Thursday, May 29, 2008

School Supplies Review

I thought I would do a follow up on which of the school supplies I bought at the beginning of the school year were useful and which weren't.

  • eBags Router Wheeled Laptop Convertible: I used this bag everyday. It holds a lot: I could fit my laptop, two casebooks, assorted smaller supplements and my lunch bag in it along with all the necessary accessories. There are a lot of pockets and I used all of them. The pockets on either side of the retractable handle were good for an umbrella and my laptop power cord. The side pockets were good for water bottles or thermoses. The front pockets were good for organizing all the other miscellanea, like pens, highlighters, cellphone, etc. The bag rolls really smoothly, although towards the end of the year the wheels got a little noisier. The only problem I have with the bag is that it is pretty large and heavy. There are other bags that hold just as much that are not as big and heavy. However it has held up really well to daily use and still looks almost brand new.

  • Elle Essentials - Christy Lunch Bag: I used this bag pretty much everyday as well. I could fit several gladware type containers in it for my lunch and snacks throughout the day. I like the way it looks, but this ended up not being at all important because I usually stuffed it into my backpack rather than carry it separately because the straps are not quite long enough to carry it over my shoulder. The shape of the bag worked well for being stuffed into my backpack because it is not very tall and fits in my bag on top of the books.

  • Skullcandy Proletariat Noise Canceling Headphones: I didn't use these at all. They seemed a little too conspicuous and I usually didn't need to block out noise to study -- I can read cases with background noise. When I did need to block out some particularly loud or distracting conversations nearby I just used a pair of earbud headphones and some Brian Eno and that worked fine. I think these are probably best for listening to movies or music on an airplane.

  • BookBuddy - Students Choice! BookStand-Snaps in a 3-Ring-Binder: I didn't use this either. Although it might have been better for my neck if I had, I need my book lying down flat so I can highlight it.

  • Classic Collegiate Edition Weekly Wire Bound Planner - Aug 07 - Jul 08: This I used everyday. The weekly planner has just the right amount of space to keep track of classes and other appointments as well as to-dos. This was my main way of keeping track of reading and assignments as well as meetings and appointments. I still used my google calendar for appointments also, but having a paper planner is more useful when you are not constantly in front of a computer.

  • Classic Julie Morgenstern Time Map: This was also pretty useful. I used it to create my weekly reading schedule for the semester, for example I would block out time to complete each reading assignment (for example on Thursday afternoon I had blocked out time to read for Tuesday and Wednesday's property class) and then each week I would refer to that schedule to fill in all my reading assignments. Of course a few weeks into the semester I didn't really need it anymore to figure out my schedule, but it was still useful to have just for planning purposes at the beginning of the semester.

  • Sharpie Accent Retractable Highlighters Assorted 8 pack: These I used, but when they ran out I just bought standard yellow highlighters. I didn't need all those colors and even though they were retractable they ran out really fast. I still do occasionally use different color highlighters to highlight the case names in the notes or the name of the judge who wrote the opinion, depending on whether that's necessary for the particular class (It was mostly necessary in con law, not so much in the other classes), but for general highlighting I just use yellow.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I am officially done with my first year of law school, so I thought I'd post an update. I have a few more posts in draft stage that I plan to post over the next couple of weeks, then I guess we'll just see what happens after that. I definitely won't be as busy over the summer, but at the same time I probably won't have as much to post about.

The rest of first semester went fine. It was busy, but I wasn't overly stressed. The study period before exams was actually less stressful than the regular semester because we had a full week between our last class and our first exam. I only studied during the day and felt like it was just the right amount of time. I mostly studied at home which probably contributed to the somewhat relaxed feeling of study period. I have heard that there is a lot of tension in the air at school during study period so I'm glad I missed out on that. My exams went fine also. I walked out of each feeling pretty good but having no real idea of how I did. It seems impossible to know how you did on a test with no right answers and where your grade depends on how everyone else did.

The first week of the winter break was really busy with holiday stuff and then just after that settled down we took a trip to Mexico with my family. It wasn't exactly a relaxing vacation, in part because of the curious toddler and the non-baby-proofed hotel room and in part because we all got sick (not from the water or food or anything, just a bug we all passed around). Most of my grades came out while we were in Mexico, which I wasn't expecting (I'd been told not to expect them before February) and they were fine. Nothing stellar, but all above the curve.

Second semester started out a little rough. We got back from the trip one day before classes started, and then during the first (or was it second?) week of classes the little guy got a pretty bad stomach bug. I missed several classes to take him to the doctor and stay home with him. And, of course, I got sick too.

After we all recovered I started getting serious about my summer job search. I had sent out several applications before Christmas but hadn't heard from any body. I went to a job fair, I went on a bunch of interviews and I kept getting rejected. I had had a mock interview and the interviewer had told me I did well, so I don't think that my interviewing skills were the problem. I think I just wasn't what people were looking for. I was a 1L looking for a public interest job related to children with a background in government and information technology. I was counting on my community service experience to show my commitment to public service and interest in children's issues, but it wasn't super impressive. By March I was getting really worried that I wouldn't find anything. Luckily new jobs kept popping up on PSLawNet and so I kept sending out applications. I became expert at re-writing my cover letter as I broadened my search beyond what I though I originally wanted to do and I learned about some cool organizations. One of which I hope to work at next year. Anyway, I finally got a job in April, with three weeks of classes left, and I am really excited about it. I think that it is the perfect job for me this summer, I think I will be able to find a good note topic there, and I think it will help me get a job at the organization I want to work at next summer.

So anyway, I was distracted through much of second semester by the job search. I was less engaged in my classes second semester even though I would have thought that I would have been more interested in them than the first semester classes, just based on the subject matter. And it was not the fault of my professors. They were all really great and really engaging and entertaining. I think that I just had less energy and enthusiasm second semester. For that reason, and also because the job search and moot court stuff took up so much time, I felt that the second semester of law school was much harder than the first semester. I did get really stressed out and I think it affected me physically, because my stomach was acting weird for a couple months in March and April, I kept thinking I must be pregnant, but the pregnancy tests kept coming back negative. Anyway, that cleared up before exams. We had our full week of study period before exams again, although this time I had more to do because I hadn't really done any outlining during the semester, my notes were spotty in places, and I hadn't really briefed the cases. But I still felt that I had enough time to prepare and I think exams went fine. I haven't gotten my grades yet though, so who knows?

After exams I had a couple days off before the writing competition for law review. I got my hair cut, ran some errands and watched some TV. We had a week for the competition which was just an essay, no bluebooking. I spent about 24 hours total on it. Six hours the first day, then a one-day break with the little guy, and then four or five hours for each of the next four days. I feel pretty good about it. If I don't get on law review, I hope to get on the one specialty journal that I applied to.

And that brings us up to the present. I have a week off before I start my summer internship and will be spending it going to the park with the little guy and taking him to visit his cousin and his grandma.