As someone deeply passionate about social justice and public interest lawyering, I have found Bill Quigley’s “Letter to a Law Student,” particularly telling and poignant. Quigley notes that “justice is a counter-cultural value in our legal profession,” and that a social justice student “cannot be afraid to be different than others in law school or the profession.”
Quigley’s words have rang true for me: becoming a social justice lawyer can at times be challenging and isolating, and yet fulfilling beyond words. As a law student, my most memorable moments have been at the intersection of social justice and the law: being able to stand up in court and argue on behalf of a survivor of domestic violence in her family law case, working with a refugee on his immigration case, or conducting human rights research and advocacy from Sierra Leone to India. My experiences in law school have only taught me to think more critically about social justice lawyering. This work can be a challenge: it forces you to think on your feet, can be emotionally draining, exposes you to ethical questions and quandaries, and requires you to grapple with complexity. You realize that nothing is quite simple; no problem is so easily solved. You lose some idealism, but you gain in critical insight and wisdom.
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