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Highlander, The Karate Kid and law school

karatekidSo, what do Highlander, The Karate Kid and law school have in common?  They all highlight the importance of balance.

As I sit here, at home in my study, I decided that I had better write something for my blog before something else takes priority.  I have been thinking about this for weeks, but just haven’t found the time.  There was always something else that needed to get done first.  This is why I think balance is so important for us as law students.  It seems as if we are going, going, going all the time, with barely a minute to catch our collective breath.  Studying, meetings, family, sleep – if we spend time on one, then there never seems to be enough time to spend on the others.

This semester, I started by biting off more than I could chew.  I took my role as Student Ambassador for the Admissions Office to heart and spent a lot of time talking to new students in order to help them with the transition into law school.  Although I did this willingly and very much enjoyed it, it ate up more of my time than I expected.  I met with students individually and in groups, and I tried to give helpful advice on Facebook.  I also agreed to write this blog, figuring that a few paragraphs every once in a while would be no problem. (Ha!)

As Co-Chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Society, I spent a considerable amount of time prepping for our Fall Negotiation Competition.  Thanks to the dedication of the other executive board members, it was a stunning success.  We had a record number of students compete and a record number of students inducted into the society.  Again, although I am very pleased with the outcome, time was taken away from other important areas.

highlanderThere are many other non-class related, non-family related drains on my time as a law student.  I am a 2L (second year) Class Representative to the Widener Student Bar Association.  This brings its own set of obligations.  I am also an active member of Phi Alpha Delta, the largest student organization on campus.  Student organizations at Widener Law put on many interesting and informative events and I try to attend as many as I can.  Last week LALSA hosted a fantastic panel discussion on The Dream Act and its implications.  Next week PAD will put on an unprecedented mock trial featuring the Philadelphia Homicide ADA going against one of the highest profile defense attorneys in Philadelphia.  Events like these are invaluable to understanding how what we learn in class is applied in the real world.  Even so, with over two dozen student organizations on campus, the pros and cons of the time commitment must be weighed.

All of this must be balanced with what I think are the two most important time commitments for a law student: studying and home life.  I spend fifteen hours per week in class.  I spend twenty-five to thirty-five hours per week actually studying, and even more than that before finals.  I have begun listening to audio lectures in the car, trying to make more efficient use of my thirty minute drive to and from school.  As for home life, I am very lucky to have such a supportive wife who understands that I need to spend so much time studying and being involved on campus.  We still try to make time for each other and put everything else aside, but it is sometimes easier said than done.

Each law student may have different obligations and priorities, but we all need to balance them the best we can in order to be successful.

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
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{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}

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Tips for 2011

December 30th, 2010 1 comment

After another semester of rigorous law school coursework, I thought I would share some insights for you future law school stars. 

1.  Start studying for exams the first week of school.
It may sound outrageous, but the most successful law students are the ones who take copious notes and begin outlining as early as possible… even during the first week of classes.  Law school is unlike any other academic endeavor you have encountered thus far.  Cram sessions in college just plain do not work here.  Start studying early!

2.  Get outlines from 2Ls, 3Ls, and 4Ls.
Law school is hard enough.  Do not reinvent the wheel.  Get outlines from upperclassmen who have taken your professors.  These outlines are NOT a substitute for creating your own, but they are a good way for you to make sure you’re on the right track. 

3.  Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
Sleep is your secret weapon.  To do well in law school, you must make long-term memories of what you learn.  Research consistently shows that the only way what you study can transfer from short-term memory to long-term memory is through adequate sleep.  

4.  Maintain a regular workout schedule.
If you work out already, keep up your routine.  If you don’t work out regularly, start!  You will be sitting for hours upon hours doing your work.  Regular exercise helps battle the bulge you will likely face from your new sedentary lifestyle.  Besides, it’s a great way to reduce stress.

5.  Eat healthy.
This should be self-explanatory.  Your brain needs fuel to function at maximum capacity.  Avoid the temptation to eat junk food.  

Good habits will make law school much more doable.  These tips worked for me, and I hope they work for you, too.  Best of luck to each of you in the New Year!

My SECOND year….

September 8th, 2010 No comments

So…I survived my first year of law school and now I’m heading into my second. Despite the long hours of studying and 4 hour exams, my first year was great! But now, more about my second year so far…

I guess I should start off with telling you how my second year at Widener Law has differed from my first year. Classes started on August 24th and, for me, the biggest change is that I am now a part-time student. Widener Law is great about being flexible with scheduling! For most people, there are other noticeable differences too. First, you get to choose the times that you attend mandatory courses and even one elective! I know. I know…but that’s an exciting development for us 2L’s, because we didn’t get to choose our classes or even our hours during our first year (that’s just the way it is at most law schools). Secondly, the “class flow” is a bit different your second year. I’ve noticed that the Socratic Method not as heavily relied upon by professors teaching 2L’s. Also, professors don’t go through assigned cases as thoroughly in class. I suppose the idea is that you should know how to properly brief a case by now. Lastly, students get to participate in a lot more their second year! For instance, as a 2L I am now eligible to try out for the Widener Law Moot Court Team or the Widener Law Journal of Law, Economics and Race (among many other activities).

I would like to tell you a little bit about what I’ve been up to. Last year, through the help of the Career Development office (they are G-R-E-A-T, by the way!) and their Public Interest Career Fair, the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network offered me a position as a Martin Luther King, Jr. Intern. I was placed at the Community Justice Project in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and it was great! I did plenty of research for ongoing civil rights, social security, immigration and employment cases. Hello, writing sample! I also got an opportunity to perform client intake, which allowed me to practice my Spanish-speaking skills with Latino clients. I was so happy that I could assist these clients with their public benefits issues. Now, I am definitely sure that I want to go into public interest when I graduate. That’s a great feeling. Thank you, Community Justice Project!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this blog! Please feel free to make suggestions or ask questions.

Jennifer R. Perez

You know you're a law student when…

So I wake up from a nap on the couch yesterday, and my mom says, “Jana, you were talking in your sleep again.”  What does she mean by “again”?  I talk in my sleep? I asked her, “What did I say?”  My mom responds, “Oh, the usual.  You kept saying, ‘I am almost finished the outline.  I just need to do this and this…’”

“Outlining” is that critically important skill you must learn if you want to survive your final exams.  You know you’re a law student when you dream about outlining on your summer vacation!  Unbelievable.

Live on campus? Check. Live in a dorm room? Check. Any regrets? NONE!

Since the beginning of my first year, I have lived on campus at Widener. It was one of the best decisions in my educational career—second to choosing Widener Law, of course! Widener has great on-campus housing.

Living on campus is cheaper, safer, and more convenient. If your car won’t start, it’s snowing, or you wake up five minutes before class, you can still make it to class on time. You will spend less money in housing and gas, and you will save precious minutes by not having to commute or clean your own bathroom. The dorms may not be like the Doubletree Hotel next door, but I really enjoyed being there. I think you will, too.

We have two spacious dormitory halls on our campus. Both dormitories have been upgraded in the last two years. If you came to visit Widener, we showed you the Shipley dormitory on your campus tour. Both dormitory halls have single rooms, group study rooms, community bathrooms, and community kitchens. Every room has a small refrigerator and microwave, too. Laundry is also convenient. In Shipley, there is a laundry room on the middle floor (2nd floor) with six washers and six dryers. In Concord there is one washer and one dryer on each wing. If you tend to procrastinate on doing your laundry (like me), I recommend Shipley. Shipley is also handicap-accessible.

The best part of living on campus is the free housekeeping services! They are friendly, they do a great job, and they will be there to make you smile when you are feeling the pressure and stress of having only one day left to finish your appellate brief.

I lived in Shipley for my first two years. I would have lived in the same room for a third year, but my best friend and I really wanted to get an apartment together on campus. Had there been double-occupancy dormitory rooms, we would have had a tough choice!

Categories: 2nd Year, Admissions Counseling Tags:

Avoiding red lights

Yesterday morning I was driving to my first day of my new job in downtown Wilmington.  A small-town girl at heart, I could already tell that driving in the city would not become a favorite pastime.  However, while sitting at the second of the nine red lights I would encounter that morning, I realized that sitting in traffic is metaphoric of an approach to life that makes us “hurry up and wait.” We spend a significant amount of time waiting around with other people who “hurried,” just like us, only to spend time waiting, just like us.  That waiting time can be fruitful during your law school career.  Using it to your advantage can set you apart from the rest of the traffic.

Here’s what I mean… law students have only three or four years to transition from college graduate to competent attorney.  In a field that requires excellence to succeed, those few years in school are priceless.  So, before starting your first year, make as many possible law school plans as you can.  You do not have to adhere to any of them, but the planning process will make you aware of the opportunities available to you.  Wouldn’t you like to spend the summer after your first year studying in Kenya or Australia so that the following summer you can get an internship at home and begin making a name for yourself?  By thinking of your options before you have to decide whether to use them, you give yourself the luxury of the freedom to do more with your time.  Instead of planning what to do for red light number 7 while at red light number 2, you should be planning a different route that avoids unnecessary red lights and delays.  Make a list of “things-to-do-before-I-become-a-grownup-lawyer”!

The summer before my first year at the best law school ever (Widener, of course), I began doing some research on public interest programs available at my new school.  At the club fair, I signed up at as many club and organization tables that I could.  I spent the next few weeks going to their meetings, and deciding what to commit to and what to cut from my schedule.  I asked 3Ls for their advice on how to survive my first year and thrive in all the opportunities Widener had to offer.  I’m not sharing this with you to brag.  But when listening to 2Ls, 3Ls, and 4Ls, don’t just learn from their mistakes.  Learn from their successes as well.  Learn how to make your law school lifetime as engaging as you can.

I will never be a fan of inner-city driving, but I know that using my law school time wisely has given me the opportunity to wait at a few literal traffic lights while avoiding some figurative ones as I drove to my first-choice jobs last summer and this summer.  Future law students, learn from this success.

(Oh, and I will probably share a mistake or two in a later post).  ; )

Homework already?

Hi everyone!  I hope you enjoyed the holidays as much as I did.  I just moved back on campus and finished my first assignments.  (Yes, law students have homework before classes even start).  I had to read about 90 pages worth of cases on Criminal Law, Property, and Business Organizations (aka “biz-org” for those of you seeking to expand your law student slang vocabulary).

I am sharing my 90 page assignment, not to scare you, but to encourage you.  Before the beginning of my first year, it took me days to finish my first assignments.  Now, it took only hours to finish.  Law school is tough, but it gets better.  Do not be dissuaded from joining the most noble profession out of fear of the workload.  If you stick with it, the assignments will change from burdensome to exciting.  Really, I’m serious.  Law school and the legal field are exciting–especially if you have the privilege to be a Widener law student.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

“… With the kids jingle belling / And everyone telling you ‘Be of good cheer’ / It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Even if you are not as enthused about final examinations as you are about, say, Aunt Gigi’s fruitcake, one thing is for sure: when exams are over, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

This time last year, I had just woken up from a 2-day “nap” after my last final examination.  I thought back that it was just one year beforehand when I had received my acceptance letter from Widener (click here for a funny story on video).  I remember smiling that the bookends of the year (my birthday in December) marked my acceptance to my first-choice law school and my completion of what would probably be the most difficult semester of my law school career.

Predictably, the thought of months of hard work being represented by a single exam is sobering (terrifying?).  Just as predictable is the sense of relief and joy we all feel when we leave the exam room.  What you should remember if you enroll at Widener (or any of the other 200-some law schools of lesser caliber), is this: Don’t let the stress of the season of final exams take away the joy of the holiday season.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!

November is a lifestyle

Hello Prospective Widener Law Students!  I suppose an update is in order?

Last night, I had the rare opportunity to eat out at a restaurant with a very close 1L friend (as opposed to eating a microwavable TV dinner as I read the next day’s Evidence cases).  She has been feeling the workload steadily and disproportionately increase over the last two months.  It occurred to me—that’s what every law student feels during the month of November.  In fact, when you’re in law school, November is not a month.  It is a lifestyle.  You learn that staying up to date is critical if you are to do well on the final exams.  You learn that looking great in class is far less important than having great exam scores.  You make sacrifices.

The upside is the rewards that come from those sacrifices.  Doing well my first year landed me my first-choice internship last summer.  Last week I got a call from my boss from that internship.  He wanted to know if I was “interested” in doing some research for a couple criminal cases coming up in the next few weeks.  (Jana says to self: Yes!  Whoopee!  That’s fanfrickintastic! Jana says to boss: “Yes, sir, I would be happy to help”).  Making sacrifices my first year helped me do well on my final exams, which helped me get a great internship with a great boss, who now wants me to do research for him (and his colleagues).  When you become a law student, there is no greater compliment.

So, to all of you who are wondering what law students do in November, here is the answer: we continue to work hard, sacrificing decent food and fun, so that we can get the rewards of our hard work.  We live like law students now so that we can live like lawyers later.