Looking back at 1L year

With August quickly approaching, new classes of law students will begin their journey through learning the legal system and jargon that encompasses our country and state. I thought it was an appropriate time to reflect and share my experience this past school year. To be honest, I had to take a few weeks since the ends of finals and return of grades to feel free to discuss my year as a 1L at St. Mary’s University. I finally feel as if I am not reeling from the constant stress of preparing for the next class and balancing a healthy schedule and social life. Everyone told me law school would be hard, and I definitely did not fully appreciate what that meant. Even with my expectations high I was still smacked with the heaps of reading, mind-wracking briefs, and challenges of learning new vocabulary (which was definitely a struggle for me). I have broken down the dimensions of what it was like being a first year law student and hope this rings true to my colleagues and can give some guidance to future 1Ls.

Pros:

  • New friends and old friends supporting you through the good and the ugly. There were definitely some days I was not pleasant to be around. I am naturally very shy and tried to blend into the small sea of people. However, this was tough with the Socratic method dragging you out of your shell in front of a roomful of brilliant minds. However, after enduring the tomato colored blushing a dozen times or so I managed tp adjust to the discomfort that is law school and learned that your peers are more than an audience. At least for me, I secretly cheered for anyone called on for the day while simultaneously thinking to myself “thank goodness it’s you and not me.” Usually the things my peers know were things I had struggled to grasp, and things they struggled with were thoughts that may not even even occurred to me.
  • Throughout the year we watched each other grow and find our voices. Some people who scraped by the first semester lead the class our second semester, and others maintained a steady pace.
  • Accomplished more reading, writing and public speaking than I ever hoped to do.  At the end of this year I was so happy to complete a year that turned out to be tougher than I could have ever imagined.
  • Moot court was surprisingly a lot of fun. My teammate and I to our own surprise opted-in!

    Feeling so lucky to spend my time in law school living in the Alamo city!
  •  Learning to argue. This may seem obvious, but I actually learned how to craft an argument. One of my best friends recently graduated from law school in England and I remember having discussions with her last summer. I remember thinking to myself how logical she was about everything. She could always look at a situation and point out things I never would have thought of. And while my 1L year of education cannot be compared to her education, I would like to think I have developed some of those analytical skills and no longer allow emotions to drive my arguments.
  • Age variation. Sometimes I had to step back when I felt overwhelmed and think about all the parents who were enrolled in my same classes. People came from all walks of live. There were students hot out of undergrad, mother’s with three kids and retirees. I went home to a studio apartment to study with my boyfriend and do our best to unwind from the hectic day. But I can’t imagine the strength it took to go home to a family and provide support to them. So go all my fellow 1Ls who are much more responsible than I am!!! You all amaze me!
  • There is always room for compassion. That’s all.
  • Dating. After I graduated undergrad, the dating pool dramatically shrunk. People were no longer living in a population of potential love interests. My friends and I often commented on this challenge. But on the first day of law school, people began pairing off. Throughout the year many people’s relationship status changed as they all began to find themselves as future attorneys; some left relationships in the past, others clicked with fellow students or took the next step with their significant others.
  • New interests. After reading so many cases and taking an assortment of classes, my interests began to widen. All the sudden my apartment lease became a document of fascination, trying to decipher all the legal jargon I signed my year away to without a care.

Cons:

  • Yes people get cut! And this was weird. In fact it was the buzz the first week of school back from holiday.
    Grades are bittersweet. Strengths get stronger and weaknesses are more pronounced. I was terrified learning that my final exam would make up 100% of my grade for most classes. However, you learn to take each semester in bite-sized chunks and before you know it you are studying for the final. While it can seem overwhelming, the school gave us all the tools needed to learn the material.
  • Second semester was wayyy harder than first semester. This truly caught me off-guard. After struggling through the first semester I couldn’t imagine enduring much more pressure. But second semester hit me like an fire-hyrdrant on blast.

 

 

Challenges:

  • Juggling 7 doctrinal classes in the Spring, a 30 page brief, moot court, 2 midterms, summer applications and your sanity was “interesting” to say the least. I am not going to lie, time management may have been the most frustrating aspect for me. I learned a lot about myself and how I function happily, and law school did a good job of prohibiting me from doing just that. I no longer had the time to spend on the phone catching up with friends for 30 mins or skype the ones that live far away. I missed time visiting with my family and when I did go home I was consumed with reading or stressing about the next assignment. This often made me feel detached from my favorite people. But alongside my local friends  I met other people. I also started my blog which gave me a creative outlet I desperately needed. It forced me to get out and see more of San Antonio and spend time with people who never failed to inspire me. I felt connected to some sort of community other than the law realm.
  • Humility. You’re going to have your bad days and you’re going to have your good ones too. Triumph and enjoy the goods ones and learn from the bad ones. One thing I quickly learned was not to take anything personal and trying my hardest. Everyone fails at answering a question or completing his or her reading. Trust me there were days I gambled with my assignments for an extra couple hours of sleep.
  • Emotional cases. Reading the daily cases offered a variety of emotions: curiosity, boredom, anger, apathy, internal conflictions and compassion. I think every student found a few cases throughout the year that really boiled their blood. The cases can go from a contract breach over a cheese manufacturer to a burned toddler in a second. And there are many times you do not agree with the majority opinion. The law is not as clear as I previously thought, it’s often muddled. There were many times I thought a dissenting opinion was much better than the ruling one.
  • While you may think sacrificing your time, energy and relationships is bad enough, law school also took a little more from my eyesight than I would like to have given. My vision is nowhere near terribl but my once nearly perfect vision has morphed into blurred characters and needed glasses for everyday reading.

    But after all this, there are still moments I am  surprised I made it this far. It has been much more of a marathon than I ever prepared to partake in, but I have quickly realized my effort are worth it. But without the loving people behind me there would be no way. This summer I have been blessed to work at a local immigration firm and have continued to flex my brain muscles. I’ve met some amazing attorneys whose dedication to the profession serve as a light to the end of my law school tunnel. I hope in three years I will be working in an office with a passion for people, their cases and the law that governs all aspects of my work. I am also looking forward to joining a law journal this fall and all the many challenges ahead. If you are on the fence about law school or have any questions, I will be more than happy to try and answer them.

From a rising 2L!

 

Photography: Wayfarer Photography and Froylan Calderon

 

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Southern Vintage Valentine

To My Sweethearts,

While I understand Valentine’s Day is typically characterized by couples exchanging professions of their love, today, I can’t help but reflect on the many women in my life that I consider near-and-dear to my heart. In that spirit, I want to dedicate this entry to the handful of women who have shown me, through their example of unconditional love, the depths of what it truly means to love and be loved.

I grew up in West Texas, my best friend and sister by my side, hand making fairy dolls out of beads and flower petals. As we grew up and grew away from each other we never grew apart. I know I can always count on her to answer that late night call even though we no longer live in the same town. We have been blessed with a mama bear who guides and protects us, leads by example and has never faltered at the daunting task of raising us. Through everything, she has been my rock for all 8,489 days of my life. I can tell you that without my mother and my sister, I would not be who I am today…or have the skill of successfully scarfing down a whole tray of gooey magic cookie bars behind their backs, still warm from the oven.

Six years have passed since I left home, and just as I like my shoes in pairs, so too I like matching each year with a new city. As if by clockwork each rotation around the sun has brought a new city to discover, and a new challenge to build new friendships. Through serendipity and change I have been able to meet some of the most genuine and loving human beings I could ever wish to know.

I moved to Austin around 4 years ago and was fortunate enough to attend the school I grew up dreaming about while surrounded by members of The Texas Sweethearts; an all female organization that promotes integrity and supporting one another. Together, we learned how to balance the accountability of “adulting” and the gift of making each other laugh. These young ladies gave me a sisterhood that valued community, team and individual success during a time of uncertainty in my own life. They were, and still are, my home away from home.

Moving to San Antonio challenged me to discover self-sufficiency and determination. While working to establish myself in what I thought would be a career in advertising, I found myself being led to my next great adventure, law school. My acceptance to St. Mary’s University brought curiosity and worry about the next steps, and my family and friends were there to love and encouraged me from afar. They spent hours weighing the benefits of my choice over the phone. Do I put an end to my career in communications and pursue the opportunities a law degree offers? Or do I continue on the career course I had planned over the last four years of my life?  In time, and after many long and supportive conversations over the phone and in coffee shops, it all worked itself out. Law school was where I was meant to be. It has challenged me to create more new and lasting connections and has offered once in a lifetime opportunities.

I’ve learned through taking chances we are often led to those people we were meant to meet. Soul mates in a sense. Over the last year of being in San Antonio I have been blessed with the sisterhood and support of a graphic designer who shared the same love for s’mores and micheladas as well as late-night movies, and a mom and boutique owner who encouraged my dream of joining fashion blogging. She challenges me to take chances, keeps me informed me of the latest trends, and makes random photoshoots a blast!

I am lucky to have the support of these amazing women. I like to think my perspective on the world is brighter and more beautiful.  Through this roller coaster of a ride, I have learned that more than anything love is a choice. It is the deliberate act of recognizing the value and complexity inherent to someone else and choosing to stand by them even when it is tough. I hope that those of you reading this know how loved and valued you are by those around you. Especially me.

And to pay my little bit of love forward, I chose to wear this “Crush” blouse. Not only is the top a fitting color for the holiday, but it is the Heart of Cabi item this season. If you are unfamiliar with Cabi, the company selects an item each season to donate a portion of the net proceeds to the Heart of Cabi Foundation which empowers and encourages women around the world. While I love their style already, the fact that they give women in need clothing and small business loans warms my heart and makes me proud to wear their pieces.

So cheers to all the giving, genuine and hard-working women who have chosen to love with all their heart. Thank you for being my best friends near and far.

Have a Happy Valentine’s!

 

 

Blouse and jeans: Cabi | Purse: Coco Chanel | Shoes: Lord and Taylor | Hat: Nordstrom

Photos by Kimberlee Phoenix

 

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Different flowers, same garden

“A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost”-Marion C. Garretty

Dear little sister,

I used to think being the older sister meant I had a duty to be your role model, but over the past 20 years I have been proven wrong. Instead, all 5’3″ of you has been my heroine. Your constant loyalty was evident in elementary school when you bit any kid who hurt my ultra-sensitive feelings, and your warmth comforted me when my heart broke in college.  To me, you were the foundation of childhood and all things good. Since it is impossible to fully characterize all the wonderful things about you, I limited myself to five ways you’ve inspired me.

  1. You are my favorite movie impersonator! Thank you for always acting out the funniest movie scenes until my stomach ached. The Pink Panther will never be complete unless you are sitting next to me, pausing our favorite scenes to mimic the ridiculousness.  You’ve always known how to balance fun with quiet moments in between.
  2.  You have more courage than Katniss Everdeen. I have never seen anyone forge their own path the way you have fought for yours. You have always been the pioneer in our family, pushing curfew, testing every major offered at university, roaming around Italy with your choir, mastering the Spanish language; always allured by the road less traveled. The lessons you’ve learned along the way have shaped you into the sturdy, knowledgeable and kind woman you are today. You have fostered a love for learning that only you could cultivate yourself and for that I hope you experience places in the world more impressive than the ones you’ve read about.
  3. You read, you learn, you master. Your work ethic is fearless and determined.  As a natural overachiever you have always carried a book in your purse and mastered any subject you set your heart to. You have Dad’s elephant memory and Mom’s undying interest in trying new things.
  4. You quite possibly are the favored guardian of all creatures great and small. You are vegetarian/vegan every other hour but don’t care how much the family teases you about it. We have tried to convince you meat is essential to your diet but your unwaivering love of animals can’t be dampened. You are by far the most empathetic and selfless individual I know. You are always the first one I call when I need advice or a shoulder to cry.
  5. You re-named yourself “Lola” because you had to spread your wings, apply the lessons you learned, and define yourself. You always leave a trail of glitter behind you so it is never hard to figure out what you’ve been up to.

Thank you for the unforgettable adventures and always giving unconditionally. You will always be my piece of childhood that never grows up.

 

| Outfits: Cabi |

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