Law in Contemporary Society

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HilaryRosenthalFirstEssay 4 - 25 May 2017 - Main.HilaryRosenthal
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What is the role of empathy in law school, if there is one at all?

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-- By HilaryRosenthal - 10 Mar 2017
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-- By HilaryRosenthal - 20 May 2017
 

Motives and being emotionally open in law school

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When I realized that I was the most emotionally-open of my law school classmates, I was in shock. I have never been the person who is most attune with my emotional side, someone who hugs, who cries or volunteers to be the shoulder to be cried upon. In my 20-something years of life on this planet, though, I’ve learned a thing or two about letting go of the logical, rational side of me and opening up a little bit, letting myself feel and actively striving to help others go through emotionally hard times. I find that, either because there is little time offered in law school to show emotions or actually think of “human beings as containing a person,” or because it is seen as weak to be affected by the pressure of cold-calls, specious exams, and not having a moment to breathe, law school has tended to be a place of occasional camaraderie but rarely a sense of community and emotional support. It has made me wonder how much a sense of empathy and emotional intelligence really matters when it is not what I am being graded on and is not lauded in the first year of law school like other characteristics are.
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When I realized that I was the most emotionally-open of my law school classmates, I was in shock: I had never been the most emotionally intelligent of my friends. The realization made me reconsider the role of empathy in the law and my decision to come to law school: I aspired to be an advocate for people and natural places that are too often marginalized for economic or other short-term incentives, and felt that these could often be combatted only with a sense of empathy. With current cases such as the Dakota Access Pipeline, it is staggering to me how the law permits ignoring an entire culture’s livelihood in favor of short-term job growth, at best. If my purpose for coming to law school was to use not only logos but also pathos to fight for a client, then what did it mean that in my classes, and concurrently in society, empathy was overlooked?
 
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I find that, either because there is little time offered in law school to actually think of “human beings as containing a person,” or because it is seen as weak to be affected by the pressure of cold-calls, specious exams, and not having a moment to breathe, law school has rarely seemed like a community with emotional support. It has made me wonder how much empathy and emotional intelligence really matter in law when it is not what I am being graded on. The notion that our grades are determined by churning out nearly identical and identity-less exams that do not necessarily evaluate intelligence, grit, or passion- otherwise important qualities in the legal field as I understand it- does not seem to reflect what I came to law school to do, and has left myself and many of my classmates despondent. The pipeline-like path of Columbia students who overwhelmingly head to big firm jobs has little tolerance for but urgently needs empathy.
 
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I made my decision to come to law school based on the notion that I want to be an advocate. My original impetus was to learn how to protect natural places and how that might be complemented by preserving the rights of people otherwise disenfranchised, as is too often the case with indigenous populations. I had grown up very introverted, but have slowly come out of my shell with a lot of active practice, job experience, and via the sheer necessity one must have when living abroad. I saw my ability in writing, humor, and being able to relate with others who have thought they are not good enough because they are not extroverts or type-A themselves as strengths that can help me discover that I do in fact have a story to tell and want to share it. Gaining this insight in myself has helped me realize that we all have it, in some form or another, and to silence someone’s story is to halt justice.
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Why empathy in law school and the legal field matters

 
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I knew law school would be tough. What I didn’t expect was the toil it would take on being a human. The notion that our grades, job prospects, and futures are determined by churning out nearly identical and identity-less exams that do not even necessarily evaluate intelligence, grit, or passion- otherwise important qualities in the legal field as I understand it- does not seem to reflect what I came to law school to do. I am not a star-studded testtaker; what I am interested in is developing my ability to grasp the law in order to advocate for my clients. I do not believe we do this much or even at all in the first year of law school, and could quite easily go through the rest of our time here without doing it. The pipeline-like path of Columbia students who overwhelmingly head to big firm jobs has little tolerance for but urgently needs empathy.
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Columbia’s own Jamal Greene once explored the role of empathy, or a lack thereof, in the legal field. Jamal Greene, Pathetic Argument in Constitutional Law, 113 Colum. L. Rev. 1389 (2013). In his article, Greene analyzes the role of pathetic argument, the method of persuasion by appealing to the emotions of the reader or listener. Only in very few instances have I found that discourse to be a part of my experience in law thus far.
 
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In my opinion, empathy is one of the most crucial qualities of a lawyer. At the end of the day, a lawyer is responsible for her client, and ultimately, for justice. To consider your client’s wishes, background, and point of view is to be empathetic. Being able to openly and honestly express one’s feelings, and in turn try to understand them from another’s perspective, fosters healthy relationships, a way to deal with stress, and build rapport. As James Scarlett attested, an advocate is stronger when he can use emotion to form a bond with his audience and "[blend] his mind with the minds of the jurors." Waicukauski, Sandler & Epps 2.01, at 12. An attorney can use empathy to associate his case with a listener's values and truly understand where his client, his audience, and even his adversaries are coming from. Id. If we as law students do not make an effort to understand ourselves or others, there may be a vicious cycle of lacking the ability to do so in society at large.
 
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Why empathy in law school matters

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And yet, there is ambivalence toward the appropriate role of emotion in legal discourse. Greene notes that many scholars typically ignore or dismiss emotional appeal as a mode of persuasion in constitutional law, most likely out of a concern that invoking pathos requires a judge to individuate decisionmaking that should be general. As the majority stated in Roe v. Wade, “our task…is to resolve the issue by constitutional measurement, free of emotion and of predilection.” Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 116 (1973).
 
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In my opinion, empathy is one of the most crucial qualities of a lawyer. At the end of the day, a lawyer is responsible for her client, and ultimately, for justice. To consider your client’s wishes, background, and point of view is to be empathetic. Being able to openly and honestly express one’s thoughts and feelings, and in turn try to understand them from another’s perspective, fosters healthy relationships, a way to deal with stress, and build rapport. If we as law students are too withdrawn and do not make an effort to understand and relate to ourselves or others, there may be a vicious cycle of lacking the ability to do so in society at large.
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When President Obama nominated Justice Sotomayor for the Supreme Court, declaring that empathy is “a necessary ingredient in the kind of justice we need on the [Court],” then-Senator Jeff Sessions professed that “empathy” is a code-word for prejudice. Greene, Pathetic Argument in Constitutional Law, at 1407. But I see no reason why empathy and impartiality have to be mutually exclusive. Adam Smith himself, seen by many as the founder of modern day economics that bastions rationality over all else, wrote that even economics cannot be free of emotion; human beings are not as logical as our canon of jurisprudence would like to believe. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759).
 
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My current state for a while now has left me feeling unmotivated, unloved, and like I don't belong, and maybe that is more to do with my own personal background than law school as a whole. However, it is no help that I find law school has drained my creative juices, stifled my sense of self-growth and innovation, and required me to somewhat conform my identity, at least for the time being. It is very different from my previous life.
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How to exercise empathy in law school and the legal field

 
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The times when I have most realized I am meant to be here have been when I was empathetically working with others. The few moments that have reaffirmed my enrollment in law school include assisting minors who are seeking asylum in the U.S., sharing personal stories at Wounded Knee after the election, and while participating in a conversation about restorative justice in tribal courts. These events reminded me that perhaps justice can be sought via connecting with other humans. All of these events occurred outside the typical curriculum and I had to take the time and energy out of other activities, such as my classes, to pursue them.
 
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How to exercise empathy in law school

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I would not go so far as to say that we are taught that law should be void of emotion; otherwise, policy would have less backbone. However, the pillars of precedent often nudge out conversations about emotional and social impacts of a law. I do think empathy has a place in the law, and it needs a more prominent role in law school. If the legal system is built to try to address injustice, to ensure all have due process, then we need to start with caring about the well-being of ourselves, our fellow students and staff, and our fellow citizens.
 
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The times when I have most realized I am meant to be here have been when I was empathetically working directly with other people by seeing how the state of the law can affect them. The few moments that have reaffirmed my enrollment in law school include assisting minors who are seeking asylum in the U.S., sharing deeply personal stories at Wounded Knee after the presidential election, and while participating in a conversation and film screening about restorative justice in tribal courts. These events reminded me, amidst my own stress and self-doubt, that law school is perhaps a place where justice can be sought via connecting with other humans. All of these events occurred outside the typical curriculum and I had to take the time and energy out of other activities, such as my classes, to pursue them.
 
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I would not go so far as to say that we are taught that law should be void of emotion; otherwise, policy would have less backbone. However, the pillars of precedent, and logos, especially in black letter law, often nudge out conversations about emotional and social impacts of a law. I do think empathy has a place in the law, and it needs a more prominent role in law school, even if it is perhaps not as tangible. If the legal system is built to try to address unfairness and injustice, to ensure all have due process, then we need to start with caring about the well-being of ourselves, our fellow students and staff, and our fellow citizens.
 
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Word count: 998
 
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I think this was a fine first draft, perfect for getting your ideas out where you can read them. The way to make the next draft better is to make it sharper. The importance of empathy to law is one subject here, while the nature of the first-year experience is another. Because the same person was writing about both of them, they felt intrinsically combined to you, but that's not the reader's experience.

As I read it, the personal part, about law school, was the real subject; empathy and its role in the law was a secondary theme, around which you were declaring your identity. (I don't know whether you are the most emotionally intelligent of your classmates, but that's what the persona in charge of that first paragraph intends the reader to hear you state.) Strengthening the draft means first deciding which is the primary theme for you, and following it. If the substance is empathy and the law, I think law school is less important to your discussion, and your own personal experience of law school only the hook that draws us into what is actually a complex and valuable discussion you don't quite leave yourself room here to have. If the matter of your experience is primary, I think that the conclusions should be personal as the experiences were, and that the generalities of "empathy" and "law" are of vanishing importance.

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Note to Eben: Regarding your comments on my first draft, I debated for a while the direction in which to take my piece. I ultimately decided that exploring the notion of empathy and the law was a valuable discussion, although I cannot say I have much expertise in the matter- writing about my own personal experience in law school would be easier, but I think you are right when you say it may serve more aptly as a hook. Therefore, I tried revising this essay with the notion in mind that I won't know all there is regarding the history and theory behind empathy and the law, but hope this essay is at least a start and a rumination on the topics I could find and explore.
 



HilaryRosenthalFirstEssay 3 - 10 May 2017 - Main.EbenMoglen
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META TOPICPARENT name="FirstEssay"
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 I would not go so far as to say that we are taught that law should be void of emotion; otherwise, policy would have less backbone. However, the pillars of precedent, and logos, especially in black letter law, often nudge out conversations about emotional and social impacts of a law. I do think empathy has a place in the law, and it needs a more prominent role in law school, even if it is perhaps not as tangible. If the legal system is built to try to address unfairness and injustice, to ensure all have due process, then we need to start with caring about the well-being of ourselves, our fellow students and staff, and our fellow citizens.
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I think this was a fine first draft, perfect for getting your ideas out where you can read them. The way to make the next draft better is to make it sharper. The importance of empathy to law is one subject here, while the nature of the first-year experience is another. Because the same person was writing about both of them, they felt intrinsically combined to you, but that's not the reader's experience.

As I read it, the personal part, about law school, was the real subject; empathy and its role in the law was a secondary theme, around which you were declaring your identity. (I don't know whether you are the most emotionally intelligent of your classmates, but that's what the persona in charge of that first paragraph intends the reader to hear you state.) Strengthening the draft means first deciding which is the primary theme for you, and following it. If the substance is empathy and the law, I think law school is less important to your discussion, and your own personal experience of law school only the hook that draws us into what is actually a complex and valuable discussion you don't quite leave yourself room here to have. If the matter of your experience is primary, I think that the conclusions should be personal as the experiences were, and that the generalities of "empathy" and "law" are of vanishing importance.

 
You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable.

HilaryRosenthalFirstEssay 2 - 19 Mar 2017 - Main.HilaryRosenthal
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META TOPICPARENT name="FirstEssay"
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It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.
 

What is the role of empathy in law school, if there is one at all?

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Motives and being emotionally open in law school

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When I realized that I was the most emotionally-open of my law school classmates, I was in shock. I have never been the person who is most attune with my emotional side, someone who hugs, who cries or volunteers to be the shoulder to be cried upon. In my 20-something years of life on this planet, though, I’ve learned a thing or two about letting go of the logical, rational side of me and opening up a little bit, letting myself feel and actively striving to help others go through emotionally hard times. I find that, either because there is little time offered in law school to show emotions or actually think of “human beings as containing a person,” or because it is seen as weak to be affected by the pressure of cold-calls, specious exams, and not having a moment to breathe, law school has tended to be a place of occasional camaraderie but rarely a sense of community and emotional support. It has made me wonder how much a sense of empathy and emotional intelligence really matters when it is not what I am being graded on and is not lauded in the first year of law school like other characteristics are.

>
>
When I realized that I was the most emotionally-open of my law school classmates, I was in shock. I have never been the person who is most attune with my emotional side, someone who hugs, who cries or volunteers to be the shoulder to be cried upon. In my 20-something years of life on this planet, though, I’ve learned a thing or two about letting go of the logical, rational side of me and opening up a little bit, letting myself feel and actively striving to help others go through emotionally hard times. I find that, either because there is little time offered in law school to show emotions or actually think of “human beings as containing a person,” or because it is seen as weak to be affected by the pressure of cold-calls, specious exams, and not having a moment to breathe, law school has tended to be a place of occasional camaraderie but rarely a sense of community and emotional support. It has made me wonder how much a sense of empathy and emotional intelligence really matters when it is not what I am being graded on and is not lauded in the first year of law school like other characteristics are.
 
Changed:
<
<

I made my decision to come to law school based on the notion that I want to be an advocate. My original impetus was to learn how to protect natural places and how that might be complemented by preserving the rights of people otherwise disenfranchised, as is too often the case with indigenous populations. I had grown up very introverted, but have slowly come out of my shell with a lot of active practice, job experience, and via the sheer necessity one must have when living abroad. I saw my ability in writing, humor, and being able to relate with others who have thought they are not good enough because they are not extroverts or type-A themselves as strengths that can help me discover that I do in fact have a story to tell and want to share it. Gaining this insight in myself has helped me realize that we all have it, in some form or another, and to silence someone’s story is to halt justice.

>
>
I made my decision to come to law school based on the notion that I want to be an advocate. My original impetus was to learn how to protect natural places and how that might be complemented by preserving the rights of people otherwise disenfranchised, as is too often the case with indigenous populations. I had grown up very introverted, but have slowly come out of my shell with a lot of active practice, job experience, and via the sheer necessity one must have when living abroad. I saw my ability in writing, humor, and being able to relate with others who have thought they are not good enough because they are not extroverts or type-A themselves as strengths that can help me discover that I do in fact have a story to tell and want to share it. Gaining this insight in myself has helped me realize that we all have it, in some form or another, and to silence someone’s story is to halt justice.
 
Changed:
<
<

I knew law school would be tough. What I didn’t expect was the toil it would take on being a human. The notion that our grades, job prospects, and futures are determined by churning out nearly identical and identity-less exams that do not even necessarily evaluate intelligence, grit, or passion- otherwise important qualities in the legal field as I understand it- does not seem to reflect what I came to law school to do. I am not a star-studded testtaker; what I am interested in is developing my ability to grasp the law in order to advocate for my clients. I do not believe we do this much or even at all in the first year of law school, and could quite easily go through the rest of our time here without doing it. The pipeline-like path of Columbia students who overwhelmingly head to big firm jobs has little tolerance for but urgently needs empathy.

>
>
I knew law school would be tough. What I didn’t expect was the toil it would take on being a human. The notion that our grades, job prospects, and futures are determined by churning out nearly identical and identity-less exams that do not even necessarily evaluate intelligence, grit, or passion- otherwise important qualities in the legal field as I understand it- does not seem to reflect what I came to law school to do. I am not a star-studded testtaker; what I am interested in is developing my ability to grasp the law in order to advocate for my clients. I do not believe we do this much or even at all in the first year of law school, and could quite easily go through the rest of our time here without doing it. The pipeline-like path of Columbia students who overwhelmingly head to big firm jobs has little tolerance for but urgently needs empathy.
 

Why empathy in law school matters

Changed:
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<

In my opinion, empathy is one of the most crucial qualities of a lawyer. At the end of the day, a lawyer is responsible for her client, and ultimately, for justice. To consider your client’s wishes, background, and point of view is to be empathetic. Being able to openly and honestly express one’s thoughts and feelings, and in turn try to understand them from another’s perspective, fosters healthy relationships, a way to deal with stress, and build rapport. If we as law students are too withdrawn and do not make an effort to understand and relate to ourselves or others, there may be a vicious cycle of lacking the ability to do so in society at large.

>
>
In my opinion, empathy is one of the most crucial qualities of a lawyer. At the end of the day, a lawyer is responsible for her client, and ultimately, for justice. To consider your client’s wishes, background, and point of view is to be empathetic. Being able to openly and honestly express one’s thoughts and feelings, and in turn try to understand them from another’s perspective, fosters healthy relationships, a way to deal with stress, and build rapport. If we as law students are too withdrawn and do not make an effort to understand and relate to ourselves or others, there may be a vicious cycle of lacking the ability to do so in society at large.
 
Changed:
<
<

My current state for a while now has left me feeling unmotivated, unloved, and like I don't belong, and maybe that is more to do with my own personal background than law school as a whole. However, it is no help that I find law school has drained my creative juices, stifled my sense of self-growth and innovation, and required me to somewhat conform my identity, at least for the time being. It is very different from my previous life.

>
>
My current state for a while now has left me feeling unmotivated, unloved, and like I don't belong, and maybe that is more to do with my own personal background than law school as a whole. However, it is no help that I find law school has drained my creative juices, stifled my sense of self-growth and innovation, and required me to somewhat conform my identity, at least for the time being. It is very different from my previous life.
 

How to exercise empathy in law school

Changed:
<
<

The times when I have most realized I am meant to be here have been when I was empathetically working directly with other people by seeing how the state of the law can affect them. The few moments that have reaffirmed my enrollment in law school include assisting minors who are seeking asylum in the U.S., sharing deeply personal stories at Wounded Knee after the presidential election, and while participating in a conversation and film screening about restorative justice in tribal courts. These events reminded me, amidst my own stress and self-doubt, that law school is perhaps a place where justice can be sought via connecting with other humans. All of these events occurred outside the typical curriculum and I had to take the time and energy out of other activities, such as my classes, to pursue them.

>
>
The times when I have most realized I am meant to be here have been when I was empathetically working directly with other people by seeing how the state of the law can affect them. The few moments that have reaffirmed my enrollment in law school include assisting minors who are seeking asylum in the U.S., sharing deeply personal stories at Wounded Knee after the presidential election, and while participating in a conversation and film screening about restorative justice in tribal courts. These events reminded me, amidst my own stress and self-doubt, that law school is perhaps a place where justice can be sought via connecting with other humans. All of these events occurred outside the typical curriculum and I had to take the time and energy out of other activities, such as my classes, to pursue them.
 
Changed:
<
<

I would not go so far as to say that we are taught that law should be void of emotion; otherwise, policy would have less backbone. However, the pillars of precedent, and logos, especially in black letter law, often nudge out conversations about emotional and social impacts of a law. I do think empathy has a place in the law, and it needs a more prominent role in law school, even if it is perhaps not as tangible. If the legal system is built to try to address unfairness and injustice, to ensure all have due process, then we need to start with caring about the well-being of ourselves, our fellow students and staff, and our fellow citizens.

>
>
I would not go so far as to say that we are taught that law should be void of emotion; otherwise, policy would have less backbone. However, the pillars of precedent, and logos, especially in black letter law, often nudge out conversations about emotional and social impacts of a law. I do think empathy has a place in the law, and it needs a more prominent role in law school, even if it is perhaps not as tangible. If the legal system is built to try to address unfairness and injustice, to ensure all have due process, then we need to start with caring about the well-being of ourselves, our fellow students and staff, and our fellow citizens.
 

HilaryRosenthalFirstEssay 1 - 10 Mar 2017 - Main.HilaryRosenthal
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Added:
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META TOPICPARENT name="FirstEssay"
It is strongly recommended that you include your outline in the body of your essay by using the outline as section titles. The headings below are there to remind you how section and subsection titles are formatted.

What is the role of empathy in law school, if there is one at all?

-- By HilaryRosenthal - 10 Mar 2017

Motives and being emotionally open in law school

When I realized that I was the most emotionally-open of my law school classmates, I was in shock. I have never been the person who is most attune with my emotional side, someone who hugs, who cries or volunteers to be the shoulder to be cried upon. In my 20-something years of life on this planet, though, I’ve learned a thing or two about letting go of the logical, rational side of me and opening up a little bit, letting myself feel and actively striving to help others go through emotionally hard times. I find that, either because there is little time offered in law school to show emotions or actually think of “human beings as containing a person,” or because it is seen as weak to be affected by the pressure of cold-calls, specious exams, and not having a moment to breathe, law school has tended to be a place of occasional camaraderie but rarely a sense of community and emotional support. It has made me wonder how much a sense of empathy and emotional intelligence really matters when it is not what I am being graded on and is not lauded in the first year of law school like other characteristics are.

I made my decision to come to law school based on the notion that I want to be an advocate. My original impetus was to learn how to protect natural places and how that might be complemented by preserving the rights of people otherwise disenfranchised, as is too often the case with indigenous populations. I had grown up very introverted, but have slowly come out of my shell with a lot of active practice, job experience, and via the sheer necessity one must have when living abroad. I saw my ability in writing, humor, and being able to relate with others who have thought they are not good enough because they are not extroverts or type-A themselves as strengths that can help me discover that I do in fact have a story to tell and want to share it. Gaining this insight in myself has helped me realize that we all have it, in some form or another, and to silence someone’s story is to halt justice.

I knew law school would be tough. What I didn’t expect was the toil it would take on being a human. The notion that our grades, job prospects, and futures are determined by churning out nearly identical and identity-less exams that do not even necessarily evaluate intelligence, grit, or passion- otherwise important qualities in the legal field as I understand it- does not seem to reflect what I came to law school to do. I am not a star-studded testtaker; what I am interested in is developing my ability to grasp the law in order to advocate for my clients. I do not believe we do this much or even at all in the first year of law school, and could quite easily go through the rest of our time here without doing it. The pipeline-like path of Columbia students who overwhelmingly head to big firm jobs has little tolerance for but urgently needs empathy.

Why empathy in law school matters

In my opinion, empathy is one of the most crucial qualities of a lawyer. At the end of the day, a lawyer is responsible for her client, and ultimately, for justice. To consider your client’s wishes, background, and point of view is to be empathetic. Being able to openly and honestly express one’s thoughts and feelings, and in turn try to understand them from another’s perspective, fosters healthy relationships, a way to deal with stress, and build rapport. If we as law students are too withdrawn and do not make an effort to understand and relate to ourselves or others, there may be a vicious cycle of lacking the ability to do so in society at large.

My current state for a while now has left me feeling unmotivated, unloved, and like I don't belong, and maybe that is more to do with my own personal background than law school as a whole. However, it is no help that I find law school has drained my creative juices, stifled my sense of self-growth and innovation, and required me to somewhat conform my identity, at least for the time being. It is very different from my previous life.

How to exercise empathy in law school

The times when I have most realized I am meant to be here have been when I was empathetically working directly with other people by seeing how the state of the law can affect them. The few moments that have reaffirmed my enrollment in law school include assisting minors who are seeking asylum in the U.S., sharing deeply personal stories at Wounded Knee after the presidential election, and while participating in a conversation and film screening about restorative justice in tribal courts. These events reminded me, amidst my own stress and self-doubt, that law school is perhaps a place where justice can be sought via connecting with other humans. All of these events occurred outside the typical curriculum and I had to take the time and energy out of other activities, such as my classes, to pursue them.

I would not go so far as to say that we are taught that law should be void of emotion; otherwise, policy would have less backbone. However, the pillars of precedent, and logos, especially in black letter law, often nudge out conversations about emotional and social impacts of a law. I do think empathy has a place in the law, and it needs a more prominent role in law school, even if it is perhaps not as tangible. If the legal system is built to try to address unfairness and injustice, to ensure all have due process, then we need to start with caring about the well-being of ourselves, our fellow students and staff, and our fellow citizens.


You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:

Note: TWiki has strict formatting rules for preference declarations. Make sure you preserve the three spaces, asterisk, and extra space at the beginning of these lines. If you wish to give access to any other users simply add them to the comma separated ALLOWTOPICVIEW list.


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