February 4, 2022
Dean's Fellow Digest Issue #43: Managing Timing and Stress Around Assignment and Paper Deadlines
Dean's Fellows consistently strive to support students in realizing their full academic potential, leading ultimately to success on the bar exam and in the workplace. To support all Southwestern students in this goal, the Dean's Fellows created this Digest as a way to check-in at critical times throughout the semester with helpful tips, strategies, and encouragement.
IN THIS ISSUE:
Managing Timing and Stress Around Assignment and Paper Deadlines
In my experience, the most difficult classes in law school are those centered around legal writing. LAWS is one of your first classes in law school. It starts before all other classes, and in your first year it will take a large amount of time. Writing classes tend to be challenging because of how many deadlines are required. With deadlines to meet, and your other reading and class preparation to manage, legal writing is bound to be a source of anxiety in law school if you do not figure out a way to manage the course load and deadlines appropriately.
My advice to you, is when you are getting overwhelmed and feel that writer’s block creeping in, stop working on the paper. Take a walk, pet your dog, talk to a friend, workout, watch an episode of something, work on something else. Do anything but think about the paper. Your sub-conscious will continue to work on it in the background. When you come back after giving yourself a break, you will find clarity, and new ideas and arguments will start flowing (thanks sub-conscious!). I like to start my writing assignments early for this reason. Most papers due in law school will have a good amount of lead time, and I like to take advantage of this and start chipping away at it. Doing this will also reduce your stress level around the paper.
Personally, when I am stressed, especially coming up to deadlines, my brain is not processing well, and I miss arguments and make silly mistakes. Reducing your stress level will increase the quality of your writing (this applies for final essay exams, too). I know it is difficult to start things early when you have reading for other classes, personal time commitments, maybe even work commitments, but carving out time to start writing early will help you, and save you stress down the line.
I have managed legal writing deadlines for LAWS by making my own deadline a day or two before the submission date. For example, if I were to have a draft of my LAWS Brief due on Feb. 13 (Sunday), I would work hard to have my paper completed on the Friday or Saturday. I try to be firm on this, not allowing myself to procrastinate so that I can utilize Sunday to read over my work, double check everything, and then submit with ample time to spare. While it is tempting to try to finish a paper on the due date, I have found when I do this, I miss easily fixed mistakes, and again cannot always look at my paper critically because I do not have the 30,000-foot view. I have had many friends tell me they were writing up to the deadline and submitting minutes before the paper was due. This is not only stressful but could seriously hinder your paper quality and grade because there can always be technical issues, or you become so stressed you cannot properly reason out your arguments, which is crucial in these papers. Do not let this be you; plan and set yourself up for success.
While legal writing can feel onerous when first entering law school, each paper you complete starts to build your skill set and going through the process makes it that much easier for the next assignment. No matter what kind of law you practice, you will encounter legal writing, and the classes that are centered around it in law school are important for displaying your skill set to potential employers. Take the time to hone this skill, find a system that works for you to manage the deadlines, and you will be that much more prepared for your future successful career as a lawyer!
*About the Author:
Emily Turi is a 3L Traditional Day student who graduated from SUNY Purchase College majoring in Entertainment Management. She then worked as a Real Estate Agent and Leasing Manager in New York City before attending Southwestern Law School. She is pursuing a law degree to work in transactional entertainment law. At Southwestern, she has been involved in Women's Law Society, Entertainment Law Society and the Arts, and Entertainment Legal Clinic. Additionally, she has served as an Admissions Ambassador, Notes and Comments Editor for the Law Review Board, as well a member of the Peer Mentor Advisory Board. While at Southwestern, Emily has externed at Patriot Pictures, Lanius Law, and Picture Music Company.
Emily enjoys giving back to the law school community with helpful advice on balancing law school, as well as different ways to succeed academically.
Dean’s Fellows are upper-division students with strong academic skills who go through a rigorous application and training process. They are an integral part of the Academic Success and Bar Preparation Department. They are carefully selected based on their academic excellence and ability to teach other students best-practice study methods that will help them become acclimated to the study of law. Dean’s Fellows meet with students as academic mentors.
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