By: Cassidy Webb (WFU Law ’20)
When I decided to attend law school, I never expected to find purpose in every single day. I knew with confidence that there was great purpose in my long-term goal: to provide valuable legal services to those who otherwise could not have access to it. But I never anticipated loving (or at least tolerating) reading the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, feeling such pride when editing my brief for the twentieth time, or forming close relationships with classmates from incredibly different backgrounds than my own. Yet every time I learned a different duty of care in Torts or finally “perfected” my Contracts outline, I was reminded how much I love this experience. Even during the most mundane parts of law school, I have constantly been encouraged to persevere.
Three main aspects of my 1L experience have cultivated my continual feeling of purpose: the passion of my classmates, the inspiration of guest speakers, and my repeated exposure to pro bono service.
My classmates: Beautiful things are happening thanks to the amazing people at Wake Forest Law School. While some of my classmates dream of defending destitute members of society who have fallen prey to flaws in our criminal justice system, others aspire to represent large corporations in Manhattan or even manage professional sports teams. Although our dreams differ drastically, the passions underlying them are energizing.
Guest speakers: While I generally enjoy the demands of law school, to avoid burnout, I seek intentional reminders of why being an attorney is important. Wake Law’s constant stream of guest speakers has provided the perfect outlet to do so. Listening to Kenneth Feinburg, a highly respected arbitrator and mediator, discuss his work with diverse events ranging from the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund to the Volkswagen emission scandal reinforced that my career does not have to be restricted to a limited practice area. Hearing Sejal Zota, the Legal Director of the National Immigration Project, reminded me that there will always be important causes to which I can dedicate my life. Witnessing Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, passionately advocate for bipartisan efforts to protect and strengthen civil rights prompted me to reevaluate how I consider my role in politics and social justice.
Pro Bono: The third aspect of my 1L year that has constantly instilled purpose in my life has been working with Wake Law’s numerous pro bono projects. Spending over thirty hours interacting with indigent clients seeking assistance from our Naturalization and Expungement Projects illuminated the extreme need for legal services in our community. I leave the clinics feeling both invigorated for my future career and furious at the inadequacies of our society.
Overall, my first year at Wake Law has been full of surprises, but the most impactful one has been actively seeing the purpose for my journey every single day.