August 30, 2004
Writing Tip: i.e. v. e.g.Want to sharpen your writing? Then make sure you're using the abbreviations "i.e." and "e.g." correctly by reading Another REason to Drop IE and associated comments.
August 27, 2004
Back to School...The Good, The Bad, and The Alcohol
First off, thanks to AI for giving me this great opportunity to spread the word that law school doesn't have to be all anxiety, social awkwardness and solitary binge-drinking...it can be all those things and SO MUCH MORE.
For my first attempt at the Friday Funnies I thought I would direct your attention to a few noteworthy blogs whose authors have headed back to school...and some very informative posts born of that great law school tradition, the "Let's All Get To Know Each Other" Mixer.
Steve over at Half-Cocked has some good advice for those attending their first law school free beer event. Pedro at Lawrocker details four easy things you can do to not inspire the hatred of your peers (link via Lonestar Expat). And finally, the meet and greet from a 1L point of view over at Ex Mea Sententia.
Lastly, just because I think it's so funny, check out this post at Naked Drinking Coffee titled "How I Hope Law School Classes Will Be"...yeah, I hoped they would be like that too...but so far, not so much.
August 26, 2004
Welcome the Queen!
It's Friday, which is funny, don't you think? Oh, it's not? Well just wait, because Blawg Wisdom has a real treat for you today (or soon). Announcing Energy Spatula, our new Queen of the Funny Wisdom, or Queen of Wise Funnies, or Wise of Funny Queens, or something like that. What I know for sure is: she rocks, and that's what matters.
Every Friday (or every other Friday, or every third Friday, or just whenever she has time and feels like it and has or knows about some good material), Energy Spatula will be posting Friday Funnies here at Blawg Wisdom for your enlightenment and enjoyment. She'll be posting links to satirical, sarcastic, witty, and otherwise humorous bits of advice and thoughts about law school. There are numerous examples of this type of post, and we hope that our funnies will make you laugh, or at least allow you to blow off steam knowing that someone else feels exactly as you do about the gunner in row three. (Apologies to gunners; we know you can't really help it and we love you anyway. Most of the time.)
So welcome, ES! Let the funnies begin!
Note: I have no idea if ES has any funnies lined up for today, and if she doesn't, don't hold it against her. She'll get around to it when she feels like it. Got it?
New Submission Form
Introducing a new (and preferred) way to contribute to Blawg Wisdom: the bright and shiny Submit Wisdom Form! Check it out. Any time you'd like to see Blawg Wisdom feature a link to something, just click to the index page, and click on the "Submit Wisdom" link in the upper-right column to reach the form. Please use it early and often to let us know about posts you write or read which contain advice, tips, helpful thoughts, etc. about any aspect of the law school experience. Contributors are now 35 strong, and growing. Wouldn't you like to be a contributor, too? (It's like a pepper, as in "I'm a pepper, he's a pepper, wouldn't you like to be a pepper too? Dr. Pepper! Drink Dr. Pepper!" -- only, um, not.)
The First Week
In another generous gift to 1Ls, Jeremy Blachman presents Ten Unsolicited Off-the-Cuff Pieces of Advice for the First Week of Law School. My own favorite:
Relax. Don't be insane. Please. Your fellow students will be insane enough for everyone.
Let the insanity begin! It can even be fun, so long as you're a spectator, not a participant in the insanity.
August 25, 2004
Is Bar-Bri worth it?
Jeremy's LSAT Advice
Jeremy Blachman, who will begin his third year at HLS very soon, offers a detailed discussion of how to prepare for the LSAT, including sections on logic games, logical reasoning, and reading comprehension. If you still have to take the LSAT, be sure to read this advice first.
Balancing Year Two
My moral of the story is that 2L is a hard year. It's time-consuming, stressful, and at times frustrating as hell. Do what you think you must. Take the courses that stretch your brain. Step above the high school mindset and become your own person. People will respect you for it.
Speaking of high school, Beanie has recently extended the law/high school analogy. It seems to fit all too well...
August 24, 2004
Ten More 1L Tips
Choose Your Seat Wisely
Every fall, law schools around the country participate in a ritual variously known as OCI (On Campus Interviews), FIP (Fall Interview Program), and etc. This ritual involves students "bidding" for the chance to interview with big firms; you bid by submitting a resume and cover letter. If the firm picks you, they schedule an interview, then come to campus and meet with you. In fact, students all over the country are doing this right now. Fun, right?
Maybe, maybe not. But the point here is that some anonymous someone is trying to make the process a little more predictable via a new blawg; Law Firm OCI Reviews. Here's what it's all about:
The purpose of this Blog is to make information available to law students who are involved in OCI interviews for law firms. The purpose of this blog is not to provide information about the firm in terms of the work experience or compensation and benefits, rather it is to provide information for students concerning the methods used by a particular firm in it's OCI interviews. By inviting readers to send in comments regarding their OCI interviews, I am hoping to be able to build a database aimed at helping future students understand what to expect from a particular firm in the interviewing process. Although I named this site OCI reviews, I will also deal with the flyback/callback process.
So far, the site has no content, but it seems like a good idea. If you have experience with OCI, please send your comments to OCIreviews at gmail dot com. You have to email from an "@school" email address, but the site claims your identity will be protected. [link via Law Sloth]
August 21, 2004
Things You Wish You'd Known
CtheJ, a 1L at the University of Minnesota and author of Foot In Mouth offers What I Wish I'd Known, tips for making it through the application process, including specific advice about how to deal with your undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation, and writing a personal statement. CtheJ will even share his/her personal statement with you if you'd like a successful example to help get you started. That's what I call sharing the love.
Personal Statement: Say Something
August 20, 2004
All the Funny That's Fit To Print -- and then some
Thanks to the ever sparkly Energy Spatula, this week's edition of the Friday Funnies (the latest and possibly greatest category of wisdom!) brings you A Day In the Life of Energy Spatula -- Girl Slacker, "complete with beer drinking, bejeweled, canned case briefs and a whole lot of caffeine."
Also not to be missed is Sage Advice from Soupie's BBQ and Daycare (Now with more Sugar!!) -- "the super-secret advice that will give you a proverbial (or literal, if you enjoy such things) leg up on your competitors."
Finally, cruise on over to Lonestar Expat for a series of excellent and funny takes on OCI and interviews:
- OCI Pt. 1: This here's better'n snuff, ain't half as dusty.
- OCI Pt. 2: It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep
- OCI Pt. 3: Never slap a man who's chewin' tobacco
- OCI Pt. 4: Lettin the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin it back in.
- OCI Pt. 5: Stories from the trenches
Better Legal Writing (and more!)
Something some law students don't fully appreciate until it is too late is that lawyers are writers. If you practice law (and even if you just go to law school), you will write. A lot. So why not do it well?
In pursuit of better writing, make haste to Six Posts About Better Writing at the Illinois Trial Practice Weblog (ITPW), covering everything from learning to spot muddled writing to practical tips for eliminating it in your own work and suggestions for further reading. For the further reading, a good start is the Legal Writing category at the ITPW, which contains more practical writing advice as well as links to other great legal writing resources.
All of this writing assistance is generously offered by Evan Schaeffer of Notes From the (Legal) Underground, where you can also read a guest post from Dennis Kennedy covering Six Great Ways to Unmuddle Your Writing.
Finally, Notes From the (Legal) Underground also features its own advice category that's packed with tips for young lawyers, firm partners, firm staff, families of lawyers, and more. In short, Schaeffer is a veritable font of knowledge, and I, for one, thank him for his generous efforts.
August 19, 2004
Choosing A School (aka, Rank Isn't Everything)
As he begins his first semester at AU, Tony at Parenthetical Statement ponders the question every law student must ask: Did I choose the right school? Tony thinks the answer to that for him is "Yes," but if you're reading this in the future (since by this time most people have made their choices for this year), Transmogriflaw has some great things for you to think about in her post: Law School Decision Time Myths. It's a pithy list of five myths you're going to hear as you decide where to apply and where you'll ultimately enroll, including thoughts on how you should weigh those crucial variables: money and rank. Definitely consider the possibility that money can matter more than rank, no matter what you hear from practicing attorneys. And, as Tony suggests, perhaps what should matter most of all is what feels best for you.
If you have some time, you may also want to read about my own experience choosing a school and how Transmogriflaw's myths operated on that decision.
Learning from Lawyers
In a guest post on Notes from the (Legal) Underground, Matt Homann, offers Five Indispensable Tips for Law Students and New Lawyers. Homann is an Illinois lawyer, a part-time Pretrial teacher at Wash U., and author of the [non]billable hour—in other words, he speaks from a lot of experience.
Law students could also learn a great deal from the [non]billable hour's regular feature, Five By Five, which poses a different question each week or two to five knowledgeable people in a specific area of law and collects all of their responses for easy reading. Like Blawg Wisdom, Five By Five is an advice or knowledge aggregator, but with more specific focus according to the question of each edition. Questions thus far have included:
- What are the five worst mistakes a lawyer can make (or the five best things a lawyer can do) when marketing to a potential female client?
- If you had the power to change five things about the practice of law, what would you change?
- Reader's Edition (responses to the above question from readers)
- What five things can lawyers do to better serve entrepreneurs and their businesses?
- What five new technologies should all lawyers incorpoate into their practices, but probably won't?
August 16, 2004
Right now, many people are finishing summer internships and/or preparing for fall interviews, and Biting Tongue has just a couple of tips just for you. First, here's a tip for those of you finishing an internship: don't forget to thank those who deserve it. Second, if you're going to be interviewing soon (or even not-so-soon), make sure you know which bread plate is yours.
August 13, 2004
Not all "advice" for law students is completely serious. In fact, a lot of it is very funny. In that vein, check out this list of things you must bring with you to law school from Energy Spatula
and Top Ten Ways to Celebrate the End of Your Summer Job from Alan at A Season of Mists.
Coping With Exam Panic
First year law students are often very concerned about exams (I certainly was); practicing attorney Scheherazade of Stay of Execution says don't worry, it's normal. Just something to keep in mind if you start to freak out in a few months around finals time.
Insights into firm life?
A reader writes to recommend Anonymous Lawyer for anyone considering going into big firm practice after law school. He writes:
Whether or not it's really written by a law firm partner, it captures the mindset of the worst elements of law firm life better than anyone else currently writing.
August 12, 2004
Lucky to Even Get Accepted?
Ex Mea Sententia (from the blog of the same name) is starting law school very soon and offers some anti-advice from his experience studying for the LSAT and applying to schools. His bottom line:
Basically, do as I say and not as I do.
If you're just considering taking the LSAT or if you haven't yet decided to apply (or where to apply) to schools, visit Ex Mea Sententia (which means "in my opinion") — you just might learn from his mistakes.
August 11, 2004
Is It Wise To Date Your Classmates?
More LSAT Prep
Monica at Buzzwords offers her thoughts on preparing for the LSAT (including a link to the outline she created for that purpose) in response to this extensive LSAT prep guide from Neo Tokyo Times, and this perspective from Jeremy Blachman.
What's a future LSAT-taker to do with all this seemingly conflicting advice? I can't tell you, but my suggestion would be the same for this as for all the other advice linked here: Read as much or as little of it as you find useful, pick and choose the bits from each source that strike you as helpful, and build your own strategy for success (whatever that means to you). There is no magic bullet, but there's no sense recreating the wheel, either. (Yes, you have entered the "figure of speech" zone!)
August 10, 2004
Series: Menagerie's Advice to New Law Students
In addition to her retrospective on her second year of law school, SCM of The Menagerie has written an excellent three-part series of Advice to New Law Students. Her advice comes with the following preface:
Bear in mind that I can't speak to what it's like to be 22, single, and starting law school -- this is my advice for people like me, who started at 29 and had a lot of commitments. But maybe some of it can crossover.
With that in mind:
- Part One: Covering all the basics of adjusting from a former life to a law student life.
- Part Two: Additional thoughts to update part one. ("Buy antacids.")
- Part Three: Have fun (and why and how).
LSAT Prep and Choosing Where to Apply
Em at a mi parecer has written a nice account of her experience preparing for the LSAT and taking it—twice. Learn about her preparation strategies, as well as her thoughts on how to manage applications to schools when you're applying w/out knowing what your LSAT score will be.
Top 10 Things Lopez & Kahane Learned About Law School
You don't need to be the top of your class -- you need to do the best you can, to be balanced and happy, and to be fair and just to your fellow students. You need to respect your professors, and learn the law.
Professor Eugene Volokh especially recommends tips 1, 2, 4, 5, and 10.
If that's not enough for you, Lopez's co-blogger Jeff Kahane offers 10 tips of his own . I'm not sure about tips 4, 5 and 6; but everyone's different. My experience is that law school is as about as hard as you make it, I'm hoping that first semester grades don't determine anything more than first semester grades, and yes, the social pressure to get a firm job can be intense. If that's not why you're in law school, you might just avoid those interviews with firms that you'd never want to work at anyway. That's what I'm trying, anyway. I'll let you know how it goes.
August 09, 2004
Heidi at Letters of Marque completes her "not-advice series" with Exam Tips 3: What you should get out of practice exams. The previous entries in this series cover nearly all the other critical aspects of getting the most out of your first year.
In the preface to her latest entry, Heidi explains that her posts do not contain advice so much as discussions of possibilities, suggestions, things to consider. She makes excellent points about the weaknesses of trying to collect "advice" about an experience that is different for everyone, and "the only piece of actual advice" she actually gives is this:
many many people have successfully approached law school in a large number of ways. Trust yourself. If you've never learned well by working in groups, don't join a study group. If you learn best by discussing with other people, do that. Know what you want, and do what you have to to get it. Because ultimately, even the people who write big expensive books that charge lots of money are not really giving advice. They're just saying, "hey, this worked for me!" Hopefully you'll learn to trust yourself. And next year, maybe you'll be able to say "Hey, this worked for me!" too.
She's right, of course. Which is why, even if what she offers cannot be properly called "advice," it's still well worth your time to learn how she did it, and to understand what worked for her. Who knows? It may work for you, as well. Or, it may not. Either way, you've learned something, and that's really the idea, isn't it?
August 08, 2004
Surviving Law School, Dodd's Way
Although blogging is a relatively new thing, law students and practicing attorneys have been doing it for years now. In fact, two years ago practicing attorney C.D. Harris of Ipse Dixit offered his advice to law students: Surviving Law School, Dodd's Way. It includes seven big-picture tips to help you through your three years.
10 Interview Questions
After spending time at her first legal job and realizing it wasn't really living up to all its promises, Energy Spatula developed "10 Questions I SHOULD have asked while interviewing, but before accepting, a summer position."
Good stuff for everyone heading into the fall interview season.
More Transfer Tips
give your law school a chance. Don’t come in to law school saying, in effect, I don’t want to be here; I’d rather be somewhere else.
August 07, 2004
Letters to Wormwood
Anthony at Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil is now entering his second year of law school at Columbia. He offers an extensive series of commentaries and tips for getting through law school, all of which he's kindly collected into a category of its own. It's called Letters to Wormwood (cf. The Screwtape Letters), and it contains bits of wisdom on a variety of topics, including new student mixers, the Socratic Method, public interest requirements at Columbia, feeling overwhelmed, and much, much more. Read the whole category to get it all.
Liable on beginning 1L
After just a month in law school, Liable offered her first impressions and tips for success in the first few weeks. Detailed tips on briefing cases, notetaking, socializing, and backing up your work. As for backing up, do it. Often.
Reflections on 2L
The most important advice for anyone, in whatever stage of schooling: learn how you learn.
Read the full post for more on how she does it, and how you can do it, too.
15 1L Tips
Do not be a stress bunny.
Schteino's 1L Wrapup
The three most important things I found for my first year were class preparation (as in, be prepared), getting enough sleep, and having a sane morning routine.
As a rising 3L, Bekah at Mixtape Marathon has been offering tips about law school for some time now. The hits begin with a series of memos to law professors, mostly about final exams, but also about the content of class:
- Memo #1: Emulating Satan is not friendly
- Memo #2 : Update on Emulating Satan: It’s Still Not Friendly
- Memo #3: Your Persistence in Emulating Satan
- Memo #4: Friendly advice: "A week and a half before exams, just stop trying to teach us anything.")
an outline is not a mere study aid. It is nothing less than a physical manifestation of the fundamental malevolence that pervades law school.
Bekah also offers a more sociological perspective on law school with her analysis of the Population of the reading room at study time, and what it feels like to finish your journal write-on/Bluebook competition.
August 06, 2004
Five Quick Pearls
grades are so arbitrary and capricious, that it's of no use to try and obsess about them. Just do the best you can and let the chips fall where they may.
August 05, 2004
Beanie on 2L
At one point I was told I took too many [classes] by administration. Nothing like lighting a fire under me by telling me you shouldn't do something. It in fact was symbolic of the 2L experience, do what feels right...damn the consequences.
Hmm. I might just have to give that a try.
DG on 1L
Ditzy Genius has been sprinkling her posts with bits of advice for law students throughout the past year; however, the following posts contain highly concentrated doses of ditzy goodness:
- Orientation Tips
- 1st week of class Don'ts
- Is law school as bad as people say it is? (She says not really, but it depends on the person.)
- 1L Recap: Terrific advice for those just starting law school.
August 04, 2004
Advice Category & How To Read A Case
- Part One covers initial, general questions to ask.
- Part Two provides a sample case brief w/explanation of its parts.
- Part Three gives you a sample case
- Part Four comes full circle by giving a sample brief of the case in Part Three.
August 03, 2004
Transmogriflaw series: What I Did
August 02, 2004
Blachman's thinking about law mega-post
The "So I'm Thinking About Law School... Or At Least Thinking About Thinking About Law School... But I'm Not Even Really Sure What That Means" Mega-Post, Part 1
I don't have time to read it all now, but all you need do is look at the source to know this is good stuff. Go there, all ye who seek potential pre-law enlightenment!
August 01, 2004
Sua Sponte is your one-stop-shop for information related to transferring schools after your first year. See her sidebar for all the links. The core of her advice is contained in her transferring FAQ, parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Course Selection Brain Dump
Comprehensive Guide to 1L
Heidi at Letters of Marque has spent the summer compiling an excellent and comprehensive guide to making it through the first year of law school. The series is ongoing; I'll update this list as she adds more. For now, check out the following I believe the series is now complete and consists of the following:
- Choosing a route
- Reading a law school case (for the first time)
- What to get from your classes
- Being Socratic Bunny
- Fun and Focus
- Ladies and Gentleman, start your outlines
- What's a "blueprint" anyways?
- An incomplete list of generalized tips
- The use of subjective knee-jerk reactions in law school
- Exam Tips 1: Why IRAC Sucks
- Exam Tips 2: Approaching the Question
- Exam Tips 3: What you should get out of practice exams
1L: To Buy and To Know
Take stock now in a highlighter company.
Summer Associate Mega-Post
Another Jeremy, this time the incomparable Jeremy Blachman, recently rounded up many many of his thoughts on what it's like to be a rising 3L summer associate in a big NY law firm. It's all right there in: Are You Interviewing Soon? The Day-In-The-Life-Of-A-Summer-Associate MegaPost. A must-read for anyone planning to try this, and even for those of us who don't think we ever will. Apparently the position comes with free muffins and bagels in the morning, a secretary, a computer w/Internet access and email, a rotation system for giving associates experience in different practice areas, lots of nice lunches, some discussions of what the associates and partners do with their days, and "one or two nights a week, the day finishes with some sort of summer associate event . . . bowling, scavenger hunt, culinary class, Broadway show, concert, etc." As for the work itself, Jeremy says it includes:
Researching on Lexis and Westlaw, writing up summaries of cases or memos or other big stacks of paper, reading through big documents looking for small stuff, helping to organize or arrange or manage big stacks of paper, filling out forms, checking rules and procedures, drafting e-mails, memos, perhaps some contractual language, drafting initial stabs at sections of a brief, sitting in on conference calls, going to hearings, tagging along in court, perhaps sitting in on a client meeting. That's basically the collection of tasks.
The fact that he appears to have written the entire gargantuan post while "at work" may just tell you all you need to know about his experience as a summer associate. Then again, it may not.
Aside: I really recommend reading Jeremy's blog regularly. You'll be a happier person, and you'll learn a lot, too.
Series: How to Annoy Others
Series: How To Fail Law School
Jeremy Richey brings us a four part series on some things you shouldn't do in law school:
Pimpin'The Larry the Longhorn Guide to Law School offers over 15 great tips on adjusting to law school and making your way through the first year. Who knew Pedialyte could be part of success in law school? See especially Larry's tips on what she calls "impression management," aka, how not to be hated by everyone who meets you. My favorite tip:
Don't tell classmates that black people don't go to Texas or that people who take public interest jobs were at the bottom of the class (#1 and editor of Kentucky Fried Quarterly of class 2002 is working at Legal Aid). Oh hey, and don't suck.That last part really sums up this whole law school advice thing: Just don't suck, ok?
About Blawg Wisdom
Ed. note: This post has been updated to reflect changes to the site since it was first posted.
Law students, professors, and practitioners who blog are constantly writing posts that consist entirely or predominantly of advice to law students and recent law school graduates. However, since these bits of advice appear all over the web and at random times, it's hard for any one law student to know where to find them.
Enter Blawg Wisdom.
The idea behind Blawg Wisdom is simple: Gather together as much advice from blawgers as possible about law school and beginning a career in the law. That's it. Blawg Wisdom is an advice aggregator.
Here's how it works:
If you write something online that contains explicit advice for other law students, please let me know about it via the "Submit Wisdom" link at the top of the right column of the main page. OR, if you read something like this online, please tell me about that, too. The submission form allows you to indicate where the advice is (the URL), and to provide a short summary of what readers will find there. When I receive your submission, I will post a link to it with your summary (or mine). If you do not have a blog but would like to submit wisdom, please do that via the form, as well, and I will post your submission as an entry on Blawg Wisdom. Eventually, we should end up with a nice collection of advice that will be easily-accessible to all who are interested.
New! If you'd like to request wisdom (advice, general thoughts) on a specific topic, please do so via the Wisdom Request Form.
Content will probably fall into several categories, including advice for pre-law, each year of law school, bar review, ethics, and job hunting. I will create easily-navigable have created categories once we have content to fill them to make it easier for different audiences to find the kind of advice they are looking for. If there's a category of advice you don't see but which you think would be helpful, please let me know.
The blogroll for this site may consist of links to sites that provide helfpul information for law students, but that that sort of aggregation is a function that many other sites already perform (i.e. JD2B), so if there's some other list of blawgs you'd like to see, just let me know and I'll start building it.
Note: If you are a coding wizard of and could help create a web form to collect advice submissions (so that people don't have to do it via email), that would be terrific.
Also, if you would like to share in the joy of keeping Blawg Wisdom up-to-date, let me know and I can add you as a poster. If you're part of the BlawgCoop, you'll have automatic access to post at Blawg Wisdom, as well.
And so there were many in the land who wandered the vasty deep of the internet, the dusty shelves of the bookstores, and the random chance of the man-on-the-street, seeking always the keys to success in law school and to beginning a career in the law. And the resources sprang up all around to help them, and they were drowning in suggestions and dos and don'ts and if-this-happens-you-will-fails. Yet still they came, always searching for more secrets, tips, anecdotes with lessons embedded, and more, more more. They consumed them all greedily, and their search did not abate.
Meanwhile, the good people of blawgland were busily being law students, professors, legal practitioners, going about their lives humbly but with courage and honor, and all the while writing about every little bit of it. Sometimes the good people of blawgland bitched and moaned at the challenges and travails of their endeavors, and at other times they rejoiced triumphantly at some great success, but all the while they learned, and about that which they leaned, they wrote. And in their writing, scattered here and there throughout the hundreds and thousands of pages and millions of words and gazillions of virtual miles of blawgland—there, in that happy yet chaotic place were found the secrets of their success, random posts here and there containing the distilled wisdom of experience as a gift to all the world.
And on came the hungry hordes, thirsting for tips, advice, knowledge of experience, and they poured into blawgland in droves searching for the very best, the brightest, the most useful bits of information to help them advance just a few more steps in their journeys toward some future in legal practice. And they strove and they labored to find all the good stuff, they clicked and they read and they searched and they commented, but oh how they longed for one central resource, one paradise of pithy perspicaciousness. Where was this wonderful place, the one-stop-shop for the gathered wisdom of all those in blawgland who had passed this way before and learned so much in the passing? Would they wander forever in search of the best of the brightest in blawgland, finding the good advice one day, but missing it the next? Were they doomed to search and search, through every one of their favorite sites to cull from them the clear advice that was meant for them to find?
That is up to you, my friends. Welcome to Blawg Wisdom, advice about law school from those who are in it. Use it wisely, use it well, use it often, and it will grow and become the resource you sought, so that others will need seek no more.