My name is Tamara Howie. I got my first taste of law at Central Washington University, where I studied Law and Justice as an undergraduate. Prior coming to law school, I worked as a paralegal at a small law firm downtown Seattle. This position further solidified my interest in law, and three years later here I am. I am happy to be a 1L here at Seattle U. While I came to law school with specific interests, being exposed to so many areas of law has convinced me to do more exploring. Currently, I would have to say that Legal Writing is the hardest but most rewarding class. Luckily we have the best Professors around to teach us. Having been born and raised in the heart of Seattle, I know this area very well. From restaurants, to coffee shops, there are plenty of places for me to plant myself and get deep into my studies. When I am not studying, you can find me enjoying my beautiful city through food, and arts.
Not much has happened since last month. I am still ticking away at this degree until graduation, and the light at the end of the tunnel is becoming ever so clear. I feel like I am just skipping through this semester because I am working most of the time, and I know I will not have any finals. However, I will have a mock jury trial in one of my classes, but I am looking forward to that as I see it as a rare occasion to exercise the skills I have learned both at work and at school.
Regarding graduation, I have already began looking at graduation announcements, and party venues. At first I did not think I would have a party, but with such an accomplishment, a big shindig is most certainly in order. The only downside to a party is that none of my friends can come because everyone will be having their own graduation.
The scary side of graduation is that I will have to prepare for the bar examination. I suppose it is not scary, but just time consuming and a ton of pressure. I am taking a bar skills class now that helps familiarize me with some of the subjects that I have not visited since I was a 1L. This class is a lot of work so if it is anything like the bar, my fears are justified.
Until next month...
This semester has really started off great. I am working 19 hours per week, and going to classes two days a week, which makes me feel like I have space in my schedule to breath. I mean work is work, but there is a different perspective when you really get out there and practice. Although I do practice in a limited capacity, I do get the opportunity to argue motions and do trials. I love it!
From now until the end of the year I will be focused on graduating. Since the classes I do have are skills based, I won’t have to worry about any finals. YES!!! Not only are finals draining, but not having any to study for will allow me the time to soak up everything I can in my Trial Advocacy class. I see this is as my last chance to get practice in because once I graduate I’ll be taking bar and there will be no more “practice” trials.
I almost forgot that I am still continuing to prepare for the Regional Client Counseling Competition. That competition is right around the corner, in early February. We practice several times per week so that we can be in tip top shape. I hate to toot my own horn, but I think my team has little to worry about, but I guess time will tell. I will be sure to provide an update after that competition.
The light at the end of this semester's tunnel is beginning to shine brighter. In my last entry I wrote about being so busy with school, work, and my family. Things have not changed much the semester is nearly over. My externship ends on the 26th, my classes end in the first week of December, and my child will soon be on Christmas break. I can already smell my freedom.
On another note, a while back I wrote about winning the Client Counseling Competition with my friend. Because we won first place, we were invited to participate in the Regional Client Counseling Competition. Not only do we get to add another credential on our resume, but we also get a credit for participating. And if that is not enough, we essentially get an all-expenses paid trip to travel to the actual competition. I know there will be a lot of hard work required in order to be top competitors, but it will be fun too.
Aside from school, it is my favorite time of year. I love the holidays. I look forward to eating a big meal on Thanksgiving, and then heading to the mall for amazing deals. Black Friday has become a tradition for me. In fact, this year I do not even have anything particular on my list, but I just love going. After shopping, I will catch back up with my family for a night full of family, friends, and fun. I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving as well!
You know that phrase you hear "your third year they (law school) bore you to death"? Well there is no truth to that whatsoever! This just so happens to be my busiest year in law school yet. I am working, taking classes, and trying to balance my home life. I mean it when I say that I am ready for this year to be over!
There has been one experience this semester that has been exciting and unique; I had the opportunity to visit a prison. I toured a medium security prison here in Washington. This had to be the most interesting place to tour. If you knew how much I like documentaries then you would know how interested I was in taking this tour. Not only did we get to ask questions and learn a lot about the prison from our tour guides, but we also got an in depth tour of the inside of the facility. The only cell I have seen is on those TV reality shows where they go into jails. On this tour we saw everything from the yard outside, to the eating hall. We even got to go inside of a cell, but boy was that a very scary moment. The inside of this prison was not anything I imagined. One word comes to mind to describe it: Alcatraz. All I kept thinking was how each and every single inmate there has or had some connection to a lawyer, and I guess in some ways that was the point of it all.
Well I guess when I think about how busy this last year of law school is, I also have to consider that it is providing me with some last minute, much needed experiences.
Until next time...
Finally, I have entered into my 3rd and final year of law school! Boy, am I ready for this ride to be over. I mean I love my school and I am sure that I will miss this place that has come to be known as my second home, but I am ready to start working.
Speaking of working, I am currently working as a Rule 9 extern in a legal environment where I get a lot of hands on experience. The most exciting part about my job is that I get to be heard before a judge every day that I am at work. The other attorneys there are great, and I actually get to apply what I have learned in school to real life situations. Actually, I spent my entire summer being a Rule 9 intern, and not only did I learn a whole lot, but it helped me to more clearly define exactly what I might want to do after graduation. If you ever come to law school, I highly suggest you get that Rule 9 card as soon as possible because it allows you a little bit more freedom/discretion to handle cases. Of course, you are not a licensed attorney and so all of your work is supervised, but there are things you cannot do without it.
Entering my 3rd year also means that I am back to taking classes. I have a pretty full load this semester so that I can have a lighter load my last semester. Among other classes, I am currently taking Criminal Procedure. My externship is really helping me to understand this class. I think I am starting to see how everything fits together to get me as ready as possible for graduation and beyond.
The end is near....of the semester that is! Our classes are winding down. My finals are on the way. I am getting ready to wrap up my entire second year of law school! It is such a bittersweet time. Unfortunately, the sun is shining while I am studying, so I have resorted to locking myself in the study room with no windows because I am easily distracted.
I am most happy about my Street law class. All semester I have had the privilege of working with wonderful, smart, and talented high school students. Most of these students had little knowledge of law or lawyering, yet they took a fact pattern and argued a side before a real Judge at the local courthouse. I am so proud of these students and how far they have come. Most attorneys will never have the opportunity to go to trial, yet these students not only did it, but rocked every aspect of it! Through the whole process they learned how to think analytically, how to make reasonable inferences, and how to master public speaking. I learned how to explain law to those will little knowledge of it, how to be patient, and how to better prepare for trial. I am sure we all walked away with skills that will be useful for years to come. I was so positively impacted by these kids. I look forward to attending their high school graduation.
Well I have to start studying for my first final. See you on the other side.
This past month has been fantastic! I had the opportunity to attend the National Black Law Student Association Convention ("NBLSA") in Atlanta, Georgia. Black law students from all over the country were there. The convention happens every year in different states. You have the opportunity to attend workshops, to network with other law students and attorneys, and as equally important you get to vote. A lot of time was spent at plenary where we voted on the NBLSA constitution, bylaws, and elections where a new group of people ran for positions on the national board. There were also social functions built in like luncheons and a formal gala. I had such a blast and I cannot wait to go again next year.
Aside from the actual convention, there was the site seeing in Atlanta. While I love the way the city of Seattle is planned much better, no one can argue that Atlanta has better food. I ate Chic-fil-A everyday, and made sure to seek out a couple of chicken and waffles restaurants.
Now that the conference is over, I am moving ahead with preparing for the upcoming Mediation competition. My partner and I enter all of school competitions together. I guess we found that since we work well together and we have been successful, we will not change that. I will keep you posted on the results of the competition, but until then cross your fingers for me.
If you ask me how this semester is going, I will reply "its going." I have always been warned that the semester with Legal Writing II would be a hard one, and I must agree about the accuracy of those warnings. As I stated in last months entry, I do like Legal Writing because I am learning such an important skill and it's the class where the improvement is most apparent; however, the process of refining those important skills is really time consuming and challenging. Additionally, it can be nerve wracking preparing for oral arguments. While I do not suffer from public speaking fright, I do get nervous that my Professor is going to just audibly laugh at my arguments. But I guess in some ways that unreasonable fright is what makes me pull it all together and go over it with a fine tooth comb. Having had my first oral argument already, I must admit it really was not that bad and you'll be glad to know that my Professor did not laugh at me at all.
Now that the first part of Legal Writing is over, we are focusing on an Appellate Brief. We just took a leap from completing a 10 page paper, to having to complete a 20-25 page paper. Right now I am not sure how this 20-25 page paper will come together, but I promise to keep you posted.
I am back after a much needed month long break! It was the most relaxing break ever. On Christmas I drove to Portland to see my family, I got caught up on my Netflix shows, and I finally finished the Hunger Games books. Other than that, I did absolutely nothing and I loved it. By the time school started, I felt rejuvenated and ready to take on what I know will be a busy semester.
At school things seemed to have picked up without skipping a beat! As soon as I got back I was reminded of why that month long break was so important. Student organization activities have picked up, and there have been about 2 full weeks of classes already. Last semester I had crazily taken 16 credits, but this semester I am only taking 12 credits. I am looking forward to the lighter load.
The two classes I am most excited about this semester are Dispute Resolution, and Legal Writing II. Most people would disagree with Legal Writing II, but I am excited about it because I will have several opportunities to refine my oral argument skills. Luckily I took Criminal Motions Practice last semester because that should help prepare me for the oral arguments coming up this semester. I am also looking forward to Dispute Resolution because it seems like a class where I can learn real practical skills that will be applicable to my summer job. Since my partner and I already one a dispute resolution competition, we thought it would be good to gain foundational knowledge by taking a course.
As always, law school keeps me busy. Until next time...
So much has happened since my last post; I won a competition at school, and I finally completed my 16 credit semester. Right now I am relaxing and trying to stay far away from school or anything that remotely resembles learning.
We have a Dispute Resolution Board here at school. The board puts on competitions that allow students to gain practical experience by competing against each other using various alternative dispute resolution methods. My classmate and I decided to try the Client Counseling Competition. We practiced hard and felt very prepared when it was time to deliver. As a result, we won first place. It was an amazing feeling to win first place in a competition. We get to go on to the Regional's where we will compete with other law students from all over.
With 16 credits I have no idea how I had time to win a competition. My semester was crazy hectic because I had a lot of substantive classes. On one hand, I got some hard core classes out of the way, but on the other it was a lot of hard work. However, having fun classes made the harder ones bearable. One fun class I had was Criminal Motions Practice. In this class we wrote motions and argued them in front of our Professor. The practical skills I learned will prepare me for my summer job. Although this semester was busy, the important thing is that I got through it.
It's been a while since I've had time to journal, but summer is finally over so I'll catch you up on what's kept me busy this summer. This past summer I spent my time interning at TeamChild. TeamChild advocates for youth civil issues. I learned so much this summer about the work that needs to be done to improve disciplinary policies in our education system. During my time at Teamchild I hosted two workshops, and interviewed several stakeholders, for contribution to a white paper that will be published in the fall.
Something else that kept me busy was the Professional Responsibility ("PR") class that I took. I wanted to go ahead and get 3 credits out of the way, and lighten my load for one of the semesters this year by taking PR in the summer. This was my first evening class since I've been a law student, and the class environment felt different. The professor was funny, and made the subject easy and fun to learn. Also, just about everyone in the class was working during the day. We all were operating on our second wind.
You might think that at some point after my internship ended, and after my summer class ended that I had a huge break where I finally got to relax; uh no, I only had one week to relax and most of that time was spent reading in preparation for the first day of the fall semester. This summer I saw very little of the beach, had very little ice cream, and got very little rest. The one week I had to relax was spent preparing for the first day of my classes. Only two more years right? In the end it will all be worth it!
When I first started this entry, finals were just over and I was seeing relaxation and restoration in my future. I had two full weeks of vacation before my summer classes started, and I thought I would catch up on cleaning and all of the other things that had been neglected.
Fast forward. Classes start tomorrow, and I have done very little besides lay around. Some would say it was a much needed break, but I feel like I had so much I needed to get accomplished that still needs to be dealt with. Good news is that my summer internship has not started yet, and with class in the evening, I still have all day to finish up some things.
Professional Responsibility is my summer class of choice. This class seems interesting and I am eager to learn the important do's and don'ts of lawyering. Just about all of my friends will be in this class, so it should be fun and go by quickly.
Meanwhile, with two weeks until my summer internship starts, the nervousness is setting in. Almost all of my friends have already started their internships, so I am just patiently waiting to start mine. Though I have worked in a legal capacity before, at this level there will be heightened expectations. With that said, I am confident that S.U. has adequately prepared me.
I look forward to writing about my summer internship in June's entry; see you then.
Finals are finally almost here. I feel like a circus act as I juggle my legal writing, with studying for each of my classes. I look to the 2L's and 3L's for comfort and confirmation that I will get through this. At first everything seemed overwhelming, but with my memo down I feel like I am at least above water. Probably not the best time to pick up a new nail painting habit, as I have.
Now that summer is just around the corner, people often ask me what my plans are. The answer is so lame. Between my internship, and the summer class I am taking, I will not be doing much. I know it sounds rough, but I just look at it as temporary. The sun has been around since the beginning of time, so I am safe to assume that it will still be there when I am done with school. At that time, I will be able to enjoy the sun all the more because I won't have thoughts of school looming. Now if only I could get my child to understand my thought process. It's not all bleak though, I will have about a 1 month break between school and work. I am crossing my fingers that the weather will be hot during that time just for me.
In other exciting news, Spring Visit Day is fast approaching. I am super excited about this day because I remember being on the other side just a year ago. I look forward to meeting all of our new students. Law school can induce nervousness and anxiety in the beginning, but I hope to ease some of that for our new students with my friendly smile and warm personality.
Well I am off to my next study session; see you next month.
Spring Break came and went. I had so many big plans to get ahead, and get all of my reading done early during the break. By the time the end of the break came around, I was dusting off my books! I got very little done, but I did rest, and after all that is what Spring Break is for, right?
I realized one of the reasons why I did not get to everything I had planned was because I did not have everything organized. As a result I broke down and bought a planner yesterday. It will become my "handy dandy notebook" (reference to the popular children's show Blues Clues).
Spring Break is also a sign that finals are coming; it's kind of the calm before the storm. From now until May, I will temporarily relocate to the law library. I find that I just cannot study at home like I can in the library. At home there are so many distractions like: the sun peering in from the window, the television, the refrigerator, and the heaping pile of laundry that keeps staring at me. Every ten minutes I find myself needing to tend to something. The library is an environment that is conducive to studying; so if you see me in the library with a snuggie on and my books opened, do not be alarmed!
On a completely separate note, we just started a settlement negotiation unit in Torts. I was able to negotiate a settlement offer for my client, the insurance company, which was substantially lower than what the plaintiff offered. Even this tiny exercise has opened my eyes to yet another interest in law. There are so many opportunities to learn so much, and I just want to take it all in.
Memo 3 is taking over my life! I am in the middle of spring semester and I have so much on my plate. Everything seems to be creeping up all at once. Though I am busy, I understand the experience. I am thinking back to how my previous employer, who is an attorney, managed 40 cases. Surely I can manage 5 classes!
Thank goodness my classes are exciting. Right now I am particularly enjoying my elective class, Lawyering in a Just and Humane World. I knew that I would gain practical knowledge in dealing with clients, but I did not know that I would have to self-reflect; and oh boy has it been revealing. Overall, this class has given me plenty of tools that will help me in my upcoming summer internship.
Speaking of summer internships, I just found out that my classmate will be interning with me this summer. This is great! I met him on the first day of school when I approached him and said "Hi, I'm Tamara, what section are you in?" I am looking forward to working with him more this summer.
Okay, now I must get back to Memo 3.