Given the task of characterizing Brandeis School of Law in one sentence I would answer “Brandeis is incredibly, incredibly helpful.” Everyone I’ve met individually out in the wild (read: hallways) and everyone that has presented to my class at organized gatherings has demonstrated this “willing-to-bend-over-backward to help” attitude. From the professors who encourage us to come in with any questions or troubles we’re having, to the study group and workshop leaders who are willing to take time out of their, undoubtedly, busy 2l or 3l schedules to offer us assistance. After speaking with a few friends from another law school, I get the feeling this isn’t terribly uncommon.
That said, there is a slight issue. Since starting college as an undergrad you’ve no doubt heard in many classes from many professors a quote along the line of “If you have a question raise your hand, if you don’t understand chances are other people don’t as well.” And I think we all accept that this is more or less true. But that doesn’t ease that “I’m alone in this and everyone else seems to grasp it” bang your head against the desk feeling sometimes. The biggest problem is that even in a place where every student and teacher is willing to answer a question, you just don’t want to be the person to ask; maybe it’s shyness or insecurity whatever it is, it’s understandable.
It’s for those occasions that I recommend Reddit. If you’re already familiar with Reddit, you can go ahead and skip this paragraph. For everyone that isn’t, here’s the deal: Reddit is a web community. No, it isn’t like Facebook or Google+, it’s more along the lines of an evolved web forum. People go to Reddit and post links, questions, comments, or stories. Everyone else gets a single vote, up or down, for each post. Those votes determine the prominence with which the post is displayed on the page. In addition each post gets a comments thread where each comment is subject to the same voting style. So what you get is a democratized global discussion. If that wasn’t incredibly detailed or clear I really recommend you just head over there for a bit and look around; it’s free to use with or without an account (accounts are only needed for posting and voting) so you can get the feel for it. It’s very intuitive and it only takes a few clicks to pretty much figure it out.
Okay now that everyone is on the same page, here’s the really great thing about Reddit: sub-Reddits. When you have a giant open and free discussion the only way to keep it organized is to let the users form little sub-divisons of the community based on topic. These things range from Reddits for Christianity, Atheism, Jokes, Comics, Philosophy, Movies, &c. The one we’re interested in is the Law School sub-Reddit, which conveniently enough is www.reddit.com/r/lawschool.
r/lawschool is probably one of the greatest tools you can have as a 1L for one simple reason: it let’s you ask any question you want, any question at all, with complete anonymity. This site is populated by 1-3Ls, recent grads, practicing lawyers, and professors. You go to Reddit, set up your free account with what ever pseudonym you like, and ask away. The atmosphere is generally incredibly helpful (it’s the internet so you do encounter some snark) and there’s no limit to what you can ask. Given that it is a meritocracy for prominence, some questions will get more attention than others, but it’s rare that a request doesn’t get at least a few valid shots at an answer.
If you’re having any trouble or questions about law school, the field of law, or you’re just on the lookout for helpful hints and tips (abound on the front page), I really, really could not suggest enough that you visit this site.