As we creep ever further into the month of September, new students are coming up on the one-month mark of their first semesters at BC Law. Remember back in August when no one was pestering you about what the district court ruled, or whether there really was a breach of duty? Alas, syllabus week is over, add/drop has expired, and now there is nothing but the next deadline, the next reading. 1Ls have gotten a sense of law school’s rhythm and flow – what the workload is like, where the classrooms are, how cold calling works, and so on.
They’ve also got a sense of who the gunners are.
Let’s define terms (this is law school, after all): a “gunner” is someone who takes up too many class resources for themselves – in particular, too much class time. A gunner goes beyond the scope of ordinary academic or competitive behavior in order to succeed in law school (or simply appear to be succeeding in law school), all while violating the most important rule in the unwritten student code: probably don’t behave in a way that makes all of your peers think you’re a bit annoying.
One of my professors doesn’t allow laptops in class. Two others strongly suggested that we not use laptops, citing the potential for distraction and the multiple studies finding that note-taking by hand is more effective than type-written notes. Beyond that, however, my professors haven’t weighed in with any additional guidance on note-taking.
But behind every page of notes there’s a unique mind and learning style, so I thought it would be interesting to ask a few classmates to share their notes from a class we took together in order to see how their distinct personalities and preferences come through. They also said a few words about what they hope to capture or accomplish when they take notes.
During law school orientation, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Daniel Lyons walked us through what we should expect from our first day. During this session, he showed us the infamous scene from Legally Blonde where Elle Woods experiences her first class. After we watched Woods get kicked out for not being prepared, he assured us that, while the movie gets some things right, it also gets some things wrong.
What did it get wrong, according to Dean Lyons? Our professors likely wouldn’t be as suave. Also, while they will call on you, they won’t pick on you with that degree of malice.
However, what it gets right is that there will be assignments before even the first day, and you will be expected to have done them. There also will be cold calling, probably not at first, but soon.
While this orientation session was surely meant to ease our anxieties mere days before we would begin a daunting academic adventure, it only made me more nervous. Experiencing anything like Woods’ first day seemed like a downright nightmare, and the only thing I didn’t have to worry about now was suave professors with outward malice? I started losing some sleep.
But after experiencing it firsthand — and living to tell the tale — I can assure you that the anticipation was far worse than the reality.
Twenty years ago yesterday—September 10th, 2001—I was five and a half years old growing up outside of Boston. That day, my mom and I went to the nearby Chestnut Hill Mall (having since been gentrified and recast as The Shops at Chestnut Hill) to try and find myself a new pair of shoes for the new school year.
Plumbing the depths of my foggy and halcyonic recollections of late 1990s and early 2000s Boston, I recall a Stride Rite on the second floor of the mall—our destination that day. I wistfully remember Stride Rite, a Boston-based children’s footwear chain, for its sand tables, toys, and vivid atmosphere. It was, in essence, everything that shopping as a kid usually was not—fun.
I recall picking out a pair of light-up sneakers—second only to Heelys when it came to the playground hierarchy of kids’ footwear.
I couldn’t wait to get to school and showcase my shoes, banging them against any object in sight to activate the lights.
There’s something strange about thinking back to that time. Much is made by historians, sociologists and journalists about the profound effects and transformations that the attacks and aftermath of September 11th, 2001 had on our country, and our world.
This guest post is from an incoming first-year student who would like to remain anonymous.
The quintessential question for any law student is always, “what made you want to go to law school?” And more often than not, my answer is, “Because I’m bad at math.” But when it came to the question, “Why BC Law?” my answer was vastly different. To explain why I chose BC, I must first go into why I chose law in the first place. And a big part of it was my complicated relationship with my late father.
To the public, my father presented himself as a kind and loving family man. But my mother, sister, and I never felt safe, always fearing a sudden outburst. More often than not I’d cower in the small room that I shared with my mother and sister, deliberately facing the wall and wishing he would stop telling me he regretted my existence; praying to a God I didn’t believe in to beg against an escalation into a beating. The incessant physical and emotional abuse at a young age, pushed me into a dark corner. I was scared of everyone and everything and had no dreams or aspirations. I struggled to wake up in the mornings. More often than not, I could not find a reason to live on.
Today I am hosting a guest post by BC Law student Marija Tesla about her experience in BC Law’s new International Human Rights Practicum.
I have taken many international law and human rights courses at BC Law, and have loved them all: International Law with Professor David Wirth; International Human Rights: The Law of War, War Crimes, and Genocide (or what is more commonly known as humanitarian law) with Professor Allen Ryan; Immigration Law and the Human Rights Interdisciplinary Seminar with Professor Daniel Kanstroom; International Legal Research with Professor Sherry Chen. I came to law school because this is my calling in life, and every experience I got here (after the slog of the very provincial 1L experience), further proved to me that this is what I was meant to do.
All those courses were amazing, but what I have loved most of all is my experience in the International Human Rights Practicum with Professor Daniela Urosa.
I loved working on the amicus brief that we submitted to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) with Professor Urosa and my amicus partner, Nadia Bouquet, because I got to think about and analyze a technical area of international human rights law while having an opportunity to be creative and to think outside the box (I wrote an earlier post about our visit to the IACtHR; read it here). My aim in everything I do is to challenge the status quo and to focus on how the law can challenge systems of oppression and create societies in which every person can and does live a life of dignity. Human rights law is aspirational and sometimes it creates standards that are not at all lived on the ground by the people who are most marginalized in our societies. Yet, if those of us who dare to remain idealists in a world often run by realists stop aspiring and working towards creating a more just and equitable world, then where will we end up as a collective? What I love about human rights law is that it cares deeply about individual life while caring about the collective. In a world of great economic inequality, environmental and racial injustice, human rights law is not just necessary, it is a difference of not just life and death, but a difference of what it means to live and to be alive.
Travis here: today I’m hosting a guest post from my friend and classmate, Tong Liu, Class of 2023.
The start of a new experience can always be nerve-wracking, with law school being no different. Diving into a new environment, meeting new people and navigating the complexities of pandemic life each brings a whole host of challenges. Some, like learning how to use Zoom properly, are easy and usually overcome within a few days. Others, like figuring out how best to prepare for classes, can take a matter of weeks. However, one of the most difficult challenges for me is determining how much of myself I can share with others.
Going into law school during a pandemic, I knew that in-person interactions would be limited. Half of my classes were going to be on Zoom, and the in-person classes had everyone masked up and socially distanced. I was also commuting about an hour and a half round-trip for classes, making it difficult for me to meet up with classmates who lived near campus.
Still, the commute ended up becoming a blessing of sorts as well. I was able to have a period of zen before and after classes as I drove, jamming out to an eclectic mix of songs. Safe within the confines of my car, I could take off my mask after a long day in class or at the library, and belt the songs out loud without any shame.
“Are you going to talk about anything else?” My brother rolled his eyes as I talked about a technical area of patent infringement that no one in my audience cared to learn about. This was just a few weeks ago, and we were at a small dinner party with some family friends. I had finished up my time with a firm this summer, and I was excited for the chance to talk about it. But my brother’s comment reminded me just how much I’d been talking about my work. I had an amazing summer outside of the firm, too: I went on some relaxing getaways, I spent a lot of meaningful time with my family, and I finally read the books that had been on my reading list for months now. Yet, throughout dinner, I had mainly only talked about my firm experience. It was a reminder to me that law school — and the legal profession — should not and does not encompass my entire identity.
During my first semester of law school in Fall 2019, I found myself burnt out fairly quickly. I was spending too many hours reading, not necessarily because I had a lot to read, but more so because I felt that this was what I had to do. I felt like I was supposed to be outlining after every class, even if I didn’t really know what outlining even was. Despite being on top of my schoolwork, I felt guilty when I wasn’t doing law school-related work, only because I felt that there was no time or room to think about anything else.
Today I am hosting a guest blog from my friend Melody Mathewson, a member of the Class of 2022. -DS
What am I doing this summer? Well, the law, of course. I am drafting agreements and policies, researching admissibility, and reading trial transcripts and state statutes. It’s all very glamorous and novel to you as aspiring or fellow law students, I know.
More importantly, I am learning how to run a marathon. Not literally. Literally, I walk for an hour every day, but I do not run. What I mean is, I am learning how to endure and thrive through the marathon of being a human attorney. I am learning what I wish I had learned two years ago, both before and during the first year of law school.
Here are three lessons from my 2L summer experience.
Summer Experience Lesson No.1: It is perfectly acceptable to demonstrate your strong work ethic and hustling attitude from Monday through Friday, and “breaks” can coexist with “weekdays.”
I have been listening to some really thoughtful and insightful podcasts while going for my long, near-daily walks outside, and on the weekends I lie by the pool and read similar kinds of books (or completely lose myself in a perfectly curated playlist of summer bops). On a daily level, this hour-long walk is my mid-day break. It is my exercise, my fresh air, my break from a computer screen, my break from legal jargon, and most importantly it is time I am not working, not thinking about work, not worrying about work, and not pressuring myself to get back to work.
As someone born in 1995, I’ve found myself in a generational no man’s land. A few terms have been thrown around labeling those born between 1995 and 2000 as cuspers, zillenials, or born in “the gap.” Are there really significant differences between generations of lawyers, in terms of their professional and personal goals? Where and how do I fit in? In today’s blog post, I’m diving into how Millennial and Gen Z perceived characteristics are viewed in the context of the legal profession.
According to a Major, Lindsey & Africa survey of over 200 respondents born between 1995 and 2000, Gen Z law students are seeking a balance between a flexible work arrangement while maintaining mentor-relationships and skill development. In addition to a focus on flexibility, many of the Gen Z respondents are interested in a career in government or nonprofit work.
“They wanted to feel the work they’re doing is making an impact,” Bosker LaFebvre said. “They feel personally responsible that they needed to get involved.”Jackie Bokser LeFebvre, managing director of MLA’s New York associate practice group
As a rising 2L interested in environmental law and cleantech, I can relate to the desire of making a positive impact through law. As the world faces widespread inequality, climate change, a healthcare crisis, and more, it’s not surprising that I’ve heard many of my classmates say the same. There also seems to be a greater emphasis on mental health. In the 2021 Deloitte Global Millennial and Gen Z survey, Millennial business leaders indicated a clear focus on well-being and mental health, yet many Millennials and Gen Zs see their employers’ efforts as inadequate.