ATTENDING LAW SCHOOL DURING A PANDEMIC

Pamina Chatram is currently a 2L law student at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, and is part of the January accelerated program. Pamina pursued legal courses as an undergraduate and became motivated to become a lawyer after learning about the Safe Passage Project at a law school open house.

Pamina has always been fascinated with the legal system. However, after learning about the Safe Passage Project, she was certain she wanted to become a lawyer. The Safe Passage Project Corporation is a non-profit immigration legal services organization that provides free lawyers to refugee and immigrant children who face deportation back to life threatening situations. At the open house, an attorney from the Safe Passage Project Corporation shared their experience with a client from El Salvador. John Doe, a refugee who came to the United States alone due to life-threatening circumstances without his family and not knowing any English, had to stand in front of a judge. Pamina thought about her experience as a foster child and how scary it must have been for eight-year-old John Doe to stand in front of a judge, not speak a word of English, and have strangers decide his future for him. She saw lawyers as protectors of rights and knew that getting a law degree would assist and help her rectify social injustice.

As a law school student, Pamina remembers how difficult the application and preparation for law school was. When conversing with Pamina, she emphasized how you must dedicate time to study for the LSAT because this one exam is your admission ticket. “Studying for the exam needs to be your sole focus, you need to understand why you got a question wrong, and know why the wrong answers are wrong,” she stated. Pamina continued to discuss that the language is extreme, and questions have terms that are not needed and can confuse you. She explained that “This is a type of test that you need to research and figure out what type of test it is. Look at it as starting a new job. You need to make sure this is the type of test you are prepared for.”

Pamina wants to ensure that those who are preparing for law school have the necessary skills, such as critical reading, as well as complex and analyzing skills. Critical reading skills are very important, Pamina cannot stress this enough. Reading speed is one thing, but reading comprehension is the most important since you must understand what you are reading. Complex and analyzing skills and the ability to speak clearly and efficiently are also useful skills to have. The Socratic Method, a form of cooperative argumentative dialogue between individuals and cold calls in class, requires the use of these skills. Pamina explained, “In class the professor calls on a student randomly and asks about the reading, and you never know when you are going to be called on. This method prepares you for the courtroom and teaches you how to be prepared. You never know what to expect in the courtroom as well as in the classroom.”

Pamina also described a typical day for a law student. Once you get out of a class, you have a break in between classes, during which you should outline what you learned while it is still fresh in your mind. Then after class, you would read between ten and one hundred pages, which is equivalent to eight cases, and wake up early the next day to read more.

However, during these times, Pamina’s daily agenda has changed. A typical day for her as a law student during the pandemic is completely different and harder in many ways. The environment is a big challenge because when you are physically in the classroom, your sole focus is only in the classroom. However, while you are home on Zoom, you could be easily distracted by outside factors. Compared to being at home, classroom distractions are few. Pamina mentioned that most of her Professors banned laptops in class so it is easier to focus. While you are home on Zoom, the distractions can pile up, such as family, pets, neighbors, and technology.

Although attending law school during a pandemic has been difficult for Pamina, she exclaims how excited she is because “There are so many possibilities and opportunities that exist after law school. I am excited to see where my law degree will take me. Learning from my Professors’ experiences has allowed me to gain more knowledge and insight into this profession I am so passionate about.”

By Evelyn Romero
Evelyn Romero Student Advisory Board Member Evelyn Romero