The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have highlighted to the world that systemic racism exists. It has caused many law schools, law firms and other legal employers to grapple with how to foster more diversity and inclusion as well as what it means to be antiracist.
A popular keyword for psychologists and transformational leaders these days is “resilience.” The dictionary definition of resilience is the ability to recover. Synonyms are “perseverance,” “elasticity,” “toughness,” “flexibility” and “durability.”
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.