Stylish Academic’s Guide to Prepping for Finals Early

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Hello, World.

Even though it’s only September, the months in a given semester go quickly, so I wanted to offer my advice regarding how to prep for finals early. This is sort of an extension of my post about steps to better grades. In law school, your final grade is solely based on your final exam. So, it’s wise to begin prepping for final exams early. However, if you just start studying for finals, you’ll likely burn out and lose momentum when you should be kicking into high gear (aka mid-November). So, I’m sharing my top three tips that can accompany my three tips to better grades.

  1. Talk about the material with friends and family. Discussing material aloud with other people will allow you to gauge how well you know the material. I had a criminal law TA who said, “I taught the course to my wife. Teaching it to someone who had minimal understanding allowed me to understand the material, find the areas that I didn’t get as well, and solidified my ability to discuss it, which helped the essay portion of the exam.” This advice was some of the best that I received my first year of law school. My sweet mother talked to me for five hours on the phone as I walked through my torts outline. This process was long and tedious, but I knew which areas I needed help with before the exam. Discussing the material with others throughout the semester will kick-start finals review.
  2. Take “reading notes” and “class notes.” Some people do this, but some people only really take reading notes or rely primarily on class notes. Personally, I find having reading notes that I take based on what I think is important from the reading and separate class notes based on what the professor thinks is important allows me to see where I’m missing points or if I’m pulling out the right highlights of the reading. If I’m not, there’s a chance I will miss points on the exam because my professor and I aren’t considering the same facts important. Ninety percent of a law school exam is issue spotting (they make you think it’s analysis. Let me just say: if you don’t spot the issue, you cannot do the analysis). Recognizing how your professor reads or addresses legal issues is key to getting a high grade on the exam.
  3. Outline beginning at the end of October. You’ll hear a lot of different things in terms of outlining. You may even wonder, “what the hell is an outline?” An outline is just what it sounds like — an outline of the course. You go through major concepts, tests, etc. and outline the course as it is taught to you. I prefer outlining later rather than earlier. Some people disagree, which is fine, but I find that whatever I outline last is what I remember most. If you begin too early, it’s not as fresh because you probably won’t look at the beginning of your outline until a week or so before the exam. Outlining later forces you to review early concepts and understand how and where they fit in the whole course (spoiler alert: sometimes outlines are best ordered different than how you learn the material).

How do you prep for class or finals?

Truly,

Callie leigh

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3 Steps to Improved Grades

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Hello, World.

As the school year is now in full swing, and our social media feeds become riddled with fall-inspired photos, I figured this is an appropriate time to talk about grades. For those of you just starting your academic program, you may be thinking, “but it’s still so early.” Well, it’s honestly never too early to think about grades. I’m sharing my top 3 steps that will lead to better grades, whether in college or law school or some other academic career. The steps worked for me and I believe they will work for you as well if you follow them! To give you my perspective, I did very well throughout college. I did not do as well as I wanted my first semester of law school. So, I implemented the three steps I’m about to share, and my grades improved drastically.

Step One: Do Not Study with People Who Make You Feel Dumb8d1f223a-7dd3-43c3-8556-2f25086c3fe6_text_hi.gif

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This may seem straight forward, but I think a lot of people encourage study groups and as a result, people feel pressured to study with people. Most people don’t really care who they’re studying with, they just want to be in a study group. While it is completely okay to study in groups, who are in your study group is actually what is most important.  My first semester, I studied with people who made me feel inferior or as if I was really dumb for not getting a certain concept. Let’s just say by the second semester, I’d said my goodbyes to them and no longer studied with them. My confidence increased immensely.

Step Two: Review at the End of Each Week 

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In college, you get a lot of review days as you learn and it’s a lot easier to cram. However, to truly perform well on a final, it’s good to take time to review throughout the semester. Additionally, some professors move very quickly and if you don’t understand a foundational concept, you’ll be lost later. Even if you feel like everything is cake, review!!! I spent my Friday afternoons my second semester of law 1L reviewing, typing up my handwritten notes, and re-reading areas that I thought I understood while reading but was confused by in class discussion. This small change greatly helped me understand how each concept fit together by the end of the semester.

Step Three: Find a Non-Academic Hobby and Take Time to Indulge Each Week

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This may seem like the last thing that will lead to better grades, I know. Here’s the thing, though: burn out is very very real. There’s a reason senioritis exists and there’s a reason people who do very well one semester fall by the second. It’s hard to sustain a state of constant work and learning without becoming overwhelmed. The spring semester of 1L I started working out regularly and it transformed my mental state. I had greater focus, more energy, and more motivation. While your hobby doesn’t have to be working out, find something that allows you to take mental breaks and focus on something other than academics.

Do you have your own tried and true tips for improving grades?

Truly,

Callie leigh

 

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Studying in a Coffee Shop

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Hello, World.

When I was in college, I got into the habit of studying at coffee shops. I’m not a library person, really, because I think it’s too quiet and usually too cold. In coffee shops, there’s just the right amount of background noise and I am my most productive when studying at a coffee shop. I have a full routine – get a chai latte, a muffin, unpack my bag, set up my laptop, go over my planner, and work. However, studying at coffee shops can be an art form. There are a lot of things that can reduce productivity at a coffee shop. I’ve heard a few people say they cannot study in coffee shops for various reasons, most a result of failing to properly prepare for serious “coffee shop study” (note: this definitely reminds me of the meme below, just swap “bedroom” for “coffee shop”).

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I want to share my top five tips for studying a coffee shop effectively. Though I now have a very productive rhythm at coffee shops, I used to definitely be the person who was going to “study” with friends, and we ended up just having coffee and talking with books open in front of us. So, if you like the idea of studying in a coffee shop, but haven’t necessarily found a good rhythm yet, this post is just for you!

Bring All Chargers | I have forgotten my laptop charger more times than I can count, which limits the time I can stay somewhere. If you know you need your computer a lot when you’re studying, be sure to bring a charger with you. Tangentially, when you arrive at the coffee shop, try to get a table near an outlet so you don’t have to move if you need to plug in your computer.

Bring a few snacks of your own | Everywhere I’ve studied has never had a problem if I pull out my own snacks, as long as I’ve purchased something at the coffee shop. Usually, if I arrive at breakfast or lunch time, I’ll get a meal and a chai. However, depending on how long I stay, sometimes I need a snack, so I bring my own. My favorite study snacks are veggie chips/straws.

Pack a Sweater | Regardless of the outside temp, I recommend bringing a sweater to a coffee shop. In the spring and summer months, and even early fall, the AC in coffee shops can be intense, so I usually get cold in a coffee shop when studying. I always try to take a sweatshirt or cardigan with me to ensure I don’t get so cold I end up wanting to leave before I’ve made a dent in my workload.

Sit at the Biggest Table that is Reasonable | While I don’t suggest hogging a four person table if the place if packed and people are waiting for tables, I do think you should get a slightly larger table so you can spread out your materials and have a comfortable study area.

Headphones may be necessary | Some coffee shops are very loud and some just play crappy music. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to pack a set of headphones, whether just earbuds or Beats. Having headphones can help tune out some of the noise. While you may be thinking, “if it’s too loud, just go to the library or somewhere quieter.” I’m kind of weird, and I like a fair amount of background noise, but if someone if having a super intense conversation right next to me, it can be distracting. The headphones help me tune out that noise while still giving me enough background noise.

I could go on, as always, but I think I covered my biggest tips/steps for productive study in a coffee shop. I prefer studying at coffee shops because libraries are too quiet for me, and I like to be able to refuel (aka drink chai or coffee by the gallon) and have the option to easily grab a snack if I need one. While coffee shop study trips aren’t for everyone, I do recommend testing it out and seeing if it works for you!

Truly,

Callie leigh

Planner Envy: The Best Planners for Back to School

Hello, World.

I have a bit of a planner obsession. While many people have turned to electronic forms of planners or calendars, I am still “old school” and prefer paper planners to electronic versions. Planners help me keep my life in order and I often tell people, “If it’s not in my planner, it won’t happen.” As a busy law student, I have a lot to keep track of (class readings, job applications deadlines, Business Law Review responsibilities, social engagements, my personal events, my blogging schedule, etc.), so I need to make sure everything gets written down or else it may be overlooked.

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Over the years, I’ve tried a few different planners and brands, and I’ve definitely loved some while I loathed others. The key to a great planner for me is enough space to write everything and having a month/daily view combo. I like seeing my month “at a glance,” but I also want the room to plan my days. In high school, I used a planner akin to the Day Designer, which I loved for that time in my life. In college, I lived and died by the Passion Planner. Honestly, I had so much going on in a single day that the Passion Llanner kept everything clear and easy to track.

In law school, I went from the Simplified Planner to a Lilly Pulitzer Planner to a Rifle Paper Co. planner. I settled on the Rifle Paper Co. planner as the best for law school because I decided to-do lists worked better for me in law school. I also liked the freedom of how I planned my day. I didn’t have to plan by the hour but it had more structure than just a bunch of lines. Though the Simplified Planner works GREAT for a lot of people, I didn’t like it because I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I didn’t love that the hourly layout because I had a lot of classes that started at 11:15 then ended at 12:50 and I didn’t like that I couldn’t show that with precision in my planner. The Lilly Planners are great for many of my friends, but I just didn’t like the layout. I don’t totally know why, but it didn’t work for me. I liked the clean cream pages of the Rifle Paper Co. Planner and that I had little check boxes to check off items as I went through them.

However, depending on your needs and preferences, I think all four of the above planners are fantastic options for college or graduate school (and even your first job!).

Truly,
Callie leigh

P.S. This year, I will be using the Herb Garden Rifle Paper Co. planner!

Best Backpacks & Bags for School

Hello, World.

As back to school is in full swing, I wanted to share my favorite bags and backpacks for the school year. I used totes all through college but switched to a backpack for law school because the books were so heavy. However, at the end of the year, I got an LL Bean Medium tote and began using it as my book bag. I attribute my switch back to a tote bag to the fact I had bigger gaps between classes, so had an easier time switching out books. I personally prefer totes to backpacks, but backpacks are sometimes more practical and can be stylish as well.

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Madewell Leather Transport Tote | I used this bag in college and love it. I still have it with me in Virginia, but I don’t use it quite as much because sometimes it feels heavy if I need to carry a lot. You know how some bags you can fill to the brim, but it doesn’t feel super heavy? This isn’t one of them. However, this bag is durable and can hold quite a lot! I have the open top, but I recommend getting the zipped version if you worry about your bag tipping over and such.

Madewell Canvas Transport Tote | I haven’t personally used this bag, but I imagine it’s similar to the leather version. I love canvas for bags because it’s pliable and comfortable on the arm. I’m not sure how the canvas feels when it’s filled, but I love the green canvas enough to consider it!

LL Bean Boat & Tote | I recently got this bag. I’d been eyeing it for a few years and finally decided to bite the bullet. I am so happy I did! The bag is a great size, not too huge, but not too small. It fits a ton. I used it mostly during my finals study period, and I was always amazed how much I shoved in it… and it never felt heavy. Again, I have the open top, but I also think a zipped top is a great option for school! I’ve definitely had my bag spill over in the car, and it’s not ideal!

Longchamp Le Pliage Tote | Though I’ve been eyeing this bag for years as well, I haven’t purchased it yet. However, I know a ton of people who swear by this bag. My Co-Chair on Honor Council in college used the red version and thought it was the greatest thing ever! So while I can’t say it’s worked for me, I know enough people who love it to include it in this roundup.

Madeline & Company ‘Slim’ Backpack | I saw a post about Madeline & Company a few years ago when she first started and thought her backpacks were really awesome. The only thing I didn’t love was the shape! However, she recently released a slim version that I think would work super well for college or law school or another graduate level degree. I love the faux leather version and I really admire the creator!

Hershel’s Heritage Backpack | I saw this backpack all over my college campus! I also see it all over the undergrad campus at William and Mary. I’ve never personally used it, but I know it is a popular brand that is in constant demand. They have so many fun prints and colors!

North Face Women’s Recon Backpack | I use North Face for my backpacks ordinarily and I usually really like them. They always have tons of storage and room, which is great for busy college students running from class to meetings to outings with friends. As a graduate student, their backpacks are great for fitting a lot of books, research, and notes.

What’s your go to bag? What’s your favorite from the bags featured here?

Truly,
Callie leigh

2L Preparation: Preparing for my second year of law school

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Hello, World.

I am heading back to Virginia to begin my 2L year. While I’m sad to be leaving California, I am excited to get back to law school and my academic-year routine. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my summer job and have learned an immense amount (mostly on the fly!). As 2L approaches, I wanted to share what I’m doing to prepare for my second year of law school. I’ve heard from many people that while 1L is the hardest, 2L is still difficult but in different ways. For example, if you serve on a journal you have an extra commitment that is time-consuming and important. I don’t want to be stressed this semester (or at least not really stressed) so I would like to prepare as much as possible.

This semester I am taking Federal Income Taxation, Evidence, Business Associations, and Mergers and Acquisitions. I am also on the William and Mary Business Law Review. This semester feels very full because all of my classes are relatively new information. I’m a bit nervous about the quantity of new information, but I think the key is studying consistently with weekly review sessions. I personally find figuring out how all the parts of a course work together is the key to succeeding in the course. In Torts, my professor would constantly say “it’s a seamless web, see?” And I would think, ‘no, I don’t.’ However, the more review I did and the more I studied for the final, the more I saw he was actually correct. While I don’t encourage outlining super early or trying to “study” for the final from day one, I do think reviewing new material at the end of each week makes studying at the end of the semester much more seamless. You will have already built a strong foundation from which to study!

So, to prepare for my classes, I’m setting the goal of spending Friday mornings reviewing the previous four days of material. I am also going to buy the Acing supplement series for Federal Income Tax, Evidence and Business Associations. I may end up buying for Mergers and Acquisitions, too, but we will see. One of my close law school friends showed me the Acing series and so I got the Property course book. It was a game changer! Honestly, I had an older professor who has taught property for a long time and didn’t take a ton of questions. The course was designed to mainly learn on your own. The Acing Property book saved me and I ended up with a fairly high grade in the course. I also found this supplement easy to follow and I appreciate that it is designed with test taking in mind. It doesn’t just tell you the information, but rather it shows you exactly how to approach a problem once you spot it in a fact pattern.

Additionally, I am hoping to get back into a regular workout routine. Being home this summer I haven’t worked out as much as I would have liked. I was really into working out last spring, but then I came home and started working and just couldn’t figure out a time to make workouts happen. I’m definitely putting my health first this semester, though. This means I will work out regularly and I’m hoping to eat healthier (one too many cookies have been consumed this summer). I miss the way I ate in college – greens, protein, and more greens!

Another way in which I am preparing for 2L is by trying to lay a lot of the groundwork for my 2L summer job search while I’m not in school and while I’m home in California. I’m hoping to return to California (but I cannot control the job market), so I am trying to send out apps and network while in the state. I’m hoping the more work I do now, the sooner I can figure out what my 2L summer job will be and then I can check a major item off my ever-growing to do list.

The final big preparation I’m doing is spending time with my family. There is a huge possibility I won’t see my family again until December. Last fall I really struggled with not seeing them and homesickness. This year, I’m putting all my energy into focusing on wellness and classes. I want to make sure I’m physically and mentally healthy. I also want to make sure I’m excelling in my courses! I never quite thought I’d say it, but I’m excited to get back Williamsburg. I think that’s just a testament to the friend group I’ve developed there, though! I’m looking forward to a good semester with my two roommates, one of my good friends (who was a former RA, obviously), my wonderful Texan friend, and all the other people who make Williamsburg feel like home!

Though I’m naturally a little nervous about my second year of law school, spring semester of 1L went so much more smoothly than the first and I feel ready to tackle my courses. I also finally feel like I mastered the best study habits for myself and that really grew my confidence as a law student.

What are you doing to prepare for the upcoming year?

Truly,

Callie leigh

 

What I Wish I Knew Before Law School

What I Wish I Knew Before Law School

Hello, World.

By now you’re probably well acquainted with the phrase “hindsight is 20/20.” I recently chatted with a co-worker, and he asked me if I was gearing up to return to law school. I made the joke I should be but wasn’t quite on the “I’m ready to go” train yet. He laughed and said he missed school, but then said, “maybe it’s our nature, but as humans, we tend to remember experiences much fonder than they actually are.” I laughed and returned to stapling my copies of client documents. However, in the time between that conversation and now, as I write this, I cannot help but think he’s right. I sort of loathed one of my previous jobs, but after ending my time in that position and having a little distance from it, I realized it was the best job I’ve had and it was a huge learning experience. I’ve had this experience of being totally unsure about something, almost to the point of dislike, the whole time the thing is happening, but then I love it by the end.

The experience is like reading a book that has a very slow middle. The beginning gets you interested and grabs your attention enough to keep going, but the middle has you doubting whether you’re using your time effectively, then suddenly the end delivers and you’re so happy you stuck it out! Well, my first year of law school followed this same trajectory. You can read all about my 1L experience here. As a blogger, the questions I get emailed about the most often are how to prepare for law school. How to prepare for law school is a hard question to answer sometimes because everyone is different. Some people adjust so well to law school and some people (myself included) find it excruciating at first.

I am here to offer my advice by exploring aspects of law school I didn’t expect. I want to look at law school somewhat candidly and explain what I wish I would have known. I will say, I don’t think knowing any of the things I plan to discuss would have changed my mind about law school, but it would have eased my transition from undergrad to law school.

ONE || You’re surrounded by the best and the brightest. Law school attracts type A people, so be warned that you will be surrounded by a lot of people who have been hard workers and highly successful for most of their academic career. Therefore, because you are no longer the smartest or most hardworking in the room, things can get competitive. I picked a school that I didn’t perceive as very competitive. Everyone seemed friendly and I felt like it would be a great place to learn the law. My school remains mostly non-competitive, but just remember most law students are a little competitive by nature, so the competition rears its ugly head in various ways, and doesn’t’ always come in the form of academic competition.

TWO || It’s okay to study alone. I spent the first semester of law school buying into the idea of a study group. Study groups work for some people, but they don’t really work for me. I prefer to learn on my own then review with people. I don’t ever rely on others to learn information then teach it to me. I have friends who did study groups and loved them, but it’s completely okay if this method of study doesn’t work for you!

THREE || Some people are rude. This is by no means law school specific and I’m not implying I was ignorant to this fact before law school. However, I think I assumed (I know, bad idea) that by the time people got to law school they would be nice or at least have the grace to be kind. Stress can turn some people into different versions of themselves, and sometimes that means they become a little mean. If you’re new to law school and you notice someone being rude for no reason or they make you feel uncomfortable, unhappy, or inferior, just go ahead and run in the other direction. You don’t have to be friends with everyone. Treat people with respect, much of law school is working to build a professional network, but if you know someone isn’t your cup of tea, spend minimal time with them. One of the toughest adjustments for me in law school was how polite, but not friendly people were. Yes, everyone was polite, but Californians are pretty friendly people so I wasn’t used to people coming off as regularly uncaring or disinterested.

FOUR || Law School habits vary and it’s unclear which are good and which are bad. I used to have a bad mentality about school. I thought I knew how to do things best, and if someone had a different way of studying, they weren’t going to do as well as me. This mentality ended in high school, but it still astounds me how many people don’t have to study or work hard and still excel. I’m someone who always has to spend a few extra hours studying something. Once I “get it,” it’s committed to memory and I won’t have to re-learn it, but the learning process hasn’t been something I’ve just floated through. You may be tempted to get annoyed by people who you feel aren’t studying enough, but just know everyone works a little differently and it’s not your concern.

FIVE || You’ll probably feel unsure more than you feel sure. Very few students feel sure all the time. Maybe the top 10%-ers feel like they have a firm grasp on law school, but most students feel tired, unsure, and laugh at the utter misery that is law school. Now, when I say misery I don’t mean law school is miserable. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s tiring. Yes, it’s a lot of work. However, most law students bond in the sort of amped up agony we endure in a semester. When you’re walking to class and groaning about the huge cup of coffee you need or how complicated a case was or how tedious a writing exercise felt. Law school is hard but part of the bonding experience is bonding over how hard law school is.

SIX || Forming strong relationships with professors may require work. This may vary based on law school, but at my law school we have blind grading, which means how much you participate in class won’t affect your final grade. The blind grading aspect allows many students to fall victim to the social media browsing in class or falling behind on the reading. While cold calling is still a factor, most students only participate when they are called on. If you raise your hand a bunch, you risk being deemed a gunner. It’s really a lose lose. However, there are ways to build relationships with professors out of class. If your professor offers semester lunches, sign up for one! If you have questions, go to the professor’s office hours. Seek your professor out outside of the classroom. I think becoming a person, and not just another face on the seating chart is the best way to ensure you’re building rapport with the professor.

Okay, I could give even more items of things I wish I had known, but I think I covered the areas I was most surprised by in law school. I expected cold calling, I expected it to be hard, and I expected to meet people I really liked. While you cannot anticipate every curve ball law school will throw your way, I hope the areas I covered will offer a bit of insight into what’s coming.

Truly,
Callie leigh

Law School Pedigree

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Hello, World.

I remember when I used to spend hours pouring over books about various colleges. Then when it came time to apply to law school, I spent an embarrassing amount of time researching law schools. A large part of looking at schools was trying to find the place that was the best fit. After all my research, I landed on the right school and started there in the fall. However, when the new law school rankings were leaked, and my school dropped a few spots, you’d have thought a war began with how much buzz and administrative attention the new number received. I couldn’t help but think, ‘Is this really that big of a deal?’ But at the end of the day, law school rankings exist and they seem to matter to some people. However, I asked Camille of the Tumblr blog Lawyering in Lilly to write about law school rankings after I realized she decided to keep her law school private because she was receiving hateful messages regarding her law school. She’s written for Bottled Creativity before here. Below are her thoughts on rankings.


Law school pedigree. If you’re a law student or are planning on embarking on the law school journey, you’ve probably heard the term. Is it really true that where you go to law school determines your future rate of success or that going to a lower ranked law school isn’t worth your time? I suppose that depends on who you ask, but as a third-year law student at a lower ranked school, I would say that that couldn’t be further from the truth.

While there is no doubt that higher ranked schools have their reputation for a reason, an education from a lower ranked school can be equally as fulfilling. One important note about legal education is that it is widely the same across the country. Most students finishing their first year of law school will have a similar experience, whether they attend Harvard or Yale, or a school with a less reputable title. They will likely all have taken the same courses – Torts, Property, Civil Procedure, Contracts, and Criminal Law (with some exceptions, as some schools choose to teach Constitutional Law during the first year instead). They will likely all have a war story to tell about a cold-call session gone wrong. They will all likely be able to recall several sleepless nights before a major legal writing assignment was due, or the clammy palms and cold sweat before their first oral argument. They will all likely know what it feels like to venture into the unknown, to study for finals not knowing what to expect, and to drastically change the way they think about life.

Attending a higher ranked school comes with a great deal of opportunities and an inherent reputation. For big law positions, law students attending lesser-known schools might be glossed over, their resume tossed aside in favor of one with a GW, Columbia, NYU, or Stanford label. Working hard at a top 25 law school could mean that the world is your oyster upon graduation.

But there are benefits to attending a lesser-known, lower-ranked school – a less competitive atmosphere and more opportunities to do well being two benefits that I have found. I am first to admit that while graduating college with honors and multiple degrees, scoring decently on the LSAT, and having a well-rounded resume, I don’t think I would be as successful at a top school as I am at my own school. I have had opportunities to become a member of the Law Review Executive Board, the Moot Court Board, and have my writing published, things that probably would not have been possible at a school that is much more competitive.

More importantly, I found myself to be better prepared for my summer position than my other peers who attend a more well-known school. While I had experience writing motions thanks to my first and second-year legal writing courses, my peers had only written memos. I also learned that, while I would spend my third year working out in the field through my school’s externship program, my peers would be responsible for getting into the trenches and finding their own externship, leaving many with little to no practical experience upon graduation. My point is not to brag or put myself above my other brilliant legal colleagues, but to gently remind those who may feel defeated that the grass is not always greener.

Not everyone is able to score in the 170’s on the LSAT, or graduate college in the top 5% of their class, or afford a top 25 law school education. It is important for those who cannot to know that it is certainly still worth going to law school. It is a rewarding experience that will open many doors for you, that will teach you the value of hard work, that will place you among some of the most wonderful people you will ever meet. At the end of the day (or, more accurately, three long years), you will still hold a piece of paper with “juris doctor” imprinted on it. You will still be an attorney, no matter where you chose to go to law school.


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Thank you, Camille! I think her thoughts are great, and I appreciate her reassurance that if you pick a school because you feel it’s the best fit for you, and not because of its pedigree, you’ll thrive. Don’t pick something that isn’t right just because you think its name will bring you more ease in finding a job. Finding a job is important, but so is being happy and loving where you are!

Truly,

Callie leigh

Collecting Qs

Hello, World.

In August I plan to do a Question & Answer post series. I’m answering all questions relating to college and law school! Now, this can mean a lot of things. You don’t have to ask me just about school or classes. Lifestyle questions are ok too! If you want to hear about making friends, eating healthy, or where the best coffee is (and how to know), those are all great questions as well.

Please asks your questions through this Google Form or by commenting below!
Truly,
Callie leigh

Stylish Academic’s Guide to Doing It All

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Hello, World.

I was having a conversation with an alumnus of my law school last weekend, and he mentioned that law associates who come in guns blazing, who charge the highest amount and work all hours of the week won’t [usually] last a year at his firm. Then he mentioned that it’s the same for law school – some students go in so hot that by the second semester, they cannot hang anymore. So, why is burnout such a real problem among young professionals and how do we prevent being one of the shooting stars (this is a How to Get Away With Murder reference, which if you aren’t watching, I recommend you start! So wickedly entertaining)? Well, a lot of not burning out is pacing yourself and preparing properly.

I watched a fellow law student my 1L year constantly stay up until the wee hours of the morning, only to get up early to be able to commute to school. This person worked constantly, rarely taking breaks and sort of overworking himself past the point of efficient studying. There were a few times I watched him fall asleep in class. I mean, if you’re sleeping through lecture, you cannot possibly be helping yourself. Also, if I noticed, there is a high probability the professor noticed considering we sat in the second row. At the time, I just kept feeling like that lifestyle just wasn’t sustainable. When I had my first day of property second semester, my professor, an older man who’s been teaching for years, said something about how last semester was over and the people who did well may do worse and the people who didn’t do well may do better.

Well, burnout was real, and a lot of those people who burned the midnight oil in the library looked so tired and worn out. A similar burnout occurs during finals. People don’t pace themselves, and by their last exam, their fingers flutter over their keyboard at a lag and their eyes don’t stay open without effort. Doing it all can be exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are smart strategies for getting it all done without suffering from complete burnout. So, today I want to offer my guide to getting it all done and remaining intact in the process.

Going back to How to Get Away With Murder for a moment, the law students who are referred to as the “Keating five” seem to be doing it all. They seem to be the top of their class, assisting their professor in criminal case trials, having a personal life, and covering up murders. I mean, the five stars are busy people. One of the interesting things about TV that we all know? It’s scripted and only shows us the highlights. We obviously don’t need twenty minutes of footage where the law students are studying in the library. The fact they study is implied by their status as a law student. However, there could be twenty minutes of footage of someone studying or someone working and it wouldn’t be inaccurate, just boring. Still, those boring moments contribute to the person’s outward success (if the students don’t study, their grades suffer, and ultimately they may lose their status as one of the chosen criminal law students). The boring moments are part of the “doing it all.” The reason we don’t focus on them, however, is because we focus on people’s major moments even though we are well aware that there’s much more that goes into that moment.

ONE || Find something that releases stress. The quickest way to get it all done without killing yourself is having something that you love that doesn’t cause stress. In fact, it shouldn’t be a neutral activity, but an activity that actively releases your stress. If you do not have something that releases your stress, you’ll be too stressed out to get everything done well. Remember, a lot of people get everything done, but they cut corners and don’t always get it all done properly.

TWO || Stay aware of your limits. Become familiar with any limits you have, and stay aware of them. If you know you are not someone who can work on Sunday nights, build a schedule that excludes Sunday night working. If you know you’re not someone who works well with a certain personality type, figure out ways in which working with that personality becomes easier (or figure a way to work with them less). Knowing your limits allows you to better play to your strengths.

THREE || Do what makes you happy. This may seem like an odd tip, but I feel like doing it all doesn’t really mean anything if you aren’t doing what you love. It’s a lot easier to stay vigilant and motivated if you love what you do. If you don’t love what you do, chances are every step on your career road will feel like you’re weighted down.

FOUR || Be selective. You can do it all, but when I say all I mean you can do everything you want to do. If you don’t want to do something, you are wasting precious time. When I was in college, my friend proposed that I try to be Co-Editor-in-Chief with her for the school newspaper. I thought initially, yeah, that’d be a good resume builder. However, after more thought, I realized it wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do and I knew my efforts would be better spent on the things I loved. So, be selective in what you want to do, then do it all!

FIVE || Stay organized. When you’re trying to do too many things at once, chances are something slips through the cracks. So, make sure you have a well-established system of staying on top of your tasks and commitments. For me, I make to-do lists. Loads of to-do lists. To-do lists help me track what needs to get done when. I put them in order of highest priority to lowest priority. I also have a section of things I should get done if I have a really productive day and finish my to-list early.

My final tip is this: doing it all is about preparation. You can do it all, but you want to be sure you’re prepared for what’s coming and that you remain in control of your schedule. If you become overwhelmed, you’ll probably start to let things slide, and your work product is diminished. Stay on top of your life and make strategic moves in your career. Look at things with the big picture in mind (aka do NOT get bogged down in too many details, but don’t lose sight of making sure the details are right). Life is about balance. If you are unbalanced, you cannot succeed because you will not know how to handle a heavier workload, a moved-up timeline, etc. Doing a lot of preparation on the front end will make the end result much better (and far more stress-free).

How do you do it all?

Truly,
Callie leigh