One of the perks of being in a mid-sized firm is the experience. One of the drawbacks is the same...the experience.
For being out of law school less than 2 years, I've gained tons and tons of experience compared to many others that graduated at the same time as me. My caseload is my own, I don't receive bits and pieces of assignments from the partners...I manage my own work. If you're in law school, you may be thinking that is terrifying, and at times, it is. If you're in law school and don't think that is terrifying...you're probably too cocky :)
So, I'm often thrown out of the nest and taught to fly by my own instinct (and research...and studying...and observing...and asking questions). There is no hand holding, especially since I hit my 1 year mark as an associate here back in September.
I've said before and I'll say it again, I never wanted to be in a courtroom. I went to law school with the intent of working preventing the courtroom fiasco. That is, drafting clear contracts that prepare for the "what ifs" that inevitably come out to be the "yep...this just happeneds." I wanted to educate business owners, set up corporations, and be the go-to for handling sticky situations to prevent the filing of a case in court. I'm still that person in general practice, but that is only about 10% of what I do here.
My primary areas of practice at this juncture is family law, probate, and estate planning (wills and trusts).
I gained invaluable experience this week. It was my first full-blown, all-day trial. Don't get me wrong, I'm in court lots for various hearings (if you're not in the legal field you may not know that there are often lots of court appearances before a trial) but trials are different. Trials are long, intimidating, and final. Well as final as a divorce trial can be...when inevitably a modification is already on a client's mind.
As I've said before, so much of being in the courtroom is about the preparation. But there is only so much you can prepare for when you don't know who will be a witness for the opposing side. One of the best pieces of advice a mentor gave me this week was "Just remember, you're not getting the divorce." And it's true. My job is to be prepared, ask the right questions, and do the best I can do for my client. I should also mention I've gone through plenty of other divorce cases, but plenty of them are completed through a mediation and/or settlement agreement. Trial is sticky, taking the decisions out of the hands of the parties who have stake in the game...and giving it to a third party to make all decisions. From my tone, you won't be surprised to hear I'm an advocate of working things through between the parties.
Not much time to celebrate my victory of knocking my first trial out of the way, on to preparing for my next.
So excited to be sharing this great giveaway from one of my closest friends, Brittney of Books By Brittney! She makes the fabulous books, and without further ado, I welcome Brittney to the blog to share her books with you!
It’s an honor to be
featured on this blog! Kitty and I go back a long, long ways. We love to craft
together and to try out our craft ideas on each other. I think that Kitty
actually made her first ever wire hanger for my wedding…then she went on to
I have enjoyed supporting
Kitty’s Etsy business as her friend, so it should come as no surprise that
Kitty has been one of my greatest supporters as I launched my own Etsy shop in
the past year.
and foremost, I am a lover of books in every way, shape and form. I love to
read, but I also love to use them in crafts. The main work I’m doing these days
is book folding, like this cute “Read” book!
you’re not familiar with book folding, I’m so excited to share this neat art
form with you! You may also hear pieces like mine described as book origami,
book sculptures, or book art. Each unique piece is made by meticulously folding
individual book pages to create a 3-D word or image. The process takes hours
from start to finish and each book generally contains at least 400 different folds. So, while the cost of supplies stay
low (I upcyle unwanted books which are oftentimes Readers Digest Condensed
books), the majority of the pricing covers my time and labor on the pieces. A
“block” font costs $12.50 per letter and the Serif font is $15 per letter.
please note: No pages are permanently harmed in the creation of these books.
Should you ever find yourself stranded on a deserted island and dying of
boredom, you could technically unfold each page and read any of these books
from beginning to end. This is not suggested, but it is a viable option. J
books make awesome presents for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings!
Book lovers especially love them, but you don’t have to love to read to enjoy
these unique pieces. With the option of customizing the books to feature
wedding dates, your initials or your last name (or whatever other word you’d
like to use), the possibilities are endless! You can keep up with me on Facebook was well here!
that you’ve faithfully read this post till the end, here is your chance to win
one of these custom creations! The contest will stay open until Wednesday December 10th at
which time a winner will be randomly selected. This winner will get to pick
between my best-selling heart folded book or a folded book spelling out the
don’t sweat if your name isn’t chosen in the drawing! All of Kitty’s blog
readers can use the coupon code KITTYBLOGS in my Etsy shop for 20% off until
January 31, 2014! It’s a busy time of year, so if you’re thinking about
purchasing a folded book as a Christmas present, I would encourage you to order
by December 15th at the latest to ensure timely delivery.
**RaffleCopter appears to be not working all the time. To enter, do one or all of the below (and comment below that you have to get an entry) each time you comment with one of these its an entry. 1. Visit the facebook page here! Like the page and tell me you did 2. Share the giveaway on social media (twitter, facebook, etc.) Entry for each day you do it (one per day available) 3. Visit the Etsy shop,Books By Brittney. Then comment letting me know you did (extra entry if you add it to your etsy favorites) 4. Comment below letting me know what you would have on your book!
*this giveaway is occurring through both blogs that I manage, one winner will be selected from the combined entries.
One of my favorite things so far about my 2nd year of practice, is I have the amazing opportunity to teach a class at a local university. I have the privilege of teaching an MBA class on the legal and ethical environment of business. It is at a christian based university which I absolutely love! You may know my undergraduate degree is in business, and I started my MBA in law school (just barely) but decided: 1. None of the jobs I was applying for even cared if I got my MBA 2. No one would pay me more 3. It cost money 4. And I'd spend and entire extra year in school.
Not worth it. The opportunity cost of the lost income during that extra year of school, and the cost involved with adding on an MBA just did not make sense when employers weren't going to care. I'm not saying I won't go back and get my MBA later, but it is not the time now and it didn't make sense then. I'm not saying an MBA in law school is a bad idea for everyone either, there are plenty of places that will love that you have a JD and MBA.
So here I am, teaching students older than I am about the law and ethics. They've taught me so much, and they've reminded me time and time again that law school is totally different than other kinds of school.
The idea of a discussion based class with essay quizzes on fact patterns is a whole knew thing. I've taught them to read case law, and they've reminded me that reading cases is not easy :)
Its been a blast so far, and I've always thought teaching is something I'd enjoy. So far, I love it! One of my favorite things about getting my law degree is how many doors it has opened. I'm to the point where I have friends asking me questions left and right about all kinds of legal matters. I love that I can help them or at least point them in the direction that will help them.
Who knew I'd love being a teacher as much as I do! Also...no one told me that writing a midterm exam is probably just as time consuming as studying for one!
One of the law students that I tutor, who
I’ll call Brad, ran to me in a panic right before his law school exam study
period last year. Brad had been diligently reading and briefing the cases all
semester but then, a couple weeks before final exams, study period began and
there were no more cases assigned.
“What should I
be doing?” He asked me. Without any assignments and without much guidance, he
did not know how to prepare for law school final exams.
While it might
not be your final exam study period yet, law school final exams are not far
away. Maybe you find yourself feeling like Brad – wondering what to do once all
of your reading assignments are over. Or maybe you even want to begin to
prepare for law school final exams now. After all, the earlier you begin
preparing, the higher the chances are of boosting not only your confidence, but
also your grades.
So how can you
best prepare for your exams? To answer that question, you have to answer the
question: What do law school final exams test?
Law school final
exams test two things:
whether you know the law; and
whether you are able to apply it to fact
So really the
question, at a fundamental level is, “How I can I better learn and apply the
law?” This is a two-part question which has a two-part answer. We’ll look at
each in turn.
First, how do you learn the law?
The best way to
learn the law is to outline and learn your outlines. Think of making an outline
as putting pieces of a puzzle together. You organize the important bits and
pieces from your class notes, your cases, and supplements and create a big
picture of the law in your outline.
Outlining is the
best way to learn all of the material you have learned throughout the semester.
It is best to make your own outline (build your own puzzle!) rather than using
someone else’s outline. Why? Because the process
of outlining – of putting the pieces together - helps you more than
anything else! You are cheating yourself out of really internalizing the
material if you simply use outlines that others have made.
What should you do
when you’re done making your outline? You learn it! It is not enough to just have
the outline (even if you have an open book exam!). You need to know your
outlines as well as possible.
Second, how do I get better at applying
You have to
practice! Some students make the mistake of simply reading a lot of theory
about how to get better at answering exam questions. They read books about how
to answer exam questions and they obsess over different strategies and
different ways to make arguments. And that’s fine – but it’s not enough. In
reality, whether you use the IRAC method (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion) or
something else, the best thing you can do is practice taking exams. This is
true whether your exam is essay exam (the most common), short answer, or
If you wanted to
get better at tennis, you wouldn’t sit around and read books about how to play
tennis all day – you’d go to the courts and actually practice! So get a hold of as many past exams you can.
Look at your professor’s past exams. Look online. Consult supplements such as
Examples and Explanations supplements or Glannon guides, which usually have
plenty of problems available for you to review. Practicing will truly help you to perfect the
skill of taking law school exams.
What shouldn’t you be doing?
There is no
reason to spend extra time reading cases, briefing cases, or doing anything
that doesn’t directly help you to learn or apply the law when you begin to
study for final exams. A lot of first
year law students make the mistake of obsessing over cases – reading them,
rereading them, and briefing them to prepare for exams. However, most
professors do not test on cases – in fact, many professors will tell you that
you can get an “A” without citing one case on your exam!
If you keep in
mind that you will be tested primarily on whether you know the law and whether
you can apply it to fact patterns – both now and during your final exam study
period - you will be well on your way to succeeding on law school exams.
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 exam
preparatory course. For more information, and to find out more about the Law School
Exam Preparatory Course, visit her site athttp://www.excellenceinlawschool.com.
Welcome! I'm Kitty, the former law student, now attorney. Here, I shared about crafting my way through law school.In school, I learned the only way to get through, is to enjoy my life outside of school!