Choosing the People You Live With During Law School

As this year’s 1Ls have surely discovered, and as future attendees of BC Law will come to realize, going to law school is a strange and special experience best tackled alongside friends and peers. Whether it’s cramming rules of civil procedure into your head, navigating the do’s and don’t’s of law firm networking events, or just figuring out where to find a good cup of coffee, one’s time at BC Law is easier and more fulfilling when you leverage the buddy system. As students, it is important to find and leverage a support system at the school. Friendly classmates are one; the BC Law administration and its prioritization of the health and wellness of the student body is another. In this blog, I’m considering a third support system: the people with whom we choose to live.

At no point in my time in law school have I lived with another law school student. When I am home, this ordeal is a solo mission. In my 1L year, I wound up living with a collection of graduate students attending other schools throughout Boston, as well as some working professionals. While we were all friendly and polite with one another, I mostly kept to myself.  Accordingly, my room was my private sanctuary, a place to hunker down and grind through the 1L curriculum (or to procrastinate and watch full seasons of shows on Netflix in a single day – the short time it took me to rip through every episode of New Girl in my first semester of law school is, quite frankly, shameful.) Of course, at the time I didn’t realize I was practicing for a year in quarantine. Still, there was an element of isolation to that year that, I think, somewhat hampered my 1L year.

Heading into my 2L year, a longtime friend was admitted into a graduate program at BC. Together, we managed to corral some other knuckleheads who were somewhat desperate to get out of their parents’ basements, and we hunkered down in an apartment in Brighton for the pandemic. Living with strangers in my 1L year, I could probably have stayed in my bedroom for several weeks without it raising any eyebrows. Compare that to this past week, when my roommates slid all the spatulas we own under my bedroom door while I was in class on zoom. Naturally, being a perfect, superhuman law student, I remained 100% focused and committed to the study of the law while those spatulas rocketed across my floorboards. So, compared to my 1L year, disruptions are frequent; I live with agents of chaos. I frequently have to throw on headphones to drown out their screaming about GameStop stocks and air fryers. Nonetheless, I would point out that I have thus far achieved greater academic success in my 2L year than I did in my 1L year. It turns out, the key to good law school grades isn’t natural talent or hard work; it’s under-the-door spatulas, and you can quote me on that.

The daily tomfoolery in my apartment does make me stop and reflect about what we have all been through in this past year. March 2020 feels like it was just yesterday, but time is a meaningless-nothing during the pandemic and now March 2021 is right around the corner. When the world went online in the face of Covid-19, students noticed the obvious strain and admirable efforts of those professors simultaneously trying to teach classes while also raising young children. On more than one occasion, classes over Zoom have been interrupted by kids (and sometimes dogs or cats) barging into makeshift home-offices, unencumbered by the notion of patiently waiting until their parents’ dumb video meeting is over to ask for a snack. We are all extremely grateful for the BC faculty’s efforts managing all of this. In fact, I’ll admit that I occasionally wish the disruptions in my house involved being asked to throw dino-nuggets in the oven by children rather than being yelled at about how “bitcoin is going to the moon” by man-children.

If there is any point to be made in this blog post other than that my roommates are morons, it is to stress the importance of finding a way to have fun and stay positive while enrolled in law school – especially when we are all spending so much time locked-in and away from each other. For most of us, it isn’t particularly enthralling to spend hours and hours reading casebooks and taking notes. But, it’s a lot easier to stay motivated to do the work knowing that supportive friends are just on the other side of your bedroom door. I would encourage my peers, and those considering BC Law, to ensure that there is family, friendship and positivity surrounding them in the home.


Dan Riley is a second-year student at BC Law. Contact him at rileydh@bc.edu.

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