I have always found interviews challenging. As someone with a stutter and who identifies as neurodivergent, the interview format seems tailor made to cause me problems. Being a law student with a regular schedule of internship and fellowship applications has only added to my issues with them.
To me, the interview format is a uniquely discriminatory and exclusionary way of recruiting. Interviews feel inherently ableist because they benefit individuals who are able to perform in this very specific setting, while systematically disadvantaging individuals who cannot. Moreover, they provide a space for implicit bias to infect hiring processes and ensure that the same types of people get offered particular opportunities.1 This is a significant problem in the legal sector, where interviews effectively act as gatekeepers to a profession that is already overwhelmingly non-disabled and neurotypical (as well as white, straight, and cisgender).
I did my hair, threw on my dress, and took a picture of myself that would inevitably end up on my mother’s Facebook. It was time to make my way to Stuart House for a very important milestone.
No, not for my first day at BC Law. It was Newton Prom, a coveted event for the Boston College freshmen that live on Newton Campus–and I was one of them. While I sit and review case briefs in the Yellow Room today, I can’t help but reminisce about the middle school-esque dance party that I attended in the same exact spot five years ago.
I graduated from Boston College in May 2020 from the comfort of my living room. On March 11th, 2020 at approximately 5:20 pm, I received an email telling me I had four days to move out. My time at Boston College was cut short–by 64 days to be exact. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. Fast forward through a year of attending Zoom School of Law, I clicked my heels three times chanting, “There’s no place like home,” and I was sent back to the Yellow (Brick-less) Room.
525,600 minutes. Daylights and sunsets and midnights and cups of coffee. I’ve always found that Rent offers a beautiful melodic sampling of ways to conceptualize this fickle thing we call time. But the question, however harmonized, remains: how do you measure a year?
Thinking too long on this subject brings a heavy lump to my throat. It’s been one year. We’ve lost so much and so fast. Tearing apart businesses, families, and entire communities, the pandemic has stripped us of so much of that closeness our society once had: a handshake over a new business agreement, a scorched smile over too hot coffee on the morning commute crammed in a subway car, a visit to see a loved one, a high five with a stranger over a touchdown at the sports bar. We were told to be, for an undetermined amount of time and with no warning, alone. And yet, the very science and expertise unto which we cling to guide us through this madness is debated like the merits of contemporary art by politicians. Some people believe this is a globally orchestrated hoax. Our democracy is still in the ICU. This year has, as a great mentor of mine says, given our entire society a CAT scan. It’s shown our inequities and injustices. It’s shown the unyielding power of the few and the overwhelming lack of access for the many.
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.
I’m pleased to host a guest post by Ned Melanson ’19, who writes about one of BC Law’s several programs that place students in legal internships in other countries.
Picture this: It’s Wednesday, 5:30pm, in late February in Boston. You, a 2L still coming down from the whirlwind of 1L (or a 3L starting to feel like a caged bird ready to spread your wings), are sitting on the yellow room couches with your law school chums, waiting for that night class to start. You are wondering why you were too lazy to sign up for a morning class and subjected yourself to a 6:00pm. The light fades from the Newton sky as you and your compatriots trade gossip from the last weekend or discuss plans for the upcoming, yet still distant one. Outside it’s cold and there’s snow in the parking lot.
Now picture this: It’s Wednesday, 5:30pm, in late February, in Dublin. You, adventurous and with great foresight, are sitting in O’Donoghue’s pub, just around the corner from the beautiful Georgian brick building that houses BC Ireland. Surrounding you are a group of equally adventurous BC Law 2L and 3L’s, most of whom you could not have named before this semester, but now you wouldn’t hesitate in calling them friends. You’re listening to the two chaps in the corner booth play a fully unplugged set of classic Irish folk songs; occasionally one will stand up and reprimand the crowd for not being quiet enough or to pass around the hat. You’ve spent most of the day working at your internship at a well-respected Irish law firm, dedicated non-profit, budding tech company, or maybe the world’s largest aircraft leasing company. The Guinness sitting in front of you is rumored to be the best in Dublin.
I have written about my law school journey a number of times on this blog – how I was diagnosed with endometriosis, a chronic reproductive health condition in my 1L year, and the havoc it has wreaked on my law school journey ever since. I had plans to return to campus this fall – I even wrote about my excitement here on Impact. But less than a week into commuting to campus I came home one day and my back and pelvis muscles and gone into a full spasm from driving. I was diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction – a condition that affects your pelvic nerves and muscles which is common among endometriosis patients. Basically, when your body has been in pain for so long, your muscles are constantly bracing for more pain, even when the disease is gone, as mine is. As a result, they clench, or spasm, resulting in pain that can radiate up into your ribcage and down to your knees.
Needless to say, I was not as ready to be back on campus as I had hoped. I reluctantly made the decision to take one more semester off.
Last Thursday, the Christian Legal Society (CLS) at BC Law handed out care packages around campus. These packages contained various treats, including candy, gum, Rice Krispies Treats, and a slip of paper with a snippet from a Psalm: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
One night in the 1960’s, a Coast Guard sailor, whose ship was in port for repairs, came stumbling back to the vessel in, to use the words of the judge, “the condition for which seamen are famed.” His ship was in a dry-dock, a floating tub of water which is drained once the ship is inside so that repairs to the hull can be made. The sailor, buoyed by drink, tried his hand at the dry-dock control wheels, letting in water which eventually caused the boat and dry-dock to partially sink. The dry-dock owners sued the government for the money damages the sailor’s actions caused, and the government eventually had to foot the bill. Continue reading