Landing a job both as a law student and post-grad can be stressful to say the least. You hear about all the ways in which your law degree can help you professionally, but how do you really know where and when to begin your search? Law firm or government? Clinic or externship? Do networking coffees really make a difference?
Whether you are a prospective student, current law student, or recent graduate, we can help. We sat down with Jen Perrigo, Assistant Dean of Career Services at BC Law, to answer some of these top-of-mind questions.
There is a legal doctrine from tort law, delightfully called “frolic and detour.” Frolic and detour sets certain limits to when an employer can be held liable for an employee’s conduct. Imagine you’re a FedEx driver out on your route when you pull into a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot to grab a coffee and you accidentally hit someone’s car. The coffee run was a reasonable bit of self-care, something most employers should expect their perennially sleep-deprived workers to do. And it was a quick and slight divergence from your work-prescribed route. So the odds are that the courts would see it as just a detour and FedEx will still be liable for the accident. But what if you take a break and head south out of Boston until you get to your favorite coffee shop in Panama City? In the eyes of the law, you’re on a frolic and FedEx is off the hook if you get into a fender bender on your way through Mexico.
This year, we are taking you through the biggest moments of the 1L year. The ups, the downs, and everything in between, keep checking back for the inside scoop on important events and milestones from our students.
Maybe it’s just that time of the year, but it seems like every day is getting a little bit busier at BC Law. As reading assignments seem to grow longer and longer, and due dates become closer and closer, I cannot help but feel the need to reach out to those who have been through the trials and tribulations of their first year of law school.
Lucky for us 1Ls, we have a lot of advice available to us. At the beginning of the year, LSA matched every new student with an upperclassman who helped welcome us to the school and shared their tips and tricks. Classes, moving, and just life in general, our mentors gave advice on it all. Throughout the first couple of weeks, many organizations that we had joined also began pairing us up with older members, specifically matching us with those who had similar interests. The result? A plethora of mentors to choose from, all knowing exactly what we are going through and who were eager to help.
I decided to ask around for the best advice mentors have given. Maybe it will help you too.
Ask anyone who has gone to law school: the application process is a nightmare. It’s (digital) mountains of paperwork, recommendation letters, editing your personal statement and supplemental essays fifty different times, and coordinating transcripts on LSAC from undergrad and beyond.
And then you submit your applications, get in (hopefully) to a few different schools, contemplate your options, submit your deposit, and dive right in to 1L year. But what about people who transfer? There’s lots of speculation and whispering about whether it’s a good or bad choice, with the potential loss of scholarship money, class rank, job prospects in OCI, and the fear of having to start all over again with new teachers and new classmates.
For me, transferring was always my plan, but I had not anticipated how emotionally arduous it would actually be.
Almost exactly five years ago, I remember beginning to work on my undergraduate college applications. One of my essay questions asked me to write about my favorite place. I considered this question for a while: I thought of my bedroom, my favorite study spot at school, my temple, but none of them resonated with me. After weeks of pondering, I realized that my favorite place wasn’t a physical space at all: it was inside my own head.
Finally feeling satisfied with my topic, I wrote a draft to show my admissions counselor. She told me that my head wasn’t a real place and that the piece made me sound a bit like a recluse. She asked me to stick to a physical place, like a typical response would. I remember feeling slightly defeated and wholly misunderstood, but this wasn’t the first time. In a world that values sociability, collaboration, and action, we introverts often feel out of place.
Applying to law school is no easy task. You have to gather a number of recommendation letters, study for the LSAT while you are either in school or working, and craft the perfect narrative for your personal statement. In short, you need to figure out how to paint the best picture of yourself for an unknown admissions team.
The Impact blog previously did a series on tips for making your law school application stronger (see below links), but we thought it would be even more helpful to get the inside scoop on the BC admissions process from Assistant Dean Shawn McShay. Dean McShay has been overseeing admissions at BC for over four years, but has nearly twenty years of experience in law school admissions.
Here are Dean McShay’s responses to questions he receives from prospective students time and time again:
We’re in our second month of 1L. By now, the Law Library has become our new home, caffeine and free pizza fuel our bodies, and we’ve all gone through the five stages of grief. And by now, almost everyone has been personally victimized by the supposedly random Cold Call.
So why is it that some of my classmates still carry a sense of alienation in the classroom?
The first week of school, one of my professors painstakingly struggled through a name pronunciation before giving up and joking, “I guess that’s the first and last time I call on you.” People laughed. To most of our classmates, I’m sure this incident wasn’t a big deal. They chuckled along with the professor, then probably forgot about it by the next cold call, not a second thought given to this well-intended yet problematic attempt at comic relief.
But as I glanced around the room, I met the eyes of other students of color. I could tell that there was a mutual understanding—this clear microaggression had triggered a feeling we all knew with aching familiarity. A feeling of hotness—a prickling sense of embarrassment and shame mixed with exasperation and invalidation. Of course, we knew that the professor had no malicious intent or meant any harm. But to us, the professor’s comment hadn’t just been a joke. It was a reminder of the underlying alienation and otherness we were conditioned to feel our whole lives.
World Mental Health Day, celebrated annually on October 10th, is a day to bring awareness to mental health issues and for individuals to band together to promote mental wellness, improve public dialogue and care for those struggling with mental health issues. Today the BC Law community is rallying together to share other ways individuals cultivate joy, cope with stressors, and find perspective while in law school.
Unfortunately, a high-pressure environment along with a number of other stressors puts individuals in law school and in the legal field at risk for developing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse disorders. In fact, law students disproportionally struggle with mental health issues in comparison to the general population, as previously discussed in A Necessary Look at Mental Health in Law School and Out of Place? You’re Not Alone. Fortunately, Boston College offers professional help to those struggling with a mental health issue – no matter how small. (Links provided below this post).
Along with providing professional mental health services, it is especially important for law schools to promote mental wellness. According to the World Health Organization, mental wellness is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Thus, mental wellness is not necessarily the absence of mental health issues, but rather is the presence of positive strategies and characteristics for handling life’s ups and downs.
It is possible to boost your mental wellness by finding ways to elevate your mood and increase your resilience. Four wellness-building techniques are described in Beat Your 2L Lull: Four Strategies for Success.
Below, members of the BC Law community share what they do to boost mental wellness in their daily lives. As you read, feel free to share what brings you joy or helps you manage stress by commenting below or adding #LawStudentWellness, #WorldMentalHealthDay and/or #IamBCLaw to your post on social media. And please share this post with friends.
Welcome (back) to Boston College Law! Today, I’m pleased to host a guest post from 2L Rachel Weiss, a Weinstein Scholar, on her experience joining the BC Law community.
Like most students coming into law school, I was extremely anxious. The source of my anxiety, however, did not just stem from the typical types of stressors that so many students face, such as embarking on a brand new and highly complex discipline, moving to a new city, switching careers, or making new friends. While I did share those concerns with my classmates, one of the biggest changes for me in coming to law school would be attending a Jesuit school as a Jewish student.
Growing up, I was always surrounded by others who shared my culture and religion. From an early age, I went to Hebrew School, spent summers at a Jewish overnight camp, then attended a predominantly Jewish high school, and even managed to end up at an undergraduate university with a sizable Jewish population. Knowing people who had also been raised in the Jewish tradition and having the support of my religious community were constants throughout my life.
Coming to Boston College Law School, I soon realized that things would be different. I was no longer surrounded by people with similar backgrounds and experiences to my own. As I started to navigate this adjustment, I was introduced to someone who would later become a major part of my transition to the BC Law community.
As I have come to learn in my first few weeks at BC Law, you hit the ground running from day one, and you rarely pause to look back. I’m from Florida and never had the chance to visit the Law School as an admitted student, so everything in Newton, from navigating school zone traffic to finding parking (it’s even hard for the professors) was new to me, on top of beginning graduate level work.
It was all a bit overwhelming at first. Luckily, I had support. Lots of it.