Advice, Changes

Lessons I didn’t know I needed

I guess you could say I’m a fully fledged adult now. I have my own insurance, own a home, and last week I used an HSA to pay for glasses. But, just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I have all the answers (contrary to what teenage me thought). The older I get, the more I find myself realizing there are so many things I don’t know and being an adult actually requires at least a basic understanding of various industries.It’s a near daily occurrence that I call a parent asking for some sort of life lesson. Here are the last few things I’ve had to learn on the road to being an adult:

-How insurance, and co-insurance, work: I always knew the basic premise of insurance; you pay a set amount each month and when you have a procedure or visit the company covers all or part of it. I even knew the economics behind it and what things were likely to be covered versus not covered. What I never realized was that I had no idea how to figure out a deductible, or look up what was covered, or how to use co-insurance. It took an Insurance 101 lesson from the master (my mom) to figure out exactly what I needed to know.
-Investments: Growing up, my family didn’t have a ton of money. We weren’t poor but there certainly wasn’t enough for investments. So, I never had an opportunity to learn. When I started my 401k, I knew it would be invested in some way but there were so many words I didn’t know! Vanguard, BlackRock, IRA; who knows what those mean! Luckily, the auto-investment options are still decent options so I have some time to really dig into investments and learn some new things.
-Buying a car/Titling a car: About a week after starting work, my trusty Malibu died. It was a good car; it got me through college, multiple 4-6 hour trips home, and plenty of travel from Muncie to Dayton. But, it was time for a new one. So, off we went to loan applications and negotiating and eventually signing paperwork. We already have a house but the real estate agent did most of the work on that one. Within the span of 24 hours we got a lesson on when to cut your losses, negotiation, and eventual purchase. Of course, when you buy a car, you also have to title and register it. So that’s a whole other animal to tackle when we get paperwork in a week or so.

Teenage me thought that I would never need to rely on my parents once I went to college. I’d have money, I’m smart, I could figure it out. But, yet another life lesson learned, parents know all (or at least know how to find it all). So I’m curious, what life lessons did you struggle with?

Advice, Job search, My Life

Rejection

The legal world is full of rejection. From not getting your dream job to losing a case, there seems to be a never-ending string of negativity. Unfortunately, rejection is a part of life and learning to deal with it is important to managing yourself in a professional environment.

There’s plenty of advice out there for dealing with professional rejection. From taking time to yourself to asking the rejector for constructive criticism, finding what works best for you can immensely help your mental health and allow you to move forward. Lately, I’ve dealt with a lot of rejection while job searching. I’m a great candidate, but there’s always someone more experienced, a better fit, etc. It’s been rough and I’ve grown tremendously since starting my job search back in May.

When I have to deal with rejection, I always think of the scene in John Tucker Must Die where Kate talks about her mom’s coping mechanisms for when guys leave her: “A quick therapy session…or two…or three. Then, we pack up and leave again”. (Of course, here a therapy session is monster bites of chocolate frosting.) To be honest, it’s not the worst way to deal with rejection. When your first rejected, the initial sting is harsh. It’s one of the most awful feelings in the world knowing that you weren’t, well, fill in the blank. But, once the initial sting wears off, it becomes a little easier to deal with the fallout.

So, how exactly do you process and deal with the constant rejection and negativity? I wish there was a one-size-fits-all approach but of course there never it. In the legal world, that’s just another “it depends”. For me, I like to take a set amount of time to just be upset. Whether it’s five minutes or an hour, I need time to be upset that I didn’t get whatever I so desperately wanted. But, my rule is when that time period is up, I move on. When I didn’t get the job I really wanted this week, I took ten minutes. After the ten minutes, I started job searching again for the day. I looked for other skills to improve my marketability. I made a plan to ask my current boss for more work or time to shadow time to learn more. By not harping on my bad feelings, I could think clearly and work toward the goal that slipped away from me this time.

In reality, my set “grieving time” doesn’t always work. I’ve slipped back into the sadness and self-doubt. I’ve felt like a failure and wanted to give up being an lawyer. So, I surround myself with people who truly believe in me. I focus on my best friends who believe I can do absolutely anything I put my mind to. I focus on my family who has watched me go from an awkward kid to a fast-tracked college kid to a licensed attorney. I focus on Patrick, who sees me working toward my goal every day. By listening to those around me instead of the voice in my head, I’m motivated to continue working. Even when I don’t believe it, I want to be the person they all think I am.

Rejection is hard. It’s one of those things I don’t think anyone ever fully gets used to and in law, there’s a whole lot of rejection. Learning proper coping mechanisms and how to move on can work wonders for your professional life. How do you deal with rejection?

Advice

Business cards

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Today, I got my first business cards and I’m very, very excited! Business cards were not something I thought I needed until I had a job, then I got asked for one by an attorney. So, off I went to order some cards.

Choosing a business card is a science. It can’t be too crazy or off the wall, it shouldn’t be boring, and it has to give all your important information. My cards came from Vista Print who typically have specials on business cards. I used one of their templates to start and made alterations from there. I especially love these cards because they have quatrefoils, a subtle nod to my sorority days.

Figuring out what information to put on a business card proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be.  Of course, you have to have your name and “Attorney at Law” on it. Aside from that, I added the state I’m licensed in because I live very close to the Kentucky and Indiana borders. Then, contact information. I decided to go with a brand new email address that I wouldn’t mind if my clients had. My personal email is for Kate Spade flash sale notifications and bills. This account is only for clients or employer emails so I can keep my life a little separate. I also added my phone number to my cards because I’m the type of person that can always be reached by phone.

Business cards are a great way to show personality and market yourself to employers and clients. I highly recommend getting a basic card with contact information to make networking much easier.

Advice

Finding what works for you

Throughout my time in law school, I came to realize one thing: no one learns the same way. Once you’re in law school, you’re almost always surrounded by type A personalities who have been extremely successful in their life up until this point. Once you’re in classes, it’s a whole different ball game that doesn’t follow the rules of traditional education.

Law school isn’t about learning random facts like a history class or following specific equations like math. The law is about being able to take a rule and apply it to different facts. In fact, that’s all an exam is. But, that doesn’t mean it is easy for everyone to do and that everyone will approach it in the same manner.

There is no right or wrong way to “do” law school. Some people thrive on reading and writing information down, some people do very well with flashcards. It’s easy to feel inadequate when other students are talking about spending hours in the library reading and digesting cases or doing a million practice exams. However, the proof is in the pudding. Just because it takes hours for one person to get through cases, doesn’t mean it will for everyone. I had some classes that took me hours to understand and some, like civ pro, that I understood very quickly. Just because it took my neighbor forever to study civ pro didn’t mean I had to do the same thing.

It’s easy to get caught up in the competition of who studied for an exam more when you’re all sitting around terrified of doing poorly. In the end, it comes down to knowing yourself, how you study the best, and forgetting about what everyone else around you is doing. Find what works best for you and stick with it!

Advice

A day in the life of a law student

First off, I’M MARRIED!!!!! I’ll definitely have a long post about my wedding with lots of pictures but I’m hoping to get a few pictures from our ceremony first.

I realized today that very few 0Ls really know what it’s like to be a law student. Obviously, it’s different for everyone. During orientation and before classes start, everyone tells you how much you’ll study and how little free time you have. For us, our school gave us a schedule to follow to study with classes and everything. But, when you’re actually in the real law school world and learn how law school really works, it’s completely different. I can show you my planner and notes, I can explain how I study and what I do in classes, but it never really all comes together in a real “day in the life of…” type of situation.

I’ve been working with some 1Ls over the summer and realize that what you’re told before law school, isn’t really what happens. My days are different based on when I have class or meetings over my lunch break so I’ll try to make an accurate representation of a real day in my life. So here’s a day in the life of me:

7:00am-Patrick wakes me up to say goodbye before he leaves for work.

9:00am-I actually get out of bed

9:30am-The dogs have been walked and are in their crates eating breakfast. I shower and get ready for class and take the dogs out one more time before I leave.

10:30am-I leave for classes. I have a 20 minute drive to school and leave an hour in advance. That way, if I hit traffic or want to grab some coffee, I have plenty of time.

11:30am-Class starts for the day. Sometimes class is 50 minutes, sometimes it’s longer.

12:30pm-Our school has a built in lunch break so you always have at least an hour off to get something to eat. A lot of times, organizations will have meetings during this time and provide lunch.

1:30pm-Afternoon classes start. I like to have my classes back to back so I don’t get bored during the day. If I do have a break, I usually mess around on my computer, online shop, or write new posts. I almost NEVER study between classes.

3:30pm-I head home. I always go home immediately after my last class. There is something about being in the law building longer than necessary that stresses me out.

4:00pm-I actually get home. Take the dogs for a walk and relax for a bit. They are usually REALLY hyper so I let them run around and be crazy. I try to limit myself to one episode of something on Netflix just to relax after the day.

5:00pm-I start dinner for Patrick and me. Usually, it takes about an hour to cook so I try to have it done by the time Patrick gets home from work.

6:00pm-Patrick gets home and we have dinner. The dogs are in their crates eating dinner now too.

6:30pm-Patrick walks the dogs while I get some non-reading homework done (writing, forum posts, etc.)

8:00pm-We take a Netflix break and hang out for a while.

9:00pm-I do any reading I need to while Patrick does whatever he wants.

10:30pm-We put the dogs to bed and get ready to go to bed ourselves.

11:00pm-We finally go to bed.

This is a fairly common day for me. Some days, I go to work. Some days, I do work before Patrick gets home. For the most part, my life isn’t consumed by law school. Once you learn how to read cases and get what you need out of them, it’s a lot easier than pouring over information. I’m more of the type of person that crams for exams instead of worries about them all semester long. So far, my grades have been decent and I usually meet the deadlines I need to.

Long story short, if you have the chance before going to law school, actually follow a law student around. And I literally mean, from the time they get up in the morning to the time they go to bed. Even just the time they are awake and at school or home is better than nothing. It’s hard to really get a feel for what law school is like without living that life for a full day.

Advice

The 5 minute rule

Law school is EXHAUSTING! Between late nights, lots of homework, and very little time to decompress, it’s really easy to get tired and not want to focus. I have a really hard time focusing in my 75 minute or longer classes especially when they are first thing in the morning or in the early afternoon. Luckily, I’ve come up with the best way to stay focused and still acknowledge that I’m tired.

This is how it works. I look at the clock when I get tired. If it’s not on a number (11:45, 11:30, 12:05, etc.), I don’t leave and tell myself that I can leave at the next 5 minute increment. By the time you look at the clock again, it’s almost always guaranteed to be 11:32 or another random time like that and you have to stay until the next 5 minute increment. If I’m absolutely falling asleep in class or cannot focus, I break the rule and take a short walk around the building.

So far, this has worked wonders for me. It’s easy to focus for 5 minutes at a time. By leaving the option open for me to get up at a 5 minute increment, I look at classes as 5 minutes long instead of 75 minutes. It’s my own belief that professors would rather have you get up quietly and take a short walk than fall asleep in their class. So far, I haven’t had any dissents. I’m really interested to see if this works over the summer when classes are 2+ hours long.

Advice

Things you need for law school

Law school is just like going to kindergarten. You have the same school supply list as you did for undergrad but in law school, some supplies are more important than others. Classes in law school are nothing like undergrad classes. There’s more reading, less “homework”, and a whole lot more stress. You can set yourself up to be as successful as possible with the right supplies.

1. A computer-preferably a laptop

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A computer is critical to being successful in law school. I use mine to take notes, do research, and of course write papers. In my experience, there’s a half and half split between Mac and PC in law school, though I prefer a PC. Computers are also useful for taking exams. Most professors allow you to take an exam on your computer or handwritten. Either way works and it’s really a matter of personal preference. A computer will definitely make your life in law school easier.

2. Highlighters

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I’ve gone through an insane amount of highlighters since I started law school. Seriously, I should have bought stock as my mom would say. A lot of law student book brief, or highlight the facts, holding, rationale, etc. so they don’t have to write or type it out. I’m personally not a book brief-er, but I know you go through even more highlighters than I do. Even without book briefing, I go through a TON of highlighters. I use highlighters in my notes to mark certain important details, I highlight things on my to-do list once they are done, and I use highlighters in my planner to make sure I get everything done. Plus, highlighters make everything look pretty.

3. A nice suit

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A nice suit is not unique to law school. Any budding professional needs a nice tailored suit to go to job interviews. A nice suit, tailored to fit you (if necessary) sets you apart from competition and makes you feel better. Who doesn’t feel awesome in a suit? When I started law school, I didn’t have any full suits. I had dress pants, I had blazers, I had blouses but I didn’t have a full suit. I definitely recommend taking some time and shopping around for a nice, quality suit. Suits for law students should be conservative (to appeal to the most conservative of law firms) and fit well. Keep your suit clean and pressed and ready to go so if you are lucky enough to land an interview, you’re all set.

4. Quality backpack and shoulder bag 

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Look, law books are HEAVY. My constitutional law book was over 1000 pages and looked like the 4th Harry Potter book. Most days, I have at least 2 classes and have to cart all my stuff back and forth. Sometimes, I leave things in my car and I’m lucky enough to have a locker but having a good quality backpack that won’t break when you have your books will just make your life easier.

A good shoulder bag is important too. I go to court on a fairly regular basis and I have to bring in pens, car keys, legal pads, things like that. I don’t always have pockets and I don’t want to carry my backpack around. Enter shoulder bag. I have a Lilly Pulitzer sorority bag that fits everything perfectly. Sure it’s not the most professional but I firmly believe you can have a bag be a little less boring than you’d want a suit to be.

Advice

When things slip through the cracks

Law school has a way of making people’s brains mush. It’s easy to forget things unless you have a system in place to catch everything. Even then, things still slip through the cracks. When you realize you missed something, it sucks. I’m the kind of person who feels guilty when I mess something up, even if it’s being late to an organization meeting or not making a phone call that day. I try to make sure everything gets written down but sometimes things don’t get on the calendar or I forget that they are on the calendar. I HATE the feeling of forgetting things and have yet to find a way to deal with it. This week, I made an appointment to cut my hair only to find out I had a VSLP meeting a half hour before. I felt awful being a few minutes late to my hair appointment but I didn’t remember the meeting until I was at school for the morning. It’s already a rough semester and I hate to see what else I’ll forget.

Advice

No job too small

I’m a huge believer in doing your job effectively no matter what. Sometimes, it’s a difficult lesson to follow and the thought of having to do something you don’t want to can be daunting. But, even if you don’t want to do something, it’s your job and you don’t have much of a choice.

I have multiple jobs. I’m a student, a secretary of an organization, a wife, a student rep, a dog owner, a daughter, a sister, etc. Everyone has multiple jobs depending on how you look at it. Some days, I don’t want to be a student and the idea of getting a “real” job and being done with school sounds perfect. Some days, I don’t want to be a wife and help take care of the house and be a responsible adult. In the end, these are the jobs I’ve chosen and I’m obligated to do my best at all of them.

As a student, my job is to go to class, be prepared, and do my homework. It’s a big job. Being a sister or a daughter, definitely not as big of a job. I check in with my mom everyday, talk to my sister occasionally, and make sure I’m there for big events. To me, it doesn’t matter if the job is a big or small job, it requires at least part of my attention and I should be giving it 100% effort no matter what.

It’s difficult to give attention to a million things and of course time management is critical. When you’re doing everything you can for all your jobs, it’s overwhelming. It’s important to remember that your most important job is to take care of yourself, whatever that means for you. YOU are your first job.