Hello, my name is Christopher (Chris) Larsen. I am a lifelong Washington State resident, spending most of my time in the Seattle area, with a few years in Ellensburg at Central Washington University. At CWU I received a B.A. in both Psychology and Law & Justice (specializing in pre-law). I decided during my senior year that I wanted to go to law school, but after a disappointing LSAT attempt, I opted to get a few years of work experience. After my wife and I moved back to the Seattle area, I began working at ABC Legal Services. During the span of three years I worked in various departments and gained experience in many areas of process service. This was my first professional experience in the legal industry and it increased my desire to attend law school and take on more responsibility. Outside of law school, I am a huge Seattle sports fan and I attend Seahawks' and Sounders' games when I find time. I also enjoy hiking and backpacking with my wife up in the Cascades and out on the Olympic Peninsula.
Spring break—most likely my last ever—is officially over and the push towards graduation, employment, and the bar exam is here! My break was simultaneously restful and busy. I am generally not sleep deprived, but during the weeks leading up to Spring break I was feeling exhausted and needing time to decompress. To that end, I was busy almost every day with editing assignments, job searching, and networking.
I am sure I have mentioned this in previous entries, but it cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to network and utilize LinkedIn. If you are not already signed up for LinkedIn, I recommend doing it now—send me a message and we will connect. Many employers only post opportunities because it is required by law, but many positions are filled via personal referral. As I am searching for employment, I am constantly connecting with new people on LinkedIn and working with my current connections to locate opportunities and get interviews. For instance, last week one of my connections emailed me a lead for a potential position and within minutes I was on the phone with a recruiter discussing my application materials and potential opportunities.
I know this seems like an advertisement for LinkedIn, but it is the best way to keep in contact with and foster professional relationships. You never know when an opportunity may present itself and having someone in your corner at the firm or corporation is what sets you apart from other applicants.
February is a very strange month. A few weeks ago it felt as though the new semester was just beginning and there was plenty of time to finish everything; however, it now feels as though the semester is getting away from me and the stress of final exams/papers, finalizing SJEL Volume 4, and preparing for life after law school is all hitting me. Alternatively, I am not sure stress is the right word to describe how I am feeling. I’d like to analogize it to the feeling you have before partaking in a sporting or public speaking event. I was a competitive swimmer in high school and I would always feel nervous and excited before a race. I knew I had put in all the work to be successful but the true measure of success would only be realized after jumping in head first. Similarly, I have worked hard in law school—harder than at anything else I have previously done—and I feel that I can be successful, but this may not be realized until I get the opportunity to dive in.
Sticking with the swimming theme, I am finally taking the advice I was given during 1L orientation: find a healthy way to relieve stress. As noted, I was a competitive swimmer in high school and during the past month I have re-acquired my love of swimming. I am trying to swim for about an hour twice per week (hopefully I can increase to 3-4 times per week) and it has been the best method for keeping my focus. Not only is it a great full body exercise, but it is extremely meditative. For instance, I have a 7+ hour break between classes on Tuesdays and prior to this month is was very difficult to maintain focus during this break. However, swimming during the lunch hour allows me to clear my mind and I always feel energized and ready to put in a strong study/work session afterwards. I encourage everyone to find a similar activity that has the same affect and stick to it during law school. Looking back, I wish I had made swimming a priority during my 1L and 2L years as I am clearly seeing a benefit now.
Normally, I try and keep my journal entry limited to my law school experiences, but today I am shedding a little light on another experience--outside the confines of law school.
The Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl! I have attended all but a handful of games since 1998 and Sunday was the most exciting game I have ever been to—given the magnitude of the game and the opponent. There may have been more exciting single moments in past games (Romo’s botched snap, the “Beast Quake,” and Golden Tate’s game winning reception against Green Bay), but nothing quite reaches the magnitude of Seattle beating their rivals in the NFC Championship game.
Bringing it back to law school, I am proud to say I have officially started my final semester! It is amazing how quickly the past two and half years have passed. I can vividly remember my first law school course in the Summer of 2011 and all the apprehension and excitement I felt as I began this journey. As I sit here today, I feel a similar sense of apprehension and excitement. Unlike some of my classmates, I have yet to find post-graduate employment. This largely contributes to my anxiety but also serves as encouragement to continue pursuing what I enjoy. I continually remind myself that I will not be settling for any opportunity I may find. I am open about what I would like to do and not limiting my search to traditional legal positions. I have spent a lot of time thinking about my future and I consider the J.D. to be an extremely versatile degree. A fellow classmate of mine may have said it best, “a law degree is a professional problem solving degree.” Law school teaches you to think a certain way—to spot issues and propose means of solving them within the certain confines. With this general definition in mind, the number of opportunities available to those holding a J.D. should be endless. I encourage anyone interested to look up some of the most successful people in the world and note their education. While MBAs will be prevalent, I’d venture to guess that the J.D. would not be far behind.
Winter is coming. And so are final exams. After two years, one would think I would be ready for another round of exams, but this might be the most challenging exam period I have faced; three exams in seven days with a take home exam to complete at my leisure. Fortunately, my classes are all interesting and ones I believe will help me in my career, but that does not lessen the amount of preparation required, it only makes it more interesting. That said, I have officially registered for my last semester of law school and I am hoping it is a little more relaxing (from an academic standpoint). I only have 8 credits required for graduation, so I will be taking Corporate Governance, Broadcast Regulation in the Age of the Internet, and Advertising Law. My hope is to have more time to network, perform my duties as SJEL editor in chief, and perhaps most important, spend time with my wife. Fortunately, following final exams I will have a few weeks off and my wife and I have already planned for a much needed escape to celebrate our anniversary (December 22).
October has been an absolute blur. The common saying, "1L year scares you to death, 2L year works you to death, and 3L year bores you to death," is certainly not holding true. While my 1L year and 2L years were busy, the added pressure of finding employment, gaining experience, preparing Bar materials, choosing a Bar prep course, and juggling extracurricular activities is certainly making my 3L year the busiest yet. However, it is a different kind of busy-less time crunch and more stress. Doing well in class is always important, but there is much more emphasis on post-law school responsibilities. For instance, I have been spending much of the past two weeks preparing for the MPRE (Professional Responsibility portion of the Bar Exam), which will be held in two days.
It is exciting to think about life after law school, but there is a certain level of comfort being a student in the confines of Sullivan Hall. To that end, I am feeling prepared for the next step and looking forward to beginning my career and starting a family with my wife.
It's great to be a 3L! I feel rested and reinvigorated after an amazing summer. I was an extern at Wizards of the Coast, gaining valuable licensing, negotiating, and in-house experience, and then took a three week adventure with my wife to Southern California. Working at Wizards has been the highlight of my short legal career. I am interested in licensing, specifically intellectual property, and this opportunity provided me with extremely valuable and practical experience. While I did draft a couple research memos, nearly all my other assignments allowed me to revise, draft, and negotiate various license agreements. Perhaps most exciting was the opportunity to negotiate with a network television producer the terms of an agreement for product placement. Once the externship concluded, my wife and I took a much needed vacation and drove to Palm Springs. We were determined to make this an adventure and certainly accomplished that task. We slept in our car one night at a truck stop, spent two days walking all over San Francisco, conveniently drove through Los Angeles during rush hour traffic, and finally spent almost two weeks attempting to stay cool in the desert in August. The temperatures never dropped below 85 degrees (at night) and reached 108 degrees daily. We spent a lot of time relaxing in the pool, but even this did not provide much relief during the afternoon heat. Most importantly, this trip gave my wife and I time to spend together without any other obligations. My advice to anyone married or in a relationship while attending law school is to cherish the moments you have with your significant other because during classes these moments become much less frequent.
Spring break is officially over and the push to final exams begins. I'm always amazed at how quickly time goes by during law school. I vividly remember how I felt during my 1L summer criminal law class, and that was nearly two years ago! It seems like I am still getting a grasp on everything, but the stress and excitement of life after law school is slowly hitting me. Conversations with friends is always about networking and searching for jobs, and far less about the classes we want to take. I guess it's the reality of the 3L year being largely about gaining experience and finding employment.
As I mentioned in my previous entry, I also have the added responsibility of being the editor-in-chief (EIC) of the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law. While I could not be more excited about the opportunity, it is forcing me to make some sacrifices. For example, I made the difficult decision today to forego applying for the Amazon.com internship. Rather than the more typical summer position, this required a commitment of part-time availability during the entire upcoming academic year. It would have been a great experience, but probably impossible while trying to juggle a full class schedule and EIC responsibilities.
However, I did receive some great news last week! I have an interview with Weyerhaeuser, which from the outset would appear to be a perfect fit with my position on the Environmental Journal. As is probably apparent, my focus is much more on gaining experience than my classes, but I must attest that I am still spending hours reading for each class. Fortunately, at the conclusion of this semester I will have completed every required class, so it should set me up for a more enjoyable 3L year, even with the added responsibilities. Here's to making it through the final full month of the semester and another grueling round of final exams!
There is not a lot to report from an academic standpoint. Classes are progressing nicely, and I am continuing to enjoy a semester free from Legal Writing. This has afforded me much more time to read through study guides and better prepare for each of my classes. Hopefully that will result in a better performance come finals!
Outside of the classroom, I have some very exciting news! I was just selected to be the Editor-in-Chief (EIC) of the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law (SJEL). Academic writing and editing has always been something I enjoy (dating back to high school) so to be selected as EIC is a huge accomplishment and I am very excited about the opportunity. In a couple weeks I should begin training for my new position, and that will allow me to put my mark on the upcoming issue of the journal. I encourage anyone who has questions about the journal to reach out to me as I am always willing and excited to talk about my experience with the journal. I will be sure to continue updating with my progression from staff editor to EIC and perhaps discuss some of my plans for the future. Generally, my goal is to oversee the continued growth of what is a relatively new journal at Seattle University.
It's hard to believe, but I am over the law school hump! I had a very relaxing break and was able to get away with my wife to Southern California. We spent most of our trip enjoying sunshine in Palm Springs and managed to spend a couple days at Disneyland — a perfect end to what was ultimately a difficult semester. Winter break is probably the one time of year where I know I will be free of all school related responsibilities, so it was nice to leave law school behind for a couple weeks and simply enjoy the freedom.
While I was initially wishing break could have been longer, it's nice to be back in class, and it is especially nice having a lighter schedule than last semester. I have thoroughly enjoyed legal writing, but this semester will provide a much needed break. It's also perfectly timed because it should give me a few months to finalize my article for the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law. Word to the wise, only join a journal if you can be truly committed and have amazing time management skills. It's far more work than anticipated, but in the end I know I will be better for it. Besides the pride I have in writing my own article, the editing component allows you to put your work into someone else's article. A couple weeks ago I was given notice that the article I helped edit last semester had been published; it was very rewarding to see pieces of my work portrayed in published form.
As mentioned, the lack of legal writing has given me a very nice schedule. Although unrelated to the omission of legal writing, I have managed to avoid evening classes for the semester! I am taking Evidence, Financial Institutions Law, Administrative Law, and Trusts and Estates. It's a lighter class schedule because I have also opted to take 2 credits as part of SJEL. Through the first couple weeks, I could not be happier. The professors are all great, and I am very much enjoying the content-even Admin Law which is supposedly a dry subject. Perhaps I am finding my niche because up until now I have been very unsure of my future plans. I am beginning to consider beyond traditional legal careers, but at the suggestion of the center for professional development (CPD), I am exploring areas of the law that I may not had recently considered. I am not keen on the adversarial process (i.e., litigation), so exploring areas that are centered on compliance or regulatory is a priority. It's currently crunch time for finding summer work, so we will have to see where I land. Stay tuned!
Winter break is finally here and I am half way through law school. Perhaps what is my biggest accomplishment is the completion of what will likely be my most demanding semester of law school. Finals were tough, but not nearly as difficult as anticipated or what I experienced last year. I think it is part of the growth from a 1L to a 2L and having the freedom to select some of my courses.
Serving as a Staff Editor on the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law has been very demanding. Editing has come naturally to me, but writing my article has been a struggle. It is difficult to find a new and interesting legal topic that is not preempted by another article. Further, completing a quality thirty-page draft a couple weeks before finals was very challenging. It may not seem like it, but I am enjoying the experience and look forward to a lighter spring class schedule that allows me to spend more time completing my article.
With that, I am looking forward to spending the next few weeks relaxing and resting in preparation of next semester. I do not have much planned, but my primary goal is to significantly increase my connections and hopefully find employment for next summer and possibly beyond.
It's hard to believe the grind of my 2L year has already started, and supposedly this will be my most demanding year of law school. I am taking Legal Writing II (LWII), Constitutional Law (Con Law), Professional Responsibility (PR), Copyright Law, IP Licensing Lab, and I am a Staff Editor for the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law. I tried to mix in some less demanding classes (Copyright and PR) while taking LWII and Con Law, but I am learning there really isn't such a thing as a less demanding law class, only more interesting. Likewise, for anyone considering a position with one of the journals, be prepared for an extensive amount of additional work (editing articles to be published and working on your own article).
I have been pleasantly surprised with Con Law, as it was a class I feared, but it has definitely been my favorite class during the first couple weeks. I highly recommend Professor Skover as he has made the less "sexy" (his word) topics, such as Federalism and the Commerce Clause, interesting. LWII is living up to the high demand that is to be expected from the #1 Legal Writing Program in the country. Our first assignment was handed out on day 1, practice oral arguments took place during the second week of the semester, and research logs are due at the beginning of week 3. LWI was my favorite course during 1L year, so I am hoping for more of the same during LWII.
Outside the classroom, it's been a struggle keeping to the books with it so nice outside. I enjoy the Seattle summers as much as anyone, but I could really go for a few weeks of clouds and rain to keep me from feeling so bad about being stuck inside. It also doesn't help that football season is finally here. Prior to law school I had attended every home Seahawks game during the past five seasons, but last year I only made it to one game. I know football will be around long after law school, but it has been a tough sacrifice to make.