Deciding where to go to law school is no easy task. If you are anything like I was, you may still be deciding if a city or traditional campus is right for you. You also may even be wondering if you are more of an East Coast or West Coast person (or something in between). Well, lucky for you, BC Law is hosting Admitted Student Month, which kicked off on March 1! Throughout the month of March, BC will be hosting a ton of live and recorded content, which you can find out about here.
Although this virtual world is not what any of us hoped for, both the administration and students have tried to find ways to connect with prospective students and share why we love BC Law, while answering any questions future students may have. One unique way that I have particularly enjoyed meeting prospective students is through the virtual coffee chats.
Just last week, my roommate and I hosted one over Zoom and we received a number of good questions. It immediately made me realize that many of the questions we were receiving were largely due to the fact that students can’t visit campus (if this is true for you, be sure to check out the brand new virtual tour.) Although coffee chats are still taking place throughout March (and you can sign up here), I thought it would be helpful to provide a roundup of some of the questions we’ve received, as well as our responses.
How would you describe the area surrounding BC? Is it walking distance to coffee shops, places to eat, and shops? Do you feel safe walking around?
I definitely feel safe both where I live and near campus! Most people, myself included, live in Brighton which has a huge student population. Streets are typically well lit and neighborhoods are pretty quiet. You can definitely walk around and feel totally comfortable, even in the evening. Between Brighton and Newton (where the law school campus is) is also safe. Newton itself is mostly families. Some people do live in Newton to have less of a commute to school.
With regards to shops/restaurants, there are pockets throughout the Brighton and Newton areas. Off of Washington Street, there is a whole block with tons of restaurants/coffee shops. If you look up Fuel and Brighton Bodega on Google Maps, you’ll see what I’m talking about. If you live near Cleveland Circle, there are other restaurants and shops over there. If you look up Cityside you’ll be able to see this area. And if you live closer to the Brookline/Coolidge Corner area there are TONS of shops and restaurants. It’s still walkable from Brighton, but just a little farther. If you look up Trader Joe’s Brookline you’ll be able to see what is in this area.
Could you tell me a bit about the Law Review/UCC Digest application process?
Although It is definitely a competitive process to get onto Law Review and UCC Digest, it is also very attainable. Not only does BCLR and UCC consider grades, but a significant amount of weight is also given to your personal statement, your ability to write a legal memo (which you will learn how to do in your 1L writing class), and your performance on a citation exercise (also learned in your writing class). Some students do “grade on”, but the majority of students are invited to join based on these other factors. I’ve really enjoyed being on Law Review and am confident it helped me with my job search. It also introduced me to many more BC Law students, and provided me with leadership opportunities once I joined the Editorial Board.
I know there are a handful of law schools in Massachusetts and even in the Boston area. How does BC compete with students from these other law schools?
You are right, there are definitely a lot of other great schools in the Boston area and I think you will have good opportunities coming out of any of these schools. But, I really think going to BC helped me stand out. BC alumni are everywhere in Boston and are always looking out for BC Law students. People who go to BC love BC and will do anything for its students, whether that is in Boston or elsewhere. I felt BC really helped me in the job search.
Could you tell me a little about experiential learning at BC Law?
Many students participate in clinics and externships. For instance, I externed at Tripadvisor last semester, and thought it was such a great semester. You can read about my experience here. If you are interested in externships, the placement options are quite extensive. The ones I know about include the AG’s office, judicial externships, DOJ/other government agencies, Wayfair, and more. This page also provides some helpful information.
Although I have not participated in a clinic, many of my friends who have all have found clinics extremely valuable to their law school experience. For instance, my roommate participated in the Juvenile Advocacy Clinic as a 2L and the Defender’s Clinic as a 3L. She appreciated the clinic experience because it exposed her to court proceedings and client representation early on in her legal career. It also was a nice change from only learning in a classroom setting.
What classes will I be taking during my 1L year? Do I get to pick?
BC will divide the incoming class into three sections with about 80 students per section, and your class schedule will depend entirely on which section you are in. In the fall, everyone will take Civil Procedure, Contracts, and Law Practice (LP), which is the 1L legal research and writing course. The fourth course will either be Property or Torts, depending on your section. In the spring, you will have five classes: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, the second half of LP, either Property or Torts (whichever you didn’t take in the fall), and an elective of your choice. Some of the electives that stand out to me include Negotiations, Mobile App Development, and Introduction to Civil Litigation, but you have at least 15 from which to choose.
Can you talk about the cold-calling process? Is it scary?
It largely depends on the professor, but I think it is possible to categorize cold-calling techniques into 3 types. First, there is true cold-calling, where the professor gives no warning or indication and just calls on people seemingly out of the blue. This is generally the most intimidating form but it was also fairly rare in my first year. The good news is that using this method generally meant that the professor would only keep you on the hot seat for a few minutes, and then move on to someone else. The bad news is that in these classes, it is entirely possible to be called on regularly, even several times per week, because the professor will cycle through the entire class pretty quickly.
Second, there is what I would call “hinted” cold calling, where the professor tells you what days you might be called on, and on what days you definitely will not be called on. This can be great because you know that there are many days over the course of the semester that you cannot be cold-called (and you can relax a bit on those days).
Finally, you have full-notice cold-calling, where the professor simply tells the entire class who will be cold-called the next time class meets. This sounds ideal, but it has its drawbacks. The good news is that there is no mystery; the bad news is that because the professor was kind enough to give you advanced warning, they generally will hold you on the hot seat longer and expect your answers to be more prepared and detailed.
I got nervous for my first cold call, and after that, you realize you were worried about nothing. The point of the cold-call is to ensure you’ve done the reading, test your ability to recall, and maybe push you towards a novel application of whatever you’ve read about. Professors aren’t out to trick you or embarrass you, and you’re not going to have a moment like Elle Woods in her first day of class.
What do people wear to class?
Wear whatever you are most comfortable in. Do not feel compelled to dress up for class. Generally, people only dress up when they have an interview or other extracurricular activity before or after class that requires it. Otherwise, wear what’s comfortable.
Should I take my notes by hand or on the computer?
Totally up to you. Whatever you do best, keep doing that. Unless the professor doesn’t allow laptops in class, in which case the decision is made for you. Typed notes can make outlining a bit easier because you can cut and paste. Handwritten notes can be ideal if you can’t access any computer programs during an exam but you are permitted to bring hard copy notes. So it just depends.
Do you recommend study groups?
I’ll put a huge emphasis on making sure you do what works for you. I was never a group studier in undergrad, and I pretty much kept that same pattern going through law school. The most I would do to study with others is find one person to review our answers to practice exams with, or do quick runs through each others’ outlines. I’m absolutely in the minority, but I just know that what I did worked well for me, so I didn’t force a change that wasn’t needed.
What is the overall time commitment of being a law student? Should I treat it like a 9-5?
That’s a good start. Treating it like a 40 hour a week job, an 8am-5pm commitment, can be a really good strategy. For most weeks, treating law school like a full time job will give you some free time, primarily on the weekends. Just know that some weeks will require more. Generally, law school starts to become an “every waking moment” type commitment about a month before finals, because at that time you probably have your big LP assignment for the semester due, and you are also starting to outline, on top of all of your regular, daily case reading. The last two weeks of the semester through finals, when you are really grinding to get your outlines done, studying, and taking practice exams, is honestly 12-14 hours per day, every day (including weekends). But that’s obviously not the norm for the entire semester.
Do you have any recommendations for law school exams?
Many professors will offer ungraded practice exams or send out exam questions from previous years. Law school exams are unlike any other test you’ll take. Practice questions are a great way to get a feel for what the real thing will look like at the end of the semester.
Why did you choose BC Law? Are you happy with your decision?
There were a number of reasons why I chose to come to BC for law school. First, I knew I wanted to be on the East Coast, and I always loved Boston. Besides that, it just felt right. When I came to visit campus, I saw students who were happy and seemed to genuinely enjoy each other’s company. The library did not look like a scary place I did not want to be. Coming to BC Law was the best decision I made, and I have been so impressed by the students, professors, and opportunities. But don’t just take my word for it–see why others love BC Law, too.
Courtney Ruggeri is a third-year BC Law student and president of the Impact blog. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.