Being a Research Assistant: Surprisingly (or not?) one of my Favorite Law School Things

I love doing academic research and being involved in academia. So much, so, that I almost ditched law school for grad school after a particularly successful senior year of undergrad where I took a research project all the way to an international conference. I chose law school (obviously) ultimately, but I knew I wanted to be able to continue my passion for academia and research. I’ve been lucky enough to channel this passion into my assignments as a Research Assistant for various professors, and it’s actually been one of my favorite parts of law school!

Last summer I was a RA for a professor in BU’s economics department and a RA for a law professor. I worked on these two separate, independent projects in addition to my internship. This semester, I’m a RA for a different law professor, and her research topics are pretty much identical to what I hoped I would be able to study in law school. I don’t think I can divulge details of any pending research projects here, but all of the projects have been wildly fascinating. The projects really focus on novel, emerging ways that different aspects of the law converge with current, real-world events.

BU Law has incredible professors who all bring unique research and academic interests. I’m constantly impressed by every professor I have the opportunity to meet and learn from. Being a RA allows you to get an inside-look into what these talented professors are thinking about beyond what they teach you in the classroom. You get to assist them in projects that you’ll most likely see published in the near future, you’ll get to learn infinitely more about that topic, you’ll get to hone your research and writing skills, and you can create a mentor relationship. Oh- and you get paid to do it, too!

If you have a passion for research and academia, I highly suggest pursuing RA opportunities in law school. Whether you find a professor who aligns directly with your interests or not, any RA position will be invaluable.

How Makeup and Skincare Got Me Through Law School

There is no beating around the bush- law school is stressful. It may be the most stressful thing you do in your life. If I could go back and tell my 1L self one thing, it would be to prioritize self care far more than I did.

I remember beginning 1L and being so overwhelmed that all of things I’d promised myself I would do when I moved to Boston (find a gym, join a choir and a soccer team and a hiking club) just fell by the wayside. And then all of a sudden it was February of 1L and I was grasping at straws for something I could do to remind me that life existed outside of law school.

I should say that by February of 1L, you sort of forget that you’re a human being. You eat, sleep, and breathe law. I would fall asleep with highlighters open in my hands, I owned more textbooks and supplements than pairs of socks, and I would have dreams about 12(b)(6) motions. Things I was not thinking about included: what I wore, what I ate in a day (seriously- my mom would say “what did you eat today” and I wouldn’t be able to tell her because I genuinely didn’t know), and certainly not what I looked like.

Around this time, in an attempt to clear my mind one evening, I made a little recording of a song on one of those apps where you can harmonize with yourself. I thought it was quite festive and posted it on Instagram. And within a day, I had received about 14 messages from friends and family all inconspicuously asking how I was, how I was handling law school, and if my health was ok. I was a bit taken aback, and checked out the Instagram post again… and there it was. I looked AWFUL. Ok, I probably didn’t look THAT bad, but my hair needed trimming, I had the WORST dark circles under my eyes, my skin looked sallow, I was wearing an oversized sweatshirt, and I hadn’t worn makeup in weeks. Basically, I looked exactly how I was feeling- overwhelmed, exhausted, and stressed, but I didn’t look like who I thought I was- someone who is organized, upbeat, on top of everything, and who attacks all challenges head-on. Using the cliche phrase… I’d let myself go.

My immediate thought was to go buy out the skincare section of Target, run 20 miles, and cut my hair myself, and then join CrossFit, three a cappella groups, and a book club. But realistically… I didn’t have time for all that! It was 1L! So I focused on what I could do to feel like I had control over my life again.

I decided I would wear makeup every day. Even if it was just a BB cream and some tinted chapstick, I would take 5 minutes in the morning to give my face a little attention. I also figured it might be time to really pay attention to my skincare (and to start using eye cream, ha). So I did. I’ve always liked makeup; I think there is something artsy about it, and contrary to popular belief, I think it helps you focus on positive aspects of yourself. When I put on makeup, I don’t think so much about “hiding” my flaws, changing the shape of my face, making my eyes look bigger, or any of that. I tend to think about the features I like about myself and how I can highlight them the best.

Makeup in the morning became a positive aspect of my routine. Even on the days I was so overwhelmed that every other aspect of my life “routine” just couldn’t get done, I would sit down for a few minutes to take care of my face before I left the house. This is not to say I didn’t “fail” often… I had quite a few days during 2L where I pretty much went to school in the clothes I fell asleep in the night before and the only thing on my face was probably toothpaste in the corner of my mouth. But makeup and skincare was something I could do. I could handle it. And I could do it every single day, no matter where I was or what I was doing.

These little sessions because cathartic. For 10 minutes every evening, I would focus on makeup remover and cotton balls, on lotion and toner, and not on the 7 cases I needed to brief before the next morning. For those 10 minutes, I would think about the weather in Boston, whether it was dry or humid, windy or wet, and how my skin was reacting based on the weather. In the mornings, I would sit at my little vanity, that I was finally using AS a vanity and not a second desk, and I would think about why my eyelashes hit my brow bone or whether or not I had the mole by my eye when I was born, and what color eyeshadow would make me feel happy. I didn’t think about the 900 emails I needed to answer that day or the 18 pages I had left to write on my student note.

Now, as 3L comes to an end, I still follow my nightly skincare routine and my morning makeup routine. These routines have changed as my life has changed- moving to Paris where the weather and the water and drugstore products are all different, etc- but I still relish those few moments a day where I know my mind will wander, I will think positive thoughts, and I will be doing something that is for me, myself, and I. They are some of my favorite moments, where I think the most creative and uninhibited thoughts. And they are moments that have truly gotten me through the last 2 1/2 years. Having one thing I do without fail, no matter how stressful life gets, has been essential to my mental health.

Self care is so important, but it does not have to be limited to the standard “yoga class, exercise, massage” recommendations you see in pamphlets. Find something that makes you happy and that is exclusively about you. Do it whenever you can without making your life more stressful. There is no right or wrong! Just take 10 minutes a day to think positive thoughts about yourself and to make yourself happy.

Life Beyond the Tower

When I look back on my first year of law school, I can firmly say that 90% of my memories involve being inside the four walls of the law tower. Other than the occasional visitor, a majority of my waking moments were spent on one of the 17 floors of the law school building. I was convinced that, as a 1L, my life had to completely revolve around law school. To me, this meant being inside of this building as if I was sentencing myself to a life in prison–no contact with the outside world, all time spent on the inside. PSA: That is not how to do 1L year. Yes, studying and doing well in your first year is super important. But making yourself miserable by gluing yourself to a seat inside the law tower does not translate into you doing well–academically or mentally.

Of course, I learned this the hard way as I learn most things in my life. Receiving my grades for 1L year after working so hard and making so many sacrifices was extremely difficult because I did not live up to the high standards I set for myself. But 1L year is the hardest, and my grades and studying habits definitely improved in 2L year. Yet, the biggest change was the fact that I finally left the law tower and got a life outside these four walls. So here’s a list of some of my favorite things to do around the city that are nowhere near BU Law School.

  • Ice Skating at Frog Pond–Located in Boston Common park, this is a #1 winter activity to do on a sunny chilly day. Costs around $20 for entry and skates and you can skate as long as you want to pretend you’re an Olympic Figure Skater. (
  • Boston’s Dine Out Week–This is a two-week long event that allows people to dine out in some of Boston’s most expensive restaurants but for a fixed price. I participated in Miami Spice Week (same concept) when I lived in Florida and I’m excited to try Dine Out Week! (
  • Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall–I know I know, Boston is home of the most famous Samuel Adams Beer and they have their own Brewery complete with a tour as well. However, I’ve been to both breweries and Harpoon is my favorite by far. The tour is more extensive and features tons of different beers to try at the end. Plus, they have a beer hall for large groups to hang out in and the pretzels there are so delicious. (
  • Fenway Park Tour–I admit that this may not appeal to everyone, but anyone who is even a little bit of a baseball fan will enjoy this tour! It’s an hour long and you get a full walk around all parts of the park (locker room, press box, hall of fame room, etc.). Even if I’m a Yankee fan, it’s still cool to see the oldest baseball park still operating. (

Showing Up

As you make your way through law school, there are dozens of small decisions you can make that can change your whole academic or professional trajectory. Do you sign up for a journal? If so, which one? Do you give moot court a shot? Do you go to a certain networking event? Which clinic do you take? Which jobs do you apply for?

With all of the options we have available to us, the importance of the decisions we make can sometimes be lost in the mix of it all. Little did I know, for example, that my decision to apply for a 1L summer internship with the Department of the Interior would steer me towards a focus on environmental law. Nor would I have guessed that my decision to walk into the audition room for the Legal Follies one Thursday afternoon during my 1L fall would turn into one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of law school.

At the time, I had some vague notion that there was a comedy group on campus, and they wrote jokes about law school. I thought it could be fun, so I made the decision to spend my lunch break auditioning. Later, when I received a call offering me a spot on the cast, I made another decision to say yes. A week later, I was on the Follies’ retreat with a group of people that would become my closest friends in law school.

Now it is a month after we took our final bows for the 2018 show, and it is difficult to imagine what law school would have been like without the Legal Follies. What I thought would be an extracurricular activity ended up becoming something of a family, and our baby was the show we put on in February. We were proud of it, sick of it, wanted to show it off, and wanted to get away from it all at the same time. Now this year is in the books, and it’s time to pass the torch to the next generation to take the group to new places. After we hold elections, the next big event for us will be auditions in the fall, and another 1L will be sitting where I was not so long ago, trying to decide whether they should walk into the audition room.

I have a folder on my computer where I’ve kept all the sketches and ideas for sketches I’ve written over the past two and a half years— close to 40 in all, in various stages of development. Some ended up making the annual Follies show, like a poetry slam for law students or a lawyer who needed helium to survive. Others failed to make the cut, like a re-imagination of Colbie Caillat’s song “Falling for You” entitled “Obergefallin’ for You” that celebrated the historic Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (song parodies often sounded better in my head). And then there were some that I didn’t even bother submitting like a sketch where the Bluebook editors argue about various abbreviations and it descends into a very personal debate.

Those nearly forty sketches are dwarfed by the memos and papers and outlines I’ve written for classes over the past two and a half years, and yet those forty sketches may carry with them the strongest memories of my time at law school. Each one represents a time I was among friends, collaborating and (usually) laughing. Some of them even represent failure, with gags that never landed or jokes that fell flat. In most cases, they would lead to feedback from other cast members and the sketch would go in a whole new, and better, direction. In other cases, it was better to just scrap them and move on. More than anything, those forty sketches represent the best decision I made in law school.

I could have easily skipped the audition that day, and I would have gone on with my law school career without thinking much of it. But the beauty of law school is that you can try things out and see how they fit without risking much. I tried my hand at moot court, threw my hat in the ring with journal, shook some hands at networking events. Not all of it was for me, but I am glad I at least tried it out. In the end, it turns out, the best small decision you can make is the decision to show up– you never know where it may lead you.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

Last week (during spring break) the world celebrated International Women’s Day. I took the time to honor some of the most lovely, amazing, inspirational, strong, and supportive women in my life, and relished as others did the same: sharing stories, pictures, and memories on Instagram showcasing women who made an impact. One of my favorite parts was when people shared women who weren’t famous. Yes, Amal Alamuddin Clooney and RBG are fierce, famous women lawyers who deserve all the recognition in the world and then some. Yes, Serena Williams is the definition of a super-mom and the US Women’s Ice Hockey Team gives me so much hope for the future of female sports. But you know who else deserves recognition? Your mom, your sisters, your friends, and- YOU! The normal, everyday women who quietly do everything that is asked of them and more; the women who have made you into the woman you are today; the women who provide daily affirmation, support, guidance, and love. I loved seeing my Instagram feed filled with pictures of strong women, famous and non-famous, who have provided support to other women in one way or another.

I feel grateful to have attended BU under Dean O’Rourke’s helm and to have reaped the benefits of one of the best law school Deans of all time, male or female. I feel appreciative that I have the opportunity to learn from intelligent, successful, and incredibly gifted female professors, and am constantly in awe at the academic work they continue to produce in addition to their remarkable duties inside the classroom. I feel pride when I see the women in BU Law’s mural who paved a very rocky, difficult road and lead the way for me to walk more smoothly after them. I feel inspired by simply looking around the classroom at BU and seeing all the strong women seated next to me. I feel endlessly supported each autumn when I attend the Women’s Law Association’s Faculty Meet and Greet where many of our female faculty members speak to the room about their experiences and offer words of wisdom on how to succeed as a woman in law. And I feel uninhibited around many of the male professors and classmates who support and promote female equality in the field of law.

International Women’s Day was, for me, an exciting but humbling experience. I couldn’t fit into this post all my thoughts and feelings about the day, its message, and its heightened meaning when put into context of the current tense environment. I took time to reflect on my role as a woman in law, both what I liked and what I disliked. I reflected on how far we have come, and how far we have to go: not just for women, but for all minorities of all kinds who are underrepresented in law and other fields. And, I spent the day with my mom, just the two of us. That was the best part of it all.



My mom! Circa… sometime pre-Caroline, and pre-Alex (my older sister).

And, of course, no legal-themed International Women’s Day post would be completed without…


(courtesy of Google).