By Candace Square
As a 3L At Paul M. Hebert Law Center, now would normally be a time of joy and celebration. We are less than 60 days away from that all important graduation date which we have literally shed blood, sweat, and tears to reach. We have been looking forward to our 3L crawfish boil, anticipating our last Barrister’s Ball, and imagining ourselves in our robes and hood walking across the stage while our friends, family and classmates cheer us on for the last time. However,due to an ugly virus with a name that means crown in Spanish, but would be more appropriately named after something you find at the bottom of your shoe, the class of 2020 will likely not get to experience any of those things.
It is important to recognize all the things that have been lost to this 3L class. So many of our student organizations had amazing programs planned that we won’t get to experience. The banquets that these organizations had planned, in which 3Ls are often honored and often receive gifts have been cancelled. The trial competitions that we prepared so hard for, staying at practice until late into the night, are no more. Those who wanted to get in those last minute pro bono or community service hours to make sure they had enough hours to merit cords for graduation will no longer have that opportunity. Some of us who participate in Clinics have clients who are in dire situations who are counting on us; we now can do very little to help them. And really, who could forget the missed opportunity to roast each other at Assault and Flattery.
Most of all, we just wanted more time with our classmates. Many of us walked out of class a week ago not realizing that would be the last time we entered the hallowed halls of PMH. Now we are left not knowing if we will ever see some of our friends and professors again as we prepare to go our separate ways out in the real world. The impact of this is so great, considering these are the people that for the last three years we have stayed with in the library until midnight, cried with after exams, tailgated with, and helped get home relatively safely after a GIF. No matter our differences, we share a bond that cannot be broken because of our shared experiences that those who have never been through the insanity of law school simply cannot relate to.
I admit, I had a brief pity party for all the things my class has been deprived of. I also grieve for the parents of graduates, especially those of first generation law graduates, who may not be able to witness all of the sacrifices they have also made be recognized in a graduation ceremony. But, in reality, we are suffering relatively light consequences compared to some others. Some people have been laid off from work and are wondering how they will come up with the money to pay their rent. Some parents who rely on their children being in school to get at least two meals a day are scrambling to provide food for their kids. Some senior citizens are having difficulty getting food and supplies because some selfish idiots are hoarding groceries and toilet paper. Moreover, my heart really goes out to the high school class of 2020. Everyone in my law school class has graduated at least twice already; once from high school and once from college. But those high school seniors have worked 12 years to reach a day that may not come. Most importantly, people all over the world are sick and dying, so if you remain healthy you are truly in a privileged position.
On a positive note, our class has also accomplished so much. We elected the first ever black woman class president as 1Ls. We have a woman as editor-in-chief of Law Review and a woman as SBA Executive President. A 3L has again won the Dean’s Cup and many 3Ls advanced to the highest levels in their advocacy competitions. While some of us are still looking for work, many of our classmates have secured positions in some of the most prestigious organizations like the NCAA, the Louisiana Legislature, and some of the largest firms in Louisiana and Texas. I think most memorably, our class saw our football team win the National Championship in our last year and saw our Dean rise to the position of LSU Interim President.
In the near future, as we are preparing for bar exams and staff attorney positions, and struggling to remember the difference between subject matter and personal jurisdiction, I hope we remember all of the joy and the pain of getting to this point. No matter if I receive my degree in person or in the mail, I will be grateful because I know what it took to get here and I know what lies ahead for all of us. So here is a virtual champagne toast to the class of 2020: may you see your future clearly, serve the public generously, and never forget the honor it is to be an alumnus of the Louisiana State University, Paul M. Hebert Law Center!