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Summer in the City
Janine Petit Greenwood, Alum
Graduate School of Journalism 1972
School of Law 1976

The celebration of graduation by law students is always just a little muted. In the back of your mind is always the dreaded bar exam.

Columbia provided a fine legal education. I learned to "think like a lawyer": analyze research and draft beautifully. I was a superb candidate to craft a Second Circuit appellate brief. I could not, however, recite the elements of a partnership under New York law or cite chapter and verse on the state's motor vehicle code. We believed that those sorts of details were for the lesser mortals who went to "local" law schools and had not been admitted to Columbia. Unfortunately, it is those details that the state of New York required for licensing.

Therefore, immediately after graduation, the "cram course" for the bar review began. Every day for four hours we sat in a dingy room being lectured on the driest, deadliest details imaginable. Special strategies and tricks were imparted. We learned to remember the elements of partnership through the McDonalds jingle except, instead of "two all beef patties" it was "two unrelated individuals..."

After the course, there were two weeks of intensive studying. I was still living in my student apartment in 112th Street and even the window fan could not make my room bearable at mid-day. My books and I alternated between the gardens of St. John the Divine and the Viennese Pastry Shop on Amsterdam Avenue. To this day, apple strudel brings back memories of the heat, smells and studying of that summer.

Like most of my class, I was successful in retaining all the materials I had crammed for the requisite two days of the exam. We went on to law firms, corporations and clerkships. But few of us will ever forget our last two months in Morningside Heights.

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