Dear My 1L Self- You Are in the Right Place

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post another exciting installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual, time-traveling letters to their 1L selves, giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be helpful for our readers. Today, we get to hear from Terrance Manion, our Discovery & Research Services Librarian and a GSU Law graduate…

Dear 1L Terrance,

I want to offer you a couple of words of encouragement and reassurance as you begin your law school career.

Law school is a challenge, yes, and attending the part-time evening program at Georgia State Law while working full time is a truly unique challenge. The program is a marathon that runs for four to five years, depending on whether you take your summers off. Pace yourself and do not count the hours until nearing the end (particularly after that second calendar year). Take comfort in the following:

First, Georgia State Law is dedicated to the part-time evening program being as academically rigorous and meaningful as its full-time day program. It is not a satellite program taught by adjuncts or a less ambitious program as some part-time law programs seem to be. It will be the same curriculum. All Georgia State Law faculty will teach in the evening program. All of the college’s educational opportunities (Law Review, Moot Court, experiential learning, study abroad, etc.) are accessible to evening students, albeit you may need to prioritize which opportunities are most important to you. Take confidence that you will be on equal footing at graduation with your full-time counterparts, if not better because you have actual life and work experience, right?

Second, in the part-time evening program, you will not find professional students but student professionals, each facing the same challenges you are facing. They are juggling jobs, classes, personal lives, and copious amounts of reading and outlining. Their days start when they get to their jobs in the morning and do not end until classes wrap up around 9 PM (and 10 PM when you take evidence). They commute home (sometimes making a stop at a bar) knowing they will do it all over again tomorrow. They have the same anxieties about managing their time and energy. They have the same questions about whether they still have the intellectual stamina and aptitude for learning. They, too, have been out of school for a couple of years, if not longer. Because of this shared starting point (and the fact they will be in all your classes for two years), there is an inherent camaraderie in the part-time evening program. You will learn soon enough that your fellow students are not your competition. They are your safety net. They are your foundation. You will look after each other. They will become some of your closest friends and remain a resource and support network for the rest of your career.

Former GSU Law Library Director (& Associate Dean) Nancy P. Johnson

Third, you are incredibly fortunate, and I am not talking about having the most manageable commute from your office in the law library to the classroom. You have a mentor and boss in Nancy Johnson that also navigated the part-time evening program at Georgia State Law. At the very least, she will offer a little misery-loves-company, but you know she never does the very least. She will be your advisor, cheerleader, coach, sounding board, counselor, and yes, teacher. You will take her class, and you will not get the highest grade in that class. It will haunt you the rest of your days; however, knowing your study partner, good friend, and fellow part-time evening student got the highest grade makes it a little more bearable. She’ll have you teaching the class in the a year or so anyway.

Nancy will provide the space and support foundation for you to be successful, both in the part-time evening program and at your day job. While not all of our part-time evening students are fortunate enough to have a mentor of Nancy’s caliber, I’m nonetheless confident that the support of their friends, colleagues, teachers, and librarians will be a defining feature of their success.

In short, you are part of this community, you can do this, and you found the right place to do it.


Librarian Manion

P.S. While in law school keep a list of the books you want to read for your own enjoyment. You do not get much time to read recreationally in law school but when you graduate, you will go on a reading binge like at no other point in your life. Have the list ready.

It’s National Mental Health Day!

Check out these resources for law students

The ABA Law Student Division, like other groups around the United States, is observing National Mental Health Day. How do we celebrate—or participate in the celebration? In addition to the stress associated with our everyday lives, we often start thinking about the end of the semester around now. And that ramps up the stress for students and faculty alike!

The ABA’s Mental Health Day programming includes sessions on depression, suicide prevention, and emerging from the pandemic. Check it out! You might even be inspired to break out the hashtags and take part in the ABA’s social media campaign: #LawStudentWellness and #ABAMentalHealth.

Maybe you would like to extend your knowledge about mental health resources available on campus? The obvious place to start is with the resources available through the Counseling & Testing Center. The Center offers, in addition to counseling appointments, Be Well Panthers includes short articles about mindfulness, adulting, exercise, relationships, and more.

As you might expect, the Law Library also has some incredible resources for you. It may be that you can minimize your stress by consulting tools like those found in our online study aids collection. But, you will be happy to learn that we have other books that might be of interest.

We have books on mindfulness, such as The Anxious Lawyer: An 8-Week Guide to a Joyful and Satisfying Law Practice Through Mindfulness and Meditation, program materials from a continuing legal education session about applying mindfulness meditation in law practice, or Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment—And Your Life.

If mindfulness or meditation are not your jam, maybe you would find something like A Lawyer’s Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress of interest.  Stress Management for Lawyers: How to Increase Personal & Professional Satisfaction in the Law might offer tools and strategies you would find useful.

We have online access to some other titles that might be of interest. For example, Stress at Work: Management and Prevention is easily available and offers an overview of stress and how it functions as well as coping strategies. There are a bunch of online books about mindfulness, and you can review the results of this library search to pick the book of your choice. If you’d prefer to change the focus and search for lawyer and anxiety or depression, there are also some books you might find of interest.

If you haven’t heard it before, you can remember that you heard it here: taking care of your mental health will only help you as you work your way through law school and your future career path.

Dear My 1L Self- Do Not Believe Them.

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post another exciting installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual, time-traveling letters to their 1L selves, giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be helpful for our readers. Today, we’ve got an inspiring message from Class of ’19 Grad (and Seyfarth Shaw Associate) Zain Haq…

Dear 1L Zain:

Don’t believe everything law school tells you. Well…okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is still generally pretty good advice. Throughout your three years in law school, a big to-do will be made about the “right” or “proper” path to take in order to end up where you want to be. Your future self is here to remind you about the old cliché: There is no one path to success.

Not that your future self is per se successful yet (sorry to disappoint). BUT, you are striving for it. And, if I may be so bold, you’re well on your way. But you’ll realize throughout your journey that despite what you hear in law school, there are SO MANY ways to get to where you want to go.

Over the next three years, you’ll probably hear that in order to work for certain firms, you’ll have to participate in specific law school activities. Wrong. You’ll also probably hear that, in order to prepare yourself well for your first year of practice, you’ll have to summer at certain places. Also wrong. While the traditional paths law school talks about may work well for some people, it is not the only way to get to where you want to go. And, let’s face it, doing things the old-fashioned way has never really been your style.

Here’s my advice to you, young grasshopper: keep an open mind and listen to the advice law school gives you. It is good advice. But, spoiler alert, there is more than one right way of doing things, and you won’t follow the route law school lays out for you. And that is okay. Try new things, be open minded, and go after new experiences because they sound interesting and will make you happy, not because they promise a certain end result. At the end of the day, do it your way (cue Frank Sinatra).

Zain

Dear My 1L Self- You Earned Your Spot!

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post another exciting installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual, time-traveling letters to their 1L selves, giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be helpful for our readers. Today, we’ve got an uplifting missive from 2L (and Urban Fellow) Liliana Esquivel…

Dear 1L Liliana:

First, be confident and don’t overthink things. The more you second guess yourself, the harder this journey will be. You made it in, you earned your spot! So, speak up when you know the answer or don’t understand something. You assume everyone else knows what’s going on, but the opposite is true: no one knows what’s going on. So, breathe and be open to talk more to the people around you; they know what you are going through.

When it comes to those really difficult cases, read them three times. Look for the arguments when you read a case, and always, always, always outline. You will find that what works best for you is handwriting your outline and then typing it up before class, so that it’s fresh in your mind. It’s also important to stick to your schedule and tell people no when you need those days to yourself. It’s ok to need alone time.

Later in your law school career, you’ll discover that the entire GSU Law community is extremely proud of you! But it might help to know now that you really do have a group of people who support you and root for you, so that you don’t feel alone. When you are overwhelmed, take it one task at a time, and little by little, you’ll get through it. I believe in you.

Best wishes,

Liliana Esquivel (2L version)

Ode to Study Aids

How do I study, let me count the ways?

I review my notes, summarize, restate

My future self I picture, earning As

How long to study, I can’t estimate!

Why are civil procedure, contracts, torts

So hard to wrap my tired brain around?

I ‘m desperate, overwhelm’d, out of sorts

I’m dragging, I’m flagging, in highlights drowned.

Stumped by lecture, black letter, check my text,

Questions, no answers! Help I cannot find?

Colleagues struggle too—we are all vexed

How to embed these concepts in my mind?

Law Library’s got my back, study aids

Connect, clarify, lifting up my grades

Seriously folks, we in the Law Library realizes that study aids are a useful tool in the effort to understand material that is presented through your textbook, lectures, and other assignments in your doctrinal courses.

To that end, we have an excellent collection of study aids that you can turn to if you need assistance or clarity as you seek to understand—or check your understanding—of concepts from class. Students often ask how to choose a good study aid.

Of course, in law school, the answer is usually “It depends.” It depends on what you’re looking for—do you need just a statement of the law? Do you want something that you can quiz yourself with? Are you looking to confirm that you’re outline structure of the relationship between concepts makes sense? Different study aids have different strengths. Many are based on books, but they also may be videos or even lessons like those CALI lessons you’ve heard so much about in class!

If you want help figuring out what options exist for a class you’re in, you can check out our Study Aid Finder. It’s organized so that study aids for required courses in your 1L or 2Lyears are pulled out separately, and study aids for other bar classes are included under recommended electives.

Remember that there are a variety of formats available to assist you. Have long drives in Atlanta and prefer to listen to an audio version? You can! Want to check a study aid at 3 in the morning without leaving the comfort of your home? You can!

If you’re looking for study aids for classes that fall out of the scope of regularly recommended bar classes, you will also find some study aid recommendations on the research guides for those subjects. Check out our federal tax research guide for an example! If you have questions about how to access study aids, our Introductory Guide for First Year Students is an excellent resource.

Dear My 1L Self- Find your Formula for Success

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post this 5th installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual letters to their 1L selves giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be transferable to our readers, and show that even the most experienced of us have made a lot of mistakes. Today, we’ve got a dispatch from (and to) 3LP (and Law Library GRA) T.C. Deveau…

Dear My 1L Self,

Work smarter, not harder.

Your 3LP self recently read a twitter feed proffering advice to 1L’s and rising 1L’s that went something along the lines of “you should be working every minute you’re not in class, sleeping, or eating.”  This is terrible advice.

Do not put in work simply for the sake of putting in work.  This is especially true if you are a non-traditional student with other obligations outside of the classroom.  Just like sleeping with a book next to your head won’t help you learn, grinding for the sake of grinding won’t help you in the long run. Law School is a marathon, and you don’t want to burn out by sprinting from the starting line.

Every student is different and there is no “catch all” approach to being successful.  Everyone has their own formula for success.  Don’t forget to take a step back and figure out what is working for you and what isn’t.  Figure out your formula. 

Take those casebooks outdoors!

If you grasp a topic easily, think about why that might be – was it simple, or was there some way you learned or approached the material that aided your understanding?  Was there a teaching style the professor or course material used that helped you out?  When you run up against a weakness, how will you address it?  Should you read an additional 20 cases on the same topic with different fact patterns, or can you apply the approaches you took to subject matter you mastered to your weak spots and get there quicker?  Is there a resource at GSU that may aid your understanding without hitting your head against the wall too many times?

Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Take advantage of the resources GSU has to offer.  Professors and GRAs always make themselves available.  Campus organizations maintain wonderful outline banks for the benefit of younger students to supplement their own notes and outlines.  The Law Library maintains an extensive study aid collection that is freely available to existing GSU students (can be found here: https://libguides.law.gsu.edu/studyaidfinder).  Alumni are plentiful in the Atlanta law community and almost always willing and available to help mentor.  Finally, your peers are always there to help out, and the GSU COL student body is widely supportive of one another.  Study groups are your friend. 

You made it to law school.  You are driven.  You are bright.  You are insightful.  Use that insight and be introspective.  Take note of your strengths.  Take note of your weaknesses and come up with a plan to tackle them.  You will finish law school and pass the bar.  You got this.

-Todd (a.k.a. “T.C.”) Deveau, Ph.D.

GSU COL 3LP 

Dear My 1L Self- Enjoy Life!

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post this 4th installment of “Dear My 1L Self.” In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Law Students, and other interesting folks write actual letters to their 1L selves giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be transferable to our readers, and show that even the most experienced of us have made a lot of mistakes. Today, we’ve got a dispatch from (and to) 3L (and Law Library GRA) Ross Crowell…

Dear My 1L Self, 

This is going to sound crazy, but you do not have to be the last person at the Law Library every night. I know you have always been told by everyone your entire life that you can succeed by outworking everyone else, but here that ideology does not work. By mid-December, you will be completely burned out and your brain will barely be able to function. Work hard, but do not make law school the only thing in your life. 

While you are studying, do not worry about day-to-day issues. If you cannot figure out a case on a random Tuesday in October, odds are it will have no impact on your grade. If you get called on and are not sure of the answer, it is not the end of the world. Everyone else is in the same boat as you, just trying their best to get by. 

Once you start studying for exams, do not just focus on memorizing information, as that will not benefit you on the exam. Get your outlines completed during Thanksgiving break, then spend the next week before finals working on practice problems. Do not just read a problem and casually jot down your thoughts. You need to get in the habit of writing out full answers under a time limit. Once you practice writing out these answers several times, you will have a better feel for timing on the exam. 

Two days after your last final you’ll be much happier with your family in Rome.

Additionally, over Thanksgiving break (and the rest of the semester), do not spend a disproportionate amount of your time on Lawyering Foundations. While the class is important, do not waste your entire Thanksgiving break reading over your final memo 100 times. Make time for your other classes as well. Further, do not worry about the abundance of negative feedback you get on your papers; your bosses the next two summers will let you know that your writing is just fine. 

Finally, it is important to remember to enjoy life. Watch Sunday Night Football instead of stressing over the case you just read but do not understand. Go for runs and bike rides during the week. Play Xbox and let your brain turn off for an hour or two. Also, eat some salads and do not just heat up frozen pasta dishes when you get home at 8:00 every night; your brain and body will feel much better. I know this goes against everything you have heard in life up to this point, but working harder and longer than everyone does not guarantee you success. Work hard, but do not make school the only focus in your life. It might sound crazy now, but your brain will be fresh and ready to go in December for Finals. 

Best of luck, 

Future Ross Crowell

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day

The United States Constitution
Image by John R Perry from Pixabay

“Constitution Day and Citizenship Day” became a federal observance in 2004. Constitution Day is observed on September 17 to commemorate the day in 1787 when delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution. Prior to the addition of Constitution Day in 2004, September 17 was observed as Citizenship Day, intended to celebrate U.S. citizenship. Naturalization ceremonies may be scheduled to coincide with Constitution Day and Citizenship Day celebrations.

The original 2004 law mandated that public schools and federal agencies observe the day each year by providing opportunities for education about the U.S. Constitution. In 2005, the Department of Education expanded this mandate to include any educational institutions that receive federal funds, including federal student financial aid. GSU is celebrating Constitution Day and Citizenship Day the week of September 13-17, 2021. For a full list of campus events and educational resources see the GSU Civic Engagement website. If you are interested in researching Constitutional issues, University Library has a handy National Constitution Week research guide or browse one of the many Law Library research guides.

Dear My 1L Self- Get some fresh air

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post this 3rd installment of our all new Blackacre Times Series – “Dear My 1L Self.” Check out the first two here and here. In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Students, and other interesting folks write actual letters to their 1L selves giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law. We hope that some of this advice will be transferable to our readers, and show that even the most experienced of us have made a lot of mistakes. So, without further ado, here’s 3L/Reference GRA Luke Smith…

Dear My 1L Self,

This may sound shocking, but the world is more than just those 6 floors on the corner of Park Place NE and John Wesley Dobbs Ave.  Don’t get me wrong the College of Law is an important and fascinating place, but if you take some time to go outside the walls of the building, it can do wonders for your mental health.

As great as the professors and your fellow students are here at GSU COL, you’ll still feel stressed if you spend all your time here. You may believe that another half hour on your Lawyering Foundations memo will make it perfect, but it won’t, and you’ve already spent too much time on it. If you want to avoid burning out and feeling trapped and hopeless, you need to get out, explore, and find something you enjoy doing outside of Law School.

If you don’t know where to begin start by getting some fresh air. Go up to the 6th floor patio, sit on the balcony, and just breathe (editor’s note: unfortunately, the balcony is currently closed for repairs). You’d be surprised what 5 minutes not thinking about personal jurisdiction or restitution damages will do for you. The next step is to get moving. Go out the doors on the first floor and just start walking and don’t stop. You don’t have to go anywhere just explore and feel the sun on your face.

The hard part is over now. The law school is behind you and you can feel its grasp loosening on you. The next part is up to you now. Find something you enjoy and do it. I don’t mean binge watch The Office so you can turn your brain off between study sessions.

Me, happy once I finally decided to get out of the law school and explore the beltline with my girlfriend.

Instead, find something that rejuvenates you outside of Law School. You know that student activity fee you see in your bill every semester? Well that helps pay for all the student organizations that the main university hosts and you can try finding one you might enjoy on the Panther Involvement Network. My personal favorite is the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club. It’s a great way to stay active, relieve some stress, it’s hosted just a few blocks away at the Student Recreation Center, and best of all its free to students.  

Or maybe you’re thinking to yourself “I really liked that part about going outside and just walking,” well there’s lots of great public parks in and around Atlanta to explore. The Beltline is a series of walking paths around Atlanta and their Website also has a bunch of great information about things to do around Atlanta and how to get there via public transportation. If you’re still thinking to yourself that by just being in Atlanta you can still feel the stress of the law school creeping up behind you, then take the red or gold Marta line South bound to the airport and leave. There’s no rule against taking a backpacking weekend to Bozeman or a romantic weekend getaway to Salt Lake City. Law School can be stressful and leave you feeling utterly defeated at times, but you can do things to help. Take some time to go outside, find a hobby, and explore the world outside of the Law School.

Yours truly,

Luke Smith

Dear My 1L Self – Breathe.

The GSU College of Law Library is excited to post this 2nd installment of our all new Blackacre Times Series – “Dear My 1L Self.”  In this series, Librarians, Law Library GRAs, Students, and maybe even alumni will write letters to their 1L selves giving them advice and telling them what to expect from law school and the practice of law.  We hope that some of this advice will be transferable to our readers, and show that even the most experienced of us have made a lot of mistakes. So, without further ado, here’s 3LP (& Reference GRA) Meri Elkin…

Dear My 1L Self,

Take a breath. Maybe take a few breaths. Are we consistently breathing yet? Great! Now, go to office hours. Show up to talk to the GRA that aced this class before you. Swing by the Professor’s office that teaches the class. Do not wait until we get our first Lawyering Foundations memo back to ask questions. Do not wait until after our first cold call in Civil Procedure to admit we could possibly be confused. Go now. Ask the questions!

A pic of Meri Elkins

As it turns out, we do not know all of the things. If I am being honest, we don’t even know what we don’t know. We are going to spend a lot of time reading, listening, and trying to formulate coherent responses. Real talk: we do not always formulate coherent responses. We do not always have the right answer. Just remember, it does not do to dwell on missed cold calls. Let it go. Thank me later.

Look around, and find friends who will keep a smile on our face when we are sleep deprived and studying for finals. We will have some truly great days at GSU COL! Though, and this is not to scare you, 1L Self, we will also have some less than great days. All days are better with friends. True story.

Are we doing okay? Breathe! Law school is not a sprint. Fast forward, and it is 3LP year. We still don’t know what we don’t know. We still don’t always have the right answer. Some days are still less than great, but we learned to embrace the journey and get outside of our comfort zone. We built a network of friends, classmates, mentors, and faculty to turn to when we stumble. It may take a minute to find our footing, but take a breath and know that we will hit our stride. Trust me.

Still breathing,

3LP Meri