I am pleased to host a guest post from co-presidents of the Boston College Law School Women’s Law Center, Liz Dwyer and Stacey Kourtis.
The Women’s Law Center aims to impact both its student members and the entire BC Law community by providing networking opportunities with women in the legal community, maintaining strong ties with women alumni for mentorship, and by providing a forum for discussion about women’s issues at BC Law and beyond. For us, the WLC has served as a supportive and engaging group here at BC Law. We’re proud to be members of the Women’s Law Center where we have both had the opportunity to meet wonderful women at BC Law, alumnae, and faculty.
Every year, the Women’s Law Center at BC Law chooses one alumna who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to advancing an area of the legal profession and recognizes her as the WLC’s Woman of the Year. This year, the Women’s Law Center nomination committee chose to present the 10th Annual Woman of the Year Award to Josephine McNeil ’87.
When I first started at BC Law as a bright-eyed, fresh-faced 1L, I was enthusiastic, but, honestly, utterly clueless about what I wanted out of law school. While diverse in backgrounds and experiences, it’s a safe assumption that, to some degree, BC Law students are cut from the same cloth. We are ambitious, friendly, and intellectually curious. And while that’s what I loved about our student body from Day 1, admittedly, having so many high achievers in one place can make forging an individual path somewhat challenging.
I waited patiently throughout 1L year, hoping to connect with a certain class or professor that would set me on my path. I struggled to make sense of what my past could mean for my future. As an undergraduate science major with work experience in communications, my interests have always been vast and varied. Without a clear-cut direction, I was determined that during my first months as a law student, I would expand my perspective on what it means to practice law in as many ways as possible. I joined student organizations, attended campus events, and most importantly, I continued to engage in all that I had learned prior to law school.
Finally, in the spring of my 1L year, something clicked.
This spring, BC Law Impact is excited to present guest posts from current students about the factors that drove them to BC Law and the impact the community has had on their lives. Today’s post comes from 2L Hannah Jellinek.
Cheshire Correctional Institution sits atop an uncharacteristically tall hill given the generally flat land surrounding the prison. Perhaps because of this elevation, the long thin driveway, and the large red brick façade, the prison has a haunting and overwhelming presence. The front doors lead to a separate world. One where razor sharp barbed wire sits on top of chainlink fences and seemingly cuts into the bright blue skies and puffy white clouds. One where you see kids running around freely, smiling and laughing, but then realize their obstacle course and hide and seek spots are the long wooden benches of the visitation room. The Cheshire world is separate from the small houses of the town, separate from the run-down basketball courts across the street, separate from what I have previously known outside of the gates.
Once I go through the weekly routine of submitting my license, clearing the metal detector, and gathering the light pink VISITOR pass, I walk out of the waiting room and through the lobby. A bright yellow line on the dark brown floors divides the hallways of Cheshire. It is what separates us from them. The free individuals who can decide their next step, their next meal, their next shower, from those on the other side of the line who decide nothing.
This spring, BC Law Impact is excited to present guest posts from current students about the factors that drove them to BC Law and the impact the community has had on their lives. Today’s post comes from 2L Alexis Kral.
“You have just been diagnosed with a terminal illness and are informed by your health insurance company that you have two options: you can receive the prescribed treatment for the disease as covered by your insurance, or you can choose to forgo the standard treatment coverage and receive a lump sum payment at a percentage of the incurred treatment costs and no further treatment coverage.”
I was walking to work when I heard this scenario from Stephen J. Dubner, host of the podcast Freakonomics. He was trying to gauge audience responses for use in a future show and I immediately imagined what I would do if I were ever in that position. At first, I wanted to press pause and ask for more information. How terminal were we talking about here? What were the efficacy statistics of the standard treatment? Would I be fighting the disease from inside the walls of the hospital, or could I continue my life with minor inconveniences? These questions were the daily conversations I had been having while working in cancer research, so how could I make a decision without the answers? My thoughts soon became less about which choice I would make and more about the underlying issue at play – the increasing costs associated with healthcare.
We live in an age in which it seems increasingly difficult for people to agree. From topics like politics and morality, to food and movies, there seems to be constant debating over what is good and right in this world.
So how do we address this growing polarization? How do we respond in everyday interactions with people who have various viewpoints? Those of us in the Christian Legal Society (CLS) at BC Law have been grappling with these questions, and wondering how we can be better classmates, colleagues, and neighbors in the midst of our country’s chaos. We want to learn how to embody a Christianity that is genuine and true to scripture, and distinct from the one that is so often portrayed in the media. We also wanted to invite others on the BC Law campus to explore these questions with us.
So, to learn more and dig deeper, CLS decided to host a discussion entitled “How to Disagree Well in an Age of Ideological Chaos,” which took place on March 27. We invited Kasey Leander and Matthew Mittelberg, two Fellows from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries to come and share their insights. Having studied at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, the primary focus of Kasey and Matthew’s work is to engage in conversations about faith and help others understand God in light of today’s moral, philosophical, and cultural issues.
A few weeks ago, Boston College executed their second annual innovative program aimed at providing first- and second-year law students the opportunity to gain unique in-house counsel experience at a variety of companies. The business in-house opportunities “Business Interview Days” (BIDz) event successfully culminated in over 100 interviews taking place for over 60 students at employers, including State Street Global Advisors, Cabot Corporation, Brooks Automation, athenahealth, Foundation Medicine, Draper Lab, Albany Molecular Research Inc. (AMRI), HubSpot, Southern New Hampshire University (OGC), Converse/NIKE, TripAdvisor, and Dunkin‘ Brands. The event was preceded by an overview discussion about in-house work by Sidd Pattanayak, the Assistant General Counsel at TripAdvisor, in addition to mock interviews at the Career Services office for any students who wanted some tailored practice before actually having to put their skills to the test.
Your first graded assignment in law school will be drafting an Office Memorandum. Mine was horrible, and I’ve been drawing paychecks as a writer for nine years.
An “Office Memo” is a lengthy analysis of a specific legal question and its most probable answer. You are given a bundle of facts and an overarching question. It’s your job to identify the legally significant information, find the applicable legal rules and explain to your reader how those rules apply to your facts.
Below are three tips, and memorable advice from my legal writing professor, to help you avoid making the same mistakes that I made.
I have written about my law school journey a number of times on this blog – how I was diagnosed with endometriosis, a chronic reproductive health condition in my 1L year, and the havoc it has wreaked on my law school journey ever since. I had plans to return to campus this fall – I even wrote about my excitement here on Impact. But less than a week into commuting to campus I came home one day and my back and pelvis muscles and gone into a full spasm from driving. I was diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction – a condition that affects your pelvic nerves and muscles which is common among endometriosis patients. Basically, when your body has been in pain for so long, your muscles are constantly bracing for more pain, even when the disease is gone, as mine is. As a result, they clench, or spasm, resulting in pain that can radiate up into your ribcage and down to your knees.
Needless to say, I was not as ready to be back on campus as I had hoped. I reluctantly made the decision to take one more semester off.
A couple weeks into my 1L year, on my drive into school, I heard a report on public radio about a recent Supreme Judicial Court (the Massachusetts state supreme court) decision. The court had found that black men might have a reason, even if they were not guilty of a crime, to run from the police. Even as a greenhorn law student, I could tell that this sort of decision was radical. When I got to school, I printed the opinion, pushed Torts, Contracts, and CivPro to the side, and raced through it.
Citing to a study conducted by the Boston Police Department, which found that black men are more likely to be stopped and questioned by police officers, and repeatedly so, the court noted that a black male, “when approached by the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity.” This was the outcome I hoped to (but did not often) see in judicial decisions. I looked at the opinion’s author, Justice Geraldine Hines. The first black woman to serve on the Massachusetts Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court, she had worked in civil rights and defense before joining the bench. It seemed like the coolest career possible, and controverted the typical image of a judge as a stuffy old white man. Maybe if I was lucky, I thought, one day I would get to meet her.
That day would come sooner than I thought.
There’s no way around it: law school is arduous and stressful, even without law review. An average law student can expect to spend around 40 hours a week preparing for and attending class, and the average law review member can expect to add another 20 hours a week on top of that. If you’re one of the bold who would serve in a leadership capacity (editor in chief, senior editor, etc.), expect to add another 10-20 hours a week.
So why did I do it? It is not necessarily intuitive why someone would want to voluntarily subject themselves to such conditions, but serving as a member of law review comes with a lot of practical benefits.