• Maintaining Perspective in Law School

    I’m taking six classes this semester.  In two classes, the professors like to assign 70-150 pages of reading per class.  I’m also working on two papers and doing research for a professor.  Needless to say, I’m pretty busy.  I feel like I’m constantly running between classes, work, and other commitments.   When I have “free time,” I’m struggling to get through my immense reading assignments and hoping that I’ll remember half the information.  I had to quickly accept that the majority of my weekends this semester would be taken up with reading.

    By four o’clock this past Saturday afternoon, I was tired of reading cases.  There was no end in sight, and, if anything, I was becoming a little panicked by the amount of work I had left to do.  I decided if my Saturday night was going to be spent alone with my books, then I deserved to study with cake.

    I don’t keep junk food in my house.  My rule is I can eat any junk food I want if I’m willing to leave the house and get it.  One of my guilty pleasures is the “single serving” of white sheet cake with frosting from Safeway.   I usually make myself walk or ride my bike to get my junk food, but the sky was turning dark with storm clouds and I didn’t want to get caught in the rain.  I also didn’t feel like I had the time to spare, so I opted to drive.

    Tybee Island
    Image by Rebecca_M. via Flickr

    As I pulled out of my driveway, the reality of my life hit me like a ton of bricks.  I thought, “Wow, I can read.”  I spent  my drive to the store thinking about how many people in the world don’t know how to read, especially women.  I am surrounded by piles of books and more information than I know what to do with.  How many people don’t have the opportunity to go to school?  Who am I to bitch about all the opportunities I have, when the majority of people on the planet never have the chance to go to law school or even get close to it?  My life is awesome, even when it’s hard.

    This experience doesn’t change the fact that I miss seeing my friends, getting a full night of sleep, or having enough time to shower every day.  It has, however, made the long lonely hours more bearable.

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  • Top Ten Ways To Annoy Your Fellow Law Students

    I started my final year of law school last week. It made me reflect on what I’ve learned about being obnoxious in class. Doing any of things listed below puts you at risk of being viewed as inconsiderate and called a “douche” by your fellow law students.

    10. Forget to Mute your Laptop Before Leaving the House.
    No one wants to hear that your “file’s done” or that you have a new message or email. It’s also generally annoying to hear the standard sounds your computer makes when you first turn it on.

    9. Print a Ton of Documents at the Library and Forget to Pick Them Up from the Printer.
    It is one thing to occasionally forget to pick up a single-page print out from the printer, and another to print hundreds of pages and forget to pick them up. Making your fellow classmates sort through the stack of papers on the printer to get to their print out is bad form.

    8. Type Loudly.
    This behavior received the most complaints. Don’t pound the keys of your laptop, or worse, type with long, acrylic, or press-on fingernails that make a loud “click” every time you touch a key. Women are usually the culprits, and they are usually oblivious to how much they irritate everyone around them.

    7. Be Needlessly Competitive with your Classmates. Take Advantage of Every Opportunity to Show Them that You are Smarter than They Are.
    You’re in law school. Congratulations – you’ve already proven that you’re smart.

    6. Come to Class Drunk.
    If you decide to have a liquid lunch or to blow off steam by heading to the bar after a stressful morning midterm, don’t come back to class in the afternoon. Just stay at the bar.

    5. Talk About Grades.
    Rule #1 at law school is, “Never discuss grades.” This rule extends to discussions about class rank and how well you think you did on exams. When the final is over, don’t talk about it. Move on to preparing for the next test or better yet, talk about anything that’s not related to law school.

    4. Be Late to Class.
    This is particularly bothersome at my school because every classroom is set up with the door at the front of the room. Watching and listening to you walk through the room and set up your laptop is distracting. It’s ok to be late if you have a good reason, but these instances should be few and far between.

    3. Make Argumentative and Irrelevant Statements during Class Discussions.
    Every class has at least one of these guys. Don’t be that guy.

    2. Monopolize the Professor’s Time the Week Before a Paper is Due.
    When I was a 1L, my professor had very few office hours during the week before our first memo was due. One day, the first person in line used up 45 of the 90 minutes he had for office hours that day. By the time she was done, there were 11 of us waiting – not cool! I don’t think she meant to be that inconsiderate, but she definitely earned the reputation that day.

    1. Talk Excessively and Loudly in the Library.
    The library becomes a second home to a lot of law kids, but that doesn’t give you permission to treat it as such. It’s still a library and people are trying to work. Talking at what would otherwise be a normal volume is too loud. Take your conversations outside – and I mean outside the entire building. If you’re talking in the lobby, we can still hear you. Don’t think that getting a study room is an acceptable alternative because the walls aren’t soundproof.

  • Still Demanding the Maximum Value for my Tuition

    Every time I think about how much I’m paying to go to law school, my head starts to hurt, my stomach gets queasy,and I’m not sure if I’m going to throw up or pass out.  Last semester, I paid over $9,800 in tuition and fees and I expected the full value for my money.  This fall, the cost just for tuition alone is $10,630 ($4,255 for graduate school tuition + $6,375 for law school tuition).  With the cost of law school tuition on the rise nationwide, every time the institutional powers that be raise my tuition, I in turn raise my expectations.  I had to do the math to see how much I’m paying for this semester’s experience.

    This semester I am taking 16 credits of class – 5 regular classes and a 2-credit externship.  I am paying $664.375 per credit.  Here’s the break down for each of my classes.

    Criminal Procedure, Copyright Law, and Cyberspace Law are 3 credits each.  They all meet twice a week for 85 minutes.  Each course is valued at $1993.125, $76.66 per class, or $0.90187 per minute.  The cost to attend one of these classes is more than the price to see Kathy Griffin live.

    Trademark Law is a 3-credit class, but we only meet once a week for 175 minutes.  This class is valued at $1993.125 for the course, $142.37 per class, or $0.81352 per minute.  Going to this class once is more expensive than buying a lower level ticket on the 50-yard line at an Arizona Cardinals game.

    Privacy is a 2-credit seminar class that meets once a week for 115 minutes.  Its value is $1328.75 for the course, $110.73 per class, or $0.9629 per minute.  Going to class is about what I pay for a pair of running shoes.  I have a friend who recently paid about this much to see Lady GaGa in concert and sit in the nosebleed section.

    My externship is basically a class where I pay to work for a judge or agency.  To earn 2 credits, I have to work for 120 hours.  I’m paying $1328.75 for this experience or $11.06 per hour.  Working for them for an hour is more expensive than going to a movie.  This is my least expensive class from an hourly perspective, and it’s still a lot of ramen.

    If I am paying this much to sit in a classroom, I expect the value of the experience to be equal to what I could be spending my money on instead of tuition.  Last semester, I wanted the academic equivalent of glitter, fanfare, and dancing girls.  This semester with the increase in tuition, I expect an even higher value.  I still want glitter, fanfare, and dancing girls, but this semester I want the academic equivalent of skydiving too.  I want to be so entertained and engaged by my professor’s stories and explanations that I forget that I’m in school, overworked, exhausted, and stressed.

    Last semester I didn’t get the value of my tuition and I unsuccessfully demanded my money back.  As students, it’s frustrating that we don’t have much power over the classroom experience besides dropping a course when the professor or the class doesn’t meet our needs.  For the most part, I have been happy with my law school experience, but I will ask for my money back if I feel like I’m being ripped off.  When I demanded my money back from the law school, I was told that I had to seek compensation from the university.  I wonder how the president of the university would react if he received a demand letter.

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