Law School

XCIV: What Is A J.D. Anyway?

Most of my family doesn’t know that I am still in school. And those who do know have no clue what type of degree I am working on — and honestly many people don’t know what a J.D. is, they just know what a lawyer is.

Lawyers and doctors are thought of amongst societies elite, but many people don’t even understand the process that comes before the title. So, my hope is that this post will help just a tiny bit.

THE LEVELS:

A lot of people are confused about what level of education a Juris Doctorate is, even though the answer is in the title. Don’t worry, I understand!

Many think that a J.D. and a Master’s are about the same, which is simply NOT true.  Here’s a boring spectrum, if ever there were one:

High School Diploma ➡️AA Degree ➡️BA/BS (Bachelor’s Degree) ➡️MA/MBA (Master’s Degree) ➡️ Doctorate Degrees — PsyD/Juris Doctorate/PhD/MD

Every degree in the last category are amongst the highest degrees that one can receive. So there is no ‘I got a Master’s instead of a Juris Doctorate’ because they are simply not in the same category. If it’s easier, you can think of them as stepping stones.

I know a person with a degree in every category (or degree in progress) so I just think of each of them as a stepping stone to the next where one is required before the other (except Master’s). I see each as more and more of an accomplishment along the way, but I am sure to educate myself on what each degree means so that I address each person with said degree accordingly.

You worked for the degree, but I’m not in the business of giving you more than what you worked for or of giving you less than what you worked for. So, the levels are important.

THE CONFUSION:

The only reason that I forget that I am getting a degree in the doctoral level of education is that I am not done once I finish school. I still have to sit for the bar exam (although this is an option, and not everyone who attends law school takes the bar exam).

I oftentimes forget to pat myself on the back for the work that I’ve done, the progress that I’ve made, and the places that I’ve been with the hard work that I’ve put into getting these degrees.

But, I want it to be clear that, once you get a degree such as a J.D., you have options!

  1. You can be done and simply denote that you have a J.D. by leaving those initials at the end of your name (which is cool).  _____________, J.D.

  2. You can take the part of the degree that acknowledges you as a Doctor of Jurisprudence and call yourself Dr. ____________.

  3. You can sit for the bar exam, pass, and place “Esquire/Esq.” in your surname — making you ____________, Esq.

  4. Do nothing and keep your degree a secret. I commend your humility.

  5. But, as long as you pass the bar exam (in addition to your moral character application and the MPRE), you can practice law in your state. Otherwise, you can work wherever you see fit — many with J.D.s go to the Capitol.

So, I think that I’ve said all that needs to be said about a Juris Doctorate degree.

The big takeaways here are that (1) THIS IS A BIG DEAL; (2) Acknowledge people’s degrees correctly — they worked hard for it!; (3) if you’re unsure about what someone’s degree is or what to call them, then JUST ASK THEM. If they aren’t jerks, then chances are, they’ll explain it to you (I’ve had someone try to place Master’s and J.D.’s in the same category and then get upset when I asked her what a Master’s was in comparison to a J.D.).

Moving forward! Congrats to the Class of 2019. Congrats to all receiving Juris Doctorate degrees. Hopefully this post helps to explain what the heck that actually means.

🎓🎓🎓

LXXXI: I Think I’ve Earned My Right To Not Be Okay With BS, Yes?

Someone asked that I write out this post so that I can get it all out and “feel better”.

I honestly do not believe that writing out this post will help me at all, but I do believe that it will help some of my close friends understand why I’ve been so distant.

I TEND TO DISTANCE MYSELF WHEN I’M AT A LOSS.

I am the type of person that believes that you can bring down other peoples’s mood with your mood, so I feel that, me feeling down daily will affect those around me. I, of course, do not like that. So, I distance myself. I don’t see the point in discussing the things that have gotten me down because it’s usually the case that, if I’m already at the point, then we’re past the time where something can be done about it.

A BIG PART OF THIS POST IS THE SIMPLE FACT THAT I GIVE UP ON EVERYTHING!

I am done with everything.

I have worked my butt off for decades at everything and everyone in my life. Doors were closed in my face, and I’d pivot and open new doors. I was told no, and I’d lift my head and make a ‘yes’ out of it. I was given lemons, I always made lemonade. I was given dead flowers and I turned them into a backdrop.

But, I am tired.

For years I’ve picked myself up, I’ve been my own hero. I’ve been my own biggest fan. I’ve been my own cheerleader. I’ve fought. I’ve studied. I’ve learned. I’ve tried. BUT I AM DONE.

I’ve worked myself to a point of knowing, wholeheartedly, that I deserve a break. So, I’m taking one.

I’m tired of having to pick myself up after other people’s disappointments. I’m tired of being stuck with the thought and memories of people who have no thoughts and memories of me. I am tired of wanting better for people who do not even want better for themselves.

SUPERHERO OFF DUTY.

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This superhero is now off duty. I do not want to be the strong Black woman who has it all together, who is always working her butt off at everything only to come second, and who gives her all to relationships only to end up not even knowing the person once it’s over.

For the time being, I am free.

There is very little that I care about and very little that I am going to do. Apart from studying and finishing up law school strong, I am done. I don’t care about anything. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to even talk to anyone. 🤷🏾‍♀️

BUT, WHY IS THIS OKAY?

In my opinion, this is okay because, the alternative is to lose my mind. I’d rather not allow the things and people of this world to make me insane. I’d rather do what I need to do to keep my sanity.

Realizing your limits is a very important thing. And person to person, those limits will look very different. For me, this is what it looks like when I’ve reached my limit. I literally have to throw my hands up regarding everything in my life and just let it all go.

I think that, as long as I explain to my readers why my content has been one-sided, and as long as I explain to my friends and family why I’ve been so distant then I’ve officially covered my bases and can begin to do what I need to do for me.

Luckily for my readers, I love blogging, so I will continue to blog, but apart from that, I’m off the grid. ✌🏾

XLIII: Washington D.C. - Can We Eat A Little?

One of my absolute favorite places in the world (so far), is Washington D.C. I love this place so much so that I make it a point to go there each year (time and money permitting). 

On this year's wonderful trip, I decided to invite my mom, who never travels, and my sister, who always travels. My main goal was to eat as much food as I could and to celebrate my 27th birthday. This was the perfect plan because everyone on the trip knew that I literally only went there to eat and see the city (two very easy things to do in D.C.).

So, when we finally got there, my first stop was:


Bojangles | Famous chicken n' Biscuits

This was our first stop, mainly because I was hyping this place up for about a month before we actually got to D.C. and secondly because of it's close proximity to our hotel. We were staying in the heart of Capitol Hill (literally a 5 minute walk to the Capitol) which was conveniently placed by Union Station. Union Station is a beautiful metro station filled with food (BOJANGLES!) and stores for shopping. 

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We ordered about $40.00 worth of food which came in a huge box (with a sweet tea). You literally cannot go wrong with either spicy chicken wings, or spicy chicken strips from Bojangles! Add a side of their perfectly seasoned fries, and red beans and rice and you've got a satisfying food coma. 

If you can't resist something sweet, then I highly recommend that you get one of their BoBiscuits (even though I missed out on this gem) or one of their delicious pies. 

Something else that we missed out on was requesting that they throw some Mumbo Sauce in with our order. My friend mentioned, over and over, that we find Mumbo Sauce while we were in Washington D.C. (the home of Mumbo Sauce), but it just kept slipping our minds due to all of the other excitement around us. 

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The next morning, we all got up, got dressed and asked for food recommendations! One place that everyone at our hotel (Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill - horrible service and you'll always get overcharged) couldn't stop raving about was Art & Soul. 

Luckily for us, this restaurant was located right across the street and all we had to do was take one hot and humid stroll over. 

Art and Soul

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This was basically a fancy twist on soul food. Now, normally, anytime someone attempts to "fancify" soul food, it's disgusting and offensive, but, Art & Soul was a pleasant surprise that I did not see coming. 

The ambiance inside of this restaurant was everything that you imagine for a swanky, upscale, D.C., socialite-type of restaurant. It had a clear and open floor plan, low hanging lights, a chic color scheme, and it was well furnished.

We were seated at a high table near the bar (so my friend could watch sports, I mean, enjoy being in my presence), and one thing that stuck out to me was the fact that there was a huge, beautiful floor-to-ceiling mirror with silver sparkly trim to our right. In the reflection was nothing but us four and the beautiful restaurant behind us. It was a beautiful sight to eat brunch to...

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Now let’s get to the food. 

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I ordered cheesy grits with ham and bacon. This was a perfectly savory breakfast that was surely to stick to the arteries!

My friend got delicious lemon pancakes with mixed berries cooked into them. Now, the lemon flavored pancakes were good enough alone but with the mixed berries... it was simply amazing! If I get the chance to go back to Art & Soul, that will be my next meal. 


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Shake Shack

Next up, well after a nail shop, a farmers market and a very pleasant visit to Loc Luv, we went looking for a quick bite. What better place to grab a quick bite than Shake Shack?!

If you have ever been to the East Coast and haven't tried Shake Shack then you're totally missing out. It would have to be the best burger and fries combo that you can get. I ate it a total of 2 times in about 3 total days while in the food hub (Washington D.C.), so trust me when I say that this food is good. 


RPM Italian

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This was probably the best meal I've ever had.

No, I am not over-exaggerating! If you've ever been to Washington D.C. and had RPM Italian, then you'll agree, it's some of the best food you've eaten. Even a dish as simple as spaghetti is delicious! 

This location is definitely a more upscale one, but they are still willing to serve you as you are. Trust me, I rolled up to this restaurant on my long board with my friend, dying from the humidity of D.C. and they were perfectly fine with treating us as if we were dressed in our finest. 

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The atmosphere was absolutely marvelous. We saw everything from: casual long-boarders on a mission for good food and a romantic evening to couples celebrating anniversaries, to co-workers in desperate need of a drink after work. 

I more than enjoyed myself throughout this whole dinner. I enjoyed the company that I kept and I especially enjoyed the food. RPM provided me with a dining experience that I will, surely, never forget.

Here's what we ordered:

Truffled Garlic Bread circa 1963

Spaghetti & Meatball

Sautéed Broccolini

&

The Seafood Pasta Special

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And, for dessert, we had:

Vanilla Gelato

Delicious Beignets

Together forever  - Tati | Terry | Brianna J. 

Together forever - Tati | Terry | Brianna J. 

*Stock Images Used Throughout This Post*

XXX: Law School - What’s It Really Like?

LSAT Preparation:

Hindsight on LSAT preparation makes it very clear that it is in no way related to law school. And here I was thinking that the logic games would get me through law school...

But, because I had no idea that the two were barely related, I prepared for it like any other stressed out pre-law student would -- I hit the books! I spent days in the public library reading through every LSAT prep book that I could find. I checked them out. I took notes. I tried my best to talk about it out loud in order to make myself understand what I was reading. But, let's be real, the material on the LSAT is not material that you can pick up and just learn. So, I looked for outside help and found that there are LSAT preparation courses. I made that my graduation gift from my lovely grandmother, and I was on my way!

The prep course was by Testmasters and I found out that they are as amazing as they say they are. The course was created by Robin Singh, an LSAT guru who holds the world record for scoring a perfect score on the LSAT 12 times! They walked us through each section of the LSAT over a three month period that led up to the date of the LSAT. We spent our weekends doing practice LSATs so that we could get a feel for how the LSAT would go, and then we spent our weekdays going over what we didn't understand during our practice LSATs of the past weekend. 

Overall, I felt as though the course seriously helped me to improve my LSAT score. My score from when I started the course to when the course concluded had increased by 15 points which, to me, was enough to make me seriously believe in the program. 

1E

So fast-forward to me being in law school. All I can really remember about my first year of law school is the torture that was Torts. For some reason the topic just failed to stick, so I definitely did not do my best in that course. The Socratic method of teaching reared its very ugly head all throughout my Torts class which left me scarred for life. 

The Socratic Method of teaching is definitely a given during your first year of law school. It is a sort of cold call where you are stuck answering a ton of questions about the topics of the night's reading, so you'd better go to each class prepared or you will be embarrassed in front of your peers. 

Another unpleasant class that introduced what would become the new style of teaching for the duration of my law school stay was Civil Procedure. Now, I did not have a complete aversion to this class, but my classmates still complain about it to this day so I think that it is safe to say that it sucked. What sucked most about it was the fact that, unlike my Torts professor who used the Socratic method to get through classes, my Civil Procedure professor seemed to have a style of teaching and talking that was not as confident and kind of all over the place. This made it seem as though he had no idea what was going on the whole time and made him seem less credible, but I still liked him because he tried. I didn't learn much during that class but I appreciated his efforts!

Your first year will include classes like:

A. Torts
B.  Criminal Law I
C. Global Lawyering Skills I
D. Legal Profession
E. Civil Procedure

2E

My second year of law school was only memorable because I took Global Lawyering Skills II. This is the class where you write a brief and give an oral argument based on a case that you're given early in the year.

Throughout the year we conduct research and give mini oral arguments during class to prepare us for the final oral argument which is given in front of three judges and your opponent. This was the second year's biggest challenge for me. 

They say that during the first year, you're scared to death and during the second year, you're worked to death, and that is true! My second year of law school was more difficult because we weren't coddled as much as we were the first year. During the first year, we were our professors babies and they were just giving us tough love. But, during our second year, we had all grown up and were off to college so we were on our own. But, keep in mind, the professors are still available for office hours and they encourage you to show up for them! But, they cut you zero slack and really start to prepare you to be an associate during your second year of law school.

Your second year will include classes like:

A. Property
B. Constitutional Law
C. Statutes & Regulations
D. Global Lawyering Skills II
E. Contracts
F. Electives to fulfill simulation and practicum requirement

3E

Third year seems like a blur because you are burned out and ready to be done with law school already. For me, third year was filled with electives and a lot of work. 

I started each semester of my third year totally ready to be one step closer to being done with law school, but by around the second week, I'd lost the steam and I was ready to be lazy again. 

The biggest struggle of third year, for me, was staying motivated. It was hard to continue to go to  class after a long day of work. It was difficult to deal with the fact that you're burned out now, but you still have one more year to go. 

So my best advice for you during your third year is to work hard but also find your escape and visit it often. It will keep you sane.

Your third year will include classes like:

A. Evidence
B. Business Associations/Criminal Procedure/Community Property
C. Professional Responsibility
D. Remedies
E. And, you guessed it, Electives!

4E

I have only finished one class into my fourth year of law school (yes, evening students get four years of joy), but, so far I am just taking classes that I am interested in. 

Your fourth year will pretty much be shaped by your legal interests. This is the year that you get to either do a semester in practice, do an externship, or just take electives the whole time. You fourth year is essentially yours!

 

 

I cannot end this post without mentioning how great of a ride law school has been. I've bonded with the professors and administrators who have opened my eyes to my capabilities and to the amazing things that come for those pursuing law. And, I've had quite a bit of fun while doing it. 

I know that a lot of people are completely turned off to the idea of law school because of what they've seen on the television or in the movies, but the experience is really your own. You just have to get there.

Good luck to those of you studying for the July Bar. Congratulations to those who have been accepted to a law school and happy studying to those of you preparing for the LSAT!

XVII: Can I Just Tell You All The Ways That I Am NOT Killing It Right Now?

As much as I am sure you'd all like to believe someone else has all of their stuff together, I can assure you that 9 times out of 10, they do not. Let me forever be the first to make it known that I am flourishing in nary an area of my life at the moment. No, I'm not joking. Let me explain... 

Work

Have you ever rode on a stationary bike? You worked hard on that bike, no? But, when you got off, you were in the same spot you were when you started, weren't ya? 

That's me all day at work. I feel like I work so hard sometimes that I break a sweat! No, I really sit at my desk sweating (for no reason, mind you) and just typing away in an effort to reduce the piles of work on my desk and in the inbox of my emails. When five o'clock hits, all of those piles are still there and my emails are still in the double digits. 

This has really started to weigh on me. It causes me, instead of working harder, to feel as though I am stuck whether I'm working or not. I look at the piles and instead of becoming motivated, I become discouraged. I begin to think that, even if I work my butt off, it will never end this cycle. And so begins the downward spiral. At that point, I am no longer filled with the joy of waking up to report to a job that I love. Instead, I dread waking up and heading out to another day of not being good enough. But, I was told that this is just another part of life that I am tasked with getting through. I've accepted that challenge and am working hard to keep my head above the rough waters that my job has been throwing at me.  

School

I will preface this by saying that I am handling school so much better this semester than I did last semester. I had no idea what was going on last semester and the first time that I actually opened up my books was to study for finals. 

This semester, however, I know where all of my classes are, I attend them and I've read some books. But, let's be real, it is law school. There is not a day that doing the bare minimum will get you by. So, in short, I am simply not killing this law school thing right now. Blame it on the exhaustion. Blame it on the burn-out. Blame it on me actually wanting to have a life for a little while instead of giving in to the guilt of not studying. 

Whatever I choose to blame it on this week, something's got to give, because with the fast-paced environment of law school and its competitive nature, you just can't take time out to feel sorry for yourself or to feel tired/burned-out. 

Dating

Wait, what is that? 

No really. I took a year and some change to just completely be out of the dating game. This meant no talking to men (unless it was business), no entertaining men, no flirting, nothing beyond basic conversation. It was a great year! But it also took away whatever minimal ability I had to do these things before.

I was awkward in social situations then, but oh if you could see me now, you’d be amazed. It’s almost like watching your parents try to compose a text, or my favorite, watching your parents create a Facebook post. It's painful for everyone within a 50-foot radius, let me tell you. 

Although I am back in a space where I am open to having an adventure buddy and someone to go eat at random places with that won't judge my portions, I am also in a space where the prospects are slim to non-existent (blame it on my year of non-social activities). I am also deeply opposed to any form of "social dating," so if you slide past my profile on a dating app I can assure you that you are being Catfish-ed. Call Nev and Max immediately!

Curse me and my belief in an old-school attachment. In holding out for that, and even in trying to create that attachment, I very easily become discouraged at the thought of venturing into this world of vulnerability. One day I am super excited to be this open and vulnerable, and the next day I am cursing to the wind about how stupid it is. 

Will I ever figure this out? Who knows, but just know that I am currently not killing the dating game. 

Working Out

I have never been one to spend hours in the gym. I do not believe that a good workout takes half a day. I think that you can get in, get it done, and get out. I have no clue what the people that spend an hour and a half in the gym, with a notepad, are doing, except being in the way of the people that don't need to look at pictures to use the equipment (Hi! That's me).

With this said, I used to have a strict workout regimen, and it worked for me. I’d wake up in the morning, go for a run, go to work, go to class, go home, do homework and go to bed. The only alterations I’d make to that schedule were to change my morning run to a lunch time run. It worked for me until it didn’t work for me. 

Nowadays, I find it harder to wake up in the morning, even harder to get out of bed, and please believe that I am in bed earlier and earlier every night. I make all kinds of excuses for not working out knowing that working out is the only thing, at this point, that keeps me somewhat sane. 

The worst part of all of this is that my lack of physical activities is starting to show. Those that know me know that I maintain somewhat of an athlete's body. I've grown to love this little fact about me, but these days that athletic build is turning into mush. I have love handles. I am losing every row of abs that I previously had. My arms are turning into flab, and for the first time in my life, I think I have actual back fat. 

So, as far as working out is concerned, I am not even close to killing it, but I am slowly but surely working my way back to where I once was.

Friendships

I am so sad to say that, this year, I am having more lights shown on the faces of more fake friends. The shadows that this casts is uncomfortable to say the least. More so because I keep hope that they will change or get better (as if fake is a curable disease). 

With every realization, I am left feeling emptier and emptier. Let's just say that, once I allow you in, I put way more faith in you than you likely deserve. Losing a friend usually hurts me as much as losing a "lover." I am not one to form relationships with just anyone. I take the process very seriously, so whenever I find out that I was not as good a judge of character as I'd intended, it usually breaks me down. 

This all leaves me passing out way more side-eyes than smiles which is just not a way to live your life. How pleasant can life be when you feel as though you have to constantly watch your back with those closest to you just to make sure that they don't stab you (as if you could stop it)?

I am, however, optimistic that getting rid of the old batch of friends will bloom new and beautiful connections that I couldn't have projected while in the shadows of the fake friends. 


So, although I am not batting a perfect .400, or even a .300, I am optimistic that all of the walls that I've seemed to hit lately will yield beautiful detours to breathtaking ends. 

This is me creating my own light and good fortune. We shall see how long this lasts... 


Strive, forever, to be the ‘Selfless’ in the land of the Selfish.
— Brianna J.