As I have come to learn in my first few weeks at BC Law, you hit the ground running from day one, and you rarely pause to look back. I’m from Florida and never had the chance to visit the Law School as an admitted student, so everything in Newton, from navigating school zone traffic to finding parking (it’s even hard for the professors) was new to me, on top of beginning graduate level work.
It was all a bit overwhelming at first. Luckily, I had support. Lots of it.
Do you still have some unanswered questions about law school, Boston College Law, or Beantown (yes that is Boston’s outdated nickname) in general? Preparing for law school can be an exhausting task, especially when you’re moving from out of state. But BC Law is here to help you navigate this exciting new arena with the Admitted Students Guidebook!
Several years ago, the Law Student Association and Admissions Office partnered to create the Admitted Students Guidebook, which helps answer all those lingering questions. If you’re wondering if you need a car, which areas are the best to live in, or where to go on day trips, then you’ve come to the right place.
Find the new guidebook for the BC Law Class of 2022 here: Volume 4 of the Admitted Students Guide
It’s hard to believe that 1L year is almost at its end. We made it past the awkwardness of orientation. We survived finals. We chose our first elective. And yes, we’re all still alive to tell the tale. If I could go back to August and offer my first-day-of-school-self some advice, here’s what it would be:
When I decided to attend BC Law, housing was one of my top concerns. At the time that I was applying to law school, I was living in New York City, and Boston was somewhat unfamiliar. I had visited many times previously, but I knew that memories of family vacations to walk the Freedom Trail were not enough to help me make the best decision. I relied on the experiences of BC Law students, and I was not disappointed. As a 3L, I can now say that I have happily lived in my apartment for all three of my years at BC Law. For those of you with the same housing worries that I had, hopefully I can help you find your fit as you decide to join the Class of 2022.
First, it’s important to decide what type of neighborhood fits your personality. Let’s break down some of the most popular locations for BC Law students to live:
After four years of undergrad, two new cities, and a semester of law school, all I know for sure is how to handle every question my extended family will throw at me over winter break. There’s a strict science to it, a standard formula: Keep it positive, stay away from controversy, and pivot to the weather as soon as possible.
Turns out, even revered Christmas traditions are vulnerable to the all-consuming legal education. After a mere four months and one round of exams, all I could muster when faced with the entirely-expected “how’s law school?!” was:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!