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Messages - Mary

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Honestly, you need to and have to just get over your fear.  Otherwise, you're screwed and should not be a litigator.

In a way, I'm looking forward to it but in another way- I'm very nervous and I have doubts.

If hope this helps...

I was a strategic communication major in undergrad. The reason I chose this major was to confront one of my greatest fears -Public Speaking. I knew there were going to be many speeches, some short-5min. and others pretty long-30min. Before I chose the major, I knew I wanted to go to law school. I knew that gpa was important and convinced myself that if I didnt become a good public speaker to get the grades, I wouldnt even get into law school. Most people called me crazy, because you are supposed to pick a major you enjoy. I realized that without PS, that I probably wasnt going to do well in law school, or at least be comfortable.

As it turned out, I became a much better speaker but I never got over being nervous and sometimes a little scared. I ended up graduating at the top of my class and making the grades to get into law school. The whole point I'm trying to convey to you, is that being afraid and being nervous is ok and it may even work to your advantage. I have faith that you will become that litigator. I'm not sure if you've started or are about to start, but always remember that law school is a psychological boot camp, and only the strong will survive. You must face your fears!


Uh, ok. :-\

Some people do drugs, which is the stupidest thing one can do.

People go to law school believing that they are there for the sole purpose of learning the skills necessary to become lawyers. In addition to this obvious agenda, law students are also exposed to a hidden agenda; to start the process of becoming acculturated to the norms and standards of the legal profession. This legal culture, which law students hope to join, will make rigorous demands upon them. They will be required to use analytical skills in disregard to their emotional reactions, advocate positions that may clash with personal beliefs, and place client’s interests above societal interests. Some lawyers will pay a personal price in emotional terms for engaging in this difficult and complex role of being a lawyer. Law students need to be exposed to and better understand not only the professional pressures they will face after graduation, but also how these pressures can impact their personal lives. One such potential pressure that places law students at great future risk is alcohol or drug abuse.

If the only concern in understanding drug and alcohol abuse among lawyers was the destructive impact on their personal welfare, the issue would be one of great importance. However, the concern becomes even more significant when it is acknowledged that for every lawyer who struggles with addiction issues, the interests of many clients who have reposed trust in their lawyer are endangered. Research clearly establishes that lawyers are at greater risk for alcohol and drug problems than the general population. "Few professions and academic pursuits are as demanding and stressful as the practice of law or studying to become a lawyer."

Research further demonstrates that law students tend to increase their use of alcohol and drugs during their law school careers. Law schools cannot ignore the realities of this research. Law students and lawyers need to receive further education and information about the problem and consequences of alcohol and drug abuse. The lack of interest by legal educators and among members of the Bar may be a factor as to why it has been estimated that a high percentage of disciplined lawyers suffer from addiction issues. From time to time, a brave lawyer will come forward and write about how drug and alcohol abuse negatively impacted her or his personal and professional life.5 Since lawyers are generally concerned about their reputation, some lawyers will only disclose this type of personal account anonymously. The value of storytelling is that the reader can learn through the personal struggles of another lawyer that a better life can exist if the addicted lawyer seeks help. The Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program of the State Bar of Michigan offers assistance and encouragement to lawyers who suffer from chemical dependency problems. Recent statistics indicate that the number of lawyers seeking such help has dramatically increased.

With support from the Oakland County Bar Foundation, I have produced a 33-minute video documentary to help raise the level of awareness regarding chemical addiction among law students and lawyers. It is my intention to provide every accredited law school in the United States with a copy of this program so that it can be aired and discussed in a Professional Responsibility course. Legal educators owe law students the obligation of providing useful information about drug and alcohol abuse. This video program opens and closes with people who have expertise in the area of chemical dependency within the legal profession. John Berry, Executive Director of the State Bar of Michigan, who also chairs the Professionalism Committee of the American Bar Association, conveys the damage that an addicted lawyer can cause to the lawyer’s own life as well as the lives of clients. Robert Edick, Deputy Grievance Administrator, Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, speaks to how the disciplinary system can assist some addicted lawyers in seeking treatment rather than suffering the normal consequences of discipline. Psychologist Bill Livingston, Director of the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program, discusses the unique problems faced by lawyers that causes the high incidence of alcohol and drug abuse among lawyers.

The most compelling portion of the video consists of conversations with four Michigan lawyers who are successfully recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. Each lawyer has a unique and personal story to tell.

Steve, in his early 50s, was suspended for three years from the practice of law for misusing client trust funds. His real problem was severe drug and alcohol addiction. Approaching death and having lost everything that meant anything to him in his life, including his family, law license, and assets, Steve sought help and has been drug free over the past decade. During that time, he has been reinstated as a lawyer and has gained the respect of lawyers and judges throughout Michigan for his zealous desire to help other lawyers who suffer from substance abuse.

Roger, in his early sixties, has been in practice for over 30 years and has never been disciplined. However, he almost died as a result of alcohol addiction that did not occur until he was almost 40 years old. He has not consumed any alcohol since he came out of a coma induced by his alcohol consumption 14 years ago.

David, in his mid-30s, currently practices law with a large corporate law firm. He is a transactional and litigation lawyer. Drunk driving charges brought him within the disciplinary system. Although he has not been disciplined, he articulates the impact that his battle against the use of drugs and alcohol has had on his personal and professional life.

Catherine, a lawyer for the past five years, had her alcohol problem accelerate while a law school student. She has been plagued by a drinking problem throughout her adult life. A grievance was filed against her when she came to court appearing to be under the influence of alcohol. She received probation and retained her right to practice law upon her willingness to submit to various conditions including constant drug testing. She has been successful in her recovery and her life has dramatically improved.

One can only have great respect and admiration for the recovering lawyers who agreed to tell their stories so that law students and lawyers could become more conscious of the danger signals presented by drug and alcohol use and abuse and the help that is available to those in need. These lawyers have become positive role models for all lawyers who are willing to confront their issues with chemical dependency. Although the program is not designed to solve the problem of substance abuse among members of the legal profession, hopefully it will provide the start for a discussion about a subject that has been kept under wraps for too long.

Current Law Students / Re: Planet Law School II Preparation Schedule
« on: June 17, 2005, 08:08:01 AM »
For some reason, I think you are the author (atticus falcon) going under this alias.

You are entitled to your opinion. But if more law students were aware that prepping in the summer was available or helpful then more people would do it and get higher GPAs then merely doing okay. Prepping is helpful because learning the law is about seeing the black letter law and fact patterns many many times. Estates and Future Interests was pretty manageable and a little fun in school after I struggled through it in the summer when prepping. You don't get the repeated exposure to the law in class and in school you have to do a lot of teaching yourself and studying on your own. Also you are not prepping by reading the casebooks, you are prepping using the E&Es which almost every law school students uses in school. The E&Es do a great job of explaining the law in plain language instead of the chasing the tail spin of the casebooks. By the time, my classmates discovered the E&Es, commerical outlines, etc, it was near exam time and I had been working with the books for about 5 to 7 months before them. I was worried that they had caught up but my concern was unfounded. Aside from the few people who discover the E&Es quickly and work the examples dilgently, I found most people get the study aids too late and then don't use them or use them properly.

The summer reading lists are a joke. Schools really like for you to relax and come in unprepared. They also like to give you that line that grades don't matter, etc in orientation and most times it's not until you are studying for your exams or after your grades come back that you are told that grades do matter. It help me very much knowing before I started school that first year grades determine the type of opportunities that you will have and that grades are largely based on exams.

You're right prepping is more than what the other law students will do. And that's the great thing about it. While my classmates were struggling to get into their studying or trying to figure out what was going on, I adjusted well to school. I already had a system in place from the summer. After about two weeks of minor adjustments at the beginning of the semester getting used to my professors, I was back on track. Also with the prepping, you have to realize that even though you are learning, for example, the defintion of battery one way, your professor might have a different definition. As long as you are aware that your professor's nuances are what you used on your exams and make the proper adjustments then you're fine. Also there are a few 6 week prep programs given through various law schools that aren't probably really that helpful since they tend to be for borderline candidates. But the fact that they exist suggests that some law schools believe that you can prepare for law school. It depends on your goals. I had to do extremely well this year because I wanted to transfer from my school even before I started. I wanted to do something that would increase the odds in my favor. PLS2 gave me a great starting point and I worked extremely hard and I achieved a great deal.
dude, relax.
Planet Law School is a good book, and a good counterpart to Law School Confidential.
But all that stuff you are doing before you begin classes won't help a lot.  Almost no one takes prep courses before starting, and yet we've done okay.
No matter how prepared you are or think you are when you begin in August, the other students will catch up to you soon enough. 
It's good to some reading about law over the summer, but I don't think any of us would recommend reading casebooks or assignments.

I recommend reading books from the recommending summer reading list (if your school, doesn't have one, look at another school's.  Most of them have many of the same books), law review and law journal articles from your school, and other law related stuff. 

And remember, if you do any reading or preparation at all, it will more than most of the other students.

Current Law Students / Re: New Law school discussion forum
« on: June 10, 2005, 12:26:25 PM »
This is a dead site.

Wow, nice.

                                                                                     I have many years of training as an actor from way back before law school was even in the picture.  All of the advice so far has been good, but I have some thoughts from a different angle.

What happens when you speak in public is that adrenaline starts pumping and the brain goes on over-drive.  Instead of being able to concentrate on the message you would like to convey or how to be persuasive and connect with your audience you become fixated with how you think people are responding (or not responding) or with the fact that your hands are trembling or you are sweating.  These phsysiological responses become a source for anxiety on top of everthing else and soon you are fixated on your out of control body or unnerved by the fact that you are begining to stammer.

The trick is getting control of this physiological reponse.  The first step involves breathing.  Your body's response can be regulated by the way that you breath.  You can interupt a cycle of stage fright by taking control and getting your breathing back on track.  You can prevent a great deal of it by practicing deep centered diaphramatic breathing until it is natural for you. 

Put your hand on your stomach.  Breah in a deep breath.  When you do so make sure your belly pushes out against your hand.  You can imagine that your lungs are a balloon that you are filling with air.  Breath in slowly and deeply as you count to ten.  Then hold, and release.  Again, slowly as if you are letting the air out of the balloon.  When you breath this way you are using your diaphram correctly.  More oxygens gets to your brain, and your body slows down to respect the rythym you create.  If you are breathing this way before a speech, you will stay more calm.  If you get called in class and you start to get flustered you can regain control by starting to breath. 

Actors train in breathing and meditation in order to have acute control.  From there they learn to use the air in their lungs to project and modulate their voice.  This also helps with pacing for the many of us who start to speed up when we talk.  A voice pitched low and calm in pace is pleasing.  Try listening to some female newscasters or radio personalities to see what I mean.

This takes practice, but this type of training can trully change your public personality.  I used to teach a classes in "acting for the businessperson"- maybe you could find such a class at your local community college.  It's usually pretty cheap. 

Everyone gets nervous, some people just control it better than others.  Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am one of the most confident people they know.  But I still have moments of stage fright, times when inexplicably my knees are knocking.  But no one knows because I know how to get it under control.  And once you know that you don't feel afraid.     

All 3 of his books are good from what I hear.

Current Law Students / Re: Audio CD Study Aids
« on: June 10, 2005, 12:24:50 PM »
So does anybody listen to these tapes/CD's in their car?

I saw a link on nontradlaw about planet law school.  They have their own yahoo group which you can join if you've read the book.  The author responds to it frequently.

Post message:

That's a great way to get off on the right foot!

For people who do not like public speaking (like myself) yet still want to get into litigation and are nervous about the whole speaking in front of crowds (like myself)- do you recommend a course like ToastMaster's or something along those lines?

Thanks all!

I, like you, was extremely nervous when I started law school. In undergrad, I put off my speech class until the last possible minute. I hated it.

When I started law school, I realized that I would have to get over it because I really wanted to be a litigator. At my original law school, they made you stand to recite the cases and you regularly got grilled by the professor about the cases so that kind of stressed me out in the beginning. But honestly, that is one of the best things that will help you. You will get used to it. I kind of looked at it like a challenge: it was a challenge for me in terms of making sure I knew the material, but it also helped lessen the anxiety. The more you do it, better you will feel about it.

I would advise to try to get involved in anything that will force you to go out there and confront it. I think a ToastMasters class is an excellent idea. Even if you don't do that, you will have plenty of opportunities in law school to confront your anxiety. Many schools have an oral argument requirement in one of the research and writing classes. You can also do Moot Court or things like that. After awhile, you will feel better about it.

I finally started getting over it when I had to do some mock oral arguments in front of real judges. I still have plenty of areas to work on, but I don't get nearly as stressed as I used to. Now, it seems like I turned a corner and something else took over. I absolutely love the feeling of it because I feel much more confident and it is a chance to really use the skills you have gained from researching the law and making legal arguments.

Treat it like a personal challenge and don't let it get in the way of what you really want.

If professors begin to grill you respond to them using some nasty and/or sarcastic word -- they will shut the fuk up!

Current Law Students / Re: Audio CD Study Aids
« on: June 03, 2005, 08:01:11 PM »
What do you recommend listening to in your car on the long haul driving to and from school?

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