Editor’s Note: BC Law is launching a TikTok channel! Follow us @bclawonline.
You can’t BeReal if you’re in law school.
Wipe your social media — make a pseudo Instagram handle, private your Twitter, and maybe even delete your Facebook if you’re feeling up to it. This is the advice commonly distributed to incoming law students and applicants alike across online law school forums.
This advice is understandable these days, since employers Google everything, and law students have character and fitness standards to follow in order to be eligible to graduate and take the bar. This privatization movement strikes at the heart of #LawTok, though.
#LawTok is a TikTok hashtag categorizing videos dedicated about — you guessed it — the legal field. #LawTok videos range from videos about navigating On Campus Interviews, networking tips, the latest Supreme Court case to hit the docket, and more. #LawTok boasts 1.7 billion views as of this article’s publication.
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.
As Co-Presidents of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA), we understand the importance of balance. While Black people make up 13.4% of the American population, Black lawyers make up less than 5% of the legal industry. To mitigate this stark disparity, BLSA seeks to build community, provide academic support, and bridge generational gaps through consistent professional development.
This year, we made a targeted effort to reconnect our community after the COVID-19 pandemic strained our social relations. When we began planning, we realized that our current members’ hardships mirrored those of BLSA alums from years past. Many of us still feel isolated, struggle with imposter syndrome, and ultimately feel unprepared. We decided with this presidency that we want to change the narrative. We recognize that an active and reliable community is paramount to combating these feelings of isolation and imposter syndrome. Our presidency is dedicated to making BLSA that space for our members.
About a semester into undergrad a few years ago, I did something pretty crazy: I signed up for an extracurricular.
Revolutionary, I know.
This certainly wasn’t an unusual move, but it was pretty unusual for me. I did it on a whim, without any of my new friends joining me, and it felt really bold to just try something completely new with a group of strangers.
This spontaneous decision was one of the most influential ones I made in college, and it really shaped the entire experience for me. It helped me choose my major, it introduced me to people I likely never would’ve met otherwise, and it allowed me to develop new skills and hone those I already had.
While I still had this formative experience in the back of my mind as I stepped back on a college campus this fall at BC, I didn’t really expect to have a similar experience in law school. From what I had heard, the academics would be keeping me more than busy, and I didn’t anticipate having time to put energy into anything besides my studies. I started school with my head down, ready to focus on nothing else for the foreseeable future.
But, only about a week into this new experience, Boston College Law School threw me a curveball. The school was starting its first of two competitions — a negotiations tournament where you and a partner would go head-to-head with another pair to see who could secure the best deal for their hypothetical client. What’s more, while it wasn’t mandatory that we participate, it was highly recommended.
Oh, and if you wanted to participate, you’d have about three days to decide.
I’m not sure it’s possible to actually prepare for the first year of law school. After I submitted my applications in the Fall of 2019, I concocted all sorts of ideas to prepare and “get an edge”. I started by reading several books including The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, and some excerpts from Law School Confidential. I considered enrolling in prep courses to regain study skills. I’m pretty sure none of these tactics actually helped my GPA or experience (although both books are phenomenal reads).
As I wrote about in a previous blog post Act Like You Belong. Because You Do., the best strategy is to remain confident in your abilities that have propelled you this far. There is a lot of weight put on the competition in law school, which is not helpful. Plus, I’ve found within the BC community, my classmates want everyone to do well, not just themselves. My greatest mindset shift after surviving the first semester is that the only thing I can control is the amount of effort I put towards my studies. I like to think of my job as a law student described by three functions: academic success, professional exposure, and social network. After a semester under my belt, I intend to adjust course in three specific ways that correspond to each of those functions to boost my experience and performance at Boston College.
To put it simply, I did not have the summer I expected. Like many of my peers, my summer associate program was cancelled, I had to put vacation plans on hold, and I was forced to think about the post-grad job market way more than I wanted. But this unexpected turn of events (thank you, COVID-19) led to an incredible opportunity at Citrix.
During the fall of my 2L year, I took a Privacy Law course with Peter Lefkowitz, Chief Privacy & Digital Risk Officer at Citrix. I had gotten to know Peter pretty well over the course of the semester, and had gone to him for career advice before. So, when I discovered I suddenly had no summer plans, I took a chance, reached out to Peter, and asked if he had any suggestions for how to gain privacy-related experience while I had this downtime. Lucky for me, Citrix was in the middle of launching its first legal internship program, and Peter had the perfect opportunity.
“Who should we talk to?” I whispered to my fellow networking newbie, scanning the reception room.
“I don’t know,” she whispered back. “I feel awkward.”
Thinking back to that night last September at the 1L Boot Camp Kickoff hosted by WilmerHale, I realize that I’ve come a long way in just a few months. I, like many of my peers, didn’t think I was the “networking type of person.” What did I—straight out of college with no legal experience or background—possibly have to talk about with big-deal attorneys who’ve been in the legal profession for longer than I’ve been alive?
Recognizing that I’m still far from an expert at this game, here are some things I’ve learned. Lesson one: with practice, networking does get easier.
Lesson two: the payoff can be enormous.
No, that noise you hear as the calendar flips to November isn’t the sound of leaves blowing in the fall wind. Rather, it it a collective sigh of relief coming from BC Law 2Ls that the OCI process has finally come to a close. OCI, short for “on campus interviewing,” serves as the major recruitment tool for most large, national firms looking to hire summer associates. Over the summer, 2L students may submit resumes, cover letters, and transcripts to all of the firms that they are interested in interviewing with. The firms then select students they wish to meet with for screener interviews on the law school campus. These initial interviews are about twenty minutes long and are generally a way for firms to get a feel for whether or not the candidate is a good “fit.”
In the summer of 2016, I was faced with a dilemma: should I attend law school at BC, a school that I absolutely love, and at which I know I’ll receive a quality education? Or should I attend law school in New York – my home city, and the city where I want to eventually practice law – even though the school has a lower ranking?
After months of deliberation, speaking with lawyers and law students, and prayer, I decided to attend BC Law. I was convinced that it was the best place for me to receive the education I need to be a good lawyer, and to also enjoy the law school experience (and as a rising 3L, I can say that I was right!). However, a concern still lingered in my mind throughout my 1L year: will I be able to find a job back at home in New York City once I graduate? This blog post is for any prospective or current students who are wondering the same thing.
I’m pleased to host today’s blog from Kenneth Sanchez ’03 and Dionna F. Shear ’14, the co-chairs of the Los Angeles chapter of the BC Law Alumni Association. Our alumni network is one of the strongest in the country, and I think their post gives you a sense of our alumni’s commitment to each other and to new generations of students.
Life after law school can get very busy, very fast. After three years of law school and the associated neurosis, stress, and countless nights of no sleep, you get to do it all over again. Life as a practicing attorney can be even more stressful when balancing the needs of your clients, meeting minimum billables, and trying to maintain some kind of social life outside of work.
Who has the time to do anything else? Who wants to mingle with other lawyers after spending the entire day dealing with them? What could my law school possibly have to offer me beyond a legal education? The answer to all that is very simple. Alumni should be involved with their alumni association because besides your education, the most valuable thing your law school offers you—and the students who come after you—is a network.