Tools: Fountain Pens & Inks

Posted in Lawschool, Tools on January 16, 2011 by lawpaul

I am one of those students who learns best by taking notes by hand.  This partially stems from how I was originally taught and also from my own personal style.  I prefer to listen to the classroom discussions and then transcribe only the most pertinent details.

I do not have any fear of technology in the classroom.  I use a laptop for writing papers and updating my outlines.  In fact, I make extensive use of Omnigroup and Devon technologies to automate as much as I can for my personal workflow.

Over the next couple of posts, I plan to discuss some of the tools I use to take notes and my reasoning for selecting them.  I hope to hear from other fountain pen users who also prefer to take handwritten notes in an increasingly computer driven world.



Great Moments in Con Law

Posted in Lawschool on February 25, 2010 by lawpaul

I had a “deer in the headlight” moment in Con. Law today. I was still musing about the last case when I heard my name and momentarily prayed for a seizure. Sadly I still had to answer.  Let’s just say that I’m special friends with the Commerce Clause.  In other words, I’d like to request a temporary restraining order.

After several minutes on the hot seat, I did enjoy watching as the last question I was asked got pitched like a beach ball to the rest of the class. No one else quite got it right either.

Tools: Outlining via OmniOutliner

Posted in Apple Software, Lawschool, Tools on February 20, 2010 by lawpaul

Disclaimer:  I am a fan of the Omnigroup & received no compensation for this post.

I want to thank No Reins Girl for inspiring this post.  I am going to post a series of tools that I find helpful in my lawschool studies.  For an excellent post on the mechanics of outlining, check out this link.

Today’s post will cover the outlining software OmniOutliner Professional.  This program allows for the creation of complex, multi-tiered outlines.  Below is an example of my weekly Civ. Pro. Outline:

Amongst my favorite features:

  • Multiply input modes including minimal use of the mouse.  I find this helps keep my focus on creating the outline rather than switching back and fourth between the keyboard and mouse.
  • Focus:  The ability to hoist an individual section and expand or collapse individual sections.
  • Complex printing options.  I have created different versions of my outlines for exams including a quick mini-outline along with the complete outline.
  • Complex formatting:  I have created a number of custom formats to help me find information in my outlines quickly such as citation, highlight, and font changes.

I attempt to update my outline weekly for each class and then revise after each major course section.  This software has helped me immensely with my class and memo outlines.  I do not remember who first told me about it, but I am glad I have this powerful organizational tool available and look forward to the upcoming iPad release.

Musings & New Beginnings

Posted in Lawschool on January 6, 2010 by lawpaul

Classes start on Monday.  In reflecting about the last semester, I have realized that there are things I am going to continue, things I’m going to stop, and things I’m going to start.  One of the things I’m going to continue is updating this blog, albeit on a more regular basis.  Now for some musing on last semester.

Of the many wonderful things about law school, I can guarantee that on any given day, someone will find a way to make me feel inadequate.  Whether it is the stunning insight of a fellow student who skillfully discusses some fine point of §2-207 or getting bounced for printing double-sided (new motto: fsck trees), there will always be some new opportunity to fail.  I am certain that while I’ve survived the egotistical machinations of others in the past, I have not had such a prolonged exposure to my own mediocrity.  (I misspelled mediocrity the first time.  If you can’t find as much humor in that as I did, stop reading now.)

Less you think this is going to a devolve into a pity party, let me share something to counteract the above.  Yes, I’m just a baby 1L stumbling my way through classes, assignments, and life.  Yet I have earned the respect of attorneys and business partners at work.  I get a seat at the table during some contract negotiations.  And sometimes I actually use appropriate legal jargon.  I am able to sit back, listen, and respond in a well reasoned manner.  The lessons from law school are already having a positive impact on my ability to assist my company.

Now if you’re looking for me, I’ll be hiding under the desk weeping softly over my reading assignment.  Remind me again why I care about how a golf club resembles a hammer for tort negligence claims in VT?

Determination & Caffeine

Posted in Lawschool on November 28, 2009 by lawpaul

I am writing this on Saturday after my usual weekend routine of reading, writing, and reviewing.  My pets are settled and my wife is at work.

At this time of the semester, many of my fellow students are questioning their choices.  In the small hours of the morning when I’m alone with my thoughts, I’ve done the same.  I can not answer the question for them, but I can answer the question for myself.

I am in law school because this is where I want to be.  I did not anticipate the amount of concentration, commitment, or hours it takes to work and attend law school.  I did not think it would be this difficult to find time to spend with my wife.  I did do all that I could to prepare myself for success at the things that matter to me.

Now that I am here with this opportunity, it takes a lot of determination (and a fair amount of caffeine) to keep at it.  I have to remind myself that I am here because I believe that success at work and at school will give me options.

As we enter the final weeks of the semester and exams, what helps keep you going?

Class Notes

Posted in Lawschool with tags , , on October 28, 2009 by lawpaul

A few mid-week observations full of sarcasm:

  • You can save time applying make-up, even for us guys.  Just do what I did on Saturday and fall asleep on your case book with a highlighter in hand.  When you awake, you will have maximized your time by applying dashing yellow highlights to your cheek and eyebrow.
  • Remember, train rides, bathrooms, and international conference calls are all great opportunities to catch a few moments of shut eye.  Micro-napping is a great stress reliever.
  • Think being on the hot seat in class was fun?  Make sure you endlessly relive the experience during nightmares.  Nothings says gunner quite like suddenly waking up and shouting, “But the UCC doesn’t apply to services, Professor.”
  • Lastly, take a break from your studies by posting snarky comments about the school experience on your blog or Twitter.  After all, you can’t possibly think about anything else but the law for even a few minutes.  Hobbies and loved ones: What are those?


Posted in Lawschool with tags , , on October 25, 2009 by lawpaul

I can safely say that my recent lack of updates is caused, in fact and proximately, by the intensity of school.  Oh my goodness, it has been tougher than I could have imagined.

Through all of it though, I am thankful for the support and enthusiasm of my dear wife.  We recently celebrated our ninth anniversary.  I don’t know how I could do this without her.

Thank you Dearest for your continual love and support.  And yes, I will come to bed right after I finish this chapter of Torts.

Absence and 1L Quotes

Posted in Lawschool with tags , , on October 10, 2009 by lawpaul

It’s that wonderful time of the semester when students turn to outlining and voluntary mid terms.  Just when I thought I had my schedule figured out, Prof K and Prof T decided to grace us with 90 minute practice exams.  Who needs sleep?  At least now I know my outlines need major rewrites.

A couple of entertaining things uttered in classes since the beginning of the year:

In Torts: “What’s polio?”  To which I responded under my breath, “I wish we could all say that.”

Prof K, “Don’t quote cases we haven’t covered on your exam.  It won’t help and I won’t find it clever.”

“Now you’re just picking on me.” said by a woman in K with a heavy southern accent.  Prof K had mercy on her and moved on.

“The practice midterm wasn’t a train wreck, but it was a car crash.  I think I’m just walking away” – remark overheard after K midterm.

Hitting the Wall

Posted in Lawschool on September 26, 2009 by lawpaul

I found week 5 challenging and I’m not alone in my thoughts.  Looking over the tweets and blogroll for the week, I know many of us hit the wall in one way or the other.

My wall for the week was the rewrite of a closed brief.  Our instructor gave us three cases and we had to synthesize the rule and sub rules for the intentional infliction of emotional distress.  Then we applied this rule to each of the three cases and illustrated how the facts and reasoning resulted in the holding.  For anyone in law school, they know exactly how much fun this exercise can be, especially for a beginner.  Never before have I found 1000 words quite so difficult to write.

Rusty maze by xportebois / © Some rights reserved. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license

Rusty maze by xportebois / © Some rights reserved. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license

In trying to describe my difficulty with this assignment to my few remaining non-school friends, I eventually settled on a maze analogy.  In a simple maze, when lost, follow the left wall.  Anytime you hit a fork, go left.  Anytime you hit a dead end, turn around and keep following the left wall.  Not fast but for a certain type of maze, guaranteed to work.  I liken this to the rudimentary approach I finally took on my closed brief.

After much struggle, I finally figured out the formula and followed it.  This assignment certainly won’t earn any awards for outstanding writing or analysis.  There are faster and more elegant methods for writing.  In the end though, learning a new skill requires a methodology, struggle, and rework.  I finished the closed brief after hitting many dead ends and following the left walls.

So for those who similar struggle, please remember that whenever you hit a wall, just try turning left until you find a way out.

States of Matter and Law School

Posted in Lawschool with tags , on September 18, 2009 by lawpaul

I’m now coming to the end of my fourth week of law school and I’ve come to a realization.  I now realize that class preparation and assignments are more similar to liquids than any other state of matter.  I’ll explain.

Remember for a moment those wonderful days in elementary school when you learned about the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas?  Remember what distinguishes them?  Liquids are different from solids and gases in that they have a finite volume that, within reason, expands to take on the shape of a container.

Still with me?  Great.

So how is law school class prep like a liquid?  I’m glad you asked.

Because, quite simply, class prep can expand to fill ever nook and cranny in your schedule.  I know that if I didn’t carefully carve out time each week to actually see my wife and my dog when awake and alert, I might otherwise persist in my sleep deprived belief that they are one and the same person (sorry dear).

Most waking moments, and a few non-waking moments, have been filled with case briefing, outlining, and writing assignments.  While a joy and a wonder to experience, I believe that over time, law school class preparations need to more closely resemble solids.  I long for the days when items in my calendar tended to stay where I put them and not expand.

(cite as:  paul#v.#sleep,#123#P.Supp.#4.)