February 5, 2021
Dean's Fellow Digest #23 - Reflection Drives Success
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.
IN THIS ISSUE:
- Reflection Drives Success
Reflection Drives Success
By: Eden Moalem*
Winter break has come to an end and you finally have all of your grades back. The relief of getting to “erase” (but not really, the bar exam will be here soon enough!) the memories of Criminal Law, Civil Procedure I, LAWS I, Torts, and Property is setting in and you get a fresh start to the new semester… but do you really?
Yes, you do get a fresh start to your second semester of law school but no, you cannot completely forget about your first semester. How you approach the Spring Semester should be intentional and strategic.
So, how can you use your first semester of law school to help you do even better in your second semester?
Reflect on your first semester (it’s never too late to reflect!). Take into consideration your performance on final exams, but more importantly, how you utilized office hours, TA’s, your Dean’s Fellow, prepared for classes, worked on outlines, studied for finals (emphasizing active review and legal understanding), and how you felt physically and mentally.
Be honest with yourself and kind to yourself. Starting something new is always scary and challenging, but how you started shouldn’t define you or your trajectory in law school. It is how you continue pushing forward that drives your success.
You reflected, drowned your sorrows in a tub of ice cream, and celebrated your accomplishments with your loved ones, but now what?
I encourage you, whether you earned those A’s or hoped for better grades, to strategically read through your finals, with an eye toward where you missed specific points. I know it can be painful, but it will help you figure out where you went wrong.
While it is important to understand the substantive material, I recommend looking at the bigger picture to identify what you can do differently this time around. Do you need to work on your time management? Do you need to take practice tests earlier in the semester? Or, do you need to develop new note-taking and study habits altogether? Whatever it may be, going over your finals will unveil what you can do differently.
Now, it is not all bad. You also get to see what you did well! Acknowledging what you did right will allow you to focus on what you need to improve. So, give yourself some credit and take note of your accomplishments.
The next thing I recommend doing is comparing your course outline to your final. Were you missing any important information in your outline that you didn’t think would be tested? Did you have enough detail in your outline to apply to your final? Did you have too much detail in your outline making it impossible to pinpoint the main rules and issues when under time constraints? Figure out whether you were able to utilize your outline in the most productive way possible and what you need to tweak to help achieve your long-term law school goals.
If your outline or class notes did not help you prepare for your finals in the way that you hoped, reach out to your Dean’s Fellow and brainstorm with them what you can do differently this semester.
That is what we are here for. We want to see you succeed and help you attain the success we know you can achieve.
You can follow a similar approach with your LAWS course. Upon reviewing the comments your professor provided, try to pinpoint your overall difficulties. After making a list and coming up with potential solutions, schedule a meeting with your LAWS professor to discuss the list you curated with potential solutions. See what your professor thinks, and even ask for other advice that you may not have thought of about how to approach this new semester.
While this semester’s LAWS paper will be different than your first semester, it is essential that you have a game plan for yourself, and your professors are there to help. One of the best things that I did in LAWS II was utilize my professor’s office hours as much as possible. However, don’t expect your professor to read over every draft, or give you the cases you need. Come prepared to office hours – have a list of substantive questions so that you get the most out of your time spent.
Finally, check-in with yourself. Did you feel so overwhelmed that you completely isolated yourself, gave up on working out, and maybe forgot to eat your daily veggies? Did you do anything that truly made you happy? I know it is difficult during the pandemic but think of safe and healthy ways to take care of yourself. My suggestion is to give yourself thirty minutes a day to do something that makes you feel good. Eat healthy. Exercise. Make sure that you are mentally strong so that you can tackle this semester with a clear and positive mind.
On that note, try to find your people. I know that Zoom makes it more difficult, but try to connect with your peers because they are the only ones that truly know what you are going through at this moment. Not only that, but it will be a great start to forming study groups. Your peers took the same finals as you. Your struggle may have been a point of strength of another and vice-versa. You can help each other and teach each other and make the second semester of law school a little more fun!
Need help connecting? Reach out to your Dean’s Fellow! They would love to initiate a group get-together!
There is always room for improvement, and if you work hard and take the right steps forward, success is right around the corner.
Eden is a Traditional Day 3L student who graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, and a minor in Psychology. In her 1L summer, Eden externed in-house for Securitas Security Company. During her 2L year, Eden was Professor Turner’s Teaching Assistant and on the Moot Court Honors Program. This summer, Eden worked at West Coast Trial Lawyers in the employment group of the firm and was Professor Dorff’s Research Assistant. She is also the Internal Operations Chair of the Moot Court Honors. Eden began working at Lewis Brisbois this semester.
Eden is always excited to help other students and be a source of support! In her free time, Eden enjoys working out, hiking, and spending time with her friends.
Dean’s Fellows are upper-division students with strong academic skills who go through a rigorous application and training process. They are an integral part of the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department. They are carefully selected based on their academic excellence and ability to teach other students best-practice study methods that will help them become acclimated to the study of law. Dean’s Fellows meet with students as academic mentors.
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