Chapter 1


As he drove past the gates of Harvard once more, Josh had a strange feeling. Instead of being here for his first year of law school, he felt like he was here for his fifth year of college. He was going back to the same apartment, in the same town, wearing the same school crest as he had the last four years of his life. He wondered if it had been a mistake to not take any time off between college and law school. But all the roads that led to his personal fulfillment also led through law school. He had figured, why wait?

He had surprised himself by doing pretty well at Harvard during undergrad. Sure, he'd had to work his ass off, but he graduated with honors. His parents had been so proud.

And Harvard was still the perfect place for law school. With the Kennedy School, where he could take electives, and all the professors with government experience, he knew this would be networking heaven for setting up his career in politics.

Now if only he could survive all the boring required first year classes.


Reclining on the leather sofa his parents had purchased for him, Sam gazed out over his view of the Boston skyline and wondered. Wondered what law school would be like. Wondered if Harvard would inspire both his competitiveness and the anxiety that went with it. The neatly stacked pile of 500 page textbooks were already begging to be opened.

He also wondered what women he might meet. Elizabeth, his second serious girlfriend in college, had broken up with him just two weeks earlier. In their short time as a long distance couple, she had already found a hip D.C. journalist she liked better than him. Sam regretted it, but only because it left him lonely. He'd lost track of the number of relationships he'd allowed to fall apart.

For now, though, his mind was occupied with thoughts of his first cold call and the challenges that awaited him in his case books.


On the bus ride up, Donna had been filled with fear. What if she couldn't do this? What if she failed all her exams or made a dumb comment in class and everyone laughed? What if she ran out of money?

Now that she was in Cambridge, though, she was just trying to find her apartment without getting lost. Her path took her by Harvard and she couldn't help but take a detour through the colonial buildings. She was wrapped up in the beauty, and the prestige, when suddenly there it was. The dreaded law school that had been haunting her stress dreams. She practically turned and ran.

Eventually she found the old house, almost three miles from the school, that she had agreed to rent with two other women starting that fall. She had the smallest bedroom, but it came furnished and she was grateful that she could actually afford it, considering the stunningly high rents in Cambridge.

She collapsed on her new bed, exhausted from the walk and her emotional turmoil.


CJ had already found the house but was out running errands, trying to make sure her life was in order before law school started. After having worked in media consulting for a few years, she was used to chaos and treasured every moment that she got to focus on reorganizing.

She wanted to cook that night, maybe for the two women she was living with. As the tallest woman in the room, she always had trouble making friends (or boyfriends) out of men, and as the smartest woman in the room, she often found other women were very competitive with her. She wanted to start off on the right foot this time and actually make friends.

It was her first time living in Boston and she was already missing the California sun and beach. Wearing a jacket in September felt like an outrage. By the time she made it back to the house with the groceries, her hair was a mess from the wind and she was sweating from carrying everything. But at least she hadn't dropped anything. Yet.

She managed to unlock the door and prepared the best first-impression face she could muster.


Toby was already hiding from everyone and he didn't even know anyone yet. He could already envision the torture of orientation and the first days of class. People trying to be social with strangers, trying to remember each other's names. They'd learn soon enough that he wasn't likely to be outgoing or fun or even a very good friend. They'd leave him alone soon enough.

Toby joked (mostly to himself) that he was born a curmudgeon and he would die one, with very little change in between. He liked his privacy and he was never very social. When he cared about something, he cared about it too passionately and it always scared people away. He wasn't even close with his own family, even though he cared about them deeply.

He hoped law school would be a good escape from gloomy reality. He just wanted to dive in to the books, the writing, the purely academic discussions where his painful inability to make small talk wouldn't be a problem. He wasn't there to make friends, just to build a skill he could make useful. And to show off. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't hoping to be the smartest person in every classroom he walked into.

His very quiet, very empty studio apartment felt perfect that night. A retreat from people before he had even met them.


Chewing gum and sitting in a bookstore's cafe, Amy was reading her favorite book to find comfort in: The Feminine Mystique. She wore a short skirt and short hair and blew bubbles that made rude noises when any guy tried to talk to her. Law school started tomorrow and she knew she'd be drowning in the boring drudgery of contracts and torts and other meaningless subjects until she could get through the bleak first year.

Then she was going to be in her element. She had already mapped out every course she really wanted to take. Of course there would be Employment Discrimination, Gender and the Law, and Sexual Freedom and Rights. She was hoping for a seminar on Roe v. Wade, as well, and she thought appellate advocacy could be fun because she liked stripping people of their egos with her quick wit. But the first year would bore her senseless.

As the bookstore finally closed, she strolled back to the old house she had dropped her stuff at earlier and smirked as she considered all the ways she was already planning to terrify the law school men.