J.Y.: Hello, and welcome to the 7Sage podcast. I'm J.Y. Ping, and on today's episode, David talks to two consultants and an LSAT tutor about deferrals. Well, sort of. So here's the thing. They were supposed to talk about deferrals and they did, but then it turned out that 7Sage consultant Taj used to be a private chef for NBA players, and Jake tours the world in search of the perfect brisket, and Ben is teaching second-graders how to make galettes before he starts Harvard Law. So they wound up talking about the kind of stuff you might do if you defer law school. Anyhow, it's a good conversation, and I think you'll learn something about law school admissions. Enjoy.

David: Ben, I love summer camps. I am like a longtime camper and counselor. What's the deal with your summer camp?

Ben: So this one is in this town of Crestone, Colorado, which is about an hour away from where I live in Alamosa, but it's basically run by AmeriCorps members, so people serving a year of national service through a nonprofit called Alpine Achievers Initiative. So there are three to four of us every day that have essentially complete discretion to run whatever kind of program we want with about, you know, 12 to 15 first- through fifth-graders.

So we've been doing, the theme is connection. So, you know, something different every week, food or, this week is nature, we had an art week. So it's been really fun. I've been, I got the kids to make homemade galettes like last week. You know, most of them didn't know how to pronounce the word when we started, and they're pretty good cooks. It's been fun.

David: That's so fun. So that's the main activity for everybody.

Ben: I mean, there've been all sorts of activities, but yeah, that's, I mean, I run food, so I do all the lunches and I get them to, you know, really it's just less work for me so that I make them work for their food, but I have them make pizzas and galettes and all sorts of fun stuff.

David: That's cool. Do you have a cooking background?

Ben: Somewhat. My mom is a, like, semiprofessional. She's been working as a cook and a chef for a really long time, and when I was home for one summer, I cooked something on the Great British baking show every day with my mom, so it was like a new, a new challenge every day, and so now I have a few different things under my belt.

David: Taj is also a semiprofessional, really, a professional cook. She has like nine jobs before. Short-order cook.

Tajira: It's true. I was a private chef for NBA players for some years.

David: Wait, I didn't know that!

Jacob: Wait, for real?

Tajira: Yeah.

Jacob: Okay, the podcast is changing now.

Tajira: I thought you guys knew that part.

David: Are you serious, Taj?

Tajira: Yeah.

David: You have lived so many incredible lives.

Tajira: I just do what's fun.

David: Can we stay on this for a second? So how many clients did you have? Was this a full-time job? Did you like live there? Did you go there every day? How much are you cooking for an NBA player?

Tajira: It was part-time. It was actually while I was in law school. So I was living in LA, I was doing the evening program, and when I let go of my full-time job in insurance, I picked up some law jobs and things, but those didn't pay well, so I also picked up some side things. And I was living with a girl who was dating an NBA player, and he was the first person I cooked for.

And then I started staging for some others and cooked for a few families. I can't say who, obviously, but yes, it would be full weeks' worth of meals, loading up their fridge, just doing the things. Everybody in the house had different dietary restrictions, you know, so it was like trying to make sure everybody was covered, sometimes wives and girlfriends.

David: Do you remember—

Jacob: Not wives and girlfriends for the same house, right?

Tajira: Uh-huh.

David: Do you remember, I don't know, like a decade ago now, I'm so old, I've lost all track of time, but when, you know, Michael Phelps was in the winter Olympics, I feel like every day, NBC, I think it was NBC, did a special about what he ate for breakfast, which was by far like my favorite part of the Olympics, because it was like 13 eggs, six omelets, four blueberry pancakes with sandwiches stacked on top. It was like that Beauty and the Beast song where Gaston is like bragging about how much he eats. Was it like that with the NBA players?

Tajira: Yes, because they had to have high-protein, high-carb diets because they were in the midst of like training or doing whatever. A lot of times the wives would be on like something completely different, kind of like, I guess what we would call keto now, but it used to be called like Atkins, and, you know, everybody was dealing with something else, or you'd find someone that's like, oh, well, I'm doing like a macrobiotics thing, and then I'd have to go research what that meant.

So it just depends, but that was the private side. And then, as David knows, more recently, some friends of mine opened a wine bar that has a full restaurant and they needed a chef for a while. So I stepped in for about two months last year and was their cook there.

David: This is fascinating. Let's get started, because it also transitions into what Ben is doing right now. So...

Tajira: Awesome.

David: A little late. So I'm David. I'm a partner at 7Sage. I'm joined by Taj McCoy, former director of admissions at Berkeley, former insurance adjuster, didn't know that either. Former private chef for NBA players. Also with Ben McAnally. Ben, did I get your last name right?

Ben: Yes.

David: All right. I nailed it. Slam dunk. So Ben is a 7Sage tutor, also a chef, also a camp counselor. And I'm here with Jacob Baska. Jacob, can you give us like the fun fact now?

Jacob: Oh, sure. So, right. So my cooking thing. So barbecue aficionado, which means semi-pro, right. So the out plan I always have is that if something goes sideways professionally, we'll just open up the brisket and ribs and pulled-pork truck and just boogie outta here. And we've also checked out the barbecue scene in like Auckland, New Zealand, Vancouver, British Columbia, again, in case things go sideways and we need to skedaddle. There's a need for good old-fashioned American barbecue, and a couple good markets internationally, and so we've already, we've scoped that out.

Tajira: Awesome.

David: Nice. What was your favorite barbecue?

Jacob: Oh, man. You know, to go off, a little off-kilter, so my main things are brisket, ribs, pulled pork. The best I've had, though, is in Seoul. So some barbecue in Seoul, but American barbecue, and so just to see the ways that it gets filtered through different cultural lenses is really amazing. And, I mean, at the end of the day, just getting some ribs is always satisfying, especially in places where you don't expect it.

David: Right. And what I didn't mention, perhaps least importantly, Jake is also the former director of admissions at—

Jacob: In a former life, yes.

Tajira: I was just going to say really offhand, Jake, my parents and I, we usually go to the Best of the West BBQ Rib Cook-Off every year in Sparks, Nevada. You guys should come. It's amazing. People come from Australia and all over the world. It's incredible.

Jacob: Oh man. Yeah, that's, my wife and I have all these food- and drink-based vacations lined up for once the kids get a little older, you know, so that's on the radar.

David: Maybe we'll have a 7Sage summit meeting there.

Tajira: That would be amazing.

David: Ben, I wanted to ask you about your cooking and counseling because I think that you have something else lined up. You're going to Harvard Law School in 2023, and you got in early through Harvard's Junior Deferral Program. Is that right?

Ben: Yes, that's right.

David: So I wanted to talk today, not just about barbecue and cooking, although that is much more fun. I did want to talk about deferring law school, and I want to start by asking you, Ben, to tell us about Harvard's program. How do you apply? Who's it for? Why should people consider it?

Ben: Yeah, so the program is geared toward people finishing their junior year in undergrad. So the idea is for some sort of nontraditional students basically having at least one more year of college ahead of you, and you apply, it looks like the deadline next year, I just checked, it's probably going to be April 1st, and you apply. It's not rolling admissions like most law school admissions. There's a single deadline. You do have to take the LSAT, and you have to take it early, and there's, you know, some rec letters, an essay, standard things, but then you actually hear back sort of mid to late summer, I think July 1st.

And then you sort of go into a senior year of college knowing that you have a law school admission. The catch or the bonus, depending on how you think about it, is you have to take a two-year, or get to take, at least in my opinion, it's certainly get to take, a two-year deferral between college and law school where you don't have to worry about taking LSAT or, you know, recommendation letters from people who barely remember your name or something like that, and then get to go after that. So that's the basic pitch of the program.

David: And why is it a bonus, in your opinion, to take two years between college and law school?

Ben: In my opinion, it's this really wonderful gift that's actually twofold. I think the first is it helps to take some time between undergrad and law school for a few different reasons. I actually worked with a group of Junior Deferral Program students to write a series of blog posts for HLS admissions office and was trying to gather together people of who sort of fit into different categories of why somebody might want to do this.

And the categories I found were some people just want to see if law school's really for them, right, and confirm, and so they work at a law firm or in, you know, some sort of legal adjacent or related field. Some people want to get extra experience outside of direct law in whatever area they want to go into. So somebody worked for basically undergraduate college doing minority admissions work, right, because that's what they eventually want to do in a legal field. So they worked in an adjacent area. Somebody wanted to get basically experience, a ton of experience, working really hard and making some money before law school, and so they went and did management consulting.

And I think those are three of, you know, three pretty standard categories for why people are in this program and do deferrals in general. And then there was me, which was like a total sort of left-field card. I'm not doing anything related, at least this year, to what I plan to do later on. It was just get out into the broader world, slow down, swerve, and build some, in David Brooks' words, eulogy rather than resume virtues. Some things that are just sort of broadly applicable to life rather than law school admissions.

And I think the beauty of having a deferral program like this is you don't have to build a resume in the intervening two years, because, one, it's probably not going to show up the next time you apply to anything anyway, and so it gives you an excuse to do something you might not otherwise have the courage to do.

David: I like that distinction between resume virtues and eulogy virtues. Tell us more about how you've been using your time and how you've been building up the eulogy virtues.

Ben: Yeah, I actually heard that distinction for the first time at a keynote address in DC. I was about halfway through a two-month road trip around the country after graduating, basically just living out of my car, and I heard David Brooks give this address and he was basically making a pitch for people graduating college not to immediately jump into their future careers, the argument being the actual career window is getting longer.

People are able to work later into life because of, you know, improvements in healthcare, and the expectations are not that you're committed to one sort of career track for the rest of your life, and that a lot of these things that people are looking for are not things, you know, employers and just life, you know, people in your life in general are not really looking for things that you can get just staying on one track.

And so actually at that point, I had just gotten an offer from my dream law firm, this boutique federal appellate litigation firm in DC, to do this two-year fellowship, and it was sorely, sorely tempting, and David Brooks at first, generally, talking with him briefly afterward, directly told me don't do that. That's a bad idea. You're wasting time partially because of, you know, opportunity cost, and partially just because, you know, if you want to work at a law firm and you're sure that you want to go to law school and work in a legal field, and I do, that you should really do something else before you go to law school and build some other kinds of things.

So I chose to go do this AmeriCorps position in Southern Colorado. I, during the academic year, was working with second-graders doing academic interventions, and the reason that I chose that is because I'm doing this collaborative storytelling project, which is a whole side passion project of mine. But now I'm running a summer camp, as David briefly mentioned, and cook for 12 every day, and I'm teaching kids how to make fun pastries and food. Also cleaning up a lot of child messes and opening juice cartons and fun stuff like that.

David: Yeah. The Capri Suns are really difficult. We could do like a master's program in that. To aim it, and you like, you always pierce the back.

Ben: Exactly. I've become kind of a pro, if I do say so myself.

David: I believe it. I believe, you're a man of many talents. Actually, I want to go back to the storytelling project, but let's put it on hold. We'll focus on deferrals for a second. I'm interested to hear about the collaborative storytelling project. But turning to our former admissions professionals, and also, of course, food professionals, do we have a sense whether Harvard's JDP program is more or less competitive than, you know, applying through the regular channel? And I'm also just wondering, you know, why a school would offer a program like this. What's the advantage from an admissions perspective?

Jacob: Yeah. So, you know, to jump in on that one, at least per Harvard's website, they try to make it pretty clear that it is no more or less competitive to do the JDP versus regular admission. I think it's still a reasonably new enough program where we don't have enough of a track record on that, though I'll let Taj jump in with her two cents on that one, but you know why a school would do this?

Because it's an opportunity to lock in some amazing students and have the bonus of them getting that experience for a couple years, that it's never a problem to see students come right through from undergrad, but there is that missed lived-in experience because you're going to go into a law school environment where it's a Socratic educational process, and having lived-in experience, having professional experience, having a variety of different backgrounds to contribute to those conversations is really beneficial to the larger educational process.

But it can be hard to tell people, go do something, go work for a little bit, then come back, if they have that feeling over their shoulder of am I putting myself at a disadvantage if I go to work for a little bit of time? I know they're telling me to do this, but do they really mean it? So it gives students this guarantee of, or this blessing, hey, we'll see you in two years' time, go do something out in the world. And as Ben mentioned, the variety of backgrounds and experiences these students are accumulating, that's only going to enrich the Harvard educational experience, which is already a pretty rich experience.

David: Taj, do they really mean it when admissions officers tell you to go get experience before you apply? Because, of course, that's the other way that you can unofficially defer law school, simply by just actually deferring your application.

Tajira: Sure. You know, the fun thing about this particular program is I think it kind of gives folks the opportunity of, instead of applying and going straight through, I want you to apply, I want you to show me what a great candidate you are right now, and I want you to also show me that you're mature enough to sign on to this and guarantee that you're going to go get experience. It's a really smart program because it takes those folks that would otherwise be trying to go straight through and funnels them to go get experience first instead.

And I like that about this. I think, you know, in terms of this versus the folks who apply and then ultimately request deferral, the processes are a bit different because, for some schools, deferral is, there's some hurdles that you have to overcome to get to a yes on deferral otherwise. But for this, it's a planned thing.

It doesn't surprise me that their acceptance rate for the JDP program would be similar to their acceptance rate in the rest of their program. I think that's what most schools would try to do even with their early decision programs as well. So that's pretty standard. And so, in my mind, I think this particular program is actually quite brilliant because where some schools, you can tell that they lean towards candidates that have experience, and you can tell that based on their average age, here, they're giving folks the opportunity by kind of building it into a program and just getting those folks to go out there and get that experience. And it's like it's their idea.

David: Let's go to something else you said. You mentioned that there are hurdles for folks who ask for a deferral after their acceptance. What are those hurdles and how do you get to a yes if you've already been accepted and you want a deferral?

Tajira: That's a great question. As you know, I've worked at five different law schools, and so at each one, the deferral process has been a little bit different. For the most recent law school where I actually helped to manage the deferral process was at Berkeley. Typically we had people submit a form. The primary reasons why we would approve a deferral request was if someone was either completing another graduate degree program and they needed another year, maybe they were being deployed by the military, maybe they were a Rhodes Scholar and had another year of fellowship or something like that.

Typically there had to be some sort of a major reason. It couldn't just be, I just want to gain a year of experience. For that, we would tend to stress to applicants that you need to apply in the year that you actually intend to enroll. And so it depends. For other schools, because maybe they've overenrolled, they offer to everybody. There are some schools that will offer the opportunity to defer to folks who are on the waitlist, in a way to kind of begin building their class early. And so it depends on the strategy of each school that offers deferrals.

I found where some schools, they really don't want to offer deferrals because they don't want people to try to tag along their scholarship money because sometimes scholarship can be deferred also. And so there's a lot of moving parts to consider. It's also knowing that if you offer that deferral, that's one less seat you get to offer in the next cycle and your goals are going to be different in that next cycle. So a lot of times, senior admissions officials tend to be careful and cautious with how many deferrals they're going to offer, simply because from year to year, your goals change and you've got to be prepared for that.

David: Jacob, talk to us about deferrals at Notre Dame or deferrals in your experience.

Jacob: Yeah. To drill down specifically into what we did and to build off what Taj said, I think that we were probably at the more liberal end of matters because anyone who works in admissions long enough, I mean, you just run into so many different cases where the plans change, life intervenes, in whatever way, shape, or form. So we would have students who were fully committed to enrolling at Notre Dame Law School, and then a health issue would pop up or a family issue would pop up. They would find out that they were three months pregnant and were scheduled to have a baby halfway during 1L year, which, children are a blessing, but maybe not during 1L year.

We twice had students win their state competition for Miss America, and so they deferred for a year. Oh, it gets better. They deferred for a year to compete in Miss America, which is right around Labor Day. And then they both won, and then neither of them actually attended Notre Dame Law School. So, you know, so life comes in between everything from the personal health and tragedies to Miss America, and the tragedy being not enrolling in Notre Dame Law School.

But we treated this, we would often have conversations with students about whether it would be more appropriate to defer or to reapply, and the usual logic flow we would have is, are you sure you want to come to Notre Dame, but you just need to go take care of something else for a year, in which case postponing or deferring is going to be the better course of action. We'll lock you in, we'll also lock in your scholarship, you're good to go, and we'll see you in the next year. Or are you kind of wavering about Notre Dame? You want to leave your options open to test the waters again, or it may be a two-year thing or a three-year thing.

So perhaps you just gained admission to a PhD program. Or we had one student, Notre Dame being Notre Dame, we had one student who wanted to consider a vocation to the priesthood and he wanted to postpone by a year, but based on my knowledge of the seminary, it is more akin to a PhD program where you may find out in a year it's not a good fit. You may not find until three, four, five years down the road. So is it a one-year thing? Are you sure you're coming to Notre Dame? And if not either of those things, you may just want to reapply in the following cycle.

So, but other schools, like Taj mentioned, they may guarantee admission, but they may reconsider you for scholarship. Or, from our standpoint, because we were considering this to be a definite attendance, if we're locking you and the expectation is you aren't applying to other law schools, and if that changes, let us know so that you can then reapply for us as well. Where other schools are very open with students who postpone, allowing them to apply to any and all other schools, it's really important, if a student finds himself in early July and a life issue has arisen, to have that conversation with the law school where they're currently deposited to make sure they fully understand what the policies may be.

David: Did either of you ever grant multiyear deferrals?

Jacob: So we did a two-year for Teach For America, and that was the exception because TFA, since it was, we knew it was going to be a two-year commitment, we were willing to do that one.

Tajira: I also did one for a two-year master's program.

David: What's to stop a student from accepting a deferral and then just reapplying anyway?

Jacob: Ethics, morals. No, no, no, no. So, at the end of the day, if a student were to tell us, hey, I'm postponing a year, and then apply to other schools and cancel, there's nothing that we could do to stop that, other than potentially file a misconduct with LSAC, because we would have a student fill out a form to say, I'm not going to apply to other schools, and if I change my mind on that, I'll notify you. But do you really want to file a misconduct with LSAC about this one?

Really, so it depends on the school, and it depends on the nature of the case, and it depends on the conversations with the student, but we really encourage our students to be open with us, and we would be open with them about our policies. And if they determine this is the right road to go down, then here are our expectations. And if things change for you, just keep us in the conversation.

Tajira: I think it's also a matter of, you know, for us at some of the schools where we offer deferrals, we offer only binding deferrals versus, you know, a deferral where it's clear that, you know, if they decide they want to retake the LSAT and try again next year across the board, or try again for more scholarship or whatever the case may be, that they can do that. The risk that a candidate runs if they apply, request a binding deferral, and get one is if they then step out of bounds, they run the risk of having admissions rescinded. And I've seen that happen at multiple schools.

I've seen where the person applied to one school, that school notified the school where the person had the binding admission, they got rescinded from both. And so, you know, it's, this is an industry where everybody knows everybody, and schools, as much as you want to think that we're all in competition all of the time, we actually are very collegial and we believe in the integrity of this process and we uphold it together, and so it's important to note that.

David: Okay. Well, let's say that I apply, and Taj, you accept me to Berkeley, and Jacob, you accept me to Notre Dame. And then I, you know, decide that I want to go cook galettes for the kiddies with Ben for a year, maybe two years. And so I tell both of you, actually, you know what? I'm going to reapply. I have to rethink this. If I reapply, are my chances worse the next year? I mean, I've already burned you once. Are you guys worried that I'll burn you again?

Jacob: That's not a problem. So for folks who reapply, and we see a lot of this conversation on social media and we run into this with our clients who are reapplying. Gosh, is this a problem? No, but it's probably something you want to address on your application for the next time around, because not only is this the second time that you're applying, but you've already been admitted. You've already heard our best sales pitch, right? We've already put you in touch with alumni for networking and with faculty to find out about classes and our current students. You've heard everything.

So at this point, you know, we always say that a "why school X" statement is kind of softly required. For those students who are reapplying, it's really required. Why this time around is this the right time to go to law school? From going through this entire yield process, application and yield process, are you sure that we're still a really good fit for you, et cetera? And if the student can really address that directly, there's no problem at all. If they leave that to the side, though, in the admissions committee room, that will be a question. Gosh, so why, what happened two years ago? What's changed in the meantime and why are we still a good fit for them now?

David: I see. How many, I don't know if you can tell me this, or I'm sure it changes from year to year, but how many deferrals are you guys typically granting? This is a big secret?

Tajira: I can't speak for the last few years at Berkeley, but in years past, it would be probably close to about the same number of people that are admitted to the early decision program. So about 10% of the class that's intended to come in.

David: That's a big number. That's bigger than I expected. What percent would you estimate requested a deferral and wouldn't get one?

Tajira: Because the process is very kind of clear and requires a form, there weren't a ton of people who were denied a deferral request, of the folks that actually made the request.

David: That's helpful. All right. Well, any other thoughts about deferrals? Anything else that our listeners should know about deferrals before we turn to collaborative storytelling?

Jacob: The reason why, so my microphone was on mute when Taj started laughing, but I was laughing too, is I think we need to differentiate between two things in a topic we haven't really discussed, and not to open a can of worms before collaborative storytelling, but in a "normal" admissions year, how many natural deferrals are there? Every school has their number, and it's going to range between a handful to, like Taj mentioned, maybe 10%, maybe a little bit more than that.

But the last two years have been really interesting in admission, and one strategy that schools can pursue if they find that they are overdeposited is to encourage students to postpone for a year by increasing scholarship if they postpone. And so these are, we need to differentiate between a student-driven postponement versus an administrative postponement.

In cases like that, it's because kind of like when you show up at the airport and too many people have shown up for the flight and they need to encourage people to take another flight, we've seen schools go down that road too, and that's probably affected numbers of postponements drastically, because if a school typically enrolls 200 students and they're sitting at 250 deposits on June 1st, after a second deposit deadline, they need to bring that number down. They may not literally have enough seats in the different lecture rooms to hold those students. And so their postponements going into the next cycle may be a little bit bigger because they were inducing students to delay a year.

David: And that happened last cycle, right?

Jacob: It's happening this cycle, according to social media. Yeah. And in a lot of those cases, schools will be pretty up-front about that. They'll reach out to students. The question will be, do they do it after the initial deposit deadline? Do they do it after the second deposit deadline? Schools have different policies and they have different strategies to pursue that. And much like airlines sometimes, they lock you in if you accept the first offer. Some schools have been pretty up-front to tell students, if we have to increase our offer down the road and you've already accepted it, we'll come back to you to give you the offer that we gave to the latest folks to take it, et cetera. So, yeah, it's been out there.

David: Ben, bring us home. Tell us about the collaborative storytelling project and give us a glimpse of what our listeners might do if they defer.

Ben: Yeah, absolutely. I want to make one tiny note before I do that about the HLS Junior Deferral Program, that similar to what sounds like a lot of other deferral programs, you do sign a commitment not to apply to other schools while you hold that deferral, but it's also not binding. You aren't committed to attend the school, right? But you're committed to, say, if you choose not to attend, or if you choose to apply to another school, you're expected to let them know, right, rescind your admission, and you're able to reapply.

And my understanding is that reapplication isn't, you know, questioned or frowned upon, with a small caveat that if you reapply your senior year, and I am not a representative of HLS's admissions department, so take this with a grain of salt, and you can confirm if this sounds plausible, Taj and Jacob, but there's this question, you know, you've made this whole pitch for why you're so committed to deferring for two years, right, and then if you follow it up and say, actually, I want to go right after college just because now I know I can get in, there's this sort of asterisk on your application. Well, okay, was that first commitment disingenuous or did something really meaningfully change?

Jacob: That seems pretty logical, and it sounds like you are a sharp enough person where you should consider attending Harvard Law School in the future.

Ben: Yeah, yeah. So for collaborative storytelling, this has been something that I've done for a really long time. It's actually part of my personal statements for both undergrad and law school. They both open basically with me playing imaginary games with my brother as a kid. That was one of the things that was most central to all of my formative experiences, that my brother and I and, you know, friends that we pulled in on occasion just lived in lots of different imaginary worlds, and that as I've grown up, I've realized that that process of telling a story with other people is pretty crucial for building narrative capacity when you're growing up, building this capacity for self-authorship as an adult, and then meaningfully engaging with and becoming involved in a community.

And, you know, as I transition toward the political theory, which is where I'm going next year, the body politic, right? So my law school personal statement basically made this connection between this collaborative storytelling platform that I've been building for a few years called Istoria. It's designed to basically get parents and young children talking and telling stories together, get these kids, get these kids to engage in what I call the five Cs, curiosity, communication, compassion, critical thinking, and then creativity, all sort of building on each other, and then getting the parents to actually imagine and engage in this sort of fun process that makes you take yourself a little less seriously. I actually think it's really valuable for the parents as well.

That is actually really similar to, in many ways, what we're trying to do with the system of laws that, I reference Dworkin's famous _Law's Empire_, where he argues that the proper role of a judge is to take part in the collective authorship of what he calls a chain novel, that what you're doing when you're writing a legal decision is you're participating in this story that we're all telling together about our institution of laws. And my argument in that essay, and moving forward with other writing that I've done, is that basically it's a very particular and very important kind of story that we tell with our law. It's one where we cannot help but be its characters, and so that we'd better tell that story well, and we'd better tell it inclusively and collectively.

So I've been spending a bunch of time this summer now playing D&D with 10-year-olds, which has been super fun, and next year I'm going to be doing a master's in political and legal theory and doing the nerdier, more boring side of that. But I've been really enjoying building, basically, these stories for 6- to 8-year-olds, and then actually engaging in this process with these kids in the summer camp as well, to see if I can prove this theory that I have.

David: I love it. Well, a couple of us are writers. I'm a writer, Taj is a writer too. Jake, you're probably a writer too. I have no idea. But thanks for making it feel important, what we're doing. I didn't know that we were shaping the body politic.

Ben: You know, at least that's what I'm telling myself I'm doing. I think it would be, yeah, it's a good story, and it lets me combine, you know, two of my passions into one. If I can see federal appellate litigation, my hopeful future career, as a particular kind of storytelling, I'm much more excited about it and compelled by becoming involved with it rather than having to compartmentalize self for career and vocation.

David: All right. Well, Ben, thanks so much for talking to us. Jacob, Taj, thanks for joining us. Ben, you probably have a lunch to cook for a bunch of hungry people. It was a pleasure. This was a really informative discussion. Thanks, everyone.

Jacob: Happy to be here.

Tajira: Thanks so much.

J.Y.: Hi, it's J.Y. again. Thank you for listening. As always, if you are studying for the LSAT, applying to law school, studying for your law school exams, or studying for the bar, come visit us at We can help.

That's it for this episode. Take care of yourself, and see you next time.