Handling Stress Before the Bar Exam: One Person’s Journey

Handling stress before the barThis week we welcome Bar Exam Toolbox bar tutor, Sara O’Connor, to discuss some tips for managing stress before the bar exam.

If this article tempted your fancy, you’re feeling stressed about your upcoming bar exam. And, to be clear, “stressed” might be too soft of a word. You might be feeling things you’ve never felt before, like experiencing physical manifestations of your stress (such as a twitching eye, a cramping stomach, or a fun, new nervous tick). Whether you are feeling a mild-but-nagging concern or near-overwhelming anxiety, you’re in great company! Law students across the nation and the world (hello to you foreign lawyers joining our legal system) feel your pain to some degree during bar prep. In fact, even lawyers who have practiced for years in their home jurisdiction experience some level of stress if their future career prospects depend on them passing the bar in a new jurisdiction.

This article pulls back the curtain into my own experience with my two main causes of stress and the steps I took to combat them when I prepared for the bar. The purpose is twofold: (1) to show you through specific examples that your feelings are normal and (2) there are ways for you to deal with your stress in healthy, positive ways.

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Three Things I Would Have Done Differently for Bar Prep

Three things I would have done differently during bar prepPlease welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan, an attorney, to discuss her bar preparation and some changes she might make reflecting back on the experience.

I can’t believe it has almost been two years since I sat for the bar exam. It’s unbelievable that an experience that was so intensive in my life is beginning to become a little vague. However, as the exam date pulls closer for February exam-takers, I can’t help but reflect on my bar prep experience. Although I’m grateful for my success on the exam, there are still so many things that I wish I had done differently. These “what ifs” run the gamut from stressing less, exercising more and discovering Emmanuel’s MBE questions a lot earlier in the process. Now I know you would be reading all day if I ran through every single thing that I would change about my bar prep process. However, I did want to run through at least three of these things to hopefully lend a helping hand to any preppers currently in bar prep land. [Read more…]

Memoirs of a Staff Editor: What They Don’t Tell You About Law Journals

Memoirs of a Staff Editor: What They Don’t Tell You About Law JournalsPlease welcome our 2L guest writer, who discusses her personal experience being on a law journal – the good, the bad and the things that you may not hear from others before you make the commitment.

Writing for a law journal is an intense experience. Aside from writing your actual note and conducting peer edits, there are many responsibilities attached to the role that often are not publicized until you are offered a position. Some of your tasks may include: attending mandatory events, holding office hours, and joining one of the journal’s subcommittees to perform relevant, specified functions.

The write-on process for a law journal varies by law school and sometimes, per journal. At my law school, law students partake in a legal writing competition, which is the event that initially qualifies individuals to be considered for one. It is a grueling three-day process that is held the day after your 1L finals have ended and consists of bluebooking, grammar editing, and crafting a written argument concerning a set topic, designated by the competition rules. [Read more…]

Social Life SOS: I Have No Social Life Because I’m in Law School

Social help SOS: I have no social life because I'm a law studentPlease welcome back 2L guest writer, Shirlene Armstrong, to discuss how law school has impacted her social life, and how she has managed to find (some) balance.

Forgotten are the days of fun and excitement. Forgotten are the late nights with friends and bar nights. Forgotten are going out and enjoying other’s company. Forgotten are the days of making memories and trying new experiences. Forgotten are the days and nights of youth and undergraduate. This is the life of a typical law student. Hopelessly searching for ways to break the chains that tie them to their casebooks and escape the confines of the law school library. It is a sad and tragic time in the law student’s life. But, does it have to be? One of the most common complaints of law students is that they have no time for what they want to do – that they have “no social life.” This is attributed to the law school experience (re: craziness). However, law school and your social life are not mutually exclusive. [Read more…]

Can the Right Type of Music Help You Study?

Can the Right Type of Music Help You Study?Please welcome back Jennifer Warren, attorney and Academic Achievement Coordinator at Oklahoma City University School of Law, to discuss how the right music could help your studying.

Whether you’re in the middle of a marathon outlining session or just trying to get through the next reading assignment, maintaining your concentration can be a struggle at times. Distractions from family, friends, work, and social media, as well as our own tendency to procrastinate difficult tasks, can all impede our ability to stay focused. Academic success in law school requires consistent effort and concentration, so finding ways to stay productive throughout the semester is crucial. If your usual strategies for getting through your to-do list aren’t working, you may be ready to try a more unique approach to staying focused.

Two services, Brain.fm and Focus@Will, are offering specially engineered songs and musical compositions that they claim will sharpen focus, improve retention, and generally enhance your productivity. We’ve all had experiences where a particular song has influenced our mood, but can the right type of music also help you study?

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What Should You Be Doing to Prepare for Class as a Law School Upperclassman?

What should you be doing to prepare for class as a law school upperclassman?

Today we welcome Christen Morgan, guest writer and foreclosure attorney, to discuss what you should be doing to prepare for classes as an upperclassman.

During law school I remember how excited I was to begin 2L year. I was excited about the fact that I was no longer a lost 1L, unsure about how I would navigate law school. Now don’t get me wrong, I did experience some anxiety about the upcoming school year, however, this was by no means the same level of angst I experienced throughout my entire 1L year. As I came upon my first 2L semester, I felt like I had finally found my footing. I figured out a schedule that allowed me to fit in time to prepare for class. Also, during my class preparation, I was completing my case readings in about half the time it took me during 1L year. Despite this strong sense of confidence, I was quickly knocked off my horse. As I began 2L year, I quickly realized that my law school experience would be completely different than what I experienced the year before. As a 2L, I was in control of selecting my classes and although I chose classes that piqued my interest, these were not all traditional classes that had case reading assignments. Additionally, I was now a member of the Moot Court Society and had to jump straight into researching for my moot court competition brief. I also had to juggle a three credit externship in addition to two on campus part time jobs. I now knew that having all these responsibilities on my plate meant that I would need to change my class preparation techniques. [Read more…]

Managing Time in Law School

time management

Please welcome guest writer Alexa Galloway, a current 2L in the San Francisco Bay area! Today, Alexa shares with us some practical tips for time management in law school.

Time is always of the essence in law school, and how you spend it can determine your success. Below are some ideas on how to utilize time to your advantage. [Read more…]

A Novel Listening Technique for Law Students: “Professor Says”

DSC_0006-002-1It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of information (and the rather disjointed way it’s presented) in a typical law school class. Today, we’re excited to have Jennifer Murphy Romig — creator of the Listen Like a Lawyer website and instructor of legal writing, research, and advocacy at Emory Law School — here to share a very useful technique for cutting through the clutter!

Welcome, Jennifer.

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5 Tips for Getting the Best from Your Paralegals

Legal TeamworkIt’s no secret that young lawyers rarely get management training before setting off to work. So, I was delighted to receive this guest post from the experienced paralegals at ParalegalEdu, offering five useful tips on working with paralegals. (They’re broadly applicable to other support staff, as well.)

So, now you know!

You might feel good about having hired the best and brightest paralegals out there, but your real job as team leader and motivator doesn’t end there. As any litigator would attest, success is never a given, and a team of talented people does not, by itself, determine results.

It’s what you do with the talent and how that talent works as a cohesive unit that will determine your level of productivity, and ultimately, the level of success that you’ll achieve.

You’ve likely heard the terms team building, team dynamics and teamwork used ad nauseam (and with careless romanticism), but don’t give way to cynicism by letting yourself undervalue these powerful concepts. It’s the underpinnings of these concepts — collaboration, cohesiveness, communication and a common vision — that support a truly effective team experience.

Your talented team of paralegals is right in front of you, ready to be led and certainly ready to be motivated.

Here are five ways you can get the most from your paralegals:

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Why You Should (Probably) Read the Cases in Law School

BooksNow that you’ve been in law school for a while, you’re probably wondering if it wouldn’t be easier to just learn law from a hornbook, or a commercial outline. Isn’t reading cases a total waste of time?

Here’s some sage advice from my law school friend:

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