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Applicant Preview Day 2010

April 26th, 2010 No comments

I had the great pleasure of meeting some of the promising members of the incoming class of 1L’s at the Applicant Preview Day held on the Harrisburg campus on April 17th. Some of the attendees asked some pointed questions regarding what to expect in law school, and how best to prepare for it during the summer before classes begin.

First and foremost, enjoy your summer. Although I myself bought books that had general overviews of first year classes (torts, contracts, property, civil procedure, etc.), they didn’t prepare me for what was in store. What they did do was foster anxiety as to my capabilities because I didn’t fully understand what the books were talking about. I also didn’t know that not knowing what property (for example) entails, based on a 20 page summary, is to be expected. The text we use in property is over 1,000 pages long and people are still confused as to what certain aspects of property law encompass. If you decide that those “what to expect as a 1L” books are what you’d like to peruse as light reading, go ahead, but make sure that you don’t get overwhelmed because all the concepts will be expanded upon over the next 8~9 months.

Also, reflect on who you are, and who you want to be with a J.D. As I’m sure you’ve all heard, law school trains students to think like a lawyer. But please don’t learn to think like a lawyer to the detriment of your common sense and empathy. Don’t let law school alter your convictions or your ideals (unless they’re patently wrong), but also be open to alternative perspectives. Remember that individual experiences have made you and your classmates unique, and those experiences are ultimately who you are, not what the two initials after your name stand for. It goes without saying that your grades do not reflect who you are as a person, either.

Finally, enjoy the company of your family and friends and prepare yourself to become a nerd. The first two semesters of law school are so intense that you’ll quickly realize social opportunities are greatly diminished. Take the summer to spend time with family and friends, but also let them know that the next chapter of your life requires that you forego most socializing, so do as much of it as you can, while you can. Don’t feel bad about being a nerd once school starts. Everybody that succeeds in law school have their noses in their books more often than not. Weekends are just weekdays without classes. So be ready to work your butt off.

As for me, finals are 5 days away, so if I’m lax on blogging, please cut me some slack because my professors won’t…

Law School Can Be…

April 7th, 2010 1 comment

Before I started law school, I was warned by J.D. friends that law school could be poisonous and that I should beware of saboteurs. While this might be the case some of the time and at some schools, my classmates are pretty cool.

The other week, a colleague of ours fell ill.  Another classmate (who, rumor confirms, has the initials CC and a blog through Widener-Harrisburg admissions also) spearheaded a fundraising effort to help him with his convalescence, which was a great success.  Through the effort of CC and the encouragement of our professor, we were able to put together a substantial showing of our concern.  It was clear that the gesture affected our recovering classmate to the core.

That exchange reminded me that law school is tough; there are a lot of hurdles.  Our professor even mentioned that it can induce insulation and selfishness.  But it need not take away from our empathy.  Having gone through first semester with the same people, you develop a camaraderie distinct to law school, and through the fog of finals the line could blur to battle buddy.  And we wanted one of our own to know we cared.

But what struck me most, beyond the mobilization of my colleagues, was that our professor was impressed with the support we showed our ailing comrade.  It didn’t need to be said that that wouldn’t always be the case.  And that’s a solid indication that your classmates are pretty cool.  Now if we could just do something about their driving and then their parking…

(Okay, okay, CC is Chelsey “Suge-na!” Crocker)

When it rains, it pours.

March 25th, 2010 No comments

The first half of 2nd semester seemed like a breeze compared to the overwhelming stress and fear of the unknown I felt the first semester. The winter break rejuvenated me, and my grades reassured me that I was capable. I made conscious decisions to change some of my study methods that didn’t work, and do more of the study methods that did. My note taking skills had changed and I was much more effective and time efficient when reading. I was happy and social and my hair was lush and full. Then we were assigned the Appellate Brief.
Writing assignments are, generally speaking, consuming – both mentally and physically. My mind used to wander to fantastic places. I used to daydream about lunch and what I wanted to do when I grew up, or at least what I wanted to do with a J.D. Now my mind wanders to Sixth Circuit cases and the meaning of words I can’t yet pronounce.
The moral of the story is, law school is bound to give you gray hairs. And it’s probably not all that uncommon to find those gray hairs nestled within the grip of your tightly clenched fists after a few weeks of research, writing, re-writing and yelling awful things at your computer. Just don’t take your eyes off the prize because the semester will be over before you know it but regret and ‘couldawouldashoulda’ lasts forever.

Summer Schedule Stress

March 13th, 2010 No comments

My friend’s dad once wisely said that he feels sorry for my generation because we have too many opportunities, which can, ironically, lead to stagnation. His generation had but two options – take it or leave it. If you took it, you were stuck with it. If you left it, you’d better get used to eating road kill.
With that in mind, second semester is the season students start to stress over summer schedules. Summer offers two general choices- summer classes and internships. What you do over the summer can have ramifications to both short and long term prospects. On the one hand, if you take summer classes, you have that many fewer requisite classes to take during the fall or spring terms, which opens up the electives you can take. If money is an issue, taking summer classes will offer the benefit of student loans. In the short term, money is essential, but it must be kept in mind that it will have to be repaid eventually. An internship, on the other hand, could lead to future job placements and networking opportunities.
Many internships are purely for school credit or work experience and don’t offer a wage or per diem. Internships could lead to real relationships with people in law in the long term, but if it’s not a paid position, it could be outside the province of possibility in the short term.
My decision will ultimately rest on where and what kind of internships are offered to me. In the event that I’m not offered any, or any I like, I’ll be more than happy taking summer classes. Either way, I’ll let you know what happens.

Another Snow Day!

March 3rd, 2010 1 comment

Holy moley! Another set of classes cancelled due to inclement weather… I should be happy that spring break started a day early but I also know that we’re going to have to make up those classes eventually. I would have liked to get the week done uninterrupted so I could go into spring break feeling like all the classes are up to date, but I guess I’ll just sit at home and make some food. I’m going to try and make pulled pork with wholly molé.

A Suzuki Family Story

March 1st, 2010 No comments

Widener sponsored a gathering in the Pit the other week in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day.  People were encouraged to grab the mic and regale the congregants with tales and observations based on MLK’s teachings, philosophies, and overall impact on society.  Although I wasn’t able to attend, I’d like to share a Suzuki family story.
In 1963, my dad was a 25 year-old Duke seminary student and heavily involved with the Duke Chapel.  It was also the year that the Duke administration relented to student demand and invited Dr. King to preach Sunday service. My father was among the students allowed to participate in the reception dinner honoring Dr. King because he had been a student committee member that spearheaded Dr. King’s visit.
At the reception dinner, the Duke chaplain walked MLK around and introduced him accordingly, until he got to my dad (who may have been 1 of 2 Asians in all of Durham, North Carolina).  When my dad was introduced as Yugo Suzuki, Dr. King inquired if he was related to the Zen Buddhist philosopher, T. Suzuki.  My dad replied that Suzuki was among the most common names in Japan, “similar to Smith or Jones.”
Tempted by that, Dr. King took my dad to one of his aids, John Lewis, and introduced my dad as “Mr. Smith, from Tokyo.”  Mr. Lewis was told the nature of the joke and tested out the name. Mr. Lewis stumbled over the pronunciation, this being before the popularization of the Suzuki name through violin methods, motorcycles and raw sea bass.  Finally, on the verge of giving up, Mr. Lewis implored, “what kind of zuki is it?”  and my dad answered, “a su kind of zuki.” Dr. King, beholding, chuckled and announced, “I like that, I like that!”  Dr. King then escorted my dad around to some other attendants and recapped the entire “what kinda zuki? su kinda zuki!” conversation.
My dad tells this story during his sermon to shed light on the humanity, humility and humor shown to him by a man who was stormed with hate-filled letters and phone calls everyday.  The man, whose desk was overflowing with death threats to his family and himself, and upon whose shoulder’s weighted heavily the hopes and goals of the great civil rights contest, did not forget to share a moment of laughter, levity, and concord with a previous stranger.