There is a legal doctrine from tort law, delightfully called “frolic and detour.” Frolic and detour sets certain limits to when an employer can be held liable for an employee’s conduct. Imagine you’re a FedEx driver out on your route when you pull into a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot to grab a coffee and you accidentally hit someone’s car. The coffee run was a reasonable bit of self-care, something most employers should expect their perennially sleep-deprived workers to do. And it was a quick and slight divergence from your work-prescribed route. So the odds are that the courts would see it as just a detour and FedEx will still be liable for the accident. But what if you take a break and head south out of Boston until you get to your favorite coffee shop in Panama City? In the eyes of the law, you’re on a frolic and FedEx is off the hook if you get into a fender bender on your way through Mexico.
This year, we are taking you through the biggest moments of the 1L year. The ups, the downs, and everything in between, keep checking back for the inside scoop on important events and milestones from our students.
Maybe it’s just that time of the year, but it seems like every day is getting a little bit busier at BC Law. As reading assignments seem to grow longer and longer, and due dates become closer and closer, I cannot help but feel the need to reach out to those who have been through the trials and tribulations of their first year of law school.
Lucky for us 1Ls, we have a lot of advice available to us. At the beginning of the year, LSA matched every new student with an upperclassman who helped welcome us to the school and shared their tips and tricks. Classes, moving, and just life in general, our mentors gave advice on it all. Throughout the first couple of weeks, many organizations that we had joined also began pairing us up with older members, specifically matching us with those who had similar interests. The result? A plethora of mentors to choose from, all knowing exactly what we are going through and who were eager to help.
I decided to ask around for the best advice mentors have given. Maybe it will help you too.
Ask anyone who has gone to law school: the application process is a nightmare. It’s (digital) mountains of paperwork, recommendation letters, editing your personal statement and supplemental essays fifty different times, and coordinating transcripts on LSAC from undergrad and beyond.
And then you submit your applications, get in (hopefully) to a few different schools, contemplate your options, submit your deposit, and dive right in to 1L year. But what about people who transfer? There’s lots of speculation and whispering about whether it’s a good or bad choice, with the potential loss of scholarship money, class rank, job prospects in OCI, and the fear of having to start all over again with new teachers and new classmates.
For me, transferring was always my plan, but I had not anticipated how emotionally arduous it would actually be.
Part of why I decided to come to law school was to engage in deep, complex, and nuanced discussions about the law and current events. During college I was able to take courses that challenged and engaged these questions and provoked discussion on campus outside the classroom too. The 1L curriculum doesn’t have the same freedom of course selection as an undergraduate one. We select one elective class in the spring semester, but in the fall, our course schedule is entirely up to the Law School and long-standing professional norms. That isn’t a bad thing—undoubtedly, these doctrinal classes will make us better lawyers and teach us about the law. BC Law also has excellent, engaging, and caring 1L professors. But I imagine everyone else who goes to law school, just as I do, has a desire to discuss many legal interests that extend beyond the scope of 1L courses. Simply based on how often law is in the news, we obviously have questions about topics that will not be covered in class.
Fortunately, BC Law’s administration and student organizations help fill the gap.
World Mental Health Day, celebrated annually on October 10th, is a day to bring awareness to mental health issues and for individuals to band together to promote mental wellness, improve public dialogue and care for those struggling with mental health issues. Today the BC Law community is rallying together to share other ways individuals cultivate joy, cope with stressors, and find perspective while in law school.
Unfortunately, a high-pressure environment along with a number of other stressors puts individuals in law school and in the legal field at risk for developing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse disorders. In fact, law students disproportionally struggle with mental health issues in comparison to the general population, as previously discussed in A Necessary Look at Mental Health in Law School and Out of Place? You’re Not Alone. Fortunately, Boston College offers professional help to those struggling with a mental health issue – no matter how small. (Links provided below this post).
Along with providing professional mental health services, it is especially important for law schools to promote mental wellness. According to the World Health Organization, mental wellness is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Thus, mental wellness is not necessarily the absence of mental health issues, but rather is the presence of positive strategies and characteristics for handling life’s ups and downs.
It is possible to boost your mental wellness by finding ways to elevate your mood and increase your resilience. Four wellness-building techniques are described in Beat Your 2L Lull: Four Strategies for Success.
Below, members of the BC Law community share what they do to boost mental wellness in their daily lives. As you read, feel free to share what brings you joy or helps you manage stress by commenting below or adding #LawStudentWellness, #WorldMentalHealthDay and/or #IamBCLaw to your post on social media. And please share this post with friends.
Welcome (back) to Boston College Law! Today, I’m pleased to host a guest post from 2L Rachel Weiss, a Weinstein Scholar, on her experience joining the BC Law community.
Like most students coming into law school, I was extremely anxious. The source of my anxiety, however, did not just stem from the typical types of stressors that so many students face, such as embarking on a brand new and highly complex discipline, moving to a new city, switching careers, or making new friends. While I did share those concerns with my classmates, one of the biggest changes for me in coming to law school would be attending a Jesuit school as a Jewish student.
Growing up, I was always surrounded by others who shared my culture and religion. From an early age, I went to Hebrew School, spent summers at a Jewish overnight camp, then attended a predominantly Jewish high school, and even managed to end up at an undergraduate university with a sizable Jewish population. Knowing people who had also been raised in the Jewish tradition and having the support of my religious community were constants throughout my life.
Coming to Boston College Law School, I soon realized that things would be different. I was no longer surrounded by people with similar backgrounds and experiences to my own. As I started to navigate this adjustment, I was introduced to someone who would later become a major part of my transition to the BC Law community.
Being at BC Law as a Jewish woman pursuing public interest law can sometimes create a sense of cognitive dissonance and difficulty feeling like I belong. My background and upbringing is very Jewish and very rooted in social justice. I’ve been actively involved in Jewish communities for my entire life and that has informed my values. I attended Smith College, a progressive women’s college out in Northampton, MA. Attending a Jesuit Catholic law school initially gave me some pause, especially knowing that most future lawyers are looking to pursue careers in “Big Law.” But attending the Public Interest Law Retreat (PILR) last weekend reminded me that I don’t need to check my public interest goals and passions at the door to the law school–rather, that there are people and systems in place to support them.
The PILR is a program for 1Ls, coordinated by the Law School and the incredible 1L, 2L, and 3L Public Service Scholars. The bunch of us drove out to Dover, MA to the Boston College Connors Retreat Center. We stayed overnight in the old stone building located in a more rural part of the state with lots of green space and trees. We entered a refreshing atmosphere the instant we arrived.
I didn’t necessarily think law school would be boring. I swear I didn’t. But then, I didn’t necessarily think it would be funny either.
One of the natural barriers surely standing in the way of a law professor’s mission is what I have experienced as ‘the 1L jitters.’ Personally, I was very nervous about the start of law school, a new and defining chapter in my life. I was so nervous that I didn’t get much sleep for the first couple of days. Speaking with my fellow students, it’s pretty clear that I wasn’t the only one.
Now, you don’t have to be a neuroscientist to know that getting at least a couple hours of sleep per night might be important for the learning process, so there was going to be a problem if we didn’t all release some of that 1L jitter-tension quickly. And that’s what laughter is, right? Releasing tension. I’ve found the class content lends itself to humor surprisingly well, and it’s where the professors can excel.
I’m sure a lot of you are starting to think about your personal statements. I know it can be pretty overwhelming to decide on the right approach. My advice? Don’t forget that you decide your own story.
I was not a perfect applicant. I had strong grades and a strong LSAT, but my background was…complicated. When it came time to write my personal statement, I was stuck. Do I talk about my past? I had overcome a lot. But it wasn’t something I wanted to share. And it wasn’t how I wanted to define myself to an admissions committee.
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.