May 1, 2007

I'm trying to get myself motivated for final season again. I can't believe there are people out there who actually enjoy going through this process. I'm so ready to get out of the exam/paper ratrace. I like thinking about the law, and I don't at all feel ready to get out there, but I'm tired of this system.

And I'm even getting a little tired of student organizing, what little I've been able to do while here. The most redeeming factor of my second year, in fact, has been the joy that I've received from my work with fellow students on issues of mutual concern that impact many of the graduates from my school who want to "do good" with their law degrees. The school has a growing reputation with incoming students, and perhaps even in the local area, for turning out innovative and committed students who want to do more community-based work, whether as their chosen career or as a pro bono gig. But it's not been wholly true to that end because it doesn't put as much oomph behind the programs that will support the work long-term. In other words, the infrastructure is somewhat weak - it's the students, the faculty, and the alum that keep people coming. But how long will that remain the case? So we've organized around this issue. And we've built momentum around this over the past year.

But how does this relate to my ultimate goals for career and personal mission? I mean, I'm not a college student anymore, having gone through this all a while ago, and I'm tired of the cycles of activism/cynicism/administrative roadblocks that make actual change difficult. Maybe I'm feeling that I haven't done the right things to keep the group of organizers I'm working with moving on their own, not because they need me as a leader, but because it's easy to identify one person as the responsible body. I wonder if I will have the tried and true problem of letting go when it comes to that. Designing/collaborating on the vision for something like this is one thing, but it's a very different thing to know how to keep the process open, and feel confident that the group, in some way, will continue and work to realize the key goals for which it was started to begin with... well, those are difficult things to balance without experience.

I've thoroughly enjoyed the work so far, and I really feel like it's given me the chance to experiment with my own leadership style and skills, and it's also given me space to reflect on what kind of organizations I want to build and be a part of. Consensus and decisions by committee are often reviled by people who have had bad experiences, or even people who aren't process oriented - but there's something to be said about a community of people making decisions for their community... and building community as they do it.

I think integrating the mundane/administrative work that comes with every organization with the group's substantive philosophy is a very important step towards building a more conscious group. It's not enough that we send out press releases about what we believe (or hold events on campus that are interesting and current topics). Why are we doing this work? And are we holding true to those ideals across the board in our daily work and orientation to that work?

It's the whole question of practicing what you preach, and sadly, people become little dictators when they start to get control of any process or group. I've seen it with informal groups (like an alumni group I'm struggling with right now) all the way up to the groups that you'd think would be more conscious of these issues of power. But people seem to grab for more when they should be thinking about how to share and open up the field more. Annoying and counterproductive. I'm sure I'll write more about this with a little more time.

Anyway, with all the other things going on out there, it's hard to see what the priorities in school can really mean. Shouldn't I be here focusing on developing the skills to do the best I can once I'm out of here? But on the other hand, doesn't organizing (and recognizing/realizing what your community is when you're a part of it) qualify as a skill worth learning? Then again, without the right guide, are you learning the right skills? Too many things to consider. But now that my hardest exam is over, I hope to engage these questions, as well as some of the nuttiness that I'm seeing in the national A/P/A scene, with more vigor. Lucky you.

Heck, I may throw in another fun video if I find one here and there.

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