Taking Advantage of Academic Support

Taking advantage of academic supportPlease welcome back guest writer Jennifer Warren, attorney and Academic Achievement Coordinator at Oklahoma City University School of Law, to discuss how you can find the academic support you need in law school.

You may not realize it, but now is actually a great time to be a law student! The days when law schools would expect 1Ls to jump into the deep end without any instruction or guidance are gone. Now, many (if not most) institutions have academic support services in place to help you have a positive academic experience in law school. Some schools have robust services that include teams of professionals and fully integrated programs while others operate as more of a one person show. However, at any law school that provides academic support, you’re sure to find someone who is knowledgeable about learning techniques and dedicated to helping you do your best. If you haven’t visited your academic support office, make an appointment and keep these suggestions in mind to help you benefit the most from your visit.

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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…]


The Difference Between 1L vs. 2L Stressors

The Difference Between 1L vs. 2L StressorsPlease welcome back 2L guest writer Jaclyn Wishnia to discuss the differences between the stress of 1L and 2L year.

As duly noted by the majority of law students, the first year of law school carries a notoriously dreadful reputation that spans continents, even decades. It is characterized by infinite amounts of reading, a highly stressful, anxiety-inducing environment, and often referred to as one of the worst educational gauntlets that a student could scarcely fathom conjuring until personally immersed in the experience. What most law students eventually learn, however, is that this myth is quickly displaced by the juggling acts required to actually survive the second year of law school. Keep that in mind as you read through the discussion. [Read more…]


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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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…]


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…]


Three Things I Learned in Law School That Weren’t in the Curriculum

Three things I learned in law school that weren't in the curriculum.As we start off a new year, please welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan, attorney and Real Estate Specialist at a wireless infrastructure company, to discuss what three major lessons she learned from law school (and no they were not on any class syllabus).

It has almost been two years since I’ve graduated law school, and I kid you not, my experience is beginning to become a blur. An experience that was essentially the cornerstone of my life for three years, is beginning to become nuggets of memories that I struggle to piece together. I’m forgetting the names of former classmates and don’t even get me started on the course curriculum, that vanished right after taking the bar exam.

Now don’t get me wrong, my faded memory is by no means an indication that law school was a waste of time. While I can’t recite the Rule Against Perpetuities Theory, law school completely restructured the way I think. Law school taught me more than the nuts and bolts that were embedded within the 90 credits of coursework I completed. It taught me more about myself and the personal limits I had to institute for survival. It taught me that law professors aren’t necessarily the dry, authoritative characters that are portrayed in tv/film, but that they are in fact normal human beings with incredible minds and great senses of humor. Law school taught me that it is in fact possible to balance a social life in what seems to be a period of optimal stress and it gave me the inexplicable feeling of what it means to be an advocate for someone regardless of whether it was in a mock simulated setting or just a one-line contribution to a successful motion during a summer internship. It’s probably evident that I could go on and on with this list, but I’ll spare you and just cover my three favorite takeaways that weren’t included in the curriculum.

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Considerations For Why You Should Not Transfer

Nov. Art. 2: Considerations For Why You Should Not TransferPlease welcome back Jaclyn Wishnia, 2L guest writer from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. She discusses some counter points to transferring law schools.

Before starting the transfer process, the very first thing you should do is ask yourself, why do I want to transfer? The reasons you provide to that question will help you determine whether transferring law schools is the best solution. Sometimes external factors, such as being closer to a sick family member or a spouse’s job location transfer, will affect your decision. In those cases, transferring law schools may be completely appropriate. Other times, however, law students will base their decision to transfer on arbitrary reasons, such as 1L fall semester grades or to switch to a slightly higher ranked law school. If your reasons fall under the latter category, then consider the following arguments prior to submitting any finalized transfer applications. [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…]