Thursday, November 30, 2006

Drowning

A week from today I will take TWO finals, two hours apart. I have secured transactions from 9-12 and criminal procedure from 2-5. The next day I have corporations from 2-5, and I was supposed to have antitrust the next morning at 9, but I was able to push it back 2 days.

Despite this list of hard classes and way-too-close-together exams, I didn't start studying until last night. It's very bad. I am currently on class 10 of corporations and haven't looked at a single page of notes of study aids in any of my other classes. I'm not even sure where to begin...

Part of my problem is the quarter system which is so short that just when you're starting to feel like you have some idea what's going on in each class, finals are 10 days away. The other problem is that I thought this year would be easier, that finals wouldn't be so stressful or hard - that was completely wrong. These 4 finals will be harder than any I took last year (I read last years corporation final and nearly had an anxiety attack). Last night when I was still in the library at 10:30, JP called totally convinced I'd been in a car crash on my way home earlier in the evening. When I told him I was at the library (where I spent every night until at least 10:30 last year) he was completely shocked. Obviously I haven't been putting in enough hours so far...

So here I sit, drowning in slides and hundreds of pages of notes. I'm also reviewing 1L resumes and cover letters- I don't really have time, but so many 2Ls and 3Ls were so helpful to me last year, I feel its important to pass that along.

12 more days and its all over... until winter quarter finals...

Monday, November 20, 2006

How To Get A 1L Firm Job In 3 Easy Steps

Well not really... I was asked to speak today at the Office of Career Services 1L lunch series - this week's topic was on firm jobs. I think I was asked to help because I had no contacts with Chicago prior to law school and got a job here last summer. Even with that "success" its hard to give advice to someone else. So much of the 1L job process is based on luck - you send out 100 cover letters and resumes and get 4 calls, maybe one of which turns into an offer. I was able to give a little bit of potentially worthwhile advice, which I'll share here:
  • Pursue any contacts you may have. Don't discount someone just because you haven't talked to them in a while.
  • Go to the firm holiday receptions in your hometown (if you're looking there) and any firm receptions during the winter (if you want to work in the city of your law school). Even if it doesn't lead to a job, and most don't, you can get invaluable information about a particular firm or practice area. I ended up with a job offer and lots of very helpful lunches by attending these free receptions where I mooched off the delicious food and top shelf liquor.
  • Get yours resumes/cover letters out early (if you are doing a mass mailing)
  • When writing your resume try to emphasize any previous work experience, even if you don't have any law experience or came straight to law school from undergrad
  • Have a good story for why you want to work in your chosen market, why you went to law school, what you think of law school, and what you want to do with law. A good story means believable (which usually means mostly truthful), articulate, succinct, and enthusiastic.
  • Don't give up hope - a lot of firms hire an additional 1L or two later in the winter or early spring if a 2L offer ends up changing his/her plans or the firm decides they have room for one more person - just because "all" of your classmates have jobs doesn't mean that you're out of luck.

I hope that helps someone or at least reaffirms what you already know! I'm really glad I worked at a firm 1L summer - not only because the pay made me feel like I was not an enormous drain on my husband and my resources - but because it gave me a better idea of what I want in a firm. I had better questions to ask during 2L OCI, firm research had more context, and I learned more about the different areas of law. That's not to knock public interest - my friends who did it had amazing experiences they'll value forever, but for me, the firm route was the best choice.

Best of luck to all the 1Ls getting ready to mail merge on December 1st!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Psychotic Cat Ruins Dinner Party

I love throwing parties- one of the major advantages to moving back to Texas is that we will be able to afford a bigger place where I can entertain more than 8 people at a time. Last night I hosted a potluck tapas party - it was just 7 girls and everyone contributed something. I had red and white sangria, chicken skewers, and an Amazing (and simple) tres leches cake. The girls brought much fancier things than I usually make and everything was going great until my cat had some sort of psychotic episode.

She's usually incredible sociable, loves people, and is very calm with crowds. My friend was talking on her cellphone in my bedroom and Lilly (the cat) started arching her back, puffing her tail, and trying to herd my friend back to the livingroom. Then she went into full attack mode- there was hissing and spitting and a big pouffy tail. Women and children were shrieking (well there weren't actually any children) and I, as the hostess and owner, had to get between my guests and the possessed cat and tackle her to the ground. I emerged with a snarling cat and lots of bloody scrapes on my hands - I threw her into the bathroom and announced cake was ready to be served.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Feeling Safe?

JP and I live in downtown Chicago. I realize its a big city and big cities have crime, but I've never felt remotely unsafe walking around at night or when I'm alone in our apartment. This morning at 8:30am I got a call from our building manager informing me that our storage unit (in the basement of the building) had been broken into and some of our stuff was in the hallway. I was shocked! I love in that building! People can't just break into it!

He said our suitcases had been opened, but were still there. I thought the suitcases were probably the most valuable thing in the unit so I wasn't too worried. Then I called JP to tell him the news and he reminded me that he had his golf clubs and snow board in there. I'm going home after lunch today to do an inventory, so hopefully JP's toys are still there. I'm not even sure what you do when things are stolen- our house was never broken into while I was growing up and by some miracle my college apartment on the wrong side of town was never robbed either. If you file a claim under your renter's insurance do your rates go up like car insurance? Does JP really need a new set of golf clubs when he works 80+ hours a week and can't use them? Should we no longer store semi-valuable stuff down there? A snow board really doesn't go with the living room decor and our apartment is quite small. I can't believe it was really broken into!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Law School = High School

Similarities:
- small classes
- you know your classmate's names
- lockers
- all classes in one building
- the break between classes gives you just enough time to get your books, talk to your best friend, and/or run to the bathroom
- lots of clubs
- cliques

- talking behind people's backs
- prom!
- everyone eats lunch in one room and there's the awkward moment where you walk in hoping some of your friends are already at a table with room for you
- hookups and breakups are known class-wide immediately

The only differences are that we can all legally drink, marry, and rent cars; some of us are married, a few have kids, and we can stay out as late as we want. It's also finally okay to be smart.

Other than that - it's totally high school.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Baby Hopes: the background

A lot of what this blog will (hopefully) be about is my life as a pregnant law student and then as a law school mom. JP and I have been wanting to start a family almost from the day we got married (14 months ago), but we forced ourselves to be practical and wait until the time was right. I knew I had to finish 1L year, save up money, get to know our new city, and have our future career/school plans somewhat decided. (Not that it stopped me from ordering pregnancy books a year ago!). It now feels like everything has fallen in to place. We hope to get pregnant sometime in the next several months. I'll be a 3L when the baby is born and JP will quit his job as an investment banker to stay home with the baby for however many months are between the birth and when he'll start business school. It will be a wonderful break for him before school starts and I'll know our child is in the best possible hands while I'm in class. We'll have my money from the firm job last summer and next summer. We'll have moved to a bigger apartment. All of these reasons, and more, make me so glad we waited. Our relationship is wonderful and so strong and we're really really excited about this next step. I've talked to the law school dean of students and she was very supportive and put me in touch with several other women who have done the same thing. As busy as I am as a law student, it doesn't compare with being a full-time attorney, so I'm happy to have a year of getting to know my baby and my own parenting skills while I have such a flexible schedule.

Now if only I could stop worrying about getting pregnant and the pregnancy itself. The women in my family and his have a history of miscarriages. My mom had 2, his mom had 3, my grandma had 1, his grandma had 2, each of my aunts had 1... I always told myself I'd try not to become too attached or excited just because I saw a positive pregnancy test. I now know that is going to be completely impossible. I think we're both going to be very attached to the small group of cells that are making the test positive from the very beginning. I think about my mom, and the other women in our families, and have a whole new level of respect and understanding for them. I'm also worried about getting pregnant - we tried for a few months earlier in the year but stopped so I could work this summer. Nothing happened, which actually worked out for the best because we've decided to move back to Austin after graduation, and not having a baby means I can spend 6 weeks this summer with my new Austin firm -- but it does make me a little bit worried about getting pregnant now. I always thought it was an instant thing- I've already started to secretly resent people who "accidentally get pregnant".

These are just my occassional thoughts and fears - in general we're excited and we know we have a whole year for something to happen. As always, it'll happen when its supposed to happen. In the mean time we enjoy each other and try to imagine all the things that will change as soon as we see those two pink lines :)

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Elections!!!

It's official!!

The Democrats have control of the House and the Senate! I've been waiting to write about election day post until the results were official, and at 2pm Allen conceded the Virginia race. I am so happy for so many reasons. First and foremost I believe that a change in leadership is a good thing. The Republicans have been in charge of everything for too long. The system is set up to work with checks and balances and no one has been checking them. Second, the Democrats know they won because so many Republicans voters were completely fed up. This means they have two years to prove they won't screw up and they can be trusted. Both parties are really in check - the Republicans because the Democrats have the majority, and the Democrats because they don't want to lose the majority in two years. Third, Rumseld was immediately removed from his position - I think that one is pretty self explanatory. And fourth, Bush is a lameduck president. I think he's done enough damage. In the words of the EU Parliament's joint statement: "This is the beginning of the end of a six year nightmare."

I am really looking forward to what the next few years hold. I hope the Democrats perform well and don't gloat (too much). Beating the Republicans over the head with their defeat and new minority position will only upset the Republicans who voted Democrat in this election. I'm also very interested to see how the 2008 presidential hopefuls will shape up. It's an exciting time in politics!

Monday, November 6, 2006

2L Year

The stories of a better life that I kept hearing from 2Ls and 3Ls are what got me through 1L year. Every night when I was at the library long past dinnertime, I would think - next year I'll be home. Every weekend when I was sitting in the library and not out enjoying this wonderful new city, I would think - next year I'll have big plans every weekend.

The 2Ls lied. This year is not easier. Supposedly there is less pressure on your grades because now we have jobs. But your grades still matter if you want to clerk or if you change firms early in your career (and so many people do). And pretty much anyone who gets in to a top law school is too much of an achiever to actually "not care" about grades. We've cared for too long.

I share part of the blame for the fact that I'm about to eat dinner in the library while reading antitrust - I took 4 tough classes and am volunteering at the Chicago Legal Clinic all day on Thursdays. But still - the classes are harder, not easier. As a 1L it was understood that we knew nothing about the law - we had a mixture of backgrounds, and the only thing we had in common is that none of us used to be lawyers. But now we've been armed with the basic knowledge of contracts and somehow that means we should know the answers to complex corporate governance questions. Apparently over the summer, all that 19th century case law we learned was supposed to transform into the answers for today's complex questions. I learned a lot at my firm - how to use Lexis in a cost-effective manner, how to tailor my memos for each partner, how to time my Ann Taylor bills to arrive just after my paycheck... I did not learn what a corporations was or how it is governed.

So 1Ls- law school does get less stressful (you're done with OCI), more familiar (you can read cases pretty quickly now), and more fun (picking your own classes!), but it does not get easier.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Running

I am not a runner. I have never been a runner - even in elementary school I dreaded the Wednesdays when we had to run a mile in P.E. I used to Try to land wrong on my ankle so that I could sit out. I have always been a swimmer- I work much better in a universe with no gravity and sweating. However, lately I've gotten tired of being unfit and wanted a goal to motivate me to walk to the gym when its 30 degrees outside.

A few weeks ago my friend ran the Chicago marathon. I was so impressed and motivated by all the (insane) people running 26.2 miles in freezing weather and high winds that I went go on the Chicago Area Runner's Association website and downloaded a running plan for beginners. My plan is to work for 8 weeks to run 30 min. straight. It may not be a marathon, but I don't think I've ever run for 10 min straight. At least not since I figured out I could fake an injury to get out of P.E. (or accidentally wear sandals on running day). Today I finished week 2 and I'm very nervous about week 3. I'm hoping that by posting this and then pretending that other people read it, it will keep me accountable. This was much easier in swimming when I had a coach yelling at me to keep going.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

First Post

I got very into reading blogs over my 1st year of law school. They're a source of information (and entertainment) you can't get at the usual law school/lawyer websites or rankings. I've been wanting to start one myself, but couldn't think of a good reason to begin. So I stopped waiting for something momentous to happen and just decided to jump in. While I'm mostly writing this for myself to look back on and for friends and family to keep up on our life in Chicago, I hope its also useful to anyone attending law school (and if I keep it going, to other attorneys). It's not really anonymous, you could certainly figure out who I am if you tried, but I'm not using my real name.

A word on the name: "lag liv" is "law life" in Swedish. I'm half Swedish, its fairly unique, and pretty well sums up what the blog is about.