When I first heard BC Law called “the Disneyland of law schools” during my 1L orientation, I was surprised. How can a law school – something that is grueling and competitive by nature—be likened to the widely proclaimed “happiest place on earth?” My only experience with law school was limited to the crazed mumblings of relatives in legal professions and of friends struggling through their own intensely cutthroat law school experiences. Before classes began I had been preparing myself to be swallowed by a writing-intensive version of the Hunger Games. “Keep your head on a swivel” was the sage warning from my dad as I set off on my new venture.
But I also found the Disney analogy comforting and personally appropriate. I recently retired from three years touring as a professional figure skater for Disney on Ice, where I had been actually living in this Disney dreamland. Disney was something familiar. I wanted to know more.
The Disneyland analogy seems to generally refer to the friendly nature of students and staff at BC Law. My experience during the first two months of school has reinforced this as true: outgoing upperclassmen reach out to 1Ls (especially through the mentorship program) and accessible professors truly care about students, and even make time to chat with them about life beyond the classroom. My peers have not attempted to sabotage my success and a sense of amity has formed in my section. BC Law is academically challenging, don’t get me wrong—but the support and collegiality make that much easier to handle.
As a former “Disney princess,” I am well versed in mottos like dream big and follow your heart. I know the stories and lessons like the back of my hand. Every day I handed the audience a candy-coated worldview—and eventually I believed in it myself. Although it might seem overtly childish and idealistic, a Disney disposition is a wonderfully productive outlook to embrace.
Some argue friendliness has no place in law school because aptitude for this demanding field stems from the mental strength developed in a cutthroat environment. I believe this is misguided. In my experience, positivity facilitates learning and growth (just try to remember what you learned in class while you dwell on negative emotions). A Disney mentality does not insinuate weakness. Time and time again, Disney characters are shown to beat impossible odds while their positive, friendly nature rallies others to their cause. Of course the stories are fantasy, but they are a gentle reminder that kindness and positivity can expand our ability to reach lofty goals. The Disney disposition is, indeed, a tool unique to BC Law that enables students to work together to achieve great heights.
Students at BC Law are not only friendly but are also well rounded and endeavor to serve others. One of my favorite Disney characters, Rapunzel, was in a restricted situation and did not hesitate to pursue each interesting opportunity available (the arts, education, etc.) as she worked to reach her final goal. Similarly, my peers at BC Law come from incredible pasts and have backgrounds in every field imaginable (eg., journalism, medicine, and the Navy) that effectively generates a rich and diverse educational environment. As with many Disney stories, Rapunzel’s quest is also colored with selflessness and compassion. Her compassion reaches an apex when she saves a thief’s life, but BC Law students’ compassion is ever-growing. Many students are recognized for extensive pro bono work, but more importantly students are genuinely invested in helping others in both professional and personal settings.
A friendly, well-rounded, caring environment is not what I expected when entering law school, but it certainly was a pleasant surprise. BC Law’s Disney disposition facilitates an inspiring and supportive learning environment, and I am thrilled to be a part of it. To say that BC Law is akin to Disneyland in any way means I have found my way home.
Erika Craven is a 1L adjusting to life as a law student at the “Disneyland of law schools.” She welcomes questions and feedback from readers. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.