Kristin Does [0L Prep-MINI Update]

I’m still getting through Getting to Maybe. I’ve been kind of distracted but time’s winding down and I’ve been working harder on getting through it this week so I can get to the next book.

Hopefully I’ll finish by this weekend and and I can do a real update on some of the things I’m learning. I haven’t finished and I haven’t started law school, but I’ve gotta say it feels like it is helping me a lot. I’m already understanding how I should be thinking, and it’s helped me to think about and plan how I’ll take notes and what I should focus on. Additionally through the various examples explaining techniques I’ve also  learned a couple things about the law! Nothing extensive, but some points in major cases that everyone learns about first year so that’s also a benefit.

It’s 15 chapters, and each chapter has like 4 parts to it so it’s a lot to get through but I’m definitely feeling like it’s worth it. Look out for a ‘for real’ update next week and I’ll talk about some of the major points in the book.

P.S. If you’re looking for the book, it was pretty easy for me to find it online, but if you can’t, I’m going to add a “contact form” page this week and if you fill it out I’ll email it to you or send you a link to where I found it (some schools/professors have posted it so definitely all safe sites).

Law School Worries: 1L 15?

You know that whole rumor about people going to college and gaining the “freshman 15”?

Well…it’s not a rumor.

I’m those people…and shameful to say, it actually turned out to be more like a freshman 30 and it didnt take freshman year, it only took the first semester.

It’s pretty common, you go from having your meals cooked or decided for you by your parents to fending for youself. Cooking for yourself, choosing your own meals, staying up however late and being in dorms makes it no easier. Hanging out in the lounge till 2am, what else are you going to do but have midnight snacks? Cafeteria food not looking good today? Burger, pizza, or burrito (my weakness) it is!

Especially when your like me and you came from a house where you never had as much access to all these things. I grew up eating chex and kix, takeout/fastfood was a treat, and buying anything beyond water,icetea or fruit juice meant it was probably a special occasion (party, bbq etc.).

So when I say I went wild, I WENT WILD. I discovered the gloriousness that is Ben&Jerrys, probably had fast food for at least 1 meal 5 times a week,  drank all the soda, starbucks, and energy drinks I wanted, it was a lot of unhealthy madness.

Freshman Year’s motto

After first semester I tried a little harder to watch all the junk food but I fluctuated a lot, losing some, gaining some, losing some gaining some.

An annoying cycle…BUT

Junior year I got it together!

I worked hard, I ate good, and it paid off. I lost 40lbs (and kept it off)! I was even pretty close to some abs coming in before I moved back in January.

However, as I’ve said in a previous post the last 6 months of my life have mainly been like

couch potato status

so I feel like I’ve lost my fitness drive and I really need to get back to it. I don’t want to get so overwhelmed with law school that I forget to take care of myself. With the amount of work and studying I’ll be doing it’s easy to fall into a habit of takeout or frozen dinners every night, along with energy drink induced all nighters.

If I’m going to get back in the groove of regularly working out and getting on that Jada Pinkett status (because how is it legal to look that good? and at 43!) I’ve got to start now.

I’ve just got to get my motivation back…

Surprisingly a lot of the 1L advice post I’ve read (links here) have stressed the importance of exercise. Not only is it good for your overall health, but it’s good for your brain, it keeps you energized and keeps those endorphins up to fend off that ever present law school depression. And as cliche as it is to say, when you eat good you feel good. And when you feel good the studying will probably be a lot easier.

On the one hand it wont be the same as Freshman year. I’ve been on my own, I’m a pretty good (nearing ridiculously awesome) cook and I’ve made exercising a regular part of my life before. On the other hand, it’s the getting back to it that takes all the work. I’m hoping blogging about it will force me to be a little more accountable, because if it’s up to me to make myself go workout I’d rather play sims all day, but if I blog about it don’t I actually have to do it? haha

I think I might do an ab or leg challenge for the month of July so I may post a general plan or inspiration (once I get some).

But in the mean time, any tips for getting motivated? How do you do it? Let me know! I need hellpp



Let Me Tell You a Secret

Secret timmeee

I wasn’t a Polisci major all 4 years in college. I actually went in as a Biology major and Political Science minor.

okay okay…it’s not really a secret

From the 3rd grade on I was absolutely sure I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon. I wanted to specialize in transplants, and later be part of Doctors Without Borders traveling the world and saving the lives of those who couldn’t afford it. I’ve always wanted to help people, and I’ve always been interested in the body. And even as I got older it stuck. I used to watch discovery health religiously. Twins getting separated, moms giving birth, transplant stories… back when they used to have the crazy real life graphic stuff.

I was (and still kind of am) really in love with science.

Then in middle school when I first got my interest in political science I decided I would still be a surgeon but retire by 40/50 and be a politician. I was so sure I was going to be a pediatric surgeon that pretty much everything, including even going to a Medical Magnet high school surrounded the idea of becoming a surgeon.

14 years later… I’m on my way to law school and A LOT in my life plan has changed. If 8 year old, or even 17 year old college freshman Kristin could see me now, she’d be pretty confused.

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My Light Will Not Be Extinguished


Every Month, Every Week, Every Day…a new hashtag, a new tragedy, a new death.

When you have to fear for your life, even in a place of worship (and there was a second church shooting in Memphis today, probably because someone has idolized the Charleston attack), it’s hard to go about your life without being in a constant state of fear.

Fear that the next hashtag will be your mother, your father, your brothers, your sisters…YOU.

Sometimes I’m filled with rage…

I think, will it ever end? How much pain, and oppression must we endure?

Sometimes…I can’t breathe and I can’t focus and it seems like there’s no hope. It’s hard to do anything but think about all of the injustice. Not only in America, and not only to black people but to people of color all over the world. Palestine, the Dominican Republic..there is injustice and oppression everywhere.

I can’t let it kill my drive though.

It is things like this that push me further and deepen my passion for law and becoming a person who causes and contributes to change. Change in the system, change in our communities, and overall change in our society.

I will not let my light be extinguished.

I will work to use every opportunity God gives me to contribute to changing this ugly world.


Kristin Does [0L Prep]-Plans

I have about 54 days (which is almost 8 weeks) until I’m moving!

My goal is to get through a book a week. This means I have about 2 weeks wiggle room for those days I don’t feel like doing anything, I want to have fun or I’m too busy to get reading done.

I plan to go in this order (assuming I can find all the books I want).

Getting to Maybe

How to do your best on Law School Exams


Plain English for Lawyers

Thinking Like a Lawyer/Learning legal reasoning

1L of a Ride (although 1L of a Ride can be read anytime or simultaneously, it doesn’t need to adhere to any specific order).

I chose this order because of how the books relate to each other and based on which ones I’d like fresh in my mind the closer I get to law school.

Getting to Maybe and How to do your best are the same topic from different perspectives. LEEWS offers a detailed system for succeeding at what Getting To Maybe and How to do your best will teach me. Next I’ll use Plain English for Lawyers to improve my writing skills and as a grammar refresher (because your ability to study or analyze is irrelevant if you can’t articulate it). Last, Thinking Like a Lawyer or Learning Legal Reasoning will lay down the law basics right before I’m on the way to orientation.

And that’s about it for prep so far. After each book I plan to give you guys an update on my goal progress, and an initial review for the resource (to be followed by a real review during the actual semester).

gifs of jon snow because im still hurt T_T

T_T Stark fans understand my pain

Links to my favorite/bookmarked 0L Summer and 1L advice posts

Most of these are from TLS because I think they had the most down to earth/realistic advice, but it’s all different people with different perspectives that give really great detailed advice. I think every potential law student should read a couple of these (or post like these) before entering law school. Even if reading this is the only prep you do this summer, I think they offer really great insight!

Also, no worries if you can’t read all these links right now. I have also created a page in my navigation bar for resources which will have all these links and more!

How To Succeed In Law School- Student Guide #1 (By UC Berkeley Grad)

Reflection on my 0L Prep (By a Paralegal turned Law Student)

Advice for Doing Well in Law School (By a Law Student who ranked top 1% at Loyala 1L then transferred to a T1)

Law School Advice (By a student from a T10 law school)

Advice for Doing Well at a T1 (By a student from a T1 School)

Success in Law School- a Unique Perspective (By a NYU student who placed top 10% 1L year)

Prepare for Law School: How to Study Law to Succeed (By a law school graduate who currently tutors law students and runs Law School Hacker blog)

Kristin Does [0L Prep]-Materials

Now for the books that are going to help me through it:

I’m dedicated to this prep, but I’m also on a budget…of aabboouuttt $0.

Therefore the resources I use will be what I can find for free online, or check out from a library.

I’ve had some good luck in finding the main books I wanted free online. There’s this website that allows you to search for strictly pdfs. Using this site and just google in general I was able to find all the bolded titles for free. I’m still searching for some of the books (currently searching libraries and used book stores around me), but overall I’m happy with what I’ve found so far and I think it’ll help me with my goals.

Books I want

1. Getting to maybe by Jeremy Paul

Relates to Goals #3, 5, 6, 7 (and kind of 4)

For anyone looking into prep I’d say this is one of the most important books on the list. Everyone talks about this book and says its a good introduction to law school and summer prep. It’s written by a couple law professors (which is a great point of view considering they have the real background on what goes into writing exams) and aims to teach you the basics and tools for “excelling at law school exams”. For most books there are mixed reviews or some people used them some didn’t etc. but this book it seems, everyone has used it and raves about it.

Critiques: The only (possibly) “bad” thing I’ve heard about it is that some of the advice is good advice but is too general which may make it less practical and difficult to apply.

I’m not getting that vibe yet but I’m only on chapter 3. I like it a lot so far, it’s easy to understand and their “fork” metaphor for analyzing situations is something easy to remember and apply as I learn more. But I’ll give an update once I finish each book, (and as I’m completing each goal), and then a real review during the semester talking about whether or not this was actually helpful.

2. 1L of  a Ride by Andrew McClurg

Relates to Goal #7

This is a “law school survival” type of book. It compiles a bunch of different perspectives from student and faculty into a coherent book. It gives you an idea of what law school will be like, what to expect, how to stay motivated and then an intro to study tips and things like briefing etc. This book I can’t seem to find anywhere (but online to order). I went to a used book store, and then to Barnes&Nobles. I also checked a couple catalogs of the small libraries closest to me but none of them have it so my next hope is the big Los Angeles library, and then if not I’m going to try a university library or law library. I won’t be able to check it out but I can sit and read it and that’s fine too.

This isn’t an absolute necessity book, it seems to kind of give a lot of the same insight you can find online in forums or through bloggers so I don’t think it’ll significantly harm my prep if I don’t get it. However, I am still interested in reading it if I can find it free or for a reasonable price.

Critiques: I haven’t seen many but in general a negative would be that this isn’t the only book you’ll need for prep and it won’t prepare you in the same ways that Getting to Maybe or LEEWS will. It’s basically just like those books everyone tried to get you for undergrad “How to Survive College/College 101/Surviving Freshman Year” type of thing, but as corny as that may seem it still offers some good insight.

3. Law Essay Exam Writing System (aka LEEWS)

Relates to Goals #3, 6, 7 (and kind of 2)

LEEWS, like Getting to Maybe, also aims to prepare you as much as possible for law school exams. It gives a systematic approach to law school classes and exams by giving extensive tips on essay writing, exam set up, outlining, etc. and providing an efficient briefing method that helps you pull out the black letter law in cases and focus only on the facts that are needed. This is also one of those prep materials that is talked a lot about in forums and on blogs. A lot of it is good talk, and even those who aren’t raving about it have said it is useful and worth a look.

Critiques: Some have said it’s not a very flexible system and has to be tweaked in order to apply to every exam question type and law class, but for what it covers (torts and issue exam questions) it does a great job.

Next critique is that it’s super expensive. Like $150-175 expensive. It is also not exactly a “book”. You can buy a book that gives you the information, but the “real thing” is a series of lectures (8 CDs worth or a couple days worth of an in person conference) and then some supplement materials that help you follow the lecture. So depending on the type of person you are it could be difficult to get through (aka me because I’d fall asleep).

Additionally, the reviews are highly mixed (which is discouraging considering the price). Some people say its an extreme waste of money and time (because he drags on for 8 lectures what could easily be written in a book or fit into less talking), and some say it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread and they couldn’t have survived without it. Basically, no review or 0L prep advice has convinced me it’s worth $150+, but I have been convinced it has a great briefing method and that it’s worth a look.

Since it’s not a book I’ve had a hard time finding it “whole” online or at libraries but I have found some parts of the supplements I think would be most useful in PDF form. They give an introduction to LEEWS, overview of LEEWS, the case briefing method, and advice on surviving the socratic method which addresses the main things people seem to get out of it.

4. How to Do Your Best on Law School Exams by John Delaney

Relates to Goals #3,5,6,7

The title says it all. This book focuses on teaching you how to study, outline, and practice to excel at law exams. It’s similar to getting to maybe but focuses on a more formulaic style of exam writing. Getting to Maybe talks a lot about ambiguities and therefore doesn’t really advocate for adhering to strict “formulas” like I.R.A.C. or this book’s similar acronym, but formulas and systems can be helpful (especially when your just starting) so I think reading both would be a really great way to get the big picture and form my own kind of hybrid method for looking at things. Not too strict that I can’t use it broadly, but not too free that my writing or studying style lacks organization. Still on the hunt for this one but I think the main library might have it.

No critiques for this one.

5. Plain English for Lawyers by Richard Wydick

Relates to Goals #2 and 7

This is pretty simple it’s just an introduction to legal writing. It focuses on teaching you to write clearly and concisely while adhering to the specifics of “legal writing”. Luckily I found the PDF version of this book as well but if I hadn’t I would’ve bought it. This book is a good investment because not only is it great for prep but it’s also something good to reference through out law school and your legal career.

No Critiques for this one.

6. Learning Legal Reasoning by John Delaney OR Thinking Like a Lawyer by Frederick Schauer

Relates to Goals #4, 7 (and kind of 5)

These books give an intro to legal reasoning covering things like rules, precedent, authority, analogical reasoning, common law, interpretation, legal realism, judicial opinions, legal facts, burden of proof etc. etc. The very basics of law and getting your brain into the habit of legal thinking.

So these books are pretty different from the others because they are technically, sorta kinda, substantive books which I said I wasn’t into. But, in their defense they aren’t “real” substantive books and they still follow along the lines of using this prep to build a great foundation that I can continue building on throughout the semester. They don’t go into the specifics of any type of law in the same way that a Hornbook for Property law might, instead they just lay down the basics.

I didn’t write these as 2 separate books because I don’t think you need both. I think “Thinking Like a Lawyer” is a lot more recent and therefore might be more relatable and easier to read, but reviews have said they are both great books, and if I found either one I’d be happy.

That’s all for materials!


The next and last post will be a short and sweet overview of my plans (i.e. finish a book a week, the order I plan to read them and so on) and will have the links to my favorite 1L advice posts.

Here is a short list of other books I’ve heard about for 0L prep but probably won’t be using (mainly because it’s similar to something up there)

1. Writing a Legal Memo (Similar to Plain English for lawyers. I may buy it later on, but I don’t think I need it right now for prep.)

2. Law School Confidential (Similar to 1L of a Ride)

3. Planet Law School (I don’t need it but I may look at this if I have free time later this summer. This is like 1L of a Ride but is said to cover some of the more darker aspects of Law School, like tips for not getting depressed in an environment that increases your chances for depression by 40% etc. It isn’t a necessity but I’m curious about what insight it gives so I may change my mind about wanting this one.)

Kristin Does [0L Prep]-Goals

and now the moment you’ve all be waiting for

First, there are 2 types of prep, General Prep and Substantive Prep.

General Prep consist of things like learning how to brief cases, learning the basics of issue spotting, learning the process of outlining (and how best to outline specifically in relation to law school exams), learning how to read opinions (or getting used to reading opinions), or any law school exam test taking prep/studying tips. The idea of general prep is working to build a really great foundation that you can further build on throughout the semester. It should help you structure your studying from the very beginning, as well as give you a good idea of what you should be focusing on during class and as you read cases. It should also give you tools and tips to make “thinking like a lawyer” and legal analysis come easier. Additionally my version of general prep will help me begin the basics of learning how to write like a lawyer.

Substantive prep is actually getting into the law and beginning to learn the basics of all the classes (or the hardest classes) 1Ls typically take (such as torts, property, or constitutional law). Some people do this by reading Explanations & Examples (E&Es) books or Hornbooks (which are somewhat like the law school version of “sparknotes”) on these different subjects. The idea of substantive prep is that you try to grasp some of the basic legal concepts before you officially start school, which could make class easier to understand and take away some of the learning curve to also contribute to structuring your studying and helping you understand cases and hypotheticals better.

My focus is going to be on general prep because I personally don’t think substantive prep is necessary or significantly helpful.

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