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Listen to Grammar Girl to Improve Your Writing

Written by Mrs. FLS

Law students and lawyers write. A lot. Thanks to the media’s portrayals of attorneys, many mistakenly believe that the practice of law mainly consists of orally arguing a case before a judge or jury. While trial confrontations makes great television, it isn’t what lawyers spend the majority of their time on. Rather, they spend it on writing.

I’m very self conscious about my writing. I don’t think I’m that great at it. I’ve had to work hard to get where I am, but I know I have plenty of room for improvement. One of the reasons I blog is to help with my writing.

Part of my “improve my writing” regimen includes listening to daily podcasts by Grammar Girl. Everyday, Grammar Girl provides “quick and dirty tips for better writing.” So far her podcasts have helped me immensely. Each podcasts runs about four minutes. Best of all, they’re free!

Start improving those legal memos by incorporating Grammar Girl in your writing regimen today.

College Students: Get free music downloads (with a catch)

Written by Brett McKay

I found this article in this morning’s New York Times about big labels offering free music to college students. However, there will be some substantial restrictions. The service is called Rukus Network. They’ve licensed music from big labels at a reduced fee and are offering downloads for free. You have to download Rukus software to download and play music. Also, schools have to agree to install a server on their campus networks.

Sounds pretty swell. Problem is if you want to transfer your mp3’s from Rukus to your mp3 player. You have pay $5 a month and it only works with players made by Creative and ScanDisk. The music won’t play on the Zune or the iPod. Boo.

I guess this could still be useful if you wanted to test run some songs before you decided to buy the cd or download it off of iTunes. However, streaming audio like Pandora and other places are probably just as good for discovering new music.

Free Useful Software for Law Students

Written by Brett McKay

Jason Chen has compiled a nice list of free open source software available for download. Several of the applications could be particularly useful for law students (on any student for that matter):

  1. Open Office– It’s like MS Office, but it’s not. Not only is it free, it’s also compatible with different file types. You don’t have to worry if your Professor uses Keynote or Powerpoint for their slides or Word or Wordperfect for their notes. Another plus is the fact it’s one step more of getting out of the clutches of Microsoft.
  2. Evernote– I currently use MS OneNote. It has been extremely useful in my note taking during undergrad and law school. Instead of having click through several Word documents during a class, I just have on folder open that’s subdivided between briefs, notes, and outline. Very nice. Very easy. Had I known about Evernote when I made the decision to fork over $100 for OneNote, I would have gone with Evernote. It has the same features as OneNote and it’s free. Get it. You’ll thank me later.
  3. Audacity– This comes in handy for when you want to speed up your Sum and Substance mp3s. They saved me lots of time during finals.

Is Netflix worth it?

Written by Brett McKay

Over the past year, my wife and I have been on again/off again Netflix subscribers. The idea sounds great in theory- unlimited movie rentals for a pretty decent price with no late fees- but in practice it never worked out like we thought.

Netflix is great if you plan on watching lots of movies. However, if you aren’t an avid movie watcher, it might be better just to go to your local video rental store. The problem was that some months my wife and I didn’t rent any movies, but we were still charged the $10 a month subscription fee. Because the amount is automatically deducted from your checking account, it’s easy to forget that you’re being charged. We finally decided to give up Netflix. We don’t have the time to watch the amount of movies that would make the service worth it.

We found that a better alternative to saving money on movie rentals is checking out movies from the local library. You would be surprised the types of films you can find. Best yet, it’s completely free.

Lifehacker has a great post on whether or not Netflix is worth it. Check it out.

Free Deodorant

Written by Brett McKay

About 6 weeks ago, I bought a stick of Speed Stick Irish Spring deodorant. At the time I bought it, Speed Stick was offering a complete rebate as a promotion of the product. I sent in the receipt and the UPC and then proceeded to forget that I did it. Well, last week I got a check for 2.99 from the Colgate company. It’s not much, but it’s always nice to get money in the mail.

Free Law School MP3s

Written by Brett McKay

Over at Top Law Student, there’s a great post about downloading free podcasts from CALI Radio. He gives several links to podcasts dealing with preparing for final exams. (My favorite was tips for multiple choice questions.) Not only do these mp3s offer great advice, they’re free.

Additionally, if you’re interested in listening to Sum and Substance or Law School Legends as part of your exam preparation, don’t fork over $60 to buy them. Most law school libraries should have these disks on reserve. Check them out and rip them to your Mp3 player. I was kind of leery of doing so because of copyright infringement, but my librarian said it was cool. Again, great review at no cost.

If you’re pressed for time and want to speed up the pace of listening to your Mp3s, Lifehacker has a great post on how to speed up Mp3s using Audacity configured with my . It took me while getting things figured out with my Ipod, but I condensed an entire Civ Pro Lecture to half the original amount of time. What’s great about it is that the tone doesn’t change, so it doesn’t sound like you’re listening to a chipmunk.