Monday, December 21, 2020

Debunking a Law School Myth

Coming into law school, I had many ideas of what it would be like. (Most of them, I’ll admit, stem from the movie Legally Blonde.) Today, I am here to share two law school myths that have proven not to be true.

First, I assumed that the professors would be strict and unforgiving. (I attribute this entirely to the scene where Elle Woods is kicked out of her class for being unprepared. And while Hollywood movies have proven time and time again not to be an entirely accurate portrayal of reality, I was fully prepared for my professors to be exactly like this. Because better safe than sorry.) Therefore, I believed that you had to go into class knowing everything, and that questions directed at you would feel more like an interrogation.

I have been very relieved to learn that this is not the case. In the courses I have taken, the professors have been encouraging and supportive. While you are prompted to delve deeper than your initial response at times, not being 100 percent certain on your answer is totally fine. Moreover, it’s okay to get things wrong, to not know all of the answers, and seeking guidance is encouraged.

One such experience came two weeks into the semester, when one of my professors sent an email to the entire class. He wrote that he had noticed that many of us were not yet participating during lessons. He wanted to be certain that everyone understood the material, and emphasized that if we weren’t comfortable asking or answering questions during class, we could schedule a private session to ask him any questions.

This second misconception might be more relevant to international students, but, coming from a civil law system myself, I believed that I would have an extremely difficult time at LMU Loyola Law School. I would, essentially, be starting from scratch in an entirely new legal system.

However, as anyone interested in the LLM program might know, all international students are required to take the courses American Legal Research & Writing and Introduction to American Law. These two classes are pretty much crash courses to the American legal system. They have helped me feel prepared, and the professors understand that as international students, many of us are being introduced to an entirely new system. (Granted, I haven’t taken the end of semester exam/submitted the final papers yet, so here’s hoping I don’t end up with terrible grades.)

While I don’t expect my remaining months at Loyola to be a breeze (just because this is, well, law school), I’m very happy that the professors encourage asking for help inside and outside of class, and that LMU Loyola Law School has made the transition for international students as easy as possible. (Perhaps I’ll be able to write in my final blog post that law school being challenging is also a myth, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.)

Friday, December 18, 2020

Law School Myths: DEBUNKED

Hello Jury of Peers!

Welcome back. This week, I’m excited to address a few law school myths to hopefully ease your mind about law school.

Before starting 1L, I remember staying up until the early hours of the day stressing about the many unknowns of law school. Yet, after the first week of classes, my mind quickly eased as I realized law school was not nearly as daunting as I imagined it to be. The law school myths and horror stories I heard through friends, movies, and the internet, differed drastically from my experience. So, without further ado, let’s debunk a few of these myths!

Myth #1: Cold-calling is utterly terrifying and every professor does it.

This is false. Cold-calling may seem scary at first, but after a few times, it gets easier and less stressful. Although I can’t speak for every professor at every law school, from my experience, cold-calling is conducted in a friendly and casual manner. Professors want to help you learn and understand the material. They are not trying to embarrass or chastise you by any means. Do the reading and you’ll be fine.

Myth #2: You must be an extrovert to succeed in law school.

This is DEFINITELY false. As an introvert, please take it from me that you don’t have to be a super outgoing or social person to succeed in law school. My advice is to not compare yourself to others who frequently volunteer in class, or who seem comfortable speaking in front of crowds. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. You were admitted into law school for a reason, and you deserve to be here.

Myth #3: You will have no free time apart from your studies.

This is mostly false. Nobody said law school would be easy, or that you’d have hours of free time each day to do whatever you pleased. Law school is like a job, and you should treat it as such. Nevertheless, time-management is key, so be sure to schedule in additional time for your hobbies. Your mental health will thank you.

From law student to law student, try to not give in to the many myths surrounding law school, or you’ll drive yourself crazy! I hope by debunking a few of these myths, you feel a bit more at ease.

Thanks again for the read, see you in my next post!



Wednesday, December 16, 2020

How I Spent My Summer

After my Spring Contracts midterm I hopped on a plane to spend a week in Hawaii. The sunny beaches and fresh ocean breeze were incredible, and I came back to LA reinvigorated and excited for the rest of the semester.

Within a week, California shut down for Covid-19.

With summer coming, I enrolled in Loyola’s dual J.D./Tax LL.M. program. Students complete half of the LL.M. in a 10 week bonanza of tax courses. We attended online lectures, completed online modules individually, and collaborated remotely on group assignments as the professors experimented with new ways to adapt to the coronavirus reality.

Those classes were the hardest courses I’ve ever taken. It. Was. Rough. But there was something cathartic to the experience as well. Few things bond people like shared adversity, and having this common experience made our small cohort come together and help each other like nothing I’ve seen in law school. The work was challenging but intellectually satisfying, requiring strategic thinking, creative connections, and a willingness to admit you were wrong. Our assignments were so immersive that I barely realized that the weeks were flying by. And then that was that, and the fall semester began.

The summer was pretty good for my personal life. I’m editor-in-chief of Prometheus Dreaming, a literary journal. This year we published our first poetry anthology, based on an international poetry contest we ran. I’m still in shock. I was also fortunate enough to have a few journals accept my poems for upcoming issues, including The American Journal of Poetry, Poetry South, South 85, The Ilanot Review, and others. My poetry collection Love Letters from an Arsonist was also selected as a finalist for a competition.

I also tried to brew my own beer. 0/5 stars. That’s all I have to say about that.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Election 2020 and Completing Your Pro Bono Requirements

As part Loyola’s requirements for graduation, all students have to complete forty (40) hours of pro bono work. Generally, students cannot start accumulating hours until after the first semester of 1L year. Once the first semester exam period is over, 1Ls can submit up to 10 hours of pro bono work. This can include traditional legal work but there are wide variety of activities that students can do to fulfill this requirement. For example, during the spring semester a lot of people volunteer with Young Lawyers to coach high school students on trial advocacy. Many students (myself included) also participate in clinics where they receive on-the-job training and legal instruction while working with underserved people in the community. Today I wanted to talk about my experience as a poll worker in the 2020 election.

Election work is a relatively new way that students can earn pro bono hours. I volunteered as an election observer in 2018. It was a fun experience but, as a 1L in my first semester, I could not claim those hours as part of my graduation requirement. However, based on my conversations with 1Ls this year, it sounds like that restriction may have changed.

This year, I volunteered as a poll worker at the Pasadena Convention Center. The training was about seven hours long (two hours of online training plus five hours of in-person training) and the actual election day shift is about 15 hours long so it’s a great way to complete a significant number of hours while learning about the local election process. The training is long but not very difficult and I appreciated the time spent going over various scenarios like if a person isn’t registered or if their registration information is incorrect.

Election day itself was fantastic. This pandemic has left me a little starved for real human interaction so I was ecstatic to go out and work with everyone and help voters. I was especially happy to work with two other Loyola Law students, Kim Protzel and Simone Bishara (pictured below). Also, I learned from Simone, a first semester 1L, that the administration was allowing her and other 1Ls to claim up to 10 hours of election work toward their pro bono requirement!

We spent pretty much the entire day cleaning the voting machines and showing people how to “cast” their ballot after they had made their selections. One interesting moment was when I had to chase after a woman who had accidentally walked out of the voting center with her ballot before casting it. If you have a chance to be an election worker, do it! It is a long day but it is absolutely worth it.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Summer 2020 – Quarantine Edition


Hello again, Jury of Peers!

I know that I am not special when I say that coronavirus stole my summer. Going into 1L, I had no idea what I thought summering as a law student would look like, but I can say with certainty that I did not expect this. Warning, what I’m about to say next might be highly controversial but here it goes: I did not work my 1L summer.

Severing spring semester right when I was starting to look for jobs created a conundrum for me. I moved back to Las Vegas (my hometown) in March and was not sure if summer jobs were a) happening and b) fully remote. I thought that there may be some solidification by mid-April and I could start applying for jobs I could do remotely from Las Vegas, however, there was no such luck. By the time there were actual remote options, it was June and I never heard back from anywhere I applied.

Even though I ended up not getting a job over 1L summer, I knew there were still lots of ways I could add skills to my proverbial toolbelt over summer. Loyola offered National Lawyers Guild Training for observing protests and training to become a legal observer. I took that class and enticed some friends to take the subsequent trainings that were offered.

I also completed my Write-On Competition for Law Review (don’t worry about this yet) and was invited to join Loyola’s International and Comparative Law Review! Needless to say, I’m excited about that experience. Legal Writing was the subject I felt shakiest with after 1L, so I’m happy to get the opportunity to just see more legal writing throughout this process.

And, just to add on some life skills, I started learning French and brushing up on my Spanish. I also spent a lot of time getting to be creative and educating myself on the important social issues, like Black Lives Matter, that arose and continue to impact my decisions moving forward.

I know this was a shorter post than you’ll usually get from me, but my summer was uneventful in an effort to stay safe and stay sane. But don’t worry, I’ll be back to my usual verbosity in my following posts!

See you in the next one,


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

How I Spent My Summer

There are two sides to every story. The truth and an interpretation. This past summer I got to see the dynamics of how a criminal investigation and trial preparation are performed. Interning for the Hardcore Gang Unit for the LADA’s Office, I received my first real case. A homicide arising from a botched narcotics sale. I diligently reviewed the physical evidence, reports, and witness testimony. It became clear that an ambiguity existed. What was the truth? The evidence pointed to one conclusion, but the witness testimony pointed to another. In between? A million possibilities for reasonable doubt. I pondered questions: Motive? Self-defense? Gang influenced? The questions piled on. The DA was in pursuit of the truth but the truth seemed ever elusive. 

Concurrently while interning with the DA, I was serving on an ambulance in San Bernardino as an EMT. In deliberating the case and the facts, I recalled emergencies I had responded to involving assaultive crimes. While not the job of EMS to investigate the crime scene as de facto members of CSI, we have to find out how an injury happened to guide treatment. This analysis usually involves filling in the blanks of an incident.

A call stuck out to me; a mother, attacked by her son. From our investigation, we failed to find any weapons but we inferred that she was attacked with a knife. How did we know? Her face was sliced in two and she had numerous puncture wounds on her neck. In our mind the scene was clear, the son had attacked his mother over material possessions, yet how would that play out in court? The defense would surely bring alternative narratives. There were a million unknowns but experiencing the scene while it was active brought a unique perspective which cannot be explained.

Monday, December 7, 2020

How I Spent My Summer

Summer 2020 was drastically different from what I had pictured. As an international LLM student, I had imagined myself arriving in LA a month before classes began and becoming acquainted with the city. 

I had handed in my letter of resignation at work in June, as I planned on leaving for LA in July. The day after I handed in my notice, I received word that the Fall semester would be fully online. After a quick pep talk, I asked if I could stay for an extra month – just until classes at Loyola began. Luckily, my employer said yes.

So, instead of enjoying the LA weather, visiting the beach, and eating all the Cheesecake Factory that I physically could, I spent my summer working from home. (I’ve only been to the Cheesecake Factory once, back in 2014 when I visited the US.  Next time, I plan on somehow trying everything on the menu.) 

Working from the comfort of my own living room was a new experience. By far the most pleasant part, however, was the lack of commute. Gone was the hour-long train ride each way. The extra hour of sleep each morning was delightful.

Many video calls were had with friends, where we played Skribbl so often that many of us memorized the words and could, simply by counting the number of letters, wager an accurate guess.

Was my summer what I had initially pictured? No, but I have embraced it. So much is going on in the world at the moment, lots of it scary, and I can only be grateful for everything that I do have. I do hope to one day step foot on campus, but, if this summer has taught me anything, it is to remain flexible and thankful.

Friday, December 4, 2020

How I Spent My Summer

A strange title for a blog written in 2020, isn’t it?

Here’s the elephant in the room: 2020 has not been ideal (for the sake of peace, The Virus shall remain unnamed). We now live in what feels like a constant state of uncertainty, where getting to plan even a few weeks ahead feels like a privilege. Actually, we live in a world where any sort of security (income, housing, food, health, life , etc.) is an immense privilege . If 2020’s biggest impact on your life was derailed or delayed plans, like mine was, I would say there’s a little something to be grateful for. So reflecting on my summer and realizing that it was probably one of the best I’ve ever spent is not just surprising, but a privilege that I do not take for granted.

In the midst of a broken relationship, new family tensions and my official commitment to
a legal career, I felt lost on a personal level. Something about the end-of-the-world vibes of
2020, however, made my other fears, anxieties and concerns pale in comparison. On the
occasions when I got to be in the physical presence of people, I became attuned to how warm
and alive their energies felt, and how I hadn’t realized it before it became a rare commodity. I
became more comfortable with showing love and how I really felt because how fleeting everything is in life started to feel awfully tangible to me. To be honest, I came out on the other side of summer with a certain peace and perspective that I can’t say I had before.

As an avid overthinker and overplanner, it was shocking to learn that (despite the masks)
it was a little easier to breathe while living in the moment like that. That might sound like a lot of cliche jargon and the majority of us might be struggling too much with the very real life or death circumstances that we face every day to feel anything like appreciation. But I would just say that reflecting on how we spent our summer, as opposed to how we were supposed to or how we could have, might not hurt. A lot of things were upsetting this summer, so why not spend a little time on what wasn’t?

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

How I Spent My Summer

The summer before my first year of law school, I tried my best to relax, enjoy my final months of freedom, and mentally prepare for the next three years. Every online law school forum, or incoming law student blog, always stressed the importance of relaxation during the summer before 1L. And it makes sense- you want to enter law school with a cool and calm mind, ready to absorb any material the professors may throw at you. But for me, relaxation didn’t mean lounging in the sun or binge watching Netflix. To fully relax, I first needed to plan accordingly for the upcoming year. That meant I needed to arrange my housing, develop a budget for the year, purchase or rent my textbooks, and stay in touch with Loyola for news and updates. Law school is already an extremely overwhelming transition, so I found peace by efficiently preparing in the weeks and months leading up to the first day of classes. Although mapping out my first year of law school was helpful, I tried to not let it consume me. There’s a reason why the blogs and online forums stressed the importance of relaxation- because after I was finished preparing for school, I NEEDED a break. In the final weeks before moving to Los Angeles, I spent time doing the things I love most. I road-tripped down Highway 1, hiked through the Sierra Nevada mountains, baked cookies with my mom, and stayed up until dawn reading my favorite novel. Now, with about a month of law school under my belt, and with little time to do the things I enjoy, I’m very grateful for those relaxing moments I experienced this summer.