Archive | August, 2011

Random Thoughts

27 Aug
  • I need a hair cut.  Really badly.  But I don’t want to spend the money that I normally would for a cut (trying to be good with this budget thing and all) and I don’t know where else to look.
  • Mornings are always better with coffee.  I’ve spent too much money on coffee this week.  That is not helping my budget.  (This is partially a peer pressure thing.  Everyone is always heading out for coffee!)
  • It’s starting to get cool at night and in the early part of the morning.  While I am still loving on shorts and summer clothes, I have a serious itch to go shopping for a few things for the transition.
  • After the rude awakening a few weeks ago, I think I have managed to drop a few pounds.  While I haven’t scheduled in much time for exercise during the week, I have been eating better and avoiding soda and sugary drinks.  I have also been snaking pretty healthy while at school.  While I am still looking for a good gym in my area, I am glad that I am taking care of my diet too.  I feel better and like that I am seeing changes in the way that I look.
  • For the past few weeks, I have been feeling just generally disorganized.  I have a goal of meal planning for the week, stocking up on some pantry basics, and putting together a recipe book while not studying this weekend.
  • Law students are school supply snobs.  But that’s okay- these are my kind of people.
  • I should really get back to studying!

Law school: “dress code”

25 Aug

One of my biggest questions about my first few days of school centered around what exactly to wear.  I was confident that both shorts and suits were out, but not sure where to fall in between the two.

If you’re wondering the same thing, I suggest to play it safe by dressing ‘smart’.  No need to stick strictly to business casual, but something close to it is probably best.  Here were the basic outfits for each gender:

  • For women, the average well-dressed person was wearing either a skirt/dress or capris, sandals (NOT flip flops) or flats, and a short-sleeved blouse-y type shirt or sweater.
  • For men, khakis, dark-colored chinos, (and rarely) dressy denim pants, belts, loafers or dress shoes, and collared shirts.
One additional thought – this is your first day of school, not a night out on the town.  Make sure that your clothing fits you well and is not too baggy or revealing.  Frankly, rather than being under-dressed (although there were a few jeans-and-sneakers outfits) the majority of the ‘code-breakers’ were wearing outfits more appropriate for the bars than for the classroom.
Again, law school is not college.  And although (I’m told) that most students start wearing more comfortable clothing (think jeans and t-shirts) after a few weeks of school, most students tend to dress up a bit more in the beginning.

Saving money in law school

23 Aug

One common topic of conversation amongst first-year law students is the amount of money that law school actually costs.  Regardless of whether a student is on a scholarship, he/she is probably still financing a portion of their legal education.  Ask anyone who has completed law school and is working to pay back loans- it is an excellent idea to try to minimize costs wherever possible.

The most often touted example of ways to reduce costs is to ‘get a roommate’.  Well, maybe that won’t just work for you.  If you are coming straight from college, perhaps you are ready to live on your own and all alone for the first time.  If you are coming into law school with a few years in the workforce, perhaps you have gotten quite used to living alone, and shaking up with a roommate would be quite the change of pace for you.

Well, at least for the first year (or semester) of law school, it’s probably not a great idea to rock the boat, if you will.  Living with a roommate can be difficult.  There are many more simple ways to save significant (though smaller) amounts of money during your law school years.

You could try any or all of the following smaller adjustments instead:

  • Pack a lunch most days you’re at school.  There is a good chance your cafeteria will be smaller and more expensive than you are expecting.  Save yourself $6 or so each day by bringing a lunch from home.  Also, it’s certainly quicker to grab lunch from your locker (yes, law schools generally have lockers) or the fridge  than to wait in line in the cafeteria or head off campus for lunch.
  • Reduce your transportation costs.  If you must drive, carpool.  Public transit is cheaper than driving and paying for parking in most major cities.  Biking is less expensive than either of those options.  And walking is obviously free, plus getting some exercise and a chance to clear your head on the way into school is a great way to start the day.
  • Have a no-spend weekend every so often.  Plan these in advance around the free things in your area.
  • Go out for dinner or drinks.  Not both.  If you’re both hungry and thirsty, take advantage of happy hour specials.
  • Meal planning can significantly trim your grocery budget.
  • Bring coffee or tea from home.
  • Remember that you’re now a student.  Ask for student rates everywhere- on public transit, at the movies, at the gym…etc.
  • Pay off your credit cards before starting law school -and pay them off in full each month while in school.

Law School Orientation

20 Aug

Regardless of whether or not you attended your undergraduate orientation, regardless of whether your law school orientation is 5 hours or 5 days, Go To Orientation.  You will not be sorry.  You might be intimidated, overwhelmed, or even disinterested during parts of the program- but frankly, why would you not attend?

This is the beginning of your law school career, folks.  That’s the first thing that you’re told in Orientation.  Though you are not licensed, many people will begin to think of you as a lawyer.  (And even those in the field will expect you to be held to the same standards as lawyers.)

Even if the first day of orientation bores you or scares you to death (it did for me) go back for the second day.  I promise you that it will get better.  And if it does not get better, it will at least give you a better sense as to whether or not this is the right path for you or the right time for you to be in law school.  There is no shame in saying ‘not now’ or ‘not ever’ to law school, if that’s truly what you are feeling.  But please, don’t try to make that decision on your own.  At the very least you should sit down and discuss it with the friendliest or most approachable Dean you are introduced to during your Orientation.

Law school is a serious investment of your time and your money.  Attending Orientation and learning all about what your next three or four years will be like is an obvious advantage to you in school.  Why would you even bother skipping something and giving yourself an obvious disadvantage right from the get-go?  In undergraduate school, Orientation may have been all about get-to-know-your-classmates games (oh, the joys) and drinking to oblivion each night.  Law school Orientations (when done well) are meant to help bridge you into your law school careers, and have a bit of meeting and mingling and (responsible) drinking as well.

So, in summary – grow up and go to Orientation.  You’ll be glad that you did.

Checkin in

19 Aug

Sorry for the radio silence over the past several days.  I have been crazy-busy with starting school and haven’t had much time for anything else.

That said, things have started to come together and have been putting a few posts together with my initial thoughts on school.  Expect those this weekend – and then hopefully a more regular posting schedule pretty soon.

Ego blow

14 Aug

So I went to the gym today and got a fitness review.

Ouch.

I mean, I knew that I had put on a few pounds since college, and that my diet has been pretty poor as of late (too much fast food and too many sweets!), but it was the first time that I have ever actually been weighed in as ‘overweight’. Quite the blow to my ego, let me tell you. And of course, after that awesome news, I met up with my family for a night of pizza and beer. I partook in the evening’s indulgences, hoping that I was eating just a little bit less than usual. (Enough to make a difference, but not so much that my family would notice something was ‘off’ with me.)

I made a commitment right there (and now I am making it here) to take good care of myself while in school. I will have more control over my diet- tonight was the exception- and I will make time for exercise, at least a few nights per week. Maybe I will even try out that thing called ‘yoga’ that I have been wondering about for so long.

Yes, doing well in law school is very important for my future self. But taking care of this body is even more important for future me.

I already have homework?

12 Aug

So, first lesson of law school- you can have homework before you even begin!  I have spent several hours over the past few days sitting in coffee houses and getting through my required pre-Orientation reading.

I fear this is the beginning of the end for my summer tan.  And for my perfect eyesight.

Also on my list of tasks to complete before school begins: setting up my homework station, buying school supplies, and getting the most updated software for my computer.

I decided against buying a brand new computer for school, seeing as I purchased my current laptop in the spring of 2010.  I am hoping that we make it through all three years together, but in case we don’t, I have started stashing away small bits of cash for a replacement.  Another law school lesson here- make a budget and stick to it.  This is an expensive journey.