Monday, April 28, 2008

I Survived!

I survived my first year of law school and feel such a sense of awe and acomplishment! My brain is so numb right now though---numb enough that I don't even want to touch the stack of fiction I have been eagerly awaiting the ability to have time to read. I sat on a recliner all weekend and enjoyed the ability to do nothing, but by Sunday evening I began to feel like I did not even know what I would do with myself!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tips to incoming students....

These past several weeks have been so interesting to me because I have met several admitted students. I have had time to think about what I wished I would have known or things I was glad to have known. Here they are.

1. I am so glad I had knowledge of the basic set up of our government system and how it worked. I watched fellow students who had no background, but degrees in psychology or math, struggle with not only learning "law" speak; but learning basic government structure. I was a poli sci major and the first couple of weeks for me where a breeze. LESSON: Read up this summer on the structure of the US government if you have no background in that area.

2. I wish I would have had a student mentor. Willamette has this program, but I did not utilize it. 2 and 3L's are a source of knowledge like no other. They have slogged through the trenches and most are willing to help you out. LESSON LEARNED: Get a mentor or befriend upper classmen. This way you do not waste valuable time or resources.

3. I wish I would have invested more in study aids. Law school really is about learning on your own. Study aids are a great tool in doing this. I wish that I would have borrowed, bought, or checked out more study aids. Unfortunately, I paid no attention to these nifty little aids until finals my second semester. LESSON LEARNED: Crunchtime is your friend.

4. I wish I would have stayed in touch with my friends. My biggest regret is distancing myself from my friends. During law school, you need as much support as you can get and friends are a valuable source of encouragement, strength and peace of mind. LESSON: Lean on your friends. They won't understand everything that happens to you; but they will understand you.

5. I wish I would have taken hand notes, rather than used my laptop in class. Why? Two reasons. 1) Because if you handwrite, then you transpose on to the computer which translates to repetition and helps in memory. 2) Computer = temptation to surf the internet. Sometimes, especially if the subject matter is boring, the temptation is too much to bare. LESSON LEARNED: Computer good, handwriting better, Internet = bad.

6. I wished I would have talked to more law students before entering law school. I can not tell you how many times I was surprised, shocked, or did not understand how it was really going to go until AFTER attending school. I never understood the significance of the mandatory curve, or what Moot Court was, or about First Year Appellate arguements. I did not know what the first year classes was really like, or what the Socratic method was. I did not understand how scary and intimidating that professors could be (or how nice, or how pontificating). LESSON LEARNED: Research is important; forewarned is forearmed.

7. I wish that I would have taken Legal Research and Writing more seriously. I did not see the importance of this class until it was almost too late. In addition, because at Willamette this is a pass/fail class, you do what you have to just to pass. And in doing so, you cheat yourself of VERY valuable skills, maybe the most important you will gain in law school. LESSON: Even if the class seems worthless, it is not.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Finals Contract Over

Yesterday, I had the misfortune of experiencing the most BRUTAL exam I have ever experience to date in my law school experience. Mr. Runkel, if you read this---CHEERS, you accomplished something no other Professor has done, rattled me.

I walked out of that exam room literally numb------my brain could not function at all. I also walked out and realized I missed a CRUCIAL element of reasoning on the exam. I left out 3rd party beneficiary. So, I think the best I can hope for there is about a B, maybe. Only time will tell.......

Time to move on. Friday is International Law. So, as it stands, 1 is down, 3 more to go!!!!

Approaching Finals.........

Fate sometimes has a sick sense of humor. Friday morning, the last day of classes, I wake up with a sore throat so bad and a fever. Golly gee---apparently stress raises a hormone in your body that then weakens your immune system:) Go figure.

So I finished classes. I weird thing about the conclusion of classes for the semester is that the students applaud the Professor. Interesting thing to do and I have never understood it. I mean are we applauding a job well done; or are we really applauding the fact that this person that either bored us, tortured us, patronized us, humilated us, or in some ways truly entertained us--is out of our lives for a few weeks or months?

Saturday I woke up feeling even worse. Which was terrible because I needed to study. And I had committed to speak on a panel to admitted students. The Admissions office (which by the way are some of the coolest people in the building), put together a preview day. Admitted students came and were treated to a "mock" class taught by a Con Law professor. They also were able to sit on panels to ask questions.

My panel dealt with attending law school with partners or children (or in some cases both). I was the only single parent on the panel and found a lot of people directed questions my way. A wife of a past student on the panel tried to explain what it was like living with a law student. She said that finals week was the worst because students live, eat, and breathe law. That we often are dazed and thinking only about rules and principles. As she is saying this, I realize that yep, I am there but not, and in fact, I am repeating the rules of contract law and unconscionability in my head!!! So true and funny.

Afterwards, there was a fabulous reception including free booze. I refrained from drinking (beer, cold medicine, and head colds generally do not mix well), but I did meet some really cool students coming into the school next year.

What was cool and energizing was seeing their excitement and energy. After a long and grueling first year, it was so refreshing to let their buzz influence me!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Approaching the end of my first year.....

I have a total of four more class periods to complete....and then onto finals. This is such a scary, yet exhilerating thought. I have learned more about myself in the last eight months than at any other time in my life. As I reflect back I am amazed at how hard I was stretched (at times painfully so), how I was challanged, and most of all, how proud I am of my response.

This has been a first year of accomplishments. Surpassing my own goals on grades for my first semester, capturing a job in a division that I wanted, placing runner-up in the First Year Appeallate Competition, and earning a spot on Willamette's Moot Court Board. I have worked hard, lost sleep, and dreamed big.

This is an important testimony for single parents around the nation. It is possible to succeed and excel in law school while having a child. My firm belief is that having a child gives you focus and forces the student to prioritize. The student becomes creative and thinks out of the box in problem solving, both in the classroom and at home.