Father’s advice still rings true: Find your passion in law school

photo of Matthew Riley

I remember many significant moments from my childhood – moments whose ripples have traversed the years and continue to be felt by me today. Of these, the waves created by my father’s life continue, most of all, to move and direct me. My father grew up farming, a “man of the earth” who left his home to become an airman.

It was through this transposition of roles that he discovered his passion. Flying was something my father said he loved, but his words were not as convincing as the way he carried himself throughout his life, the manifestation of such passion through the simple actions of putting on his uniform and heading off to work. There was no disconnection between what my father did and what he loved. It was my father’s constant yet gentle reminder to me and my brother to do whatever it was that made us happiest, to find and do whatever made us passionate.

The law is inspiring, exciting and challenging. It’s something in which I have found my passion. I must admit that I am not the brightest or most facile law student at Green Hall. But I wake up in the morning truly excited about what I’m learning or, in some cases, what I’m not completely grasping.

I’ve just passed the midpoint of my law school experience, a 2L who has finished three semesters and has three more to go. A twinge of sadness accompanies this reflection, as my time at KU, which has been such a wonderful and profoundly transformative experience, is waning. I’m not the same person I was when I entered. I am more passionate, matured in understanding what the law is – and who I am and can be in relation to it.

Just halfway through law school, I may have very little wisdom to dispense to those thinking about or applying to law school; perhaps even less to those 1Ls who started just a semester ago. But I firmly believe that my father’s advice to me is something we all need to hear and comprehend once in a while.

Find your passion and live it each day. KU Law and its students are passionate about providing opportunities to help you realize who you are and what your passion is. It is a community where you interact and become inspired by students and teachers who will challenge and help you grow. There is much to be concerned about, perhaps even fear, in law school. But such sentiments will distract and divert you from the more important experience of learning to enjoy and become passionate about the law and your life.

Someone once told me this analogy: Imagine yourself in attendance at a grand concert hall, the air permeated with the tones of beautiful music. All at once, you realize you left your car unlocked. The choice is whether to allow that moment of concern to overshadow the great experience of the remaining moments.

Attending three semesters at KU Law has been a fleeting moment, but I have enjoyed every minute.

Matthew Riley, 2L and Student Ambassador