My Favorite Things: Law Student Edition

November 3, 2011 at 1:48 am (Law School Gear)

Writing this, I’m reminded of Oprah’s infamous “Favorite Things” episodes in which she surprises her audience with announcing (and gifting) her favorite things . . . sorry, no giveaways here – but I am announcing my favorite law school gear/swag/tools, without which, my life would be slightly less organized/sane/happy.

  1. Gel Highlighters by Sharpie. Law school casebook pages are super thin and even the dullest, most dried-out highlighters bleed through. I am too OCD to handle that anxiety-inducing ickiness. These highlighters are amaaazing! Because they aren’t liquid, they don’t bleed through the page. Two drawbacks: 1) They aren’t super accurate and they take some getting used to and though they have a chiseled-tip, it dulls (which makes it even less accurate); and 2) They are gel, so its sort of like laying a residue on the page, which feels kind of funky.
  2. Pens by Sharpie. Okay, Sharpie is in no way a sponsor of this post nor am I a paid spokesperson (BTW, you will likely find cheaper prices at your local office supply store – the Sharpie website sells these items outrageously overpriced!). BUT it just so happens my second favorite thing are these amaaaaazing pens which do not bleed through thin pages, come in a variety of colors (good for book-briefing in technicolor which makes it easier to type up briefs later), the pens are retractable so I can extend the life and not keep track of a cap, and the tip is super fine! Also, I’m a lefty so I have to be careful about the “wetness” of ink pens because they tend to smear – but never fear! The ink dries fast enough it doesn’t smear. Hey! A Rhyme!
  3. A Sturdy Adjustable Bookstand. Seriously. I even have a friend that brings a collapsable/travel one to class and props her book up next to her laptop. Mine (which I’ve linked to) is not as portable, but it is super sturdy and since I do most of my studying at home, it is perfect for me. Just make sure it is wide-enough for ginormous casebooks.
  4. Hall’s Mocha-Flavored Cough Drops. Okay, I admit, this is random, but I’m getting over a cold and happened to come across these (my husband actually found them!) They are delicious and I am convinced the mocha-flavoring (which is my favorite coffee flavor) creates a placebo effect for me; so I trick myself into thinking I’m getting some much needed caffeine!
  5. Crunchtime Outlines. I am preparing my outlines for my classes now (yikes!) and am absolutely amazed by the usefulness of the Crunchtime books. Not only do they provide the black letter law, but they also provide flow charts (which I love, because I’m a visual learner) AND exam tips with a few sample questions and answers! I’ve linked to the publisher’s website but I strongly recommend looking at Amazon.com or another online bookstore to purchase them much more cheaply.
  6. General on-the-go essentials like instant coffee packets, granola bars, etc. Time is limited and when I’m in study mode between classes and don’t want to spend time running down sustenance, it is super handy to just grab what I need out of my backpack. GASP! Yes, I said backpack.
  7. My backpack. Seriously, I’m so glad I opted to go with a backpack rather than my usual mode of book-transportation which consisted of a) oversized handbags; b) professional-looking laptop totes; c) messenger bags. Honestly, I’m carrying 20+ pounds everywhere I go every day. Had I opted for a one-sided option I think my back would be totally out of wack. Plus, I really appreciate being able to navigate the stairs and halls of my law school without worrying about swinging a bag into something, etc. A backpack really is super convenient, even though it isn’t my usual style.
  8. Halloween Candy. Hey, it is not my fault I’m a stress eater.
  9. Law Students who are even crazier than me. It makes me feel more normal, seriously. Okay so the article I linked to (about an anxious 1L seeking advice from his/her upperclassmen peers) isn’t maybe that crazy. But this one (Mercer law student who heinously murders another classmate) is seriously insane (and NOT one of my favorite things).
  10. Law Students requesting therapy dogs to lighten spirits. Additional law schools are following Yale’s “Lead” (get it? “lead” haha) by incorporating therapy dogs as stress relievers for students. I am fortunate enough to have my own but believe all should be so lucky to have this benefit!

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Orientation: T-10 Days!

August 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm (0L Summer Prep, Law School Gear)

Law school orientation is in 10 days.

How did that happen?

I am feeling excited/anxious/prepared. I have actively put myself in the mindset that I am ready to attack the material. I’m going in guns blazing.

Aside from reading various law school preparedness materials (and I’ve updated my blogpost/review which can be read here), I’ve also spent a lot of time relaxing. I bought a bicycle, which I plan to use almost every day. I purchased my first backpack in 15+ years (it will take some getting used to). And I’ve already met a few of my classmates, whom I already adore. I feel like I’m quickly finding my place  . . . and my footing.

My schedule and book list came a little later than expected. I know some incoming 1L’s at other law schools have had their schedules and book lists for a month. I just got mine a few days ago but was able to save around $150 on purchasing just two of my required casebooks online. Unfortunately, I’m finding that since I am just now able to purchase books online, many of the books are priced higher than they may have been just a few weeks ago. I wish I could have jumped on all of the early bargains before desperation/inflation took effect.

Well that’s all I have for now . . . I will try to update my post  on 0L guides again this week and look forward to updating you on my first days of law school!

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Free E-Dictonary Offer from Nolo

April 27, 2011 at 7:55 pm (Law School Gear)

My apologies for my brief absence, which will likely continue into the next week.  It is finals week and I am snowed under. Naturally, work at the firm is keeping me extremely busy as well.  Nevertheless, I wanted to alert you of an awesome deal I came across today.  The legal handbook publisher, Nolo is offering several deals in celebration of its 40th Anniversary; one of its deals is for a FREE E-Legal Dictionary just for “liking” them on FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/NoloLaw.  After liking them myself, I was able to download the e-book from the “E-Book” page that appeared on Nolo’s FaceBook page (along the left-hand side).  The E-Book is in PDF form and is roughly 500 pages. I can attest firsthand that legal dictionaries are quite useful for paralegals and legal assistants. I remember starting out trying to understand the legal verbiage in my boss’ dictation and feeling totally lost.  I imagine this is essential for law students, too.  I keep a Black’s Law Dictionary on my desk at work, but I hate having to pull it out, search, etc. whereas it would seem having a copy electronically would be faster and less likely to breakup my productivity “zone.”  I know my Black’s Law Dictionary cost at least $60, so I was pretty thrilled to come across this freebie.  I haven’t had an opportunity to search through it yet but I did see that the PDF is bookmarked alphabetically for ease in use and I would guess that the search feature could be useful in finding an exact word.  Anyway, I was pretty excited about this and thought I would share.

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Completely Saved

April 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm (Law School Gear)

I had a rather frightening experience over the weekend. After the pending doom of my dying laptop, I refused to save anything to my computer and instead save everything to my flash drive, which I would backup weekly less frequently than I should.  By the time I hit law school in (128 days) I hope to have transferred everything that I might need from my flash drive to my trusty Dropbox account.  The transition has been slow mainly because I don’t want to throw everything in the Dropbox account that is on my flash drive. I’m trying to use this as a time to “declutter.” Anyway, long story short, I was to present at a research conference over the weekend and left my flash drive (with my powerpoint, script, and bibliography) at home!

Panic. Set. In. Could my husband bring it to me in time? Could I run home in time? Should I play sick and go home?

Then I realized (Thank God!) that I had placed a slightly less updated copy in my dropbox folder on my computer, which could be accessed by logging into my account online. It took me five minutes to update it and I was ready to go.  What a relief!

I am so sold on Dropbox, it saved the day! It amazes me that I waited so long to check it out. It also amazes me that my firm and friends from other firms are not using it! Attorneys are notorious for losing that sort of thing.

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Thank you!

March 25, 2011 at 3:06 am (Law School Gear)

I won! Many months back I asked for your support (and nominations) in the Vicious Cycle Awards over at http://www.AdmissionsDean.com.  The winners were announced today and I am delighted to report that I won the “Most Organized” Award – which comes with a prize of Aspen Law Study Desk and “An Introduction to the Study of Law: What Every Student Should Know.”

I especially want to thank Paralegal Hell for voting early and often!

As always, I appreciate your support throughout my journey.  Knowing I have such awesome readers who encourage me helps motivate (and re-energize) me along the way.

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Greetings from my new Mac

March 11, 2011 at 2:14 am (Law School Gear, Uncategorized)

As luck would have it, my PC died the day before the new Apple Macbook Pro’s came out. So I went shopping for a replacement the next day and like magic, I came across a Macbook Pro (herein, “MBP”) for just $900 (a discount of over $300) that had been the brand spank’n new model until the newest MBP model came out (in other words, I have the April 2010 edition). Needless to say, I jumped on it and am now blogging from my new (and first-ever) Mac.

Having been a life-long PC user, I was very concerned about the transition from PC to Mac. But Macs are so intuitive, that I really haven’t had much difficulty acclimating.  For a few days I constantly was looking to the upper right-hand corner of the page to close/reduce/maximize but am now instinctively knowing where to go to get what I want.  Originally, I had thought that I would run bootcamp so I could run Windows with Microsoft Office. The only two applications which I use that are not available on the Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 edition are OneNote and Publisher. However, there are many good non-Microsoft alternatives to Publisher – though compatibility issues would likely arise if I were to collaborate on a Microsoft Publisher document.  However, I am delighted to discover that Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac has a “notebook” view that is nearly identical to OneNote – including the ability to audio record and link recordings to typed-text. For example, say I take notes during a lecture and later want to refer back to a particular part of the lecture. I would simply refer back to the text I typed at the point I want to listen to and voila – the audio recording plays back to me whatever was recorded as I typed that text.  That said, I’m told there are several really good alternatives to OneNote, including Circus Ponies Notebook and OmniOutline.  I’m currently on day 2 of a free 30-day trial of the Circus Ponies Notebook.  Though I still have no clue how to make use of its wealth of features, I’m intrigued.  (If anyone wouldn’t mind sharing their circus ponies notebook template or an example of a law school setup, please send it my way to lawschooldreamer at gmail dot com!)  Additionally, this forum is dedicated to lawyers who use Circus Ponies.  I’m sure this is handy for paralegals, too!  My firm happens to be hopelessly devoted to PCs and Blackberrys, so I’m actually a little surprised to find that so many lawyers and firms are actually using Macs. The Mac Lawyer has certainly enlightened me. Also, checkout the Mac Law Students Blog. Though it could use some updating, its been a great starting place for me to explore using my Mac as a (future) law student.

Lastly, a few oddities that I hope some of my Mac readers can help me figure out:

1) How do I “insert” instead of “delete” text. For example, as I proofread, I tend to want to change text from the beginning of a word where my cursor already lies – not at the end of the work and backspace to delete the word. How can I delete the text in front of the texture, and not behind?

2) How do I make shortcuts to a flashdrive that would appear on my “finder?”  I save everything to a flashdrive and because I’m so “Type A” I have everything organized 2-5 layers (folders) deep. How can I make a shortcut to a particular folder on my flashdrive that I use frequently?

Mac users – what are your favorite apps? Please share your tips and thoughts with me! Your comments are always appreciated.

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The Impending Doom of a Dying Laptop

February 24, 2011 at 12:36 pm (Law School Gear)

It started with a slight “hummm.” Then developed into a “wooosh.” And now I’m hearing a helicopter ready to lift-off!  Are these the sounds of a dying laptop?  My HP has served me quite well over the years.  Sure, its becoming elderly and its technology is outdated, but it has treated me well over the years. I just hope that it holds out for my last two months of undergrad. In the meantime, I’m scrimping and saving for a new lifeline for law school.  I’d like something ultra-light, with at least a 12 inch screen that is pretty quiet (in terms of fan noise and keyboard typing). A long-lasting battery would be great too!  I’m open to either a Mac or PC.  Of course, if money was a non-issue I’d love a MacBook Pro 13, which is fairly light and has a 10-hour battery life.  I’ve been checking out deals on refurbished Macs, but they are still more costly than many PCs.  I’m mainly concerned with affordability, durability, and useability.  This baby has to last me for three years of law school, afterall!  Any one have any recommendations?

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