June 17, 2012

I’m official!!

I done earned a piece of paper!

I’m officially a J.D.!

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June 12, 2012

End Radio Silence

Sorry about the radio silence this last week. Life got a little too real over the course of the last week.

Bar review: Ok, now it’s overwhelming. Last week, I was able to stay on top of the outlining, but when you throw in the practice problems and memorization, it all became a little much. Every day is a new body of law, except for the Big 5: torts, property, contracts, civil procedure, and professional responsibility. The Big 5 get a massive two days of attention! I’ve done minimal work the last few days, and have recalibrated  my approach to the bar.

I’ve started setting specific goals for each day, including finishing an outline. I’ve set a goal of mastering the core elements of one body of law, finishing an outline, and doing at least one practice problem. This will ensure that I’m staying on top of what is coming up next, while also reviewing and working through the material I’ve already covered.

This was me last week.

Everything else: I’ve learned that it’s important to maintain my social network. I can’t just disappear. I learned this because I’m one of those people who tends to think about things, over and over, until I “figure it out”. The upside to this is that I typically have very good, deep analysis of whatever it is. The downside is that when I’m thinking about my own emotions, or situations I don’t like, well… And that’s what happened over the last week. It put me in a funk, which is not me. I wasn’t able to focus or concentrate on anything, was becoming very critical of everything around me (including my relationship), and was generally just backsliding into a negative space.

I need to make sure that I’m reaching out to people, talking to them, getting encouragement, but also staying involved. This was really helpful yesterday, because it is a large part of what drew me out of my funk. The Best Friend encouraged me to take a run, which I did. I felt better for it. I also learned that I can’t place all of the burden of supporting me on just one person. It’s natural to me to rely on The Fiancee for support, but she’s got her own problems to deal with now, so she’s less compassionate than she may otherwise be. Family and friends though, that’s where it’s at, let me tell you. Just a few text messages back and forth with The Sister, the Best Friend, and Mom really helped me see more clearly.

On the upside, I have a second job interview tomorrow. If I get the job, then I’ll switch out of the live bar review class, and into the online one. That way, I can study from about 7-2:30, then work from 3-8, then take a run and spend an hour or so reviewing. I’m pretty excited about the position, mostly for two reasons. First, it is way low-key. It is very laid back, and it doesn’t seem like it will be too stressful. Second, it will cover all of my bills and put me a few hundred ahead at the end of each month, despite only working 25 hrs/wk. The job will certainly allow me to keep working after I’ve taken the bar, which is good. I’d be able to pick up another PT job to make full-time wages, and then drop one in favor of some contract legal work once I get my bar results.

So that’s the last week. Now I understand why people say that studying for the bar will really do a number on you. It can, and will overwhelm you. The thing I’ve learned is that it’s important not to just do it on your own – everyone in your social network (including classmates) is someone who can help ease the burden. Just be sure to spread it around, so that no one person gets the brunt of it.

June 5, 2012

New Follower Roundup!

I want to take a second today to say hey to three new followers:

SmilingSparkler at The Smiling Sparkler. Congratulations on graduating, and good luck in the great wild yonder!

Mazhar at Thinking as a journalist.

Kate Sherwood at Today Advocating Tomorrow. Congrats on finishing up 1L!

 

-Marcus

June 2, 2012

I should hate this, right?

I’m just asking because that’s what everyone says. “Worst experience ever.” “Absolutely terrible.” “HELL!!” In varying ways, this is pretty much how bar prep has been summed up by roughly 110% of the people I’ve talked to. I think I can see why; it’s drudgery.

Basically, you just outline all of the rules for a given subject, memorize them, then practice applying them. Same as you would do for a law school exam. Only thing is, it doesn’t really make sense to study with other people; I’m mostly in my head while studying. It’s not really possible to socialize with others while studying, as there is so much new information to take in. And it takes TIME. So much time. As an example, today I gave myself an extra hour and a half of sleep before meeting a classmate to go over practice problems. I’ve been studying ever since, except for an hour and a half where I did laundry, ate, and talked to the Fiancée. I’ve just stopped, and it’s 10 pm. I was up at 7:30.

And yet…I’m psyched to prepare to slay the dragon? This may just be me, or I am missing something entirely. However, I might just enjoy this. And by enjoy, I mean a rather twisted, sick sense of satisfaction is creeping over me. Granted, it’s only day 4. But if I keep working at this rate, I am going to crush this thing. HARD.

After 4 days, I’m about a 1/2 day ahead of the class schedule. According to my schedule, I will finish outlining by mid to late June, at the latest. That means spending about a week of June and three weeks in July focusing solely on practice problems and memorizing. Note, I was never intense about studying during law school. Ever. I generally earned above average grades, but I kept it super casual. Anyways, there’s something about setting an ambitious goal and actually taking steps to achieve it that  makes this enjoyable. Yeah, it does suck as I can’t do anything fun, and I have to focus on passing an exam without which, I can not attain decent paying work. On the other hand, if I’ve got to do this then I’m going to do a great job and try to enjoy it. Otherwise, I won’t do very well.

That being said, in the universe of bar prep, I’m only 10% of the way to my goal. Bugger.

Alternatively, I may have lost it already.

June 1, 2012

And then, bar review began…

Today was my first real day of bar review classes. We had class two days ago. It was an introduction and orientation to the bar review process. The instructor for this week is the owner of the company, an older man named Jim Rigos. He’s a neat old guy, but wicked smart. I’m happy I chose this particular company, because it has a much more personal feel to it. A lot of my former classmates are using BarBri, and while I don’t care for any idea of a rivalry between the two, they have had problems accessing online materials and have to wear a badge to get into their class. Silliness!

Let me tell you though, this is going to be madness.

The only way I can explain the process I’m creating for myself is that it is like studying for a law school final. My preparation consisted of starting with the syllabus as a skeleton for the outline. Then, I would go to the library to get four to five supplements. I would go through the assigned texts and the supplements using the syllabus as my guide, filling in everything case by case and point by point. In the span of 10 to 20 hours, I would have a beast of an outline ready for commitment to memory.

The bar review process is the same. Only, I just have to pull information from one source. But I have to do it 14 13 times (just finished the contracts outline!). To be honest, either I am lying to myself about how difficult this is, or the hype doesn’t match up to what it means to prepare for the bar. Sure, it is still early days and I am enthusiastic about what I’m doing. It sucks but, it doesn’t seem terrible. Yet. Next steps: do practice questions and memorize outline. I have a secret weapon for memorization, which is to record myself reading it slowly. Then, I can listen to the recording while I do flashcards or during a commute. It’s something I started back when I was taking Latin in undergrad, and it’s incredibly effective. I highly recommend it.

That being said, I’m still having difficult finding a job. I found a decent one on Craigslist with a solo practitioner, who actually returned my call. He told me that his major reservation about hiring me is that I’d be looking for an attorney level position once I get my bar results. But he asked me to send over my resume if I am still interested in the position. Considering this is a legal position, I’m all about it. I told him that I’m leaning toward hanging my shingle once I get results back, so he’d have me until my firm was sufficiently established. I did hear back from him after that, and he said he’d get back to me Monday/Tuesday to let me know, since he has a ton of other applicants to wade through. Here’s hoping; I can really use the work.

May 28, 2012

New Follower Roundup!

I’d like to give a shout out to two new followers this week:

kaymcbri over at lawschoolfitness and patriciya at A Mechanism to Remember. Welcome aboard! You’ve both got some good insight into the law school thing, and reading your entries definitely brings back a lot of memories.

May 27, 2012

How to Survive Post-Law School and Pre-Bar Part 1

25 27 applications submitted. 1 interview. 0 calls to offer employment. These are my current employment statistics. I’ve applied to just about every available part time position, whether legal, administrative, hospitality, or retail. Most of the jobs that are available are in retail, but even those aren’t very plentiful.

The one interview I had was with a retailer who said it would call on Friday to set up a second interview. It was at a place I like to call Hipster Central, aka a thrift store. It is close to school, so I could eat lunch after bar review, then walk over there. But it’s Sunday now, and I still haven’t heard from them. Bummer.

I’m guessing that part of the reason it is difficult to find a job is that the economy isn’t improving as much as the news says it is. There simply don’t seem to be a lot of jobs available. And I’m guessing that every job is getting many, many more applications than the employer anticipates. That probably means that even if my application is being viewed, it is probably receiving minimal attention.

The other part is probably due to the fact that I have some pretty severe limitations on my time. Studying for the bar exam will require approximately 70 hours per week, or an average of 9 to 10 hours per day. So I can only work about 20 to 25 hours per week. And even those hours are limited to the time from 1pm on, as bar review is from 9am to noon. Part time employment it is then.

And as a result of the fact that all of my work experience over the last five years is in the legal field, I don’t have any recent experience that I can use to sell say, a retailer, on hiring me. At the same time, employers probably look at my resume and rightly assume that I’ll leave to find full time legal work as soon as I’ve taken the bar.

None of this is to say that I’m upset or angry about the situation I’m in. It’s just that when I started law school, I thought things would be smooth sailing from graduation onward. This isn’t true at all. Granted, I’ve been able to spend much more quality time with the Fiancee. And I’ve been able to relax and do nothing for large periods of time, which is nice since it’s taking me a while to recover from the last three years. Still, it’s rough out there, and it’s tough for a lot of people.

All of this suggests that it will be a rather difficult summer, but nothing I can’t handle. I can’t wait to be done with the bar exam. As far as work goes, whether I work full time in the legal field until I get my bar results, or go work in a different field entirely, I don’t care. Really, I’ll just be happy to have a regular income that I can use to enjoy life after the J.D.

May 21, 2012

How long has it been since I graduated, exactly?

8 days, 22 hours, 36 minutes, 26 seconds. Exactly. This is how much time has passed since I graduated from law school. And you know, the feeling of finally being done with school is incredible. And by incredible, I mean that this is the first time in about 23 years that I can finally relax, because I don’t have some impending deadline hanging over my head.  There is nothing to be learned from a textbook or professor, and there is nothing that I absolutely have to do.

Except pass the bar exam and get a job.

Reflecting on the past three years, I realize that a lot has changed. I started out as a DJ/undergraduate student who became interested in copyright to a law student. I focused heavily on intellectual property in law school, and I can tick off the four factors of fair use without thinking about it (hint: they have nothing to do with the literal definition of fair). At the same time, I took consciousness expanding classes in areas like critical race theory, and social movements, which will definitely help me bring a broader persecutive to everything I do. Law school wasn’t necessarily a bad experience, and I’m sure I’ll explain more about how it could change as time passes. But I grew as a person, and learned a lot about myself and the world around me. And now, I only have to use all of this new knowledge to carve out a life of my own post-school.

Which brings me to the why of this blog. I’m writing this because, for the first time in my life, I’m finally on my own. I can’t fall back on the well-worn disclaimer, “I’m a student!” I am finally, finally free to chart a course for my life and follow it through. Not that going to school wasn’t a part of my voyage, it was. But it was more like going to class to learn how to read a map rather than being on the seas reading a map in the middle of a storm. And writing this blog will help me to keep clear on what I’m doing and why, but maybe, I will write about some event and you will say, “Ah ha! Now I have an idea of how to handle that situation.” Or, “Ahhh…I will be sure to avoid making that mistake.” You may plan to attend law school (good luck with your cycle), or currently attend law school. If so, I hope I can shed at least some light on what it is like out on the high seas.

So, this will be all about my progression from quasi-professional to professional. Experiences both excellent and less than stellar are sure to happen, and I’ll share them as they occur. Maybe I’ll end up working nights so I can study for the bar exam during the day. Maybe I’ll say screw it all and go back to performing as a DJ. Maybe I’ll say to hell with it and move to a non-extradition country where I can grow a cash crop and live on the beach. And maybe I’ll end up working at a law firm here in Seattle. Who knows?! Still, there is no doubt in my mind that this journey will be interesting and exciting.

Last, please feel free to leave feedback. Comments are always appreciated, whether it is calling out typos/misstatements/gaps in logic, or if there is something specific that you’d like me to address.