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Am I Ready? – Thoughts from 1L Darryl Green

September 9th, 2013 No comments

The start of law school can be daunting. 1L Darryl Green weighs in on preparing for the great undertaking:

 

As the days get crossed off my calendar, I find myself getting closer and closer to my law school’s orientation week.  As excited as I am, I can’t help the nervousness that grows stronger within me each passing day.  I am about to get a full on taste of what it’s like to be an actual student in his first year of law school.  The only question is, am I ready?

For me, it’s the one question that‘s repeated over and over again.  It’s well known that law school is no walk in the park. The undergraduate mentality that a lot of students come in with, have to be reevaluated immediately upon entering law school.  I am sure this will be explained in depth during orientation in every law school in the country.  But even so, the worries one may face when starting law school may come before one even sets foot on a law school campus.  Here are three of my main worries about starting law school:

1. The Work Load

By now, entering 1L students have probably received packages from their respective schools. These packages may include orientation information, class schedules, first assignments, required readings, suggested readings, etc.  ”First Assignments? Required readings? Suggested reading?  The school semester hasn’t even started yet and I already have work to do?” Yup, there are books that need to be read and assignments that need to be done before classes even start. A small work load compared to what will be handed to students at the start of classes.  As a full time student, my schedule consists of five classes that are (so I’m told) generally standard for 1L students.  Property, contracts, torts, civil procedures and legal methods.  All of which require a lot of individual attention, lots of reading, analytical thinking, understanding, briefing and outlining.  It’s definitely a step (or two, maybe three) up from years as an undergrad.  It’s something I know I’ll have to get a grip on.  I know it could  be very overwhelming and stressful, but if I don’t, it can be a full on disaster.

2. Studying

We all have different methods of studying and retaining information for quizzes and exams.  A lot of the time, the information we stored was only to be regurgitated during test time.  It’s something that as an undergraduate I’ve gotten used, and it has pretty much worked.  But all good things must come to an end. To some extent, at least what I’ve been told and experienced a little is, law school requires more than learning new information and reciting it verbatim.  Sure, I will spend countless hours studying and memorizing new words, rules, and other information needed for the law school exams. Doing my best impersonation of Mike from Suits (good show by the way) to help me through.  However, it takes more than just being able to recite the information you come across.  As a law student, I will have to be able to take what I learn and figure out how to apply it to a given scenario or fact pattern and then explain how I arrive to such a conclusion.  From my understanding, this is an important part of studying in law school.  It’s one thing to know the information, but it’s another thing to know the information and be able to apply it properly.  This is quite different from what I am used to.

3. Exams

If you love multiple choice tests, raise your hand. (Ok, let’s see. I get to choose between four, maybe five answer choices.  I know one of them has to be right and I’m pretty sure if studied hard enough, I can spot the answer when I see it. Yup, my hand goes up.) What about short answer questions? (Hmmm… ok. It’s a bit more time consuming than multiple choice, but hey,  Just read the question, write a sentence or two and I am golden.  I guess I can put my hand up here too. Reluctantly though.) Okay, now essay exams? (… and cue the cricket noise.)  No, I am not a big fan of essay style exams but from my understanding, it’s going to be what I am faced with come test time in law school.  Professors don’t really want to know how many times you can correctly guess an answer on a scantron.  And although, simply writing out two sentences, answering a question with yes or no and why is okay, it will only be a piece of a bigger question that needs to be answered on an exam. Professors want to see what you’ve learned throughout the semester and the best way for them to see that is through an essay style exam. It’s pretty much the norm in law school, It’s going to take some getting used to.

Those are a few of my worries with starting law school. Am I ready for it? Only time will tell, but I am preparing for what’s to come.  Since I know there is going to be a massive workload, I am trying to figure out the best way to go about getting it organized and how I can get a handle on it early.  Studying is going to take up a lot of my time, granted.  So setting up a schedule and sticking with it will be key.  Regarding the exams, one of my required readings is a book entitled Writing Essay Exams to Succeed in Law School.  So far, its been very helpful and It’s a good book for essay exam writing.  (For your reference, it is listed in my Good Reads.)

 

What is it about starting law school that worries you?

About that Tuition Bill……

November 27th, 2012 No comments

Financing your legal education ranks among the top worries for applicants.  Scholarships and grants are a best case scenario but in reality most will be taking out loans.  What does that mean for your future?  Well, consider that most law students graduate with a $100,000 bill or more.  This is also a major investment in your future which in most cases pays off within a few years.  Law can be a fulfilling and lucrative career for those who master legal skills and follow their calling.  It’s not a direct path to riches but it can certainly be a path to personal fulfillment.

So moving on, how do you pay for law school?  Here are important considerations:


  •  Ask about scholarships and grants.  Figure out whether you’re competitive for funding and if there are endowed
    scholarship or outside sources available.  If you are competitive for a merit scholarship, then consider a school’s reputation vs. debt load.  Would you attend a lower ranked school in order to graduate with no debt?  What does that mean?  What kinds of jobs could you consider if you graduate with no debt?  Where could you live?  What could you afford?
  • Meet with a Financial Aid Counselor!  Most law schools offer counseling upon acceptance.  Call the Financial Aid office to learn about different loans, deadlines and processes.  Paying for law school requires planning (if you paid for your undergraduate degree then you know this is true!).
  • MINIMIZE  YOUR DEBT!  Try to borrow the least amount possible.  Remember there is interest on loans.
  • Consider your cost of attendance.   Some things, such as a car loan or credit card payment, cannot be included in your budget.  How will you pay for these bills?  Remember full-time students are allowed to work a MAXIMUM of 20 hours per week.
  • Yes, there are a few work study positions in law school.  They are competitive but it’s an option.
  • Watch LSAC’s Paying for Law School on YouTube.  It’s long so set up 45 minutes to watch this.  You’re welcome in advance :)

 

What do you think?  How will you pay for law school?  Maybe follow this guy’s lead and ask for $10,000?

More resources:

Financial Aid FAQs:

http://law.widener.edu/Admissions/CostsandFinancialAid/FinancialAidFAQs.aspx#24

Loan Calculators:

http://www.finaid.org/calculators/loanpayments.phtml

http://www.yourgfm.com/debt-calculators/college.shtml

http://degreedirectory.org/articles/20_Tools_to_Calculate_Student_Loan_Costs.html

Work, Life and Law School: How Do You Balance It All?

July 11th, 2012 No comments

Troy Riddle, Multicultural Affairs Officer

Working full-time and attending law school can be a scary notion.  However,  Troy Riddle, Widener Law’s Multicultural Affairs Officer, is living proof that it can be done.  Mr. Riddle is an alum of Widener Law’s Extended  (part-time)  Division, his entry below describes his experience and tips that helped him through.

________________________________________________

Law school is challenging for a student of any age or academic pedigree, but I believe it is exponentially more challenging for students trying to balance a full-time job and/or family. The sense of accomplishment one feels, however, when the four year’s are over is euphoric.

As an Extended Division student, I was employed full-time as a middle manager in the healthcare industry, managing a staff of more than forty. The nice thing about my work situation, however, was that my boss and the staff knew I was in law school, and provided a lot of support and encouragement to me. This support system proved invaluable to me. Especially on those days where I hadn’t completed all of my assigned readings and needed to steal a few extra minutes at lunch time to try and cover the material before making the drive from Philadelphia to Delaware.

Four years later, it was all over, and to be quite honest, I was a little sad. I actually enjoyed law school. The rigors of legal education challenged me in ways that I didn’t know I could be. I learned a lot…not just about the law and how to craft ingenious arguments, but about life and how the world really works and how the law influences it. Because law touches virtually every aspect of human existence, it’s almost impossible to leave law school without having at least one “light bulb” moment regarding something you previously thought mundane or ordinary.
There are many ways to approach law school if trying to balance it with work and/or family.

Here are a few tips/advice I’d like to share with you:
• Don’t make any life-changing moves or decisions.
• Know that at times you’ll have more reading than humanly possible to complete.
• Know that the people you always see in the library aren’t necessarily getting the top grades.
• Understand that your family and friends won’t understand the demands being place upon you.
• Talk to your professors when you don’t understand a concept/case covered in class.
• Take as many practice exams as you can and get feedback.
• Take time for you (both mentally and physically); exercise, spend time with the family.
• Take at least one day during the week for a reprieve. (I made Friday my “me day.”)
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. (It doesn’t make you a poor law student.)

Much success to you as you embark upon what I think is the most transformative education one can obtain!

Thank you, Mr. Riddle, for sharing your experience!  If you have further questions about the part-time program please feel free to email the Admissions office at lawadmissions@widener.edu.

Meet Jason Ploppert – Rising 3L

April 27th, 2012 No comments

Jason Ploppert, Widener Law Student

My name is Jason Ploppert, and I am going into my third year of law school at Widener.  I am Penn State alumnus, where I majored in Crime, Law, and Justice.  Since coming to Widener I have become an active member of the Moe Levine Trial Advocacy Honors Society and the Delaware Journal of Corporate Law.

As an incoming 1L my biggest fear was the immense amount of reading, and the inherent competitive nature of law school.  Your first year in law school is unlike any other experience you have had in your life.  The pressure you face your first year is palpable, however, the professors and students at Widener make first year a much less harrowing task.  Professors and other students are more than willing to lend a helping hand, and unlike other schools there is less of the typical “me-first” mentality.  In my first year I had some of the best teachers I have had in my entire life.  My civil procedure professor, Patrick Johnston, was able to take a subject that many consider the hardest in law school and make it much less convoluted, while adding in a great deal of humor.  Another personal favorite of mine, Leslie Johnson, makes students feel so comfortable by being so approachable and teaches in a way that could make the most complex subject seem like third grade math.

At the end of the day law school is what you make out of it, in my two years here I have probably learned more than I did in the other 23 years of my life combined.  If you come here willing to put in the work, there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

Thanks for your thoughts Jason!  Learn more about him on our Student Ambassadors Page.

Welcome to our Student Blogs- Meet Our Former Bloggers!

September 1st, 2011 Comments off

Meet Our Former Bloggers!
{tab=Tom} Tom TrettleTom: My name is Tom Trettel. I am a regular division (full time), second year (2L) student at the Delaware campus. My plan at this point is to graduate in May 2013, then work as an associate for a few years before opening my own “small-town” practice in Delaware. Being a few years older than most students, I had two careers before law. I counseled teenagers at an in-patient psychiatric hospital and then moved on to running a small retail business. After enjoying that for many years, I decided that it was about time to get my doctorate, so here I am. For me, it was a great decision. Follow my posts!

{tab=Jonathan} JonathanSuzukiBlogger400xp-300x288Jonathan: My name is Jonathan Suzuki and I was born in Tokyo, Japan. Since the summer I graduated high school, I’ve been in and around the music industry, and my first foray was translating for major label bands performing at the Fuji Rock Festivals. Because I got a taste for being around musicians, I pursued an undergraduate degree in Music Technology (sound engineering). I found a job at a music publisher after I quickly realized that I wasn’t equipped with the requisite patience to be at the bottom of the studio totem pole. While working for the publisher, I was exposed to onerous songwriter agreements, publishing agreements, and international royalty-collection agreements but in all honesty, I didn’t understand most of it. Not understanding led me to endeavor in law school. Read more on Jonathan’s Blog Posts!

{tab=Chelsey} ChelseyCrockerBlogger400px-300x279Chelsey: “I am currently taking Torts, Criminal Law, Property, Civil Procedure, Contracts, and Legal Methods. To assist you in your understanding of the life of a law student, I intend to blog about my experiences in and outside the classroom at Widener, so you can get a real feel for what it is that we do as students of law. My hope is that as you choose where best fits you for law school, that this may be something that could assist you in that decision. If I could answer any specific questions for you, please don’t hesitate to email me at cdcrocker@mail.widener.edu. Best of luck in the process!” Read more from  Chelsey’s Blog.

{tab=Jana & Jennifer}
Jana DiCosmo and Jennifer Perez are students on the Delaware campus of Widener Law. Jana is an Extended Division student while Jennifer is enjoying her experiences as a First year law student. Click on the slides below to meet Jana and Jennifer! {slide= Meet Jana} Jana & Jennifer’s Blog:

leftSpiffJanaJenAdmissions185pxJana DiCosmo, is a second-year law student in the Extended Division day program. Before joining the Widener Law community, she attended the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. She majored in Political Science, focusing on civil rights law classes and statistical analysis in social science research.

Feel free to email any questions about the first year, or the transition from the first to second year: jrdicosmo@mail.widener.edu. She looks forward to sharing her experiences with you! Read More from Jana

{/slide} {slide=Meet Jennifer} MEET JENNIFER: Jennifer writes that her life experiences and cultural background are greatly responsible for her professional and personal passion for United States Immigration Law. As a child of Latino immigrants living in Camden, New Jersey, the struggles that immigrants in her community overcame were just part of life. As she grew older and looked at her surroundings, Jennifer realized that she could make positive change. For years, Jennifer has relied on the prospect of “giving back” to my community by serving its immigrant population. Thus, from a very young age, Jennnifer has strived to join the ranks of lawyers and judges who also believe that character is forged by helping others. Read more from Jennifer
{/slide}
{tab=Kathleen & Meghan} Kathleen and Meghan are both   First year regular division law students on the Delaware campus. They share what it’s really like to be a first year at Widener Law! Click on the slides below to meet Kathleen and Meghan!
{slide= Meet Kathleen}
KathleenHi! My name is Kathleen Hubbert and I am a first-year law student in the Regular Division. Prior to arriving at Widener, I attended Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA (Go Dips!). There, I majored in Sociology and minored in English. I am from Blue Bell, PA (outside of Philadelphia), but I live on campus in one of the dorms.
I was originally drawn to Widener because of the professor’s reputations, and of the campus’ proximity to both Philadelphia and downtown Wilmington. Now that I’ve been on campus for some time, I know for certain that I made the right decision by coming to Widener.
Through this blog, I hope you’ll be able to get a feel for law school life, and you will get a feel for what life at Widener is like. If I can help you in any way possible, please don’t hesitate to email me at kmhubbert@mail.widener.edu with any questions.
{/slide} {slide= Meet Meghan}
MeghanHello everyone, my name is Meghan Harp. I’m currently a 1L regular division student at the Widener University School of Law and loving it! I’m also a recent graduate from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey where I majored in Political Science. I became interested in the study of law while in my junior year of undergrad after taking a course on civil liberties. I was particularly drawn to Widener Law for its friendly and welcoming environment. In particular, I was interested in their nationally recognized Health Law Certificate Program. Follow along in my blog as I experience what it’s truly like to be a first year law student!
Thanks for reading!
{/slide}

{/tabs}
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As the semester comes to a close…

April 7th, 2011 No comments

As the days left in this semester start to dwindle, student’s stress levels have started to rise, and time seems to move substantially faster than it did in January.  The 1Ls have an appellate brief due next week (see Meghan’s previous post for more information), which also includes oral arguments, and I must say that I am actually looking forward to the arguments.  I feel as though my Legal Methods II professor has prepared me remarkably well for the situation in which I will find myself, and I am hoping that the comments from the “judges” (Widener Law alumni) will help me to improve my speaking skills for future competitions.  Although a majority of 1Ls are stressed beyond belief regarding the briefs, there seems to be a general excitement among my classmates for the oral arguments.  I hope that they all turn out as well as our professors say they will.

This semester has progressed more quickly than I anticipated, even though people kept telling me how fast the semesters go.  I can’t believe that it is already April, and that finals are just around the corner.  Hopefully, now that I have one set of finals under my belt, these upcoming tests will not be as stressful, especially because I have a better idea of how teachers are testing us.  Regardless, I am looking forward to the summer, during which I will work for a local law firm and also study abroad through Widener’s study abroad program (I’m going to Switzerland and Italy!).

Best of luck in the upcoming weeks to all of my classmates, and to the rest of the Widener community, and I am looking forward to writing about my study abroad experiences this summer!

A Much Needed Spring Break…

March 12th, 2011 No comments

Hey There!

After a week of some much needed sunshine and rest I’m ready to hit the ground running, literally! Unfortunately, spring break went all too fast as all breaks in law school seem to do. I was able to escape the cold DE weather and retreat to Florida. Unlike my previous spring breaks, I made sure to pack my carry-on luggage with casebooks and supplements. However, the only book I cracked open was one called “Getting to Maybe” by Fischl and Paul. It was recommended to me by many so I’m passing it along to you…but I recommend you read it prior to entering law school.

Now, with just two days left of spring break I find myself preparing for the busy weeks ahead of me. As Kathleen mentioned, our schedules increased by one class. I know…it doesn’t sound like much but it has really taken a toll. There seems to be alot less “me” time and much more reading. It took some adjusting to get used to but it’s really not all that bad, you simply need good time management skills. I’m also learning that I am much more comfortable here at Widener as a second semester 1L. Your first semester you truly feel like a guppy in an ocean! However, this semester I find myself feeling like an old pro…well not quite, but things seem to come a little easier.

On my agenda for the next few weeks is the ususal outlining and research/writing for my appellate brief. I’m actually excited to be working on this brief because it is your first taste of advocacy. Legal Methods II will conclude with oral arguments which allow you to put your advocacy skills into play!

I’ll keep you posted!

Second Semester…so far.

January 23rd, 2011 No comments

Hello, everyone!

So now that break is officially over, it’s time to get back into work mode and crack down on my studies.  Grades came out a little bit over a week ago, so I am able to breathe a little easier now.  Meghan covered the general atmosphere of school around finals, so I’m not going to repeat what she said, but if you haven’t read her post, please do; she offers readers some great insights into life during finals.

Let me start off by saying that second semester is…different.  I have a better grasp on the workload, which is making life easier, but I also have one additional class compared to last semester, so time management is at issue right now. It has been hard trying to adjust to studying as opposed to relaxing (which is all I did over break).

Side note: if it’s possible, take at least one week during the winter break and do absolutely nothing.  Trust me.  As someone who has worked since she was 16, I thought it was going to be hard for me to do nothing while off from school; I was incorrect.  My brother (who is a sophomore at the University of Dayton in Ohio), and I literally sat on the couch for a week like bums, and I enjoyed every second of it.  I also worked at the law firm where I have worked for the past two years, just to balance out my laziness with some form of productivity.

Back to the present:  All of my classes (fortunately) start at 10am each day, so I have one more hour to sleep in as compared to first semester (which means one more hour of work time at night!).  The girls on my hall and I have continued to be good about studying together and helping each other get through this semester, which has helped to make the transition easier.  My classes (Contracts, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Property II, and Legal Methods II) are all interesting thus far, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this semester holds in store for me.  I’ll try to be better at keeping you all updated with any interesting observations, so I hope you continue to follow the blog!  Have a safe January (hopefully there will be more snow in the near future!), and please feel free to comment with any questions!

Winter Break

January 7th, 2011 No comments

Hey All!

Sorry it has been so long since my last blog! November was quite overwhelming and left me with little time for anything but school work. But no worries, a few weeks of some much needed rest and relaxation has left me feeling renewed and ready for “round two.”

I’m sure you’re wondering how finals went…well let’s just say I survived ha! Actually it wasn’t all that bad. There were definite good days and bad days, but that was to be expected. In the beginning I found myself to be driven by my nerves for the unexpected and by the end I was working of straight adrenaline and excitement for the holidays and winter break. For me, it was the middle exam that was the toughest because I knew there was still an up-hill climb ahead of me. The last 2 to 3 weeks of my semester were spent alternating between studying in the library, Barnes and Noble, on-campus study lounges and my dorm. You see, the finals crunch brings on this sense of cabin fever and leaves you in some-what of a “study hop” in order to keep both your scenery new and your sanity. However, the best piece of advice I can give, after surviving my first semester of finals, is to remember that everyone is in the exact same boat as you. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and as if YOU are the only one struggling but you must keep in my that there are a couple hundred 1Ls feeling the very same way.

Classes will begin in just a few short days and I’m actually looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. As I studied for finals, I found that I could have definitely made things easier on myself if I had approached things differently. So in a way, I’m looking forward to putting my improved techniques into play and seeing what results come my way!

I’ll be sure to update everyone on my first week of classes, but until then I’m going to enjoy my last few days of winter break!

“Lawyers, I suppose, were children once”

January 5th, 2011 No comments

My first semester as a 2L at Widener Law was a constant reminder that law school will end and, one day, I will be a practicing attorney. Every time a 1L asked me for advice, I felt one step closer to graduation. Every time I signed up for a competition that I was now eligible to participate in, my gut reminded me that, soon enough, I would be taking the bar. It’s surreal! The most important question I asked myself this semester was this: Jennifer, what type of attorney do you want to be and how do you make that happen?

As my classmates (sorry, “colleagues”) mature into seasoned law students, I am inadvertently beginning to imagine what they will be like as attorneys. That’s when I begin to wonder what type of reputation I am building for myself at Widener Law. Am I prepared for class? When I develop an opinion, am I mechanically applying the law without regard to public policy or ethical concerns? Am I always late? Will the activities I am partaking in really help my low-income clients in the future?

This moment, right now, will be the first (of many) defining moments. Not my first job. Not my first case. Not my first brief. Law school. For that reason, I have boldly calculated my movements in law school, to mold myself into the lawyer I want to be. For instance, I am interested in constitutional law and civil rights. Attorneys in this field appeal, appeal, appeal!  I’m confident that Moot Court Honor Society will train me to be an excellent appellate attorney. Also, I was “once” told that I could be aggressive in adversarial settings. Alternative Dispute Resolution has taught me that, in most settings, you can attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. Last but not least, my faith was a catalyst for my pursuit of a career in public interest law. Christian Legal Society has surely been supportive of this.

In the words of Charles Lamb, “Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.” Believe it or not, lawyers aren’t born lawyers! Our first words aren’t “reasonably prudent person.” We all start somewhere and have an opportunity to mold ourselves into the lawyers we want to be. By graduation, all of us will have experienced law school, but will have taken away different lessons. What will you choose to take away?

Jennifer R. Perez