In early August, I had the privilege of representing Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL), along with Student Bar Association (SBA) American Bar Association Representative (ABA) Christine Tornatore, at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting. This year, the conference was held in Toronto, Canada.
This trip provided us with the opportunity to meet SBA-ABA Representatives and SBA Presidents from just about all of the 200 ABA-accredited law schools in the United States. Each day, the ABA Law Student Division leaders provided detailed schedules loaded with incredible opportunities that enabled us to exchange ideas with other students at the conference.
On the last day of the conference, Christine and I participated in the Law Student Division Assembly where each law school’s SBA had two votes on each of the proposed resolutions on this year’s ballot. One of the key issues this year was in regards to the procedures used by law schools to report the employment rates of their graduating classes. This was of particular interest to us given the recent lawsuit by a TJSL graduate, and since graduates of other law schools have followed suit and brought claims against their former law schools. We as law students should pay close attention to this issue over the next couple of months and years, as changes in how law schools report their graduates’ employment statistics are quite likely.
Participating in the Assembly was unlike anything I had ever experienced in my life. I felt as if I were a member of Congress, listening to vibrant debates between zealous law students representing different regions and cities across the country. Hearing the different perspectives (and the different accents), and the rationale in support of each message, was quite interesting since I had rarely considered the perspective of other law students who were not colleagues of mine at TJSL. It was not until this time that I truly understood how much of an impact we, as law students, can have on our legal educations. We were voting on resolutions and referendums that were to be passed onto the ABA Board of Governors!
In regards to the Board of Governors, the body that oversees law student policies and procedures for legal education in the United States, a new and exciting process has been implemented. Te Law Student Division has successfully obtained a voting position on the Board of Governors! This means that, moving forward, there will be a student representative in the Board of Governors hearings that will ensure that the student perspective is heard and considered. When one considers factors such as the troubled economy, the influx of law school graduates into the job market each year, the issues relating to law school employment statistics, and many others, students should be pleased that their current Law Student Division leaders were able to achieve such a momentous victory on our behalves.
Whether it was the roundtable discussions with students from various schools across the country, small meetings with just the other students from the ABA Ninth Circuit (of which TJSL is a member ), or the social and dinner events each evening, this was truly an experience that I will never forget. Not to mention that Toronto was a beautiful city—we even got to stop at the Hockey Hall of Fame before leaving (absolutely, 100% Christine’s idea!) I strongly encourage TJSL students to run for the SBA positions that allow them to partake in this experience. It was, without a doubt, one of the best experiences of my time in law school thus far.