Starting Over in the Middle: What It’s Really Like to Transfer Law Schools

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.

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Diary of an Introvert

Almost exactly five years ago, I remember beginning to work on my undergraduate college applications. One of my essay questions asked me to write about my favorite place. I considered this question for a while: I thought of my bedroom, my favorite study spot at school, my temple, but none of them resonated with me. After weeks of pondering, I realized that my favorite place wasn’t a physical space at all: it was inside my own head. 

Finally feeling satisfied with my topic, I wrote a draft to show my admissions counselor. She told me that my head wasn’t a real place and that the piece made me sound a bit like a recluse. She asked me to stick to a physical place, like a typical response would. I remember feeling slightly defeated and wholly misunderstood, but this wasn’t the first time. In a world that values sociability, collaboration, and action, we introverts often feel out of place.

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Inside BC Law’s Admissions Process: A Q&A With Dean McShay

Applying to law school is no easy task. You have to gather a number of recommendation letters, study for the LSAT while you are either in school or working, and craft the perfect narrative for your personal statement. In short, you need to figure out how to paint the best picture of yourself for an unknown admissions team.

The Impact blog previously did a series on tips for making your law school application stronger (see below links), but we thought it would be even more helpful to get the inside scoop on the BC admissions process from Assistant Dean Shawn McShay. Dean McShay has been overseeing admissions at BC for over four years, but has nearly twenty years of experience in law school admissions.

Here are Dean McShay’s responses to questions he receives from prospective students time and time again:

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The PILR and Reinvigorating Purpose

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.

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First Impressions: A Sense of Community and Giving Back

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.

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My Personal Statement: Learning From Adversity

Just days into my law school experience, I was beginning to crack under the pressure of my classmates’ impressive achievements. I had met lots of amazing people I would be spending the next three years with, and I already felt as if I was behind schedule.

Their lives seemed filled with work experiences in fabulous cities, fancy internships with important people and exquisite accomplishments at the country’s top schools. These experiences were just part of their lives, or at least so it seemed. I could not help but wonder—what was I doing here?

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The Admitted Students Guidebook, Vol. 4

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

A BC Law Guide to Boston Living

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:

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Where is BC Law in the rankings?

Last week, the updated US News and World Report law school rankings were released, and we wanted to take the opportunity to update the community on where Boston College fits in.

According to US News, we are the:

  • 27th Overall Best Law School
  • 14th Best Tax Program
  • 27th Best Environmental Law Program
  • 29th Best Legal Writing Program

Beyond US News, BC maintained high rankings from other outlets:

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1L: Bringing It All Back Home

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.

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