Friday, December 30, 2005
As difficult as it was, I enjoyed the exams because they were extremely challenging. From what I've heard, the bar exam is crazy-hard, so I'm glad the law school is preparing me for such a hard test. It would be a disservice for my professors to make things easy for me and leave me ill-prepared for the bar. That's not the only reason I'm glad law school is so rigorous. I also know that in real law practice, a lawyer is faced with some really difficult situations. In a law office, the fact pattern morphs into someone's real life. You can't just be amused by a professors creativity and try to determine the best answer when someone is sitting in front of you with jacked up life situations expecting you to provide the solutions.
My plan for the Spring semester is to come up with a way to synthesize the information way before finals. If I can come up with a way to get an understanding earlier, the pressure of finals won't be so taxing. (Yeah, right.) Anyway, I guess I should wait to see what my grades look like before I determine how to tackle my classes. I may already have a pretty good strategy. We shall see.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Now that I understand how to effectively use the words "maybe," "probably," and "likely," I look forward to the challenges of the writing class next semester. I'm sure the professors will post the first class assignments before classes start, but right now, I'm looking forward to enjoying the break.
I plan to go to a Tarrant County Black Bar Association Christmas party next week. I didn't have time for those types of events during the first semester, but I hope to attend a few in the Spring because it's good to network.
For the summer, I'd like to work at a law firm in Arlington. I was successful in getting a job at a law firm before school started, and I'll employ the same method and see what happens this time.
Friday, December 09, 2005
The civil procedure final was challenging as I expected. I was able to finish with time left over, and I was really surprised. I probably missed some issues, and that's okay because I'm only human. When I got up to take a bathroom break, my prayer was that I would at least complete the exam.
I have a strategy for editing my property outline that I think will help me over the next two and half days of study time I have left. I hope it works.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
My strategy for the Torts exam worked okay. The best part of that test was that I wasn't pressed for time. On the other hand, I may have had so much time left over because I missed something. We'll see how that goes when I get my grades next month.
As for preparing for an open book test or any test for that matter. Friends are usually willing to share their outlines with you, and that's great. However, it can't replace working through your own outline. As they told us at the beginning of the year, if you make your own outline, it helps you understand the information better. Everyone has a different method of learning. You just can't substitute someone else's process for your own, but you can use other people's outline to make sure you didn't miss something or just to see how they understand a difficult idea.
No matter how you prepare for an open book exam, you can expect it to be tremendously challenging.
Monday, December 05, 2005
I feel like this first test is the measure for the rest of our experiences as law school students. On the other hand, it's just one test. But it's the FIRST test.
I had a great talk with my writing professor as soon as I got into the building. That was probably the best thing I could have done at this time. Like all my professors, he's an amazing brainiac, but he was able to relate to me in my mere mortal One L state and offered wonderful advice and encouragement. He did emphasize that this and all law school tests are supposed to be hard. He went on to explain how to handle the difficulties, but I'm not going to share all the helpful stuff he said. But I will say this. Whenever you're about to go through something, it usually helps to talk to someone who has already been there.
Here's my plan for writing my essay. For the intentional torts of battery, assualt and intentional infliction of emotional distress, I'll disucuss the claim/issue, the rule, and then apply the fact pattern to the rule. Depending on the fact pattern, I'll state some deficiencies in the argument and then state a conclustion. I'll then have a section where I discuss defenses to the claim: consent, self-defense, defense of others, or defense of property.
For negligence claims, I'll discuss Duty, Breach, Cause, and Damages. I'll point out weaknesses int he argument like intervening/supersceding causes, whether the act was really a proximate cause, whether there was really a duty. After that I'll discuss the defenses to negligence: comparative negligence of the plaintiff, assumption of the risk, failure to mitigate damages or protect against risks, and possible immunities depending on the fact pattern.
I'm almost sure the essay will have some combination of intentional torts and negligence claims. It may also involve strict liability, recklessness, and a whole bunch of other stuff that we'll have no time to address. I think I'll dedicate a section to unaddressed issues and briefly state them all in the last paragraph of the essay portion. It may be worth a point or two.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Civil Procedure is open notes and open book. There is a measure of comfort in that, but the standard is way high for that one.
Property. We'll see how that goes.
I think I understand what the professors will be testing us on. The issue is whether I'll remember all the nuances of the various concepts. For instance, in Torts, the essay question will most likely be about negligence and we'll have to write about duty, breach, cause in fact, proximate cause and damages. But, I'm sure our professor will throw some glitch in that will help the curve work. On the other hand, he'll want us to analyze every issue, so it's not like we'll be able to say there was no duty because that would mean we wouldn't need to analyze the other areas of a negligence claim. (That no duty thing would be a good counterargument.) I'm rambling, but my point is that the professors want us to show our understanding of certain principles, so that's why I'm almost positive the Torts essay will include negligence somehow.
I have an idea what the other classes will test us on in the essays. I started to write it all out, but I guess I'll keep my ideas to myself on that one. In any event, it's pretty obvious in each class what the essays will likely be about.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Now I can focus on my doctrinal courses and prepare for finals. Torts is first on Monday, Dec. 5, Civil Procedure, Dec. 9, Property, Dec. 12, and Contracts, December 15. As my friend Kim Kossie would say, "Those who know the words of prayer, pray for me."
For the first time in the entire semester, I did not prepare for Contracts. That memo had me so strung out. I like Contracts, so I will definitely read the cases instead of relying on briefs. I'm disappointed because I'd gotten into the practice of doing all my contracts reading over the weekend. I don't know why it bothers me since we only have one more set of reading to do. Oh, well.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
In any event, I feel like I've accomplished something. Now I just have to get it within the page limits. My professor requires a 15-page limit, but some of the other writing professors are more lenient apparently.
When I get the urge to go off on a tangent of poetic prose, I may free flow write or think for a while until I get some phrase that was trying to burst forth. If the phrase fits, I use it. If it doesn't, I have to discard it as useless.
Writing is difficult. This stuff ain't easy.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
The schedule for this week is helpful because we don't have our writing class on Wednesday or our Torts class on Friday. That leaves Friday totally free and I hope to get a lot of work done then. I'll probably use most of the extra time to work on memo 3.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Well at the honors colloquium, we had plenty of time in the schedule to socialize, and at one point a bunch of students ended up in a small room, I think it was a dorm room in Jester and it was pretty crowded. I was talking to the person next to me and paused to let them get a word in when I realized that everyone in the room was talking at one time. No one was really listening at all.
My best friend and I have a saying, "I talk a lot because I have something to say." I contrast this saying with the grandma wit, "Ever wonder why God gave you two ears and one mouth?" As much as I like to talk, I'm trying to learn to listen more. I find that my classmates have pretty neat stories of their own to tell. Before my first year is over, I want to find the student who seems to be the most different than I am and get them to tell me their story.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
I'm thinking about turning it in tonight. It's probably wise to keep it and look it over at least one more time. I've wasted two dollars printing it out twice in the computer lab. Each time I was unable to edit the hard copy. I know that's exactly what I need to do at least once, so I'll probably spend another dollar on printing. My home printer doesn't have ink and who has time to go buy more? I still have to read for CivPro and Property!
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
The phrase “reasonable minds may differ” is used often, but whose reasonable minds are they talking about? Historically they certainly were not talking about the reasonable minds of folk who look like me because what my fore-mothers considered reasonable was certainly not contained in the American law of their day.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
I can see how being older is very helpful because for one thing, I don't have a problem with being wrong. I can remember being either a senior in college or a very recent graduate. I had volunteered to do a newsletter for a church and was devastated when the pastor had a bunch of changes and dared to correct my typos! I have come a long way from that bright-eyed, know-it-all. Growth is good.
My point is that when you are in law school, so many things you thought you knew are challenged on levels you would never think about. I actually like this process. I like having my understanding of fundamental principles challenged and in rare cases, affirmed. In most cases, I'm learning about fundamental principles that I never even considered.
I've shared about my personal family struggles to some extent because I want to make the point that when you embark on something challenging like law school, things may happen that could cause you to totally lose focus. It may be true that some things can be so devastating that you may have to withdraw from school. However, it is possible to continue even in the midst of a crisis. I spoke to a couple of deans and one of my professors (because I missed one of his classes) about my situation, and the support I received was genuine and understanding.
So, although this is one of the most challenging times in my life on a personal and academic level, it is also a most wonderful time. What doesn't destroy you can only make you stronger.
Friday, September 23, 2005
I had been using the closed study rooms because of the hard family stuff I'm going through. Right now I can't guarantee that I won't burst into tears at any moment. This morning I set up in the common study area, and sure enough, the tears started flowing. Fortunately, there weren't many students in the library between 8 and 9 a.m. this morning. Generally, I'm okay. This law stuff is really helping me get through this time because I have to spend a lot of time and energy thinking about contracts, torts, property, legal research, writing and analysis. Who would have thought law school could also be good, active therapy?
That's not to say I'm suppressing stuff or ignoring issues. I'm fully dealing with everything to the full extent the law will allow! However, I think it's important for me to continue with this law school endeavor for my family and for myself. I'm sure the crap that happened was supposed to test my stability and resolve. I may look like a mess when I'm crying over a casebook, but I won't stop reading through the tears.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Fortunately, my study scheme has me a little ahead in my reading. I've found it helpful to have time to ruminate over cases and other material. I don't pick up on all the nuances the first time I read some cases. In Torts and Contracts, the cases seem to be generally understandable. However, the problems and discussions after the cases cause me to go back and question my understanding.
In class, when the professor calls on a student and the student knows the answers, not only is this not exciting, I don't learn as much. When the professor has to ask a spiral of questions to get the student to the point, I'm able to gain a better understanding even if I know the answer outright. This spiral of questions causes me to look at the concept from different perspectives.
On another note, anyone interested in seeing or using the PrepPlan can acces it by clicking here. It's just a Word document you can modify for your own purposes. If you have trouble with the link and you want the document, just let me know and I'll email it to you.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
We got some feedback on our Memo 1 writing assignment. I was not surprised by the comments on my first submission. The suggestions were very helpful, and thankfully, the professor liked some things about my thesis paragraph and rule statement. I don't assume that because I'm a writer, I will do well on writing assignments. My strategy is to follow the directions as closely as possible and avoid my usual wordiness and entertaining style (heehee).
I feel like I'm in a zone, on a certain rhythm. I love to read, to study, to write, to change diapers (yeah, right! Thank God for grannys and aunts and cousins), to oversee first grade homework, to go to the school book fair late but not too late to buy the books on my daughters wishlist. Children are a joy. Law school is a challenge. And, it's all very wonderful.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Thanks for your feedback. It's encouraging to know that someone is being helped by these entries. When it comes to this blawg, I have a serious mission to encourage any woman who is thinking about law school to pursue it. Of course, as a black woman, I have a particular message of encouragement and recruitment for my "sista's." On the other hand, in the last three weeks, I have experienced a wonderful time of bonding with my sisters of all colors. I've also become friends with some of my classmates who are white men, and their stories are varied and colorful.
I must admit that I am disappointed with the very low number of black and hispanic men (and women for that matter) at the law school. I'm sure the recruitment office is working to increase these numbers, but looking at the photos of previous classes, it seems that the numbers for "minority" students have dwindled over the years. Most people say that this happens when a school raises their standards, but I'm a firm believer that there are always good "minorities" to recruit. Generally, the key is to employ effective recruitment and outreach efforts and to fund scholarships. (I worked in various recruitment offices at UT Austin. I've seen money talk!)
Wow, this has energized me! I think I can get a little more reading and briefing done.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
So, I'm in the library. With all that is going on, here I sit focused on the current task which is to prepare for tomorrow's Civil Procedure and Property classes.
Monday, September 05, 2005
Family support is probably the most important aspect of surviving law school when you have children. When I was married, I was very committed to being available to my children. I was an at-home mom much of the time, and I loved the experience. But even as an at-home mom, I was always active with my pursuits. I wrote a novel, had a cookie business and maintained my graphic design and consulting business all the while. I still was able to spend a lot of time with my daughter because I controlled my own schedule, and she could be with me in all those activities.
Now, the difference is that I am actually away from them most of the day during the week. I pick one day a week to have off, and that is when I spend uninterrupted time with them. Even though no one in my family can take my place, their presence and support has been priceless.
Today, I'm studying at home because the library is not open. Right now I'm working on my Torts reading and briefing assignments.
I'm really encouraged by the emails I get from people who read this and my diary on the official Texas Wesleay Law (www.law.txwes.edu) web site. As much as I'm encouraging to you, you are encouraging to me! Thanks.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
My PrePlan is serving me very well. Being able to see all my assignments in one place helps me keep a handle on things. If I feel a panic going on and I can look at the plan and see that I am accomplishing things, pretty much on schedule.
Although there is always a lot of reading, the cases are interesting. I'm learning to read the cases for the correct reasons. Each class has a particular doctrine you're supposed to learn, so a case may have many issues, but if I'm in Civil Procedure, the professor is only interested in my grasping the procedural question at hand. The same is true in my other classes. The funny thing about it is that your mind will still synthesize what you're learning in other classes, and I suppose this is the whole point. They break down all the doctrinal law issues so you can get a grasp on the points of law. Once you get into practice, you have to be able to bring out all the various issues in a case, whether they be tort, criminal, procedural, property rights, etc. Of course, as a lawyer you would specialize in a particular area, but it's important to be able to advise a client on general issues of law, especially if they will need to go to a different type of lawyer for other issues.
I'll update this blawg more often, but you can find an "official" diary at www.law.txwes.edu. Just click on the link at the bottom right for the diary of a first year law student.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
The professor asked us to pull out our briefs* on a certain case and I just couldn't believe what was happening to me. All I could pull out was some other work I had done for the class. But he must have told us to brief this particualar case because everyone else pulled out their beautifully typed briefs with all the right headings or their thoughtful hand written analysis. My mind was spinning. What to do? As the professor passed by glancing at everyone's work, he gracefully moved past my flurry of notebook pages to the next person, giving out encouraging words about the neatness and thoroughness of all the other students work.
What happened? How did I just totally miss an assignment? And on the first day?
The short answer is that I was just overexcited and didn't write down the assignment when it was given. When I looked back over all the things I did since Friday, I remembered reading and repeatedly pulling out the case which was handed to us in our Friday orientation session. (I could claim fatigue, but everyone else had been there all day, too.)
To make my blunder worse, the professor had made a pretty big deal out of the case by showing us the opening scene of a famous law school movie dealing with the case. How could I forget to brief it? I don't know, but I certainly should have asked one of my classmates what we were supposed to do with the case. All I did was read it and put it back in my notebook after thinking "They sure used a bunch of strange legal terms back in the '20s. I'm glad I don't have to figure all this stuff out right now. Maybe the professor will explain what it all means in class."
And of course, I was called on in class, but the answer was easy mainly because it was set in a paragraph all alone. What was the holding of the court?
Lessons learned? Right down all assignments and ask a classmate (or even the professor) when I'm not sure about an assignment.
So even though I briefed the case during the class discussion of the case and even though the professor gave us a book-briefed version of the case, I still came home and briefed the case.
*A brief of a case in law school is a "written synopsis of the important points of the case." Helene S. Shapo et al., Writing and Analysis in the Law (4th ed. 2003). [I hope this cite is right.]
Monday, August 22, 2005
One of the the things I like about an academic environment is that everyone is so sincere in their quest for knowledge and understanding. The level or intensity of the commitment varies due to people's age, maturity or other variables, but in general, everyone wants to learn, everyone wants to "get it."
My undergraduate experience at the University of Texas at Austin taught me to navigate a large system and not be too intimidated by large crowds, aloof professors, and loads of information. I think I'm experiencing a healty level of intimidation, but more so, I am awed by the legal profession and am very grateful that I have this opportunity to be initiated into this amazing area of study.
It's not that I don't have experience working with lawyers. I just worked for one who is a graduate of this school. In my career, I worked with many Texas judges as a communications director at the Texas Center for the Judiciary. I also worked with the legal departments at the Texas Council on Family Violence and Catholic Charities in Houston. However, in the past, I was a regular citizen, a civilian who could take things lightly. Someone in orientation told us that she believes the chemical make-up of our brains actually changes after going through the rigors of the study of law. We will see.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Since my goal is to encourage other people to reach for their graduate study dreams, I want to share a little about how I ended up as a first year student at Texas Wesleyan School of Law. (This may be boring if you already know how to get into law school.)
In late Spring, 2004, I started out by making a list of all the law schools in Texas and discovered Texas Wesleyan when I was compiling this list. As I researched the school, it became more and more appealing to me because it had part-time study options. As a mother of two small children, this was important to me because I was unsure of what kind of support system I would have.
The next step in the process was registering for law services (www.ldas.org) which is the organization that gives the LSAT and collects your transcripts and letters of recommendation (LORs) for law schools. I also researched test prep courses. I knew I didn't want to do a course that took weeks so I looked for short, lower cost, weekend alternatives and found the PowerScore company (www.powerscore.com). They offered a great class, and I think my score was higher because I took the course.
I took the December LSAT and chose the option of getting my scores online. I think they came within two weeks of taking the test. I completed the application at Texas Wesleyan online, and monitored the LDAS site to see when my LORs arrived. I chose to apply only to Texas Wesleyan because Fort Worth was the only place where I had the family support system I will need to get through the next three years.
If you have specific questions about this process, I would be happy to answer them specifically. Just send me and email and I'll give you more details and let you know about resources that are helpful in the process of researching, applying and getting into law school.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
I received my orientation notebook back in July and bought all of my books. I've done the writing assignment for the Analysis, Writing and Research class. There is a multiple choice grammar test and a writing assignment in which you must state your opinion on a lawyering ethical issue. I also completed the reading assignment in the Legal Analysis book. Being the enthusiast that I am, I've also started reading the introductions in some of my books. The lesson here is, if you're going to invest in law school or any other academic endeavor, it only makes sense to do the work. I don't know if I would have had this attitude coming right out of undergrad. Living, working and suffering consequences goes a long way in making a person see the benefits of doing the right thing.
Six Flags with my daughter was GREAT! The only problem was I forgot to get her a souvenir. She did get her face painted, but by the end of the evening, I was so tired, I passed up all the stores for a mad dash to the trolly.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
This brings me to the explanation for the title of this blawg. I was tempted to name it Crazy Black Woman in Law School (CBWLS), or something descriptive like that. I decided to name it Crayons and Case Law because in my heart, my children will always be first for me. Somehow, with the help of my family support system, I will get through the first year and still be the cool mommy they love and adore.
Orientation is August 19, so I have a few days of freedom left. I plan to take my 5-year-old to Six Flags and do all the last minute preparation for her to start first grade on August 15. Being a bit of a procrastinator, I have a long to-do list.