All the Columns Left to Print

BY KATIE MAPES

It’s popular advice to tell us graduating 3Ls to look back at the personal statements we wrote applying to law school to remind ourselves what type of person we entered law school hoping to become. Now, as I leave to take a job that has nothing to do with “International Human Rights Law,” I realize I need a different metric of how law school has changed me.

Looking back at three years of writing for the Record, however, I wonder whether those columns might be that metric. Columns which, quite honestly, seem to have become progressively cynical and embittered as the years dragged on. One early column actually used case citations. Of cases I had read, on time, for a class which I went to and participated in. So there’s that.What might be even more interesting is the columns I didn’t actually write. Way back 1L year I started a word document where I listed column ideas and crossed them out once I had written them. Some of them still aren’t struck out, and, it turns out, form a pretty accurate summary of my journey through law school.

1) Being a Lawyer and Hermit Crabs. This goes first, because it has its genesis in something that happened even before I started law school, which was the impulsive buying of two small hermit crabs from a shopping mall kiosk. Had I been to law school, I might have known to do some kind of due diligence, at least to the point of asking questions like “Where are hermit crabs from and what sort of climate do they need?” instead of squealing “They’re so cute!” and nodding when the pet store employee told me that they’d be no trouble at all.

As it was, I bought the hermit crabs, snuck them on the plane to Boston and then, in my first couple of weeks of law school, developed some kind of serious meditation on the responsibilities of being a lawyer versus owning small crustaceans. As it turned out, hermit crabs are from tropical regions and need a warm and humid climate. They died during the first Boston winter and I buried them in a tiny cardboard gift box underneath the bushes outside of Gropius. Now I have a cat, who has no compunction about waking me up at 5 am when he needs food or the humidity isn’t right.

2) AIM Chat Transcripts from Class. For all that I swore it wouldn’t before entering law school, the lure of the Internet proved too much for me more than once. (By which I mean, virtually always.) On the other hand, it was also a valuable means of bonding with by 1L section mates during long days of Civil Procedure. I might be a better lawyer with the Internet, but I’d probably also have fewer friends with whom to network with someday. Someone should do a study on whether that’s a net career positive or negative.

3) Law School Dear Abby/Miss Manners. This is number 15 on my list, meaning it took at least a semester for the cracks to really start to show. I imagine that 1L grade anxiety would have made this column even less civil than than it would be now. But some pointers, for those of you still threading through the morass. Those clicky highlighters seemed like a good idea at Staples; in fact, they were not. If you want to play the piano over by the Hark Koffee Klatch, do so well. Log out of the computers in the journals office when you’re done using them (I am talking to you, Journal on Legislation staffers).

4) Law School vs. Divinity School. Perhaps the best decision I made for my mental health in law school was to have a Divinity student as my roommate for the second two years. This is not because it enabled me to live a more spiritually fulfilling existence. This is because the drama that goes on at the Divinity School is so much pettier than law school drama. It also provided me with counter examples when things at the law school started to seem particularly ridiculous. For instance, when the Law School Council was changing its name to “Student Government” in order to better assert its authority, the Divinity School student government was changing its name to “Life Together,” in order to minimize its hierarchical nature. At this point, I decided we should bring on the hierarchy.

5) “Project OneWay.” Project Runway, with 1Ls. I know, I know, this got scrapped for a reason. But it did speak to the way in which my quality of life improved 3L year when I finally got a TiVo. Highly recommended for anyone who has an offer from their summer job sewn up.And with that, I bring to a close three years of writing for the Record. It’s been a strange trip at times (this week alone we were accused of racism against Germans and Canadians; if only we were publishing next week, we could take on the Icelanders), and my Anonymous Lawyer-style law student book deal may never have materialized. But all the same, it’s been one of the highlights of my law school experience.

Katie Mapes, 3L, hopes there’s not some sort of city ordinance about burying house pets in yards.

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