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What law school taught me | Serena Eshaghurshan

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 @ 1:28 PM | By Serena Eshaghurshan

Serena Eshaghurshan %>
Serena Eshaghurshan
In my previous articles, I discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to survive online law school. In this article, I will conclude the series with what law school taught me. As my law school journey is coming to an end, I can’t help but reflect on both the tangible and intangible lessons I have been afforded throughout the years of my legal education. As will be demonstrated in this article, the ability to pursue a legal education affords one so much more than just knowledge of the black letter law.

Prior to starting law school, I had no idea on what to expect. I didn’t know any lawyers in real life, and my knowledge of a legal education and the law was limited to Legally Blonde and Judge Judy. I remember spending most of my undergrad years on websites dedicated to prospective and current law students. After reading horror story after horror story, I couldn’t help but feel incompetent and unsuitable for law school. As a side note, I would like to advise prospective law students that law school is nothing like what is depicted on such websites, and I highly recommend avoiding them all together.

When I received my acceptance letter, I couldn’t help but feel a variety of emotions, such as excitement, but also fear. I thought law school would be a dog-eat-dog world. I heard rumours of students ripping out pages from textbooks, or purposely sending their peers the wrong notes. I was also terrified of the Socratic method. While I was excited to start law school, I was deeply worried that I didn’t have what it takes to make it.

However, I am very glad to say that law school is nothing like Legally Blonde. In fact, I have found the law school environment to be incredibly warm, collegial and friendly. My peers and professors have been incredibly helpful and supportive of one another. While law school is difficult at times, having a supportive environment is crucial to staying sane. Law school taught me the importance of making and maintaining strong friendships and support networks, as these are crucial for getting through the more trying times of a legal education.

While most people assume the objective of law school is to teach one the law, I think the true objective is to teach one about society. The ability to work with underprivileged and marginalized segments of society throughout law school afforded me so many invaluable life lessons. The opportunity to work with such populations taught me why access to justice is crucial for the functional operation of our legal system, and why client advocacy is truly the heart of being a lawyer. The ability to work with individuals suffering from addiction, homelessness, mental illness, racial inequality, domestic violence, poverty, etc. showed me how easy it is to fall through the cracks of society and how easy it is to become an unwilling participant in the legal system. These experiences were not just crucial for my legal education, but crucial for my growth as a human being. These experiences taught me the importance of compassion and empathy for those going through unimaginable legal and personal struggles.

Law school also taught me a great deal about privilege, particularly about the privilege my peers and I hold. As future lawyers, we hold a great degree of privilege because we will soon be able to zealously advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves. The biggest lesson law school taught me was to use my voice to aid those who have been silenced.

Of course, law school taught me a lot about myself and my capabilities. It taught me how to properly debate, advocate and form a legal opinion. It also taught me that failure is part of the journey to success, because failure is required to build resiliency. Throughout the trials and tribulations of law school, I learned the most key criteria to success is to never give up, and to be kind to myself and others. We all struggle along the way, but we all eventually find an equilibrium.

When I was a 1L, there were times where I couldn’t wait for law school to end. However, now that the journey is almost over, I can’t help but feel a little sad. Law school has been one of the hardest experiences of my life, but it also has been one of the best experiences. I am so grateful for all the opportunities I have been afforded throughout the years, and I am excited to carry the lessons I learned into practice. If I could give one piece of advice to future and current law students, I would advise you to enjoy the journey of your legal education. You will learn the craft of law, but more importantly the craft of being an empathic and effective advocate.

Serena Eshaghurshan is 2021 JD candidate at the University of Calgary. Prior to law school, she received a bachelor of arts in psychology at the University of Calgary.

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