How to Prep Your Oral Argument

You’ve been chugging along, gobbling up every nugget of wisdom the professors have to offer. Everything is ok. You’re fine. Law school is finally feeling right and then – POW!

koala

Your first oral argument comes bounding around the corner and you have no freaking clue what to do. This is the point where you realize one of two things:
1) Well damn. I don’t like to speak to crowds and this is going to suck; or
2) I’ve totally got this and I’m confident, so I really don’t need to prepare – right?

You’re wrong in both scenarios. 

If you’re in the first group, then you need to give yourself more credit.
You were accepted to LAW SCHOOL. 
You MADE IT THROUGH your first semester.

This oral argument is going to be another feather in your cap of amaze-balls. 
Don’t think it’s going to defeat you or break your spirit. 
The point of the exercise is to give you a little taste of how it feels to be a zealous advocate. You need to feel the rush of what it is to be a competent attorney, otherwise, your efforts to earn high grades in class fail to relate to the real world. 

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Trust me when I say this: If you can speak and write eloquently, you will have a much easier time winning a Judge over.

Now, if you’re in the 2nd group, listen here, child. Bottle up that confidence and store it away for the actual argument. You need to strut your stuff to impress the Judges, but if all you have is confidence – it’s not going to get you far. Do not make the mistake of thinking that you can get by with a few quick glances to the case facts and a few briefs of the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Do not be the one caught unprepared!

Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Folder/Notebook/Padfolio
2. Notecards
3. Tape
4. Document Flags
5. Permanent Writing Tool (sharpie, felt-tip pen, pen)

Oral Argument Prep

Organize! Organize! Organize!

 

Your argument should be mostly drafted by the time you get here. 
Why? 
This is because you will likely have been asked to draft either a motion for summary judgment or an opposition to an MSJ (or other Motion brought in front of the Court).

Set up your argument! Write like the wind, and be FIERCE.
You’ll want to practice your argument multiple times before the real deal. Feel free to use your family members, or even pets, as an audience.
[If you were told not to collaborate with ANYONE – follow directions!]

erin

True, but we love it.

 

Now, you’re going to set up your already written argument!
Get your notecards and give them titles. I needed to create arguments for each of 3 elements, as well as have an introduction and a roadmap (to let the Court know where I plan on taking them).

 

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So, extra? No – soooo prepared!

 

Use the tape and flags to organize your argument and keep everything in place.
On the front of your cards, include what you want to say. Only tape the TOP of each notecard, so you can flip it over when you’ve made your point.
BONUS – Write the case names and facts you need to have on hand (on the back of the notecard where your point is), in case a Judge asks you for them!

Notice, I also used the extra space on my folder to write key points and notes to myself.
They’re in smaller chunks, so that I can catch them easily when I glance down.

Remember – DO NOT read directly off your notecards.
I prefer to write my entire argument down because it’s basically a security blanket!
By reciting  it often, the argument morphs into information that is easier to remember and feels much more natural discussing out loud. Ideally, your argument should not sound as if it is coming from a robot – you need to add flair and passion to your style!

 

 

Be awesome!

 

sarahheartsig3

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Best Damn Cheesesteaks

 

 

eating

 

I rarely get to post recipes anymore. This cheesesteak post was a long time coming, too. I made these for the Beau and his besties for boys night a while back. They gave rave reviews and demanded I make them again soon.

These Philly cheesesteaks are so easy to MAKE!
They’ll taste like they took forever, but you’ll have them on the table in under 45 minutes. 

Truly, the majority of the time goes into the fact that this recipe makes 2 entire 8×11 pans worth of buttery goodness.

What You’ll Need:
3 lbs. of shaved rib-eye (ask the butcher to shave it, this way you cut down your prep time)
3 large green bell peppers (slice, about 1/4″ thick)
2 medium-sized onions (thin slices)
1lb. of Provolone Cheese
2 packages of Hawaiian Rolls (slice horizontally to separate tops and bottoms)
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 stick of butter, halved.
1 T of Olive Oil

 

Alright. Prepare yourself. 

serious

 

The Cooking Part:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Add the oil and half 1/3 of the butter stick to a large pan
  3. Add the shaved rib-eye to the pan + the salt and pepper (I add about 1T of each)

  4. Brown the rib-eye, then remove it from the pan and place it in a bowl; KEEP the pan drippings in the pan though!
  5. Add onions and bell peppers into the pan that has the drippings, sauté until soft

  6. Place the bottom halves of the Hawaiian bread into two separate baking pans
  7. Melt the other 2/3 of the butter and brush a light coat onto the Hawaiian bottoms
  8. Lay down a layer of provolone cheese on top of the brushed Hawaiian bread
  9. Add a layer of the ribeye, distribute evenly
  10. Distribute the onions and bell peppers evenly over both pans (make sure to include the drippings!)

  11. Add another layer of Provolone cheese.
  12. Place the tops of the Hawaiian buns over the glorious feast you’ve already assembled
  13. Brush some more butter over the tops

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  14. Pop them in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until tops a crunchy golden brown

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Yes, you can swoon over me….and the amazingness you are about to devour!

 

sarahheartsig3

 

Dealing with Your Support System in Law School

My grandmother didn’t appreciate my answer when she asked what I would be giving up for Lent.

My social life.”

I’m pretty sure she was thinking:

slapped

The sunburn I got from her glare was almost enough to shrink a bit. Maybe before law school I would have. Maybe. 

By this point in the semester, you’d think I was comfortable with learning to ignore family and friends in order to make the grade. Constantly running away from family functions, friend hangouts, and bookstores is the worst bit of law school. Before law school, I hosted friends at our home nearly every weekend. The beau and I enjoyed galavanting around the city, trying new restaurants and exploring Dallas every chance we got.

A few weeks into my 1L however, those experiences faded away. I knew it would happen, my professors said it would happen, but I had no idea how angry my support system would get. Truthfully, I thought they would understand . 

It should come as no surprise that being ignored feels bad. Funnily enough, most law students (including myself) don’t realize that our reading for class makes you feel ignored. The fact is – for me, at least – I am doing everything I can to keep my own life in balance.

This week alone is jam-packed with assignments, work, presentations, and a butt-load of reading for class. Now, with the few minutes of free time I was enjoying, I will be working out in order to win my FIT BET. [It’s a competition…so, I plan to crush it!]

But some of my favorite people in the world feel ignored. What can I do?

Not a damn thing.

“This is your time to be selfish.” – UNTDCOL Professor said this to my class during Fundamentals week. It sounds harsh, I know, but those words are what I cling to when someone tries to guilt-trip me into going out for a drink or just lunch

When your friends and family ask you why you’re “ignoring them” please feel free to say this:

I wish I could be more lax sometimes, but the reality is that I am working toward earning a degree and I need to bust my butt to earn the grades to accomplish my dream of becoming an attorney.
It’s my job to excel in class and work (clerkship + internship this semester). This is
my career. Which begs the question – do I sidetrack you in your career?
I don’t think so. But maybe I should drop by your house unexpectedly, or call and yell at you for forgetting to send you a birthday card,  or invite you to dinner and then text you ten minutes before the meal to say I can’t make it. 

[The advice I have for my wonderful family and friends is] – learn to deal with me not being around all the time. I miss you too. I miss being able to just jump in your car and head out on an adventure. I miss impromptu travel plans, late nights laughing and early work days. I miss movie nights and wine nights. I miss it all. I miss you. 

But right now it’s about me. Not you. I have goals and dreams and hopes for my career. Right now I need you to be strong, for me, because sometimes my want to push an assignment aside outweighs my want to actually complete it. Sometimes, I find myself wondering if law school is worth the struggle. And if you find me in a weak moment, I need your help to drag me back to my desk and tell me to get to work. 

I need your support, but if you feel like my attending law school is too much for you to handle – then maybe this is where our paths diverge. I plan on becoming an attorney and I wish you all the best. 

mic drop

 

Succeeding in law school is all about balancing your life. Do what makes you happy, but make sure not to let anyone mess with that happiness.


Sarah