Reflections On My First Year of Law School

I saved notes on my phone throughout the 2019-2020 school year so that I would have an easier time of writing this post, but it really didn’t make anything easier. This year was a mess. Everything went wrong. Everything went right. I wanted to write this post as a way to help others facing their first year of graduate school, but really there’s no other way to do it other than jumping in and just getting the dang thing done.

Side note: That’s what I tell myself when I have things to do, but to motivation to do them. “Just DO THE DANG THING.”

As promised, here are the notes from my phone through the 2019-2020 school year:

  • don’t buy your textbooks – rent them!
  • Jeff Bezos may be taking over the world, but the convenience of Amazon is unmatched
  • I have realized that I am not as smart as people think I am, but smarter than I give myself credit for
  • This is SO hard and SO challenging, but very easy in some respects. The easy pockets make it hard to get myself to study consistently.
  • (at the end of fall semester finals) I have no brain left and my memory is so shot and I feel like my brain is melting and I cannot remember anything
  • (at the end of second semester finals) Dear God I cannot believe I have to put up with another two years of this F@#%@~^@!$

That last note makes it seem like I hated law school. I didn’t (don’t). I do, however, hate how dead taking finals makes me feel. I sincerely have no brain power, or brain cells, left after my last final. If you asked me my name I probably would not be able to tell you. So, sitting in my room after my last final typing out a note to myself about getting through second semester was not the best idea…but it happened, and now it’s shared on the Internet. Law school can be rough, y’all.

Second semester was especially tough because of the timing of the pandemic. School shut down right after spring break. Classes were all moved online. Stores were selling out of toilet paper, food, and cleaning products. Life went from a happy hippie paradise (I was in Nashville for spring break) to being absolutely chaos to being at a complete standstill. The standstill, however, felt like watching the tide recede before a tsunami. All the seagulls are quiet. Everyone is just watching, waiting. You know something isn’t right. For those of us that know the hallmark signs of a tsunami, we wait in terror. The second half of spring semester was just like that: waiting in terror. I was so scared that my parents would get sick. I was so scared my cat would get sick. I was so scared my teachers, my classmates, my friends, my roommate, myself would get sick. I watched the death toll rise as I sat alone in my room. Studying for finals felt pointless because what if there were no finals? What if everything was going to continue to be shut down forever? I do not deal well with uncertainty, so second semester was a very difficult time for me.

Oh, and did I mention that one of my final exams (that was worth my entire letter grade!) got lost in cyberspace? Yeah. Stressful.

Speaking of – Finals are usually in person, on BlueBoard examination software, at the law school. We’re usually in a quiet classroom with a paper exam in one hand and our computer in the next. Second semester every exam was online and open book. Instead of having three hours per test, we had a full two days. Just when I thought I was comfortable with the way law school tests their students, the pandemic changed all of it. And it’s continuing to change. This semester of Fall 2020 our semester is getting cut short and our exams moved online. We’ll have a longer period than the normal three hours to complete each exam, but it certainly won’t be forty-eight hours worth.

To be perfectly honest, if I were starting law school in the fall of 2020, I would defer. I’m more comfortable with where I’m at in my second year only because I had last semester as a ‘end of the world but continue to be a law student’ trial run. If I didn’t have my friends and my section with me for that experience, I wouldn’t have made it. We were all lost, but we were all lost together. I feel for the new students I’ve met this semester. They know the twenty odd students in their section, but very few know upperclassmen or other students in general. Thankfully the shelter in place requirement is no longer being enforced, otherwise students might have gone the whole semester without seeing another law student in person. It was my section and my mentor that really helped me the most my first year, so I can’t imagine trying to have that same experience virtually.

Despite the pandemic, I did like law school. I like how it made me think, and how it changed the way I analyze the world. I mean, duh, I like it, I’m still here aren’t I? Ha. Go Bears, and good luck to the Mercer Law Class of 2020 taking the bar this week!

Law School: Year Two, Semester One

It seems silly that I’m posted a semester update before recapping my entire 1L year, but here we are. Life has once again gotten a little crazy. I feel like I just finished my first final, my first year, and my first internship and here I am starting all over. In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So far, life has been a steady stream of chaos. This, as odd as it sounds, is somewhat peaceful. Yes I’m still running around like a chicken with my head cut off, but at least there is some normalcy within the pandemic we’re (still) facing. I know what classes are online and when, I’ve gotten used to seeing only half of everyone’s face, and I’m really enjoying the six foot social distancing rule because I get to spread my textbooks all over the desk in front of me rather than being elbow to elbow with my classmates.

Still, Corona has made life pretty scary. My alma mater, UGA, has shut down, as well as my father’s alma mater, UNC Chapel Hill. Mercer is continuing to have open doors, but students are still getting sick. I’m lucky that most of my classmates are taking things seriously. Only a handful of my peers have gotten sick with the virus. I haven’t caught it, but I’ve had some close calls. While I enjoy the “new normal” we’ve found ourselves in, I know that being complacent in it will not return us to the old normal.

As a former event director at a big university, I miss being surrounded by happy faces, free food, and matching t-shirts. I really miss seeing my friends smiling as they walk down the halls. I’d give anything to have an event on school grounds where I can see everyones’ faces and run up to people and hug them to thank them for coming. Life is weird without hugs and smiles, but we’re getting there.

As for school, Mercer Law is doing a “hybrid” program. My classes are partially online and partially in person. Each student has the ability to ask to be fully online for the semester, especially if they have a medical reason to do so. Right now I’m in person Monday through Thursday, and all my classes Friday are online. Some professors are doing all online, some all in person, some half and half. It’s…confusing. I’m used to it solely because I’ve been doing it since August!

This semester I’m taking Evidence, Torts II, Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, and Legal Writing 2. I also had an Introduction to Client Counseling course I had to complete before the semester really kicked off. And I had a Title IX training (doesn’t count for class credit but is required as part of my degree at Mercer!). Come to me for all your legal needs!! Just kidding, please don’t do that.

I am so excited to see what this semester holds and what challenges I’m getting ready to face. Almost halfway done with law school!

This semester brought to you by: Starbucks, red wine, and my indestructible planner (get yours @ passionplanner.com)

First Day of 2L Classes

Today marks the first day of my second year of law school. I’m more nervous to start this year than last, for a few reasons:

One, the only GPA I have is from my very first semester at law school, and while it’s “good” it’s not “great” (and I’m a perfectionist with a very competitive mindset so I hate to see myself doing worse than my best). This means that I need to do very well this semester to boost my GPA up to the top third of the class, which is generally the academic marker the government looks for when selecting interns for the summer.

Two, a lot of my friends transferred schools, so I’m probably going to develop an entirely new friend group this year. That’s a little scary for me as an introvert.

Lastly, Corona. Everything is changing. I can’t hang out with my friends the same way. Classes are different. I worry for my health, and the health of those around me. Schedules for school continue to change. There is no consistency. As someone that thrives off of schedules and plans and to do lists, this semester is going to be tough. Everyone is flying by the seat of their pants in academia. I hate doing that. But, as my dad says, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. This semester (if not the entire school year) is going to be an elephant, and I’m going to have to take it one step at a time.

How I’m Trying to Supplement My Immune Health in Grad School

Going back to in-person classes this fall means I’m going to have to take a critical look at my health and daily habits. As we all know, COVID-19 is no joke, and I’m about to be sharing a building with about 250 people each day. While I’m typically pretty healthy, I know there’s more I can do.

I’m starting with taking elderberry supplements. My mom started using elderberry syrup a few years ago. It helps your body fight off cold and flu symptoms (hello Corona virus symptoms) and supports general immune health. Elderberry is packed with vitamin C! It’s also anti-inflammatory and is a good source of antioxidants. I think it tastes great on it’s own (plus adults are only supposed to take about thirty drops a day) and I couldn’t taste it at all when I mixed it into a cup of water. It’s a super easy way to boost your immune system, so if you’re looking for something that’s approximately zero work, this would be it.

I use Mary Ruth’s Organic Elderberry Syrup

Stress can also weaken your immune system, so trying to be as stress free as possible will do your body good (and not just with immune health and COVID – limiting stress is good for heart health and cholesterol levels!).  

One thing that people are predicting about COVID during the school year is that people are going to be more stressed than usual – even children. Parenting blogs, and even the CDC, are teaching parents the warning signs of stress and anxiety in kids, and trying to provide ways to combat it. Exercise, nutritious foods, and limiting screen time outside of classes helps. Last semester, when my school went full on remote learning, I tended to do my work outside on the porch because I found that I felt better in the sunlight. I also gave myself time to stand up and stretch in between classes. A short walk is better than no walk at all! 

Stress lowers your body’s ability to fight infections like COVID-19. Limiting caffeine intake helps reduce stress (but honestly I’m being a bit of a hypocrite because I drink multiple cups of coffee a day during the school year because I’m constantly exhausted). Getting eight hours of sleep, on average, a night also helps your immune system regulate itself. This is also me being hypocritical because I am too often awake at 1am trying to finish a reading that’s due in less than eight hours. But the point is to try and get eight hours of sleep. Here it’s not the thought that counts, but if you’re pushing yourself to develop better sleeping habits then you’re doing the right thing for your body, even if you only manage to get a half hour more sleep than you usually would.

I’m also trying to eat healthier this go around to give my body a fighting chance against contracting any viruses. I was not very healthy my first year of law school, and I definitely ate out more than I should have. Whole foods and lots of fruits and vegetables are what I’m focusing on this school year!

What ways are you trying to protect yourself from COVID this school year?

This post was sponsored by Mary Ruth’s Organics as part of a SLACK influence campaign. I earn a small commission when you shop through my links. Posts like these help keep my blog up and running!

#BLM

I moved home for the summer. I’m in Asheville. Home is supposed to be safe space, full of love and warmth. 

Last week, the Asheville police department destroyed a medic station in downtown during a protest. Masks and medical supplies were burned. Water bottles punctured. EMTs, doctors, and nurses pushed aside, some even to the ground, by police in riot gear. The city has since released a statement about what happened and why. Feel free to read it here: Asheville Police Chief Apologizes After Officers Destroy Medical Tent.

I do not condone violence; I do not condone riots; I do not condone looting in the very same way I do not condone racism or slavery. But to not condone is not enough. 

We have grown up in a United States that has not known slavery in the classical sense, but as a future lawyers I understand that systematic oppression and disenfranchisement still place invisible shackles on our peers. While the world has changed much since the Civil Rights Act and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., racism and hatred still flourish. Some of our parents stood in solidarity with desegregation; the current generations must do much more than that. It is not enough to not condone police brutality, racism, and the growing list of hashtags that tell the story of oppression. We must fight against it. The time for standing is over. The time for action is now.

To donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund visit https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/.

To learn more about anti-racism resources please go to https://secure.understandingprejudice.org/iat/.

What’s In My Bag – Quarantine Edition

The longer quarantine has gone on, the more I find myself turning to Youtube for distraction. Under normal circumstances, whenever I’m stressed, I find myself watching British Vogue’s In the Bag. Emma Watson’s interview is my most watched clip on Youtube. Now that it’s reached week seven of me being in the house (and I’m in the house bored) I have rewatched all of Vogue’s In the Bag and can nearly quote Emma’s clip entirely by heart. (I may, or may not, be losing it.)

On my way home from the grocery store I decided to make my own What’s in the Bag post, including everything I’ve kept in my purse since quarantine began.

This is my beloved tote bag, which I use for everything. I love it because not only is it machine washable, it has two sets of handles! One long handle, for all those times you need to sling things over your shoulder, and two short handles for when it’s a grab and go sort of day. I got the tote from Reanimator Coffee last year. They’ve sadly discontinued this print, but the new art is spunky and green!

And now for the contents…there’s a lot. I’m a packrat, I’ll admit.

I always have either a journal or a book with me. This journal is a plain Moleskin that I stuck a sticker of Manet’s The Fifer onto. Moleskins are usually super expensive, but I got a set of five for $16 the last time I went to T.J. MAXX. Oh how I miss the days when shopping was simple, in person, and pandemic free. For now, Amazon will have to do.

I’m also the friend that carries around a thousand writing utensils. Always. Need a pen? Here’s five. Want one in a specific color? Hold up, I think I got it in the bottom of my bag. Pencil? Check. Highlighter? Got that too. Coloring materials? Mhm that’s probably in here somewhere. I had so many writing utensils floating around in my bag that I finally got this pencil pouch to hold them all.

Essentials I never leave home without (Corona virus or no Corona virus):

Not pictured here: Lysol, Kleenex, Clorox wipes, and the grocery store receipt from the other day that I somehow still have with me.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out What’s in My Bag: Quarantine Edition!

My Quarantine Reading List

Anyone else getting through books like nobody’s business? Because same. Here’s what I’ve read so far, and what I’ve got on queue.

Little Fires Everywhere (also a tv show on Hulu with Reese Witherspoon!)

Katherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

Wine. All the Time.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

The Perfect Child (this one I got for free with Amazon Prime’s book of the month club)

Little Women (such an amazing movie! Definitely a must see)

Just Mercy

Lincoln in the Bardo

Walking the Black Cat

Up next:

Valley of the Dolls

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Ninth House

Good Omens (also a great show on Amazon Prime!)

The Goldfinch (also a movie available to stream via Amazon, although I have heard too many not-so-great reviews to actually spend the time watching it…)

Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States

Untamed

To follow my reading adventures: Bailey Marshall on Goodreads

What’s on your quarantine reading list?

Mom, Are We There Yet?

This quarantine feels like a never ending road trip, only we’re not going anywhere cool, I’ve seen the same stretch of highway with the same trees a million times, and we ran out of snacks forever ago. It’s got me asking are we there yet?!

No. No we are not there yet. While states are slowly starting to reopen, we know there will be another wave of this come fall. And what do we do to prepare for long road trips? Snacks. Art. Stories. Music.

What are Americans eating the most of during the pandemic?

Not going to lie, I definitely have turned to comfort foods during this unpredictable time. Why? Because mac’n’cheese will never betray you.

Not exactly Bob Ross, but it’ll do.

The Providence Hotel has a free printable coloring book for everyone missing Paris (or travel in general).

MoMA is offering free classes! Skillshare is also opening up their archives for free for two months!

I’m currently taking a Walt Whitman poetry course through Harvard’s literature department via EdX – completely free and all at my own pace.

Why not make something for the Atlanta History Center? They’re looking for COVID-19 related artifacts to preserve!

Something to think about if you’re about to dive into Rachel Hollis’s audiobooks (which are great and I really enjoyed them! I just didn’t think about, well, I’ll let you read the article and figure it out).

Everyone always asks me how I have the money for all the audiobooks I listen to. I don’t! But I do have a library card. Here’s how to do that online.

In case you missed it – here’s my post about what I’m listening to during quarantine.

See you on the other side!

COVID-19 Update

You’d think with all this “free time” during quarantine I’d find the time to write a few blog posts here and there, but no. I’ve been studying for finals, taking finals, and preparing myself for my summer internship. I’ve done a lot in the past few weeks.

Finals are finished – I’m officially a 2L! Everything got moved online, and classes went pass fail. Most universities did the same. And it’s not like there’s a protocol or a how-to book on running a place of higher education. I think everyone is doing their best, only what “their best” looks like during this time is drastically different from what it was in 2019.

I’m excited to begin my internship sometime this month (or next, depending on how quarantine goes). Once I actually start, and receive permission to tell the internet what my position is and with whom, I’ll make a post about it.

That’s a wrap!