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…]

Losing the Fear of Being Stereotyped: Surviving as a Young Woman in a Position of Authority

Losing the Fear of Being Stereotyped: Surviving as a Young Woman in a Position of AuthorityPlease welcome our guest writer this week to discuss an issue than many women in positions of power in the workplace can experience – a fear of being stereotyped in a certain way.

“You need to look and sound intimidating and scary.” That was one of the most popular versions of advice I received when I accepted a position of authority as lead litigation counsel at a law firm at 26 years old.

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What I Did Differently my 2L Year and How I Raised my GPA by .5 – A Rising 3L Perspective

Rising 3L Perspective: What I did differently my 2L year and how it raised my GPA by .5Please welcome back 3L Shirlene Armstrong to discuss how she improved her GPA between 1L and 2L years and the lessons she learned.

At the end of my 1L year, I was a bit disappointed in myself. I had always been an overachiever and school came naturally to me. I enjoyed learning and studying, for which I was rewarded with excellent grades. Law school was a little different. In my first year I felt like no matter what I did, I was not capable of achieving all As or even one solid A. I was so overwhelmed. I am a first generation law student, so I felt completely lost and was trying to figure out the whole law school thing. However, my 2L year felt like a flip of a coin. I was enjoying classes, understanding the material, and despite being extremely busy, managed to increase my GPA by .5 by the end of the year. Here are my reflections on what I did during my 2L year in order to boost my GPA. [Read more…]

Tips to Boost Your Confidence and Release your Inner Extrovert to Speak Up in Class

Tips to Boost Your Confidence and Release your Inner Extrovert to Speak Up in ClassThis week we welcome back Christen Morgan to discuss some ideas for speaking up more in class – even if you’re a natural introvert!

There’s no doubt in my mind that one of the utmost fears that wrangles many law students is the fear of speaking up in class. If you’re an extrovert, this task may be a no brainer for you, but if you’re an introvert, the mere thought of engaging in the Socratic method may give you literal nightmares. Speaking from experience, I can tell you firsthand that being an introvert added an entire layer of stress to my first year of law school. [Read more…]

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…]

Struggling with that Lengthy Writing Assignment? 7 Practical Strategies to Help You Get It Done!

Legal Research/WritingPlease welcome back Jennifer Warren, attorney and Academic Achievement Coordinator at Oklahoma City University School of Law. She’s talking about how to survive a legal writing assignment you may be struggling with (or just to offer some encouragement).

I have a love/hate relationship with writing. While it’s extremely satisfying to finish a writing assignment, the process of getting to that point can be a real struggle. Most law students seem to feel similarly about the legal writing assignments and research papers assigned in law school. These assignments tend to be time consuming, complex, and require a significant amount of concerted effort (unlike, say, passively highlighting your case book). On top of that, law school writing assignments aren’t even necessarily that interesting. But as frustrating as these assignments may be, they’re actually a fairly realistic preview of what you’ll likely be doing as a lawyer: researching, writing, and writing some more. Whether it’s drafting a brief, a contract, or even just a memo, nearly every practicing lawyer has to write on a regular basis. So it’s helpful – no, necessary – that you develop some strategies to manage lengthy writing assignments and avoid procrastinating. Below are a few techniques I’ve relied on to help me complete difficult projects and that may help you manage your own lengthy assignments. [Read more…]

The Positive Side of a Negative Outlook: How Embracing Your Natural Pessimism Can Work to Your Advantage in Law School

The Positive Side of a Negative Outlook: How Embracing Your Natural Pessimism Can Work to Your Advantage in Law SchoolPlease welcome back Jennifer Warren, attorney and Academic Achievement Coordinator at Oklahoma City University School of Law, to discuss how being a pessimist might not be such a bad thing.

I sometimes describe myself as a “glass half empty” type of person. I tend to be a little on the cynical side and generally assume the worst will happen. This sort of innate pessimism is often seen as a character flaw – something that should be stamped out with positive affirmations and an attitude adjustment – but I’ve often felt that my skeptical outlook can actually be beneficial in certain situations. As it turns out, there’s plenty of research showing that negativity does, indeed, have some positives. [Read more…]

Public Speaking Tips from a Work in Progress

Public Speaking TipsPlease welcome back Jennifer Warren, attorney and Academic Achievement Coordinator at Oklahoma City University School of Law, to discuss how to work on your public speaking skills – something she’s personally been working on since law school.

Like most law schools, the second semester of my first year legal research and writing course involved a class wide moot court competition where I had to make an appellate argument based on a current legal issue. I found myself looking forward to the competition. Although I still had many moments of self-doubt, by the second semester of law school I felt like I had started to find my footing, at least academically. I had done well during the first semester and was keeping up in my current courses. I hoped that with the right amount of practice and preparation I would do just fine during the moot court assignment. So I prepared, and I practiced, and I prepared some more. My scheduled day arrived, I presented my argument, and…it was terrible! I spoke too quietly and too quickly, I forgot key points, I stuttered, I looked at my notes too frequently – I made pretty much every public speaking mistake out there. Despite what I thought was a sufficient amount of preparation, I had done miserably. [Read more…]

My First Mock Trial – A 2L Perspective

Mock Trial

Please welcome back our 2L guest writer, Shirlene Armstrong, to discuss her first mock trial experience. She discusses everything from the preparation through the actual trial, and tells us what she learned.

As a 2L, I have the opportunity to participate in “professional experience” activities for credit, extracurriculars. These include (but are not limited to) moot court, mock trial, law review, journal, and/or contract drafting. Since high school, I always wanted to do mock trial but unfortunately never attended a school that had a program. Thus, I was really excited to have an opportunity to join the team. I tried out for mock trial at the end of my 1L year and was fortunate to receive a spot on the team. As such, my first trial experience was in the first semester of my 2L year during our in-house competition. [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…]