Tuesday, April 04, 2006

 

Help Your Community and Become a Better Lawyer!

To take a break from the boring discussion of law school admissions (this must be one of the most boring blogs ever, right??? – I’ll try to make it a little more exciting), I thought that I would discuss how service organizations and non-profits have played a role in my career.

Two weekends ago I went back to the University of Michigan to witness Dance Marathon at the Indoor Track and Field Building. If you don’t know about Dance Marathon check out the website at www.umdm.org (and get involved!). The organization raises money for children’s pediatric rehabilitation programs throughout the year, culminating in a 30-hour event where UofM students stand on their feet for 30 hours to show their dedication to the cause and have fun. While a student at UofM, I danced in the Marathon twice and was involved with managing the organization. I had an excellent undergraduate in experience, in great part due to the time I spent in Dance Marathon. I was able to test my mental and physical strength by standing on my feet for thirty hours, attempt to use some of the skills I was learning at the business school to assist the non-profit organization, and met wonderful children, students, and members of the University and Ann Arbor community. I also met some of my best friends through the organization and got to see many of them again at the Marathon this year.

I would highly suggest becoming involved in a service organization. Aside from the benefits listed above, I believe that experience in service organizations can help you in law school, assist in finding a job after law school, and make you a better lawyer (and a better person, obviously). One of the best skills that I learned from DM was time management. Attempting to balance school work, time with Dance Marathon, and having fun my senior year taught me to structure each day and prioritize my time. This became very useful in law school, especially the first year. When you realize that final exams for law school are coming up in a month it is very important to organize and prioritize your time so that you are getting the most out of your studying. Being involved in a service organization also makes you take a break from studying and focus on (what many see as) more important “real-world issues.” I was involved as an alumni member in Dance Marathon after I left the University, and I believe that taking a break from school work to assist the organization really helped to clear my head and feel that I was accomplishing something. When I got back to law school work I was more focused. The first semester of law school becomes very depressing and frightening because you will not know how well you are really doing (and if all of your hard work is paying off) until February or March of the second semester, so being able to get away for a while and accomplish something helps boost your confidence.

My experience with Dance Marathon certainly played a part in the scholarship that I was able to get to law school and the admissions process in general. As I stated before, my personal statement was about my experience in DM and (evidently) it caught the eyes of some of the law school deans. One of the deans even personally called me to discuss my experience in service organizations and he expressed his belief on how important it is for a law student to have a well-rounded background that includes community service.

I think that my experience with DM also played a part for me in finding a summer associateship. In fact, community service was the topic discussed the most in all of my interviews during second year – and was stressed by all firms as something that they valued. Now, I’m not really sure if some of the firms were just saying that to look good – but I know that the two firms I was choosing between at the end truly valued community service and make sure that their lawyers continue to give back to the community. I also heard that the legal profession does the most pro bono work of any other profession. I’m not sure if that’s true or not (I’ve got to think that social workers, non-profit workers, and doctors do a great deal of pro bono work), but it is definitely true that lawyers do quite a bit – it is recommended that lawyers do 50 hours of pro bono work a year. And quite a few young attorneys get their first experience with their own client and in the courtroom by taking a pro bono case. So, I guess lawyers don’t deserve to be the butt of all those bad jokes after all, right???

Dance Marathon raised a new record of $326,000 for children’s pediatric rehabilitation programs at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the UofM two weeks ago, and pushed the 9-year total to roughly $1,500,000! Congratulations to all of the dancers, committee members, Central Planning Team members, and all that contributed to the huge total!

Comments:
Glad those CDC and advisory council calls were able to help you clear your mind!
 
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