BY MEREDITH MCKEE
When Julie Zeglis ’02 heard that she had won the Sears Prize for her work last year, she was more than a little surprised.
“I didn’t know that there was [a Sears Prize awarded] after 2L year,” Zeglis said. “I thought, hey, nice grades, but I didn’t think I was in the running for anything.”
Zeglis and classmate Ben Goldberger ’02 were awarded the Joshua Montgomery Sears, Jr. prize Monday for 2Ls, while Michael Shah ’03 and Glenn Cohen ’03 received the 1L Sears Prize.
Shah voiced similar shock.
“I thought I was in the running, but when I didn’t hear by mid-August, which is when I hear that they had traditionally announced it, I had given up,” he said.
The Sears Prize, established in 1912 to honor the two 1L students and the two 2L students who receive the highest grade averages each school year, is not just a fancy title. Winners also receive a hefty award of $10,000 – money each of this year’s recipients is happy to have.
“Free money! How often do I get free money?” Zeglis said, laughing.
Zeglis said she plans to “be pretty boring” and put most of the money in a savings account.
“I was thinking about buying myself a new camera, and I’ll probably buy nicer-than-usual Christmas presents,” she said.
While Goldberger has “no idea yet” what he will do with his new-found wealth, Shah said he planned to invest his winnings. Confronted with the prospect of a weak market, Shah revised his plan.
“Maybe I’ll hold on to it and go buy some fur coats and diamonds,” he said.
Glenn Cohen was unavailable for comment.
Obviously, this year’s winners discovered methods of studying that work for them.
Zeglis said that her secret lies in continually reviewing class notes and materials.
“It’s important not to start studying for exams a week before or two weeks before, but study all during the year,” she said. “The first week I’m lost, but if you go back later, you start to see how those first few weeks fit it.”
As exams approach, Zeglis said, she turns to outside sources.
“I’m, frankly, a big fan of the commercial outlines,” she said. “I have every Gilbert’s ever made. I don’t treat them like they’re the gospel, but it creates a structure to organize a way of thinking.
“I feel like some people are embarrassed to use Gilberts or Emmanuels, but not me,” Zeglis said.
Goldberger, on the other hand, said that taking class notes in the margins of casebooks has been helpful. He also said that exams are very “professor-specific.”
“I like to look at old exams to try to figure out what particular professors are looking for from their students,” he said.
Shah voiced a similar focus on professors.
“Professors will tell you everything you need to know,” he said. “People get really tied up in other things, but that’s pretty much what you need.”
Although all of the Sears Prize winners said they dedicate substantial time to studying, they all said they try to live balanced lives.
“I did a lot of extracurriculars in high school and college, but I felt like here I was just going to hunker down on the academics,” Zeglis said. “At the same time, I think it’s really important to have a social life.
“If I studied all the time, I’d be miserable and I’d probably do worse,” she continued. “You just have to put down your books and go see your friends, or go to a movie, or watch TV or whatever.”
Nor has Goldberger limited his non-academic pursuits.
“Last year I did line-editing for JOLT, was on the ATLA mock trial team and took the patent bar in the fall,” he said. “I also play poker every Tuesday night, but I’m not sure if that counts as a commitment.”
Shah spent much of his first year of law school commuting back and forth to New York to work on a fledgling company that has since gone bust.
After graduation, Goldberger said he will be clerking for Mark Wolf, a district court judge in Boston. Zeglis has accepted a job in Chicago at Sidley Austin Brown & Wood.
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