Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Writing across the curriculum guru (and now Vermont woodturner) Toby Fulwiler has written, "[A]ny act of sustained writing is an act of sustained thinking -- which is just plain hard work." Several years back, my National Writing Project cohort chose this quote as our watchword as we devoted ourselves to our own demanding writing projects and to learning how to inspire our students to do the same.
Fulwiler's quote came back to me today during a student panel for Orientation. Speaking to our incoming class, one of our 2Ls contrasted the mental effort of law school with her former profession as a bank auditor. No stranger to long hours and sustained effort, she told the 1Ls she had been unprepared for the higher level of mental effort required by law school. 1L year, she told them, didn't offer the times she had experienced in her former position where exacting but repetitious tasks might not require full mental effort. Instead, she was "on" the whole time she did the work of a law student, putting out huge amounts of mental effort, which was just plain hard work -- harder work than she had done before, harder work than she expected, harder work that demanded she give her absolute best every day. And it was worth it.
I love the promise of the beginning of a new academic year, infused with the excitement of those newly arrived and the passion of 2Ls and 3Ls enthused by their taste of lawyering work over summer externships and internships. The sustained thinking and just plain hard work involved in becoming a lawyer -- or being a lawyer, or being an academic success professional --is a cause for celebration, not shrinking, as long as that sustained work is accompanied with a passion for serving others and a commitment to living life as a whole, fulfilled person.