Wednesday, December 20, 2006

 

Finally Done ... Time to Relax

Well, I survived the most hectic schedule of exams I've had yet. Now begins the long wait for grades to be submitted. In law school (at least at MSU), the professors are given until mid-late January to submit grades, and most use every day of that time. Basically, you are already weeks into the next semester when you find out how you did the previous semester. I hate it, but unfortunately there is nothing I can do about it.

I can, however, enjoy the time off and forget about law school for awhile. I'm heading to Florida with my family, which should be a great break from Michigan.

On a side note, I think I'm going to start studying for the patent bar exam this semester. I know it is a lot to take on in addition to law school, but I want to get it done and not have to deal with it after the third year of law school - after that, my time will be devoted to studying for the state bar exam. I'm planning on using the study materials from PatBar.com, which I've heard is one of the best. They say it is broken into 60 sessions taking 2-3 hours each, which means I could take the patent bar in late-February or early-March, depending on when I start. I think that this will work out fine, because I don't have morning classes, so I can devote each morning to a session, and then once I take the exam, I still have half of a semester left to truly buckle-down and focus on law school. Let's hope it all works out.

Well, that's all for now. Merry Christmas everyone, and have a happy New Year.

Monday, December 04, 2006

 

Very Hectic Schedule

The last few weeks of a semester in law school are the most hectic weeks I have ever experienced. There is the scramble to make sure your outlines are up to date and complete so you have something of worth to study from.

Unfortunately, I have (for the first time) two exams in one day. And if that isn't bad enough, I actually have two days with two exams each. Talk about not getting a break.

It's going to be an extremely busy next couple of weeks. I'll try to make one more substantive post in the next few weeks. Until then, good luck to everyone with exams.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

 

Evaluating Your Progress

Throughout the school year I am often asked this by friends and family: "How is school going?" My answer should be "I have no idea," but I usually throw out a "Fine" or "It's ok."

To be totally honest, there is no way to evaluate your progress during the semester in law school. Each class comes down to one final exam, which determines your entire grade in the class.

While there may not be a way to truly evaluate your progress during the semester, there are a few things you can do to estimate where you're at.

(1) How complete is your outline? If your outline is completely up to date, then you are most likely ahead of the game, leaving yourself more actual study time, rather than preparation for studying.

(2) Attend office hours regularly to test your knowledge of the current material with the professor. Some professors will be more helpful than others by offering practice exams or practice questions that they are willing to discuss.

(3) Study. Study. Study some more. Repeat. If you are up to date with your outline and are constantly reviewing it along with your notes, then you most likely have a good grasp on the material. At this stage, I would recommend buying a commercial outline and completing all of the practice questions and essays - the more the better.


As you can see, it's not impossible to estimate your progress in the course. If you keep up to date with your outlines and study a lot, you'll be fine. If you find yourself a few days before exams begin with not a single outline started, then my guess would be you're in trouble.

Monday, October 30, 2006

 

A Day in the Life of a Summer Associate

I thought I'd document an average day of work when I was a summer associate.

8:00/9:00 am - I'd arrive and head to my desk and check my mail to see if either of my mentors, the summer program advisors, or a client had e-mailed me. I'd often go visit my senior mentor to give him an update as to where I was at on the files I was working on at the time. If I was about to finish working on a file, or had already finished, I would normally request more work, which there was always plenty of.

Up until lunch - I'd usually pick back up where I'd left of the day before, which was usually working on a patent application. Since some of these were incredibly detailed, it would often take me about a half hour to get back up to speed as to what I was working with.

Lunch - One of the perks of being a summer associate is being "wined and dined." We were usually taken out for very nice lunches by senior attorneys at least once a week. If we weren't being taken to lunch, a few of us would often go grab something quickly, and bring it back to the office and eat while we worked. Sometimes I would work through lunch and then take off a little early in the evening.

Lunch - 3:00 pm - I received quite a few research assignments from random attorneys throughout the summer. It was often hard to budget my time between working on patent applications for my mentor and working on important research for other attorneys. The reason it is difficult is all of the attorneys think their work is the most important thing you should be doing. I would usually budget half of the afternoon to work on any research that I had at the time.

3:00 pm - 5:00/6:00 pm - I would usually spend the last few hours of the day continuing to work on patent applications or office actions for my mentors. I would often spend about an hour with my junior mentor going over the progress I had made that day, and he would give me feedback, which I would then use in making changes, or preparing notes on the changes I should make the following day.

5:00/6:00 pm - ??? - Another perk of being "wined and dined" as a summer associate was often free dinners and events to go to. Some of the events included concerts, wine tasting, and a riverboat tour.


As you can see, a summer associate gets benefits beyond what a clerk or someone doing an externship would get - you get paid very well and you get to enjoy some nice perks. This is why these positions are more sought after and therefore more competitive/selective.


Mark your calendars for November 18th for UM vs. OSU - it should be an amazing game.

GO BLUE!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

 

Engineering Internships

While you may think I left engineering behind when I started law school, the truth is I actually use my engineering skills more than my legal skills when doing patent work. Therefore, seeing as how important it is, I thought it would be appropriate to touch on some of my experiences in engineering.

I worked as an intern for two different companies during the summers before my junior and senior years of undergrad. I didn't enjoy either of these internships (hence why I'm in graduate school), but it was for different reasons.

The first summer was more of an office job, working in a cubicle doing work with computers. Basically, I spent most of my time constructing client demonstration kits using automation electronics, such as programmable logic controllers (PLC), human-machine interface (HMI) displays, and input-output (I/O). Most of these kits would include on of each of the three listed components, that I would have to wire and program to be "flashy" in an attempt to impress the client. Usually, this involved writing ladder logic programs to make the lights of the I/O flash in patterns, and programming the HMI to allow the user to select different flashing patterns. This internship was very boring because I constantly found myself without a project to work on. However, this job did pay more than the other.

The second summer was more hands-on, working in lab building and testing things. Basically, I spent most of my time actually constructing and testing automation electronics, such as HMI assemblies, LED matrix displays, and water densification systems (for robots). The difficulty in this job was the learning curve, considering I had never constructed any of these products before. After a few weeks I had the hang of constructing most of the devices the lab produced. Testing for most of the devices was fairly simple: make sure each buttom of an HMI assembly works, make sure each LED of a display works, etc. This internship was not boring because there was always a project to do when one was completed. However, the process of building and testing these devices was incredibly repetitive. This job also paid much less than the other job (close to minimum wage).

Those were my two experiences with engineering internships. They are not the most glamorous stories, and you may understand why I decided to go to law school - both of these experiences definately influenced my decision. However, don't let this discourage you, because I have friends who have had amazing experiences with their internships, most of which are now working with those companies they interned for. Just remember - make sure you enjoy what you're doing. This summer I finally found work I enjoyed doing, which puts me at ease as I proceed towards "the real world."

Monday, October 02, 2006

 

Interviewing

Seeing as on-campus interviewing (OCI) is going on right now, I thought I'd touch on the law school interviewing process.

Almost all law schools offer students the opportunity to participate in an OCI program. There is usually an academic requirement, either for the participation in the OCI program or to submit applications/resumes to certain employers. Usually, employers are looking for students with above a 3.0 GPA, although it can vary (2.7-3.3 most likely). Employers are also very interested in students participating in extracurricular activities, with the two biggest ones being law review and moot court. There are also journals to write for, such as the business law journal, and student organizations to be a part of, such as the intellectual property law society. These more focused activities will look good depending on the legal field of the employer.

During OCI, students will submit resumes (and possibly transcripts) to employers, and most likely get a brief interview. Then, second (and possibly third) rounds of interviewing will occur with students that each employer chooses. This could lead to a summer associate position, or possibly a part-time or full-time clerking position. These are some of the most competitive positions because they normally pay.

An alternative to working for a firm is externships, which include working for judges and prosecutor's offices. These are more abundant and less competitive because they do not pay, but they do give academic credit. Many of these can be applied for by completing forms and submitting transcripts and resumes, either electronically or by mail. There may also be the opportunity to apply for externships in person at OCI, or possibly at another career fair.

Now, the big problem I've seen with patent law is the lack of specialized patent law firms coming to OCI and career fairs. Many firms have intellectual property attorneys and do some patent work, but to get the most out of your summer or clerking position, I would try to work for a specialized patent law firm. The solution to the lack of firms is to research online and submit resumes and transcripts to the firm recruiting contacts. It is a more difficult process, but you are very in-demand at specialized patent law firms if you have an engineering degree.

That is a quick run-down of the law school interviewing process. I may update this later if I notice anything different, or maybe I will update you on my success sending out information to firms.


GO BLUE! Beat MSU! (seriously, if for some crazy reason we lose, I get hit twice as hard living in East Lansing)

Friday, September 22, 2006

 

Busy Busy

Sorry I haven't been able to post in awhile - between law school and college football I have basically no time.

First off I want to congratulate the Michigan football team for the huge win at Notre Dame. I was in South Bend for our last two losses, and although I'm jealous I missed our first win there in a long time (1994 I believe), I'm extremely happy (I hate Notre Dame). We are now considered a legitimate national title contender. Just imagine if Michigan and Ohio State are undefeated playing at the Horeshoe at the end of the year ... wow.


Anyways, as much as I wish this was a sports blog, it's not, so back to school. School is kicking into gear right now, and the pace and difficulty have picked up a bit since the first two weeks. One of the important topics I want to point out that is essential to success in law school is OUTLINING.

The tricky part about law school is there are no graded assignments or projects throughout the year. Your grade is based on ONE final exam - basically, all your eggs are in one basket. It is very intimidating at first (and still is), but that's how it's done so you have to deal with it.

The key to succeeding on these exams is to keep a detailed outline going throughout the semester. Many students will be tempted to put off making an outline till the very end of the semester. Trust me - this doesn't work well (I know from experience). Usually, you will finish the outline, and then it will be time for the exam, and you will have no time to actually STUDY using it. On top of that, most of the older material that you are looking back to (trying to summarize) has been forgotten, and you will do a poor job of covering that material.

This is why you need to keep your outline updated throughout the semester. Some students will update it once or twice a week, but I've found that to be a bit too time consuming and stressful. I've found that once every two weeks works well. Personally, I update half of my outlines (half of my classes) each weekend, and then do the other half the next weekend, and repeat. I've found this works well, but to each his own.

Anwyays, that's one topic I feel is important to touch on for this considering law school.


Don't forget that I'm also a recently graduated Electrical Engineer. If anyone has any questions about Engineering - school, job hunting, internships, or working - please ask. If I can't answer them I will talk to my friends who are now working as engineers so I can answer your questions better.

I'm sure I will write some blogs about engineering in the future, but I just wanted to reiterate the point that I'm not just a law student.


GO BLUE! Beat Wisconsin!

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