my top 10 law school experiences.

19 Jun

So right now I am 5 weeks deep into studying for the CA bar exam.  It’s going fine — the days are long but also go by fast, but the constant nagging feeling of wondering whether I am doing enough is a little weird.  As a break from reviewing, I thought I’d put together a list of my Top 10 Favorite Law School experiences.  I am one of those weirdos who actually loved law school.  I had a great experience at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and want to re-cap why.

In no particular order…

(1) Judicial Externship with the United States District Court for the Central District of California

I had the honor and privilege to extern for the Hon. R. Gary Klausner of the US District Court for a semester of my 2L year.  Hands down, this was the best thing I did academically all of law school.  Not only did I get to observe jury selection and trial, but I wrote an insane number of motions on issues and cases before the court.  It was incredibly challenging and  I learned way more in those four months than I did in any class.

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I also developed a strong bond with my co-externs Taylor, Ben, and Colleen.  Watch out for one of them on the Supreme Court one day (okay, maybe just Ben and Colleen out of the four of us are in the running for that — but they’ll all do big things).

(2) Spending a week in Vienna, Austria as a member of the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Team.

I joined this team as a 2L (second-year law student).  The five of us wrote two briefs (one for Claimant and one for Respondent) and then we practiced 3-4 times per week for our oral arguments.  The competition was located in Vienna (no that is not the sole reason I tried out for this particular team).

counsel for Respondent at the Juridicum

My teammate Rachael and I outside Vienna’s law school. Oh and it was FREEZING.

The competition itself was interesting and fun – we went up against teams from all over the world and had arbitrators that were equally international.

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We didn’t advance very far in the competition, but we had so much fun exploring Vienna’s sights and beer halls.  Oh, and schnitzel and spaetzle. The best.

with my friend and teammate Rachael and Professor McDermott on our last night in Vienna.

Our advisor, Professor McDermott, me, and Rachael.

(3) Bar Reviews.

No, not what I am currently doing. “Bar Review” is law school shorthand for “drinking a lot.”  It’s the law school equivalent of a sorority invite – except people are more excited because going out happens with less regularity than it did in undergrad.  I’ve racked up a few funny bar review stories over the years — but my favorite one was the end of 1L bar review.

law school bests celebrating the end of the year.

my law school posse SO STOKED to be done with 1L.

(4) Research Assistant for my favorite professor

I don’t have a photo for this — that’d just be weird — but during my 3L year I worked as a Research Assistant for my favorite professor at LLS, Professor Kevin Lapp.  I had him for Evidence and LOVED his enthusiasm so I jumped at the chance to help him with some research (about juvenile DNA collections and fingerprinting) this past year.  It was a good experience and I loved picking his brain a little bit.

(5)  Trial Advocacy

This past fall, I took a course called Trial Advocacy. This was a fun, practical class where we practiced real substantive lawyering skills, and our final was to conduct a trial.  A few things made this class fun: (1) it was taught by an actual judge who gave amazing, substantive feedback, (2) we had one class in the judge’s actual courtroom in downtown LA, and (3) one of my law school friends/arch-nemesis/biggest rival was in the class, and we went head-to-head in our final trial.

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Who do we think won this little show-down?  (Answer: The judge didn’t reach a verdict, but I got a higher grade in the class. Yes, this is how competitive Taylor and I are.  We’re still waiting on our final transcripts…)

(6) Surviving 1L

1L (or 1-hell) is pretty grueling.  ALL of the biggest classes are front-loaded, so in one year, you take criminal law, property, torts, contracts, civil procedure, legal research and writing, and an elective.  1L grades matter the most, so stress is pretty high all year.  It was arduous, but I sort of didn’t hate the “right of passage” nature of it.  Again, I am a freak and people call me a gunner.  Didn’t really realize it until writing this post. Whatever.

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(7) Finals rituals

My law school posse developed two traditions that I loved to help us get through 6 rounds of finals.

First, during our long days of studying, we took a walk break to the nearest Starbucks (at LA Live) and re-caffeinated or got some sort of treat.  The break to chat, stretch our legs, and check out whatever was going on at LA Live kept us sane during finals, and we always looked forward to when 3 pm would roll around.

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We also often would go out for a drink or a meal after each final as a tiny celebration before studying for the next one resumed.  After one 1L final, we went out to dinner and then went bowling which was fun, but usually we’d go to Yardhouse at LA Live for beers and bad food.

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(8) Pro Bono with Team Prime Time

My law school has a pro bono requirement – we had to do 40 hours total of community service — either in the form of free legal work, or through a variety of enrichment programs bringing law and law school to kids. I worked with a few other students to develop a mock trial that a bunch of middle schoolers from LA worked to present, before a real judge in one of our mock courtroom classrooms.  It was so awesome getting to know these kids and have them deliver opening statements and closing arguments as well as watching them cross-examine witnesses and create exhibits.

Team Emerson, about to head into court.

(9) Law School Summers

I had a lot of fun in my summers between 1L and 2L (when I worked for a Superior Court Judge) and 2L and 3L (#bigfirmlife).  I loved the opportunity to get first-hand experience and to hit up many a farmer’s market and firm happy hour.

(10) LLS Ambassador 

As a self-proclaimed Loyola Cheerleader, it was only natural that I become a Loyola Ambassador.  I gave a couple of tours, wrote for the Admitted Students Blog, and attended several Admitted Students Days events and panels where I spoke to prospective and admitted students. These are THE BEST. People are excited and ask the most ridiculous questions…

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Admitted Students Event at DTLA’s City Club.

this view wasn't too bad either.

an Admitted Students event at the Dodger’s Stadium Club.

  • Law students: FAVORITE thing you did in law school?  Am I crazy for liking it? Wait don’t answer that. 
  • Non-law students: What was your favorite thing you were involved with in college (my sorority and studying abroad.  And I realize how cliché I am for typing that.)
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4 Responses to “my top 10 law school experiences.”

  1. Rachael June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Woohoo! I’m famous! Hope bar studying isn’t making you too miserable . . . but if it is, you’re doing it right.

    • Gillian @ That's G June 19, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

      Haha! It’s not SO bad but some days are worse than others. I’m ready for the lectures to be over so I can finally feel like I’m making headway!

  2. Coco June 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Congratulations! I didn’t hate law school — just some parts of it. The friendships and camaraderie made up for the worst of it. It sounds like you had a fantastic experience! I clerked after I graduated and LOVED it.

    • Gillian @ That's G June 23, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

      That’s awesome that you clerked! I thought about it — and may still do it — once I work for a couple of years.

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