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Author Topic: Columbia 1Ls taking questions  (Read 12705 times)

Slumdog Lovebutton

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Columbia 1Ls taking questions
« on: January 24, 2009, 03:32:17 AM »
I know there are a handful of CLS 1Ls who troll these boards...I hope they will jump into this thread with me and take questions!

Possible topics, if you're blanking:
- common myths about CLS
- what it's like/how much it costs to live in NYC
- public interest at CLS
- course quality/professors/extracurriculars
- awesomeness of the student body*

Fire away...


* As I write this, I am just about falling over in my seat after a CLS 1L poker night, followed by a CLS-poker-winner-taking-us-out-for-drinks night.
* Columbia Law, Class of 2011 *

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BJWriter26

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Re: Columbia 1Ls taking questions
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2009, 10:25:37 PM »
Any info on these (specifically compared to HLS) would be helpful:

1) Faculty access
2) Long-term job opportunities
3) Student body
4) Housing/Food/Amenities

gsr

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Re: Columbia 1Ls taking questions
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2009, 11:02:50 PM »
1) Classes: What are class sizes like as a 1L and in upper division courses? How would you describe the "classroom culture" there? What is the lecture/discussion balance in upper-level courses?

2) Faculty accessibility?

3) Housing. I would like to feel rooted there, especially my first year, so I'm leaning towards living on campus. Recommendations? It seems like Lenfest is the main option for law school students.

Slumdog Lovebutton

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Re: Columbia 1Ls taking questions
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2009, 01:29:12 AM »
Any info on these (specifically compared to HLS) would be helpful:

1) Faculty access
2) Long-term job opportunities
3) Student body
4) Housing/Food/Amenities


1. I've been pleased with faculty accessibility.  This year, the majority of my professors were given a sizable budget to take their 1L students out to lunch in small groups, so even folks who were too shy to go to office hours got to interact with the profs, and there was free (delicious) food.  Otherwise, professors have been friendly during office hours, very accessible by email/phone (although I've never actually called anyone, they give out their phone numbers), and very willing to set up extra meetings if need be.  I'm hoping to do research with one of my professors next semester, and he was very open and encouraging about the possibility.

2. I'm only a 1L, so I'll defer to Peabody here.  People have been impressed with "CLS" on my resume, for sure...

3. I love the student body here.  I was happy to discover the uber-competitive rumors were just rumors.  I've gone out with folks a lot, there are tons of extracurricular social activities (both official and unofficial), and most people have been helpful throughout the semester and during finals.  I'm sure you get crazy overachievers everywhere, but I noticed relatively few of them and they were only annoying during finals time.

4. Housing was a HUGE selling point for me on CLS.  I cannot overemphasize this.  Columbia offers university housing that are ACTUAL APARTMENT BUILDINGS, as in, real families and non-students live in these buildings - but Columbia subsidizes your rent.  The law school offers housing, too, but I thought law school housing was too expensive and not really worth it.  The university buildings are older, but I think it makes the apartments look prettier (architectural details like arched walls and cut-out shelves, etc.).  I pay less than $900 for one bedroom in this two-bedroom apartment, four blocks south of the law school:



Yes, we have a kitchen, living room, AND study (which we use as a dining room).  And mine isn't even one of the awesome apartments!!  The building managers are pretty awesome, too.  I've only had a few minor issues, but they've taken care of everything right away.

If you come to visit CLS, make sure to check out the student housing.  I adore Morningside Heights, and my street particularly is fantastic.  I'm two blocks away from a 24 grocery store, and blocks from central park.

Food - I echo the "It's New York" sentiment.  Within a five minute walk of my apartment, I can eat something (delicious) from probably 80% of the globe.

Amenities - I agree that our gym sucks.  I mostly jog around the city to get my exercise, but if you are a gym rat, that's something to consider.  The gym is small and underground.  Not a happy place.  I was willing to live with this, though :)
* Columbia Law, Class of 2011 *

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Slumdog Lovebutton

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Re: Columbia 1Ls taking questions
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2009, 01:44:00 AM »
1) Classes: What are class sizes like as a 1L and in upper division courses? How would you describe the "classroom culture" there? What is the lecture/discussion balance in upper-level courses?

2) Faculty accessibility?

3) Housing. I would like to feel rooted there, especially my first year, so I'm leaning towards living on campus. Recommendations? It seems like Lenfest is the main option for law school students.

1) Not sure about upper-division classes, but here was the breakdown for my 1L classes:

Legal Methods (over the summer): ~100 people, weekly TA section of ~15 people.
MTWTF 9:10-2:30 (??  No longer remember)

1L fall:
Legal Practice (writing): 11 people
Th 9:10am-10:10am

Contracts: ~90 people, TA discussion section of ~20, mandatory for first seven weeks
MTW 9:10-10:30am

Civil Procedure: ~90 people, TA discussion section of ~15, optional
TWTh 10:40a-12p

Constitutional Law: ~30 people, optional TA discussion section for whoever wanted to show up
MTW 2:40-4p

M-Th, 2:00-2:30: I, along with much of the 1L class, eat free coffee and cookies in the law school student services office

I had three final exams, two were in-class, and I had a week (reading week) to prepare for the first one, three days between the first and the second, and five between the second and the third.


This semester, I am taking:
Property: ~90 people
MTW 9:15-10:30am

Torts: ~60 people
MTW 10:40a-12:00p

Crim Law: ~100 people
MTW 2:40-3:40p
(optional discussion section on Thursdays)

Elective (Culture of Law): ~60 people
TTh 1:10-2:30

Legal Writing/Moot Court: 10 people
Right now it's on Friday morning, but we arranged with the prof to move the class to Mondays so we can have Friday off.  She's a practitioner and scheduled depositions around a Friday class until mid-February, but we can switch after that :)

I still eat cookies/drink coffee, too.

Classroom culture is generally one of "calm down."  Not a lot of volunteerism when it comes to hand-raising, although most professors cold-call.  My crim law professor often elicits discussion from the class, and there are more raised hands there because of that.  It's generally rare to see someone striving to answer a question that someone else is struggling with - in fact, I've only seen that happen once.  Collegial environment overall - notes sharing, etc.


As far as housing...
I made this point in my last post, but I highly recommend living in Columbia housing because the rent is so great, but I'd really discourage you from limiting yourself to law student-only housing like Lenfest.  If you come visit, you'll be able to look at apartments in many buildings and see for yourself, but I think Lenfest is WAY more expensive than necessary, considering the limited benefit you get from living in a newer building with lots of law students.  I like feeling like home is stress-free, and I like coming back to a non-law school grad student roommate who is not thinking about the same things I'm thinking about.

You definitely don't need to live in Lenfest to develop a strong connection to your fellow 1Ls.  Heck, there are a ton of 1Ls on my street in non-law school housing, and we hang out to play rock band with some degree of periodicity.

This, of course, is a matter of personal taste.  Many people I know in Lenfest are straight out of college, and the environment there was more comfortable/familiar to them.  Make sure to actually see the buildings if you get a chance to visit.  UAH (Columbia University - not law school - housing) charmed the pants off of me, AND it is significantly cheaper, so there was no competition for me there.  I'm very happy with my choice...

* Columbia Law, Class of 2011 *

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BJWriter26

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Re: Columbia 1Ls taking questions
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2009, 03:01:27 PM »
Going back to the OP's suggestions, what are some common myths (and perhaps uncommonly known truths) about CLS? Also, what extra-curriculars can 1Ls do (journals, clinics, etc.)?

BurtsBees

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Re: Columbia 1Ls taking questions
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2009, 03:52:04 PM »
1. How happy are you (with your decision, with law school, and with life in general)?

2. How many hours a day do you study?

3. How's your non-law school life?


BJWriter26

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Re: Columbia 1Ls taking questions
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2009, 04:31:52 PM »
Between HLS and CLS, which school has a better corporate curriculum?

Slumdog Lovebutton

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Re: Columbia 1Ls taking questions
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2009, 06:50:19 PM »
Going back to the OP's suggestions, what are some common myths (and perhaps uncommonly known truths) about CLS? Also, what extra-curriculars can 1Ls do (journals, clinics, etc.)?

Tom covered this very well, I think.  I would just add one more stereotype: if you want to work for a firm, go to CLS, if you want to save the world, go to NYU.  The public interest program is very strong here, and a lot of my public-interest oriented friends came here over NYU because not only were there great public interest opportunities, but also there was much less competition for the spots/fellowships.  Of course, NYU is a fantastic law school, and I'm not disparaging it.


1. How happy are you (with your decision, with law school, and with life in general)?

2. How many hours a day do you study?

3. How's your non-law school life?

1. I am very happy.  Living in New York was the right choice for me, and I knew I wanted to try it while I was young.  I thought Columbia would be fun, challenging, and wouldn't make me tear my hair out, and so far I have been right on that.  I am immensely satisfied with my living environment, and that plays a huge role in my life satisfaction, as well.  My apartment is great, I like the balance I've struck between home cooking, restaurants, and free pizza, and I actually *enjoyed* first semester.

I should add, in the interest of not making this thing way too positive, that I was definitely kind of stressed during finals last semester.  I had moments where I worried that everyone was smarter than me and studying better, and I also had a moment of panic where I realized I didn't understand many of the basic mechanisms of civil procedure just a few days before the exam.  Fortunately, those two days were enough time for me to go back through and figure out what I didn't know, and a few friends absorbed me into their study group for that last week, which was really helpful.

2. First semester, I think it probably took me about five or six hours a day to do all my reading.  I put in about six to ten hours on weekends, but periodically had a weekend where I didn't do a damn thing.  I read faster now, but two of my courses assign a lot more reading than I had last semester, so I'm probably spending about the same number of hours reading per day on Sunday through Tuesday (my heavy class days are M-W).  It doesn't feel that bad since I usually do at least half of it before dinner, so I generally have little do to at night.

3. It's very difficult not to have a strong non-law school life when you live in New York.  The best way to answer this question is probably to describe my goings-on last weekend and my plans for this weekend, as they are sort of typical of my non-law life.

Last Friday, I hosted a poker game at my apartment featuring mostly CLS 1Ls.  After the game ended around midnight, we played Rock Band for a while and then the winner of the game took all of us losers out for drinks at a bar down the street.  We chatted with some random girls at the bar who were in the peace corps (I am a girl, btw), ate some tater tots, and went home.  I got into bed around 3:30.

Saturday, I met a non-law school friend for brunch at The Park ($10 eggs benedict!!).  Afterwards, I walked over to Magnolia on Bleeker and bought some cupcakes, despite the fact that there is a Magnolia but a short waltz from me on the Upper West Side.  I also spent too much money at Urban Outfitters.  Went home, had dinner, then went to a college friend's housewarming party in SoHo.

Sunday, I judged a college mock trial competition at CLS.  Randomly ran into a 1L friend, and we went to happy hour at one of my favorite spots near the law school...$4 wine and free tapas!  Went home, had dinner, did reading, lost money playing online poker (that part of the day sucked).

During the week, I expect to eat a lot of free pizza at the law school.  My boyfriend is coming up from DC on Thursday and we're going to see the Kings of Leon at Madison Square Garden.

This week is also restaurant week ($24 three course lunch, $35 three course dinner), and I am going to hit up Gramercy Tavern for lunch, Delmonico's for dinner, and possibly One If By Land, Two If By Sea.  I'm justifying this with the knowledge that next week, law firm receptions start (YUM) so I probably will be saving a ton of money on food.   ;D  Saturday, I'm having dinner with my bf and my mom (they are meeting for the first time - yikes!) and then going to the birthday celebration of a fellow 1L and a fellow 1L's awesome wife, who I got to know last semester.  I am hoping to veg out on Sunday, and maybe eat some more brunch.


Between HLS and CLS, which school has a better corporate curriculum?

Not sure about this one...I will leave this to Tom or one of the other 2/3Ls?
* Columbia Law, Class of 2011 *

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Majmun

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Re: Columbia 1Ls taking questions
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2009, 08:41:43 PM »
1. How happy are you (with your decision, with law school, and with life in general)?

2. How many hours a day do you study?

3. How's your non-law school life?



I'll give my 2c from the old man perspective.

1. I have to admit that by the time school started I was dreading law school. I have been pleasantly surprised.  The material is more interesting than I expected, school isn't stressful at all until finals and even then it wasn't that bad also I have more free time now then I've had since high school. (I have a Ph.d. in a hard science)


2.  My experience has been different than LB's, but I am in a different section, I think. As far as reading goes I did 3-4 hours a day M-TR, did nothing on friday, reviewed my notes/outlined while watching college football on Saturdays and spent Sundays with the wife.  This semester I have 2/3rds as much reading as last semester and since college football is over  :'( I need a new hobby.  That said I'm more of a Stone Scholar type student (top 1/3rd-ish) than a Kent Scholar (top 2-3%).  If you are gunning for the top (and there's nothing wrong with that) you will either have to work harder than I did or be smarter than I am, both of which are quite possible.  At the end of the day there are people who study all the time and those who don't even keep up on their reading little lone do any extra, it's all in what you are comfortable with and what your goals are post grad.

3. I'm not the most social law student but I end up getting dinner with classmates a couple times a month and I hang out with my wife and her dental school friends fairly regularly. There is plenty of time and opportunity to be social and  the law school class seems to be fairly inclusive when it comes to socializing.


A note about housing- columbia housing is an especially good deal if you are married/live in partnered (?) and if you have a kid, it's even better.  I pay 1200 for a one bed room and a buddy of mine is paying 1400 for a two-bedroom (usually you need a dependent child to get a two-bedroom but he got lucky).