This year, I am lucky enough to serve as one of the Co-Presidents of the Latin American Law Student Association (LALSA) at BU 12039574_827059110744575_5967990248426522424_nLaw. This Tuesday we have our third big event in three weeks. Much of my time thus far as a 2L has been entirely consumed with my responsibilities as one of LALSA’s Co-Presidents.

LALSA’s first event was a Cultural Meet & Greet in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. We invited several attorneys from firms and public interest organizations throughout Boston for a Dominican dinner and networking event. We were thrilled with the high 12043070_827059680744518_6263622378133399905_nattendance of 1L’s who had the opportunity to learn about diverse practice areas while speaking with diverse Boston attorneys. The event was centered on a three course dinner where students rotated tables for each course so that they could meet as many attorneys as possible.

Our second event was a panel of five attorneys who spoke on the differences betwee12039442_829658607151292_4852101494151351004_nn litigation and transactional work. It’s odd thinking about the event as a 2L because the differences seem so obvious that it’s hard to understand why you would need a panel to explain the differences. However, I remember as a 1L not even knowing what either of those words really meant—let alone that a field of “transactional law” even existed. We were also thrilled by the attendance of 1L’s at this event and by how enthusiastic they all were in asking the attorneys questions.

This week, in continuation of our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we are hosting our third event, The Judicial Experience, where we have invited two federal judges to speak12065778_829658417151311_5631812812034945477_n on their journeys to becoming members of the bench and the difficulties they may have faced in their careers. Thus far, being Co-President of LALSA has made 2L year an entirely different experience from 1L year and I think I’m still trying to adjust and navigate my life as a 2L.

Bienvenido a Miami

I love living on the East Coast, especially the Northeast. As I’ve frequently expressed, the one thing I don’t really love about the Northeast is the winter—even uttering “winter” sounds like taboo at this point in the year, especially since I think we’re all still recovering from Boston’s last winter. So this past summer, I packed my bags and headed to my 1L summer job at the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) in Miami. I’ve never been to Miami before but I wanted to find out if I could see myself settling there to practice law after law school. I’m not too eager to take multiple state bar exams so this past summer seemed like the best opportunity to begin making an educated decision of which state I want to be licensed in to practice law. Ultimately settling in Miami also seems like the perfect solution to the long and painful Northeast winters.

FullSizeRenderOver the course of two days, I drove from my parent’s home in New York to my room in West Miami—just in time for Memorial Day weekend. To put it simply, Miami was amazing. So amazing that I think I experienced reverse culture shock when I returned back to Boston in August. I once heard a joke that Miami is the closest Latin American country to the United States and being there for ten weeks did make me feel as if I was back home in El Salvador, where I was born. I spoke almost entirely in Spanish while I was there, met people from almost every Latin and South American country, and was able to do very meaningful work at FLIC. Aside from when I traveled around Europe, I also don’t think I’ve ever eaten so well in my life. If you’ve never tried Peruvian lomo saltado, you’re missing out on one of life’s greatest gifts. Also, I always jokingly tell people that coffee is my favorite food and fortunately for me, Miami proved to be a coffee-addicts paradise.


Citizenship Clinic in Little Haiti

Having the opportunity to work at FLIC proved to be an incredibly rewarding experience—both professionally and personally. I assisted in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiatives, met with dozens of clients for the Florida New Americans Campaign, and conducted research on Florida unauthorized practice law. I was also fortunate enough to assist with hearings for unaccompanied minors. I don’t think I want to practice immigration law in the future, but the work at FLIC allowed me to strengthen all sorts of “lawyering” skills. It was also through FLIC that I was able to meet one of my personal heroes, Junot Diaz.

I should also note that I was only able to work in Miami this past summer with the financial support of BU Law’s Public Interest Project (PIP), which allows students to apply for summer funding for their summer employment at a public interest organization. As someone who values and enjoys traveling and exploring new places, I feel very grateful that I was able to continue my wanderlust while in law school.

Choosing classes

Choosing courses in law school is, in a word, hard. Unlike in undergrad, when I found myself as a second year senior struggling to fill my schedule, I don’t feel like I have enough time to take all of the classes I want to take in law school. This feeling is compounded by the fact that I’m in the dual degree J.D./History M.A. program. Although I love the opportunity to get two degrees at once, it does mean that I have less flexibility in my schedule because I substitute some law school courses for history courses.

When I sat down to plan my schedule for my last year of law school, I knew there were certain requirements I had to fit in if I wanted to get my dual degree. For example, I have to take African Historiography and American Historiography in the history department for my Masters; two legal history courses, which count towards both degrees; and courses which satisfy the Professional Responsibility and Professional Skills requirements in the law school. In addition to all that, I need to take a graduate level French reading course at some point before graduating. Planning all of that was obviously logistically challenging!

With a ridiculous amount of re-arranging and a few strokes of good luck, I managed to finagle my schedule around and actually squeeze in everything I needed, along with a few fun bonuses. This semester, I’m in African Historiography, Tax, 14th Amendment (legal history), and Alternative Dispute Resolution. I’m also a director of the Stone Moot Court program, which in addition to being a ton of fun, satisfies my Professional Skills requirement. Next semester, I’ll be doing the French reading course, American Historiography, Professional Responsibility, a legal history course, and some other TDB legal class.

Whew. On the one hand, I feel a lot of relief that everything worked out in the end. I would strongly encourage anyone doing a dual degree program to learn from my mistakes and plan your schedule a little better than I did! But on the other hand, I feel oddly sad that I won’t be taking any more law school courses (other than that mystery course in the Spring, whenever I choose it). Although I think I did a generally good job of choosing courses, I would recommend to any incoming or rising law student to squeeze in as many classes as possible that you are personally interested in. Maybe you won’t manage to take all of the Bar courses, but so what? Law school is the last chance most of have to be students. Take it!


I don’t know when I became this person, but I’m officially addicted to Instagram. Like, guys, it is a problem. Although I don’t post incessantly (maybe once a day, sometimes more if something exciting happens), I do scroll through my feed, plan out future Instagrams, stalk celebrities, and go down hashtag whirlpools for more minutes per day than I care to admit.

For example, I recently Instagrammed this, which incidentally documents me not doing homework on a Saturday when I really probably should have been.

OOPS. #saramademedoit #harpoon #beers4days #saturday #3LOL

A photo posted by Lacey Brantley (@laceybrantley) on Sep 5, 2015 at 4:57pm PDT

In the moment, I hashtagged this photo #3LOL, which I’ve since decided to use for all of my photos of this year.  Although I put absolutely zero thought into choosing this tag (as evidenced by the fact that there are nearly 8000 #3LOL photos on Instagram already), I do think it’s fitting for my attitude going into my final year of law school.

When I first arrived at BU 2 years ago, I was – in a word – terrified. I had no idea what law school was going to be like, and I certainly didn’t feel confident that I would be good at it. I worried non-stop about my classes, cold calls, and making friends.  In comparison to that scared little shell of a person, so far this year I’ve done about 70% of my homework, been cold-called 4 times (only 2 of which I was really prepared), and hung out with my friends at least twice a week. To be honest, I have spent much more time sleeping, binge-watching Parks and Rec, and getting my new apartment organized than I have on schoolwork this year.

I don’t mean to say I don’t care about my grades. (I don’t have a job lined up for after graduation yet so that is definitely not true!)  I just mean that being a 3L has put things into perspective for me.  Law school has been insanely hard and nearly always stressful and sometimes infuriating. But this is my last year of being a student and (hopefully) the last year for a long, long time when I’m not working a 9-5 job. I know that, as bizarre as it sounds now, there will come a time in my life where I will be nostalgic about the three years I spent in this place, with these people.

So my attitude towards 3L year is this: Do enough work to get good grades; but don’t stress about briefing every case. Be prepared for most of your classes; but drop a note every now and then. Try to understand Tax as best you can; but don’t cry in the library at 9 p.m. because you can’t grasp a basic concept. My number one goal for this year is just to make as many fun memories with my friends as I possibly can before we all start working. Maybe that isn’t the most responsible attitude I’ve ever had, but if law school (and Parks and Rec) have taught me one thing, it’s that no one can achieve anything without friends.

Find your in, and seize it

Recently, I attended a dinner and panel discussion hosted by the Massachusetts Family and Probate American Inn of Court. This organization, a professional group of attorneys and judges, holds monthly gatherings for socialization, education, and networking. The event was classy, educational, and a great opportunity to meet some amazing people.

Now, there’s a substantial waiting list for this group — as in, a 10-year waiting list for non-judges. So it’s not as though you can just drop in on their meetings. But if you ever have an invitation to go to an Inn of Court gathering, I recommend it.

I got to attend this meeting, at which the focus was marriage equality decisions, at the invitation of one of my professors, who was also a panelist. The discussion was intellectual, interesting, and not overly formal. It was a great way to learn about an important legal issue and find out more about a favorite professor,  several prominent attorneys, and my current supervisor, a judge who was also in attendance.

Judicial power and prestige can be intimidating, but events like this humanize judges and foster camaraderie among the bench. The Inn of Court also encourages student mentoring, so ideally this experience will have lead me toward a mentor or two in the professional community where I could be practicing quite soon. Formalized mentorships have been hit-and-miss in my law school experience, but I have high hopes for this particular program. Everyone I met was friendly and professional simultaneously, a tricky balance I could certainly learn from. xd

As an incoming law student, I had no idea what professional organizations were like for lawyers. By attending BBA, MBA, ABA, WBA, NLG, and now Inn of Court events, I have seen a huge spectrum, from schmoozy and crowded cocktail receptions to high-energy conventions. The common elements are friendly and intelligent professionals, law students not quite sure how to ingratiate ourselves, and awkwardly balanced glasses of wine. I am still not the best at post-event follow-up, arguably the most important part of these events, but for a more adept social butterfly, the opportunities to connect are many. Even for the least outgoing among us, our mere presence is an advantage in the long term — it ingratiates us with our future colleagues, exposes us to new ideas, and readies us for a crucial part of career success.

The good news is that whether you choose to expose yourself to these kinds of events or not, your law school career will put you in contact with people who want to help you, who will invite you to events like this one or connect you to employers in the field. You will be able to build these relationships, and you will come out on the other side more prepared to begin a career than you were on the other side (and not least because you’ll have three years of excellent BU Law education on your side).