1L Guide: What is a “Gunner”, and How Can I Stop Being One?

As we creep ever further into the month of September, new students are coming up on the one-month mark of their first semesters at BC Law. Remember back in August when no one was pestering you about what the district court ruled, or whether there really was a breach of duty? Alas, syllabus week is over, add/drop has expired, and now there is nothing but the next deadline, the next reading. 1Ls have gotten a sense of law school’s rhythm and flow – what the workload is like, where the classrooms are, how cold calling works, and so on.

They’ve also got a sense of who the gunners are.

Let’s define terms (this is law school, after all): a “gunner” is someone who takes up too many class resources for themselves – in particular, too much class time. A gunner goes beyond the scope of ordinary academic or competitive behavior in order to succeed in law school (or simply appear to be succeeding in law school), all while violating the most important rule in the unwritten student code: probably don’t behave in a way that makes all of your peers think you’re a bit annoying.

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Three Ways to Think About Note-Taking

One of my professors doesn’t allow laptops in class. Two others strongly suggested that we not use laptops, citing the potential for distraction and the multiple studies finding that note-taking by hand is more effective than type-written notes. Beyond that, however, my professors haven’t weighed in with any additional guidance on note-taking.

But behind every page of notes there’s a unique mind and learning style, so I thought it would be interesting to ask a few classmates to share their notes from a class we took together in order to see how their distinct personalities and preferences come through. They also said a few words about what they hope to capture or accomplish when they take notes.

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Cold Called on Day One: Expectation Versus Reality

During law school orientation, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Daniel Lyons walked us through what we should expect from our first day. During this session, he showed us the infamous scene from Legally Blonde where Elle Woods experiences her first class. After we watched Woods get kicked out for not being prepared, he assured us that, while the movie gets some things right, it also gets some things wrong.

What did it get wrong, according to Dean Lyons? Our professors likely wouldn’t be as suave. Also, while they will call on you, they won’t pick on you with that degree of malice.

However, what it gets right is that there will be assignments before even the first day, and you will be expected to have done them. There also will be cold calling, probably not at first, but soon.

While this orientation session was surely meant to ease our anxieties mere days before we would begin a daunting academic adventure, it only made me more nervous. Experiencing anything like Woods’ first day seemed like a downright nightmare, and the only thing I didn’t have to worry about now was suave professors with outward malice? I started losing some sleep.

But after experiencing it firsthand — and living to tell the tale — I can assure you that the anticipation was far worse than the reality. 

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Twenty Septembers Later

Twenty years ago yesterday—September 10th, 2001—I was five and a half years old growing up outside of Boston. That day, my mom and I went to the nearby Chestnut Hill Mall (having since been gentrified and recast as The Shops at Chestnut Hill) to try and find myself a new pair of shoes for the new school year.

Plumbing the depths of my foggy and halcyonic recollections of late 1990s and early 2000s Boston, I recall a Stride Rite on the second floor of the mall—our destination that day. I wistfully remember Stride Rite, a Boston-based children’s footwear chain, for its sand tables, toys, and vivid atmosphere. It was, in essence, everything that shopping as a kid usually was not—fun.

I recall picking out a pair of light-up sneakers—second only to Heelys when it came to the playground hierarchy of kids’ footwear.

I couldn’t wait to get to school and showcase my shoes, banging them against any object in sight to activate the lights. 

There’s something strange about thinking back to that time. Much is made by historians, sociologists and journalists about the profound effects and transformations that the attacks and aftermath of September 11th, 2001 had on our country, and our world. 

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Why BC Law: We are Here for a Reason

This guest post is from an incoming first-year student who would like to remain anonymous.


The quintessential question for any law student is always, “what made you want to go to law school?” And more often than not, my answer is, “Because I’m bad at math.” But when it came to the question, “Why BC Law?” my answer was vastly different. To explain why I chose BC, I must first go into why I chose law in the first place. And a big part of it was my complicated relationship with my late father.

To the public, my father presented himself as a kind and loving family man. But my mother, sister, and I never felt safe, always fearing a sudden outburst. More often than not I’d cower in the small room that I shared with my mother and sister, deliberately facing the wall and wishing he would stop telling me he regretted my existence; praying to a God I didn’t believe in to beg against an escalation into a beating. The incessant physical and emotional abuse at a young age, pushed me into a dark corner. I was scared of everyone and everything and had no dreams or aspirations. I struggled to wake up in the mornings. More often than not, I could not find a reason to live on. 

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