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My Favorite Things 2013

Oprah used to do a “My Favorite Things” show every year so I decided to do the same, but without all the freebies. Sorry.

I reviewed my calendar and Yelp reviews from the past year and here’s my list of my favorite things. Everything on this list is something I use or do and enjoy. I’ve not been compensated in any way for including anyone in this post.

Working Out
2013 half marathon pre raceFavorite Phoenix Area Race: P.F. Chang Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Favorite Place to get Running Shoes: Runner’s Den

Favorite Place to Work Out: Arizona Canal

Favorite Device for Sore Muscles: The Stick

Favorite Place to get Fixed when I Break Myself: Endurance Rehab

Food
Favorite Doughnut: Buttermilk bar from BoSa Donuts (open ‘til 10pm)

0702131205Favorite Mexican Food: Jordan’s

Favorite Greek Food: Greektown

Favorite Indian Food: The Dhaba

Favorite Dessert for Lunch: Yogurtland

Favorite Food Truck: Jamburritos

Favorite Dessert Food Truck: Mamma Toledo’s

Favorite Ice Krem (Phoenix): Churn

Favorite Ice Krem (Scottsdale): Sugar Bowl

Favorite Place for Late-Night Eats and Work: Gay Denny’s

Life
0511131339Favorite Dog Park: Margaret T. Hance Dog Park

Favorite Place for Shirts with Custom Verbiage: Brand X Custom T-shirts

Favorite Site for Shirts with Original Artwork: Threadless

Favorite Snuggle Wear: REI Yoga Pants

Favorite Person for Fixing my Sore Body: Thomas Porter

Favorite Shop for Music Geeks: Central Music

Favorite Bookstore: Changing Hands

Favorite TV Show: The Big Bang Theory

Favorite Reality Show: Deadliest Catch

Favorite Place to Go When I Really Need to Escape: Firefly Room at the Phoenix Art Museum

No Pants Ride 2013 - Photo by Joseph Abbruscatto from Flickr (used with permission)

No Pants Ride 2013 – Photo by Joseph Abbruscatto from Flickr (used with permission)

Online
Favorite Webhost: Dreamhost

Favorite Social Media Platform: Twitter

Favorite Podcast: Savage Lovecast

Favorite Online Cartoon: Foamy the Squirrel

Favorite Site for Travel Suggestions: Roadside America

Favorite Site for Everything Else: Reddit

Events and Activities
Favorite Flash Mob: Improv AZ’s No Pants Light Rail Ride

Favorite Community Event: Ignite Phoenix

Favorite Place on a Friday Night: ASU Women’s Gymnastics Meets

Favorite Phoenix Geek Event: Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown (PUGS)

Favorite Place to see Who’s Who in the Local Zoo: Local First Arizona Fall Festival

I hope you’ve enjoyed my list and perhaps it’s inspired you to try some of my favorite things. ;)

Reconciling my Personal & Professional Lives – or Not

A friend recently suggested I write a blog post about how I reconcile my professional life with the fact that I do flash mobs and wear pasties. My initial thought in response to that was “I don’t.”

Ignite Phoenix After Hours #3 - photo by Devon Christopher Adams

Ignite Phoenix After Hours #3 – photo by Devon Christopher Adams

For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m a lawyer by trade, I do flash mobs with Improv AZ for fun, and yes, there are times when I appear in public wearing pasties instead of a shirt. I’m also a runner, a basset hound owner, a Star Trek geek, and a singer. My standard “uniform” is jeans and a t-shirt but my closet has everything from business suits to miniskirts and tank tops to ball gowns.

When I say that I don’t reconcile my professional and personal lives I mean that I’m not a different person in personal and professional settings. Wherever I go, I’m always me. There may be topics I don’t bring up in certain settings, but if they come up, I’m fine with it. There’s nothing I do in public that I wouldn’t own in any situation.

When I was first getting involved in social media professionally, I asked if I should have separate Twitter accounts for my personal and professional lives. The audience responded with an astounding “NO!” They said that people want to know the whole person so there’s no reason to separate the personal from the professional sides of my personality. They said that some people will seek me out because I’m different than others in my field – and that has totally been true! I had one person schedule a consultation with me after his daughter saw me at one of my speaking engagements. She told her dad that he’d like me because I swear.

Have there been repercussions? I wouldn’t call them repercussions as much as natural consequences. There are people who are turned off from me because I’m bold and don’t conform to the traditional lawyer stereotype. And that’s ok. On the flip side there are people who like that I’m different and that my personal and professional lives are integrated. It’s so much easier to be one person instead of trying to maintain separate professional and personal lives.

The only thing I do keep separate is my Facebook page. If you’re not my friend in real life, you don’t get to be my friend on my personal Facebook page. My Facebook page is where I put things that only my friends find interesting, but I’ll still own everything I post if anyone asks. If you’re not my friend in real life, you’re better off liking the law firm’s Facebook page and following me on Twitter.

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Enough with the Digital Panty Throwing

Keep your digital panties on people!

I love Twitter. It’s my favorite social media platform. I love that it provides an easy way to start a conversation with someone you wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to talk to other than sending an awkward email. One lesson that’s been drilled into my head by my social media expert friends is that social media is a communications tool. It’s not a digital billboard.

From Improv AZ's 2010 No Pants Light Rail Ride by Devon Christopher Adams

From Improv AZ’s 2010 No Pants Light Rail Ride by Devon Christopher Adams

One thing that annoys me on Twitter is what I call “digital panty throwing.” This is when a person (male or female) asks a celebrity for a retweet because they think the celebrity is hot, or it’s their birthday, or they want the celebrity to help them bring attention to a cause. There’s no real communication going on there. The person is using the celebrity to get attention and too many celebrities are indulging these people. Stop it!

I became aware of his problem during the 2012 Olympic Games. I love gymnastics so I followed the U.S. men’s team. I figured they could share insights and experiences from inside the games without the obnoxiousness teenage girliness that would be all over the women’s profiles, because well, they’re teenage girls. Unfortunately, the men flooded their feeds with retweets of girls telling them how cute they are. I understand they wanted to keep their fans happy and they appreciated the attention, but it added nothing to the online conversation and it was more insufferable than anything else.

I had the pleasure of talking with Gary Vaynerchuk this year. He said retweets like this are simply bragging and quite unattractive. I think the only time it’s ok to retweet what other people say about you is when you’re enhancing the conversation or sharing something that you suspect a significant portion of your followers will want to read. Otherwise, enjoy the attention by yourself. If someone wants to know what other people are saying to and about you, they’ll look it up themselves.

The novelty of Twitter has worn off. It’s just a tool to talk with people – not at them. If there’s a celebrity you want to talk to, engage them in a meaningful way. No one cares if you think they’re hot (we already know that) or you want them to wish your brother a happy birthday.

If you’re someone who has a strong following, please don’t encourage digital panty throwing by conceding to these requests for retweets. I know you’re awesome. Retweeting stupid requests from fans makes you look less awesome.

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Why I Love Deadliest Catch

The ninth season of Deadliest Catch starts tonight!

I don’t have much time to watch TV, but this show is a staple on my calendar and the only one I make it a priority to watch.

I’m not a fan of fabricated reality shows – things like The Bachelor, Dancing with the Stars, The Real World, and anything involving the Kardashians where we’re watching real people but it’s anything but real life. These people are in irrelevant competitions and you can tell a lot of them are hoping to become famous for doing nothing or get their own show out of the deal.

Me with Captain Keith - Summer 2011

Me with Captain Keith – Summer 2011

Deadliest Catch has real people doing their real jobs fishing on the Bering Sea. They don’t need to fabricate drama because the risk that every day you could die is drama enough. The relationships between the people real, which I think makes for much better TV because we actually care what happens in their lives. And according to the reports, everyone acts the same on camera as they do off camera. They’re there to do a job first, not create good TV. (That comes in the editing.) Apparently there’s at least one guy we almost never see on the show because everything he says contains profanity.

I love watching the captains on all the boats, well except Captain Elliott. They’re hard asses when it comes to pushing their crews, but these big strong (sometimes scary-looking) guys each have a compassionate side. We’ve seen them all shed tears when another boat is in trouble or loses a crew member and they feel guilty when a guy gets hurt under their watch.

And I love that they’re real people. I follow a lot of the captains on Twitter and I saw a panel at SXSW that featured Captain Sig, Captain Keith, and Captain Jonathan talking about how they use Twitter. (Captain Andy was still fishing.) I also got to the hotel before their panel and invaded their coffee time on the patio next to the hotel. They were totally sweet and let me sit with them for a few minutes. I thought about asking them for a picture, but I wanted to treat them like normal people too and respect their down time.

Captain Sig was the best during the panel. His first tweet was “Twitter rhymes with shitter.” He also said that when he gets home from being on the Bering Sea for months he doesn’t want to tweet, “I want to screw my wife.” They all do a good job of interacting with their fans online and letting us be part of their lives. It was fun when Captain Keith was getting his boat ready for crab season and tweeted a picture of the receipt from Costco and let fans guess how much it was.

SXSW was the second time I got to meet Captain Keith. The first time was an appearance he did in Phoenix two summers ago. Props to him for coming to Arizona in the middle of the summer. He was a total sweetheart and signed an autograph for me and one for my friend Stacee who was serving in Afghanistan at the time. I lived with her during my 1L summer with the JAG; we watched a lot of Deadliest Catch because we were living in the middle of nowhere.

I’m looking forward to the new season of Deadliest Catch. For one hour a week I get to feel a sliver of the exhilaration and exhaustion that comes with working on the Bering Sea.  I will definitely have that time blocked on my calendar so I can be sure to see each episode when it debuts if I don’t have other obligations.

Every so often I think it might be fun to be a deckhand for a season, but then I remember that I’m freezing when the temperature drops before 70 degrees, I’m so accident prone I’d be injured the first day, and I’m so small they’d have to put a leash on me to make sure I didn’t blow overboard. Maybe I’m better suited to work on a boat in the summer.

Top 3 Tools to Establish a Name for Yourself

When I was a law student and now as a young lawyer, I go to a lot of networking events. They’re a great way to meet people in your community. There are other tools that will help you make a name for yourself online and at the national level. I wanted to share my three favorite tools. There are other ways to make a name for yourself, but these are the top three that work for me.

The Twitter Bird by eldh

1. Twitter
I’ve been a huge proponent of Twitter for a long time. It’s my primary networking tool when there’s someone new I want to meet. All you have to do is follow the person you want to meet and wait for an opportunity to respond to one of their tweets. It’s a great and easy way to break the ice with someone without feeling forced or fake.

If the person is going to be at an upcoming event, tweet at them about how excited you are to see or meet them. Then during the event tweet a quote from them or an accolade about them. After the event, be sure to tweet about how awesome they were/are.

2. Maintain a Blog
Having a blog is a great way to showcase your expertise and interests. At networking events and interviews you can talk about your interests or you can prove it by referencing past blog posts you’ve written on a topic. Maintaining a blog is a lot of work but it’s worth it. It’s not enough to start a blog. You have to update it regularly – preferably weekly – and be patient while you build a following. It takes a while to get there.

If you are someone who is lucky enough to have an assistant, it’s ok to let them take care of posting your work to your website, finding images for your posts, and taking care of your SEO stuff, but don’t let them write your verbiage. Your readers want to hear your unique voice so write your posts yourself.

3. Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
HARO is one of the best ways to get local and national exposure as a potential expert in your field. HARO is a service that connects reporters with potential sources. You can subscribe to HARO for free and you will get 3 emails a day, 5 days per week with dozens of opportunities to share your experience or expertise.

Most of the requests won’t apply to you, but some of them will – and you need to respond quickly if you want to be a contributor. A lot of the reporters who use HARO are on tight deadlines. I usually respond to at least one HARO every week. It’s especially beneficial when I can include a link to a blog post I’ve written on a topic – I think it increases the odds that a reporter will use me for a story over a lawyer who doesn’t blog on the topic.

You can also use HARO to network by referring a reporter to others who might be a good fit for their needs or by referring contact to HARO if a reporter is looking for input that they can provide.

There are lots of ways to make yourself stand out within your profession and the business community. These are some of my favorite tools, but it is definitely not an exhaustive list. If you have a tool or technique that you’d like to share, please leave it as a comment.

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Top 10 Blogging Tips for Law Students

Blogging Research Wordle

Image by Kristina B via Flickr

I recently got an email from Jonathan Negretti, a 2L at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. He and his classmate recently launched a legal blog, and he asked me to provide some feedback. They’ve created a good based they can build on. Starting a blog as a 2L is a great idea because it gives you some time to build a following and demonstrate some areas of expertise before you graduate.

Here are the top 10 blogging rules that I shared with him.

  1. Whenever you do a legal blog post, put a disclaimer at the top that informs the reader that you are not a lawyer or giving legal advice. Here is the disclaimer that I use: “I am not an attorney. In accordance with ABA policy, this blog should not be viewed as legal advice. It is simply my experiences, opinions, and stuff I looked up on the internet.”
  2. Use lots of links. Put links in your posts to applicable laws, other blogs, and news stories. This builds up your credibility and is a great way to connect with other bloggers.
  3. Get a Twitter account to network and announce when you publish a new blog post. It’s better to have an account for yourself, not your blog, because people want to connect with you as a person. You should also announce new posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.
  4. Complement your posts with interesting images. I get good ones for free from Zemanta and CreativeCommons.org. If you are using images from Creative Commons, be sure to use images that you can adapt and use for commercial purposes.
  5. It’s perfectly acceptable to invite others to write guest posts on your blog. Be sure to include a bio for them at the bottom with links to their blog, Twitter account, LinkedIn account, etc.
  6. If your plan is to open a law practice after graduation, check your state’s ethics rules regarding legal advertising before inviting people to hire you.
  7. If you are compensated for writing a blog or get free merchandise in exchange for writing a review, you must disclose it in the blog post. There’s an FTC regulation about that.
  8. Approve all non-spam comments, even from people who are mean or disagree with you. It shows that you’re not afraid to discourse and that you’re open to other perspectives. If you can stay level headed while other people are losing their minds, it makes you look articulate and confident.
  9. Respond to every comment. Blogging is an effective way to start conversations.
  10. Don’t be afraid to be bold. Some of the most memorable blog posts are the ones where the author takes a strong stance that not everyone agrees with. They inspired people to leave comments and be part of the discussion. One of the best things I did in law school was Sponsor A Law Kid, and it was also one of the most controversial.

If you have any questions or tips for neophyte law student bloggers, please leave them as comments. This is one of those areas where law schools don’t always prepare their students to effectively use a networking tool.

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Integrate Your Online Personalities

I spent this past weekend at PodCamp AZ, a social media unconference for bloggers and podcasters. It was my third year attending, and I had a great time. I always walk away with new tidbits of information.

gemini   -oh, dedicated to a pisces in his bday-

Image by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Flickr

This year, I attended Carey Pena’s session, “Branding, Not Bragging.” Carey gave great advice on creating and promoting your brand. She challenged us to think about our personal brand, which is hard to do yet so simple – it’s who we are. Our brand is our personality, not our jobs. To promote your brand, you just have to be yourself. The best quote I took from her talk was, “The best branding is authentic branding.”

Someone at Carey’s talked asked if they should have separate Twitter accounts for their personal and professional lives. That question made me smile, because that was my question at PodCamp AZ in 2009. That year the lovely Heather Lynn Herr did a presentation about online personas. I was a 2L at the time and seriously questioning if I need one Twitter account that would be 100% professional and a separate account where I could be a little more outspoken and free with my thoughts. I posed the question to the room and the group responded with a resounding, “No!” They said it was better to rock on with my quirky, geeky, flash mobbing self because some people are going to love it and they are going to seek me out because I’m different, even in the generally conservative legal community. And they were right . . . about everything.

When I think about personal branding, I think about a question that Bill Richards asked me during an interview for a law school externship. He asked, “If you could do anything for a living, what would it be?” That’s a great basis for discovering what your brand is. Your brand is about what’s important to you, how you spend your time, and who you spend it with. Sharing those things gives the rest of a glimpse into who you are. And then when I need to hire someone, I’m going to go to seek out the people I inherently like first and their recommendations before turning to Google or a referral service.

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Cyberbullying: What’s A Kid To Do

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.  This blog should not be viewed as legal advice.  It is simply my experiences, opinions, and information I looked up on the internet.

Last week, the world was saddened to learn about the suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer. This 14 year-old was repeatedly bullied by his peers since the fifth grade. To the outside world, it seemed like this was a child with enough self-esteem to overcome this adversity. He had support from his therapist, social worker, friends, and family. He even made a video for the It Gets Better Project where he said, “All you have to do is hold your head up and you’ll go far.” All of this support wasn’t enough to keep Jamey from taking his own life.

Summary http://www.epa.gov/win/winnews/images0...

Image via Wikipedia

According to reports, Jamey was repeated bullied at school and online. It’s not uncommon for victims of bullying to remain quiet because they are too ashamed to report that they are being victimized. Also, many teens feel a need to be independent and handle their problems on their own. They need to know that they have resources and recourse for addressing cyberbullying when it occurs.

Here are my top three tips for responding to cyberbullying.

1. Limit Who Has Access To You Online
Jamey received hateful messages via Formspring. In his It Gets Better video, he admitted it was a mistake to create a Formspring account. It allowed people to send him hateful messages anonymously. I wish Jamey knew he could have avoided this harassment. You can adjust your Formspring settings to disallow anonymous postings. It won’t stop all the harassing posts, but it will stop anyone who is too cowardly to let their name be seen. Likewise on Facebook, you can adjust your settings so certain people can’t see you at all or so that only your friends can send you messages or post on your wall. On Twitter, you can block people who are harassing you.

2. Report Abuse To The Website Where It Occurs
If you’re being harassed on a social media website, report it! Formspring, Twitter, and Facebook all have policies against using their sites to abuse other users. The same holds true for email providers. I suspect these site start by warning users who violate their terms of service, but they don’t change their behavior, they could have their account suspended.

3. Keep A Record Of The Abuse
I know it’s hard to do, but don’t delete abusive posts, emails or text messages. Take screenshots of posts online in case the bully deletes it later. It’s easier to prove you’re being abused when there’s hard evidence. It’s not a he said-she said situation at that point.

It takes a lot of courage to stand up for yourself and report abuse. I know it’s scary, but remember that reporting abuse is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.

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Reinventing Professional Services – Top 5 Tips For Lawyers

Photo courtesy of Ari Kaplan Advisors

Ari Kaplan’s new book, Reinventing Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace addresses the question of how professionals can integrate new technologies into their businesses to be more influential and effective.  Loaded with resources and stories from professionals in all industries, Ari’s book provides suggestions about how to use social media, blogging, e-newsletters, and video/audio recordings that makes them less daunting.

As I read this book, I reflected on the legal profession, which has the stereotypes of being dignified and particular, and where deviating from the norm is often frowned upon.  Many lawyers and law firms shy away from online resources and tools.  Perhaps this is because of the strict rules in the profession about advertising and soliciting clients, or because members the profession have a low tolerance for making mistakes.

I’ve compiled the top five lessons lawyers can integrate from this book into their professional lives.

1.       Social Media is a Tool, not the Goal.
It seems that a lot of professionals think that having a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, or a blog is enough, but then they never use them.  Doing this is like buying a hammer and never building anything.  These professionals do not understand that these are tools to communicate more effectively with other professionals and clients.  These are merely channels to “cultivate relationships.”  These are fantastic tools for building trust by being genuine and consistent.  Using these tools is not a one-time event; it requires “habitual participation.”

2.       Be a “Visible Enthusiastic Expert.”
This is one of the best lessons I took from this book.  Being a visible enthusiastic expert means being part of the online conversation on topics where you have interest and expertise.  It’s important to contribute “rich content” and to convey your passion.  Conversing with other experts in an online forum is an effective way to become associated with them.  Even the simple act of sharing a link to another’s work shows that you are aware and informed about a topic.  Additionally, being transparent about who you are and what you can do without being a salesperson conveys to others that you care about a particular issue or population.

3.       Pick Your Targets.
Having a solid online presence is a good start, but it’s not the end.  When there are people you want to connect with, you have to reach out to them.  Don’t wait for them to find you.  Websites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ are instant ice-breakers for introducing yourself to new people.  They provide comfortable opportunities to ask a person for advice or for an informational interview.  If your first attempt at interaction fails to produce the desired result, be sure to follow up.

4.       Do Not Be Afraid to Fail.
Law students are instilled with the notion that they must always be perfect – perfect appearance, perfect cover letters, perfect work product, etc.  They graduate thinking the worst thing they could do is misspell a word on an email.  This can make them gun shy to try new things.  Ari’s book demonstrates that most of these new tools are easier to use than you think.  He encourages readers to consider who they want to connect with, where they are interacting, and to join the conversation.  He promises that you will fail some of the time, and that’s ok.  If you try using an e-newsletter and it doesn’t work for you, you can use another tool like blogging or LinkedIn to reach your audience.  Figuring out what works for you and your business is part of the process.

5.       Never Forget the Value of In-Person Contact
Using technology to communicate with someone is less intimidating than picking up the phone; however it is more impersonal.  Nothing will ever replace face-to-face contact, which is more personal and memorable.  It is important to look for opportunities to meet people in person whenever possible and to continue to build relationships with thoughtful follow up.

Using these tips and tools requires willingness and commitment.  The potential benefits of using technology should overpower any fears that come with trying new things.  Always keep in mind that these tools are to facilitate interaction, not for self-promotion.

Ari Kaplan, a Fastcase50 honoree, is the principle of Ari Kaplan Advisors in New York City and the author of The Opportunity Maker, Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career Through Creative Networking and Business Development (Thomson-West, 2011).  I bartered this blog post in exchange for a copy of his new book. 

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Law School: If I could do it again . . .

Today is my graduation day from law school.  I’ve been reflecting all week about my law school experience . . . when I haven’t been running around like a crazy person taking care of everything that I’ve put off during the semester but have to get done before BarBri starts next week.  It’s been fun to remember the person I was when I started this adventure three years ago compared to who I am today.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Green

So the big question is, if I had to do it all again, knowing what I know now, would I have gone to law school?  Absolutely!  I went to law school because I was told it was the best education a person can get, regardless of whether they become a lawyer.  That statement is still true.  If I could do it all over again, I’d still go to law school, but I’d do it a little differently . . .

I would have skipped more classes. The American Bar Association permits students to miss up to 10% of every course.  I should have taken full advantage of that.  There were so many opportunities for law students to attend workshops and conferences; however I felt that I couldn’t attend them because it was drilled into my head that missing class would result in me not learning the material.  While I believe that going to class is important, some things are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that are worth occasionally missing class.

I would have published more papers. I’m graduating from law school as a co-author of a book chapter about government regulation of emerging technologies; however I have close to final drafts of papers on the legalities of organizing flash mobs, the legal side of blogging, and the legalities of GPS technology.  They are all on my back burner of projects that I’ll get to when I have time.  It would have been nice to have submitted at least one of them for publication in a legal journal.

I would have networked more. I have tried to seek out my fellow geeks in the legal community and people who have been successful following their passions.  I am glad to have been bold enough to reach out to some wonderful people during my law school career and develop some great relationships.  I wish I had had the time and energy to do more of it.

I would have started Sponsor A Law Kid sooner. I wish I had thought of Sponsor A Law Kid when I first started this blog.  This campaign has paid for approximately 1/3 of my tuition during my final semester of law school and it has provided the opportunity to meet some wonderful people and businesses.  It would have been amazing if I had been able to use this to fund my entire education.

I never would have looked at my grades. I went into law school like everyone else, thinking that you have to be in the top 25% to be successful.  It made me focus too much on grades and not enough of learning the materials.  Once I figured out that grades are meaningless, I stopped looking at them.  I switched my focus to learning the law, and I became so much happier and learned so much more.  I was more creative, efficient, and relaxed.  I have not seen my grades since my first semester of law school, and I’ve been told that my GPA has gone up every semester since.  Being in the top 25% is a requirement for some people’s professional dreams, just not mine.

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