Month: March 2021

Let’s face it… law school is HARD.

As I began applying to law schools, I was continually reminded by peers, attorneys, and others that law school was hard. Unfortunately, you don’t have the opportunity to grasp the true nature and difficulty of law school until you are drowning in reading assignments your first semester. When I reached this particular point, I asked myself, “Why didn’t anyone tell me how to manage the stress, intensity and overwhelming nature of this education? If they knew it was coming, as they warned, why didn’t they offer any advice or guidance?”

Honestly, I still don’t have an answer to those questions. Maybe those individuals felt as if I would figure it out on my own. Luckily for me, I did. For anyone reading this, I intend to provide the highlights of the tips and tricks I have gathered throughout my years at Widener. These tips helped me make the “bear” that is law school a little more manageable.

Remember to always take time for yourself and your well-being. For me, that meant going to the gym once a day and heading home on weekends to spend time with my family. Maintaining your mental and physical health is as important as completing your school work. You will not be able to adequately perform or provide level headed advice for your future clients if you don’t take care of yourself first.

When you stop being productive, PUT THE BOOK DOWN. You will reach a point where you find yourself re-reading the same sentence over and over without being able to grasp an understanding. This is a sign that you need a break. When you return, that paragraph or concept that seemed incomprehensible will no longer pose the same problem. Sometimes all you need is to step away from the assignment to get a clearer picture.

As hard as this may be, DO NOT compare yourself to others. Everyone learns differently. It is very easy to compare yourself to other students, but that is a waste of precious time and energy. Focus on yourself.

Don’t forget your “why?” When you are feeling defeated by the weight and pressures of law school, remember why you chose this path and the future goals and aspirations you have been working toward thus far. The satisfaction is worth it. When you put in the time and the work, you WILL succeed.

Yes, law school is hard, but it is not impossible. Remember these tips and create new ones as you begin your own journey. I wish you all the best of luck. Cheers!

Inside Scoop: Widener Commonwealth Civil Law Clinic

Practical experience is essential to bridge the gap from law student to practicing attorney. Participating in a law clinic provides students with the tools to bridge that gap.

Central Pennsylvania Law Clinics is a civil law clinic affiliated with Widener Commonwealth. The clinic provides legal assistance to elderly and indigent clients regarding various civil matters though certified student interns. Students who have completed three semesters of law school may enroll in the law clinic as Certified Legal Interns. Certified Legal Interns are permitted to represent clients in state and federal courts while under the supervision of licensed attorneys. Students are involved in all stages of the representation, from conducting the client interviews to appearing in court. 

Before beginning at the clinic, I previously interned with a Federal Magistrate Judge and a personal injury firm. I planned to intern with a clinic for a semester, as a way to further differentiate my practical experience. However, I valued my time at the clinic so much, I returned for a second semester as Lead Certified Intern and a third semester as a volunteer. 

While at the clinic, I have worked on numerous cases involving various areas of law. Some of which include: contract disputes; guardianships; custody; estate planning; bankruptcy; landlord tenant; divorce; and unemployment compensation. Although COVID-19 has generally hindered our ability to develop professional relationships and interpersonal skills, the clinic has remained opened and allowed for a point of access to these intangibles.[1]

The clinic has been rewarding far beyond my professional growth. My time with the clinic has allowed me to use my education to give back to the local community. 

I am thankful for my time with Central Pennsylvania Law Clinics and the great relationships I have built with clients and staff. My one piece of advice is that if you have the opportunity to participate in a pro-bono clinic take advantage of that opportunity, give back and develop your skills! Your community, career, and future self will thank you. 

[1] While abiding by social distancing guidelines and restrictions provided by the CDC. 

Competing over Zoom: it’s not moot.

For law students across the country that choose to join Moot Court or Trial Team, spring semester is competition season. As I write this post, I await the start of the preliminary round for my Moot Court competition, which begins in…. t-minus two hours. In a normal world, I would be in Washington D.C., waiting with my team in a federal courthouse to argue our little hearts out before a judicial panel. That’s typically one of the cool perks about doing these competitions, you get to travel to a cool city, argue, and test out your new baby lawyer skills.

But it’s not a normal world, so instead of Washington D.C., I’m once again face to face with my constant companion: my laptop. My moot court competition is over Zoom, and my trial team competition that finished in mid-February was completed virtually as well. I can’t help but reflect on the fact that almost a year ago today, I was preparing for this exact same moot court competition when the world came to a screeching halt. My neatly color-coded planner that organized my entire life of class, trial team, and moot court practice was rendered, well, moot. We worked so hard for months only to never see that hard work pay off, so I’ll admit it’s hard not to feel the familiar feeling of frustration bubbling up as I prepare to argue my case to a computer screen and not in a federal courtroom. The initial reaction is to feel like everything you accomplished had no purpose, no pay off, and was merely a moot point.

But the legal research I had to conduct to write my brief wasn’t moot. The time management skills I had to sharpen to manage both competitions and class weren’t moot. Gaining a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the Rules of Evidence for trial team wasn’t moot. Improving my ability to think on my feet while simultaneously navigating the technical elements over Zoom wasn’t moot. Understanding how to best conduct oneself professionally during a virtual hearing wasn’t moot. Learning the location of the mute button on Zoom was DEFINITELY not moot.

Competing against other law students is daunting, but it also gave me skills I never would have acquired in class. While the last year was nothing like I ever could have expected and certainly nothing that any of us ever wanted, it was instrumental in my growth as a student and an advocate. When you get to law school, seriously consider joining Moot Court or Trial Team to sharpen skills you don’t yet know you have. Everything you do in law school becomes a part of who you are and the advocate you’ll become, so regardless of whether you advocate in person or over Zoom, you can rest assured it won’t be moot.