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How to Quell Your Nerves When Starting Law School

The first few days (and weeks) of law school I was honestly a nervous wreck about 75% of the time. I felt so inadequate and like I was flying completely blind. I studied constantly, barely slept, compared myself to everyone else and was a mess. Eventually, I figured out how to case brief, read faster, answer a cold call and still get some sleep in the process. As things get easier and you figure out what you need to do and how you need to do and the stress and nerves slowly melt away. To avoid some of my mistakes and make your first few weeks easier, here are some tips on quelling your nerves in the first few days/weeks of law school.

1. Stop Comparing Yourself 
Law school throws highly intelligent, top of the class and competitive students into one big pot. It is so nervewracking to know that for the first time in your life, everyone is just as smart as you and maybe even smarter. You may get nervous when someone answers a cold call flawlessly or gets the highest grade on the first writing assignment. If you let this get to you and you compare yourself, it will drive you nuts. It is much less stressful and nerve-wracking to stop worrying about everyone else, stop comparing yourself and just focus on YOU and what YOU need to do. Even better, never start comparing yourself. Law school is, after all, a solo endeavor so the only person you need to be concerned with is numero uno.

2. Do Your Homework
You know what is super stressful and nerve-wracking?? Being unprepared. Avoid all that stress and do your work. Be prepared for class, do your homework and study regularly to reinforce the concepts. It's a simple concept that seems like a no-brainer but seriously, the more you are prepared, the less stressed and nervous you will feel.

3. Find a Mentor (or 2)
There is nothing better than finding a 2L or 3L to go to with questions. Many law schools do a mentor/mentee program and match you up. If they don't, feel free to reach out to teaching assistants or friendly upperclassmen. It is so reassuring to find someone who has been through this, maybe had your professors and can reassure you that you're doing fine. My mentor was so wonderful through my first few weeks and seriously made me feel so much less stressed about things and eased my nerves. Don't limit yourself to one- the more upperclassmen you befriend, the more knowledge you can gain from their experience.

4. Get Some Sleep
The less sleep you get, the higher the emotions get. Heightened stress, fragile nerves... not fun for the first weeks in a highly difficult and completely foreign schooling experience. Even though it may be easy to convince yourself stay up and read just a bit longer or read another case brief, sleep is so important. I am very guilty of forgoing sleep in favor of getting things done and sometimes I run myself into the ground. I find it much easier to stay relaxed and less nervous when I have had a decent nights sleep. Sleep also helps feed your brain and keep it running in tip top shape- for law school you need all the brainpower you can get so get some darn sleep. Working yourself into an exhaustion will not help you in the long run.

5. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Following my above points, work smarter not harder. Instead of staying up until 3am reading, get it done early in the day, grind it out and just be done. If you type faster than you write notes while reading, do that. If you work best without noise, find a silent spot and get to work. The smarter you work and the better quality of your work, the less stressed you will be and nervous you will be when you walk into class the next day. If you can get the work done in 2 hours, don't drag it out to 4 hours.... that's not smart. Get the work done in 2 hrs, watch an hour of TV and get to bed an hour earlier. You have to be smart to get into law school so put those brains to good use and find the smartest and most efficient work process without sacrificing quality.

The less stressed and nervous you are starting out law school, the more you will enjoy the experience. While it is not fun right at the beginning, the more you can do to make it easier and less stressful, you should do. Sacrificing your mental health for grades is just not worth it.

Friday Five

It's been awhile since I did this... to be honest I just forgot! I start my 2L year of law school on Monday, this weekend my husband and I are enjoying the last few days of freedom by going to the lake and a BBQ and I finally finished a few DIY projects around our house. It has been a great week and a great summer but I am ready to get back into the swing of law school. Without further ado, here is my Friday Five!

1. DIY Marble Laptop Cover

For anyone who follows my Instagram, you might have noticed my easy little DIY laptop cover. I have been wanting a Marble laptop cover but they only make them for MacBooks and I have a Dell. I got a little creative and figured out my own way to do it! I used simple Marble print contact paper and simply cut it to size and covered my boring old Dell laptop. It looks so fancy now! I love it! Here is the contact paper I used; it was easy to cut and stuck really well to my laptop without air bubbles.

2. Painted Fireplace

I finally convinced my husband to paint our fireplace white. We don't have a lot of natural light in our living room and our focal point, the fireplace, was so dark. Painting it white gave it new life and brightened the whole room. I LOVE it. It was simple and cheap but makes such a huge difference in the look of the room. We also purchased this fake electric fireplace which gives the look and atmosphere of a wood fire without the mess and hassle. 

3. Friendsfest
Why did I just now find out this exists?? In the UK, they literally recreate the Friends set and let fans act like the group for a few days; they have a hairdresser giving people "the Rachel" and you can even get Central Perk coffee. I do not know why this doesn't exist in the USA but it should because I will be there in a heartbeat. Friends is one of my favorite shows of all time and I would be so darn happy to do something like that. 

4. Garth Brooks World Tour
I am quite honestly the biggest Garth Brooks fan ever. I literally named my dog Garth Brooks in his honor... I am not kidding. I have every CD, I know the words to literally every song he has ever released and I finally saw him live in concert about 2 years ago and it was a lifetime dream come true. He is finishing his North American tour on October 7th in Indianapolis and I want to go SO badly. Fingers crossed we get tickets!

5. The Lion King 
Public service announcement to all 90's babies: The Lion King is getting re-released on DVD and Blu-ray in stores soon and my childhood is flooding back because it is seriously the best. That was my absolute favorite Disney movie as a little girl and I was adamant about wanting a pet Lion for a long time.... I think I will have to settle for dressing my Golden Retriever up as a Lion for Halloween this year and sing the Circle of Life every time she walks in the room... seems like a quality plan. Too bad she's too big for the Simba lift.
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Have a great weekend!

Establishing a Law School-Life Balance

Acclimating to life in law school is not easy. It is nothing like undergrad and the difference takes some getting used to. Tomorrow night I am going to be a part of a 2L student panel to give advice to my schools new 1L class during their orientation. One thing I am going to stress to the new students is a school-life balance and how important it is to maintain. It may not be easy and it will likely take a few weeks to establish a good balance between law school and life but it is very important. I suggest starting right from the beginning with establishing a solid school-life balance.

My first few weeks of 1L year were trying... I had a hard time finding a balance between my school work and my normal life. It was about a month into school when my husband sat me down and let me know that I was letting law school take over my life and he was worried. From then on out, I made a point to maintain a better balance between school and life. I wasn't always successful- around final memo time or exams, law school took over. But the rest of the semester, I worked to maintain a good balance between school and life and I think my mental health benefited greatly as did my marriage, family relationships, and friendships. It is easy to get caught up in law school and letting your life revolve around it in the first few weeks/months; if you make a school-life balance a priority from the beginning, it will be easier to maintain in the long run. Here are my tips for establishing a school-life balance right from the start.

1. Set a Routine 
I am a big proponent of routines. I like things to be set and organized at all times (I am a bit OCD). Having a routine in law school (especially in the beginning) is really helpful for keeping a balance. If you have set times for school and set times for friends, family, and hobbies, it is a lot easier to stick to it. In my 1L year, I had set times for things: Friday nights were pizza and a movie with my husband; Thursday nights were trivia in the local pub with friends; Saturdays were for housework, relaxing and family time; Sunday afternoons were for grocery shopping and getting a jump on Monday reading; Wednesday nights were for face masks and painting my nails once my reading was done. Having this set routine helped me to maintain the balance- I was able to power through my reading and class work Monday-Thursday because I knew that I could look forward to Trivia with friends and movie night with my hubby. I got less burnt out on school work because my weekly workload was broken up with other things I enjoyed. While a routine will help you to have time for things you enjoy, your life scale will still tip down in favor of law school and it will be the biggest part of your life for a few years. Despite that, making a routine that includes time for non-legal activities will help you mentally and emotionally to complete the marathon of law school.

2. Have a "Book Free" Time
One thing I struggled with in the beginning of 1L year was putting down my books. It seemed no matter what I was doing and how hard I was trying to do other things, I would eventually stress out and end up back at my desk either on Thursdays when I got home from trivia or on a Saturday afternoon while my husband was napping. I could not stop stressing about school because it was so overwhelming in the beginning. I quickly became very burnt out and realized I needed to put the books down sometimes and walk away to have a break. I started making Thursdays after 5pm law school book free, Friday after 5om book free and Saturdays I avoided law school things completely. It is very easy to get sucked in those first few weeks and do nothing but law school because you are equally excited to be there and completely overwhelmed and out of your element. Despite the nagging feeling to constantly do law school work, putting down the books and clearing your mind will keep you from getting burnt out and will keep you happier in the long run. It will also make the other people in your life happier: your significant other will appreciate some time with you, your parents will appreciate getting a long phone call sometimes and your non-law school friends will love to go do something fun with you. Law school will mostly take over your life but you have to push back a little bit and not let it take over all of your time.

3. Do Fun Things
When you are making time for life outside of law school, find some fun things to do! Just watching Netflix or going to the bar in your spare time will get old after a while. I studied at home during my 1L year so when I was taking some "law school free" time- I wanted OUT of my house. I loved going for long walks with our dogs, going for a little Saturday trip to a nearby town, going to the local zoo... anything to get out and about, change up my scenery, and clear my mind of all thing law school for a few hours. It was a little harder in the winter but I loved finding a new coffee shop or even just playing in the snow with my dogs for a while to clear my mind. The more things you can do that will clear your mind for a few hours the better! Law school makes for a tight budget but there are so many free, fun things to do: a walk in the park, free local museums, live music in a local bar, visiting a local shelter to play with shelter dogs, go to free campus events, check out the campus gym and so many more! Make time for FUN because spending hours bent over books is not much fun and if that is all you do, you will go crazy.

4. Make Relationships a Priority
Everyone had different existing relationships when they enter law school. Some are married or in serious relationships, some are moving away from their parents for the first time and some are juggling being a parent with being a student. Whatever your relationships are, try to make them a priority. It is really easy to put off date night in favor of studying but that will hurt your marriage or relationship in the long run. If is easy to forget to text your friends when law school is so overwhelming but they won't understand that and may be hurt but your distance. Your parents will love nothing more than a weekly phone call to hear how you are doing and to tell you they are proud of you for working so hard. It may take some juggling to keep relationships as a priority and still succeed in law school but it is possible. You do need to let those in your life know that you are going to be busier than ever before and won't have as much time for them but cutting them out completely is not the answer. Friends and family are so necessary as a support system during the trials of law school so making sure that those relationships remain a priority is important.

5. Time Management is Key
In order to do all of this- succeed in law school and have a life outside of it- you need to become a master of time management. My suggestions for this is a planner, a well-maintained calendar on your phone and a defined routine. My planner keeps my life in order- I have daily to-do lists, countdowns, activities and it seriously keeps me sane. My planner helps to keep my schoolwork manageable- I can write in there a schedule for finishing that massive reading assignment by spreading the pages over a few days and checking it off in my planner as I complete it. It also helps me to know when I am going to have busy weeks or weekends and if I need to do a little extra ahead of time to keep from getting overwhelmed. My phone calendar keeps me from missing appointments and so I never overbook myself. When a friend randomly asks if I can do something next Sunday and I don't have my planner with me, I can consult my phone calendar to say yes I have time or no I have way too much reading due on Monday. It is so simple to always have my calendar with me to avoid saying I can do something and later, after looking at my planner, finding out it was not a smart plan or a good time for that and having to cancel or overwhelm myself by doing too much. Lastly, my well-defined routine keeps me in check. Having defined times for things keeps me on top of everything: I don't stress about my house being clean because I do it on Saturday mornings; I don't worry about getting my reading done because I know that is what I will be doing Sunday-Thursday evenings. My routine keeps my time well managed and keeps me sane.

Start your 1L year off right and make a school-life balance a priority from the beginning. You will be thankful for it as the school year goes on!

What to Wear on Your First Day of Law School

There is always something about back to school... the apprehension of a new school year, the excitement of being back with friends, the anticipation of autumn. I always look forward to school supply shopping and most of all, I love picking out a first-day outfit. This is always a result of careful selection, reselection, long spans of trying on outfits, sending pictures to friends for opinions and often a last minute shopping trip. Landing on the perfect outfit always made me feel so confident and ready to take on another year of school.

The first day of law school is especially important. It is the true beginning of your legal career. It will be the vital first impression you make on peers and professors. It is an intimidating day- I was certainly nervous for my first day of law school classes. I know having the perfect outfit picked out made me feel more prepared and a little less stressed. I picked an outfit that made me feel pretty and confident while remaining classy, understated and modest. I wanted my first impression to be just that: classy and confident yet approachable. Here was my first-day outfit from last year:

My outfit was simple and comfortable but I chose it for several reasons. First, green is my favorite color and I think it looks the best with my hair color and complexion. Second, it was comfortable and cool for the hot August day in very full classrooms. Third, it was classy and while flattering to my body, it did not show too much off. I finished my outfit with my hair in soft curls, soft makeup, flats, bright red nails and a classic watch to complete the look. I carried a bookbag but I know many people who brought totes to carry their books. looking back, I still am happy with my first-day outfit from last fall.

It is important to pick an outfit that, above all else, makes you feel comfortable and embodies your personality. You want your first-day impression to reflect you and still make a good, professional impression. Below are four possible first-day outfits for a variety of styles and all budget friendly!

Floral and Sweet 
First day 2

For all those who love the sweet, floral look, this dress is just perfect for the first day of law school. The soft blue dress has a pretty floral pattern that is just so cute and fun while still maintaining a modest and classy look that will make a good impression. I paired it will a simple leather tote to carry books and simple leather sandals for ease of running up and down the stairs at school. I would finish the look with soft curls, dewy makeup, and light pink nails. This overall look is sweet and pretty and will earn you many compliments on your first day.

Sporty and Casual
First day 5

For those who prefer a more casual and sporty look, this jeans and tee combo is perfect. This simple t-shirt has a fun little cross in the back and paired with skinny jeans creates a simple but classic look. I paired it with Tom's shoes instead of sneakers because I think that Tom's provide all the comfort and simplicity of sneakers but a touch more dressy look. I added a North Face backpack to carry the books because every sporty girl probably has a sporty backpack to match. I would pair this with a high ponytail and red lipstick for a pop of color. Overall this outfit projects a casual yet put together look that will make a great first impression.

Chic and European
First day 4

J Crew striped tee
$39 - jcrew.com

Sans Souci skirt

Gap ankle strap flat

Gold tone earrings

This outfit is so European. I could just see someone strolling down a Paris street in this... or a quirky girl looking for something a little different to wear on the first day of law school. This simple striped boatneck top would be tucked into a classic knee-length skirt in a stylish mustard color. I added strappy flats, a plain black backpack and mustard colored statement necklace to finish this chic look. I would pair this with winged eyeliner and a side braid to complete the look. This outfit may have people wondering if you are actually from France but still projects a confident first impression.

Classy and Feminine

First day 1

I love this simple yet so classy look. This is perfect for those feminine girls who just want to keep it simple and low key. I paired a flowy and soft colored peplum top with simple dark wash jeans. Black pointed toe flats, a classic black watch and a scalloped tote finish off this simple outfit. I would complete this outfit with straight hair, natural makeup, and bright red nails for a pop of color. This outfit is so simple yet projects such an image of class and looks so put together and confident- a great first impression for your first day of law school.

A good outfit is important but it is most important that you feel comfortable and confident in whatever you wear. Best of luck on your first day of law school!

20 Things to Do Before Your First Day of Law School

The start of school is fast approaching. For all those soon to be 1L's, this is a very exciting and nerve wracking time. As a list maker, I am always writing lists of what all I have to do before _____ (whatever is coming up). This time last year, I had lists all over my house of all the things I needed to do before starting my 1L year. To help all the new 1L's (and even 2Ls and 3Ls), I have compiled all of that into one big master list of the things you need to do before starting law school... I included some GIF's to hopefully keep you laughing and keep the stress level low. Also, I included a printable checklist to help! I hope it helps!

Download here

1. Buy Books 
Don't wait until the last minute to buy books. The University bookstore is usually more expensive and if you start early you can find better deals online.

2. Organize Financial Aid
Make sure your finances, whatever they may be, are in order so that you can start school in the clear! It never hurts to double check even if you did this previously.

3. Scope Out Parking
Nothing is worse than getting to school on the first day and making yourself late by not finding a parking spot or not knowing where to park. Make a point to scope out the parking situation and ask upperclassmen how the parking is when school is in session (busy times, etc.). This way you can arrive on your first day knowing what to expect parking wise.

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Don't pull a Ross
4. Buy School Supplies
Go get your folders, binders, notebooks, highlighters, etc. Make sure everything is organized and ready to go for your first day. If you wait too long, the stores will be super picked over and the good stuff will be gone. More info on school supplies here. Also, get a planner. Trust me- you absolutely need one to stay sane and organized in law school.

5. Sign up for Lexis Nexis
You can sign up for Lexis Nexis and start earning rewards points before school even starts! They offer many videos and information that may help with your first day reading as well.

6. Pick out a First Day Outfit 
Maybe I am extra crazy, but I have always made a point to pick out the perfect first day of school outfit. I feel like it sets the tone for the semester. Especially for your first day of law school, this is your first impression to your classmates so you want to make it a good one. Take 10 minutes and put together a killer outfit that makes you feel confident and bad ass to rock on your first day!

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7. Print Syllabi 
Print your class syllabi and figure out what each teacher is looking for. Can you use a computer? Is there a midterm? What is the first reading assignment? You can take all the dates and assignments and add them to your planner. It is good to go into day one with an idea of what your professor is looking for and news flash, law school doesn't really do syllabus day so it is up to you- they won't spoon feed it to you like undergrad.

8. Complete First Day Reading
Finish your first-day reading assignments sooner rather than later. Don't wait until the night before- you will go crazy. Start early and spread it out over a bit of time so you can slowly acclimate to the massive amounts of reading. Take good notes because you never know who will be the first person cold called. You do not want to recreate that famous scene from the movie The Paper Chase.

9. Double Check Classroom Locations
Once in undergrad, I went to my first day of class only to find a locked classroom and no other students. I quickly double checked the classroom online and realized it had been changed since I had last checked a week or so before classes started. Needless to say, I ended up running across campus and being late for my first day of class. To avoid this, double check classroom locations the night before your classes. You do not want to be late to your first law school classes; it makes for a poor first impression and you will get a crappy seat.

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Don't be this guy

10. Make Laptop Updates
Make sure any updates are done to your laptop before starting classes. You don't want it to suddenly decide to complete that update you have been putting off in the middle of your first class while you are typing out notes.

11. Pack a Tote/Bookbag
I always like to have my chosen bag packed and ready to go the night before an event or in this case, the first day of classes. It makes me feel prepared and less stressed. I suggest packing your tote or bookbag ahead of time to make sure you have everything you need and to make the first morning a little smoother. Also it is good to know if everything will fit or not and if you need to reevaluate what bag you carry. Here is everything I keep in my law school book bag: Whats in My Bookbag- Law School Edition.

12. Invest in a Lunchbox
Packing a daily lunch saves you soooo much money over going out to eat every day. It is also healthier than getting fast food all the time. Go ahead and invest in a lunchbox- you will not be sorry!

13. Decide on a Study Space
I knew from the beginning I would primarily study at home. Therefore, I set up a home office to be my study space. Decide you a place where you will study productively and without distractions and plan on it. If you decide on the library, plan to head there after classes to finish the next days reading. If it is at home, have your desk clean and organized so you can come home from the first classes and get to work. If it is a local coffee shop or cafe, put aside $5-10 to treat yourself while you study there. Wherever you decide to study, plan on it and try to stick to it from the start. You may find that you original plan didn't work and there is no harm in changing up your study location. Just figure out a plan and try to stick to it. It helps to form a routine.

14. Explore Your New City
Not everyone moves to a new city for law school but many do. Before classes start and you get caught up in the hustle of 1L year, try to do some exploring in your new city. Try some restaurants, find a cute coffee shop, find the closest and most well stocked target and if you have time check out some local attractions such as zoo's and museums. It is nice to take some time to become familiar with your new city and gain some affinity for it. After all, you will be spending 3 years here so get comfortable.

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15. Prep a Few Meals
I am super into meal planning/prepping. It saves me so much time and stress to have everything planned out ahead of time for what we are eating for the week. I have an entire blog post all about my meal planning and prepping (view it here). Your first few days (and probably weeks) of law school will be hectic and stressful. I suggest stocking up on a groceries ahead of time and planning some easy meals, lunches and snacks so you aren't stressing about cooking or spending a bunch of money on fast food the first little bit of law school.

16. Fill Your Gas Tank
Confession time: I was almost late to my first day of law school classes because I had to stop and get gas last minute because I didn't realize it was low. Avoid my mistake and go into the first day of classes with a full tank of gas... no matter how broke tuition has made you.

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17. Do a Social Media Clean Up
Law school is your first foray into the legal community and your classmates will likely become a part of your professional community. It is a good idea to make a little clean up of your social media accounts: remove pictures featuring lots of alcohol (a glass of wine is usually okay), crazy college party pictures, swear words, excessive amounts of selfies, etc. You want people to see a professional image when they search your social media pages (because you know they will be after orientation). You don't want your first impressions to be marked by some old stuff on social media accounts. Another idea is to put strong privacy settings on or change you name on social media but millennials are as bad as the FBI- if they want to find your social media, they will. It is a good practice to start cleaning up your social media now because future jobs will also look at social media accounts and you want a professional image.

18. Rest Up
Law school usually leads to less sleep than you may prefer. Sleep in while you can and take a few naps. You want to start out feeling rested and ready to rock!

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19. Relax
Law school is stressful and hectic and relaxation time will be a rare treat. Take some time now to relax and do things you enjoy.

20. Treat Yo' Self
Along with resting and relaxing, it's great to pamper yourself before law school starts. Go for a mani-pedi if you can afford it or just do it at home. Get your eyebrows waxed and maybe a fresh hairdo. Take a bubble bath and do a face mask. Go for a shopping trip and grab Starbucks. Pamper yourself now because you are about to put your mind to quite a challenge. Channel your inner Tom and Donna and treat yo' self.

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Enjoy these last few weeks before law school but make sure you get everything done so you are not scrambling at the last minute. Good luck!