A Neurodivergent Guide to Navigating Interviews as a Law Student

I have always found interviews challenging. As someone with a stutter and who identifies as neurodivergent, the interview format seems tailor made to cause me problems. Being a law student with a regular schedule of internship and fellowship applications has only added to my issues with them.

To me, the interview format is a uniquely discriminatory and exclusionary way of recruiting. Interviews feel inherently ableist because they benefit individuals who are able to perform in this very specific setting, while systematically disadvantaging individuals who cannot. Moreover, they provide a space for implicit bias to infect hiring processes and ensure that the same types of people get offered particular opportunities.1 This is a significant problem in the legal sector, where interviews effectively act as gatekeepers to a profession that is already overwhelmingly non-disabled and neurotypical (as well as white, straight, and cisgender).

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Live, Laugh, Love Tax

Much like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, I came to law school to find love. Well, sorta… Unlike Ms. Woods, my love story is with the practice area of tax law. 

To be completely candid, I had no intention of becoming a tax attorney when I first applied to law school. I didn’t even intend to ever take a tax class. From the moment I signed up for the LSAT, my Uncle John, who is a CPA, always claimed I was going to be a tax attorney, and I always dismissed him. Tax law, for me, was like the quiet nerd the main character in a rom-com takes forever to see as more than just a friend. 

My “meet cute” with Tax was when I had the last pick time to sign up for classes for my 2L fall, and it was one of the only classes open that fit into my schedule. My Uncle John is always badgering me about becoming a tax attorney, I thought. Why don’t I take Tax I, ultimately fail it, and then never hear or speak of tax law again?

Spoiler alert: This ended up being far from the truth. 

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The Art (and Importance) of Networking

The most helpful thing Professor Hillinger taught me during my 1L year was that networking is a critical tool during the legal job search. Although I earned my position for next summer through The Law Consortium, an OCI analog, I am thankful to my past-self for speaking to as many attorneys as I could. In hindsight, I think my networking helped me to figure out which legal practices I am interested in, which firms might be the best fit for my work style, and to become more comfortable and knowledgeable when speaking to attorneys. Just as Professor Hillinger stressed, networking should be an integral part of every 1L’s experience. 

During my first semester of 1L, I talked to as many attorneys as I could find from a breadth of experiences and practice areas. Everything in law school seemed interesting to me, and I knew it would be important to be more targeted in my internship and job search. I made sure that I reached out to speak one-on-one to at least one attorney after every negotiation competition, club panel, or CSO event I attended. In the beginning, I had no idea what to talk about, but I knew that people like talking about themselves, so my networking conversations involved a lot of personal questions: “how did you know you wanted to pursue litigation,” “what made you choose to move in-house after working in Big Law”, and “how did you decide on your specific practice areas?” Through these conversations, I realized that I did not strictly identify with the transactional or litigation camps, and decided to pursue a career more closely aligned with regulatory work, where I would have the chance to have a broader range of work.

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Follow-Up: Overcoming Self-Doubt

Two years ago, when I arrived in Newton to begin my law school journey, I wrote a blog post entitled Act Like You Belong. Because You Do, where I briefly explored my own internal struggle with feelings of self-doubt, which some people call “imposter’s syndrome.” My goal was to encourage others (and myself) to understand those feelings in order to control their own destiny. 

As I begin my third (and FINAL!) year of law school, I can say that while those feelings of self-doubt fluctuate, they never disappear completely. I had an overwhelming feeling of being unprepared on my first day at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office during my 1L summer. I had the discomforting feeling of self-doubt on my first day at a big law firm this past summer. These feelings were as strong as when I stepped foot on the Newton campus.

As I wrote in the blog two years ago, the issue is not the presence of those uncomfortable feelings, but how you deal with them. My second day on campus (and my second days at the Attorney General’s Office and at the law firm) were more comfortable than the first. Each day that passed lessened these doubts, and strengthened my confidence.

Act Like You Belong was more about describing those feelings in order to understand them. Today, I want to write about how I overcame them. These suggestions may be obvious to you. But it’s important to recognize that we all are at a different place on our journey – and wherever you are, I hope you find some inspiration in them.

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Crossing the Street: the Long Walk to BC Law

I grew up in Techwood, a housing project of inner-city Atlanta. Until it was razed in preparation for the ’96 Summer Olympics, Techwood was widely regarded as one of the most dangerous projects of any city in the country. Bodies in gutters and on gurneys, overdoses, gang violence, drive-bys. I saw it all. I still do, from time to time. So I escaped. Left it all behind. And I didn’t need a Wardrobe or a Tardis or a tricked-out DeLorean. All I had to do was press the ‘walk’ button, wait for the light to change, and walk across the street. It was just that easy. And when I stepped on the far sidewalk, as if by magic, the world changed from the pitted, blood-stained sidewalks of Techwood to the manicured lawns of Georgia Tech. That was my Narnia, my middle-Earth, my galaxy far far away. Use whatever metaphors and similes you can find. But the campus of Georgia Tech was as magical and mystical as any of those fantasy lands, except that this one was real. And it was mine.

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What ‘Panic’ Can Teach You

In support of the well-being of lawyers across the professional spectrum—from students in the classroom to attorneys in all walks of legal life—we have launched a Mental Health Impact Blog Series, in partnership with alumnus Jim Warner ’92. Comprising deeply personal essays by community members who have struggled with mental health issues, the series provides restorative insights and resources to fellow lawyers in need. Read them all here.

The Mental Health Impact Blog Series coincides with a Law School-wide initiative, which will include lectures and workshops to support and promote mental well-being. To get involved in the activities or to write a guest post, contact jim.warner.uk@gmail.com.


By Elizabeth Martin ’92

Back then, in that lecture hall, sitting for my third-year Administrative Law exam, I could not imagine the work I would be doing today: leading strategy and innovation for a multi-billion dollar business and the largest health care company in the world. In fact, at that moment, I could not imagine much of anything other than the wreckage of my future playing out in live action in my imagination. My heart was racing. My ears were ringing, drowning out every cogent thought I had ever had. That’s the power of panic—in seconds it is able to reduce your otherwise bright future into a movie of the worst imaginable things: “you will fail this exam, you will not graduate, you will crater on the bar exam, and then, you will embarrass yourself, shame your family, and never be able to make a living! Oh, and still owe thousands of dollars to the federal government for the privilege.” 

So it was written. A promising career, tanked before it even started, felled (or so I thought) by a panic attack in my third year of law school.

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Relationships and the Law

“Don’t let it go to your head.” 

These words were spoken to me by someone older and wiser than myself a week after I started law school. Like most people, the weeks before school starts, especially law school, and particularly 1L, are a very stressful time of worry and expectations.

But after just a week, I came to realize I actually really enjoyed BC Law, that law school isn’t actually that scary, and I began to share a lot about my new experiences with others. There’s an undeniable cache, swagger, and cultural fixation with the law and notions of prestige in popular culture. To some, like myself, it can become a bit noxious. To others though, it is addictive—all-consuming—and can change people, even those we regard highly and befriend, and in some cases come to love, for the worse.

Frequently in law school I’ve gotten a glimpse of something that is not quite part of the law, but more specifically part of the cost of being a member of its practice—its impact on personal relationships, particularly relationships with those who are themselves in the legal field. In pop culture, films like Legally Blonde and the wide array of television, blogs, and other mediums that provide commentary on the legal mind paint a picture of toxic stress and personalities, politics and pomposity, and a commitment at all costs to one’s career and climbing the rungs of the corporate and bureaucratic ladder.

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Why We Chose Environmental Law

The following post was written by 1L, Logan Hagerty. Logan is an avid member of the BC Environmental Law Society (ELS) and serves as a 1L Representative. ELS is the umbrella organization for the BC Land & Environmental Law program. We lead research, service, professional training, social events, and more. As President of ELS, it has been a pleasure working with the new students like Logan who share my commitment to environmental law. -Fiona Maguire


I read dozens of faculty bios and course listings when applying to law school. I keyword-searched more variations of “environmental law” than I thought was possible: “Land,” “energy,” “property,” “environmental justice,” and “natural resources,” just to name a few. You guessed it – I came to law school with an interest in environmental law. 

Professor Plater’s bio (and bow tie!) stood out on the BC Law website. I’d struck a gold mine. I explored the BC site some more, finding pictures from the Environmental Law Society (ELS) Barbeque and Winter Weekend events. I was hooked! (I also attended both of these events). Now I view the environmental law program as more than a “gold mine.” The program is an old-growth forest; it offers rich, deep-rooted connections, support, and development. 

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Reminding Ourselves Why We “Do” Law School

Writing an Impact post at the beginning of the semester is never easy. How to recapture the excitement for school after a month’s vacation and a return to campus in the middle of a Boston winter? 1L’s gearing up for round 2, 2L’s grinding away, and 3L’s wondering why we are still on campus. In addition, with the latest Covid surge, another round of “when will this all be over” doesn’t exactly help the cause. 

But in this case the answer of what to write about seemed clear to me: my experiences in the Innocence Clinic working for my client. While I am not able to disclose many of the details about his case, I can say that my client had a clean record both before and after the arson he was wrongfully convicted of, and that our clinic recently filed a motion for new trial looking to overturn his conviction using newly discovered evidence that demonstrates his innocence nearly twenty years later. 

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Can Passion for Work Go Too Far?

“Are you going to talk about anything else?” My brother rolled his eyes as I talked about a technical area of patent infringement that no one in my audience cared to learn about. This was just a few weeks ago, and we were at a small dinner party with some family friends. I had finished up my time with a firm this summer, and I was excited for the chance to talk about it. But my brother’s comment reminded me just how much I’d been talking about my work. I had an amazing summer outside of the firm, too: I went on some relaxing getaways, I spent a lot of meaningful time with my family, and I finally read the books that had been on my reading list for months now. Yet, throughout dinner, I had mainly only talked about my firm experience. It was a reminder to me that law school — and the legal profession — should not and does not encompass my entire identity.

During my first semester of law school in Fall 2019, I found myself burnt out fairly quickly. I was spending too many hours reading, not necessarily because I had a lot to read, but more so because I felt that this was what I had to do. I felt like I was supposed to be outlining after every class, even if I didn’t really know what outlining even was. Despite being on top of my schoolwork, I felt guilty when I wasn’t doing law school-related work, only because I felt that there was no time or room to think about anything else.

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