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From the Editor's Desk

'Tis the Season for Outlining
Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

When the calendar rolls around to November, a lot of people think "Wow, I can't believe it's Thanksgiving already!" Or "Time to get started on that Christmas shopping." Law students think, "Oh crap, exams!"

It's sad that we are conditioned to dread this time of year - to realize how little we've absorbed up until this point and realize how much reading is left to be done. And, of course, the dreaded outline - the task that we all procrastinate on. Condensing a full course - readings, class notes, commercial study aids and all - into one digestible packet that will serve as the Bible for each course during exams. Ironic that as houses of worship turn to their holy texts in remembrance of the season, we turn to our outlines with equal devotion and fervor.

Now, not everyone hates this time of year - I personally kind of like the freedom of having no classes. The routine of waking, packing up, hitting the gym, and getting down to the business of studying at my own secret location (forget it, not even going to hint at where it is - get your own space). It's a different, more flexible side of law school.

But even though I savor the ability to structure my day according to my needs as opposed to a rigid class schedule, I miss a lot of the holiday joy in my stress and anticipation of exams. I barely have time to dash off Christmas cards, and shopping online is a procrastination hazard, so I don't even think about presents until after my last final. If I manage to squeeze in a viewing of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys," I spend more of it thinking "Did I remember to stamp my Christmas cards?" rather than enjoying the old-school animation. I end up sitting in front of the Christmas tree - which my parents end up decorating by themselves because I've got too many cases to get through - wondering how the days flew by so quickly. And before you know it, I'm back in the hard lounge complaining about how behind I am in my reading again.

It's a battle that I haven't quite mastered yet. And even if you aren't particularly religious - or don't even care for winter for that matter - I imagine that a lot of law school students feel like they spend more of the winter break recovering from the trauma of exams rather than enjoying the free time. But I think it's important to try. Even if you don't have classes together, study with friends. Put some hot chocolate on the stove and play some music while you're slogging through your outline. Take a break and grab ABP or a beer, see the occasional movie while flipping through flash cards in line. In other words, take a little time every day during the exam period and think about something that has absolutely nothing to do with exams

In the end, it may all be for naught - another holiday season passes me by while I'm frantically cramming four months of Government Contracts into my head. Focusing on what I should be doing, what I could be doing. But, as a 3L, I like to think that I've learned something at least - that there are only so many hours in the day. You do the best you can with what you have. And, if you get the chance - have a Christmas cookie, light a candle, laugh with friends, phone your mom, enjoy the cold winter wind - even for that brief moment, it's worth it. Savor the season however you can. That's what it's there for.