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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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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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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5 Ways to Stay Motivated in Law School

Returning to school after Spring Break is always an adjustment. You’ve relaxed, you’ve slept in, and, if you’re luckier than me, you’ve traveled to a tropical destination. Getting up for your 9 am lectures and spending late nights briefing cases can feel harder than ever, especially as the weather is starting to get warmer. I don’t know about you, but I thought it was much easier to hunker down and read when it was freezing cold and dark at 4 pm.

And yet, just as these factors are combining to make motivation for school drop to its lowest, we’re also approaching the home stretch of the semester when it’s the most crucial to keep motivation up.

If you need inspiration to keep going through these last weeks until summer, here are some tips.

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Studying Law as an International Student

One of the most interesting parts of my time at law school so far has been the opportunity to meet students from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some have come straight from completing their undergraduate degree while others have spent a significant amount of time in the workplace before starting at BC Law. From class discussions, it’s clear to me that everyone brings these experiences with them to law school and it’s fascinating to see the way in which people’s different perspectives inform how they intend to practise law. 

As someone who isn’t from the U.S. originally, I think a lot about the ways in which my experience of growing up under a different legal system influences how I think about the law and the United States judicial system. For one thing, my ability to follow along in my constitutional law class this semester has definitely been hampered by my not knowing some of the foundational knowledge that students in the U.S. pick up either through osmosis or high school civics. 

For this week’s blog post, I sat down with three international students at BC to find out a bit more about their own experiences of studying as international students and what led to them studying at a U.S. law school.

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A 1L’s Guide to Experiential Learning

I came to law school not exactly sure about the type of law I wanted to practice, so I was particularly interested in experiential learning opportunities. Sure, I could learn about different legal fields and see how I liked them in practice during my summer internships, but clinics and externships would give me even more chances to try out various specialties and hopefully find what I was most passionate about. Knowing that these options are only available to 2Ls and 3Ls, I came into my first year ready to just hit the books and keep those other plans in the back of my mind for the upcoming semesters.

But Boston College Law School had different plans. 

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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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A Reflection on My First Semester: One Down, Five to Go

It’s hard to believe that just four months ago, we were nervously waiting in line to pick up our name cards in the Law Library. In a way, that first day of school in August was a lot like the first day of kindergarten, in that we were completely alone in a room full of strangers with nothing but a homemade sandwich in our lunchboxes and a nametag on our chests.

I was told by many upperclassmen that the first semester of 1L year would probably be the most difficult in terms of the steep learning curve–and they were right. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post; what makes 1L such a difficult time for many students is not only the new way of learning material, but also the uncertainty of a new city, new environment, with new people you have never met before. September was the worst period of adjustment for many people, including me. I had nights where I doubted whether or not law school was truly for me. Could I really see myself reading convoluted legal jargon for the rest of my life? Was this really what I wanted to do?

Thankfully, because it was such a prevalent sentiment, I was able to bond with like-minded people who ended up becoming some of my closest friends, and we constantly pushed and supported each other whenever things became difficult.

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