The 1Ls at my school are working on their Spring Brief. This is a big paper that is meant to introduce them to legal writing.
I remember my 1L Spring Brief. How I tried to understand the arguments I needed to make. How I researched and researched, constantly worried that I didn’t have the right cases. How as I sat down to write, I felt discouraged. I felt uncomfortable. “Why am I so bad at this? Who am I to say that I could be a lawyer?” I felt like a fraud.
But I wasn’t a fraud. I was not stupid. I was incompetent. And incompetence isn’t bad. Incompetence means that I still have a lot to learn.
After 1L year, I got my Legal Research and Writing grade. It wasn’t what I would have wanted. It was below median. It stung, to be sure. But it didn’t mean that I would never be successful as a lawyer.
This week, I received confirmation about my plans for next year. I will be working for a year at a civil rights nonprofit in San Francisco, advocating for the housing rights of people with criminal records. I will work to help those who are leaving correctional control get decent housing, so that they can get a job, a future, a life. I’m sure there will be plenty of times that I will mess up. But I’m learning to say that that’s OK.