Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Learning Your Learning Style

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Many 1Ls have been in classes for about two weeks now.  If you are one of them, have you figured out your learning style yet?  Do you have your studying method pinpointed?  It is important to know how you learn because there is only one law exam per course which will likely determine your entire grade in that course.  You do not have the opportunity to use trial-and-error and gauge which method is the best for you.  Now is the time to figure out your learning style, and implement the best study strategies for you.

Auditory learners process information by listening.  If you are this type of learner, you will tend to focus in class by listening during lectures, and by talking things out with a study group (or even to yourself). If you choose to form a study group, it should be done at the beginning of the semester rather than later.  If you are auditory, you must accept that much of the law is written, including exams.  You will need to bridge this gap, but how you do so is up to you.  Among the tools are audio books, which you can listen to while working, driving, jogging, you name it.  Don’t fight the non-auditory nature of some aspects of law school.  Instead, use your skills and talents to excel in all areas.

Another learning style is visual.  These learners learn best through reading, outlining, and drawing pictures, graphs, diagrams, whatever.  If you are this type of learner, you might be better off working alone rather than joining a study group.  In fact, study groups may frustrate a visual learner because the visual learner cannot see what is being described or discussed in the group.  You will want to create, reorganize, and update your outline, and then create graphs that are helpful to getting the black letter law down, and then focus on practice exams.

The third type of learner is the kinesthetic learner (or hands-on learner).  This type of learner excels when performing the task.  Regrettably, there is little hands-on activity during law school.  Therefore, this type of learner must figure out creative ways to understand the material. Flashcards and fun games might work, and it’s not a bad idea to get your hands active by actually creating some physical representation of property law, tort law, and so on.  A study group can be beneficial because hypotheticals can be discussed—or find the right group and act them out!

Plan a realistic schedule, and stick to it. It is easy to let exam preparation fall to the wayside until the end of the semester, because you already have so much to read.  Many, many students begin outlining and creating flashcards and organizing at the end of the semester. Absolutely not!  If you do this, it won’t matter that you “finish” in time for the exam and have a marvelously compiled study aid.  It won’t matter whether or not you memorize it. That’s not what law exams are about.  You should complete your organization well before it is time to study for exams.  So start now, and you’ll be off to a great start!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Scholarship Opportunities for Law Students

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Most law students rely on student loans to finance their education.  Nonetheless, acquiring scholarships should be a priority when applying for or during law school in order to decrease this financial dependence. 

Most applicants are aware of scholarships given during the admission process based on merit, financial need, and diversity.  Some of these scholarships require a separate application (if so, make sure you’re aware of submission deadlines and all of the requirements) and others are decided by the admission committee.  These scholarships may last throughout the entirety of the student’s education, but most need to be renewed and have requirements to maintain a certain rank or GPA each semester or year.  There are many students who have difficulty meeting these high standards and unfortunately lose their scholarships.  Now, students have more opportunities to find financial assistance outside of loans and without stringent contingencies. 

There are scholarships available to help stimulate different practice areas in demand.  To students who want to practice law in the public sector, schools and the government are aware that you are less likely to go into the public sector because the salaries no longer sustain the cost-of-living and loan repayments.  Therefore, some schools offer scholarships to students who demonstrate an interest in the public sector for a career.  Additionally, the government may forgive your federal loans after practicing in certain public sector jobs after ten years.

Another growing trend is the availability of scholarships in specific areas of the law.  For instance, New Jersey offered a limited amount of criminal law scholarships for those students seeking a career as a prosecuting attorney.  In Washington, the McKinley Irvin law firm offered three scholarship opportunities to those interested in practicing family law.  Be sure to research and apply for practice-specific scholarships in which you take interest.  Not only are you decreasing your future loan debt by borrowing less, but you are entering a practice area in demand, meaning you’re more likely to obtain a job during a time when this is difficult to do.

Where you are willing to practice also can open doors to scholarships.  In Ohio, there is a scholarship offered for those with a preference to practice in a rural location within Ohio.  And, in South Dakota, the demand for rural lawyers is so much so that the state recently passed a law to offer lawyers a subsidy to live and work in rural areas.  This makes practicing in a rural area a trifecta – scholarships (less loans), subsidies (more income), and a guaranteed job (income, income, income!)!  Plus, you can make your dollar stretch much farther in a rural area.

Check with your local and state bar associations and local law firms (or where you are applying/attending law school or both) for these hidden gem scholarships.  Do your research, meet the deadlines and then you can snap the shackles and free yourself from the heavy burdens of student loans!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

5 Free Smartphone Apps for Law Students

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     There’s an app for everything to help us get through each day.  Whether it’s Words with Friends, Instagram, Viggle or Fart Machine – if it’s been thought of, then it’s out there.  There are plenty of apps available for the pre-law and law student, even for new grads studying for the bar.  Below are 5 FREE apps that I recommend. Dictionary Law Guide:  Created by, this app defines every word from A Fortiori to Zoning and provides a quick reference to words you may get stuck on while reading cases. Not only is this app free, but you eliminate the need to purchase Black’s Dictionary or lug that heavy thing around if you download this app.  This app has a 4.5 star rating.

LSAT Proctor Anywhere:  Created by Kaplan, this app for pre-law students provides timers, instructions, and even test room sound effects (i.e. coughing, pencil scribbles, sneezing, and flipping pages) to help perfectly simulate the test center.  Use this while taking practice exams, and you’ll be in great shape come test day!  This app has a 4 star rating.

Law in a Flash:  Created by Aspen Publishers, this app is an electronic version of the popular flash card series, Law in a Flash.  While the app only will give you a sample of flash cards in each section (with some subjects having more samples than others), it’s a quick pop quiz when you don’t have much time.  There are several versions of this app (I looked at the 1L, 2L+3L, and law electives versions).  These apps are averaging around 3 stars.
Case Briefs: Created by The Factory Interactive, this app is a handy supplement to your textbook reading and studying.  The app offers student briefs, course outlines, and exam prep materials and, for the pre-law student, a comprehensive LSAT course and a Pre-law prep course.  The app also provides a list of food and night life deals in your area – Barrister on a Budget Bonus!  This app has a 4.5 star rating.

Critical Pass MBE Flashcards:  Created by Critical Pass, LLC, this app provides 10 free questions in each MBE subject for a total of 60 cards.  Whether you’re preparing for the bar or 1L exams, this app is a quick way to test your understanding during busy times.  You purchase the advanced app and have access to 300 flashcards.  This app has a 4 star rating. 

Barrister on a Budget Bonus!  

Pocket Expense Personal Finance – Account Tracker:  Created by Blue Tags, this app will help you keep on track with your budgeting plan.  You can monitor your accounts, keep a tab on bill amounts and due dates, and create a budget to monitor your spending.  Now there is no excuse for financial disorganization!  This app has a 4.5 star rating.

Now, back to Angry Birds…