Practical Advice for 1L Success

Picture1Congratulations on beginning an exciting endeavor: law school! Your first year will in all likelihood be one of your most difficult challenges in your professional career. But remember, thousands of bright individuals like you have both experienced and thrived in law school. Because life as a first-year law student brings many uncertainties, there are two practical things you can do from day one in order to set up yourself up for success throughout the three-your journey.

     1. Time Management

As a first-year law student, you will likely have very spare free time, if any. The sheer amount of readings and work assigned typically take a substantial amount of time; almost seeming never-ending. If there is one key aspect that must be emphasized, it is time management and prioritizing for deadlines. As future lawyers, we must learn to juggle multiple assignments on a daily basis. Thus, be consciously mindful of all key deadlines and make sure to plan early in advance. An example is creating a schedule early which outlines all key dates for submitting legal writing assignments, any midterm(s), and final exams. Set up reminders in your electronic calendar — or if you prefer written — for all such key dates. If you have a pressing issue regarding a deadline, be sure to address it with your professors in advance, rather than waiting last-minute prior to the deadline.

A typical day at law school entails attending classes, plenty of reading including various supplements, and reviewing for the week’s assignments. For some, I know that working on the outline immediately after class was significantly beneficial. Whatever may be your preferred method, it is fruitful to take short breaks between reading and studying. Indeed, the first year is a strenuous test of your mental endurance. A brief recess should provide the added stamina in completing your work.

In addition, be cognizant to review any material, concepts, topics, or issues which you were either confused about, or did not fully comprehend — either with your classmates or respective professors. And as the semester progresses, be sure to begin outlining for your courses early—preferably some time in mid to late September. Other additional measures include doing practice questions which test your ability to apply the law; and collecting past professor exams if any exist for future use.

As a final note regarding time management, make sure to use your weekends accordingly — whether it be to finish your weekly readings, outlining, etc.

     2. Taking Personal Care of Yourself

Due to the stresses from life as a first-year law student, it is equally important to take proper care of your physical and mental health. Most will usually feel overwhelmed at some point. Maintaining your health for optimal performance requires the proper amount of sleep, adequate nutrition by eating healthy, and exercising as part of a balanced lifestyle. Also, be sure to continually engage in at least one non-law school related activity that you highly enjoy for destressing, whether it is with family or friends. It can even be something simple as baking, playing basketball, or fantasy football. Because the rigors and pressures of the first year can become overwhelming, it is crucial to give your mind a diversion to reset, and maintain a level of balance.

In addition, there are several resources for coping with potential stress. You can reach out to family, friends, classmates, upper-level students, professors, deans, or other individuals you may know that attended law school. Certainly, the person whom you reach out is dependent on your level of your comfort. Know that you have many people in your circle that are willing to listen or help you in some manner.

Additionally, law school is a collaborative learning environment. In essence, your classmates will be together in the “trenches” alongside with you. Making friends early who study and work hard will push you further. Rather than being isolated, seek out classmates who display the same level of dedication and commitment. Some of your colleagues may even become your closest friends because you similarly go through such a challenging lifestyle and experience as part of the first-year endeavor. Keeping your sanity will go long ways in ensuring that you succeed as a first-year law student. In sum, taking personal care of yourself is absolutely pivotal throughout the course of law school.

Stay focused, remain motivated, and be excited! Good luck!

An Open Letter to My Fellow 0Ls

Dear fellow 0L:

I’m writing from my new pad in Central New York, where I’ve just moved to begin law school in only a handful of days. Many of my belongings are still trapped in totes, or crammed into the space made available for me by my two roommates prior to my arrival. The third-floor walkup was definitely not what I was expecting—particularly the absence of air conditioning. Nonetheless, this is my new home and I’m excited to be here. Well, to be quite honest, my excitement is really more of a combination of anxiousness, impatience, nostalgia, loneliness, pride, and even a small amount of fear.

Any future student who has discussed law school with someone who has been through the experience knows that attorneys have stories. They have stories about their own good, bad, and ugly experiences of law school—in spades. And if you’ve talked to multiple attorneys about law school, you’ve probably found that every experience is different. Many even seem to contradict one another.

I’ve spent hours contemplating what law school will bring, concluding that I have absolutely no idea. Yes, I know what classes I’ll be taking. Sure, I have a freshly published agenda of orientation activities. Of course, I know that I will, undoubtedly, make friends. But nothing seems to be greater than the uncertainty. All the while, I feel as though I’m in a sort of professional limbo—unable to move forward as quickly as I would like, and still wistful for the familiarity of the family, friends, and city I feel as though I’ve left behind.

I wish that life were like a movie. I would skip to the end of my first semester, check my grades, and delight in the certainty. Then I would happily rewind, sit back, and enjoy each scene as it came. However, life is most definitely not a movie. We aren’t able to just fast forward to the end of the semester and instantly calm our anxieties. We are made to wait.

The fear of uncertainty, along with the looming inability to act, have fueled numerous intense, yet fleeting, emotional whirlwinds. And I can only imagine that there are other 0L students out there who feel similarly. While, at times, I wish I had a fast forward button for everyone, I am grateful that I don’t. Truthfully, we aren’t just waiting. We are, right now, setting the scene for the finale.

If we all had a fast forward button, that would be it. We wouldn’t be able to change the outcome, but merely anticipate it. The joy in all of this uncertainty is that life, including our first semester grades, isn’t scripted. We truly don’t have the capacity to know what our experiences will be until we’re living them.

I’m confident that none of us found our way to law school by mistake. The fact that we were admitted is a testament of our potential for success. No one is accepted to law school without the confidence of multiple people throughout the process—all of whom have found value in our passions, our life experiences, our intellectual abilities, and our motivations. Keeping this in the back (and sometimes front) of my mind has helped me cope with uncertainty and I hope that my fellow 0Lers are also able to find solace in this. Of course, we all want our own movie to win an Oscar. But more than that, we should appreciate each scene as it comes. After all, each of us only has a certain amount of screen time.

Yours truly,

Chanan

10 Essential Things to Do Before Your First Day of Law School

It’s the first week of August, and your first day of law school is only a few weeks away.  To savor the last days of summer while preparing for the new school year, here are ten essential things to do before the semester begins.

  1. Get the right book bag

The right bag to carry your books in law school is essential.  Should you get a regular backpack, a rolling back, a tote bag, or a brief case? It is really up to you.  While the “perfect” bag differs for everyone, here’s my advice for law students in New York, especially those in the city who will be taking public transportation: Get a bag that is sturdy, but not too bulky. Carrying two to three casebooks plus your laptop is heavy enough. Walking up and down flights of stairs in the subway and weaving through New York City’s morning rush traffic is another thing. Get a bag that will carry your books, but not weigh you down.

That being said, be strategic about what books your carry and on what days. Most law schools in the city will have lockers where you can keep your books. Whether you store your books in your locker or not, think ahead about which books you can take home each day to lighten your load. For example, during my first semester, I had Contracts on Mondays and Wednesdays. I took my Contracts book home every Wednesday to avoid carrying ALL of my books every Friday. Small “think-ahead” steps can help avoid back-pains and physical fatigue, which can give you the mental clarity necessary to study.

  1. Make sure your laptop is in good working condition

Laptops are becoming increasingly popular, and almost necessary, for law students. Nearly all students at my law school took their exams on their laptop.  Many students also use their laptops to take notes during class if their professors allow it. (However, taking notes by hand is still prevalent and beneficial.) So, ensuring that your laptop is in good working condition will save any potential headaches during the semester. You will likely spend hours writing memos and briefs on your laptop.  If you choose to take your exams on your laptop, you will likely download your school’s exam software.  While I do not suggest buying a new laptop unless it is absolutely necessary, it is still a good idea to take care of these technicalities now rather than in the middle of the semester.

  1. Order your books.

It is not too early and not too late to purchase the books you will need for each class.  Casebooks can be very expensive, and you may want to get an idea of the book buying options now while you have time.

  1. Have a suit and professional attire ready.

You will need a suit for various networking and class events in law school. Even during my first semester, I was required to dress professionally about three or four times.  Get the suit and shoes now to avoid rushing to buy one after class.

  1. Get your pens, highlighters, notebooks, and folders

Law students can be particular about their school supplies. If you’re eager to get that new set of pens or highlighters now, go for it.  Having that special pen or highlighter can make hours of reading and taking notes more enjoyable. In addition to writing utensils, you will likely need some folders or a binder to keep important handouts from class.

  1. Have a planner, calendar, and/or planning system

The most important advice I received before my 1L year was to stay organized. There will be a lot of due dates coming your way both in your individual classes and for your school.  Make sure all those dates are in your calendar.  I also advocate having a planner or a planning system where you can organize your daily and weekly tasks.  There are countless types of paper planners and planning apps available.  Do a little research, and find what works best for you.

  1. Get familiar with your school’s neighborhood, and know your commute.

Get acquainted with your school’s neighborhood now.  Find that coffee shop to go to before class.  Also, be familiar with your commute.  If you’re in the city, know where the closest subway is, along with a couple of train or bus options.

  1. Buy any essential home supplies

From your first week of orientation until your last final in December, you will be busy—probably busier than you’ve ever been.  Even if you have a day off from classes or studying, you will probably want to spend that day relaxing.  So, take care of any important matters at home now.  Stock up on essential home supplies now.

  1. Have a place to study

That being said, get your study space together at home. Designate a place in your home for studying and storing your books.  It does not need to a huge space–we all know that New York City apartments are tiny.  But even if you plan on doing all of your studying in the school library, you’ll want to set up a desk and place to keep your books at home.

  1. Enjoy your last weeks of summer!

Your first semester of law school is exciting, inspiring, and a lot of hard-work. You may be anxious to jump right in, but enjoy your time off now while you can.  Spend time with your family and friends. Get enough sleep, and get ready for an incredible first year of law school!

 

Applebaum v. Lyft

New York has seen a huge rise in third party ride services such as Uber and Lyft in the last several years. I know I’ve personally used Uber and Lyft in cities like Chicago, Washington D.C, New York City, Tampa, Atlantic City and even White Plains. With the news covering stories related to both companies, I thought it was particularly interesting that there is a potential class action suit in NY over tolls.

The plaintiff in this case is filing suit against Lyft for violation of NY General Business Law Section 349, and for unjust enrichment over claims that the company overcharges customers who go through city tolls.[1] The plaintiff specifically alleges that the Lyft drivers charge the cash price for tolls as opposed to the E-Z pass discounted prices.[2] Lyft moved to dismiss the case or alternatively go through arbitration, which was a part of the company’s terms of service.[3] The plaintiff claimed that he was unaware of such terms and did not assent to them. At this point I was thinking to myself, even as a law student, when I download apps, I should read the Terms of Service, but most of the time fail to do so. This topic has been the issue in many cases over the years, and is still frequently litigated.

In this case the issue revolved around an arbitration agreement included in an updated terms of service contract the plaintiff accepted after the suit was filed. After a lengthy analysis of several cases and the facts of this particular case, the District Court judge held that the party’s arguments are moot or without merit, and that Lyft’s motion to compel arbitration was granted.[4] The case will be stayed in court until the arbitration is complete, pursuant to the Federal Arbitration Act.

The opinion can be read here:

http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-york/nysdce/1:2016cv07062/462526/53/

[1] Applebaum v. Lyft, Inc., No. 1:2016cv07062 at 1 (S.D.N.Y 2017).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id. at 30.

Bristol-Myers Squibb, Co. V. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, et al.

Whether you are a rising 2L who just finished their first year of law school, or a law graduate, like me, who is studying for the bar exam, you should be especially interested with the Supreme Court’s recent decision narrowing the rules for bringing a class action lawsuit. The case raises several civil procedure issues that are extremely important and relevant to jurisdiction, and what cases a court can hear.

After reviewing civil procedure for the bar exam, reading the opinion from Supreme Court made complete sense to me, which means that I might actually have learned a thing or two during law school. The case involves a class of plaintiffs bringing a suit against Bristol-Myers Squibb alleging serious health damage from one of their drugs, Plavix.[1] BMS is incorporated in Delaware and has its headquarters in New York.[2] While it does conduct research and even engage in business in California, the plaintiffs did not allege that they bought the drug there, were injured by the drug there, or were even treated for injuries there.[3]

In order for a court to have personal jurisdiction over a defendant, it must establish for specific jurisdiction that the defendant’s contacts with the state must give rise to the cause of action, while for general jurisdiction, the defendant must be “at home” in the state.[4] The California Superior Court held that there was enough to establish personal jurisdiction over BMS because of the “wide ranging” contacts with the state.[5]

The Supreme Court in this case “granted certiorari to decide whether the California courts’ exercise of jurisdiction in this case violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”[6] After analyzing several cases that are well settled law, and drilled into our memories from our 1L civil procedure class, the Court held that the state does not have personal jurisdiction over BMS.[7] While this decision does somewhat limit the types of class actions that may be brought, this “decision does not prevent the California and out-of-state plaintiffs from joining together in a consolidated action in the States that have general jurisdiction over BMS.”[8]

Also noteworthy is the solo dissent by Justice Sotomayor that expresses her fear that “a corporation that engages in a nationwide course of conduct cannot be held accountable in a state court by a group of injured people unless all of those people were injured in the forum State.”[9]


The decision can be read here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/16pdf/16-466_1qm1.pdf
[1] Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, et al, No.16-466, slip op. at 1 (2017).
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S. A. v. Brown, 564 U. S. 915, 924 (2011).
[5] Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, et al, No.16-466, slip op. at 1 (2017).
[6] Id. at 4.
[7] Id. at 12.
[8] Id.
[9] Id. at dissent 1.

John v Whole Foods Market Group Inc

by Jeshica Patel

Who doesn’t like going to Whole Foods? Whether you actually buy something or not, is another story. Sean John, a Whole Foods customer, frequently shopped there and often bought pre-packaged foods.

In 2016, John brought a potential class action suit against Whole Foods alleging violations of sections of the New York General Business Law and for unjust enrichment.[1] The complaint described overcharging of pre‐packaged food at Whole Foods’ stores in New York City. Subsequently, at trial Whole Foods moved to dismiss the case for pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for lack of Article III standing.[2] The elements of standing include injury-in-fact, causation, and redressability. The District Court in this case held that John lacked standing because he failed to allege that he was personally overcharged, and thus lacked the injury element of standing.[3] The lower court even went as far as to dismiss the case with prejudice.[4]

After appealing to the Second Circuit, John was finally able to catch a break. This past Friday, the Appeals Court revived the case by determining that John did indeed plausibly allege an injury, and ultimately vacated the District Court’s decision and remanded.[5]

The case will go back to the District Court, with the ruling that the plaintiff did indeed show the injury element of standing, and thus had legal standing to sue. The next obstacle John will likely face is getting class certification, which may prove to be difficult considering anyone who bought food from a While Foods in NYC after June 2010, would be a potential member.

[1] In re Whole Foods Mkt. 5 Grp., Inc. Overcharging Litig., 167 F. Supp. 3d 524, 537 (S.D.N.Y. 2016).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id. at 539.

[5] John v. Whole Foods Mkt. Grp., Inc, (2nd Cir. 2017) http://cases.justia.com/federal/appellate-courts/ca2/16-986/16-986-2017-06-02.pdf?ts=1496413805.

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