This blog was created to serve as an inspiration to all who read aspire, to love and to live a life of purpose.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Inspiring! 22 year-old Nigerian Breaks Academic Record at John Hopkins University


22 year old Emmanuel Ohuabunwa of Abia State Nigeria broke records by being the best graduating student at John Hopkins University.

Ohuabunwa moved to the U.S. at age 13 with his family just before he begun his year as an ss1 (10th grade) student in Ibadan, Nigeria.

According to him, he was teased, pushed around and bullied a lot because he was Nigerian. Ignorant students called him "African booty scratcher" because in their ignorance, they saw Africans as dirty people who scratched their butts all the time.  Some even asked him if he lived in mud huts and ate faeces for breakfast.
In his words, “My experience during that year gave me a thick skin. I learned to stand for what I thought was right even when the opposition seemed insurmountable. I also learned to look at the positive in all situations. Even though these kids were bullying me, I was still gaining an opportunity to school in America and nothing would stop me from making the best of this opportunity. I knew I wanted to go to the best school in the US. I had heard that Johns Hopkins Hospital had been ranked the number one hospital in the US for the past 21 years and I wanted to be in that environment.’’

Ohuabunwa went on to get stellar results in his PSAT winning the National Achievement Scholarship and to subsequently receive several recognition certificates from various organizations and senators and scholarship offers from many Universities.

His incredible efforts have earned him a scholarship to study medicine at Yale University and an induction into Phi Beta Kappa Society, the well-known prestigious honor society.

Congrats Emmanuel! As we igbos say, Odiro ofele.

Lesson Learned?

When you're on the route to achieving your goal, ignore the haters and keep your eyes on the prize. Never let naysayers get into your head or derail you. Work hard while staying on your lane....Trust that it feels better to look back and smile WHEN you get to your desired destination than to stay "back" and fight them.

Stay inspired :-)

*Culled from ChannelsTV news

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How to Pass the Bar: Pennsylvania edition

This post is the fourth edition on my "How to Pass the Bar" series. Here's the first edition on Maryland, New Jersey and New York bar examsHere's the second edition on Virginia and Massachusetts bar exams and Here's the third edition on Georgia and Illinois bar exams. I'd love to hear your feedback. Hope the tips prove helpful.

Katina. C., Esq. Passed the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar Exams

In order to pass the bar, I put myself on a strict schedule. I took a morning Barbri class that started at 9 am. After class, I went straight to the library. I was at the library from approximately 2 pm until 10 pm. And I did this from the beginning of the class until the end. I felt as though I would rather give up my summer and give my all than to have regrets later.

I did not do anything social that summer. A lot of people were angry with me because they thought I was "overreacting about the bar", but I didn't care. I had to WIN. I wrote inspirational stickies all throughout my bar prep book. One reoccurring sticky was something my boyfriend told me "Win, baby, win!" I wrote this on many stickies. I put it in my bar prep book, car, bedroom, bathroom, and study area.

I also made me a bar prep playlist. I put a lot of inspirational music, as well as songs that made me work harder. I listened to music while I studied. Whenever I felt as though I couldn't do it any longer, I prayed to God for favor. I remembered that God did not bring me this far to leave me. I wrote "minimum competency" on my bar prep book because that was all that was needed. 

I did it all: flash cards, sticky notes, writing out outlines, Barbri's schedule, extra MBE questions, etc. i took Kaplan MBE Combo class. I called friends for motivation. I cried to friends. I called and asked other people who passed the bar for advice. 

The day before I relaxed. I did not do anything related to the bar. I stressed, but I cut that out fast! I just remembered that too many people believed in me, and with Jesus on my side I could not be defeated. 

I took the first half of the bar, and I left for lunch ready to cry. All of that work and I couldn't believe I still felt uncertain. My bar study partner and I went to lunch. We vowed that "we ain't going out like that!" I went back into that test and I fought. I gave my all and I fought.  I passed both the Pennsylvania and the New Jersey bar.

Now it is time for you to fight your fight. 
WIN, baby, WIN!

Stay Inspired...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to Pass the Bar: Georgia and Illinois edition

This post is the third edition on my "How to Pass the Bar" series. Here's the first edition on Maryland, New Jersey and New York bar examsHere's the second edition on Virginia and Massachusetts bar exams and Here's the fourth edition on the Pennsylvania bar exam. I'd love to hear your feedback. Hope the tips prove helpful.

Justin M., Esq. Passed the Georgia Bar Exam

If you made it through law school you can certainly pass the bar exam. Here are a few tips:

- Don't assume that you can just rely on law school class notes or what you remember from 1L year to do well. I did very well in one of the MBE subjects in law school so, at first, I spent little time studying that subject during bar review. When I got the results from my first practice exam, it was my lowest score by far. You need to study as if the material is new to you. For some of the essay subjects, it will be.

- Don't just read your notes over and over again; actively use the information. I spent the majority of my time reviewing Anki flashcards I created from the materials, or doing MBE questions and essays. If you're taking BarBri, all of your law knowledge should come from (i) lecture handouts, (ii) the Conviser, and (iii) answers to MBE and essay questions. The large textbooks (state and multistate) should be ignored completely. They're not worth your time.

- Tear out the pages of your BarBri books. I kept each subject (lecture and MBE questions) together with a binder clip so I could spend a few hours focusing on one subject at a time.

- Do 125 MBE questions per subject and review every answer. That's the bare minimum.

- Keep a record of every MBE question you miss. Wait a few days then try the questions again and review the answers. I'm certain I got a few questions correct on the bar exam just because I did this.

- While you don't have to follow the bar review course exactly, treat your bar review time seriously especially during the final month.

Good luck!

Amaka M., Passed the Illinois Bar Exam

I took the Kaplan PMBR bar review course. Many minority students supplemented either Barbri or Kaplan with a course called MLER, I didn't take the MLER course and still passed. The MLER helps with the essay portion of the exam. So, if you feel that you need additional help with the essay portion, I suggest you consider taking the MLER course. 

One of the best advice I was given to passing the bar was to take at least 100 multiple choice questions every day and review both the correct and incorrect answers. This helps you with understanding and memorizing the rule of law. I also suggest working with one or two people from your law school. Bouncing ideas off each other and talking out the questions that you do not understand helps a ton with grasping those annoying and hard concepts. 

Working with at least one person also helps motivate you... Finally, try your hardest to go to all the lectures and take lots of notes; hearing and writing down the rule of law over and over again definitely helped me memorize the law quicker, which made it easier for me to apply the law to the different fact patterns.

Stay Inspired....

How to Pass the Bar Exam: Virginia and Massachusetts edition

This post is the second edition on my "How to Pass the Bar" series. Here's the first edition on the Maryland, New Jersey and New York bar examsHere's the third edition on the Georgia and Illinois bar exams and Here's the fourth edition on the Pennsylvania bar exam. I'd love to hear your feedback. Hope the tips prove helpful.

Ritu N., Esq./ Passed the Virginia Bar Exam

        The Key to Passing the Bar… staying positive. Everyone who takes the bar will, at some point, have a moment of doubt; for some it’s after a five hour Barbri lecture, for others (the unlucky ones like me) it’s in the middle of the exam, 50 questions into the MBE. A fear of failure is typical and probably healthy. But the key to passing the bar, at least for me, was staying as positive as possible during this process – and that meant completely eliminating this dreaded “F” word from my vocabulary (to be fair, I did use other F-words to make up for it). 
So, I wasn’t just taking the bar on July 27th and 28th, I was passing the bar on those days, and each moment before then was just preparation for a known outcome.
This may seem like simple and obvious advice, but it’s surprising how many bar takers allowed fear to distract them last summer. Thankfully, I was told early on that the exam was not merely testing my knowledge of the law, but my mental endurance as well. For two long months I had to find ways to stay focused for 10-12 hour study days, without having a nervous breakdown because I couldn’t remember the Rule Against Perpetuities or the tort liability of a landowner for child-trespassers. 

I maintained my focus by surrounding myself with other positive people, and I strongly encourage all bar takers to do the same. The Bar is a minimum competency exam – each of you is more than capable of passing it because otherwise, you wouldn’t be where you are today. Remind yourself of that every day this summer and YOU WILL PASS.

Sparrow X.B, Esq./ Passed the Virginia Bar Exam

I would almost argue that studying for the bar is fun—it’s like going to work every day, learning something new, and returning home in the evening to relax.  I took the Virginia bar exam, and there was a lot to learn, but if you stay optimistic, upbeat, and realize that passing the bar is well within your ability, there is no doubt that you will pass.  I have three primary tips that helped me get through the summer.

            First, keep a tight schedule, and stick to it.  For me, I got up at 7:00 AM every morning, and read for the day’s Barbri class.  I biked to class at 9:10, stayed until class was over, had my lunch, and then studied until 6:00.  I made flashcards because that’s how I studied throughout law school.  I exercised from 6:00-8:00 (I either went for a bike ride or played basketball), had dinner with my wife, and went to bed.   I stuck to this schedule for twelve weeks, and it worked.

            Second, treat studying like the bar as a job.  As I mentioned previously, if you stick to your schedule, you will pass.  There was absolutely no way that I was going to take this test again if I could avoid it, so I treated the summer as if my career depended on passing.  Some subjects were easier than others, and required less time for me to study.  I never blew a day off because the only person I would’ve hurt was myself.

            Third, if you need time for yourself, you should take it.  My exercise time became my reprieve—riding my bike was time for me to forget the trouble I was having with torts questions.  It helped me recharge.  I stopped studying after six because I did not want to burn out, and it helped keep me sane through twelve weeks of study.
            In closing, the Virginia Bar Exam is no joke, but if you keep to your schedule and treat studying like a job, you will pass.  
The Bar Exam is much like legal writing—all you need is a sufficient amount of repetitions.  Keep doing practice exams and questions and stay upbeat.  If you do all this, you’ll be a sworn attorney before you even know it.

Kareine D., Esq.- Passed the Massachusetts Bar Exam

I took and passed the Massachusetts Bar in July 2011. I have three basic pieces of advice I would give to anyone taking any Bar Examination anywhere in the country which I believe will be effective tools for passing your first time around.

First and most importantly, eliminate any distracting elements from your life. Whether it’s that you live in or study in an environment which is disruptive, or that there are certain people, situations, or factors in your life which are very likely to divert your attention away from putting every bit of concentration that you feel will be necessary for you to pass the exam, by two months before the Bar it’s time to get rid of as many of them as you can. In essence, place yourself in the environment you think will provide you with the ability to obtain preparation for optimum academic performance on those two or three crucial exam days.

            Secondly, practice many, many MBE questions. Sitting down and learning the law is very important, but make sure that the entire time you practice as many MBE questions as you possibly can. If you are following a Bar prep course and they are assigning a certain set of questions, do an extra 10 or 15 questions per day on top of those assigned. More particularly, when classes end try to increase the number of MBE questions you do per day. I can’t stress this point enough. Practice, practice, practice those questions, and you will not only get a feel for the law, but you will also improve your speed as well as get to know the different types of questions which will be on the test. Repetition is critical here. 

            Thirdly, know your distinctions and practice writing out pieces of essays. Although you need to make sure that you write entire essays so that you can work on timing, also work on issue spotting and tackling different issues within the various subjects for your state. Also, be sure to know the distinctions in your state from the MBE subjects. This is something that many states like to test, and distinctions are very likely to come up in the state portion of your exam. Have a game plan for analyzing and redacting as many issues as you can within the most-likely subjects to be tested.

            Be prepared to study more than you’ve ever studied in your life. Also, determine where your strengths and weaknesses are early on, and focus on addressing your weaknesses as quickly as possible. Persevere through and don’t give up in that moment (or those moments) during Bar Prep where you feel that preparation for this exam is extremely overwhelming—and believe me, it will happen at some point. Give preparation for this exam all that you can. 

Best of luck!
Stay Inspired....

How to Pass the Bar Exam: Maryland, New Jersey and New York edition

Hey Everyone,

This post is dedicated to all the bar takers. Taking the bar is the height of it all for most lawyers-to-be. Like I described in my jubilation post, iPassed, the Bar aka the fence aka the block aka the pole. aka all things hard to scale is "the final door to Esquire". Its the State Board Examination which, if passed, certifies you to practice law in the United States. Its the ultimate exam....the one all law students dread. My journey, anxiety, the ultimate relief that comes with passing the first time and all accompanying emotions, is detailed here.

Like I've said before, the exam is less about how intelligent you are and more about your ability to endure, persevere and function efficiently under pressure while maintaining your sanity.

The exam is administered twice a year, in July and in February.

To help the July bar takers, and all future bar takers, I have put together a compilation of tips from myself and nine colleagues of mine, in our own words. The pool of advice is designed to be very helpful to bar takers in any state but in the interest of those who are too busy to read it all, I have divided it into four editions. 

This first edition features advise from those who took the Maryland, New Jersey and New York bar exams. The second edition features advise from those who took the Virginia and Massachusetts bar exams. The third edition features advise from those who took the Georgia and Illinois bar exams. Lastly, the fourth edition features advise from a colleague who took the Pennsylvania bar exam.

If you know anyone in law school or taking the bar soon, please feel free to share all four posts. I'm sure there's more than enough ammunition to help anyone scale the bar, even on first try.

If you're preparing to take the bar, I recommend you read all four editions. 

Because I gave each writer a chance to explain their experience in their own words, you might find an overlap of tips. Notice them. If its worked for everyone, there's a higher chance that it work for you.

Me, Ral N., Esq. LL.M/ Passed the Maryland Bar Exam

Passing the bar has to be the most challenging task I've ever taken on (bar one). I had to make up my mind to do it, just once. I resigned the summer to the cause and barred everything else from my life. No major life decisions. No make ups. No break ups. No outside commitments. No traveling. By June 1, I ensured my life was stable and I was not going to destabilize it for anyone or anything UNTIL the exam was over. After I put it all in God's hands, I knew heaven only helps those who help themselves so knowing the rest were in my hands, I went to work.

The five most important things I ever did to pass the bar were:

1. Make a daily schedule. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT. Schedule everything including your nap, lunch, driving time, etc. AND stick to it! It helps with focus. Accept the fact that the period you are studying is inexistent for your social life. Make sure the schedule includes MBE, essay practice AND review on specific subjects. My schedule started at wake-up 7am every morning and sleep at 11pm every night. That way, I got 8 hours of sleep= no burn out! I promise you very soon, your body will start doing your schedule unconsciously. Just stick with it. Please don't go in 24/7. If you do, by the exam, your body will start to give way.
My bar schedule- July 2011
(2) Make a What-I-Learned Today list. I took Shemer Bar Review and this was one of the tips I found incredibly helpful. Everyday write down something you heard that day that you may forget...something important that didn't stick. For example, I was constantly mixing up types of easements so I wrote that down. Two days before the exam, review the list and you will be reminded of little details you may have otherwise forgotten.

(3) Remember you don't need to know everything. You just need to know what to do when you come across something you don't know. Mine was question 5. I couldn't figure out if it was torts or constitutinal law (imagine that). By the time I looked up, I had spent 10 mins of the 25 allocated mins staring at it and thinking to myself (F888 my life!) I had to remember what I trained myself to do and do it in 15 mins. which was ARGUE THE FACTS. I basically did what was wrong/what was right analysis. Then, I said a prayer asking God to help me and moved on.  Please, after you've done your best, move on.
  (4) Practice Practice Practice. When you practice, write full answers, at first. Make sure you compare it with the model answers carefully to see what you missed, especially with the MBE practice because those are the trickiest. Read the analysis. Pretty soon, you'll start to see where your weaknesses lie. Get feedback from a mentor or teacher if you can.

Towards the end of bar study, around early july, stop writing out full answers. Just outline the answers. That way you're practicing issue spotting, which is 80% of passing the bar.

(5) Like I said in (3), you can't possibly know everything. So when you study, focus on relevant (common) issues first. For Criminal Law and Procedure questions, focus on search and seizure, right to counsel, and Miranda warnings. For Contracts, study the terms of the offers and the acceptances, oral agreements, underline any dates mentioned in the fact patterns, and notice if the sale of goods has occurred. For Constitutional Law, learn state action, due process, equal protection, and the 1st Amendment. For Evidence, issues of hearsay, impeachment, and character are commonly tested. For Property, learn the issues of ownership and rights in land and be able to distinguish between an easement (all types), profit, and license. Finally, for Torts, focus on negligence, intentional torts, and products liability.

NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, STAY POSITIVE. You will have moments of doubt when you question your sanity for even putting yourself through this. You will even start to consider other career paths you could have taken and jobs you could get without taking the bar. This is normal, just remember to pull yourself out of it....
remind yourself that many have done it and so can you, remind yourself of the reason why you want to be a lawyer and renew the promise to yourself to remain steadfast in your goal.   

Nkechi I., Esq./ Passed the Maryland and New Jersey bar Exams

My first piece of advice – BREATHE, this too shall pass. First, it is JUST A TEST. Remember that the only thing that can rid you of your anxiety is preparation, because with preparation comes confidence. So here are a few words of wisdom on how to prepare. I personally sat for Maryland and New Jersey and took Shemer Bar Review, as well as the 6-day Kaplan course at the beginning of the summer. However, these tips can be helpful no matter what state you are sitting for.

Develop a realistic routine and stick to it. You may have heard people say that you should ease into the studying process so as not to burn yourself out. Specifically, they may say that at the beginning of the summer your study days should be shorter. Then after about the 4th of July, you should be buckling down and be eating, sleeping, and breathing the bar. I agree with not burning yourself out, but I personally chose a different approach. From the beginning of the summer, I put in about eight hours of studying per day, not including class which was an additional three and a half to four hours in the evenings. I continued to do so until two days before the bar. This was especially helpful in helping me build endurance because, as you know, the bar is a long, two (sometimes three)-day process, and you need to stay alert and focused throughout. With this schedule, I was still able to take every Sunday off to relax.

To take it one step further, develop a realistic routine that you can implement daily, even if the subject matter changes. For example, in the mornings, I would write the two or four essays assigned for that day and about thirty MBEs straight through. Then, I would debrief all my essays and MBEs. After lunch, I would devote two hours to substantive review of a particular subject. This format worked regardless of what subject matter I was studying on a typical day. Also, completing all the questions before debriefing is crucial because it helps you get used to doing multiple questions in one sitting.

2,500 MBEs by the end of the summer. This should be your GOAL. If you don’t get to 2, 500, don’t panic. However, doing MBEs were helpful for two reasons. First, there are only so many ways that you can test on an issue. So the more questions you do, you will begin to see that the questions start to repeat themselves—but with different characters—and you will become more familiar with the issues. Second, doing MBEs really helped me learn little intricacies of the law that I may have otherwise overlooked.

Get a study buddy. Emphasis on the “A” – meaning ONE. We’ve all been through the beginning of 1L year where we scramble to find a group to study with and, before the first month of school is over, we end up with a completely different group. This is not the time to do that. By now you should know your study habits and what works for you. Pick one person who, at the very least, is as disciplined or more disciplined than you are. Even if you don’t follow the same routine daily, it is helpful to have someone meeting you at the library or wherever you study because you hold each other accountable and motivate each other. My study partner and I developed the same routine and stuck with it the whole summer, and we both passed. Good luck!! I wish you all the best!!!

Izu E., Esq. / Passed the New York Bar Exam

In order to prepare for the New York bar, I enrolled in Barbri for my main bar review course.  However, I also enrolled in Kaplan’s MBE 6 day and 3 day mini-course. While Barbri does cover both the essay and multiple choice sections of the bar, I wanted to make sure that I was over prepared to take this exam.  In addition, I know that I am not a fan of multiple choice tests; therefore, I enrolled in Kaplan for the extra help. My first piece of advice would be to take the bar prep courses you believe will best suit your learning style and needs.

Barbri did a great job of given their students a calendar with day-to-day assignments. At times these assignments seemed daunting and took forever to complete-but I tried my best to stick to the calendar.  However, as we came closer to the bar exam, I added my own assignments to the calendar and removed some of the assignments that Barbri suggested.  Though, I never changed any of the essay recommendations that Barbri assigned. The essay model answers that Barbri provided were amazing.

Kaplan’s practice MBE questions were very helpful and I heard are often harder than the actual exam. I tried to do MBE questions from the Kaplan materials every day. In addition, Kaplan provided PowerPoint presentations that explained the important rules of law for each MBE topic.

While studying for the bar, I basically kept the same routine that I used in law school. I studied six days a week for as long as I possibly could and then took Sundays off to go to church, run my errands, and cook for the week. I am a morning person, so I would often study in the morning before class and go to bed early-around 10 pm. Therefore, I was either in class or studying from about 9 am until 10 pm. I did take breaks occasionally to go to the gym and have cat naps (which helped to keep my energy up). 

My second piece of advice would be to use a schedule that you know will work for you. If your law school routine was successful-then stick to that routine. If your law school routine did not work for you – get rid of it fast and find a schedule that will help you get through the bar.

At first – I was excited to study for the bar.  However, this excitement soon wore off. Studying for the bar is a long and monotonous process. I was able to get through the summer studying because of the support of my friends and family and the fear of failing.  

My last piece of advice would be to surround yourself with positive people and mentors while taking the bar.

If you put your mind to it 110% and are honest with yourself – you can accomplish anything. Good luck with the bar!

Nnamdi N., Esq. / Passed the New York and New Jersey bar exams

I took the New York and New Jersey Bar exams. My experience will primarily focus on the New York exam because you inherently study for the New Jersey exam because of the limited subject matter. I used Kaplan as my Bar preparation course. In addition to enrolling in the Kaplan main Bar preparation course I also enrolled in the Kaplan 6-Day foundation course which focused solely on the MBE subjects. I generally studied for the Bar alone but I had people around to keep me motivated. I had two Bar mentors who provided me with tools that worked for them and additional encouragement. I studied with flashcards, outlines, Kaplan study books and I listened to mp3s of Bar subjects.

MBE/Subject Approach: The foundation course, as its title suggests, gives you a foundation of what you should already know. Although you took most of these classes 1-2 years ago the course refreshes your memory and allows you to key into those subjects and topics you had no clue about when you took the classes initially.

After completing the foundation course I did 50 MBE questions a day. From weeks 1-6 I dedicated one day for each subject (i.e. Monday – Torts, Tuesday – Crim Law/Pro, Wednesday – Evidence, Thursday – Property, Friday – Con Law, Saturday - Contracts). From weeks 7-10, I did questions on all of the subjects.

When the main course began and more subjects were being introduced, I made a schedule. Kaplan provided us with an ideal Bar study schedule but I did not think it worked for me. I attended every 9am lecture course at American University although it was the same video available online. This course usually ended between 12pm – 1pm. After an hour break I would review what I learned in the lecture (i.e. reread my notes, make/study flashcards, outline, and do multiple choice questions pertaining to the lecture subject). This usually took 4-5 hours. After an hour break I would review my MBE subject(s) and do my 50 questions reviewing and write out my wrong answers on a “wrong answer sheet” so I could continually review my wrong answers. This usually took 4-5 hours. After finishing my MBE review and questions I would work on either Bar essays or MPT questions. This usually took 2-3 hours.

Essay Approach: The essays are obviously very important on the New York and New Jersey exams but I did not focus on the writing/timing element as much as I focused on the comprehending/knowing the information element. I figured I would rather write an essay with less time and more substance than write an essay with a lot of time and less substance.

I approached the New York essays with this thinking since there is a lot of information to account for as a result of 20+ subjects. At the week 7-8 mark I had all the information that could be on the exam in the form of stacks and stacks of flashcards. Since everything was not going to be on the exam I had to figure out a way to determine the important subjects and focus on them. Based upon past Bar subject trends I figured I could estimate what subjects would be on the current exam. The most important question, however, was which topics would be tested.

I started looking at past essays as far back as the 1990s noting the subjects that were tested and the topics of these questions. Since this consisted of looking at many essays I read each question noting the subject, jotted down a couple ideas of what the answers might be, and then I looked at the answers to see what types of topics/theories of law that were discussed.

After having this list of past subjects and topics I noticed subjects and topics that were tested multiple times and subjects and topics that were rarely tested. With this list I cut down my stack of flashcards leaving only the topics covered on the past exams. This “stack cut down” probably decreased my stack 30% but in my mind there was a higher likelihood that my 70% stack would cover close to 100% of the exam. Granted this approach is very risky and it might have been done out of sheer panic of the breadth of information but it was definitely calculated in that I read hundreds of past essays.

MPT Approach: I approached the MPT differently than the MBE and the essays sections because the information/answers are given to you but you have to find them, articulate your findings, and be within the time constraints. I practiced actual MPTs generally 3 times a week after my MBE reviews. Since the MPT practice usually occurred at the end of the night I outlined my answers rather than writing the entire answers out.

Conclusion: That was my approach in a nutshell. The important thing to remember is that you are going to have good days and bad days during this process. Utilize your breaks to get away from it all. I made sure I was nourished, worked out, jogged, watched a movie, or played a mindless iPhone game. Always remember that if it does not go your way the world will not end and you could always take the exam again (Hilary Clinton did and she ended up okay…).
Be Absolutely Ready and PASS the Bar!!

James Harris-Chappell- Passed the Maryland and New Jersey Bar Exams

1. Don't worry about who passed or failed before you. They have absolutely nothing to do with you. You work harder than all of them. Many brilliant people have failed and persons a few trees short of a forest have passed.  It is up to you. 

2. Don't read textbooks for hours, answer questions.  Right or wrong, you will learn from every question you answer.

*If you have any questions for any of the contributors, please put them in your comments and I'll get it answered and post it back for you.

Stay Inspired....

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to Network Effectively

If you're in the professional world or strive to be in the future, you've heard that "professional networking" is a must. And even if you're not, you must have heard that life is easier with a strong network of people....So, the more people who know about you and your interests, the easier you can move in circles, the easier you can get jobs you want and the more likely you will get invited to all the cool parties.

Like the Igbos say "Onye nwere mmadu, nwere ego". English translation: "A person who has people is rich". True say. True say.

I first heard about the "need" to network my first year of law school. Everyone said it held the magic key to the best jobs. No one had to tell was going to be hard. I don't really consider myself a "people" person, until I get to know them. I know, that's a complicated statement but the truth is, I'm not very good at meeting people for the first time. But if some other way, I get to know a person, out of necessity or chance, it's easy for me to maintain the relationship.

Take for instance, the first networking reception I attended as a law student. They transported all of us first year law students to this big firm in Washington D.C., as was tradition, to "network" with some big shot lawyers. I put myself in a suit and along we went. Along came my first encounter. I was chilling on the rooftop sipping on a glass of sprite, and wondering when I could escape when an aged man walked up to me. I could tell from his badge that he was a partner at the firm. He said "Hi, how are you?". I responded introducing myself. Then....awkward silence. He waited for me to ask questions or make conversation. But I told you, I'm not very good at meeting people. So, I stood awkwardly and smiled praying to God that he would say something or walk away. Awkward silence again. Then, he gave up. He said, "well it was nice meeting you" and walked away.

I wanted the ground to open up so I can fall inside. Epic Fail.

BUT! Take for instance my relationship with a certain law firm in Maryland which I'll call LQU. Summer 2007. I had just finished my third year of college. School was out and I needed a job fast. If not, I was going to go insane staying at home, doing nothing. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer so I knew I had to find a job at a law firm. I had already interned at another law firm during my first and second year summers in college and at a free legal services clinic for credit while in school. But I needed new blood, exposure to new areas of law, variety in my resume and a new challenge.

So! I picked up the phone book and circled all the law firms in my area. I called each one, identified myself and asked if they were hiring. By the time I got to LQU, I had the spent a week making calls, attended two interviews and was getting tired of the "game". But as "networking luck" will have it, when I asked the receptionist at LQU, she said "hold on a second", kept me on hold for about 3 minutes and then gave me an email address to send my resume. Fast forward, one interview and 3 days later, I was hired for that summer. I also worked there the next summer and the next winter break. Then, I went to law school. Throughout, I maintained communication with all the lawyers at the firm and the paralegals and assistants I worked with, by email, by text and the occasional "I was in the area" drop by.

After my first year of law school, I was only getting internship offers which meant unpaid work. While these were good, I kept faith that I could get a job where I could get the same experience but with some kind of money. So, I reached out to one of the lawyers at LQU just to say hi and that I was looking for a job incase they heard of something. He told me to call his law school colleague who was a partner at a firm in DC. This firm hired me that summer as a "law clerk". Then, the next summer as a "summer associate". There, I learned most of the practical aspects I know about the law; I wrote appellate briefs, I attended trials and I met 'people'. These 'people' called me for contract work; to draft legal documents, etc...small work here and there that I did for quick money while I pursued my Masters. Networking worked there!

After I completed my Masters, LQU called me first to ask if I was interested in an opening that will become available in the near future. I said Yes! It hasn't panned out yet. But when it does, it will be just another fruit of effective networking.

But the point of my long story is this-
1. I need to improve the "meeting people" aspect of my "networking".
2. The "keeping in touch" aspect of my networking is up to par. This is evident by the fact that my networking with LQU has "professionally" sustained me since 2007.

Over the years, I have come to appreciate that my weaknesses are not so bad because networking is more than collecting business cards and more about building professional networks. Then again, to build the networks, you must have the business cards. So, there's room for improvement.

If you're struggling with networking, like I do, sometimes, besides the usual seek out and attend networking events in your city, introduce yourself to people at parties and rehearse conversation-started before each event), here are a few tips: 

Help others. It’s not about what a person can give you, but rather what you bring to the table. Have a policy of doing favors for others before ever asking for one. There may not be an immediate benefit, but there may be one down the road. Making a habit of helping people for the sake of building good relationships is good business karma.
Keep in touch. Even if you don’t currently need that person’s professional assistance or services you should maintain a healthy flow of communication. It shows that you care about your connection and it keeps you fresh in the other person’s mind. Others will think about you when they have an opportunity that may be of interest.
Meet on their terms. It’s always good to push for a face-to-face meeting and rely upon a phone call or email as a secondary form of communication. However, it’s important to find out by which method people prefer to be contacted. Some are flooded with emails, others hate texts. Your mode and method of communication can determine how you will be received by a prospect.
Build relationships one by one. There’s no need to grab someone’s carbon copied email list and try to turn it into business leads. Even when mass E-mailing or contacting people on a broader scale, be sure to invite them to contact you back in a more personal way. After all, the only thing worse than stealing contacts is stealing friends, so expand your network without making a mess of your reputation.
Live by these four rules and, over time, your network will grow to a point where you will never need to sell yourself or your company again; your relationships will do all of the work for you while you sit back and reap the rewards.
*Tips were culled from The Washington Post.
Stay Inspired....

Sunday, June 3, 2012

06/03/2012 ~May God Comfort All Those Who Mourn #Nigeria

Today started like a normal day. But it ended as a very dark day.

Today, 153 Nigerians lost their lives in a ghastly plane crash flying between the Capital Abuja to Lagos. Today, many families lost breadwinners. Today, many families lost wives....daughters......sons.....friends....mentors...coworkers.
Today, a woman who left the United States for her brother's wedding died, alongside her mother, her husband and her four children. Today, a woman and her son died.

Today, we seek closure, understanding.....explanations. Today, our ears are keen to hear that this disaster will be investigated....Today, we realize that nothing will be enough to heal the wounds that this incident left behind in the hearts of all those who lost loved ones.
Today was a sad day :-(
Its on a day like this that we are reminded of the most-forgotten lesson in life....that it is short. Its on a day like this that we are reminded of the inherent problems and incapacities of our own country, Nigeria. Its on a day like this that we unite in mourning to weep for the bodies that burned today with no help in sight. Its on a day like this that we lament on the lack of emergency services in nigeria.

Its on a day like this that we wonder if God is alive and if so, how could He let this tragedy happen. How could He let such pain engulf an already fragile country? How do we make sense of this? How do we go on trusting God?

I wish I had the answers.  No human being does. Only God. We console those who lost loved ones, knowing in the back of our minds that it won't be enough.

Having suffered tragedies in my life, I know that the only comfort that can be enough, is one that comes from God.

In times of sorrow and sadness, here are some Psalms that promise to give you get you through time.....and to healing....

Psalm 30:5b
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 31:24
Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for, and expect the Lord!

Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd,I shall not be in want.He makes me lie down in green pastures,he leads me beside quiet waters,He restores my soul.He guides me in paths of righteousnessfor his name's sake.Even though I walkthrough the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil,for you are with me;your rod and your staff,they comfort me.You prepare a table before mein the presence of my enemies.You anoint my head with oil;my cup overflows.Surely goodness and love will follow meall the days of my life,and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Psalm 9:9 
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow.

Psalm 46:1-2God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.

Psalm 18:2 
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the hornof my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 126:5
They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing.

Psalm 22:24 
For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

May all the souls of all those lost in the Dana Airlines crash this morning rest in peace....May He give their loved ones and all those who mourn them the grace and strength to be comforted and to heal. 

May we all "cease to forget" the fleeting nature of life, to appreciate our loved ones while they are here and to live our lives while we breathe....NOW.

*This post is dedicated to all those who lost their lives today. May God accept you into His kingdom....Amen.

Stay Inspired.....

Here's the full story of the crash as reported by the Associated Press.