Beyond the Books

Navigating Law School as a Person of Color

Christy Harris, 2L

Congratulations! You did great in undergrad, scored well on the LSAT and made it into law school. Despite all of your achievements, being a person of color in a predominantly white institution (and field) can have you questioning your place in the midst of it. From the micro aggressions, feeling unseen, unheard and is some cases, blatant racism, law school can be difficult to navigate. As a person of color, here are nine tips to help maintain a strong mental and emotional dynamic, while earning your JD:

1. Diverse Desks, Diverse Minds:

Law school can be a bit like a courtroom drama from the ’90s – traditional and lacking diversity. But guess what? Your unique background is an asset. Embrace it. Share your experiences and challenge perspectives. Your view is of value!

2. Participate in Affinity Groups:

Build your tribe. Join affinity groups, connect with students who share your background, and create a supportive community. Having a crew that understands your journey is priceless.

3. Be Your Own Advocate:

It’s not just about defending cases; it’s about defending your space. If you encounter bias or stereotyping, speak up. Be your own advocate, and let your voice be heard. Your perspective matters, and it deserves respect.

4. Mentorship Matters:

Seek out mentors who’ve walked a similar path. Their guidance can be a beacon of wisdom in the sometimes-murky waters of law school. Learn from their experiences and let them be your legal compass.

5. Network, Network, Network:

Networking will be the MOST IMPORTANT thing you do, while in law school and beyond. Attend events, connect with alumni, and build a network that extends beyond the walls of your law school. Your connections can open doors and create opportunities.

6. Balance is the Verdict:

Yes, law school is demanding, but don’t forget to balance the scales. Take breaks, indulge in hobbies and STAY CONNECTED TO WHO YOU ARE. It’s not just about doing well on exams; it’s about maintaining a healthy and holistic approach to your legal journey.

7. Rise Above Stereotypes:

Stereotypes may try to shadow your brilliance, but it’s YOUR excellence that got you into law school…REMEMBER THAT! YOU BELONG! Let your accomplishments be the counter-narrative. Show the world that brilliance knows no color, and the legal arena is richer for it.

8. Celebrate Your Wins:

From acing that tough exam to surviving your first moot court, celebrate your wins. Every triumph, big or small, is a step toward breaking down barriers and paving the way for future trailblazers. Even if your grades aren’t where you desire them to be, focus on being KNOWLEDGABLE, COMPETENT and EFFICIENT. That is what your clients will appreciate. They will not care about your rank.

9. Inspire Others:

Remember, you’re not just navigating law school for yourself; you’re setting a precedent. Your journey inspires others to follow their dreams, regardless of background. Be the change you want to see in the legal world.

Navigating law school as a person of color is a journey worth taking, but not an easy one. Embrace your uniqueness, build your support system, and let your voice echo through the hallowed halls of justice. Be BOLD. Be BRAVE. Be BRILLIANT. You got this!

– Christy Harris is a 2L KU Law Student Ambassador from Dallas, Texas