Follow-Up: Overcoming Self-Doubt

Two years ago, when I arrived in Newton to begin my law school journey, I wrote a blog post entitled Act Like You Belong. Because You Do, where I briefly explored my own internal struggle with feelings of self-doubt, which some people call “imposter’s syndrome.” My goal was to encourage others (and myself) to understand those feelings in order to control their own destiny. 

As I begin my third (and FINAL!) year of law school, I can say that while those feelings of self-doubt fluctuate, they never disappear completely. I had an overwhelming feeling of being unprepared on my first day at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office during my 1L summer. I had the discomforting feeling of self-doubt on my first day at a big law firm this past summer. These feelings were as strong as when I stepped foot on the Newton campus.

As I wrote in the blog two years ago, the issue is not the presence of those uncomfortable feelings, but how you deal with them. My second day on campus (and my second days at the Attorney General’s Office and at the law firm) were more comfortable than the first. Each day that passed lessened these doubts, and strengthened my confidence.

Act Like You Belong was more about describing those feelings in order to understand them. Today, I want to write about how I overcame them. These suggestions may be obvious to you. But it’s important to recognize that we all are at a different place on our journey – and wherever you are, I hope you find some inspiration in them.

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Building Bridges: A Letter from the BLSA

As Co-Presidents of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), we understand the importance of balance. While Black people make up 13.4% of the American population, Black lawyers make up less than 5% of the legal industry. To mitigate this stark disparity, BLSA seeks to build community, provide academic support, and bridge generational gaps through consistent professional development. 

This year, we made a targeted effort to reconnect our community after the COVID-19 pandemic strained our social relations. When we began planning, we realized that our current members’ hardships mirrored those of BLSA alums from years past. Many of us still feel isolated, struggle with imposter syndrome, and ultimately feel unprepared. We decided with this presidency that we want to change the narrative. We recognize that an active and reliable community is paramount to combating these feelings of isolation and imposter syndrome. Our presidency is dedicated to making BLSA that space for our members.

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1L of a Class

I’m in East Wing 115, the very first room I sat in as a brand-new BC Law student. It’s the room that looks so much like a Greek amphitheater and feels like one, too, when the questioning begins. The lights aren’t even on because it’s 8am, a full half-hour before Contracts, and dammit. I’m not even the first one here. Walking to my seat, I shake my head. Who gets up early for Contracts at 8:30 in the morning?! It’s a ridiculous question, of course, because the answer is Me. I get up early for Contracts. It’s just that…I didn’t think anyone else would. And it’s not just one else, either. There are a good half-dozen elses, chatting softly together in the gently lit dark. I shake my head again. Madness.

By eight-fifteen, the classroom is full. Section 2 is present and accounted for. Hillinger could walk in and start her interrogation critical questioning, and no one would bat an eye. Everyone is ready, anyway. Somebody tapped the lights on the way in, and now the classroom blazes with life and energy and conversation.

We’re happy.

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Legal Movie Review: The Paper Chase

Since I started my law school application process over two years ago, my dad has been telling me to watch The Paper Chase. I’m now a 2L with (slightly) more free time, so I thought I would finally give this classic a try. This 1973 movie details James Hart’s first year at Harvard Law School, and while nothing depicts the 1L experience as accurately as the documentary film Legally Blonde, this one does get a lot right.

The First Day

The movie opens with James’ first class on the first day of law school, as every 1L gets to their seats and settles in moments before the professor arrives. I’m generally a bundle of anxious energy on the first day of anything, so I arrived to my first class about 15 minutes early last year. What I didn’t realize was that my first-day anxieties were nothing compared to the motivations of my classmates, many of whom arrived far before I did. Needless to say, if anyone actually showed up as close to the start of the first class as every extra in this movie did, they’d definitely be occupying the dreaded front row.

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LAHANAS: Supporting BC Law’s Affinity Groups

We, the Student Directors of LAHANAS, would like to extend a warm welcome to all class years, old and new to start the academic year! For those who are unfamiliar with who we are, LAHANAS is the student-led umbrella organization that supports BC Law’s affinity student groups, including the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA), Black Law Students Association (BLSA), Disability Law Students Association (DLSA), Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA), Lambda Law Students Association, Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA), Native American Law Students Association (NALSA), and South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA). 

We recognize that being a law school student is hard enough as it is, and to have an intersectional and supportive network that you can rely on is key to your success. We work not only with the above mentioned affinity groups, but other student organizations,  the Career Services Office, Academic & Student Services, and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programs to create an inclusive and supportive community where you feel comfortable and safe being your truest self, even in the chaos that is law school. We believe in the importance of pulling each other up when the going gets tough and celebrating each other’s successes. 

In short, LAHANAS is here to provide you with the support needed to transition into and thrive in law school. We are committed to making sure that diversity, equity, inclusion issues always have a place on campus and we invite you to be in touch with us directly via email should you have any questions, including those pertaining to transitioning to law school and the BC Law community. Welcome back again, and we look forward to being a resource for you in the ways that you need.  

Elena Kang (3L), Ali Shafi (2L), and Jasmine Lee (2L)
LAHANAS Student Directors

The Last First Day

The TV sitcom Frasier debuted on NBC in 1993. The premier episode introduced the series’ principal characters and the plot of the show: a Seattle psychiatrist turned radio host, Frasier Crane, returning to the city after working in Boston following the events of Cheers, alongside his brother Niles, also a psychiatrist, and his father, Martin, a widower and former police officer who retired after being shot and permanently impaired by a suspect following a long career on the force.

Martin and his dog Eddie move into his son’s upscale, downtown apartment, followed by his housekeeper and English physical therapist, Daphne Moon. Frasier becomes upset by the dated furniture his dad brings, as well as having the dog indoors, setting up a clash of independence, age, lifestyle, culture, perspective, and family. The two get on each other’s nerves and have a fiery argument.

The next day on his radio show, Frasier goes to the phones to talk to his callers, only to find an apologetic Martin on the line. Frasier then apologizes for his own arrogance and reconciles with his father.

It’s a clash of two different worlds, to be sure. I am reminded of this scene as I am faced with my first day of 3L, and, in all likelihood, my last ever first day of school. In my own mind, I feel like both Frasier and his dad at times—in the middle of a transition to a new life, but with a foot still firmly planted in the past.

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From Creative Writing to Law: Pivot or Progression?

From early on in my academic career, I was always the kind of student who fared better in subjects like English and History than in Math and Science. I suppose words just made more sense to me than numbers; to this day, I’d still prefer to write an essay than do long division. 

I was also the type of kid who was occasionally reprimanded for “talking back.” It was never my intention to be disrespectful, but more to do with the fact that when something struck me as unfair, I felt compelled to speak up. My childish inquiries were usually met with “because I said so” or some other phrase that did little to satisfy my curiosity. I wanted the logic laid out for me so I could better understand and decide for myself whether it held up.

My preference for classes that centered around reading and writing — coupled with my tendency to question rules and instigate arguments — caused many people in my life to predict that I’d grow up to be a lawyer. On paper, law seemed like a path I could be well suited for, but I wasn’t sure it was the one I wanted to take.

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6 Ways to Prepare for Your First Year of Law School

If you’re reading this article, you’re likely gearing up for your first year of law school — something that might feel really new, exciting, and possibly terrifying. One year ago, I was in the same exact position. Now, I’ve been reflecting on all the things I was doing at this time that turned out to be really helpful, and all the things I probably should have done differently. To make sure you’re ready to hit the ground running in just a few weeks, follow these tips.

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The Right Choice? LSA Co-President Reflects on BC Law

My name is John Ferraro, and I’m a current 3L and LSA Co-President. In what is admittedly an attempt to put out of my mind the looming fear of imminent Barbri bar prep, I hope I can ask all of you to indulge me in a short adventure in the past.

Before law school, I was a digital programmatic media buyer (for those of you wondering what that means, we are the people that push on you, for the rest of your life, the online ads for that toaster you looked at once on Amazon).

Going from advertising to law school was a bit of a drastic change. But the idea to go to law school had been nagging at the back of my mind since my senior year of undergrad. Even during my time in advertising, law was front and center. IP concerns over trademarks, fonts, and brand colors. As someone mainly supporting the marketing efforts of a large financial institution, crash courses on Fair Lending and FDIC disclosures. And most of all, the one four-letter word for which digital advertisers and lawyers share horror: GDPR. So while I made a significant jump, it was a jump motivated by signs I couldn’t ignore any longer.

I will concede that, for me (as I suspect it is for many), the law school application process felt like shots in the dark. I had some ideas of possible interests, cities I thought might be fun to live in, how I might approach the LSAT and a personal statement. But when working to fit a good picture of yourself into a neat sheath of 8.5×11 papers, uncertainty is an inherent part of the process. In terms of picking a school to attend, I admit that I similarly felt I was on shaky ground. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that the choice of picking a law school was one of–if not the–most important choices of my life.

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A Year in Review of a Transfer Student

August:

The Friday before the start of classes, the school held a social event for new students at The Horse, a local pub. I was extremely nervous, to the point that I was sweating profusely. I went to the bathroom to cool myself down, and noticed a girl I thought I recognized doing the same thing. It was Meg Keown, the other transfer student who had come to BC Law with me. I had looked her up on social media the moment we were put on an email thread together.

From the moment we met in person in that bathroom of The Horse, Meg and I became instant best friends. We always joke that we’re so lucky we liked each other, because if not, we wouldn’t have someone to experience all these firsts with. It was nice to have someone in the same boat as me, who understood the particular anxiety and excitement that came with being a new student transferring from another law school.

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