After four years of undergrad, two new cities, and a semester of law school, all I know for sure is how to handle every question my extended family will throw at me over winter break. There’s a strict science to it, a standard formula: Keep it positive, stay away from controversy, and pivot to the weather as soon as possible.
Turns out, even revered Christmas traditions are vulnerable to the all-consuming legal education. After a mere four months and one round of exams, all I could muster when faced with the entirely-expected “how’s law school?!” was:
When I got to law school, the only thing I knew about law review was that Obama was editor in chief of the Harvard law review, and that sounded like a cool title. But I wanted to know more. So, a year and a half ago I decided to go undercover on BC’s Law Review. After toiling through the application process, getting accepted, and later sneaking my way onto the executive board, I’m finally able to publish my discoveries. Many of those I met and spoke with along the journey would only speak on background, but their accounts have been diligently verified by Impact‘s fact-checking team.
Law reviews (or journals; the terms can be used interchangeably) are the legal profession’s academic journals. They are the equivalent of medical or psychological journals for those respective fields, with a ranking system that is similar. Being published in Harvard Law Review is like having your study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Authors, usually law professors, submit articles to the editorial boards of journals, who select which articles they will publish. The difference for law reviews is that the editorial staff is composed almost exclusively of students, although some law reviews are run by practicing attorneys, or “adults.” According to the rankings, there were at least 1,529 (1529 in “Bluebook,” the language spoken by law review editors) law reviews in publication in 2017. Many of these are housed at law schools, and some schools have multiple journals. BC had four journals until two years ago, when they were consolidated into BC Law Review (BCLR). BC also has an independent journal, the UCC Digest, but I leave it to someone else to go undercover and pierce the corporate veil of that journal.
Today I’m very pleased to be able to host a guest blog from the Hon. James V. Menno ‘86, who recently retired after more than two decades of service as an associate justice of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court.
Despite the number of people sitting on the hard benches in this sunlit courtroom, there is a respectful silence. An ordinary person is sitting in the witness box. She has taken an oath to tell the truth. Her descriptive answers to her attorney’s questions begin to weave together a story. It is a deeply personal story that provides unique insight into her and the children of her fractured family. She tells this story to another ordinary person, me, who also happens to be the judge. We are separated by a bench, a black robe and the roles we play. But we are joined together as co-participants in the daily unfolding of the actual Rule of Law.
Her role is to honestly tell the difficult story that has led to this moment. Tomorrow, her husband will sit in the same chair and do the same. My role is to listen to them as unique individuals, determine which facts are true, and (utilizing the applicable law) make a decision that will allow them and their children to transition from one family to two single-parent families. Whew! What a daunting task this is for both of us, the storyteller and the listener.
Ah, the personal statement. You’re told to write a 1-3 page essay that explains to an admissions committee what sets you apart from others. Well, where do you begin?
We thought we’d tackle this for our next entry in the series Preparing for Law School. Whether you have questions about choosing your topic, finding your voice, or anything in between, we hope you find the below insights helpful.
This is part of an ongoing series on preparing for the bar. Read others here and here.
The bar exam is coming. Us 3Ls will soon be propelled out of the lethargy that has come to characterize our final year at school by a terrifying variant of the Sunday-scaries. To help assuage any looming anxiety, we’ve gathered some details about the Massachusetts bar exam. To be clear, the following only applies to the Mass bar. After all, this is the only state where it’s acceptable to drink iced coffee when it’s below freezing outside; why would you want to be barred anywhere else.
The library was quiet last night, after a flurry of activity over the past few days as 1Ls finished their first major graded assignment of law school. The “office memo” tasks first year law students at BC with synthesizing several cases and statutes into a pithy analytical framework to present to a “supervisor” (the professor). This task mirrors what is often asked of starting lawyers. Congratulations to all of our 1Ls, and a Happy Thanksgiving to our BC Law community.
On a whim, I opened my personal statement for the first time since hitting ‘submit’ nearly a year ago. Preparing to face my tendency to over-write, a habit which lends itself to often-cringeworthy grand pronouncements, I queued up the Aspiring Public Interest Lawyers Greatest Hits: “Is It Still Worth It? (After Signing that Promissory Note),” “Oh, Really? You’re Going to Save the World?” and the classic, “Naiveté.”
Instead, I came face-to-face with the prospect that the young, impressionable, wannabe lawyer nursing the cheapest drink on the coffee shop menu in exchange for five hours of Wi-Fi knew everything he needed to know.
See? Grand pronouncements.
Sure, one year ago, I would have failed every single first year course. I couldn’t brief, or outline, or read, or write, or even speak effectively. My Lexis points stood at zero and I had nary a dollar of Westlaw Starbucks gift cards. Every one of my classmates would have prayed to the almighty curve I was in their section. One year ago, I was a terrible law student.
Course registration just began at BC, and we thought it would be helpful to dive into our next topic of the Preparing for Law School series—choosing the “right” classes. When your college doesn’t have a pre-law major or track, you might be feeling a little lost. And even if your school does offer guidance, you might be torn between taking classes that interest you and those that you think will look best on your transcript to an admissions committee.
Whether you’re planning for next semester or the years ahead, we hope you find our below insights helpful.
As a political science major, I spent four years saying I wasn’t going to law school. As a 1L, I’m probably more confused now than I was in August. (But at least I’m confused about the right things!) Keeping my less-than-stellar credentials in mind, my advice is to take the classes you want to take.
Last Spring, we published the first of a series of posts about the bar. That post talked about course selection with the bar in mind; you can read it here. Today we are looking at the MPRE, which is a first step on the path to passing the bar.
In most states, before you can sit for the bar, you must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). It’s two hours long, and contains sixty multiple choice questions testing knowledge of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which most states have adopted in some version. The MPRE does not test your personal ethics; it tests how well you know the Model Rules and how you apply them to factual hypotheticals. Continue reading
The pounding of your heart jolts you from your notepad. Your palms feel sweatier than normal and your throat is suddenly parched. Everyone is looking at you expectantly. But maybe you misheard? You hear your name again. “Ms. Craven? How does the ideology of the court affect this case?” Tough luck, you’re on! Continue reading