Apologies to minority law students feel necessary. The ugly side of the American law continues to rear its head. A few weeks ago, you witnessed a legal system—one that eagerly uses petty misdemeanor offenses to control and ruin lives—abscond responsibility for killing a sleeping, innocent Black woman.
Last year, I wrote that the legal profession’s failure to retain women and minorities was not a “hard problem,” but rather a character flaw. My intent was not to imply malice; many partners at law firms genuinely want their diversity numbers to improve. Still, facts are facts.
‘Tis the season. No, not for holiday shopping (thankfully), but for law clerk hiring. Prospective clerks are hearing back on offers for next year right about now, and it’s never too early to begin preparing. I often muse on my time as a law clerk and the rewards of the experience. And although articles abound regarding the benefits of a clerkship, there are few that offer advice to incoming clerks on what they should do to prepare for the experience.
In one of life’s ironies, the very things that make a great lawyer may also make a lawyer miserable. Growing up, we were overachievers seeking extra credit, going the extra mile and doing whatever was needed to get the highest grades. Achievement equaled value; if we did not get more than 100 on a test, we failed. This is the lawyer’s curse of perfectionism: The quest for excellence metastasized into an obsession with results.
In the popular Lin-Manuel Miranda musical Hamilton, the title character makes his way through the narrative while facing the injustices of British tyrannical rule, the complexities of forming a government and the benefits and consequences that come from running his mouth at less-than-appropriate times.
As guinea pigs of Zoom law school classes, we learned—the hard way—what it’s like to be first-year law students in a world battling COVID-19. As 1L section mates, we supported each other through an unprecedented finale to our first spring semester at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law in Chicago.