shantibrien

LSAT Prep Has Staggering Costs for Certain Students

Recently a young Native American woman and aspiring lawyer asked me if I knew any free or low cost LSAT prep courses.  I had previously tried to dissuade her from law school--just as my grandfather had given me 29 Reasons Not to Go to Law School before I enrolled--but alas, she, like I, was determined.  I didn’t know much about LSAT prep but soon felt the shock of the $1300 price tag.  Soon thereafter, the $1300 grew much more significant when I realized the enormous negative impact of high-cost prep courses, especially on low-income people and people of color, but…

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shantibrien

My Bar Exam Journey: From Pregnant to Pissed to Passing

It felt good to have the Bar Exam on the calendar, even if it was four months away. Lilli was nine months old; she had slept through the night about three times. I looked forward to using my brain to master legal subjects I never learned in law school. And then I discovered I was pregnant again. So began the winter of endless, excruciating, pregnant drudgery. I pulled myself out of bed and spread Cheerios on the high chair so I could get dressed. I schlepped to the conference room on the second floor of a beige building next to…

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shantibrien

“They is starting law school next week:” Gender-neutral pronouns are awkward at first but worth it.

My Law and Public Policy class begins next week.  But before we jump into reading cases and writing briefs we will introduce ourselves and share our preferred pronouns.  I prefer “she/her/hers.” Every year I have two or three students who prefer “they/them/theirs.”  At first I thought this was a ridiculous waste of everyone’s time. We have legislative processes to learn!  Executive orders to scrutinize! But, I’ve come to appreciate the practice. It reminds me to be mindful of people unlike me and I hope it signals to the students that our class values inclusion. In 2015, the press was already…

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shantibrien

Implicit Bias: Lessons from a Mock Trial

Two white men and two black men walk into a courtroom….This is not the beginning of a bad joke but rather the start of a true story about implicit bias.  I was honored to be judging in the final tournament of a national mock-trial competition. In the mock-trial the plaintiff and the defendant each had two attorneys: one white attorney and one black attorney. As each spoke, I judged them on pre-set criteria like use of case law, presentation, questions to the witnesses, and handling the judges questions.  At the end, I ranked the attorneys.  Relying on my general impressions…

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