Sunday, January 28, 2007

Web 2.0 Application: Quizlet

Lifehacker recently posted about a new Web 2.0 application called Quizlet. I've checked it out and I must say, I am impressed. It is really easy to import words into your own vocabulary sets. You can enter the terms and definitions one by one or you can just copy the whole list into the their text box, tell it how to find the end of the term and defintion (e.g. a colon at the end of each term and a new line at the end of each definition) and it does the rest. It even lets you preview the terms and definitions before you import them so you can make any necessary changes. For example, it only took me a few minuters to import this list of 484 legal terms into Quizlet. Once you have your set, Quizlet gives you several ways to learn and test yourself on your terms. You can even share your sets and browse other peoples' sets. For example here is the page for the set I created. This seems like a great resource for students, or anyone who needs to learn a new set of vocabulary.

This Semester

I am participating in Legal Andrew's class action "This Semester..." Although I am not a student yet, I will be soon, and I have some student related goals, so I hope he doesn't mind. So, without further ado, these are my goals for this semester:

  • Keep my son alive and healthy
  • Keep my son from torturing the dog
  • Do my taxes
  • Fill out financial aid applications
  • Decide which law school to go to in the fall
  • Sell our house
  • Find a place to live
  • Do some reading to prepare for law school
  • Go see a movie with hubby

Friday, January 26, 2007

I'm feeling the love

I just got accepted at my second choice school! Woohoo! The envelope came today. Thanks to the folks on the Pre-Law Board at Law School Discussion, I knew exactly what it was when I saw the size and color of the envelope, as the folks who received an acceptance before me were kind enough to describe it in detail. I didn't bother to torture myself this time, I just ripped it right open.

Although it is my second choice school, it is a very close second. In addition, it is the same university that I attended as an undergraduate, which is long enough ago now that I have nothing but fond memories of it. The main reason number one is number one is the public interest focus, but number two isn't too shoddy in that department either and also has several classes in education law, a subject that interests me and which aren't available at number one.

So, basically, if one offers me significantly more money than the other, then that is where I will go. If they offer me about the same money, then I will have a really tough choice. I already withdrew from my fourth choice school and may withdraw from number three now as well, because I don't think the $15,000/yr scholarship they offered me is enough to draw me away from my top two.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Preparing for Law School with Podcasts

In searching for free resources for preparing for law school I have found a number of podcasts that I believe will prove to be useful.

The first is CALI Radio, which has a number of podcasts with advice for law students, as well as podcasts on particular areas of law, like contracts.

The second is Life of a Law Student, whose purpose is "To make as much legal knowledge and information freely available, to as many people, in as many ways, as is possible…" and which has podcasts covering many law school classes as well as podcasts on the "Law School Experience". The podcasts are generally by students engaged in learning the subject themselves and so are not necessarily free from errors or omissions, but this still seems like a good resource.

Finally, many law schools have podcasts or webcasts of their events. Here are the ones I have found so far:

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mobility and Space

My six-month-old is just starting to become mobile. For several weeks now he has been using his arms to move around his blanket in a (usually) counter-clockwise direction and occasionally pulling himself forward one scooch. Now he has begun stringing several forward scooches together so that I turn around and he is already a foot off of his blanket. I don't know how this is going to affect our dog, who is already feeling cramped by our current living situation. My son is extremely fascinated with both pets and tries to reach out and touch them whenever he gets a chance. After having their fur pulled or their ears pinched a couple of times, both pets try to keep their distance. Once he really starts crawling though, that will be a lot harder. The cat, at least, can escape by jumping up onto the furniture, but there is no where for the dog to go other than outside (where it is freezing cold).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Preparing for Law School

There seems to be some disagreement in the blogosphere about whether you should or should not try to prepare for law school. One common argument against preparing is that this is your last summer off before law school and you should take advantage of the time to relax and not do anything academic, otherwise you might get burned out too early in the first semester. But this doesn't apply to me because I am not coming to law school straight out of school or work. In fact if I start now, I still can have the summer off. Another argument is that you may spend a lot of time trying to learn a subject only to find that your professor emphasizes completely different things than the book or class you used to prep. However, I don't plan to study any one topic in depth, I just want to gain a little familiarity, so that when I get to class I won't spend weeks just trying to figure out the terminology.

So far I have purchased a number of books from the summer reading list I found on my third choice school's admitted students' website (see what I have so far here). In addition, I have been looking for additional reading suggestions online (this post has links to various schools' reading lists). I have begun reading A History of American Law by Lawrence Friedman. So far I am finding it pretty interesting and have even been able to relate it to my family history. I think it will provide me with a good background in how our law has changed since colonial times, which will hopefully help me to understand the significance of more recent changes.

I have also been looking into how I can introduce myself to the subjects that will be taught in my first year classes. This site has a plan for preparing for law school that involves reading the Nutshells and skimming the Gilberts for all my first year classes. I think that is a little too hard core for me. I also do not have any plans to spend $1000 on a week-long prep course (like this one or this one). However, I am considering spending $50 to access the lessons at or $80 to access Aristotle. (If anyone has used either of these and can tell me if they are worth the money I would appreciate it.)

In the meantime I am looking for free resources for learning about the law and law school online. Here are a few I have found so far:

As I find more I will post them, and as I progress in my preparation I will keep you updated.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sleep Improvement

Last week I decided to give up and no longer try to get my son to go to sleep at any particular time. It seemed like we spent hours every night trying to get him to sleep -- we'd walk him around, he'd fall asleep, we'd put him down, he'd wake up and cry, we'd pick him up and start all over again. It seemed easier to just not fight him, wait until he conked out, then we would both sleep late the next morning. After a few days of this he was so overtired he was just crying and crying and I could not even get him to take a nap (usually he naps pretty well). It turns out that if left to his own devices he will not sleep as much as he needs to, he needs some parental management of his sleep, but what we were doing before was not working for him, it didn't help him sleep.

The first thing I did was create a bedtime routine and a shorter nap routine. I had always heard that this was important, but I didn't really know what my routine should be and I was a little skeptical of it -- the routine will only work if he associates it with going to sleep, but I have no idea when he is going to go to sleep, so how do I know when to start the routine? I needed some help, so I got the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (HSHHC). That helped me figure out more of the details of what I needed to do: regular naps, a much earlier bedtime and letting him fall asleep on his own. So far it has been working pretty well. We do the routine and then I put him in bed and he falls asleep on his own. Usually he fusses and fidgets around in the crib for between 10 and 30 minutes, then he falls asleep. He goes to bed between 7 and 8 and gets up between 6 and 8. I nurse him once in the night and he may wake up one other time (usually around 4am) but he falls back asleep on his own without needing to be fed.

The only hitch we had was one night when he woke up 45 minutes after he went to bed, he cried but it had been less than two hours since he ate, so I was pretty sure he wasn't hungry. I think some noise had woken him up and he was just tired and not having an easy time getting back to sleep. We went in to rub his back a few times, but that wasn't helping. Finally we had to just let him cry himself back to sleep. It took a lot longer than I expected (two hours :( ), but I knew that our picking him up was not going to help matters, and after a certain point I felt that if we went in to get him then he would have cried all that time for nothing and we would be taking away his opportunity to learn how to fall back asleep on his own. That was really the only time he has cried for more than five minutes since I started letting him fall asleep on his own. I am actually amazed at how easy it has been.

So now we have a daily routine, a much more well rested baby, and me and hubby have evening time to ourselves. Things are much better all around. I also think it is really good that we have gotten my son on an earlier bedtime now so it won't be a struggle when I start law school and he starts daycare. And now that I have time during the day and am not exhausted I can get back to doing some reading in preparation for law school. I think my next post will be about preparation for law school, so stay tuned!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Discounted Software for Students

I don't know if this is common knowledge or not, but, if you are a student, you can buy discounted software online at the Academic Superstore. After placing your order you just have to email them a copy of your current student ID, or other document showing your student status (parents of students are also eligible!). They have great discounts on all kinds of software. For example you can get Microsoft OneNote 2007 for $44.95 or the Adobe Creative Suite for only $389.95 (compare with Amazon where these products are $93.95 and $1199.49 respectively). They also have EverNote Plus for 29.95 ($10 off the price on their website). In addition to the low prices on software, shipping is free!

I have purchased software from this site before -- last time I was a student -- and definitely plan to take advantage of the student discounts again as soon as I become a student again. They also sell hardware, such as printers, routers, mp3 players and camcorders, and other products like laptop cases and training manuals, however the few items I checked in these categories were not priced lower than Amazon. (By the way, I'm not affiliated with the Academic Superstore in any way, I just discovered them a while ago and thought that any other students who might read my blog would be interested.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Large Envelope

Yesterday I received a large envelope from my first chioce school in the mail. Since rejections don't usually come in large envelopes, I was excited to open it, but, instead, I tortured myself by opening, and processing, every other piece of mail I received first. Let's see, some books from Amazon, I better add those to my library; a credit card offer, that goes to the shredder; the DMV needs verification of my insurance, better log on to GEICO and take care of that. Then, once I finished going through the mail, my son woke up from his nap, so I had to go take care of him. Once he was happy it was finally time to open the envelope. I got in! The letter was dated exactly one month after I submitted my application, and only about a week since I called them and they verified that my application had been received, but not yet processed. They never did send me a notification that I was complete, but who cares!

I also heard from my fourth choice school a couple days ago. At this point I don't think I would go there even if they did offer me a full tuition scholarship with a stipend. I have heard that they use some of the questionable scholarship practices that Frugal Law Student Mentioned (i.e. placing scholarship students in one section to weed each other out), and that their career services office is really bad.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Money Money Money

I got a letter in the mail from my third choice law school yesterday offering me a $15,000 a year merit award. It is automatically renewable for three years, so I don't have to worry about losing it if I'm not able to maintain a certain GPA. Which is nice, but it is also not a free ride, by any means, considering tuition at the school is approximately $37,000. Still, it's nice to know that they like me enough to offer me one of their few merit awards, and it would certainly decrease the amount of loans I would have to take out.

In other money news, I am currently waiting for W-2s to arrive so I can do my taxes, so that I can fill out financial aid forms. Why must everyone wait to the last minute to send out tax forms? Also, my parents have informed me that they will probably not have their taxes done before April, so I am going to have to figure out whether the schools I have applied to will accept their 2005 taxes or estimates of 2006 or what. Also my parents have a relatively large chunk of money sitting in the bank from an inheritance they received from my grandfather, so I hope that is not going to screw me on financial aid.

I am kind of embarassed to have to ask my parents for their financial information because I don't feel like that is any of my business -- my going to law school has nothing to do with them and I certainly wouldn't expect them to contribute anything towards it. So, while I kind of understand the rationale behind asking for everybody's parent's information no matter what, it is still annoying.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Benefit of Clergy

As part of my preparation for law school I am currently reading A History of American Law. I just finished the section on colonial law where I read about the benefit of clergy, which was a way of getting out of or reducing punishment for a crime. If you could read you could claim the "benefit of clergy", and you would be handed a bible, from which you read a specific verse. If you succeeded at this task then you would be treated with leniency. Apparently it was always the same passage, so you didn't really even have to know how to read.

Anyway, this was particularly interesting to me because I have done some research into my ancestry and my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Thomas Godbey (or Godby) -- one of, potentially, 8192 of my great*12-grandfathers -- was beaten to death by his neighbor William Bentley, and William Bentley apparently got off by claiming benefit of clergy. Isn't it great when something you read intersects with something you already know? And isn't that whole benefit of clergy thing wierd? According to the wikipedia page, it is possible that some states never formally abolished benefit of clergy, so it may remain technically available today. Somebody should find out, and try to claim it.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Admitted Students Event

This week I attended an admitted students event at my third choice school (the only school to which I have been admitted so far). Although the event itself was relatively short (three hours), it was a long day for me. I drove my son to my sister-in-law's house 1.5 hours away so my mother-in-law could watch him, then took the train (1 hr) into the city. Because it was the middle of the day the trains were running very infrequently and I had to take a train that got me there an hour early in order to get there in time. With my extra time I got lunch at a sushi place (I have been craving sushi since I was pregnant).

The event itself was not terribly enlightening. There were several speakers who talked very briefly about financial aid, their public interest programs and career services. And several speakers claimed that their school was friendly and not at all like "The Paper Chase" (which I haven't seen) or One L (which I haven't read). That was kind of meaningless to me, not only because I am not too familiar with those works, but because, first, of course they are going to say that, they are trying to convince me to attend their school, and, second, I don't really care if it is friendly or not, I am not going to law school to make friends. If I do make friends while I am in law school, that's great, if I don't that's fine too. Anyway, someone who recently transfered from this school to my number one school was exclaiming about the friendliness of students at my number one school, so number three may not even be the leader in friendliness. Number three school also claims to be service-oriented, however only 1% of the class of 2005 are working in public interest law. Compare this with 6% of the class of 2005 at my number one school.

After the speakers we went on a brief tour of the school. It seemed pretty small, but I haven't yet seen any other law schools to compare it to. After the tour was a light buffet and a chance to talk with a few faculty, staff and students. I grabbed a few bites and left so I could get back home at a reasonable time (given the 1 hour train raid and 1.5 hour drive). So anyway, after the event number three school is still in third place for me. Money could change things though, we'll see.

(In case anyone is wondering, I am not so much trying to keep the schools I am applying to secret -- I have given them away multiple times through links -- I just don't necessarily want anybody searching for those schools to find my blog just yet.)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Confessions of a New Mom

A few confessions:

  • I've cut my five-month-old son's fingernails probably twice in his life. One time resulted in bleeding (those safety clippers are not safe enough). Fine motor skills are not one of my strong suits. We mostly try to file them down with the little emory boards that came in the baby care kit we received as a baby shower present. Luckily, since he has started sleeping on his stomach, he almost never scratches himself anymore.

  • I frequently have a wet spot on the front of my shirt, but not for the reason you might think (if you are a mom, or otherwise know about these things): when I am holding my son and he is tired he likes to put his hand under the front of my shirt and suck on it.

  • While I thought I would not drink any caffeine while I was breastfeeding I do occasionally have a cup of coffee or a soda. I limit myself to one cup (8oz) of coffee or two sodas (or 4oz of coffee and one soda) per day and it doesn't seem to affect my son at all (i.e. he sleeps just as poorly on days when I haven't had caffeine as on days when I have), and it helps me get through the days after bad nights. I also never have caffeine two days in a row, because I get addicted very easily and the withdrawal headaches suck. I have no illusions that I will be able to survive law school without large quantities of caffeine, but by then I will probably be done breastfeeding.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Well-Traveled Baby

A couple days ago my five-month-old and I returned from our trip to the West Coast. This was his second trip to the West Coast (the first was when he was six weeks old). He does really well on the plane: sleeps most of the time and when he is awake he is in a good mood because he loves looking at everything. The trip out was a little crowded and until he fell asleep he was squirming around quite a bit -- he doesn't fit as neatly in my lap as he did when he was six weeks old, and, despite my efforts, I couldn't seem to keep all his limbs within our designated seat space. At one point he even touched the guy next to me with his drooly hand. The guy was quite nice about it, but did not accept my offer of a burp rag to wipe off with. On the flight back we had an empty seat next to us, which was much nicer.

Pacific time seems to suit him, because he also slept well at our destination. He was in bed between eight and nine every night, sleeping for eight or more hours without waking up and taking two-hour naps during the day. I was hoping this trend would continue at home but it hasn't. He is sleeping worse than before our trip -- he was up until 12:30a the last two nights. I am hoping it is just jet lag, but, if not, we may have to consider moving to the west coast.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Law School Application Update

I had a brief moment of panic before the holidays about the application at my number one law school choice. My application had to be in before January 1 for me to be eligible for the scholarships I was applying for. I finished my application three weeks before the deadline, thinking that would be plenty of time. But when I called the admissions office on the 22nd the person I spoke with said that my application was not complete. When I asked whether they would be in the office the following week she said no. So I had a little freak out thinking that I had finished my application too late and all the work I had done on my essays was for nothing. But when I asked about the scholarship deadline, she said that they gave a grace period since January 1 was a holiday, and that as long as they received my application by January 5 I would still be eligible to be considered for the scholarships. So, I felt pretty confident that my application and law school report would be there by then (if it wasn't there already and just not processed), but I still had a little worry that was nagging at me during the holidays. The scholarships are probably a long shot, but I would be pretty upset if I wasn't even considered for them because of stupidity on my part. On the 3rd I called them again (I figured I'd give them one day to go through their mail before I called) and spoke with a very pleasant gentleman who informed me that my application had been received just before the break (!) and that it should be processed and I should receive an email notice of completion in a few days. He also confirmed that, assuming I had submitted all the necessary materials for the scholarship, and assuming I was admitted, I would be considered for the scholarship. Whew!

I received a completion notice from my number two school over the holidays (they were waiting for a dean's letter), so now everything is really done and I just have to wait and see what happens.