Courage is Rehearsed: Managing Fear During Public Performances

Courage is Rehearsed: Managing Fear During Public PerformancesThis week we welcome guest writer Paul Dumont to talk about lessons learned from coaching gymnastics and how those can apply to law school and the bar exam.

From 1988 until 2016, for fun, income, and my own development, I devoted more than 10,000 hours to coaching boys in the Junior Olympic Competitive Program, primarily at Redwood Empire Gymnastics in Petaluma, CA (1988 – 2002), attending approximately 150 competitions and leading 9 teams to state championship titles. During the same decades, I earned degrees in liberal studies, English composition, and law, passed the CA bar exam, and went on to a 20-year career in family law while teaching legal writing on the side. Both journeys were intimidating for a young professional.

Both professions required years of disciplined training and participation in challenging public contests showcasing a performer’s ability to perform competently under myriad pressures. Both professions required management of serious risk. Risks of injury. Liability risks. Risks to self-esteem, reputation, employment, and finances. Risks to ego and id. Success was measured through timed performances evaluated by neutral licensed examiners. All of the results were published. Glad I got into coaching before my legal training scared me away.

This post distills essential lessons gained over 30 years competing in two disparate public arenas, specifically the concrete steps I followed to manage fear during important performances.

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Navigating Law School and a Long-Distance Relationship

Navigating Law School and a Long-Distance RelationshipThis week we welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan to talk about how to manage a long-distance relationship in law school.

Starting law school does not have to mean the definitive end of your relationship.

It does not always mean making a choice between the one you love and the career you’re destined for, and it does not mean feeling guilty about the balancing act of studying and relationship that will now become a part of your law school experience.

Contrary to popular belief, navigating law school and a relationship can actually be beneficial. Despite the success or failure of your relationship, this experience can set you up with essential time-management, decision-making and preparation skills that could benefit you in your personal or professional development. [Read more…]

4 Ways to Seek Feedback in Law School

4 Ways to Seek Feedback in Law SchoolThis week we welcome back guest writer and 2L Tiffany Lo to talk about how to get feedback in law school.

In law school, a final exam is often the sole determinant of a grade in a course. For many students, this is an uncomfortable shift from undergraduate classes in which there are multiple assessments, whether as quizzes, group projects, or short papers. I have felt exasperated by not knowing whether I was grasping the materials, whether I was applying concepts correctly, and whether my legal analysis is on point. Unfortunately, the burden falls on us students to take the initiative and seek feedback. Here are four of my ideas for how to do that: [Read more…]

Advocating for Antiracist Policies in the Legal Work Environment

Advocating for Antiracist Policies in the Legal Work EnvironmentThis week we welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan to talk about what antiracism means in the legal work environment.

So you want to be an advocate for antiracism in the legal work environment? Follow these steps.

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Three Tips For Networking During The Pandemic

This week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt, to talk about how you can still work on your networking skills, even when you’re stuck at home during COVID-19.

Most of us know how important networking is, particularly when you’re in law school and aspiring to a legal career. Having good grades and published law journal articles will absolutely make a difference in your job prospects. But, having quality connections is a significant advantage.

If you are looking to get hired by a firm, agency, nonprofit, or other employer, having connections may help you learn of unposted job openings. Your connections may provide meaningful letters of recommendation. Your connections who are “in the know” may help steer you away from employers from whom you wouldn’t want to work. Or, they may help you and mentor you even after you get hired. [Read more…]

How Empathy Can Increase Your Success in Law School

How Empathy Can Increase Your Success in Law SchoolThis week we welcome guest writer Cathlyn Melvin to talk about developing empathy as a law student.

Law school is competitive.

Shocker, I know.

Put 75 mostly-Type-A personalities into a “small section,” tell them that the students who score the highest reap the rewards, and see what happens. (Hint: there won’t be a lot of meditative chanting and handholding going on).

The competitive culture of law school is strengthened by the structures it upholds: the on-the-spot Socratic method makes us judge ourselves and others, “relentless public competitions” rank students from “success” to “failure,” and there is a severe lack of feedback and growth-minded communication. And then, of course, the culture “is locked in by its resonance with the currency of success—money.” [Read more…]

How To Practice Law Virtually

How to Practice Law VirtuallyThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about how you can achieve success as a lawyer with a virtual practice.

I once worked for a law office (very briefly) where when I spent an evening in the ER, sick, pregnant, and absolutely miserable, I offered to work from home. One of the managing attorneys told me that it was impossible for a new attorney to work remotely and grow as an attorney.

Well, since the Coronavirus pandemic shut down law offices in several states, lots of firms are finding out that it is not only possible but sometimes advantageous to have attorneys work from home. Yes, there are special considerations.

After that job didn’t pan out, I started my own virtual law practice. Here are some things to consider if you, too, would like to strike out on your own, virtually speaking.

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3 Tips for Socializing During Remote Law School

3 Tips for Socializing During Remote Law SchoolThis week we welcome back guest writer Tiffany Lo to talk about how to still socialize during a global pandemic.

Many law schools have announced that the upcoming term will be fully remote or partially remote—or what is called “hybrid instruction.” In light of this, students are understandably grappling with many decisions: whether to take a hybrid course, whether to move to the area of their school, how to ensure a stable internet connection during live classes, and whether they can fully focus on their studies in their family home. [Read more…]

3 Lessons From Quarantine I’m Taking to Law School

3 Lessons From Quarantine I’m Taking to Law SchoolThis week we hear from guest writer Cathlyn Melvin to discuss what she’s learned from her time so far in quarantine and what she will be taking the law school as a lesson from that time.

We’re more than halfway through 2020, and I think we can all agree on at least one thing: this has been a year of creative solutions, building new systems, and forming new habits.

After a couple of weeks quarantined alone during Second Winter (Chicago’s third of 11 seasons, which comes just before “Spring of Deception”), I knew I’d need to make some major adjustments to my initial quarantine schedule. (For clarification, my initial quarantine schedule included a lot of snacks. And not much else.)

With a few weeks of experimentation, I finally found a groove that allowed me to tackle tasks and complete projects that had been languishing earlier. Now I’m preparing to start my first year of law school, and there are a few lessons I’ve learned in quarantine that I’ll be taking along with me when I move across the country this fall. [Read more…]

How Coronavirus Uncertainty Is Good Practice For Working In Law

How Coronavirus Uncertainty Is Good Practice For Working In LawThis week we welcome back guest writer Hillary Vaillancourt to talk about lessons learned during COVID-19 and how these are useful to practicing law!

The last few months have certainly presented numerous challenges for law students and legal professionals alike. With many firms closed, others still considered essential, and still more in a gray area trying to figure out where they stand, the legal profession has been significantly impacted (like other industries) by the Coronavirus pandemic.

I’ll admit, when the pandemic hit, and my state (New York) closed all court houses, I was nervous to say the least. My law practice in New York was only a few weeks old, and suddenly I couldn’t go to court for any of my clients or pursue the court appointed work I expected I could complete to make ends meet.

However, as the weeks went by, I learned how to adapt my law practice in ways I never anticipated. The result was a much stronger practice, a much more confident attorney, and a happier lifestyle all around. Here are a few lessons I learned about practicing law in a pandemic.

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