Friday, January 27, 2023

Debunking a Law School Myth

In the Jiu Jitsu community, there is something called the “blue belt curse.” It is a phenomenon where practitioners quit after they have been promoted to their blue belt, and my promotion was a few months before the start of 1L.

I was terrified I would let go of my hobbies and fall victim to the “curse” because one of the law school myths that I found most often repeated was “you lose your social life during law school.”

On the contrary, that first semester that I spent taking this myth too seriously was probably my least successful one.

I never found that I lost my “social life” during 1L. While you learn the art of time management and prioritizing tasks in a different way than you are (often) used to, the camaraderie I found with my classmates on top of maintaining my hobbies was the best combination for my studies and mental health. You build relationships with other students, with mentors and others in the legal profession that stick with you. Personally, finding the Philippine American Bar Association did wonders for both my career and my homesickness.

Those first few months I would feel guilty spending an hour on the mats instead of doing work, but I soon learned that those hours are well spent on yourself, and the notion of “wasting time” was more hurting than helping me. The semester I spent training at least twice a week was my most successful one yet, both inside and outside of school.

You figure out what works for you, and the scary thought of “losing your social life” is not a guarantee, but more something in your control. Law school is a challenge that requires balance, and 1.5 years later I haven’t succumbed to the “blue belt curse” quite yet.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Fall Semester Update

The end of the semester is the perfect opportunity to not only reflect upon your performance on the immediate semester, but also the ones of years past. As a first-year student, when you are in the thick of things, and learning with a whole new set of style and demands, it can be hard to reflect. But looking back on my first-year experience, I am overall proud of the obstacles I overcame, but I do believe I could have done things differently. So, I would like to take this opportunity to pass on some advice to the incoming students and the 1L class. One of the greatest pieces of advice I would take as a 1L student is not to be afraid of practice too early. Many students are used to mastering the material first, but there’s a lot of benefit to early practice. Don’t be afraid to start working on practice problems and essays even before you are comfortable! Continued practice can solidify what you already know, and identify the weak spots early. It’s not about getting it perfect, but seeing the improvement over time. But the single best piece of advice I would give is to adopt a growth mindset. To put in concisely, the growth mindset takes our thinking from “I can’t do it” to “I can’t do it… yet”. Seeing struggles as an opportunity for improvement is pivotal to enduring the marathon of law school. It acknowledges that these struggles can be hard, but that they are not impossible. I encourage all students to look into the growth mindset in general, as it really can apply to any aspect of life. I wish all students going into finals the best of luck and happy holidays!

Monday, January 23, 2023

Fall Semester Update

This semester has been gliding along smoothly for me. Now that I’m in my 2L year at law school, I have a little bit more free time since I've gotten the hang of things. In my free time I like to play video games, watch anime, movies, or any sports. I’m currently watching the World Cup right now and the group stage games have been exciting with some of the upsets by the underdog teams. I really enjoy going to the movie theaters to watch any newly released movies. Recently I’ve seen Black Panther and Black Adam, and I’m really looking forward to the release of Avatar 2 after finals.

This semester I am taking 16 units. The classes I am taking are Copyright, California Civil Procedure, Ethical Lawyering, Evidence, and Trademark. Compared to 1L year, I have no classes on Friday this semester. Wednesdays are my busiest days where I have 4 classes with the first one starting at 9:50am and the last one ending at 10:00pm. But Tuesdays and Thursdays I only have one class, so I have a little bit of a break throughout the week, especially with no classes on Friday. I would have to say that my favorite classes this semester are Copyright and Trademark law because I am really interested in Intellectual Property. The past month I’ve been busy with wrapping up my Ethical Lawyering class. Ethical Lawyering has been really fun and interesting because we study and discuss the situations around the ethical rules that lawyers are obligated to follow. A practical component of the course is a mock client interview where actors will come in and pretend to be clients with a legal problem. In pairs, we provided a counseling and interview session and then wrote a letter to the client and a memorandum to the law firm partners.

After 1L year, LLS requires students to take Evidence, Ethical, and Constitutional Law. Besides fulfilling the upper division writing and experiential requirement, we are free to take any classes we choose to fill up any units we need. LLS offers a variety of courses at all times of the day for students to be able to build a flexible schedule. We can choose to take bar courses (courses that teach subjects tested on the bar) or any elective classes. For example, California Civil Procedure is a bar course, while Copyright and Trademark law are electives. Taking a variety of classes and electives is important because it provides you with an enriching educational experience. It exposes you to different areas of law to help guide you to what area of law you wish to practice in one day.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Fall Semester Update

In three weeks, I’ll be halfway done with law school. Even typing that out doesn’t make it feel real. As cliché as it sounds, time really has flown by. Now that this semester is almost done, I thought I’d share a bit of what a day in my life looks like.

Usually, my mornings are used to work on client work for the Juvenile Justice Clinic. This is when I’ll schedule court hearings, meetings with my clients, or work on motions, looking through discovery, or anything I need to do for my cases. Having this time blocked off for the entire semester is super important because you never know when you’re going to have an emergency visit or court hearing.

Around noon, I always try to take a break for myself to eat lunch, recharge, and break up my workday. This portion of the day is so important for me to be able to separate my clinic work from my classwork.

In the afternoon, I am either in class or working on doing readings for the next class day. If I need to, I’ll also review the material for my evening classes so I’ll be prepared if I get cold called. I also take a few minutes in the afternoon to call my family. They live in Texas, so with the time change and how busy I am it’s hard to find a time to talk to them. We’ve found that late afternoon when they’re getting off work and I’m getting ready to head to class is best. Talking to them is so important to me, so I try to set aside any time I can to FaceTime them.

Then, I have class every evening. I won’t lie, evening classes can be kind of draining, especially after working all day. But this is the best time to schedule classes because the courthouses are closed, so I am usually able to just focus on class instead of client work.

After class, I try to not to any class or clinic work. During this time, I’ll read a book, play a video game, or do self-care. No matter what I’m doing, I try to keep my mind off work. In law

school, setting aside time to relax and do something that is not work related is so important for my physical and mental health.

Overall, my days are long and filled with a lot of work. And I’ll be honest, that was super scary to me at first. But I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was in high school, and now I am so close to accomplishing that goal, so the work is completely, 100% worth it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Fall Semester Update

They say 1L of law school is the hardest. It’s something we’ve all heard over and over again – from the internet, from attorneys, from other law students.

Halfway through 2L, I can say this is likely true. 1L is the hardest year of law school academically. This year, my classes are still challenging – don’t get me wrong. It is law school after all. But, after 1L, you have the foundational skills to handle law school classes well. You’ve bettered your reading strategies, you know when a good time to start outlining is, and you know how to balance your responsibilities.

In 2L, though, most students have additional responsibilities outside of class. To be honest, I likely spend more time on things that aren’t class – like my experiential learning clinic, law review, and the IACHR Project I am on.

Something that is great about 2L is that I don’t have class every day like I did in 1L. That’s a great change to my schedule because I have two days a week that I can dedicate to getting my reading done, working on my outlines, and turning to my clinic and law review work I have.

So while 1L is the hardest, I would say 2L is the busiest. But I thrive on being busy. It pushes me to get my work done so that I can spend time on the weekends doing things that make me feel like a person and not a law student. I go hiking, I spend time with friends, I crochet. It’s a great way to balance out my life so that I can give my brain a little break which is critical to law school survival.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Fall Semester Update

About three months have passed since the fall semester of 2L begun and I still feel like a 1L. LOL This year is different in a lot of ways but the biggest difference is everyone independently has a lot going on. For myself, I’m typically on campus Monday and Wednesday, with three classes each day: Con Law, Ethical Lawyering, and Business Associations. On Thursday, I have a clinic meeting from 9 AM to 12 PM. The clinic itself requires about 10 hours of work, aside from the 3 hour Thursday meeting. This particular schedule keeps me very busy throughout the week, including weekends. However, after 1L year I learned that neglecting self-care and time away from work is not the way to be a successful law student. Neglecting yourself will lead to burn out which will then take away from your law school experience. So, during a typical day of this semester, I leave to school at 12 PM, Monday and Wednesday and stay on campus until 10:10 PM. I have a three-hour gap somewhere in between, so I try to use that time to read, study, and have lunch. The remainder of the week, I run personal errands, prepare for my classes, work on my clinic’s clients’ cases, and REST. Thankfully, my current schedule has allowed me to continue painting, which is my hobby. A painting can take me anywhere from 2-6 hours or more, so I have to block out specific periods of time to create a balance between my schoolwork and my hobbies. Planning ahead has definitely helped keep this balance but I am human and not every week goes as planned… and that’s okay! Finding balance looks different for everyone, but if you’re like me and you need specific guidelines to do anything…definitely create a list of priorities for the semester and model your to-do lists after these priorities. In creating a list of priorities, do not forget that you and your wellbeing are also priorities. It’s all trial and error, really, but the most important thing is to keep going!

Monday, January 9, 2023

How I Spent My Summer

Summer is one of the best times of the year for law students to really dive into what their legal career might entail. It has always been one of my favorite parts of the law school experience because it’s an experience to get hands-on learning in general lawyering skills and certain fields of study. This summer, I had the amazing experience as a summer law clerk for Feinberg, Mindel Brandt and Klein LLP, one of the largest family law firms in California. Working there was a great continuation of my family law experience from past summers. As a summer law clerk, my favorite experience was working with the managing partner of the firm on a spousal support case where opposing party was hiding his business assets. It was an honor to sit alongside him during the proceedings as well as helping draft all the trial documents. It really solidified my interest in family law after graduation! We also had the opportunity as summer law clerks to attend networking events hosted by the Los Angeles County Bar Association and meet other professionals in the field. It’s experiences like this that help me come back to law school refreshed and ready to work hard. It was a great summer personally as well. I took the opportunity for some rest and relaxation and took a rejuvenating resort vacation in Mexico! I would definitely say that was also essential for me to return to campus refreshed. My final advice to incoming law students is to really take the summer periods with full force and an open mind because it is pivotal to forming your career and your interests. 

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Spending My Summer as a Judicial Extern

Last summer, I had an amazing experience working as a judicial extern for The Honorable Richard L. Fruin Jr.. at the Los Angeles Superior Court. Judge Fruin’s courtroom is an independent calendar (“IC”) court that handles civil cases. IC courts will handle a case from start to finish - from the time a lawsuit is filed, through discovery and pre-trial motions, and throughout the trial and post-trial motions. 

The Los Angeles Superior Court Extern program lasted 8 weeks from the beginning of June to the end of July. During orientation I was able to meet fellow externs from different law schools outside of Los Angeles such as New York, Boston, and D.C. I externed for Judge Fruin along with 2 fellow students from Loyola Law School: Inbal and Stavroula. 

Every morning, I observed law and motion and case management conferences. Due to the pandemic, attorneys have the option to appear in court physically or via video-conference calling. After the case management conferences in the morning, the externs and I had a meeting with Judge Fruin to review the case management conferences, discuss future items that were on the court calendar, and receive extern assignments. Assignments included doing research about the different areas of California civil law and analyzing an attorney’s motion with the attached exhibits. The research assignments would help the judge be more informed about a case to help them decide a ruling. After our morning meeting, I would observe a trial if there was one scheduled. If not, I would work on the research assignments and get lunch with the other externs at the court. Sometimes during lunch, Judge Fruin would take us on trips to the museums in downtown or to visit the federal courthouse in L.A. Before the day ended, we would have another meeting with Judge Fruin to wrap up. 

Externing was a very educational experience. I got to see what “good” and “bad” lawyering was by observing how lawyers acted in the courtroom and by reading the briefs and motions they would file. I was able to learn what a judge’s expectations were for the attorneys in a case and got insight into the process that goes into deciding a fair and thorough ruling. Judge Fruin was very kind and open to answering all my questions. He shared his stories and past life experiences as an attorney and a judge.

I recommend everyone in law school to try to apply for a judicial externship. Here’s a little bit about the application process: most judges start accepting applications for summer externs starting in December. Most judges accept applications through a program or directly sent via email or mail to their chambers. An application consists of a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and transcript. Even though externs for the court are unpaid, the experience you will gain from being in court and learning from a judge is invaluable. Hopefully most of you will try to obtain an externship and gain some insight about the experience from reading my blog. Externing at the court was one of the busiest, yet fun summers I have ever had!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

How I Spent My Summer

I’ll be honest, November to March last year was probably the most stressful time of 1L. Before coming to law school, I had never had a job in the legal field, so having to write a professional resume, perfect cover letter, and nail an interview was incredibly hard for me. Luckily, I was able to get help from the Career Development Office, and that helped a lot. I applied to about 10 places and in the end, got my dream internship. 

Over the summer, I worked as a Law Clerk at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. I was assigned to the Immigration, Post-Conviction, and arraignment units. I worked with many attorneys, and I wrote a motion, did crime mapping, mitigation research, interviewed clients before their arraignments, and watched pre-trial hearings and part of a trial. Through all of this, I learned so much about working as an attorney after law school. Doing all of this allowed me to apply what I learned during 1L to actual work for clients, and in my opinion that’s the best part of summer internships. 

Before all of that, I had two weeks to squeeze as much fun out of the summer as possible. To do this, I went home to Texas. I spent the first few days with my friends, and we did an escape room (we beat it, thanks to me), did karaoke, and went to our favorite restaurant Olive Garden (it’s a long story). 

I then spent as much time as I could with my family. We went to the lake, had a mini staycation in Dallas where we went to The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, and went with my cousin to pick out my bridesmaid dress for her wedding next year. Of course, I loved my time working at the public defender office, but this time spent with my family was my favorite. With them living in Texas and me in Los Angeles, I mainly see them through a computer screen. Taking that time to recharge and remind myself that they’re always back home rooting for me was invaluable.