Sunday, June 17, 2012

1L Year Complete

So I survived my first year and, well, it wasn't all pretty.  I didn't even enroll in summer school because I wanted to see my spring grades to decide if I was going back next year first!  I knew I would pass my classes, but I wasn't sure I would be able to retain my scholarship...and that is a bit of a deal breaker.

To keep my scholarship, I needed a 2.6 cumulative GPA.  Now, again, law school GPA is different than other schools.  You are given a specific score, 2.3, for example, rather than any grade.  And, since the school would like you to pass (2.0), but would like to NOT continue to award you a scholarship, most students get between a 2.0-2.6.

So, here was the final outcome...

Legal Writing was a bit if a disappointing 2.6.  In the fall, I got a 2.9 in the first half of the class, so I was hopeful that this would be the grade that would float my GPA higher.  However, it was a different professor who gave very little feedback.  His tone and presentation were BORING!! 

Family Law only had 8 students and was a Saturday class.  Most of the students were 3Ls and I only took it because Contracts, which was supposed to be in my schedule, didn't fit with my teaching schedule.  Again, it was a bit of a mystery what we were being graded on.  The final was 60% of our grade and covered far too much material to memorize.  The other 40% was for assignments, but we only had two and he said that we all did about the same.  Anyway, I ended with a 2.5...and didn't much care by that point.

The real mystery was Torts.  I had to change professors at semester and this guy may as well have been speaking French.  He made everything unnecessarily complex.  I stopped trying to follow his lectures and spent most of classtime on the internet.  I did not read his text.  At the end of the semester, I taught myself the material out of supplementary study aids.  To my surprise, it was straightforward and, by the final, I felt that I had a command of the material.  Unfortunately, the exam was written by the professor, so the multiple choice was a jumble of words that didn't make sense.  I had no idea!  I was so thrown by the multiple choice that I also didn't really allow enough time to do as well as I should have on the essays.  I left there thinking I had failed.  And THAT is why I didn't sign up for summer school.  Final grade....2.8!  Whatever!  This just reaffirms that there is very little correlation between what we think we know, what we actually know and the grade ultimately assigned.

At the end of it all, I had a 2.58.  But I still got a letter that included the award of a scholarship.  So I shall return.

So far, my first year experience has been a mix of interesting, frustrating, sometimes engaging, and isolating.  I still only have a few casual friends and opted to do most of my studying by myself.  The class content is mostly interesting, and I do like learning about the field of law.  However, the outcome measures, as well as the ugliness of the competitive environment, are not great.  It is too bad that lawyers cannot be developed in an atmosphere that fosters cooperativeness and support...perhaps then, lawyers would be more respected and trusted.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Light at the end of the tunnel

There are three more weeks of classes after this week ends. Then finals. This is good...I see a faint light at the end of the tunnel.

The end of Torts cannot come soon enough. The professor, though very bright and well-meaning, may as well be speaking a foreign language. We have no idea what he'd actually like us to know when it comes to test time. Before the midterm, I read an outside resource and a lightbulb went on. Oh! That's what he's been trying to say. I took the midterm over a month ago, but we've never gotten the results back. In the meantime, I have settled into the idea that I will have to teach myself the rest of the semester of Torts. Having come to this conclusion, I go to class to sign in, as required, and I sit in the back and get other work done. I haven't read anything since the midterm. This is not good. If I am going to teach myself Torts, I should probably get to it.

In Legal Writing, I will be just fine. The professor's style is dry and not at all engaging. Still, my writing is carrying me and, lucky for me, part of the grade in this class is based on Oral Arguments. For some people, that is daunting and intimidating, not to mention that it seems an unfair grading component in a class called Legal WRITING. Still, this is where I make up for lost points.

Family Law...neither excites me, nor repels me. I just keep on moving toward the finish line.

I had an epiphany this semester that I probably should have been on to long ago. I have worried about keeping my scholarship since I started, knowing that I won't be paying these fees out-of-pocket. And I am right on the cusp, the outcome completely hinging on this semester's grades. The epiphany? That's by design! The school gives out ample and generous scholarships to first year students in order to attract a large and more prestigious incoming class. The school has very high attrition. Some fail out, which the school likes because those students might have brought down their bar passage rate. Those who do fine, but fall under the scholarship criteria have a choice...drop out or pay up. The school then benefits because most of these students will take out exorbitant student loans to pay to complete their already large investment in their schooling. Beautiful...when these students pay up, the school has even more funds to entice the next entering class of students...and the cycle repeats. They even set their grading standards to make certain that this all occurs. Cynical? I don't think so. I think it is the reality. Will I be one of those middle students? We'll see...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Midterms

I am coming up on midterms. Well, really, I only have on midterm...Torts. I have no idea what to expect or how to study. My professor likes to hear himself talk. He is clearly brilliant, but cannot seem to convey to us what we should know. Unfortunately, I have several other deadlines this week, so I am limited in my ability to crack his code.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

With the semester well underway...

I am not excited about any of my classes this semester. About 1/3 of the way in, I am just looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Torts comes with an instructor that is all over the place. By every account, this man is brilliant. However, trying to figure out what he wants us to know and sharing material in a logical, structured manner...not so much. The midterm is in early March and I have no idea what to expect. And the reading is dull and tedious. I don't see myself ever practicing Torts law.

Legal Writing. In theory, I like doing the writing. But this professor...wow. His quiet, monotone delivery just makes me want to sleep. And it's a three hour class...that never seems to end.

Then there's Family Law. In theory, this could be a good class. However, it highlights things I already know...that the area of Family Law is ugly and mean. That is so disappointing because it's a field where good, caring lawyers (oxymoron?) could really make a difference. Instead, this area of law seems to undermine the family. And many of the cases I read just highlight that fact. On a more practical note, it's a 3 1/2 hour class every Saturday, which is already way too long, but he lets us out late every week which is beyond frustrating!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wanting some law experience

Since I have never worked in the field of law, I thought I'd take advantage a of small work-study award received and work in the library this semester. The pay is basically nothing, but I wanted the exposure, coupled with a quiet study place. I started the process in Human Resources today. They started me off with paperwork for a background investigation. It includes every job I've ever had, residences from the last several years, and all educational institutions attended. I think it may take all semester just to get through that!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Torts Fun Begins

New semester, new professor. He's more verbose, with far less structure to the class. Easy to get through classes under the radar, BUT expectations are not clear. Not sure what net impact this will have...

New classes starting tomorrow...

Started Torts reading tonight. Blah...