Category Archives: Law School

Feeling Like a Real Student

Law School Update

Today, I’m feeling like a real student. I took the afternoon off work and am at school. I studied in the library, after getting the guys at the help desk to set my computer up to print on the school’s network. Now, I’m studying in the cafeteria, while chatting with my sister on Facebook, and eating Peanut M&M’s.

Too bad this doesn’t pay as well as my regular job. I could do this all year.

Can some explain “consideration” to me? I read the cases, but not sure I understand what it means. But, at least I’m caught up on my reading. I was planning on getting most of it done on Sunday. My legal writing memo took WAY longer than I expected, and then the Katie-thing happened. Didn’t feel like studying after that. I didn’t even start this week’s readings until Monday morning at 8:30.

I was so stressed out over being behind, that I took Monday morning and this afternoon off. I also cancelled my trainer on Tuesday, so I could get home at 8:30 pm, and relax for a few hours before going to sleep. Feeling much better, today.

More on Katie

And, apparently Alex is the heartless cat I’ve accused her of being. I don’t think she has even noticed Katie’s not around. Now, I admit that Katie’d been pretty quiet lately, often lying by herself on my bedroom floor. But, Alex doesn’t even seem to care. I hope Katie took my suggestion and is going to come back and haunt Alex. I also promised Katie that I’d eventually get a new kitten to annoy Alex.

I, on the other hand, do miss Katie. I keep expecting to see her in my peripheral vision.

She really was the best cat, ever.

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Gotta Figure Out This Studying Thing

School Update

By the end of the second week of classes, I was only a little behind. I made a strategic decision that we wouldn’t cover 6 cases in torts, but we did. Luckily, during the break, I was able to skim the two cases I had skipped, so I knew enough to follow the conversation (and probably would have been able to give some kind of answer if I was called on).

This weekend, I had a friend in town for a few days, and it was a three-day weekend, so I put off studying until Sunday night. I read and briefed Torts pretty quickly last night. (I even read ahead.) This morning, I worked on my first legal writing assignment, which took longer than I expected, although I think it’s coming along nicely. Then I did my Contracts reading. I feel like I should try to read ahead in Contracts, since that is the class with the biggest reading assignments, but I wasn’t motivated to read more this weekend.

I need to get more efficient

My reading and case briefing are both getting quicker, as many people promised they would. However, I still feel like I’m being very inefficient. I think it’s because I haven’t found a comfortable study environment, yet. In med school, the studying was mostly reading, and I could do that sitting on the couch. In law school, it’s a combination of reading, typing at the computer, and cross-referencing with another book, the dictionary, or the syllabus. I try reading on the couch, but then have to crawl out from under a lap full of books to get to the computer. Then, I have to get back under the books to continue the reading. Also, there’s only one place on the couch that has decent lighting. It probably doesn’t help that Alex and Katie (who is now strong enough to jump up on the couch) both seem to think that the main reason I’m sitting on the couch is to give them some place to lie down.

I need to figure out a better system. In talking to another friend, I decided that I might try breaking my studying up into discreet blocks (instead of trying to do it all in one marathon) and try taking one or two of those blocks out of the apartment. I feel like I could be more energetic about studying if my physical space were better, although I can’t identify any concrete improvements. There are a lot of distractions, but if I don’t have music or the TV on low in the background, I get stir-crazy even faster.

I’ve also not been great about using my time at school before classes. I try to get there about 5 pm to avoid traffic and get good parking. I usually spend the hour before class eating, or hanging out with any classmates I see in the cafeteria. I need to start using some of that time to review, or read. But, that means I’d have to carry more stuff with me. Some days, my bag is already close to overflowing.

And I don’t think it’s a problem with motivation. I’m enjoying all the classes, and am still excited about school. I’m enjoying the reading, and learning legal research and writing.

Since school is just getting started, now’s the time to get into good study habits. Any suggestions on how to relearn studying as a returning student?

Week One; The Calm Before the Storm

School

I survived Week One! But I was tired. I had Friday afternoon off, and I took two naps to recover. And it felt good. So far, Contracts has been the easier class for me to understand. The cases can be hard to follow because there’s often money changing hands in both directions, but the concepts are making sense. Torts is a little more challenging. I think it’s because he’s teaching the concepts in a more global way than she is in Contracts. I’m trying to trust in the process and believe that I’m supposed to feel lost at this point, and that’s ok.

I must be learning something in Torts, though. Thursday evening, I was driving home after school and Taylor Swift‘s song, “Mean,” came on the radio. I heard the line: Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me. I immediately thought, “That’s battery!”

Apparently, the first week isn’t just hard on students. It can be hard on professors. Here’s a blog post from Concurring Opinions.

I just got home from the trainer, and as soon as I can lift my arms, again, I’m going to start studying. Today, and probably much of tomorrow, is going to be a study day. Luckily, with Hurricane Irene approaching, there’s nothing else to do.

Hurricane Irene

First we had an earthquake, and now we have a hurricane the size of Europe coming at us. Mother Nature must really be pissed at DC. Someone should explain to her that Congress isn’t even in session, so she should go after them in their home districts and leave us alone. But, I’m prepared. I have water in the fridge, 2.5 cases of Gatorade, food, a gas stove, candles, wine and toilet paper. I tried to buy a flashlight (which I’ve known I should have for a while), but Target was completely sold out! But, I guess I can study by candlelight if it comes to that. It worked for Abe Lincoln.

Actually, we should be fine. DC is expected to get 4-6 inches of rain in the next 24 hours, and winds in the 40-50 mph range. My only concern is the 5-foot-wide, windows in my apartment. My windows face North and East, which usually means I don’t even have rain blowing in open windows. But, the rotation of the storm is going to bring the rain in from the East. As long as the wind isn’t strong enough to break a window, I should be fine. So far, we’ve got nothing but overcast skies. I noticed that off to the East, it is getting darker, and the rain is expected to start within the next hour.

Hopefully the power won’t go out. I was hoping to watch some movies tonight as a study break. Hmm. Guess I should make sure the laptop is fully charged. Might still be able to watch a movie. Just thought of that!

Katie

Katie seems to be feeling better. She jumped up on the couch yesterday. That’s the first time she’s been able to jump up in about 2 weeks. She still slips and almost falls, if she walks too close to the edge. But, I guess the medicine is making her feel better. On a sadder note, when the time comes, I heard about a local vet who does home euthanasia. I may look in to that. That way, she won’t have to ride in her carrier, and can be in her home. And, I won’t have to try to drive home while bawling. But, hopefully that’s still a ways off.

Update on Day 2 and Update on Katie

Katie

Let’s start with Katie. I took her to a new vet, today: Friendship Hospital for Animals. Riding in her carrier is always traumatic for Katie. She cried constantly, while I steer, shift gears, and stick my fingers in the carrier to comfort her, all at the same time. Today, it was also traumatic for me. I was worried the vet would tell me she was in pain and it was time to put her to sleep. I tried to make Alex say goodbye to her, but she saw Katie in the carrier and ran into the living room.

But, the vet was great. I got fabulous service from two vet techs, and a vet who spent quite a bit of time examining Katie, including doing an indirect ophthalmic exam. (That’s where you look at the retina in the back of the eye by using a flashlight and a lens you hold in your hand. It’s similar to using that little light the doctor uses to look in your eye, but a little harder.) They even took her blood pressure. The good news is that she doesn’t think Katie’s in pain. She was active, friendly, and purring the whole visit.

The bad news is that Katie probably has a brain tumor, given that she walks in circles, only turning left, doesn’t seem to see as well on her right side, and she’s getting clumsy. We are increasing her prednisone, which may help with symptoms. We’re also doing some bloodwork and trying antibiotics for some infections, which are unlikely, but would be treatable.

And, as if Katie didn’t have a traumatic enough day, we had a 5.8 magnitude earthquake this afternoon! I was at work and it took a while to realize what was happening, as I’d never felt one before. After work, I had to go to class, but luckily my friend, Noel, lives nearby and was able to come and confirm that nothing had fallen and crushed them. I just hope we don’t have another one on the day I have to take Katie back to the vet.

School

Day one was pretty good. No one cried. No one was embarrassed by the professor. I felt like I was following the conversation, contributing, and learning. It was a long day, as I had class until 10 pm.

Day two wasn’t quite as great. I followed most of the conversation in Torts, but am not sure I understood the last 5 minutes. If a jury finds substantial certainty of an injury, what roles does the defendant’s limited capacity to see the substantial certainty play? Huh? Maybe I just couldn’t follow it after 2 hours sitting in an overheated room. Hopefully, it’ll make sense Thursday.

Then, I came home and did almost 3 hours of reading for tomorrow’s Contracts class. I’ll finish that reading, and try to start and finish Thursday’s torts reading, tomorrow morning. I won’t get much done tomorrow evening as I have the trainer after class.

It’s day 2, and I am almost behind with my reading! This weekend, I am really going to have to try to read ahead for the next week. That way, I can come home afterwards and review, rather than having to read ahead each night.

Oh well. At least I am finding the material in both classes interesting and am still excited to be there.

Two days down…

Day One: I Survived

I survived the first day of law school!

I survived! Yeah! Only a little over a thousand more days to go!

Actually, it wasn’t as bad as the rumors made it seem. I’m sure they are taking it easy on us, but most people seemed to be following the discussion and contributing. More importantly: I followed the discussion, contributed, and felt like I learned something (e.g. the difference between expectancy damages and restitution damages). No one was embarrassed in front of the class. No one left the room crying. Not even as tough as Legally Blonde; but, maybe that’s because I’m smarter than Elle Woods.

In our first official class, people’s personalities became evident very quickly. Some students ran for the seats at the front of the room. Some of us (yes, includes me), sat towards the back. Some of us took notes on paper. Some used their computers and spent more time on Gmail than taking notes. On Wednesday, we’ll do a seating chart, so where we are sitting is where we will be for the rest of the semester. Finding a good neighbor is a lot of pressure.

We also had Legal Rhetoric last night. The professor is an adjunct professor, and seems like he’ll be pretty good. He seems nice, has years of experience in legal writing and doesn’t seem too be overly strict. The problem with that class is the fact that we have assignments due almost every week. And the grading is tough. If they find four proofreading errors, they stop grading and return the assignment via email. You have 24 hours to correct and resubmit and it’s a 15% grade deduction automatically. That’s even for “drafts.”

I got home about 10:15 last night and didn’t feel like doing any reading, so I need to read 30 pages or so tonight in order to not be falling behind already. That’s going to be the challenge.

Katie Update

Thanks to everyone for the kind thoughts. Katie has an appointment with a new vet at 10:30 this morning. And thanks to Michael for the vet recommendation.

Law School Orientation Update

We’ve had two days of orientation activities so far.  The first day was a basic introduction from the Dean and some faculty, followed by a part-time student reception. I’ve met several of my classmates so far, and even remember some of their names when I’ve run into them, again. Last night’s orientation activity was an introduction to the Legal Rhetoric program, including introductions to the writing we’ll be doing this semester as well as the research. Washington College of Law is known for turning out graduates with very strong research and writing skills.

We’ve heard Legal Rhetoric is going to be tough, and based on the syllabus, they were right. In addition to readings for class each week, there are frequent writing assignments, which look like they’re going to take a significant amount of time. Since my class is Monday night, that means the writing assignments have to be done by the weekend. Then there are additional sessions thrown in to teach us how to do citations (using the infamous Blue Book) and how to do legal research. I try to make myself feel better by trying to convince myself that this course will help me at work, when we need to do legal research and will improve the persuasiveness of my writing.

Tonight is the Dean’s BBQ, and tomorrow, we have a “practice lecture” which includes pre-class readings. Guess I know what I’ll be doing tonight.

I haven’t started reading. I should have. I have 25 pages for Contracts, about 50 for Legal Rhetoric, and six cases or so for Torts (I haven’t looked how many pages that is, yet.) due for Monday and Tuesday. And then more due for Wednesday and Thursday. I’ve been putting off the reading because once I get started, I’m in, and there’s no turning back. Before I get started, I’m trying to get everything else in order, because I think it’s all going to get pushed to the side and I will be completely preoccupied by work and school. So far, I’ve:

  • Paid bills
  • Gone to Costco and stocked up on everything I can.
  • Cleaned and tried to organize/de-clutter the kitchen, dining room and living room.
  • Almost figured out where the university pool is, and printed the recreational swim schedule.
  • Cleaned my big coffee pot
  • Created my LexisNexis and Westlaw accounts

I took the mornings off work this coming week, so I can get used to reading and preparing for school. I was going to take the entire week off, but then realized that I’d start the 2nd week of classes while having to catch up from a week and a half out of the office. (I also took last three days off this week, which is why I’m blogging on a Friday morning.)

Off to do some more errands and then lunch.

It’s about to begin!

So, orientation starts in about an hour and a half. For the part-time students, we have orientation tonight and tomorrow night. Friday evening is the Dean’s BBQ, and then orientation again much of Saturday. I’m excited!

About a week ago, I finally got my Legal Rhetoric schedule. It’s Monday nights from 8-10 pm. That’s going to make for a long Monday, but at least it’ll be done for the week.

Tonight’s activities are mostly general welcomes, learning how to link to the wireless network, picking up the books we pre-ordered from the bookstore, and introductions to some of the student organizations. Tomorrow is a longer session on how to do legal research. Saturday is a mock class, and a part-time student reception.

I took three days off this week. I had scheduled the vacation days it before I learned the orientation activities were all going to be at night, but I figured I’d enjoy the relaxation and use the time to get things together. I ran a few errands this morning, including an early session with my trainer. (Today’s treat was getting into a pushup position, while he stood down near my feet. When I heard the racquetball bounce off the floor, I had to jump up and grab it before it bounced a third time.) Tomorrow, I’m going to make a trip to Costco to stock up on a few things.

Next week, I took the mornings off work, so I’d have more time to do reading and get up to speed with briefing cases.

Last night, we went out for drinks after Restaurant Week dinner at 1789 in Georgetown. I ended up meeting a third-year student from American, who gave me some background on my professors. We will have to see if his assessment was correct.

Ok, time to get a few things done before I leave. I’ll have to write more later.

 

Weekend Update

Not much happening here, but figured I better post something.

Work

This week was busy at work, but felt productive. My boss and my only staff member are out this coming week, so a lot of the time was spent figuring out what I need to cover next week. Hopefully this coming week won’t be too crazy.

School

I took Friday afternoon off to go to the zoo. One of the other First Years (1L’s) suggested a trip to the zoo to meet each other. About ten people showed up. I was the only one from the part-time program. (I guess the rest were working.) It was quite the variety of students, from different backgrounds and locations, but everyone seems friendly. Most of them moved to DC within the last week, so they’ve been busy unpacking, figuring out the Metro and bus system and learning their way around. I’m glad that I don’t have to deal with any of that on top of starting school.

They still haven’t released our schedule for Legal Rhetoric, so I still don’t know what night I’m going to have class until 10 pm. I’m not sure why I’m so desperate to know, other than to start to prepare myself mentally. I hope it’s not Monday. That would be a long start to the week. But, maybe it’d be good to get it over with. They also haven’t released our bills, yet. Not as worried about that!

Life

I have a date this afternoon. First date. From OkCupid. He seems nice. We’ll see how that goes. Have another first date next weekend. Tonight, going out to Remingtons with a few friends. Tomorrow’s a fairly quiet day. Need to clean out the refrigerator and try to organize a few things that are stacked up in the dining room.

Have a good weekend

School Supplies

Now that we have our schedule (and learned that all the Legal Rhetoric sections use the same book), I was able to buy my books. That was about $500 distributed across Amazon.com, the American University bookstore, and some discount bookseller who seems to be the only one capable of shipping the last book in less than 2 months.

I also bought a backpack for about $80. It has seventeen pockets, including a padded computer section with a divider. (I guess that’s so I can carry two laptops or my laptop and my iPad.) It holds 24 liters according to the label. That should allow me to carry giant casebooks for class. I believe it also expands into a two-person tent in case of rain, but that may have been a feature of one of the other 10 backpacks I looked at.

My new backpack

Schedules are out!

The Restatement (Second) of Torts, a highly in...

Image via Wikipedia

So they posted our Fall semester class schedule today, while I was doing my hour-long commute home. Within minutes, the 1L’s (1st-year Law student) Facebook page was buzzing. I immediately logged on and got to my schedule, and …

It wasn’t that helpful. I have Contracts and Torts (which I knew) and I have class Monday through Thursday from 6-8 pm, which was expected. I also have Legal Rhetoric (Legal Writing), but that schedule is TBD. WTF? That’s the class I’m worried about. My understanding is that class will be from 8-10 pm one of the nights, but I seem to recall a rumor that we could end up with a Friday 6pm-8pm class. That would suck!

We’re supposed to be able to link directly from our schedule to the Washington College of Law bookstore and buy our books online. But, that link didn’t work. I briefly did some searching and it looks like I’m going to need at least 4 books for those two classes, but don’t know what I’ll need for Legal Rhetoric. Until they decide what session I’m in, I won’t know the instructor and what they use.

So, the schedule is posted, but didn’t really answer the questions I still had. Oh well. I guess that information will come out in a few days.

But, it is exciting that the start of school is getting closer. I’ll soon be able to buy my books, will have my reading lists, and will soon be a real law student.

God, I hope this wasn’t a mistake. 🙂