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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How Stress Can Help with Finals

Headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and feelings of exhaustion. I’m not talking about Covid; these are all negative side effects of stress. As law students, we are likely familiar with managing stress, especially during finals season. In the midst of the madness, there are a few consequences of stress that actually benefit us:

  1. Increased Productivity

When you’re about to hit that begin test button on Examplify and a knot forms in the pit of your stomach, it can actually be helpful. This is because moderate stress strengthens the neural connections in your brain which enhances memory and attention span, and increases productivity.

In a UC Berkeley study, researchers found intermittent stressful events caused stem cells in rat brains to proliferate into new nerve cells that improved the rats’ mental performance.

“You always think about stress as a really bad thing, but it’s not… Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance.”

Daniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

That explains why as a chronic procrastinator, the stress of an impending deadline is sometimes the only thing that can kick start getting my work done.

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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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1L Guide: The Last Three Weeks of the Semester

Almost there. These are the last few weeks, the final stretch, and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, it’s a red, angry light – not the warm, golden glow you were hoping for – but that’s show business. Papers are due, and exams are right around the corner. This was never going to be the fun part of the semester.

Still, when you’re done, you’ll be done. For at least a little while, there will be no impending assignments to complete or grade-points to score (and if you don’t move, the summer job application deadlines can’t see you). Winter break will be a time for seeing family, celebrating whatever holidays you observe, and most decidedly NOT reading court cases about the axioms of contract interpretation.

The 2Ls and 3Ls have run this race before. For the 1Ls, Travis pulled together a great compilation of helpful final exam advice, so I’ll not bore readers with too much more of my own. Instead, I thought I’d just offer a few quick thoughts about wrapping up the semester, and the break that follows:

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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.

Giving Back: BC Law’s Second Annual Food Drive

Happy Thanksgiving Legal Eagles! I hope we all have some time to relax this week with loved ones and recognize the true spirit of the holiday season.

Not everyone is so fortunate. As we enter into the next few months, full of holiday festivities, year-end fun, and celebrations for another semester behind us, it is important to think about our greater community. There are many around us who might not have the resources to put food on the table for their families.

With this sobering reality in mind, BC Law 3L Andrew Fishman recently organized a food drive benefitting the Newton community. It was his second year helping coordinate a food drive through BC Law, as he collected non-perishable items to donate directly to the Newton Food Pantry just in time for the holidays.

I spoke with Andrew about this year’s food drive and the importance of teaming up with the Newton Food Pantry. You can also check out my interview with Andrew last year here.

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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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American Politics Is Just A Toxic Law School Section

Recently I was scrolling through Twitter (never a good idea) after a Patriots game to see what the beat reporters were saying about the game and look for any takeaways I had missed.

Interspersed amongst these tweets were those of other (non-sporty) accounts I follow. Like many people, I follow a range of media outlets, individuals, sports teams, brands, journalists and celebrities. In the couple of years I have had a Twitter account, I have deleted the app on several occasions and only recently found myself using it again when I learned there are some really interesting accounts that track what’s happening in my local Newton community.

I’m always interested in what’s happening locally. I followed some of these accounts, and the act of doing so in turn suggested similar accounts to follow, and before long I was seeing tweets about roadwork, Zoom city hall meetings, polemic diatribes on bike lanes, and voting locations.

I was genuinely stunned however (which is saying something in 2021) when I happened upon the tweets of a few city councilors posing for a selfie together inside of the newly opening Tatte Bakery & Cafe on Centre St. in Newton—an upscale eatery for the Greater Boston bon vivant that boasts only four locations in the state, in the enclaves of Newton, Brookline, Boston, and Cambridge, as well as a de rigeur location in Washington D.C.

I was confused about what I was looking at, and why. Sure, we’ve all seen politicians at ribbon cuttings for schools and hospitals and senior centers and the like. 

But Tatte?

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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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