It was about three years ago now that I was making my decision as to where to attend law school. It was a tough decision for me, as I am sure it is for most people. Even though I knew which school was the best fit for me, I was stressed out about turning down bigger scholarships elsewhere. Every time I went to send in my deposit, I started to second guess my decision.
It is a very personal decision to choose where you’ll spend the next few years of your life. Looking back now, I feel so grateful that I chose Boston College, and I feel lucky to have a mother like mine, who encouraged me to go with my gut in choosing BC. Last week I finished up my academic career here, and I am already starting to feel nostalgic for the community of friends and mentors I have found at Boston College Law School. Here, more than anywhere else, I have found a school where professors keep in touch with their former students, where administrators go out of their way to share opportunities with students, and where the group of classmates you find end up feeling like family after three years of going through life’s ups and downs together.
The first, and most important group, that deserves thanks is the BC Law student body. I made my first, and closest friends in Section 3, but as the years progressed I have gotten to know an amazingly diverse, passionate, friendly group of my classmates. These people have studied with me during exams, passed along their carefully formatted outlines, and accompanied me on all sorts of misadventures over the past three years. Especially when I compare my experience to those of my friends at other schools, I feel so fortunate to have found such a stellar group of people to spend the past three years with. On a broader scale, our student government, the Public Interest Law Foundation, and the myriad affinity groups here at BC have truly excelled at making Boston College a welcoming, fun, and engaging place to be a student.
Selecting where you are going to spend the next three years of your life (at least) is a stressful and important decision. I remember when I was trying to decide which school I would attend I kept going back to three factors: the quality of the school, the financial situation I would be in, and the geographic location of the school. I think for most people the ultimate decision comes down to some combination of these factors.
For everyone who is thinking about where to attend law school, do your research before you make your decision. When you make the decision to attend law school you do so with one real goal: employment. So make an effort to look into the employment statistics of every school you’ve been accepted to. When I was looking at BC’s I realized that the employment rate was much stronger than comparable schools, and even some higher ranked schools that I had been accepted into. It’s also important to look at what types of jobs students go into. Are they large firms, or public interest? Look at whether most students end up in positions that are in-line with your ultimate goals or vastly different. You’ll be able to gain some perspective by comparing three or more schools. Also pay attention to which cities students end up working in. I visited one school in Virginia which touted it’s connections to DC, but actually ended up placing more people in southern states. If you really want to get into it, you can also look at state bar statistics, and see which schools have more students take the bar in the state you’d ultimately work in. This may be an indicator of how regionally connected a particular school is, and whether or not there will be a strong alumni network in the region. Also, make sure that the bar passage rate is respectable for the schools you consider, as you’d be shocked at the rates at some lower ranked schools. Bar passage rates will also tell you something about the quality of classmates you’ll find at different institutions.
Last weekend was one of BC Law’s favorite spring events- law prom! This year we had a great time at the Liberty Hotel in downtown Boston, and had a lot of fun seeing all of our friends in tuxes and fancy dresses. Here’s a picture of me and my wonderful roommates. Despite a name reminiscent of high school this event is always a lot of fun.
I am a 3L here at BC Law, as well as being in my final year of a Masters in Higher Education. If you are thinking about coming by BC for a tour you’ll probably see me at my job in the Admissions Office. I’ll be posting every week about an aspect of life as a student at BC Law. If you have any questions comment here and I’ll answer for everyone!
As many of us have mentioned in our posts, part of what makes BC such a great place to go to law school is the strong sense of community here. When I moved to Boston for law school I only knew two people in the city. It is hard to believe that that was almost three years ago now. During my time at BC I’ve met an amazing group of friends and future colleagues who have made these past few years fly by. While my friends and I have a lot of good times on our own, part of what makes BC so great are the events planned by student government. In addition to our elected Law Students Association representatives, committees like the Special Events Committee and the Sports Committee do a lot to plan the trips and nights out that we all look forward to throughout the year! Here are some of the different events that are traditions at BC Law.
My friends and I take a break from skiing Killington on the annual ski trip.
First of all, if you have some free time, enjoy it! While my time at BC Law has been a lot of fun, it is also been a lot of work and I often feel like I’m going from one thing to the next without much of a break. So if you have some down time before law school be sure to hang out with your friends from college and high school, and go on that family vacation your mom keeps bugging you about. Try the new restaurants you’ve been wanting to try, grab drinks with your friends, and do some reading for pleasure before you’re consumed by casebooks!
2. Build your network
The one thing I hear over and over again from the career center here is the importance of networking and making contacts for getting a job. If you have family members, family friends, or acquaintances who are judges or attorneys reach out to them! A short email saying “Hi [name], I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to get in touch because I just got accepted to Boston College Law School! I know you’re very busy but I’ve heard a little bit about your career in [x legal field] and if you have the time I would love to grab coffee or chat on the phone about the work you’ve done and your thoughts on working in [x legal field].” At the very least you’ll get some advice on law school and practicing, and who knows, you may end up finding a connection for a summer job.
For anyone thinking about law school, and BC in particular, the latest issue of the BC Law Magazine (http://lawmagazine.bc.edu/) is not to be missed. One of the things BC prides itself on is educating future lawyers who go out to serve their communities in a variety of ways. This issue of the magazine profiles a number of such leaders who got their start at BC Law, including of course Secretary of State John Kerry. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also a number of exceptional law school admissions essays reprinted which are great examples of the kind of succinct and compelling narratives which can grab a reader’s attention. Enjoy!
During my spring break 1L year I spent an amazing week in Miami with four of my classmates. When you hear spring break and Miami in the same sentence your mind might jump to Ultra or Miami Beach, but we were actually in Miami to spend the week working at VIDA (http://www.vidalaw.org), a legal assistance center which primarily aids immigrant women and families who have lived through domestic abuse.
My fellow volunteers pose after our everglades tour.
Every spring BC Law send a number of 1L student groups to do volunteer legal work around the country. My 1L year students traveled to Arizona, Denver, New York, New Orleans, and Navajo Nation. These trips are a tradition at BC Law, and are completely student run, with 2L alumni of the trips assisting 1Ls to plan and fundraise.
Working at BC Law’s Admissions Office I often hear from prospective or accepted students who are wondering about whether they can work during the school year while attending BC Law. I remember when I was getting ready to go to law school I thought I would try to work my first year. I worked all throughout undergrad, so I expected that it would be the same in the law school. After starting 1L year, however, I realized that there were a number of reasons to hold off and wait for my second year before getting a part-time job.
Most importantly, something I didn’t know before I got to law school is that students are highly discouraged from working during their 1L year. I think there may be an ABA rule about this but I’m not completely sure. In any case, you’ll be adjusting to a new way of learning and studying and it is best to devote yourself to your classes. I know a few students who have quietly worked a few hours a week at service industry jobs they had before school, or gotten a cushy job at the library, but the general consensus is that it is wise to steer clear of working during 1L year. Your grades during this year are extremely important so it is best to hunker down with the books and use your time outside of the library to get to know your new classmates.
Having gone to college in southern California and grown up in the Pacific Northwest people often ask me how I’m adjusting to the weather in Boston. While it can be hard to beat year-round access to an outdoor pool (thank you Scripps College) I’ve held up just fine in the New England. I love seeing the seasons change, and after some extensive Amazon shopping for new cold weather accessories I can honestly say that I look forward to the winter time here. The cold and snow can actually be kind of fun- especially when we get a snow day!
The snow-covered streets of Cleveland Circle in 2013.
When I was looking at law schools a few years ago one of the thing I wondered about the most was what day to day life would be like at the different schools I was was considering. I couldn’t be happier that I ended up at BC, and after two and a half years here Boston is really starting to feel like home. Part of what makes the BC experience so enjoyable is the community here and the opportunity to explore Boston with classmates. I’ll be writing about student life in general, including a variety of favorite activities in and around Boston. To start out with here is a little run down of favorite BC Law spots in Cleveland Circle.
Cleveland Circle is where a majority of BC Law students end up living, and it is perfectly situated between school and jobs downtown. I love living here because I feel like all of my friends are only a five minute walk away, which comes in handy when you need to catch a ride to school!
The reservoir is one of my favorite parts about living in Cleveland Circle. In between Cleveland Circle itself and BC’s main campus is an old reservoir that the city turned into a park. The mile and a half loop is perfect for jogging in good weather and the views of the main campus and downtown Boston can’t be beat. When I need some exercise or just a little relaxation time the reservoir is my favorite place to go.