Friday, May 7, 2021

What I Love About Loyola!

For starters, I love being a student at a law school that has such a high number of alumni working across the globe in the field. Not only is this reassuring, but I’m sure it will be useful in my career as well. So far, I haven’t come across a single firm that doesn’t have an LLS alum.

But on a more personal level, I love that Loyola’s dedication to social justice shows not just in our clinics, externships, and other opportunities offered, but through the student body as well. Loyola students are empathetic and much less competitive than movies and law school orientations make everyone to be and I mean that in the best way possible. They are understanding of other people’s situations and background and offer support. They are a diverse group with various interests and I learn from them every day.

I also appreciate all of the associations at Loyola who have tried to keep students engaged and active throughout the pandemic. It’s a difficult job, and we might not all feel motivated enough to participate as much as we otherwise would, but the student bodies continue to work hard, associations send out emails with fascinating events, and always make sure that we are getting as much of a “real” law school experience as possible.

Honestly, I hope I can update this list once we’re actually on campus because I’m sure there will be more to love.

Til next time,

Leilee

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

What I Love About Loyola

Hello Jury of Peers!

For the month of February and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I cannot think of a better way to express my love for Loyola than to do so in this blogpost. I could talk for hours about why this school is the perfect fit for me, but I’ll try to keep it short for my reader’s sake.

There are many things I love about Loyola Law School. However, one thing I admire most about this school is the community. Although law school is competitive in nature, at Loyola, it’s different. Here, there is an overwhelming amount of support and kindness. From alumni to the student body, there is a sense of comradery and encouragement unmatched to any institution I’ve ever enrolled in. Everyone you meet genuinely wants you to succeed, and will do everything in their power to assist you in achieving your goals.

Something that I overlooked when applying to Loyola, was its rather impressive alumni association. The southern California legal market is saturated with Loyola grads, which is a huge benefit for students when it comes to landing their summer associate positions and first jobs. I’m immensely grateful for our wonderful network of alumni, and the guidance they provide to current and prospective students.

Another thing I love about Loyola is its commitment to diversity and inclusion on campus. Each week, the administration provides students with excellent resources including keynote speakers, informational seminars, and interactive workshops on racial justice and equality. Loyola goes above and beyond in fostering a safe and inclusive environment for its students and faculty. Additionally, I’ve noticed that more and more professors are continuing the conversation on racial injustice and how it affects the law, something of great importance in the legal field.

Like I said, I could talk about my love for Loyola forever. But that’s all for this week! Thank you again for the read, and I’ll see you in my next post!

Until next time,

Madison

Friday, March 12, 2021

Building Relationships With Faculty

Have you ever heard anyone tell you they hated a subject and when you asked them why, they say it was because they did not like the teacher? That was me after a bad middle school math teacher. Being able to teach is a completely different skill set than understanding the subject, in my opinion. And arguably, the stakes for finding a good teacher are never higher in your academic career than in law school.

We’ve all seen the scary law professors who kick students out of class for not reading the pre-assigned material (Legally Blonde), who demand feats of knowledge (Paper Chase), and others that make us question whether law school professors are here to help us or to be so tough on us that nothing in our professional careers seem too bad. Luckily at Loyola, none of those stereotypes are really true. I truly believe that my law school experience has been positively impacted in a major way by the professors. They are pillars of our community and sometimes it feels surreal we’re learning from such impressive people.

Many professors contribute to the “Loyola Community,” which is always referencing the caring, professional, and helpful nature of our campus culture. Don’t start thinking our professors make law school easier than other professors would, because they definitely still challenge you in class and increase your tolerance for reading late into the night, but they do approach their students with the understanding that we’re all trying our best.


My law school professors are much more accessible than my undergraduate professors. They have office hours, will meet with you outside of office hours, give you their phone numbers, and tell you to reach out to them even after the semester is over. They truly want you to have access to their help. They want to be accessible because they understand we are grappling with difficult and sometimes counterintuitive material – they had to grapple with it as students too.

Many people in my 1L section even loved our professors so much, they’ll take an upper division class specifically because of the professor teaching it. I am also 100% guilty of this. Maybe that seems hard to understand now, but once you get to Loyola you will completely understand. This may sound biased, but I’m pretty sure we have some of the best professors out there.

See you in the next one,

Kelsey


Monday, March 8, 2021

The Importance of Study Groups

My first year of law school was thankfully in person as the pandemic was a possibility few of us even considered. Accordingly, being in person the dynamic between students and staff was drastically different than the new normal we know now. Immediately upon stepping through the doors of the law school, I was connected with individuals that I was able to have intellectual debate with. The student body comprised of individuals from all walks of life such that the intellectual diversity was refreshing and an environment which I had little experience in. I quickly formed a group with individuals from my cohort, with this group I was able to talk about both legal issues and personal issues. Quickly, we all became each other’s best friends and supported one another through thick and thin. I formed a study group with two of the people in my group of 5 because they had the exact same classes as myself while the other two had a different torts class.

This study group was integral to my success during my first year as we would push each other to study and clarify points to ensure we had a good grasp of the subject. However, I did not limit myself to that exclusive group. Rather, in my quest to understand the material better, I held study sessions for any person who wanted to attend. The capacity to teach others shows proficiency. Law school and law as a field of study requires collaborative skills, most of the proceedings in the field are team based, whether it be attorney to attorney or attorney to paralegal. While it may not be the best idea to lean on a classmate to get through law school, having a support system both academically and socially will make the experience evermore pleasant.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Building Relationships with Faculty

What I found pleasantly surprising about Loyola was how easy it is to communicate with your professors. My professors have often ended lectures encouraging students to reach out if they have any concerns. In fact, during my first semester at Loyola, the professors regularly stuck around for 15 minutes after class to answer everyone’s questions. Never were we made to feel like our questions were an inconvenience.

Moreover, my professors have all been incredibly quick at responding to emails (and I would imagine communication via email is probably at an all-time high this year). For example, I emailed my Spring 2021 professors two days before the winter break was scheduled to begin to ask for a list of textbooks required for their courses. Admittedly, I left the sending of the email a bit late, and I was worried that I might have to wait until after winter break to receive a reply. It turns out that my worries were unwarranted, as I received a reply from all three professors on the same day I sent my email.

When it comes to non-email communications, my professors have been accommodating as well. As an LLM student attending the program from outside the United States, I am in a time zone nine hours ahead of Los Angeles, and I assumed that I might have to stay up late to schedule a meeting during office hours. Luckily, professors have made it clear that, should their office hours be at an inconvenient time, we need only reach out so that a mutually convenient one can be found.

Not only are Loyola’s professors readily available to answer questions and address concerns, but they actively encourage students to ask these questions and raise their concerns. In this way, Loyola has cultivated an environment where reaching out is easy, and approaching faculty is not at all daunting.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Building Relationships With Faculty

Welcome back Jury of Peers!

This week, I’ll dive into my favorite tips and tricks on getting to know your professors and building relationships with the Loyola faculty.

For starters, it is very important to begin cultivating close relationships with your professors and advisors, as these individuals have an immense amount of experience and wisdom when it comes to the world of law. Not only can they offer you knowledge and expertise about the law school experience or entering the legal field, they also want to see you grow and succeed. In that capacity, they’re truly your biggest supporters and cheerleaders.

When looking to build a relationship with your professor, my advice is to take advantage of office hours and private meetings. Office hours are great for general questions about the material, or simply introducing yourself. In my experience, professors notice when you come to their office hours, something that may benefit you in the long run. However, I tend to get to know faculty better when I’m speaking with them one-on-one. Private meetings are great to get to know the professor on a personal level, and it’s a space where you can talk more about their professional career rather than the class material. I’ve even reached out to a few professors who teach classes in areas of law I’m interested in, but haven’t had the opportunity to take. The more information you can gain about certain areas of law the better.

Apart from professors, seeking out relationships with other Loyola faculty is equally beneficial. Your advisors, for example, want nothing more than to help you succeed. The more your advisors get to know you, the better capable they are at providing you with opportunities that suit your interests and professional goals. Also, it’s almost too easy to build relationships with your advisors, as Loyola has various drop-in hours where you can speak with faculty and get your questions answered quickly. So far, I’ve also found that the faculty at Loyola are not only accessible, but very responsive to your needs/ questions. Law school is already stressful, so it’s nice to not have to worry about communicating with faculty!

That’s all for this week, thank you for the read!

Until next time,

Madison

Friday, February 26, 2021

Relief or More Madness?

At the end of an academic semester, there is a collective sigh exhausted by the majority of the students and staff. They are grateful that they could make it through another semester in one piece. I am the same. After turning in my last assignment, an essay, 3 months in the making, completed its journey with the click of the “send” button. Yet, when I was pondering attending law school, many of the posts circulating the internet told a grim story about law school exams. The prevailing sentiment seemed to be that of dread, law school exams were to be the most difficult obstacle to being a practicing attorney. Yet, how was it really? I tend to find most exams easy. This is due to the fact that I control my stress extremely well and virtually do not have any ninety percent of the time. Thus, I am always able to think with a clear mind. However, this time around the semester was completely remote, including the test. These circumstances added to the pressure of performing well, especially since I learn best with in person instruction. Hence, this semester was different, I did not feel masterful in the subjects I had signed up for and did not feel as though I put forth my best work in taking the exams. Of course, I tried my best and the staff put forth their best effort to teach the students. In the end, my grades were good and put me in a good spot. Yet, the lasting impact is known and 2020 will surely live on in our memories. For better or worse.

Following finals, the winter break seemed like a time to unwind and relax. A time to take our mind off the law or any other endeavor which we undertake. Yet, the difficulties presented by the pandemic still needed to be considered.

Being a healthcare employee, along with my family members and friends, and having constant contact with those infected with Covid-19, all those concerns seemed trivial for those around me. Our festivities were put on pause to stay on the safe side. Not surprisingly, I was among the first to receive the vaccine and thus could breathe a sigh of relief. Although we are not out of danger, we are one step closer to normalcy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Electives, Concentrations, Classes, Oh My!

Welcome back Jury of Peers! This week we’re talking the lifeblood of law school: classes. During your 1L year, you don’t get to pick any classes yourself – sorry 1L’s – but it’s a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse because you have no control over your schedule but it’s also a blessing because picking classes is SO stressful for me, in a good way!


 I have such a hard time picking classes simply because there are so many courses that look interesting. Basically, outside of Constitutional Law, Ethical Lawyering, and Evidence, you have no more required classes. Even your writing requirement can be filled in lots of different ways. So, you have lots of choices which means you’ve got to be the one who makes all the difficult decisions.

This year I decided I wanted to take courses in the Entertainment law, Corporate law, Criminal law, and International Law. I gravitated toward the first two because those are my primary interests for fields post-graduation. The latter two are classes I wanted to take as Bar Prep and because I was interested in the topic, respectively. I truly liked / am liking all the classes I have.

The nice thing about elective courses is they all build on the concepts you learned in your 1L courses. And they all bleed together. Which is why the courses you take 1L are the courses the school picks for you, because you would miss a lot deferring any of those classes until later in your law school education.

In addition to picking electives, you can choose to do a concentration (think of it like a major) but you don’t have to. One of the advantages if you choose to concentrate in an area is that you can get a separate GPA of all your concentration required courses which can be helpful when applying to jobs in the future.

I went into law school wanting to concentrate in Entertainment Law but after I found so many classes I was interested in that I would have to give up to make time for concentration specific classes, I decided against it. I figured I can give myself a “makeshift” concentration that has more entertainment classes than other things, but I have the freedom to take any class I want.

My advice, come into law school with whatever notion you have of the kind of law you think you might want to practice, but let yourself be open to exploring other things if inspiration strikes you. Law school is kind of a “choose your own adventure” so you can always change directions if you want to – that’s certainly what I did. Older students and faculty are always great to consult with about these dilemmas because we’ve all gone through it!

See you in the next one,

Kelsey

Monday, February 22, 2021

Choosing Electives

In your second year at Loyola, you have to take Constitutional Law, Evidence, and Ethical Lawyering. Those classes total 11 credits, which leaves you with about 18 credits of your choice (about 9 a semester).

So how to choose what to take?

Part of what drew me to Loyola was the dual degree J.D. / Tax L.L.M. program, that allowed me to finish law school in the normal 3 years with an added L.L.M. in taxation. The program requires 12 credits of class in the summer after your first year, and an additional 12 credits of tax courses in your 2L and 3L years. To keep on track, I decided to take 4 units of tax classes every semester. That led me to choose Tax Policy Colloquium and Advanced Federal Tax Research in the Fall, and both Tax Law Practice and Tax Practice and Procedure in the Spring. My fall classes were excellent. Tax Policy gave me the opportunity to meet with and critique the work of leading tax theorists, and Tax Research honed my memo writing skills in a national tax memo competition. I cannot recommend those classes enough.

That left me with about 10 credits of available classes for the whole year. I knew I was interested in business courses, all of which require Business Associations (4 credits), so I signed up for that right away. Coming from the creative world, I was also interested in what Entertainment Law (3 credits) had to offer. Last, I signed up for Financing the Business Startup (3 credits) just because it seemed fun. It’s only the second week of class…but so far I love it.

I have two pieces of advice. First, take classes with your GPA in mind. This will matter so much more than you could guess. I promise you. Be defensive with your grades. Second, take classes for fun. I promised myself that I would take at least one class every semester just because it seemed cool, to help balance out the stress of law school. Law school is a long three years. Make sure to have little rewards for yourself.

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Importance of Study Groups

Law school is challenging, but it’s nice to know that we’re all going through the same thing. I think this year more than ever, lots of us find ourselves in the same boat: taking classes from a remote location (often even from different time zones), while heavily relying on Zoom. However, no matter how different the world is from what we are used to, one must study.

Generally, I like to go to the library and study with some friends (although the studying only really begins after a bit of moaning about how stressed we are). Since that wasn’t an option this academic year (because, you know, 2020), I tried to study with others via Zoom. My friend and I laid out our textbooks, prepared a cup of tea, and promised to only discuss academics. Unfortunately, having electronics nearby was extremely distracting for me. I’ve since gone back to my tried and tested method of studying, which is to leave my phone and laptop in another room (otherwise I will spend 45 minutes doing online quizzes). In short, all my electronics have been banished during study time, which has meant no study group.

The great thing, though, is that - study group or no study group - Loyola’s community is a supportive one. A lot of times, school can be a competitive place - with everyone in contest with the other for the best grades. I will admit that I thought law school would be extremely cutthroat (especially once I discovered that everything is graded on a curve!). Luckily, from my experience so far, that has not been the case.

My fellow LLMs and I are all in a group chat. Questions do not go unanswered (which is especially appreciated when you’re trying to figure out how to access your grades), and often there will even be those reminding others of upcoming deadlines. One of the great things about the LLM is that people are all in different phases of study: some began their academic year in Spring, while others chose to start in the Fall semester. This has meant that, when me and my fellow Fall start classmates were new and still trying to figure things out, there were those that already knew what they were doing and how the Loyola’s system worked, and they were gracious enough to offer their advice.

Finally, I think that forming a study group at Loyola - if you felt so inclined - would be very easy. As LLMs, most of us are international students studying a new legal system in a new country, and it is no surprise that seems to be a natural sense of community.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

An Entry for My Peers

A classic scene in a movie about law school is the group huddled over books, scattered pages and multiple computers. Someone looks up a rule, another one calls out an exception. Someone else asks about its application. The library or outside courtyard (though, this scene is typically late at night so it’s most likely the former) is packed with groups like this one. What is obviously missing from this scene is a deadly virus. In a pandemic, I’ve experienced no such nights.

Instead, I’ve met people via Zoom, which I find extremely uncomfortable, but I was surprised and relieved to find that there are people who make Zoom meetings so much better. There are people who take the extra step of setting up a study group and virtual library to ensure the rest of us (too awkward or uncomfortable to ask) can have a virtual space to experience law school to the fullest. Those same people share their outlines, answer your questions and walk you through the complex application of a rule fifteen times, if need be.

It’s safe to say that without them I would never have made it through finals with my sanity intact and I never would have done half as well as I ended up doing. Without them, law school would have felt like just watching different people talk on a screen.

While this study group and my lovely peers have helped my grades, they have also helped me through the really hard days; the days where I was just unable to be productive, the days when online school became a little too draining, times when I felt like I was just too exhausted and too overwhelmed to keep going. They are supportive and honest, telling me that they have felt the same way, instead of trying to make it seem like we should all have everything together at all times. I appreciate them deeply, and I would say LLS should be proud to have students that are not just great peers under normal circumstances, but also during awkward, difficult and unprecedented times as well.

Shoutout to the awesome people of D2.

Until next time,

Leilee

Monday, February 15, 2021

Law Student Support Systems

Hello Jury of Peers!

In the wild whirlwind that is law school, it’s nice to build a strong support system with your fellow classmates. Although it may feel awkward at first to cultivate these relationships and lean on your peers, at the end of the day, you’re all going through the same thing—and you’re not going through it alone. More importantly, not only are you establishing close friendships, you’re also beginning to grow your professional network in the legal field.

Prior to the first day of classes, I remember thinking that everyone was going to be super competitive, focusing solely on their own studies. After my first week at Loyola, I couldn’t have been more mistaken. Not only is our student body incredibly kind and friendly, they are unbelievably supportive and motivating. My section utilizes GroupMe, which allows us to communicate with each other on a large scale, asking questions ranging from, “Hey what is our property reading for Wednesday?” or even, “Who’s watching the Bachelor tonight?” Apart from messaging apps like GroupMe, even something simple as asking the person sitting next to you for their contact information can truly save the day come exam season when you’re looking for a study buddy.

Speaking of study buddies, forming study groups during exam season can be extremely helpful. It gives you a chance to discuss the law in a low-pressured, casual environment, and is an excellent way to help fill gaps in your notes. Although I have friends who swear by their study groups for exam prep, it is important to stay true to yourself and know the ways in which you study best. Personally, I prefer to study alone. I still lean on my peers for occasional questions and reading assignments, but when it comes to studying, I find myself most productive when I’m in a quiet environment by myself.

With that said, leaning on your law school peers goes beyond the classroom. Having a strong support system of like-minded, empowering individuals can make your law school experience much more pleasant. Like I said before, you’re all going through the same thing. You’re sharing an extremely unique experience, and leaning on each other for emotional or academic support can open the doors to not only professional relationships, but true friendships.

Thank you for the read!

Until next time,

Madison

Friday, February 12, 2021

Business As Usual

Since April, the world has come to a standstill. Students are unfortunately facing the consequences of distance learning, not only the students within grade school but those pursuing their undergraduate and graduate degrees. However, law school, a challenge in its own right, continues as normal, the forum is irrelevant to the study of law. The substance of the schooling remained the same. The courses up for me to challenge included Evidence, Criminal Procedure, Ethical Lawyering, Intro to International Law, and National Security and Data Privacy. Unlike the first-year courses, there is the option to have a course with a final academic paper, rather than a traditional final. The course itself gives a general overview of the field and then leaves student to research a topic of their choosing. National Security and Data Privacy was one such course.

The goal of these upper division writing requirement courses is to produce a peer reviewed paper with a minimum of 7,500 words. My paper was set to be on the impact of artificial intelligence in regard to counter terrorism operations. While I had vast experience in terrorism studies thanks to my involvement in international programs such as the National Model United Nations, and my enrollment in similar courses during undergrad. I felt confident with this paper topic. Then the research started.

Surprisingly enough, counter terror tactics are not released to the general public, thus I was unable to find reliable sources on the latest technologies. However, I took a step back. I am in law school not a doctoral program for computer engineering. I asked myself a simple question. “Is it legal?” This simple question spurred my interest. In my research, the answer to that question was a resounding “maybe”. However, the lack of answer was not a negative. Rather it shows the novel nature of the question such that no courts have considered its implementation. Since there are no right or wrong answers as typically required by traditional final exams, I needed to support my findings. The legal framework of data collection set by the fourth amendment to the US Constitution and any case law stemming from it. This type of research was new for me and the challenge it presented made the end result worth the pain.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Happy 2021 everyone! Or 2020 Round 2, whichever you prefer!

I was so relieved when I finished my exams. They were particularly stressful because they were our first letter grades since Covid started. This meant that they would have a strong impact on our GPA, which is usually what pushes law firms to invite you to interview.

I’ve learned two things in prepping for exams. First, always start earlier than you think you should. Second, organization is everything. It doesn’t matter how smart you are. Law school exams cover wide swaths of material, and you need to recognize all of the individual subissues that may arise in any question. The actual explanation of a subissue is usually not complex; the difficulty comes from recognizing when a question requires the analysis. Having organized notes helps you predict what kind of issues you might encounter in particular questions, and play a huge role in academic success.

That’s how law school changed me the most. I come from a creative background. Working as an actor for five years, I wasn’t used to an orderly presentation of knowledge. I either knew something or I didn’t, and that was the end of the discussion. That kind of attitude was how I lived in general. No notes, no reminders, little structure. In my first semester, that mindset held me back. I wasn’t able to truly succeed academically until I discovered the magic of flowcharts in analyzing property law questions. Just rewriting my notes in this format helped me understand the legal analysis so much better, because I had to truly understand the material before I could organize it correctly.

Becoming more organized was helpful for my life outside of school as well. Even though the pandemic still rages, there are still things I want to accomplish. It’s easy to lose track of time and let days slip by without moving towards your goals, especially if you’re in a negative emotional space.

Keeping track of your goals and noting your victories, even small ones, does so much to help keep you moving forward. So far this year I spoke at a (virtual) poetry reading, started learning a new language (Armenian), and both interviewed for and accepted a summer associate position at Kirkland & Ellis, Am Law’s #1 ranked firm. So yeah, I GOT A JOB!

I’ll leave you there, but don’t worry. I’ll write about that experience soon enough.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Last “First” Day of School!

My last winter break has come and gone. I spent the time drafting a set of Bylaws for the Wine & Spirits Law Society with one of our 1L Officers, Orlando Loza, I edited law review articles, learned some Portuguese on Duolingo, made progress on my post-graduation job hunt, and dipped my toe into Bar Prep. I also took some time to just be with my wife, Claudia. We know my next real break won’t be until after I take the Bar Exam.

Now, I’ve started my last semester at Loyola and it’s a bittersweet time. I know it’s a cliché but five semesters have really flown by! Even in a year like 2020 that, let’s face it, was pretty terrible for everyone, I’m grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had so far and I’m really looking forward to getting the most out of the limited time I have left before graduation.

I’m taking five classes this semester as well as Law Review. I’m finishing my final requirements for the Corporate Concentration, I have one Bar Class (Criminal Procedure), and I’m taking one class for “fun” (Law of Sales). It’s sad and a bit funny that I won’t be able to take anymore classes at Loyola when there are still so many I wish I could take! At the same time, I know this semester is going to be a handful. There’s plenty of uncertainty about classes, the Bar, and our future job prospects but I still think there is plenty of healthy optimism.

In actuality, my biggest worry right now is when I’ll be able to get a haircut. I missed my chance to get one in December before we went back into lockdown and now my hair is out of control! I’ll keep my fingers crossed that it’ll be safe to get one soon.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Welcome to Spring Semester 2021!

Greetings from the Spring 2021 semester! I have returned to law school feeling refreshed and well-rested (though I suppose I’ll have to see how long that lasts).

My winter break consisted of a lot of staying indoors, re-watching TV shows (I finished an entire season of Psych in one day), sleeping in until noon, and trying to establish a proper exercise routine. All in all, it wasn’t very exciting or even eventful. When my friends and I spoke on the phone and they asked for an update on my life, I genuinely had none to give other than to tell them how many more episodes of a show I had watched. While I hope to be able to travel (or at least physically meet up with friends) next year, I have no complaints, as I was able to spend a lot of time with my family.

I also spent a lot of my winter break refreshing my student email to see if final grades had been posted. Despite being informed by my fellow LLM students who had had midterms or were in their second semester of law school that grades likely wouldn’t be up until early January, I continued to refresh my email at least twice a day. However, upon being notified that grades were up, I realized that I had no idea how to locate them, and had to ask my fellow LLM classmates for help. After some frantic texting and some even more frantic fussing about on the laptop, I finally found my Fall 2020 grades.

As for the exam period itself, I was very nervous about my exam being online. I spent a long time checking that my WiFi connection was strong, making sure my laptop was entirely charged and that my charger was nearby, and checked and double checked the online exam system. I probably should have also checked the latch on the front door, however, as I ended up accidentally locking my parents out of the house.

So to anyone who is taking online exams this year, I guess my piece of advice (if you can even call it advice) would be to not lock your family or housemates outside while you take your exam.

I’ll admit that I was very much looking forward to returning to school by the beginning of January. Like last semester, all of my classes take place in the evening. This probably doesn’t bode well for my sleep schedule, especially as they wrap up at 1:50 am twice a week, but I suppose some things never change.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

2021-Back from "Break"!

Hello Jury of Peers!

To be honest, this wouldn’t be an honest blog post if I didn’t note the fact that winter break felt very little like a real break. Obviously, breaks in law school are much shorter (I used to be on a semester system where we used to get SIX weeks off between semesters. SIX!) even though finals feel much longer and a lot more draining (the hard work pays off though, I promise you!). But also, it was difficult to take a break with everything going on in the world. There wasn’t much to do to relax or unplug and the thought of job searches and the start of semester never left my mind.

Long story short (if you know, you know, TS fans), I did not do this break right. The weekend before classes started, I still felt tired. But there was one silver lining; and that was the realization that I need to spend more time disconnecting throughout the semester. I love law and legal thinking, but over break I realized that I had started to think that way when it came to every aspect of my life. I couldn’t have a conversation without approaching it like some argument or like I was meant to derive some idea or rule from it. That’s definitely exhausting for my brain and it was something I hadn’t even noticed. The break gave me a chance to become mindful of that and reminded me that sometimes it’s fun (and necessary) to just do unproductive, creative and mindless things. To just not think.

So if you’re reading this and you haven’t had your first winter break yet, I have a couple of things to say. One, fingers crossed you won’t be in a global pandemic. Second, I hope you can rest your mind, even if you can’t fully rest and re-energize yourself the way you wanted to. It goes a long way.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Fall Exams and a Much-Needed Winter Break

Welcome back Jury of Peers!

After an intense two weeks of finals, to a relaxing winter break, Spring semester is finally back in session. Here’s a recap of my last month:

Exams. Oh, boy. Throughout law school, there always seems to be a dark cloud looming over you, following you everywhere you go. That dark cloud is exams. From the moment you start law school, you instantly start thinking, worrying, and preparing for your final exams. I know that sounds overwhelming, but it’s the reality. In a few of my 1L classes, the final exam accounted for 100% of my final grade, so beginning to study earlier rather than later was crucial. Although it may seem daunting at first, if you start preparing for finals early, that dark cloud will slowly lift, and you’ll be able to see some sun.

My exams went well. They were challenging yet fair. Finals week was undoubtedly one of the most stressful two weeks of my life, yet I survived, making winter break a peaceful and well-deserved few weeks.

After my last final, my mind instantly entered vacation-mode, and I couldn’t wait to finally go home and not think about civil procedure or what constitutes a contract. However, I knew I wasn’t completely off the hook in terms of law-related work. After fall finals comes the lovely period of applying to summer associate positions, and I spent many days of winter break perfecting my resume and mastering the art of the cover letter. Although I wasn’t studying the law, I was still consumed with applying to summer clerkships and legal internships, which kept me very, very busy.

When I wasn’t working on my summer job applications, I was honestly doing nothing. It’s called relaxing, okay? I caught up on my favorite Netflix shows, read a few books that had been collecting dust on the shelf, ventured to my favorite hometown hiking spots, and spent quality time with my family. By January, I was back in Los Angeles, prepping for spring semester. This included ordering new textbooks, deep-cleaning my apartment, and mentally preparing for grades to be released. Then, in a blink of an eye, it was the first Monday back at law school.

As always, thanks for the read. I look forward to documenting the second half of my 1L year with you all!

Until next time,

Madison

Friday, January 29, 2021

Confidence Is Key!

It’s been a while since I’ve written here, so… hello everyone! Finals can be stressful, especially during a pandemic, so this winter break felt like a breath of fresh air. I had time to digest that this is my LAST YEAR. I say it and I cannot believe it as it seems like I started law school yesterday, but as they say all good things must come to an end. As I write this, I can’t help to think about how law school has changed me (for the better, of course).

After law school, I have learned some things:

After being cold called a LOT, I can say that I am not afraid to be wrong.

After meeting a lot of people with different backgrounds, I can say that differences make us stronger.

After having to take multiple exams, I can say that how you did on an exam does not determine your knowledge on a subject matter.

After many all-nighters, I can say that working harder does not necessarily mean that you are working smarter.

After ditching that date with friends and or family, I can tell you that taking a three-hour break won’t affect your grades.

After doubting myself and making it, I can say that everyone is more capable than they think. Confidence is key!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Bye Bye 2020! Cheers to 2021!

The first semester classes are winding down now and finals are practically here. Fortunately, this time I only have two finals to look forward to – Securities Regulation and Remedies. I’m also lucky that these two finals are spaced about as far apart from each other as possible so I have weeks to study for each exam individually. With so much stress and anxiety looming, I wanted to use this last blog post of 2020 to focus on one of the more fun-filled parts of my semester so far, the Wine & Spirits Law Society (“WSLS”). 

For the most part, Wine & Spirits activities have pretty much wrapped up for the year. Thanks to the efforts of our fantastic Events Chair, Fernanda Hinojosa, and our Treasurer, Zack Trotter, we were actually able to plan, organize and host two virtual events within the last two weeks. The first event was a guided sake tasting which covered the production process and history of sake while highlighting the different levels of “polished” sake rice (junmai, daiginjo and junmai daiginjo) and how the polish can change the color, flavor and overall presentation of the sake.

The second event featured a guided beer tasting AND a discussion of IP issues within the Seattle craft beer community with Prof. Zahr Said of the University of Washington School of Law. Prof. Said’s research and discussion provided an amazing look at the seemingly cooperative competition (termed “coopetition”) that permeated the craft beer community in the Seattle area at the time of her research. That coopetition, however, did not extend to the “Big Beer” industry as is made clear by the comments of some of her interviewees. Her article in the Lewis & Clark Law Review is full of fantastic insights and some amazingly candid interviews which are absolutely worth a read!

I said that we have “pretty much” wrapped up the semester because we do have one additional “event.” Just today we submitted an order for about four hundred customized wine glasses to help raise funds for future events while providing the LLS community a chance to buy a fun WSLS Christmas gift for themselves, a friend or for family. Fernanda found the vendor and negotiated the price and I couldn’t be happier with what she was able to get! It’s a small step but it’s hopefully the first of many moves to make WSLS a more sustainable and enjoyable student organization for years to come.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Fall Semester Update

My first semester of law school has truly passed by in the blink of an eye. This, however, also means that finals are fast approaching (ahhh!).

Three months into law school, and I can honestly say law school hasn’t been as stress-inducing as I expected it to be (although I’m sure that I’ll be singing an entirely different tune once exams are less than a week away). I think that I built up such a scary image of law school during orientation that once I experienced the real thing, it could only be…well, less scary.

I think a big part of what has made the experience vastly different from the image I had created in my mind is how, at Loyola, you’re really not thrown in at the deep end. I know I mentioned it in my last blog post, but the classes American Legal Research & Writing and Introduction to American Law have really eased my transition into law school. In the former, the first few classes were spent going over the basics of how to study, how to research (very, very helpful), how exams are graded, and how to create a good study outline. The remainder was spent polishing our legal writing.

In the latter, we covered several “core” subjects of American law, ranging from the history of the Constitution to contract law. Moreover, we often discussed current events and how they pertained to what we studied (and to be fair, 2020 has been an extremely eventful year, so there were a lot of things to talk about).

I will be quite sad when these two classes come to an end, but I am also looking forward to what next semester has to offer! I have signed up for some substantive law classes this time around, and am excited to put the skills and knowledge I have learned during this semester to use. I do want to mention that even when picking courses, LLM students were guided through the process: at the end of October, we were given the opportunity to have a 1 on 1 appointment with the LLM advisor in order to discuss our goals and what courses we had in mind.

On a different note, my sleep schedule has never been worse (okay, that’s a lie, it definitely has been a lot worse, but it’s still pretty bad). I don’t know why I thought law school would be the magic fix I needed to finally find the willpower to go to sleep at a reasonable hour, because I am no closer to being an early riser than I was prior to coming to Loyola. Also, the fact that all of my classes are in the evening has certainly not motivated me to begin my day any earlier.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Fall Semester Update

Hello again, Jury of Peers! While everyone else is gearing up for the “most wonderful time of the year,” here in law school, stress levels are rising as we quickly approach finals. So, right now, this blogger is stressed.

But maybe I should recap the events that got me to this point, since every finals week has whole semester attached to it. As a 2L you get to pick your own classes which means you have a lot more control over your day-to-day schedule than you do as a 1L.

Last year, I always had class from 8am -12pm then took an hour lunch break and studied until about 7pm. This year, my class schedule is more spread out through the day so my study hours are more “wonky” than last year. Usually my work hours are 10am-11pm with two one-hour breaks to eat.

This semester I took Evidence, Ethical Lawyering (two of the three required 2L classes), Entertainment Law, and Business Associations. I also have been doing work as a staffer for the International and Comparative Law Review. All said and done, my school days, which are Monday – Thursday, are consumed with law school. I usually take Thursday nights off and then spend Friday – Sunday working on my law review assignment for the next week, prepping for next week’s classes, or outlining.

Now, if you were like me when I was preparing for law school, the words “all-consuming” might incite some anxiety in you but let me explain. Ask most law students and they’ll probably use those words too, but we only mean there isn’t an abundance of time for things outside of law school. You can still go grocery shopping (with a mask on) and call you mom. You just can’t also spend four hours of your day binge watching Netflix.

Law school is one of the grandest examples of delayed gratification there is. Push through the week and take a night off and do nothing. I really love music so I make time on the weekends to spend time singing and writing music. I don’t spend nearly as much time as I really would like to, but I do what I can with the time that I have. I also love to bake in my free time so I have snacks to study with!

See you in the next one,

Kelsey


Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Joys (and Limits) of Law School Thinking

It’s safe to say law school is in many ways exactly what I expected. It’s a lot of work, it’s exciting, tiring, fascinating and a lot of other adjectives. But what’s most interesting to me is how law school nurtures my way of thinking.

I’ve always been an overthinker and I’ve also always lived in the details. Something my mom frequently says about me is that I overanalyze everything in my life (especially myself). Any law student reading this would know that this is actually a good thing in our field. In law school, I’m supposed to think about how an exact word and the placement of a comma can change the broad meaning. I’m supposed to overanalyze a set of rules I read. I’m supposed to pay attention to every detail of a fact pattern. It seems that something I always felt as a burden in life is now being put to good use- and more importantly, I’m actually learning how to use it better.

But it does have its downfalls. Although I rarely go so far as officially proclaiming myself a writer, I’ve been writing creatively since I learned to read. I’ve never been good with building worlds or fantasy or sci-fi, but I’ve always gotten creative with my characters, dialogue and the seemingly mundane. The kind of logical and reason-based thinking that law school has boxed me into has detached me from the emotional, creative and fun side of thinking. Even the books I read for fun are either true crime or political or in some way related to the two. The show I watch to de-stress is Mindhunter (if you haven’t seen it, look it up). I can’t remember the last time I read a poem and felt creativity in me; that kind of warm excitement in the pit of my stomach.

I’m hoping that knowing this now, I can begin to work on it. Law school caters to my interests and my line of thinking, but I don’t want it to become all consuming. Balance is difficult, but I’m hoping I will get there eventually.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Fall Semester Recap

Hey Jury of Peers!

I can’t believe I’m finally on the homestretch of my first semester of law school. Where did the time go? I blinked and suddenly I’m preparing for finals. With the fall semester coming to an end, I want to reflect upon my past three months at Loyola.

Looking back on the semester, I feel very proud of myself. Law school always seemed like an enigma to me; a daunting mystery I wished to one day hopefully solve. And here I am with three months under my belt, slowly cracking the code and unpacking the intellectual challenge that is law school.

Before I started law school, I expected the workload to be constantly overwhelming. I remember looking at the various syllabi and thinking how on earth am I going to manage the reading assignments each week. It’s safe to say I was very intimidated. But each week, I kept up with my studying and reading, and honestly, it was much more manageable than I anticipated. The workload is heavy, but if you stay organized and consistent with your study schedule, it is much less overwhelming.

One thing I didn’t anticipate about law school is how much it affects your mental health. I knew school would be challenging, but I only expected the challenge to revolve around course material. About midway through the semester, I found myself exhausted, homesick, and a little burnt-out. I spent the majority of my time alone in my apartment studying, barely taking any time to care for myself. I knew I needed to make a change. I started implementing simple self-care activities into my weekly schedule, such as going on small hikes, cooking healthy dinners, calling my friends and family, and even indulging in a few episodes of reality TV. Prioritizing my mental health made a world of difference in not only my happiness, but my performance in school as well.

Despite the challenging times, law school has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve learned so much in the past three months, and I’ve only just scratched the surface. It is so rewarding when the material clicks in my brain and I finally understand a puzzling rule or case. These moments of clarity make the difficult times worth every second, for they encourage me to keep my head up and work hard.

And there you have it! Thanks again for the read.

Until next time,

Madison




Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Law, A Vicious Culture?

Prior to my acceptance into law school, my undergraduate education exposed me to many theories as to how the law school experience would affect the students during the three years required to complete a law program. In fact, many professors, who held Juris Doctor degrees advised the students to avoid law school as if it was the plague. Yet, none of the “myths” of law school that I heard paled in comparison to the “myths” that I heard during the law program’s orientation week upon being accepted. The orientation staff informed my fellow students and I of the fate that awaited us, that is primarily, the lack of a social life. While that could certainty be the case for some students, who choose to take on a heavy course load with numerous extracurriculars (including employment), I found the opposite to be true.

While I have certainly found myself missing the occasional meal, missing weightlifting sessions which are vital to managing my stress level, lacking sleep, and missing networking opportunities, these occurrences were rare and certainly did not inhibit a healthy work-life balance. My law school friends, and I would take an average one to two hours out of our day, after classes, to walk around the neighborhood surrounding the law school and simply talk. No subject was off-limits. A small routine but one that meant the world to us and our mental health. Our chats allowed us to clear our minds of the stresses of the dreaded first year courses even if we discussed the contents of those classes. Being able to speak freely was a value we came to appreciate and even though our chats would sometimes take up to four hours of our day, we did not regret the time we spent together, in fact it became a vital component of our success. 

Law schools, like many other institutions as of the late, are becoming more conscious of the need to maintain a healthy work-life balance among its members. In the field of law, this balance is important as it has the ability to impair or enhance our ability to represent our clients. The ethical rules maintain that we must remain a zealous advocate for our clients, but we must also consider ourselves, our mental health, and our needs as human beings. Personally, I would say that managing a healthy work-life balance is an unspoken tool acquired in law school.

Monday, January 11, 2021

If Only I Knew (Part II) – Plan Your Routine and Stick to It

Last year, I wrote about some advice that I wish I had known as a 1L. Today I wanted to revisit that topic with a focus on ‘routines.’ First, I want to distinguish between my routine and my schedule. My schedule is the list of upcoming events I put into my calendar. My routine, however are the ‘little rituals’ I do every day that add structure and continuity to my life.

During my 1 and 2L years, my time on campus made up the bulk of my routine. I would get ready for the day, eat a quick breakfast with tea or coffee, arrive on campus between 8 and 10 AM (depending on my schedule), attend my first class, go to the library or law review to read, go to my other classes, swim or go to the gym in the early evening, drive home, eat dinner, spend time with my wife, read until midnight and then go to sleep. Of course, every semester requires some adaptation but I could usually count on some consistency with meal times, drives to and from campus, finding my own quiet space to read on campus, some form of exercise in the evening, family time, and predictable time to get to bed.

The pandemic has forced me and many others to reinvent our routines and the experience has given me a new perspective and new appreciation for just how important the daily ‘little rituals’ are. For example, I’ve always loved my commute to and from campus or work as a chance to organize my thoughts, listen to the morning news on the radio and generally prepare for or wind down from the day. Now, I take my dogs out for walks around the neighborhood and use the time to learn Portuguese through an app on my phone. In space of swimming, I’ve taken up running every day to get in my exercise (though I have to confess I loathe running).

A quiet, distraction-free study space has been the most difficult thing to recreate. I had to spend a good deal of time at the beginning of the semester turning our guest room into an office where I can comfortably work for hours. I deleted my Facebook app from my phone and programmed restriction certain timewasting apps and websites to help me avoid distractions.

I’m certainly not perfect and I’ve struggled to maintain my routine when the unexpected happens. For example, when the HOA began construction right outside our condo, I drove 30 miles to my parent’s house with dogs in toe every day just to get work done in peace. Even without bulldozers shaking the entire building, it’s always difficult to stay on track when the dogs decide they need attention or start barking at some interesting activity going on outside.

Still, in times like these, I can still fall back on some consistencies – meals, exercise, evening family time. If you can, be mindful of your own routine and what little things you do throughout the day. If you can’t think of any, try developing a few. It’s surprising how easily the day can get away from you without that little consistency to keep you grounded.


Friday, January 8, 2021

What I Wish I Knew As A 1L

Hello again, Jury of Peers! It’s so nice to see you again. This time we’re tacking … duh, duh, DUUH … law school myths! Law school myths run amuck thanks to TV shows and movies and stereotypes. * While some law schools may be cut throat and really psychologically intense, I haven’t found that to be the case at Loyola. Law school, just like most things in life, is much scarier from the outside than the inside.


Instead of running through the myths you might already know, I’ll tell you what I wish I knew going into law school.
  1. You’re not going to learn the “law.”

    Yes, okay, you will learn substantive law but don’t expect to leave law school being able to cite every existing statute. Law school is about learning methodology to create good arguments for your cases. It’s about learning how to think rather than what to remember. 

  2. Organize your class outlines by rules rather than cases.

    I made this mistake my first semester because we talk about specific cases to learn how the rules work, but that doesn’t prepare you to see the big picture of how rules really “work.” Organizing the class by rules allows you to see the big picture first then use specific case law to emphasize exceptions or explanations of that rule. Plus, you won’t be asked to regurgitate case facts on a final, you’ll be asked to pull the rule from the case and apply it to a new set of facts.

  3. Cold Calling can actually be amazing.

    Hear me out. As a 1L, I was so nervous to be cold called. One time, I blanked on the difference between a crossclaim and a counterclaim. I could have sworn the room was dead silent for about a million years. But it exposed that I wasn’t as fast as I should be on certain terminology. And, no one really cared that I messed up because they were just glad they hadn’t gotten called-on for this ridiculously complex Civil Procedure case I got stuck with.

  4. Tab your Bluebook as you find citation rules.

    You’ll understand when the time comes. And you’ll thank me later. Just tab your Bluebook.

  5. You will not get straight A’s and that’s OK.

    Okay, maybe some of you will, but the rationale behind this advice is to temper your expectations about grades. You are really smart and you will be in the room with seventy other really smart people, which means curves are going to be tight and the difference between an A and a B is going minute. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t keep up that straight-A streak you’ve been on for the last 20 years. 
If I can leave you with anything from this post let it be this: you will make it out of law school even when it seems like there’s no way you’ll be able to do it. I heard an alumnus say at my orientation panel that he struggled all through law school, but without the struggle, he would not be the attorney that he is. If he can do it; if I can do it; then so can you!


See you in the next one,

Kelsey


*Fun Fact: Professor Laurie Levenson consulted on the cinematic masterpiece Legally Blonde so it’s pretty accurate!


**Fun Fact: my sweatshirt is from Etsy!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Debunking A Law School Myth

Before my first day at Loyola, my older brother called me to offer some advice. He warned me about the gunners I would encounter, and encouraged me to get the books I needed from the library quickly before the more unscrupulous students could cut the important parts out with razors. All in all, he warned me: “everyone will try to eat you alive.” 

So imagine my surprise when, after missing a torts class, I ran into a classmate who volunteered to send me copies of everything the professor had reviewed. Everything was color-coded with all the main topics highlighted for good measure.

I thought this kind of helpful classmate would be the exception, but it turned out that everyone I met was just as quick to jump in and help. If students struggled answering cold calls, their neighbors would surreptitiously point out helpful information or raise their hands to answer questions as co-counsel.

This is part of what I have enjoyed about my Loyola experience. There’s a sense that we are all in this together. You can go up to anyone else in class and ask them to explain something to you, and they’ll either help you or admit that they’re in the same boat.

The lack of drama and cutthroat competition might make a lousy movie, but it makes a wonderful student experience.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Debunking Law School Myths: Outlines Edition

I think anyone who has even thought about law school has heard about outlines. In my experience, before my 1L classes started, outline was a word used with such weight (yet so frequently) that I saw it as a terrifying monster I knew nothing about and not as the simple study guide it is.

If you haven’t heard about outlines, they are what everyone will tell you is one of the most important parts of law school. You’re learning a lot of new material in law school and you need to be able to keep track of them, organize them and… outline them. In law school, this means outlining cases: find the facts, issue, rule, reasoning, holding and… a lot more about each case you study. While this is true (and I do it when I need to), I think there’s a better way to describe outlines (one that I’m sure could be plain as day to anyone who has finished their first semester as a law student, but it wasn’t to me before I started).

An outline is your map for each class. The typical structure I mentioned helps (and it’s explicitly taught to every 1L student), yes, but what helps even more is to write the important parts of each chapter or rule that you are studying in class in a way that YOU understand best. Not using only one structure and not only for cases.

In fact, cases are fascinating and definitely a huge part of understanding the law and legal reasoning, but they are also long. And sometimes even distracting (when they read like stories!). I find that I have very little time. So it’s been most helpful to me to realize that throughout my education and career, I will likely have access to cases. While it’s important to know them, it’s more important to simply learn how to focus on what the case is trying to illustrate about the rule you are learning. Then outline that. And by outline, I mean: write the rule and how it’s used, as thoroughly as possible, in a way you understand. That’s it. That seems to be what’s working best for me so far, but it doesn’t mean it will be for you. That’s kind of the point, you’re supposed to do things how they work for you.