Abigail Sills, 2-L | Las Vegas, NV
Hello! My name is Abby Sills, and I’m a second year law student from Las Vegas, NV. I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Sweet Briar College in Virginia, as well as my Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Additionally, I’ve worked as an Assistant Registrar for several years at Nevada State College, in Henderson, NV.
Blog Post 1: Why ONU Law?
When looking at law schools, I was particularly interested in small class sizes. My undergraduate college was an extremely small school (approximately 500 students total), and I loved it. ONU certainly delivers on this front. The low student: faculty ratio makes it such that there’s no need to be worried about talking in class. Everyone gets the opportunity to participate and ask questions.
Additionally, Ada is a wonderful city. Law school is incredibly busy, and Ada’s peaceful smallness balances it out perfectly. Even with the University in session, the restaurants are rarely crowded (except on 2 for 1 Pizza Buffet night at East of Chicago!), and the town never seems overwhelming. Everything you need, but not so much that it distracts you from your studies. Also, everything in Ada’s within walking distance! It’s so convenient to know I can walk to the law building, and not have to worry about fighting for a parking spot. No matter what time of the day or night, I also feel safe walking around campus or Ada streets.
Blog Post 2: An Environment Designed for Success
The academics at ONU Law are quite rigorous. While it’s certainly achievable to get everything done and done well, there’s very little time to just sit around doing nothing. 1Ls take Civil Procedure, Contracts, Property, Torts, Criminal Law, Public Law and Legal Research & Writing throughout the year. These classes provide a wonderful bedrock for the information to come.
One of my favorite classes this past year was Property with Professor Keller. Property is generally considered one of the hardest classes you will take as a 1L, and I took that as a challenge. It’s a lot of old cases and majority/minority rules, but that’s what makes it fun!
Professors are very open to being approached and asked questions. Most are in their offices even outside of office hours, and are very welcoming if you have questions about class, a reading, or just want to talk!
It is definitely easy to find academic support. Every class during the 1L year has a TA that’s always available to explain anything you might be questioning. The TA sessions help in focusing what often seem like daunting subject areas into achievable concepts to learn.
In the spring semester, our Property professor gave a mid-term, right after Spring Break, on future interests. This subject area can be extremely confusing. Luckily, both other members of my study group were also staying on-campus for spring break, and we spent the entire break quizzing each other on the various rules and exceptions!
Are students extremely competitive? Extremely, no. Is there competition? Absolutely. However, it’s never mean or vicious. I’ve never had a problem with a book in the library being hidden or misinformation being spread. Everyone is still open to helping each other, even though we know that they are our competition for the best grades.
There are definitely opportunities to seek help from your peers. Not only through TA sessions, but just walking around the law school. Other students are generally very willing to help, even if it just involves pointing you to the right part of the library. Often the most useful information that 2Ls and 3Ls can give is just how they made it through. The 1L year can be daunting, but talking to others that successfully navigated it can give you confidence that you can do it, too.
Blog Post 3: Engagement Outside the Classroom
A student can be involved in pretty much any kind of organization they want! In to politics? There's an organization for both parties, plus other politically related topics. There are organizations for specific areas of law, such as Sports Law or Environmental Law. If there's an organization in which you're interested, that does not yet exist on campus, start it up!
It can be difficult at times to balance classes and organizations. It's all about time balance and scheduling. However, ultimately, you have to remember that you aren't in law school to be in student organizations. It's for the academics, and that is where your primary focus should be.
Students absolutely spend time together outside of the classroom. You wouldn't be able to survive if you didn't. Everyone needs some time to chill out and just have fun. It's what will keep you sane. Sometimes, though, you might have to schedule it. My friends and I make a point of going out to dinner in Lima or Findlay every Friday, just to make sure we have some time to socialize and not do law school, for at least a few hours.
Blog Post 4: Life in Ada, OH
I was born in Des Moines, IA, but my family moved to Las Vegas, NV when I was 10. I've lived there ever since. I went to undergrad at Sweet Briar College, and got my BA in Psychology. After undergrad, I worked at a small college in Nevada, as the Assistant Registrar, while getting my MPA at UNLV. After working about 5 years, I decided to go to law school, and here I am today!
You don't come to Ada for a happening night life. It's a village. I describe it to people as "there's a literal Main Street, and everything is on it". That said, you make your own fun. Hanging out with friends both at home and at the law school. The movie theater is only $4. There are bars, and several restaurants. Plus, Lima and Findlay are only about a half hour away.
I live on-campus. I've lived in both Polar Place and Courtyard, and while the Polar apartments are newer and a little nicer, Courtyard is much closer. For me, it's worth it to be closer to the law building, even to live in a slightly older apartment. That said, Courtyard is by no means not nice.
Adjusting to Ada wasn't a problem for me. Though I'm from a fairly large city, my undergrad was even more rural that Ada. So I was accustomed to not having a 5 minute drive to Wal-mart. For those who aren't quite so used to that, its easiest enough to get used to. Just remember that you're here for law school. You aren't here to go night clubs or other activities that big cities would offer.
Blog Post 5: Real Life Experience
While I have not yet participated in a clinical program, I did have a judicial externship this past summer. I became interested in this program because of the wonderful opportunity it offers. Being able to work closely with a judge provides endless insight into the real life application of the law. In order to apply for for an externship (or a clinical), you first have to set up a meeting with the clinical coordinator. You discuss your interests in a career, as well as what you hope to get out of the externship. The clinical coordinator then matches you with a judge.Participation in a judicial externship or clinical is wonderful for a law student because it brings your law studies into the real world. So much of what a law student learns in the classroom seems very theoretical. Participating in a judicial externship or clinical really grounds the knowledge you've obtained in real cases. Additionally, it look excellent on your resume.
My favorite part of my judicial externship was court observations. I was able to see sentencings, arraignments, plea changes, probation revocation, hearings, and more. I was able to see all these proceedings that I'd only seen on tv and in movies, and they were not the same. For example, accepting a guilty plea takes about a half hour and involves a dozen or more questions! My prior contact as an extern was with the judge's two clerks. They would give us writing assignments, as well as invite us to listen in on meetings. The judge also regularly stopped by the extern work room, and was always willing to answer any questions we had. Additionally, I had to meet with the clinical coordinator twice during the semester to make sure I was on track.
Blog Post 6: The January Term Experience
The purpose of January term is take a course that will supplement your regular semester studies. You end up taking an entire semester long class in about three weeks. Some people take a course that is in line with their career goals, while others try to boost their GPA. ONU offers a variety of classes, so there will definitely be an option for everyone.
In my 1L year, I took Legal Problem Solving and Analysis, a course required for all 1L students. It involves everything from reviewing old exams to practicing Bar essays. Additionally, the Ohio Court of Appeals held a session at ONU, which we were able to attend.
Though I had planned on taking Law of War this January term, I ended up withdrawing from it due to a busy spring schedule. Because of this, I spent my January term at home in Las Vegas. I know several people who took classes, as well as others who worked at firms throughout January.
Blog Post 7: Focusing on Academic Success
This semester I am taking Constitutional Law 2, Business Organizations 2, Estates Wills & Trusts, Real Estate Finance & Mortgage Law, and Taxation of Partners and Partnerships. Most of these classes, particularly Con Law, Bus Org, and Estates are fairly common. I would also guess that Partnership Tax and Mortgage Law were offered widely as well. These classes, however, are fantastic insights into their particular legal areas.
Though I enjoy all my classes this semester, my favorite at the moment is probably Partnership Tax. This class is about, logically enough, the federal taxation of partnerships and partners. The reason it is currently my favorite class is because its hard. This class is definitely a challenge every day. However, for me, tax is a puzzle, that's fun to work out. Hard puzzles can be frustrating, but it makes it that much more satisfying when you finally get it.
I am currently working toward certificates in both Real Estate and Taxation. Though I didn't come into law school thinking I would enjoy these areas, once I took their introductory classes (Property and Federal Income Taxation, respectively) I knew that this was what I enjoyed. Though two certificate programs can be difficult to complete, these particular two overlap in such a way that I am to fulfill both, while still working on my required and bar courses.
I don't have just one favorite professor, so many of my professors at ONU have been wonderful. They are always willing to help after class, for both academic and non-academic purposes. Professors at ONU are supportive and truly want you to learn.
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