Monday, February 21, 2022

The Importance of Study Groups

By now I’m sure most of us have seen Legally Blonde where Elle Woods tried to join a study group and was terribly rejected. Although this has not been my experience, I have heard differing opinions on the efficiency of study groups. Some say study groups are helpful while others see it as an opportunity to hang out with friends. Unfortunately, I didn’t join a study group during fall semester, but my friends and I have decided to create one this semester. I have always been an independent student and never enjoyed study groups in undergrad. My focus was always on the study methods that worked for me as an individual that I couldn’t appreciate how helpful study groups can be. After a semester’s worth of experience, I picked up on two things: 1) study in the way that works for you, whether or not you use study groups, and 2) if you do use study groups, do not treat it as a time to socialize.

During finals, I studied on my own for the most part. My friends and I leaned in on each other for moral support and to bounce off ideas, but we never actually sat down to study as a group. With that being said, if you decide study groups are not for you, do not fear that you are missing out on anything by studying alone. I’m sure you have heard this a million times by now, but what works for you may not work for others and vice versa. However, it is important to create connections with your peers that you feel most comfortable with. Those are the peers, or friends, that you will feel at ease with when asking questions and collaborating.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Concentrations and Electives

Getting to pick my own subjects was a relatively new experience for me. Back when home, I never got to pick my own subjects – everything was already selected, and I never had to give it a second thought. For someone who always had trouble making decisions (unless it’s where to eat – that I always know), this was absolutely fine.

I will say, though, that I am doing an International Business Law specialization. This has narrowed my choices somewhat (which, again, being indecisive is absolutely okay by me): for my first three semesters, I basically selected classes from of the International Business Law specialization’s elected courses. Moreover, Business Associations was a required course, and that was four units of the 24 units sorted (I’m not very good at maths, but I believe that’s roughly 17% (and I definitely just Googled the answer after deciding I was too lazy to actually calculate it myself, so if that’s wrong it’s Google’s fault)). 

In my last blog post on this very same topic (sidenote, but I can’t believe how quickly a year passes!), I wrote that one should keep in mind that a course offered in the Fall semester might not be offered in the Spring semester, and I still very much stand by that advice (can that be considered advice? Maybe it’s just common sense).

This year, when choosing classes, I also took the form of exam into account. Of course, that wouldn’t be the main element that played into my decision to take a class, but it did affect the semester I decided to take a class. Personally, I prefer open book take home exams. Sure, they’re stressful because you have to spend 24 hours (well, not literally, but you could in theory) on a paper rather than the three or so hours taking a “traditional” examination, but I enjoy the flexibility that it allows in the scheduling of my exams, since I get to choose the day I wish to take it. Moreover, it allows me more time to spend memorizing cases and rules that my classes with closed book exams require. Thus, when choosing courses for the semester, if at all possible I like to keep it at two closed book exams and one take home exam. 

Again, I cannot stress enough how it is not a deciding factor and is simply something I take into consideration, and that it was only something I took into account from the courses I was already planning on taking to begin with. 

And so, with that disclaimer out of the way, I will sign off for this week and will see you all again in my next blog post. 

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Concentrations and Electives

Although there are no majors in law school, there are plenty of ways to cater your academic experience to certain areas of law. One of the easiest ways to do that is by picking electives, or courses not tested on the bar exam. There are a wide range of electives, and most law students have two different approaches to selecting them. Most students either take electives that interest them, either because they already know they want to pursue that field of law or because they are not sure what law is the best fit for them. For students who are particularly interested in a certain type of law and want a more catered experience, LMU Loyola Law School has a variety of concentrations to choose from. My passion for family law and interest in litigation led me to choose the Civil Litigation and Advocacy Concentration. Before making my decision, I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss my career goals with Associate Dean for Faculty Gary Craig, a mentor of mine who I had the opportunity to meet through the Summer Institute Program. As a former litigator and former professor for the Civil Litigation Practicum, he helped me realize the concentration was a good fit for my career goals. This year, I am working on my concentration through the Civil Litigation Practicum year-long course. Throughout the course, the professor guides us through all the parts of civil litigation through a simulated civil matter. We propound discovery, write motions, and even participate in mock depositions and motion hearings! Choosing to concentrate in Civil Litigation and Advocacy has been an amazing experience so far and I encourage all students, especially 1Ls to browse through and explore the various concentrations offered. Even if they are not mandatory, they are an amazing experience!

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The Importance of Study Groups

It was an amazing feeling to be welcomed by the LLS community once I got to law school. My 1L peers are friendly, very collegial, and have always been willing to offer a helping hand while navigating schoolwork. Similarly, the 2L and 3L students have made themselves readily available to answer questions about school and careers and are always willing to offer advice and study tips. I can confidently say the community at LLS facilitates an incredible learning environment and is a warm and accepting place to spend so much of my time.

As much as I love my peers, for me, study groups are not my favorite way to learn. I am a very social person and find that I constantly distract myself and others in groups, especially working with people I get along with so well. Instead, I’ve always felt that I learn course material best while studying independently, and the same has been true so far in law school. However, study groups have been extremely valuable when going over practice problems for exams. Having the opportunity to talk through your thought process and hear feedback from other students is an essential part of test prep and is something I would encourage all incoming law students to do come exam time.

My friends and I at LLS spend a lot of time together outside of the classroom as well. We get food together, hang out on weekends, and many of us get together every Friday afternoon to play basketball on campus. These friendships outside of the classroom are an essential part of getting through school, and it is amazing to have so many great connections already after just one semester.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!

As an introvert, one of the scariest parts of entering law school was finding a friend group I could rely on, both through the trials and errors of academics and for emotional support. Support during 1L is vital to your academic and emotional well-being. Luckily, Loyola puts together one of the best orientation programs prior to the first week of school. Through the orientation social events, I made friends immediately. I realized that everyone was eager to find friends to study and hang out with. It’s important to remember that everyone is on the same boat. You will find common ground quickly. I found my long-term study group before classes had even started!

Finding classmates I could rely on helped tremendously. We outlined together, studied together, shared notes, and went to dinner after classes to destress. Our friendships have gone beyond academics. We share life stories, hardships, and fun times together week after week. I truly believe I have developed a law school family and met friends I will have for the rest of my life. Loyola students are great, and I rarely feel competition between us. Teamwork really makes the dream work!

Monday, February 14, 2022

The Importance of Study Groups

When law school started back last fall, I felt like my social skills were not as strong as they used to be. After quarantining, social distancing, and staying at home for about a year and a half, it felt kind of weird to be surrounded by classmates and people again. I did feel a little shy at first when meeting new people, but generally everyone is excited to get to know each other and to start this new chapter of their lives.

It’s important to develop social skills in law school, because that’s how we build connections and network. Forming study groups and having friends to rely on are especially important. Part of the process is just introducing yourself to your peers and requesting to exchange information. It may seem awkward at first, or you don’t want to bother other people, but we’re all in the same boat. Everyone is generally nice and wants to help one another in order to succeed in class.

I’m glad that I have friends that I can reach out to if I need any help with school. If I ever have any questions on the material or didn’t catch something in class, I know that I can always shoot a text to my friends at any time of day. Even if it’s really late at night, usually someone will always be awake. It is also really helpful to compare outlines with one another to see if we are missing any crucial information or certain topics can have more detail. I think it’s really important to study with someone else because when we are reviewing concepts or doing practice problems I tend to reinforce the learned material better by being able to orally discuss it.

Besides having friends and peers as resources towards succeeding academically it’s also important to have friends who share the same experience as you to provide moral support. Law school can be overwhelming. It’s comforting to have people around you who understand your struggles and journey as you navigate law school together.

Friday, February 11, 2022

The Importance of Study Groups

It's August 16th and you just arrived for your first day of school.

You’re in 8:00 AM Civil Procedure class, looking around at your 80-something classmates to see who you would befriend or who you would have a good relationship with. You get a feel for the 1L class you will be with for the next year. And as you look around, the impending question hits: do I need a study group?

The answer is yes, no... maybe so? It really depends on you.

It’s nice to have a group of friends that you can call for help with assignments and readings. It’s also nice to have those friends make sure you stay on top of your readings. You know, like Accountabilibuddies. Friends who hold you accountable!

It’s also nice to have people you can vent to about grades, memos, internships, etc. Just having a friend group you can joke around with makes an enormous difference in your law school experience. Because it just reminds you that you are not alone.

But when it comes studying come finals period? A study group isn’t necessary, per se. If you find that you can study well by yourself, then go for it! If you’re more productive while in a group with other people, then that’s fine too! Really, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to studying for finals. It’s whatever works best for you!

Me, personally. My friend group is my emotional support. We usually share memes and talk about Netflix series.

But that’s just me... you do you!

And if you’re wondering about the student body. It’s very collaborative and supportive. Every affinity group and club on campus does a great job of notifying you of upcoming events and opportunities. Moreover, every club offers 1L members mentors to guide them through their first year and point them to the right places.

So, yeah, don’t stress too much about study groups. I was in the same position as you when I was entering 1L, and everything turned out just fine.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

The Importance of Study Groups

Before coming to law school, I thought the environment would be the opposite of collaborative. I had read about how competitive it is and about students who refused to share notes, outlines, or ideas with classmates. However, after the first semester I can confidently say that my experience at Loyola has not been like that at all.

During the first semester, I realized how much my classmates and I lean on each other. While I, personally, do not have a specific study group, my section has a discord channel where we all ask questions, send reminders, and encourage one another. When someone is confused about the parameters of an assignment or aspect of a case, they’ll ask a question in the group chat, and someone will reply with an answer or their thoughts. It’s led to a lot of discussions that helped me on assignments and readings in classes.

This is especially true during exam season. When we’re all outlining and studying, we make sure to send encouraging messages, ask questions about cases or concepts we’re confused about, and remind each other of exam review times and exam day details.

This is true even outside of my specific section. I know a lot of student organizations have mentor programs where upperclassmen and even alumni sign up to help 1Ls through their first year and even after that.

Overall, the entire Loyola community is supportive of one another. Despite the competitive aspect that comes with the curve, we make it a point to be there for one another and help when we can. After all, law school is one of the hardest challenges any of us have ever faced, so it’s only natural that we lean on people who are going through the same thing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Concentrations and Electives

Hello again, Jury of Peers!

Today we are talking about concentrations and electives. There are many, many areas of law so it would make sense that there are an abundance of classes to choose from in law school to allow students to pique their interests before going out into the big-bad-working-world.

Loyola offers quite a few concentrations, which are kind of like optional majors. There are some advantages to doing a concentration, like getting a separate GPA for those required classes; and there are some disadvantages, like having more classes that you have to take. I debated doing the Entertainment concentration but ultimately decided it wasn’t for me. This was mostly because the more classes I took, the less I knew what I wanted my career to look like post-law school.

Many of the electives I took were Bar courses or Bar adjacent courses because, frankly, I’m a bad test-taker. Having a lot of classes that expose me to the material before Bar study begins eases my anxious mind. For example, I took Business Associations, Marital Property, Criminal Procedure, Remedies, California Civil Procedure, and Trusts & Wills. But just because I had a lot of Bar classes didn’t mean I couldn’t take anything I was truly interested in. I took a wonderful Motion Picture Contract Drafting class where we pretended we were actually drafting contracts for major motion pictures. I took Trial Advocacy where I got to put on a mock trial as a lawyer and a witness. And I took Negotiations which I had wanted to take since 1L.

When it came to actually picking classes I took recommendations from friends and enrolled in classes they thought were particularly fulfilling or informative. I also spent hours agonizing over the entire course offerings webpage parsing through options that seemed interesting for me personally.

Basically, my approach to picking classes is a lot like my philosophy for life: balance. I like to balance doing things that will help me down the line (Bar Classes) and following my interests. But whatever the philosophy is, there is a third entity involved in the process: you, the classes, and the schedule.

Sometimes the classes you take all come down to what fits in your schedule. As I got to my last semester of registration, I realized that I had taken most of the Bar classes that I wanted to as well as most of the elective classes … and the one’s I wanted to take were all at the same time. How the registrar does this to me every semester I’ll never know. But even without a dream schedule, I always find something interesting to walk away with from classes I’ve taken.

If I were to give any advice it would be this: take the class you’re scared of. You can always drop it but you might realize it’s more approachable than you thought. And balance it with lower work-load classes or experiential units to achieve that balance we’re always searching for.

See you in the next one,


Tuesday, February 8, 2022

The Sad End of Winter Break

Sorry folks, winter break is over. This means 1) I have to wait almost another year for my favorite holiday (Christmas) and 2) Fall grades have been released. With that being settled, I have to admit finals went by slowly and yet so fast. Initially, I was really upset my last final would be mid-December. Christmas is my absolute favorite and I felt as though I couldn’t enjoy it as much this year. However, I realized I couldn’t waste time being upset and had to buckle down on studying instead. After my last final, I took some time to reflect on my studying and predicted what my grades would be. When I received my grades, I was surprised. They weren’t what I expected, and yet they were. However, I was beyond relieved to confirm that I am capable of “doing law school.” As a first-generation Latina law student, this confirmation was super important for my community. It meant that imposter syndrome lies to us and we belong. Prior to grades being released, the waiting period was a bit torturous. BUT I am happy to report I managed to have some fun while waiting. If I didn’t already mention it, Christmas is my favorite holiday (LOL) so I looked at an infinite number of Christmas lights, drank an infinite number of pumpkin spice lattes, and watched an infinite number of Christmas movies. I also took advantage of my newfound free time and visited family that I had not seen since starting law school. It was refreshing and lovely as I was reminded that I have a very large loving family rooting for me. During November-December of 2020, my whole family had Covid-19 so I was extremely grateful that they were happy and healthy this past Christmas. In short, all I can really say is I had the perfect Christmas.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Exams and Winter Break

Happy New Year and welcome back to the blog! It’s hard to believe that it’s already 2022, and that I am in my final ever semester. It makes me sad how quickly my time at Loyola has flown by (but hey, that means I’m having fun, right?).

I only had three exams last semester, one of which was a take home exam, meaning that I had any 24-hours during the examination period to take it. I, of course, left it until the very last day, so while most of my peers were already off enjoying their winter break, I was at the library frantically typing away on my laptop. Nonetheless, 24 hours later I handed in my essay, and my winter break officially began!

Because of everything going on in the world currently, I decided not to go home for winter break. At first, I was afraid that I would find myself all alone for the holidays. That turned out to be a baseless fear, however, as a friend invited me to her spend the majority of winter break with her family. I was only meant to stay three nights during Christmas, but I ended up leaving almost a week later than initially intended when we decided to spend New Year’s together as well.

Anyway, as the first week of my final ever semester at Loyola comes to a close, I have taken some time to reflect on how I felt at the beginning of this ‘journey’. I remember the uncertainty and anxiety that I felt before coming to LA (allow me a second to be dramatic, please): I was leaving everything I knew behind and moving almost 9,000 km away from home (that’s 5592 miles for those of you who use the Imperial system). I’ve lived away from home before, but never this far away. Moreover, because of Covid I knew that my friends and family would most likely not be able to visit me. Now, almost six months since I stepped off the plane, I can honestly say that I have loved my time at Loyola. I have learned so much and have met some incredible people that make LA feel like home (and the free drink refills at restaurants still blow my mind every time).

Friday, February 4, 2022

Exams and Winter Break

Happy New Year! The holiday season is starting to slow down and we are slowly returning to the busy routines of a new semester. For all law students, winter breaks can be full of vacations, family time, new beginnings, and most importantly, rest. Thankfully, I was able to have a nice winter break filled with lots of rest, time with my family, and my partner. The winter break is also a great time to take some time as the semester draws near and not only reflect on your academic accomplishments, but to look over scholarship and summer placement possibilities. I like to take a few weeks to myself at the beginning and disconnect from law school, but as the beginning of the semester approaches I take a few hours out of the day to bring myself back into an academic mindset. As I reflect on the halfway point through my law school journey, I am happy to announce that I had a successful exam season and improved my academic performance from last year! As a first-generation student this is really reassuring that as you progress through, you pick up on new strengths and abilities that allow you to do better over time. This is one of the key ways I feel that law school has changed me. I feel more disciplined and accountable for my work, especially when I take classes that have more hands-on opportunities to build skills for later practice. I am coming into this semester refreshed and eager to see what summer opportunities and academic possibilities are in store as I begin the last half of law school. I am wishing all my fellow students a great semester and to our future law students, a happy admissions season!

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Exams, Break and First Semester

Welcome back! How were your exams? Were they what you expected? How was your winter break? Did you do anything pertaining to the law? Were you able to have some down time and reconnect with family and/or friends?

I am very excited to have completed my first semester of law school and am pleased with my academic success and the work ethic I have developed so far. Although many weeks of the semester felt agonizingly long, the semester as a whole flew by. By the end of the semester, I felt much more comfortable maneuvering around the law school material. I knew what to look for in court cases and had a much easier time deciphering the important information for exams.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it; exams were not fun. However, there were parts of the experience that were easier for me than my finals weeks in undergrad. Throughout the semester, I put in the work to make sure I was understanding the material for each week, and asked questions when something was unclear. This was different from undergrad where I felt I could coast for stretches of time and then cram at the end; because of this, studying for law school did not feel like cramming, instead, it felt much more like a detailed refresher on things that I had already learned. I am very happy to have seen this progression, and I am confident that this upcoming semester will be less stressful and much more efficient as I continue to better understand how law school is taught.

Following exams, my winter break was unfortunately a bit of a colossal disaster. My community back home experienced a COVID outbreak resulting in social distancing and isolation measures wiping out much of the reconnection I hoped to do with my family and friends. If there is any silver lining, it is that I and all my loved ones were very fortunate to have experienced mild cases of the virus and bounced back quickly, while still getting some much-needed relaxation from our professional lives while recuperating. Over break I took a much-needed hiatus from law related activities, but I did find myself able to apply my new knowledge to real world events in the news very frequently. I was able to conduct some analysis on legal developments from Supreme Court abortion rulings to professional athletes facing criminal charges, which I thought was a cool way to see how far I have come. Also, my parents were excited that I had actually managed to learn a thing or two, so that was cool too.

Beginning this year on Zoom has been challenging, especially after such a rewarding classroom experience last semester. However, I am grateful for the support the LLS community is able to offer virtually and look forward to getting back to campus as soon as it is safe to do so.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

First Semester Finals

To put it simple, law school finals are tough. Preparation begins long before your first final. Being in the thick of finals for almost 3 weeks definitely takes a toll on one’s body. Looking back on finals, I am proud of myself for pushing through. Law school finals represented a huge learning curve for me. While studying, you are already thinking about possible questions that will be asked, the possibility of a huge curve, and so much more.

Here is my advice for incoming 1Ls to ease the struggles of finals:

  • Start outlining from the first week. (I neglected this.)
  • Meet with your professors regularly to get your questions answered! (I am super shy and regret not taking the leap to do this.)
  • Take a few hours out of the weekend and review for every single class.
  • Find a study group! (You can even share an outline with them.)
  • The first semester is tough on everyone. If your grades do not come back as you expected, don’t worry! This is normal and almost everyone will be disappointed in their grades at one point in their law school career. Keep pushing and come back stronger!

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Exams and Winter Break

Happy New Year 2022! With every break, it always feels like it comes and goes so fast. It was nice to be able to take a break from law school and mentally reset and refresh myself.

Exams were tough and it was definitely a test of endurance. I attended UCLA for undergrad, which was under the quarter system, so it was interesting to now attend a school that uses the semester system. After fall semester classes ended, there was a reading period, which was about a week between the end of classes and the start of exams. It was a good time to consolidate study materials and transition into fully focusing for exams.

The time period between the end of classes and my last final exam was about 3 weeks. Our 1L exams were scheduled to be spaced out so that we could have a few days in between each exam to take a break and begin studying for the next one. It honestly felt like the longest 3 weeks of my life. Here are some of my takeaways from my first 1L final exams that I want to pass on:

  • Start slowly studying and compiling your outlines early. The earlier you start studying, the more prepared and less stressed you will feel.
  • Be sure to take breaks. The weeks of reading period and exams are not short. Be sure to pace yourself and take mental breaks from studying. Get some fresh air, don’t stay cooped up all the time in a room, but also stay focused.
  • Stay hydrated during studying and during exams. It is very easy to get dehydrated and to forget to drink water when you are spending hours at a time doing assignments or studying that one hard concept you are trying to understand. Staying hydrated might be hard, but don’t forget to do so, especially during exams, where some final exams will span 3-4 hours.

Even though exams were tough, now that I have completed my first semester of law school, I have more knowledge, experience, and determination to tackle this next semester.

During my exam period and the beginning of winter break, I was also consolidating materials to apply for 1L summer positions. I applied for a judicial externship and internships for a few law firms. After submitting those applications, I felt that my winter break could finally begin.

Winter is my favorite time of the year. I love the holiday season and the festive lights that decorate the city. It’s always a nice time to meet distant family members again and to celebrate the new year with your loved ones. Being a big Marvel fan, I was anticipating the arrival of the newest Spider-Man film for a long time. I watched it opening night and if you haven’t watched it already, I highly recommend it. The whole theatre was cheering during the most climactic scenes. Another highlight of my winter break was going to LACMA with my girlfriend and seeing the Obama Portraits that were on tour around the U.S. 

Besides that, I also got 2 wisdom teeth removed, which was not very fun…

Even though the beginning of spring semester is going to be online, hopefully we will be able to have class in person again soon. 2022 will be better than the last!