Navigating Law School as a Non-Traditional Student

Navigating Law School as a Non-Traditional Student Please welcome back guest writer Kala Mueller, Director of Public Interest Programs at the University of Nebraska College of Law. She’s discussing how to handle law school if you’re not a “traditional” student.

Most people equate “non-traditional” with being older, but if a “traditional” student is one who has gone straight from college to law school, then “non-traditional” might encompass anyone who has not. Still, I typically think of a non-traditional student as someone who is entering law school after at least a few years out of an educational setting. I worked full-time for one year between college and law school, and while that might technically mean I was a non-traditional student, I certainly wouldn’t have felt that the label was fitting for me.

Part of the reason is that I don’t really think my experience was unique from that of my classmates coming straight out of college, whereas most non-traditional law students feel that their experience is different, at least in some respects, whether it is due to the fact that they spent a few years in the workforce, are significantly older than many of their counterparts, or have children. Although maturity and life experience are usually beneficial, it probably will not come as a surprise that life as a non-traditional student is not all sunshine and rainbows. There are both positive and negative implications of the characteristics we often associate with non-traditional students.

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There Is Never Enough Time: Tips to Manage What Little There Is

There Is Never Enough Time: Tips to Manage What Little There IsThis week we welcome back guest writer and 3L Mark Livingston to talk about how to manage your time in law school.

Life is not easy. There is never enough time for everything that needs to be done on any given day. Time commitments are more acutely felt when in law school. I am a non-traditional law student with a wife, one pre-teen and one infant daughter, a big dog, and I live two-and-a-half hours away from home at law school during the week. My wife and I often embark on our weekends with grand designs of getting so much accomplished: meal prep, family time, grocery shopping, a date-night stroll through the Super Target, housework, and (if we are lucky) some romantic time. Without fail, by the time we get to Sunday night, we realize we have failed to complete most of the planned activities, have to scramble to get ready for the week, and inevitably ask where all of the time went. This article is designed to help the beleaguered law student manage his or her time a bit more effectively, both in law school and in life. [Read more…]

I’m Sorry to Say This but We Need to Stop Saying I’m Sorry

I’m Sorry to Say this but We Need to Stop Saying I’m SorryPlease welcome back guest writer and attorney, Christen Morgan, to talk about the ways that women find themselves apologizing more than they need to in the workplace and knowing when to really say I’m sorry.

If you walk through the halls of many office environments, you can almost count on hearing the buzz and the ding of all the office machinery and stationery. If you listen even closer, you’re bound to hear the clicks and the clacks of shoes tapping through the hallways and the whirrs and creeks of portable chairs and office doors. Amongst all these familiar sounds, it maybe difficult to make out the defined statements within the conversations of passersby. However, pay close enough attention to these conversations and I’m sure the words “I’m sorry,” will emerge as a frequent repeated utterance. Whether, it’s an apologetic employee who is sorry for messing up an assignment, a supervisor who’s sorry for sending out the email request that she had every intention to send or the nervous intern who’s sorry for spilling coffee on the floor in the mere presence of others, “I’m sorry”, is the uniform verbal tick of many human beings. Furthermore, and, I hate to say this, but the words I’m sorry are even more of a verbal tick for women. [Read more…]

Transitioning to a Non-Traditional Legal Career

Transitioning to a Non-traditional Legal Career

Please welcome guest writer Kathryn Blair, law school tutor and PhD student, to discuss the transition from a traditional law career to something different.

It has been about two years since I left a successful career as an attorney and turned back to academia for the start of what I hope will be my third and final career. This was a difficult transition for me. The joke about law school being an escalator — seamlessly delivering you to a career in Big Law — is funny because it is true. But jumping off that escalator was a big and hard decision, and, despite the support of family and friends, it still felt a bit lonely. But it shouldn’t feel that way. Many attorneys face and make these decisions, and the shared experiences of others can be helpful as you think about these questions. [Read more…]

5 Benefits of Having a Career before Law School

Post about the benefits of having a career before law schoolPlease welcome our guest writer and 1L Briana Borgolini to discuss why having a career before starting law school could be beneficial and how to use what you have learned in the workforce to be a better law student.

The decision of if and when to attend law school is a highly personal one, and often only becomes more difficult the further away from undergrad you get. After spending just a few (or many more) years in the workforce rather than in the classroom, it can be daunting to think about returning to a student lifestyle. If you’re anything like me, you might wonder how you managed to learn so many different things in such a short amount of time in college when it took you nearly two years to (almost) fully understand the nuances of your current job. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that your previous career likely prepared you to handle the rigors of law school, even if you don’t know it. [Read more…]

Advice from the Trenches for Incoming 1Ls: On the Importance of Self-Care  

Advice for Incoming 1Ls Part II (Importance of Self-Care)Please welcome back guest writer Kala Mueller, Director of Public Interest Programs at the University of Nebraska College of Law. Kala has been talking to her upperclassmen students about advice they would offer incoming 1Ls, and, this week, discusses the importance of self-care.

This is the second in a series of posts exploring the themes that emerged when I asked some of the law students I work with to tell me what they wish they would have known as they prepared to enter law school or what advice they would give to new students. If you’ve already read the first post on the rigors of law school, you know that you’re going to be challenged in ways that you’ve likely never been challenged before.

The demands of law school can have a tremendous mental and physical toll, and unfortunately, self-care is often put on the back burner. The number of law students that struggle with anxiety and depression is staggering, so it’s important that you take care of your mental health. If you’re not convinced that self-care is something you should prioritize over the next three years or can’t fathom how you’ll do so, I hope the advice below will enlighten you.

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Items to Consider Adding to Your 3L Year To-Do List

We’re welcoming back Jaclyn Wishnia to talk about going into 3L year and how to be prepared and think ahead to post-grad as well.

An old law school adage states, “1L, they scare you to death; 2L, they work you to death; and 3L, they bore you to death.” This maxim isn’t entirely accurate. While the former two hold true for many law students, the latter certainly doesn’t. Each year of law school presents its own unique set of challenges. Though finals will no longer seem as daunting as they were during 1L, there are plenty of other obstacles that dispel the notion that 3L will be “boring” – like the bar. [Read more…]

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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Reflections of a 2L: How to Use Your Experience to Plan Ahead for 3L Year

Reflections of a 2L and How to Use Your Own to Plan Ahead for 3L YearPlease welcome our 2L guest writer to discuss her own personal reflections on 2L year and how she’s looking and planning ahead to 3L year.

In looking back on 2L year, it was a unique and very individualistic experience. Unfortunately, mine was a harrowing one, but that will not be the case for every 2L because the curriculum creates such vastly different scenarios, based on the choices each student selects for themselves. The rest of this article focuses on some personal thoughts concerning 2L year in general, and, stemming from them, changes or items to plan ahead for when thinking about 3L year.

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Collaboration vs. Competition

Collaboration vs. CompetitionPlease welcome guest writer, Whitney Weatherly, to discuss how to balance the competitive legal world with the need for collaboration and working together.

A student recently requested my help with something, and I declined, deferring to a colleague who specializes in the type of help that she needed. It was a positive interaction, though, and I told one of my coworkers about it. She suggested that I could have done the work, but I insisted that I was right to decline. In a way, my coworker was right. With training, I probably could provide the help that the student needed. But would that have been the best way to serve her and my company?

We live in a world where people are too apt to claim expertise for fear of appearing weak or inadequate. As lawyers and law students, our culture seems to reward all-around experts rather than people who are willing to acknowledge their limitations, defer to the superior knowledge of others, and collaborate when appropriate. It’s time to think about the spectrum between competition and collaboration, and how attorneys can move the industry standard in a way that fosters information sharing for the benefit of clients. [Read more…]