Diary of a 2L

by Sarah Ricciardi

We whined and moaned about the cold weather all winter. Every time it snowed, there was an exaggerated, unified groan from all of New England. And as law students, we’re already a pretty cranky bunch of wankers. We were mad when class wasn’t cancelled. And we were mad when it was.

Now that the weather has finally decided to behave itself (*fingers crossed), we are pissed about that too. With finals looming over our heads, our time is spent crunched over casebooks in the basement of the library. I find myself gazing out the window and cursing Mother Nature for being such a selfish &*@$%. I can count the number of hours of daylight that I have free from indoor obligations on one hand, and I usually spend those hours complaining about my lack of free time rather than enjoying the sun while I can.

The UConn Law Facebook page recently posted a picture of campus with the caption “It is a beautiful day for studying outside!” I thought to myself, “That’s such a lie!” Who can honestly say they can study outside when it’s gorgeous out? Sure I can spread out a blanket on the lawn, open my Land Use text, and uncap a highlighter, but is that really studying? I’m almost positive my focus will not remain on Kelo v. City of New London for very long.

 “Petitioner Susette Kelo has lived in the Fort Trumbull area since 1997. She has made extensive improvements to her house – wait, wasn’t her house pink?  I want a pink house. I’d put flowers in the front yard. Probably yellow flowers – like those over there. Those are great flowers. I wonder who planted them. Do gardeners make good money? I bet they make minimum wage. Unless they own a nursery. I’d hate to own a nursery. Not a flower nursery – a baby nursery – I would HATE to own a baby nursery. Ugh babies. They are so loud and smelly. I’ll stick with dogs. I really want a dog.  Aw, look a dog. Jealous….” As I’m sure you can imagine, I didn’t finish reading Kelo. Instead, I started Googling pet adoption on my iPhone, which of course led to checking email and then posting a status update on Facebook about how unproductive I am.

So my advice for the next few weeks is to stuff your face with candy and baked goods so that you feel slightly more self-conscious and won’t want to be seen by anyone.  Then maybe you’ll stay inside and study. Works like a charm for me.

Diary of a 2L: Course Registration

by Sarah Ricciardi

With fall class registration on the horizon, I thought I’d share a few things that I wish I knew when I was a 1L.  There will be many students who will study grade distributions and register predominantly for seminars in order to beat the B median curve.  However, that may not be the best approach to your second year.  As many of you know, your 1L grades are the most important in law school.  The class rank or percentage that you receive in July will greatly influence where you work your 2L summer – especially if you participate in the fall recruiting program.  For a number of students, the 2L summer job will lead to an offer for after graduation.  Unless you completely botch the rest of your law school career, your grades 2L and 3L years are just not as important.  Therefore, you shouldn’t be overly concerned about grade distributions during class selection.  Take what interests you!  Or take something that may help you find that summer job.  If you want to work in a litigation firm, take evidence.  If you want to work in an employment department, take collective bargaining.  This will give you talking points during your interviews.  Many attorneys will ask, “Why are you taking X course?” You’re going to need a better answer than “I wanted to beat the curve.”  Similarly, take into consideration what you will actually be doing at your next job if you know.  A course on corporate tax will definitely help you at your job at JP Morgan – no matter what grade you got in it.  The law and contemplation course probably won’t be as valuable– even if you got an A.

Pay attention to prerequisites.  Despite how it feels most of the time, law school is really not that long.  You only get four semesters where you actually get to choose your classes.  If you don’t take the proper prerequisites early, the rest of your time at law school could be pretty frustrating.  If you are unsure of what prerequisites you might need, make an appointment with one of the deans.  They are very helpful, and they are the only ones who really know the school’s academic regulations.  It is better to figure it out now – especially when many courses are only offered once a year.

Another important thing to consider during registration is what the rest of your schedule looks like – outside of the classroom.  If you choose to participate in a journal, it can take up quite a bit of time.  If you are selected for Law Review, expect to spend at least 20 hours a week in the office.  Therefore, think about the amount of time you will be spending on campus.  Maybe don’t pile your classes on top of one another, allowing you to get in a few hours at the office in between so that you don’t have to come to campus as frequently when you don’t have class.

Lastly, if you ask an evening division student, he will tell you that night classes are not easy.  It may seem like a great idea to sign up for a bunch of night classes so that you can extern or work during the day.  However, keep in mind that it makes for a VERY long day.  While grades may not be as important next year, you still can’t sleep through all of your classes.  At 9pm on a Thursday after working all day, I want to be on my couch watching Scandal in my pajamas – not listening to a lecture about immigration reform.  Remember, law school is a voluntary undertaking – and it ain’t cheap!  Get the most out of it and make decisions that won’t leave you with regrets as an upperclassman.

Diary of a 2L

by Sarah Ricciardi

I’m not technologically savvy at all – like I can barely microwave popcorn.  I consider it a major win every time I successfully use a Keurig.  I also don’t trust technology.  Whenever I send an important email, I check my outbox every three minutes to make sure it actually sent.  Sometimes I even send “test” emails to my mom so that she can assure me that she received them.

So you can imagine, I don’t have much confidence in any of the website “portals” that we are forced to rely on as law students. “PeopleSoft” should be called “Haha You can’t check your grades because your browser sucks.” Or better yet – “Just when you find the class you’re looking for, I’m going to take you back to the search screen so that you have to start all over again! Ha!”

And it’s possible that I don’t have a summer job because I’m not qualified and the market is overly saturated, but I think the better argument is that “Symplicity” is a fake job forum that just makes you think you have a chance at getting hired. Whenever I apply for a job via “Symplicity,” I have this nagging feeling that my resume isn’t being forwarded to an employer at all but is actually being sent to an underground bunker where dreams go to die.

I can’t even begin to complain about the law school email system because quite frankly I don’t understand it. @students? @law? @uconn? How about @consistency? If my Facebook newsfeed can figure out that I bought bath towels from Anthropologie, shouldn’t I be able to access my email all in one central place?

You might be saying to yourself, “wow, this chick is overly sensitive.” But I’ve got one word for you: “Exam4.” You spend an entire semester studying your butt off and the only way you will ever get a job is if you make it through this final and then BAM – Exam4 crash! Don’t tell me that you don’t have nightmares about this at least twice a year.

So in the spirit of this rant, here’s a riddle: who hates math and science; is insanely judgmental; and consistently binge drinks before noon? A law student!! And Kathy Lee Gifford.

Diary of a 2L

by Sarah Ricciardi

10 Exam Tips that I wish I knew as a 1L

  1. First of all, take some of the pressure off yourself. There are about four students in every class that are law school rock stars. If you’re not one of the four, you’re going to get at least one B during your time at UConn Law. Don’t fight the inevitable.
  2. Take practice exams under test conditions. Three hours seems like a long time, but, let’s be honest, it’s only a little over three episodes of “The Good Wife” – not long at all!
  3. Do not rely on other students’ outlines. Outlines from previous years definitely have value, but taking the time to organize and distill your own notes is what separates the B+’s from the A-‘s.
  4. Room 524 in the library is magical. If you study there, you will get an A. Trust me.
  5. Do not leave your “take home” exam for last. There is no worse feeling in the world than the realization that everyone else is starting their winter break and you still have to spend 8 hours with Professor Pandya’s Torts exam. (By the way, it takes the entire 8 hours. Plan your meals accordingly.)
  6. Don’t underestimate the importance of sleep. Just because the library is open until midnight every night does not mean that you have to take advantage of UConn Law’s gracious hospitality. You learn nothing after 10pm.
  7. Check out the CALI questions on TWEN. Instead of playing Candy Crush, practice Civ Pro questions. Just do it.
  8. A steady exam diet of Dr. Pepper and Red Vines will guarantee success . . . and diabetes.
  9. Exam4 software is terrifying for everyone. Your computer is not going to suddenly combust during your Crim final . . . probably.
  10. Save the binders that you use doing your exams. If you get an A in any class, use the corresponding binder for all of your future law school exams. The power of good luck charms cannot be ignored.

Diary of a 2L

by Sarah Ricciardi

Caveat lector – this is entirely my opinion, and I have done absolutely no research to back up my ridiculous (and admittedly judgmental) claims.

The 2L class has officially been split up into three groups. While the exact number is unknown at this time, it seems that about a third of the 2L class has secured some form of employment for summer 2014. These students are doing their best not to boast, but let’s be honest, they’re effectively set. And the rest of us secretly hate them for it. A 2L summer position leads to a 3L externship, which leads to post-graduation employment, which inevitably leads to glory and riches. Or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

The next group of students includes those that don’t have a summer position secured and are REALLY worried about it. These poor souls can be seen wandering around campus with crumpled resumes in their hands, leaving a trail of human hair that is presumably falling out of their heads at such a high rate that their ragged owners are sure to go bald before spring fling. I constantly find myself trying not to slap them and shout, “Pull it together! No one is going to hire you if you’ve got mascara in your teeth!”

The last group of 2Ls, of which I am a proud member, include those students who have not secured a summer position and aren’t the least bit concerned. These students are both overly confident and unjustifiably optimistic. I would say I probably fall into the latter category in that I have become very good at ignoring the prospective job market for lawyers – or the lack thereof. Even though we are nearly half way through our law school careers, a year and a half seems like an awfully long time. If I can’t secure a job in 545 days, then I don’t deserve one! I will live in my mother’s basement and watch Access Hollywood all day while simultaneously figuring out a way to sue Nabisco for an injunction that would require Oreos to be made with more cookie and less stuffing. That may not be the most healthy life plan, but at least I’ve got hair!

Eh… just to be on the safe side, I might invest in a really awesome hat.