i The Frugal Law Student | 2008

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Bouncing Back From Less Than Stellar Law School Grades

Written by Brett McKay

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By now, most law students have gotten their grades back from last semester. I didn’t do too hot last semester. It wasn’t horrible, but I know I could have done better. If you’re like me, you want to do better this semester. So, how do we do it? Here’s a few things that I’ve done so I can bounce back from my less than stellar fall semester.

1. Visit your old professor
Make an appointment with your professor as soon as possible to go over your exam. The key to make these appointments successful is to go in without a chip on your shoulder. Go in with the attitude that you really want to know what you did wrong and how you can improve. I know several students who go in to try to argue with the professor. That’s not going to get you anywhere, so don’t waste your time.
Go in with specific questions. Did you miss issues? Was your analysis not thorough enough? Did you do better on the essay or multiple choice? Ask for suggestions on how you can improve.

2. Visit your new professors
After visiting last semester’s professors, make an appointment to see your new professors. Go in a few weeks after the semester has started to ask some questions you’ve come up with from their classes. The visits have another purpose other than getting answers to your questions. You also want to get as much information about how they give exams and what they’re looking for in an answer. Each professor is different. Some just want you to spot all the issues, while others want deep analysis with lots of policy arguments. Find out as soon as possible so you can start preparing for their exam.

3. Write down what went wrong last semester
Take a few minutes to sit down with pen and paper to write what you did wrong last semester. Start from the beginning of the semester and work your way to the day of the exam. Did you spend less time outlining? Did you not do enough practice exams? Were there any outside factors that could have affected your performance? Be as thorough and brutal as possible. If you don’t know what went wrong you won’t know how you can improve.

4. Make a plan for this semester
After you de-construct last semester, make a plan for this semester. If there were outside distractions that may have affected your exam performance, make plans to eliminate those distractions. If you didn’t have enough time review your outlines, plan to finish your outline earlier this semester.
Also take into consideration what each professor is looking for on their exam and plan accordingly. Are the tests closed book? Plan for more time to memorize your outline. Do they use lots of objective multiple choice questions? If multiple choice gives you hard time, then gather as many practice multiple questions as you can.

5. Forget last semester
After you’ve made your goals and plans for the upcoming semester, forget about last semester. There’s nothing you can do to change your grade and dwelling on it will only you hold you back this semester. Forget that past and focus on what you can do on the future.

What do you all do to bounce back from bad law school grades?

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This Man Was Right…

Written by Tony Marrone

I posted recently over at Wise Bread about my exorbitant dry cleaning weekly bill. If anyone can relate to spending too much money to clean clothes you don’t even really like to wear, it must be law students. Whether you’re schlepping back-and-forth to your externship with a judge, or wearing a suit to try to impress the partners at the firm you’re interviewing with, dry cleaning can put a serious cramp in your budget.

I’ve gone through many dry cleaners, and the retirement of my most recent dry cleaner (real old-fashioned Italian guy who was in the business since his father opened up shop in 1933) prompted me to take a serious look at the need for dry cleaning.

Most personal finance blogs do not go in-depth on how dry cleaning can hurt you financially, but I have found that I sometimes spend in excess of $500 a month on dry cleaning. With that in mind, I’ve developed a two-step plan to relieve my dry cleaning woes:

1. Dry Cleaning At-Home Kits

Dryel is the first product that popped into my head. I’ve seen their commercials, and it seems Dryel has the market cornered on at-home dry cleaning kits. These seem straightforward, and I have it on good advice that the Dryel product is much more environmentally-friendly then the stuff used by most dry cleaners. Also, even when you factor in the cost of running the dryer a couple extra cycles a week, this type of product should save me tons of money on dry cleaning sweaters, vests and polo shirts.

2. Professional Grade Steamer

Rowenta makes the best irons, so they must make the best commercial steamers as well. The prices might seem a little steep, but I think this product will pay for itself in less than a month. My friend has a steamer that he uses for suits and dress shirts, and he swears to me that he doesn’t even use an iron. I already have a pants press (recycled from my parent’s garbage) so the steamer, coupled with the Dryel kit should complete my trifecta of at-home dry cleaning products.

I’m interested to hear what you have to say. Who among us spends way too much on dry cleaning, and are you willing to give up the cleaner for a do-it-yourself solution? What are some other products/services that law students pay way too much for?

ThinkingRock + AutoHotKey = GTD Nirvana

Written by Brett McKay

As many of you know, I’ve really wanted a Macbook. Despite Tony’s great advice on how to get one on a budget, I still don’t have the scratch to afford one. One of the reasons I want a Macbook so bad is Quicksilver’s integration with iGTD. Both these apps are Mac-only and they’ve made me drool with GTD lust.

iGTD is a very simple but powerful GTD application. Quicksilver is, well, it’s kind of hard to describe Quicksilver because you can do so many things with it. One of the things you can do with Quicksilver is you can fluently add thoughts or actions into iGTD without having to stop what you’re doing. Say you’re surfing the web and you get an idea for a next action. On a Mac you can bring up Quicksilver with a keystroke, type your thought, hit enter, and keep doing what you’re doing. Your thoght will be added to iGTD. It’s pretty geeky, but pretty dang useful.

I’ve been looking for this sort of ubiqutious capture tool for Windows for months. It has been my Holy Grail. Thankfully, I finally found it.

Reach GTD Nirvana on Your PC

Over at What’s The Next Action, they have an amazing walk-thorugh on how to get the Quicksilver + iGTD functionality on your PC using ThinkingRock and AutoHotKey.

It’s super easy to setup and it will blow your mind when you start using it. Capturing thoughts has never been easier. I just hit a few keys and a little pop up window comes up asking me to enter my thought. I type it in, hit enter, and I continue whatever it was I was doing without skipping a beat.

What Would Really Blow My Mind

Right now I’m using a little program called Keybreeze. It’s similar to Quicksilver in that I can use it to launch programs and enter text macros just using my keyboard. I’m happy with the ThinkingRock and AutoHotKey combo I have right now, I’d really like to do the same thing with Keybreeze. Does anybody know how I can integrate Keybreeze with ThinkingRock in order to get the same ubiquitos capture as I do with AutoHotKey? 

Tony’s Over at Wise Bread

Written by Tony Marrone

Dear Faithful Frugal Law Student Readers:

Check out my new post over at Wise Bread. Don’t worry though, I’m going to keep up the high-quality FLS posts you’ve come to know and love. Have a good weekend!

The Frugal Law Student in The Journal Record

Written by Brett McKay

The Frugal Law Student was featured in Oklahoma City’s legal and financial paper, The Journal Record yesterday. The article was in response to FLS being named the top law student blog by the ABA Journal.

This is a good time to thank all my awesome readers. Without you FLS wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar. Thanks for your support and contribution to FLS!

What’s Your Setup?

Written by Tony Marrone

I’m in the process of reviewing both OmniOutliner and the newly-released OmniFocus as they apply to both law students and people interested in Getting Things Done (GTD).

Until then, let’s talk about your particular law school or other software setup that you couldn’t live without. Also, if there’s a program out there you’ve been dying to seen reviewed, let me know (if it runs on Mac) and we’ll try to put together a review for that as well.