Category Archive: Law School Life

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What I Learned from My 1L Summer Job

I was in LA for my 1L summer. I got an offer to work at the Los Angeles DA’s unit that handles gang murders: The Hardcore Gang Unit.

You think, oh LA; that’s Hollywood, the Walk of Fame, Chinatown, Koreatown, beaches, sunshine, surfing. Sounds fun. After a few weeks at the DA’s office, LA seemed a helluva lot more dark. People really do get killed for being in the wrong neighborhood, for wearing the wrong color shoes, and for no particular reason at all. The gangs of LA are quite brutal.

Part of the reason is that killing someone gets you increased status within the gang. The other part might be the fact that about half of all murders in LA County go unsolved.

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An Inside Look at Interviewing During Law School

I’m sure most of you have prepared for job interviews some time in your life. For the vast majority of people, job interviews are a little nerve-wracking and stressful. Now, rather than preparing for one or two job interviews in a week, imagine preparing for twenty to thirty interviews that will take place over the course of four days.

We are in the midst of our law school recruiting period here at Columbia Law. Virtually the entire class of rising second-year students descends on a hotel in Times Square to interview with law firms from around the country. This post is dedicated to giving you an inside look at the process that law students go through to find a job.

Apart from the sheer quantity of interviews, the process is not all that different from interviewing for a job in any other field.

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LSAT Instructor: The End of 1L

Yuko Sin is an instructor and blogger for Blueprint LSAT Prep. He started as a 1L at Columbia Law School in the fall, and has been writing a series of law school-related posts about his experiences.

I’m almost at the end of my first year of law school. I have one more exam to go: Property. Japanese Law, Crim, and Torts are done. I have no idea how I did, but I’m alternating between disgust, resignation, and occasional bouts of wild optimism.

Taking a law school exam is neither science nor art. It’s more like alchemy. You don’t really know what you’re doing but you construct a system of symbols and incantations called an “outline”, and that system sometimes produces good outcomes, though it always falls short of gold.

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Dream Professors: Celebrity Spouse Edition

When I found out Amal Clooney was teaching at Columbia Law, I made it my mission to spot her on campus—George has nothing on me, after all. Thus far, I have been unsuccessful (much to my chagrin). Part of the reason may be that Columbia students are apparently forbidden from talking about her class. Because of my disappointment, I started hoping that maybe a few other celebrity spouses guest lecturing at Columbia would increase my odds of crossing paths with one.

Alexi Ashe
Seth Meyers’s wife, Alexi Ashe, is a human rights lawyer and Assistant District Attorney. I would love to see her guest lecture at Columbia in a criminal law class. For one thing, I’m not a huge fun of my criminal law professor right now, so anyone seems like a possible upgrade.

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LSAT Instructor: The Second Semester Blues

J. Peterman: Bad news, people. Peggy is home sick.
Elaine: Oh, please.
J. Peterman: She’s stuffed up, achy, and suffering from intense malaise.
Elaine: Oh, come on, we all have intense malaise. Right?

Second semester of 1L is notoriously rough.

January.

You get your first semester’s grades. Back in November, a professor pointed out that none of us were used to being B students, but a fair chunk of us would become B students. The curve demands Bs, and a lot of ‘em. Even if you beat the curve, you’re bummed for your friends that didn’t, but deserved to.

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LSAT Instructor: Starting My Second Semester of Law School

Law school exams are over, winter vacation is behind me, and grades are in.

Exams were pretty stressful. Law school grades fall on a curve. A curve says, “It’s not about you doing well, it’s about others doing worse than you.” Brutal.

But it helps if you have an awesome study group. Someone to help you figure out why the right answers are right, and why the wrong answers are wrong. Someone to tell you that you that you’re scaring them after you drink your twelfth espresso. It’s also easier to take a break from studying if you can drag a few people out with you to the movies or to the museum.

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The Spooks and Scares of Being a 1L

With Halloween right around the corner, let’s talk about the scariest parts of law school. Now that I’m almost two months into the semester, it is starting to get downright terrifying here at Columbia, and here’s why:

The Ghostly Specter of Final Exams
Nowadays, the mere reference to finals is enough to send me into a minor panic attack. If you’ve ever been on a roller-coaster before, you know the tick-tick-tick sound that accompanies the steep incline that comes right before a sudden, heart-stopping plunge; that is exactly how everything feels right now—there is this slow, steady build-up to the furious intensity and all-consuming stress that will go along with preparing for and taking exams. Up until this point, it has been easy to push the thought out of my mind and put off worrying about it, but now I seem to find myself facing the malignant shade of impending finals at every turn.

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DIY: Spooky Law School Halloween Costumes

I’m halfway through my first semester at law school. I’m starting to think like a lawyer more and more. I look at every decision from both angles, and frankly it’s stressing me out…

I’m having a hard time deciding what I should be for Halloween.

How about a suit made entirely of statutes and cases? Get it? It’s a law suit! Or I could roll out a rug made of statutes and cases and walk on it everywhere I go. I’d be above the law!

Erm, okay. How about…

How about I get one of those toddler sized slides, oil it up, and tape it to myself? I’ll be that old stalwart legal argument: the slippery slope. I guess that could get a bit too messy; plus, I have a bad history with taping objects to my body (don’t ask).

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LSAT Instructor: One Month Into Law School

Alright, so I know I said in my last Columbia related post that law school isn’t all that bad, but I think I’m starting to crack.

We were debating in small groups whether extreme starvation can justify murder, if it’s for the purpose of cannibalizing the victim’s body. Things got a little heated. I may have threatened to eat someone.

This was highly out of character for me. I’m eating about 6 meals a day. Good stuff.

Okay, maybe I’m not eating the best stuff all the time. I get a few sandwiches, and about once a week I have the delicious NYC street food known as chicken over rice. Five bucks gets you a delicious plate of buttery self-loathing.

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LSAT Instructor: My First Impressions of Columbia Law School

A few years ago, I watched The Paper Chase for the first time. For those of you who haven’t seen it, the entire movie is basically about the difficulties and stresses of the first year of law school. One of the most famous lines from the film, delivered by a stern and austere law professor is, “Look to your left, look to your right, because one of you won’t be here by the end of the year.”

After watching that movie, I dreaded my 1L year. And though my time at Columbia Law has confirmed some of my less-than-positive expectations, it’s belied others. Let’s start with what’s met my expectations:

Cold Calls
If you know nothing else about law school, you probably know that professors follow the Socratic Method in running their classes—they call on unsuspecting students to answer a variety of questions about that day’s reading.