I too will be attending Duquesne Law School in the fall.
My name is Benjamin and I am 23. I play guitar. I have a serious interest in woodworking, especially guitar construction. I have built a solid body electric guitar and plan to master the art of the luthier. I am into politics and political programming. I like educational programs. I watch Adult Swim. I listen to good music.
I was born and raised 180 miles due west of Pittsburgh, in Columbus, Ohio. I graduated Cum Laude from Ohio State on June 13th. I have a major in Political Science with a focus in American Politics and a minor in History (American).
I am tremendously excited about law school. I have heard a lot of people anticipating it to be a hell of sorts. I think I will find the topics interesting. Many classes as an undergraduate were dreadful but I think in law school the practical applicability of what we will be learning will make class work different for me. If I can find other people who embrace rather than try to defeat law school then I think that discussion about what we are doing in classes will be second hand and social rather than forced. If I can find such people I think I will be able to better immerse myself in what are essentially quite stimulating ideas. In other words, If I surround myself with people who enjoy honing their understanding of what we are learning then there will not be anything to dread about studying. I was not a bookworm as an undergraduate but 90% of undergraduate work was a waste of time. Here, they are simply trying to teach us how to be better at our likely profession. Coffee/beer/dinner and legal chat can be fun right? I expect I will meet students who enjoy getting together with people and discussing the thought processes behind the best legal arguments to make. I hope the process of legal cooperation and teamwork will be social and rewarding since that is what life three years from now in a legal group is likely to entail.
I am curious to know what sort of tools or gadgets people plan to take to school. I don't imagine that they are necessary to succeed, but I find that having cool toys makes doing some tasks more enjoyable. I got a Logitech pen that allows you to keep a digital copy of the ink and paper notes you take. There is a device I saw on ThinkGeek.com that is a low resolution pen sized scanner with onboard memory. You can scan at 8.5 x unlimited. I bet it would be perfect for all sorts of practical uses in law school. As for computers, I highly recommend the Sony TR series for anyone planning to get a notebook but undecided as to which one. I had a TR1AP from January - July and it was perfect for my needs while finishing up at Ohio State. Now I have a TR3AP. Anyone who is looking and has not seen this line should make it a point to check them out.
After walking around the campus more extensively this past Tuesday, I am blown away. It is packed with breath-taking views. It is safe. It has nice facilities. It has picturesque courtyards. It is a stone throw from the heart of the city. I have not completely decided on my housing arrangements yet. I am leaning towards the dorms. People have advised me against the dorms but it seems like a law student cluster would be beneficial. The residence life people indicated to me that they would put the law students into their own area. Does anyone else think that the dorms could be good? I have toured the outlying areas of the city and there is no doubt but that there are beautiful places to live if you are prepared to commute. I think I want to avoid the concern of travel, especially in the winter. I walked around in some of the clusters in the Towers, the dorm rooms are nothing impressive, but the wings would not be too bad with a good group. I reckon there was useable common spacefor the group to make a home, but small bedrooms to retreat to. Brottier Hall is very near the law school, but I could only afford rent if I had a roommate. Perhaps someone on here has also been looking into Brottier and would be interested in getting a two bedroom apartment there?
I looked into quite a number of schools. I was prepared to apply to many but I decided Duquesne was the best choice for me and just didn't send any of my other applications. I preferred a private school to a big state school after my experiences at Ohio State. Pittsburgh has great food, art, and music. I need a football town. Pittsburgh is on a short list in terms of livability. I first contemplated living in Pittsburgh several years ago. I thought that the pay rates at large Pittsburgh firms was competitive with most large cities in absolute terms. In relative terms however, the pay is great due to the low cost of living (at least in those firms that are posted in the NALP directory of employers). Pittsburgh trumps the other places worthy of calling home because it alone is in reasonable proximity to all the people I know; less than a three hour drive. While I value staying close, I feel that staying in Columbus for school would cause too much distraction. In the hills I think the huge variety of weather will be romantic.
The climate in Columbus is almost identical to that of Pittsburgh so I am used to the seasonal weather extremes. For those students who are worried about the climate, especially the winters, there will be mild as well as harsh days. Winter isn't as bad as some places, but it will get cold enough for long enough that there will be no doubt that winter around here is the real deal. Here in Columbus there are definitely times when I bemoan the weather, but on balance this area has more than its fair share of ideal days and nights (unlike some places on the coast with consistently warm days but cold nights). Furthermore, we get seasonal variety. We get exposed so many shades of weather. As a result there is more than one type of perfect day in these parts. I would feel empty without both the crisp autumns and the warm summers. Even though I could do without December - March, I couldn't do without August - October and all the variety a seasonal climate brings. I picture myself as an October wedding kind of guy. I find the atmosphere among people in Pittsburgh to be familiar to home but the city’s setting to be superior in at least three respects:
First, because of its history, in terms of both the wide variety of design seen in most structure types and the actual historical sites. Also, the history assures you of the high cultural standing in the national consciousness that Pittsburgh enjoys. Second, because the amazing infrastructure is a constant testament to ingenuity and the might of industry. Sometimes it borders on the sublime, especially from views along the top of the bluff on campus facing the Mt. Washington area. Third, because of the hills and valleys. They are amazing to me. You can be on the other side of a hill one minute, looking down at a landscape that seems a million miles away from any city. Trees canopy you, maybe there is a ravine or maybe you look down on a valley. Then, you cross the other side of the hill and you realize you are only a few short minutes from the epicenter of Pittsburgh, jewel of the gilded age. Furthermore, you can see so much more of the town and its layout. This makes me feel more connected as well as more aware. Also, the development of the hills has been maximized for all types of residential lots. I mean this in comparison to other towns that are set against hills, but not actually built all the way into and on the hills. This makes the city life seem less artificial, as if you can stay more tuned into the backdrop of nature and the environment when things are set in hills.
I plan to either stay in Pittsburgh to practice, move back to Columbus where I already have some contacts inthe legal community, or set up somewhere in the tri-state area (OH, WV, PA). The school seems like a place I will be poised to do my best and is in the right region. I feel that Duquesne is a perfect choice.
Some people were asking about assignments. There was a suggested reading list I received a few weeks ago. I can give it to anyone in need. My AOL IM is WAxlRose2. We were to pick one book from each of two lists. I read "Gideon's Trumpet" by Anthony Lewis and am about halfway done reading "An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law" by Roscoe Pound. Also, I received two assignments today. One is to complete a memo, the other is to complete a case brief of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka. I believe all required materials were included. One of the assignments, the memo, was supposed to be received in the mail by August 1st. The brief was due by the first class I think. Both are for Legal Research and Writing. If anyone needs those materials I can help you out. Orientation is Monday the 23rd of August.