Tell us about your path to Harvard Law School. Why did you pick HLS?
I had considered going to law school since I was in high school. I took the LSAT in college and played with the idea of applying for a while, but ultimately decided I wanted to first gain work experience. So, the idea of going to law school really gathered force when I was working in investment research in Austin, Texas, really seeing how the law completely underpinned essentially every other industry. Once I came to appreciate the full power and versatility of a legal education, there was no turning back.
I ultimately chose HLS for a number of reasons, but the two primary ones were size and location. First, HLS is one of the largest law schools in the country, which I see as an enormous benefit. With a larger school, the resources are much more developed. For example, the sheer number of classes offered, the facilities, and the caliber of faculty are unparalleled. Most importantly, a larger class means more incredible classmates to get to meet and learn from. I cannot stress enough how remarkable the HLS student body is; I’m consistently amazed by my classmates in countless ways.
Second, Cambridge is the best! I’ve lived throughout the South my whole life and was excited at the prospect of living so close to Boston, a city I’ve loved for years. It can be freezing in the winter, but the community, history, and perks (namely, a plethora of awesome restaurants) make Cambridge such a wonderful place to live.
What has been the biggest surprise now that you are here?
I’ve been surprised by so many things! First and foremost, I thought law school would be much more competitive than it has been thus far. Of course everyone wants to perform as well as possible, but I’ve never seen that ambition come at the cost of anyone else’s success. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with the level of collaboration that HLS students routinely exhibit, and their genuine interest in helping others succeed when they can.
What do you pursue outside of the classroom? Is it hard to balance activities with coursework?
As a 1L, I was my section’s student government representative, as well as a member of Admissions Fellows, Recording Artists Project, WLA, and Texas Club. I also sub-cited for the International Law Journal. Although activities can certainly be a commitment, these organizations understand that we all have a lot going on and can’t dedicate an inordinate amount of non-class time to any one thing. I didn’t find it difficult at all to balance activities with coursework, and that’s in large part because I really used 1L to figure out which activities meant the most to me. Once you can prioritize your involvement, activities really fall into place.
What do you hope to do during your summers/after law school? How will HLS help you get there?
This past summer I worked at Kirkland & Ellis in the firm’s Corporate group in Houston. I knew early into law school that I was interested in corporate transactional law and, even as a 1L, HLS has already been so helpful in connecting me with firms that focus on the areas I’m most interested in. I hope to do something similar next summer.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is considering applying to HLS?
Every time I speak with prospective HLS students, I offer the same piece of advice: look up every once in a while. It’s so easy to get completely caught up in reading, studying, journals, clubs, etc., but I think it’s vital to set all of that aside every once in a while and appreciate what an enormous privilege it is to be at HLS. Even amidst the craziness of law school, we all have this incredible honor of learning from one of the most accomplished faculties and student bodies in the world. To me, that never gets old. I’d recommend that anyone considering HLS really mull over how truly awesome it is that we all have the opportunity.
Sydney Hood is a 2L from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sydney graduated from Duke University in 2016, where she majored in Public Policy Studies. Prior to law school, she worked for the Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) in Austin, Texas, where she performed investment research for hedge funds. At HLS, she serves as the 1L Student Council Representative for Section 5. She is also part of the Recording Artists Project (RAP), Harvard International Law Journal, Women’s Law Association (Partnership Committee), and Texas Club. In her free time, she particularly enjoys trying out new restaurants, seeing/watching movies, making Academy Awards predictions, and riding her bike around Cambridge.