Because this is a very interesting case, we’ve decided to feature it on our blog so we can monitor the legal arguments and learn about the legal issues the case will present.
(image CC courtesy Flickr user JohnGoode)
I just came across a terrific post from Philip Guzman, titled: Law School: Success and Careers.
This is such good advice that I wanted to share with our readers and followers. I know how hard exam time is, and how awesome the post-exam break is. Without a doubt, you have to take some time away from law school to relax, connect with family and friends and recharge your batteries.
But in this day and age, long periods of inactivity are career killers. Law students need to jump at every opportunity to hone their skills, reputation and knowledge, and to build professional relationships. Employers pay attention when they see signs that a candidate is proactive and self-reliant. Guzman offers some excellent suggestions, and I’d of course add Mootus to the list as well.
(image CC courtesy Flickr user Maxmroz)
It’s time for law schools – especially legal research and writing programs – to start teaching students how to save the legal knowledge they come across in their work. Be more like Google Drive and less like Google Search.
As a Massachusetts lawyer, one of the (many) things that bothered me was the lack of a good reference on attorney-client privilege, which I could refer to quickly for some of the basic principles and the leading Massachusetts authorities.
So we decided to put one together by collecting all the Mootus issues on Massachusetts attorney-client privilege and organizing them into a simple e-book. Best of all, unlike conventional treatises, this reference would be dynamic, interactive, constantly improving and 100% free.
Take a look and tell us what you think.
The most frustrating thing about my first year of law school was having no idea how I was doing or where I stood with respect to the rest of my classmates until after mid-terms in December. But when that was over, everyone told us that our mid-terms don’t matter because whatever we get on the final is pretty much the grade we’ll get in the class. So, until May, there was no way to tell how I was doing.
This post is not going to fix that problem at all. But there are plenty of things 1Ls can do to ensure some success. Here is a list of the top ten things I did 1L that set me up for a so-far rewarding law school career (knock on wood):
1. Get to know a 2L
They just finished 1L! There is nobody who knows what a 1L is about to go through better than a 2L. They have the most updated outlines, know what any professor’s most recent exam will look like, and still remember the terrible feeling (or lack thereof) walking out of any exam. If it’s to get an outline or just get some exam-taking advice, 2Ls are great resources to reach out to. They are a shoulder to cry on at the very least.
2. Join a local bar association
Getting a summer internship or clerkship after 1L is especially hard because the skill sets after 1L are limited. 1L is easily the hardest year academically, but from my experience it does little to prepare anyone for practice. If there is a chance at getting some type of legal experience after 1L, it’s all in the networking game. Joining a bar association is a great way to find local networking events and seminars where there is a good chance that you’ll end up in a room full of lawyers.
3. Go on lots of coffee dates
Not in the normal, mushy sense of the phrase. But speaking of networking, this is a great way to meet lawyers. This is how I developed a long list of personal contacts. I reached out to alumni at a bunch of firms and asked if they’d be willing to sit down with me over a coffee and talk about their practice area or how they got their first job. I’ve never been told no. Worst case scenario – they just won’t respond. Don’t bring a resume. Just a bunch of questions and genuine interest in what they do.
I actually hate study groups. I think it’s a good way to get sidetracked real easily. Also, I always leave confused because I leave with four or five potential answers to any question – all of which could be wrong. But, I would always use study groups after I prepared my own outlines and took some practice exams. Joining a few friends and taking turns explaining concepts and mock exam answers to each other is so valuable. Learning is one thing, but teaching a concept gave me a much firmer grasp on it.
5. Get involved
I’ve heard time and again that the focus should only be on crushing exams 1L. I agree… to an extent. Getting good grades 1L should be the priority, but I found that engaging in extracurricular activities, internships, or community service during my first year was a great way to destress during law school, build a professional network, and also separate myself from the pack when it came time to apply for internships and clerkships. It gave me a lot more to talk about in an interview than simply what my favorite class in law school was or what I thought about my contracts professor. It also made what I’ve been told is a miserable experience much more fun.
6. Get a gym membership
Or pick up running. It’s just not healthy to sit at a desk all day, eating comfort food and drinking coffee, and then go to bed with hopes to wake up the next day full of energy. The most successful people in law school are those who are able to buckle down and get work done, but also find time to be themselves and enjoy their favorite hobbies. Getting in a short workout every morning or every other morning gave me the energy to study through the day and I thought it really helped me in the long run. Want another secret? Going on long runs is the best way to memorize UCC codes. As long as you have no shame with people hearing you say out loud with short breath, “2-202, parole evidence rule, 2-207, battle of the forms,” etc.
7. Get to know your professors
They want their students to succeed. At least mine did. They weren’t trying to hide the ball. But what they do hide are their huge networks of attorneys and endless resources that’ll help you ace their exams. They’ll share all this information with you but you have to seek it out. Getting to know a professor during 1L is so valuable because you may need a reference when it’s time to apply for that 2L summer associate position that pays the big bucks or a judicial clerkship after graduating. In my experience, my best letters and references were from those who knew me for 1-2 years inside and outside the classroom.
8. Go to social events
They’re just fun. My entire social life in law school circles around the student government’s event calendar. There is so much value in networking with your classmates. Oddly enough this comes as a surprise to many, but the people to my left and right in my con/crim pro class are going to be my colleagues one day. They might be the people I go to live band karaoke with on Sunday nights, but soon they might be my boss, my associate, or a referral. Don’t be known as the anti-social bookworm because it will follow you. And if that doesn’t bring you out to the party, the free buffalo chicken tenders and bud light pitchers sure should.
9. You’re going to try to get on a journal
Not sure what the timeline is at every school, but journal and Law Review write-on competitions aren’t usually until the Spring or early Summer. Don’t think about it until after exams. No reason to even ask about it until next semester. But just make the conscious decision that you’re going to try to get on a journal. If not being on a journal is not dispositive, it’s certainly heavily weighed when considering law students for summer jobs. With so many law schools in the country, tons of applicants break that “top 25%” or “top 10%” mark for grades. Law Review and journal membership is how many firms are breaking up the resume pile.
10. Call home
I call mom or dad every day. Law school is so stressful and it’s just really nice and comforting to hear a familiar voice sometimes. I really don’t agree with blogs and law school administrators that advise students to have “the talk” with their parents and significant others. Yes, it’s a huge time commitment, but it’s not worth breaking ties with those who are close to you. A one or two minute phone call home to say “hey,” “I’m surviving,” “I love you,” etc. is not going to be the difference between an A and an A- in Civ Pro.
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