In my first post after my own graduation, I am pleased to host a blog by BC Law student and editorial assistant Marija Tesla, who writes about her family’s refugee story in honor of World Refugee Day.
I was six years old when politics became an integral part of who I am; it was then that I knew I wanted to work toward forging peace in the world. Growing up, my imaginary friends weren’t imaginary at all, they were the politicians whose names I heard every night, those who could not craft a compromise to achieve peace and stop a war I desperately wanted to end. It was there on my grandparents’ farm in a small village on the outskirts of Karlovac, Croatia in 1995 that I became a negotiator, addressing Franjo Tuđman, Slobodan Milošević, Alija Izetbegović—my own imaginary Dayton Accords. I escaped as a refugee in 1995, leaving Croatia and the farm that was my home.
Twenty-four years later, I am pursuing a career in law with a focus on global governance, human rights, refugee and immigration law, and negotiation—the very thing that was necessary in the Balkans in the early 1990s and is desperately needed today in Syria, Myanmar, Venezuela, and many other parts of the globe, including the United States of America. As a former refugee, I am aware of the interplay between local and global agents, and I understand the power and interconnectedness of both. I will always believe that government is about community, and I will continuously fight to protect the essence of what it means to belong to that community. After all, such communities, local and global, uprooted and rectified my life equally.
Congratulations! You are over halfway finished with law school. You’ve made friends, are now fluent in legalese, and have thankfully avoided being crushed under your huge stack of textbooks. Still, you may also be feeling the 2L slump. The luster of 1L has worn off. Your classes are tough and substantive and post-grad life seems but a glimmer on the horizon. So, how can you push through the lull?
As a law student you are already familiar with hard work and discipline, but some of these tips might help you avoid getting stuck in a rut.
You’ve already decided that law school is your next move. But how do you decide which law school? For me, choosing BC was one of the easiest decisions I ever made. And if you’re wondering why, I’ve summed it up for you in five points:
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:
When I got to law school, the only thing I knew about law review was that Obama was editor in chief of the Harvard law review, and that sounded like a cool title. But I wanted to know more. So, a year and a half ago I decided to go undercover on BC’s Law Review. After toiling through the application process, getting accepted, and later sneaking my way onto the executive board, I’m finally able to publish my discoveries. Many of those I met and spoke with along the journey would only speak on background, but their accounts have been diligently verified by Impact‘s fact-checking team.
Law reviews (or journals; the terms can be used interchangeably) are the legal profession’s academic journals. They are the equivalent of medical or psychological journals for those respective fields, with a ranking system that is similar. Being published in Harvard Law Review is like having your study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Authors, usually law professors, submit articles to the editorial boards of journals, who select which articles they will publish. The difference for law reviews is that the editorial staff is composed almost exclusively of students, although some law reviews are run by practicing attorneys, or “adults.” According to the rankings, there were at least 1,529 (1529 in “Bluebook,” the language spoken by law review editors) law reviews in publication in 2017. Many of these are housed at law schools, and some schools have multiple journals. BC had four journals until two years ago, when they were consolidated into BC Law Review (BCLR). BC also has an independent journal, the UCC Digest, but I leave it to someone else to go undercover and pierce the corporate veil of that journal.
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.
BC Law professor Mike Cassidy shared the note below that he received from a student. “I ask students in Evidence to inform me in advance if they need to miss a class,” Professor Cassidy wrote. “I do this so that I can keep an eye on students who may be experiencing problems or simply falling behind. I received this email on Wednesday evening October 30, 2018. It was one of the most compelling and engaging excuses for missing class that I have received in 22 years of teaching.
“I sincerely hope that Ben becomes a litigator after graduation. He clearly has the skills of an advocate.”
We at Impact thought it was a shame that such an eloquently written plea wasn’t shared with the world–and so, with Professor Cassidy’s and Ben’s permission, we are posting it here:
This year Boston College gifted its students and faculty an extra day of reprieve on Columbus Day weekend, creating a new, four-day “fall break.” I took advantage of the extra time by heading down to visit my father in New York City, where we decided to spend a morning visiting Ellis Island and the immigration museum there. We set out with high hopes that were, unfortunately, chastened by missed opportunities.
Stepping off the boat at Ellis Island, you walk up to the main building that houses the exhibits and the only one that the standard ticket gets you into. The museum opens with a walk through the nation’s immigration history, beginning before Jamestown and stretching to the 1890s, when Ellis Island opened. The Trail of Tears, the Slave Trade, the mix of cultures that produced the likes of Jazz are all addressed. The history is deep and serves as a proper warm up to the story of the island itself, but, as my father pointed out, they might as well just hand you a book when you step off the boat. Displaying few artifacts, the exhibit doesn’t engage its visitors. You mostly step precariously around others, trying to stay out of their line of sight. I found myself gazing at the floor, which is a beautiful white tile, and wondering if it is original (it is).
Today is the annual Law Student Mental Health Day. The Law Students Association (BC Law’s student government) is hosting several events throughout the day through their Student Wellness Committee. Also, in recognition of the tough times that most of us will experience over the course of our three years here, we asked some of our bloggers to share times when they felt out of place, and how they reacted. If you want to share your story about feeling out of place with us, send a few lines to email@example.com, or use the social media hashtag #fittingin.
Where to begin? Parties where the music is so loud that conversation is impossible and I end up standing awkwardly against a wall. Repping purple at the recent Holy Cross – BC football game as my alma mater lost to my new law school 62-14. The first four months of undergrad, going from a small public high school in a blue-collar town to a college where the Vineyard Vines whale was practically the mascot and the parking lot looked like an Audi dealership. My lack of a social life in those early days meant I had time to read USA Today and the New York Times cover-to-cover every day. I was quite well-informed.
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.