The sense of community at UVA Law played a huge role in my decision to come here. I wanted to learn from and make meaningful connections with my classmates. For me, the relationships I was going to build outside the classroom were as important as the professors teaching the classes. As I began 1L last year, I expected to feel integrally connected to the UVA Law community. Coming back for 2L, on the other hand, I knew I was going to feel out of place.
My next two years of law school will be fundamentally different than the vast majority of my classmates. Most 2Ls have locked down firm jobs for next summer—jobs that will almost definitely turn into $180,000 salaries after they graduate. It’s been fun to listen to my friends talk about flying all over the country, staying in fancy hotels, and sampling the lavish lifestyle at different firms. And don’t get me wrong—every time I hear about my classmates getting a callback or accepting an offer, I’m thrilled for them. But I’m an outsider during those conversations. I don’t relate, I can’t tell my own OGI stories, and all these firm names mean nothing to me. I don’t share these experiences with them.
When they ask me how my job search is going, it gets even more uncomfortable. Because as little as I know about OGI, I might know even less about my career search. Sure, I have a go-to answer to get myself out of the hot seat. I don’t really know what I’m doing though.
Thankfully, I’m not the only person at UVA braving the public service route. Recent conversations with my “no-G-I” friends and other LPS classmates have restored my sense of community and comfort. Our public service community is small, but strong. We are all venturing down very different paths, but we share a sense of solidarity. Importantly, I’ve been reminded that for some that path will include OGI and a short stint at a firm. I’m excited to continue to build relationships with my LPS peers, and I can’t wait to see the incredible things they’re going to do.
In the end, and thanks in large part to LPS, I know I have people supporting me, and people who I will support. My sense of community at UVA may have faded, but it has resurged different and more meaningful than before.
Jeremy Bennie, a 2L from central Massachusetts, graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park. While there, he created his own major, called Leadership in a Diverse Society. Jeremy has interned with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil and Human Rights. He loves distance running and is currently training for his seventh marathon.