#The2Llife: After a Restful Break

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GUEST BLOG by Dani Gies,
2L at UCLA School of Law

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a very restful break and that you are not too stressed over the receipt of your grades (or rather, your grades themselves). I spent two weeks with a dear LLM friend of mine in my home in Tucson, Arizona, and it was a lovely time. I didn’t do anything law school related, and opted to not take a two-week class in January before the semester started. It was a very rejuvenating time with my family.

However, towards the end of break, I got news that a very close family member of mine has a serious and advanced form of cancer. Immediately I feel into the habits I struggled with last spring semester when my tío passed away in February. Already, I feel like this semester is going to be an uphill battle. I have taken to telling my close friends and some administrators and professors so they can understand my lack of energy and sadness, but also so they can hold me accountable. I learned from my last depressive episode during law school that I want to sleep all the time, and can, very easily. With the support of my friends, I’m working on creating a schedule that minimizes my time alone and, consequently, my opportunities to sleep.

I am happy to announce that I re-joined my dance team, which is an obvious highlight in my life right now. I will be working hard this semester to balance my life better than I did 1L. I hope you’ll stick with me this 2L spring semester as a blog my way through law school, personal issues, and dance adventures.

#The2Llife: WE CAN DO THIS!

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GUEST BLOG by Dani Gies,
2L at UCLA School of Law

Here we are: finals are upon us! WE CAN DO THIS!

Fotolia_111494910_Subscription_Monthly_XXLAs 2Ls, at the end of this finals season is a huge milestone: being halfway done with law school! For me, time has absolutely flown by. This is our third round of law school finals. We’ve read hundreds of cases, outlined hundreds of pages, and been cold-called several times. We’re old hands at this whole law-school thing. So breathe deeply, and make sure you get enough sleep. This year, I decided to treat myself to dinner every night of reading week (what’s a little more debt when you already have law school loans?). It was one of the best things I could have done. On Monday I had ramen, Tuesday was chicken tikka masala, Wednesday was street tacos, Thursday was Chinese dumplings, and Friday was Italian. It was a pretty great week. I also ate with fellow law students, and we shared these meals (relatively) free from law school stress. Each morning, I woke up happily satiated from food and friendship the night before.

This is just an example of how you can be kind to yourself this finals season. I also try to go for a walk outside and do yoga during my study breaks since it’s hard for me to be inside and sedentary all day. It has been important for me to try and spend quality, non-studying time with my law school friends as well. Everyone is on their own study grind (since we’re used to this now), so it’s important for me that we don’t get caught up in our individual study struggles, but remember that we’re humans and we like each other. Keep your head up this week, and remember that you’re a smart, talented individual who has done this all before! Good luck!

#The2Llife: Evidence

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Guest Blog By Dani Gies,
2L at UCLA School of Law

Class Spotlight: Evidence

Evidence is a bear of a class. There are tons of rules, and then even more exceptions to the rules (looking at you, hearsay). It is definitely easy to feel overwhelmed.

However, I am lucky that one of UCLA School of Law’s star professors teaches my section of evidence: Pavel Wonsowicz. Professor Wonsowicz teaches all sorts of academic success workshops to 1Ls and is known in the law school for his teaching prowess. He provides the perfect mixture of lecture, time for questions, case law, and problems (to be sure, it is a tremendous help that he wrote the case book). Professor Wonsowicz is easily one of the most approachable professors at UCLA Law, and it is clear that he cares about his students. Even so, he cold calls in our class of 110 students, and “I didn’t read” doesn’t really work as an excuse. He also brings significant experience as a trial attorney, which is very valuable when discussing how objections are being used and what arguments are being crafted. If you’re considering takimg Evidence, I would suggest taking it from a professor with a lot of experience as a trial attorney.

Besides being knowledgeable, accessible, and a great teacher, Professor Wonsowicz is also funny, which certainly helps to relieve some of the evidence-related stress. Although this turned into a blog post extolling the virtues of Professor Wonsowicz more than the actual class, I can attribute my success thus far (above the curve on the midterm!) to him.

#The2Llife: Election Season

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Guest Blog By Dani Gies,
2L at UCLA School of Law

I bet you thought I was actually going to go the whole election cycle without blogging about the election, right? Wrong.

Although it pains me to reflect upon it because it has been so full of vitriol and hate, I think this election cycle has been very important to highlight a number of issues and concerns.

Fotolia_114086267_Subscription_Monthly_MFirst, it seems like civility went out the window this electoral season. As future lawyers, we should take note about what politicians can get away with—and do get away with—and remember that we do not subscribe to the same standards, nor should we. “Zealous advocacy” will never mean taking actions that are illegal or in violation of our standards of ethics.

Second, we need to get our facts straight. Both as consumers of news and future lawyers, I believe we have a responsibility to fact-check and not spread misinformation. Obviously the standards for truthfulness are higher when we are practicing the law, but as conscious engagers of the world around us, we need to be sure that we aren’t consciously perpetuating falsehoods, even in our everyday conversations.

Third, what happened to the ability to compromise? Everything this election has been presented as terrifyingly black and white. Whatever they are for, the other people are against, and they’ll be darned if the other people get their way! This mentality is present from the highest levels of government down to neighbor discussions over fences. But as any future lawyer should know and remember, compromise—or negotiation, or settlement—is sometimes a key to obtaining justice. Not to sound cliché, but we are far stronger working together than we are working in isolation.

If you are able to vote, I ask that you inform yourself before you do so. YOUR VOTE MATTERS. Use the full weight of your power by researching not only the presidential candidates, but also the local officials, propositions, and measures on the ballot this year.

#The2Llife: The Token Lawyer of Your Family

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GUEST BLOG by Dani Gies,
2L at UCLA School of Law

The same issue came up in my life twice in the same day last week: how do you deal with your family after you become a lawyer, if you’re one of the only lawyers in your family?

Some people in law school come from a long line of legal minds, while others are first-generation. For those in the second category, several uncomfortable situations could arise. First, your family will look to you to help them with any and all legal problems, and constantly seek your advice. I’m sure most of us have experienced this in some capacity, joking or not, but I didn’t realize the potential magnitude of this situation until last weekend. Senior woman meeting young couple at the door

At my nephew’s first birthday party, my cousin took me around and introduced me to more distant relatives as “our future lawyer, who will represent you in the future.” I giggled at it the first time, but by the fourth, I was starting to get nervous. Over the course of the night, individual family members (including some I had met for the first time that night) told me how proud they were of me (very kind) and how the whole family was proud (also kind). However, it took kind of a Mulan bend, because there was a feeling of “you’re bringing honor to us and we’re all looking to you because you’re the only one so make us proud and don’t let us down.”

Another issue that can arise is resentment, or other negative feelings from family members. An acquaintance of mine spoke recently about family members feeling that she owed them a part of her success, be it in free legal services or in her actually paying their expenses. I could definitely see this being an issue in my life in the future.

I’m not quite sure how to deal with these problems, so if you have any advice, I’m all ears. I guess we’ll see what happens when I graduate and I am actually a lawyer. Please let me know your thoughts at @The2Llife on Twitter!