Minimalism in Law School: How Paring Down Can Help You Succeed

Minimalism in Law School: How Paring Down Can Help You SucceedPlease welcome back guest writer Jennifer Warren, attorney and Academic Achievement Coordinator at Oklahoma City University School of Law, to discuss how minimalism may help you to succeed in law school.

In college I often joked that I could fit all of my possessions into a single duffle bag. It wasn’t much of an exaggeration – between relocating each summer, traveling, or moving to new apartments, I had definitely learned to let go of nonessentials. Limiting the items I was sentimentally attached to didn’t just make it easier to move, however, it also brought a sense of simplicity and orderliness to my life that I found gratifying.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely acquired more possessions – a house, a car, a million items for my kids! – but I still make a concerted effort to limit the clutter as much as possible. I’ve also learned that my natural instinct to pare down and simplify is actually part of a bigger lifestyle movement: Minimalism. Numerous books and blogs have been written about minimalism in recent years, and, as I’ve learned more about the concept, I’ve started to embrace its principles in a more deliberate way. During my most recent minimalist motivated clean out, it occurred to me that many law students could benefit from incorporating a little minimalism into their lives.

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Learning to Love the Socratic Method

Something about the socratic method for GGPlease welcome back guest writer John Passmore to talk about how to learn to love an aspect of law school which is certainly not everyone’s favorite – the Socratic method.

The Socratic method is a unique and, for many, a frightening aspect of law school. It can be one of the toughest parts of transitioning from undergraduate to law school life. An introvert myself, the idea of the cold-call (being unexpectedly called on and peppered with questions by the professor) terrified me well into my 1L year. But later in law school I came to truly appreciate the Socratic method. It makes you engage the material in a deeper way. By actively participating as the professor builds concepts through questions and answers, you absorb the material in a way you never would through passively listening to a lecture. You may never love a class with a tough professor who employs a strict form of the Socratic method, but if you can at least come to appreciate the method, you can move beyond fear and reap some of the benefits that it offers. [Read more…]

Alternative Careers – Investigator for Workplace Complaints

Please welcome Joanna Sattler, Law School Toolbox tutor, to discuss her alternative legal career as a workplace investigator.

I’m the child of no fewer than three lawyers (if you count my stepmother, that is). All three practiced law upon graduating from law school and pursued “traditional” legal careers (two at large firms, the third in-house). As such, I had a certain view of what lawyers did and a (fairly) certain path I planned to pursue: work at a large law firm after graduating and then, maybe, try to work in-house. (At the time, I didn’t realize I could go in-house straight from law school; I truly thought there was one path and one path only!)

A planner by nature, I followed my plan. I worked hard in law school. I summered at a large firm and received an offer of post-graduation employment. Although I didn’t take that job (I didn’t love the firm’s satellite office in the city where I planned to live), I took another firm job soon after passing the California bar.

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Perfecting Professionalism at a Summer Internship

Perfecting Professionalism at a Summer InternshipPlease welcome back guest writer Jaclyn Wishnia to discuss how to maintain a professional demeanor at your summer internship.

Law students are expected to maintain a steady level of professionalism regardless of the venue. In class, you are held to a higher standard by both your professors and peers; for extracurriculars, you are urged to communicate as well as uphold your responsibilities in a respectful manner; and of course, at work, your behavior has the potential to make or break your future legal career. Thus, it should go without saying that how you present yourself during a summer legal internship matters.

Despite the title, a summer legal internship is more akin to a job than what you may have experienced at a college internship. Whether you have a full-time or part-time internship this summer, strive to be professional; especially if you are heading into your 3L year. Want to ensure you have the basics of professionalism covered? Continue reading for some tips pertaining to various areas of work where you should be exhibiting professionalism and perfecting it.

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Are You Going to Law School Because You’re a Good Writer?

Are You Going to Law School Because You're a Good Writer?This week we welcome back Law School Toolbox Tutor Whitney Weatherly to discuss how writing in law school can be very different from writing you’ve done before (and how to best learn how to write for legal practice).

I can’t even pick out one specific memory of this conversation, because I had it so many times with so many people. Here’s the rough transcript:

Me: So, why did you decide to go to law school?

Law Student: Well, all of my professors at [university] said that I was such a good writer that I should go to law school. So here I am!

Me: Right. OK…so how’s that working out for you?

Okay, so maybe that last reply was (usually) internal. When I first started law school, I certainly didn’t realize what was expected of me from a writing perspective. Like most of my fellow classmates, I usually did well on writing assignments in undergrad, but I’d had the benefit of working for an attorney before law school. Just the fact of working for her helped me shift my mode of writing from “creative” to “professional”, but she also gave me some tips along the way that made me more open to input once I got to my legal writing class. If you’re going into law school with the confidence of a good writer, consider this your wake-up call.

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Making Your Notes Work for You

Note TakingPlease welcome back guest writer John Passmore to discuss some great tips for note taking in law school!

Everyone agrees that note taking is important in law school. But are you getting as much out of note taking as possible? After a semester or two of struggling to find value in my class notes, I finally started to think more critically about my note-taking style. I realized I was just playing the stenographer—writing down as much as possible with the hopes of understanding it later. This is a very bad approach. As you develop your personal note-taking style, think about what you hope to get out of your notes. Once you have a clear idea of your objectives, you can take notes with purpose and be more effective. The tricky thing about law school note taking is accomplishing multiple objectives at once. Here are some of the key deliverables you might want from your notes — [Read more…]

The Ultimate Guide to the Law in Pop Culture Part III: Travel Media

The Ultimate Guide to the Law in Pop Culture Part III: Travel MediaThis post contains affiliate links, meaning we may be (minimally!) compensated if you purchase after clicking the link.

Please welcome back rising 3L Jaclyn Wishnia to finish up her series on the law in pop culture by discussing some media that can be enjoyed on the go or during breaks!

In our final installment of the ultimate guide to the law in pop culture series, the focus is on forms of media for law students that are easily transportable and non-intrusive, making them great for either travel or those lulls in-between classes. Specifically, those mediums include: books (print, e-book or audio editions), blogs, and podcasts. Keep on reading for a more enjoyable law school commute! [Read more…]

I am a Rising 3L and STILL Haven’t Taken the MPRE

Help: I am a rising 3L and I haven't taken the MPRE yet!This week we welcome back guest writer, and rising 3L, Shirlene Armstrong, to talk about the MPRE and why she’s taking it her 3L year.

If you were about to listen in on many 2L’s minds, you would hear a variety of topics. “I need to practice for my upcoming mock trial…” or “After evidence, I need to run to the office to complete some interrogatories and meet with a client…” or “The MPRE is only a week away and I’m freaking out…” are just some of the daily conversations 2Ls have with themselves. As I close out my 2L year, I think back to all that I have accomplished, the stress of the year, and countless hours that I studied or worked. There is one quintessential 2L experience that I have yet to accomplish: taking the MPRE. [Read more…]

The Ultimate Guide to the Law in Pop Culture Part II: Movies & Documentaries

Ultimate Guide to the Law in Pop Culture Part II - Movies & DocumentariesPlease welcome back 2L guest writer Jaclyn Wishnia to discuss the best movies and documentaries to look for when you want to find some legal entertainment.

In the first installment of our ultimate guide to the law in pop culture series, we curated a list of top TV shows that involve various legal themes and span multiple genres. For law students who either prefer full-length films to hour-long episodes, or are simply looking for some good legal entertainment during a law school break, the second part of our series focuses on the law found in the forms of movies and documentaries. [Read more…]

Where to Study for the Bar Exam: Environment Matters

Where to study for the bar exam: environment matters (talk about using a co-working space to study, interview friends about where they studied and what the pros/cons were)This week we welcome guest writer Allison Pincus, tutor for the Law School Toolbox and Bar Exam Toolbox. Allison discusses why it’s important to pick the right location for your bar study, and what her personal experience was finding a place to study.

“Where have you been for the past few days? We were so worried!” This was the response I received from the greeters when I signed in at my co-working space the day after I took the bar exam.

Of course my family and friends all knew I was sitting for the bar at the end of July. And the employees at my co-working space knew I had been studying, and studying hard – but they hadn’t known exactly when the exam was taking place. I hadn’t shown up to study as I had been doing every day, and they were afraid that I had given up.

There is lots of advice out there about how to study for the bar exam, including useful tips like knowing if it’s too early to begin, and creative strategies for how to study. The prevailing wisdom is to limit distractions and other obligations while studying for the bar, but how does this apply to your study environment? What about where to study for the bar?

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