Challenge accepted
By Thomas Johns

Getting out of the funk. I figured it out, the trick is to go back and review the material in your notes. #$*&, what was that rule? I'm not sure I remember hearing that, but I must have, it's in my notes. Where the heck did all of this material come from? That's about how it went. The second thing I did was to force myself to get some exercise.

My friends will tell you that I don't do things halfway. My wife and I hiked the Grand Canyon from the north rim to the south rim in one day. 26 miles. My wife got a weekend off when several of our friends were planning on doing the hike. So I packed up my books and studied in the car on the drive to the north rim. My father agreed to come along to drive the car around to the south rim and meet us after the hike and my mother agreed to watch the kids for the weekend. This is something you should plan on doing during the semester. You don't have to take your school work with you and most people would recommend that you don't. In my case, I was just getting my drive back and didn't want to lose momentum or an entire weekend of studying. Furthermore, I only intended to study during the drive, not while we were there. So on Friday we drove to the north rim, hiked on Saturday and left for home on Sunday.

On Saturday morning we woke up at 4:30 am so that we could be on the trail by 5:00 am. We had approximately 26 miles to hike and didn't want to finish in the dark. It was a great hike and the scenery was spectacular. By 3:30 pm I was at the south rim of the Grand Canyon with a nice feeling of accomplishment that would keep me motivated during the weeks to come.

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A word of advice
By Thomas Johns

I'm feeling like I'm in a funk. I haven't been able to keep up with my exercise as much as I would like, and I feel as though I'm slowing down. Writing this is good because I realize it's complacency, and I'm not as intimidated as I was last year. Now I need to fix that, and when I figure it out I'll let you know.

Can one professor make the difference in what school you should go to? I think before this semester I would have said no, I just looked at the school with the best professors overall. Now I think that while you should look at the school overall, one or two really good professors can make a huge difference. I have a professor this year who is an absolute gem. Something I've known for some time is not to judge people too soon. You start to think you know where they stand on certain issues and think that you might not be compatible. You see it all of the time in the newspapers, etc. Even so, I thought I was going to butt heads with this professor regularly. I even expressed my concern with a few of my classmates. I could not have been more wrong.

This professor will probably turn out to be the best professor I have ever had. It's even an area of law that I would have told you I have no interest in going into. That hasn't changed, but knowing what I know now, I wouldn't want to take that class from anybody else, and I feel that it was an honor to be in their class. Now as you've probably noticed I haven't said who this person is. I'm leaving that to you. All of my professors are good but this one stands out. I'm leaving it to you because you know what classes I'm taking and if you do some research about Loyola Law School you will figure it out. Honestly, it never factored into my choice of school, but had I known, it would have.

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I'm back in the groove of the school year now and things seem to be going well. I have a pretty regular schedule that seems to be keeping things under control, but Mondays and Wednesdays are rough. My class schedule looks like this: Monday and Wednesday Constitutional Law 6:00 pm-8:00 pm, (with a 10 minute break in between, woohoo!) then Criminal Law 8:10 pm-10:10pm. On Tuesday and Thursday I have Civil Procedure from 6:00 pm-7:15 pm. The issue is that both Con. and Crim. have a significant amount of reading and Civ. Pro. does not. When the semester started I wasn't able to always completely finish the reading before class, even though I'm normally on campus by 12:00 pm. So to balance things out I do at least one third of my reading for Mon/Wed with my Tues/Thurs reading. To keep my sanity, I try and get a bike ride to school one Tues/Thurs night after class and then once more on the weekend. I really recommend keeping an exercise routine if you have one, or getting one if you don't. It will keep you from going stir crazy when you're in the library all day. I spend most of the rest of the weekend with the kids. My wife works on the weekends so that I can go to school early Mon-Thurs to get my work done. Now that I've got it dialed in it seems to be working.

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Summer school is finished and I've had just about a month off from school. I was able to keep up on the material and would say that five units in the summer is really close to the same workload as nine during the year. I again had to catch up on my honey-do list after finals, but due to the longer break I was able to get in some vacation time. After about a week and a half of working around the house, my family and I headed up the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We did some backpacking and camping followed by a trip out to Lake Powell along the Utah and Arizona border. This is a time when being a pilot is incredibly useful and why business aviation is more important than many people think. Because of my wife's work schedule and the distances between these locations I would have had to pick one or the other if we were driving. By flying I was able to cut three days from the travel time thereby allowing me to do both. I'm not sure that either trip by itself would have been enough to get me ready for the school year. That being said, it was a great trip and escape, no phones, no television, just me and the family. I've attached some photos since I can't do the scenery justice.

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Due to my tight schedule, the trip went right up until the day before class started. Sounds great right? However, for those of you who don't know, your professors will assign you reading for your first class. You need to show up ready to talk about the material, and hit the ground running. So I returned from my nice relaxing vacation with a swift slap to the face, a nice little reality check. I needed to read 100-130 pages in one night to be ready for class. I would do it all again because I needed the break. I would even recommend it to you. Just be ready for it when you get back.

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I'm well into summer school now and here is what I have to report: It's a nice change of pace, but it feels more like a sprint than a marathon. During the first year as an evening student most of your classes are taken over the course of a whole year. There are pros and cons to this. A few of the advantages are that each subject does not get away from you. If you don't understand something, you have more time to understand it without getting left behind. On the other hand you only cover a couple areas of law for the entire year, which can get pretty monotonous. So as I started summer school there was a lot of excitement over getting to learn some new subjects. Now that a good portion of the material is behind me I see that you can't fall behind because there is no time to catch up. If you don't understand something you need to figure it out, not tomorrow, not after the next class, but NOW! If you don't do that you won't know what's going on in the next class, and before you know what has happened you're completely lost.

The good news is that you just focus on the one or two classes that you're taking and that is all you have to worry about. But, now the monotony of reading the same material for four to five hours at a time sinks in. You can't decide that you need a break from this subject for a while and just read something else. This is it, it's got to get done and that's only going to happen if you keep reading. I'm taking Income Tax I and State and Local Tax this summer. To some that alone would be torture, however I really enjoy it. But there are times that it would be nice to switch to something else for a while. One more thing before I go for now. Since the break is so short between finals and summer school, you don't break your routine for studying and the rest of your life which is really good.

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Last year ended well with a nice get together at The Yard House after our last final. For some like me it was a short-lived reprieve because I had signed up for summer school. A week and a half after my last final it was back to the grind. So what does a night student do with all of this free time?

Catch up on my honey-do list! My wife had been kindly overlooking the fact that nothing had been done in over a month. More importantly I had to remind my children that they still had a father. I think they were starting to think that I had moved to the library on campus. So to recap the week, I mowed the lawn, cleaned the garage, did some work on my cars, cleaned up my office (it was so covered in papers I hadn't seen the floor or the desk in weeks), took the kids to Disneyland, and the zoo, oh and of course I painted my house. All of this was actually a really nice change of pace although a little briefer then I would have liked. Next time I'll talk about summer school.

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At the Barrister's Ball, an annual student tradition, at the Natural History Museum.

Wow...to say the least. Like most of my classmates, I cannot believe first year is almost over. This year has completely flown by, so here is a brief recap. It all started in August, eager with anticipation and not fully aware of what awaited us. At orientation I met a few of my soon-to-be classmates and someone who would turn out to be one of my favorite professors of what would likely be my least favorite (but most important) subjects. A few days later, class started and we all met our professors, received the ominous warning about how cheaters will be dealt with, and then jumped right into the material. (Which had already been assigned before school had started.) However, over the next few weeks, things softened a bit. People were getting to know each other and the professors. Yes, there was lots of reading and studying, but I found it all interesting. You could consistently see how it applied to the real world, and if you didn't the professors would give some great examples. Things were going so smoothly; I had a routine for my classes, reading, and studying.

The next thing I remember was someone said something about mid-terms. Mid-terms! Why did they have to go and ruin my fun? Things were going so well. I had a great routine, and now it felt like the first day of school again. Except there was one big difference: Now I knew people. Specifically, some second-, third- and even fourth-year evening students. This is one of the great things I've come to learn about this school: Everyone is willing to help you out. They got me going in the right direction and were willing to look over what I had already. Some even went so far as to check up on me when they saw me on campus. They would ask where I was at in my studying and if I was stuck on anything. More than once I asked, "How does ABC fit with XYZ?" and got the answer I needed.

Before I knew it, mid-terms were done and I was back in a routine. (Slightly modified...more review). It seems like I blinked and it's time for finals. Second semester is faster, and the material is more complex - which is good and bad. I've enjoyed it even though it was hard work. I would gladly do it again, and most importantly...Wait, that can't be the correct date? I have finals when?...I've got to go.

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In this installment, I've decided to address what it is like to go to law school with young children at home. First off, compared to some of my classmates I've got it easy, because I only have kids. My wife works full time so I don't have to. Some of my classmates have both small children,and a full time job. I find that to be absolutely amazing and I commend their superhuman hard work. They prove it can be done.

For those of you considering going to law school with small children at home I would really recommend the part time program. It's 4 years instead of 3 years and your children will still know your name. In fact, if you take enough summer school credits it can be completed in 3.5 years. For me, it was an easy decision and I haven't regretted it for a minute. My wife and I decided that time with our kids was the priority. So she asked her boss to give her a schedule that would offset mine. Generally, when she works I'm home with the kids and vice versa. What this means is that we are like two ships in the night. When she gets home I'm off to school and when I get home she is normally either sleeping or heading off to work. Needless to say, for this to work you have to have an understanding spouse like mine. If you want to have time with your spouse you have to make it happen. We normally have a couple evenings a week at home together with the whole family, and my wife and I try and have a night out at least twice a month. However, this often ends up only happening once. We have made the trade off of time with each other so that one of us is watching our kids almost all of the time. It's a balance, so pick what works for you, but like most things, there are trade offs.

Chaos and Mayhem! Well, at least that is my name for them. No, I'm not talking about my professors, or my classes at school--I'm referring to my two daughters Isabella and Ashley. Yes, they're cute and adorable and I love them to death. But what do you do with your kids when you're trying to figure out what's going on in Property class? My answer was to read it to them. I'm proud to say that my three-year-old loves books and that the 1-year-old is coming around. I was studying Property when my daughters decided they were done playing with their toys and that I should read my book to them. I tried to explain that it didn't have pictures and that they probably wouldn't like it. They were, however, very insistent, so I began reading. I thought for a second that this could work. I could be reading to my kids and getting some work done at the same time. Multitasking: It's efficient, right? Never mind that my kids might not be able to communicate with anyone their age. I can just see my oldest telling her kindergarten classmates how the power company has an easement for the power lines. But who was I kidding? About three lines in, she looks at me, and in a very matter of fact tone asked, "Why is your book so boring"? I didn't even know she knew that word, so you can imagine my surprise when I kept reading and she said it again, drawn out "BOOOORRRRRING" followed by laughter. At that point, I had to put down my books for a nice game of tag. About an hour later, I managed to get them to both take a nap at the same time and get some studying done. Bottom line is that you have to be more flexible and take advantage of any down time to catch up, but it is definitely doable, and worth it.

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Who is this guy?
By Thomas Johns

My name is Thomas Johns, and I am a first-year evening student. I'll start by giving you a little background information about myself...

I married my high school sweetheart, and we have two beautiful little girls (15 months and 3 years old). For the last 12 years, I've been a professional pilot flying freight, flying for the airlines and, most recently, flying corporate jets. I've been to 49 states and five countries. I think this gives me a different perspective from the average incoming first-year student.

Why would I leave a career I worked so hard to become established in? Anyone who has been watching the news knows that there have been many layoffs in the last few years. I have personally worked for four companies over the last 12 years, three of which went out of business. Each time I was laid off, my next job was in another state. This resulted in commuting to another state for six of the first seven years of my career. That's some serious commuting. I have a family now, and although I have a very understanding wife, I didn't feel that it would be fair to my young children.

Why did I choose to go to law school? I'm not going to use the line that I just want to help people. I think it's noble and great that so many of my fellow law students do feel this way. But I'm here to increase my value to possible employers, thereby providing my family and myself with financial security. The great thing about law is that it allows you to use your previous experience and knowledge. No matter what field you come from, I guarantee that lawyers are involved. For example, I may go into aviation law, but at this point I'm not going to limit my options.

What did I expect law school to be like? Endless reading. Socratic teaching methods. Cut-throat classmates. I planned on studying 25-30 hours per week outside of class.

What is Loyola Law School really like? Of course there is a significant amount of reading, but the different subjects help break it up. And the professors at Loyola are great. They teach in what I call "Socratic Light." They don't have you stand up and answer every question on a specific case until they drag the information out of you. Instead, if you get stuck, they ask another student to pitch in on a voluntary basis. I find that this lightens the mood and keeps things moving at a nice pace while keeping the rest of the class engaged. My classmates all seem to get along really well. They come from all walks of life and have all different points of view. The best thing is that everyone is willing to answer questions or let you take a look at their notes if you missed something. This is really important--especially when mid-terms or finals come around. Speaking of which, it's time to go study. More to come...

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