A Day in the Life: Harvard Law School Student

A Day in the Life: Harvard Law School Student

August 15, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


(bright music) – Hi I’m Heather, I’m a
1L at Harvard Law School, and I also went to Harvard
College as an undergrad. (chill music) So today’s a little bit different, I usually have class at
8:20 but today I have a little bit of time before torts at 9:50. Usually I’ll get up a little early, review my readings,
maybe do a couple chores. And then around lunchtime I’ll meet up with a couple people in my
section for study group, to go over some problems
for civil procedure. Then I have a little bit of time to go to the library with my friends and do some reading
before my property class. And then tonight, one of
my friends in my section it’s her birthday, so
we’re all gonna go out to the campus bar and
show her a good time. (chill music) – Why law school? – I’ve always wanted to
get into civil rights law, I’m not entirely sure
what that looks like, hopefully work for the ACLU, or Department of Justice one day, but definitely thinking about
the public interest route. – When you were an undergrad at Harvard did you know the whole time that you wanted to go into law school? – I did, I did know I wanted to do it. Ever since I was a kid
I wanted to be a lawyer but I did take some years off to make sure that’s really what I wanted to do. There’s a big difference
between seeing something in a movie, and what
it’s like in real life. So I took two years to
work as a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton in D.C, which was a great experience. I contracted at Department of Justice which made me really realize
I wanted to be a lawyer. So it all worked out in the end. – What kind of work were
you doing at Booz Allen? – I was actually contracting with the Department of Justice’s executive office for immigration review,
so it’s the immigration court system of the United States. – So you’ve only now been
at law school for two weeks? – Yes. – What has the transition been like? – It’s kind of been trial
by fire, but in a good way. It’s simultaneously being
forced to be an adult and being stuck in
kindergarten all over again. You get really close to
the people in your section because you spend 20 hours a week in class with the same people,
sitting in the same seats. But it’s just been a really wild ride, and the opportunities here are just beyond imaginable, it’s amazing. – Why did you choose
Harvard Law in particular? – Well I had a really strong attachment to Harvard undergrad, where
we went together (laughs). I really enjoy the
campus, I thought Harvard had all these incredible opportunities. Especially cross-studying
with the other departments and the other schools here. Harvard Law’s also got
unparalleled reputation. The large size of the class
allows you to get to know people from a variety of
different backgrounds. You name it like race, gender,
ethnicity, political stances, you’ve got ’em all in bucketloads here, which is the best part of
getting an education here. – Great, so what does your
course load look like right now? – So in 1L year you have set course load, so everyone takes the same classes. You’ve got your property,
your torts, your contracts, that kind of thing. So we have five classes in the fall that we’re all taking together, the 80 of us in one section. While the other sections
will take five classes that may not be the same, but at the end of the year we will have all taken the same classes together. So it’s the 200th anniversary of HLS, and my first week of school here the Dean actually dedicated this plaque to the enslaved people
whose labor generated the wealth to found the law school. So I think it was very
meaningful to kick off the 200th year anniversary
celebration to commemorate the slaves owned by the royal family, who endowed the first
year here at Harvard Law. (chill music) – How is a law classroom
run in maybe a different way than an undergrad class
that you’ve been in? – Right, so in undergrad
usually you have very enthusiastic people put up
their hands to answer questions, it is the total opposite in law school, you do not want to be asked a question. We have a cold-calling system
based on the case method, so most of our classes will
read Supreme Court decisions, or other court decisions, and then a professor will ask a person or several people to,
what we call brief a case. So they’ll ask us like what
are the facts of the case, what is the legal question here, how did the court hold. So everyone does the reading, but you sort of bank on
being the 79 out of 80 who won’t get cold-called that day. – Okay gotcha, have you
been cold-called yet? – Yes, I’ve been cold-called
in I think every single class and each time it
was a thrill (laughs). – A thrill, fun, fun. I guess, would you have
any advice for someone going into law school, who might be intimidated
by that sort of thing? – No, I think it’s very
scary the first time, and then I think the first
time you actually mess up, and you realize that no one in your class remembers you messed up, because they were too
busy freaking out about not being cold-called, that’s when you stop
taking it too seriously and you just realize that
this is a great way to learn, there’s a reason why they do it, it makes you read closely, makes you pay attention in class. I actually prefer it to the
way we studied at undergrad. – Great, great. What advice would you have
for someone who’s not sure if they want to apply
to law school or not? – I would say you should
really, really be sure. If you’re not sure at all, maybe you shouldn’t be
doing it before you talk to other people who are at law school. Law school is really expensive, the debt can be overwhelming, and if you’re not sure
if you wanna be a lawyer, I’m not sure if that debt
is worth undertaking. It’s a very depressing answer, but the financial reality
is that you should be sure before you commit, and if you’re not sure, read a couple law books,
watch a couple movies, talk to your friends, talk to your college law school councilor, talk
to people that you know who are currently in law school and see what they feel after the fact. But be sure before you apply, because it’s not worth the
money if you’re not sure. – Don’t go to law school for the sake of going to law school. (slow music) What sort of thing do you do outside of class at Harvard Law? – (laughs) What is outside
of class at Harvard Law? I’m kidding, there is
actually a lot to do. Every lunch there is
usually some kind of event, I think last week they had an event hosted by the federalist society
about whether or not people should be obligated to bake cakes for gay couples who are getting married. So organizations will bring in speakers, prominent speakers from
around the country, for lunchtime type events. Then there’s also a whole
variety of social events hosted by HL central,
which is like the party organization it seems like on campus, or the student practice organizations, or the affiliation groups. So the Asian-Pacific Islander
group will host a happy hour, or the LGBT organization
will host a board game night. So there’s a lot of things on campus to do that aren’t class related. And then there’s of course just general hanging around Cambridge,
it’s an amazing town. There’s a great nightlife, great places to just get coffee or get a drink, whatever’s your style. So yeah there’s a lot to do. So when I was an
undergrad I felt obligated to join a lot of extracurriculars, and so I felt like I split my time 50/50, if not swinging more towards extracurricular activities than classroom. Whereas at law school, especially as a 1L, you’re expected to
dedicate the vast majority of your time to your reading, because there is a lot of it. And I actually appreciate that a lot more, it puts a lot of, it takes
off a lot of pressure to do a lot of these extracurriculars. Also soldiering through the readings with the same 80 people
together kind of bonds you together in a way that
in undergrad was different because you were all
taking different classes, sometimes you felt a little bit alone. It’s not the case in law school. – What was the application
process like for you, from undergrad to law school? – Right so, after you graduate, you have to take the LSAT
if you haven’t already. This was the Law School Admissions Test. It’s scored out of 180, you have to sit it to submit a law school application. That test is weighed very heavily in your law school application, so you have to do pretty well in it. Then you send in a resume
as well as several letters of recommendation, and an essay. And that’s pretty much it, there actually isn’t that much more to it, but I think studying for the exam is what stresses people out the most. – What sort of advice
would you give someone who might be going through
that application process? – I would say my biggest
piece of advice is that you should really think hard before you sit the LSAT, if
you’re prepared for it. You shouldn’t do what I
did and rush taking an exam that you’re not prepared for, because you can’t cancel your score and resitting the exam is a lot of work. And on top of that, lots of law schools do look at both scores and they either don’t average them out or
they take the lowest score, that kind of thing. So I would say be very,
very sure of yourself before you walk into the exam room. And even if you feel slightly unprepared, you shouldn’t take it and just
wait for the next iteration. – Right, and so you said you wanna end up going into civil rights law, something with the ACLU,
something along those lines. What will the next couple years look like, I guess outside of the academic year in terms of pursuing that do you think? – Do you mean like
summer internships, or– – Yeah, summer internships
that sort of, yeah. – Right so, honestly I haven’t given it too much thought yet. It’s a nationwide policy actually that 1Ls can’t apply to summer
internships until December 1st. So that’s across all law schools and all organizations in the country. So it does give you some breathing room, but when December 1st comes I am thinking of applying to GLAAD or
other LGBT related causes like the ACLU LGBT office, or to human rights campaign. I think that’s probably where I’m heading on my first summer, fingers crossed. But that’s way down the line. – Right, okay. (relaxing music) – Well I think a lot of movies, whether it’s Legally
Blonde or Paper Chase, or even like Cousin Vinny, kind of impressed upon me
that Harvard Law School be very competitive and cutthroat, and that is just absolutely not the case. At least my section is
really collaborative, really fun, we send notes to each other, outlines, we send locations
of free food to each other over our group chat. – Huge. – Yes, huge, tremendous and huge. And all of that is
important to me as a person, especially the food bit. I think the geniality and the camaraderie has really surprised me
more than anything else. (chill music) If you enjoyed this video and you wanna learn more about top colleges, don’t forget to subscribe.