My name is Chris Wieting. I was born and raised in the Seattle area, so I decided to head north for undergrad, where I attended Western Washington University, majoring in History and German. Upon graduating, I jumped right into law school. Having finished my first year, I am now more convinced than ever that this was the right choice. Law school has been a completely different experience than I could have prepared for, but also much more fulfilling. WHen I'm not on campus, I can often be found spending time with my fiancé Jacky. Otherwise, I look forward to both meeting new people and to learning more about the legal field.
February has proven to be no less maddening than January. A co-worker of mine has been studying for the February bar, so we have been splitting time at work. Unfortunately, when you’re already swamped, having someone cut their hours at work is not a good thing. Overall though, this is fairly standard for the office. Law, like anything, seems to come in waves.
I did have a nice experience in the early part of the month when I got to attend a foreclosure mediation. In this venture my boss trusted me to take the reins and I was really able to make use of my mediation training. While my first time meeting with the client was at the mediator’s office, I did have a chance to sit and talk with the client. To have someone place such face in me, especially when I have never met them before, was a humbling experience, but it turned out well.
That has been the only particularly interesting part of the month. Finished up my bar application though, in an effort to avoid the late fees. I actually got to finish up a one credit “Transitioning to Practice” class taught by Judge Yu. With that, I highly recommend meeting with judges. Most of the time, they’re really not scary people. The good ones, even remember what it was like to be in law school and are have some insights to share that many practicing attorneys don’t have. I have yet to have had an experience with a judge that I didn’t take something away from.
Real life hasn’t been any slower. The other things I focused on were more informational interviews, networking and making sure everything was in line for taking the bar this summer. While it isn’t my cup of tea, networking as a student has been pretty easy. Everyone wants to talk with law students because we’re still bright-eyed and bushy tailed.
All of which reminds me, I actually set aside a few moments of personal time this month and actually got to do something on Valentine’s Day. That was really nice. I highly recommend remembering the holidays and other special events that you want to celebrate.
January too started out with a whirlwind of events. I had been working on my schedule basically since finals ended, and the week before classes I finally settled on my course load.
At this point, I had to wrap up a few things at the firm and the constant shifting of my schedule caused some issues, but I found a place that is willing to put school first. If nothing else, working with people who graduated only three to four years ago, they understand what it is like, and they are more than willing to help out.
My firm’s understanding was really tested beginning in the middle of the month though. Again, putting school first and my personal life second, I picked up a few credits of an externship at the Washington State Bar Association. Despite my concerns that I had learned some bad habits working in the relaxed environment of my firm, I found the WSBA to be very welcoming.
The plan, and still is, to split my time between the two offices and learn about the legal field, both inside and out. Again, I can’t recommend an externship enough. Even though I’ve had about a year’s worth of small firm experience, the WSBA is so much different, and the attorneys have been so helpful.
At the WSBA, I’m in the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, and I get to work on bar complaints. The challenge in this work comes from writing our decision and sending out notices to the grievant and the attorney that clearly explains our decision without advocating for either side. It’s a very different writing style from what I have seen in private practice, but the challenge is helping me become a better writer. One of the most interesting things I have learned though is that the crazy examples on the MPRE or other ethics exams actually come from situations that the bar has had to handle.
Other than the madness that is planning my wedding for summer following the bar exam, and being laughed at for that, my class load is pretty specific. I’ve kept my focus on estate planning and tax courses and I can say that I enjoy what I’m learning. Overall, this semester is getting crazy, but I haven’t stopped learning things, and I look forward to what is coming up next. A final bit of unsolicited advice: listen to your professional responsibility professor. Getting a phone call from the Bar Association because they are investigating a complaint against you, is not a pleasant experience.
December was an interesting month to say the least. It all began with me trying to set up a nice couple’s weekend away from home with my fiancé and some friends of ours. The group of us had rented a cabin out in the mountains for about three days. The plan was to leave on Friday, play in the snow, and get home Sunday night prepped and ready to go or finals that Tuesday.
What we got instead, was a death trap. The roads to the cabin weren’t plowed at all and our cabin doors were frozen shut. Luckily we were able to get inside and found a wood burning fireplace, so after taking some time to dry off we went to bed, happy that we actually made it. That is until about seven a.m. when I stepped out of the bedroom and the floor was wet. With a bit more exploration, I found that he pipes had burst and our cabin was flooding.
Needless to say we packed up and headed into town. We ate a warm breakfast and just laughed at the situation. Drove home later that night, and we all felt pretty good. After surviving that ordeal, we thought that there was no way finals could be any worse.
Again, finals themselves were about what I expected. Prepared well for some things, completely missed others. But I was feeling alright.
Winter break, I ended up working quite a bit. Started questioning when that boring third year feeling was going to hit me. But it all worked out alright. Saw some family, got reacquainted with some friends, more importantly, I reassured people I hadn’t disappeared into the ether. Despite the craziness, December turned out pretty well.
November has been a busy and at times, outright stressful, month. Despite the business of this month, it was also a month full of adventure and wonderment.
Despite the craziness of law school, I remembered to set aside some time for my friends and family. Nothing too major, but enough to enjoy myself. All in all, I tried sushi for the first time with some guys from my office. For being a person who does not like fish, sushi isn't all bad. I followed that up with a date with my Fiancé at the Pike Place Market, and I slowly began to remember that there is more to Seattle than Sullivan Hall.
On a more law school related note, there is a 3L/4L Mentor program which I am taking part in this year, and through that I had a chance to head to Tacoma to have lunch with a Superior Court judge, which was really interesting. I tend to forget that attorneys and judges have lives outside of the legal profession too, but every time I have taken a chance to meet with someone in a casual setting, I have really enjoyed it. It's worth remembering that graduating doesn't mean you have to be alone, there are lots of attorneys/judges out there that know what it's like and want to help.
The true test of November though came on the 28th when I was faced with the gauntlet of double Thanksgiving dinners. Thanksgiving led to black Friday, black Friday led to the wrapping up of Christmas shopping, and a weekend full of sleep. Ultimately, if a person can survive all that, then finals can't be too bad. Or so I hope.
These last few years, October has really been an interesting time. We're halfway through the semester, in the full swing of classes and already it is time to register for my last semester of classes, at SU anyway, and to start prepping for finals.
It seems really weird that already I am networking for jobs after graduation, while having a real conversation about whether I should be sacrificing my freedom for one more year to get an LLM after finally reaching my goal of getting a JD.
However, the most important things are clearly bar association dinners and Halloween. As it turns out, my boss is actively involved with the Asian Bar Association and is a board member of the Filipino Bar Association. I know this very well, because two Fridays this month, my presence has been required as a member of my small firm at these very elegant dinners.
To rub elbows with judges, experienced attorneys and activists in the legal field was something I really wasn't prepared for. My fiancé got to come with me to the Asian Bar dinner and we quickly found out that judges really like weddings, and even had a couple of offers to have them officiate for us. Although the best part of that were wives of the judges who would pull their husbands away, scolding them because the young lawyers don't want to hear about war stories.
While the Asian bar dinner was more formal, the Filipino Bar Association was much more family oriented, and included quite the Thriller of a tribute to Michael Jackson.
Overall though, it was really nice to be involved. As finals draw near and resumes are read and rejected, it's easy to forget that lawyers do have fun. That no matter what school we went to, what family we came from, we are still of the same professional family. I will say, the more I saw, the more sure I am that I made a wise choice.
Despite the interruption of my lazy and lax summer routine, it's nice to be back though. I am finally starting to realize that this is the beginning of the end, so to speak. The journey through law school has been a complete surprise and if nothing else, I continue to learn more about myself, almost every day.
To be fair though, I lucked out on professors this year. I took a few gambles, made a stab in the dark at picking professors and classes, but everything from my tax courses to criminal procedure has worked in my favor so far, which I certainly appreciate. I am finding though that law school is like exercising a muscle; while the course load never gets lighter, the burden becomes much easier to carry around.
Along the lines of being lucky, having a job over the summer has been really helpful. The classes here have been excellent in preparing me with the background reading and opportunities to discuss actual legal issues in the world, but the real work occurs when you sit across a table from somebody and try to explain all of our legal mumbo-jumbo in a way that makes sense to them. To anyone looking for a bit of advice coming into law school, I would definitely say that taking an externship or internship, where you receive guidance from attorneys in the "real" world, are a must.
The true bit of madness and the real test of my mettle in law school, will be surviving until my wedding. Graduating, studying for the bar, taking the bar, and getting married over a course of a 4 month period, seemed like a fine idea four years ago. Now I'm starting to understand the quizzical looks that my friends and family have been giving me all these years.
Well, it is that time of the year again. Classes are finishing up, I am planning my schedule for summer, and I am left wondering how it got to be finals already.
In order to finish everything up, I have a relatively short Animal law essay to write, which should be kind of fun. I am going to be writing about the validity of restrictions on pets in condos, and seeing as how I live in a condo myself; it very may prove to be valuable someday. After that, I will just be doing my finals prep outlines, making flash cards, which have proven to be my best friend when studying, and most importantly, sleeping in.While this will keep me pretty busy for the next few weeks, it is more relaxing than my home life has been lately. Long story short, my fiancé was putting some groceries in the trunk of the car when the lid closed, hitting her in the head, giving her a concussion. Luckily she is ok, but I sure felt bad about it. Then A few days later she was told her position at work was being eliminated, followed by a promotion a few days later. So all in all, April has been a roller coaster of a month.
Probably the best part of April though has been the feeling like I fit in at my firm. After my supervising attorney won some motions in court that I worked on, I was put on the payroll. Things are really starting to look up. Summer should be fun; I hope you all enjoy yours as well.
I can't necessarily speak or all law students, but March has consistently been an interesting month for me throughout my college career. Being in law school, March means more than just spring break, one less month standing in between me and Summer or just 31 days to mark off my calendar. This particular year, it has meant buying a new car, an opportunity to meet my future boss and some quality time spent with my fiancé.
First off, buying a new car was both more stressful and yet rewarding than I expected. Having never bought a car on my own before, I was nervous that I would end up with a lemon. Luckily for me though, I found out about a car purchasing program through Costco, and now that I have a monthly car payment, suddenly I have begun to notice every speck of dirt and scratch that appears in my paint. Now normally I wouldn't have time for such an extravagant shopping experience, but I luckily was able to hold out until Spring Break, or as I refer to it, a week to catch up. Being so late in the school year, the week break really does help to rejuvenate the spirits and it gave me a chance to catch up on my reading and briefing for class. But more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to go to the Aquarium with my fiancé, who last visited the aquarium when she was in a wheelchair while the aquarium was under construction. Also, towards the end of March, I got to meet the attorneys at the law firm where I will be working this summer and potentially during my 3rd year. The best part is, I did very little work to land this internship. The opportunity was literally dropped in my lap when the fiancé of a friend and former Admissions co-worker got a job in January at a small firm that was looking to expand. While I can't say for certain whether this position will lead to employment upon graduation, it would appear, at least for now, that networking really does work.
February has really flown by. Being the second month of classes, I feel like I am finally starting to settle in. I started some bad habits and got behind in my reading but then was able to catch up over President's Day, and now, more or less, my routine has been refined. Overall, I would say this has been a much better month than I expected.
However, as tradition seems to dictate, the fiancé and I ended up postponing our Valentine's Day dinner plans. At least this time we expected something to happen so we exchanged gifts that morning. I made up for it over the weekend though. That Saturday, I took a day off from law school and we did some shopping, saw a movie and had a nice dinner out together. A welcome break from the chaotic scrambling to finish a case brief for class.The rest of the month seemed pretty normal. I checked in with the lawyer who I will be working for this summer as a Rule 9 intern. Starting this Summer I will be spending time in court, doing some defense work, something that I would not have expected at the start of this year. I also registered to take the professional responsibility portion of the bar exam this summer. I figure, it cannot be a bad thing to get that out of the way.Otherwise, my attention has already begun to shift towards March and our upcoming Spring break. I am hoping that this week off will provide a nice chance to start outlining, to catch up on sleep and maybe visit a friend down in Oregon. But we shall see.
It sounds kind of weird, but it feels good to be back. I was pretty anxious heading into my Fall semester finals, but once the waiting was over and I was actually taking the tests, things went pretty smoothly. I ended up doing a lot better than I expected in Constitutional Law and Individual Income Tax, and that really set the mood right for the rest of the break.
With some new found freedom and spare time, I got to indulge in some bad habits. I started living like a vampire and wasn't getting to bed until around 3 a.m. I was much too busy to sleep as I had to get caught up on video games. When it was actually light out though, it was nice to do some pleasure reading, in between baking cookies and making desserts for all the Christmas dinners that I was expected to attend.Other than that though, I met up with some friends and tried to get out of the house when weather permitted. I spent a quiet night at home on New Year's Eve with my fiancé and took it easy for the rest of my break.Then Spring semester came, and I was missing that familiar feeling of dread. Having survived the classes that I thought were going to be the most challenging for me, I find myself much more relaxed than usual for this time of the year.Even my classes have worked out really well. My Mondays and Wednesdays are with Evidence, Remedies, and Criminal Procedure. I expect this to help me prepare for my Rule 9 internship this summer, during which I will be doing some criminal defense work. And if working as an attorney is anything like being a mediator, I get to look forward to meeting a lot of interesting people facing some unique situations. It seems like this will be a good year.
If nothing else, law school has not failed to surprise me with how fast things really move. November was the most busy I have been in a long while, considering I wrapped up legal writing, survived thanksgiving and went to a LAN party.
As far as classes go, it finally felt like things were winding down. The professors are mentioning what they expect to see on their finals, review days are being tossed around, and even whispers of outlining can be heard echoing through our halls. On the one hand, all of this served as a daily reminder of just how much we had left to complete the semester, but at the same time, this is all that we had left.Thanksgiving was really nice though. I had a few days to get caught up with my reading, I got to see some friends and family, and I was reintroduced to the important things in life, like sleep. The food was welcome too. But I was ready to go back; the remainder of the semester seemed to be unbelievably close.Back in the swing of things, my attention switched to my upcoming appellate oral argument for Legal Writing II. The first was hard, my nerves definitely showed but I survived the one on one interaction, but I don't think I could have prepared any better for the panel of three judges that I faced. While I was still nervous this time, the small group setting actually was a lot more comfortable, and things worked out just fine.To be fair though, everything may have seemed a little better because I was anxiously waiting for the weekend, during which I drove down to the Intel Corporation and attended a 300+ person LAN event for charity. Not a bad way to relax a little before the madness that is finals week.
Having survived October, I can say I feel as if the semester has finally begun. Things have definitely picked up, but I'm feeling up to the challenge.
For Legal Writing, I completed my first memo and have begun drafting the second. In a way, starting a new memo is frightening, because there is so much stuff to look out for. But finishing a draft, splicing all the pieces together, I can look down at my paper and appreciate just how much my writing has improved in law school. I guess that is why Seattle U has one of the nation's top writing programs.So at this point in the semester, I experienced the relief of completing my first memo, and now I get to plan out my Spring and Summer schedules. While I appreciate having a set schedule as a 1L that covered the basics, it really is a relief being able to plan out my own schedule. And so far, I have definitely made the most out of the free time that I created for myself.While I'm enjoying my time here in Seattle, I do relish the chances to leave the city behind, and October has not disappointed in that respect. The wedding season for my circle of friends has carried over into October. This last wedding was a much quieter affair, but still full of friends and family. And events like that can be scarce in law school. It's too easy to dig in at the library and lose track of time.
While individual days seem to drag on, the weeks really do fly by. So, when fun things come up, like a chance to take my two year old niece to the pumpkin farm and watch a duck race, you just have to go.
Having survived my 1L year, I felt I was prepared to be a 2L. While that still rings true this September, I am more busy now than I ever imagined that I would be.
The Semester started off with a bang with Legal Writing II and having my practice oral argument the second week of class. Despite my first experience in front of a practice judge, it was surprisingly fun. To finish off that week though, I drove up to Bellingham with my fiancé to attend her friend's wedding. While it was a pleasant experience, it also helped reaffirm my commitment to waiting until I graduate to get married.
The following weekend I had planned a camping trip. This was my last chance to enjoy the warm Summer we have been experiencing, and I was happy to oblige. A night out in the woods with my Constitutional Law book was a nice break from the Seattle skyline. I had some time to reflect back on the year, and I must say, being a law student is more rewarding than I would have expected. But, it was nice to leave it all behind for the weekend.
I rounded out September with a mediation training. One thing I learned last Spring, was that, with a law degree, there are more opportunities than I ever imagined. For me, mediation was just one of those avenues. So, while working on my first draft of my Legal Writing II essay, I attended a 25 hour training, and I got a lot out of it. While I may never be expecting what is coming next, I am definitely ready for it.