I get emails almost daily from prospective and admitted students who either stumble upon my blog, Twitter, or who were sent by Santa Clara Law admissions (can I at least get some bookstore credit!?) asking about my experience at SCU Law and with the Tech Edge J.D. program. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE these emails – they brighten my day and give me an opportunity to give back to a school that has supported me tenfold in my career (so please do not hesitate to reach out!). However, I’m about to transition into finals mode which means my replies are growing incredibly delayed and shallow. Below are some of the questions I receive and my answers. Please feel free to reach out about anything – but understand I may not get back to you until May 7th! I also love meeting up in person so if you’d like a personal tour of Charney or want an intro to any of the faculty, drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Santa Clara Law
How was your 1L experience? Are you enjoying SCU?
The number of SCU sweaters in my closet gives away the answer to this one! I love Santa Clara Law – it was by far the best decision I made for my legal career hands down. 1L is hard. You’re in a new academic environment with new social rules, new ways to learn, and your life revolves around networking and 24/7 studying for one exam that decides your entire grade for the semester. BUT it’s so much fun through and through. If you went to law school because you’re a passionate advocate or because you’re intellectually curious, then you’re in the right place. You will be challenged. You will work hard. And you’ll make some seriously life-lasting connections that will end up being crucial for your mental well-being and career. My 1L experience has been busy and exhausting, but I couldn’t imagine it at any other school.
The SCU Law faculty pride themselves on working as a team to promote student success. Instead of trying to weed us out, they throw their connections, resources, and time, at us in an effort to help us reach our career goals, no matter how large or crazy they may be. The faculty and students often refer to the community as a family which you feel the minute you walk into Charney. We pride ourselves on inclusion, acceptance, mental and physical well-being, collaboration, and success. 1L year is going to be a struggle, but you won’t go through it alone.
Were you concerned about the school’s ranking?
Before I applied, yes, I was concerned. I was well aware that Santa Clara is not a “T14” and it worried me because almost every law school blog and book out there was telling me that I had zero shot at employment if I went to a school that wasn’t at least in the top 50.
So I visited and met with admissions and my current TEJD advisor before I applied. After that visit, I not only decided I was applying to Santa Clara Law but that I was only applying to SCU Law. That was a big deal considering I was living in VA at the time so it meant uprooting my entire life and taking a huge gamble on a school that was ranked in the bottom hundreds at the time
Rankings. Do. Not. Matter.
Looking back, I was silly to hold such concerns. Thanks to SCU Law, I’m gainfully employed for the summer at Twitter with side gigs at a couple startup companies and the Internet Archive. You control your future – the ranking of your school does not. SCU Law will set up the pins, but it will be up to you to knock them down. The cool part is that they make it pretty easy (which is great because my high score in bowling is a wopping 42). I can’t speak for the other concentrations but if you’re coming here for tech, Internet Law, or I.P. (which we’re ranked solidly at #4 in the nation btw), then you’ll have no trouble building your network and making a name for yourself. The faculty have outstanding connections they’re willing to throw at you if you can prove yourself a little. We host insanely cool networking events almost daily on campus, and we have such a connected alumni network pretty much to the point where Silicon Valley is run by Santa Clara Law grads. You won’t get your first job through an application portal – you’ll get it through your colleagues.
Law school is what you make of it. Work hard, network your ass off, love what you’re doing (BE PASSIONATE), and you’ll be just fine. Oh and study….do that too.
How were your grades?
I’m not top 10% if that’s what you’re curious about. I admittedly dedicate more of my time to developing my career in Internet Law and building my network over reading my casebooks. Sure I could probably study more, but there’s more to life than acing a multiple choice exam. I love when I can sit in interviews and banter about how the CCPA is going to destroy small businesses or the inevitable heat death of Section 230 instead of droning on about my B+ in Civ Pro (who cares?).
How are you paying for school? SCU is REALLY expensive.
This question is fun because it’s always followed by a long-winded paragraph about how it’s okay if I’m not comfortable talking about this. Of course I’m fine with it. Law school is a major investment and it’s in your best interest that you take it seriously. These are important questions.
SCU Law offered me a generous scholarship. Hot Tip: study hard for your LSAT, visit the school, get to know a few professors, write a damn good admissions essay, AND APPLY EARLY (Email me if you want me to review your essay!). But believe it or not, this school is SO expensive that even with the nice scholarship, I’m still taking loans. My husband and I have taken out about $20k in loans so far and we hope to not have to take any more during the last year. I’m very fortunate to have a husband that is gainfully employed which greatly helps with the tuition payments. However, $20-40k is not chump change and we’re very aware of that. I don’t sweat it because the career I’m going into will allow me to pay off those loans in a short amount of time after graduation. This will be the same for you too if you choose your path wisely. Naturally, privacy, Internet, and I.P. pay out the big bucks. Public interest – not so much. But that’s okay. Do what you love. You’ll make it work and SCU will work with you every step of the way to help. If you need help with the FAFSA process or have any more in-depth questions about paying for school, email me.
What are the cold calls like? What is classroom discussion like?
It depends! Every professor is different. My crim law professor kicked our asses last year and it became the class that I learned the absolute most in. My contracts class doesn’t cold call so I end up speaking for the majority of it. Some classes follow the snake-pattern of cold calling so you’ll know when you’re up next depending on where you’re sitting. If you botch a cold call, as I’ve done multiple times (“WHO’S THE NINTH JUSTICE JESS?”), that’s okay, it happens to everyone. I’ve learned quickly that honesty is always the best route instead of trying to painfully B.S. your way through it. It’s nothing like The Paper Chase (at least it hasn’t been for me this year). And remember, SCU faculty are more interested in helping you succeed than humiliating you (unless you deserve it lol), so most of the time, they’ll walk you through it if you’re struggling. Just do the reading, take good notes, put in some effort, and you’ll be fine.
Do you outline?
Nope. Never did, never will. It doesn’t work for me. I read Crunchtime supplements and use their outlines. Do what works for you. Work smarter not harder.
Is Law School Hard?
Law school isn’t hard – it’s just incredibly time consuming so you have to be diligent. I’m not sitting there throwing my head at a wall trying to understand concepts. However, I am constantly behind or drowning in reading or other extracurricular activities. But it’s all doable, just get a handle on your time management.
What are you involved in?
I’m an Internet Law research assistant for Prof. Eric Goldman (Yes, you can RA as a 1L), and I’m also the co-president and co-founder of the SCU Internet Law Student Organization (yes, you can start an org in 1L). On the side, I act as a student ambassador for the law school, and I’m a member of the Internet Advisory and Ethics board at the Markkula Center (they’re interested in bringing on more students!). I’m also a member of the California Lawyers Association Technology, Internet, and Privacy section. Lastly, I spend a lot of my time networking at Internet Law conferences, consulting startups, writing and Tweeting, and with various other activities I get wrapped into because I have trouble saying “no.” There’s no shortage of things to get involved with at SCU and in the Bay Area. It usually just starts with an email or a coffee date!
Tech Edge J.D.
How important is it to have a tech background?
This has to be the #1 question I get from prospective students. It’s not required and it’s really not that important. As long as you have an interest in some aspect of tech, I.P., corporate, in-house, firm, or startup law, you’ll fit in just fine (so really anything!).
How is the interview process?
The interview process is pretty straightforward. Have a clear understanding of why you want to be in Tech Edge and know your resume and background cold. They’re looking for passionate, excited, motivated, and high performing students so just make sure that comes off in your chat.
How has your experience with TEJD been so far?
The Tech Edge J.D. is absolutely remarkable. For starters, it is the first program of its kind in that no other law school in the country has a similar program. You go to law school ultimately to get a career so the TEJD is built on that premise. We operate on several major milestones that, once completed, allow you to hit the ground running the minute you graduate, with a loaded resume that looks significantly different and competitive from your peers outside the program. These milestones are intended to get students out of the classroom and include goals such as drafting a negotiation/transaction or participating on a cross-disciplinary team or learning the Silicon Valley culture. These are things that law firms would normally have to train new grads on that you’ll have immediately under your belt, making you incredibly competitive. The other amazing aspect of the TEJD is the mentorship. Every student is paired with two field mentors (for example, I was paired with a trademark attorney from Google and a privacy attorney from Facebook) and one faculty advisor. Networking is huge in law school and incredibly difficult for students who are new to it. The TEJD gives you a head start on networking by providing you these mentors from the start.
The TEJD program has been fantastic so far. The mentorship experience is so valuable. What’s cool is that your mentors will hook you up with people in their network so your network will naturally expand over time. You can also network with your TEJD colleagues’ mentors. My faculty advisor is also incredible and I honestly can’t imagine going through law school without having him to lean on for help, constant support and encouragement, guidance, and friendship. Having someone in the building that’s rooting for your success every step of the way makes a huge difference.
How is the workload on top of your other classes?
The workload for the certificate is not bad. The milestones are very achievable as they line up with what you’ll probably be doing in your summer internships or externships. I recommend tracking your progress and meetings with your mentors and advisor early on so you’ll have a portfolio built by the end of your first year. I track mine on my blog and LinkedIn. There’s classes you can take that meet the milestones automatically too. Your advisor and the directors of the program will work with you every step of the way to make sure you’re on track. Remember, this program is dedicated to helping you succeed so if it made getting through your 1L classes harder, it wouldn’t be very valuable.
You’ll need to do some work on your side in reaching out to your mentors and advisor. Establish a connection with them early on and take the lead on setting up meetings throughout the year. Every six months is sufficient.
Should I do TEJD or the Privacy Certificate?
I’m not really the best person to answer this question. It heavily depends on your interests. I recommend reaching out to Prof. Eric Goldman (email@example.com) or Prof. Laura Norris (firstname.lastname@example.org). They’ll walk through your career goals and interests and help you make the best decision. Both are phenomenal programs. Here’s some good reads in the meantime:
Has The Tech Edge Program Worked for You?
Did I mention I’ll be working at Twitter?