Law students implored to make positive impact on world — together
August 17, 2021
August 17, 2021
“The world needs your healing now — very badly,” School of Law Dean Jennifer Gerarda Brown told the 129 future attorneys. “After you learn to think like a lawyer, you will still need to feel like a human being. The more you weave together your new knowledge and skills with consciousness of who you have been and who you are, the more likely you’ll find yourself in the future doing something you love — because you’ll have made sure that your professional life harmonizes with who you are as a person.”
The dean urged the students to work together for positive change.
“I want you to turn to your left and turn to your right — but I want you to look those people in the eye, bump their fist or elbow and say, ‘We’re in this together,’” she said before giving the future attorneys the opportunity to take the first steps in working together. “Look around this room and see your team, your friends, maybe a future law partner or client, maybe a future sweetheart or spouse. They could be in this very room right now. Be present for each other.”
This year’s incoming law class — 111 full-time and 18 part-time — has a lot to be proud of, being selected from 1,116 applications, up 26% from last year. Nearly a quarter of the class self-identify as members of underrepresented minority groups in the legal profession, and three students have military experience, two in the U.S. Navy and one in the U.S. Army. The class represents 18 states, speaks 19 foreign languages and dialects; and has traveled, worked or studied abroad in at least 27 countries on four continents.
“Bring your past to this enterprise,” Brown told the students. “Be present and reach out to your classmates, and set goals for your future based on intrinsic motivation and a desire for growth. Put simply: Bring your whole self.”
However, she noted this is not a normal time — as the country and world continues to fight COVID-19, and the many implications thereof. It also highlights how important it is to appreciate each other, and the time we spend with each other.
“Our physical presence with each other is a precious, precious gift, and as for myself, I resolve to never, ever take it for granted,” she said. “Be here. Take chances. Reach out to people. Ask classmates if they want to study with you, and set up a time to meet in the library or in one of our team study rooms. Invite others to coffee, lunch, a beer, the gym or a potluck dinner party. Contact your Day-One mentors — students and faculty — and get to know them. They want to get to know you: That’s why they volunteered for the gig. They are not just crisis counselors; they can also celebrate small wins with you and help you find your way not only to survive law school, but to thrive here.”
Brown told the incoming class that this not a time to hold back, but a time to dive in.
“Welcome to your professional future,” she said. “As for now, welcome! My heart is very full, and I’m excited for the year ahead. Let’s enjoy this journey together.”
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