Publications

Interested in having Kerriann write for your publication? Email info@vincoprep.com 

7 Ways To Run The Business Aspect Of Your Practice More Efficiently 

 

When I decided to jump into opening my own law firm just one year after I graduated from law school, I had little experience practicing law and even less experience running a business. My business partner and I were lucky to have an extensive support system when it came to the practice of law, but we were largely flying blind with regards to managing a business.

5 Factors To Consider When Choosing A Law School 

 

Deciding to attend law school is just the tip of the decision-making iceberg when it comes to getting a legal education. After that, it is time for LSAT registration and preparation and the daunting application process that follows. But, before you can start the application process, you have to decide what schools you want to apply to. Many students (my younger self included) get wrapped up in shiny object syndrome and spend a lot of time focusing on things like rank and prestige above all else. However, at the end of the day, those things bear very little impact on the future success of a law student. As you try to determine the right school for you, make sure you consider the following five factors.

Dear Email It’s Not Me, It’s You 

 

Does this sound like you? Chained to your email 24/7? Always checking email on your computer, phone, and tablet? Your train of thought is constantly being interrupted by the ding of a new message? Just living that typical “always on” lawyer life?

My Top 10 Bar Exam Catchphrases 

 

With only two weeks to go, the bar exam countdown is on. In honor of this particularly hellish time of year,  I’ve compiled my top 10 bar exam catchphrases and explained why they are so popular. If you are seriously stressing out over the bar exam, one of these frequently repeated pieces of advice may help you.

Thinking About Doing An Accelerated J.D. Program? Read This. 

 

So, you’re thinking about going to law school. Back in the day, it used to be a pretty simple process. You’d apply to a few places, get accepted to some of them, and then decide where to enroll. That was it. Now, you also have to decide what kind of program you want to do. Full-time? Part-time? Residential? Online? Fall start? Spring start? Summer start? SO MANY CHOICES!

4 Signs You Should Postpone The Taking The Bar Exam 

 

There are 28 days until the bar exam. #butwhoiscounting. Around this time, students start to, well, freak out, and several will ask if they should wait to take the bar exam in February. Most of the time, this is just nerves talking, and the student is actually well-prepared and in a good place to pass. However, every so often I do advise a student to postpone based on their specific circumstances.

How To Find The Will To Go On Studying For The Bar Exam When Summer Officially Arrives 

 

There are a great many cruel things about taking the bar exam. Two hundred multiple choice questions, hundreds of hours of studying, and having to learn Secured Transactions to name a few. But for many, the cruelest thing of all is having to study during the warm, sunny summer days.

5 Things To Do When You Feel Stuck 

 

Becoming and being a lawyer is no easy feat. Duh, I know. But hear me out. There are soooo many years of school and countless finals. Not to mention the bar exam. Then you get to your first law job, are working 60+ hours a week, and may not be living the life (or making the money) you thought you would. It is an incredibly grueling process. You endure many late nights, a ton of insecurity, and sacrifices of time and energy. There is a reason that mental health and drug and alcohol abuse issues are so prominent in the legal profession.

Does Bar Prep Have You Freaked Out? Read This. 

 

Has your past month gone something like this? Days 1-24: Frantically tried to pass all your final exams because you had terrible 3L-itis (it is a thing, trust me). Day 25ish: Congrats, you graduated! Day 26: Here are 100 tons of books for you to read and memorize STAT. Oh also, don’t forget about these 75,633 hours worth of videos you need to watch. And, in your free time, be sure to do 1.4 million MBE questions. Day 27 through today: FML.

5 Tips For Studying For The Bar Exam While Working Full-Time

 

Let me start out by saying that it is not my recommendation for students to work full-time during bar prep if they can help it. However, many students, particularly repeat takers, do find themselves in this situation. If you can avoid working during this time, you absolutely should. Adequately preparing for the bar exam is a huge undertaking and requires quite a bit of time and attention. However, if you do have to work, it is not the kiss of death. With a few tweaks and a lot of focus, you can work full-time and pass the bar exam. Here are some tips to get you started.

What To Do If You Failed The UBE In Your Jurisdiction But Passed In Another 

 

There has been a lot of debate in the legal education community about whether the recent expansion of the Uniform Bar Exam (UBE) to more jurisdictions is a good thing. From my perspective as an academic support professional, I think it is great because it allows us to more effectively help our students studying for the bar exam in many more jurisdictions. However, the old curmudgeonly lady in me wants students to have to suffer through multiple bar exams, each with state specific law, like I did.

What No One Ever Tells You About Failing The Bar Exam 

When most people think about failing the bar exam, it goes something like this: I’ll die of embarrassment, everyone will be disappointed in me, and I’ll wind up living alone with lots of cats for the rest of my life. Of course failing the bar exam is a special kind of shitty, and no amount of pep talking can change that. However, I can assure you that you won’t actually die of embarrassment, the people you love will support you, and there is no correlation between failing the bar exam and being alone. I’m not sure about the cat thing, though. That one may be true.

Millennial Law Students: Play To Your Strengths 

 

Maybe you’ve heard your professors make some kind of snide comment about millennials and our short attention spans or something about how we’re all obsessed with technology. On the one hand, rude. On the other hand, let’s face it: whether it’s kids, teens, or adults, teaching can be pretty frustrating and maybe some of their points are actually valid.

5 Ways Studying For The Bar exam Is Like Gambling 

 

I guess I should preface this by saying that I don’t know very much about gambling. I’ve only been to a casino once, and I played penny slot machines the entire time (thanks for the tip, grandma). But, I have a basic understanding of the concept, and I am armed with two dictionary.com definitions of gambling: “playing games of chance for money, bet” and “take risky action in the hope of a desired result.” Let’s explore five ways these definitions are highly applicable to preparing to take the bar exam.

An Argument For Why Telling Students To Treat Law School Like A Job is Bad Advice 

 

Have you ever heard the advice, “treat law school like a full-time job”? Well, I have. Frequently. I used to think this was really good advice and have even given it myself on occasion. However, after spending a lot of time teaching in law schools and talking to law students, I actually think it kind of sucks.

Develop This One Trait To Transform Your Legal Career 

 

Let’s start with a question. Which of the following two people would you rather have represent you in court, teach you, or mentor you?

Person A

Second guesses every decision she makes. Walks around apologizing for existing. Tries to take up the least amount of space possible because she views her presence as a burden. Hardly takes chances and when she does, it causes her extreme anxiety. Frequently procrastinates to the point where she ends up submitting less than her best work.

Person B

Wakes up every day ready to set the world on fire.  She is decisive, inventive, and creative. You can feel her presence in the room. She knows her ideas are valuable and that she must share them with the world. Not only does she take chances, but she welcomes new experiences and challenges.  Her work product flows, and she has no problem sticking to a schedule.

No contest. Person B all day, every day, right? Person B is the “force-to-be-reckoned with” kind of lawyer you want representing you in court, the professor whose class you can’t wait to get to each week, and the mentor who has accomplished all the things you want to accomplish.

So, which person would you rather be? And, who are you today?

5 Signs You Are Going To Fail The Bar Exam

 

So you want to pass the bar exam? Good. It is time for a little bit of tough love about the things that really cause students to fail. We are about to dive deep into five signs that you are going to fail the bar exam. But don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging in the scary part. For each warning sign, I also hook you up with a sure-fire fix. Warning: in order for this article to actually help you, it requires you to be self-aware and brutally honest. If you want to pass the bar exam, you’ve got to check your pride at the door and be willing to do whatever it takes to cross the finish line. Alright, let’s do this.

Law Students: It Is Time To Get Your LinkedIn Life Right

 

Listen, I know LinkedIn isn’t the sexy social media site. I get that it is way more fun to scroll through Instagram or turn yourself into a puppy on Snapchat. However, neither of those things are going help you get a job or expand your professional network. You are a tech-savvy millennial, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t be using all the internet has to offer you to grow professionally. Bonus perk: LinkedIn is the perfect networking space for introverts because it allows you to network from your bed in your pajamas. Who doesn’t want that?

5 Must-Have Systems For Law School Success

 

Does law school have you feeling overwhelmed? Do you feel like you are running around putting out one fire after another? This might be because you are making too many decisions in your day-to-day life. Decision fatigue is a real thing, just ask Mark Zuckerberg about his decision to only wear grey t-shirts. Cutting down on the number of decisions you make each day will help you save time and conserve energy. A great way to cut down on your decision making is to establish and implement systems. Here are five systems to get you started.

How A Legal Education Helps You Thrive In Business 

 

Recently, I attended the Ms. JD conference in Los Angeles, CA, and was inspired by a panel about “Startup Stories.” The panel featured some amazing women who attended law school and later started their own businesses. They had wildly diverse and successful careers as the founder and executive director of a non-profit for domestic abuse survivors, the founder and CEO of a clothing consultation company, and the founder of a graduate consulting services company.

Thinking Of Opening Your Own Law Firm After Law School? Read This. 

 

I didn’t always dream of having my own business, law practice, or otherwise. In fact, I went to law school to be a prosecutor. Every single thing I did in law school was centered around reaching that goal. To make an extremely long story short, I didn’t get a job as prosecutor. My career path took a turn when I accepted a fellowship as an immigration defense attorney and, one short year after law school, I started a boutique law firm with my friend. This was a pretty drastic deviation from my carefully crafted game plan. I was very excited, but kind of clueless as to what we needed to do to be successful.

How Perfectionism Hurts Law Students 

 

According to good old Merriam-Webster, perfectionism is defined as “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable.” When I put myself back in my 1L shoes, this definition describes almost all of my classmates. Sure, there was always that one slacker who rarely came to class and didn’t seem to care that much. But for the most part, we were a bunch of highly caffeinated overachievers in a race to the top.

5 Ways To Become More Teachable 

 

A lack of teachability is a pervasive problem in the legal profession. I found this surprising as a law student. I went to law school to, well, learn. But it was evident that many of my classmates believed that they were the smartest person in the room and that there was no additional knowledge for them to obtain. This always bothered me. Setting aside the ridiculous amount of money we were paying to be there, I am also a firm believer that if I am the smartest person in the room, I am in the wrong room. Regardless of the school, work, or life situation you find yourself in, there is always something to be learned. Whether you are struggling through your second semester of law school, gearing up to graduate, or practicing as a newly minted attorney, you can always benefit from being a bit more teachable.

Attention Law Students: is Your Attention Span Holding You Back? Read This. 

 

So first semester didn’t go exactly according to plan, eh? You worked hard, spent many late nights in the library, and had absolutely no social life. Yet, you still did not achieve the grades you wanted and expected. With the level of time and effort you put in, you don’t understand how you could have gotten anything less than an A. To use a perfectly cliche saying: if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this story, I would be a very, very rich person.

What To Do If You Are Unhappy With Your 1st Semester Grades 

 

A few years back, a study found that humans now have attention spans that are less than that of goldfish. I hear this tidbit of information frequently repeated in relation to millennials. You may have heard variations of this as well. “Millennials are being ruined by social media” or “millennials can’t focus on anything.” These types of statements definitely annoy me a little. I am, after all, a card-carrying millennial. However, if I am being honest, there is some truth here.

You’ll Pay For This:The First Step Is Admitting You Have A Problem

 

I owe $226,020.79 in federal student loan debt for my legal education.

Let’s start at the very beginning. I was extremely fortunate to have my undergraduate education paid for through a mix of scholarships and parental-aid. When I graduated with my shiny new B.A in Modern Languages and Cultures (yeah, I know), I had no clue what I wanted to do, and I had no concept of how different my life would be with student loans breathing down my back.

How To Block Out Negativity During Bar Prep 

 

When it comes to bar prep concerns, everyone worries about finding time to learn all the law. For once, I will skip the opportunity to lecture you on the importance of practice questions. Just kidding. Practice questions are the single most important thing you can do to pass the bar exam. However, this article isn’t about building the hard skills you need to pass the bar exam. Rather, this article is about how to protect your mental clarity and brain space so that you have the time, attention, and energy necessary to prepare for the bar exam. Put these tips into effect ASAP to preserve your precious mental resources and revisit them if you feel yourself getting drained.

5 New Year’s Resolutions That All Law Students Should Make

 

As you frantically wrap up your fall semester and are so close to break you can almost taste it, the very last thing you want to think about is next semester. Well, luckily for you, I’m here to put that on your mind. While you don’t have to drop what you are doing right now to think about these things, I highly recommend dedicating some time to reflect on how these New Year’s resolutions might benefit you not only next semester, but for the rest of your law school career.

Finding The Line: A Crash Course In Law School Boundaries

 

Reflecting on my law school years always fills me with a solid mixture of nostalgia and terror. I am one of those weirdos who really loved law school, but that “ish” was hard, particularly the first year. Everything was brand new, and I, like many others, went through a lot of personal growth. This required redefining and resetting my own boundaries with the people who were in my life before law school as well as learning to navigate new boundaries with my law school peers, professors, and administrators.

20 Questions Answered About The Bar Exam 

 

Okay, we aren’t actually going to play 20 questions, but I am going to provide answers to 20 frequently asked bar exam questions. That is just as fun, right?

Final Exams Are Coming, Are You Ready? 

 

While you might want to stick your head in the sand and pretend this isn’t happening, final exams are coming. Whether you are ready or not. I’m going to strongly suggest that you do not actually stick your head in the sand, as it is a highly ineffective study plan. It may feel like finals are so close that you are nearly out of time to do anything meaningful to improve your scores. But that is not the case! You can use any of the following tips, starting today, to help you reach success on your final exams.

Why You Keep Failing The Bar Exam

 

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Yet this is exactly what you are doing when preparing for the bar exam. I frequently work with students just like you and have noticed a few common trends that hold them back. The good news is that each of the following pitfalls are identifiable and fixable. Review this list carefully and determine what changes you need to implement to make your next bar exam your final bar exam.

Use Your Learning Style To Ace Your Final Exams

 

I spent my entire first semester of law school feeling like a complete failure. Don’t get me wrong, I did everything I was supposed to do. I briefed all my cases, went to every class, took plenty of notes, prepared outlines, and did many, many practice questions. But I felt like nothing was sticking and as if I were banging my head against the wall.

How To Find And Keep Your Perfect Mentor 

 

There are many important things that happen in law school. You learn how to think and write like a lawyer, forge lifelong friendships with the other people crazy enough to go to law school, and do a lot of growing (both personally and professionally). Another important thing that happens for many law students is that they meet and form relationships with valuable mentors.

The Career Advice That Changed My Life

 

Do the work even when you’re scared.

Like many lawyers, I was born prewired with a deep fear of failure. I spent a large portion of my life letting fear drive my decision making and avoiding pursuing the things that scared me. If I was unable to see a clear path to success on something, I found every excuse not to do it.

The Millennial’s Guide to Law School Communication 

Save & Exit

There are few things more aggravating than being misunderstood or not understanding what someone is saying to you. In the law school setting, this happens frequently. Law students get mad at their professors, administrators, and each other. Professors and administrators, in turn, get mad right back at their law students. While some degree of miscommunication is unavoidable, the situation can be greatly improved by following some simple guidelines.

Hey 1Ls, Super Excited For Thanksgiving Break? I Can Fix That. 

 

Thanksgiving is less than a month away. You have been working very hard, and you are so ready for a break. I mean, you deserve it, right? Wrong. Okay, I’m being a little dramatic. You have certainly earned a break, but you need to think about how your time will be best spent. I can assure you that if you spend your entire break relaxing and none of it working, you will seriously regret it at the end of the semester.  You may have a strong urge to do one or more of the following things. Resist.

Ms. JD Interviews Lawyer Turned Health And Wellness Coach

 

Danielle Kocal is the Director of Academic Success at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, runs a thriving health and wellness business, and is a real-life superhero mom to two young girls. However, this is not what Professor Kocal thought her career and life would look like today when she applied to law school in 2003. Back then, she was on a mission to become an environmental lawyer. But, life did what life does, and while in law school, Professor Kocal realized her true passion: teaching.

5 Signs You Are Ready For Law School

 

So, you want to go to law school? I think that is great! Really. There are many people who are down on lawyers and the legal profession in general. We need young, smart, and motivated people like you to attend law school and shake things up. However, law school is no walk in the park, and the most successful students know what they are signing up for before they get there. If you have an understanding of or a plan for the following five things, you’re ready to join us.

5 Steps To Ensure You Pass The February Bar

 

October always brings about mixed emotions for me, because most of my students receive their results from the July bar exam. My heart races with excitement thinking about celebrating with those who pass, while my stomach is in knots anticipating the conversations I will have with the students who are unsuccessful. If you have recently found out you failed the bar exam, this message is for you:

How To Beat The Mid-Semester Blues

 

In my area, it is almost that special time of year where it starts getting dark at 3pm and 52 degrees is considered to be warm. Even if it isn’t about to get cold and dark where you are, you are reaching the half-waypoint of your semester. That probably means your workload is increasing. Not only are you preparing for classes, but you now have legal writing assignments due, outlines to create, and exams to prepare for as well. This can be overwhelming, and a little depressing, to even the most well-adjusted law student.

Interviewing Advice For People Who Hate To Interview

 

In terms of the most dreaded activities in the legal profession, interviewing is right up there with networking and attending CLEs. To me, interviewing is the same as going on a series of first dates where you desperately want to be in a relationship and the other person plays it cool. You get all dressed up, make polite small talk, and laugh nervously. All the while, you are really just thinking “are we going to do this thing or not?” Beforehand, you wait in anticipation, hands sweating, as you play out all possible scenarios of how horribly wrong things could go, and afterwards you sit around anxiously waiting for the phone to ring.

Midterm Exam Coming Up? You Must Do This One Thing To Be Successful. 

 

If you have any midterms in law school, you are incredibly lucky. For once, I am actually not being sarcastic. When I went to law school, midterms simply were not a “thing.” We had one cumulative final exam at the end of the semester, and that was our entire grade for the class. We received no feedback on how we were doing throughout the semester and had to hope that we were sufficiently grasping the law

Taking The Bar Exam In 2018? Here Is What You Need To Know. 

 

Whether you are taking the bar exam in February or July of 2018, there are things that you can and should be doing right now to start getting prepared. There are a million little logistical details that go into sitting for the bar exam. A really bad reason to not become a lawyer is that you failed to meet deadlines or hand in paperwork. Get as many of these tasks done as you can before you actually have to start studying for the test.

How To Win The Law School Time Management Game 

 

Despite popular belief, it is possible to succeed in law school — even during the first year —  and have some stress-free, free time. Through my own time management trials and tribulations, I have tried countless hacks to become more organized and productive. Spend some time answering the following questions for yourself to be on the path to law school time management success.

8 Ways To Help Your Millennial Law Students Learn More This Semester

 

I recently realized that I spend a lot of time talking to my students about how to navigate law school and not nearly enough time talking to my colleagues about how to teach millennial law students. So this week, law professors, I am talking to you! Here are 8 things you can do this semester to help your students learn more effectively and be more engaged.

What To Do When Disaster Strikes In Law School 

August 2010, I walked into my first day of law school classes and felt a weird, sharp twinge in my upper back. It hurt enough for me to notice, but passed quickly and didn’t impact the rest of my day. What I didn’t know at that time was, the twinge was actually the start of intense chronic back pain that would go undiagnosed for almost a year and a half.

10 Things That Will Absolutely Piss Off Your Law Professor 

 

There is a difference between being unprepared for class and being prepared but confused. Your professor knows the difference, trust me. This is one of the fastest ways to aggravate your professor. Not only are you wasting your money, but you are also wasting everyone’s time. A student reminded me the other day that “no one remembers if you get a question wrong, but everyone remembers when you are unprepared.

Incoming 1Ls: Everything Is About To Change 

The weather has been relatively cool where I live for the last few days. It has served as another reminder that within a matter of days, new bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 1Ls will be arriving to terrorize us start their first semester of law school. As I prepare for them to get here, I can’t help but wonder if they know that everything about their life is about to change.

7 Things You Need To Know As A First Year Attorney

First, this is not an article bashing law schools. Today, most law schools offer students a range of opportunities to gain exposure to the practice of law. Many schools have robust experiential learning programs that include internships, externships, clinics, and more. Also, students need to be proactive about getting everything they can out of law school by researching these opportunities and taking advantage of them. However, no amount of interning prepares you for what it is like the first time you are personally responsible for an important part of someone else’s life. Here are a few things I learned during my first year of practice

How Having Your Dreams Crushed Can Work For You

I spend a fair amount of time managing student expectations. Statements such as “well, a 4.0 might be a little ambitious,” “while the White House would be lucky to have you intern for them, I suggest you send out at least one other application,” and “it really isn’t possible to take 23 credits, do law review, and have a part time job” are not uncommon in my office.

4 Tips For Life Beyond The Bar Exam 

The bar exam, like any stressful situation, challenges people to change and grow. Every class of students is different, but there are a few underlying themes that hinder bar takers year after year. With July 2017 bar prep in the rearview mirror, I reflected on a few of these concepts and came to the realization that bar takers face some roadblocks that we all face in regular, day to day life.

The Day Before The Bar Exam Dos and Don’ts

I say this with equal parts joy and terror: the bar exam is exactly one week from tomorrow. One of the questions I get asked most frequently is “what should I do the day before the bar exam?” My go to answer is “absolutely nothing.” For some inexplicable reason, my students seem dissatisfied with that response. So, I consulted with my friends. What did I learn? People have some really strong opinions on this topic. What else did I Iearn? It is my article, so I get to present you with the ones I think are the most effective! Here is what I put together:

How To Slay Your First Semester Of Law School 

Even though I am still in the thick of bar review for another few weeks, my attention has started to turn to the incoming 1Ls that will appear on my office doorstep next month. First year students hold a special place in my heart. They arrive so full of hope and excitement. They come with a purpose and are intent on changing the world. They are on a mission and it inspires me. But, it also breaks my heart a little, because I know over the next few months that law school will slowly crush some of those hopes and dreams. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic. That is just the nature of the beast that is the first year of law school.

Top 3 Common Bar Exam Pitfalls 

Well, it is July. That means I am thinking about the bar exam all day every day. I’ve reached that special point in bar review where I can’t stand the fact patterns anymore and walk around muttering things to myself like “just sign the stupid contract” and “for the love of god, why doesn’t anyone ever record their mortgage?” I’m a real treat to be around, just ask my husband.

How I Overcame My Paralyzing Fear Of My Law School Loans 

I have $219,778.08 in law school student loan debt. Some days it feels like each of those dollars weighs a pound and they are all stacked neatly on top of my chest. Saying, writing, or thinking about that number actually takes my breath away. I graduated from law school four years ago. Since then, this number has done nothing but increase. For the first two years after law school, I made so little income that my loans were in deferral. For the last two years, I have been on a rollercoaster of income-based repayments and have barely made a drop in the bucket

3 Times Your Millennial Law Students Weirded You Out By Mistake 

I am a rare mythical creature. No, not big foot. I am a millennial law professor. There are truly only a few of us. Sure, you find a Gen Xer every now and then, but an authentic millennial law professor is a rare find. In fact, if you sat in a law school faculty meeting, you might think we don’t exist at all. I’ve heard millennials described as lazy, entitled, and unprofessional by my colleagues. While I should be downright offended by these statements, the truth is, sometimes I feel the same way. I relate to the frustrations of my colleagues but also understand the intentions of my students. My life is complicated.

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