As graduation was nearing I decided to answer the call to apply to be the commencement speaker for graduation.
Unfortunately, I was not selected. However, I thought that I should still share my speech.
I hope you enjoy!
A Dream Deferred
What becomes of a dream deferred? Does it study for the LSAT, apply to law school and survive three years of gunners, class holes, and on campus interviews?
Do is it wallow in shame after over indulging on law prom nights or seeing pictures from the Booze Cruise?
Does it fault its perpetual state of singleness on the general attractiveness of the law school population?
Does it set up a filter to capture the over- abundance of emails from Dean Marx?
Does it attend presentations by student groups it has little interest in to raid the free food and save on it grocery bill?
All why holding its head up and beaming with pride?
I believe we are proof that it does.
But more importantly I would submit that that dream survives, perseveres.
It matures and grows through the victories and losses of law school.
It rebels and finds purpose despite the naysayers who say that a Juris Doctorate degree has none.
It finds solace in the friendships created, in the mentorship received, the memories imprinted, and clients’ lives impacted through its work.
There is no doubt that during its maturation process, a dream is subject to change.
Some of us walked in ready to spend our lives working for what we presumed to be the common good, based on our lived experience up to that point.
Some of us have held steadfast to that truth and hope to utilize our newfound skills to represent indigent criminal defendants, to prosecute murders or child abusers.
Some of us walked in with that hope and have found a new truth or new interest and hope to utilize the weight of a big firm to impact commerce and technology, while using that same weight to engage in vital pro-bono work.
Still some of us have decided that the law is not the tool that we will use at all, but have found rather that the skills we have obtained will be better suited for developing start up companies or teaching.
No matter what iteration or form our dreams have taken or evolved into during our journey, the most important part is that we are still dreaming.
Still dreaming of being able to afford a house, car and kids while paying Sallie Mae.
Still dreaming of a real life full of the episodic suspense of Law and Order and the fashionable rebelliousness of USA’s suits.
Or the executive office trysts of ABC’s Scandal…
Realistic or not…we are still dreaming…
After all, what is the point of dreaming, if we can’t dream big without limitations?
Many of us came to law school to push boundaries
Not to be constrained by them
The legal world is filled with angst and uncertainty.
And we are certainly no strangers to the tale some will tell of our degrees has declining value.
The recent rankings have likely generated chatter amongst the gunners about withholding future donations to the school…
This will likely blow the budget for the therapy dog, messages, and ice cream on student appreciation day, but keep intact the Hunger games like PIP grant competition.
But I would suggest to you that it is not the degree that holds value but rather it is those who hold the degrees that hold power.
Article after article, blog after blog, told us that we were embarking on a fool’s mission.
An aimless journey.
A waste of time and resources.
That there is a glutton of lawyers and that we were not needed.
I would however decry that that is folly.
Any of us in this room who have participated in a clinic have seen just how much we are needed.
How very few can access legal representation when it is vital.
Our existence need not be stamped with approval by naysayers.
Our existence, our value has been certified by those clients we have helped either through summer work, fellowships, or spring break trips.
The pride in our family members’ faces as they entered this building to celebrate our success is the only validation we need and hope for if we are doomed to spend a number of years moving back in with our parents.
The world is full of doubters and has been since the dawn of time.
But just as they have always existed so have we.
We will surely experience ups and downs on the path we have before us.
We have heard and read about how unhappy lawyers are.
But I would venture to say that unhappiness can be avoided if we hold steadfast to our dreams.
So what becomes of a dream deferred? Does it study for the LSAT, apply to law school and survive three years of gunners, class holes, and on campus interviews?
It studies for and passes the bar.
AND then….my friends…it changes the world.
Or it at least settles for becoming faculty.
Congrats friends, our journey has just begun.
See you at the top!