Adjusting to law school is exhilarating but it can also be stressful. Our advice is the same as for academic issues -- join in on the law school life. Reach out for human contact, help and support. Whatever you do, don’t isolate yourself. When you have questions, concerns, doubts, or problems there are a number of places you can go to address them. You don’t have to be in dire straits; even if all you want is to see a friendly familiar face, take note of the following people who can help:
The Dean of Students, Annik Hirshen, the Director of Student Services, Kim Natividad, and the Student Programs Assistant, Ashton Lee, are available to take your calls or your visits. The Registrar’s Office, with Registrar Carol Rachwald and her staff, Edwin Bish, and Robyn Brown, and the Financial Aid Office with Assistant Dean, Dennis Tominaga, are also people whom you can see to get information as well as reassurance, guidance, and answers to your questions. The School also has a resident psychologist who is here to support you when you need to talk to someone. Another resource is your legal writing instructor or your ASP/legal writing teaching fellow. The instructors all have law degrees, and the teaching fellows are second- or third-year law students who are not too removed from your experience and who have demonstrated the intelligence, wisdom, and maturity to win one of these highly coveted jobs. These students are familiar and comfortable with the trials and tribulations of the first year and are accessible and eager to know you and to help out.
Student Organizations and Journals
Berkeley Law has a wide variety of organizations and some students join more than one. A fair will be held during the first week of classes, when you will have an opportunity to meet representatives from the groups and journals and to find out more about them. In keeping with the School’s spirit of cooperative education, student organization and journal membership is open to all students (with the exception of the California Law Review, which holds a writing competition), and first-year students are encouraged to participate.
Two pieces of advice: First, don’t feel that you have to join an organization; just be aware that the organizations exist and may provide a good opportunity to meet people and explore some of your substantive or social interests. Second, if you do join, don’t overextend yourself (which is easy to do with all of the interesting opportunities). Especially during the first year, your studies should take up the bulk of your time.
What's Happening At Berkeley Law?
On any given day of the week, there are a variety of school programs and student organization meetings at the School. Many of these meetings take place during the lunch hour, as there are typically no classes scheduled from 12:45 p.m. to 2:10 p.m. The best way to find out what’s going on each week is to visit the School’s website and view the calendar section.
Enrolling in Classes and Registering
You’ll receive plenty of written information about what you need to do to be eligible to register and enroll (two different things) as a Berkeley student, and we will provide complete information about these processes during orientation.
Most students in other departments at the University have to go to Sproul Hall and wait in lines for the Registrar’s services. We are fortunate to have our own Registrar’s Office so you have to spend only some of your time in the lines—and they are much shorter. Occasionally, you may have to venture down to Sproul Hall, but the friendly staff in our Registrar’s Office will do what they can to save you the trip.
During your three years at Berkeley Law, you’ll stop by the Registrar’s Office on many occasions. This is the place to ask questions about registration and TeleBEARS (our automated enrollment system), order transcripts, and finally, to make sure you are cleared for graduation. Carol Rachwald is our Registrar and she knows almost everything there is to know about the enrollment and registration systems at Berkeley. She is interested in sharing this information with you. She and her staff have more than 50 years of experience among them, so you should not have any problems getting your questions answered. If you have any suggestions for this office, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or take a moment to talk with the Registrar’s Office staff.
Berkeley Law’s Bookstore is usually located on the second floor of Simon Hall, but we move it to a larger location (normally the Goldberg Room) during the week before classes and the first week of the semester to accommodate increased book-buying activity. In addition to casebooks and textbooks, the bookstore stocks food, supplies, commercial outlines, study aids, sweatshirts, aspirin, and a good candy selection.
The Berkeley Law Bookstore is currently operated by Follett Corporation. Follett remits a percentage of the sales from the Bookstore to the Boalt Hall Student Association (BHSA), which uses the money for its general budget and to fund student organizations.
Many second-year students sell their used first-year books to the incoming class. If you buy used books, make sure to have the most current edition, and make sure that the underlining and/or highlighting in the book is not too distracting for you.
A list of required and recommended books will be posted online at the beginning of the semester.
Assignments for the first day of classes, if there are any, will also be posted on bCourses (courses webpage). Do not buy your books until you know your assigned schedule. As for study aids and materials, you should probably wait until you know what you need before you start investing in these items. At least at the beginning of law school, the assigned casebook is probably all you will need to buy.
Law books are very heavy. Most students invest in a good backpack; some use portable luggage to wheel their books around during the day. You will be assigned a locker and you should make good use of it. After you get organized, you will be able to leave the bulk of your books in your locker or at home. You might want to check with some of the local copy stores about their “strip and drill” technique, which removes the book’s binding and punches holes in the pages to allow you to carry around only the relevant parts of the books you are using in class.
Going To The Library
The Berkeley Law Library is known for its superb collection and its outstanding reference librarians. You’ll find that all the reference librarians are enthusiastic about working with you on your projects and answering your research questions. They will be able to help you with a wide range of questions, from how to find or cite to unfamiliar sources to what treatises or study aids will be the most useful for your classes, so be sure to get to know them. More specific information is available on the Law Library Website.
One unique feature of the library is Uncle Zeb’s Comment Book, located on the counter of the reference desk. Use the Zeb Book to ask pressing questions about the Library or your law school classes, or to make astute observations about student life and life in general.
The Law Library is the place where most law students like to study and offers a number of different reading rooms. During orientation, you will get a tour of the law library and have a chance to identify which study areas may best suit your needs. The Law Library holds the rare distinction of being one of the few library spaces in America that offers certain locations where you can eat and drink without reprimand, provided you are courteous and indulge only in quiet and non-odiferous food. There are also some areas where eating and drinking are forbidden – in the north reading rooms and in all the areas where you see postings to that effect. Please take these library rules seriously, since we prefer not to have to deal with insect or rodent problems. Although the Law Library is likely to be your home base, it is good to know that there are lots of other excellent libraries on the Berkeley campus, making this one of the best places in the world to conduct interdisciplinary research.