The People’s Housing

March 26, 2008

J.L., 1L

Many of my friends elsewhere have compared their law school experiences to living on a desert island surrounded by nothing but books, spending the bulk of their days secluded in the library, and gaining a precious few moments of human contact when they venture out for food. By default, the life of the graduate student (particularly the law student) is quite different from the undergraduate experience. But despite the lack of dorms in the law school, Yale Law students still have the downtime with friends and classmates that everyone needs between briefing or preparing for class. The availability and convenience of the student housing that’s available helps each incoming 1L class maintain a community beyond the grounds of the Sterling Law Building—and perhaps even bring back a bit of that undergrad spirit.

Although a few students live in neighboring towns and commute by car to the Law School, most live within a few blocks of school. There is a wide range of options available in New Haven. Downtown is home to more upscale locations such as the Taft and the Liberty located in the middle of popular local restaurants and nightlife, and the Eli at the edge of the New Haven Green (with a popular rooftop that serves as a gathering place for students from all of Yale’s graduate schools). Others will choose to cluster with the general graduate community in houses on Mansfield (located in a more residential part of the city), often home to groups of three or four law students who have met up at Admit Weekend or otherwise coordinated with each other before arriving at the school. The most popular option, however, appears to be the Towers. Note the emphasis on multiple: there’s the Crown Towers, Crown Court, Madison Towers (among others), all within two minutes walking of each other and all popular locations for law students. After four years of living in crowded college housing (from freshman dorms to a fraternity house), I wanted space of my own, and the Towers offered me that option quickly and easily. I expected that I would spend my three years at Yale commuting from my room to class and back, with detours to the Walgreen’s across the street—and I was wrong.

Despite living alone, I’ve been incredibly surprised by how easy it is to spend time with my classmates outside of the school. There are law students living on each of the seven floors above and below me. Friday night gatherings often happen in the bigger apartments—there are a couple here where three law students have decided to room together, and they’ve put their extra living space to good use. I only need to walk across a courtyard for review session with my small group friends. Other classmates are just a few blocks away, and on weekends and evenings, it’s easy to just call the Yale Shuttle and get a ride over to a friend’s apartment. In a way, I’ve found myself spending more time with my classmates despite not having a roommate or sharing a dining hall—proof that law school, at least here, is certainly not an island.