The last month has been a whirlwind of activity — no surprise, of course, given that school work and life both ramped up at the same time — and somehow, I’m here wondering how it’s final exam time yet again. It’s been an interesting few weeks since my last blog.
I am pleased to report that L&C did very well at the ABA Negotiation competition. My partner and I had a good showing: we received a perfect score on the second round, which was exciting for us, while our classmates on the other team won the regional contest! I am very happy for them; they will go on to the national competition this February in Dallas.
Attending regionals certainly whet my appetite for more; I’m planning to try out for another negotiation competition in the spring. I have probably mentioned this before, but I’m really interested in the skills required to be a good lawyer — the more chances I get to practice techniques and skills for the real world, the better I will be able to serve my clients.
The student group I lead, Phi Delta Phi, recently concluded our first food drive. We collect a decent amount of food, and are already planning how to increase it for next year. We also inducted a new crop of members — we more than doubled our membership. I’m looking forward to working with them this spring, when we will hold our Ethics Week activities and more community service.
Exciting personal projects happened as well, both large and small. On the less expansive side, I made my first bacon-wrapped turkey for Thanksgiving (and yes, it was as delicious as it sounds). I adore cooking, and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days to do it. Every year, I challenge myself to try new takes on traditional dishes; I’m just happy my family is willing to go along for the ride.
The more ambitious project was having a fireplace installed in our house (just before our trip to Eugene for the competition). Even though it was a relatively small project on the scale of home improvement tasks, I was not mentally prepared for having a part of our house become a construction zone. We were fortunate that the crew have been quite tidy and kept the disaster area to a minimum.
Even though it’s not completed yet — we still have to have it tiled and paint the walls — it’s still so lovely to walk into our house and see the fire blazing away. Besides which, I finally have a proper place to hang our stockings. It feels overly sentimental, but it makes me happy every single day. I’m particularly grateful for that now, when all I can think about is finals (income tax, estate and gift tax and community property) and the holidays are rushing at us, full steam ahead. It’s nice to be able to take a few minutes to zone out in front of the fire and recenter myself before going back to the grind.
So these things are always in tension, but I think in hindsight the tension is much greater in 1L than in subsequent years. I felt a great deal less stressed about finals because by now I know what to expect and I know the drill of what it is what I need to know to fill in the gaps and write a convincing essay that demonstrates I don’t merely know the knowledge but I can weigh and consider factors appropriately tailored to facts and argue for a reasonable outcome under (usually) the totality of the facts and circumstances that would likely be consistent with a modern court. I suppose that’s what we do in a nutshell, and what awaits me in the bar, except more crossover between subjects as the world is complex.
So, this finals session will be somewhat less intense than in the past, and next semester will likely even be less so, but I will be taking the MPRE and doing the ramp-up toward filling my head with whatever I need to be ready for the bar, just because I want to make doubly sure it’s an experience I need not repeat except by choice and in another state.
But bottom line, things do look different now than in the past. There’s also a quandary of choosing my last semester to just take a minimum number of units since most of my requirements are done, or if it makes sense to explore more subjects that pique my interest. It’s nice to feel confident and even a bit whimsical because I no longer have doubts in my ability to accomplish anything I set my mind to do. It will happen for you too.
Time to buckle down. It seems like it was just a few weeks ago that my fellow 1Ls and I were adjusting to the end of our summers and starting a new chapter of our education and careers. Between trying to figure out how to brief a case, deciding which student group meetings to attend, and learning how to network, the time has flown by quicker than I imagined it would.
In addition to keep up with daily reading assignments, I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to consolidate everything I’ve learned so far into an outline that I can use to study for my final exams. Looking through my notes from the first week of classes and comparing them to more recent notes, I’m amazed at both how clueless I was in the beginning of the semester and how quickly I managed to catch on. The analogy that first came to mind is the cliché that the brain is a muscle and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. I’ve noticed the last week or so how much more efficient of a legal reader and note-taker I’ve become, which has been not only saving me time but helping me feel more prepared to discuss the readings in class.
Now it’s getting closer to the time to test my new knowledge and skills. So far, preparing for law exams has been unlike any studying I had to do in undergrad. It’s definitely a little nerve wracking to go an entire semester with minimal feedback and know that my entire grade will depend on a three-hour exam. However, with enough preparation, I know I’ll be able to survive exams and indulge in a few weeks of winter relaxation.
May 3rd will be a fantastic day (the day of my last final). And, I promise to update you on my 1L experience soon after.
Until then, you should check out the scholarship resources at Lewis & Clark. If you didn’t receive a scholarship from Lewis & Clark as an incoming student, know that you can still get scholarship money as a 2L, 3L, or 4L. Still bored? Check out this article — it’s very inspiring!
I’m also excited to meet all of you next fall!