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Law School Graduation

For those of you who’ve been on this journey with me for the past three years, congrats on finishing your doctoral degree! This is a huge accomplishment and arguably the biggest hurdle toward starting your dream job.

Now all that’s left for those who’ll practice law is that pesky bar exam, and I can attest that it’s no picnic. But I bet you’ll be surprised at how exciting it is to be there as well.

Surrounded by all the other hopeful future attorneys, the energy is electric, and I felt the hope, fear, and excitement channeling through all of us as we sat for that daunting test.

I’ve thought a lot about what to write in this, my very last editor’s note. At the end, I realized this magazine is so much more than present tense. It has served us well in preparing us for the future, and the future is just like us—we’re a tapestry of different histories and experiences and passions—and life after law school will lead us all to different paths and careers.

Higher education—Amidst a chorus of friends expressing how crazy I am for wanting to continue in academia, I’ve started looking at possible Ph.D. programs. Another student who took the bar exam alongside me is pursuing an LL.M. degree.

Continuing your education is a great next step for many. There’s no shortage of additional certificates or degrees you can pursue, and many you can do simultaneously with a work schedule.

Community work—If you’re passionate about helping others and the idea of bettering lives of those around you piques your interest, consider heading up a local legal aid organization or sitting on its board.

Compassionate, intelligent people are needed in the trenches, and if that sounds like you, I encourage you to get involved in any way you can.

JD jobs—Exploring the world of life after law school, I was surprised and, admittedly, uneducated about all the opportunities that exist outside of the traditional attorney job. There are so many government jobs, political positions, lobbying opportunities, and teaching roles that need bright and eager people in them.

Powerhouse attorneys—Of course, there are those of us who have dreamed of being an attorney ever since we were in elementary school and realized their favorite pastime was debate. (I can’t be the only one!)

For you, I say, the sky is the limit. Don’t ever feel limited by what you see. Instead, find the area of law where you can best use your unique strengths and abilities and push yourself to new heights. I can’t wait to hear what you’ve accomplished!

The ABA remains here for you

Whichever path you decide—whether it’s one I’ve mentioned or something else entirely—be sure to stay an ABA member once your student membership expires. Then take advantage of all the Young Lawyers Division has to offer.

I can’t end without a personal note. I didn’t anticipate my law school journey being this rich and rewarding. I recall walking into my first class back in September 2017, wide-eyed and literally clueless as to what was ahead. And I’ve had the beautiful privilege to watch everything come together over the past few years.

Navigating all the complexities of legal education, making fast and fierce friends whose crazy brains process and reason like mine, finding value in challenging cocurricular activities such as the trial team, working with my inspiring ABA family, and helping my community through oft-heartbreaking clinic work have forever left imprints on my heart and shaped me into the best version of myself.

I’m so thankful for this crazy journey, and I hope it has been as fulfilling and moving for you. And I hope to see you all soon at future conventions and meetings so that we can reminisce about our law school days!

Dayna Maeder Dayna Maeder is a civil litigation attorney at McConnaughhay, Coonrod, Pope, Weaver, & Stern, P.A., working with state agencies and national insurance corporations. Dayna is a YLD associate editor who enjoys her volunteer work as a litigation consultant and trial advocate trainer for the Leon County Teen Court program.