Guiding Students From Law School Into the World

It seems that one of the things we law professors can do to help our students develop their identities as professionals and their obligations to the greater society is to incorporate into the law school events that plug students into what’s going on in the “real world.“ I did just this in a small way this week by offering all the students the opportunity to attend and participate in a talk/discussion about the Supreme Court arguments that were heard last week in the DACA case.

The students were invited to attend a portion of my immigration clinic class. Food and pro bono credit hours helped, I’m sure, but the event brought a plentiful group of students I had not interacted with before, who were both knowledgeable about and interested in the issue of the day.  The event lasted only about 45 minutes, but that was long enough to produce a lively and I think informative conversation about oral arguments, professionalism, case theory, the role of policy, administrative law, and of course the specific legal issues raised by the case.

With so much of the law school endeavor focused on exam taking and other tasks that force students into a single-focused, competitive role, bringing them into a discussion about key issues at stake in our country in the moment could likely enhance their connections to their future and help them envision some individual goals they can aim for once out in that “real world.”

One Response

  1. Great idea. We might also encourage our students to begin the process of professional acclimation by participating in their state bar association’s Law Student Section. Here in Michigan, for instance, the Law Student Section’s mission is to ”increase student involvement in the State Bar of Michigan” and to “further professional opportunities among law students.” Membership is only $15/year and includes the opportunity to join many State Bar Sections dues-free.

    Sections offer opportunities to interact with lawyers who share similar interests. Sections also sponsor seminars, and most publish newsletters. Thus a student interested in Business Law, Consumer Law, Environmental Law, Family Law, or many other practice areas, can get a jump start by joining that Section.

    How do we encourage students to join the Law Student Section? Maybe by including an application in our course-pack or on our course website, and with an occasional plug during class. Many students wrongly think of their state bar association only in the context of forcing them to take a bar exam to join (it’s actually the state’s Supreme Court that imposes that requirement). In reality, state bar associations promote professionalism and career advancement. The earlier that soon-to-be lawyers begin their state bar involvement, the better for them and the profession.

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