Today we welcome Michele Inman, current OCU School of Law 3L, as a guest writer. Check out her post on why it’s important to get involved with the Student Bar Association!

 

The best thing you can do as a law student is get involved with your Student Bar Association, even if you feel overwhelmed, pressed for time and overcommitted. You’ll derive more benefits than you thought possible, including connectedness, involvement and even course credit toward your graduation.

Law school presents many challenges to law students like you. First year law students are often overwhelmed with requirements of law school that are unlike any other field of work, such as the intense research and studying, the strenuous reading and comprehension of hundreds of pages of dense text for each class session, and the stress of being called on by the professors to recite court rulings, holdings and reasonings that are complex and anything but straightforward.

While law school attracts the brightest overachievers like you who are no strangers to hard work and are eager and willing to endure the hardships of long hours and isolation from friends and family, you may begin to feel lonely and disconnected after the sheen of the first few weeks wear off and the rigors of the law school curriculum set in.

That’s what happened to me. And as an older student entering law school after a two-decade career in advertising and marketing, as well as an international-level competitive career in the equestrian sport of dressage, I left my farm, my family and the animals at home to attend law school in a different state. The newness of law school didn’t wear off until really into my second year. The first year was filled with meeting the professors, other law students and faculty, as well as career counselors, librarians and other staff that made the first year fly by. But most notably, I took advantage of the Student Bar Association and became involved with the Animal Law Group.

At first, I was disappointed when I introduced myself to the President of the Animal Law Group via email. Her response was enthusiastic but she indicated that the Animal Law Group hadn’t been very active over the past few semesters. In addition, the board members and other group members didn’t necessarily agree on what the Animal Law Group should be all about. In the past, it mostly focused on pet rescue, pet adoption and pet overpopulation control. While these are laudable, I came to the group with an eagerness to speak up for all animals, not only pets. These include farm animals and animals used for food and clothing. In addition, while the Animal Law Group was an affiliate of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, headquartered in California, which is vegan, no members of our group were vegan nor did they advocate for any animals other than pets.

However, over time, the group expanded its focus because the President realized that the group would not be a true animal law group without encompassing the legal rights of all animals, not just pets. We worked together on a number of initiatives and successfully held a conference and debate on SQ 777, which was the Oklahoma initiative to add special protections to ranchers and farmers within the state constitution called “Free to Farm,” by its factory farm advocates but popularly dubbed “Free to Harm” by the US Humane Society and other animal protective groups.

This experience led me to selecting the topic of state constitutional protections for ranchers and farmers for my Upper Level Writing assignment and Law Review Note. I received two credit hours for the writing assignment, as well as being elected to the Law Review Board. My Law Review Note was selected for publishing by two Law Review Journals.

In addition, by being a board member of the Animal Law Group, I became involved with the Student Bar Association and attended the bi-weekly meetings. This was a good experience in becoming a part of a bigger community and learning about what other student organizations were doing. This allowed all student to get involved with each other’s groups and even partner together on events and charity functions.

I recommend that all students take advantage of the wonderful opportunities the Student Bar Association provides—a feeling of interconnectedness, passion, involvement, and career achievement, along with law school course credit toward your degree.

Welcome to Law School and the Student Bar Association. Go get involved.