the 411 on the OCI process. She guided me through some of the questions I might be asked and gave me helpful tips for my interview. I left her office feeling relieved and more confident in myself.

So far I have had many experiences like the one above. One of the things that surprised me the most was how accessible the Loyola faculty has been. Although each faculty member comes from an impressive academic and professional background, it always seems as though they are only an email away. One example of this dedication to student learning comes from this past fall semester. Leaving my Remedies final in December, I felt confident and on top of the world—that is, until I got to my car. As I packed up my car, it dawned on me that the exam I had just taken was scheduled for three hours instead of two. I still had faith in myself and thought that maybe I had squeezed in all the important stuff.

Fast-forward to when grades were finally posted. I was happy with my Remedies grade but knew something was off. I got my exam back and immediately emailed my professor. Professor Hayden promptly responded to my email and I set up a meeting with him to review my exam. As I reviewed my exam in preparation for my meeting with the professor, I couldn’t help but wonder what big issue I had missed in the fact pattern. At my meeting with Professor Hayden, we went over the exam by issue as I tried to figure out what I needed to work on. Ultimately I found out that I actually hadn’t missed anything major, but rather that I simply needed more time to get through a full analysis. Professor Hayden and I agreed that my little timing mishap played a big part in my performance on the exam. Although grades had long been posted and there was nothing to be done at that point, I appreciated Professor Hayden taking the time to meet with me and review the exam.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Building Relationships With Faculty

The faculty that I have encountered at Loyola have exceeded my expectations in literally every way possible. Each and every professor that I have had has been, not only a leader in their respective areas of the law, but constantly available to students. Several of my professors have regularly encouraged students to drop by their office to talk about career ambitions and life in general. Students don’t always take advantage of this, but I think that it’s a valuable way to learn about your professor, but also yourself!

While all of my professors encourage students to drop by office hours, that time usually conflicts with my work and class schedule. However, all of my professors have always done their best to find other mutually convenient times to meet with me. I appreciate this flexibility because, without it, I wouldn’t be able to develop these relationships with them that I value so much. This speaks to how accessible the faculty is as a whole because it has been my experience across the board.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Building Relationships with Faculty

One of my favorite parts of law school has been the professors. In addition to being knowledgeable and engaging in lectures, I have found many of them are sincerely interested in connecting with their students beyond the classroom. For example, one of our professors extended invitations to weekly brown-bag lunches to our class. For me that kind of openness was very important because approaching a professor can be intimidating and having that invitation to come and talk about our interests beyond the classroom, helped me get over my initial fear. Coming from a large undergraduate institution with faculty that had many students asking questions, I was used to quick and to the point interactions. As an undergraduate, I understood most of my professors appreciated me asking my question and moving on. Once I came to Loyola, I was happy to find that as a whole the faculty make a point to be available to students.

In general, I have managed to build relationships with a couple faculty members. During my first semester I made a point to go to office hours when I was confused about a topic. Oftentimes, I was so confused I did not even have specific questions and would just join other people who were also there for office hours. Once I started going to office hours, I felt more confident to strike up conversations with faculty in other places, such as the cafeteria, or while studying in campus. For some of my classes this became a positive feedback loop because in addition to getting my questions answered, I felt more invested in the material, and I developed a better connection with the faculty member. While I appreciate many things about our faculty, what I most appreciate is that they treat us with collegial respect, and they have a genuine interest in our success, and for me that fosters a great learning environment.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Networking Inside Loyola

Networking is essential when you are an attorney. It is how you get new clients, how you get a reputation (hopefully a good one), how you get referrals from your peers. It is arguably even more essential before you even become an attorney. As a law student, networking is how you get a job. You meet someone, who knows someone, who knows someone who is looking to hire. But networking doesn’t start the first time you meet a practicing attorney, it starts the first day you step on campus. Networking with your peers, who are all going to be practicing attorneys one day, and your professors, who have all already had successful careers, is vital.

I’ve been lucky enough to not only build relationships with other students on campus, but also faculty members. The most rewarding connection that I have been able to make is with Susan Poehls, the Director of Trial Advocacy here at Loyola. She is one of my Byrne Trial Team coaches, and also my professor in the Hobbs practicum. I am comfortable in a courtroom because of her, I know how to think of arguments on my feet because of her, I know how to actually use the Rules of Evidence in real-life, rather than just hypothetically, because of her. Her reputation for producing some of the best trial attorneys proceeds her, not just in Los Angeles, but all over California. When I interviewed for a job in Sacramento, and the hiring board discovered my connection to Professor Poehls, they were ecstatic. And they hired me.

Making connections with your professors is easy: they have office hours, they are always available on email, many of them even give you their cell phone numbers. But the easiest way to build a relationship with a professor is to work with them. If you become someone’s research assistant, work in their clinic, join their team, you will start to know them on a personal and professional level. And those relationships will not only help you in law school, they will help shape your future.

Friday, March 22, 2019

I Don't Need Study Groups. (Except When I Do.)

When it comes to the everyday academic grind, I’m a loner. I don’t share notes with other students, and I hardly ever meet with classmates outside of class to go over course material. I don’t even read at the library. I like to read alone, at home, where it’s quiet, and no one can bother me.

That all changes when finals come around. I do some exam studying alone, particularly when making outlines. But I also rely – nay, depend – on my classmates for support. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t really learn anything until I explain it to someone else. (I believe that most people are this way – some are just a little too shy or self-conscious to try it.)

The hardest part, then, is finding a group you can work with. If your group is made up of students you think are ahead of you, you might get discouraged – and that is NOT how you want to feel going into finals. On the other hand, if no one in your group is prepared for the exam, you’d be better off reviewing alone. The key is to find a group of friends who don’t intimidate you, but who don’t fail to challenge you, either. After the first two or three exams, I got my group pared down to a loose collective of buddies.

I’ve taken seven final exams now, and they have all gone just about the same way. By the last two or three days before the test, I’ve made my outline. I’ve asked my professors for help with the topics that have daunted me the most. I’ve made my flashcards, and I’ve found and re-read (or, yeah, read for the first time) the cases that have vexed me the most.

The last few days, then, are basically a protracted conversation with my group. We quiz each other, diagram concepts like supplemental jurisdiction or exceptions to the hearsay rule, and verbally explain concepts from different angles. For 14 weeks out of the year, I don’t need a study group. But for that final week, it’s crucial.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Importance of Study Groups

Before attending law school, I always associated the course load to consist of reading, reading and more reading. Now that I am two weeks into my second semester of law school, I realize that my assumption was not too far off. While reading is generally something we complete in solitude, understanding the material in the readings is a completely different story.

There have been numerous times where I have read a paragraph in a case or an explanation in a supplement five or more times in a row, only to end up more confused than I was before I read it at all. That is when you can lean on your peers. Sometimes it can be difficult to wrap your mind around the issue of a case or the analysis of a decision. Most of the material you learn in law school is completely foreign. You are not alone. Chances are, if you find it confusing, so do 40 other people. Working with a group to find the logic in a convoluted case, has been my saving grace during times of overwhelming perplexity.

I formed a group of friends early on in my first semester, likewise those friends became my study group. This group has grown on occasion and the more minds the merrier! While I find group work very advantageous, I will admit that I do about 70 percent of my studying on my own. The process of working through my studies and then checking in with my group on tricky material, has done me well thus far.

At Loyola, I have yet to find a single soul that isn’t willing to help, talk out a theory or completely re-explain a topic when someone couldn’t make it to class. I cannot speak more highly of the student body and the character of the students that choose to go to Loyola. It truly is a unique set of individuals. Final exams can be taxing, but working and struggling through it with your peers, makes it a little bit more manageable. Being able to grab coffee or take a walk around campus with a friend has made all the difference in my law school experience. J

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Geriatric Society

The law is social profession – there is no way around that fact. From the moment you step onto campus at Loyola, you start building your network of friends, professors, mentors, and colleagues. Your network is certainly crucial for client referrals and potential job opportunities but it’s also an important way to help deepen your knowledge of the law and to keep your spirits up. Luckily, the 1L experience is pretty much tailor-made to help you establish your network from day one.

Before the start of the school year, the 1L class is broken up into four sections of about 65 students each. The people in your section inevitably become your first and most important network for your 1L year. On the first day of orientation, it’s only natural to look for people from your section. I happened to strike up conversations with people from my section who, like me, were in their mid to late 20s and had worked before starting law school. Within about an hour of check-in, I had met almost everyone who would become the core members of our study group. Of course, we joked a lot about how “old” we were compared to the students fresh from undergrad and, just like that, “The Geriatric Society” was born!

Generally, our study group added more structure to my daily life. During the semester, we would plan schedule to work on our memos together, go over case briefs, and fill in our outlines. In order to contribute positively to group discussions, I had to create artificial deadlines and steady work schedules to stay on track with my reading, research, writing, outlining, and reviewing. This was especially true before midterms and finals, but the consistent study sessions definitely stabilized and spread the workload. Similarly, it was also helpful to have a group of friends who could remind me about important or interesting events like mandatory 1L meetings and visiting speakers.

Beyond studying, we also just enjoy each other’s company a lot! Some of our extra-curriculars have included happy hours, dinners, game nights, Rams football parties, Universal Studios, and bowling with plans for more game nights and karaoke night.

We even made a group bid at the PILF auction to win a dinner with Prof. Levenson and her husband, Dougie!

Needless to say, we take law school very seriously but we always make sure to loosen up and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Importance of Study Groups

Hello again!

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

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

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Importance of Study Groups

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

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

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

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Importance of Study Groups

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

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

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

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Collaboration In Law School - Finding Your People

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Importance of Study Groups

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

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

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

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

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

Today, my homework prep consists of the following:

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

Until next time friends!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Study Groups: Yay or Nay?

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

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

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

Friday, March 8, 2019

My 2L Winter Break

Winter break is, for the law student, the most wonderful time of the year. Summer is obviously longer, but that’s when you’re supposed to have an internship lined up. Those can be just as stressful – if not more! – than school. In the internship I took after my 1L year, I was constantly staying late, eating lunch at my desk, and putting in extra work every day. The attorneys were so impressive to me, and I wanted them to be impressed by me, too.

Winter break is nothing like that. Of course, the exam period leading up to break is pure intensity, a three-week period during which I really did nothing but study and take exams. But once that last exam is over, the vista of four-weeks of no-strings-attached free time spread out before me, with all its uncharted R&R possibilities.

I made the most of this opportunity. I spent two-and-a-half weeks in Colorado with my parents – we saw a play, a couple of movies, and, of course, exchanged presents on Christmas morning. (My favorite gift was a couple of nice new ties – man, how your priorities change in law school.) I burned through The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, which I read for the Dean’s Book Club, a small discussion group on campus with Dean Waterstone. I was gripped by it. It erased all the fatigue I had built up around reading endless Supreme Court cases.

After that, I spent even more time with family – this time, with my girlfriend’s family, who reside in beautiful central North Carolina. There was lots of good Southern food, long walks, and more movies. It was, in every way, the complete opposite of law school exams.

I thought about law school almost never during break. I did work on a project with a professor, but it was a passion project – the sort of thing I’d be delighted to do professionally once I pass the bar. By the time the four weeks of winter were over, I was excited to come back to school, and looking forward to my classes. I’m still riding the burst of energy– remembering how lucky I am that I get to learn full-time, and grateful for the professors who keep it all interesting and engaging.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

School Can Feel Like a Full-Time Job. And, Sometimes It Actually Is One.

One of the stranger things about law school is that, sometimes, it stops feeling like school. While the first year of law school is packed with classes – and so much homework there’s barely time to do something else – that changes a bit once you get into your second year. Even though I’m just out of my first year, I’m already experiencing that shift pretty dramatically.

This semester, I’m externing for a federal judge full-time. In every meaningful way, it’s a regular job. I work from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM, Monday through Friday. I work on smaller assignments for the clerks, attend a couple of hearings a week, and I work on larger projects – sometimes analyzing entire cases based on the papers filed by the attorneys. I read these papers, do research on the legal issues, and deliver a memo – just like a first or second-year attorney might do. Of course, I don’t have the kind of responsibilities that an actual attorney would have. But while I’m obviously not a lawyer yet, I don’t really feel like a student, either.

The exception, of course, is when I’m in class. Right now I’m taking Evidence, a four-credit class, and definitely one of the more academically intense classes in law school. Balancing Evidence and work can be pretty challenging. Every Tuesday and Thursday, I take the bus from the federal courthouse downtown to campus. I usually have an hour or so between when I get to school and when my class starts, so I’ll grab a bite to eat and brush up a little bit on the readings for class. By the time my class is over, at 10 PM, I’m pretty beat – as you can probably imagine.

It’s a fun challenge. I especially love getting a taste of what the lawyering life will entail (and glad to report that, so far, I like it). But it certainly feels less like school, and more like a real job.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

My 1L Winter Break

You are given a surplus of advice around exam time. Do this, don’t do that. Upper level students, professors and counselors are all eager to give 1L’s the inside scoop on law school exams, and rightfully so! They have been there, and done exactly what you are about to do. I took this as my opportunity to learn and hear what study techniques and test taking tips worked well for others. I ended up using bits and pieces of other peoples advice and forming my own study regiment. While it can be helpful to take advice from upper level classmates and professors, it can also be overwhelming to hear how and how much your 1L peers are studying. I struggled with it at the start and found myself comparing what I was doing to all my classmates. I then began to realize that law school is adaptable and study techniques should be individualized. You are the only one who knows how YOU learn best. Once I believed this, my stress levels went down drastically. I am excited to continue applying my new-found study habits to second semester.

After my criminal law exam (my last one) I was thrilled to have completed my first semester of law school. So much had occurred since I first moved to Los Angeles and I was ecstatic to go back home to Chicago to share my experience with my friends and family. I was able to reflect on the whole semester over break and it amazed me how much had happened in just five and a half months! I moved across the country, started law school, and met all new friends. I moved to Los Angeles not knowing a single person, and it honestly could not have worked out any better. Everyone’s first semester of law school is tough. You have to re-learn a lot of what you thought you already knew, but it is also very fulfilling.

I spent my winter break all over the Midwest. I spent time in my hometown, in the city and took trips to Milwaukee and St. Louis as well to spend time with my close friends from undergrad. It was the perfect balance of activity and relaxation. Now I’m ready to start off the new year, with another semester at Loyola!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Law Firm

2018 is in the history books along with my first semester of law school! Exams were killer but with comprehensive outlines, group study sessions, practice exams, professors’ office hours, and a lot of late nights, I am really happy with how we all did. Before exams were even done though, I was already looking forward to the winter break, not for a rest, but for my first opportunity to put what I have learned into practice.

I knew from the start of classes that I wanted to work over the break. Much to my wife, Clau’s, dismay, a month is just too much time off. Luckily Loyola keeps us all quite well-informed about work opportunities. In the last week of finals, I received an email about an interesting winter break position with The Tenants Law Firm, a Beverly Hills firm that, as the name suggests, specializes in landlord-tenant law. I am interested in real estate and, with the recent fires in southern California, I knew this was where I wanted to be. I submitted my resume and interviewed with the firm’s Strategic Initiatives Manager, Dahn Kim, and the founding attorney, Daniel Lavi, just two days after my last final. I rested for a week then went back to work bright and early the morning after Christmas.

I did have an opportunity to connect to the firm Wi-Fi and email networks and then it was off to the races! Right from the start, I was able to sink my teeth into quite a few cases. I started off drafting demand letters and complaints, and prepping exhibits for depositions. My second day, I sat on one potential client intake for a habitability matter before I took my first intake on my own. By my second week, I was regularly emailing and on the phone with opposing counsel to discuss settlements. What most surprised me was how incredibly useful and important civil procedure was! It’s not considered the “sexiest” class amongst 1Ls, but it’s just so important to spot improper service and technical holes in the opposing party’s filings.

Throughout the whole experience, I had fantastic guidance from Mr. Lavi and wonderful support from the rest of The Tenants Law Firm team. The firm is relatively new but they run smoothly, by placing a premium on communication. Everyone was in constant communication with one another in and out of the office and everyone generally knew what everyone else was working on. It was so effortless to jump in and get to work quickly. Overall, this was a tremendous experience and I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with a such a fast-growing, talented firm.

Monday, March 4, 2019

My Winter Break: LLM Edition

If you are reading this, it means that I survived my final exams. That is great news, right?

After a long break – Hi again! I hope you still remember me. If you don't, it's ok, we still have some meetings before the semester ends. By the way: this is my last semester in Loyola Law School! Wow. I cannot believe I am really saying that – it felt like yesterday that I received, in my hometown in Brazil, Loyola's letter accepting me in the LLM Program.

I had almost a month of winter break, but it was totally necessary after my first experience with the well-known final exams. I have to admit – I was really scared. Like, A LOT scared. In my final's week, I barely slept 4 hours everyday – I kept dreaming that I was going to be late for the exam and fail because of that. The longest final that I had was Civil Procedure, and I finished the exam after more than four hours. I did not even remember my name when I left the classroom.

But everything went fine and after a week that in my head looked more like a year, I could finally breath – and sleep. And eat. And talk to people about something else besides law.

I had the choice to go visit my family and friends in Brazil for Christmas and New Year's, but I decided to stay here and for the first time in 22 years, spend these two holidays far from my family, in a new country, new culture, with new friends. And it was great!

During my winter break, the only thing that I did pertaining to the law was some job interviews (fingers crossed!). This year of 2019 will be a challenging one, but also a decisive year for me and I am excited for the future and for new adventures in this crazy but awesome world of the law!

Friday, March 1, 2019

My 2L Winter Break

Welcome back everyone! 1Ls: you made it through your first semester of law school! 2Ls: congratulations for being halfway done! 3Ls: one step closer to graduation! As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a transfer student. With that said, going into finals last semester was a different experience for me as well despite being a 2L. Yes, I had taken exams before, but something about being put in a new environment among new classmates made things different this time around. In a way, I took last semester’s finals as a way to prove to myself that I deserved to be at Loyola among some of the best and brightest students and faculty.

Last semester I had four finals in total and developed a game plan early on as to how I would tackle each subject. As I began studying in early November, I started to think that taking two four-unit courses at once probably wasn’t the best way to ease myself into a new school. Regardless, the exams were coming whether I was ready or not and so I spent the next two months preparing, outlining, and doing practice questions.

When it was all said and done, I left my exams feeling pretty good. Sure, there were things that tripped me up or seemed confusing, but law school is rarely ever completely straightforward. The important thing, at the time, was that I made it through my first semester at Loyola and was ready for a long overdue break.

I spent my break with family and friends enjoying California’s “winter” season. I celebrated the holidays, watched lots of Patriots football, and started planning my goals for the upcoming year. And just like that, though, we’re back for the Spring semester. Overall, I’m excited for what this semester has in store as I continue to immerse myself in all that Loyola has to offer.