Welcome to Boston, Class of 2019!

To all those who are reading this that are new to the city of Boston, welcome! We are entering a fantastic time of year and hopefully everyone is able to take a break from their reading and case briefs to enjoy it. While some may think that I am referencing the great fall weather, pumpkin spiced coffee and football season, I’m not. I’m talking about the fact that playoff baseball has finally returned to Boston for the first time since 2013. Starting late next week, the Boston Red Sox will play host to two home playoff games at nearby Fenway Park. (Playoff schedule TBD)

Playoff baseball brings a different environment to Boston – I know this from experience. In September 2007, I moved into my freshman dorm at nearby Northeastern University. 2007 also happened to be the year that the Red Sox won their second World Series title in four years. The energy and excitement of the city during this time made me fall in love with it – and as they say, the rest is history because I’ve never left. I had the opportunity to celebrate this World Series as a college freshman and it was truly a life changing moment for me.

There aren’t many cities in the country that has such a passionate fan base. While some students who come from bigger cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles may think that Boston is “too small,” that is part of its charm. That charm and appeal is shown in no better way than the city’s love for its sports teams. When broadcasters and journalists comment that playoff baseball “has taken over the city of Boston,” they’re right. And all of the new students to this great city are about to witness it.

So while law school may seem overwhelming at times and you may feel like there’s too much to do, take some time to enjoy the environment that playoff baseball brings to your new city. Go walk around Fenway before the game and grab a drink at a nearby bar. Now is the time to do it because the playoffs aren’t here every year. Plus you don’t even have to start outlining or studying for finals yet!

My Judicial Internship Experience

This past summer, following 1L, I worked as a judicial intern at the Massachusetts Land Court. The Land Court court deals in property matters, which allowed me to put some of my 1L property class knowledge to use. When I began researching and applying for judicial internships, I had a general idea of the kind of tasks I would be assisting with. However, there is so much more. For readers interested in pursuing such an internship, particularly at the trial level, I hope a snapshot of a workday will be beneficial.

My days began with a meeting with the judge and the clerk to briefly overview what was scheduled for the day. I encountered two types of workdays – one centered on trials and court hearings (ranging from case management conferences to motions), the other centered on drafting various documents. As a judicial intern at the trial level, there is no shortage of hearings and trials to attend. During hearings, I would often take notes alongside the clerk. I found these days particularly interesting because I could observe the different approaches used by different attorneys. I was able to get a sense of the early stages of a case and all the preparation that precedes a trial.

Trial days were similar to this, though I would not always take notes. Occasionally I would sit in on trials simply to observe. Much like hearings, this was an opportunity to understand different strategies presented by attorneys. On these court-heavy days, I would fill in any gaps with projects I was working on, whether it was studying a case, researching a legal issue, or drafting an opinion. These tasks, however, were primarily completed on days when there were no hearings or trials in court.

This leads me to the second type of workday I experienced. Aptly called writing week or a writing day, these periods of time were spent on research and writing. Sometimes this meant sorting through case files, transcripts, and exhibits to get ready to research and draft an opinion. Other times this entailed researching a legal question that arose in a hearing in order to determine what steps should be taken next. Whatever the project was, these days involved heavy use of Lexis and Westlaw. I found this aspect of my internship to be extremely beneficial, as it allowed me to hone my research skills on a variety of real legal matters.

Overall, I would strongly recommend first year students to pursue a judicial internship. It is a beneficial experience regardless of the type of law you want to practice because it sharpens such fundamental skills. Though I intend to practice transactional law rather than litigation, for instance, I still found that my legal research and writing abilities improved substantially. Being able to work closely with a judge and clerk also presents a wonderful opportunity to learn from the experts. My ten-week internship allowed me to get a greater sense of what practice looks like.

Round 2L

And just like that, three months of summer have come and gone. It’s hard to believe that only a year ago I moved to a new city to begin law school and now I’m beginning my second year. But, I’m thankful that year flew on by because it was definitely a difficult one.

However, I do have a bone to pick now that I’m officially a 2L. Although it surely was nice hearing that 1L was the hardest year and 2L is easier, I would like to set the record straight: it is not easier. In fact, I think the most accurate description of law school that I’ve experienced so far is the new motto I’ve heard this year: “1L they scare you to death, 2L they work you to death, 3L they bore you to death.” I can’t comment (yet) on 3L year, but 1L and 2L are definitely accurate.

1L year is, without a doubt, one scary experience. From nerve-wracking cold calls about law school material you’ve never seen before to starting a brand new school and not knowing anyone at all, every part of 1L experience is overwhelming and scary. Now, after 3 weeks of 2L year, I can confidently confirm that “work you to death” is also accurate. There’s journal assignments to be done, club events to be organized, commitments to follow through on, and a whole new set of classes to keep up with. Despite feeling beyond stretched thin, I will say that 2L is better. Definitely not at all easier, but way way better.

This time one year ago I didn’t know how I was going to get through 3 years of law school. I was homesick, overwhelmed, stressed, lonely, and struggling. Starting Round 2(L) this year, though, is a 180 degree change. Sure, there’s so much work to be done and events to attend and things to do, but the difference is it’s all things I choose to participate in. I’m finally in classes that I hand picked and about subjects I am thoroughly interested in. I have so many friends that coming to law school feels like a social outing. I play on multiple BU Intramural sports teams that helps relieve all the school stress.

To those 1L’s reading this who are still trying to adjust, good luck. You won’t always feel this scared or stressed or overwhelmed or even upset. Everyone went through the same trenches you’re currently crawling through–really, I promise. Law school may never get easier, but it definitely gets a whole lot better.

Class of 2019

Welcome to BU Law! You are now part of a great law school and a supportive community. I am amazed at how quickly the past year flew by and cannot entirely believe that it is already the beginning of my second year of law school. Since the beginning of 1L feels like yesterday, I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks.

  1. Don’t let the curve loom over you. Be diligent, do your best, but don’t let a grading curve consume you or alter how you approach school. The curve happens at the end of the semester in one fell swoop, so there is no sense in worrying about it now, or ever. (This may fall into the “wishful thinking” category, but if you can ignore it, do!)
  2. You don’t have to join a study group. While a lot of first year students seem to form a study group ASAP, it is not essential. If you find that you study better in a group, join one. If you find that you study better alone, skip it. Don’t worry what others are doing. Choose the best route for you.
  3. Try your hand at outlining sooner rather than later – even if you haven’t been told how just yet. There’s no harm in writing a second draft. In fact, the best outline I made was the product of drafting and redrafting. Your first version does not need to be your last. Let it evolve.
  4. Approach legal writing like an entirely new skill. Yes, all that grammar you learned still applies, but that’s about it. You are no longer trying to write a perfect essay. You are no longer trying to impress with your broad vocabulary. Let yourself build from the ground up – after all, it’s not just writing, it’s legal writing.
  5. Plan ahead so Thanksgiving Break can truly be a break. Having a few days off before it’s time to study for finals is fantastic. A little bit of planning ensures that you can spend these days having fun rather than getting caught up on outlining.
  6. Focus on you during finals – not everyone else. It is easy to walk into the library and see others who were there long before you and to walk out and see those same people staying long after you. Maybe this is their style, maybe not. Whatever the case may be, if it is not your style, there’s no need to feel compelled to follow suit. Do what has worked for you in the past, and don’t feel like you’re missing a beat because your study approach is different.
  7. Spend some time getting to know the city. There’s always something to do in Boston, so be sure to see some new sights and try out some new things.
  8. Make sure to have fun. I realize the first year of law school carries quite a reputation (and some of it is true), but having fun and keeping an optimistic outlook can put a positive spin on a challenging time.

Fifteen Years and One Day

Last Friday, Dean O’Rourke wrote a poignant letter to the BU Law community about her experience during September 11, 2001, and the importance of reflecting on that day and how it affected so many.

The first memory I have from September 11, 2001, is walking down the steps of my dorm to head to my first class of the day, barely back from summer break to kick off my senior year of high school. The windows were cracked open and there was a crisp hint of autumn in the air. In central New Jersey, the sky was beautiful and blue without a cloud in sight. I remember taking in a breath and thinking that this was a particularly perfect day. I remember it because I’m not the kind of person who would normally take notice of the weather like that. I tended to put my head down and get from point A to point B around campus, especially at 8 in the morning. But that was a memorable day for just how perfect it was.

My next memory from that day was the darker one— I had finished up my European History class and I was heading back to my dorm for a free period. My buddy Stan asked if I heard the news. I was unsure what he was talking about. “Two planes just hit the World Trade Center,” he told me.

At first, I imagined a bizarre accident; I pictured two small Cessna aircraft veering off course and denting the towers. I detoured to the nearest television, the one in the lounge of Upper House across the green from my dorm. A group was gathered around it, and for the first time I saw the hefty columns of dark smoke billowing from the towers—replays of the second jet slamming into the South Tower were repeating on the screen. It was clear this was an attack.

I remember running into the next room where there was a telephone– few of us carried cellphones back then– and dialing my dad’s office in New York, across the river from Manhattan. The lines were busy, but I kept calling. Eventually I got through and a woman answered and told me my dad was safe. As she spoke to me, she was looking out the window across the East River, watching the towers burn in real time.

I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach when news of the Pentagon attack first broke. I remember the feeling in my heart when the South Tower finally buckled and collapsed.

Classes were cancelled and all students were expected to remain in their dorms. My house of 35 guys filled the TV room to watch the news unfold. I remember when someone made a wry comment, and I exploded at him. I remember the rage that filled me.

I asked my housemaster if I could stop by the other dorms to see if there was a blood drive or something—anything—being organized. He said I could go, and I remember wandering around campus in a daze, unsure of what I even thought I was doing. I remember the helplessness of it all. This event was unfolding live before us, and there was nothing we could do to help.

I remember thinking to myself that if a 7-ton truck from the Army came rolling through campus and asked for volunteers, I would have jumped on board without a question.

An assembly was called in the school’s auditorium where the entire student body gathered and our Headmaster spoke to us. I sat in the front row, at the very left of the stage. At the time, the truth was still hard to decipher from the chaos of the day. Estimates of casualties rose into the tens of thousands.

I remember being in the front row, I could not see any other students, I could just hear them. I remember it so vividly because the silence was punctuated by the sharp inhale of sobs, from a hundred different seats. I remember thinking in this room full of kids with parents in the city that many of them did not have the chance to call and receive the news their mom or dad was safe. Some of them would never get that news—several of them would lose parents that day.

Of all the news that came in that day, of all the feelings that rushed through me, I don’t know why I finally broke down when I did. The Headmaster reported solemnly to the gathered students, “A report has come in that a fifth plane has hit the capitol.”

For some reason, I had recently come across Walt Whitman’s observations of the capitol dome as it was being built in 1863 in a letter published in the New York Times. He marveled at the “beauteous bubble” as he wandered the streets of Washington, D.C., not so far from the horrors of the Civil War. The capitol survived that war, and would go on to weather two world wars. I imagined how it must have looked to those who saw it in 1863, how impressive it must have been. It stood as a symbol of American faith and hope in the power of law and government of the people, by the people, for the people. The thought of its destruction was brutal to bear.

Of course, the capitol survived. The rage and the sorrow I felt that day slowly subsided, and the cities began to rebuild. That army truck never rolled through, but I went on to college and did eventually put on the Marine uniform for a few years and had the honor of serving with many fine Americans.

Fifteen years later, I find myself writing about my experience on September 11, 2001, without any preconception that my experience was among the more distressing ones, nor even one of the unique ones. I can only imagine the memories of that day for those who lived it up close, for those who lost friends and loved ones in those awful hours. I am simply writing about it because I remember. I am submitting this, in my own small way, as one of a million stories for the historical record.

Now that I am a law student, I am struck by the emotion that grabbed hold of me that day, much of it unhinged from truth. In remembering September 11, I think it important to remember September 12; to remember that we can be clouded by the intensity of the moment and our greatest strength can derive from measured thought. We took a breath, and we rebuilt.

Most importantly, we should remember September 12 because of all the selfless acts that came to came to pass as people across the country and across the globe came together to help—it showed the light in people often shines brightest when times are at their darkest.