Holiday Cards For Jacob


card sign

Jacob Thompson is a 9 year old boy from Maine.  Three years ago, Jacob was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that has now moved to his head and hip.   As of late October, Jacob’s doctors gave him a month to live.

In response to a GoFundMe page for Jacob’s funeral expenses, people began sending Jacob and his family holiday cards.  Jacob was delighted by the cards, especially those containing penguins – his favorite animal. On a CNN News story, Jacob said that he wants people to celebrate the holidays with him by sending him cards.  Because of Jacob’s request, a  national grassroots holiday card campaign has begun.  On November 2, even TV personality Jake Tapper got into the effort by tweeting the address where people could send cards.


Georgia State College of Law student Honey Shaw approached the library to ask if she could set up a card making station. The library obviously agreed, and cards are flying out the door! The card station will be up until the end of this week. Many thanks to Honey Shaw and the SBA for their support of this wonderful idea.


Get rid of the distractions and make the most of your study time

Sign that says Social Distraction

by Daniel Lobo

As we get closer to exams you may be wondering how to make the most of your study time. One of the biggest distractions can be the constant barrage of new text messages, emails, and social media posts. Studies have shown that every time you check email or look at social media you lose 23 minutes. However, there are some things you can do to create a distraction free study space.

  1. Turn off the notifications on your phone, tablet, laptop, etc. You can control when you take a break from studying instead of being at the mercy of notifications.
  2. Install an anti-distraction app. See some suggestions below.
  3. If your phone is the problem, set it on airplane mode while you are studying

Anti-distraction apps:

Freedom – Mac, iOS, Windows – You can use Freedom on your devices, computer, iPhone, and iPad. An Android subscription to (OFFTIME) Pro (see below) is included with purchase. Freedom allows you to block specific websites and apps or the entire internet. You can schedule specific times for the blocking to start and even put your device in locked mode. However, Freedom is not free. (See what I did there?) You can get unlimited access on a month by month basis for $6.99/month. If you commit to a year, it is $29/year.

(OFFTIME) – Android and iOS ((OFFTIME) Light) phones – (OFFTIME) allows you to block apps, calls, text, and notifications. The Android version allows you to select people who can still get through. The app has some other interesting features such as analytics of your phone usage and the ability to invite others to a shared (OFFTIME). The less robust (OFFTIME) Light is $2.99 for iOS devices. The Android pricing is somewhat unclear. It appears that you can download the app for free and upgrade to (OFFTIME) Pro for a suggested payment of 3 Euro.

SelfControl – OS X – SelfControl allows you to block email and websites for a period of time that you choose. Caution: Once it is started you can not turn it off until the timer runs out. It is Free Software under the GNU General Public License (GPL). If you know how to code, you can make changes to the sourcecode posted on Github.

Focus Lock – Android – Lock out selected apps for a set period of time. The default setting is for 25 minutes of work and a 5 minute break. Free.

Focus – Mac – Block websites and apps for a set period of time. Focus also allows you to schedule blocked times. A license for one Mac is $19.99.

Looking for other options? Try search anti-distraction apps to find what works best for you.

Now, stop being distracted and get back to studying. Good luck on exams!

Criminal Background Checks: Georgia Law

by Zain Haq

Georgia’s New (ish) Expungement Laws

Compared to other states in the country, Georgia has some of the strictest laws regarding expungement of criminal records. Arrests resulting in convictions can only be taken off your criminal record in very limited circumstances. This makes it extremely difficult for people who have committed even minor crimes to gain access to housing, employment, and education. That being said, Georgia has taken some big steps toward ensuring that those with criminal records have some recourse. This article will give you a brief overview of what can and cannot be taken off a criminal record. Moral of the story is this: Do your best to keep your record clean, because Georgia law is not very forgiving!


Record Restriction (aka Expungement)

Georgia’s new law, effective July 1, 2013, does not use the word “expungement.” Instead, the process is now referred to as “record restriction.” Restriction does not mean that your records are deleted or destroyed, but rather that criminal history information maintained by the GCIC is unavailable for all purposes except law enforcement and criminal justice. The GCIC (Georgia Crime Information Center) is Georgia’s state entity that manages and disseminates criminal record information. Record restriction ONLY impacts those records maintained by the GCIC, and does not affect records maintained by the Clerk of Court (this process is referred to as sealing, which is discussed later in this article).

Georgia’s record restriction statute is O.C.G.A. 35-3-37(h).  Automatic restriction usually only occurs if your arrest is not prosecuted. Generally, cases closed with no conviction qualify for restriction (including charges that are nolle prossed, dead docketed, and verdicts of not guilty).

It is important to note that while Georgia’s new restriction laws are a big step in the right direction, convictions still are not eligible for restriction (unless you are sentenced as a youthful offender or first offender, which is discussed below). This includes pleas of nolo contendere (no contest).

Restricting your record is only half the battle. Employers, housing authorities, and other interested parties do not usually go to the GCIC for criminal record information. Rather, they will go directly to the Clerk of Court to obtain court records. These records can only be disposed of by petitioning the court to “seal” the record.

Record Sealing

In order to seal your records and ensure that the Clerk of Court no longer disseminates information about your case, your records must first qualify for record restriction. O.C.G.A. 35-3-37(m) governs record sealing, and states that the petitioner must show the court that the harm suffered by the clerk’s record remaining public (denial of jobs, housing, licensing, etc.) outweighs the interest in the record being publicly available. Sealing your record is crucial to ensuring that arrests not resulting in a conviction are inaccessible by members of the public and other interested parties.

First Offenders

As previously stated, arrests resulting in convictions generally cannot be taken off your record. One exception to this is Georgia’s First Offender statute, 42-8-60 (also known as Georgia’s “second chance” law). If you are sentenced as a first offender and successfully complete your sentence, your record will not show a conviction, and your case will be sealed by an Order of Discharge. The intent of this law is to give first time offenders a second chance and allow them to move on with their lives without suffering the collateral consequences of a conviction.

To qualify as a first offender, you must have never been convicted of a felony in the past, and never have been sentenced as a first offender. Moreover, certain convictions preclude you from being sentenced as a first offender (DUI’s, serious violent felonies, sexual offenses, and child pornography charges). Receiving a First Offender sentence is not automatic. You or your attorney must ask the judge to be sentenced under the First Offender Act.

The sealing of your record pursuant to a first offender sentence is conditioned on your complying with the terms of your sentence. If you violate any of the terms of your sentence, or commit another crime, the judge can revoke your first offender status and convict you of the crime you were arrested for.

Youthful Offenders

The Youthful Offender law (O.C.G.A. 35-3-37) is another exception to Georgia’s rule against restriction of arrests that result in convictions. Certain misdemeanor convictions that occurred before you turned twenty-one years old qualify for restriction. To qualify as a youthful offender, you must successfully complete your sentence and you cannot have been charged with any other offense. There are a number of exceptions to the Youthful Offender law, mostly for serious traffic offenses and sex crimes.


Lastly, pardons provide a method for those convicted of a felony to minimize the collateral consequences they face as a result of their conviction.  While a pardon does not take a conviction off of your record, it is an order of official forgiveness from the State, and may help in receiving employment, housing, licensing, etc. Pardons are granted by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. In Georgia, less than 40% of pardon applications are approved.

To sum it all up…

Georgia has made some big changes to help those who arrested receive a second shot without suffering the severe consequences that come with having a criminal record. Unfortunately, those with convictions on their record are still facing an uphill battle when it comes to finding jobs, housing, licensing, and educational opportunities. While a good amount of progress has been made, there is still a long way to go.


Note:  This post is an update to 2012’s post on the same subject

Library Puzzles

In case you missed the puzzles being assembled at the library circulation desk: the Harley-Davidson is complete, the Harry Potter is under way, and the Pollock has been moved out of sight (due to deflating puzzle morale).



Outlining 101

Worried about outlines? What are they? Should you write your own or use someone else’s? When should you start putting one together? The whole thing can seem overwhelming, but with just a few tips, you’ll be an outlining pro.

Although you may have outlined during your undergrad career, law school exams are much different than any other exam you’ve ever taken, so you need to adapt your outlines likewise. Throughout the semester, you learn the black letter law and concepts through case analysis. However, your exam will not be a resuscitation of this. Instead, most of your exams will include a fact pattern in which you will need to apply the legal principles you have learned to identify and analyze the situation in order to reach a legal conclusion.

Outlines are nothing more than a condensed, organized version of your notes. A good outline will include only those critical topics you will be tested on and should include relevant case law and statutes. You should not include every single word you wrote down, but should instead be a synthesized version of your notes, briefs, reading, and secondary sources in one document.

It is important to start outlining at the right time. If you start the first week of classes, it’s too soon. You don’t have a good enough grasp on the material to know what’s important and the substantive law. But if you’re thinking about waiting until the week before exams, you’ll find yourself struggling to remember the nuances from the first half of the course. The ideal time to start is after finishing a significant topic in the course. Try taking a look at your syllabus – professors often break the semester down into large subsections that they cover over a few weeks. Use this is a guide to setup your own outline.

What should a good outline look like? Well, it should be easy to read. Although that means different things to different people, the better ones usually have clearly defined sections, use bold or italics to emphasize definitions, caselaw, or statutes. Underlining and different font sizes and colors help draw the eye to specific topics. Make sure to include broad categories and then start to narrowly define them using various source elements.

business, learning, meetingNow to the great debate – should you create your own outline or use an existing one? To be honest, there are pros and cons to both methods. Creating your own will far and away provide you the best review of the course material. You will be forced to critically think about each topic in a logical and efficient manner, which is exactly what you want your mindset to be during an exam. However, the creation process can be time consuming and cumbersome, so many students find themselves resorting to using someone else’s outline from previous years. Upperclassman often share their outlines with 1Ls and many student organizations maintain outline banks. Although I would discourage relying 100% on an existing outline, if you have decided you just don’t want to do it yourself, take an existing outline and adapt it to what you’ve learned. Course material often changes from year to year, so a course outline from last year may not include all the same cases or material as this year. Ensure that you go through the outline line-by-line to make sure everything included is relevant. Also, don’t be afraid to add to it! Use your own sources to make it better or reorganize it in a way that makes more sense to you.

Lastly, make sure to constantly review your outline for missing elements and accuracy. Talk with other students in your study group or schedule some time with your professor to go over topics. This will provide an opportunity to not only review the material, but also to find gaps, misinformation, or just add clarity to your outline.


Let’s Get Clinical – experiential learning is an ABA requirement

By Colleen Hampton

It is that time of year, folks: time to consider experiential learning opportunities. The deadline for Spring 2018 Clinic and Externship opportunities is September 27th.  And if you started school in 2016 you are required to obtain at least six (6) credit hours of experiential learning (see ABA rule 303 a Curriculum, March 2015). Your required, 3 credit hour, Lawyering:  Advocacy class will get you part of the way there – but you must do more. Besides, who among us doesn’t want to get a taste of how the practice of law works in the real world?


Luckily GSU COL offers externships, clinics, and other courses designed to help you gain practical, real-world experience while satisfying ABA requirements. Here’s what you need to know about these opportunities:


What’s the difference between an Internship, Externship, and a Clinic?

Whether you are interested in an Internship, Externship, or Clinic one thing is for certain: you will gain valuable experience regardless of the avenue you choose. However, there are some important distinctions to consider when evaluating your experiential learning choices.

Internships – Internships are a fantastic way to gain skills and build your network. You are generally hired by a firm or agency, typically without pay (unless you are one of the lucky few to land a coveted, paid internship). Internship hours can vary from position to position and terms of your service can sometimes be negotiated to fit your schedule. Sounds great, right? Keep in mind internships are not for-credit, meaning you don’t pay tuition for the internship or get credit hours needed to satisfy the ABA requirement. In other words, internships are valuable in their own right and should be pursued, but an internship will not satisfy your experiential learning requirement.

Externships – An externship is a class that gives you the opportunity to learn from non-profit and government lawyers and judges. Because an externship is a class, you earn credit for your outside, hands-on learning experience and the class credit can help you satisfy the ABA experiential learning requirement. You will pay tuition for your externship (usually a three (3) credit hour course, graded pass/fail) and, if it’s your first externship, you have a one (1) credit graded classroom component in addition to your work hours. Speaking of work hours, externships require a minimum hour commitment spent working (generally ten (10) hours a week during the Fall and Spring semesters or twenty (20) hours a week during the summer semester). Externship site supervisors are required to give you feedback on your performance during your semester which enables you to learn and grow. Externships are a meaningful way to satisfy your experiential learning requirement.

Clinics – Clinics provide students the opportunity to work with and represent real clients, and to directly experience what it feels like to work as a lawyer while building their skills and professional identity.  Students have primary responsibility for the cases they handle in clinic, and work under the close supervision of their professor, who is both a clinical educator and a licensed attorney.  Enrolling in a clinic requires attendance in the clinic seminar, case rounds, and hours working on cases inside the clinic office.  GSU COL offers both in-house and off-site clinics to provide students with a variety of opportunities to grow their skill set. Clinics, like externships, are a fantastic way for students to satisfy their experiential learning requirement.


What is the difference between in-house clinics and other clinics offered at GSU COL?

GSU College of Law offers three in-house clinics: Health Law Partnership (HeLP) Legal Services Clinic, Investor Advocacy Clinic, and the Philip C. Cook Low Income Taxpayer Clinic. These clinics conduct business on campus and are supervised by professors of the College of Law. Additionally, the in-house clinics are graded where the off-site clinics are pass/fail.

Off-site clinic courses require a yearlong commitment (fall and spring).  Students attend a clinic seminar taught by an adjunct professor and perform their work at the external office location. Off-site clinics include Capital Defender Clinic, Landlord-Tenant Mediation Clinic, and Olmstead Disability Rights Clinic.


I’m a 1L, can I enroll in a Clinic or Externship?

Most experiential opportunities provided through GSU COL are only available to students who have completed their entire first year’s course work and have a 2.3 GPA. If you are a part-time student that means you must have completed your first two years of course work in order to be eligible. However, each experiential opportunity will have their own pre-requisites that must be satisfied in order to participate.


Where can I learn more about Clinics and Externships?

General Clinic website

HeLP Clinic

Investor Advocacy Clinic

Tax Clinic

Capital Defender Clinic

Landlord-tenant Clinic

Olmstead Disability Clinic

General Externship website 

Externship FAQ’s

Externship opportunities (sites)


What other courses satisfy the experiential course requirement?

All courses that satisfy the experiential requirement are designated as “E” courses in the schedule and the college of law bulletin.  “E” courses include clinics, externships, simulation courses, and others.  You can also find a listing of E courses here.


What are the deadlines for application to clinics and externships?

Applications for SPRING semester clinics and externships are due at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, September 27.

MPRE Sign Up

Thinking of taking the MPRE? Don’t wait, the deadline is soon approaching to sign up for the November exam! Don’t forget, the MPRE is required for admittance to the Georgia Bar.


The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a two hour exam administered by ACT, Inc., on behalf of the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE).  The examination is administered three times per year – in March, August, and November – and consists of 50 unscored and 10 scored multiple choice questions.  The purpose of the MPRE is to measure the applicant’s knowledge and understanding of established standards related to a lawyer’s professional conduct.

Image result for mpre


Not sure if you are prepared? Check out these sample questions to get a feel for what the test is like, and then head over to the Law Library to check out some study aids!


The Georgia Board of Bar Examiners requires all applicants to take and pass the MPRE with a scaled score of 75 or higher, prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Eligibility for Admission to the Practice of Law.


The next exam will take place on Saturday, November 4, 2017. If you register before September 14, 2017, the registration fee is $95. However, if you miss this deadline, you can still register up to September 21, 2017, but will have to pay a late registration fee of $190.

Test Dates and Online Registration


For MPRE Registration Information, go to


MPRE scores a usually released within five weeks of the examination date and posted to your NBCE account. They remain available only under the next test administration, so make sure to access and save them as soon as they are posted.