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Goodbye, Law Student Division; Hello, Young Lawyers Division

Jessica Gilgor
Jessica Gilgor before 1L (left) during 2L (right) and, at center, on the verge of graduating from law school.

As I sat at my computer, trying to find the words to say, debating all the right ways to say them, I found myself surprisingly speechless.

So instead of trying to find the words to say, I started writing. Writing anything that came to mind that would accurately reflect the emotions I wanted to share. This is the result.

Honestly, my journey into the Law Student Division—and the Student Lawyer Editorial Board—was kind of accidental.

It started out as a joint venture, with another 3L student at SMU Dedman School of Law, to write a blog about two girls in law school called The Law Girls.

Unfortunately, life—and law school—got in the way of blogging, and we fell out of the blogging life.

On the flip side of that, I found my way into the Law Student Division when the ABA reached out to me, asking if I wanted to write on the Editorial Board.

Now this was during the summer after 1L, so I was faced with a choice: try to write-on for law review or apply for the Editorial Board and write for law students across the country. I’m sure you’ve figured out which I chose.

And the Law Student Division has given me more than I could have ever expected to get out of law school.

I came in with the philosophy of, “Get in. Do my three years. Get out. Pass the bar.”

Instead, I made friends with law students across the country. From the first-gen “lawtina” who never expected to be published in an ABA publication; to my friends on the Editorial Board; to the Law Student Division liaison who said, “You have my vote” when I ran for delegate of communications, publications, and outreach last spring; to the 2L at UIC John Marshall who emailed me out of the blue when she was working in Omaha last summer; and finally to everyone on social media whom I reached out to for help with writing my articles.

These are just to name a few. Never once did I even think I’d be writing for a blog and magazine geared toward other law students. Nor did I ever think I’d have the guts to run for a position on the ABA Law Student Division Council. I certainly didn’t think I’d be writing a farewell letter to all of you expressing my gratitude for the last two years.

Each of you have inspired me in some way. All different, all unique, all extraordinary and deeply passionate for the world that we’re about to become a part.

Some parting advice

So how, exactly, do I say goodbye? I want to leave you with a few things I learned during my time in law school:

Be nice to everyone. This was one of the first things I was ever told by an alum of my own law school. I’ve strived to live by this every day since. Whether it’s saying hello to a student you never talk to or complimenting another student on their snazzy outfit, your kindness will always be remembered.

You’re not your class rank. Take it from someone who knows. Currently, I’m ranked 84th out of 91 students. In my time being a law clerk for two different solo practitioners, never once has a potential new client asked what my class rank was. Don’t doubt your worth based on a number. If you put in the work, you’re going to make it. You are enough! And you are a freaking rock star!

Don’t compare yourself to others. Yes, you’re all in this as a class, going through the same classes, the same frustrations, and the same stressors that come from being a law student. But your path to law school isn’t the same as that of the classmate next to you or the one in front of you.

Each journey is unique. You don’t know their story, and they don’t know yours. This doesn’t mean you’re better than they are. Nor does it mean they’re better than you. Your paths have crossed and, soon, you’ll be colleagues in the profession. Be humble.

I’ll always be one of your biggest cheerleaders. I believe in ALL of you. I’ll always share in your successes, send you words of comfort when you’re down, and impart you with words that give you faith in yourself.

Even if we never meet on this path or if we’re simply just acquaintances on social media, I’ll always root for you. I’ll always believe in you. I promise you: You can and will do it.

A new chapter

Now, what’s next? Well, it’s off to graduation and then bar prep.

Beyond that, I’m super excited to continue my journey with the ABA as a part of its Young Lawyers Division. So instead of seeing the Student Lawyer hit my mailbox every few months, it will be The Young Lawyer—the Young Lawyers Division equivalent.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, or even a bit nervous. But all that is cast aside by the excitement. I’ll be joining a division with those who graduated before me, just as I hope you’ll join me there once you graduate.

The best thing I’ve learned about a life in the law is that your learning never ends. I’ve learned so much from my time in the Law Student Division— with people like you, reading this swan song—that I can’t wait to continue that learning going forward.

The ABA and the Law Student Division have done so much more for me than I could have ever imagined. They provided the most unexpected, yet wonderful, journey I could have asked for.

I can’t wait to see where it goes from here. And I hope to see you there, too!

Thank you, Law Student Division.

Jessica Gilgor Jessica Gilgor is a 3L at Creighton University School of Law. A native of Las Vegas, she graduated from the University of Nevada Reno, where she studied Professional Chemistry and minored in Physics. Jessica was a part-time sports journalist for the United States Bowling Congress during their Open Championships tournament under the tutelage of Matt Cannizzaro and Aaron Smith.