Mental Health & Manicures

…speaking of mental health during Law School, How do you unwind?

For some, getting in a quick manicure is the perfect study break. You leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Additionally, it is a quiet time where you are unable to use your phone and are forced to reflect on your day and your plans.

In order to keep the manicure experience as relaxing as possible, I’m going to run a quick summary of the different types of manicures available so the next time you are asked which one you want you will answer knowing exactly what the differences are.

You have a Regular Polish manicure, which does not require any LED lights and requires about 15 minutes to air dry. These manicures are the most prone too chipping and peeling, but they are also the most affordable.

A Gel Polish on the other hand is a little more pricey, and does require an LED light to dry. However, this means that you won’t have to wait additional time for your polish to dry and you don’t have to worry about messing up your nails. However, the LED light has been correlated to skin cancer and melanoma, and is extremely harmful to your eyes if you look directly at it. It is technically the same light that they use in tanning beds. The polish however, will not chip and will last around 2 weeks. It may be prone to peeling. This is also the preferred polish if you are using acrylic tips to add length to your nails.

My personal favorite is Dip Powder, but I do not recommend using them if you have a full set of acrylics, because they will have to remove the entire tip each time you change your color. It is also the most expensive option out of the three. In this, instead of having paint applied to your nail with the brush,  you dip your finger into a powder of the color and the powder attaches to your nail that way. I like the fact that no LED light is required. Additionally, it strengthens your real nail immensely and leads to faster growth and protects from breakage. Due to the fact that the paint is comprised of many bits of powder, your manicure will not chip or peel. These manicures may last from 3-4 weeks and often need to be refilled due to nail growth and not the manicure itself messing up.

A nail salon I recommend in the Boston area is MiniLuxe which has many locations located throughout the Boston area, though note that they do not offer Dip Powder services. My personal favorite is Boston Nails & Spa which is located directly across the street from the Boston Public Library (talk about a convenient study break).

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1L Life Advice

It is no surprise that your first year of law school will be a challenge; whether you are coming straight through from Undergrad or have been working in the public sector a few years, the integration into law school will be a new experience which poses its own unique challenges to each student. However, there are some quick and easy things that you can do to make your first year of law school more rewarding and seamless.

It is very beneficial for you to reach out and get to know your peers. Although law school can be a competitive environment, it benefits no one for you to ostracize yourself away from your classmates. It is so helpful to befriend others who are going through the exact same thing you are at the exact same time. Additionally, it is helpful when establishing study groups during finals season and throughout the year. It is also helpful to carpool to networking events with others so that you never have to walk into an  networking event by yourself.

I have mentioned this in the past, but I strongly recommend using a planner and putting in all important test dates, readings and networking events the moment you learn about them. This is a good way to stay organized and to ensure that you never miss an important event or date. I prefer google calendars, because you can also set up reminders for yourself hours or days in advance.

Another tip that is often pushed aside is to set up your life so law school can be as feasible as possible. Meaning, try to live as close to school as you can, maintain your healthy habits that you had before starting 1L. Don’t throw everything aside, I’ve found re-decorating my apartment, or taking a run on the esplanade to be vital in times where I just needed to step back and see the bigger picture. It is important to have your personal time to check-in with yourself. Mental health is so important and is the foundation for a successful 1L year.

There have been many memes and jokes depicting 1L life as entering a cave, ignoring friends and family for months on end. I believe this behavior to be unhealthy and disrespectful. Though I understand you may not have as much time to devote to close friends and family as you would like or have perhaps done in the past, it is important not to forget the people who have helped you get to where you are today. Everyone can spare 5-10 minutes to call or text home.

At the end of the day, law school is a privilege. It is an honor to have accomplished the numerous hoops required to get here: Primary School, High School, College, LSAT, the application process are all great leaps and accomplishments on their own. Never forget you wanted this and still do. Your life is at the mercy of your perspective. If you choose to be optimistic and grateful you will find the 1L year challenging yet rewarding. If you choose to see it as a miserable year of life, then that is exactly what it will be. Not everyone is presented the opportunity to continue their studies and learn the law, be humble and appreciative.

Thousands of students take on 1L every year, and have been for decades. Reflect on that and 1L can be seen as a right of passage that so many previous and present students have accomplished.

Relax, you got this.

In the Room Where it Happens

On Sunday, May 19, 2019, ten-year-old me saw all of her wildest dreams come true. Along with the most impressive, accomplished, and inspiring classmates, I graduated from Boston University School of Law. I’ve thought about this post for almost a week now—my final blog post—and yet the words are still struggling to appear. There are so many things to say about law school, and yes, things that haven’t even made it onto this blog in the past three years! I think I’ve figured out some main takeaways, though. And I think I’m proud to have this be my ultimate blog post for the BU Law Student Blogs.

So much about law school is unexpected.

I touched upon this in my last post, but no matter how much you try to prepare for law school, you are not going to have any idea about what these three years will be like. Which means that most of this experience will be new and unexpected. This heavily applies to the classroom, homework, final exams, and law school learning curve, of course. But I think this also applies to other things. You may not expect to fall in love with an area of law that wasn’t in your original “plan.” You may not expect to hold certain internships, or participate in different moot court competitions. You may not expect that you’ll experience some profound challenges and hardships personally and professionally, all of which will force you to find superior strength and resiliency within yourself. All of the aforementioned happened to me over the past three years at BU Law. And while none of it was planned, I’m still so grateful. I’m so grateful that I took chances and found academic and professional passions I had no idea existed. I’m grateful I took the chance on a judicial internship during 3L even after I had all but written them off after 1L. I’m grateful for finding a place in the niche area of Admiralty law and the Admiralty Moot Court competitions. And while I certainly didn’t want, ask for, or even think I could handle the myriad of challenges thrown my way, I’m grateful I pulled through with flying colors. When I look back on this time period, I believe the unexpected experiences are the ones I will remember the most—and not the things I had all “planned out.”

But man, I’ll tell you one thing: you’re going to learn. A LOT.

Yes, you go to law school to learn. But you go to law school expecting to learn the law. And while you’ll learn a bit, you’re also going to learn in so many other areas. I’ve learned so much more from professors than just what the law is; they’ve become confidants, and mentors, and career coaches, and bearers of reality, and cheerleaders. I’ve also learned an incredible amount from my classmates, and feel in awe of so many of them and their passions and determinations. From my 1L section mates to the new LLM friend I shared a class with this semester, every one of my classmates has so much to impart on our community. I’ve learned from experiences, successes, and rejections. I’ve learned from alumni and staff. I’ve truly spent every day of the past three years learning in every area of my life.  

And you’re going to gain invaluable things: like being in the room where it happens.

Our commencement speaker, Robert S. Khuzami ’83 (who was great, by the way!), borrowed from Lin Manuel Miranda and quoted that all of us—as newly minted BU Law grads—are now going to be “in the room where it happens.” While I don’t have a transcript of his speech, unfortunately, to elaborate further on his interpretation of this, I do have my own interpretation. A law degree opens doors to the rooms where things happen. It opens doors to rooms in which we—because we have a J.D.—will have an important role to play in making things happen. This could be making an IPO go smoothly. Or mediating a dispute successfully. Or negotiating legislation. Or issuing an injunction as a federal judge. We won’t just be in these rooms as bystanders; we will have the capacity to be leading what happens in these rooms. This is a powerful thing we’ve just earned. And, as Khuzami stressed, leading the room comes with duties: to rely on facts and rely on the truth. The past three years at BU Law have given me so much that it would be impossible to name everything I have gained. But perhaps, most importantly, BU Law has opened the doors to the rooms where things happen, given me the tools and training to lead what happens in these rooms, and gave me the courage to always lead with truth, honesty, and doing the right thing.  

 

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The Legal Hero(ine)’s Journey: Part Three

Second Stage: The Supreme Ordeal (1L Year)

The Ascent: Semester Two

It is perhaps not inaccurate to describe the first semester of law school like the entry of daring questers into dangerous foreign territory. Eyes are on them. Times are tough. Though great trials lay behind, new challenges arise (think “Luke destroys the Death Star” but then the “Empire strikes back!”). This is not unlike the law student’s emergence into the second semester of law school. You know the lingo. You can brief a case. You’ve endured one round of finals. Yet just as the towering peaks of Mount Doom only loom larger as you approach them, so the specter of spring final exams and the Law Review’s writing competition stand ready to challenge you at the end of the year.

frodo doomSome among the fellowship voice concern and suggest a return home, a retreat. But the true hero(ine) refuses. The Refusal of the Return signifies the willingness of an adventurer to press on, despite previous failures or losses. This resolve foreshadows The Ascent, the third stage of the hero(ine)’s journey. The developing adventurer (like a law student), understands that much is to be gained by determination and steadfastness. Sure, Frodo lost a finger and probably suffered some irreversible psychological trauma. But he and everyone else would have been a lot worse off had he turned back.

Time passes, however, and local custom becomes familiar. The adventurer learns the local language. He draws his friends close and they shares their secrets. Even during tough times, there is Rescue from Without. So it is with 1L, where developing a good study group and finding people to talk over doctrine with can be a necessity in order to prepare for what lies ahead. Times the 1L has to miss class for a doctor’s appointment or death in the family are made just a little less stressful by a friend’s willingness to share their notes or talk through some missed cases. “What did the professor seem to focus on when I was out? “How far did we get through the content?”

A strong group of friends is key, but all adventurers along the hero(ine)’s journey have a Dark Night of the Soul. Despite the distance they’ve come from home, despite refusing to return, despite gathering close friends around them, they still meet challenges that make them question their ability to succeed. In the final Harry Potter novel, Ron experiences this moment while traveling in the woods with Harry, laying low, missing Hermione. He leaves Harry’s company after arguing and gives up the fight.

Ron has lost it.

Ron has lost it.

I can’t say I personally had one of these this semester. There were times, however, when I definitely felt that, despite all I’d learned so far, there were still concepts and cases that I simply couldn’t completely wrap my head around. Some things clicked. Others eluded me. The point is, however, that Ron comes back after his dark night of the soul and saves Harry. Similarly, even when I failed to master a concept the first time around, I would usually feel more confident after batting it around with my friends or asking to see someone’s notes. (Going to office hours can be incredibly helpful, too).

The final episode of The Ascent is the adventurer’s Sacrifice. This is not almost a negative moment. It merely demonstrates that a hero(ine) is now prepared to give up what they once feared losing more than ever. Luke loses his hand to Vader. Harry drops out of Hogwarts. Frodo loses his finger to Gollum in the heart of Mount Doom. As grisly as these literary examples may be, the 1L’s “sacrifice” is often just a shift in mindset, a willingness to make time for hard work. For me, this culminated in the nearly three weeks of time we had to study for an take our final exams, followed by the week we had for the Law Review’s writing competition. Whereas studying for exams the first go around had seemed like a mad scramble, this time I understand how best to prepare.

The hero(ine’s) journey has a Third Stage: Unification. I cannot, presently, write about it, because I haven’t lived it yet! But to avoid leaving you hanging, it typically culminates in the adventurer becoming the Master of Two Worlds. This is an appropriate metaphor for what the first year of law school makes you. Perhaps not a “master” of the legal and non-legal worlds, but certainly a gifted apprentice ready to delve more deeply into both.

Rising 2L (that was fast)

I finished 1L! Ok, but now start thinking about OCI, rising 2L networking events, Business Fundamentals summer class online, your summer internship, and don’t forget… grades will be released soon.

I. Breathe: Take a moment to breathe. Go home if you have time, get a haircut, massage, manicure, or all of the above. Just give yourself a moment to reflect on how crazy 1L has been, how rewarding, how exhausting. Take a moment to recognize how much you really have learned this past year- whether that be academic, personal, or emotional. 1L is no walk in the park, but we did it.

II. OCI: Now, OCI prep begins. If you choose to participate in on-campus interviewing, BU provides online modules to familiarize you with the process and timeline. Information such as preparing for interviews, networking, and participating firms is provided. Personally, I’ve been getting coffees with attorneys and will be attending the Boston rising 2L networking events. Firms in the area host post-work events in the evening for rising 2Ls to network with associates. It’s a great way to gain exposure to firm cultures and to network!

III. Summer Class: Next, if you plan on taking Corporations during 2L Fall, you need to take Business Fundamentals which is an online class that gives you, well, basic business fundamentals. Having worked in a Fortune 100 company, I actually find this course to be really important in today’s work environment. Although no one wants to have to take a class over the summer, this is introductory and it is great that BU Law provides it.

IV. Summer Internships: Time to put what we learned this year to work! I am so excited for all the incredible summer internships my friends and classmates have landed- judicial internships (circuit court of appeals, district), non-profits, public sector (Attorney General offices, State counsel), in-house internships, etc. I am excited to have an in-house legal position at a company located in Cambridge. One premature piece of advice to incoming 1Ls, many people who are looking for in-house positions get them in April/May. The Judicial internship process is in the winter, public-sector and non-profits follow, and in-house tend to be last. Trust me, I was getting nervous as finals approached and I still didn’t have anything, but I promise everything works out. I have friends who didn’t secure a position until after finals. Silver lining- they are paid! So maybe the stress was worth it.

V. Grades: Well, time to take another deep breath. As the wonderful Dean Muir shared with our class, “You have done your part. The energy put into worry will not change what has been done, but that energy could effect change if put towards other things in life.” Now that’s some good advice.