Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Extraordinary Rendition: Book Giveaway

In law school I decided it was time for me to branch out and learn more about the lawyer shows and books that everyone had been talking about. Lawyer shows often gave me the creeps, as criminal law is just to spooky and yucky for my taste! I decided to start with some John Grisham books. About 15 books later, I'm still learning about criminal law through these books :) 

That being said, I've loved reading fictional stories about lawyers. I was approached by the publicist of "Extraordinary Rendition" to share this book with my readers. One of you will get a free copy to read as well! 

What is the book about?
When Ali Hussein, suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda, is finally transported from Guantanamo Bay to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, a pre-eminent lawyer and son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers to represent him. On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through Rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man’s civil rights.</p><p>Hussein’s intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of—or the unabated funding of—the world’s most dangerous terror cells. This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other. And, it puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both.Pulled irresistibly by forces he can and cannot see, Johnson enters a lethal maze of espionage, manipulation, legal traps and murder. But when his life, his love, and his acclaimed principles are on the line, Johnson may have one gambit left that can save them all; a play that even his confidants could not have anticipated. He must become the hunter among hunters in the deadliest game.Written by no-holds-barred-attorney Paul Batista, Extraordinary Rendition excels not only as an action thriller, but as a sophisticated legal procedural as well. Batista’s keen legal mind and feel for suspense bleed onto every the page. Smart. Fast. Heart-pounding. A legal thriller of the highest order. (Description from Amazon)

I was also given a copy to read as well, who wants to read it with me? Enter to win by letting me know what your favorite legal book/movie/show is and why!

Giveaway will be open for 1 week til 8/5/14

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Letter to Those Taking the Bar Exam

I had a friend message me today who will be taking the bar exam this summer. She was going through what many recent graduates are going through this time of year...and they are probably going crazy. She asked for advice. There may be more people out there that need to hear this, so here is my letter to those of you that may need to hear this right now:

Hey! I know its hard, I was a total mess. I'd feel great about it one minute, and totally bomb the multiple choice questions the next minute.
That being said, I don't have a great answer for you. I walked out of the bar thinking "I 100% just failed this" and ended up doing awesome...better than most everyone I knew.
To me, it was putting in the time. I forget if you have Barbri but they have an ipad/iphone app with multiple choice. Sometimes I needed to get away, sit outside, and just run through them to do something new. Sometimes I needed to just play the video before I went to sleep and listen to it rather than watch.
I heard barbri questions were harder too (she had asked if it was true that Barbri questions were harder than the real exam) . I would have to say they must be, because I never did great on the practice stuff, but did well on the test. If you're like me, I was never very consistent. One day I'd get 30% of the questions right, the next was 80%.
I will not say that you will pass. I will say that you won't ever regret putting MORE time into studying. I passed with plenty of wiggle room, but I would not go back and exchange one day of studying for a day of relaxation.... every day that went into it could have been the day that made me go from passing to not passing.
That probably didn't help much, but you will get through it. If you're like me, nothing I can say will actually comfort you unless its a lie I can tell you by far passing the bar has been the best feeling I've ever felt, its a big accomplishment, and you CAN do it.

So there you have it. Those are my words for those of you taking the upcoming bar. If you'd like to go back and see what I was like during bar prep, I blogged a couple times as I was going through it-- Look here

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

1 Year Since Graduation

Still here, still lawyering! It has now been 1 entire year since I graduated from law school. 

A lot happens in that first year. If you have a job ready for when you pass the bar, that is wonderful! If not, you're pretty concerned with finding that first job. 

I have friends, like me, that took a job where they'd been clerking...so it wasn't a huge change. I also have friends that have switched jobs 3 times since graduation. I know of people that still haven't passed the bar, as it is only offered twice a year. 

A year ago I was fretting about the bar exam, and just starting the process of studying. It seemed awful. There was so much material, and seemingly so little time. 

This year was full of first. My first time calling myself an attorney, my first hearing by myself, my first time prepping for trial. I'm finally seeing cases all the way through. Its great being able to see all steps in the process now, from the initial client consult to the final resolution of their matter. 

For all of you studying for the bar exam, good luck! I won't say "You'll pass" or any reassuring comments...because I remember how frustrating those were to me. I can say...eventually it will be over. Study hard, commit the time to studying more than you've ever studied, and just go for it. I still think the best feeling in the world was when I opened the letter saying I passed :) 

Friday, April 25, 2014

How Taking the Bar Exam is like Having a Baby

Full disclosure, I've never had a baby. 

So I can't really say that taking the bar exam is like having a baby....but from what I hear about the glories of having a baby...this is why I say this.
A little background. I was sitting in a CLE (Continuing Legal Education...were are required to go to so many of these lectures per year to keep our license) yesterday afternoon listening to a law professor speak, and I realized a year ago I was in class doing this same thing. It seems so long ago that I was in a classroom, copiously taking notes and worrying about finals. 

Then I also realized, the bar exam wasn't even a year ago. I laughed to myself because I thought "eh...that wasn't so bad."

And that's why I think taking the bar exam is like having a baby. 

Its hard, and it was awful. I remember the 2 months studying for the exam, I never had time to just think. So when I did, which always happened to be in the middle of Sunday church, I found myself crying and hoping no one would notice. It was hard, and it was life changing (I would have no job, and no plan if I didn't pass) I remember thinking it was the worst thing of my life. But now I look back, and don't think it was that bad. Also, I can also tell you that finding out I passed the exam was probably the best feeling of my life. I know I'm supposed to say it was when I got married (or another more important life event) but because of the torture of studying, the relief of passing was honestly the best feeling I've ever had, and one of the best moments ever. I laughed, I cried, and I sat right there on the steps up to my apartment and laughed/cried while I called my family. 

It was all worth it. And today I caught myself thinking "Eh, I'd do it again" 
Its the same way I wonder if having a baby is so awful...why in the world do they do it again? How do they forget that pain??

Why do I tell you this? I tell you this because if you haven't taken the exam, I want you to NEVER...EVER while you're studying for the exam, talk to someone who has. I was so FRUSTRATED when I was studying when those who took the exam just a year ago told me "Eh, its fine. You'll pass." I couldn't believe they didn't remember the horror and frankly the hell of studying for the exam. I was a mess, and they were acting like it was EASY for them. That made me even more worried, "did they feel that calm when they were studying? Does that mean I'm not studying enough?"

Now 9 months after taking the exam, I realize its just a necessary evil...and you'll get through it and forget how awful it was. Like completely forget, and think "Eh, not so bad...I'd do it again"

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tips for 0L’s: How to Prepare for Law School Over the Summer

I have another wonderful post here from the amazing Ashley Heidemann! She is fantastic, a girl after my own heart. We both have a passion for talking to potential law students, and giving the advice we wish we had gotten before starting law school. So here she is!


Tips for 0L’s: How to Prepare for Law School Over the Summer  
Guest post by Ashley Heidemann 

Everyone will tell you something different about law school preparation.  There is one camp of people that think the best advice is “Don’t spend one second studying your summer before law school. Instead, relax, travel, spend time on your hobbies and goof off…because you won’t be able to at all during law school!” (This is an over-exaggeration by the way, I took one full day off every week and still graduated as the number one student out of over 200 students in my class…It is all about finding the right balance!)  There is another camp of people that spends their entire summer reading every law-related book they get their hands on in hopes to get a head start on preparing for law school. 

Neither of these approaches are wrong but they are not necessarily right for everyone either.  On the one hand, it is probably not the best idea to become completely mentally lazy or law school may be too big of an intellectual shock for you.  On the other hand, however, you also don’t want to work so hard that you burn out before you even begin school.

The best approach that I recommend is a middle-ground approach: Do some preparation before law school but do not dedicate your entire summer to it. Relax, have fun, travel if possible…but also put in some hours preparing.  Why? It will ease some of your law school anxiety, help you feel prepared and confident, and it can even have a positive effect on your final grades.   

What is the best way to get ready? There is no one-size-fits-all approach to law school preparation. I recommend you pick and choose a few things to start with on the list below. If you are not in the mood to dive right into law school material, prepare by doing things that are less law-school-y and maybe add in a few things that are more law-related closer to when your semester begins:
  • Read a lot. Read intellectually stimulating books on history, economics, or political science. Read anything that will challenge you, expose you to different worldviews, and help you to think critically. This will help you get used to the workload in law school as well as the classroom discussion, which will strongly emphasis critical thinking.
  • Get a head start on Legal Writing and Research. Chances are, you have a required Legal Writing and Research course to take your first year of law school. That means that you are going to have to learn how to write all kinds of case citations, become very familiar with the “bluebook” and have a good handle on legal lingo. It can be daunting to start learning all of this in law school (when you have 10,000 other things to do) but if you pre-order your legal writing books you can save yourself a headache by getting a jump-start before law school begins.  I started learning a few basic things about legal writing maybe a week or two before my law school semester started but I remember being very grateful for the head start.
  • Learn the Law. The best way to learn the law is to buy a supplement that covers a topic that you will learn your first year of law school. My favorite series was the Examples and Explanations series (but there are many options: Glannon Guides, Siegel’s.) I didn’t discover these until I went to law school but I knew students who were well-versed in Contracts, Torts,  Civil Procedure and other subjects because they had read a few of these books the summer before law school.  If you read a supplement or two, not only will you know the law for that subject well, but you will have an idea of how law school classes are structured. Teaching yourself a law school course is pretty time-consuming so I only recommend this to serious students who are willing and able to dedicate the time required for such a task.
  • Learn the skills you need to succeed:  Of all ways to prepare, this might be the most useful. Law school is very different from undergrad and requires a new set of skills. You need to learn how to read and brief cases, outline, memorize your outlines, answer questions “on call”, and take law school exams.  Before I went to the law school, I spent many hours learning the skills I needed to succeed in law school and I can say it made the difference between being average and graduating as the number one law student.  (I now teach all of these skills in an online Law School Preparatory Course). There are also law school preparation books that can help teach you the basics about some aspects of law school (Getting to Maybe is a popular one).
  •  Develop good habits: Sleep. Exercise. Learn to prepare healthy meals.  Good habits are underrated in law school and you will be surrounded by classmates who put physical health on the backburner. Physical health is important, in part, because it is intimately related to mental health.  If you are looking to increase your concentration, focus, and recall - and ultimately do well in class and on law school final exams - maintaining a healthy lifestyle is something you should make a priority. 
  • Relax.  The “first camp” of advisors have a good reason for telling students to relax before law school. You will have a lot of work to do in law school. Making time to relax, spend time with family and friends, and rest your brain should be something you take full advantage of while you do not have deadlines and exams weighing on you. Relaxing will rejuvenate you and help you feel ready to dive into the work that awaits you when you begin your semester.

Is it impossible to do well in law school if you do not prepare ahead of time? No. However, some pre-law school preparation will certainly help ease anxiety and prepare you ahead of time for the challenging task that lies ahead of you.

Ashley Heidemann graduated as the number one law student out of over 200 students in her class of 2011 at Wayne State University. She now works as a tutor for law school and the bar exam. She also teaches an Online Law School Preparatory Course . For more information, visit her site at www.excellenceinlawschool.com.

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