From hot girl summer to focused girl fall, our lawyer bae goal remains the same, but here are five things to keep in mind as we transition into the new season so we can increase the 5% of lawyers that are black:
1. Reflect! Remember what the summer taught you. Celebrate your wins and learn from your losses!
Every season has a reason. Take some time to reflect on every month from May to August and ask yourself: what did I learn? Professionally and personally? What lessons can I take and turn them into wisdom for the fall? What did I do this summer that I should continue doing this fall? Did you accomplish your summer goals? Why or why not? Honest reflection is key!
I will never forget the summer after my first year of law school. I moved to Houston, Texas, to clerk for a federal judge. If you don't know, a federal clerkship is an internship with a federal judge. A clerk has many roles, but my main role was helping my judge with her caseload by researching and drafting orders in response to motions. Federal clerkships are usually given to rising 3Ls, but I was a rising 2L blessed with the opportunity thanks to connections made at my HBCU, Hampton University.
I had never been to Texas, nor did I have any family/close friends in Texas, but I could not pass up the opportunity. Long story short: my initial living arrangements went up in hell, literally. The apartment air conditioning broke, and the property manager could care less. If you don't know, Texas is HOT during the summer (I had never seen the sun that big and bright in my life), but all I could afford was a fan and my air mattress. In other words, moving to a hotel was not an option.
Back home, I found out that my family was being evicted from their apartment to make matters worse. I cried myself to sleep several nights as I debated ending my summer clerkship early. But then, after being flustered at work one day and sharing what was going on with my fellow law clerk, she offered to let me move in with her. We did not know each other that well, but I knew I was not a quitter and would do whatever was needed to complete my federal clerkship. So I moved in with Erin and was able to enjoy the rest of my summer in Houston. Erin and I are friends to this day. I owe her all my gratitude! What did summer 2014 teach me? That no matter how hot it gets in the kitchen, I am not a quitter. I remember summer 2014 whenever I think about quitting. Summer 2014 also taught me to ask for help and to share my struggles without shame. When my judge found out I was living with Erin, she said I should have said something to her after one night without air conditioning because she would have made me arrangements .. lesson learned, lol. P.S. I also shared this experience on Youtube: click here.
2. Adjust your schedule: say "no" to some events so you can fully embrace focused girl fall.
The summer is typically more relaxed .. you go with the flow, say "yes" to brunch always, clock out of work early, there's no school .. take weeks away to travel, etc., and to be clear: you deserved every moment of it! But, now it's time to earn your leisure again. Playtime is officially over so let's adjust your schedule. Rethink your sleep schedule, how many events you have time for, and above all, how many hours you need to dedicate to becoming a lawyer.
If you are studying for the LSAT, you need at least 10-20 hours a week to study outside of your lessons. 10-20 hours of study time can easily translate to at least four months of studying. So, do you really have time to brunch every weekend?
If you are a law student, each credit hour is an hour of study. So, for example, if you have a four-credit-hour torts class, you will probably need to study for four hours to prepare for the following class, outline, do practice questions, etc. So, again, do you really have time to brunch every weekend?
You see, before you know it, homecoming will be here and then Halloween, and then Thanksgiving, and Christmas and the New Year! So, handle your business now! You can create a schedule that allows you to enjoy all of the holidays mentioned above, but you must get started now. Need help creating your schedule? Book an advising session with me by clicking here.
3. From abortion rights to vaccines to everything in between, remember you are a certified law student first. Everything does not deserve a response!
It is tempting to share your opinion, but ask yourself: do I need to address this on social media (or at the dinner table), or does commenting create a distraction from studying? You do NOT need to comment on everything! Just think about it: one comment leads to another. Now you and someone else are arguing—wasted energy on both parts. Besides, when you become a lawyer, you will get paid to argue. Stay focused on the bigger picture!
Outside of the current hot topics, other discussions may come up surrounding the black lives matter movement if another unarmed black man or woman is killed. I still remember having to force myself to focus after the killing of Walter Scott. I was outraged and wanted to protest in downtown Macon, but a voice reminded me that studying was my form of protest. I pray you do not have a moment like mine, but if you do, know that you are doing your part!
4. Understand this is not a "know it all" fall. Be a student!
Learn. Make mistakes. Fail. Try again. Why? Because you are a STUDENT. The classroom is not the place to have your ego boosted. Did you really get your money's worth if you don't have one "dumb" moment? Classes are starting, so it's time to embrace the learning process!
5. Just like the trees shedding their leaves, know it's okay to reinvent yourself!
Yesterday's price is not today's price. So you can let go of your old self and raise the price whenever you chose! And a new semester is the perfect time to do so! Let this be the semester that you cut the dead weight and raise your value! Keep your head down this fall (and winter), and your new leaves will bloom come spring!
When I started law school, I did not want to be known as the overly involved person that did not say "no" to many opportunities. I loved my time at Hampton, but I wanted to be just a student for once. So, I reinvented myself as such. You don't realize this when you're in the moment, but your law school classmates don't know your life before law school! Take advantage of that!
Alternatively, maybe you were known as a party girl last semester? Know that last semester does not have to continue into this semester if that is not what you want. Your real friends will respect and embrace the new evolved you!
That's it, for now, future lawyers! If you don't remember anything else, remember that only 5% of lawyers are black so we need your help at increasing this percentage!
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This blog post was written by Attorney Jasmin Robinson. All rights reserved.