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How I Forced Myself to be a Morning Person

Good morning friends! Mornings are the topic this morning. (Let's see how many times can I use the word morning in this paragraph...). I have always been a night owl. When in doubt, I stay up late and get up late.... it's just the way I am wired I guess. However, this semester, my schedule has forced me to adjust my habits. I have night class 4 days a week and morning classes 3 of the days. My night owl tendencies would leave me with zero sleep if I continued to follow them. Therefore, I made a 2018 resolution to become a better morning person. So far, it's going pretty well.

As much as I hate waking up in the morning, I love how productive it makes me feel. I get so much more accomplished. This is a good habit to set now because it will serve me much better in the professional world... there are also studies about how the most successful people are morning people. Let's hope they are right... Without further ado, here are my tips on forcing yourself to become more of a morning person.

1. Go to Bed Earlier 
Yes, this is a no-brainer. However, it is also the first step to being a better morning person. I have always been a night owl. That is when I am naturally most productive. However, the older I get, the more I have realized that being a morning person is a great habit. With my schedule this semester, it pretty much forced my hand. I had to be productive in the mornings because my evenings are filled with night classes and if I saved all my homework for after my night class, I would never get to see my husband during the week. I have slowly worked my bedtime to be earlier and earlier. I start winding down around 9:45 and I make lunches for the next day, lay out my clothes, take the dogs out, do my nightly makeup routine and settle into bed. I have found that my humidifier with a few drops of a soothing essential oil really helps me to wind down. I usually read a few chapters of a novel on my kindle ( I avoid my phone because the blue light will keep you awake) before my eyes grow heavy and I am usually asleep between 10:30 and 11:00. This means that when my 7am wakeup comes, I have gotten a full 8 hours of sleep at least.

2. Have Breakfast Prepped 
I hate cooking breakfast when I first wake up. When in doubt I just skip it which is really unhealthy or eat something really unhealthy like sugary cereal. I have found that having breakfast prepped and ready to go helps me to get up and get a good breakfast even though it's early. My favorite thing to do is to make a huge batch of steel cut oatmeal in the crockpot on Sunday and portion it into daily breakfast sizes. Then in the morning, I just heat up my portioned oatmeal and a hearty, healthy breakfast is ready to go in just a few minutes.

3. Workout First Thing
Ahh workouts. I have a very love/hate relationship with working out. I have been doing better in 2018... the treadmill in my basement has been a gamechanger. I have been making a point to wake up 30 minutes earlier so I can knock out a run before my day really gets started. It helps me to wake up and get moving. I also feel so productive and positive if I start my day off with a work out- I feel so accomplished! Hopefully, I can keep it up and fulfill my goal of running a 5K in 2018! Some mornings I don't feel like running and I will do a short Yoga session instead. Either way, getting a workout in first thing has been a great way to start off my mornings and make my mornings easier.

4. Save Some Reading for the Morning
So this may seem like a weird tip but it has been working for me. I save a little bit of my reading for the morning before my classes. While this seems "last minute" it basically forces me to get up early because I know I HAVE to finish my reading (and I am terrified of going into class unprepared so it is a great reinforcement of getting out of bed and hitting the books). It also serves as a great little review before my class so the information is fresh in my mind.

5. Plan Things for Morning Whenever Possible
In the same vein as saving some of my reading for the morning, I plan meetings or appointments in the morning whenever possible. This forces me out of bed first thing and then I have the rest of my day after that engagement is completed. This keeps me from falling into the temptation of staying in my cozy warm bed because I have nowhere to go. I am not a natural morning person so I tend to have to trick/force myself into being better at it.

I am still working on being a better morning person but these things have certainly helped me improve!!

My Opinions on 1L Core Classes

I am just getting started in my fourth semester of law school. Thus far I have taken 15 classes and I am in the process of taking 5 more. Throughout all my classes, I have had some favorites and some that I did not enjoy. I am going to touch on the highlights of both for the 1L core classes everyone has to take. While everyone is different and enjoys different classes or concepts, my hope in doing this is to just give a little more insight into what law school classes are actually like: the good, bad and ugly.

I took Contracts in two installments 1L year. Overall, I found Contracts to be extraordinarily boring. I felt like it was mathematical... a good contract requires filling in a formula of sorts. You have a formula of law to create a contract and a formula of law to breach one. Though this made the class relatively easy for me and I did very well, it just wasn't my cup of tea. I have never been a math person and I think that is why contracts didn't click with me either. For others in my class, they loved the formality of contacts. I think it is a class you either love or hate.

Oh Property... it's a love/hate relationship. This was another class I took in two installments 1L year. I LOVED some parts of Property law... I loved how historical it is and how the law has changed little in hundreds of years. It is precedent based.  It brought out my inner history nerd. I also loved how it is so applicable to real life- as a homeowner, I could relate to Property law because I had used it. However, some concepts just blew my mind and I could never quite grasp them (and yes I am talking about Estates and Future Interests... and mortgages...). Though I genuinely enjoyed Property law class, I found studying for and taking Property exams to be some of my biggest challenges 1L year.

I took Torts my very first semester and it was my highest grade first semester. I LOVED Torts. I think it is such a fun class. The concepts are conceivable- we have all heard that if you slip in a store, you could recover damages. You can wrap your head around the laws easily. The cases can be so ridiculous they are hilarious- one I always remember is a claim by a woman that her car trunk should have had a release from the inside because when she locked herself in the trunk of her car to commit suicide and it didn't work because the trunk wasn't airtight, she should have been able to get out on her own; instead she was in there for 5 days until someone opened the trunk by happenstance (she lost because it was decided that suicide was not the intended purpose of a car trunk). The utter ridiculousness of this case makes it impossible for me to forget, along with the accompanying Tort law concepts. I love Torts so much that I asked to be a part of the Products Liability Moot Court Team when given the option.

Civil Procedure
Civil Procedure is a great first-year class because it involves cold, hard, black letter law rules. There is no guessing and arguing- there are just rules. Though this made it a great class to learn in and was easier to study for than some others, it also felt a bit stale and stifling at times. I had a great professor who made it as fun as legal rules can be but it still is just very stale. I know that it is a very important class for those who want to go into civil litigation and trial work and if that is your focus, I suggest making Civil Procedure a priority!

Constitutional Law 
Con Law is a very important class. I know not everyone will agree with me but I truly believe it is. The Constitution is the basis of our country and its legal system. As aspiring attorneys, the legal system is going to be our bread and butter. Knowing where the laws came from, why they came to be and how they came to be may not always be fun but it is integral. Con law seeps into all other classes because a constitutional issue will inevitably pop up in every other law class. I always felt there was something extra important about learning the law of our country through the frame of our constitution... it is just so important as an American. I also enjoyed the historical aspect because I am and will always be a self-professed history nerd.

Criminal Law 
Crim law is my absolute favorite. I have always said I wanted to go into criminal law but I really didn't what that entailed until taking this class in the spring of my 1L year. Two weeks in and I knew this was the only law I wanted to practice. I just love the challenge each case presents- you need to find out the truth of the case and fit it into the elemental boxes of a crime and then argue for or against conviction. My professor taught us criminal law by assigning us defense or prosecution and letting us argue our way through class according to the statutory provisions and facts of a case. I just loved every minute in that class. Criminal law is unique because you are applying statute to facts to determine if there is a crime or not. It is a bit different than other classes that have laws based more on the decisions of precedent cases and the common law system. After finishing Criminal Law, I knew this was the field for me... and it was my highest grade in law school to date which certainly made me happy.

Legal Research and Writing 
Legal research and writing is such an important class. It is truly hands-on and simulates what you will do in practice as an attorney. However, it is also technical and at times very frustrating... and it is easy to put on the backburner during the hustle and bustle of 1L year. By the end, I wanted nothing more than to burn my bluebook. I did really well with the appellate brief because it was persuasive writing. But I struggled with objective writing for the memorandum. A lot of the things they made us do in LRW just felt like busy work... I never want to hear the words "Core Grammar" again. But all of that aside, I did learn to be a better legal writer and when I went to my internship after 1L summer, I was armed with a group of skills to complete any research or writing assignments they gave me. So no matter how annoying and boring it was, legal research and writing is so very necessary and a class that should be taken very seriously.

Well, there they are: my very honest opinions and thoughts about 1L classes. I know everyone is different and has very different opinions about which classes they enjoy and which they hate. I just hope this helps to give some insight into what to expect in these classes so you can go into 1L year with some understanding of what to anticipate.

Also, I am happy to have no classes today in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. day but I want to take a moment to remember why we have no classes. Today we honor a man who worked tirelessly for justice, equality and rights for all- the three things I think lawyers should strive to protect and uphold. Today, I remember a great man with a dream for freedom and I will work extra hard toward my own dreams so that someday, my license to practice law can help me to provide justice, equality, and protection of the rights of my fellow citizens.

Springing into Spring Semester

Well, friends, it's my 24th birthday! It's hard to believe I am almost to my quarter life milestone because I still feel like I am too young to really be an adult. My hubby made me a delicious breakfast and we have a quiet day planned but he is taking me out to a fancy dinner later... I am a lucky wife to be married to this guy.

In other news, I start my 4th semester of law school on Monday. It's hard to believe I am halfway through law school. It's actually pretty surreal. I have a busy tough semester ahead of me: 5 classes (3 super challenging ones)  plus working and my Moot Court competition will take place this spring. I am vowing to get off on the right foot in 2018 and I want to rock this semester. I know... those who have been following for a while are probably thinking I say this before every semester... and you're right. I do try to motivate myself at the beginning to do my best... throughout the semester I do tend to run out of steam because well, law school is really hard.

Following Fall semester, I am mostly pleased and yet still a little disappointed in myself. A few of my grades were great and I was super proud of myself. A few others.... not quite so proud of myself. it's all relative I suppose and balances out in the end. I still hope to further improve my GPA this upcoming semester and get one step closer to finishing my law degree. In order to do this, I have set some goals to work towards as I spring into spring semester (yes I know, terrible puns but I can't help it).

1. Start Reviewing Earlier
It pains me to write this but it's the truth... I always seem to think I am going to start getting ready for finals nice and early and I still always start later than I would like which leaves me working like a mad person for the week before and weeks of finals. With only three in-class exams this semester, I really think I can manage to start reviewing for those exams much earlier. Fingers crossed that my willpower stays strong. I hope to have my outlines done plenty early and be able to start practice problems, practice essays, flashcards and study group a full month out from final exams. I think this will set me up for better exam success in two of my toughest classes this semester: Evidence and Secured Transactions.

2. Do All Weekly Reading by Monday Night
I do not have class on Monday until 5:55pm. I am going to utilize my mostly open Monday's to *hopefully* crunch out all of my reading for the week so I can spend my time revising class notes, working on Moot Court and outlining after classes. I tend to run out of steam for reading and taking good reading notes as the week goes on so if I do it all by Monday night, I will be fresh and ready to read well and take excellent reading notes. I will then do a 15-minute refresher before class to make sure the reading is fresh in my mind before class. I hope this will make my weeks more productive and leave me with more time to work on goal one, reviewing earlier.

The longer I am a law student, the more I am recognizing my faults and the more I am trying to overcome them to consistently improve my grades and performance. Both these goals are a result of that.

3. Make Law School more "9-5"
I have always had a weird schedule in law school. I tend to sleep in, go to class, take a few hours to relax and then pick up my work and study late into the night. I know it sounds insane but it is the schedule that worked for me because I am a total night owl. This semester, I have early morning classes three days a week and night classes until 8pm four nights a week... this forces me to change up my normal schedule quite a bit. I hope to stay productive and adjust my schedule into more of a "9-5" law school schedule. In between classes and work, I will work on my school work, moot court problem and reading. Then when I come home from night classes, I can relax with my husband a little bit and do some Yoga before going to bed at a normal time. My goals of completing my weekly reading by Monday night will also help with this I think. I hope this new schedule will work out and make my weeks productive while still getting enough sleep.
My busy spring weekly schedule (or at least what I hope it will look like so long as I can be organized)

4. Outline Every Friday
I did so much better with outlining last semester! I was very proud of myself for having them done well before exams. I plan to keep that up this semester by outlining my classes weekly each Friday when I have no class. I work Friday mornings and I can come home and outline all afternoon while I throw in a few loads of laundry. This leaves my weekends a little more open for having a life, lol.

There we go! My spring semester goals. I hope everyone has had an enjoyable break and is ready for another great semester. Best of luck to all of you!

2017 Reflection and 2018 Goals

2017 was a good year. My husband and I were just talking about how nothing terribly exciting happened- it was just an average, good year for us. I really can't complain about that; generally, our family was healthy and happy and we made a lot of great memories.

Early 2017 started off exciting when we rescued our sweet Annie. This dog reminds me of all that is good in the world. When we adopted her, she was 1.5 years old and had already had a litter of puppies, had been shot in the shoulder with a pelleted shotgun which it healed poorly without medical attention and the pellets are still in her leg encased in a large amount of scar tissue and leaves her with a small limp, and she was found running stray on the streets of Kentucky. After all of that, this dog is still the sweetest and happiest dog I have ever had the privilege of knowing and has a trademark smile for whenever she gets excited. She fits perfectly in with our other two dogs and has meshed into our life like she was always here. We simply cannot imagine our life without her now and we are so thankful we got to adopt this sweet little angel. #adoptdontshop

January also featured me getting reared ended in a hit and run which lead to two weeks of my husband and I share a car and a rather big bill to get my car fixed. Not very fun but I am just thankful I was not injured and the car was fixable thanks to good insurance.

Most of my spring was just busy busy busy with law school. Over spring break I had an emergency root canal which put a little damper on my vacation time. I did finish spring semester strong with a big improvement on my GPA and my first A in law school. Soon after, I found out I made the Moot Court Products Liability team which was a big dream of mine in law school.

I spent my summer interning at my local prosecutor's office and I loved absolutely every minute. I had the opportunity to work on murder cases, write official briefs and memos and attend and assist at several trials. I have officially decided that criminal prosecution is where my career plans lay and I can't wait to continue forward in my career path by interning with a local Judge this coming summer.

At the end of the summer, my hubby and I took a vacation to Maine. Maine is one of my absolute favorite places on earth- my dad grew up there and we have visited almost every year of my life. It is one of few places I can visit over and over again and love it just as much every time. We had a wonderful and relaxing week full of ocean views, mountain hikes and family time. If you are looking for a vacation spot, mid-coast Maine is one of the best.

School started back up in August and I embarked on my busiest semester to date. I started working in Law School admissions as a student ambassador and I absolutely love it. It is the best job as I love helping new law students (hence the whole point of this blog) and I have the best bosses! I enjoyed most of my classes this past semester: I took a Criminal Adjudications class with my favorite professor which I absolutely loved, I took an appellate procedure writing class to prepare for my moot court competition in the spring which was so informative and helpful and I surprised myself by getting through a very challenging commercial paper class despite my lack of natural ability in those type of classes. My grades are trickling in slowly and thus far I have been very pleased and my GPA is rising. In between the craziness of school and life, I did get a chance to go to two amazing concerts: I saw the legend himself, Sir Paul McCartney, and he was just as fantastic as I expected. I also saw my favorite artist of all time, Garth Brooks, and it was the absolute best night.

During the early Fall semester, I competed in my school interscholastic appellate advocacy competition. This was fashioned in the format of Moot Court and involved weekly head to head argument sessions that eliminated one person each time, bracket style. I made it all the way to the final four in my class which involved arguing in front of three federal judges and my entire school. It was a grueling experience on top of all my regular school work and my job but it was such a wonderful opportunity and I grew so much as an advocate through it.

We had a lovely, quiet holiday with family and enjoyed a white Christmas for the first time in years. The snow is still hanging around and I am hoping we can sneak in a ski trip sometime soon.

That brings me to now- winter break. I have been lounging around the house, reading novels, drinking too much hot tea and completing some various little projects and cleaning/organizing around our home. This time to relax, reflect and rejuvenate had given me some time to think toward the new year and all that I want to accomplish. 2018 will bring another semester of law school, my first moot court competition, a new internship, a Carribean cruise in May and I am sure many other adventures. I did sit down to make out a few goals.... we shall see how I do with those.

2018 Goals
1. Make My Health a Priority 
I recently purchased a treadmill and I am absolutely determined to get in shape and run a 5K in 2018. I have a Fitbit, I have a jug of lemon water in the fridge and I am ready to get in shape. I am tired of spending my days hunched over a desk and feeling like a bump on a log. I am also starting the Tone It Up 5 day Detox tomorrow (you can still sign up and it' completely free!) and even once that ends, I am vowing to eat healthier and improve my overall wellness in 2018.

As a part of improving my physical wellness, I am working on my mental wellness as well. I have been on a mission to remove as much negativity from my life as possible- cut out toxic friendships and toxic influences. I am trying to make an effort to seek out the positive in every day... something I have always struggled with as I can be a somewhat glass half empty type of person. But I am vowing to try see the glass half full from now on. I am vowing to be a better friend, a better daughter, sister, wife, dog mom and overall better and less negative person.

Also, I am working to make social media a little less toxic. The beauty of social media is the connections and relationships it fosters. The ugly side of social media is that it encoruages comparing yourself to everyone else and only seeing the highlight reel of peoples lives. This can feed into my natural propensity for not seeing the positive so I am trying to delete any negative influences through social media and make a constant effort to see the best out of social media and not compare myself to the highlight reels of seemingly perfect Instagram feeds. I know guilty of this as much as anyone else- as a blogger, I tend to carefully select everything that goes on my blog or social media and it becomes a bit of a highlight reel... I try to strive for transparency and try to keep it real but I, like most, fall into the trap of only showing the best parts of life on social media. In the new year, I am going to try to keep in mind that behind every gorgeous, jealousy-inducing Instagram feed, is a normal person who has struggles and ugly moments just like me... letting that jealousy from comparing myself eat away at me is just silly so I am going to try my hardest to avoid that from now on.

Similarly, this is true in law school as well. It is a competitive environment. It is easy to compare your grades to others, be jealous of someone else internship or job... this is not helpful. In the new year, I am doing all of this for me. The only grades I am trying to be better than is my grades from last semester. The only internship I care about is my own. I am getting this law degree for ME and the accomplishments of everyone else is irrelevant to that goal.

2. Professional Networking
As an aspiring attorney, networking is so key in getting jobs in the future. In fact, both my internships thus far in law school have been the result of pure networking and had nothing to do with my grades or anything else. In the new year, I am setting a goal to increase my legal contacts through networking and start setting myself up for the post-graduation job f my dreams.

3. Be a Better Wife
In the hustle and bustle of life, I have realized I often forget to put my husband first. Remedying this is one of my goals for the new year. I am blessed to be married to a thoughtful, sweet, patient man who goes out of his way to make my life easier and works so hard to support me through law school. My goal is to remember to thank him more often, send a surprise note and cookies in his lunch more often and make at least one evening a week a date night where I turn off everything else spinning around my mind and focus on my husband and my marriage. After all, we are still technically newlyweds LOL.

4. Explore
It is easy to get caught up in the day to day routine and forget to explore. When I was in Europe for study abroad, I explored: I tried new things, stumbled upon crazy adventures and had the time of my life. I am not in a place in life where exploring can be European vacations but it doesn't mean that I have to stop exploring completely. In 2018, I am going to make exploring more of a priority. I am going to explore other places through books, I am going to explore my city on weekends, I am going to explore my limits by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and eat new foods, try new drinks... basically I am going to treat everyday life like it's a European vacation and find the beauty in every day, ordinary things and attack life with the mentality of exploration.

So that's my recap of 2017 and my goals for 2018... I am really looking forward to another great year. Hopefully, I can stick with my goals! I hope everyone has a safe and fun New Year's Eve and a wonderful 2018. 

How to Rock a Moot Court Try-out or Competition

Moot Court is a big part of most law schools. At my school, and most law schools from my understanding, there are two big optional opportunities to try out for after 1L year: Law Review and Moot Court. Law Review is a more research and writing based activity where you spend your time writing and editing a not/comment on a specific area of law. Moot Court allows you to practice and hone oral advocacy skills through competition as well as practical legal writing skills through the accompanying written brief. Personally, as I want to go into criminal prosecution and trial work, Moot Court seemed like the right fit for me over Law Review because I really wanted to hone my oral advocacy skills. I tried out for Moot Court at my school, was selected for the Products Liability team and I am preparing for a national competition in March.

Throughout my process of trying out for and being selected for Moot Court and my interscholastic appellate advocacy competition this Fall in which I made it to the final four and presented my argument in front of three real federal judges, I think I have figured out a few tips for being successful in the Moot Court setting. For those preparing for Moot Court try-outs or oral arguments this spring, I sincerely hope this helps in your preparation.

1. Prepare for Everything 
Moot court try-outs are fashioned after the format of the competitions. You will write a brief or be given one, you must read every case cited and be able to competently discuss them, be fluent in the relevant law and anticipate any possible holes in the logic. Whomever the judges on your panel are, they will attack any weakness in your argument. You must be prepared for this and be able to consistently counter with your argument strengths. If you are prepared and have practiced your argument and answers to possible questions, you will do great.

2. Be Confident
This may seem silly and basic but it is simple truth. You must argue with confidence. Be confident in your argument, your material and yourself. If you can present an image of poise and confidence, you will have a better chance. Fake it until you make it they say; even if you are nervous, if you can project an image of confidence, you will be in good shape so long as you are also properly prepared.

3. Dress to Impress
Boys, wear a dark-colored suit. Girls, a dark-colored suit and low heels. I know it is formal and boring but it is the nature of the profession. I know more about what the girls should wear than the boys so I will focus on that. A dark colored suit is necessary; traditionally, a skirt suit is best but a well-fitting pantsuit is not wrong. Invest in a quality suit and if it is not a perfect fit, a good tailor can make it lok custom made. Simple hair-do's are best. No bright colored nail polish but make sure nails are clean and not chipped or overly long. Wear simple jewelry such as small studs, a simple chain necklace and a watch. Flesh colored nylons are encouraged. Low heels are best in a neutral color. Some say to wear only matte leather or suede but I always wear patent leather 3' heels and I have never gotten chastised for it. Soft makeup is best; don't overdo it. Your outfit and appearance should be classy and modest and allow your argument and intellect to shine through.
Example of what I wore during my competition this Fall: Black J. Crew Skirt Suit, a royal blue blouse, flesh-colored nylons, black patent leather 3" heels and simple hair and makeup

4. Formalities are Key
Ahhh Moot Court formalities. They are annoying but necessary. Here is a fairly comprehensive list:

  • Open every argument with "May it please the court"
  • Make sure to have a roadmap at the beginning of your argument outlining your main premise and your numbered points of argument
  • Always thank the judges at your argument conclusion and conclude clearly with a prayer for relief (what are you asking the court to do)
  • Show deference to the bench- refer to them as your honor, thank them for questions, be respectful at all times and in all manners
  • For heaven's sake, have eye contact with the judges, particularly to whoever is asking you a question
  • Scan the bench as you are talking; don't fixate on one spot or one judge in particular
  • All the primary elements of good speaking are still necessary: speak clearly, speak up, don't say "um" or "like", don't mumble, stand up straight and don't wave your hands around all that fun stuff

5. Don't be Stuffy 
While Moot Court is a formal activity, it is also important to make the process conversational. You are not preaching; you are having a formal conversation with the judges. Smile, try to be natural and have some fun while you are doing it. It can be very invigorating and enjoyable to compete when you are prepared and can maintain your position. Try to make it a fun experience and not a scary/stressful one.

I hope this is helpful! I wish everyone the best of luck in Moot Court try-outs and oral arguments this spring.