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Those I will thank when I leave law school

3L, Florida International University College of Law

So the cap and gown are ordered, the resumes are sent, and the countdown to the bar exam is in place. Where did the past three years go? My school has a tradition the fall semester before graduation. Students take composite pictures that will later be hung on a wall in the main hallway. The proofs of those pictures came out a few months ago, and everyone began promptly sharing them on social media. Many captioned the pictures with something like, “And just like that….I am graduating,” AND JUST LIKE THAT???? Don’t get me wrong, I am the sentimental type. I fully anticipate sobbing over something ridiculous like having it be the last time I run out of purple highlighter while studying for finals. But there is absolutely not one bone in my body that can think “just like that.” These three years were definitely the most challenging ones in my life thus far. I’ve grown tremendously as a person and been pushed to question essentially everything in my life. I can’t help but think about whom it is I will thank for helping me become this version of me. In writing this post, I thought about real people in my life, but I also thought about my friends and classmates and who they would want to thank. So as you are writing those graduation announcements, sit back and think about who you would thank when you leave law school.

  1. The Best Friend. She took notes for you that one time you decided eating Indian food for the first time before a major lecture was a good idea. She was the one who told you about the best brand of highlighter to really make sure that those color coded case briefs are of publishable quality. More importantly, she went through several contingency plans with you when you convinced yourself the curve would not be in your favor, never failing to remind you that you were going to do well. She was the one who “got it.” She understood the sacrifices you endured, the insecurities you experienced, and the discomfort you felt. Why? Because she was right there next to you the whole time. This is your law school bestie. The “law school wife (or husband)” who heard you at your worst but never failed to tell you how awesome you were, even when you were wearing the same sweatpants for days and had eternal Frito breath. Thank you for the laughs.
  2. The Family. Maybe you lived at home (there is a special place in heaven for you). Maybe you come from a long line of lawyers and everyone kindly shared with you the best way to do things. I mean really, it shouldn’t be taking you so long to do things…They asked you for legal advice about two weeks into 1L year and looked at you in sheer disappointment when you couldn’t provide an answer. They oftentimes wondered why you had to miss a cookout for reading. But they never failed to be there for you when you needed it most. Mom’s emergency care packages were a blessing when you were on the Ramen diet. Your wife earned her place among Nobel Peace Prize winners when she managed to put all the kids to bed while you tried to understand burden of proof. These people knew you before you knew how to pronounce prima facie. Thank you for sticking around.
  3. The Cold Caller. You signed up for her class because you heard she was brilliant. Even worse, you might have had no choice in the matter because she was part of the first year foundational classes. You hated every single minute of the class. This is the one you will tell your kids about. This was the reason you passed on a couple awesome dates. You felt like you had to read and then read again in order to be minimally prepared for class. When your shining moment came you were met with her confused look. You were challenged even more than you could have imagined. Ok, you might have thought about one or two less than flattering nicknames for her. But at the end of the day, she made you a better writer, a better orator, and probably a better advocate. I may still think some of your methods are unique to say the least, but thank you professor.
  4. The Boss. She was the first legal employer you ever had. Maybe she was the one at the public interest organization you worked at 1L summer. Maybe you were lucky enough to work as her summer law clerk at the firm. You watched her talk to clients, handle hearings, and help her son work on his science fair project. She showed you lots about what it meant to be a real lawyer. You quietly tried to soak it all in as you tried to figure everything out from learning how to work the copier to filing your first motion. She taught you what to do and sometimes she taught you what not to do. Either way, thank you. You reminded me there is a world outside of law school.

At the risk of sounding cliché, I will admit this list could go on and on. I could thank the gym teacher who let me read rather than play a dreadful game of basketball. I could thank the students who challenged me, sometimes nicely, sometimes not so nicely. Writing this article reminded me of one thing, though. We shouldn’t wait until graduation to show gratitude. Every time someone supports us, pushes us, or shows us a kind gesture we need to take one moment away from flashcarding to say “Thanks.” No one can do this alone.

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