I’m still processing what happened on Tuesday. I know that everyone is, but I felt it really important to send a message to current law students who are feeling overwhelmed with this situation.
I didn’t experience anything similar to this when I was in law school—“this” not being the negative results of an election, but entire communities of legal professionals stunned and unsure about the future. Obviously, immigration attorneys are concerned, but anyone interested in consumer protection, legal aid, the environment, education, housing, etc etc. is facing a great unknown and concern about how the legal landscape will be impacted.
And that doesn’t even cover the concern over the physical and emotional well-being of POC, LGBTQ, Muslims, immigrants—I can go on and on.
It’s a lot to take on and as students, many of you are also activists and looking for ways to fight back. That is commendable and I love seeing the fire, the drive, and commitment to resist.
So here’s my one piece of advice for you for what you can do right now to make sure we have the capacity to fight back in the future:
Focus on your exams.
That sounds crazy, but hear me out–
Your exams are in a couple of weeks and the system and process of how law school works is still in play. Your grades will matter in your ability to get fellowships, clerkships, and internships—getting that experience will parlay into real work and an ability to use your license for the betterment of our society.
What I don’t want is for you to let this situation distract you from being able to focus and study. Easier said than done, I know. But believe me, it is OK for you to make your exams a priority. We need people of color in positions of power—to be disrupters in an unjust system, but that won’t happen if you can’t get your foot in the door.
I’m not saying that you should be idle and ignore the realities of what’s happening, but recognize that will be some time in the coming weeks where you will have to turn it off and focus on your finals. Don’t feel selfish for doing so—in fact, it’s never been so vital.
It’s never been clearer that we will need an army of attorneys ready and equipped to face whatever is ahead. You can’t get that license if you don’t pass those classes.
Of course, removing yourself from what’s happening is hard. I recommend disconnecting from social media if you’re being overwhelmed with information. And, shameless plug, make sure you’re subscribed to this site because I hope to provide more information that will be helpful during this time.
Aside from disconnecting, you should take time to do self-care. In whatever form that brings you some type of levity and joy. It will make you feel better as you head into exams. In fact, I think we should all take the weekend to invest in some ways to make ourselves feel loved and safe.
Finally, reach out for help if it’s truly overwhelming. The stakes here are so high. I can’t imagine the fear you may be experiencing if you’re part of the demographic that was viciously called out during the election season. All schools should have a therapy/mental health resource. Reach out for that help if you need it. And reach out to friends that may need support as well.
Finding a community, support, and focus will help realign you and help you stay committed to your goal. Don’t let this defeat undermine your commitment to justice. Make a plan to dominate your finals. It’s not selfish—it’s really the most critical step we need you to take right now.