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”
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)”
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”