Interview: Hope Daily, Columbia Law School 2L

Hope Daily is originally from a suburb just north of Baltimore, MD. She graduated from a small Catholic high school in 2011 and decided to stay close to home for college when she chose to attend Hopkins. At Hopkins, she began with a major in International Studies, which she enjoyed her freshman and sophomore year. However, after spending a semester in Madrid her junior year, she also picked up a major in Spanish, which she completed her senior year. She eventually graduated with a double major in International Studies and Spanish and a minor in economics. Outside of academics, Hope was a member of the Phi Mu Panhellenic Sorority and the Thread organization. She also worked at the beloved café Alkimia in Gilman Hall throughout her senior year (and highly recommends their empanadas).

Hope always knew she wanted to attend law school immediately after graduation, so she took the LSAT and applied to law schools (with the wonderful help of Ana Droscoski) at the beginning of her senior year. She started at Columbia Law in August 2015.

Describe a typical day as a law student at Columbia Law School (CLS).

The daily routine for 1L students at CLS is very standard. As a first semester 1L, a student takes 3 black letter law classes (I took Torts, Civil Procedure, and Constitutional Law), along with a legal writing class. I was in class from 9am-4pm pretty much straight from Monday-Thursday, but most 1L’s have no class on Fridays. After class, I would generally take an hour or two break, then return to the library for approximately four-five hours. This schedule was slightly amplified during exam period, but I never found that it was unmanageable. Second semester of 1L year is quite similar, but you take one additional class. For example, I took Property, Contracts, Criminal Law, and Tax this past semester. It’s definitely a larger workload, but it’s much less of an adjustment than first semester.  My schedule was quite similar: I would wake up about 7am, read before class, go to class from 9:30-4 (approximately), take a decent break, then go back to the library. As a 2L and 3L, a typical schedule consists of substantially less class time and more clinical experience/externships.

To date, what has been your favorite law school class, and why? How have you been choosing classes after your first year of law school?

To date, my favorite classes have been property and constitutional law. I found constitutional law interesting because I am fascinated by the Supreme Court and US history in general. [Sidenote: for anyone who is also interested in the Supreme Court, I highly recommend the podcast More Perfect]. It’s a great time to learn constitutional law because of the recent landmark cases including Windsor, Obergefell, NFIB v. Sebelius, etc. Along with constitutional law, I also enjoyed Property. While many people find property tediously boring, I enjoyed it because it’s so black and white – there are rules for everything!

What made you choose CLS? What do you see as the primary pros and cons of law school?

Honestly, I chose CLS because it was the best school that I got into. I do not necessarily recommend that method, but it happened to work out for me – I absolutely love CLS. I cannot say enough great things about Columbia – I would do 1L all over again if I could (which is something that you will probably never hear anyone say in your entire life). As for the pros of law school, the list is endless, but most importantly – it’s a genuinely rich, substantive education that will help you in no matter what field you want to go into afterwards. My classmates include people who want to work for the government, people who want to go into Big Law, people who want to be Investment Bankers, people who want to teach, people who want to do human rights work, and so, so much more. However, law school is not without its cons. The big elephant in the room is: the expense. Law school in general (and Columbia especially) is alarmingly expensive. Therefore, one should definitely think seriously about law school and evaluate your options before committing to it. Along with the expense, the time commitment is pretty enormous. There is definitely some variation in terms of which school you attend, but I think law school is much more of a time suck than undergrad across the board. During the semester, 10-12 hour days are the norm here. During exam period, 16-hour days are standard. With that being said – I love law school and would not have done anything differently.

What types of undergraduate opportunities did you pursue that led to your decision to apply to law school? Were there any experiences that you felt were particularly helpful in strengthening your application to law school?

While I knew I always wanted to go to law school, the big motivator for me was an internship at the Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore, MD. I interned there the summer before my senior year at Hopkins, and I found the work to be so rewarding. The benefit of working somewhere like a PD’s office is that they are insanely understaffed, so interns are typically given a lot of responsibility. I interviewed clients in jail, translated for Spanish clients, and went on investigations. My experience there reaffirmed my commitment to go to law school, and I highly recommend the program for anyone interested in criminal work. I found the position just by doing some individual research and applying on a whim, but I’m happy to speak with anyone about finding similar opportunities.

How would you compare the reality of law school and the ensuing job search to the picture you had of it while an undergraduate?

As an undergraduate, I used to ask people in law school about their experience and they would respond with the same general “so much reading, so much writing, so much work” spiel. I went into Columbia thinking that it was going to be “so much reading, so much writing, so much work,” but I was not fully prepared for the reality of that. I truly think that there is no way for anyone to be prepared for the sheer volume of material that 1L’s have to learn, but that also means that everyone is on the same level playing field – no matter what your major was/ what your post-grad job was/ etc. Hopkins prepared me as much as it could, and the rest we just have to learn by doing.

Do you have any advice for an undergraduate interested in pursuing law school and a career in law given your experience in today’s legal market and now as a current law student?

I think the general consensus is that right now is a great time to enter the legal market – hiring rates are up, there’s plenty of work to go around, everyone’s happy. My peers and I just went through the Early Interview Program, and I am happy to say that I will be working at a litigation firm in D.C. next summer (and hopefully post-grad).

Contact Information

Hope is happy to answer any further questions from students. You can email her at: hed2120@columbia.edu

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