“There’s nothing like the first time!”
“Just wait! I was so nervous—all those eyes on me.”
“When she says your name, you’ll want to crawl under your desk.”
Older students tried to warn me. I laughed. Didn’t they realize I’d been through all this before? I have a bachelor’s degree. I’ve had more than a few nerve-wracking job interviews. I’ve conducted interviews, for goodness’ sake.
Alas, they were right. Getting “cold called” in front of a property class of seventy near-strangers is exactly as petrifying, befuddling, and cold sweat-inducing as they made it sound. But once it’s over, you realize just how effective this Socratic Method thing can be.
There’s a reason Boston University law professors rely on asking us to explain cases, laws, and rules to them, rather than offering lengthy monologues, and I promise it’s not just because they want to keep us on our toes—though that’s certainly part of it. They employ this time-tested method because it works. Over and over during these first weeks, I have been surprised by how well I understand the material once our class works it out under our professors’ guidance. Reading, note-taking, and study groups can’t substitute for a discussion that forces us to put our heads together and discover the heart of the law behind the famous cases we study.
When my professor pulled my name out of her bag, I knew I’d be on call for the next hour or more, answering her questions and offering mine. I’d be helping her help my classmates. I had a great responsibility, but I wasn’t facing it alone. She was my tour guide through the intricacies of the law, making me think deeper and faster than my textbook ever could.
She pushed me in new directions, but my grasp of the concepts was pretty close to right. At the end of the hour, I had a page full of notes and a mind full of questions. I felt like a stronger student after making it through the gantlet of my first cold call with no lasting scars. It didn’t hurt that my kind, bright peers praised my performance after class. With their support, and with a few more successful cold calls under my belt, I’ll be ready for anything the world (or at least law school) can throw my way.