First Generation

When I tell people that I am studying law, they often follow up and ask whether my parents are in the legal field. The fact that, no, neither of my parents studied law often seems to come as a surprise to those asking. Law seems to be understood as a career path that tends to be rooted in family tradition. While this is the case for some law students, I have found that there is no real disadvantage to being the first in the family to study law.

The main “disadvantage” to not having attorneys in the family is networking. Having a network through a parent or sibling could certainly be an advantage. However, BU helps to connect all law students with networking resources. In my opinion, this largely makes up for the difference. During 1L, BU matches all students with an alumni mentor. Alumni mentors are great resources and can help with anything from discussing classes to providing reassurance when it comes time to start the summer job search. Additionally, alumni mentors can help you navigate the area of law that you are interested in practicing. Networking can be a challenge to dive into, and there certainly have been times when I wished that a family member could lend me a base-network of attorneys to meet. However, there are a variety of networking events throughout the course of the school year where students have the opportunity to meet attorneys in their field of interest.

The only other “disadvantage” to not having any attorneys in your family is that you might feel like a bit of an outsider regarding what law school is like and how the whole process works. To get up to speed, consider joining a pre-law organization at your undergraduate school, talk to law students you may know personally or through the grapevine, and keep on reading blogs like this – you’ll be up to speed in no time! Whether or not law runs in your family, law school is a personal experience and there are no shortcuts. Everyone has to put in the work in order to figure law school out – from improving at cold calls to figuring out the perfect study strategy. Even though people might assume being a first generation law student adds to the challenge, law school is law school – and BU has plenty of resources to level out any uncertainties.

Showing Up For Public Interest

November 8th was a late night. Across the United States, all eyes were glued to the electoral map. The entire world held its breath, then the unthinkable happened—Donald Trump reached 270.

warm bodiesBefore November 9th I had never witnessed a collective stupor of this magnitude, and quietly wondered whether a zombie apocalypse would look much the same. Dwelling in my own misty mind, it occurred to me that I had planned to attend the Public Interest Project’s (PiP) Trivia Night that evening—plans made weeks ago when the world seemed more sane.

PiP is a student-run organization whose mission is “to foster a commitment to non-profit, government, and pro bono work and promote community service for all interested BU law students and alumni.” PiP serves as one of the primary hubs of BU’s public interest community, which I’m proud to say is extensive and diverse. Our community includes not only students who plan to work in the public sector, but also those who are committed to supporting public interest works from the private sector. In addition to offering networking and mentorship opportunities, PiP fundraises year-round to provide summer stipends to students who engage in public interest internships. Trivia Night is one of these fundraisers.

I admit that I seriously considered not showing up. But when I thought about what I would be missing out on—not just praying for a non-sports category where I could put my frozen-in-time ‘90s knowledge to use—I realized that not showing up would mean not supporting my peers who will spend their summers advocating for people with disabilities, immigrants, people of color, and other populations who routinely experience discrimination.

As I ducked into the basement of the Pour House and saw my friends—my community—there was no question that I made the right choice.

And wouldn’t you know it, the moderators actually had a category called, “The ‘90s”! Our team may have lost spectacularly, but it certainly wasn’t because we couldn’t name the Stone Temple Pilots, Zima, or old school video game consoles.

PiP Trivia Night 2

Objection!

Between studying for class and working on various journals and other projects, a handful of students may have something else on their mind: Trial. The BU Law Mock Trial team is working hard this semester. With one competition down and one competition still to come, don’t be alarmed if you notice someone alone in a study room, seemingly talking to themselves, or if you hear someone yell “Objection!”

I was a competitor in the first competition this semester, a criminal case hosted by the Queens District Attorney in New York. The competition was held on October 29th and 30th, so for the whole month I spent my evenings immersed in the world of Ralph Sanders, on trial for criminal contempt and the murder of Eva Rosenberg. I have to say- I loved it. For 5 weeks my teammates and I dove headfirst into criminal procedure, rules of evidence, witness questioning, and persuasive advocacy. Competing in teams of four, we each get a chance to conduct a direct examination and a cross examination of a witness, and either an opening or closing statement to a jury. Mock Trial is a crash course in what it’s like to be in court, and having the opportunity to practice these skills while still in school is a low pressure way to develop as a soon-to-be attorney. I also happen to think that it’s just a lot of fun. After weeks of preparation, I got to present my case to a full jury full of NYPD police officers and attorneys from the DA’s and Public Defenders office and see how it all played out.

The Crim Trial Team heading home from competition

The Crim Trial Team heading home from competition

You don’t have to want to go into criminal work to enjoy mock trial either. Mock trial sees a variety of different types of problems, both civil and criminal, and several students involved don’t plan to be litigators at all after graduation. The competition coming up this month is a civil labor/employment problem, and the experience is largely structured the same way regardless of the topic of the trial. The benefits of Mock Trial are tangible either way. I feel like I have a leg up in my evidence class since we work with the federal rules, and the advocacy and quick strategic thinking is great practice.

As the semester winds down, I find myself already excited to begin competing again in the Spring (not that I am ready for Spring just yet- I’m looking forward to a nice vacation in the meantime). I look forward to honing my skills even more, and of course to winning more cases.

Exploring New England

BU attracts students from all over the U.S. and across the globe. I chose BU not only for its great academic programs, but also for its location in a major city…. and in a region that I had always wanted to explore: the northeast. Some students are from here; others intend to remain here after graduation. But for those who plan to return to their “home state,” these three years are a great opportunity to see places and do things that normally we’d have to fly or drive long distances to experience.

Boston has much to offer, but so do surrounding areas. If you like (not too strenuous) hiking, you can take the Orange Line and short cab ride to get to the Middlesex Fells. I’d also highly recommend taking a trip up to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park in Maine. To relax in the summer, there are beaches all along the coast (I go to Nahant Beach because it’s close to my home, but I heard Gloucester has nice beaches). And of course there’s also Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard.

History buffs can walk the Freedom Trail in Boston, but it’s just a short drive to Old Sturbridge Village (a recreation of a 1830’s village). There are also historic homes to tour, such as the Sleeper-McCann house in Gloucester or the Seven Gables House in Salem. Portsmouth, NH has Strawbery Banke (yes, that is actually how it’s spelled) which has historic homes from various eras, all in one area.

Famous music artists stop in Boston, and the Boston Symphony is amazing… especially in the Hatch Shell by the Charles. But there’s also live music in Portland, ME… Rockport, MA has the beautiful Shalin Liu concert hall overlooking the ocean …and Providence, RI has WaterFire (each weekend in the summer they light flames across the water and play music outdoors).

And for students from warmer climates, the time at BU is a great time to enjoy the winter! There are all kinds of winter activities in New Hampshire: skiing, snow-tubing, snow-shoeing, dog sleds, sleigh rides, etc.

Even if you don’t have a car, you can rent a car or ask a friend to drive. Commuter rails, buses, and trains connect much of the northeast. I’ve even heard that you can bicycle through most of it too.

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to see Vermont or drive up to Montreal. Those are definitely on my list of things to do during 3L year!

Finding your Sweet Spot

My decision to attend law school came after a long process of trial and error. In kindergarten, when everyone was deciding between being a princess or a rock star, I knew I was going to grow up to be a veterinarian. From the age of five years old, I was convinced I would spend my life saving animals and held firmly to that conviction my entire academic career. In middle school, when I realized I enjoyed English way more than Science, I still wanted to be a vet. In high school, when I excelled at research and writing over calculus and chemistry, I still knew I was going to be a vet. When I got to college and declared as an Animal Biology major, I thought I was well on my way to a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Even when I despised every single class required of my major, I still considered veterinary medicine the only career for me. It’s been 18 years since I decided I would be a vet and I’m now almost halfway done with law school.

One of the most frustrating things in life is struggling or failing to accomplish something you whole-heartedly want to do. For as long as I can even remember I have loved animals and have been devoted to caring for them. The happiest day of my life was the day I finally got my first dog. I’ve spent countless hours volunteering at animal shelters and even graduated high school as a certified Veterinary Assistant. However, once I began college, I realized no amount of passion for animals could replace the vital component of the ability to succeed in science courses. So, I decided to pursue my second greatest passion: reading, writing, and learning. It was with this decision that I finally found my sweet spot, which led to law school.

Although deep down I will always wish I could have been a vet, I have no regrets in pursuing a career in the law. Law school is, without a doubt, one of the hardest experiences I have yet to face; everyday presents a new obstacle or struggle to overcome. In fact, I was convinced my first year of law school was going to be a repeat of my Animal Biology major: a long, laborious struggle that ultimately ended in tears and defeat. But I pushed through and now, in my second year, I yet again found my sweet spot. I’m taking classes in subjects I care about, writing interesting papers for seminar courses, and participating in fun extracurricular clubs.

These days, I look back on my Animal Biology major and failed veterinary career fondly. Though I may not be a vet, I’ll still always love and care for animals with the same passion and conviction I’ve had my entire life. Yet, I’m thankful I made the decision to pursue something I truly excel in and enjoy. I realize struggling and failure are just a part of life and, eventually, you’ll always find your sweet spot.