By: Adia Sykes
Last installment we took a look at what it’s like to go through the law school application process with the University of Chicago Law School’s Dean of Admissions, Anne Perry. In this post Sonali Maulik, a recent graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, provides us with a brief glimpse into the life of a law school student.
UCULR: As you’re on your way to completing you law degree, would you mind looking back on your first weeks of entering law school and take me though those first impressions?
Maulik: Sure. I can definitely say that when I first got here it was pretty intimidating, especially some of my classmates. A few of them had been working for a number of years or had careers before law school, and I only worked for one year. So, I was definitely intimidated by them. We took a lot of classes our L-1 year that were demanding because of the amount of work they required. Also, the quality of answers that people gave in class when they were asked questions were very high and that was startling at first. The Socratic Method that most professors use when teaching here is took me by surprise at first. When the common practice is to be sitting in a class of one hundred people and the professor calls your name and asks some hard question about the reading, you have to get used to it pretty quickly. After that first time, the intimidation factor drops.
UCULR: What about working during the summer or other breaks to gain experience in the legal field, be it internships, clerkships, or what have you?
Maulik: I think it really varies. After first year most people will do public interest work. That constitutes anything from working with judges or interning at government agencies. A few L-1s will even get jobs at law firms. Others do semi-legal work like public policy or anything related to law but is not actually a legal position. As a second year law student you’re encouraged to apply for jobs at law firms if that’s what you’re interested in. We have a program called On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) where law firms will come here and interview us. You’ll do thirty to forty interviews in two weeks. So that’s what they would be doing other the summer, working for law firms. Many people like to word for nonprofit groups as well. It’s less common to do that here in this school but it’s definitely becoming a trend.
UCULR: What are some of the fears or apprehensions you have about coming to the end of your law school career, having to take the Bar and then find employment?
Maulik: Yes, I definitely have some. I actually got a job offer from the firm that I worked for over the summer. That’s actually pretty standard. Most people that I’ve talked to who have worked in firm jobs over the summer got offers. I’m still worried about taking the Bar…passing the Bar. Having to transition from an academic environment into a professional, practical one will be pretty challenging I think. Instead of working on a specific case, like we do in school, the work is going to be much more business oriented. Also working with people who are a lot older than myself and have had years and years of experience will be interesting. Getting used to working all the time and having to put on a professional face will be very different. So, yes I am anxious.
UCULR: Lastly, what words of wisdom do you have for those of us interested in one day attending law school?
Maulik: It’s really important to have a realistic idea of what you want to do. I think a lot of people go to law school because they don’t exactly know what to do and they think getting a law degree is very broad. Yes, being a lawyer or having a law degree can mean a lot of different things and can open up a lot of opportunities for you, but it’s good to know if this is what you want. This is especially true now since the job market for lawyers is shrinking and competition is so fierce. I’d say being informed and being aware of what it means to be a lawyer and what studying law is all about is my real advice.
Adia Sykes is a rising Second Year in the College and majoring in Anthropology and Spanish