What Was Your Name Again?

You’re a 1L sitting in class on the first day of the spring semester, reunited with your section members. Just one month ago, you had soul-bonded with the person next to you, spending 12 hours a day in study groups for weeks leading up to finals. You faced those exams together, you collectively convinced each other that it might not have gone as poorly as you thought, and then you wistfully bade each other farewell for whatever ski trip/Netflix binge awaited the other over Winter Break.

Contracts. Property. Civ Pro. Torts. Together, you and your dear friend stared into the outlining abyss and it stared back, and now you are making idle chit chat.

And you cannot remember their name for the life of you. 

And it’s starting to show: “Hey……..  you.

There’s no way to pull up the class Facebook page subtly. It’s just not going to happen. You’re starting to think about texting your other friend to get a reminder on Friend 1’s name, but maybe they won’t remember either, and frankly you’re fuzzy on Friend 2’s name too. They did distribute that book full of names and pictures of your classmates, and you’re starting to wish you just carried it around with you everywhere. 

Is this what happens when you take a month off? You forget every name, every legal doctrine, every shred of skill and technique developed to tackle case readings and practice assignments. Was it all for nothing? Are you bound for failure this semester? Does life have any meaning? Do dogs go to heaven? 

Big questions; no answers.

Generally on a blog post, this is where I would pivot to some grandiose reflection on the law school experience. But really this is just a little bit of commentary on one of life’s fun daily embarrassments. Obviously being bad with names isn’t something even remotely limited to the law school experience (though it can be problematic: read Rosa Kim’s “Learn Our Names”.) 

Mostly it’s just something to help you laugh at yourself, or to be mortified about if you get caught. The knowledge of legal doctrine and technique does come back. Somewhere along the line, case names take over the part of the brain where people’s names are stored, apparently, so recalling those names can take some extra work. But don’t worry, they came back to me eventually too.

Maybe with a little help from that book of names and photos that I found stuffed between the couch cushions.

It’s good to be back at BC Law. 


Dan Riley is a first-year student, and loves to hear from readers. Email him at rileydh@bc.edu.

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