On Classmates...

January 7, 2009

D.K., 1L

I’m sure you’ve heard that Yale Law School has a reputation for being very collegial. I heard that, too, when I was researching law schools. Apparently, it was said, the lack of grades and class rank and the variety and abundance of academic, employment and social opportunities at YLS channels the competitive spirit into productive outlets and fosters a communitarian ethos. Well, I’ll confess I was a bit skeptical about all this when I first arrived here. But after less than one semester, I can say that every word of it is true.

Every law school has a handful of students who are fairly selfless and share notes and outlines. What I didn’t expect was a school full of those students! Every Yale 1L is assigned to four black letter law classes in their first semester; two are private law (Contracts, Torts) and two are public law (Constitutional Law, Procedure). Three of these classes are lectures and one is a small seminar called a “small group.” Everyone in your small group takes all of the same classes, which right off the bat makes for a nice support network. But my small group took this a step further. In the first week of classes we divided up the classes among us and agreed that each night someone would be responsible for e-mailing their case briefs and notes to everyone else. I can’t tell you how many times we have saved each other from merciless cold calling. On those mornings when you just did not get through the copious reading, a delft ctl+F in your classmate’s notes produces a credible answer. (Phew) Every single night, four of my classmates are doing the reading for all of us. We have sustained this for 14 weeks. That is remarkable commitment to community.

Then we all started sending out applications for our 1L summer jobs. This is when I was sure our natural competitive spirit would kick into gear … but it didn’t. A group of us are applying to work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is a very prestigious public law position and very tough to get. Nevertheless, we all shared contact information, helped make sure each other’s application materials were perfect, and let each other know when we got callbacks. Unheard of …

If you are looking for a stimulating law school community that will constantly challenge you and were not only the faculty but your peers will support you academically, professionally and socially, then you have come to the right place.