Student News

Weekly Academic Success Tip - Are You Being Efficient?

Time is a precious commodity in law school.  Law students are always looking for shortcuts; however, shortcuts are not the answer.  Instead, you want to use your time more efficiently and effectively.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Learn the material as you read it rather than highlight it to learn later.  Ask questions while you read.  Make margin notes as you read.  Brief the case or make additional notes to emphasize the main points and big picture of the topic after you finish reading.  If you only do cursory "survival" reading, you will have to re-read for learning later which means double work.
  • Review what you have read before class.   By reviewing, you reinforce your learning.  You will be able to follow in class better.  You will recognize what is important for note taking rather than taking down everything the professor says.  You will be able to respond to questions more easily.  Your confidence level about the material will increase.
  • Be more efficient and effective in taking class notes.  Listen carefully in class.  Take down the main points rather than frantically writing or typing verbatim notes.  Use consistent symbols and abbreviations in your notes.  
  • Review your class notes within 24 hours.  Fill in gaps.  Organize the notes if needed.  Note any questions that you have.  If you wait to review your notes until you are outlining, you will have less recall of the material.
  • Regularly review material.   We forget 80% of what we learn in 2 weeks if we do not review.  Regular review of your outlines will mean less cramming at the end of the semester.  You save time ultimately by not re-learning.   You gain deeper understanding.  You have less stress at exam time.
  • Look for the big picture at the end of each sub-topic and topic.  Do not wait until pre-exam studying to pull the course together.  Synthesize the cases that you have read on a sub-topic: how are they different and similar.  Determine the main points that you need to cull from cases for the sub-topic or topic.  Analyze how the sub-topics or topics are inter-related.  If visuals help you learn, incorporate a flowchart or table or other graphic into your outline to show the steps of analysis and/or inter-relationships. 
  • Ask the professors questions as soon as you can.  Do not store up questions like a squirrel storing nuts for winter.  The sooner you get your questions answered, the greater your comprehension of current material.  New topics often build on understanding of prior topics.  Unanswered questions merely lead to more confusion and less learning.

NLR 2010 Law Student Writing Competition

Rules and Submission Guidelines

The National Law Review (NLR) consolidates practice-oriented legal analysis from a variety of sources for easy access by lawyers, paralegals, law students, business executives, insurance professionals, accountants, compliance officers, human resource managers, and other professionals who wish to better understand specific legal issues relevant to their work.

The NLR Law Student Writing Competition offers law students the opportunity to submit articles for publication consideration on the NLR Web site.  No entry fee is required. Applicants can submit an unlimited number of entries each month.

  • Winning submissions will initially be published online in April, May, and June 2010.
  • In each of these months, entries will be judged and the top two articles chosen will be featured in the NLR monthly magazine prominently displayed on the NLR home page. Up to 25 runner-up entries will also be posted in the NLR searchable database each month.
  • Each winning article will be displayed accompanied by the student’s photo, biography, contact information, law school logo, and any copyright disclosure.
  • All winning articles will remain in the NLR database for two years (subject to earlier removal upon request of the law school).
  • In addition, the NLR sends links to targeted articles to specific professional groups via e-mail. The NLR also posts links to selected articles on the “Legal Issues” or “Research” sections of various professional organizations’ Web sites. (NLR, at its sole discretion, may distribute any winning entry in such a manner, but does not make any such guarantees nor does NLR represent that this is part of the prize package.)

The first submission deadline is March 25, 2010.



Black History Month Information: National Black Law Students Association

 “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”  –Maya Angelou

 

The National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA), founded in 1968, is a national organization formed to articulate and promote the needs and goals of Black law students and effectuate change in the legal community. As the largest student run organization in the United States with over 6,000 members, NBLSA is also comprised of chapters or affiliates in six different countries including The Bahamas, Nigeria, and South Africa. 

The Brandeis BLSA Chapter is a member of the Midwest Region of the National Black Law Students Asssociation (MWBLSA).  MWBLSA is comprised of chapters from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Kansas, Kentucky and Wisconsin.  In October 2009, the Brandeis BLSA Chapter hosted the Midwest Region's Academic Retreat.  BLSA members from across the region attended and participated in programming aimed at increasing academic skills and exploring the legal job market.  Chapter President Adrienne Henderson was the 2009-2010 MWBLSA Academic Retreat Coordinator, and is a current member of the MWBLSA Board of Directors.  This was the first time U of L hosted a regional BLSA event, and the retreat was made possible by the generous support of the U of L CODRE and the Pike Legal Group, as well as the legal professionals and law school staff and faculty who volunteered their time. 

Currently, BLSA is working weekly with students at Shawnee High School on improving their ACT scores and working with undergraduates at U of L to establish a BLSA College Student Division.  The BLSA-CSD is a component of NBLSA which informs undergraduate students considering law school about the law school application process, life as a law student, the practice of law, and other relevant knowledge about obtaining a law degree. 

More information about NBLSA can be found at www.nblsa.org.  All Brandeis Law School students are invited to join BLSA, and our chapter looks forward to continuing to work to improve our school and our community! 

 

NAELA Elder Law Writing Competition

The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) is sponsoring the Fifth Annual NAELA Elder Law Writing Competition - a writing competition designed to focus students on the legal issues affecting seniors or people with disabilities.  

NAELA offers a $1,500 cash prize for the best article, and the winning author will be interviewed for a future issue of NAELA News, a publication that reaches all of NAELA's 4,000+ members. The cash prizes for second and third places are $1,000 and $500, respectively. The top eight authors will be published in the NAELA Student Journal in early winter 2011 and will receive a complimentary one-year membership in NAELA.

May 31 is the deadline. This opportunity is open to all part- and full-time JD candidates who have not yet graduated. See the attached announcement flyer and official entry form for details.

 

Congratulations to the Client Counseling Competition Moot Court Team!

The Moot Court Board wishes to congratulate Roz Cordini and Katie Reisz for advancing to the semi-finals of the Client Counseling Competition held at Thomas Cooley Law School, in Lansing, MI last weekend. The team was coached by Professor Abramson and Attorney Paul Schurman. 

The first day of competition consisted of three separate client consultations, which resulted in high marks and a lot of high praise for Roz and Katie's teamwork and interviewing techniques which allowed them to advance to a second day of competition where they were narrowly defeated in the semi-finals by a team from Michigan State.

THE LAST DAY TO WITHDRAW FROM A CLASS

The last day to withdraw from a class is Friday, February 26.

The system is normally available Sundays through Thursdays, from 2:00 a.m. to midnight; Fridays from 2:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Due to this expansion of hours, there may be some times the system will be down that is unplanned.  This normally occurs on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you try to withdraw from a class and unable to complete the process, please contact Barbara Thompson in Student Records before 4:30 p.m., Friday, February 26.

Weekly Academic Success Tip - Take Action for Optimal Learning

We are already 8 weeks into the spring semester!  Deadlines may be starting to pile up.  Your beginning-of-the-semester optimism may have worn off.  And, the weather bouncing between winter and spring does not help.  Consider the following tips to obtain optimal learning:

  • Keep a positive attitude to affect your learning positively.  It is hard to keep your focus and perform at your best if a cloud is hovering over your head.  Negative thoughts, grumpiness, and sniping at others all expend energy in unproductive avenues.  Not only do other people want to avoid you when you exude negativity, but you waste your own time by moaning, groaning, and whining. 
  • Focus on manageable tasks to increase motivation.  It is easier to get motivated to do small tasks rather than large projects.  Decide to read one case when you do not feel like reading any of your Property cases.  Decide to write two paragraphs when you do not feel like writing an entire paper draft.  Decide to outline one sub-topic when you do not want to outline an entire topic.  Decide to do 5 multiple-choice questions when you do not feel like doing practice questions at all.  After you get started and finish one small task, you are likely to be ready to do another small task.
  • Focus on what you can control rather than what is controlled by others.  Reality is that you do not determine whether you will be called on in class, whether you will have a mid-term exam, whether your paper will have one or six draft deadlines, or whether you will have a multiple-choice or essay final exam.  So, stop stewing about things you cannot control.  Instead, focus on what you can control and take control of those things: your time management; your stress management; your timetable for review; your outlining schedule; your reading schedule; your schedule for practice questions; your asking the professor questions and more.
  • Use the many services that are available to you to improve your situation.  Ask questions during the professor’s office hours.  If you are a 1L, talk to your Academic Fellow.  Meet with the writing center to improve your grammar and punctuation skills.  Make an appointment with Ms. Ballard for study strategies and tips.  Meet with a University counselor if you have test anxiety, personal problems or other issues that are making it hard for you to concentrate on your studies.  Go to the doctor if you are sick rather than self-treating and not getting better.  Getting assistance keeps you from feeling so alone in your situation and begins the work of solving problems.
  • Do not focus on your bad choices last semester, last week, or yesterday.  If you have procrastinated or studied inefficiently and ineffectively or fallen into any of the other common student difficulties in studying, accept responsibility for those bad choices; but then, focus on today.  You cannot change what has already happened, but you can change how you study today and tomorrow.  
  • Take advantage of your strengths and acknowledge your weaknesses.  Evaluate the areas within a course: what areas do you understand and what areas are you confused about still.  Then, spend additional time on the weak areas to improve your understanding while you review material that you know well.  
  • Do not blame someone else for your difficulties.  It is not the professor's fault that you cannot do the practice problems if you did not study the material thoroughly.  It is not the professor’s fault that you got a low grade when other students did better on the same exam.  It is not your study group’s fault that you do not understand the material if you have not taken the initiative to attempt learning it yourself before study group.  It is not your spouse’s problem that you are behind in your reading if you have not set up a structured study schedule that allows sufficient study time as well as family time.
  • Stop resisting positive change.  Ask yourself whether you are having problems because you are clinging to ineffective and inefficient ways of studying.  You need to realize that nothing will change for the better if you refuse to make changes.  Knowing that you need to change something and still not changing it will accomplish nothing positive in your life. 
  • Remember that you begin to earn your reputation as an attorney while you are in law school.  Ask yourself whether how you are acting today will place you in a positive light with your classmates and professors.  If not, then reconsider the behavior BEFORE you act that way again.  Being difficult to work with on an assignment may translate into a reputation that you will be considered difficult to work with as an attorney later.  Being lazy in law school may translate into a lack of referrals as an attorney because your former classmates will not be able to trust you to do a thorough job.  Being mean-spirited or gossipy or arrogant in law school may translate into personal characteristics that mar your reputation later as a new attorney. 

Immigration Moot Court Team Wins National Competition

The Moot Court Board wishes to congratulate Duffy Trager, Rachel Carmona, and Maria Mourad for winning the NYU Law School Immigration Law Moot Court Competition last weekend.  The team was coached by Professor Enid Trucios-Haynes.  The victory is the school's first in the competition, though UofL finished second two years ago.

The team defeated competitors from Stetson, Howard, California-Davis, and Harvard in the preliminary rounds before defeating Maryland in the semi-finals and Georgetown in the championship round.  The finals judges were Edith Brown Clement of the 5th Circuit, Maryanne Trump Barry of the 3d Circuit, and William Fletcher of the 9th Circuit.

Dual Degree Programs

Can’t bear to leave school and go out in the real world? Consider a dual degree!  
 
Dual degrees approved for Brandeis law students are:  Master of Business Administration/Juris Doctor; Juris Doctor/Master of Divinity; Master of Science in Social Work/Juris Doctor; Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in Humanities; Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in Political Science; Juris Doctor/Master of Urban Planning; and Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in Bioethics and Medical Humanities.  (More information is in the Law School Student Handbook.)  
 
Several Brandeis students pursuing dual degrees have agreed to host an information session on Thursday, February 25, at noon, in Room 175.  Dean Bean will also be on hand to answer questions.  All interested students should plan to be there!

Joe Gutmann Named 2010 Educator of the Year

Joe Gutmann, Central High School Law and Government Magnet Coordinator, Named 2010 Educator of the Year, by Street Law


Street Law, Inc. is a national non-profit organization that provides practical, participatory education about law, democracy, and human rights.  Street Law began in 1972, when a small group of Georgetown University Law Center students developed an experimental curriculum to teach high school students in Washington DC about the practical aspects of the law and the legal system.  The program evolved and today a Street Law textbook and curriculum is used throughout the country. 

On 9/11, Joe Gutmann, a prosecutor in Louisville, decided to make a difference in a new way.  He left the prosecutor’s office to teach at Central High School in Louisville.   In 2005, he was asked to serve as the coordinator of Central’s Law and Government Magnet program, and he began using the Street Law materials for the sophomore magnet students.  In 2007, law students from the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law began assisting in teaching the curriculum at Central under Joe Gutmann’s supervision.  Building on the partnership begun in 2001 between Central and the Brandeis School of Law, law students were approved to receive public service credit for their Street Law work.  Each year about 15 to 25 law students are involved in the program (in addition to many others who teach law magnet courses for juniors and seniors). 
   
Each year, Street Law honors a teacher at its Annual Awards Dinner.  Nominees must “educate students in an exceptional manner” and “use Street Law materials.”  Joe Gutmann meets both criteria, and he is being recognized in Washington DC on April 28, 2010 as the Street Law Educator of the Year. 

One of his nomination letters noted that

his dedication and commitment goes above and beyond to ensure that students are guided and that they learn.  He gives them “tough love.” He makes sure they have the opportunity to attend special events.  He works on giving them the tools to succeed.  He is a tireless advocate for his students. The Central students who are in his class and the law students who teach in the Law Magnet think highly of Joe.  The admiration and affection and respect … students have for Joe…doesn’t stop when they graduate.  [R]eturning students …still come to him for help and advice (and to share good news about how college is going).


This award recognizes that exceptional teaching and commitment.  Joe is always quick to acknowledge the various partnerships that make the Central High School’s Law and Government Magnet Program and his work successful.  These include the partnership with the Brandeis School of Law, the long standing Summer Internship Program sponsored by the Louisville Bar Association, the University of Louisville University Community Signature Partnership support through UofL’s Office of Community Engagement (including the Seven Habits of Highly Successful Teens program), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.