“The first thing I lost in law school was the reason I came”

Back in March, I came across this post at Poverty Law blog:

A student who wants to do work on social justice came to my office and after I emailed him Bill Quigley’s essay, Letter to a Law Student Interested in Social Justice, he sent me a link to Dean Spade’s essay, For Those Considering Law School.   Both are worth reading by those considering law school — and even though in law school or teaching at law school.  Three somewhat more dated essays include Duncan Kennedy’s Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy (a canonical classic), Robert A. Williams, Jr.’s Vampires Anonymous and Critical Race Practice (a favorite of mine), and my On Becoming “Professor” (mine, though it is the weakest link in this list of essays).

I decided to auto-post this at the beginning of each semester, with the reminder that

by most objective standards, law school is not a place that social justice-minded human beings should willingly be. And yet here they, we, are. We, teachers and students both, must struggle together to create something more out of the experience than marshaled consumption of (expensive) case books, debt-binding, and then hierarchical sorting of students for their disbursement into the hegemony.

Today marks the beginning of the Fall semester. For the first time since I’ve been at CYLC, we’ve moved to a six-credit model, giving more time and space for students to explore law and justice beyond the day-to-day tasks of handling cases and getting case managers to call them back. Our goals this semester are to look outward and see individual clients as part of wider community efforts and struggles. It will take more than two extra credits to make that happen, but I hope I can report back positive results. Here’s to a good semester.


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