This week I’m writing to answer a specific question asked by a prospective student.
Here is a “Question From the Road” that Jeff from Admissions has encountered in the past couple weeks:
“What is the atmosphere like? Are students friendly?”
I also received a similar question from a friend-of-a-friend trying to decide between BU Law and another law school. She is currently working abroad and unable to visit, so she asked me to describe the people and the atmosphere here at BU Law.
First, I’ll start with an anecdote about my first interaction with BU Law personnel, at an admitted students event in Washington D.C. (where I was living before I moved to Boston). Since I went to the event right from work and overestimated my transportation time, I arrived way too early. When I got to the conference room at the law firm hosting the reception, only Dean O’Rourke and a few others from the Career Development Office were there.
Although I was definitely a bit intimidated at first, the Dean and I proceeded to have a casual conversation before the event began. I was struck by how down to earth she is; I remember feeling like I was talking to a family friend, or a neighbor from the small town I grew up in. I also would up talking to Maura Kelly, the infamously kind Assistant Dean for Career Development and Public Service. She too was funny, warm, and seemed to genuinely love her job at BU Law.
So, that was my first taste of the BU Law atmosphere – transplanted to Washington, D.C.
I actually made the decision to attend BU Law without visiting beforehand. My first taste of authentic tower atmosphere came during orientation, and, again, I keep coming back to the phrase “down-to-earth.” The student welcomers were not the pretentious, aloof bunch that I expected. Instead, I really felt like I was joining a community of hardworking, interesting, and fun people.
The 1L class is divided into three “sections.” Each section this year is, I think, around 65-70 people. Each section of students has all of their classes together, and all of the classes are in the same room. It’s impossible to not make friends; you see the same people every day.
I went to a very large university for undergrad. Students would barely go to class and rush out of the room the second it was over. The system at BU Law was a welcome change; we basically live in our classroom. Ok, now that I’m reading back over that last sentence I’m realizing it may not come off as a “pro” that we spend so much time in the same room. But I think it is a positive. The section system creates a natural community that made the transition to law school a lot more comfortable.
We get to class early and stay afterwards to chat with section-mates. We leave our bags and books there while we go grab coffee. We eat lunch there in the break between classes. We always joke that law school is like high school; we even have lockers in the basement.
BU Law used to be known as the “razor school” of Boston because students would – according to urban legend – use razor blades to cut pages out of library books so that other students couldn’t use the same resources.
Today, the section system fosters community. You and sixty-something others share the 1L experience together…commiserating about reading, gossiping about professors, and leaning on each other when things get tough.
Of course, we’re reminded that we’re all competing with each other when it gets to exam time. But the section system cuts down on that tension for the remainder of the year, and that leads to a more enjoyable atmosphere, both academically and socially.