Gabe Rossman, '17
Hometown: Great Barrington, Massachusetts
Undergrad: Wesleyan University
College major: Psychology and The College of Social Studies (an interdisciplinary social studies major that incorporated philosophy, government, history, and economics)
Law School activities: CLF, Dean’s Advisory Board, Intramural Basketball
Gabe Rossman, ’17, doesn’t just like thinking about the law — he likes thinking about how it affects people and society.
“My interest in the law has grown out of my interest in history, economics, psychology, and how these disciplines help us understand the way that society operates, how individuals operate in society, and how best to solve problems,” said Gabe, whose varied intellectual interests led him to focus on psychology, philosophy, government, history, and economics in college. “I wanted to attend a law school that would not only teach me the fundamentals of our legal system, but would also provide me with an opportunity learn about the ways that economic, social, and historical forces shape the law. I wanted to gain the most intellectually comprehensive view of our legal system possible.”
That’s what he found at the Law School. “All of the professors at the Law School appreciate that law was not formed in a vacuum,” he said. “Many of them have advanced degrees in history, economics, or other social sciences, and all of the professors approach law from an interdisciplinary perspective.”
For instance, in the Torts class he took from Saul Levmore, the William B. Graham Distinguished Service Professor of Law, the discussion often focused on societal impacts.
“We’ll look at a case and how it came out, and we’ll think about the ruling will affect future behavior on a number of different levels — economic incentives, the way people relate to it psychologically, how it interacts with their moral intuition,” Gabe said. “And the Property class taught by Professor Helmholz is infused with history. He has a PhD in medieval history. Whether you studied history, economics, political science, or psychology in undergrad, you’ll find that your knowledge, experience, and insight is relevant to what is done here at the Law School.”
He hopes the interdisciplinary approach will give him the tools to make positive social change once he graduates. “I think the type of thinking that is encouraged here will help us use our degrees in a way that allows us to do that kind of work, that transcends basic legal thinking.”
When he isn’t studying, Gabe likes to play basketball, and joins a group of other students for pickup games two or three times a week.
“That helps keep me balanced,” he said. “It is possible to be a 1L and be balanced.”
What advice do you have for 1Ls?
“Be ready to be out of your comfort zone,” Gabe said. “Law school presents a different type of intellectual challenge than what you might have experienced in undergrad. Law school trains you not just to understand theories, or to write about them and critique them, but to actually apply them to complex circumstances that are deliberately difficult and confusing. This inquiry is challenging, engaging, and rewarding, but takes some time to adjust to, especially if your background is more theoretically oriented.”