At some point during your law school experience, you will likely considering joining at least one student group. Many students immediately gravitate toward Law Review, moot court, and Securities/Tax/Public Interest Law Association. All of these groups are great and provide extremely valuable experiences – not to mention, they tend to look great on a resume! However, too many students focus so narrowly on these “academic” student groups that they completely overlook “diversity” student groups, like the Jewish Law Students Association, Black Law Students Association, Latino/a Law Students Association, and the International Law Students Association. In addition to “academic” groups, membership in these “diversity” student groups can be extremely beneficial. These groups help instill a sense of community, are often a great way to find a mentor, and provide amazing networking opportunities. Finally, diversity in law school is important! These groups reflect the importance of diversity in law school and in the legal profession.
Community. This is particularly useful during your 1L year, when you very well might be in a new city, without a strong network of family or friends, and when the only community available to you might be your 1L class (and let’s face it, many new law students are way too competitive and not nearly welcoming enough). Nobody is going to ask you how you did on the contracts midterm when you’re at a diversity group meeting. You won’t get cold-called in the meeting, or have to discuss the elements of a tort. The meeting will give you a break from the scary part of law school while surrounding you with people who understand how scary law school is. These are people you can identify with without feeling like you have to compete with them! What a concept, right?
Mentorship. Often, these groups include professors, who genuinely want to see everyone succeed. They are usually approachable, and can help you understand how best to achieve your goals. Your interactions with these professors can help you develop a roadmap, and it’s always encouraging to hear someone say, “I’m just like you and I succeeded! I can help you!”
Networking. Diversity student groups may invite individual and/or panels of practitioners to debate or discuss certain issues or areas of law and organize student-alumni social events (like happy hours), which provide the ideal forum for students to talk to attorneys about potential internships and jobs. The alumni who attend these events want to help you find a job! They will often offer to meet with you to go over your resume and potential jobs (always take them up on this offer!), or will put you in touch with someone who is better able to help you (always follow through on this contact and send a thank-you email for giving you the contact information).