Two years ago, I was thrust into a leadership role in a student group called Legal Launch Pad at Michigan State University College of Law. This was not something that I sought out, but I believed in the mission of the group and wanted the group to continue. When Professor Carla Reyes who runs the Center for Law, Technology & Innovation approached me with the idea of having a book club, I thought it would be a great idea. I was a bit concerned about garnering participation among students though. With class schedules, clinics, and internships vying for attention, it can be difficult to find a time that works for everyone who wants to participate.

As I was considering the problem, it occurred to me that one area that I have found lacking for law students is the opportunity to interact with those in the profession.* Although I have found a great community of legal professionals on Twitter, many students shy away from socializing professionally on social media. The idea for an online book club that could be open to students and legal professionals began to grow.  I believed that having a safe platform and a common interest could foster those interactions in an interesting way.

When put to Twitter, many suggested Zoom as a platform. However, the same issues that make it difficult to find a convenient time for students makes it even more of a challenge for professionals. So, I again looked at options. Students suggested Discord, but my experiences with that platform were less than ideal. Of the platforms that I interact with regularly, I have found that Slack is reliable, easy to use, and can be available any time. Thus, I made the decision and the new Legal Launch Pad Book Club Slack channel was born.

Legal Launch Pad Book Club logo

As I set up the channel on Slack, it occurred to me that the platform could also be a place to post jobs, career related questions, people to follow, and so much more. Seeing the channel grow and the interest there has been makes the effort worth the time it has taken.

Within a week or so of creating the channel, I was able to provide information about a job to someone who was looking for a position. There is no better feeling than seeing something that you believe in actually work in the way it was intended.

*This is a difficult task and I am not criticizing school efforts on this front. In fact, I have written about one such event here.

This month of participating in the Video Per Day Experiment has passed so quickly. Here is today’s clip followed by a few thoughts:

As I mentioned, the experiment was quite enlightening. Here are some of the things that I learned:

  • Anti-glare coatings may be more for the people looking at you than the person wearing the glasses. Sorry about that glare, I did try to reduce it as much as I could.
  • Watching yourself on video helps to see your quirks (so many ums and closed eyes).
  • Having a plan before pressing record is essential.
  • Interesting people are everywhere.
  • Many issues and problems are universal.
  • The camera shows all the lines and wrinkles. It wasn’t all bad though–I look like my grandma and I think she would be proud that I continue to try new things.
  • Putting things out into the universe means that local people will see them too.  (Who knew?) The videos sparked conversations with several classmates.
  • It became easier to be on camera every day.
  • I am not a morning person, but it was easier to film in the mornings than at night. I will definitely use this knowledge for writing and other creative endeavors.

Would I do it again? Absolutely.

See more on the Video Per Day Experiment in my introductory post.

As my Video Per Day Experiment draws near the finish line, I reflect on a lesson that it is sometimes hard to remember:

As I mentioned in the video, I struggled with writing memos during the first year of law school. Of all the things that I thought would be hard, writing never entered my mind. Because I enjoy writing, I felt that I should be able to write. A kind professor pointed out that legal writing is different than other kinds of writing, and skill in other kinds of writing does not necessarily translate to skill in legal writing. I must say that the struggles had me second guessing my choices.

Since 1L year, I have written several memos. I won’t say that it has gotten easy, but it has been less of a struggle. When I sat down this week to write the memo for an assignment, it was significantly less of a struggle. I am thankful for that–it gives me hope that my legal writing will be perfected with time and practice.

When things come easy for us, we forget about the struggle that others face. We also tend to be less sympathetic toward others that are struggling. I hope that I hold onto this lesson as I move forward in life.

See more on the Video Per Day Experiment in my introductory post.

My first year of law school flew by and I have trouble remembering all of the things that happened. During my externship in the D.C. area, one of our assignments was to write a few sentences every day to tell what we did so that we would have a record of our accomplishments. Overachiever that I am, I went beyond that assignment and created a digital scrapbook of the experience that I turned into a book. I am so thankful for the assignment and also really happy to have that physical reminder of that experience.

Wanting to keep that tradition, I decided to document this semester with the 1 Second Every Day app. Basically, you film a one second clip every day or use photos or video shot for other purposes. At the end of the month (or any time period), the app mashes them into a video clip that you can save and share.

For today’s Video Per Day Experiment, I give you January 2020:

This makes the month seem much more exciting than shots of me studying every day…

I hope that you find ways to document your lives and accomplishments. It is really important to have something tangible to look back to that will tell our story.

See more on the Video Per Day Experiment in my introductory post.

Today’s clip for the Video Per Day Experiment shares something I needed help to overcome. Take a look and then scroll down for a deeper dive.

My problem with soda first began in high school really, but it really made itself known when we moved to Japan. I was isolated and alone with two young kids in a place where I had no support system. My husband was away for months at a time (Navy). Occasional trips to the vending machine down the block became a daily treat. Somehow, I associated the soda with feeling happier. (Of course, getting out of the house was likely a part of that feeling but a big kick of sugar and caffeine were contributors). Within a few months, my early loneliness was gone because I had found work and friends. However, the soda drinking remained and increased with each move.

All that soda caught up to me and I found myself overweight and unhappy with that version of myself. I was beginning to realize that soda was a problem, and I resolved to give it up. Every day of that year was a struggle because I wanted something to drink that tasted good and water was filling that need. One thing that did help was an app designed for recovering alcoholics to track their days of being sober; that app helped a lot because it showed how far I had come and I didn’t want to lose that progress.

After more than a year without soda, I ran a marathon. I had not realized that Coca-Cola was a sponsor, and I made the mistake of taking the can they handed out at the end of the race. Thinking that it would be fine, I popped that tab and down that slippery slope I slid.

This past March, I decided to get things in hand once more. Recalling how difficult it had been previously, I considered my options. I had heard of hypnosis being used for other things like helping smokers quit smoking. Being frugal, I decided to see if there were any hypnosis videos available on YouTube. I found one that didn’t look too bad so cautiously watched it. (We have all heard of hypnotized people doing silly things). I honestly don’t know if it was the video or not, but this time, breaking the habit has been much easier. I am ten months in and so far I have not struggled at all. I must admit that it does help that there are more flavored water options now.

I know what many of you may be thinking. “That is dumb-she should have just stopped drinking soda.” But let me challenge you. How many cups of coffee do you drink a day? How many days can you go without that coffee? or sweet tea? or energy drink? Is there something that will change your mood if you eat or drink it? Has the occasional after work drink morphed into several drinks every day?

Why do I share this story? Our society places a shameful connotation on addictions. Even worse, depression and mental health issues are considered weaknesses. I want people to realize that there is nothing wrong with getting help. That help comes in many forms and is out there waiting for you. Don’t be afraid to use the resources when you need them.

Now does anyone have help for a Twitter addiction?

See more on the Video Per Day Experiment in my introductory post.

In today’s Video Per Day Experiment clip, you get to see into my closet.

Even after living in Virginia for the past 15 years, I have never fully committed to cold weather. I have resisted owning winter coats because I don’t like to wear them. Add to that my dislike of shopping and the pickings were slim when I looked for winter gear in my closet. Recently, a number of circumstances occurred which led to several items being added to my winter coat wardrobe. So, it was quite surprising to realize that the selection now filled greater than one third of the space. Looking at my closet and seeing all of the winter paraphernalia made me laugh. Everyone who spends much time around me knows that I am a warm weather gal. My favorite place is a beach with the sun beating down while I collect shells.  My name means shell island so it is no stretch to understand that Sanibel Island in Florida is my favorite place.

A law school friend was just passed over for a position that they really wanted. They were so desirous of the position that they had even flown their whole family to the location and gone house hunting. Unfortunately, the employer wasn’t as convinced. As we discussed options, it became clear that in their mind, no other position would work. They were not open to discussing options on interim jobs that would work “for now” and  make them ultimately more suited for the desired position. Sadly, they have turned down several offers due to this thinking. This seems to be a fairly common phenomenon for my classmates. Many have one idea in mind and are not open to considering anything else.

As a military spouse, frequent moves meant that there were jobs along the way that were not my top choice. However, they filled a need at the time. Ultimately, all of those experiences make me fairly well rounded and adaptable. In my last government position, I joked that they created the job just for me and my weird assortment of skills. I encourage everyone to take a longer view when that “perfect job” doesn’t work out. Think through these questions and open your eyes to other positions:

  • What can the job provide that I can use in the future?
  • Is there anything about the job that I like?
  • Can I build a skill in a weak area by doing this job?
  • Will the experience help me to get the “dream” job?

Sometimes, it may seem that the only positive is a paycheck. Looking back though, I can see that I gained something from each job and left better than I was previously. All of these experiences combine to make me what I am today.

Back at my closet looking at those coats, I reflected on the path that brought me to Michigan. If choosing a school based on weather preferences, Michigan would have been toward the bottom of the list. However, I chose a school based on many other factors. Variations of the questions above led me to make the decision.

And just like the jobs in the past gave me skills, the decision to go to school in Michigan gave me a great wardrobe of coats.

See more on the Video Per Day Experiment in my introductory post.

I titled this post early influences because today’s video for the video per day experiment addresses things that have influenced me while I have been in school. Thus, I consider them early influences for my future legal career.

Without a doubt, participating in the social media contest here at Michigan State College of Law has changed the trajectory of my future career. I am excited that the school continues to hold it each year, and am looking forward to participating again.

While listening to the presentation by an alumna today, I was struck with the realization that hearing stories from alumni has also been very beneficial to me. Some of the most powerful experiences have been those where alumni have come back to share their stories. It is one thing to hear something in class, but to see how that information is applied and put to use every day has a great impact. More importantly, seeing the different career paths and roles has expanded my knowledge of possibilities. The role of alumni has not been relegated to presentations alone though. I regularly communicate with alumni on Twitter who have been extremely generous with their time.

I look forward to joining this network in the future and I will do my best to uphold this wonderful legacy.

See more on the Video Per Day Experiment in my introductory post.

In today’s world of sharing on social media, we sometimes forget that what we see online is often carefully curated. If we are not cautious, we can end up comparing ourselves to these unrealistic snapshots. Back when my kids were little and playing team sports, parents were assigned to bring snacks on a rotating basis. There were always a few parents that competed to bring the most nutritious or the most beautiful snacks. I, on the other hand, never quite measured up to their standards. In today’s video per day experiment, I share  what I learned from that period of life and how I applied it to a situation this weekend.


See more on the Video Per Day Experiment in my introductory post.

For the video on day 22 of the #vpdexperiment, I make a recommendation for a movie and then I add additional thoughts below.

The summer before our first year of law school, students in my class were asked to read the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It is this book upon which the movie is based. Although it is a compelling story on its own, it was made more so for me because I was familiar with the town described within its pages. You see, I spent my summers working at my grandparents’ home about 30 miles southeast of Monroeville outside the small village of Castleberry. By comparison, Monroeville was a “big town” and we often ventured there to sell cows at the stock yard or buy jeans at the Vanity Fair outlet. I am sure that I must have read newspaper accounts of the murder at the time.

Small town Alabama was not a hotbed of progressive ideas in the ’80s. Unfortunately, I witnessed the racism portrayed in the movie and described in the book first hand. If anything, the book and movie gloss over how deeply ingrained those beliefs truly were. For anyone living in the area, times were tough. For those outside of the “good old boys” club, they must have been truly horrific. The book delves into this more and is worth reading even after seeing the movie.

Lest you think that this story ends a long time ago and “things surely have changed,” Sheriff Tate left office in 2019.

See more on the Video Per Day Experiment in my introductory post.

You may have picked up that I like to write. What may not be so obvious is that I like to write about what I want to write about. This can be a problem with school assignments. Not wanting to do homework is not so unusual; when it presents itself as a complete writer’s block, it can become a problem though. When I find that happening I use the techniques I discuss in the video below. With distractions removed, I sit at my desk and pound out everything that comes into my head. Quite often, that will help and I will be able to keep writing. For the times it has not broken through the block, at least I was left with something to sift through for any nuggets worth keeping.

As I mentioned in the video, using a timer to focus attention on a task is now known as the Pomodoro technique, although I am sure mothers have been using it for eons. I can just picture a mom in a cave saying “sit still until that beetle gets to the other side of the fire pit” or “you can go play with Dino after you pick the bugs out of your sister’s hair.”

Finding ways to concentrate may not have changed that much, but the distractions sure have. Has anybody seen a timer with a lockbox for my phone?

See more on the Video Per Day Experiment in my introductory post.