Monday, February 3, 2014
Rachel A. Van Cleave (Dean, Golden Gate), The Courage of Law Students:
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?
We must consider ourselves privileged to be trusted with the brave decisions of our students by discovering the most effective ways to engage, coach, mentor and teach them from before orientation, through graduation and into their careers. We can achieve this by prioritizing the following three strategies: (1) teach our students that life-long learning and continuing professional development is critical; (2) coach them in the range of skills necessary for professional success; and (3) support their cultivation of characteristics and values essential for their success and well-being.
(Hat Tip: Cynthia Fountaine.)