Sunday, August 28, 2005

Thoughts for New Orleans

As i crawl out of my cave that is reading and briefing cases, I realize I am missing a lot of what went on in the world this week. But I am acutely aware of the disaster likely to befall New Orleans in the next 24 hours.

Ironically, because my mother hasn't been through enough in the last several years, she and my grandfather just moved to New Orleans to be near my mother's sister. As in really, she just moved there, bought a house, moved all her worldly possessions and got settled. And I'm worried. She's safe, she and my relatives cleared out to baton rouge this morning and were told to pack enough for "weeks". Lovely.

In any case, I'm thinking of everyone whose lives are intertwined with that city. And praying for a miracle.

Microsoft OneNote for class case briefs... a template, a template!

Giving a shout out to Janine's post about Microsoft OneNote, I've had pretty much the same experience at my law school too. And have converted the multitudes, and I always refer them to this wonderful template designed for law school case briefs that you can download from Microsoft office's site

I modified that template because it didn't have everything that I wanted, or stuff that I didn't. And I didn't want the graphic. And about halfway through the first week, I actually modified the template so that I have different ones for different classes. For example, the rule is very important in Civ Pro, but not all in contracts, because we are always dealing with something that gives rise to a breach of contract. And for my scary Torts prof, I have added a couple of sections that make me pick out what the Ds attorneys argued and what the Ps attorneys argues because he asks that kind of stuff and heaven help you if you are wrong!

Hope this helps somebody out.

Oh, one last thing. I did think about what I would do in case of file corruption or data loss, say in 3 months... so I have a to do item once a week to back up my one note files to my server space on the student server at school. OneNote happily autosaves for you all the time, but I'm not taking any chances.

Edited to add: I take all my class notes on the empty right side of the template, so I have everything about a topic or case in the same place. I'm organizationally anal retentive, so if anyone has questions about setup, email me. I live for this kind of stuff.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I made it through the first week of classes

And am I tired?!? Good heavens! Of course, I attribute part of the exhaustion to dealing with my croupy kid in the middle of the night several nights. But so it is. The long and the short of it is, yes, I'm tired, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE school.

I've got 5 classes, writing, research, Torts, Civ Pro, and Contracts. And honestly, not one of them is a stinker. Don't get me wrong, I've got some issues with some of them, but overall, it's good stuff. So here's the break down.

Writing: Best prof of them all. Hands down. I've only got it twice a week but I remember almost everything that he says because he teaches with anecdotal (read: hilarious) stories. I'm sure when the hard core writing comes in, it will be less exciting, but I am sure he will make it just as interesting.

Research: Meh. It's not bad... it's a library class and I'm kind of a library geek. And in some sort of demented way, I like doing research projects. Which is good because that's what associates do. And this class is only 8 weeks. So hurrah!

Civil Pro: I wasn't sure what to say about this class until today. I like it. In some sort of rule nazi way, I like it. The prof is by far the least socratic, but she does expect you to know your stuff, you do get cold called, but she will actually let you feel good about your answer when you are right, novel idea. The homework is a PITA though. A million and one rules per night. I'm living on the assumption that it will get more interesting as we get more into the subject matter. For those 2Ls and 3Ls here, go ahead and laugh. But a girl's got to have something to look forward to.

Torts: By far the most socratic and most frightening of all my profs. I got picked on the first day, first person. So, yeah, he's got me quaking in my boots. However, for as much as I dread that class because of my fear, that's the quickest 1.5 hour class period I have. It moves and I never stop paying attention. And the topics are pretty interesting. Some ridiculous. But entertaining.

Contracts: I left this one for last because the jury is still out. In some ways, I think this will be the most important class to me as an individual with my value set. So far I have gathered that my prof is the polar opposite of me in every social and political way. And that doesn't bother me. What does bother me are reading her opinions in a book that we have to read in addition to our casebook. She's one of the editors. Generally, I frown on teacher's pushing their published work on students at retail prices, but so it is. Happily, her book is very engaging and with every page I turn, it challenges some of my core and fundamental values. Seriously, yesterday I was reading our assignment for next week and found myself wanting to march right up to her office and ask her 1) if I am understanding it right, because it seems so out of my line of thinking and 2) if she really really thinks and feels that way. I stopped myself from doing that, which was probably a good move :) She's moderately socratic, but class participation is a significant portion of your grade. We'll see how that goes. But I predict by the end of the semester that I will have really challenged my core beliefs and, hopefully, come away stronger and more aware of the opposite side and more tolerant and compassionate because of it.

OK, could I be anymore vague about that paragraph??

Anywho, so that's it in a nutshell. Other non-class specific items of note to me from this week:

  • parking blows big monkey chunks
  • I've got the class jerk in 3 of my classes, unfortunately they're all core classes, so I get to hear his vast wisdom frequently.
  • There's one guy who surfs, IMs and emails in class the whole period, doesn't take notes and then watches Friends on his computer or sleeps when we aren't in class. To that I ask, why waste the money, man?
  • I love, love, love that my school has study carrels that are assigned to you with lockable units to store books. Thank you law school.
  • 8 pm is a great time to do research homework in the library where you need to use books to complete the assignment because NO ONE else is there.
  • I sit on my ass pretty much all day... blech.
  • I do better on my cases when I read all the assignment together and the next day do all the briefs.
  • I will never be "caught up"
  • Did I mention that I'm loving it?
So there it is. Welcome to law school, class of 2008.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

It's different being a mom in law school

Especially when your child gets croup the night before actual classes start. Oy! And DH started his new job that day too... and I realized that I have not set anything up in the event that she is too sick to go to school and neither Dh nor I can take the day off without major repercussions. So, because I am very lucky, mom is flying in. She flies free, so that helps. but we have ot make it through tomorrow. Which is a very good thing. I had a major panic on Monday and really started thinking that dropping out was the only solution. I mean really, I cant miss class for 4 weeks when she gets RSV this winter. But one day at a time, right? Now I'm trying to make a list of people able to babysit, last minute, in the day time, for a sick child. No, I'm not asking too much.

So, in addition to me feeling terrible for the poor little lamb, not getting any sleep at night, etc... I also had the pleasure of being the first person in my Torts class to get called on. Lovely. Let's say that I didn't do spectacularly well, shall we? The one solace that I have in it is that I hope that means it won't be my turn again any time soon. And that really, I have no where to go but up!

I've been working hard to make each minute at school count so that I can be with DD at home while she's still awake and so far it's going. But there is a part of me that worries I'll find it harder to get good grades. I guess we'll see.

And now for something completely different. I really like my writing class. In a really geeky way, I can't help it, but I do. Ask me if I still feel that way in about 2 months when we have a million assignments and I can't keep up with my other classes.

And to look forward to: Wednesday schedule sucks. Hard. I've got 4 of my 5 classes, 3 of which are the core classes on Wednesdays. I'm going virtually nonstop from 9-4. Sigh. Wish me luck tomorrow; I'm going to need it.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I survived intro week, barely.

No actually, it was better than barely. I'm still really geared up to do all this stuff. I've got two orientation thingies left, one tomorrow, and one on Monday. And then class starts on Tuesday, which is good because it gives me some time to get the freaking homework done :)

I had my first exam today. It wasn't graded, just pass/fail. If it had been graded, I think it would have been a c, which really, isn't bad for zero actual instruction in legal writing. At least, it would be a C in my humble opinion.

I'm glad that my law school did an intro to law class all week. i feel like I have already been adequately "socratized" as it were. I'm not feeling nervous about next week at all... at least not from a "worry about being humiliated" sort of way. Nervous about keeping up with all the work, yes. But it'll come, right.

The good news is that I got the writing professor that I really wanted to have and none of the teachers that I really didn't want to have. I bought my books this afternoon, $420 later. Yowza. This is expensive stuff. You'd think I'd have more to show for that kind of money.

So off I go now, to start my civil procedure homework.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

day 2

Can i say that I really like it? I mean, I really really like my class. Our prof was much more into the socratic today and it really wasn't that scary. Really, so what if you are wrong? As long as you are there to learn what's right and pay attention, it's no big deal. And frankly, no one seems to be embarrassed because hey, we are all idiots at this point? right? I loved the mental gymnastics.

So far, I seem to get the tree right, but I am having a hard time figuring out where the forest is and where my tree fits into it. but if that's my biggest problem, I feel like I am doing alright.

the orientation part of stuff stinks though, plain and simple. BORING. Please. Please. Please. Start and end on time because it is such a yawn. At least we do a little class, then a little o, then a little class, etc. Otherwise, i shudder to think of what the consequences can be.

On a smirky note, we were told that we are distributed into "pods" of 5 people...and those same 5 people end up in the same section of each of your classes. Naturally, most classes are so big that you have a good chance of having some people in several of your classes. This was news to me though. i had thought that we would be with the same people in our section for all of our classes. I think I like the pod idea btter. You'll get to know more people that way... anyway here's the smirky bit: after the o session where we learned this i went to ask the dean of finaid something, and another student approached first asking about the pod thing. How the distribution for parity really worked. the dean said it was mostly about gender, ethnicity etc... to keep a diverse group. The guy was really insistent on knowing how gpas and lsats fit in. The dean said it depended. Some groups could all be middle of the road. Some might have stronger and weaker candidates, etc. And then the guy said, oh so I might be in the pod with the dumbest person in the class. Kudos to the dean for not blinking an eye and saying, yes, or you could be with the smartest. You won't know.

Honestly though, this dude clearly thinks that gpa and lsat are the only indicators of "dumbness and smartness" to him I say, dumb ass. And I hope you aren't in my pod...

Monday, August 15, 2005

1st day report

I'm not sure what to say other than that I have to add a stash of Ibuprofen to my backpack stash! Oy! I got a massive headache today, but mostly that was from not being able to drink anything or eat until almost 1, which is about 2 hours after I normally eat. I'm not sure how to rectify this tomorrow. They've scheduled ZERO break time between sessions. I'll figure that out.

So our day was broken up between orientation boredom and nonsense and our Introduction to law class. I like the class. We've got a professor pounding us with socratic method all week, and we can feel free to make as many mistakes as we need to because it doesn't count. At the end of the week, we will also be taking a final exam on the exam software, so we'll see what that is all about too.

So how'd I do? OK. Not stellar, not a failure, but OK. And I'm good with that. There were only a couple of people in the class who really didn't get it. But I think they have more of a listening problem than a thinking problem. Example, when the prof gets done saying to answer only her question and not change the subject or question back a question... um, don't do that. Duh. Or when she says that the issue is always expressed in the form of a question, don't raise your hand 2 minutes later to give the issue and give her a statement. You know, stuff like that. In addition, to the few who needed hearing aids, we did have a couple of scary smart people. People who are either just gifted or who had zero fun this summer while prepping for school. Most of the rest of the class I felt were on par with me, just OK.

Most people were friendly. There were some girls who were clearly right out of college who were already cliquey, but that saves me the trouble. And surprisingly, there were several men who were quite into themselves. Had a lot to say about their "experience" etc... I had to try not to snigger when it was all about "what I did on my summer vacations". But a lot of folks were really nice.

The Orientation part was almost interesting. Which is indeed a grave failing. There were so many opportunities for them to talk to us in depth on information about which we were interested. And instead, they focuses on parking passes, and berated the 5 people (anonymously) who had not yet submitted their official transcripts. I ask you, why subject 150 people to a lecture on the finer points of following instructions in a timely manner when 145 did just that?

The biggest yawn and disappointment was the computer services stuff. I don't know. I guess that I had the unrealistic expectation that I might actually know how to get to my email etc when they were done. And they mentioned a thousand things that we needed to do, but no instructions on how to do it. Sigh. So it is. I'm sure I'll figure that out.

Very exciting news though, one of the Appeals circuit courts is going to be in session at our school on Wednesday. And we get to have a meet and greet with the judges and clerks, attend the session, and have a special Q & A afterwards. In a really nerdy way, I am excited.

Overall, it's all good. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and there's nothing to be scared of you guys! Just be yourselves and it'll go swimmingly. Thinking of you tomorrow, Stag!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

13 hours left...

I just put my DD to bed and as I walked out of her room, I thought "what should I go do now? dishes? more orientation reading? watch a movie?" And then it hit me. I've got to pack my backpack up because I'm going to school, tomorrow! And now, i offiially have butterflies.

So, in an effort to create calm in my soul, here is my list of things to do tonight:

  • Put DDs blanket/nap sheet/Tom (her friendly toy dog) in my car tonight.
  • Make her lunch and get her drinks ready for tomorrow, put in fridge and put her lunch box next to fridge.
  • Find DDs shoes and put by front door (she likes hiding them and it can take 10 minutes to find them sometimes)
  • Put out clothes for DD for tomorrow
  • Put out clothes for me for tomorrow (check to see if blouse needs pressing)
  • Put my shoes by the door
  • Clean out my backpack
  • Repack: laptop, cable, RJ45 cable, notebook, pens, pencils, orientation book, print schedule, water bottle, fig newtons (great snack), school manual for how to get lockers, etc, one highlighter, brush/comb (for pix)
  • Clean out purse so it can fit into backpack
  • Find right lipstick for pix tomorrow
  • Put cell phone on charger
  • tell my hair to go right tomorrow
  • Find parking sticker and get it in my car (think it's in DHs right now)
  • Put backpack by door
That's all I've got for now. Cheers!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Just 2 days left

Can I say that my 2 weeks vacation was WAY too short? If I had to do it all over again, I would have quit 2 weeks earlier. I didn't even have a "stay in my pajamas all day" day. So it is. I'm a mom and a wife; I don't ever own my own time.

In any case, I can't believe it is almost here. Oddly enough I feel more and more calm as the start of school approaches.

On a very happy yayarolly household note, DH got a job offer and took it! hurrah. He starts a week after I do, which is fabulous. And a load off my mind.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

things to do before school update

I spent 2 flipping hours yesterday getting a driver's license in my new state. Lovely waste of time, but at least now it is done.

My desk area is in reasonable organized working order, which is rather surprising to me.

3 of the 7 boxes are unpacked. The last 4 just might kill me.

Went shopping for clothes on monday. I am now on a quest for some brown shoes and navy pants, which I hope to knock out this afternoon. I've also gotten all of DDs fall shopping done and as much of the winter shopping as I can do. Go me, especially since I'm the only woman on the planet hates to shop!

Unexpected delays:
  1. I'll be spending about an hour at some point today cleaning up frozen diet pepsi. DH left TWO cans in there all day yesterday and they had a rather nasty demise. It's not cleaning the freezer that stinks, really, it's cleaning everything that is in the freezer, sigh.
  2. Getting my hair cut in a half an hour. really kind of a scary proposition this close before picture day, but I cannot get it to do anything. let's hope this gal can cut naturally curly hair.
  3. And a fun delay, Dh and I played hooky from real life yesterday and went to a resort where they had alpine slides, zip lines, etc. We got an all day pass and zipped and slid until my eyelids were twitchy. I also have a lovely reminder of the great fun we had... a nasty sunburn. yowza. Please don't let my face peel, please don't let my face peel, please don't let my face peel....

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Only one week left. When did that happen?

So, I was just going over my "todo before school starts" list and realized that I'm not even close to being half way done and I have one week left. So much for relaxing and vegging out before school starts. Cwap.

Last week was somewhat unorganized because we had out of town guests for a few days and then other random stuff that came up. Not the least of which was my daughter being too sick to go to preschool Friday. Sigh. We are "between" insurance right now. My old insurance is no longer active and Cobra doesn't kick in for another week or so. So a) she really can't be sick; we can't afford it and b) what am i going to do if she does her usual zero to pneumonia in three days and DH actually gets a job offer this week? i guess the magnitude of the complications that I am likely to have in school because I have a young child are really starting to get through my thick skull. I mean, if she is still sick or worse in a week... and DH just started a new job, how on earth do I do school orientation? I think I need to find a back up "babysitter" person who can watch DD on days when she can't go to school. There is one woman I know who is currently unemployed that I am going to ask. Let's hope that works out.

Other than getting DD better (and me since I seem to be getting her cold), I still need to buy a few more clothes for school... both for me and my DD. I have about 7 more boxes to unpack. Those are the painful ones where you have no idea where the contents should go and you've really run out of space for more stuff. I still need to organize my home "study" area. We've got a nook in our bedroom that I am going to be using. So far I've got a table top in there for a desk and a little cubby for paper etc... and a lamp. It is still missing something though in the organization dept. I need to get a driver's license for this state. And I need to work on getting nonCobra private insurance, which is really a bigger PITA than it should be. That's about all. Yeesh. If DD cannot go to school this week, I'm not going to get half of this stuff done.

Oh yeah, and I need to finish my orientation assignment. I finished all the reading for the whole orientation week last night. Now I want to go back through, take any pertinent notes and brief the cases. I am REALLY glad that I read the whole thing first because now I realize that there is a big picture in all of the cases they had us read. they were in groups of 2 or 3 related cases. But it turns out the last case actually uses all of the previous cases in its reasoning. I've read several places that suggest that you should read and brief all of the cases for the coming week for a particular class together. I think I'm a convert.

I also have an appreciation for judges who can actually write succinctly. One of our cases rambled and was rather painful to keep track of. Unfortunately it was one of the first cases I read and I started panicking that I just wasn't going to understand. I felt much better several cases later and realized that the judgment I read before was just stinky writing.


Friday, August 05, 2005

A sign of things to come

Why yes, some of the people in my soon to be class already frighten me. Last Saturday, I received my orientation materials, including a booklet containing roughly 5 meaty chapters on "what is the law, briefing, and test taking" and about 10-12 cases. I received an email from the law school this Tuesday stating that someone had brought to their attention that some pages were missing from several cases in the packet and so the law school would be sending those pages out asap. Fine, well, and good.

But then I thought about it for a moment. The pages that were missing were in the last 70 or so pages of the booklet. They were very random... as in you've got to read the cases to see that you are missing something. And then it hit me... Someone had already read the entire booklet, or at least attempted to. I have to say that I am still not completely through the booklet and here it is almost a week later. And, *blush*, I actually didn't notice that one of the cases was missing a page when I got to it. I thought it was bizarre and hard to follow, but it did not occur to me at all to think that I might be missing a page.

I'm going to be the dumbest person in the class. Yikes. Breathe in, breathe out. Start watching the second season of the West Wing from the library... that'll make it all better, right?

Monday, August 01, 2005

stupid questions I have after reading the orientation packet... anyone?

  1. When it says that we should be in business appropriate attire for the first afternoon of orientation because we are taking pictures... does that include a suit coat for a woman? Or a nice blouse would do fine?
  2. When it says we should be in business attire for the "swearing in" ceremony at the end of orientation, does that mean a suit? I thought so at first, but then it said that teeshirts and shorts would not be admitted. In my world that is SO far from being business attire that I wonder if a suit is really necessary?
  3. Should I just bite the bullet and go buy a freaking suit. I really really really don't wanna. I've got a suit... but, uh, let's say it fit pre-baby, shall we? I know that at some point I will have to get a suit, but I didn't think it would be for a while. And I'm not looking forward to shelling out. Thoughts?
  4. Why are they scheduling the last day of orientation like wankers? We have stuff from 10-11:30. And then the ceremony at 5:15. They didn't mention anything about significant others attending etc.
  5. Is the law school picnic Friday night ok for kids? And who the heck do you ask about this stuff?

That's probably about all. For all of my odd complaints, I think they have done a great job prepping us for school. It's an orientation week/intro to law week. We will take an exam on the last day and review our answers to get a feel for IRAC and basically, probably, how bad we stunk at it. The whole week we go back and forth from orientation hoo-haw to the intro to law sessions. Which is really a great way to go, I think. Break up the really boring speeches from a million and one people with some actual, useful info for my law school future.

The nicest feature is that I actually receive one of the books that I need for the whole year as a part of my orientation check in package. Nice. In the mean time, I've got about 60 pages to read for the first day. But it's all pretty interesting so far.