Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Advice to 1Ls: part one

So you've likely started or will within the next week. You're wondering what to expect: of your classmates, of your professors and classes, just how long will it take you to read all of your assignments, if you really need to read everything, how different it is from undergrad, and if you're making the right decision by starting down this path. This is all normal. In fact, a healthy worry will motivate you just enough to work hard without cracking. And without making enemies along the way.

First things first: get friends. I don't mean BFF types, I mean people who are in most or all of your classes who you think there is a shot in hell that you can trust. Exchange phone numbers and emails. This will make it easy on you when in your second week of school disaster seems to strike: hurricane Katrina, child ill with no other childcare, general feeling like you are well in over your head.

Second: decide to take the high road. If enough of your classmates do, you can really make your law school experience far more pleasant. Example: decide from the get go that if you notice someone is absent from class one day, just send them your notes. This will usually start a chain reaction. I thought that everyone in law school did this and was amazed to discover that not only does it not happen... it didn't even happen in the other classes at my school. Also, don't be the class gossip or be too quick to judge. I decided in my first or second week that I had the class ass in 3 of my classes. I didn't. I had a really wonderful person who genuinely, honestly knows just about everything about everything. He was an acquired taste, but no one who got to know him would have said that he was anything but a tremendous fellow. The type who would interrupt his own study time to tutor you on something if you needed help. Bottom line: give everyone a break and they'll give you one too.

Third: Don't let other people's study habits guide you. This is NOT undergrad. I repeat: This is NOT undergrad. This is much, much harder. Just because you didn't study in undergrad and got a 4.0 does not mean that is going to happen in law school. It won't. You will need to study. How much? I would recommend doing every last horrible thing that is on each of your syllabi, at least until you feel comfortable with everything. You don't know what's important yet. You don't know that you need to know one set of things to not embarrass yourself in class and a totally different set of things to get As on the finals. You also don't know how (likely anyway) how to study for a whole semester where your grade comes down to one lousy final. Be flexible. Come up with a plan and try it out. If it isn't working, you can change it. But be proactive. Try something for a week and if at the end it isn't "speaking to you," stop and change. I'd say you have until your fall break to hammer this down. I changed about 3 weeks in. I learned that unfortunately I'm a read it, write it, hear it kind of girl. Sucks. Takes a lot of time. But what I didn't understand until after my first set of finals was that my method:
  • Reading the cases (and highlighting with different colors to keep me actively reading),
  • Then briefing (more and more brief as I learned what my profs wanted when they would interrogate me in class),
  • Then attending class, taking notes, and participating, and finally,
  • Spending 5 minutes after class organizing my class notes with my own

made it so that on the finals, I really knew the stuff. Outlining was solidifying knowledge, not learning anything new. And I got more points on the finals because I didn't spend any time dithering around in my outline. I wrote the entire time because I knew it cold. In classes where I didn't do that, I simply didn't perform as well. End of story. That's probably overkill for a lot of folks, but it worked for me.

Stay tuned for part two.

Keeping in Touch

I'm getting used to the grown up's life again, and only paused for a moment this morning to realize that this is the first year that I wasn't down at my school either being oriented or being an orienter. :) It's the odd stuff that hits me now and again that I am really truly well and done with school and will only return for the occasional alumni stuff they host.

The bar is really just a distant bad dream now. I guess everyone feels that way now. I've had a few emails over the past few days from my little group of bar study buddies talking about getting together in the next month for a barbecue as a last gathering.

Finishing law school is so different for me than when I finished undergrad or even high school for that matter. I just simply never made friends as tight as I did in law school, but it's so different. It's more difficult to stay in touch with guy friends who are married or my single gal pals when I'm trying to figure out how to carve plenty of family time out of big firm living. I expect that in 10 to 15 years, law school friends will be much like my undergrad friends: I still regularly talk with 2 from undergrad (and 1 from high school). I think I just generally suck at keeping in touch. But I suppose I will run into people with relative frequency just in the course of practicing law. I think it's just a bizarre change whenever one set of circumstances so defined who you were and what you did just by the sheer enormity of the time and commitment it was and that those circumstances seemed to vanish in an instant.

I'm probably not making much sense. But it's been turning in my head, so I thought that I would share.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

So where do we go from here?

Well, I obviously go to work :) But I was actually speaking of this blog. I had thought that I would post one final post about how the bar went, but I feel like there is a little but of unfinished business. So, I will definitely come back to post if I pass or not. And if not, *gulp*, I will likely post about the re-studying process. I also plan to do so if and when I have to take another state's bar if we move (high likelihood).

In the interim, there is an assortment of "things I wish I would have known before . . ." posts that I will throw on here from time to time.

Thanks for tuning in.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The bar is over

Barf. It was hideous. It was heinous. It was horrible, and that's just talking about the head proctor (who we are all convinced would give Dolores Umbridge a run for her money!). Although after reading Jeanne's post about her experience, maybe we got Dolores-light.

The essay and "professionalism" tests were non-stop fun. I think I did ok on the MPTs. I was glad that I had done several practice ones and understood just how fine-grained they wanted the organization to be.

The essays were, well, shite--in a word. We had one particularly nasty article 3 meets article 2 meets agency question. But there were really only bits and pieces of questions that I felt unsure of. My ethics essay was not fab. I can never get straight all of the conflict rules. Perhaps I should have tried harder? In short, I felt like someone was beating me up all day. I encountered three different questions in different essays on areas that I decided were just so minute, so out of date, so obscure that they would never test them, so i didn't commit them to memory. Seriously! Argh! So ye-olde-essay day was thoroughly disheartening. But at least I didn't have computer problems like one of my friends did, which just sucks. I did get to answer everything... whether it was right is another matter entirely.

The fun part for me about the MBEs is realizing that our new out of state contracts prof who took the bar with us didn't even get all of the contracts practice test questions correct. Why is that fun? Because it is a testament to the fact that the questions are usually about some nitpicky little detail that you never learned because it's too ridiculous. Sigh. The morning session I thought wasn't too bad, and I had thought at lunch that I just might pass. But then the afternoon questions were about a million times harder. Everyone came out looking like someone had just killed their puppy.

Now 8-10 weeks of waiting. Nothing I can do about it now, right? The first thing that I did the morning after the bar was go pack up all of my bar stuff and tape and label the box. Hopefully I won't be cracking that puppy open for this same jurisdiction, but the spouse is pretty intent on going back to get his master's here in the next few years. And, of course, the program he's interested in we don't have in our state. Sigh. I won't think about that now.

Today is the first day that I've felt pretty damn human and normal since, well since I can't remember when. And it's nice. It's nice that it is well into the afternoon and I am still in my pajamas.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Oddness of Finality and Suprises

I'm about ready to pack up for what I am realizing is the very last time I will study at ye olde school. It's odd. When I cleaned out my law review office after graduation, it wasn't odd so much as relief. But as I was packing up my thousand barbri books and cleaning out my locker tonight, for whatever reason the whole "doneness" of it hit me. (Assuming of course, that I don't fail the bar anyway :|) It's the first time I've really felt that the whole law school experience has finality. I'm actually done. I have my diploma and at the end of this week, I will have no reason to regularly darken its hallways.

On another semi-related note. I ended up studying with a small group of people just by virtue of proximity than I had planned. It just sort of happened, and it was honestly the best part about doing this whole horror that is bar study. I knew them all before but was only close friends with a couple of them. I don't know why this turning out this way pleased me so much, but I found as I got ready to leave that in some twisted way, I was going to miss them. After all, I've seen them much more than I've seen my own fam for almost 10 weeks.

10 weeks. I hope it was worth it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I can do one more hour because I've done this for 2 bloody months

That's my rationale. That's what I am chanting to myself all day today, what I will no doubt be chanting tomorrow and possibly monday. Today was the first day that I have felt like i was about to vomit or tremble myself right out of my seat. The icky butterfly feelings in my forearms. The uncontrolled shivering that I notice when I'm not cold. The super shallow breathing just one step away from hyperventilating. That was today.

I've been worried before. I've been freaked out. But they were momentary break downs. This is all-encompassing fear. And I'm entertained at how distracting that is. I have a study list a mile long of "things to do before the bar" that is very clearly not going to happen. And I've embraced that. But I do have to get at least some of it done. Sigh. And that is why I'm chanting to myself: you've done this for 2 months, you can do another hour, another 30 minutes, another 5 minutes. My life is being measured from accomplishment of mini-goal to mini-goal.

I need this to be over.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tired. And almost beyond worry

So after my splat last week, the hubby put away my computer and books and made me play for about 18 hours (including 9 hours of rocking sleep in there). It was fun and much needed. And I think I've been overall more productive and sane this week because of it. Which is good because my beloved daughter did what she does when the stakes are high and murphy is just waiting for a chance to show me his mightiness: she got unbelievably ill. Sigh. She's on the mend now, but honestly, I could have called this. Without fail. And of course, hubby is in the middle of long work hours for his special projects that come up twice a year. Naturally. So it's been a kid-juggling fest. And that has not helped my anxiety. But it has helped me focus when I am working. Except for this particular moment :)

Earlier this week, I took last summer's PMBR simulated MBE, and I feel comfortable with my score. Not ecstatic, but it could ahve been worse. And it was a a good exercise because now I feel free to do one mixed set a day and other wise pick 3-4 subjects, take my reduced outline and reduce it to a page... then take that and put it on one note card. Then take at least 5 essays (just outlining at this point, who has time to write them out?). And then I get instant feedback on whether i need to add something to my cards. One card per topic.

Beginning sunday, all of my topics should be reduced to cards and then it will be all about remembering mnemonics and doing a million essays until I can't stand it Monday afternoon. And then, I'll stop. Nothing after Monday at 6 pm. I'll take my cards with me in the car to the bar exam, and i might sift through them because I'll need something in my hands, but that's it.

That's it. And that's why I say almost beyond worry... there isn't a whole lot that I can do about the big picture now, except keep to my plan.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


That's the sound of me hitting the wall. Seriously. I cannot feign indifference, cheerfulness, determination, or anything else that might get me through this particular moment. My concentration today is simply non-existent; my mind simply wanders away whenever I attempt to make it focus. I've tried to write an MPT, take MBEs, reduce a couple of big outlines and an essay. Nothing is working.

And the more that I focus on nothing working and acknowledging that I have the attention span of a 2 year old, the more depressed I get. i don't want to be here. i don't want to study. I called the fam to see what they were up too, and woke the spouse. They're having a nap. Doesn't that sound lovely. I just want to be doing something other than what I am doing. And I know that big picture, I only have to do this 9.5-ish more days (the study part... not the test part). But that doesn't change the way that I feel. It's getting to me. The monotony. The extreme boredom. The sheer level of difficulty that is prepping for the bar.

I'm not trying to have a whine here, although that's probably how it's coming out. I'm trying to express the blackness that has become my soul. Ok maybe that's overly dramatic. Just a tidge?? But this is the one thing that no one prepped me for with bar study: the total emotional upheaval that is my life hour to hour. That part is exhausting too.

End whine. (I know I said it wasn't one, but let's all be realistic, shall we?)

Statistics and other meaningless numbers

That's what my life has been reduced to these days. I'm holding at 60% with con law. I'm between 80-90% in Torts and Crim law. I've been too afraid to go back to evidence and see if my panic-induced 3-day evidence fest earlier this week was fruitful.

I've worked MPTs. I'm starting in earnest to essay a lot. (That was never a verb until the bar.) I've perused the stats from the simulated national Barbri MBE exam... where i was entertained and unsurprised to see that I was in the 10th perentile for evidence impeachment questions and in the 96th percentile overall for torts (are you kidding me?). It seems that my freak out and subsequent intense study of the 8.5 x 14 book for torts was not a waste of time.

I've got my day broken up into equal segments for studying. I'm carefully reducing my caffeine consumption so that the days of the test (where we are not permitted to bring anything at all to eat or drink into the test), I won't crash hard without my usual 10 am, 2pm caffeine fixes.

I'm sleeping, less or more or badly or not at all. I'm not seeing my family. My daughter is missing me. And I've lost count of how many times I've said "in August, we can do that sweetie."

And of course the most interesting number in my life at the moment: days left until the bar=10. It's a nice round number, isn't it?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A plug for a calming bar taker site and the next phase

This post on game day thoughts had me breathing a little slower and easier this morning. Thank you Biff for your comment... and allowing me to find your blog. I appreciated your perspective.

Today begins "the rest" of all that I can do. I've often thought that if I do all that I can do, I will pass the bar. I'm not sure if I'm doing "all" I can do, but dammit, I'm trying pretty hard.

So here is the plan for phase "the last." Memorize. Practice. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I've been goign through by subject to figure out what bits 'o law I won't be able to just regurgitate unless I do some hard core memorization of the 4 (or 5?, see why i need to do this) elements of an express trust. So I'm making a list of those and then handwriting them onto stuff that is going to decorate my house. Then I'm going to make a list of "order of review" to make sure that when I'm driving or working out or having another bout of insomnia, I can run through everything.

And when my brain feels squishy and sore, I'll stop input and take a few practice tests. Everyday. Some fully written, some just for the delightful experience. And then, well then, it'll be game time

(Is anyone else having issue with blogger this morning? It's playing mind games with me on links!!??)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I had a true moment of hyper-ventilation type of anxiety this morning as my daughter so cheerfully pointed out to me that i have 2 weeks before I can play with her at the zoo.

Two weeks. I'm really torn now that I'm facing that. On the one hand, I'm tired, I'm cranky, I miss my family, and I'm sick to death of doing this all day, everyday. On the other, two weeks so does not seems like enough time to get everything into my head that I need to. There is too much. I'm acknowledging as I write outlines now that I'm not putting in as much detail about some of the smaller issues as I was a week ago. It's a nod to the shortness of time and the finiteness of my memory. And it's scary. Because I have to accept that if that issue comes up on the test (I'm really thinking essays here), I will forego those points. And I'm not sure how many points I'm going to be able to forego and still get the job done.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Where does the focus go?

I just read Anastasia's commentary on her oh-so-unproductive day. And laughed. Because, yeah, that was my day too, until about an hour ago. Then I hit a spurt of energy. And then it stopped and I checked my blogroll.

Sunday was an exceptionally good study day. Lots of learning. Lots of accomplishment. Yesterday was less so. Harder to focus, less accomplishment, less motivation. Today has been basically a joke. No focus, almost no accomplishment, and totally devoid of motivation. The one bright spot in my day was watching a particularly anal classmate of mine suck usually reasonable people into his "essay guess fest." My favorite thing about this particular anal idiot is that he's so certain that he's right. About everything. Sigh. But especially about the bar stuff. He's actually foregoing studying certain subjects that he is, and I quote, "sure will NOT be on the bar, because there's just no possible mathematical way."

What i really love about that statement is that 1) i'm going to score better than him on those essays if they do show up, 2) if enough of them show up, he won't pass, and 3) how can you say that, especially this year considering that the MEE is, for the first time, offering the MBE subjects. My state has historically rarely tested MBE subjects on the essays. But if you talk to folks who took the february bar, THREE of the MBE subjects were essays. So, I get that I'm mocking him for trying to predict the essays by essentially predicting that we will have more MBE subjects than in the past, but I'm also no dumb bunny, and I'm going to know at least enough about all of the areas to answer and get some points.

End rant. End detour from studying. And now, back to the oh-so-fascinating realm of admin law (some one get me a razor!).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Not much to say other than that I am tired

This really is a sick sort of marathon. The insomnia is now ever present, and I felt somewhat in good company when several classmates ended up in an impromptu discussion about their favorite sleep-inducer: wine, benadryl, some omni-somthing, nighttime tylenol, etc. I don't know why it's comforting, but it is. I've only dosed the benadryl a couple of times so far . . . in total desparation to make the mneumonic devises and random elements stop running through my brain.

I'm to the point now too where I realize how much I am missing out on. And my daughter is NOT thrilled. I've played up a lot of the "in august, we will do: x, y, z special mommy/daughter stuff." But that only puts a bandaid on for so much.

I took last night off to be with the fam and with some close friends of ours. Even in myhaze, I still kicked can playing Settlers of Catan. I love that game... especially when I win.

I was above the "average" threshold on the simulated MBE, which made me take one step away from the cliff I feel like I am perpetually standing on these days. My evidence score was absolute puke though. God help me, but I am NEVER going to figure out exactly when extrinsic evidence can and cannot come in. Oddly, but happily, my best score was in torts, so it is good to know those few days I spent really hammering it and reading the huge honking outline really helped.

I've also got about half a dozen friends who are now aware of how sucky Barbri's state materials are. We are each taking the ones we think are more likely than not to show up and checking the statutes... it's a pain, but it's turning out to be very very worth it, and it sucks a little bit less since we have divided it up. I'm still astounded at how wrong they are on major points of law in every subject. Truly amazing.

Now, I'm ducking my head back into my studying: this evening's dish: wills. Mmm mmm good.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Just what exactly did I pay Barbri more than $2000 for?

Cause where I'm sitting at the moment, I couldn't answer that question. Seriously?!?! I became thoroughly irritated earlier this week when a friend of mine was reducing her familiy law outline and got a puzzled look on her face. Fortunately for us, she used to work for the state legislature and had something stick in her brain about a funky family law issue that Barbri had under our state's distinctions. Well, after about 3 minutes on westlaw, she found out that the funky "state law distinction" had been REPEALED! ALMOST FOUR YEARS AGO. HELLO!?! WTF? I died a little inside. It's a frequently tested issue. And now my state does it like everyone else instead of bizarro. And Barbri, well, either they are lazy and cheap and didn't want to spend the resources to update my state's law or they knew they didn't have to because where the hell else am I supposed to go? Sift through my state's code and common laws in all my spare time? Right.

So fast forward to today, when we began our simulated exam. My first complaint is, really, I have to grade them? And I get the infeasibility of grading so many essays in any kind of a timely manner. Fine. But then, if you don't, Barbri, you owe me a point break down of the answers, and failing that, you owe me model answers actually written in the blasted format that you keep harping on about being so damn important. It is lame and excessively insufficient to merely give me what amounts to a bulleted list of issue-spotting with an occasional rule thrown in. All I can see is that I did worse than I thought, but I'm not sure how necessarily to make it better. So thanks for nothing on that end. Oh, and by the way, it would be nice if you updated the answers that claim to be specific to my state like on my ethics essay. It was half-assed at best and completely WRONG on two of the three points. So thanks again. Glad I've been studying that and that the lecturer you sent for the ethics stuff had done his homework for 2008 and could tell me what the law is now.

And how is it even imaginable that it will take you 9 days to return my "graded" scantron? It's a scantron for crying out loud. Me taking it 3 weeks before the test so that you can give me my score 1.5 weeks before the test seems like a total waste of everyone's time. Of course, I can and will mark my answers in my book so that I can grade it the next day.

But what is it that I paid you so much money for?

I don't get it. I'm sure the lecturers don't come cheap, at least not the really big ones that give you cred. But you dupe them a million times, so the recurring cost there has got to be pretty minimal. And the many forests killed in the printing of the books, yeah, that's probably not cheap either. Room rentals. Graders (who are worthless... it's a joke when everyone in my class gets the same number grade each week with a note that says: "good writing, but check the law.") The "local" attorney who is supposed to . . . yeah, I've still got no idea what he was supposed to actually do for us.

When I sit back and look at what I thought the real value would be in your course, it was for the state law stuff. Which is usually horribly inadequate, disjointed, and evidently wrong because at least some of it hasn't been updated in a while. The rest of the stuff you provide, meh. I could buy your books off ebay or a classmate. I could poke myself with a stick to make sure that I didn't fall asleep reading the big outlines which would more than compensate for not hearing most of the lectures. It's the state law stuff that I don't have time to google and westlaw for the myriad subjects that my state tests.

It's a good thing that courts generally don't second guess the value of consideration because I'd be on that like peanut butter on a kid.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Because I don't want to study torts

Stealing another meme. This time movies. Thanks to Z over at Balance of Power and E. McPan at the Neutral Zone Trap. Let's see how many new classics (according to Entertainment Weekly) yayarolly is up on.

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03)
3. Titanic (1997)
4. Blue Velvet (1986)
5. Toy Story (1995)
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
9. Die Hard (1988)
10. Moulin Rouge (2001)
11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

12. The Matrix (1999)

13. GoodFellas (1990)

14. Crumb (1995)
15. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
16. Boogie Nights (1997)
17. Jerry Maguire (1996)
18. Do the Right Thing (1989)
19. Casino Royale (2006)
20. The Lion King (1994)
21. Schindler's List (1993)
22. Rushmore (1998)
23. Memento (2001)
24. A Room With a View (1986)

25. Shrek (2001)
26. Hoop Dreams (1994)
27. Aliens (1986)
28. Wings of Desire (1988)
29. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
30. When Harry Met Sally... (1989)

31. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
32. Fight Club (1999)
33. The Breakfast Club (1985)

34. Fargo (1996)
35. The Incredibles (2004)
36. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
37. Pretty Woman (1990)
38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
39. The Sixth Sense (1999)
40. Speed (1994)
41. Dazed and Confused (1993)
42. Clueless (1995)
43. Gladiator (2000)
44. The Player (1992)
45. Rain Man (1988)
46. Children of Men (2006)
47. Men in Black (1997)
48. Scarface (1983)
49. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
50. The Piano (1993)
51. There Will Be Blood (2007)
52. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988)
53. The Truman Show (1998)

54. Fatal Attraction (1987)
55. Risky Business (1983)
56. The Lives of Others (2006)
57. There’s Something About Mary (1998)
58. Ghostbusters (1984)
59. L.A. Confidential (1997)

60. Scream (1996)
61. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
62. sex, lies and videotape (1989)
63. Big (1988)
64. No Country For Old Men (2007)
65. Dirty Dancing (1987)

66. Natural Born Killers (1994)
67. Donnie Brasco (1997)
68. Witness (1985)
69. All About My Mother (1999)
70. Broadcast News (1987)
71. Unforgiven (1992)
72. Thelma & Louise (1991)
73. Office Space (1999)
74. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
75. Out of Africa (1985)
76. The Departed (2006)
77. Sid and Nancy (1986)
78. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
79. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
80. Michael Clayton (2007)
81. Moonstruck (1987)
82. Lost in Translation (2003)
83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
84. Sideways (2004)
85. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005)
86. Y Tu Mamá También (2002)
87. Swingers (1996)
88. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
89. Breaking the Waves (1996)
90. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
91. Back to the Future (1985)

92. Menace II Society (1993)
93. Ed Wood (1994)
94. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
95. In the Mood for Love (2001)
96. Far From Heaven (2002)
97. Glory (1989)
98. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
99. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
100. South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)

I'm surprised. I'm such a classics Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn kind of girl. Half is pretty respectible. And of the ones that I haven't seen, I'd say I actually only want to see a handful. And now, back to negligence. Damn.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sloppiness and Being Discovered and Illusory Anonymity

So, sloppiness: A few years ago, I had a struggle with a post that I wrote, which I ultimately decided not to post. I remember being really disappointed that I had finally reached that moment where self-censoring caused me to not post about something, full stop. I had that same sort of struggle last week. I wrote something up that I thought was funny, accurate, a bit sardonic and would be appreciated by many in years to come. But I was uncomfortable with a couple of the negative things I wanted to say. And frankly, I blame my squeamishness on having studied bloody torts for the few days before I posted. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. In any case, despite my gut telling me not to do it, I posted it. Then I worried over it. As I was sitting at school the following day, I checked on it and discovered some random, fairly rude comments (not at me, agreeing with me actually) but they were said in a flippant sort of way that made me more uncomfortable than I already was, and I was miffed at where they came from. Then I discovered that the post had been picked up elsewhere. And I was really uncomfortable.

So i decided, after discussing it hypothetically with a friend at school, that I would pull it. I just didn't have the extra mental energy to worry about it. In hindsight, it was probably ok, but still, i don't need any extra crap turning in my head these days. So I'm glad that I pulled it.

Fast forward a few days though where I sit down with my best law school friend who wanted to smack me upside the head because the other friend I had my "blog hypo" with told the other that I had a blog. She hadn't previously known about it. That's right folks. I was outted. By my own sloppiness. I mean, I know that you can never do the "I have a friend" kind of hypo and get away with it. But I'm still entertained that after keeping this blog for 3 years, I never once told anyone anything about it. And as far as I know, none of my law school compadres read it or connected it with me. Which is how I had wanted it. So now, the cat is out of the bag, and those two are sworn to secrecy.

I know that blogs are not anonymous, no matter how much you try to make them so. it's relatively easy to figure out at least the exact location of a blogger. But you still hide behind the anonymity wall you construct. I've often thought of the irony of how much freedom anonymity gives you to tell it like it is... while nearly crippling you into being "content free" in order to maintain that anonymity. It's what made me decide for once and for all that yayarolly's doors will close August 1. I'll leave the blog up in case there is anything remotely useful to someone else later on. And I'll probably get it printed into a keepsake book for myself at blurb. But with law school on the shelf, it will be time to move on.

I'm still undecided as to whether I will start a new blog that looks at me as a whole picture: professional, mommy, wife, hobbies etc. But I'm struggling with the whole anonymity thing still. I certainly don't want to get fired, or worse. But I also don't want to write so that I end up being content free. It's tricky. But I love to write. The year that I didn't write on this blog, I was actually writing fiction. So see, I can't just stop writing. :)

Friday, July 04, 2008

First major freakout

It happened Wednesday night... after I had spent what felt like the better half of my life studying torts, and I was still scoring between 30 and 33%. Um, yeah. No bueno. i had been about 3 giggles away from crying for a few days. The tension and the exhaustion and the anxiety were all weighing on me heavily. And so on my way home from studying and taking the test, the tears started rolling, and I was in near hysterics by the time I got home. I just knew that I was going to fail the bar. Beause with as many torts questions, I couldn't possibly get enough "extra" answers right in other areas to make up for it. Or that was my line of thought anyway.

Happily my family had time for a group snuggle and then took me out to a late dinner and a chocolate milkshake. nothing is ever as bad when thought of over a chocolate milkshake. So I picked myself up, and dusted myself off, and started all over again (Name that Rogers/Astaire movie). I had actually also spent a lot of time reducing property (and am now the proud owner of a 1 page property outline :)) so before despairing altogether, i decided to take another property test. I was concerned that my entire method of studying wasn't working and if it wasn't, I was out of ideas of what to do differently. And I'm glad that I took that rational, double-check approach because my property score went up a lot. Then i took a mixed subject test and laughed out loud at the results:
  • All K and property questions right
  • 1 evidence question wrong
  • 3 crim and 3 con law questions wrong each
  • and all torts questions wrong but 1
Clearly, I just don't get torts. So I am sticking with my original plan, although I admit that I am about 2 days behind now. (Freak outs are such a time suckage.)

That's about all that I have to report. Studying for the bar blows.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I have a plan

Since tomorrow is the last day of lectures, and our practice test is in a little less than 2 weeks, I made myself a plan. I'm not sure just how realistic it is, but it will give me a shot at going through everything once more before the practice test. Then hopefully that will give me enough direction to know what to really beat into my brain for the few weeks between the practice test and the real deal. Ever get the feeling that the bar is really just testing you on your time management and organizational skills... well, duh, that's what the MPT is, but the rest of it is really the same too. Because if you didn't have lovely time and org skills, you'd never be able to get enough of the law in all the million areas in your head before the bar.

Edited to add the plan, duh!

So I whipped out a calendar and scheduled a couple of things per day. Generally, for the next 5 days, I am taking one MBE subject a day and making flashcards based on the black letter law in the explanations to the answers of the MPQ1 tests that I have already taken. I'm trying to NOT get carried away because 1700 flashcards are a bit on the useless side. Instead, I am going through and doing cards for stuff that's kind of tricky (like exceptions to exceptions in topics I'm not as good at) and things that always come up as an answer but I don't know what it means. For example, in real property, negative reciprocal covenants came up as an answer (almost always wrong) on several MBE questions. So I made sure to get down what the heck it is and what the elements are for enforcing it. And now, I know it. :)

During those same five days, I will also be reading through my class notes on non-MBE topics that are always tested on my bar. It's just a read through for refresher, not for locking it into the memory vault.

After I'm done with the flashcards, I'm doing 1 MBE a day (some I've scheduled for 1.5) to make my first pass at reducing the classnotes and outlines into something more manageable and memorizable. I will also still be reading a set of non-MBE topic classnotes each of those days. And that pretty much takes me right up to the simulated test. Oh, and I will do an hour worth of MBEs

After that, my plan is less firm. Obvioiusly, I will need to reduce the non-MBE topics, and I will hopefully be able to see which MBE topics I need to focus on. But I hope to spend the bulk of the last two weeks before the actual bar taking a million practice tests. So there. This is all just the plan. I'll let you know if it's too much (or too little, but I highly doubt that).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Surfing the Benadryl Wave

Suck. I got a nasty cut from a can this weekend and got a tetanus shot yesterday. And a nasty allergic reaction to it. Sigh. So I took the benadryl they told me to take. And promptly napped for 4 hours. I've always been a light weight with any kind of "drowsy" drug. So, let me revamp my study plan for the day as I try to drag my sorry butt out of bed.

So glad I never took admin law in school

Seriously, I might have had to drink heavily before and during the class. I could not have been more bored at the Barbri lecture for it. Don't get me wrong. The lecturer actually was pretty good, but the subject seriously. Just too boring for words.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Eep! It's real! I'm taking the bar in less than 6 weeks!

It's odd, isn't it, the very strange things that make upcoming events finally seem real to you. I received an email from my state's bar several weeks ago letting me know that 1) I passed character and fitness, 2) I'd been issued an applicant ID and password, and 3) I was required to download, register, and take a mock test off software I would be using on the exam. I ignored that email when I got it. I wasn't ready for the sinking feeling that I knew it would give me.

Well, today, I could no longer ignore it as the deadline for completing those tasks loomed before me. So, I did it. And all the while felt my blood begin draining from my body and nausea set in. It's real. I'm taking the lousy bar. And it's coming up FAST.

On a helpful note though, thinking about the software deadline made me remember a deadline with my firm who wants several thing from me by the end of this month.

So the tip of the day: don't let studying for the bar get in the way of remembering what's important: being able to take the bar by completing the state's instructions in a timely manner and being able to start working after you take it by finishing the firm's instructions in a timely manner. :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Catching the flashcard wave

Well after seeing Ks enthusiasm for flashcards and reading a great post on their usefulness (thanks for the link K), I decided to jump on the flashcard bandwagon.

So far, i feel like I am getting something out of it. But I think that I may be taking a back door, so I thought I would share my method. I'm going through my state and the MEE essay booklets and the MPQ book making flashcards out of answers to problems and essays that I have already taken and struggled with (although I am making a few for areas with lots of exceptions, just to be sure that I have them solid). It just struck me as a more useful place to start than just trying to go through the conviser or my class notes. I am also adding my state's law anywhere applicable (e.g., my state has a preponderance standard NOT clear and convincing for how to rebut the assumption that a husband is the biological father of a child where the mommy is married).

I like it so far because I feel like I am really concentrating on the nitty grittiness of the elements and I also have the impression (illusion?) that I am grappling with the material more because I am carefully evaluating whether I really understood something in an answer or got lucky. It also appeals to my lack of concentration in any one area sort of mentality these days because, for example, I'll get to a secured transactions essay and have to parse through 2/3 of the question dealing with contracts stuff and 1/3 dealing with secured transactions.

And most importantly for me, I feel no obligation to go through them again and again later. My learning style has always been: read it, hear it, write it. Which is very annoying because it takes a lot of time, but I am successful that way. And I shouldn't try to fix what isn't broken.

So hooray for feeling like I'm actually getting something out of today's study session.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I thank you, no. I'd rather drive.

I never thought that I would live to see the day that I would willingly, almost happily, decline to participate in any air travel. Naturally, for work, I will have no choice, but for personal travel, I don't have to do it. And unless it's an exceptional case, I'm not going to. This article illustrates why.

You know, I've put up with no longer being able to bring water with me to the airport that costs me a small per unit cost because I buy at costco and instead having to spend $2 at the airport to know that I can have a drink when I get thirsty on an airplane. Because heaven only knows when the flight attendants will get around to it. And I've put up with longer security lines, ridiculous rules about baggies, and having air shot up my skirt as part of the anti-terrorist campaign. Fine. A pain in the butt, you betcha, but fine. But I'm drawing the line now. I will NOT pay $2 on the plane for water or soda or $5 for some food on a cross country flight that isn't at a mealtime. I just won't.

I had big plans to go visit my dearest friend on the other side of the country right after the bar. We were going to boat, lay around, and generally let our small children make our plans for us for about two weeks. But I can't now. Not when it will cost nearly $1000 to fly myself and my daughter there... and of course, that doesn't include any baggage or comforts on the flight. I miss my dear friend, but I simply can't afford that price tag right now, nor do I have any desire to deal with the drama that flying has become.

In my early childhood, I lived overseas and travelled more miles than I can conceive of flying for the rest of my life. It was before southwest, even partly before the rules about no smoking on flights. It was when there were free headsets and you had hot meals and lots of snacks and drinks. It was when flight attendants were there, and knew that as their job description, to make the passengers as comfortable as possible. As I grew up and we moved back to the states, I travelled less and less and began noting the differences each flight that I took. All of a sudden, the seats were smaller, the leg room disappeared, the flight attendants looked bothered if you asked them for anything at all and sharply told you they were not there for your comfort but only for your safety. But air travel was less expensive because I could choose to be entertained and cattle-carred to my location on Southwest. And I didn't mind so much forgoing the hot meals and other nice amenities because of the price break. But then the price started creeping up and I noticed that everyone cost abou tthe same and every airline treated you the same (like shit) and flew even less. (I do like Jet Blue but even they are getting really expensive and they simply don't have enough routes to places I need to go yet.) And then there was 9/11. And the whole experience just became one uncomfortable pain in the ass.

We still flew, at least once a year, and then there was this spring. Our flights over the ocean and back again for our amazing vacation were a new low. Delta outdid themselves on horrid service and little to no amenities. I think the lowest point was where they put out a variety of 2 liter beverages, inclyding water and said "serve yourself" and so I did... and when I came back for my third trip in 5 minutes, I got a sternly worded "you're only entitled to your share." I haven't wanted to punch a woman like I did in that moment for years. And she didn't apologize when I explained how I was getting drinks for my whole family and that my daughter, who had SLEPT through the first beverage service was dehydrated and needed TWO WHOLE DIXIE CUPS of water.

So when I read about the baggage fees, I decided that I would pay more for a ticket on an airline that didn't do that. And then the thing with the drinks came out, and I just decided that it was enough. One of the airlines PR people said "oh, people won't stop flying; they'll just pack lighter." Really? Have you talked to your customers lately. I have several good friends plannig driving vacations instead this year. Even with the price of gas because the airline hassle is simply not worth it. And people are used to driving even long distances. In college I drove 6 hours home about once a month. In high school, I drove 4 hours to the beach about once a month. And on random vacations, I've generally held the rule that I can go anywhere happily that I can reach in about 12 hours.

So yeah, after the bar, I will be taking a vacation, by car somewhere I hadn't been planning on going. And I'll cringe at the pump and think "at least the airlines didn't get my money."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Open Letter to Barbri

Dear Barbri,

I am dissatisfied. I am dissatisfied with most of your product. I shelled out the couple of thousand for your bar review course for a couple of specific things: 1) the materials (books, cd/dvd, lectures), 2) the services ("grading" of practice essays and a simulated practice exam), and 3) your schedule. Allow me to illustrate why I am dissatisfied.

First, for being a gigantically, fear-instilling box of materials, they are, well, a little light on some of the most important parts. Out of the thousands and thousands of pages that you sent, maybe 200, if I'm feeling really generous maybe 300 pages are actually specific to my state. They are shoved at the beginning of my conviser, usually with no rhyme or reason as to where it goes in the big or conviser version of the main outlines. You rarely show us "hey, dummy, this is what is different!" This is what I needed from you. I learned the federal and majority rules and odd minority rules in law school; what I was expecting from you was help with my specific state's laws since you know, I am after all taking MY STATE'S bar! However, at this point, I do realize that however paltry your assistance is for my own state law, it is surely much better than I could have gathered on my own over the course of the summer.

The essays are maddening. The conflicting instructions from my essay lecturer to many of the comments given by the content lecturers are irritating. Should I or should I not argue both sides?

The lecturers. Hmm. Many of them are excellent. Some of them are less so. And a few are down right obnoxious. (Of course, maybe I wouldn't find them as obnoxious if the guy you hired to push the DVD in the player and click play wasn't hard of hearing and we didn't have to listen to the damn lectures at top decibel until our ears ring.) Almost all of the workbook fill-in-the-blank materials are great. In fact, I think the 4 lectures I had without that were the worst and bespeaks laziness on the part of whoever was responsible for creating them (which I have gathered is the lecturer).

Second, the services are half-assed. As I look at it, other than the "materials," you have said that you will grade my essays and practice test, provide proctors for the lectures, and a local attorney available to answer our local questions. It is not extraordinarily helpful for me to get the same grade again and again (which all my friends get as well, coincidence? I think not) that basically tell me, great writing, great organization, but the law is wrong. No kidding. The law is wrong? The law that YOU told me not to memorize yet??? Shocking result. And could we get a couple of proctors who, I don't know, do anything other than press play and volume up? I went to the night lecture a couple of times when I had conflicts, and I could kiss that proctor. He puts on the board at the get go: "This lecture is x minutes long." I like that because even if it's awful, I know BEFORE to call kiddie backup or can just mentally prepare myself for a nastily long haul. He also puts up a reminder of when the next essay is due or if something has come back. He's useful. He's not just taking up space, and his hearing, happily is better than his day time compadres. Now, I could harp on the local attorney thing, especially his particularly awful lecture on essays (all stuff you should have learned in high school), but I'll just highlight the main problem: coming in once a week (or more like every 9 or 10 days) for 15 minutes right before the morning lecture = less useful.

Third, the lectures run too long without warnings (and sometimes appropriate breaks) and the self-paced schedule is ridiculous in light of the goals YOU told us when we started.

When the lectures last more than the 3.5 hours listed on the schedule. We need to know about it--in advance. Why do I separate this out? Because it is not the lecturers' fault that you marked ONE SINGLE day on my calendar notifying me that we were going to go an extra half an hour. People have outside commitments: whether child care, work, or countless other obligations. If I'm told that the lectures will end everyday by 12:30, except for the one time noted on my calendar that will go until 1:00, then I PLAN MY LIFE accordingly. It has been exasperating to have lecture after lecture go anywhere between 15-45 minutes over the scheduled time. And in an effort to make up time, some of the longest lectures (I'm looking at YOU evidence) make the breaks only after much longer intervals than normal. This is hard stuff. A normal person only has so much room in his head and attention span to fill that space. It's no good to have the wiggles for 20 minutes at a time as the lecturer goes over and a student thinking: hope my babysitter can stay a little longer, or hope the partner will understand that I'm late, or dammit I have to pee! Now, I understand that because you retape new lectures every year (which I am grateful for) makes it impossible for you to know when you make up the initial schedules how long the time is going to run. But would it kill you to have a place on the web site that we could check for updates? Then those of us with other commitments could continue to plan our lives around you, but with far more accuracy.

And last, but certainly not least, and currently most dear to my heart, your self-paced program is unrealistic and fairly demoralizing. You should build a one day break in every week. People would perform better if they had a chance to rest. Or even use it as a chance to catch up. My biggest problem with the self-paced program is that it starts to feel like a bunch of meaningless exercises. You told us not to worry about memorizing right now. To be a robot and just follow the schedule, that July is the time for memorizing. And I get that to a certain extent. But writing essay after essay that tests me on the exception to an exception to the rule? It's just demoralizing. And panic-inducing. Maybe that's what you want: if everyone panics then they will try harder to be superman and keep your schedule. But, I'm telling you, it's a waste of time. Instead of coming to the exact opposite conclusion and spending a full 30 minutes articulating carefully the rules and the reasons why... only to discover it's some obscure rule that I read in the big outline and wasn't mentioned in the lecture and therefore not reviewable when I reviewed my lecture notes. I understand that those kinds of questions are fair game on the bar. But perhaps, for every one's sanity (not to mention making the grading a wee-bit more worth the time), how about assigning us the constitutional law question that talks about ANYTHING we covered in the lecture instead of some weird criminal law point on ineffective assistance of counsel and appeals. After all, I thought the point of the essays now was to get us used to the funky faux IRAC for the bar . . . and NOT to memorize and therefore be able to regurgitate the right answer to weird questions.


Yayarolly, one dissatisfied customer

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Being a law mom has always yielded unexpected benefits

And today is no exception. This week is my daughter's limbo week: school ended last week and camp doesn't start until next week. The first part of this week she went with the in-laws and her cousin to Yellowstone. And has come back acting more fiercely independent than normal. Sigh. In any case, I'm going to the Barbri night class tonight and tomorrow night since she is back now.

Plans for today: walk/ride to park and play for a few hours; catch a bus to the library/eatery/movie theater area for library browsing, lunch, and Horton Hears a Who (I'm too cheap to watch it in the expensive theater... my daughter thinks that movies only cost a dollar.). Then bus back and craft time to make something for daddy's day. And then make dinner together and play 1950s housewife and daughter with dinner ready when hubby comes home. Of course, reality will come crashing back rudely as I dash out the door with a tupperware of the hot supper and bolt to barbri class. :)

I think key to that laundry list 'o fun up there is the noticeable lack of study time. Which i had a little anxiety about until about 30 minutes ago when I talked with my daughter about today. And really, her excitement is too infectious to not get caught up in.

So today, being a law mom is helping me (forcing me) to take a much needed break and enjoy the day.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Procrastination Station

Arg! Must find a way to stop frittering time away! Seriously, I have been home for 2 hours since my Barbri class ended and have yet to crack a book. Mostly now I want a nap.

This whole lack of being able to concentrate thing does not bode well for when I actually start working for my firm. I can't remember the last time that I truly had to concentrate for 8-10 hours straight with little to no break. Sigh. I'm such a light weight now.

Ok. Ok. I'm cosing the computer and reading my damned evidence outline.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I can't be this tired of studying for the bar already

I thought it was really brain fatigue, but now I think it was just being sick of it generally. i thought perhaps coming up with a way to give myself every sunday or something like that off would help, but bloody Barbri's damn paced program packs a million things into the weekends. I honestly beleive that it would stick in my brain better if I took a break once a week. You see, I'm one of those types of folks who goes full tilt until I simply can't and then I stop. I don't slow down. I don't prioritize or re-prioritize. I just simply stop for a day or two or a week when it's been really bad and do nothing. Then I wake up finally feeling better and pick up the pieces and start again.

So I've revised my barbri commitment and I will do every last blasted thing on their blasted program, but it will take me a bit longer. I'm feeling good about that. My scores on all of the stupid multiple choices are several points ahead of average (except torts, which clearly I just do NOT get) and evidently I know how to write an essay. So I'm trying to relax.

A note on the essays: We had our second essay lecture this last week. 2 hours of "when you write the rule, list the elements and then make sure that you put your analysis sections in the same order as you wrote the elements." Seriously, um high school english there folks; if not then at the latest freshman english 101. And much, much more of the same. It was the biggest waste of time.

And on a rare comment into my mommyhood. I have more time this week to do the barbri thang (maybe even treat myself to a matinee) because my daughter is on her first vacation without me. She went with the in-laws by car to a vacation spot 2 whole states away. I know she's getting bigger and it's not like I haven't spent nights away... but there's something very different about watching her get into their car, buckle herself into her car seat, wave goodbye and drive off with the biggest grin on her face. I can't believe she was not quite 2 and a half years old when I started law school. Now she reads. She helps me cook. She has her own wonderful sense of humor. And I'm going to miss her desperately this week.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday afternoon, I'm avoiding contracts, meme

I've never done one of these, but it looked kind of fun. So thanks for the idea: Chicken Magazine, E. McPan and Kristine over at Divine Angst. Evidently it comes from LibraryThing.

Interruption for geeky yet endearing story about moi: I learned about Library Thing a little while ago and thought: Cool! And then thought: Pooh! Because I very very very rarely actaully buy books anymore. My husband, ever the economist, convinced me that investing in shelf space for books that I'll likely never read again or spending money on books that I am not sure I will like is kind of pointless. Mostly, I agree, but I miss the comforting and decadent feeling of walking away from a book store with a happy sackful of books waiting to be devoured. I did think it was cool though because I was reminded recently of how when I was in the 2nd grade, I made little envelopes and glued them to the inside of all my books, wherein I put an index card and had a master file so that way I could keep track of my books in case anyone borrowed them. Wasn't I a cute little 2nd grader?

Back to the meme: so the schtick is that these are the top 106 books tagged “unread” at LibraryThing. Bold=read; underline=read for school; ital=started but abandonned; and bold-underlined=you read it for school first and subsequently re-read because you wanted to. My results (to the extent that I actually remember some titles) were pretty pathetic considering that way back in undergrad, I was an English major.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Crime and Punishment
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Don Quixote
The Odyssey
The Brothers Karamazov
War and Peace
Madame Bovary
A Tale of Two Cities I've never been a big Dickens fan
Jane Eyre or a Bronte fan
The Name of the Rose
Moby Dick
The Iliad
Vanity Fair
Love in the Time of Cholera
The Blind Assassin
Pride and Prejudice
The Historian: A Novel
The Canterbury Tales
The Kite Runner
Great Expectations
Life of Pi
The Time Traveler’s Wife
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Atlas Shrugged
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Grapes of Wrath
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Mrs. Dalloway
Sense and Sensibility
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Sound and The Fury
Memoirs of a Geisha
Brave New World
American Gods
The Poisonwood Bible
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
The Picture of Dorian Gray
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
The Satanic Verses
Mansfield Park
Gulliver’s Travels
The Three Musketeers
The Inferno
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Fountainhead
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
To the Lighthouse
A Clockwork Orange
Robinson Crusoe
The Scarlet Letter
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The Once and Future King
Anansi Boys
The God of Small Things
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Oryx and Crake
Angela’s Ashes
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
The Hunchback of Notre Dame do I get bonus points for reading it in french?
In Cold Blood
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
A Confederacy of Dunces
Les Misérables Again, in french
The Amber Spyglass
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
Watership Down
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation
The Aeneid
A Farewell to Arms
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
Sons and Lovers
The Book Thief
The History of Tom Jones
The Road
Tender is the Night
The War of the Worlds

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

67% on Property!!!!!!!! YES!!

Seriously, there is something wrong when I am excited that I got a 67% on the Barbri Property MBE practice exam. I'm not sure that I've ever been so proud of a crappy score in my life (okay... maybe the games on the LSAT--I can't remember that far back). The DVD Barbri guy says 55% is the national average (or was it 50%?). In any case, I am well above that . . . and consistently so far on each of the 5 property tests that I have taken.

One of my dear friends hates property (kind of like I am hating crim pro at the moment). And she's freaked out that she's getting 45%-50% right. I've tried to tell her to calm herself, but it's not working. Then I made the mistake of answering her truthfully about my average scores. Yeah, it wasn't pretty. But here's the thing--I took Property (duh, we all had to), but I also took Real Estate Finance, which is essentially Property II, and a real estate drafting class, and I T.A.'ed for Property. Mind you--the TA thing would lead one to expect I really know more about property than I do. Nope. Thank you prof Property (whom I had and for whom I TA'ed) for teaching almost exclusively takings and very obsure future interest stuff. I knew next to nothing about easements, nothing about covenants, servitudes, landlord/tenant stuff, and rule against perpetuities before Barbri last week. The dude on the DVD's formula on rule against perpetuities has changed my life. So easy. It's like doing hard math successfully and you only need to get it right for the short-term, not necessarily understand it: don't think, just plug in the formula and voila. In any case, I'm happy with where I am there....

Especially in light of the painful criminal procedure stuff I am now in the midst of. It was one of the few four-credit hour classes I didn't take in law school, and oy! there is a lot to learn. This is my first general disappointment with barbri too--the guy who does the lecture is following the outline in the book pretty closely, which is problematic for me because I think his outline is completely disorganized. Sigh. I'm actually reading the heinous 8.5 x 14 version. Eep!

Prediction: in a few days when I need to start testing the crim stuff, look for a post here with me crying like my friend (who, ironically is a crim law/pro guru) and wondering how I will ever remember it all.

And finally, as I am telling myself daily, I will end with this thought: I don't have to know everything. I just have to know enough.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Survived first week of Barbri

really, the hardest part about it is 1) sitting in some pretty uncomfortable chairs for 3.5 hours a day and 2) making myself stay awake from about the 2-3 hour.

First day was an intro and supposedly "essay help." The essay help consisted of some woman who has an unfortunately high-pitched voice read, verbatim, from the calendar/schedule thingamabob we got that day on how to modify IRAC for the bar. Oh, and a tip that yu throw the kithen sink at each essay. For example, if the call of the question is to address whether Plaintiff can get damages, you first start by addressing whether there was a formation of the K. And of course, do all of that in 30 minutes per essay. Oh and in my state--with no scratch paper (morons). I found the "lecture" to be completely uninteresting and nearly worthless since hey, I can read. I found that "lecture" all the more worthless as I was writing my first practice essays where I learned that 1) throwing the kitchen sink at something doesn't work well in 30 minutes when you are trying to cover equitable division of property, alimony, child support, and child custody. 30 minutes is barely sufficient to cover those topics alone. And 2) while I realize that for Barbri to format the model answers might just be too much to ask for my $2000, and I acknowledge that the essay books even say that they just outline the answer and it's not necessarily complete, it's excessively frustrating to know that you CAN'T know if you covered everything you needed to for full points by the graders. Sigh.

This week we studied family law and real property. I didn't take family law in law school, have no interest in ever practicing it, and frankly, take special glee in being able to say to all and sundry who ask: "ooh, you know, I'm not a lawyer, so I can't answer your question about 'fill in the family law topic here' and I never took family law. Sorry, guess you'll have to go hire a lawyer for that." In learning the tidbits on family law, my conclusions were that it's a pretty jacked up, subjective area of law--and that my particular state, as always, is about 100 years behind the times on some of it.

Real Property wasn't really all that difficult. For the first time since I took the bloody class, I was happy (okay, maybe that's too much?? relieved?) that I took real estate finance because I already knew all the stuff about deeds, mortgages, conveyance, etc. And I was happy that I had been a Property TA my second year. I'm sure after I take my practice test in it this afternoon, I'll be singing a different tune, but it just didn't seem like there was anything I heard in the lecture or read in the outline that left me thinking: "Oh yeah! I forgot about that." or "Wow, really? I didn't know that."

I am unexcited about the amount of work on the schedule for the three day weekend, and even more unexcited about the fact that I make up for Monday being a holiday by going to class next Saturday. Ick.

Oh, and a random thing: our property professor noted several places where he said that PMBR materials will tell you the opposite of what he said and that they are wrong. Is that so? Prof Proprty gave me the impression that PMBR stuff is largely out of date. That makes me kind of nervous to use their questions for the MBE. ANyone?

Lastly, and randomly--I just discovered ink on one of my hands. I don't mind stuff on my hands when I did it or at least remember when it occurred. But trust me, when you're a mom, and you don't know if you got it at school or since you've been home... you look at your little kid and think "crap."

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Party's Over. Back to Work!

The Work Part
Sigh. Today was my first day of Barbri. The only good thing about it was that it ended early and the homework for today is "lighter" than most. It's about what I thought it would be in terms of workload. And yes, I am one of those suckers who plans to follow their suggested study schedule. The only anticipated change to it will be using the PMBR questions that I bought on ebay last fall instead of Barbri's.

One thing about today's lecture surprised me though: it was very low key and very "this is going to be, well not quite easy, but not as hard as you think." I thought they were supposed to terrify you into believing that unless you work yourself to death, you are going to fail... oh wait, that's PMBR's line. I was entertained at the veiled comments about how PMBR's method doesn't work over the long run. Generally, I find the Barbri schtick classier than PMBR's. We'll see how it pans out. I was also very saddened to see classes scheduled for 2 Saturdays :( But delighted and somewhat scared to see that classes end the end of June. So July is all me.

The Party Part
It seems only fitting to put what is officially in the past, last. I took my bar trip during finals (since I had none). The Fam and I went to Europe for 2 weeks. And Euro, while convenient for country-hopping, could not have been at a worse exchange rate for us. I still haven't been brave enough to figure out the dollar bottom line :( It's going to be bad--but that's what firm stipends are for right? Wait, I mean tax refunds and economic stimulus packages, right? We had a blast though and it was money well-spent, as is evidenced by the fact that none of us came home this time with scabies. Ew!

We took my daughter with us, and she was fabulous. And I do mean fabulous. By the end of the trip, you could really tell that she needed some peer companionship, but really, truly we were able to take her anywhere. I'm certain that she won't remember much of it, but there are little bits that I hope will stay in her memories as little polaroids, like I have of Hong Kong from when I was her age.

The food highlight of the trip was a $42 2-hot chocolates, 2-pastries tea at a tea room called Angelina's in Paris. I've never tasted anything so fabulous in my life. The raspberries on my husband's tart made me rethink my whole stance that raspberries are to be eaten ONLY when no other berries are available. And the chocolate. Sigh. Amazing. Rich. Decadent. Perfect in every way.

The surprising great thing on the trip was the usefulness of our Garmin Nuvi GPS with European maps. We drove through countrysides and little villages we never would have found (since there were virtually no street signs anywhere) without it. It was definitely an "off the map" sort of vacation.

We got back 36 hours before graduation, which was tight but perfect. I was actually surprised at how much walking across the stage and receiving my fake diploma meant to me. I really don't remember being on the verge of tears at either of my other graduations. The student speakers rocked and really captured the camaraderie of our class. And as luck would have it our main speaker sucked. It was like listening to someone annotate their resume and read it to you for half an hour. But it wasn't even any war story type of stuff of "see how you shouldn't lock yourself into some preplanned destiny" message. It really was a "first, I did this. Then I didn't like it so I transferred here. And I did a good job." Sigh. Total yawn, but it finally ended and we got to walk. I was on cloud nine for the day and when we finally got back home from a big family lunch, I was a little deflated. All of that hard work, and I still didn't really have a diploma. But I'm glad I was part of the whole right of passage experience.

Then I had one solid week at home with child at school and hubby at work, and I did nothing. Really truly, I could not have possibly done less, and it was glorious.

Sigh. Now I'm off to put some laundry in and read up on family law. Cheers.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Done. Forever. No more law school.

It happened this weekend. I turned in my project and finished law review stuff, and then I sat at my little desk for a few minutes and enjoyed the numbness, the doneness. I grabbed my favorite slippers that I had left in my office last year (always bloody cold) and my favorite lotion and left. I'll do the official cleaning out later, but I took what was important to me. And then I got into my car and headed toward my favorite "I've worked the whole ruddy weekend away take out place". And I had a huge smile on my face as I went up the stairs and towards my car.

And then something kind of odd happened on the drive... I started crying. I do NOT cry. And it came bubbling out of me. I frantically wiped at the tears as I drove and tried to figure out if I was having a break down. My conclusion was that they were tears of relief and disbelief. Disbelief because it felt like so many times along the way, i wouldn't make it. The extra emotional energy and time I had to find to deal with my nearly always sick child. The trauma of a marriage in flux. My own mid-life crisis. And then, well, law school is just damn hard.

And now it's done. Nothing left but to walk across the stage without tripping.

Last night, I watched a movie without feeling the guilt of knowing I was procrastinating on something for school. And I loved every minute of it.

The fat lady is singing. I'm done.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Law Review Shall Haunt Me No More!

I just completed my last ever Law Review edit. And it couldn't have come at a nicer time--oh wait, yes it could have, months ago! Law Review, how I have hated thee! Let me count the ways:

  • Editing articles that I KNOW no one will ever read because I can tell that EVEN the author was bored writing it
  • Editing writing by professors that is akin to the level my first year undergrad writing
  • Attending endless "executive board meetings" with our fearless (spineless) leader who only ever gave feedback couched in such general terms that no one knew to whom or of what he spoke
  • Cursing at the copyworkers/citecheckers every week as I went through my edits and wondered if they had ever been introduced to a bloody blue book!
  • Yelling (um, forcefully educating??) at the copyworkers/citecheckers in our weekly staff meeting for the same.
  • Meeting an impossible schedule because spineless leader would not enforce deadlines first semester.
  • Having an office in the law review quad (although it was nice to have an office) where I had the privilege of listening to my favorite editor (I call her F.B.--can you guess what that's short for?) bitch and brag alternatively about jobs, clerkships, the size of her paycheck, her grades and any other sort of topic you can think of that ordinarily is either 1) not spoken of or 2) spoken of only with great tact
  • Slogging through mostly meaningless academic work.
I would like to thank Law Review for helping me get a schmancy job in the field that I wanted with the type of firm that I wanted. I would also like to thank last year's board for sniffing glue before note selection and therefore selecting my note for publication. And finally, for helping squelch any thoughts I had to becoming a professor down the road. I hate academia. I knew that before I started this process but clearly had forgotten. Thanks for the refresher!

Fare thee well. And good riddance!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Can someone please explain why it is that:

  • I had to pay almost $100 for a cap and gown set and the gown is essentially a miniskirt? Made of material that I'm not certain will make it through a ceremony?

  • I had to argue with the administration to put a lousy initial into my full name for my diploma... an initial that I included on my initial application to this fine institution; other folks around here have initials... just not me. Weird. Mostly a PITA

  • I am expected to send out announcements? I mean, really, isn't that just politely begging for money? If you're important to me, you're invited to the ceremony. If I didn't call you, well, read into that what you will

  • Barbri thinks it's cute to send books so that they arrive the last day of classes... so totally a downer

  • My local bar hasn't acknowledged even receipt of my application? My only indication that they are working on it is that my check was cashed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I will never again attend another law school class (at least not one that counts toward my JD)

So I'm a little late on this... it was last Wednesday--my last class of law school ever. And we convinced the prof to let us do just the project instead of a project and a final. So Sometime last semester was my last law school final ever. Whew.

It's kind of weird. Very exciting. Very rewarding/fulfilling/satisfying, but still weird. Up until the beginning of March or so, I still LOVED law school. And I mean LOVED it. There was the usual crap one bitches about that make you crazy, but overall. I loved learning the law. Finding out the land mines in each area I studied, discovering that the UCC is a work of art :), challenging my own way of thinking about many areas of my life. It was a great run. And that part I think that I will miss.

But I won't miss the bureaucracy. The ridiculous steps to get things accomplished that are so pervasive in academia. The dickering over the stuff that doesn't matter. The half-hearted, half-assed decisions made about things that do matter.

It's time for it to be over. Now all I have to do (although from where I am sitting with the sun warming my face on am incredibly gorgeous spring day--it's a herculean task) is do my project. And do it well. My goal is to buckle down and get it down by Friday. Sleep on it over the weekend. Check it on Sunday and email it away.

Then get ready for my bar trip :) Find your fork, it's about time to stick it in--'cause I'm almost done.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Frickin' Frackin $%&(*ng COmputer!

Sigh. I just got my computer back today. 15 days after it died a sudden death. That would be 14 days beyond my "next day, on site service" warranty. I have no words to rehash the event now. But I am alive and kicking; and my data for the semester happily is still in tact. And I got to brush up on my remedies and contractual parsing to yell at IBM nightly for several days. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Need To Terrorize Others with Your Bar Story and Barbri vs. PMBR deathmatch

What is with people who try to tell you that the sky actually fell while they were taking the bar exam? Roughly 1.5 hours of the time I spent at court earlier this week was me listening to the psychotic clerk and his experience taking my state's bar (since he took a different one last summer--sucks to be him). Now, I don't live anywhere high-falutin'. But that doesn't mean that his little East Coast self should presume that our bar is provincial and a piece of cake.

I so totally know his type too: the guy in law school who came out of the exam and whined and bitched about all of the things that they know they got wrong... two days later when you see him, he tells you that he figured out what he didn't get right on the 4th question (dummy, always start with whether the transaction is even governed by Article 9!). And then he gets and A in the class. You know the type.

So, in addition to feeling my stomach drop at the very thought of disgustingly difficult bar in store for me this summer, I also got a lecture on the finer points of how to study for the bar. Now, don't get me wrong, I am all about advice from those who have gone before. But. There's just something less palatable about being lectured to about how to do it all by someone who just told me that is NOT what they did.

Incidently, evidently he was a Barbri rep at his school, and even he says the PMBR questions are much, much more like the real MBE than Barbri ever gets. I've heard this from many folks. Enough to make me wonder if it's true. He said that what he and his friends did was substitute PMBR questions into his study plan wherever the Barbri study plan said do x number of our lame questions.

And, something beyond irritating, evidently, you have to shell out an extra $200-300 to take the Barbri intensive "essay" course. You don't just learn how to nail the essays from the other $2100-$3000 they gouge out of you for the damn course. WTF?

Even so, I've already paid for Barbri. Sigh. I'm afraid to go it alone. And I bought the complete PMBR stuff from last summer on ebay for $150. If it helps me sleep at night, I guess it's worth it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

3L-itis, and boy have I got it bad

I think something magical, and sort of counter-productive (down-right evil actually) happened to me on March 1. For starters, it was nearly 60 degrees that day. Nothing like a little spring fever to kick the 3L-itis into overdrive. I have officially had the "one foot in the alumni door and one foot stuck to the floor of my law review office" moment.

We've had notices about 3L luncheon's for "what's next", graduation caps and gowns, 3L graduation pictures being taken next week, forms to fill out if we want our name to appear a certain way on our diploma (note to self: must get on that!), graduation day details, graduation dinner details, and the announcement of our commencement speaker--and this was all since March 1. So I think it's their way of saying, it's okay to check out now--why else would they remind me at every moment that I'm ALMOST DONE.

The problem comes when I awaken in the mornings and think: kill me now, I have to go to my clerkship; or kill me now, I've got an edit for law review due today--let the idiot professor get sued for his sloppy work; or kill me now, I actually have to read for a class. I drag through the days, getting markedly happier by Thursdays. When I work on stuff for the judge, I remind myself that this is actually related to real life and if I fuck it up, he will certainly remember me. And when I work for law review, well, I try to remind myself that personal integrity used to be a something that I strove to maintain. But that reminder now has to be verbal to have any effect, and I have to say it to myself about every 15 minutes that I work on some rubbish article. Reading for class is actually the easiest because 1) I like it and am interested and 2) it's a 5-person class--there is no hiding that you didn't read.

Any ideas for staying motivated for another 5-6 weeks?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Westlaw vs. Lexis Rewards

Until Westlaw gets something as cool and diverse as Amazon into it's bag 'o tricks, it just isn't ever going to be as good as Lexis's rewards. At the end of my first year, I bought a Lost season and a cookbook for dear hubby as a father's day and birthday gift with lexis points using the Amazon store. I just redeemed all but 83 points to get the complete BBC sitcom series of As Time Goes By (aren't you learning a lot about my tastes now??!!). I love this series, and I love watching it again and again, but for that much $$, I wasn't likely to get it for myself. Sigh. It's fabulous, and I can't help but think: Lexis--you done me right, even if your overall product is less wonderful than Westlaw's.

I've got about 17,000 Westlaw points and virtually nothing to do with them. The brands for house stuff are all sub par for a foodie like my husband. The DVD selection is seriously wanting. You can't get CDs or normal books (read: non--How to Succeed even more as a lawyer...). I don't want a tent. And the jewelry is meh. I ask you: what's a girl to select? Suggestions welcome.

And three years culminates into . . .

So I had a lunch today with an associate and partner from my firm. They were on a re-con mission trying to ascertain what I wanted to be when I grow up to be a lawyer after the bar. They also wanted to know if I was available to work over the summer.

The summer part was easy to answer. I'm going on a couple of trips, studying for the bar, and spending lots of time with my family. Not negotiable. The firm doesn't require anyone to start until the 2nd week in September, when the entire "class" gets orientation at HQ. I was a little nervous stating my plans, but I was completely unwilling to scrap them just because I was afraid of what they would think. And it was fine. Easier, than I thought it would be. They both thought that was well-planned, because frankly, they will own me starting in september and for quite a long while thereafter. I don't need the money since hubby works (at least I won't if they send me that stipend). Why not take one final time to rest? And I know studying for the bar sucks, but I meant August and part of September.

The harder part of the conversation was "committing" to where I wanted to practice. And I'm fully irritated with myself because there I weenie'd out. I am getting my first choice but something not even on my radar is evidently now on my lap, and I'm not sure how to extricate myself from it. Sigh. I think it's something to just wait and see and tackle when I get there. There are at least 3 other areas that I would much rather do than that one.

Aside from that kerfuffle, now that it's all over, I'm wondering if I will really love being a UCC goddess?? I mean, I know, what's not to love??? But seriously, it all seems so final. And I know that isn't true; people change practice groups all the time after they've tried something for a few years. It's odd to think that from a smattering of classes though, that you are supposed to have an idea of how what you learned and liked actually translates into as a practicing attorney.

I feel stupid that I'm even pondering on this. I know it's not final. And I know that making the wrong choice isn't permanent or career-damaging. It's just so, well, momentous. Maybe it's the whole graduating and looking at what you have at the end of three years. It isn't unreasonable to want to feel like you can point at a particular thing and say "yes, in three years of effort, I set myself up to become a UCC goddess." Anything less sounds, well, like floundering for three years. I should not attempt to wax philosophical when I'm tired. I guess my point is that I'm a goal-oriented girl. I take steps towards achieving a particular goal and when I get close to accomplishing it, it's time for a new goal--further in the future. so that's what this is really all about for me--what's the next thing to work to? And knowing what I want to be when I grow up sure seems like a pre-req for setting that goal.

I know. I have issues. Love me anyway?

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Law I Lurve; or, How Do I Heart Thee U.C.C., Let Me Count the Ways

So while I was buried in this last year, I managed to take a few U.C.C. classes. Now, you might not recall that I actually became rather enamored of the UCC in my first year. My Contracts prof had a sort of orgasmic relationship with the UCC and brought Article 2 into the class anywhere it was remotely appropriate. I liked it. It was pretty, generally really clear and it all tied together so very nicely.

Since then, I've taken a Secured Transactions class (Article 9) and am currently taking a Payment Systems class (Art 3, 4, 4A, 5 & 7). And the more I read the more, I just simply *heart* the UCC. Obviously, not all of the articles are written with what can only be described as insight into legal code nirvana (I'm talking about you article 4!--what were they thinking?). But when you run across a true winner like Article 9, sigh, my heart begins to pitter patter a little faster.

But the coolest thing about it, is that the whole thing is such a lovely package. I love, love, love sitting in my Payments class and having the prof rattle something off about some default rules on letters of credit (article 5) and how the code assumes they were smart enough to protect themselves with an article 9 transaction. And I really love how I really understand how it all works together. Now, I don't have the orgasmic relationship with the UCC that my K prof did, but damn, it's pretty satisfying.

All silliness aside, it's a damn cool area of the law to be involved in from a private sector point of view. My firm has a developing practice in it that is always hopping--partly because those attorneys are allowed to breach the litigation/transactional barrier and follow deal from inception to bankruptcy or work-out if needs be. So everything is different everyday, but it's a lot of the same players, which is nice for building good relationships.

And my back-up plan these days is to do private securities if the UCC thing doesn't come to fruition (how many of you know there is an article (hardly at all adopted :( ) in the UCC covering investment securities? In any case, it was another of the classes that I fell in love with, and is practiced widely in my firm. Yea! I love options.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Law Review Woes

Since I identified my board position as the root of all evil in my "I'm alive" post, I thought that I might expound a bit on the ridiculousness that is Law Review.

As a 2L doing copywork/cite checking, I hated Law Review. I hated the inanity of editing someone else's very clearly shit work. I thought it ridiculous that a professor would submit such a piece of shit and expect, as their due, little armies of law review plebes to fix all of their gross errors. And I'm not just talking about sloppy blue-booking. I'm talking about border-lined (or just over the line) plagiarism. Incorrect citations. General extreme laziness in citing anything. Do law profs have original thoughts? My conclusion was that, no, no they don't. All articles are merely regurgiations of other author's thoughts... and more often than not, while copyworking, i would discover it wasn't even the person my author cite's thoughts. It was some other egghead's long before.

So I came to the conclusion that
  1. Employers like law review on resumes because it shows that you are detail-oriented, know how to find needle in hay-stacks, know how to save your future senior partner's ass from looking stupid, and you are willing to do completely pointless, mind-numbingly dull tasks just because someone in authority asked (told) you to. So you do it to get a job.
  2. It makes you feel good about your research and writing skills, which are clearly superior to most of the stuff that you work on. If you only had their "connections," you could be just as cool as the authors think they are.
  3. It is a right of passage and simply must be endured.
What I don't like about being on the board, specifically being an editor, is that it is all of the things that I hated before and more because our lame 2Ls won't do their jobs properly. And because I'm just an editor, I don't have any carrot to take away from them. Most of my law review life these days is trying to patch together the half-assed job of my copyworkers and the author who wrote the damn article. I get nothing out of this process other than high blood-pressure.

And the part that makes me just sick about it: I RAN FOR THE STUPID THING! I asked for it. And I got it. Utter, total fucking moron.