MythBusters: Law School Edition

When it came time to apply to law school, I heard much of the same thing from many different people including, but not limited to: “I bet you watch Law & Order,” “You must really like to argue,” and my personal favorite, “Wow, good luck.” Yet, one of the most popular questions I was plagued with, to my own confusion, was if I saw the movie Legally Blonde. It baffled me to think that real life law school was so constantly compared with a classic, but completely fictional, movie about law school. Although Legally Blonde didn’t get law school completely wrong, I’m ready to address (and debunk) some of the more popular theories with my experiences thus far…

#1: Law students are cutthroat, competitive, and don’t want you in their study group.

FALSE. I vividly remember the scene in Legally Blonde where Elle frantically begged, bribed, and pleaded with various study groups to let her study with them. While I can’t speak for every study group, I’ve only encountered groups of classmates that are more than welcoming —especially when that person is holding a basket full of baked goods.

#2: Law professors are stiff, stuffy, and will kick you out of class.

FALSE. Even I will admit that I had this image of law school professors as being stiff and serious beacons of the law that never cracked a smile. I am happy to report this couldn’t be further from the truth. The professors I’ve had this semester are not only some of the friendliest I have ever met, but they frequently like to make the law something fun and enjoyable (a hard task that they surprisingly, but often, succeed in).

#3: You will be called on in class—out of nowhere—and expected to know the answer.

TRUE. As scary as it sounds, this is not a myth but a hard fact of law school. Law school classes operate on a system of “cold-calling,” meaning a professor has the power to call on you at any time in class and expects you to know the answer. While it’s not a crime to throw out the occasional “I’m unsure,” it’s much better just to stay on top of the assigned work (something your study group will help you out with!).

#4 First year is the hardest year.

TRUE. Despite not even having one semester of law school completely under my belt, I can already tell you this one is very true. Not only have older, well-seasoned students warned me about this, but it’s also common sense. Law school is not like anything you’ve ever experienced. It’s not like that summer internship you had for a few weeks, or your 9-5 cubicle job, or even like the hardest undergraduate course you’ve ever experienced. Law school is a league of it’s own and first year is all about learning the ropes. Look at the bright side though: it can only go up from here!

#5: Like Elle Woods, you can push through and come out on top (and with a job!).

TRUE. You don’t need a fuzzy pink pen, matching notebook and a killer application video to do well in law school. Even with Elle Woods’ disastrous beginning to her 1L year, she still ended the semester with passing grades and even a job. This, too, could be you!

Law school definitely is not the plot of an adored romantic comedy, but it also is not a horror movie. While of course law school ain’t easy, it’s so much more than being completely stressed about class, homework, and finals. If there’s one thing Legally Blonde can teach you, let it be this: even you can succeed as 1L Woods.

Real live picture I actually took! (albeit while sitting at a desk in the library....)

Real live picture I actually took!…while sitting at a desk in the library….

But what if I don’t want to be a lawyer?

After I trudged through the grueling task that is OCI, I found myself sitting without an offer but chock full of uncertainty. Both at OCI and throughout my 1L year, I had heard countless professionals gush about the satisfaction and joy they got from their firm, government, and public interest jobs. They relished in the challenges unique to being a lawyer. They wholeheartedly knew they had made the right decisions for their lives. I felt like I might never know that. At the start of my 2L year, I did know one thing—I did not want to be a lawyer.

That realization brought about panic. What kind of law student doesn’t want to be a lawyer? Had I made a huge mistake coming to law school? Was everything that I had invested a sunk cost? What was I going to do? What was I going to tell my Mom?

The first thing I had to do before I could solve any of my problems was to CALM DOWN. I liked law school. I like reading the cases and seeing how the law interacts with real peoples’ lives. I liked debating with my friends about the “right” thing to do. I did not want to leave law school. I’d put in too much work for that and I still had so much more to gain. Besides, law school doesn’t necessarily teach you how to be a lawyer; it teaches you how to think about problems from angles you wouldn’t have seen before, how to step back and analyze situations for what they are—not what they seem to be. It teaches you to push yourself one step further, to make sure you’ve really solved the problem. Suddenly, I realized, “Hey, I have useful skills!”

Through a series of coincidences and a lot of hard work, last summer I found myself interning in the tax division of PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Boston office. I worked with a number of incredible teams with a great firm to pick apart clients’ queries from both a business and legal perspective and provide actual real-world advice. I found a job that combined the business school I dearly missed and the legal knowledge I came to law school for. I had found my perfect fit. I’m a law student who’s going to end up being a tax consultant and accountant and I couldn’t be happier. I guess what I’m saying is that there’s more to law school than you might originally think and if the traditional paths don’t feel like your path, that’s ok. There’s one that is a perfect fit. You just have to find it.

Do Something For Yourself

As exams quickly approach, it can be easy to feel like you’re drowning in a sea of case law and outlines. It is important, however, to remember to do things for yourself and to find things that keep you sane during this rigorous and grueling journey through law school. If you play hockey, like I do, join a league or play on a club team at BU; if you like art, make time to paint or draw or go to a museum. You also don’t know what making time for yourself may lead to.

Looking back on my 1L year, I remember feeling like law school was taking over my life. I felt as if I was losing sense of myself. I decided to adopt a puppy, which may not have been the best idea during my first year of law school, but he was, and still is, the greatest distraction and stress-reliever. While the training tuition and veterinary bills quickly added up, Caine is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Not only has he taught me what unconditional love is, he has also taught me so much about myself and shown me what I am truly passionate about.

Caine and I on Halloween 2014

Caine and I on Halloween 2014

After rescuing Caine (or he rescued me, I should say), I became obsessed with animal rescue and animal rights. I became a huge advocate, educating my friends and family on the importance of animal rescue and protecting animals. I also began educating myself on other issues involving animals such as orca captivity (such as at SeaWorld). During my second year of law school, I decided that I wanted to make a bigger impact and do something more to help, so I took a risk and wrote a children’s book about the importance of animal rescue. I had the book illustrated and was planning on self-publishing the book and donating some of the sales to a rescue organization, but I was contacted by a publishing company called Green Bamboo Publishing.  Green Bamboo Publishing published the book and part of the sale will be donated to the Northeast Animal Shelter.  It can be purchased at

My passion for animals has also opened doors for me in the legal realm. This fall, I am interning with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which is something I never thought I would do before starting law school and adopting Caine.  So even though you may feel overwhelmed with classes and studying, make sure to do things for yourself. You really don’t know what it might lead to.

"Caine and Mabel" cover

“Caine and Mabel” can be purchased at

Externships: A Different Experience in Law School

Welcome to my first post for BU Law blogs! You can find other meanderings about law school, living in Boston and life as a 2L at BU Law on this page over the course of this year.

One experience that I’ve had over the course of this semester which I’m very grateful for is my externship through the Legal Externship Program. While many students participate in our well-known clinical programs over the course of their 2L and 3L years, the externship programs at BU tend to be more off the radar. Students who choose to participate in the externship programs can select either the Government Externship Program or the Legal Externship Program depending on where they are working. As part of the program, students are also required to take a legal ethics course in conjunction with their job placement. This legal ethics course also satisfies the professional responsibility requirement.

But enough about boring course selection stuff, I’m sure all the readers want to hear about my externship.  I am currently working as a Legal Intern (or “extern”, the names are really interchangeable) for the City of Boston’s Office of Labor Relations. As a 2L interested in labor and employment law, this was the perfect placement for me to get hands-on labor law experience. I work at Boston’s City Hall 15-17 hours per week generally on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and all day Friday. The amount of course credits you get depends on how many hours per week you work. While this may seem like a lot of time away from school throughout the week, the program is designed to provide a taste of what practicing after graduation will be like. A practicing attorney has to strike a balance between a number of obligations and the Legal Externship Program is able to give law students a similar sense of needing to strike a balance between school work and the time spent at your externship.

The City of Boston’s Office of Labor Relations is a very busy office but only employs a handful of attorneys. Because of this, myself and two other interns have the opportunity to be responsible for real legal work every day. Whether this includes researching critical issues regarding management’s right to terminate a city employee or preparing attorneys for collective bargaining sessions, the interns at my office have a great deal of responsibility. For instance, just this week, I’ve had the opportunity to observe an arbitration hearing at the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations, an investigatory interview with a witness who observed an employee confrontation and a meeting between a major public sector union and the City of Boston seeking to enforce minimum qualifications for existing employees. These experiences have allowed me to practice what I’ve learned in class but also explore different areas where I may have interest in. It has also reaffirmed my preconceived belief that I do have an interest in labor and employment law.

My internship is not alone in providing a hands-on experience to BU Law students. A number of other interns with placements throughout Boston have shared similar stories and experiences where they have been able to get real legal experience on a part-time basis throughout the semester. While BU’s clinical programs are also a great way to get real legal experience, the externship program provides a different avenue to explore what a practicing attorney experiences day-to-day. For me, law school has been about trying to figure out exactly what area of law I’m interested in practicing. The Legal Externship Program has provided another way for me to narrow down my interests and allow me to explore a new practice area.

Celebrating Veterans Day

Well this is exciting! It’s my first blog post, and what better day to do it than Veterans Day?

This will be the first time I am celebrating Veterans Day as an actual veteran, having hung up my uniform just a few months ago. While November 11th is Veterans Day, November 10th is the Marine Corps birthday, so my Facebook feed has been filled with pictures of my buddies in their dress blues celebrating at Marine Corps Birthday Balls around the world.


…and looking sharp!


There was great camaraderie that came along with those celebrations; the Marine Corps is an institution where everyone in the room has a common link in the mental and physical tests he or she endured to earn the honor of wearing the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor insignia. The Birthday Ball is a chance to unwind for a night and celebrate that which draws us together, and to remember those who came before us. In some respects, the ball is not dissimilar to a BU Law bar review on a Thursday night, where law students get to come together and laugh about the assignments or cold-call experiences that filled them with dread just a few days earlier. There is bonding in the challenges we face.

Of course, law school is a much different kind of challenge than the military, and I think the experience of active duty service has been helpful in keeping things in perspective as the semester spools up around finals period. Whenever I am feeling a bit stressed about the workload, it is helpful to remember that somewhere in the world, there is a soldier struggling to stay awake while keeping watch over his buddies at a Forward Operating Base. There is a sailor three months into a deployment at sea working a 16-hour day before he crawls into the cramped confines of his rack just to get up and do it all over again the next day. There is a kid barely out of high school stepping on the yellow footprints at Parris Island who is about to spend the next three months enduring seemingly insurmountable stress to become a Marine. There is a Coast Guardsman putting on a survival suit to risk his life for a fisherman in distress…

Suddenly, a little studying doesn’t sound so bad.

When I think about those things this Veterans Day, I recall how I was constantly impressed and humbled by the untiring work of the men and women around me during my time in the service. It is hard to believe the weight we put on the shoulders of those in an organization where the average age is just twenty-five.

One example of the sacrifice our service members make was brought into sharp focus last week, when Professor Hylton asked us to review a case for her contracts class, Prudential Insurance Co. v. Clark, 456 F.2d 932 (5th Cir. 1972.) The case involves a young Marine who was killed in Vietnam and a dispute about his life insurance policy. I am not sure why I decided to pull up Google and research the man the case was about.


Corporal Bill Clark


Corporal William Stephen Clark was 21 years old when he died in Vietnam in 1968. He was a member of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463– “Pegasus”–my squadron when I was in the fleet. He flew the same helicopter, too; the CH-53 Sea Stallion. It was an odd feeling pulling up a picture of a Marine from nearly half a century back, wearing a government-issued bomber jacket identical to the one I keep in my closet, Pegasus patch and all. Suddenly, this name that was just a party in a contracts case was not just a name, and the tragedy of parents collecting life insurance for their lost son became very real. Just barely old enough to drink, Bill Clark had already earned twenty-one Air Medals in two deployments in Vietnam when his helicopter crashed into a field.

I wanted to mention Corporal Clark this Veterans Day, because I think it is important to remember the things we ask our young service members to do for us on a daily basis, and how they invariably rise to the task. I am not one to advocate the view that every person that puts on the uniform is a hero. Nor do I think that our troops are the only demographic that face hardship. But my goodness, you should see some of the unbelievable things these young service members accomplish– in the most trying of times and most austere environments– without a selfish thought. It is not an overstatement to say that I would not be sitting here today without many of the Marines and Sailors I had the privilege of serving with. I know they will continue to look out for each other and serve our country well. For that, I am grateful, and it’s why Veterans Day is worth celebrating.

For more on Corporal Clark and the crew of Aircraft Buno 153284, here are some links: