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,


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,


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,


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,