Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dean Rachel Van Cleave on "The Courage of Law Students"

Dean Rachel Van Cleave (Golden Gate University School of Law) has published an essay entitled "The Courage of Law Students."  The abstract states: 

"The beginning of a new year is a time for resolutions, resolve and optimism. Thus, it is fitting that the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools meets at the beginning of the year. This year, law school deans, faculty and staff gathered to discuss the theme "Looking Forward: Legal Education in the 21st Century." Given the significant challenges facing law schools and the legal profession, many of the sessions focused on how law schools can better support, train and prepare students to ensure that they have fulfilling careers. Many sessions explored at a deeper level how our students are addressing the current situation."

This paragraph sums up how many of us feel about our students and the kind of courage and optimism we--as legal educators--need to display in meeting the challenges that face us in this changing legal landscape: 

"Current students and recent graduates are exceptionally brave and optimistic. They are coming to law school because they really want a legal education. In the face of a difficult job market, a profession that is in a period of dramatic transformation, and even with the prospect of incurring significant debt, they want to study law, become lawyers, and have fulfilling careers. They are going against the grain, against the advice of commentators, some pre-law advisors, and probably friends and family. That takes a lot of courage, real courage. Amelia Earhart said, "The most difficult thing is to act, the rest is merely tenacity ... You can act to change and control your life, and the procedure, the process is its own reward." The decision to act also takes optimism. Do those of us in legal education have that kind of courage? What must we do to honor that kind of courage and optimism?"

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