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…]

How to Combat Stress and the 2L Law School Slump – Top Ten Suggestions

A 2L's Top Ten Suggestions on How to Combat Stress and the Law School SlumpPlease welcome back our 2L guest writer Shirlene Armstrong! She discusses the 2L perspective on combatting stress and the inevitable law school slump.

You are an overstressed, overworked law student. You have worked hard in order to get into law school and now you are in the middle of your legal journey with the work continuing to come with no end in sight. You’re slowly losing steam, and it is beginning to affect your social, work, and school life. You are in the middle of your “law school slump.” This is a period of time when a law student has been in school long enough to become comfortable but not long enough to see the graduation finish line in sight. This time is plagued with procrastination, apathy, and longing for freedom. However, there is a way to combat this slump and help you push through to the end of law school. Here are my ten suggestions on how to get out of the grind and back into a better mindset: [Read more…]

Law Students Deserve Better Than “Get Tough or Get Out”

ABA Report on high levels of depression, anxiety, and substance useThis week we welcome back guest writer Mihal Ansik, tutor for the Bar Exam Toolbox. She discusses the latest statistics on mental health issues and substance abuse in the legal profession.

In 1986, the year that I was born, Dr. Andrew Benjamin published the first in a series of studies focused on law student wellbeing and mental health. His widely cited reports found that “law students have higher rates of psychiatric distress than a contrasting normative population or a medical student population” and that 40% of surveyed third-year law students reported symptoms of depression. In 2016, the year I graduated law school and entered my first year of practice, a comprehensive study of law student wellbeing found that 42% of respondents thought they needed help for emotional or mental health issues in the past year, but only about half had gotten that help. In the same year, the American Bar Association commissioned a study of attorneys finding that “between 21 and 36 percent qualify as problem drinkers, and that approximately 28 percent, 19 percent, and 23 percent are struggling with some level of depression, anxiety, and stress, respectively.” [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…]

Law School Study Abroad: To Go or Not To Go?

Pros and Cons of Study Abroad During Law SchoolPlease welcome back Jennifer Warren, attorney and Academic Achievement Coordinator at Oklahoma City University School of Law, to discuss what you should consider when deciding if studying abroad during law school is a good idea.

If there’s anyone who appreciates the value of studying abroad in college, it’s me. During my sophomore year, I spent a semester in Madrid that was truly a life changing experience. For me, studying abroad turned out to be so much more than a chance to travel and live in a new place. I was in Madrid in spring 2004, when, just days before Spain’s general elections, al Qaeda inspired terrorists bombed four commuter trains. The bombings were so close to my apartment that the explosions woke me up. Over the following days and weeks, I not only participated in the deep mourning for the victims of the attacks but also witnessed the significant political reverberations that played out in the Spanish elections. It was a significant occasion for Spain – and the world – that influenced my own beliefs and views.

In addition to experiencing this historical moment, studying abroad had a huge impact on my personal and professional life. I met my husband (another American student) while studying abroad and found myself completely altering my plans so that I could follow him to his home state of Oklahoma. As a native Californian and recent New York City resident, this was a drastic change, to say the least. Studying abroad set me down a path that I never contemplated, but it’s one I have never regretted.

So, if studying abroad is so fulfilling and life changing, it only makes sense to pursue that same type of experience in law school, right? Well, maybe, maybe not.

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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…]