Monday, May 15, 2023

What I’ve Learned in Law School: Advice, Tips and Random Facts

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I have learned too much to put into words both about the law and about myself these past three years. It’s been a wild, long, tough, yet rewarding three years. I’m looking forward to graduation next week.

I’ve been compiling this list during my last semester of law school.

Here’s a quick summary of some random things I learned in law school and things I wish I knew.

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-       You don’t really learn anything in law school. You learn how to think, but not how to practice law. 

-       My time in law school was the most stressful thing I have ever experienced. It took me a while to figure out how to deal with my stress.

-       Don’t just study the material, do practice questions to study!

-       You are called “1L”, “2L” or “3L” based on what year you are in.

-       There are two types of attorneys: litigators (attorneys who go to court) and transactional attorneys (who write wills and contracts).

-       All attorneys are obnoxious, some in a good way and some in a bad way. We love to talk about ourselves.

-       Buy a laptop stand. Your neck will thank me.

-       Lexis+ Rewards. You can earn points and redeem them for gift cards to your favorite stores or for actual prizes by using Lexis every day. 

-       Law school gets easier overtime. You will get the hang of it and adjust to it.

-       Do an externship! You can read more about externships HERE.

-       Find at least one professor you love in law school. Find someone you can connect with. You always need someone to write you a letter of recommendations or you always need someone who knows the ropes around school better than you.

-       Trial attorneys are actors. I learned that during an interview. My interviewers loved the fact that I was in the theater department in high school. It means that I can put on a good show for the jury.

-       CRAC: Conclusion, Rule, Apply, Conclusion. This is the organizational method you will follow to write essay exams.

-       Case briefs: Read how I case brief HERE.

-       Law school classes are on bell curves. Your one and only test, the final at the end of the semester, defines your grade for the whole semester. As crazy as that sounds, remember that the curve does not define YOU.

-       You should take classes in a wide array of practice areas. I took fun classes like national security, social media law, intellectual property, mediation, criminal procedure, in house counsel, and entertainment law. 

-       The saying, the “First year they scare you to death, the second year they work you to death and the last year they bore you to death” is 100% accurate.

-       Rent your casebooks (also known as textbooks) from Amazon. They’re expensive but less expensive if you rent them. 

-       Cold calling is not fun but gets easier. Cold calling is when a professor randomly or methodically calls (as in the professor has a system in which they call on students in a pattern from the seating chart) and asks you questions about the cases you read. You use your case briefs to help you answer these questions.

-       If you ask a professor a hypothetical question, the answer is nine times out of ten: “it depends.”

-       Quimbee is a great resource for case briefs and videos about tough topics. Google also works!

-       All law school professors are attorneys.

-       There are many different types of law. There is law made from the constitution. There is also law made from statutes. And there is law created by the courts.

-       The BlueBook shows you how to cite sources correctly in journal articles and in court cases.

-       Law school students wear a variety of things to class. Some wear suits, others wear sweats. You can really wear whatever. I carried a backpack, like most, and wore jeans and casual clothes unless I was going to my internship or externship after class. 

-       Create a study group! So helpful to bounce ideas off each other and learn how other people think and study.

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-       A memo is another word for an email or a Word Document. It can be sent to clients, but mostly it is used internally. Usually it will look like this:








-       Network with alumni from your school. I signed up to have an alumni mentor through school and he helped give me advice about what classes to take and he even helped get me an externship.

-       The New York Supreme Court is lowest court in the State of New York. It is the trial court.

-       Find a great mentor and/or boss who believes in you!

-       To be admitted to practice in New York, you have to take the Universal Bar Exam (“UBE”). You also have to take the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Exam (“MPRE”) and the New York Law Exam (“NYLE”). You also have to do 50 hours of Pro Bono service and pass the character and fitness evaluation.

-       After your first year you will be invited to compete in the journal competition to try to get on a law school journal. Rumor has it, that the top percentage of the class will be automatically chosen for Law Review and then the other journals will fight over the rest of the applicants. The “competition” isn’t really a competition. It is a writing test. You are given a hypothetical situation and you have to usually write a memo or a letter or something to a make-believe client or boss and analyze the situation. You also have to use the Bluebook and check citations.

-       Outlining is the method of combining all your notes from class into an organized manner. This is how you study for finals.

-       If you are interested in graduating earlier from law school and serving the community, you can apply to join the Pro Bono Scholars Program.

-       Ear plugs are your best friend when taking exams or studying in the library next to a noisy group.

-       Evidentiary Standards: The standard of proof that the plaintiff must meet in presenting evidence to the judge or jury.

-       The Constitution does not limit the number of Supreme Court justices.

-       Keeping your law school scholarship over the years in law school will depend on your grades and what percentage you rank each year. 

-       Everyone will ask you for legal advice after your first year.

-       You are going to graduate and become a lawyer. 

-       The plaintiff is the person bringing the case. The defendant is the person defending the case.

-       Journals are considered a club at school. Being on a journal is a high honor. You can have the opportunity of being published. I was and it was such a privilege. Being on a journal means that I was given academic credit to work on my student note. I was also given credit to edit, revise and check citations of academic scholars and other student notes that were and will be published in our international law journal.

-       I highly recommend getting a fancy interview portfolio. This is the one I have, and I love it.

-       This is how you read a case name if we used this made up case. John v. Smith, 348 F. Supp, 954, 956-58 (1986). 

The parties involved is first: John is the plaintiff’s last name and Smith is the defendant. 348 is the volume number of the reporter that has the full text of the case. This used to be important as cases were published in “reporters” or really big books, now everything is on the internet. F. Supp is the abbreviated name of the case reporter. 954, is the page number where the case begins in the reporter. 956-58 are the pages that are referenced in the article you are reading or the pages your professor assigned you to read. In the parenthesis is the date of the decision.

-       Set boundaries of when you start studying/reading every day and when you stop. It is so easy to get trapped and stressed and work 15-hour days. I think setting a time to start and stop each day makes you be more productive during that time and gives you some sense of relief that you know you will finish at some point during the day and can relax and watch TV. I usually started reading at 7:30/8am and finished my homework by 9:30pm. I always took some time for myself to eat lunch, eat dinner and workout. Every single day! You have to take care of yourself if you want to be successful.

-       Law school is a full-time job. Especially the first year. We had to sign a contract that promised we would not work more than 20 or 30 hours outside of school at a job during our first year of law school.

-       Writing vs. typing class notes. Depends on preference and your professors. My whole first year I wasn’t allowed to type notes in class. We had to handwrite notes and then transfer them into a typed outline to study. It was a lot of work but helped me memorize the material.

-       The bar exam is two days long. 

-       Socially, law school is like high school. There are nice people. There are mean people. There are competitive people. There are various clique groups. 

-       Imposter syndrome is a real thing! But just remember if you are in law school you are ALL smart and you are ALL supposed to be there even if you feel like you shouldn’t be. 

-       Bar prep is 10 weeks of your life. Unfortunately, you have to take a bar prep course to pass.

-       You will graduate law school and get a job! 


Let me know if you have any questions or want to chat about law school!

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