Via Instapundit comes another great round-up of advice for incoming 1Ls. There’s some good stuff there. I also recommend Patrick J. Schlitz, On Being a Happy, Healthy, and. Ethical Member of an Unhappy, Unhealthy, and. Unethical Profession, 52 Vand. L. Rev. 871 (1999) — not only because he’s a former member of the St. Thomas faculty (now a federal judge), but because it is an excellent piece on how to avoid burnout. Then again, we’ll see by May how well that advice holds up…
Meanwhile, I did find some success in getting a backpack for law school. I ended up with the SwissGear Synergy laptop backpack — the construction on it seems quite substantial, and the only downside to it is that it doesn’t have wheels. However, it does manage to fit in two casebooks plus my citation manual, plus my pocket copy of Blacks, with a good amount of room to spare. It’s a bit on the expensive side, but the fact that it appears to be less likely to fall apart before the end of the year is a nice benefit. It seems to strike the right balance between holding everything I need and being too unwieldy to take through the skyway system.
Of course, being a Mac
fanatic user, I had to get a nice shiny new MacBook. My trusty iBook G4 still works fine, but being able to have more screen real estate is important, especially when I can have one side of the screen for my reference materials, and another for my outline. The MacBook is a bit larger than the 12″ iBook, but it seems lighter and is quite a bit thinner. It has everything I liked about my iBook and adds quite a bit in terms of processor power and features. I would highly recommend getting 1GB of RAM however, as that makes a huge difference in performance, and is crucial if you intended to run Windows through Parallels.
Not only that, the new Intel Macs come with the absolutely excellent OmniOutliner. My study techniques have always involved writing hierarchal lists, which is what OmniOutliner does very well. My plan is to use it with a three column setup – one column with my outline, one column for associated cases, and another for questions I might want to bring up later. I’ll be curious to see whether or not this setup works well in class.
Of course, I’m not the only one who is a Mac-using law student — fortunately the exam software St. Thomas uses (Securexam) appears to work on Macs, so long as Microsoft Office is installed. I’m not sure if that works with Intel Macs, which use Rosetta to translate the PowerPC code of Office into Intel-compatible code, but if worse comes to worse I can install Windows and Office through Boot Camp, which should be acceptable. More and more are allowing Macs to use exam software, either through native clients or through Boot Camp on the newer Intel Macs, but not all do. As always, if you’re not sure what your law school requires, it’s a very good idea to ask.
One of the benefits of having been a blogger for the past five years is being able to read large amounts of material and analyze it critically — there’s a reason why top-notch bloggers happen to be in the legal profession. Writing, like anything else, is a skill that gets better with practice. I’m hoping that five years of blogging will be a help in having the analytical skills necessary to make it in the legal field — but we’ll see how well they apply.
I’ll try and provide more observations and notes as I go along…