The adventures (and non-adventures) of a marginally seasoned attorney.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Color-Coded Tabs

There's a general belief that third-year law students are apathetic.  And you know, I don't think that's a fair assessment.  I honestly don't think we're "apathetic."  I think we're "fearless."   While the 1Ls are stressing out, spazzing out, freaking out over academics, we're taking it easy and enjoying the ride.  Why? Because after surviving law school this long, we're confident that we can handle anything.

Anyway, the differences between 1Ls and 3Ls are especially apparent during finals.  And since I've decided to blog tonight instead of study for Negotiable Instruments, let me elaborate on these differences for you:

Finals preparation
A 1L's Approach: You think that the best way to study is to make an outline. If you're one of the more eager students, you will start your outlines weeks in advance of finals. You buy every commercial outline in the bookstore to supplement your personal outlines. There's a good chance you study with a group of other students. You take practice exams. You grade your practice exams.  If there's something you missed on your practice exam, you highlight it on the outline that you typed out.
A 3L's Approach: Purchase Legalines and give it a good readthrough before the final.

Pre-finals jitters
A 1L's Approach:  The week before to the final, you are very nervous. But you have a healthy amount of confidence, too, as you have studied your little heart out for the past few weeks, and you know you have done all you could.  The day before the final, you start to question that you know enough for this final, and you start to feel a bit ill.  Right before you start your final, you are shaking a bit. Of course, I may have been the only one shaking before my finals 1L year, but that's just because I downed like 3 Red Bulls before each exam.
A 3L's Approach:  You don't know this material. You know you don't know this material.  You know there's nothing you can do about it at this point. So why worry?

Test-taking during a closed-book exam
A 1L's Approach: Don't worry, you memorized your entire outline, so you're good to go.  But you developed mnemonic devices to remember all those tricky parts of the law that can be especially pesky toward the end of your final.  These mnemonic devices come in especially handy during the property exam.
A 3L's Approach: You really think a 3L is going to take a class that doesn't have an open-note exam?

Test-taking during an open-book exam
A 1L's Approach: Just like in the closed-book exam, you have memorized your entire outline.  However, as a backup, you have tabbed your book and color coded it, because you never know what might happen during an exam.
A 3L's Approach: Oh, dang, you may know absolutely nothing about the law, but you sure as heck know how to organize some notes.  You tab your notes. You put notations on your tabs. You color code your tabs.  You put little sparkly things on some of the tabs to distinguish the nuances in the law.  Not that you needed all of that extra stuff on your tabs; you have your tabs memorized.  You know to find everything in your notes, even if you don't exactly understand the contents of those notes yet.

In light of all this, I'd like to give this piece of wisdom to everyone who is stressing out over finals this week.  The law is a very complex thing, and there's a lot of it.  There is no possible way any attorney can know all the vast scope of the law, no matter how much time he spends trying to learn it.  But the thing that makes an attorney great is that even if he doesn't know the answer yet, he knows how to find the right answer for his client.  So if you don't know every answer on your exams this week, don't worry - your value as a lawyer isn't riding on a three-hour test.  Just be confident that you will be able to find the answer in the real world.  And if you need the help of color-coded tabs, that's okay, too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How to pull an all-nighter

I, like most law students, spend my life in a half-asleep/half-awake delirium.  And it's not because I don't have time to sleep. Please believe,  I do, because I'm a 3L and I don't spend time reading for class. I've just developed a nasty case of insomnia over the past few months.  Incidentally, this insomnia may be partly attributed to the lack of reading I've done, because nothing will put you to sleep faster than curling up to a good ol' chapter of debtor-creditor relations.

Anyway, I can't attribute all of my newfound lack of slumber to the lack of reading.  I manage to do or find nonsense things to keep me awake.  And since we here at Incidental Justice are all about helping others, I'm going to share with you some of the things that have kept me awake over the past month.  Because if you're trying to pull an all-nighter, caffeine will only get you so far. So here we go:
  • Galileo's Missing Fingers - So apparently, a couple of Galileo Galilei's fingers went missing after he died.  And then, someone found them in a jar somewhere.  And the jar went up for auction last week.  The couple that bought the jar knew there were fingers in there - and they made the purchase *even though they didn't know those fingers were Galileo's*.  I found this out at about midnight one night. How can you fall asleep after hearing such awesome news? It's not possible.
  • Early Morning Yoga - When I have a 6:30 a.m. class at the HPER, I either am a) SO excited about my workout that I just can't fall asleep or b) SO worried that I'm not going to be able to wake up in time that I just can't fall asleep. Anyway, just convince yourself that you need to wake up early, and I promise you'll fall asleep two hours later than you anticipated.
  • Late Night Toning - Shoot, I just can't cut a break with this whole workout thing.  After sleeping in through my Yoga class, I've gotta get my workout in at some point during the day.  And I usually remember this about 20 minutes before I plan to go to sleep.  You would think that after 30 pushups and 50 crunches, I'd be ready to collapse onto the bed.  Apparently not.
  • The FBI's Most Wanted List - Okay, for the record, I was TOTALLY ready to fall asleep that night.  But then I thought to myself "Gee, I wonder who's on the FBI's most wanted list these days?" And it makes sense that this thought would just pop into my mind, because I've thought about the most wanted list maybe one time in my entire life. Anyway, I moseyed on over to the FBI site to see who was on there.  Sheesh.  If that won't give you nightmares, I have no idea what will.  No sleep for me that night.
I'm running on about 4 hours of sleep right now, so I can attest to the success of this list.  And I suppose I should make a post about "How to stay awake in class and look like you care even though you're about to fall over."  But I'm still workin' on figuring that one out. Happy finals week, y'all.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Oh look, a little old man and some lady with a stroller just passed us

So I ran another 5K today.  And by "ran" I mean "walked briskly," due to the fact that Erin and I decided to stay up late watching trashy reality television last night and got about 5 hours of sleep at best.  And yes, I realize I manage to function at school after getting much less than 5 hours of sleep.  But just because I can technically function on less than 5 hours of sleep doesn't mean that I can realistically do anything more than put on ridiculous amounts of concealer to cover up the circles under my eyes, show up to class, and pray that I don't get called on because I'm a 3L and I don't believe in reading for class.  But that's not the point.  The point is, I walked the entire race.  Which wound up being a good thing, because I'd accidentally left the insoles to my shoes at home. Awkward.

Anyway, this 5K was part of the Route 66 Marathon that's held in Tulsa every year.  And those Route 66 folks know how to put on a show, let me tell ya.  Bands play rockin' music at locations throughout the course.  Police officers direct traffic away from the runners (this is actually a really big deal).  Free beer is at the finish line.  The Route 66 family of races (marathon, half, 5K, 1K) has the potential to be one of the greats.

As we all, know, though, the thing that separates good races from the great races is the quality of the registration goody bag.  So when I picked up my goody bag at the Route 66 expo yesterday, I was giddy like a kid on Christmas morning.  SO EXCITED.  Once I actually looked inside the goody bag, though, I felt kinda like the kid on Christmas morning who asked for a trike and wound up getting underwear. Not that the bag was full of bad stuff.  But whoever was in charge of goody gathering clearly didn't understand her target audience.  I mean, we runners don't really need a flier telling us how employees of the Williams company stay in shape, for example, but that's what we got. And you know, after reading Williams' flier/advertisement, I still have no idea what the company does.  Whatever it is, it apparently doesn't involve successful marketing.

Now to be fair, I get spoiled running races in Northwest Arkansas, so I have high goody bag standards.  I mean you get Tyson to sponsor a race, and you open your goody bag, and it's like "Hey!  A pound of chicken!" Or something like that.  One time I even got a dog leash (not from Tyson, by the way).  Granted, I'd never walk my Yorkie with with a leash that's decorated with bright orange flame looking things.  But it's the thought that counts.

Anyway, in light of this. I would just like to give a very special message to the Route 66 Marathon.  I think you're pretty good, and I really do think you have the potential to be great one of these days.  But first, you need to hand out some free stuff to lure broke students into running the race annually, because your registration fee ain't cheap.  I'd recommend a coupon for Chick-fil-a.  Ice cream is nice, too.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Unemployed is the New Thin

I'm not going to flat out tell you that the legal job market sucks right now. But if employment is something you think you might be interested in, you might want to steer clear of seeking lawyer work for a while.

Anyway, back in the early days of Incidental Justice, I made a list of career options in case this whole law thing fell through. And it's lookin' like that might happen right now. So let's take a look at my 2007 list and see if my alternative careers are still viable options:

  • Journalist - In case you didn't know, I have a degree in print journalism, AKA newspapers. Yep, I managed to get the one degree less likely to get me a job right now than a Juris Doctor.  I suppose I could put my journalistic skills to use by starting a political "news" blog, but if I were to do that, I'd have to make it a right-wing blog because those are the ones that seem to be getting the most steam these days. But it could be fun, spending my day screaming "SOCIALISM!" on the internets.  Plus, no one would expect me to fact check.
  • Housewife - Still can't cook.  Still can't clean.  Still don't date.  Still more likely that I'll wind up as a housewife than as a lawyer right now.  
  • Grad School Student - Hmm, this one's tricky.  As it stands, I can graduate from law school debt-free, wait around until I can find a legal job, and then do odd jobs in the meantime to survive.  OR, I can graduate from law school, go to grad school, do odd jobs in the meantime to survive, and then accrue $60,000 in student loan debts.  Cheap student football tickets are appealing, though.
Now, let me just say that I'm not bitter by the lack of jobs out there.  In fact, I'm not even annoyed by it.  However, I do enjoy eating, and having money makes this whole "buying food" thing a lot easier.  But no worries.  One of these days, someone is going to annoy the heck out of you. You're gonna wanna sue the pants off of them.  Or some other item of clothing that would be less awkward to remove.

Anyway, when that happens, just remember - I'm here for you.  Unless I marry rich.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pork and Beans

Once again, a law firm decided to risk its reputation by hiring me as a summer clerk. I'd love to share random little nuggets of work-related wisdom with you, like I did during my last clerkship. But you know, I think all you non-lawyer folks out there need a proper introduction as to what law clerks actually do. There are two major categories of clerkships, and if you learn these, you'll have a pretty good idea of how most law students waste their summers. 

First, we have what I call the Pork clerkship (and you need to get your minds out of the gutter right now you sickos, this is a family show here at Incidental Justice). This is the country club of summer clerkships. I use the term "pork" because you get paid ridiculous amounts of money for the work you do, and you get fat from all the business lunches you go to. It's quite the deal. You go to happy hours. You network. You kiss ass. You do lots of legal research, but you don't get to do much practical legal work because none of the attorneys there would actually trust you to do anything of substance. If you manage not to piss anyone off during your Pork clerkship, you'll get a job offer at the end of the summer. Congratulations, kid who accepted your permanent job offer! You will earn ungodly amounts of money, work 80-hour weeks, and hate your life for the first five years out of law school!

Then, we have the Beans clerkship. Clerks at Beans clerkships do pretty much everything that an actual lawyer would do. They also do everything that a legal assistant would do. And then they have to do a bunch of other random slave work, too. This was the type of clerkship I had last summer, and I absolutely loved it. Beans clerkships are great gigs because you get to learn the entire legal process from start to finish, and you get darn good at the whole lawyering thing. It's called a Beans clerkship because you get paid...... wait for it...... beans. What you lack in salary is made up for in experience.

Anyway, that's what a law student spends her summer doing. I guarantee that every law student who's done a clerkship will attest to the veracity of this post. The small minority that might disagree are the Pork clerks who downed a few too many cocktails at happy hour tonight. But that's just because the alcohol has impaired their judgment. They'll sober up soon enough.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Great moments in note taking

Yes, folks, it's that time of year. Finals are in full swing, and once again, I'm an overly-caffeinated, sweats-wearin', nacho-eatin' happy mess. Believe it or not, I've actually been reviewing my notes quite a little bit. And as I read them, sometimes I think, "Dang, I actually was paying attention!" And other times, I read my notes and just think, "Dang."

Ladies and gentlemen, great moments in note taking:
  • "The people is there, but the property is not."
  • "How . . . la la la."
  • "Draw-er of the will. . . what about that evidence? Wasn't paying attention. . . "
  • "If you has a partner do stuff, your salary is the profits"
  • "[Zoned out]"
  • "If wants to do the flip side, no barried"
And my own personal favorite:
  • "What if she spends half of her time leaving class to vom?"

Happy finals week, y'all.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

O negative

In case I haven't made it abundantly clear in previous posts, you need to know that I'm not all that interested in prestige. Seriously. I got most of that out of my system back in high school. Maybe this indifference to prestige is the result of years of maturing and wisdom. Or maybe I've just become a lazy bum. Probably the latter. But that's not the point. The point is, I'm not going to do something that ranks high on the suck scale just because I think other people will think highly of me.

Now, taking this into consideration, I have no idea why in the heck I signed up for my law school's moot court competition. For those of you who don't know, in moot court, one has to write a big ass paper full of legal arguments and then have a panel of judges rip her to shreds as she defends said paper. Anyway, I kind of hate moot court. But I thought it would be a good idea to sign up for the competition last semester. We (and by "we" I mean the idiots who decided to compete) were told by the the people in charge of the competition that if we didn't totally suck at it, we would qualify for another competition this semester. And then they told us that this semester's competition is "prestigious." I don't know if I buy it. It's probably just some ploy to get all of us egotistical law students to punish ourselves. Apparently, we love that kind of thing.

Anyway, for whatever reason, the judges in the competition last semester thought I wasn't entirely terrible. And why they thought that is beyond my comprehension. Not only was I reading from my notes the entire time, but one of the judges had caught me impersonating him the day before the competition (I am not making this up). Maybe he thought my impersonation was flattering, who knows. But anyway, I was given the option to compete in this semester's moot court nonsense, and, being a Glutton for Punishment, I thought it'd be a good idea to take the bait.

Now, I don't know what has happened in the 1.5 years I've been in law school to suddenly make horrible ideas seem like good ideas, but by gosh, I'm just dazzled by them. I mean, I didn't always make the best decisions in undergrad, but heck, at least there was an element of fun in them. Well, except for that time that I randomly decided to donate blood and then collapsed on the floor as I was walking to get some juice (the nice Red Cross people had to carry me onto a bed and try to get the color back in my face all while making sure I didn't puke on any of them).

That being said, I hope there is something really positive that will come as a result of this B.S. I've inflicted on myself. Maybe I'll wind up having a fabulous time arguing this legal ridiculousness to the judges and be impressive. Or maybe I won't. So long as I don't wind up collapsing on the floor after the argument, at least it'll be more fun than donating blood. But unlike donating blood, I'm not going to save a life when I make my argument.

Maybe I'll save my dignity if I can make myself get back to work.