First Generation Lawyers- An Unfair Challenge or a Handly Excuse

Abstract

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around the ever-evolving concept of first generation lawyers. The opinion put forward by the masses is divided on two-fronts. One being on the disadvantageous side, which herein, is referred to as an unfair challenge and the other being on the positive side, that is referred to as a handy excuse. The article aims at explaining both the fronts from their respective perspectives.

INTRODUCTION

First things first, are there any strait-jacketed definition of first-gen lawyers?

To be precise, there are no actual definitions of first-generation lawyers. But, based on common sense and an analytical approach we can say that, first-generation lawyer is one who is the first in their immediate family to attend law school. They might often land themselves into trouble while in law school, because the scenario and the activities in there is totally different as compared to any other contemporary courses like engineering, medical, etc. Gaps in knowledge and support can potentially put the first-gen law students into an unintentional and disadvantageous position.

First-Gen Lawyers- An Unfair Challenge

The first-gen law school experience is generally under-researched; however studies and research show that similar obstructions undergrads face as students regularly adhere to them to graduate school. These variations can be seen in the student loan borrowing scenario: 93 percent of first-generation law students borrow money to finance their legal education, compared to 84 percent of their peers who are continuing their education. They borrow about 23 percent more too, leaving law school that are much more financially burdened.[1]

First generation law students are likewise bound to be more established, less affluent, and from a multicultural foundation. They are more prone towards attending law school in a part-time manner, which itself poses a new set of challenges. And they tend to spend much more time — 40 percent more time, in fact — working to pay their own way through law school. But they also typically study more too.  [2]

Law school is hard enough as it is and when you are a first-gen law student you are automatically susceptible to new set of challenges and struggles which has no blue print of its own. This really gets hard in the long run as there exist no particular set of directions which can be learnt and eventually followed up to. There also lies a sense of invisible urgency of getting everything right the first time and this tends to become overwhelming most of the times. The first-gen law students are always stuck in the bubble of meeting societal and familial expectations with no support from the back end to keep them going without losing their mind. There is no so called inner-circle to help them out in times of need.

Every career option is filled with its own set of challenges, pros and cons. The same goes for legal profession too. The main problem faced by a first-gen lawyer is when he/she decides to go for the profession of a litigator as a career option. Litigation as career option is really not feasible choice for first-gen lawyers having no family background in law because the fear of nepotism is embedded in every nook and corner of this litigation profession. As a opinion, it has always been suggested from time immemorial that only the sons and daughters of judges/lawyers should take up litigation as a profession.

First-Gen Lawyers: A Handy excuse:

There are some things which are definitely within the control of an aspiring first-gen lawyers and that is the ability to work hard, write a lot on legal and non-legal concepts, brush up the mooting skills, legal accumen and ensure he has the best possible command over the language and law during the course of his law school and beyond. Legal aspirants who have been very clear about their about their choice of becoming a lawyer has actually flourished in their respective fields. The Supreme Court of India and different High Courts like those in Delhi, Mumbai, Madras, Kolkata, and so on are brimming with examples where first-gen lawyers from law schools have done immensely well.

It is often seen that while criticizing the nepotism at the Bar, one neglects to focus on what really should be done to turn into a decent lawyer. In any case, it can be can securely said that a decided, dedicated, and prompt lawyer will unavoidably wind up being a fruitful litigator, despite his being a first-generation lawyer.

The profession requires a lot of reading of the legal and non-legal texts. It additionally requires a immense amount of persistence, consistence and patience. Yet, the way that one partakes in his/her work consistently is rewarding enough to make every one of the penances requested by the profession. It is significant for a person to continue to accomplish great work at the offices of a Senior or while addressing his/her own clients. Sit tight for the chances that will definitely come, where you can show the abilities and experience that you have accumulated in these load of years.

SUGESTIONS

One must take the advantage of the first-gen resources available in the law school like student groups, library, mentoring, networking events, to strengthen the support system and increase the confidence and comfort level. Ask around about the alumni, career service officer and the placement cell for mentoring and build a network. Foster relationships with the faculty members during office hours asking for feedback on your activities. Always focus on the strengths and the abilities you have as a first-gen law student and lawyer, this in turn will help you bring a new perspective to whatever you are pursuing. Join professional organizations, stay connected with the networks that you have built while in law school and even afterwards. Highlight experiences in your CV, Resume and cover letters, demonstrate your perspective as a first-gen law student and professional in your interviews. Last but not the least, the hard work and determination that a person pursues in any kind of profession especially in the legal field helps him/her to get far in his/her career in the long run. You are all you need to succeed!


[1] Jessica Tomer, First-gen law students: Struggles, solutions and schools that care, last updated on 22.07.2021, https://www.nationaljurist.com/national-jurist-magazine/first-generation-law-students-struggles-solutions-and-schools-care.

[2] Jessica Tomer, First-gen law students: Struggles, solutions and schools that care, last updated on 22.07.2021, https://www.nationaljurist.com/national-jurist-magazine/first-generation-law-students-struggles-solutions-and-schools-care.

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