I’m Back. Graduated, Barred, and Plus One. What now?

Confession time. When I drafted my last post, I was actually pregnant. My second little trooper joined us in April of 2013 (Yay!). Needless to say my last year of law school was an absolute whirlwind. I had the great privilege of studying for the bar with a 3 month old and very little sleep. Things are finally starting to settle down now.  Last year I both graduated from law school and became barred in my home state. I am officially an attorney* now. My second trooper is one year old and I am currently studying for a second bar in another state. The plan is to keep my options open down the line.

I’ve learned so much the past 4 years; I had a growth spurt. Originally, my plan was to document my journey through law school. But my journey became so arduous and time intensive that I could not find the time to document the experience anymore. I cannot yet say that I have arrived at my destination. I simply arrived at a spot where I am able to continue my documenting.

Becoming an attorney is actually just the beginning for me. I will say that I am very grateful for where I am right now. I am married to the love of my life, which I met at law school. I have two perfect children, and the job of my dreams in a profession and practice area that compliments my skill set, desire to learn, and my fluid, ever-changing goals.

My partner and I, having both chosen the same high cost profession, happen to be loaded up with a little bit of debt. (ok it’s actually a lot of debt). My plan for the next four years is to liberate us from these shackles and continue to find joy and meaning in our lives. “What does that even mean?”, you ask. Well, right now it means that we will be making some big sacrifices to pay off our debt a la Mr. Money Mustache. Stay tuned.

 

* What is an attorney, anyway? (blog post forthcoming)

Off the radar

I’m back. The past year and a half has been a whirlwind. I told myself that I would blog but it has been impossible to keep up with anything. So I make no apologies, but still hoping to document what I can.

Well, I’m a 3L now. To properly document my journey, I will try to sum up some events that happened during the last four semesters.

1L Spring

I started dating this person… he became my best friend. I was still struggling to keep up in my classes and hold down things at home.

Summer rising 2L

After having received three offers, I accepted an offer to work at the in-house legal department of a very large telecommunication company. This was actually a very worthwhile experience since I learned that in-house counsel actually work very hard. I also worked with someone, a law school acquaintance, who I thought was my friend but really turned out to be a really selfish, reckless person who is no longer in the legal profession. He did graze the pages of the ABA journal and the legal gossip blogs before making his way out.

Fall 2L

Quite possibly the worst semester of my life. I traveled to Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Tampa, Miami, Harrisburg, and D.C. to sit for over thirty interviews to search for a legal job. At the end of the interview season, I was fortunate to receive nine callbacks and three offers. I got a job, but mostly did poorly in my classes.

I really lucked out. I am infinitely grateful for my partner’s support.

Spring 2L

I made the mistake of taking 16 credits and becoming the Editor-in-Chief of my journal. Sometimes I went days without showering.

Summer rising 3L

This was a very difficult summer. I had significant tension with my child’s father. He was going through some personal things and decided to make me his emotional punching bag. My partner was studying for the bar. I was working 70-80 hours per week. My mom, who I was staying with this summer, had extended family at her house. It was too busy to be relaxing when I wasn’t working. It was probably the most difficult summer of my life.

The best part of the last eighteen months or so is that I received a job offer for when I graduate. I am part of the lucky few that has an offer.  I know way too many law school peers who do not have an offer. At fear of turning this into a gloomy post, I will say that I probably would have reconsidered my decision to come to law school if I realized what kind of a risk this was. Nevertheless, all is well that ends well. Right? On to Fall 3L. Four down, two to go.

One down, Five to go

I haven’t written in over two months. Where to start. After October, The semester got harder and harder as the weeks went on. I remember taking trooper to a few Halloween parties. I remember family visiting. Apart from one or two outings the rest of my time was devoted to just keeping up with the assigned readings. Keeping up became such a challenge when Trooper caught a stomach virus, house chores piled up, and all-nighters induced me into developing a caffeine and sleeping pill addiction cycle; eventually my juggling act became an exercise of avoiding the greatest damage with each decision I made. I don’t know what motivated me to assume this hardship. Whatever I was avoiding must have been bad because the weeks during and leading up to finals were the hardest weeks of my life.

I don’t know what my grades were. I just feel lucky to have gotten through it. After all my finals were done and my classmates were out celebrating their freedom, I received an email from my writing professor that my legal memo needed to be rewritten. Law school would inevitably pour over into my Christmas break. Also, during a crazy moment (because I must have lost my mind) I decided it was a good idea to sign up for a January term course. This means my winter break will be 1 week shorter. In addition, I am doing some probono work that requires me to be certified and the certification process will also consume more of my break. All-in-all I’m betting that what is left of my 2 week winter break will be consumed by all of the errands I pushed into the back burner and need to start addressing.

But at the end of the day, my first semester is over.. and I heard its supposed to get easier… can’t really imagine it being any harder.

 

I still love it here

This will probably read like random sentences thrown together.

It is 34 degrees outside.I love it here. Not the temperature. But the leaves are red and yellow. I’ve never seen anything like it. Where to start?? Trooper was stung by a bee yesterday. He is ok, I applied ice, toothpaste to dry out the venom and some Benadryl. We are going to a Halloween festival today in the downtown area. He will be spiderman this year. He’s excited. Two weeks ago he had a stomach virus. He threw up 6 times in one day. The SAME day my 8 page paper was due and the SAME day I had a midterm. Yes that was an interesting day. But like many days… we got through it.

My family is coming to visit next week. My schedule has been insane.Last week I fell into a small rift of depression. I haven’t been out in so long. I’m feeling kind of lonely…. I’m having trouble keeping up with my assigned reading and I have a 20 page paper due next week. finals are officially 2 months away and I am not anywhere near where I need to be. I really wanted to focus on reading some E & Es and hornbooks. But where oh where to find the time??

Taking a step back from it all. I’m still happy to be here. I still feel lucky to have given a chance to start over. The people here are generally very friendly. And there are a few people I’ve met in DC that I keep in touch with online.

I am officially half way through the semester, and really just trying to hang on. After this 20 page paper is due. I want to complete my outlines and focus on taking at least 3 exams a week.

Got to run, trooper has tennis lessons and its breakfast time.

Quickie

Ok I have no time to blog but since I promised i would I will mak ethis a quickie.

  1. I have a midterm next week. its ungraded but I am treating it seriously with supplements, outlining and rereading of GTM.
  2. I’m missing 3 classes next week to fly to Miami to finally divorce the world biggest asshole. <this is the win of the year>
  3. I’ve made more progress on “finding” myself this past month than I have the last 3 years.
  4. I’m happy. Tired but happy.

sleep time.

Study Strategy

I just had my first 3 days of law school. I read diligently over the weekend ahead through my classes for Wednesday. When I say I read, I mean my case books and assigned materials. Which ate up most of my weekend. Thankfully my mom is staying with me and watching trooper while I stay late at school. By late I mean 7pm. I stay till 7pm everyday including weekends and I come home to find a hot meal ready for me. Thank goodness for moms but I know she is leaving on Thursday and I will not be able to stay in school past 5pm daily (and only on weekdays) because I will have to pick up trooper from school.

Knowing this is forcing me to rethink my study strategy. The schedule I posted here is the time I have devoted to law school but am I using my time most efficiently? Would a strategy focusing less on casebooks and more on supplements (E&Es and hornbooks) serve me better? I feel like I’m taking a serious gamble. a $200,000 gamble. But I can also sense that reading these casebooks just isn’t enough. I feel inclined to go out and buy all e&es and hornbooks and read the rules and relevant laws according to casebook outlines. Not really sure if this is more work or less. I’d focus on wikipedia’ing the case, read maybe the judge’s note and 1 dissenting opinion and focus on the law per e&e as referenced here.

I definitely need to reread LEEWs and GTM. Its only been 3 days but I feel like I’m losing myself in the minutia of the details of these cases. Interesting stories but how much of this is actually on the exam?? I started looking over a few exams today. I am not convinced that just reading the cases all semester will put me in a position to stand out on these exams. Just read this article and it suggests CALI. Which I’m trying starting this week.

Also, xeoh85 suggests reading assigned reading and cases first and then turning to supplements. Which seems much less like a gamble.. except… am I really going to have the time to get to all of time as a single mom?

Obviously I need to do the best I can. Here goes week 2…

My New Life

I have a new life now. I have a new life now. And saying it out loud is surreal. I left Florida. The state where I was born and raised. I did something crazy, something no one in my family has done, I left the state! And while I have both positive and negative things to say about South Florida,  that was another life. Another me. I am a different person now. I can feel it.

I’ve been here for just under 10 days but my old life seems an eternity away. I’m not quite certain how I lived the life I did for so long. On a treadmill, not growing. Pursuing endeavors half assed because they fell short of my passion. I didnt really feel motivated by anything.

In contrast, now I wake up with passion, with purpose. This week was my first week of law school. Where I live the dream I’ve had since I was a child. It seems naive and idealistic, but it is amazing to know… that even after everything I’ve been through.. the short cuts, the scenic route, the off streets… I still ended up where I knew I wanted to be.

My first week has been pretty challenging. I’ve missed out on many social events with my peers. I’ve struggled with keeping up with my courses, fighting off my nerves when I get called on in class… and even though its early in the semester, I’m not getting a whole lot of sleep. At first it was because of an imagined spider invasion in my apartment, then fear of getting singled out in class… and alas fears of inadequacy and falling behind.  I’m still  learning my way around this new city. The mountains are breath-taking.

I’ve also met other parents here in the city during Parent Teacher association meeting for trooper’s school. HE starts school next week and I intend to be very active in the local school.

All in all I feel like I’m finally on the right path. Where so many decisions in my life are making sense. I feel blessed by the universe. I would not change a single thing. Not trooper, not my choice of school, location,  not my past, not my relationships, including my decisions to start and end them.

School totally kicked my ass this week but I’m grateful, so fucking grateful.

Roam

WHEREVER I MAY ROAM

…And the road becomes my bride
I have stripped of all but pride
So in her I do confide
And she keeps me satisfied
Gives me all I need

…And with dust in throat I crave
Only knowledge will I save
To the game you stay a slave
Rover, wanderer
Nomad, vagabond
Call me what you will

But I’ll take my time anywhere
Free to speak my mind anywhere
And I’ll redefine anywhere

Anywhere I roam
Where I lay my head is home

…And the earth becomes my throne
I adapt to the unknown
Under wandering stars I’ve grown
By myself but not alone
I ask no one

…And my ties are severed clean
The less I have, the more I gain
Off the beaten path I reign
Rover, wanderer
Nomad, vagabond
Call me what you will

But I’ll take my time anywhere
I’m free to speak my mind anywhere
And I’ll never mind anywhere

Anywhere I roam
Where I lay my head is home

But I’ll take my time anywhere
I’m free to speak my mind
And I’ll take my find anywhere

Anywhere I roam
Where I lay my head is home

Carved upon my stone
My body lie, but still I roam
Wherever I may roam
Wherever I may roam
Wherever I may roam

Recap

The last few weeks have really been a whirlwind. But I figured in the interest of documenting my journey I’d report the mess that my life has become.

-Work
At work, we have had a series of turnovers that have shocked the system. Mistakes left and right. What can I compare it to? A toddler with a box of toys. He tips the box and the toys scatter on the floor. As the mother frantically picks up the toys to set them back in the box only to find that when she turns her back the toddler tips the box and the toys scatter across the floor anew. I reached a new level of frustration before I finally decided that ITS NOT MY PROBLEM! Even the new president has told me in the past that he doesn’t understand why I continue to hold on.

So…. The past week I’ve practiced at disconnecting myself. The problems just keep getting worse and I’m choosing to walk away. I can’t be everything to everyone. Founder of the company passed away 5 months ago and I am mother to only 1 toddler. (Who is a toddler no more, thank god) He is the one I need to focus on.

Prep
Finished LEEWS. Finished Law Preview (LP). And I want to read thru GTM a little more carefully this week. I think I’m beginning to understand the mystique of law school and I’m really not that scared or worried about it anymore. I am giving it the respect it deserves. LP sent its students a law school calendar to follow each day during the fall semester. The schedule has its students doing 12 hrs worth of work a day including classroom time except fridays (6 hrs). 56 hours a work week and an adtl 8-12 hours on the weekend.  So I’ve been formulating my own schedule that I hope to fine tune once I get my class schedule.

Mon-Fri
Awake 7am
Trooper school 8am
Law School 830p-500p
Trooper school 530p
Dinner/trooper time 600p-900p
Law School HW 930-1130p

Sat-Sun
Awake 8am
Law school hw 830-1230
Trooper Time 1pm – 7pm
Law school hw 730-1130pm

This schedule gives me 10 hrs a work day and 8 hrs per weekend day. 66 total hours of study time during the week. Still leaving plenty of time for trooper and I. It is not a significant change to our schedule right now and trooper is happy with it.

My intention is to front load my semester, take my notes during reading time at night, read between classes, and only fill in the gaps of information during class. Attention to professor style and nuggets.  Finish my outlines early and practice practice practice exams. I’m excited about the fact that I have a plan of action for law school. I never worried this much about college. I dropped out of high school did my GED and still finished top 6% of my undergrad class (T50) with hard work. No plan of action.

Anyway, I’m just not worried about it anymore. My 1L social interaction will consist exclusively  of trooper time and interactions with other moms and I’m perfectly ok with that.

Family
Well my relationship with my ex has gotten a lot better. We are friends. And I’m going to miss him when I leave. But I’ll call him everyday as part of my trooper time so trooper can talk to his dad. We will not be back until December.

Oh and I recently got into a fight with my sister. During my niece’s first birthday I did the same shit I always do (nothing). Same shit I did during the baptism and during every other party my sister has had. (Wedding). I was just a reg guest. Well apparently I was supposed to divine that it was unacceptable this time around and she said she was disappointed in me and a lot of other hurtful things. I realized that I just can’t please everyone. Decided to cancel this ridiculous going away party that her and my mother were planning and plan my own thing according to what would make me happy. I have nothing else to add to this except I just want to leave this city. I have zero expectations of anyone in my life yet I am the unfortunate benefactor of unnamed expectations and no matter what I do I manage to disappoint… I have so much to write about disappointment.. but I’ll end it here. I cant seem to express what I’m feeling without dragging the past into the light.

My response is to distance myself. From her and everyone else.  I love them and always will. But they are the source of much heart ache, drama, and frustration. Oh and I’m tired of living in the closet.

-Moving
I’m moving in 2 weeks. Fucking finally!

I haven’t packed anything but I’m going to buy boxes this weekend to pack up the bathroom. I’m not really bringing anything. Just my clothes, trooper’s clothes and some bathroom stuff. Buying all my furniture brand new. Lease starts August 11th and on friday after reviewing my lease I realized it starts at 4pm. So I’ve had to change around my entire trip.

My LEEWS Assessment

What it is:

LEEWS stands for legal essay writing system. It is 8+ hours of law school exam tips and a demonstration of a method for approaching law school final exams.

The Verdict: WIN

Obviously I have not applied the principles taught but I intend to work my 1L studies around the LEEWS method. I can see how the issues and suggestions brought up can be helpful. Most importantly, it has given me direction. My biggest fear as a 1L is to figure out in November that I’ve been spinning my wheels.

Notes:

I casually jotted some notes that I thought would be useful for me in recalling some of the important lessons emphasized. I intend to listen to LEEWS once more (a couple of weeks into law school) and will probably reference back to this post for some guidance.

LEEWS (short version) Notes

    • Step 1 – The planning phase
    • Conflict paring, who is against who, and what does each side want?
    • Step 2 – assign legal issues to the conflict pair
    • Step 3 – UBE list and analyze each element
    • BRIEFING METHOD: More thinking, less scribbling. Write less. But pursue cases further, read dissenting opinions and similar cases. 2 sentence breif.