A Reflection on My First Semester: Staying Focused on the Big Picture

School is always a bit of a bubble: something that quickly becomes your entire world and focus. This dynamic is especially true at law school, where balancing the intense schedule of classes, assignments, and reading is frequently compared to attempting to “drink from a fire hose.” Even having been out of school for six years, it was still amazing how quickly I found myself being sucked back into the bubble of campus and studying.

Staying focused on the bigger picture is something I struggled with during my first semester of 1L. While I enjoy the study of law as an academic exercise, I’m not really someone who luxuriates in the minutiae of case law. My decision to come to law school was not driven by the joy of wrestling with esoteric doctrine, reading 150-year-old cases, or basking in Latin maxims; rather, it was the realization that law was often the only route to change. For me, the intellectual challenge of studying law has always been secondary to learning how to use the law as a functional tool to support the causes and communities I care about.

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The 2021 ‘Best of BC Law Impact’ List

Goodbye, 2021! With the fall semester done and gone and as we say our farewells to the remainder of the year I can’t help but look back on 2021. To the 1Ls completing their first semester, the 2Ls facing their first in-person classes and finals, and the 3Ls just trying to make it through these final few months, it has certainly been a year to remember.

Here are a few highlights our favorite 2021 Impact blog posts:

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“Don’t Make Law School Your Personality”

Before starting my first semester of law school, some of the most repeated advice I heard from those who had taken this journey before me was “don’t make law school your personality.” This sentiment was echoed in personal conversations with current students and in sessions hosted by student reps during orientation, and each time I heard it, I laughed it off.

It felt like such a strange thing to be saying over and over! It was too specific to be coincidentally repeated, but I didn’t really get what it meant. I understood the more general advice to take time off from school every once in a while, but what did that have to do with law school becoming your personality? I started to think this was some weird joke I wasn’t in on.

But then, classes started. It turns out what I wasn’t “in on” was law school, because once I was in on that, I saw what all those 2Ls and 3Ls were talking about.

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Holiday Activities for Law Students 

Here is a list of elevated activities to fill your free time this winter break. 

  1. Decorate gingerbread courthouses and gingerbread judges. Gingerbread houses are for children and laymen. Get a bakery treat that matches your professional degree. 
  2. Debate whether Santa Claus is a trespasser or an invitee when he comes down your chimney. Is Santa acting like a reasonable person when he enters through your chimney? Why can’t he just walk through the door? 
  3. You can watch the snow fall and think about how many personal injury claims are going to be filed the next day. Shovel those sidewalks! 
  4. Explain to your family how Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer had a discrimination claim against Santa. Rudolph was outcasted for his red nose, which ended up being an advantage . . . There’s some employment discrimination going on at the North Pole. . . 
  5. Analyze the lyrics “Jack Frost nipping at your toes,” and ponder whether the “one bite rule” would apply. For purposes of this debate, I am assuming that Jack Frost is the songwriter’s dog. 
  6. Try to network with Santa’s lawyer, who got him acquitted for vehicular manslaughter when Grandma got run over by a reindeer. I don’t know how they pulled that one off. 
Me with my gingerbread judge, Ruth Bader Gingerburg.

Melissa Gaglia is a second-year student at BC Law. Contact her at gagliam@bc.edu.

Take a Break from Studying: The Pets of BC Law

Tucker Phillay Salters: Travis’s 2.5 year-old Best Friend

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Wait a Minute: Am I Actually Grateful for Exams?

As I entered into the thick of finals, I found myself in the usual funk of the season. Whether it be the long hours studying, the unfortunate act of flipping through class notes only to find illegible scribbles, or the jealousy rising in me as I see people pass my window enjoying their afternoons–I cannot help but feel a bit grumpy about what I (and all other law students) are going through at the moment.

On top of the usual irritability, I am painfully aware that this is my fifth time heading into finals. As a 3L, I have found myself dragging my feet more this time around. I have admittedly become a bit more impatient with tough concepts, lackluster in my study habits, and generous with my study breaks.

It was within one of these study breaks that I found myself browsing through the BC Law Magazine website and found this article highlighting Professor Bloom’s famous Ugly Sweater Contest.

Beyond chuckling at the images of Prof. Bloom and the class showing off their goofy sweaters, I felt a rush of nostalgia. I had completely forgotten about my own section’s Ugly Sweater Contest two years ago. Cooped up in a Civil Procedure review session, I remember laughing at both the fashion choices of my classmates and Professor Bloom’s zany commentary along the way. It was such a pleasant (and needed) break from stressing over what would be my first ever law school exam–a lighter moment to share with the people that had filled my life over the semester and who were going through the same taxing time.

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Exams are Coming; Here’s Our Advice

We’re gearing up to enter reading days and next week and final exams will be upon us soon. Over the years, BC Law Impact has offered lots of advice to students about how to prepare and how to manage stress. I put a few of our most widely-read posts below.


Travis Salters is a second-year student at BC Law and Vice President of the Impact blog. Contact him at salterst@bc.edu.

The Power of “And”

Holiday season is my favorite time of year. I love the festivities, I love being around my family, and I love the overall warmth and joy this time of year brings. What I love most about the holiday season, though, is that it is a time for me to pause and reflect. Every year around this time, I especially like to think about what I am grateful for about the past year. As I reflect on 2021, I am most grateful for the opportunity to enroll in a DBT therapy group this semester. 

DBT stands for dialectical behavioral therapy and is a form of cognitive behavior therapy. I knew I wanted to make a change in my life and join therapy when I caught myself repeating some patterns that began to negatively impact multiple areas of my life. A few months ago, I began to realize that over the years, I have formed a tendency to think in ‘either-or’s.’ This type of thinking has hindered my own personal growth and is affecting my interpersonal relationships. For instance, I think in terms of either “success” or “failure,” so if I plan to get five things done on any given day and I’m only able to complete three, I see ‘failure’ and can’t process any nuanced ‘in-between’ of the situation. Similarly, in relationships with others, I have trouble breaking free from conceptions of “right” and “wrong” such that if there is a disagreement, I strongly feel I am right and I become resistant to seeing viewpoints that don’t align with my own. In both of these situations, I am causing myself, and others, discomfort and distress. When I recognized this pattern earlier this year, I knew that something had to change. I joined therapy to better understand myself, to learn how to cultivate a healthier mindset, and to make some positive changes in my actions.

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How to Make the Most of 1L: Keep Your Head Up

About a semester into undergrad a few years ago, I did something pretty crazy: I signed up for an extracurricular.

Revolutionary, I know.

This certainly wasn’t an unusual move, but it was pretty unusual for me. I did it on a whim, without any of my new friends joining me, and it felt really bold to just try something completely new with a group of strangers.

This spontaneous decision was one of the most influential ones I made in college, and it really shaped the entire experience for me. It helped me choose my major, it introduced me to people I likely never would’ve met otherwise, and it allowed me to develop new skills and hone those I already had.

While I still had this formative experience in the back of my mind as I stepped back on a college campus this fall at BC, I didn’t really expect to have a similar experience in law school. From what I had heard, the academics would be keeping me more than busy, and I didn’t anticipate having time to put energy into anything besides my studies. I started school with my head down, ready to focus on nothing else for the foreseeable future.

But, only about a week into this new experience, Boston College Law School threw me a curveball. The school was starting its first of two competitions — a negotiations tournament where you and a partner would go head-to-head with another pair to see who could secure the best deal for their hypothetical client. What’s more, while it wasn’t mandatory that we participate, it was highly recommended.

Oh, and if you wanted to participate, you’d have about three days to decide.

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Law School: The Friends We Make Along the Way

An integral part of law school is the friends we make along the way. I know, it’s cheesy, but let’s face it; law school can be a very isolating experience. For many of us non-Bostonians, we moved all the way from our comfort zones to a new city with new faces. A big part of this transition is figuring out where we belong, and who we belong with. No longer do we have the privilege of knowing what kinds of jokes will stick, nor do we know who has the same interests or hobbies. We watch Instagram stories of our friends back at home hanging out and long to be there with them. They think we’re doing something amazing, which we are; but most of us are just trying to stay afloat. There never seems to be any time to catch up with friends, and we can only hope that Thanksgiving break will give us a bit of an opportunity to see old faces. Bottom line: we miss our friends and families, yet just as their lives go on without us, so must ours.

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