Jackie Borgonia

1L Year


September

Before coming here, I spoke with many law students and they told me that law school is a lot of work, but time will fly. Sitting here, six weeks into fall semester, I cannot believe how true that statement is. I started my journey in June through the ARC program. After taking two years between undergraduate and law school, I was beyond nervous to reenter the academic setting. Those seven weeks taught me how to effectively brief a case, recognize legal issues, write a legal memo, and most importantly, provided me with supportive staff and classmates that I consistently confide in and frantically wave at.

Although I survived criminal law, I was still nervous to start the fall semester. Instead of concentrating on one class, there were four. To add to the uncertainty of how this semester was going to start, there were many opportunities introduced to me within the first month. I didn’t want to over commit myself, so I had to figure out what organization to get involved in. I ultimately decided to join the Seattle Youth Traffic Court. As a mentor, we engage with high school students through a restorative justice program. Once a month, we facilitate court hearings where high school students, cited for minor traffic violations, are tried by a court of their peers. So far it has been a great experience and a nice change from being in the law school.

Through my first month, I learned the importance of time management and organization. Initially, I got my schedule and thought, “wow, I’m not in class for very long! I will easily get all my work done!” Oh how wrong I was! You get your classes which is the foundation of your schedule. You then get to add study time. Slowly, as you begin to get involved, you have to block more time for those commitments. Before you know it, you will be booked for most of the day! If you don’t use a planner and are getting overwhelmed, I highly recommend getting yourself one. My planner keeps me organized and sane. I try to plan most of my days, including free time. Self-care is important and I continuously try to incorporate that. As I move into my second month, I am interested to see what is to come.


October

Last month I couldn’t believe how fast the semester was going… This month is no different! With October in the rear view mirror, there is only one more month of classes. It is crazy and partially terrifying! This past month was filled with classes, office hours, events, writing, and a whole lot of reading. It constantly feels like there is not enough hours in the day!

As I wrap up my second month in law school, I have been trying to figure out how to be more efficient with my time. I commute to school every day from Bremerton and I did not realize how much time it took until I added all the hours together. In a single day, four hours are used for commuting. That is at least twenty hours a week! Because of that, I have been quickly learning the importance of time management. It is one thing to schedule most of your day, it is another thing sticking to that schedule. I have to continuously remind myself to focus during study hours and I have learned I am most productive in the mornings. In order to accommodate that, I try to wake up earlier.

When scheduling your day, make sure to put in relaxing time for yourself. I suggest at least an hour. Do whatever you need to refuel for the next day. I started taking barre classes (barre is a ballet inspired workout). This allows me one hour to myself without having to think or worry about what I need to do next. I also make time for family and friends whenever I can. Overall, it is easy to get caught up in classes, assignments, and extracurriculars, but it is equally important to take care of yourself. It is sick season around here and getting sick is the last thing you need!

November will be a whirlwind, but I am excited to see what is to come!


November

As November passed, I am coming to the realization that time in law school will fly! We had multiple days off because of Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. I was so grateful for those few days! During Thanksgiving although I was productive, I also put time aside to really engage and enjoy my family. Because November was so busy with classes ending and finals prep, it was important for me to take a mental break and just be present during the holiday.

This was the month that everyone was in overdrive preparing for finals. Although I did criminal law during summer, this is the first time I had to prepare for more than one final. I have one open book final, Civil Procedure, and two closed book finals, Torts and Contracts. At least for me, my preparation for an open book final is vastly different than my preparation for a closed book final. For Civil Procedure I am concentrating on not only knowing the material, but also creating the most concise and organized outlines that I can utilize during the final if necessary. This differs from my studying for Torts and Contracts in that outlining for those classes are used to help me memorize and organize my thoughts. Overall, this month I have learned what type of studying is most effective for me, as well as what type of study environment I need to focus. Even though I have been in school for most of my life, this is the first time I have really had to pay attention to how I learn best.

Scheduling has been the most helpful thing to me this past month! I do not have everything scheduled down to the minute, but I do block out times in the day for specific things. Generally, I work out early in the morning to kick off my day. I have learned this is necessary because if I do not work off energy, I can get anxious during the day or when I need to sit down and study. I schedule eating time and make it priority to set little study breaks. It is the little things that keep you sane during finals prep, and if you are intentional, there is ALWAYS time for self-care.

With the semester end so near, I cannot wait until mid-December!


December

December was a month of stress, nerves, uncertainty, and exhaustion. I suppose that was only true until the 11th. The first eleven days were filled with studying, reviewing, stress, and tests. Luckily for 1Ls, our tests were scheduled nicely with two days in between each final. It started with Civil Procedure on Tuesday, Torts on Friday, and I finished with Contracts on the following Monday. For students who did not take summer Criminal Law, I believe they took that final on Thursday. I was told that when finals arrived, it will zoom by and before you know it, it will be winter break. I was skeptical, but those eleven days passed like a blur.

I took my first law school final at the end of my summer criminal law class. I feel like that experience alone helped me feel more comfortable with the idea of taking finals this time around. As each test passed, I learned more about what I needed to do in order to prepare. By prepare I mean more than just knowing the subject. For me, I have to listen to some positive feel good music while I get ready. I also like to arrive at least 20 minutes before the test to settle in (for one of my finals I was stuck in traffic and arrived with 5 minutes to spare. Let’s just say I will not be doing that again). I like to do mindfulness exercises to clear my mind and focus on the test at hand, and last but not least, I have to use ear plugs. When you are trying to focus and all you hear is typing, it can be very distracting.

Overall, my first round of finals came and went, and I with the holiday season in full swing, I was very excited to be out for winter break.


January

Happy New Year! During winter break I made the move to Seattle and I really can’t complain about my commute. The second half of winter break consisted of moving and applying to summer opportunities. Even though it was break, many 1Ls were busy prepping their applications to a variety of fellowships and internships. Many of these opportunities had deadlines in early January. Although this made me nervous, I was comforted by 2Ls and 3Ls that said if you do not secure one of these, there are still many options out there. Even as January comes to a close, I am still actively prepping materials for other summer internships. I am sure this will be an ongoing project until I secure one.

It is hard to believe we are already finishing up week three of spring semester. I am still trying to find my rhythm, but I think I am well on my way. This semester we have almost all the same classes: Contracts, Legal Writing, Property, and Torts. We have not gotten very far in context, so I will update you in February.

Last week we had diversity week and there were many great events. Tuesday featured an amazing speaker, Jeffrey Robinson, and he spoke for three hours about racism in America. It was an educational and real conversation that I was privileged to attend. The week ended with the Asian Pacific Islander Law Students Association (APILSA) hosting a terrific karaoke night. The event had a great turn out and even a couple of professors performed! January has been great, but I am ready to see was February holds.


February

Another month down! This was different from the rest because of Seattle’s Snowmegeddon. For those not familiar with this area, we rarely get snow. Even on the off chance we get snow, and it sticks, it washes away within a day. I say all this because the snow storm basically shut down the city and we got three days off. These days allowed me to catch up on readings and actually relax. Although I enjoyed the time off, it was difficult for me to get into a rhythm for the semester. It took most of the month to finally settle in! With that said, I am trying to establish a routine and once I get that established, I will feel much better!

During 1L year, there are two competitions specifically created for 1Ls: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Mock Trial. Since I competed in the ADR competition during fall semester, I could not compete in mock trial. Although that was true, I was fortunate to be a witness. As a witness, I had to learn the fact pattern and my friends prepped me for questioning. Even if you do not want to compete in mock trial, I highly suggest getting involved in some aspect because it is a great experience!

Other than that, the month did not differ too much from last month in regard to things outside of class. As a whole, most 1Ls are still trying to lock down summer opportunities. The process can be daunting at times. Similar to any job searches you’ve experienced, or even your application to law school, the cycle can be repetitive and tiring. Although I have not found an internship yet, I am comforted by knowing that I am not alone. In my next entry, I am hoping to have gotten an offer, so fingers crossed!

2L Year


September

First month done! I cannot believe we are back at it. This summer was busy between working part-time at the Admissions Office, taking Evidence, and interning at the King County Bar Association’s Family Pro Bono Programs. Although it was a lot of work, I had a great time. During my internship I worked with two programs: Self-Help Plus and Kinship Care Solutions. The Kinship Care Solutions program provides pro bono representation (cases taken without charge) in non-parental custody actions. I was able to able to do screening and intake for that program. Additionally, the Self-Help Plus program provides pro se (people representing themselves in court) assistance in uncontested dissolutions and parenting plan actions. I was able to draft legal proceedings, attend hearings, and assist clients through the process. Since I did not have any family law experience, my supervisors were fantastic in teaching me about the different processes and documents. Overall, I really enjoyed my summer experience!

This first month has been challenging to say the least. First year is difficult because you are learning how to be a law student while learning the law. Second year is even more difficult because now that you know how to be a law student, there are so many other responsibilities you have. The combination of student organizations, journal, and class work can be overwhelming. I find myself constantly looking for the small victories because those are what keep me going during a seemingly endless week. Either way, we are in the full swing of things and I am interested to see where this semester takes me!


October

Another month bites the dust. It is hard to believe October is already ending! This month has been a roller coaster between classes, events, and extra-curriculars. 2L continues to be difficult, but it is comforting and nerve-wracking to know we will be done in a little over a month.

This semester I am taking Constitutional law, Criminal Procedure, Policing Protesting and the 1st amendment, and Trust and Estates. Although it is a challenging semester, I am really enjoying my classes. I especially Criminal Procedure and Policing Protesting and the 1st amendment. They are heavily Constitutional law based but focus on the amendments more so. In addition to classes, I am currently on the Seattle Journal of Social Justice. We have done a few rounds of editing, but a lot of my focus has been on writing/ researching for my article. Ideally, we should have our “first drafts” of our articles done by December. It is crazy to think that this deadline is quickly approaching!

As October ends, I realize that not only is the holiday season upon us, but focused finals prep as well. The only thing that will keep me going in November is the thought of delicious food on Thanksgiving.