Today, we’re excited to bring you our first guest post written by a current law student! Katie Clarke is a rising 3L at Carolina Law, and Rachel was lucky enough to teach her during Katie’s very first semester at Carolina. Additional biographical details appear below.
Growing up, I excelled in school because I tried harder than most and had figured out the best way to study to perform well on exams: rote memorization. That changed when I started law school. During the first semester of my 1L year, I spent hours each night reading and briefing cases, ensuring I memorized every last detail. To my dismay, I soon learned that those exact details, like whether a car was red or blue, really didn’t matter to the professor. As a very detail-oriented person (in fact, one of my law school professors gave me the superlative of “most detail-oriented”), I struggled to grasp the idea that the details didn’t matter as much as understanding the big picture (i.e., the holding) and the ability to apply the law moving forward.
In October, with midterms around the corner, most students had already begun outlining, or at least familiarizing themselves with outlines provided by 2Ls and 3Ls. I saw classmates with 100+ page outlines and heard about how they had spent hours outlining, but weren’t even halfway through the material. Needless to say, this was overwhelming. Although I appreciate details, I am also aware I can get bogged down by them and was fearful that I would freeze up during an exam if I tried to using a 100+ page outline. This led me to decide that the “traditional” Microsoft Word, bulleted, Times-New-Roman outline would not be for me. Continue reading “Finding my flow: how I developed an exam preparation strategy that worked for me —guest post by Katie Clarke”
This post was co-written by Rachel Gurvich and Sean Marotta.
As the summer draws to a close, we’re approaching the season of the On-Campus Interview (OCI). Let’s describe the set-up. Typically, on-campus interviews happen after an initial, usually competitive, screening. Students “bid” on a number of firms, and on the basis of their written applications—typically consisting of a cover letter, resume, and transcript, though sometimes also a writing sample and list of references—each firm selects a set number of students to meet with face-to-face.
Now, the mechanics: a law firm sends an interviewer to campus (or, for some schools, a hotel near campus) for a day, where she does a series of twenty-minute interviews that could last a morning, an afternoon, or even all day. Sometimes the firm is interviewing so many people at a single law school that it sends more than one attorney to do separate interview tracks. And sometimes the firms send multiple interviewers who will all be in the room with a single applicant at once. Either way, each candidate gets only twenty minutes to make an impression—and those twenty minutes may come in the middle of a great many other interviews.
Here are ten tips to keep in mind when preparing for and participating in on-campus interviews. Continue reading “Being “On” at On-Campus Interviews”
Today, we’re proud to present this guest post by Professor Danielle Tully (@ldtully), who teaches in Suffolk University’s Legal Practice Program.
Nobody answered our knock on the front door, so we walked around to the side door. If anyone recognizes me, they won’t know me for the white woman I was when I boarded the train. But no doubt Mrs. Coulter would help her look for him, and she was bound to have powerful friends who could get him back from wherever he’d disappeared to.
After reading those sentences, your brain likely conjured a variety of images. In fact, your brain started piecing this story together from the first word—even though the sentences weren’t meant to tell a story at all. That’s because they come from three very different novels.
Why do we do this? According to neuroscientists our brains are wired for stories. Stories evoke strong responses because they tap into memories. Professor Ruth Anne Robbins has likened a narrative’s impact to a pensieve—the magic bowl Harry Potter encounters that enables him to step inside other people’s memories. In the human brain, memories exist in a complicated nested system that is continuously remaking and rearranging itself. These memories evoke strong emotional responses that impact how we understand new information and the decisions we make about it. When writers, both lawyers and novelists, tell stories, they tap into and interact with this system in their audience. Continue reading “What’s The Story: Guest Post by Professor Danielle Tully”
Today, we’re proud to present a guest post by Joe Fore (@Joe_Fore), Co-Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program at the University of Virginia School of Law.
A few weeks ago, Legal Writing Pro Ross Guberman (@legalwritingpro) shared a LinkedIn article posted back in April 2017 about an attempt to give writing advice that turned sour. It’s a tale that can provide some important lessons about giving effective feedback in the legal writing context. Here’s the story: Continue reading “Want to Give Better Writing Feedback? Watch Your Tone. (Guest Post by Joe Fore)”
In college and especially in law school, I remember feeling bitter and resentful about the holidays. Just when it felt like the world was getting festive for everyone else, I was consumed with the approach of a different season: exam season.
This was especially the case during my 1L year, since Harvard was still operating under the ridiculous schedule that had 1Ls sit for their fall semester exams in January. That was about as terrible as it sounds, as I’ve described here. (I wrote more generally about my law school trajectory here.)
But there are ways to make your studying less painful and more effective. Here are a few tips you can use to position yourself for success on your exams and make it through the least wonderful time of the year. Continue reading “The least wonderful time of the year: tips for exam season”
Today, we’re proud to bring you this guest post by Jennifer Murphy Romig, Professor of Practice at Emory Law School.
“A true scientist doesn’t perform prescribed experiments; she develops her own and thus generates wholly new knowledge. This transition between doing what you’re told and telling yourself what to do generally occurs midway through a dissertation. In many ways, it is the most difficult and terrifying thing that a student can do, and being unable or unwilling to do it is much of what weeds people out of Ph.D. programs.”
—Hope Jahren, Lab Girl, Chapter 8
When—if ever—does a lawyer transition from “doing what she’s told” to “telling herself what to do”?
In one way, never. The client reigns supreme, right?
The lawyer cannot “generate wholly new knowledge” for the sake of contributing to civilization like a scientist. This is one essential difference between practicing lawyers and law professors: law professors can identify an issue, explore it, and write scholarship, advocacy, blogs, op-eds, and so on—even if no client would ever pay them to do that.
The lawyer, however, takes clients as they are and does what they need. Continue reading “Telling Yourself What to Do (Guest post by Jennifer Murphy Romig)”
Today, we’re delighted to bring you the #PracticeTuesday Blog’s very first guest post, courtesy of #AppellateTwitter mainstay Lauren Clark Rad, a litigator at Ferguson Case Orr Paterson LLP.
Take a moment to pause and imagine your ideal lawyer or law student. What is her personality like? What is her workspace like? Most likely, the person you imagined is smart, thoughtful, thorough, and organized. She has a desk that is reasonably tidy and a good grasp of what’s coming up on her calendar. There are reasons for that.
Law is a deadline-driven profession. The consequences of missing those deadlines can be severe, even catastrophic. Clients depend on their lawyers to monitor deadlines and make sure they’re met.
Lawyers are human, though, and they span the spectrum of strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are just not born with an innate sense of how to be organized. Over the last decade, I’ve been on a mission to find the organization system that works best for me. In hopes of sparing others that same lengthy journey, I’ve compiled this list of various tools and techniques I’ve used, along with a discussion of their benefits and drawbacks. Continue reading “Organizational Tools for the Disorganized Lawyer (Guest post by Lauren Clark Rad)”
Today on the blog, we’re delighted to bring you a Q-and-A with Katie Rose Guest Pryal (@krgpryal). Katie is a novelist, attorney, freelance journalist, and erstwhile law professor in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the author of novels, including ENTANGLEMENT and CHASING CHAOS, and nonfiction books, including her most recent, LIFE OF THE MIND INTERRUPTED: ESSAYS ON MENTAL HEALTH AND DISABILITY IN HIGHER EDUCATION. She is also the co-author of two popular law school textbooks: CORE GRAMMAR FOR LAWYERS (with Ruth Ann McKinney) and THE COMPLETE LEGAL WRITER (with Alexa Z. Chew). As a journalist, Katie contributes to QUARTZ, THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION, DAME MAGAZINE, WOMEN IN HIGHER EDUCATION, and other national venues.
Katie earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, her law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, and her doctorate in rhetoric from UNC Greensboro. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Terrence W. Boyle of the United States District for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
My questions to Katie are in bold; her answers follow. Continue reading “Dr. Katie Pryal and the Life of the Mind Interrupted”
Unlike many law professors, I only teach 1Ls. It’s a role I relish, in part because I think the first year is a time when good teaching and mentoring can make a huge difference in the life of a law student, and in part because, as I’ve shared before (and again and again), 1L year was far from my finest hour. Between my experience teaching 1Ls and my experience being a 1L, I’ve learned that there are some pretty consistent messages that many first-year law students usually need to hear at about this time of year. That’s why, 1Ls, this post is for you.
So, it’s October. Soon it will be mid-October. Law school probably isn’t so shiny anymore. Maybe you’ve got midterms coming up. Maybe you’ve been talking to 2Ls and 3Ls about how to outline. Maybe you’ve been going to presentations about applying for summer jobs or how to prepare for exams, and, while helpful, they stressed you out because they made you think about The Curve and Everything You Have To Do and How Important Everything Is. Maybe, in anticipation of the end of the semester, some of your classmates aren’t being as friendly or as forthcoming with their work product as they were four weeks ago. Maybe you wrote your first memo and it was much harder than you expected, or the feedback you received wasn’t the kind of feedback you’re used to getting on your writing.
Either way, the newness is wearing off and your nerves may be wearing thin. Here are seven tips to get you through the rest of the semester. (Each of these could probably be their own post; I’ll get more specific about some of them as we get closer to December.) Continue reading ““It’s not so shiny anymore”: 1Ls and the October slump”
You’re a law student who’s found the perfect opportunity—a summer internship, a fellowship position, or a clerkship. You’ve suffered through drafting a cover letter. You’ve squeezed your resume onto a single page (or not, don’t @ me) and agonized over the formatting so much that you never want to see it again. But you’re not done. The application requires a letter or letters of recommendation. How can you position yourself to receive the strongest possible letters from your law school professors?
The good news is that there are steps you can and should take to increase the quality of the letters written on your behalf. The slightly-less-good news is that some of these steps should begin long before it’s time to ask a professor for a letter. Let’s break it down. Continue reading “Recommendations on Letters”