SWLAW Blog | Dean's Fellow Digest

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March 9, 2020

Dean's Fellow Digest Issue #3 - Maximizing Your Spring Break and More

Issue: 2020-03

Dean's Fellows consistently strive to support students in realizing their full academic potential, leading ultimately to success on the bar exam and in the workplace. To support all Southwestern students in this goal, the Dean's Fellows created this Digest as a way to check-in at critical times throughout the semester with helpful tips, strategies, and encouragement. 


  • Maximizing Your Spring Break
  • Managing Your Social Network

Maximizing Your Spring Break
By: Katherine Vazquez*

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We made it—LAWS final brief is submitted, and Spring Break is here! Below is a strategy I use to maximize productivity during Spring Break.  

Create a To-Do List

I usually create an academic to-do list that includes everything I want to accomplish during the break. My to-do list generally includes assignment readings, outlines, any scholarship or externship applications, and practice exams.

Do not worry if your first draft is long and disorganized. The next step, below, is to organize your to-do list by day on a different document, break down the assignments, and provide specificity and detail to each task.

**Note: I like to write my to-do list on paper because once I complete a task, I can cross it out and feel accomplished. 

Break Down Your To-Do List by Day

After I make my long and general to-do list, I break down the tasks by day. I also include break times.

For example:

M O N D A Y  3 / 9 Schedule
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.                                                                Civil Procedure Outline: All topics within pretrial discovery.
12 p.m. – 1 p.m.                                                               Break
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.                                                               25 Civil Procedure multiple choice questions, which includes completing the questions open book, with a careful reading of each answer explanation—use as a way to check my outline.
4 p.m. – 5 p.m.                                                               Break
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.                                                               Fall 2016 Civil Procedure practice exam—timed and closed note, including time to review the provided rubric, as well as add to my outline, if needed.

 **Note: You do not have to be overly rigid with the schedule you set for yourself. If you feel like you can work on an outline longer, or you are ready to move on earlier than anticipated, make changes accordingly.

Prioritize Your Review

Prioritize your review during the break by tracking your weaknesses within the law. You can:

  1. On a macro level, identify the weaker course(s) you need to work on.
  2. On a micro level, set a plan of action by creating a list of topics/issues you still do not understand with the course.
  3. For each topic/issue, test your knowledge and understanding—use flashcards, have a friend/study group quiz you, explain the law to someone else, complete some multiple-choice questions, use the Examples & Explanations hypos to practice your analytical process. 
  4. Write down any confusion/questions you still have.
  5. After the break, meet with your professors and/or TA’s to get answers to those questions, and modify your study tools accordingly.

Take a Break during the Break

When Spring Break comes to a close, you learn that it is almost impossible to finish all the tasks on your to-do list. Great job if you do! I think the important lesson here is that you stay organized and focused. Also, please take a break during the break. You do not want to burn out. The goal is to come back from the break feeling energetic, well-rested, and ready to tackle the rest of your to-do list.

Happy Spring Break!

Managing Your Social Network
By: Kristen Abajian*

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With the very limited time students have in law school, it can be difficult to manage your social network, and it might even slip further down your priority list.

Here are some simple considerations to keep in mind as you manage your social network:

Social Network in Law School

Be friendly with everyone, and refrain from cut-throat competition. It is crucial in law school to have a good rapport with your peers—and it takes no additional time out of your day. In less than three years, your classmates will become your fellow associates, opposing counsel, or future referrals. Do your best to be kind to everyone because you never know how one person might help you in the future. Plus, what goes around comes around; spread kindness, and it will come back to you.

Networking Events

Image - NetworkingI know that attending networking events can seem like additional stress that you do not want to deal with. But it does not have to be as stressful as it may seem! In Today @ Southwestern emails, you can find various events during lunchtime, or after class, that are worth taking advantage of without leaving campus. It is also a good idea to join your local bar association (Beverly Hills Bar Association, Downtown LA Bar Association, etc.). They often have new associate/student sectors or mentorship programs that host events every few weeks.

Once you have fully committed yourself to attending a networking event, here are some suggestions to make the most of it:

  • Review the attendee list in advance, if there is one, and research those people online to see who you’d like to get to know better.
  • Commit yourself to meeting five new people and getting their business cards.
  • Write down one key fact about everyone you speak with, so that you have a reason to follow up.
  • Commit to setting up five phone or in-person meetings with the people that you’ve met within one week of the networking event.

Social Network Outside of Law School

As a law student, it is common to hear friends and family say, “Where have you been? I haven't seen you forever!” Or better yet, when you haven’t seen someone in a while, “Do you still live in LA?!” This can get annoying to hear, especially if you're out of the library and trying to make an effort to see friends outside of law school. However, it is important to remember that there is life outside of law school. Even though law school is currently your number one priority, reconnecting with friends and family can make you feel happy, more relaxed, and check you out of the often stressful routine of law school. After spending time relaxing, you’ll be able to bounce back into school with even more focus.

On the other hand, do not be afraid to say no to friends and family when necessary. Staying focused and on top of your schoolwork during the semester can make a significant difference with your grades at the end of the semester. Your family will be happy you turned down going to your cousin’s birthday party if choices such as this contribute to your law school academic success.

Just remember: It is important to keep a good rapport with your friends and family because they might become future clients one day. 

*About the Author:


Image - Katherine Vazquez 1Katherine Vazquez is a 2L traditional day student. Before law school, Katherine interned with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in the Post-Conviction Litigation and Discovery Unit.

Last year, Katherine externed at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. She was also a law clerk in the Removal Defense Clinic. This summer 2020, Katherine will be an extern at the Office of Legislative Counsel in Sacramento.

In addition to serving as a Dean’s Fellow, Katherine is a Staff Editor for the Southwestern Journal of International Law and a Contributing Editor for Litigation News, a publication of the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation.

In her free time, Katherine likes to hang out at the beach with her friends and dogs, Django and Jami.



Image - Kristen AbajianKristen is a 2L traditional day student. During the summer of 2019, Kristen worked at Manzuri Law, a cannabis corporate and transactional law firm. ​In addition to being a Dean’s Fellow, Kristen serves as the National President of the Armenian Law Student’s Association. ​

Kristen is excited to provide meaningful guidance to 1Ls. She intends to share tools with students to grow both professionally and academically during their first year of law school. ​



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