Friday, August 26, 2011

"Everybody's Working For the Weekend..."

Congratulations! You survived the first week of law school. What should you be spending your first weekend doing? Celebrating? Studying? Trying to see if you can still transfer to an M.B.A. program . . .? First and foremost, take a moment to take a deep breath and realize that you made it through the first week, only 16 more to go until Winter Break! Law school is about pacing yourself, so take pride in the fact you have one full week under your belt.

In ASP we recommend that you spend part of the weekend evaluating your performance during your first week of law school. Ask yourself the following questions: How did your reading go? Reading briefs will get easier the more you read, but are you having a hard time finding the rule of law in the brief? Are you confused by the procedural history? Ask yourself, how did your briefs work? If you had been called would you have been able to answer the professors questions using the briefs you prepared? What area of your brief do you need to work on? Make sure to attend the ASP Workshop #1 next week to fine tune your briefing skills. Identifying the areas you need improvement this weekend will help you pinpoint what to focus on during the workshop.  Law school is all about self-assessment and identifying how you can best learn, comprehend, and analyze the law.

We also recommend that you make a study plan or review your current study plan. Make a calendar that breaks up the week, day by day, hour by hour. Include your classes, your commute time, any jobs, family or religious commitments, workout time, etc. This should leave you with a clear view of the hours you have to devote towards reading, briefing, outlining, etc. As you probably are already realizing, you will spend more time reading some subjects than others. Pencil into your calendar when you plan to do reading and briefing for each subject. Realize that your study plan is not set in stone and needs to be constantly evaluated during the first semester. You will need to add in time for outlining, research projects, legal research papers, etc. in the near future. Start to think about where you may be able to plug these tasks into your current study plan.

So, in addition to any studying your new study plan includes this weekend, remember that it’s important to RELAX and maybe even catch up on the sleep you missed over the week.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Getting Past Orientation Anxiety

I vividly remember my first year orientation. I got there five minutes late and it seemed like everyone already knew each other and had it all together.  I was convinced that for them, law school was going to be fine.  Meanwhile, I thought I was destined to have a failed law school experience and make no friends.  All because I was five minutes late.

By the first day of classes I had made a few friends, however, as luck would have it, they were transferred from Section A to Section C.  I walked into Professor Cohen’s contracts class, chose a spot toward the back and sat by myself.  Literally, there was no one on either side of me. I was the smelly kid.  I was so intimidated by law school and the other students who I thought had it so much more together than I did.  I was a loser. 

For Halloween, our section threw a party celebrating one last hurrah before we locked ourselves away to outline before finals.  (As ASP fellows we recommend you start outlining before Halloween—we learned this the hard way).  At the party we were reminiscing about the beginning of the year and how nervous we had all felt but were too prideful to admit.  A friend shared that he was completely intimidated by me because I had the nerve to sit by myself.  A few more people chimed in—they thought I was tough!  In my head I had been a loser, everyone else, being in the anxious state that starting first year creates thought I was the intimidating one.

My point in sharing this story is that everyone is anxious about starting first year.  The important thing is to get through it as best you can.

Law School can be very time-consuming, but taking the time to getting involved and engaged in the law school community will help you with a sense of belonging on campus. By attending events at the law school you will have the opportunity to meet and get to know your fellow classmates outside of the classroom. Your fellow students can be a great system of support. They understand what you are currently going through and may even have some helpful tips and hints to share with you. Furthermore, your fellow students are your future colleagues in the legal community, so start developing these important relationships now.

 In addition, getting involved in student organizations gives you the opportunity to develop skills, enhance your academic program, explore different areas of the law, and contribute to the community all in a fun and social setting. Ultimately, as with most things in life, what you put into your law school experience will directly correlate with how much you get out of your law school experience. So dive right in and get involved!

 Opportunities to get out of the classroom and get involved:

August 26, 2011: Welcome Back Bar Review
Location: Blue Beat, check law school website for updated information on time of event.

August 31, 2011: Welcome Back BBQ and Student Organization Fair
                           Location: Quad, 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.


Welcome to the ASP Fellow Blog.

The ASP Fellows, Kathleen Dombrow and Heather Gutterud, will be writing this blog to provide stories, tips, advice, and general musings about the law school experience.  If there is anything specific you want this blog to cover, please feel free to e-mail us at or