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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Four Ways that WIL Has Made Law School More Enjoyable

Author, Megan Nelson, with Ginny Isaacson,
Chair-Elect of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society
With law school graduation just around the corner, I’m grateful that I’ve generally—and genuinely—enjoyed these past three years.  This is true, even after many late- or all-nighters, more than a few tears, and fleeting moments of longing for the simpler days that existed before law school.  As I’ve reflected on why I’ve enjoyed law school, I largely credit my involvement with the Law Society and, specifically, with Women in the Law (WIL).  Here are just four ways that WIL has made law school more enjoyable:

WIL has given me the confidence and contacts to succeed in my career.

When I was a 1L, I wasn’t sure what I would do after law school, but I was quite certain it would not be litigation.  Deep down, I thought that arguing cases in a courtroom seemed fun, but I assumed that litigation was a no-go for someone like me who generally dreads confrontation and who values “balance.”  

My outlook changed, however, as I became acquainted with several women litigators through WIL.  While attending a regional WIL Conference as a 2L, I distinctly remember a certain panelist’s story of how she—like me—never pegged herself as a litigator.  Through guidance from a mentor and divine intervention, however, her misconceptions melted and she became a full-time—and eventually a part-time—civil litigator.  Over the past few years I’ve been fortunate to meet other women litigators through WIL who have opened my eyes to practicing litigation, through their words and by example.  (I am also very grateful for wonderful male attorneys in the Law Society who have mentored me.  I cannot overstate the value of mentors, whether female or male.)

Thanks in part to the encouragement and experiences I’ve gained through WIL, I was fortunate to land a good job after graduation that will allow me to practice both litigation and transactional law.  (In fact, it was a reference from a female lawyer that secured my initial interview for this position!)  I am grateful for WIL, which has given me the confidence and contacts to succeed in my career.   

WIL has given me opportunities to serve and develop leadership skills.
While serving as my school’s WIL representative during my 2L year, I enjoyed helping organize several events with the local WIL Committee.  Through the same role, I even had the daunting but fun opportunity to moderate a panel at a regional WIL Conference in 2013.  I’ve found these and other opportunities to be tremendously enriching.  I also recently served as student co-chair for the Annual Conference held in Phoenix.  Although not specific to WIL, I probably would not have had that opportunity without my previous experiences working with professional chapter members through WIL.  That assignment was one of the hardest projects I’ve yet undertaken, but the leadership lessons I learned were priceless. 
Author, Megan Nelson

WIL has opened doors to making new friends and maintaining ties with longer-time friends.

I have made many wonderful friends through WIL.  As a 1L, I registered for the Annual Conference held in D.C. without knowing anyone beforehand.  On the first day of the Conference, I met two women law students who also happened to live in Arizona.  We bonded over the next few days and have become even better friends over the past two years after they both coincidentally transferred to ASU.  I’m grateful for my friendship with them, and with other women who I have met through WIL.

I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at how WIL has helped me reconnect with friends from the past.  At the WIL Breakfast during the 2013 Annual Conference, I was overjoyed to run into a woman who I had known from years before in Pennsylvania, whose daughters were my childhood friends.  Although I had not seen this woman in over fifteen years, I had looked to her from afar for many years as an example of a valiant mother and attorney.  Coincidentally, I ran into yet another “long lost friend” at the WIL Breakfast at the Leadership Conference in 2014.  Reconnecting with these women, and others, has been both sweet and fun.

WIL is fun.

When all is said and done, there are other organizations I might have joined during law school that would have provided mentoring, service and leadership opportunities, and friends.  However, with the demands of law school and only so many minutes in the day, I am grateful I have chosen to spend time with WIL.  Whether attending WIL-sponsored events or simply hanging out with WIL friends in non-WIL settings, I always feel a unique, uplifting energy when associating with these women.  Spending time with WIL has been a smart—and FUN—use of time during law school, and I look forward to staying involved for years to come. 

Megan Nelson is a third-year law student at Arizona State University, where she serves as executive editor of Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology.  After graduating in May 2015, Megan will practice at Fabian & Clendenin in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Megan is originally from California and currently resides in Tempe, Arizona.

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