Many Coats of a Law Student

Law students, like lawyers, wear many coats.

No week illustrates this chameleon act better than the week leading up to Halloween.

Monday, I put on my suit and tie and trek to the courthouse downtown, where I observe a couple of pre-trial proceedings held by the judge I intern for this semester. At 1pm, I loosen my tie and head to BU for my back-to-back Criminal Procedure course and Judicial Externship seminar, where I participate in discussions about illegal search and seizures and judicial ethics.

Tuesday, I spend most of the day at the courthouse, then return to BU to serve as an actor for Pre-Trial Advocacy, a required course for the Civil Litigation and Criminal Law clinics. I take off my jacket, don a newsboy cap, and pretend to be “Ed Hard” or “MC Davola,” two characters in a mock trial concerning a bar-room shooting. Students pretending to the lawyer for one of the two characters interview me, and I respond in a gruff voice according to a fact pattern I memorized (and add a few snarky retorts and unscripted jokes). The gig only takes up a few hours per month and, besides being fun for me and hopefully useful for students, earns me a few extra dollars in coffee money.

Wednesday, after court, I put on my “note editor” coat as I read and edit the note outlines for the five 2L members of BU’s American Journal of Law and Medicine. I generally enjoy editing but get a little bored after the third note in a row discusses the constitutional limits regarding restrictions on commercial speech under the Central Hudson standard (e.g., in relation to regulations on pharmaceuticals or cigarettes).

Thursday, BU’s Education Law Association, of which I am the co-president, hosts our first “Hot Topic” debate, a lively discussion on teacher’s unions in light of the recent disputes over teachers’ collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin and other states. The discussion gets heated when one student citing obscure studies from his laptop declares that “teacher’s don’t make a difference.” The room, consisting of many former teachers (including myself), nearly riots. But, being judicious law students, we maintain a civil—albeit passionate—discussion for the remainder of the hour. Then I cram down the two remaining slices of pizza and prepare for my Writing for Civil Litigation seminar.

After class, I go home to dress up as a 90’s rock-star for the law school Halloween party. I wear a long black wig, white and black face paint, nylon pants, and platform boots. The better part of the law school (probably over 500 people) also dresses up for the annual party, proving that, despite our often serious natures and attires, we aren’t afraid to show our lighter, sillier sides.

Which doesn’t mean I am going to upload a picture of me in my Halloween costume… After all, the challenge in wearing many coats is knowing when to wear them and for whom. And—call me conservative—but I’m not ready for the world of lawyers, judges, and future employers with internet access to see me as a fully bedazzled 90’s rock-star.

That is one coat I’d rather leave to the imagination.

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