Law School - 2L

On #2Hell Year

I’m not sure if this is a nationwide thing or just an Illinois Law thing, but each year has a hashtag.  As a second year law student, I started to deeply understand #2Hell year.

I don’t have many amazing things to say.  This year was hard and I only enjoyed about 50% of my classes.  I took a whole bunch of classes that I got to choose all on my own.  Some of them were mind-blowing and amazing, others were snooze-fests that killed me during finals.  But I don’t think it’s the class load that necessarily kills you.  It’s the job searching, it’s trying to figure out what you want to do after you graduate, it’s about having to think more and more about graduation (and post-graduation), it’s clinic, it’s extracurriculars and it’s basically like being the middle child of the family.

However, I became a mentor of sorts this year.  It’s weird to think of myself as a mentor since I’ve always considered myself a mess, but it happened.  They don’t need my mentorship now (they’re all excelling at their internships <3), but talking to them and helping them had a positive impact on me, and hopefully them.  They made me think about the kind of person I wanted to be and the kind of mark I wanted to leave on people.  My dark depression probably would have been darker if I hadn’t had my little baby 1Ls.

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Here are some of my little 1L babies

This year was hard in so many ways and it’s weird to think that it’s over.  I had a few personal struggles.  This year made me doubt whether or not I really wanted to be in law school.  I would call my mother and she’d have to convince me to finish the semester, then just finish the year.  I obviously did both those things, but it was a fight to not give up in the middle of the semester (or week) and move back home.

So how do you get through those moments?  It’s easy to get lost and forget yourself when you’re overwhelmed by classes and can’t think of one good thing about school and hate every living second of it.  I struggled and I found a reason to keep going.

In the words of my insane Civ Pro professor:  don’t let yourself get so lost in law school that you forget why you decided to go to law school.  Besides the outstanding amount of loans that I need to pay off, I thought back on my 1L summer at Immigration Project, I thought about my bosses when I was working as a paralegal, I thought about my friends who motivated me to go to school, I thought about my family and the opportunity that I’ve received.

I don’t say blessing often, but going to law school has been a blessing.  I am unbelievably fortunate to be here.  I don’t enjoy every moment, but I know so many people who would love to be in my position.  These last two years have been a privilege and I have to make sure that I make the most of it.

I absolutely know what it is like to struggle through law school.  I struggled through these two years financially, emotionally, psychologically, and I’m on the other side of it now.  So for anyone who feels the same… I got you.

-M

Everyday Life · Law School - 2L

Marcie’s Christmas Movies :: 2016

Last year, I made a list of my favorite Christmas movies.  They were cheesy, they were terrible, but they were beloved.  I thought, in honor of Christmas 2016, I would update the list.

I’m proud to announce that, while I do still love the horribly cheesy Christmas movie, I also now enjoy less horribly cheesy Christmas movies and have expanded my horizons.  Again, I invite everyone to check them out, but to also keep your expectations very low.  I have to stay true to me and me really likes cheesy Christmas movies.

2015 Xmas Movies:
1.  Dear Santa (still on Netflix now)
2. Christmas Kiss (still on Netflix now)
3.  Kinky Boots (no longer on Netflix)
4.  Love Actually (still on Netflix–and watching as I write this post)
5.  Santa Claus is Coming to Town (was never on Netflix.  Their mistake)

2016 Xmas Movies:
1.  The Holiday (no longer on Netflix–those jerks removed it before Christmas).  What’s not to love about The Holiday?  It has Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Eli Wallach, and the music is amazing.  I love me some Frou Frou.  Also, I just find it to be relatable to a certain extent.  Judge me.

2.  A Holiday Engagement (on Netflix).  This is a cheesy one, but I like it.  It’s about a girl who is dumped by her fiancé and hires an actor to play her fiancé.  Shenanigans ensue.  It’s light, predictable, and even though it takes place over Thanksgiving, there are Christmas ornaments and trees in it.

3.  The Last Holiday (on Netflix).  This isn’t as cheesy, but I think it deserves to be on the list.  The one-liners in that movie are hilarious.  “That’s why they call it gambling and not crocheting!”  Classic.

4.  Christmas Kiss II (on Netflix).  Surprisingly, it’s not as horrible as the first Christmas Kiss.  I was surprised to see that.  The acting is less horrible and the storyline isn’t nearly as cheesy.  The characters spend more time together and they’re generally more likable.  It’s an improvement.

5.  A Dogwalker’s Christmas Tale (on Netflix).  I just watched this today.  If anyone likes dogs, Christmas, girl power, and the popular guy from Mean Girls, then this is definitely a movie for you.  It’s meet-cute with dogs and I’m all over it.

Enjoy!

~ m

Everyday Life · Law School - 2L

On Lessons From My Mother…

I’ve found myself saying one phrase in particular since the end of my 1L year: “My mama taught me better than that.”  I started saying it because I had weddings to attend and no money for the wedding present.  Everyone was very forgiving and understanding but my mama taught me better than that. Now I have been saying it because my mama did teach me better, but oh well.

I hate that I’m ignoring her lessons too.  My mother is wise and smart and she taught me better.  It’s probably all the stress and struggle of returning to law school, starting 2-Hell year (heard that the first day and, after the first day, know it to be accurate), but just because I’m sleep deprived doesn’t mean I’m the same bratty sociopathic child that I was. I clearly need a refresher course, so these are some of the things my mama taught me.

1.  Obviously, you always get someone a wedding present, whether you attend the wedding or not.  The bane of Summer 2016 (although shoutout to my boosk, Liz, at Baby Got B.A. for being a poor grad student with me and splitting the presents).

2.  If someone offers to pay, you eat like you would if you were paying for yourself and/or you get a small drink.  This is a lesson I’ve carried with me since she told me when I was in elementary school.  I use it to judge my friends as well, so be warned.

3.  Don’t waste your energy on pointless things or things you can’t change.  In this instance, because it’s her giving me advice, it’s in regards to my “temper.”  My mom is fairly non-confrontational, which sometimes drives me crazy.  The funniest example of this is my current irritation with the U-Haul across the street from me.  She shut down my ire with one sentence:  “Are you really this angry at a U-Haul?  Aren’t you in law school?  Shouldn’t you have better things to worry about?”  Yes, I do (but the U-Haul still irks me).  However, the most legitimate example of it is with people.  I had friends where their political views and selfishness made me so angry.  My mom always said that either I learn to deal with it or you end it.  There’s no point in wasting energy arguing with them.  This may seem inconsequential or obvious, but it has affected how I am around people ever since.

4.  Putting milk in coffee is for poor people.  I feel like this needs context to not sound as weird (and possibly elitist) as it does, but all I can say is that my mother and I put either half and half or coffee creamer in our coffee.  I once called her while I was in undergrad and told her that I put milk in my coffee (I’m not sure if it was because I was poor or needed to do groceries).  She felt very sorry for me and said that she’d give me money to buy some creamer and then said milk in coffee was for poor people.

5.  “It’s fine!”  I’m a control enthusiast and I like things a certain way.  Presentation means more to me than my mother will ever understand.  She doesn’t sympathize with my plight.  Every now and then, I’ll hear my mom’s voice in my head whenever I’m being over-controlling about stupid things, like what order the books on my bookshelf should be in.

6.  “The money will be there.”  This first popped up when I went to college.  I’ve never been great at getting my own outside scholarships, sos when I was talking about loans and all these financial worries about attending the school I wanted versus the school that gave me aid, my mom would always tell me that the money would be there.  Definitely applies today still.

7.  The Art of Chill.  I’m still learning this.  Anyone who has met my mother knows and has said that she is the most chill person on Earth.  The world could be crashing in around her and she would be perfectly chill.  Life is easier when the stupid things don’t bother you and then you can focus on important things.  This sounds like Lesson 3 and I suppose it’s along the same strain.  She doesn’t let things bother her, even when they would bother any other normal human being.  She doesn’t judge people, even though she should.  I aspire to her chillness.

I’m stopping at 7 because that’s her favorite number.  It’s also encroaching onto another post I want to do.  I appreciate all that my mother has done for me. 🙂

ms

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This is our family photo… very hard to get.
Law School - 1L

I’m a gloomy law student.

I re-read my last two posts about law school.  Neither of them are particularly happy.  In fact, it makes it seem like I’m in a huge depression spiral of law.  That might be true sometimes, but law school has its ups and downs.  To balance out my last post (which I really did intend to be a happy post), I am going to write about some law school moments that I would never take back.  They’re moments that remind me why I am going to law school.

Three big moments mainly come to mind.  This was the biggest.  This past spring I had the opportunity to meet the Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.  She came to University of Illinois and the only thing I can say is #blessed.  The first night, she held a “conversation” with the whole campus.  People from around the university asked her questions and got a chance to hear her speak.  She talked about her personal experiences and how it felt to be nominated.  It was also a conversation full of Yale Law graduates, so a bunch of Yale jokes were being tossed around.  I’m not a Yale grad, but they were still funny to me.

The next day she was at the College of Law and participated in “Meet the Judges” where you heard her talk even more about her experiences and being on the Supreme Court.  Afterwards was a meet and greet for all the student organization executive boards.  Funnily enough, I am on the executive board for the Latino Law Student Association.  We were the first to meet her and we got to chat with her for a bit.  Everyone else on the board was super calm and smooth.  In classic fashion, I brought the end of the line and I had rehearsed what to say… but then she intercepted me.  She said “I’ve seen you around, you’ve been to the events.”  Of course I went to the events.  “That’s the thing about curly hair, you’re very noticeable.”  We are, aren’t we?  Then she waited for me to explain who the hell I was–I choked.  I apparently didn’t know my own name.  Eventually the ball got rolling though and we had a little chat about mi patria.  She’s been to the DR, no big.

There is photographic proof of this.  One of the benefits of being in LLSA was that we got a picture with the Justice.  One of the conditions is that it never makes its way onto the internet, so no one else will see it.  Then we got to see her judge the moot court and Justice Sotomayor is one tough lady.

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That day still makes me smile.  I missed a whole day of work and had to skip a class–I also had to buy a suit–but it was amazing.  It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and she’s an amazing person.  She’s my woman crush and so inspirational.  She’s the bomb, she’s SCOTUS bae.  I’m totally fan-girling.

Beyond Justice Sotomayor, I was admitted into the Domestic Violence Clinic for this fall, which will allow me to work with real clients (under supervision) and provides amazing practical experience.  It’s apparently quite selective since only 8 people made it in.  It’s going to be extremely demanding, but I am very excited.  It’s going to be a taste of what being a real life lawyer will be like, especially with how it is organized.  It takes learning outside the stuffy classrooms and give you a real client with real issues where you need to advocate for them.

Additionally, the externship office knows their game and got my pathetic butt into an externship with the Immigration Project (more on how I failed a finding a job like a responsible person later).  I will be working under these amazing lawyers who are devoting their time to providing low-cost legal advice to immigrants from a wide variety of backgrounds.  They are the only ones that provide low lost immigration aid outside of the Chicagoland area.  And it’s right in Champaign.  I start Monday and I’m pumped.  It’s exactly what I want to do when I grow up.  I am endlessly grateful for that opportunity as well.

Good things can come from law school.  Don’t let my bouts of depression convince you otherwise.  Grades are just one thing, but the experience is another.

-m

Law School - 1L

Law School Don’ts.

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Another semester completed.  Somehow, I didn’t drop out in the middle of the semester (two people in our 1L class actually did, from what I understand).  I’m not sure how I did on finals.  I know that this was one of the worst semesters of my life as far as emotions, social stuff and stress itself.  We will see how it goes academically.

Now that I’m a wizened incoming 2L, I would like to impart some wisdom on those who are going to law school this fall or who are like me and need a reminder on what mistakes to avoid.  This list is neither exhaustive or authoritative, but it hopefully helps.  It’ll at least help me.

Don’t wait until the last minute for anything.  Seriously.  Just don’t. I got away with it in undergrad and in post-grad stuff, but it’s impossible in law school.  It only hurts you.

Don’t get caught up in the high school drama that is law school.  Maybe that means you’re left out of all the gossip, but, trust me, it’s not great gossip and it’ll get to you eventually.  I probably said it before, but law school is so much like high school in the social aspect that it’s ridiculous.  It’s best to not let that get to you, appreciate the friends you have and keep on fighting on.

Don’t save outlining for finals.  I need this reminder tattooed on my face because I did it again and it was the literal worst.  Cramming an entire semester’s worth of information into your head in a few days is not how you learn.

Don’t waste opportunities.  Take advantage of everything the school has to offer, even if you don’t want to, even if you don’t think you can.  I have missed out on opportunities and taken advantage of them.  I regret the ones I’ve missed (scholarships, workshops, jobs, etc.) and I am so completely thankful for the ones I haven’t (namely, meeting Justice Sonia Sotomayor–totally worth getting a suit).

Along that line, don’t forget to buy/get/bring your suit.  I didn’t have a suit.  All my pre-law school jobs were business casual and I avoided buyings suits like the plague.  I am not a small-sized person and I had no interest in spending that kind of money anyway.  Before I even started law school, I needed a suit.  I, of course, didn’t get one.  It didn’t matter that much in the fall, but in the spring when job interviews happen… trying to track down a suit that fits is added stress that you don’t need.

Don’t excuse your bad behavior/decisions or whatever you did that made you unhappy.  Seriously.  You did bad.  Own it and do better.

Don’t work if you don’t have to.  There are some people that have to work and some people that are lucky to have not completely maxed out their loans or have family helping.  I am one of the people that has to work through school.  I bounced between school and work during the weekdays and it wore me out.  I have no doubt in my mind that it’s affected my studies and stress levels.  There are some that can handle it–maybe handle it better, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take its toll.

Don’t forget to do the little things that make you happy.  Relief is necessary.  So watch that new episode of Game of Thrones (my roommate) or sing loudly in the apartment to classic 80s hits (me).  Give yourself a goddamn minute.

Don’t forget what or who you came to law school for.  This was actually advice that my ever-so-colorful civil procedure professor gave.  It was right before finals and I was so overwhelmed by law school at the time.  When he ended the class with these words, I wanted to cry.  Good crying.  It’s very easy to get caught up in law school.  It’s competitive, stressful, meant to make you work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life–and it will feel like it’s meant to make you fail.  I know it’s easier said than done, but you have to pull through and remember why you’re there.

Don’t judge your abilities against those of your classmates.  This is so important because it’s pretty freaking toxic.  Everyone has their own learning curve, everyone has their own time constraints and personal demands.  Comparing yourself to how other people study or what they’re doing is a horrible idea.  Although you’re graded against each other on the final, you’re not graded against each other in study habits.  You have to do you and go at a pace that doesn’t cause more harm than good.  I emphasize this because law school is stressful and emotionally draining as is.  Holding yourself against others just adds on more stress and emotions–which do you no goodie the grand scheme of things.  However, if you’re going to do it anyway, choose the right person.  Someone who you actually think has a good plan in place or has a similar style to you.  I chose my roommate.  We study differently, but his time management is on point and that’s something I greatly need.

I wish I had a more positive list–maybe later I’ll counter it with a list of “Do’s.”  But I think there’s still something to be learned from my mistakes.  This semester was a hell-storm of badness.  But law school ain’t over yet.  There’s still two more years and I am going to do so much better.

-m

PS – I just did a law school google image search because I wanted to spruce up the post.  Our law school is ugly as ehf.

Complaining - Sorry! · Everyday Life · Law School - 1L

Law School is Hard

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It’s been a full semester.  Law school is exactly what you would think and nothing like you would think.  I went in with expectations of it being the most grueling time of my life.  And it was, but it also… wasn’t that bad.  I can’t say it hasn’t been worthwhile.  I also can’t say I’ve enjoyed it.  It was hell on earth and I surpassed my own expectations.  I’ve also failed myself a bit too.

I realized about a week after law school started that I hadn’t done my research.  Yes, I did some research on schools.  I did some research on the job market and prospects.  I did some research on my own personal career path.  I did zero research on actually being in law school.

One of the biggest hurdles was that of studying.  I never had study skills while I was in high school or in my undergrad.  One good read-through was enough to get me far enough.  So, I had to develop those skills and develop them fast.  I went from book notes, to case briefs, to post its in the margins.  In real crunches, I would just write in the margins (which is a Marcie no-no).  Eventually, I got the hang of it… sort of.

One big study tool is an outline (my most hated word still).  I did not utilize it to the best of my abilities… or anyone’s abilities… since I didn’t really utilize it at all.  Maybe some people did it in every other academic level, but I never did.  I outline essays, not courses.  Outlining a course is basically the same as outlining an essay… but you do it after and it’s more time consuming (and it sucks).  So when people started outlining, I was lost and confused.  The whole concept was foreign to me.  I resisted doing it and learning about it for so long that I never got around to actually completing an outline before finals (one of those times that I failed myself).

Honestly, from this vantage point, the whole semester is a blur.  All I can remember are the finals.  Finals that cause you physical pain.  Finals that keep you up at night.  Finals that seem never ending.  Finals that practically are never-ending (cough, cough, property).  It’s all hard.  You feel like you’re knowledgeable and coasting through the semester, but really, you’re not and you know nothing.  Finals will make you realize that.

It may be surprising to find that what’s hard about law school isn’t just the coursework.  It’s the support too.

Law school can be pretty lonely.  Maybe this isn’t the same for other people, but I thought it was.  I need people, in general, and, in Champaign, I desperately needed people.  But Free time was scarce and my friends in the school were busy and stressed.  I was too.

My relationships with friends from home were strained (apparently people don’t want to wait until Wednesday to talk to me, jerks).

Even then, I was about as conversational as a wall.

My roommate would leave every weekend and I wouldn’t leave the apartment except to study at a coffeeshop.

Me. Studying in Coffeeshops
Me. Studying in Coffeeshops

My closest friend in the law school took off in the middle of the semester (like ya do) and left a little bit of a lurch.  She was the person I sat next to in all my classes.  When she left, I had no one to sit next to in classes.  I was constantly poor, so doing things like dinner and drinks with other students wasn’t always an option.  I also can’t say I’m the most outgoing person.  So for me, it was extra lonely.

In some ways, law school can be a bit like high school too.  Maybe it’s because the school is so insulated.  There are groups of people that hang out, like little cliques that intermingle with other specific little cliques.  Despite that, everyone is in everybody else’s business.  Nothing is secret and everyone is ready to casually talk about your business.  I’ve never had to watch what I say as much as I have this past semester.  I’m almost positive it’s because we don’t see anyone but each other.  We have nowhere else to get our thrills.  Again, maybe that’s just how I view it, but it certainly added to my mental stress.

I’ve only discussed the bad things.  There are some good things.  Law school forces you to get some of your act together.  None of this blowing off a paper to go to wine night at Krannert.  It instills some good practices for those that didn’t already have them.  I’m obviously where I want to be, even if it’s not fun.  If it were supposed to be fun then it would be an amusement park, amirite?

Despite the difficulties, I’m looking forward to going back.  At least the first semester is over.  Hopefully the next one is better.  I have a better handle on studying and what I need to do before finals.  It’ll be fine.

-m

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New Year's Resolutions

Resolutions Update: Final Results

I postponed this post for as long as I could because I realized an error last time.  Last year, I made 16 posts (yes, I know… that’s not a lot).

I had a bunch of ideas on what to write, my heart and soul was ready to be bled out over the webpages.  Unfortunately, law school got in the way.  So, without further ado… the end result of my 2015 New Year’s Resolutions.

1. Work out regularly
I didn’t even try to do this.  It’ll be on the roster for next year.

2. Go to law school

3. Redo my bedroom
Well, I did reorganize my bedroom at my apartment… but that was not the bedroom I was thinking when I made this resolution.

4. Start vlogging
I didn’t even try to do this.  Because of the realities of law school, this will not be on the one next year. It’s hard enough to blog.

5. Write on the blog more
Three. Posts. Short.

6. Be more up-to-date on current world and domestic events
Done.  You can’t be in law school without knowing what’s going on in the world (or in other people’s business).

7. Read at least 4 books this year
… DANG IT. I did read two books this year (Secret Life of Bees and the law school essays book); however… I didn’t read the other two. But I read about 96 cases for property, 56 cases for contracts, and 52 for civil procedure. That’s about 220 cases, which, times about 3 pages, is 660 pages (and for the most part these cases were not 3 pages). The other two books comes to the total pages of 528 pages. Therefore… I read the equivalent of two books and then some.

But I’ll stay true to the resolution and not mark it off.

8. Be nicer to people
You may be surprised to know that I have successfully completed this resolution.  It was in a little way, but it made a big difference.  I noticed a while ago that when I smile at people in passing… I don’t actually smile.  I press my lips together and then call it one, but it’s not.  Since I’ve realized it, I’ve made an effort to smile, with teeth or at least an upturn of the lips.  It was awkward for weeks, but I managed.

9. Learn an instrument
Ugh. No. But I really have to because of the wedding in six months.

10. Photography
I love me some photography. I managed more this year, just not with my fancy camera. My instagram has some pretty awesome pictures, if I do say so myself.

11. Get U.S. Citizenship

So, I didn’t complete all of my resolutions, but 5/11 ain’t so bad!  I’m proud of what I did get done. Some of them are biggies, like going to law school and getting my citizenship.  This has been a good year, despite all the difficulties.  I think this resolutions list is a testament to that.  Also, I don’t think I’ve ever completed this many in all the years I’ve done resolutions (it helped to have them written and to check myself every couple of months).

The next set will be coming out soon.  I still have to figure it out myself.  I think I’ll probably have a shorter list that will be much harder to complete.  Stepping it up in 2016.

Thank you and stay tuned!

-m

Goodbye-2015-and-hello-2016-photo