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“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

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

It's SPRING!

Hello All!

It’s springtime and life is good. Having been drenched in rain one day and snowed in the next, I have definitely taken advantage of the changing weather. When all you do (not all….but mostly) is read all day, a change of scenery does the heart some good. I’m glad that Wilmington has so much to offer! I have been studying outside of local coffee shops, at picnic tables at various local parks, at local bookstores, and at some common areas on campus. Sometimes, my friends and I will even choose a random local restaurant to catch a break; hence, how I discovered Jamaican food! Widener Law’s library is beautiful and the staff is great, but there’s nothing like enjoying the nice weather (and food) as you study.

It’s also “that time of year” for law school applicants. A have a few recommendations for those of you going through the application process. Although most of you have probably already handed in your applications, the fun has just begun!

• Keep track of the status of your application. Although you shouldn’t overdo it, don’t be afraid to call the admissions office and kindly inquire as to the status of your application if you have not heard from them.
• Breathe! The application process (and what comes after) can be a rollercoaster ride. Trust me, I know; but don’t let that discourage you.
• Visit the school if you can. Know what you’re getting yourself into. Maybe even sit in on a class and ask students what it’s like there.
• Don’t forget to apply for outside scholarships. There are plenty of organizations out there seeking to encourage students to pursue graduate education.

As usual, please post any questions or comments that you may have. I’m off to figure out what play I can see at the Dupont Theatre downtown!

Jennifer R. Perez

We're back!

Hello there:
Well, I have survived my first semester of law school unscathed, but things have already begun to speed up again. I wanted to give you some advice, especially about the end of your first semester:
• Get sleep. Students HAVE fallen asleep during exams before. One day of sleep will NOT make up for weeks of sleep deprivation.
• Eat right. Students often (1) forget to eat healthy or (2) forget to eat at all. Neither is good for you so set some time apart for eating right.
• Don’t let the Socratic Method intimidate you. Professors will prod at you, not because they have a personal vendetta, but because they are trying to understand the intricacies and nuances of your position. Just prepare for class and think about how the cases RELATE to each other. No sequence of cases is coincidental.
• There is nothing you can do about the curve except do your best. Complaining or worrying about something that every law student in the history of law-dome has gone through will get you nowhere. FYI: the curve is not as bad your second year, so cheer up.
• Visit your professors THROUGHOUT the semester during office hours. One-on-one time can help you understand and retain the review material. Keep in mind that some professors “cut off” review questions at a certain date.
• Give yourself enough time for each class. When you are completing your open memo for your Legal Methods class, don’t forget to stay up to date in your other classes. Also, don’t spend weeks on Torts and two days on Property just because Property is your last exam.
• Try to do well on your open memo. Having a great open memo will give you an excellent writing sample when applying for summer internships.
• Start applying for internships early on (December-February). Be mindful of early deadlines.
• When you come back in the spring, review your exams with your fall semester professors. This will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses.
I hope that this helped. Please post your comments or questions!

Jennifer R. Perez

It's that time of year!

Hello Everyone!

This semester is going by so quickly and I have so much to share. First of all, I have just handed in my Open Memo for Legal Methods (you will know what I’m talking about soon enough) and have a few suggestions for you to consider when the time comes:
• Start your memo early. This sounds simple enough, but you’d be surprised how often this becomes an issue.
• Read the instructions! There may be something in the instructions that you have missed (like a structural consideration or page limit) that will affect your construction of the memo.
• Outline your memo before you start. For instance, I started with dividing our issue into elements and, underneath each element, listed the relevant cases with a short parenthetical. Again, you will understand soon enough.
• For some, briefing the larger cases is beneficial.

Next, I want to discuss Widener Law’s Mentoring Program. It is great! I was matched up with a corporate lawyer who works for a pharmaceutical company. Although I am interested in public interest and immigration law, his advice has been EXTREMELY helpful. In fact, he has introduced me to others in the field and he has even offered for me to visit his office and spend time observing him and his co-workers “in action” over winter break. I have a few suggestions for the mentoring program:
• Participate! Networking is a key component of law school.
• Be active in the mentor-protégé relationship. Don’t always wait for him or her to initiate the conversation. It shows initiative and determination.
• Talking over lunch always makes people smile.

Now, the elephant in the room. Finals. Here we go:
• Outline what you have learned in readings and classes after every major section you finish. At that point, it is “fresh” in your mind. By the end of the semester, you will have a good rough draft of your outline that will help you study.
• People will tell you how miraculous their study guide is, but (honestly) this depends on your learning style and varies from person to person. However, lots of students find “Examples and Explanations” really helpful.
• Visit professors before finals time comes crashing down. If you take your time, you will have more time to let it sink in.
The most beneficial piece of advice is to TAKE A BREATHER! Your world WILL NOT END if you take a short break to do something completely non-law related. It will help you focus when you get back to work. I usually work out, go to the movies, read a non-law book, go shopping with my sister, go out for dinner, etc…It’s not always an option, but I always try to make time for myself.

Catch you next time!
Jennifer R. Perez

Wow! My First Semester at Widener Law

Wow. My first semester in law school is finally here. Well, all in all, it’s pretty much what I expected. It has definitely been a challenge, but I have enjoyed every second of it!

As far as the academic challenge, late night study sessions have become a regular thing, but so has meeting great, new people. Every semester, first years at Widener Law get a mid-term exam in one class; the other classes rely primarily on a final exam or final assignment. This year, we had a mid-term in our Torts class. I formed a small study group and it really helped! This may sound cliché, but two heads are definitely better than one. After mid-terms, things have slowed down a little bit, but I can already feel things speeding up again. Other than that, I would like to give future first-years some advice: Back up your information correctly. I recently broke my portable jump drive and was lucky enough to find someone that could fix it for me long enough to transfer my files. Because I backed up my information incorrectly, I would have lost everything I have done since August!

Aside from classes, there is so much for me to do on campus: workshops, speakers, training sessions, meetings, networking socials, etc. It was somewhat overwhelming at the beginning of the semester, but I’m certainly getting the hang of things now. Tomorrow, I am buying my ticket to Widener Law’s first ever “Fall Ball,” an evening of dinner and dancing. After all, a girl has to have a little fun, doesn’t she? Plus, it’s a really good opportunity for students to network and get to know each other. As a member of the Christian Legal Society, I will also be assisting with our big event for the semester: “Biblical Principles of Time-Management” with Dr. Anthony Lee, U.S. Head of Forecasting, AstraZeneca Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.

My friends and family have also been very supportive. At times, in undergrad, my parents had a hard time understanding the dedication associated with getting a higher education (like not always being able to visit on weekends). However, things have definitely changed since those days and everyone is on the same page now.

Well, I should start reviewing for Property class tomorrow. See you soon!

Jennifer R. Perez
J.D. Candidate 2012
Widener University School of Law

The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Class of 2008
B.A. Political Science