1L: Bringing It All Back Home

On a whim, I opened my personal statement for the first time since hitting ‘submit’ nearly a year ago. Preparing to face my tendency to over-write, a habit which lends itself to often-cringeworthy grand pronouncements, I queued up the Aspiring Public Interest Lawyers Greatest Hits: “Is It Still Worth It? (After Signing that Promissory Note),” “Oh, Really? You’re Going to Save the World?” and the classic, “Naiveté.”

Instead, I came face-to-face with the prospect that the young, impressionable, wannabe lawyer nursing the cheapest drink on the coffee shop menu in exchange for five hours of Wi-Fi knew everything he needed to know.

See? Grand pronouncements.

Sure, one year ago, I would have failed every single first year course. I couldn’t brief, or outline, or read, or write, or even speak effectively. My Lexis points stood at zero and I had nary a dollar of Westlaw Starbucks gift cards. Every one of my classmates would have prayed to the almighty curve I was in their section. One year ago, I was a terrible law student.

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1L: Six Weeks In, Still Here

I left the Jesuit Volunteer Corps with an Orleans Public Defenders shirt, heavy emotional scarring, and a strong idea of justice. I was prepared to ride into law school on a wave of virtue and morality, certain I knew what needed to be done and how I was going to do it. That wave crashed me right into Civil Procedure and Pennoyer and Rule 12(b)(3) and Contracts and estoppel and intent, and it wasn’t long before I realized it was going to be a while before I was certain of anything again.

Pretty dramatic, but the spirit is true. Law school is a change. There is a transition from being a normal person to a person who thinks legal jokes are funny. Still, overall, most of my preconceived notions have been proved wrong. Cold calls are not that bad, my classmates are also not that bad (fine, they’re pretty great), and six weeks in I have yet to muster any dazzling legal wisdom for family or friends.

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A Day in the Life of a 1L

What is it like to be a 1L at BC Law? First-year law student Maria Maier leads us through a day in the life.

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Atticus Finch advises his daughter, Scout. (x)

7:00 AM: “Good Morning Sunshine” plays on your phone, welcoming you to the start of a new day. Resisting the urge to hit the snooze button, you hop out of bed. Here’s your first challenge this morning: can you brush your teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack your bag, and get to the campus shuttle in less than 40 minutes? You’re a first-year law student at Boston College Law School, and you’re sure going to try.

7:40 AM: You reach the closest shuttle stop, only 3 minutes before the bus to Newton Campus arrives.

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3 of My Favorite Places in Boston to Get Books (not the law ones)

Contrary to popular belief, you can make a decent amount of time to pleasure read in law school. During 1L, a stereotypically time-crunched period, I saw my reading productivity sky rocket. It was a way to reclaim some sort of agency over the knowledge I was consuming. In the beginning of the first semester I read two of Woodward’s Nixon books (All the President’s Men, which left me yearning to know the ending, told in The Final Days), and over the course of winter I finished a trilogy of sorts that addresses the white, conservative discomfit with America’s direction (White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, which offers a macro, historical perspective, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, which takes a more personal look at Louisiana in particular, and, of course, Hillbilly Elegy, micro, personal perspective).

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Top 10 Things You Should Know Before Starting Your 1L Semester

1-Take Advice with a Grain of Salt

First-year law students love looking for advice and seasoned law students love giving it. It reminds us that we are no longer the new kids on the block and it makes us feel better about our overzealous course loads, far too many extracurriculars, and that interview we did two weeks ago that we’re still obsessing over. You want some advice, we’ve got it! The catch; that advice may not always be right for you.

Now, before you decide to purchase a garlic necklace to repel your friendly 2L and 3L mentors, hear me out. I am not saying the advice you get will be bad. We’ve all gone through 1L, most of us have passed all of our subjects, a few select unicorns have gotten A’s on those subjects, and most of us really do know what we’re doing. You should hear us out and try some of the study tips we give you–just make sure not to double down on them if they aren’t working. When a 2L approaches you and says, “this is the best way to study,” what they are really saying is “this is how I studied, and I did well, so it must be the best way.” Insert biggest eye roll here!

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The Admitted Students Guidebook, Vol. 3

The application process is quickly coming to a close—you’ve already taken the LSAT, visited some schools, and put your first seat deposit down (woooo!). You’ve made a huge decision in choosing the right school for you, but now you face another challenge of navigating this new arena.

Questions popped up for me like, “What do I need to do before classes start?” and “Where is the best place to live?”  and “Do I need a car to get around?” It is undeniably an overwhelming process, but BC Law is here to help!

A couple of years ago, the Law Student Association partnered with BC Law’s Admissions Office to produce the Admitted Students Guidebook, which is meant to help answer all the questions you may have about BC Law.

We’ve just updated the guidebook for the Class of 2021! So without further ado, here it is: Volume 3 of the Admitted Students Guidebook

Thank You for a Wonderful 1L Year

When my family moved from Boston to Seoul, South Korea (my parents’ home country), I was 10 and knew only three Korean phrases: “How are you,” “Thank you” and “I’m sorry.”

My 1L year in law school was a lot like my first year in Korea. Like Korean, law was a language that I knew existed, but never thought I would have to speak. That is, until I had to speak it, immediately – as if my life (i.e., grades) depended on it.

Boston College Law School is sometimes referred to as the “Disneyland of law schools,” a kind nod to its supportive staff, upperclassmen and alumni. In reality, the 1L experience is closer to a journey through Wonderland – where you are chasing around an illusory white rabbit, not really knowing why, in a world filled with fascinating (and occasionally frightening) beings.

“There is a place, like no place on earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger. Some say, to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter.”

–Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll

 

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Tips for Your First Graded Assignment

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.

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Veterans: BC Law has Your Six

Above photo is the BC Veteran’s Memorial “dedicated to the memory of Boston College alumni who died in service to their country.”

Two days into a trip from Boston to the Panama Canal, my Coast Guard cutter tucked into a harbor off Long Island to anchor while we waited out a winter storm. Like most of the crew, I took advantage of what might be my last hours of American cell phone service for three months to text family members and obsessively refresh my email. I stood on the flight deck and felt a momentary reprieve from the wind and snow whipping my face as I read the subject line, “Congratulations from BC Law.”

My first reaction was an embarrassing combination of shock and fist pumps directed in no particular direction. My second reaction was a sobering, “Now what?” After ten years in the military I’d grown accustomed to having a checklist and pre-planned response card for everything I did, now I was temporarily severing my connection to the outside world without any idea how I’d prepare or pay for law school. I didn’t know what kind of help to ask for, much less who to ask for it.

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BC Law: The Happiest Place on Earth?

When I first heard BC Law called “the Disneyland of law schools” during my 1L orientation, I was surprised. How can a law school – something that is grueling and competitive by nature—be likened to the widely proclaimed “happiest place on earth?” My only experience with law school was limited to the crazed mumblings of relatives in legal professions and of friends struggling through their own intensely cutthroat law school experiences. Before classes began I had been preparing myself to be swallowed by a writing-intensive version of the Hunger Games. “Keep your head on a swivel” was the sage warning from my dad as I set off on my new venture.

But I also found the Disney analogy comforting and personally appropriate. I recently retired from three years touring as a professional figure skater for Disney on Ice, where I had been actually living in this Disney dreamland. Disney was something familiar. I wanted to know more.

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