1(L) Does Not Equal 2(L)

As a 1L, I had heard that 1L and 2L are vastly different. Having experienced a semester as a 2L now, I can understand this opinion. However, there are other ways in which these years compare more than I had expected.

1L year is obviously unique in that you are handed a schedule of bar prescribed classes that you must take in order to complete law school. You travel everywhere with your section. 2L is obviously quite unlike this because of the greater degree of control you have over your schedule. You have many classes to select from, from large lectures to small seminars to clinics and externships. So not only do you have control over the classes you take, you have the opportunity to spend less time in large lectures and more time in seminars.

My 2L year started off quite similarly to 1L in some ways. I registered for corporations and tax, which were especially similar to my 1L lectures. Aside from breaking apart from a section, the classes were quite like what I had experienced my first year. There were, however, some significant differences.

The most significant difference between 1L and 2L is the fact that journal begins. Joining the Review of Banking and Financial Law meant enrolling in a required class related to banking and financial law. Journal also involves assignments, such as checking sources and editing footnotes of articles that are submitted to the journal by professors and other professionals. Finally, journal involves a great deal of writing and research. During first semester, I have been researching a note topic in preparation of writing my own note. Overall, journal throws occasional twists and turns in your schedule and involves ongoing projects. This is vastly different from 1L, which had a fairly predictable schedule.

Another difference between 1L and 2L is the overlap with the summer job search. The 2L summer job search starts nearly a year in advance, so the job search begins before 2L classes commence. Needless to say, job applications may continue to be on the list of things to do right alongside homework as the semester progresses. The 2L job search can also be lengthier than the 1L job search, which was confined more or less to second semester.

A final difference is the opportunity to get more involved in leadership positions. This is a great way to take on some additional responsibilities and expand your experience. I applied to be a writing fellow and have been working with 1L students in the writing program. This has added additional variety to my 2L year. It has also given me the opportunity to challenge myself and improve my own writing.

In sum, 1L and 2L year can be quite similar if you choose to take similar lecture-style classes. However, if you choose to take other types of classes, add moot court or journal, serve as a TA or writing fellow, the years quickly become quite different from one another. As with many aspects of law school, 2L is exactly what you make it. These types of flexibility set 2L apart from 1L.

Tennis!

One piece of advice that I always tell 1L’s is to always make time for yourself despite the mountain of work always waiting for you in law school. Everyone has their own hobbies and passions that they bring with them prior to law school and I always recommend continuing to do the things that make you happy even while in law school. It can be very easy to get lost in the chaos and stress of law school-especially as a 1L—which is why maintaining personal health is especially important. As a 1L, I always made time to go to the gym and get my eight hours of sleep (even during finals) and everything worked out just fine.

This semester, I’ve decided to begin playing tennis every week. BU has a large amount of athletic facilities, including a climbing rock, squash and racquetball courts, a boathouse for sailing on the Charles, and much more. FitRec offers four indoor tennis courts that students can reserve on the weekends. This semester, I’ve been playing (learning to play) every Sunday night and it’s become a fun hobby to look forward to each week. Our last day to play is this coming Sunday after which the courts will close for the holidays. I’m excited to continue next semester and hopefully reach past the beginners level.

Following the Whisky Trail

At some point in my younger years, when I could first belly up to a bar and order a drink legally, I asked the bartender to pour me a house specialty.

“We don’t have that,” he said. “We have whisky.”

Unsure of what to order, I said I’d take one, any one, and he poured me some of the aqua vitae.

There are wine connoisseurs in the world, and beer aficionados. I am neither a connoisseur nor an aficionado, but ever since that first pour, I have been fan of whisky. At the end of a long week, I love finding new kinds to sip and new places to sip them. Here in Boston, it can be a journey.

Boston has a lot of neighborhoods with a lot of nooks and crannies, so there are plenty of places to explore both on and off the beaten path around town. I’m over in the Brighton area, which is populated heavily with graduate students; the bars tend to cater to the demographic. Most places are built large to accommodate large crowds for the Thursday through Saturday rush—big wooden bars, lots of beers on tap, and the usual lineup of whiskies behind the bar. The places get a little fancier in Brookline, with places like Hops and Scotch and Barcelona boasting bigger lists to sample from.

But once you hop on the green line and get a little east of campus, the crowd changes and so do the bars. Around Fenway, places are built to accommodate the tourists and the Red Sox faithful. Head a little farther east, and Copley serves the more local crowds. You can hit up a dive bar like Bukowski’s and find the most incredible tater tot poutine—though you’ll only find beer in there. Or you can head over to Morton’s and sip on a good single malt while watching the crowds walk by. And of course you can’t forget a Boston bucket list bar, the Top of the Hub at the Prudential Center, where you can have a drink and enjoy the panoramic views of Boston below (but good luck finding a seat on the weekend).

From there, you aren’t far from the South End, where you can find the haunts of the young professionals who recently moved in from college towns. Trendy bars are built into the brick neighborhoods with craft cocktail menus and gastropub fare, and plenty of places carry rarer names from the whisky world. It should be no surprise that as you get towards the city center, the prices seem to rise as well.

Follow Tremont St. and you’ll make your way towards Boston Common, where you will start to find the Boston icons. The original Cheers bar, dating back to the 19th century, looks nothing like the set from the old sitcom inside, but it has all of the charm you would expect for a good place to sit and have a drink. Down Beacon St. and past the state house, the bars take pride in their history, boasting names that celebrate the end of temperance, like Carrie Nation and 21st Amendment.

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I always felt like this was the part of town that sets Boston apart, because you are walking along the same streets that so many great names have walked—many of them probably also on their way to taverns to unwind after a long week of planning a new nation. And there is no better place to appreciate that history than the Bell in Hand. Operating since 1795 and founded by a former town crier, every Bostonian or Boston-transplant needs to stop by at least once and soak in a little piece of our nation’s boozey past. It’s always busy on the weekends, along the string of olde-timey bars that line the Union Street periphery, but the area is not far from any kind of atmosphere you may want to unwind on the weekend. Good Italian food and wine is just a stone’s throw away in the North End, or you can find an authentic Irish seisiun over at Mr. Dooley’s (sometimes complete with musicians flown in from Dublin).

For a little bit more of a walk, you can head over to the Seaport District. A decade ago, when I would take the occasional trip to Boston as an undergrad, the area was little more than a series of parking lots and the Harpoon Brewery, but in the intervening years it has exploded into an area of high-priced apartments and high-end chain restaurants. There are plenty of good seafood places in the area, but if you want a good whisky list, you can check out a bar that pre-dates the neighborhood gentrification and maintains a divey charm right on the waterfront at The Whiskey Priest.

As fun as it is to explore, it’s great to have an old go-to as well. And after a night around town, before heading back to the Park Street T-Stop to make my way back to Brighton, I always enjoy stopping by The Last Hurrah in the Omni Parker Hotel.  The whisky list is a full page and written in what I can only assume is 4-point font, and it world class. Small samples of the collection are available for a good discount, and the vibe is casual but in a grown up way. Pictures of the past century in Boston history adorn the walls, and you can sit and people watch for a while before you call it a night.

It’s Friday night here. Finals are nearing, and it’s time to go out and have a drink to toast the week gone by. Tonight, like most Friday nights, I am looking forward to where the journey may take me, following the whisky trail around Boston.

The Ghost of Finals Past

Well, the time has finally come. I stepped off of the plane last night back into Boston, and with the blast of cold air comes the inevitable blast of finals stress. Despite my best efforts to forget that I am, in fact, a law student over the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s now time for me to attempt to focus and pass at least one of ace my classes. With finals always comes a certain amount of dread and anticipation, and this semester is no different. My coping methods change from semester to semester, and this time around it looks like reflection is the name of the game.

One thing that I have going for me this year is that I have one year of law school exams under my belt already. You’d be amazed at what not being a 1L can do for your nerves. Thinking back at around third time last year, I just remember being totally stressed out about what I had gotten myself into. I felt like a confused baby trying to crawl around a dark room. Most of that stress came out of uncertainty. I had never taken a law school exam before, and I didn’t know what to expect. In retrospect, I don’t really think that being that stressed out was beneficial to my studying. Having survived and now standing on the other side, I can pretty confidently say that the stress, while to a certain extent unavoidable, wasn’t really warranted to the level that most of my peers and I had.

Now, don’t get me wrong here- life as a 2L isn’t just a complete walk in the park. It’s been a crazy busy semester, and Spring doesn’t seem like it’s going to be any lighter. I will say, though, that no matter how much work gets piled on, everything really does seem much more manageable than it did last year. Even the second round of 1L finals seems more ominous than this year. Maybe it’s because I got to choose my courses, or maybe it’s because I’ve done it enough times that it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary anymore, but I definitely feel better going into these last few weeks.

I’m not just saying all of this to brag, either. It may not be much comfort to a 1L going through it now, but do know that it will get easier, and if you find yourself hyper stressed out, it’s okay to stop and take a moment to breathe. Reach out to your mentors and friends for help if you need it, and don’t be afraid to schedule in some time to decompress as you need it. The good news is that you are equipped to handle these exams, and you have a lot to look forward to once you finish up. As the reading period begins, remember, BU has resources for you to succeed, and you have a nice long break to look forward to before it all picks back up again. Stay calm, and know that this set of exams is the darkest patch of the law school storm.

Third Time’s the Charm

I realize that, at least for me, law school is one big circle and routinely saying “I can’t believe it’s that time of the year again.” And, for the sake of carrying on tradition, here it is: I can’t believe it’s finals time of the year again. But whether you believe it or not, the semester is three weeks away from being over—marking the end of 2016 and a third semester of law school under my belt. Hallelujah!

Thankfully, I can already feel that finals this time will be radically different from either finals period from 1L year. So, for those of you in the blackhole that is your first semester of law school and wondering will it ever get better and will you ever feel like you have a real life again, don’t worry. Well, actually you should worry because it only gets worse before it gets better. But, it does get better one day! (Note: this day is still some time away).

After spending my first Thanksgiving last year without my family, I decided nothing was going to keep me away from a break at home this year. Although leaving friends, family, and my dog is always rough, the break from school felt well-deserved. I got to escape the cold to sunny, hot, beautiful Florida and enjoy the beach, sandals, and a lot of happy hours. And, even though every question about law school just reminded me about all the work I was avoiding, it was exactly what I needed before finals.

Law school sometimes feels like a very isolated existence. Spending all day in classes and studying in a single building with much of the same people makes you lose track of who you were without law school. I know I’m very guilty of not taking time to do things for myself while in school and it takes a toll on my happiness. School, just like life, is all about balance. While I may feel a little behind when buckling down to prepare for finals, not a single part of me regrets going home. Now, when I sit in the library stressed and with seasonal depression due to lack of sun kicking in, I’ll have the Thanksgiving pictures and memories to keep me working toward winter break.