Saturday, August 30, 2008

Three Day Weekends - More Please!

Let's have more three day weekends! It is not quite 12:30 Saturday afternoon and my homework for next week is already done! Cutting out Monday classes makes my reading load much lighter :)

Right now I am out in our garage, sitting at my office furniture (OK, a card table and a dining room chair) getting ready to pack up my school work and listening for a car in the driveway telling me my family has arrived home. They went out to run errands and play at the mall, both to occupy themselves, and keep the house quiet so I could work faster. We are all about me getting my work done so we can all have family time together. I think the sun is even cooperating so we can have a pleasant afternoon outside, if we so choose.

Wow....only 12:30 with 2 1/2 days of free time left ahead! Right now, that is sounding like pure bliss :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Week 1 - Complete

Well, at least I have gone to all of my classes, including the extra one that I registered for in case I decided I didn't like one of my classes. I did like the class I was unsure of - Legislative and Political Process - so now I get to drop the spare.

I think it will be a good semester, and I am especially happy that our Crim Pro prof, a prosecuting atty and first-time faculty member, seems like he will be very good. Quite entertaining and clear, plus the polish one might expect of a TV prosecutor. I really appreciate that during a twice-a-week class that runs from 8-9:30. As I have said many times, I pay good money for this and I want to be entertained. Some people just really want a sharp professor that will teach them the law in a way that challenges them. I want an entertainer that can also educate me. Better chance it will stay in my memory that way.

I only have classes three nights a week, leaving other nights for homework, which is good. I anticipate my stress level being relatively low this semester, so perhaps I should save the wine of the month club membership for my last semester. I am already not satisfied with my class schedule and I will be fully into the stress that is the bar exam - applying for, prepping for, and eventually taking. Ugh. "Go to my happy place." "Go to my happy place."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Advice for First Years

As I sit in my office at work, enjoying the sun shining through my window, avoiding starting a new project because there are only 13 minutes left before I leave for school, I consider that it is the time of year when new law students tend to find my blog. So, if you are a new reader, welcome!

I am a 4L or 4E (4th year evening) or some simply lump me into 3L, but I know I've already been doing this for three years, so that doesn't sit well with me. I work a full time job by day, play law student at night, and try to keep in touch with my family - my wife and 2 children - during the early morning, late evening and weekends. It's been a tough gig for us all, but the light at the end of the tunnel looks to be daylight. We're going to make it!

(By the way, Wife's blog has all the family stories and pictues. When would I upload photos?)

Each fall I like to give out a few tips that I've learned over the years that I wish I'd known when I started. If you do a word search on this blog for "first years" you will probably come up with posts from years past. I could look back through those, but I would really like to offer something fresh and insightful. I've been doing this for three years. I should have accumulated some great tips, right?

RIGHT! Unfortunately, they may be muddled up with some mediocre tips, so you may have to weed through the junk. Very much like reading a case. Hey - there's a tip already - sometimes you have to wade through a lot of junk to get to the good stuff.

It may feel wonderful, or terrifying, or both, to be starting law school. It is probably both, but remember, ultimately, it is just school, and if you are in law school, you probably figured out already how to do school. Only this time, keep up on your reading. Really. You don't want to get behind and think you will make it up later.

Sometimes you will be on top of everything, sometimes you will feel lost and wonder what you are doing. You will wonder what you were thinking - going to law school! Crazy! Everyone I've talked to about this subject has gone through feeling this way at some point during their first year. It is OK.

Take advantage of career workshops, speakers, receptions, all of the extracurricular opportunities you can manage and still do what needs to be done. It is so useful hear from lawyers in your community about what they do, what their path was, what advice they have, and you never know who you will meet that might be able to help you out later. For those who don't know what they want to do when they get out of law school, these are great ways to become familiar with some options.

Grades matter, but they really are not everything. There is more to life than your GPA. For many of us, this is the first time we experience not being at the top of our class. In a class of formerly A students - suddenly we are divided into A, B and C students. It's a forced curve and it is reality. It's going to be hard for a while. Ultimately, it will be OK. After your first legal job, no one will care what your GPA was, at least, that's what I'm told :)

Lawyers like to help law students. Most are very willing to do informational interviews, or less formally, have coffee or lunch, with a student who wants to talk with them about their field of expertise. This is a great way to get relevant advice, figure out what a typical day is like for that person, and maybe even make a connection that will help you land a summer or full-time job. Your career services folks, and your professors, can usually provide a list of people or even make introductions for you.

Make friends.

Share notes - especially when you miss a class.

Don't worry about the "right" way to do a case brief, or any other notes. Figure out what works for you.

Try not to play too many online games or surf too much during class. It is really distracting both for you and the people behind you.

Have fun. This is just 3 or 4 years of your life, and it is an opportunity most people never get. Enjoy it!

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Day Back to School

....but not until 4:30. So, here's what I have today:

I wish my camera phone took better close-ups. This snail was absolutely beautiful. I sent a picture to Wife's cell phone, and minutes later I got a call from Boy Wonder.

"What's up with the snail picture, Bro?"

Such a silly boy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

End of Summer

We are in mourning today. Although we tried to enjoy our last pre-back-to-school day as a family, we were all sad that this is the end of summer. It will be four nights a week that I do not see my kids and they do not see me. I will see Wife for anywhere from 30-minutes up to maybe 90-minutes before going to bed on those nights. We'll both be too tired to really do much more than pack my lunch and dinner for the next day and catch a little TV. Friday nights will likely mean homework, as will a good part of Saturday, leaving Saturday night, and all day Sunday as our family time. *sigh*

On the bright side, we go into this time with a much more organized garage, thanks to Wife. She did some serious cleaning up/getting rid of this week - organized the extra shoes, beach toys, Halloween costumes, CAT6 cables, old CDs and assorted other stuff that takes up room in our garage. It looks better. Still not what we hope it will someday be, but much better. We also have a new bed set - a really, bright colorful set that reminds us so much of a beach towel that we bought some fun beach-themed bathroom accessories to compliment it. Wife then got a beachy-looking basket for misc. hair products that sit on the counter, and has started replacing dark picture frames with white ones. What a refreshing change that we are both enjoying! We are well on our way to having a tiny little beach oasis in our very own home. It will be nice to come home to everyday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Last Minute Beach Trip

Wife and I got in a last minute family trip to the beach this past weekend. Yippee! When we found out it would be over 100 degrees at home, we lucked onto a place at a beach about two-and-a-half hours away. We were only going to stay Saturday and Sunday nights, but were having such a great time, we opted for another night! Yeah, us! We stayed at a condo two nights, which was nice, but not quite on the beach. For our bonus night, we stayed at a nice hotel right on the beach - a quick walk down two flights of stairs and we were in the sand :) The view was spectacular and we will definitely stay there again.

Besides the ocean, what made this trip especially fun was that we found out the local casino has a child care center that you can drop your kids off to have fun while you go and gamble. Well, at least I believe that is the intent. We've barely even walked into a casio, but imagine our excitement when we found out you could leave their resort and go wherever since the center gives you a pager! There was lots for the kids to do and they loved it so much wanted to go back, so we let them go two days in a row. Mommies got to have a child-less breakfast and lots of shopping at the outlet mall. Way fun! We managed to get some clothes for the kids, a purse for Wife, hand soap from Bath and Body works for me, and while we did not see any Clarks shoes, there were many shoe stores to check out, too. Big fun was had by all.

This weekend I start on my homework for next week, but the last HURRAH sure was worth it!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Stumbled Upon a Great Read

I've been reading a really good book called The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason. It was a book I found in the out-of-the-way trading library in a lunch room at work. The description caught my attention, and since I'd been hopping from one book to the next for the past few weeks, nothing grabbing me, I figured it was worth a shot.

From The Publisher's Weekly review: "Caldwell and Thomason's intriguing intellectual suspense novel stars four brainy roommates at Princeton, two of whom have links to a mysterious 15th-century manuscript, the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. This rare text (a real book) contains embedded codes revealing the location of a buried Roman treasure. Comparisons to The Da Vinci Code are inevitable, but Caldwell and Thomason's book is the more cerebral-and better written-of the two: think Dan Brown by way of Donna Tartt and Umberto Eco." It's been fun to delve into the Princeton atmosphere through the eyes of college kids young enough to still be dealing with acne and first love, but also deeper issues such as the nature of friendships and the paths chosen throughout life.

The Da Vinci Code was more of a heart-pounding, page-turner than The Rule of Four, but this book is nearly as enjoyable in that it works on different levels. The relationship between the characters is almost a story that could stand alone without the mystery element. Fun stuff! I'm not really ready to trade in my fiction escapism for case law books. Oh, well, ready or not, here they come!

Family Fun Can be Exhausting!

Wow! What a week it has been! Starting last Saturday we've been on vacation. Our activities included the opening of a local park (which included a dog park opening, agility course for dogs, kick ball and parachute games for the kids and a free BBQ), visiting Wife's family 4 hours north of home for more park fun, a petting zoo, two family birthday parties and BBQs, a few kidless hours of outlet mall shopping for Wife and I, a nice morning on a beautiful beach, games at Chuck E. Cheeses, and after three nights, back home for the Children's Museum, a local park which included a 1.2 mile hike around a lake (Princess spent about a quarter or so of it on my back), and going to see Wall E. Oh - and camping out in the backyard. We are on our third night :) Whew! At this rate of activity, there will be no need for diet pills. Family fun is quite a work out for us all!

The kids are finishing up videos while Wife and I blog, and soon we'll tuck them into their beds in the tent, pop our own DVD in the laptop, and settle in for 2-3 episodes of Boston Legal. Neither of us is ready for vacation week to end, but we are squeezing in every last bit of fun we can!