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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Under Pressure: Law Review Edition

If you’re anything like me, you probably had a vague idea of what law review was prior to law school. As former Impact bloggers have discussed, there are ups and downs and benefits and drawbacks. Those bloggers have covered a lot of ground, so I won’t go into all that again here. Simply put, you should definitely do some research to determine if joining law review is right for you (reading those earlier posts is a good place to start!).

That being said, I knew I wanted to join BC’s Law Review for a number of reasons. I wanted to improve my writing skills, wished to keep the door open for potential clerkship opportunities, and hoped to go into the on-campus interview process with a strong resume. Plus, BC’s Law Review does not limit you to writing within a specific subject area and I am excited to delve into an area of the law that truly excites me next semester. To me, these benefits outweighed any potential drawbacks.

Although I still know that joining Law Review was the right decision for me and I have appreciated the opportunity to work alongside great editors and staff writers, there was one factor I never fully appreciated: the pressure that accompanies getting published. Don’t get me wrong: I knew it would be an invaluable opportunity to join the legal conversation this early on in my career. But what if I had an embarrassing typo or misunderstood the law?

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2L Year: Like 1L, But Better

If I had to pick three adjectives to describe 1L year, they would be busy, fairly stressful, and extremely exciting. I quickly learned that law school is a full-time job filled with a demanding workload and many commitments outside of the classroom. I also soon realized why my professors emphasized the importance of removing yourself from law school mode every so often to keep your stress levels down. But most importantly, I saw how exciting this new chapter of life was. Law school was my time to open new doors, build new friendships, and take the first step of a new career.

Now that I am a few weeks into 2L, it seems like I may be using the same three adjectives to describe this year, but with a whole new perspective. I no longer am transitioning from a 9 to 5 job or spending far too long on a three-page case. I know what a final exam looks like, and can estimate about how long an outline will take me to make. More importantly, I can tell you what I hope to pursue career-wise and have made great friends along the way.

Although some things may stay the same, here are a few ways in which my perspectives have changed:

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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

Beat Your 2L Lull: Four Strategies for Success

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.

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The Path to the Bar: Step 1, MPRE

Last Spring, we published the first of a series of posts about the bar. That post talked about course selection with the bar in mind; you can read it here. Today we are looking at the MPRE, which is a first step on the path to passing the bar.

In most states, before you can sit for the bar, you must pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). It’s two hours long, and contains sixty multiple choice questions testing knowledge of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which most states have adopted in some version. The MPRE does not test your personal ethics; it tests how well you know the Model Rules and how you apply them to factual hypotheticals. Continue reading

Top 10 Things You Should Know Before Starting Your 1L Semester

1-Take Advice with a Grain of Salt

First-year law students love looking for advice and seasoned law students love giving it. It reminds us that we are no longer the new kids on the block and it makes us feel better about our overzealous course loads, far too many extracurriculars, and that interview we did two weeks ago that we’re still obsessing over. You want some advice, we’ve got it! The catch; that advice may not always be right for you.

Now, before you decide to purchase a garlic necklace to repel your friendly 2L and 3L mentors, hear me out. I am not saying the advice you get will be bad. We’ve all gone through 1L, most of us have passed all of our subjects, a few select unicorns have gotten A’s on those subjects, and most of us really do know what we’re doing. You should hear us out and try some of the study tips we give you–just make sure not to double down on them if they aren’t working. When a 2L approaches you and says, “this is the best way to study,” what they are really saying is “this is how I studied, and I did well, so it must be the best way.” Insert biggest eye roll here!

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The Dreaded Curve

The strength of my urges to go for a run, take a nap, and drink wine indicate that I feel the stress of finals. Like every law student, I have always lusted for academic success, but the stress associated with law school finals is different than the other exams and competitions I have experienced. Since most law school courses are graded on a curve, I am uncomfortable estimating how I will perform on exams.

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