Topic: Skool Rocks
I recently met with Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Martha Spence. I was impressed for three reasons. First, I was pleasantly surprised when Dean Spence’s administrative specialist, Liz Hobbs, responded to my email for an appointment within record time. I expected a delay of at least one day! Second, Dean Spence was welcoming, easy to speak with, and engaging. We discussed a variety of topics including my interests, changes to the bar exam, and her law school and career experiences. Third, at the end of our meeting, Dean Spence mentioned that I could drop by her office at any point. This is significant because it reinforces the fact that Lewis & Clark speaks 100% truth when it promotes its “open door” policy. This policy isn’t just followed by staff and faculty. Our administrators follow it too.
My favorite class is Legal Analysis & Writing because it teaches us real world ‘lawyerly’ skills such as writing, oral advocacy, and critical thinking. I love my professor too because she challenges us to do our best. Professor Berres-Paul is always available to help. More importantly, she is candid and direct about the quality of our work.
Last semester, we wrote three legal memos. When comparing my first memo to my final memo, I see obvious improvement in the quality and content of my writing. I am thankful that Lewis & Clark requires this class for first years and for having a fantastic professor.
This semester, our main project is to write an appellate brief and to present at the Multnomah County Courthouse in front of a three judge panel. That said, I have kept a nerdy secret from most of my classmates so that they won’t think I am overly enthusiastic. However, I think this post is a great opportunity to let the cat out of the bag: I am thrilled that we get to learn how to write persuasively and even more excited that there is an oral advocacy component! Of course, when I am required to do research and create a strong work product, I want quality and feel good when I achieve that goal. However, when adding in an oral presentation, I get an adrenaline rush. And, I love that feeling.
Prior to law school, I never could have articulated a clear vision of what I expected from the ‘law school experience’. Of course, in my pre-L summer of anxiousness, I read a few books about what to expect. Most of those books only helped me to unite my disjointed visions of law school by adding fear into the mix.
Now, after surviving my first semester, I can say with certainty that no ‘fear-inducing’ book could ever prepare a pre-L for a ‘Lewis & Clark’ law school experience. This is because my first semester experience was a positive one. Lewis & Clark has exceptional faculty along with a friendly and collaborative academic atmosphere.
Although each of my professors had his or her own unique style of teaching, all of my professors shared a common desire: a desire to teach us well. All of my professors maintained an open door policy, were friendly, and did their best to engage our minds in ways more creative than just using the Socratic method.
On my first day of Civil Procedure, I remember my professor walking up the stairs to ask me if I would be willing to serve as “The Judge” for the entirety of the semester. Without knowing what this “Judge” position required, I accepted willingly. I later learned that “Judge Ilias” would be called on more than 30 times throughout the course to make decisions on a semester-long hypothetical regarding a car accident! By having to constantly be alert during class, I was forced to be engaged mentally. Now, upon reflection, I couldn’t be more appreciative. I was given simulated first-hand experience on how to think like a judge. How fantastic is that?
This judge trend continued for me in Contracts too. I remember being selected by my professor to serve as a judge and listen to arguments regarding additional and/or different terms. I was required to ask questions to obtain more information from my classmates and to eventually make a decision. This simulation allowed me to develop a stronger understanding of the policy behind rolling contracts than if I had only read the casebook.
I will be honest. When I was forced to be a judge in both classes, I was scared to mess up and to make a fool of myself. However, my classmates provided me with the camaraderie and support that allowed me to overcome these fears. My classmates would encourage me, make jokes, laugh with me, and give me high-fives. It was great. I have made best friends here and I thrive in our cordial and collaborative environment.
I am thrilled that those pre-L ‘fear-inducing’ books were not accurate. More importantly, I am incredibly happy that I chose Lewis & Clark.
Aaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnd we’re back, folks.
Though my holiday was pretty good — I took Professor Steverson’s advice and read a trashy novel, did a bit of baking, a bit of knitting, a bit of exploding diet soda in the backyard with the kids — I was quite excited to come back to campus this week. Having spent most of last semester feeling like I leapt into the deep end of the pool even though I didn’t know how to swim, this term I feel like I’ve got my floaties on and have managed to stay afloat.
While Contracts, Civil Procedure and Legal Writing and Research will continue, instead of Torts we will have Constitutional Law. Surprisingly, I will miss Torts. At the start of the previous semester, I detested that class. I mean, honestly, how can you like a subject where you spend most of the time discussing ways in which people have horribly screwed up — and often times, the screw ups are fatal?
But Prof. Gomez has a way with a joke, and really goes out of his way to make the class much more fun than you’d expect, despite the frequently awful content. I don’t think I’ve laughed that much in a classroom before, and it definitely helped me retain the information much more than some of the dry lectures I had to sit through in undergrad.
As Jaclyn mentioned, it’s almost impossible to watch a movie or TV show now. More often than not, I’ll be watching the hero perform some amazing ninja-style moves, and find myself yelling “Tort!” at the screen. And I am continually annoyed that apparently, no one in television knows the legal definition of assault (note: assault is NOT getting punched in the face. That’s battery. Assault occurs when someone causes you to believe that you are about to be hit, and it is reasonable to believe that you’ll be hit). Common usage doesn’t make it right.
Anyway, I hope everyone had a lovely holiday session filled with lots of joy and is refreshed and ready to roll.
Last night, the Green Pod (that’s the evening school class) had our first final exam. It was Professor Steverson‘s contracts class, and whew! It was *intense.*
Having been one of those people for whom undergrad was relatively easy, the exam was a bit of a shock to the system. Not that I didn’t know what was going on — I’ve been studying like a maniac, as have all my classmates. I did a few practice tests, so I got a sense of what Professor Steverson’s exam writing style was like, and I think that helped a lot. But the pressure of it being The First Exam, though, combined with the challenge of expressing my knowledge in a coherent fashion and managing time well enough to give at least adequate answers to all the questions was highly stressful. Expected, but still stressful.
Prof. S was lovely, though: when she came into the room to give us the skinny on the exam, we went over the usual rules (watch your time, remember to start your analysis at the *beginning,* don’t cheat, etc.). But one thing she said really stood out for me: “Have fun.” We all laughed, but she was serious. She reminded us that if we were all wound up at the beginning of exams (Who, us? Crazy type A law students?), that it was only going to go downhill from there. So we should at least try to lighten up a little.
It was good advice, and shockingly, I did, at one point, find myself laughing as I typed, thinking, “I can do this!” It was an awesome feeling.
I’m trying to retain that spirit for the next one. On to Torts!