I’m a 1L/2L, Why Should I Care About the Bar Exam?

I'm a 1L/2L, Why should I care about the Bar?Please welcome back Shirlene Armstrong, guest writer and future bar exam taker, to discuss why it’s never too early to think about your bar exam preparation!

The bar exam is usually considered the most dreaded exam a law student must eventually face, but you also must pass in order to become a licensed attorney. This exam is usually taken after your 3L year following graduation. So, if I’m a 1L or 2L, why should I care about the bar exam until my 3L year? I have PLENTY to worry about law school-wise, worrying about the bar exam is just not on the top of my priority list. I have PLENTY of time to prepare, so it shouldn’t matter if I wait. Well, actually you don’t. Despite popular belief, law school does not last forever. Eventually you will finish and have to take the bar exam. Law school goes much faster than people think, which is increased by the craziness of all the projects and activities in between. Thus, the sooner you can accept the inevitable (i.e. the bar exam), the better. [Read more…]

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…]

Advice from the Trenches for Incoming 1Ls: On Outlining and Exam Preparation

Advice for Incoming 1Ls Part III (Studying and Exam Prep)This week we welcome back Kala Mueller to finish up her series offering advice to incoming 1Ls from those who have gone through it already. She’ll complete the series with a discussion about studying and exam prep.

Now that you’re all well-versed on the rigors of law school and the importance of self-care, we’ll round out the series with a discussion of study habits. It’s worth noting that of all the feedback I received from students on what they wish they had known before starting law school, very little of it pertained to studying. At the risk of stating the obvious, I think this is, perhaps, an indication that it’s not the most important thing for you to know as you embark on this journey.

As I said in the first post in this series, you’ve likely read or received a lot of different advice on what does and doesn’t work, how and when you should outline, the best way to approach exam preparation, etc. It can be overwhelming and hard to determine at this stage which strategies are actually going to be the most effective for you, so in one regard, I am hesitant to heap more advice of this nature on to the pile. However, I thought the feedback regarding outlining and exam preparation was relatively general (and good) advice that should be helpful for most students. And, of course, you have the ability to decide whether or not to use it.

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How to Prepare for Class as a 1L

How to prepare for class as a 1LThis week we welcome back Shirlene Armstrong, rising 3L, to discuss some great advice for getting ready for class as a 1L.

Sharpen your pencils and get your notebooks ready, school is just around the corner. Starting law school is a daunting experience. In general, beginning something new can feel uncomfortable. However, law school is an entirely new experience that is unlike anything you have experienced before. Thus, you are probably feeling nervous and worried about what to expect, especially when it comes to classes. Fortunately, you are already being proactive and trying to prepare prior to classes. Here are some tips to help you prepare for class as a 1L. [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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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…]

Advice from the Trenches for Incoming 1Ls: On the Rigors of Law School

Advice for incoming 1Ls Part I - What I Wish I Had Known When Starting Law SchoolPlease welcome guest writer Kala Mueller, Director of Public Interest Programs at the University of Nebraska College of Law. Kala is looking at what some of the students she works with wish they had known going into law school.

For incoming 1Ls, the weeks and months leading up to law school are usually filled with excitement, fear, anxiety, and a lot of questions. I could regale you with tales of my law school experience, but alas, it was more than ten years ago and the details are blurry. Lucky for you, I have the privilege of working closely with a lot of really exceptional law students who are much wiser than me. I asked a few of them 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. [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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Learning to Love the Socratic Method

Something about the socratic method for GGPlease welcome back guest writer John Passmore to talk about how to learn to love an aspect of law school which is certainly not everyone’s favorite – the Socratic method.

The Socratic method is a unique and, for many, a frightening aspect of law school. It can be one of the toughest parts of transitioning from undergraduate to law school life. An introvert myself, the idea of the cold-call (being unexpectedly called on and peppered with questions by the professor) terrified me well into my 1L year. But later in law school I came to truly appreciate the Socratic method. It makes you engage the material in a deeper way. By actively participating as the professor builds concepts through questions and answers, you absorb the material in a way you never would through passively listening to a lecture. You may never love a class with a tough professor who employs a strict form of the Socratic method, but if you can at least come to appreciate the method, you can move beyond fear and reap some of the benefits that it offers. [Read more…]

Making Your Notes Work for You

Note TakingPlease welcome back guest writer John Passmore to discuss some great tips for note taking in law school!

Everyone agrees that note taking is important in law school. But are you getting as much out of note taking as possible? After a semester or two of struggling to find value in my class notes, I finally started to think more critically about my note-taking style. I realized I was just playing the stenographer—writing down as much as possible with the hopes of understanding it later. This is a very bad approach. As you develop your personal note-taking style, think about what you hope to get out of your notes. Once you have a clear idea of your objectives, you can take notes with purpose and be more effective. The tricky thing about law school note taking is accomplishing multiple objectives at once. Here are some of the key deliverables you might want from your notes — [Read more…]